open thread — June 18-19, 2021

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.

{ 958 comments… read them below }

  1. Abby cats*

    A recruiter contacted me about a job that’s in NYC or “remote with 100% travel”. What on earth does that mean? I’m in back-end tech, I don’t do sales or customer-facing work.

    1. HatBeing*

      Ha that sounds like an error? Hopefully they meant 10% travel for team meetings or something? I would ask the recruiter for clarification.

    2. Toodie*

      Could they be attempting cuteness? Like, “you can either be in NYC all the time, or plan on being remote from NYC but traveling here to work all the time.”


    3. Dumpster Fire*

      It sounds to me as though the job is located in NYC but you can actually LIVE anywhere (i.e., remote), as long as you’re willing to travel to NYC every week. Having been a consultant in my previous life (ending about 20 years ago) for a very large company with employees in practically every state, that type of description would’ve made a lot of sense for a long-term project that was based in NYC.

    4. Snailing*

      Or maybe “it’s always remote because you’re always traveling around but never in an office” hahaha

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I would take it to mean that the home office is in New York, and the employee is sent around to remote sites for on-site work.

    6. Deanna Troi*

      I agree with others that it sounds like it means you don’t have to go into the office – you do your paperwork from home, so it’s remote – but the job itself is all travel. My uncle was a mine inspector, and his job was remote with 100%

    7. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      My guess would be no regular office space that you’d need to go to every day, but rather working full time from a client office. My dad used to be an IT consultant and never went into the head office, but flew out of town every week to work from the client site, wherever it was at that time.

      Sounds like a great question to ask the recruiter, though!

      1. Kes*

        Yeah that’s how I would read it, you can live anywhere but you’ll need to travel to a client site every week. But definitely worth clarifying with the recruiter

    8. Ann O'Nemity*

      Yeah, it sounds like you don’t have to *live* there but you at least have to be prepared to travel there for the work week.

      One of my friends lives about 8 hours away from her job. Pre-pandemic she would fly out Monday morning and fly back Thursday evening, working 10+ hour days, but then had a nice three day weekend. The company even paid for a studio apartment for her during the work week.

    9. tamarack and fireweed*

      Well, we can speculate, but the person to answer that is the recruiter.

    10. Coffee Anonymous*

      This was my job before the pandemic. HQ is in BigCity, I live in SmallTown in a non-adjacent state — but typically traveled to client sites every week, and only went to the office every few months for trainings or other corporate events.

  2. Marian*

    Is it fair to push back on having to go into my office location when there are only 2 other people on my team in this location and the rest of the team (in other states) don’t have to go back into the office? How can I tell my boss I don’t want to come into the office at all when other teammates don’t have to?

    Myself, another teammate and my boss (director of the whole team) are in Texas. Our team has 3 more members at our other location in Florida and the last 2 team members are technically full-time remote (Nevada and Ohio). We’re starting talks about returning to the office, and my boss is hinting at how he wants those of us in Texas to come into the office a few times a week. This seems to only apply to Texas, he’s not going to make those in Florida go into their office. I’m annoyed because I’m one of the team leads, and I, along with my other teammate in Texas, are the most reliable people on the team. 2 of the people in Florida are decent at their jobs, but there is 1 woman who isn’t good at her job. Think missed deadlines, ignored emails, lack of skill set, unprofessional behavior, etc. My boss is too laid back and tends to ignore those issues, and I don’t see him putting his foot down to have them come into the office.

    I can see resentment building in me if I have to be in the office when I actually do my job while the woman in Florida doesn’t have to go into the office when she behaves so poorly. Not to mention the office is on the other side of town for me and I’d have to go on a congested highway the whole time. At my last company, my team’s director was in another location, but we were still expected to be in the office, so I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have the same rules for going in the office for both the Texas and Florida folks.

    1. Canadian Valkyrie*

      I wonder if you can talk to your boss and tell him about these concerns? He should know it’ll hurt morale to do this.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Like most things, I think your best bet is to focus not on what others have or do not have, but on how you can continue to excel at your job working remotely. That said, I think there’s room in there for some subtle references, like “I will continue to meet all my deadlines, respond to emails promptly”, etc., as long as you’re not too heavy-handed or sarcastic.

      That said, if your boss sucks, they may be pulling a variant on the old “you’re my most reliable worker, that’s why I dump all the work on you” kind of non-management move. If that’s the case, I’d start looking, since there’s really no requirement for them to be fair or equitable, and so there’s really no grounds for you to push back if they insist. A lot of employers are more open to full-time remote work now.

      Good luck!

      1. Marian*

        ““you’re my most reliable worker, that’s why I dump all the work on you” kind of non-management move.”

        YEP lol. I’ve noticed of late my boss is actually very passive aggressive towards other employees. Like, he’ll tell me I’m his best [product] manager (likely b/c I’ve always said yes to his whims and I get my work done), but if another coworker didn’t do something, he’ll scoff and say “I doubt they even looked into it”. It’s been so obvious to me the past few weeks, don’t know how I’ve missed it. I’m going to try and give him the “I don’t have the bandwidth to do X right now”.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      Can you have some of AAM’s columns anonymously couriered to your manager? Preferably the ones about ‘If a manager’s good at managing performance, they don’t need butts in seats’…

      More seriously:
      1) Separate your issues. Bad employee is a separate issue from you coming back or not. Comparison is the death of happiness. Talk to your boss *now* about that bad employee, before ‘coming back’ is an issue, laying out the problems that bad employee is causing for the team. Push him to manage. As team lead, you have status to do that.
      2) Talk as a group – over the next month, reach out to your other TX team mate, ask how they feel, see if they’d be willing to talk to the boss with you about not going back in
      3) Think about compromises and advantages of going in. Can you set up 2 days / month where you’re in f2f meetings with key stakeholders (boss, team, etc)? If you go in for a purpose, it will hurt less.
      4) Keep an eye on the Delta variant of COVID (from India; dominant in UK right now), and educate your boss about it. It’s more contagious, is putting younger people in the hospitals, and vaccines are less effective. There’s a chance the US will have to lock back down (or at least mask up) by mid-July.

      1. Marian*

        Yea, I need to push him into managing more for the other employees. I talked to him a few weeks back about the bad employee, but he didn’t do anything and lets her get her way.

        Oh God, I hope we don’t have to lockdown in mid-July. That’s when I’ve scheduled a vacation.

    4. D3*

      Resentment in you is something you have to deal with within yourself. You can’t expect your boss to manage things so that you don’t let resentment build up.
      That said, you CAN address underperforming colleagues and your desire to WFM. As *separate* issues.
      But “why do I have to when she…..” should never, ever be part of your argument.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      What’s the relative vax rates? My friend’s mother is in an area of Florida with a 25% vaccination for adults–definitely not an area where I’d want to risk groups.

  3. HatBeing*

    Any other HR folks applying for jobs seeing a lot of performative DEI statements required in applications? My professional accomplishments are on my resume and I don’t want to talk about my personal, queer life in a cover letter. What are they looking for?

    1. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      If it’s performative, that’s annoying.

      If the company is actually committed to DEI, I’d use an example of a time you’ve worked with a variety of people. Think of it as 1 more accomplishment to showcase. Don’t go into your personal life.

    2. Name goes here*

      As someone who comes from a field where these kinds of statements are required, they’re definitely asking about the professional side of things, not the personal. Think of the statement as a chance to tell a story about the professional accomplishments you list on your resume. How does accomplishing these things say something about who you are as an HR person, and what your big picture goals are? What does equity mean to you, given these professional accomplishments?

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Totally agree. DEI statements should focus on your accomplishments, activity, support, etc. in the professional realm, not the personal one. It’s is becoming more and more the norm in higher ed applications, although sometimes that can come across as performative or overly personal if the prompt is badly/vaguely written, e.g. asking people to “discuss their personal philosophy of DEI.”

    3. Well...*

      In academia these are becoming standard, and in all instructions I’ve read, they are explicitly not looking for sob stories or “woke realization/a minority taught me” moments.

      Instead what they want are:
      -demonstration of knowledge of the literature (I’m in STEM, not a sociologist, so the expectations are that I’m aware microaggressions and implicit bias exist, and have thought about the implications)
      – concrete evidence of your track record in addressing these problems, promoting EDI, etc
      – concrete plans for how you will address these issues/implement programs in the department if you get the job. For academia this includes incorporating a DEI perspective into your teaching and mentoring duties
      – demonstration of your understanding of how DEI fits in with the mission statement of the organization, showing you are a good cultural fit in this respect. AKA, they want to know if they hire you that they aren’t signing on for decades of “but does sexism even exist” arguments.

      1. Reba*

        This is great guidance! Yes, it’s not supposed to be a personal narrative about how you, the applicant, embody “diversity” in whatever way. It should demonstrate that you are conversant with the concepts, have signed on to them, and will be able to put them into practice.

      2. Ray Gillette*

        Here’s an example of mine from earlier this year: I ensured that a Black new hire was offered the same starting salary as a white new hire with similar qualifications, and also made sure that the team she’d be working with knew how to pronounce her name correctly before she started. You’d think this kind of stuff would be obvious, but sadly it is not.

    4. SweetPotatoontheCouch*

      Not HR, but I did write a 250 DEI statement for an admin position in academia. I used it to show that I understood the issues within academia and how I would promote DEI in my position.

      Idk, I thought my place was earnest about DEI; however, I did make a point to ask in the interview where they had been successful in promoting DEI and where they would like to see improvement. So, if you get an interview, maybe you can ask them something along those lines to see if it’s performative or not?

    5. Ann O'Nemity*

      Not in HR, but I’m seeing these in *all* the jobs I’m applying to. I’d actually love to see Alison offer some advice on how to respond to these kinds of application and interview questions.

    6. tamarack and fireweed*

      Queer myself, and part of DEI initiatives, and in need of keeping applying for jobs until I am no longer on short-term funded jobs…: I don’t think you should, or should feel pressured to, talk more about your personal life than you would if you weren’t queer. That’s not, or should not be, what a DEI statement is about.

      I’m in higher education and university-based research, and there’s nothing performative about it as far as my involvement is concerned: I do in fact believe that as a workplace, as a place that selects certain people to do creative scholarship and rejects others, and as a place of education, it is essential that we become more equitable along the lines of how discrimination has been (and still is) operating. In a private sector job that’s maybe not quite as acute, but I know that inside many industries there are people who do have these sort of goals.

      What I would be looking for is a candidate who is able to articulate how the part of the job that is considered its essence (teaching students, organizing shipping logistics, managing regulatory compliance, providing tech support, writing software… whatever the core of your job happens to entail) articulates with the kind of workplace demographics we would have in an ideal society (or at least a better one), and how to get from what we have to what we should have. As queer people we have a distinct advantage because we’ve likely already been forced to think about these things (I don’t want to speak for POC, disabled people, … but I would expect the same applies). But you can do this whether you’re queer or not, and with or without baring your private life.

      If you think it’s really purely performative that’s a reason to avoid the workplace! But it may not be…

  4. Anon :)*

    Question: Is there such a thing as a timekeeping app for PC that stores data locally? 

    I have always despised doing timesheets, but I started using Klok a few years ago and it helped a lot. I would say it cut my total workplace anxiety in half. Now it’s not being supported any longer. Finding something similar feels like it should be trivial, but I have been asking absolutely everywhere and have so far drawn a blank. 

    We are on the MS system (Teams, Outlook, etc.) and I am continually surprised there is no MS solution for this. Some of my coworkers use Toggl in-browser, but I personally need an app that doesn’t come with all the distractions of a browser – or worse, a phone – every time I switch tasks. I am also not looking for anything that will help me be more or differently productive, or try to intelligently identify what task I am currently working on. I just want some little button to click when I change tasks, a running total of hours worked in the week, summaries by task and day, the ability to edit after the fact when I inevitably forget to click the little button, and ideally a color-coded calendar view.

    I work for a reasonably large employer with well over 1500 employees. I reached out to IT and found there is no such app recommended or approved for use. They suggested MS Project or MS Planner, which are not what I am looking for at all. I can’t use the Toggl app because it is a foreign cloud service which would require months of approvals and a stronger business case than I have. A domestic cloud service might possibly be permitted, but the only pre-approved route would be a non-cloud service and I simply cannot find one. Assume no budget constraint on this.

    1. CTT*

      Have you tried looking at timekeeping software for lawyers? I don’t think the one my firm uses stores data locally based on some issues I’ve had with it and probably has a lot of bells and whistles that you aren’t looking for, but I think there are a lot of programs out there that small firms and solos use that would meet your needs.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      There are lots of time keeping apps for attorneys and similar professions who have to time keep for billing purposes. Personally, I use Bill4Time, which is pretty cheap. There is a desktop widget that you can download to start and stop timekeeping/tasks and there is an app for the phone. Now, it IS cloud based, although you can easily do the time keeping with the widget or the app, the reporting functions you describe need a browser.

    3. Samantha*

      We use Desktime, which allows you to do all of that. I’m not sure if it would scale to your whole organization, but it is quite intuitive and easy to use.

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          I guess that users of this sort of software typically will expect it to work across all their computers (I have three in my home office, plus tablets, phone…), so there needs to be *some* amount of synching. A program that just installs on one computer and does not know anything about your work on another computer would probably not be marketable in 2021. I’d probably look into how different apps handle privacy rather than requiring “no cloud”.

          But there seem to some interesting tablet and phone based apps without desktop computer interfaces. Maybe that would work?

          1. Anon :)*

            The “no cloud” is an IT requirement. If data from a desktop app is being sent offsite (especially out of country), I need to go through an approval process, make a business case, etc. And there isn’t actually a business case here. Syncing through Bluetooth or similar would be fine, as would something offered by a software provider already on the approved list (such as Microsoft).

            I personally have only one work device (a laptop computer), and I think that’s not uncommon. If IT needs to mess with it for more than half a day I get a loaner so I could see cloud being useful in that situation, but that’s pretty rare. I do not have a work phone or tablet and try to keep any need to unlock my personal devices to a minimum during the work day.

            1. tamarack and fireweed*

              Yeah, I see! Maybe one of those bluetooth cube things someone else suggested then. Or a really simplistic old-style application…

              1. tamarack and fireweed*

                Or… maybe there’s something that hooks into the Microsoft cloud stuff that you already have?

    4. dealing with dragons*

      I have seen a cool device that is a cube you can assign different tasks to and flip the cube to start different tracking. I tried to google for it, but it looks like there’s several of them though. If I had to time track that granularly I think it would be a good solution for me, since all you do is rotate the block to track different time.

      you could also probably make an excel document to do it for you – just mark start time and end time and have it calculate, or whatever you need.

      1. Anon :)*

        The cube is going to have to be cloud-based, though, if the data ends up on a computer?

        AFAICT right now the only option is for me to make my own solution. It’s not beyond my coding ability but I don’t really have the time this summer.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I just looked at Timeular, which is one of the options, and it looks like the cube Bluetooths to an app on one smartphone or computer – any other devices beyond that are optional.

          1. Anon :)*

            I am reaching out to Timeular to confirm their data storage options! Thank you for the suggestion.

        2. Two Dog Night*

          I’ve got Timeular (I haven’t been using it as much as I should), and it uses Bluetooth to connect to a computer. I’m pretty sure it stores all the data locally.

        3. dealing with dragons*

          it’s hard to tell with how many options there are now. the one I remember hooked up to your phone, but not sure if the app backed up to the cloud or anything.

    5. English, not American*

      I would do it in an Excel sheet, make a “timestamp” button to stick the current time at the next empty cell in a column, a formula next to it to calculate time spent, and manually fill in task details however makes sense. But I am a woman with an Excel-shaped hammer, there are probably better solutions.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Have you look at how about Outlook times its tasks? It’s a feature in the journal if I remember correctly.

      1. noahwynn*

        This is what I use to roughly track my time spent for my weekly activity report. We don’t have to bill time-based, but this is helpful for me. + is the shortcut in Outlook to get to the Journal.

        I assume it stores it in Exchange somewhere with email/calendar/contacts, but I honestly don’t know.

    7. Susan Calvin*

      I’ve seen several of my colleagues be very happy with Grindstone, which isn’t browser bound, but I know it *has* cloud features for co-op – not sure if it can be set to local-only when flying solo.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I mean, I know it’s not what you’re asking, but I solve the distraction problem by jotting down start and end times with pen and paper, and logging them into the cloud-based app at the end of the day, or the end of a session when I’d be breaking flow anyway.

  5. Escaped a Work Cult*

    Am I out of place for feeling annoyed? My boss is asking that once everyone returns to the office, I move back into a cubicle and stop my WFH on Fridays. I’ve been the only employee going into the office with my boss before mass vaccinations. Between this and not being compliant with their own handbook re vacation time and holidays, my morale is shot and I’m looking to leave.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      It’s a reasonable cause for being annoyed, yeah. Does your boss have a business reason for stopping WFH on Friday? If not, can you push back and say, ‘WFH gives me a chance to do the work that requires more focus than I can get in a cubicle’ ? Sometimes bosses are just throwing out their wish list and pushing back works.

      good luck.

      1. Escaped a Work Cult*

        I got a lot of “the collaboration is better when we’re all together.” I definitely will use that script moving forward!

    2. Not So Super-visor*

      If I understand the situation, everyone but you has been working 100% remotely and is being called back to the office, while you’ve been working 80% of the time from the office and 20% of the time remotely and now will be 100% in the office? Is anyone being allowed to keep some remote/WFH time? If so, I think that you’ve got some room to push back, but if everyone is being asked to return, you may not.

      1. Escaped a Work Cult*

        No one will receive remote so my chances are very slim. My issue is that I don’t feel like I was appreciated for that time I was in, even though everyone is most likely feeling similarly with coming back to the office.

        1. MissDisplaced*

          You’re right, you weren’t appreciated for the time you were in the office while others worked from home.
          Your boss is a jerk and you probably won’t be able to change their mind.

  6. ThatGirl*

    Question about LGBTQ affinity/employee resource groups – does your company have one? How does it work? What sorts of things go on?

    My company is forming ERGs for the first time, and I think I want to be more out/visible at work. I don’t know how they typically work. I’m a queer woman, but I’m white, cis, and married to a man, so I’m struggling a little with whether it’s “for” me. A friend of mine reassured me that it is! So we’ll see how it goes.

    On a related note, a couple weeks ago I posted that one of our presidents had mentioned Stonewall and then said he didn’t know what Stonewall even WAS – so I’m glad to say that on a more recent town hall call, a different president actually explained the history of Pride to everyone.

    1. Wats*

      I’m nonbinary and bi, but am passing as a woman while married to a straight, cis man. I joined the Pride committee at my company precisely because I am so passing. I want to feel more connected to my queer self. Otherwise, it feels like I’m back in the closet again.

      We haven’t really done much yet (I’ve only been here 2 months), but that may also be because we’re still all remote.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, my own passing privilege is something I want to be aware of but I also want to embrace my queer identity more fully. So I hear ya. I hope you find some value in your work’s Pride committee.

        1. quill*

          Spent 99% of my work life ‘passing’ by virtue of being ace. Might consider joining anything we’ve got next year, I’m wondering how many people end up participating on these types of committees just because they’re sick of being invisible?

          1. Wats*

            I wish more individuals who are Ace joined Pride committees. I feel like they are they most invisible group of the LGBTQ spectrum (even though bisexuals joke about it the most) and deserve to be seen as much as anyone else.

            1. OperaArt*

              I’m ace. Many aces are nervous about joining LGBTQ+ organizations or even going to Pride events because of fear of being unwelcome. A small but vocal minority have appointed themselves as gatekeepers to the larger community. It’s a common topic of discussion in aces spaces.
              Some aces don’t join because they get tired of always having to teach Ace 101. A surprisingly large number of people in the LGBTQ+ community don’t really understand what asexuality is. They *think* that they do, but are quite wrong.

              So, those of you in these ERGs, you might have to actively recruit the aces.

            2. quill*

              Yeah we’ve been, uh… systematically booted from a lot of online queer spaces in the last 5 years. So if you’re not seeing us in the wild, online or IRL, that has something to do with it. Because online harassment begets IRL harrassment.

              (There were a LOT of us out online until about 2016. And most of us are still around, just not in the same places / waving the flag in our bios.)

              1. Anon for this*

                And some of us find the very strong sexual component of a lot of LGBTQ+ messaging and behaviour, which is full of PDA between partners, dressing to be overtly “waving yer bits” as we’d say in northern England, inuendo and shipping/identifying queer relationships in many kinds of media etc. to be uncomfortable – it makes me feel like its NOT a space for me because I “don’t do queer right” – I’m long term single, cis-passing (born into a body which is very, very overtly of one sex, even though the gender identify in my head is “person”), somewhat squicked out by sweaty/sticky bits of other people, and in my 50s so too old to have had the OPTION of ace and fluid identities when I was growing up and finding a space – whilst androgeny was around, it appeared to be for thin people with androgenous bodies and to be overtly “sexy”, and the only other kind of non-cis gender I knew about was trans. And ace certainly wasn’t a term, the options I had were frigid, freak or religious…. (I went with religious. That accomodated the covering, body blurring clothes I sometimes really need to wear AND the avoidance of all the physical experimenting and “fun party games” of teenage life, and I was lucky that the religion I was raised in was non-conformist and encouraged individual and often academic engagement and debate with both scripture and practice, so it didn’t supress all aspects of my personality or prevent me from being very into dungeons and dragons, fantasy and sci-fi etc.). But whether those aspects would matter in a workplace committee… I’m not sure. Would love to hear from others who’ve joined such committees and had positive experiences!

                I have a nibling who is so like teenage me, and whilst I find their obsession with labelling everyone’s sexuality and gender identity with great precision and colour schemes to be awkward and irritating, I am delighted that they have language and community to express their identity, and I hope they grow up a lot less confused and alienated than I did.

    2. High Score!*

      Our company has groups for everyone but mostly for mentoring, to ensure everyone has the same access to professional opportunities. But other than that, what is the point? At work, the idea should be to get the job done, respect all your coworkers and be professional. Your orientation, gender, color, etc… shouldn’t factor into it. If it does, there’s a problem.
      That said, a group could bring awareness to normally ignored holidays. Like we are having a short get together today virtually to celebrate Juneteenth hosted by our black professionals.
      If you want more than professional support and light awareness raising to make sure everyone is treated equality in the office, then I suggest a social club instead.

      1. ThatGirl*

        This is kind of dismissive and ignores the fact that even in progressive communities people can face barriers to getting ahead at work, networking, or even just finding their own community. I’m not saying ERGs are a perfect solution, but why shouldn’t Black people, for instance, have a group where they can talk about common problems and try to find solutions?

        For me, I think the point would be to help foster a more accepting and diverse environment, and in LGBTQ communities to make the point that we shouldn’t assume heteronormativity.

      2. AnonPi*

        Yes but find me a company that doesn’t have issues with bias due to gender, orientation, race, etc. That is why these ERGs exist.

      3. Anonymous Engineer*

        One thing our ERG is working on is reviewing our benefits to make sure they are inclusive to everyone (think medical/mental health access for people transitioning, etc). That’s a tangible action that wouldn’t happen if there weren’t a group dedicated to making the workplace better for LGBTQ employees – because the average cis-hetero person may not even be aware it’s an issue.

        Don’t assume everyone in an ERG is just there to socialize with people like themselves. Real, important progress gets made.

      4. Massive Dynamic*

        “Your orientation, gender, color, etc… shouldn’t factor into it. If it does, there’s a problem.”

        You unknowingly made the point that you didn’t want to make about why these groups are so important, my dude. In a “regular” office without these groups, marginalized people do not have the same access to professional opportunities.

      5. Littorally*

        This is hilariously ignorant. Do you seriously have no conception of why minority groups might need to band together for the ability to better advocate for their needs to their employer?

      6. tamarack and fireweed*

        My partner’s employer has affinity groups, and other than for networking & connection one of their purposes is to be able to advise senior management on diversity initiatives and approaches. Given that there’s a snowballs chance in hell for a bunch of well-meaning HR people and senior managers to get this stuff right without input from actual people from within the underrepresented and/or marginalized groups, that’s I think quite a relevant function. The Stonewall you gave illustrates that! I would think it’s as much a service to the company as it is a space for the benefit of queer people.

        Membership should not be a bone of contention. In fact, non-LGBT+ allies tend to be welcome, so of course an other-sex partnered bi person should not be wondering if this is for them, and neither should you.

    3. OperaArt*

      We have a group. They seem to be very active. The membership seems to skew very young, at least at the outreach activities.
      I am in the “+” part of LGBTQ+, but haven’t joined the group because of the 30-35 year age gap. And I don’t want to be the one to represent my entire generation.

    4. AnonPi*

      I’ve found the ERGs at my workplace are very different in what they do. The LGBTQ+ one seems to be more social (they have a monthly get together – though virtual during covid) and participating in activities outside of work (like the local PRIDE parade). I’ve only recently joined their mailing list, so maybe there’s more but so far that’s all I’ve seen.

      The women’s ERG does workshops/lunch and learns, movie viewings/discussions, works with management to improve conditions at work (such asking for bias training, more lactation rooms), nominates women for positions/awards both at work and professional societies, has socials, etc. Admittedly sometimes it feels overwhelming what they want to accomplish each year, especially as someone elected to the exec committee this year I’m responsible for organizing several things that have taken up more time than expected.

      So the one your work place is forming could go in many directions. I think just having a supportive group of like minded people to talk to is a great start. And if you’re a part of it, then I say just try things; if it works great, if not then try something else. Be as engaged as you feel comfortable being.

    5. Anonymous Engineer*

      I’m on the leadership team for our local LGBTQ ERG chapter. Most of our local members are allies (we’re in a very conservative part of the country) but the company-wide organization is a few decades old and many chapters are very active. As an ally, my purpose for membership, in addition to advancing our programming, is to normalize allyship and be a visible safe person in an environment where LGBTQ employees can’t assume anyone is an ally.

      We have recently started a very informal “buddy” program with representatives from other companies’ LGBTQ ERGs – an idea we came up with during an Out & Equal conference. Out & Equal is a good place to start if you’re part of the initial group – lots of resources and toolkits for newer ERGs.

    6. Hillary*

      The ERG’s definitely for you if you want it to be! If you don’t want to be out yet you don’t have to be, it’s normal that allies join the groups too. Our ERGs are about outreach, education, and mutual support. Our Allies group has people who identify as GLBTQ and people who support them, whether because of a personal connection (I know one member is active because his son is gay) or because they want to support the broader community at our company.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’m sort of tiptoeing out of the closet, my coworkers mostly know I have a husband, but I have a “bisexual rebel” pin he gave me (it’s the star wars rebel alliance logo in bi pride colors) that I put up on my cubicle wall. I don’t want it to be a Whole Big Thing but I’d like to just be casually out as well as support my fellow lgbtq coworkers.

    7. Littorally*

      My company has one, and right now we’re in the middle of a slew of activities for Pride. They basically break down into two kinds of events: networking/support for participants in the group, and cultural/educational activities that are planned to be for both group members who want to take part and for non-members to learn more about queer employees, the challenges we face, and how they can be better coworkers/managers.

      An example of the first: we had a queer-specific networking seminar at the start of the month that delved into a lot of nuts and bolts of how you build a network, what kind of people to look for in your network, and how to be good mentors/mentees for other queer industry members.

      Example of the second: a seminar on nonbinary identities and the specific considerations that often impact nonbinary folks when it comes to trans issues in the workplace.

    8. Quinalla*

      Definitely is for you!

      I’m going to try to start a women’s group ERG at my company (male dominated field) and trying to navigate that, so interested to see what folks posts to what the groups do. I’ve seen elsewhere mentoring, lunch & learns, leadership training, socializing, a group that discusses and bring issues to management.

    9. Lora*

      We do not. Most of our sites are in relatively conservative areas that don’t approve of …well, a lot of things, but also LGBTQ folks. We had a women in pharma group start and they arranged for professional headshot pictures but didn’t do a whole lot else – it seemed like they were allergic to admitting that maybe, perhaps, just possibly, sexism cannot be 100% fixed by thinking happy thoughts and leaning in and that mayyyyyybe this isn’t really about women not having the right skills or qualifications. A couple of months ago there was an email about a different women’s group starting up that would be more focused on meaningful stuff but then never heard anything else about it. We have an all-volunteer DEI group made up half of HR people and led by a white guy who made a big deal about how we were all idiots and he was personally offended that anyone would question why a straight white man is in charge of DEI things…it’s not good.

    10. Buzzzzz*

      It is definitely for you and please join! Ours even includes “and allies” (mainly so people aren’t outed if they want to join). We have great discussions. Note that ERGs are often only as helpful as the company allows them to be. If the company doesn’t want queer-friendly policies, the ERG can’t change that. But can be great place for community!

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’ve been at this job almost 6 months, so it’s still on the newish side, but as far as I can tell they really are at least *trying* to be inclusive and queer-friendly. For instance, for June the corporate LinkedIn is posting mini-profiles of out queer employees talking about their experiences at the company – as opposed to just rainbow-washing their logo and then doing nothing.

    11. ERG member*

      My former workplace had a comparable group. I’m a bisexual, cisgender woman who was in a relationship with a man, and I was warmly welcomed into the group. It was wonderful to have this group where we embraced both our commonalities and differences. After the Orlando shooting a few years ago, we all got together to share, cry, and tell our stories. The group also organized our whole organization’s contingent in the local Pride Parade. It was such a good thing to be a part of.

  7. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    How do you guys deal with doing training? We have a new girl, and I’m supposed to help train but the truth is…I don’t know how to do my job either! You may wonder why my boss has not guessed this, and wants me to help train, but she is very busy.

    1. SoloKid*

      I wonder why your boss hasn’t noticed any output from you. What are your deliverables? How long have you been there?

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I have notes, plans, charts… I put the notes in a timely manner, the plans are less timely, the charts are a little messy since I got to get other people to send me documents and some never do. The big monthly deadlines – mostly 90% in I think. She knows I do my visits because others report seeing me…
        It’s been 2 years but my boss was promoted maybe a year ago after my old boss left?

    2. ferrina*

      You probably know something, or else you wouldn’t be asked to train. I suspect your knowledge is more informal than formal. You are able to deliver good results, but you don’t have a set process or documentation. Is that a fair read?

      If that’s the case, bring her along to shadow you as you go through some tasks or scenarios. Have her watch what you do and explain why you do it that way. Encourage questions. If there are things that you don’t know, be honest about that! “I’m not sure- Cordelia might know more”. If you can also direct the new person to additional resources or people that can answer questions, that’s super helpful, too.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yes, my problem is that a lot of stuff I do by ” feel” like ” what would a competent person do in this situation ” not by rules since they seem to change a lot. The explaining while shadowing makes sense

    3. Dust Bunny*

      Talk to her.

      She might be busy but this is part of her job, not an extra on top of all the other stuff she’s doing.

    4. Oy with the poodles*

      I would ask your boss if she has a training plan she wants you to follow or any specific milestones she wants you to hit with training. That way you can at least layout a roadmap.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Agreed! And if there isn’t one, write it! Nothing too detailed, just the main points of what the new person needs today know & how long it should take.

        Then share with your boss. This might also be a good time to start documenting processes if you don’t already have that. It’s really helpful to have a new person work on that with you.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          That’s a good idea. I have some documents collected but since everything changes so much, they may be inaccurate.

    5. JustaTech*

      I’ve found that sometimes training a new person can be a good way to really get a handle on what you know and what you don’t know.

      If you have time, I would suggest you make up a training plan, and then make a note of all the things *you* need more training on and take that to your boss and say “I’ve realized I wasn’t fully trained on these items, so I would like to join NewGirl for these training sessions.”

    6. Anonymous Koala*

      If you really don’t know how to do your job, I’d focus on asking coworkers how they do it and take detailed notes that can then be formalized into a training plan. But if it’s more a case of you getting high quality results but not knowing how to teach another person to get them, then this is the perfect time to create a training plan yourself. The best training plan I was on started off slow, with necessary but sometimes overlooked info like important acronyms and resources, and gave me time to explore them on my own. Then my mentor gave me a ton of example reports to read. Then he broke one of our most important reports into pieces – things like data entry, analysis, section writing, editing, etc. and had me do each piece individually. He checked my work after I submitted each piece. Then with the next report, he checked my work after I had finished 1/2 the document, etc. until I felt confident I could do the whole thing myself from scratch. It really worked for me.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        Tell me, Show me, Let me do it.

        Repeat as needed, be aware of differences in learning styles, but this framework can be adapted to different styles.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yes, there’s many components- such as writing documentation, dealing with our awful software, service delivery, and working with external clients. The idea of explaining it overwhelms because I’m like ” man I just do what I feel and it’s usually alright “

  8. SoloKid*

    I wonder why your boss hasn’t noticed any output from you. What are your deliverables? How long have you been there?

  9. Marie*

    I sit next to the Admin Assistant, Jane. We all work in the same department and have the same boss. Jane is older than me, very insecure, and has boundary issues.

    Jane is also a bully. She’s down right demeaning and talks down to me. Jane is like this with other people as well because they’ve told me stories about how she gives them attitude and will talk down to them.

    I will be sitting at my desk and Jane will start complaining about something or how she’s stupid, overweight,  etc. I feel very uncomfortable so I get extremely quiet, but another coworker starts to console and coddle her. “Oh, I’m so sorry. That sounds so hard. I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time. Do you need help with X or Y?” 

    Jane likes the other people, but will give me nasty looks, make rude comments, etc. (Presumably because I’m not coddling and consoling her. She told me that my expression is too neutral, so she thinks that I’m mad at her. If I go talk to someone, she accuses me of talking about her, etc.) 

    This morning “John” said that she needed my help with something, so I asked her if she needed help  or if she had any questions and she bit my head off, “I was asking John about the Llamas since they were sent to him, okay?” 

    Instead of saying, “No I’m good. Thanks, Marie!”

    I tried to join the conversation later on and said something and Jane snapped back at me very loudly.
    I just want to shout, “What’s your problem?”  

    I don’t think my boss has any idea, as the way Jane speaks to me when we are all together is drastically different than when it’s just her and me.

     Am I being too sensitive and need to grow thicker skin? Any advice?

    1. Allypopx*

      I personally would be very comfortable saying “please don’t speak to me that way” or “wow that was unwarranted” in these situations. Is there anyone else who is witnessing this that you could run a sanity check by? I’m not doubting you but sometimes it’s just a little easier to stand up for yourself if someone else affirms your perception of the situation.

        1. Allypopx*

          Then yeah just tell her to cut it out. It’s also reasonable to loop your boss in, but that might depend on your workplace dynamics.

        2. Windchime*

          Once, a woman came over and was raising her voice insistently at me and I finally said, “Yelling at me isn’t going to get it done any faster.” She went back to her desk and cried about it, which made me feel kind of bad but honestly–don’t yell!

          One time, I was the person who got called out on my tone. I was complaining over the phone and getting emotional (voice raised, etc) and the person on the other end of the line said calmly, “There’s no need to get snippy with me.” It stopped me in my tracks and helped me to realize that he was right; I could explain it without being snotty.

          1. allathian*

            I hope you didn’t feel bad for long, you did nothing wrong. Frankly, she deserved to feel bad about yelling at you, and if that meant she reacted by crying, that’s her problem. *shrug* I hope she learned her lesson and didn’t yell at you again.

      1. Dog Coordinator*

        Yeah, Alison has given advice on acting taken aback and shocked at those sorts of responses, so that is a good starting point. After a few of those “wow that was an extreme response to my question”, then then “please don’t speak to me like that” responses can start. If that doesn’t work, I think you should discuss it with your manager. Jane’s attitude is impacting your ability to do work.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      What if you look to see if there’s a way for you and Jane to meet in the middle?

      You could try doing some emotional support without taking on additional work, with a script like, “That sounds so hard, I’m so sorry you’re having such a hard time. I’m working on [task that someone might ask Jane to do OR work topic that Jane may get asked about], if that helps any.”

      Offering emotional support is not “coddling”, though I guess you could call ‘help with X or Y’ that. So there could be a middle ground that will make Jane less antagonistic without adding much to your workload, just a little bit of ‘being kind to your coworker.’

      1. LKW*

        Providing emotional support is absolutely asking to have Jane spend part of her day moaning and complaining. Even something as simple as “That must be so hard” puts the onus on the OP to manage Jane’s feelings. Being quiet is the least involved and best option IMO because it leaves no room for Jane to push her way in, dump her work or use OP as a personal therapist.

      2. pancakes*

        It would be coddling to offer “emotional support” to a coworker who, by her own description, is looking for emotional validation at work, in situations that have nothing whatsoever to do with her work (“She told me that my expression is too neutral, so she thinks that I’m mad at her”). Jane does need help with her problems, but not from her coworkers. Trying to remedy her need for validation or reassurance or even halfway placate it is above their pay grade.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Jane ‘likes other people’, so it might be worth it to give her a brief bit of support.

          1. pancakes*

            She likes people who console her, it sounds like. Snapping at coworkers she doesn’t like and talking down to them isn’t ok. The solution isn’t for everyone to try to get Jane to like them more but for Jane to rein in her behavior.

            1. Montresaur*

              seconding this so much. From the info in the post it really seems like Jane “likes” people who fulfill an emotional need for her and freezes / lashes out at any peer who doesn’t.

              There’s no winning someone like this over while maintaining healthy boundaries, and I doubt there’s much middle ground to find, either.

                1. allathian*

                  She doesn’t have to like you, as long as you can work together. There’s no need to kiss up to her. It would help if you could just grow a thicker skin so that you could just shrug off her comments, but I know that’s easier said than done.

                2. pancakes*

                  allathian, I think even people with quite thick skins would be annoyed by having to listen to a coworker moaning about how much they dislike themself! I know I would be. “I will be sitting at my desk and Jane will start complaining about something or how she’s stupid, overweight, etc.” This self-lacerating has no place at work, and neither does talking down to people. Higher-ups should be informed that Jane is behaving this way, and should make clear to her that it has to stop.

    3. Canadian Valkyrie*

      I don’t think you’re bing to sensitive: it’s not ok for coworkers to treat you that way. It’s not your responsibility as her coworker to coddle her, if she’s got issues with insecurity then she needs to work on that. She shouldn’t be snapping at you and accusing you of talking about her if you talk to coworkers etc. Even if you were talking about her behind her back, so what? Does that suck? Ok sure, but it’s not like it’s abnormal to snark about a coworker behind their back. I’ve done it. I’m sure people have done it to me. Sometimes people annoy you and you need to put off steam. The main thing is, like, not ruining someone’s rep, not spreading gossip, etc.

      I think you should talk to your boss and ask for support in getting her to back off.

      1. Marie*

        I wasn’t talking about her though. I was talking with my assistant manager on a Llama shipment and when I came back to my desk, Jane accused me. Another time I went to the bathroom.

    4. Bagpuss*

      I guess the only options would be to come up with a fund of mildly sympathetic (but short) responses for when she grumbles, so she sees you are more sympathetic – I don’t think you need to coddle her, but maybe something like “Don’t put yourself down – you wouldn’t make those comments about a friend, why not be as kind to yourself as you would be to anyone else” Which doesn’t result in *you* taking responsibility for her but should come over as more friendly.

      You could even decide to do a little bit of ‘coddling’ as as way of making life more comfortable for yourself –

      For the type of the situation like the one where John asked you to help, say why, so when you approach her, rather than just asking her if she needed help – e.g. “John asked me to help you, he said you had some questions bout the Llamas” -lead with the fact that someone else has asked / told you to help out.

      And if she snaps at you or is openly rude then I think you are fine to call that out – e.g. calmly say ‘Pleae don’t snap at me’ or ‘please don’t shout at me’

      1. Marie*

        I did that though- I started with, “John said that you needed help yesterday with something in the Llama database. Do you have any questions or need help with something?” She then snapped at me. Never had that happen before in my life…

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          This is something I would approach whoever manages her with. Or your own manager, depending. (Calmly and in an “I want to solve a workplace problem – how do we go about this?” tone, not that of complaint.)

          For the rest an arsenal of “Huh, are you keeping track of my bathroom breaks now?” / [with a calm smile] “Jane, seriously, not every conversation I have with my coworkers is about you.” / “Goodness, where did that come from?” / “Jane, you really need to check your assumptions. This is getting a little ridiculous.” etc. might help, to be dispensed one by one (practiced, no raised tone, with an expression of mild exasperation) as needed.

    5. Garlic Knot*

      This looks like something that you should start documenting now, just in case. I personally went through a somewhat similar situation recently, and it is much easier to state your case to the higher-ups or HR with direct quotes and time stamps instead of relying on memory.

    6. AllTheBirds*

      Instead of growing a thicker skin, you need to react in the moment, loud enough for others to hear.

      “Please don’t shout at me.”
      “I don’t understand why you’re speaking to me in that tone of voice.”
      When she says something rude: “Wow, that was rude.” Then STOP and let her react. If she says more, “I am treating you with respect. I expect the same from you.”

      I know it’s hard, but developing this skill will def help you in the long term.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Don’t even look up from your work when she barks at you. “Don’t speak to me that way” with as little of any inflection as you can allow. “No, not if that’s how you’re going to speak to me”. “I don’t engage with aggression”. Then literally ignore her when she pops off after that. You know those times in a bad relationship where you finally grow your spine and stand up for yourself and suddenly the other person just….stops? Find that power because you know she has none at all. People who act like her are actually frightened shells of people.

    7. Workerbee*

      You are not being too sensitive. Jane is looking for sycophants and you are wise not to be one of them. There is no need for you to provide any level of emotional support to her.

      Documentation is your friend.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Is your role senior to Jane, or are you peers? If you are senior, you need to shut that shit down right away. “Jane, do not speak to me that way, it’s completely inappropriate.”

      If you are org chart peers, soften it and say, “Jane, there’s no need to snap. I was trying to help.”

      When she’s speaking to other people, quit listening in. It will just annoy you. Put on headphones if you have to. If she accuses you of gossiping about her or tries to start some elementary-school drama, be a gray rock and say neutrally, “Of course not.”

      Just because she isn’t capable of acting like a grownup doesn’t mean you have to devolve. Be the grownup.

    9. Montresaur*

      Anybody who complains that your expression is “too neutral” is not thinking rationally about who knows how many other things.

      I wish I had some concrete advice, but I can tell you that I don’t think for a second Jane’s attitude reflects a genuine failing on you. And good on you for not giving in to the temptation to just placate her; I doubt that will make things better for you honestly.

      1. Kat in VA*

        Even if someone is senior to you (or on the same level), if their behavior is unwarranted, out of control, or just plain aggressive/belligerent/rude AF, there is nothing wrong with, “Excuse me, do not speak to me in that manner.”

        (Or, dependent on casualness of relationship, my slightly less professional, “Ayo, don’t talk to me like that!” Tone is a surprised, Hey You’re Standing On My Foot, as if they couldn’t possibly be intentionally barking at you.)

        I’ve done this with BossMan when he steps out of line or starts using me as an emotional punching bag, which is almost always due to upset with other people and forgetting that I’m there as support and not a backstop.

        Rational people*, when met with a level “Don’t speak to me in that manner” will generally stop, check themselves, apologize, and start over.

        *Rational is asterisked as it doesn’t sound like Jane is all that…rational. However, it’s also not your job to be her Emotional Maxipad or her Feelings Support Bra and it’s entirely okay to verbally state that she’s not to speak to you in an unprofessional way. We can have boundaries, both professional and personal.

        Sometimes folks will, hmm, forget themselves – especially if their poor behavior has been tolerated by others – and a quick snap back to a flat, “We’re professionals. Do not speak to me that way” is enough to knock them off their spiraling rage pony and back into the real world.

        YMMV, of course, as it always does in individual situations. My post is less about the How To and more about the Why For – it’s definitely not okay for someone to be rude and/or aggressively emote all over you because they’re have A Super Bad Day…unless you’re a therapist and then I’m guessing the rules around emotional language are a wee bit different.

  10. Anon For This*

    I’ve been told by friends my loyalty to my employer is unwarranted and I need to be selfish but I’m bad at that.

    I work for a teeeeeeny organization. One person just put in their notice and I’m actively looking. There will be approx. 1.5 employees to handle a whole bunch of shit show if I leave. And I feel terrible. But I’m also miserable. My boss is clearly leaning on me to handle this other person leaving and…I don’t know what to tell her. The advice I’m getting is not to tell her anything and I’m going with that, for now, but the guilt and stress is eating me. Anyone else manage this kind of thing? Advice?

    1. ThatGirl*

      You don’t owe your employer any more loyalty than they would give you. There are plenty of other people out there who can do your job, but only one you. And with a lot of jobs, there’s never a great time to leave, but they will manage, because that’s the company’s responsibility — not yours.

      Short-term, do you have someone you can talk this out with, maybe a counselor? Your mental health is important as you look for a new job.

    2. Mr. Cajun2core*

      I learned this the hard way. You boss would lay you off/fire you/etc. if it were in the best interest of the company. You boss has no loyalty to you. Hopefully that makes you being selfish a little easier.

      1. Allypopx*

        My boss took a personal pay cut to make sure we didn’t lose any staff during the pandemic and has pushed to get me a raise and a bonus this year even though we’re still operating in the red. So it’s hard for me to convince myself of that.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          That was nice but you still don’t owe them. You were still doing work so, yeah, they still owed you money.

        2. Mr. Cajun2core*

          You do have an unusual boss. However, he did what was in the best interest of the company to keep you. I had a boss that did the same thing. It was also the same boss the laid me (long with 2 other coworkers) off a couple of years later because it was in the best interest of the company.

        3. tamarack and fireweed*

          So you’re working for an ethical employer. But if they came to the conclusion that the business is not viable, they *would* lay you off, and they would not give you a blow-by-blow of their inner monologue about what they are looking to do. In fact, if you think your boss is a good guy they may not appreciate the stress of knowing you’re looking.

          There are “you” problems and there are “other people” problems. Finding a good workplace where you’re happy is a “you” problem. Planning for staff turnover and replacing leavers is an “other people” problem.

          Don’t tell them – it really puts you in a more fragile position than you not telling them puts your employer.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      Alison has posted so many letters like this. You don’t own the company. You don’t owe anything to the boss or the company. It is up to them to appropriately hire and retain employees. If they don’t have enough employees to do the work (or won’t if you leave), that is 100% on them. They should have hired more people or made it such a great place to work that you wouldn’t want to leave. Keep quiet about the fact that you are looking, and when you leave, do so without guilt.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Sometimes you just have to march on without your brain. Ask anyone with anxiety: Brains lie. Sometimes you just have to tell them to Talk To The Hand and proceed anyway.

        2. quill*

          Yeah, this one’s a therapy thing, (as well as a work thing.)

          Just like “owing” your parents for raising you, or your friends for putting up with you… the line between gratitude and unhealthy behaviors can be slim.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      The thing is, you can’t have it all: You can’t look for a better job and also avoid feeling guilty about leaving the one you have. There is no reason to feel guilty, but if your friends can’t talk you out of that, I doubt I can. But I’ll say again what everyone else has said: You don’t owe them more than they would give you. And also it’s totally normal to leave jobs. If they can’t function, that’s on them for managing poorly.

      But to some degree you’re just going to feel uncomfortable and that sucks but it won’t kill you.

      1. ampersand*

        Yep, this. Both these things can be true: your employer has done more than most to ensure you still have a job, AND you can feel guilty/uncomfortable about your decision to move on. I think just accept that it feels bad for now and keep going!

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      Recommend to your boss that you get a new person in ASAP, because you’re worried about workload and want it off your plate soonest. When they get applications, emphasize getting a wide range of applicants. This way, there’s a better chance of two or more good candidates in the pool, and when you go, they can just ask the other candidates.

    6. Dog Coordinator*

      Hi Anon for this, I’m almost 100% positive you’re my coworker and I’m the one who gave notice (I know we both read AAM!!). If you are, I just want to repeat back something you said to me when I gave notice (and if you’re not, then this still rings true!) We’re allowed to further our careers by moving on to another job. Echoing the other commentators, you don’t owe them anything. It’s a business, and part of doing business is that employees will leave at some point.

      If you are my coworker, then this will all be spot on: It is not our fault as employees that the work/life balance is completely skewed, that the business is generally understaffed, that new projects get launched with no planning or forethought, that the boss doesn’t listen to rational advice and makes decisions based on manic episodes, etc. It’s only because of the overworking that folks like you and I do that it even functions at all with the skeleton crew that is already in place. Will it suck to leave? Absolutely. I feel terrible leaving you to deal with all of this (and the new projects that got sprung in my last week). It’s hard to be selfish when you genuinely care about your coworkers, and the work that company does, even if you know the boss is not stable and not a good manager. But it’s not YOUR company. You’re not tied to it forever, even if it feels like that with the way that this company permeates every aspect of the owner and client’s lives. Yes she touts it as a lifestyle, but it does NOT have to be yours. You are allowed to, and should, find a place that treats and compensates you fairly.

      Good for you for actively looking! I was honestly hoping that you were. You deserve a place that treats you better (we both do!). Get some of the “managerial” experience/title bump when I leave, enough to pad your resume, and then GTFO.

    7. College Career Counselor*

      Remember that if an organization folds because you left, it wasn’t sustainable. You don’t have to hold your career, happiness, health, etc. hostage to keep a struggling organization afloat. You’re not an owner or investor, correct? Then you owe them good work for the (presumably appropriate/market level) wage they pay you, not your unwavering loyalty and the rest of your working life.

    8. ferrina*

      One thing to remember is that you can’t control when you get an offer. It might take 6 months of job searching; it might take 3 weeks. It would be nice if we could instantly find a new job (and a good fit!) exactly when we wanted, but it’s an unpredictable process. You need to look when you are ready to look, because you don’t know how long it will take to find a good match. You never want to be so desperate to leave that you will take any job, and you end up somewhere worse than you left.

      Another thing to remember is that transition pain is temporary. I’ve been on the other side- the one who stayed when everyone else left. It sucked short-term, but a strong organization will see this as an opportunity to rebuild. They will look to the future and focus on potential. A bad organization will whine about what was lost, or will panic and never get out of the slump. That isn’t caused by employees leaving, that’s caused by poor organization.

      I hope that helps!

    9. Purple Penguin*

      Reiterating the very good advice others have commented: You don’t owe your employer loyalty. There is no reason to feel guilty for doing what is in your best interest. The company will surely do what is in their best interests (although it undoubtedly feels like their current actions – not managing the shit show – are not in their current best course of action, there is something making them act in the way they are and it is not your job to change that something) and you need to do what is best for you.

      An additional thing to think about: Most people rightly suggest not to tell management that you’re job searching because of possible negative repercussions (especially in an at-will employment scenario), but would telling your manager that you’re looking for a new position make you feel less guilty and thus relieve some of your stress? If you decide that it would, consider maybe telling another authority figure, like a therapist or mentor, about your search first to see if verbalizing the your desire for a new job helps with your guilty feelings. Sometimes “speaking your truth” to an authoritative figure can help. Also, if you decide that you must tell your boss or the guilt will eat you alive, make sure that you have an employment/money back up plan first.

    10. AcademiaNut*

      What you owe to a good boss – doing your job reliably and well, being pleasant to work with, giving appropriate notice when you move on, and doing your best to make the transition smooth.

      What I might do for a really good boss, one that’s gone above and beyond – longer than usual notice, if possible, to handle the transition, spreading the job advertisement in my network to help get good candidates (if the job itself is okay), and, possibly, doing some contract work after leaving to help train a new person (depending on my own schedule and circumstances).

      What it comes down to, practically, is that you aren’t happy in the job, and need to move on to something else. Your boss is lovely, but the business is tiny and not doing well financially, so it’s not a stable situation anyways. Finding a new job takes time, so if you want to move on at some point, you need to start looking. And with with 3.5 employees, there’s no time to leave that’s not going to strain things. Unless you are willing to stay until/if the business folds, you’re going to have to quit at some point and leave them scrambling for a new person.

    11. Alexis Rosay*

      I’ll be giving my notice on Monday and I’m dreading it, because like yours, my boss is an incredibly kind person, and I also work at a tiny organization where one person just gave their notice two weeks ago.

      I’m giving 7 weeks notice because I can, and because that’s fairly standard where I work. I know Allison strongly advises against it, but there’s zero chance of me being pushed out early.

      I feel very bad about leaving, but I also keep telling myself that my leaving could be someone else’s opportunity to get a job that they want or need.

  11. Eric*

    Whose companies have added Juneteenth as a holiday? It feels like all my clients and friends and family have off today, except me.

    1. Allypopx*

      I was told “the board has not officially added it but feel free to take a half day Friday or Monday and we’ll work on making it official next year”.

    2. MissGirl*

      Nope, I think most of us are working. A lot of companies don’t give every federal day off.

      1. quill*

        From my work experience, the only federal holidays that the majority of companies will definitely give off are New year’s, Memorial day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

        Everything else is very workplace dependent. I don’t know anyone who gets, for example, martin luther king day off except a couple of school districts.

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

          I’m in higher ed. We get MLK Day. A know of lot of people in office jobs that get MLK off — but retail, manufacturing, food service, hospitality…not at all. I think it also heavily depends on how international the company is too.

          1. JelloStapler*

            A state University in our region gets Veterans Day, we do not. Columbus Day hasn’t been a thing in ages in all levels of education.

        2. elle*

          My company used to have President’s day as a paid holiday, they switched it to MLK day to show solidarity for social justice. It’s a large private sector company.

          1. Fran Fine*

            My current company gives us both, which is nice – I’ve never worked at a place that did that before. My previous employers made it so we got one or the other (and it was usually President’s Day), but not both because of how close they are.

          2. JustaTech*

            This is what my company did this year.
            We’ve had a couple of emails about celebrating Juneteenth, but I don’t think we’ve had anything about having it be a holiday. (I’m in the medical manufacturing sector so scheduling holidays can be hard to do without impacting our patients.)

        3. RussianInTexas*

          Yes, my previous company was fairly generous with holidays, but even they did not give MLK or President’s Day off.
          Just the standard ones you listed, with extra day for Black Friday and Christmas Eve.

    3. Name goes here*

      My org hasn’t said anything / AFAIK we don’t have either Friday or Monday off.

    4. ThatGirl*

      We do not, but I kind of wonder if we will next year. It just became a state holiday in Illinois right before it became a federal holiday, so I know state workers have the day off.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Close, but not quite re: IL state workers.

        Under the law that Pritzker originally signed earlier in the week, it would only be a day off if the day fell during the week.

        Once Biden signed the law making it a federal holiday, then it was changed. I know this because my agency didn’t send out the email indicating our day off until almost 430pm on Thursday.

    5. Liz*

      Mine hasn’t, but as we don’t get every single federal holiday off, i.e. Veteran’s Day, MLK day, I’m going to guess that we won’t be getting it off. Which doesn’t bother me all that much; part of our PTO is several floating holidays, which I think they do as there’s a lot of diversity within my company, so giving every federal and other holiday off really isn’t feasible. It is frustrating sometimes as our work is dependent on a federal government agency so sometimes we have to wait as they’re off all the holidays

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Our President said that it was too late to add it as a paid holiday this year, but said that it would be added as one for 2022. I mean, I know at least one competitor in our industry is giving it as a paid holiday this year, but I feel like I can trust my employer, so I’m not upset, I’m just glad they’re adding it next year.

    7. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I was hoping for a surprise “you get the day off” email this morning, but no luck. I bet it will be on. My company’s holiday calendar next year though.

      1. SweetPotatoontheCouch*

        Same! At a minimum, I was hoping to get an acknowledgment email that definitively says one way or the other what was happening.

    8. JimmyJab*

      My state added it and I’m a state employee so I have a holiday (to take Friday or Monday).

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I don’t know anyone personally who has it.
        I am in a red state, but most people I know work for large companies, so the state doesn’t matter.

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

      My org will probably add it for the next academic year, but we’ll likely have to lose a different holiday day. I imagine in smaller businesses or ones that don’t have a heavily regulated schedule or contracts, they can just tell people to take the day off but I’m surprised at how quickly some employers moved on this.

    10. Anonyanony*

      Don’t have it off and haven’t heard anything about it either, no postings from the company at all.

    11. MissDisplaced*

      We don’t (Japanese parent company) but people do have 5 days of floating PTO if they want to take off.

    12. Can't Sit Still*

      My company observed it last year, but only offered Juneteenth commemorations yesterday, under the assumption folks would take today off. When the 2021 holiday schedule was issued, the note on Juneteenth said that it would only be observed when it falls on a weekday.

    13. Tracy*

      Not my employer. The creation of this federal holiday has happened quite quickly so I’m not surprised that my employer hasn’t taken any action at this time. For reference, there is a corporate office and five subsidiary plant/manufacturing locations throughout the United States.

      So you’re not alone and it’s okay.

    14. Anon Fed*

      I was vaguely aware of the legislation to make “Juneteenth” a federal holiday, and I expected that if the legislation passed, it might go into effect as early as next year. Of course, working from home, I don’t get any office gossip, but when we had on online meeting yesterday morning I was informed that it was practically a done deed for tomorrow (today) and that they were waiting for President Biden to make the announcement at 3:30 pm EST. So, shortly after the announcement was made, we received notice by email and were instructed to update our time sheets to reflect we were getting the day off as a holiday. Sweet.

      It turned into a big mess for people who work 4-day weeks and for those who had already made arrangements to use a vacation day for today. But, overall, it was a pleasant unexpected surprise.

    15. Jason*

      I’m working on a special project in another country at the moment but my company (American based in America, me as the only employee not in America) has said we will only get the holiday if it falls on a weekday, same as all other federal holidays. We don’t get a Monday/Friday if it falls on the weekend.

    16. I'm just here for the cats*

      Haven’t heard anything but Im wondering if it next year it will be like memorial day and July 4th where we get the day off (or a floating day if it’s on a weekend) or if it will be like Veterans day or President’s day where we still work.

    17. Night Vale Seems Good by Comparison*

      We are Federal contractors. We were told the government wouldn’t pay for the holiday, but my company chose to give us a paid day off. We get all permanent Federal holidays (so not if they get an extra day off around Christmas, for example), so I’m thinking it will probably be covered next year, but I’m not sure. It’s definitely all over the place the year; we only got word we would be off yesterday evening.

    18. Bex*

      My company is making is a holiday starting in 2022. But I’m pretty happy with that because they gave us last Friday off as a end-of-fiscal-fiscal year thank you.

    19. kittymommy*

      So i just looed at CNN’s list of federal holidays and my local government gives off all but 2 (Washington’s birthday and Columbus day). We definitely don’t have today off as all holidays have to be approved at the beginning of our FY year. I’m not sure if we’ll get it off in 2022 – I guess it’ll depend what our state does.

    20. SlimeKnight*

      It was added as a “day of recognition” by our employer. They have been very conspicuous NOT to call it a holiday. They waited until the last minute to acknowledge it, so we will see if they include it as a holiday for next year.

    21. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      It’s recognized as a holiday and they’re looking into the budget to determine if we can afford to offer it as a paid holiday next year.

    22. Littorally*

      We’ve gotten ours as a floating holiday for this year. We go by the NYSE holiday calendar, not the federal one.

    23. Nicki Name*

      My company’s previous parent company gave us the day off last year, along with a lot of the rest of my industry (tech), but it was a one-off. The new parent company has it as a permanent holiday. I don’t know if it displaced another holiday.

    24. Parakeet*

      We have only (a fairly generous complement of) floating holidays, no set universal ones, so people who wanted it as one of their holidays had the option to ask for it when we did our holiday requests for the year. I did not ask for it off – we do work where there are coverage needs for certain things, and I would rather be at work to make sure that Black coworkers are able to take the day off if they want.

    25. OyHiOh*

      My org is working today. We follow the federal holiday calendar so I expect we’ll update the holidays list for next year.

    26. The Other Dawn*

      It was added this year: however, only the people who normally work Saturday will get a paid day off this time around.

    27. RussianInTexas*

      My company does not even have paid Memorial Day, so I am not sure they are even aware what Juneteenth is.

    28. Tessera Member 042*

      Higher Ed here – Ironically, the college system gave employees Juneteenth off last year (and those of us teaching summer classes were instructed not to hold them or have assignments due that day). But this year we do not have off, and just got an email from the president saying it was not a holiday for us this year. I anticipate it will be a holiday in the future.

    29. Snow globe*

      Our company president sent out an email minutes after the bill was signed, saying we will recognize this new holiday. Since it is on a Saturday this year, it will be a floating holiday (which is how we treat all Saturday holidays).

    30. Windchime*

      I was pleased to hear that it is on our holiday schedule for next year. :) I work for a state university.

    31. WOCINOH*

      For us, it was added as a paid holiday at the beginning of the fiscal year. However, we’re still open to the public today, which means that public-facing staff (which includes the vast majority of our POC, including me) end up working while the (mostly white) office staff get the day off. I’m not super pleased with the reality of “getting the day off”

      1. WOCINOH*

        *We are recognizing it today, although it is tomorrow (when public-facing staff still have to work and can’t take the day off…)

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          That is crappy. At a place where I used to work, the public-facing staff brought this issue up when there was an extra day off offered to all staff, they weren’t able to take it because of needing to work that day. To their credit, HR responded and allowed anyone who was required to work that day to take it instead as a floating holiday. Perhaps that could work where you are.

    32. WoodswomanWrites*

      The CEO of my organization yesterday sent a really inspiring email to our entire staff about the importance of the holiday in the context of history and racism. The message said it was too late to make it a paid holiday but encouraged anyone who wanted to take a day off today or Monday to use their vacation time to do so. They also said they would factor the holiday into next year’s budget.

    33. DrRat*

      My company just added it as a holiday this year! Some departments are closed today, some (like mine) are open so you can take the holiday today for Juneteenth if these is capacity or use as a floating holiday for another day. All the Juneteenth celebrations are tomorrow on the actual day so there was no point in me taking today off. It’s a slow day, though.

    34. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I’m retired, but my husband works for the state. About a week ago, they were told they’d be off in the afternoon. Late Thursday afternoon, it was made a whole-day holiday. There were several state entities above them that had to sign off before it could be okay’d at the local level.

  12. Spoonie*

    I’ve only ever used private health insurance, so I’m excited at the prospect of saving a couple hundred dollars a month by using my new employer’s health insurance, but also terrified about possibly having a gap between health insurances or not being able to get my medication.

    The benefits counselor told me I could elect my benefits on my start date (near the end of June), and that my benefits would be effective my date of hire (which I assume is when I accepted the job a week ago?). So basically that means I’ll be able to use my new employer’s health insurance in July?

    The one medication I take needs to be preapproved. I’ve been on it for about a decade, could get very sick without it, and am supposed to be on it for the rest of my life. My doctor said getting it approved shouldn’t be a problem, but I’m nervous because it’s expensive, and if my new insurance won’t cover it I’d be totally screwed. Will insurance companies generally approve medications people have been on long term? Should I pay for another month of my private health insurance incase I need to keep it?

    1. BRR*

      I would check if it’s covered under your new insurance. You might need to ask your new employer for the plan information then call the insurance company and ask. Also clarify date of hire.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Second this. HR will be happy to give you the plan type and phone number so you can call and check on prescription coverage. This is very normal.
        You could check online, but I’ve found the online pharmacy coverage can be complicated to navigate. And if the drug is in a higher tier, then the phone rep can tell you what to do to appeal.
        I’d also trust your doctor and not worry too much. If they prescribe this drug regularly, then they have navigated every health plan and know the pre-approval process for each one.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        – Employers should be able to give you a contact # for insurance that can walk you through the prescription schedule.
        – ‘Date of Hire’ is usually the first day you show up to the job / start getting paid, not the day you accepted it. There’s often some paperwork like tax forms involved on the first day. Insurance forms, you get a week or so to fill out. My company has 4 different plan options, so new hires get some time to research them.

        — an example, if you want it (insurance can be so overwhelming) —-
        If your company’s like mine, the plans are usually:
        – Gold plan: High payments, but you get low deductable and lots of coverage / free visits
        – Silver plan: Medium payments, high deductable, lots of coverage
        – Health Care Spending Account (HCSA): Low payments, but you pay for everything with a savings account. My company puts about $1K in the account for my family, and I can save more, tax free, but I have to keep track of the debit card and payments. The savings account never expires, it’s intended to be a retirement tool.
        – No coverage

        The first three have similar prescription drug coverage lists (called a ‘formulary’, iirc).

        For my family of 3, with a long-term health issue (thyroid) and 1 set of braces:
        – Gold plan: We paid about $8K for premiums, I almost never pay anything at the doctor’s office, despite someone being in there to test thyroid levels 4x/year or so (+++), but no coverage for braces (-).
        – HCSA: We pay $4.5K for premiums, my company hands us $1K, and I can save up for braces tax free (25% savings). I have to pay office / testing bills (also tax free).

        We’ve been on the HCSA version for 3 years now (kid’s 0.5 years through the braces), and I have 2 bills on my desk to pay today (office, test; about $200). Apples to apples (without braces), I think we save about $2K / year by being on the HCSA and having me do the paperwork, and we now have $ in the account for future emergencies or for retirement (kid’s braces were cheaper than I feared).

        BUT: all our medications are covered under both plans. I checked before switching by calling the HCSA insurance company.

        Good luck. My company has an AI tool to help people figure this stuff out. And *of course* they implemented that the year *after* I figured it all out manually.

    2. Mr. Cajun2core*

      I learned this the hard way. You most definitely should pay for your private health insurance for at least a month, if not longer, until you are 100% that your medication is covered.

    3. bunniferous*

      I would do whatever would give me peace of mind. If that meant an extra month of private insurance, so be it.

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

      If you can’t afford to keep your private insurance for another month, could you try to get an extra 1-2 month supply of your medication to cover you if there is a delay? Even if your new insurance ends up covering it in the future, the transition in insurance might not go smoothly.

    5. Cowgirlinhiding*

      Can you get the doctor to double your prescription for a few months to give you enough to get through the change?

      1. Can Can Cannot*

        This is a great idea. See if your doctor will issue a 90 day prescription starting the month before your new job starts.

    6. I'm just here for the cats*

      That sucks and I know how you feel as I have a list of meds that are life saving that I cannot go without.

      I would double check with your benefits person and ask if health insurance goes date of hire or the first day you start. Then I would ask if you could get the insurance info to get a medication approved.

      If nothing else, maybe you can have your private insurance overlap a bit. Or could your doctor write you a prescription for an extra amount (like a 3 month supply instead of 1 month) so that you have enough? Or maybe even ask the insurance company of they could allow you to refill the meds early so you don’t run out. I know my insurance wouldn’t normally do 3 month supply, but if you were going to be traveling they would allow you to get extra.
      Good luck with everything!

    7. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      I’m on a medication that requires prior authorization. As soon as you get your plan info, find the correct form and get your doctor to file it. You can probably find a version of it now if you google your soon to be health insurer and the medicine. Your doctor just needs to make a case of why you need it, normally being asked if you’ve tried other authorized medicines, how long you’ve been on this one, special aspects about your condition, etc.

      If this is a pill/take at home medication, ask your doctor if they can put in an order for extra while you are currently on this insurance, so if there is a delay, you will be ok. Mine is an IV medicine, so if it is the same for you, try to line up your infusion closest to the last day of your old insurance, again to allow for a buffer, because some insurance companies process authorizations slower than others. And fill out the form/get the authorization request accomplished ASAP! Ask your doctor if they file it automatically for you (my current doctor does this) or if they need you to bring in the form for them to handle (my old doctor did this).

      And yes, normally they do approve if you’ve been on it for a long time, because it’s not worth the cost of having to pay out when you get seriously ill. My company loves to change insurance providers pretty much every year (fun…) so I’ve been through this rodeo many times. And I bet your doctor has been through this many times with many different providers. The best plan is to make sure that you have some plan in place in case there is a slight delay in authorization.

    8. No Tribble At All*

      100% keep your personal insurance for at least a month, if not two, after your start date. Especially with so many things being remote, you may not get formally enrolled in the company’s insurance for a month. (Mine took 5 weeks). Supposedly I can get the insurance company to reimburse me the difference for what they would have paid, but I was functionally uninsured for those weeks. You may end up paying out-of-pocket if the paperwork hasn’t come through from the new company.

    9. Spoonie*

      Thank you for the responses!

      My start date is June 28th, so if that’s also the hire date, then I’ll have the new insurance in July?

      If I pay for another month of private insurance, can I still use it to get my medicine in July? (I already reached the deductible/out of pocket max, so it’d be free.) Or would I have to get it through the new plan as soon as the approval process was done?

      1. MissCoco*

        I think if you’ve paid for coverage, you get to use it, even if you’re double covered, but your insurance company will tell you for sure. I definitely used my old benefits after I was with a new insurance company when I had a couple weeks of overlap

      2. Can Can Cannot*

        Yes, your new coverage should start immediately (June 28) or possibly on July 1. Some companies start the first of the month following your start date. In any event, you should ask when it will start.

      3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        When I was still working, benefits like insurance kicked in at the beginning of the following calendar month. My soon-to-be division head suggested I start on March 31st instead of April 1st to accelerate my coverage.

    10. EngineerGal*

      You may be able to do a “vacation override “ to get extra meds to tide you over the transition period. This is intended for when you’ll be traveling so you can take enough meds with you but ime it’s pretty flexible-call your pharmacy

    11. ampersand*

      I’ve been there—I elected to keep my existing health insurance for an additional month until I was sure the new insurance was covering my medication/there were no gaps in coverage. That’s my recommendation since your health is at stake.

    12. Buggy Crispino*

      Please check with the drug manufacturer to see if they have an assistance plan. One of the drugs I’m taking has co-pay assistance that they call “covered until you’re covered” which means they will cover the cost of your drug until your insurance approves it and kicks in. The website for the drug will often give you the information as well. By the way, these assistance plans are usually pretty good at covering your co-pay and out of pocket payments at the beginning of each year even once you’re on an established plan. Also, SAMPLES! Drug reps give doctors samples all the time and a month or two of samples might be what you need to get you through the transition.

  13. Tbubui*

    Just wanted to say thank you so much to the commenters that helped me last week with my question about suddenly being in charge of things. It was very helpful!

    Now I have another very unexpected problem. A (small) national streaming service wants to feature our (very small) nonprofit. Director does not want to be on TV, so she’s tapped me to show the crew around and do on-camera interviews about our mission and such.

    Now, I’m happy to showcase our nonprofit but I hate cameras. I also have social anxiety (that developed about three years ago after the death of my father). Does anyone have any tips for being less nervous about the whole experience? I feel completely and utterly lost here. I’m so far out of my depth.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      There will probably be an on-air interviewer/host person. Look at that person, not the camera. Carry on a conversation with just that person.

      1. Tbubui*

        Thank you! Pretending the camera isn’t there will definitely help. Person-to-person interactions are much easier for me now.

    2. quill*

      Speak slowly and ask the camera people / interviewers for tips. They have a lot more experience getting the results they want in taping people talking, so just being candid before the cameras are on that you’re nervous and would appreciate any direction or advice can both break the ice and let them know to take charge of the experience.

      1. Tbubui*

        Thanks! I tend to speak quickly if I’m especially nervous, but it’s something I’ve been working on. And thanks for the tip about letting the camera people/interviewers know. This company apparently does a lot of work with smaller organizations, so I’m sure they’ll have some good tips.

          1. MinotJ*

            So weird. I also speak quickly when I’m nervous, and telling myself to calm down has never worked. But if I were ever recorded, this is the type of advice that would work for me.

    3. ferrina*

      Practice conversations around what you want to say. Not scripts, just acting out scenarios as though you were showing a friend around your non-profit. I find it helpful do it several times, each time pretending like I’m talking to a different person (i.e., my mom, my best friend, my boss, Wayne Brady, etc.) I’ve found that pretending to have a conversation a few times helps me be more confident when I do have the conversation. It also helps me identify words I should use/avoid.

      1. Tbubui*

        Thank you! I think practice will be the key since preparing does help lower my anxiety in general.

    4. Bagpuss*

      Do you have any standing to push back a bit with the director? Perhaps explain that you have anxiety and don’t feel comfortable being on camera?

      Also if you can, speak to the people doing the segment – I’m sure they have experience of nervous interviewees.

      Depending on the type of work you are doing, would it be possible to suggest that your interview is used more as a voiceover than a straight on-camera interview, so that you are heard but not seen (or less seen)

      Things I would suggest:
      – Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in, and if you buy something new, wear it a bit first so you do feel comfortable, so you are less self-conscious.
      – Practice – you might not know the exact questions, but if you think about some key points you’d want to make about each aspect of your organisation, and practice what you can say, then it will give you a starting point. If you have one or two key points for each part of the org then you can leas with those not be left panicking about what to say.
      – Tell them you are nervous before you start, and discuss what they want to see and how much detail they want you to go into. you’ll feel more confident if you know what to expect and it gives you the opportunity to make sure that you have ideas about what to say.
      – Talk slower. Most of us tend to gabble a bit when we are anxious. Consciously slow down a little.
      – Easier said than done, but try to ignore the camera. Focus on the person you are talking to. (if they ask you to look at the camera, look at the person who is holding it, rather than the camera itself

      1. Tbubui*

        I do have standing to push back against the director, but I won’t. All of our other staff are new due to our funding being cut, COVID restrictions, and people graduating from their programs (most staff are students). I’m the only one left who knows the general operations well enough to talk about them. Obviously Director could, but she is completely burnt out and going on leave in a few weeks per her doctor’s recommendation. And I want to overcome my social anxiety, and stop letting it rule my life. I have made big strides in therapy so while I’m anxious about the whole thing, I’ve been learning to deal with discomfort, especially since it will benefit our organization so much.

        Also thanks for the tips! They are very practical. I will start jotting down and practising some basic points about the history of our organization and our current work.

        1. allathian*

          Good for you on working on your anxiety! I don’t have generalized anxiety, but I definitely would be anxious if I had to be on camera for anything.

          My sister’s an environmental scientist and she’s been interviewed quite a few times. She’s very used to it it now, and tells me that the only interviews that get to her now are those that are going out live on the radio. So if you start rambling or repeating yourself, it can be edited out.

    5. cubone*

      Try not to prepare for an “on camera Media Interview” and instead prepare for knowing the ins and outs of your org. Remind yourself of the elevator pitch, the organization’s best stats, successes and challenges, etc. Arm yourself with BRIEF and specific info and details. Do you have key messages? Make sure you and your director are 100% clear on the ONE takeaway you would want viewers to get out of this segment.

      Also, you’re allowed to ask the interview what questions they’re going to ask! They may answer more broadly than a specific list but ask what the focus will be, what info they would like prepared, etc. (if you haven’t done so already). One of my favorite resources are “bridging statements” for media interviews. These are usually deployed for challenging or “gotcha” questions (it doesn’t sound like you will face particularly challenging questions!), but I find them to be generally helpful phrases for moments of brain malfunction or getting off track.

      Find someone you PRACTICE with. Same as Alison’s job interview prep, you get confidence to do something from knowing you’ve already done it. Ask your director, colleagues, friends or family to practice asking you questions and answering on the fly.

      Lastly, practice breathing. Whatever works for you – meditation, yoga, breath exercises – this is so important for getting through the interview and the preceding anxiety. Wishing you luck! You can do this!

      1. Tbubui*

        Thank you so much for all the tips! I will email the crew and ask for more specifics. Being prepared definitely helps with some of the anxiety. And I’ll practice with my partner in advance; I love the idea of preparing for the knowledge part instead of framing it as preparing for an on camera interview. That is really helpful!

        1. cubone*

          I did a lot of training and presentations in a past job, and then got asked to do media interviews. I was so nervous, but I realized that in a lot of ways, it was really similar work (just with slightly different priorities). The fact that I knew so much about my org from all my presentation work made me way more confident, and what I began practicing more was how to be really focused and specific (for media interviews).

          Also, even after doing 20+ on camera media interviews and big presentations to 50+ audience….. I was never not a little nervous!! It’s normal and helped me a lot to acknowledge that I was (and would be) nervous, than trying to make it go away.

    6. Shirley Keeldar*

      Hello, fellow camera-shy person! Best tip I ever got about talking on camera is this—say what you have to say and then STOP TALKING. Allow there to be a little pause. It signals to your interviewer/camera person/audience that you’re done. You don’t have to fill in that pause with, “Right?” “Okay?” “You know?” “Um….so I guess that’s it…” or other filler. Just let the end of the sentence sit there. I swear it’s magic.

      1. Tbubui*

        Thanks so much! It’s good to get advice from fellow camera-shy people. I tend to go on and on when I’m nervous so reminding myself to just stop will help quite a bit.

    7. Rick T*

      I’d add your organization should have their own camera recording the entire event so you have an independent record of what as been said. That way if the final results aren’t edited fairly you have your own recordings as proof you are being misrepresented.

    8. Tea and Sympathy*

      The point of the whole thing is to impart information. So stay focused on the message you want to get out there, and the information you want people to know, and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by the process. (This is much easier if you internalize the message being about informing people in some way instead of just about making your organization look good.) If you find your inner voice wondering if your voice sounds okay or what the interviewer thinks, remember how important the message is, and snap back to putting all your focus on that.

  14. Fluffernutter*

    My job is to work daily with internal and external contacts: vendors, brokers, customers, etc. I’ve gotten consistently good feedback from them and my supervisor. I recently had an interview where they asked about my interpersonal communication and how I foster good relationships at work. I said I make sure to communicate everything clearly so there’s no frustration and to be very thorough. Then I talked about everything in the first sentence. The interviewer accepted my answer but sounded a little dissatisfied.

    Any advice on how talk about your experience in fostering good interpersonal relationships? Or just ideas of how to think of concrete examples to provide? I’m a bit lost since there aren’t really hard numbers for showing I’m good at relationships/communication.

    1. Allypopx*

      I usually say something like “I try to learn different people’s communication styles, preferences, and priorities and meet people where they’re at to find the best way to work collaboratively” but I think your answer sounds perfectly fine tbh

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Just provide some concrete examples. Anybody can say “I’m thorough”. But if you say “I put together standard checklists of all the things I need to talk about with the various kinds of contacts. Every month I review questions that have been asked and add anything that shows up more than once to the checklist. Etc.” then you’ve demonstrated that you **really** understand what ‘thorough’ means.

      Also, you provided a very matter-of-fact answer; the interviewer might have been looking for something more touchy-feely. That could explain the awkwardness.

      1. ferrina*


        I like when interviewees share a story that backs up the example. “For example, I had one client that tended to change direction on a frequent basis. Many people at my company found this client difficult to work with, but I found that our work went quite smoothly when I would repeat everything back to him so he could confirm. So when he changed direction, I would say “I hear you saying that you want to print brochures instead of doing a billboard. That will change the cost by $X and we’ll shift the timeline to have that done by Y. Does that sound good?”

      2. RussianInTexas*

        Writing this down, since customer service is a big part of my job, and I am job hunting.

    3. LKW*

      I usually discuss team building and developing clear roles and responsibilities, set clear expectations and hold people to their obligations. I make sure that everyone involved is y’know – involved – and that I expect everyone to work together to deliver quality work, resolve issues and manage risks. I reiterate our primary goals and make sure we’re all focused on that and not on infighting, blaming or anything else that will derail us. And I never let my team (whether they are vendors, contractors, colleagues, clients) take the blame when they are not to blame. If we are to blame, I acknowledge it, I focus the team on resolving the issue and then we go back and we discuss what happened, what went wrong and how do we avoid that problem going forward. There is (usually) no blame handed out.

    4. RagingADHD*

      Depending on the industry and the culture of the company, they may have been looking for something more toward the relational side, rather than the work-communication side. For example,

      -Making a note of coworker’s or customer’s birthdays so you can mention “happy birthday.”
      -Taking a coffee break with someone.
      -If/When covid precautions are not an issue, walking a document to a coworker instead of using interoffice mail, so you can speak face to face about it.

      That kind of more touchy-feely stuff. Some managers and some companies are really big on it.

  15. Wine Not Whine*

    I’ve been with my current company for 8 months (as of today!). We have a person (H) who transferred into our team a few weeks ago from within the company. Our manager has scheduled a Zoom meet’n’greet for H and me for later today.

    I have _no_ idea what to talk about.

    H has been training with the two other team members, both of whom have been in the role for years. We each do the same thing, but for different groups of salespeople, so I can’t think of anything I could cover that hasn’t already been handled by the other folks. H has been with the company for longer than I have, so it’s unlikely that I have anything useful in that respect.

    Any suggestions for making this _not_ a waste of time for all involved?

    1. Tbubui*

      You could see if he has any further questions related to his training or if there’s anything that needs to be clarified. I find that even when transferring into a role from within a company, different teams can operate quite differently.

      But if he doesn’t have any other questions/concerns, I’m kind of stumped. Are you obliged to meet for the whole period of time your manager has scheduled? If it’s a short period of time, you could turn it into a brief social meet-up (but still remain professional). If it’s a long period of time, I’m really not sure. Maybe you could talk about any projects your team currently handles? Getting up to speed on projects as a new employee can be difficult.

      1. Dilly Dally*

        Why are you stumped by the idea of team members meeting and getting to know each other?!

        1. JustaTech*

          You’ve never run into a situation where you just run out of things to talk about with a person you just met? Especially if neither person wants to share a lot of details of their personal life (reasonable) it is possible to go over all the work related stuff and end up just going “so, that’s what I know, any more questions?”

          And if the other person doesn’t have any more questions then yeah, you can be out of things to talk about.

          What list of topics do *you* think Wine Not Whine should have prepared?

          1. Dilly Dally*

            I just think it would be really weird not to encourage team members to meet and form a relationship.

          2. tra la la*

            I’m with Dilly Dally. You meet with the person, talk about the work stuff you have in common. H may have questions or thoughts that you haven’t anticipated, so you can talk about those. If H has been there longer than you have, maybe you could ask him about their experiences at the company and gain some institutional knowledge. And if there’s nothing else to say, then the meeting ends. If I were H transferring in, I’d find it strange if someone on my new team just didn’t want to talk to me.

        2. Tbubui*

          That’s a little uncalled for. Have you never been in a situation where you don’t have anything to talk about with someone? It can be a little awkward. Especially in a work situation where you may not know each other socially nor want to exchange much personal information. JustaTech has explained it much better than me below.

          1. Dilly Dally*

            I don’t think it’s nice to act like it’s pointless to get to know new colleagues. Put yourself in their shoes!

          2. pancakes*

            Feeling awkward isn’t necessarily a good reason to act awkward. Ferrina’s list of questions looks helpful.

    2. Not Too Short or Too Sweet*

      I would start by just introducing yourself and talking about your time on the team so far. You can talk about what your team is like and how it might differ from other teams in the organization, even if others have covered it, H might appreciate your insight. I would also use the time to ask H about their experience with the company and their work, and what things have been like for them so far on your team.

      1. ferrina*

        Yes! I like to ask:
        – What do you like at Company?
        – What has been the most exciting thing about this role so far?
        – What are you looking most forward to about this role?
        – Is there anything that you’re nervous or maybe not so much looking forward to in this role?
        And lean in to their experience at the company thus far!
        – Tell me about your time at the company! What role did you start in? What appeals to you about moving to this role?

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      Usually you just ask about them and give them space to ask questions — the purpose of the meet & greet is just that — not to give the new person more information. Ask them what were they doing in their previous role, how’s the onboarding been etc. If you have a preference for communication, tell them that — “I usually get to emails right away, but if it is urgent call/text/IM” etc. It’s just a friendly “hello, fellow human,” not a big deal other than putting the name and voice to a face (on both sides).

      1. Empress Matilda*

        This. It’s not about training them or telling them anything specific, it’s just a chance to say hi and put a face to the name. Tell H a bit about your professional background, and add something personal if you want (or not, if you don’t!). Find out a bit about their background, talk a bit about what you’re going to be working on together, then the usual stuff about weekends and weather and sports and tv that people always talk about.

        If you were physically in the office together, this is the kind of thing that would come up pretty naturally. Since you’re not, you have to do it by Zoom instead, which does feel a little forced – but honestly it’s nothing to worry about. Just a quick chat so H can meet the team, that’s all!

    4. Anno*

      Be honest that you are probably not as knowledgeable on the company as them, but share something that has been the most important skill/lesson you’ve learned in this role in the last 8 months.
      And if you like cats (or other pets) share that, those chats are also to break the ice and get a collegial/good working relationship and not so much about sharing work wisdom.

    5. Snailing*

      I’d also recommend leaning on your newness! New employees often have more fresh eyes on what processes could be smoother/different/more efficient because they are not tied down by habit. Since this is a new team for H, it will be new-ish for them too, so you can talk about what your tips for being the newbie are. And then just chat in general and be welcoming!

    6. LKW*

      Since you started pretty recently is there anything that you’ve learned about navigating the company that you wish someone told you ahead of time? Likethat the help desk is not helpful but Mike over in department X knows the key system in and out and can help with stuff? Or that you have to submit your time report on time or you go on the list of late submitters and that goes to management? Or that if you are trying to open Teams and a Presentation at the same time it will totally collapse, stop all of time and space and you have to restart your computer?

    7. Wine Not Whine*

      Update: it went much better than I’d expected. (Who, me, socially anxious? Nawww….)

      First, I should have been clear that there had been a round of “hey, everybody, meet H, introduce yourself, say a little bit about yourself” in our weekly team meetings. So it had felt as though a lot of the potential ground had already been covered.

      As it turns out, H had asked our manager to schedule these, and had some particular things ready to ask. So that got us off smoothly, and then we were able to slide into some general work-social chatter (we’re going to be moving to a new building – how will that affect your commute, etc.).

      Thanks for the input – these are things to have in my mental back-pocket for similar future situations. Happy Friday!

      1. Dilly Dally*

        Glad it went well. Team meetings aren’t the same as meeting 1:1 – wherever I’ve worked it’s normal to meet new people 1:1 and get to know them, and I’m surprised anyone thinks that’s pointless!

  16. Insert Witty Name Here*

    I work with “Leo” who is the manager, but we both have the same boss. Leo is in charge of the part-time workers who work in the summer. I was talking to our boss and she said to ask Leo if the part-time workers could go help another department with something. She said that one of the workers who usually works in that department, “Karen”, isn’t working this summer.

    I sent Leo an email with the questions from the boss and asked about Karen. I set up the database accounts, so I wasn’t trying to be nosy, I just needed to know if I should set up her account or not. 

    I went to go see him in his office and he was talking to some of the part-time workers, so I waited. Leo saw me and ignored me. 

    I stood there and finally he asked me what I wanted. I told him what our boss said and then asked about Karen. 
    Leo became very weird and eventually said that Karen quit. I don’t know if she told him not to tell anyone or if Leo felt that I was being nosy, but what is the big deal? He was then bragging about how he knew that she was leaving, apparently she told him months ago, etc.

    Leo and I have to work together,  yet he acts as if I’m a nuisance. He’s the type that likes to goof around and not work, but work has to get done because…. we’re at work!

     It’s like walking on eggshells around him because I never know what mood he’s going to be in. He also tattles on people to the boss and other managers. He also loves to stir the pot and start stuff with people, but then act as if he isn’t involved. Like Teflon.

    I tried talking to him once about his behavior and he tattled on me to the boss. The boss makes excuses for Leo and his behavior so Leo gets away with it.

    Other coworkers make comments like, “You have to have a thick skin to work in this place” but they’re all insecure bullies that act tough, but then go crying to the boss when someone says something to them or does something to them that they don’t like.

    How do you handle a place like this? Am I doing something wrong here? Can anyone relate or have you ever had a similar experience? What did you do?

    1. ferrina*

      That’s…..weird. Leo sounds annoying. If he were the only issue, I’d tell you to focus on your professional persona. People like Leo want a reaction, and the Professional Persona tends to be a good shield. Don’t give any reaction, don’t get pulled in to personal stuff, just focus 100% on work stuff. Ask straightforward “yes/no” questions. Don’t get offended when they are rude- they want that reaction. If you can muster a Cheerful Obliviousness, great, if not the “Professional Don’t Care” is fine. Care less about Leo- a lot less.

      But….it sounds like the culture is a bit off. Is Leo a Missing Stair, or is an average specimen for this environment? Either way, it definitely does not sound like a healthy place for you.

      As a side note, “tattling” is not a thing at work. Assume that any conversation you have could be repeated for a wide range of reasons. Yes, there’s definitely pot-stirring and politics, but there’s also good reasons too- as a manager, I want to know if there’s something that is making the culture toxic, and I will press for information.

      1. Insert Witty Name Here*

        Tattling may not be the word, but there is a lot of gossip and drama in this workplace. Leo came up to me today to give me something and the people that I sit with were looking at both of us. I didn’t say anything about this to anyone, so he must have been running his mouth. One of them sensed it and shouted, “Hey Leo!” So it was awkward to say the least.

    2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Leo might be a pain in other ways, but when you went to see him, he was meeting with other staff. You could have said “I’ll come back later” instead of waiting while he was busy with them. Then it sounds like you asked him about Karen in front of those other workers. Why? I can’t tell if you have difficult co-workers or if there may be a reading-the-room problem on your part.

  17. MyEarsHurt*

    This is a low stakes question but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask. Does anyone have suggestions for a headset with microphone that automatically adjusts the volume of what you’re hearing?

    For some background my job requires I be in meetings 6-7 hours a day – they’re all WebEx as we’re still WFH. A large majority of my coworkers speak very softly (it’s a cultural norm). However another coworker that I’m in every meeting with basically yells every time he speaks. He’s loud even when we were in the office. I’m constantly raising and lowering volume on my headset, but often it’s not quick enough when he speaks and it can sometimes be painful for how loud he is. (Asking him to change is not an option).

    1. Web Crawler*

      I don’t have a solution, but I empathize. I really wish webex was like discord where you could adjust the audio stream coming in from each source individually. Half my team speaks quietly and the other half puts the microphone an inch away from their mouth and projects their voice.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Poke around the Webex website. They seem to have something called “automatically adjust volume” that might help you.

  18. No Tribble At All*

    In honor of the sad person earlier this week, let’s talk about jobs you’ve genuinely enjoyed!

    What about it did you like? Did it meet all of your requirements for money, ethics, and management? If you’re still in that role, how has it changed? If you left, why’d you leave?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Archives assistant: I’m still here. It uses ALL my history nerd skills. I wish it paid more but otherwise it’s practically perfect.

      Veterinary assistant: I love animals and love problem solving, but left because of the insulting pay, lack of benefits, and lack of respect from pet owners and from a few of the vets. Most of the vets were fine but the few who were condescending were really bad.

      Cashier at an amusement park gift shop: It was seasonal, but otherwise I doubt I have to explain why it stunk and I wouldn’t have stayed. Hot, underpaid, snotty visitors, the works. My immediate coworkers were fine so in this instance it could have been a lot worse. Mostly, though, it was motivation to go to college.

      College dining hall: I legit loved this job. The lunch ladies were great and I don’t mind that kind of work at all.

      1. elle*

        I loved being a “lunch lady” for Meals on Wheels! I would have stuck around but the pay was just, insultingly low. Because of that they could never keep enough staff on had either and they wouldn’t advertise the role anywhere. I got sick of extra shifts for $7/hr and repeatedly training people who would ghost us one after another.

    2. Miss Ames*

      Back in the late 80s I had a summer job between college semesters – at a clothing company in the “school uniforms” dept (providing clothing for private school kids in the Northeast US). I liked much of that job – I would spend a good part of the time assembling clothing orders (pulling the right items from the racks and setting them up in boxes). Then we would make deliveries to the schools on various dates throughout the summer and assist the customers in receiving their orders. I enjoyed pulling from the clothing racks (the private schools were generally wearing things like various colors of plaid jumpers and classic white blouses and knee socks, which I happen to love) and assemble orders. And getting out on deliveries was a nice change of pace from being inside the warehouse and required more physical labor also (carrying boxes, racks, etc). It was a fun team effort working with other college students, the delivery drivers, and the dept managers.

    3. Web Crawler*

      I’m in a job that meets 95% of my requirements:
      – very stable
      – recognizes domestic partnerships for (excellent) insurance
      – more ethical than others in this realm (I do my own research on this instead of taking their word)
      – 100% remote before COVID
      – coworkers are nice
      – my job duties are interesting
      – pays more than enough for my partner to not have to work
      – I work exactly 40 hours a week with zero pressure to check email after hours
      – the job doesn’t take up my limited energy, meaning I can have a life after work

      The only downside is that I’m not enthusiastic about the work- it’s not my “passion”. But I don’t want it to be. I want it to pay me so I can have passions on the side.

    4. Flower necklace*

      I’m a high school teacher and I enjoy my job. The pay isn’t great, but it’s enough to support me and my cat.

      I just finished my fourth year, and the job has definitely changed. There has been turnover in my department and in the school admin. All the new people are fantastic, which has really made a difference. Admin is much more supportive than they were when I started, and everyone in my department gets along really well.

      There are still challenges, but overall I’m really enjoying it and don’t see myself leaving anytime soon.

    5. Chaordic One*

      Quite a few years ago, I was an administrative assistant at a state department and it was the best job I ever had, meeting my expectations for money, ethics and money. The people I worked with were wonderful and sincere in their mission about allocating funds and providing services to the city and county departments that relied on the state. It was easy to work with them because they were smart and had very realistic expectations of the role of an administrative assistant, of what my job tasks were and of how long it took to do various tasks. I had planned on being there for many years and was a bit naive in assuming it would be a reasonably secure job.

      Unfortunately for me (and quite a few other people) it turned out that there was a scandal involving the department head’s misappropriation of (a comparatively small amount of) funds. (The head spent around $20,000 of state funds on meals during a series of lunch and dinner meetings with city and county officials at various locations in the large far-flung state over a period of 2 years and there were no provisions for such spending.) He resigned and the new appointed interim head fired nearly everyone hired after the previous head’s election and replaced them, kind of like reinventing the wheel. It was a nice while it lasted.

    6. Nicki Name*

      I really love my current job in tech. It gives me a constant stream of interesting problems to solve, the company is genuinely interested in solving problems in its niche, and now that I’ve learned that I like WFH, I can keep doing so indefinitely.

      I’d been reading AAM for a year or so when I last started looking for a job, so I took the advice to heart about women should be asking for higher salaries. When I started calling recruiters and named what felt like a ridiculous amount of money, none of them batted an eye about it, they immediately said they had listings in that range for the kind of job I was looking for. And the place that hired me was willing to pay me that much, and it’s also been the first place I’ve ever worked that has real yearly raises.

    7. Disguised*

      In my late teens I worked as a soccer referee (with actual FIFA certification and everything). The money was good, I was in the best shape of my life, and I absolutely loved the different challenges of reffing tiny kids all the way up to university leagues. Being female and young, I encountered occasional crap from coaches or parents, but not often and even that was good training for life, in a way. Plus it taught me to be confident in (and know the boundaries of) my own authority.

    8. Anonymous Koala*

      I work in regulation and I love it! It’s relatively stable, the work/life balance is amazing, the work is pretty interesting, and the people are professional and kind. The pay is kind of low and it seems to take awhile to move up in my org, but other than that I love it.

    9. Buni*

      Factory-floor-esque work making / assembling little…Teapot gift sets – maybe a pot and 2 little cups, maybe some cups with different flavour teas, or just a selection of tea packages etc. There was one team of 20-30 people doing big orders but I was on the small order team, just 3 of us. We’d just get a series of requests for, say, 3 red sets, 2 green cup sets and 10 tea packages, and a date they were to be completed on.

      The best bit? The floor was open 6am – midnight six days a week, and so long as the team hit the targets no one cared what hours we worked. We negotiated within the team to spread the work fairly, we were paid per completed order, everything else was up to us. Had kids and could only do school hours? Fine! Night owl who wanted a lie-in and start at lunch? Hi, me! Working another job? No problem!

      The pay was eh but the people were lovely, the work was steady but not onerous, and I lived a 15 minutes walk away. I still miss that job!

    10. OyHiOh*

      Honestly, my favorite best job ever was the two years I worked for American Girl doing inbound catalog sales. Apart from the ocassional grumpy person who somehow landed on our mailing list and wanted off, callers wanted to talk to us. We had excellent training, good floor support, when we were slammed for a month before Christmas the office staff very often came into the call center to help with volume, we were actively encouraged to learn about the company’s products on company time (when the call center wasn’t busy, supervisors would go around suggesting we grab a book, or a doll set out of the employee library), and fun perks. Y’all, I got a Kaya doll one year as a holiday give away. They closed their call centers as internet sales took off but I probably would have stayed there forever if I’d had a better sense of how to wrangle my customer service call center skills into an office job with the company

      1. BlueberryGirl*

        I’ve heard from many people that Mattel is actually a super nice company to work for. I interviewed with them once and I was sad I didn’t get the job as the barbie archivist. It would have been fun.

    11. Lora*

      Drug Discovery for a Big Pharma which got bought up by the Little Blue Pill Factory. Before we were acquired, it was friggin GREAT. Loved it. Worked on many worthy programs that were scientifically fascinating, had great colleagues who were all brilliant top of their field. They had several programs at local universities so you could do a PhD while you were working full time and use your work projects as your PhD thesis. Pay was just okay (supply and demand: everyone wants to cure cancer) but we had practically infinite budget for a lot of things and I was allowed a ton of leeway to work on side projects. Time was super flexible, my boss said “just go to meetings and get your projects done, that’s all the management you get from me!” It was exactly the right balance of being left alone to do my job and interaction with other people.

    12. JustaTech*

      I had two great summer jobs (so maybe don’t totally count here).
      The first was a website writing job (~2000) for a big scientific organization where my boss (and all the people in our office) were women (I didn’t realize how unusual it was at the time). I learned some writing, some HTML coding (which I immediately forgot) and I didn’t much care about the pay because I was in high school and didn’t have a lot of expenses (lunch and my train ticket, which was subsidized).

      Second job was working in the preservation department of a university library and it was the perfect balm to my pre-college soul. Surrounded by books every day, but never interacting with patrons (students/faculty/staff), on a pretty low-drama team, doing important but pretty easy work (getting the collection physically ready for a move, so a lot of stabilizing materials) that had super easy-to-understand metrics (have you finished the shelf?) with other people who both loved books, loved to talk about books, but were also introverts and really let even me have my own space. Not a job I would want forever (I know that academic libraries are hotbeds of intense and petty drama; also, I’m not *that* passionate about books), but it was a wonderful chill, soothing time after the pressure cooker of high school and before the pressure cooker of college.

      Both places were super ethical with kind bosses who maybe didn’t do a ton of mentoring but also treated me like an adult. I was so naïve about money back then I have no idea what either job paid.

    13. Elle Woods*

      Two that I’ve particularly loved:
      – Admissions tour guide: I did this for three years in college as a student worker. I loved giving tours of campus, learning about what the students were interested in, “selling” them on the school, etc. The pay was minimum wage but I met a lot of great students and learned how to handle things when a student or parent threw you a curve ball question (or was a less-than-pleasant visitor).
      – Graduate teaching assistant: I taught everything from basic composition classes and introductory public speaking to large lecture classes to senior-level classes. I loved learning from my students and seeing their skills improve over the course of a semester or year. Not great pay–enough to live on–but I did get a tuition waiver, so that helped. I was in a great department that was well-run and well-managed. I left because I was experiencing some health issues and the “publish or perish” mindset was taking a very real toll on my mental and physical health.

    14. SummerBreeze*

      Corporate communications for a children’s publisher. SO great, excellent pay, fabulous perks (lots of authors around, super fun events, FREE BOOKS), and only occasionally worked overtime even at my senior level.

      But I also adored my job before that one — huge global company, amazing culture, great pay, interesting work, got to travel the world.

    15. Anon for this*

      I’ve enjoyed both the full time jobs I had overall tbh.

      1) pre college, receptionist in a business centre. The company rented office space to other businesses and we were front reception for ~60 different things in the building. Good things: absolutely no overtime ever and always got fixed lunch hour & breaks, not too mentally taxing and we could hang out and chat if there was nothing else to do and it was a slow day. No drastic ethical issues, just a bunch of small businesses as clients. Bad things: low pay, being late was a huge no-no (which I coped with fine at the time but I do prefer flexibility!). Managers were pretty reasonable on the whole and good to me (I always knew I was quitting to go to college – and so did they – they could have let me go two months early as they hired someone else to train up, but kept me on to do some admin work instead).

      2) software. My jobs goes in phases tbh, I had a pretty great time the first ~3 years, a couple of years of heavy stress, followed by a couple more chilled/successful years after that. The company is huge and I’m sure does some dodgy stuff (hello capitalism!!) but also does a lot of CSR and at least their product isn’t actively harmful and they’re not stealing people’s data. Management is pretty good, and pay is good for the work life balance I have.

      I’ve gone into management though I think tbh the deal is ‘better’ as an individual contributor – I do get paid more and have more responsibility/ownership etc which is nice, but it’s not definite that the extra stress is worth it.

    16. Wandering Nerd*

      For two summers in college, I worked at a sleep-away Girl Scout camp in the mountains. I got to share/re-create for the kids the things I had loved about being a Girl Scout, and I enjoyed living outdoors (sans phone or internet) while someone else cooked all my meals. I also got pretty fit from walking/hiking around all day.
      More recently, I worked at a university-based research institute that was working to solve a major world problem. I liked contributing to that mission, and my role put me in a position to meet lots of people both inside and outside the institute who were making a direct impact on the world. My coworkers were drama-free and a truly collaborative team. My only complaint was that the pay made my finances a bit tight in my high-COL area. It wasn’t terrible, but it restricted my living options.

    17. zaracat*

      My first job (as a 16 yo) was working in the zoo cafeteria. The job itself wasn’t that great, but I loved being able to wander around the zoo before or after my shift (plus absolutely fabulous location overlooking Sydney harbour).

      RAAF medical officer – paid my way through a medical degree which I would otherwise not have been able to afford. I got to do cool things (helicopter rescue training beats sitting in an office any day) and see a lot of outback Australia as part of field training, and was lucky enough not to be deployed on active service overseas (something which was very traumatic for some of my colleagues). Downsides: the military administration own your life, and I wasn’t given leave to attend my best man’s or my sister in law’s weddings.

      Current job I’ve been doing for 19 years and absolutely love, and hopefully I’ll be doing it til retirement in about 10 years. I’m a freelance surgical assistant in the private hospital sector, mostly elective surgery with some emergency surgery. The work is rewarding (saving lives!) and interesting (last year I did a course on how to work with robotically assisted procedures). It’s technically challenging and often physically demanding but fairly low stress compared with most medical jobs (I don’t make the tough clinical decisions and there’s no ongoing patient care involved, so I get to switch off once I leave work). I love the degree of teamwork and personal interaction required. Few overheads, basically just car + phone + laptop. It pays well, and after initially working for an agency (which sucked), as a freelancer now, I have a lot of flexibility to choose who I work with and to set my workload. This latter has been great for dealing with mental health problems, I can reduce my workload temporarily then pick it back up, and can easily schedule around my regular therapy sessions. Downsides: those same mental health problems have made getting income protection insurance prohibitively expensive, so I don’t have it. If I don’t work, I have no source of income. There are no “contracts”, it’s entirely up to the surgeons who they choose as assistants, so I can be dropped from previously regular work at any time.

      I’m about to start a volunteer position in my spare time as a guide in a National Trust property, which also frequently hosts visiting exhibitions relating to textiles, fashion and film/theatre costumes. This will bring together my love of talking plus history and costuming geeking. Heaven! I have high hopes for this.

      1. Chris too*

        The most fun job in the world has to be selling Christmas trees, cut and/or potted. I did it for several years. The customers are happy and cheerful, the different types of trees are interesting and beautiful, you get to wield a tiny chainsaw, and you go home at the end of the day smelling just like Christmas.

    18. AcademiaNut*

      Scientific software development in an academic environment, with a PhD in a hard science.

      I get to do high level work on interesting technical problem – not just coding, but figuring out what and how to code. The work changes regularly, so I’m constantly learning new things. I have a high level of autonomy in how I work, and input into higher level discussions, without being responsibly for the final decisions. The institute is pretty functional (factoring in the weirdness of academia), and supports a decent work-life balance. The dress code is casual, hours are somewhat flexible, and the occasional work from home day is okay.

      The money is acceptable, but but low for the level of work and education required. It would be more of an issue if I were single, but with two incomes we have a comfortable life. There’s the general weirdness of academia and its bureaucracy (which I’m used to, but is sometimes annoying), regular odd hour telecons, and occasional exhausting, economy class international travel (which now, with travel restrictions, translates to working remotely on night shift occasionally).

      My husband and I have stable jobs in the same city, which is a major plus in my field, but in a country where neither of us are citizens, which causes some family/logistical issues.

      I also loved my high school part time job as a page at the library. Straight minimum wage, but regular, sane hours, lovely people to work with, and amnesty on overdue fines.

    19. Kapako*

      I loved my retail job. They would flex my hours to whatever was best for me at the time (around uni, other work, breaks, anything) so I could be doing anything from the occasional weekend day to pretty much full time. The managers were lovely, friendly, laid back, supportive. The other staff were great, easygoing and fun to work with, and lots of them had a real passion for the outdoors. Our customers were generally pleasant, and I got to have a lot of great conversations with interesting people. The products were interesting, and figuring out how to find someone the best walking boots or rucksack or tent or waterproofs for them specifically was often engaging and rewarding. I got to spend a lot of time on my feet, moving around, chatting to people in a low-pressure way, and being helpful. They were good about breaks and staffing and we were allowed water (and biscuits) behind the till. They emphasised honesty and helping the customer find the best product to meet their needs, wherever it sat in our range, or even if it was something we didn’t sell at all. The pay was decent for retail, and we had great staff discounts as well as an allowance for uniform trousers and shoes (which we could choose from the stock).

      When I was having a bad time and couldn’t deal with peopling then they’d give me stockroom work – unpacking delivery, usually – and I was able to be honest with them about some mental health challenges without facing any kind of judgment or backlash, nothing but support and care. They flexed by breaks/days off/whatever around appointments, and they would take me completely at my word when I let them know what I could or couldn’t deal with at any given time without ever demanding explanations.

      In the end it wasn’t somewhere I could see myself spending the rest of my life, which is why I left, but I absolutely drew on my experiences there when I was figuring out what matters for me in a job and what makes the most difference to my happiness at work.

    20. Wordybird*

      The best/my favorite job I’ve ever had was working at an arcade & mini-golf place when I was in high school and college. I got to work all nights, and it was a great combination of kids from all different schools/cities. The owner was pretty cool about allowing us the autonomy to run the place (within his rules) without his direct supervision, and I became the leader/”mom” of the group. When I wasn’t working there, I was hanging out there while my coworkers worked or hanging out with them outside of work. The only other thing I did those two summers was sleep.

      I suppose my runner-up job was the job I just left this past year. The work was not particularly challenging or interesting but it was meaningful (non-profit) and once I proved myself, I was allowed to run with ideas that I had. My supervisor & other co-workers were super great and were the hardest part of leaving the job. Unfortunately, it was only PT work (and always would be) with a good payrate for the type of work it was but not a payrate that was financially sustainable for me or my family.

  19. Not Too Short or Too Sweet*

    Looking for some advice on a sticky situation with a staff member. I have 3 staff members who are very close, even cliquish: Regina, Karen, and Gretchen. Regina and Karen work similar weekend schedules, which means they have the same weekdays off on a rotating basis. Gretchen works a different schedule than the two of them, which means she is on the schedule for the days that Regina and Karen have off. Gretchen has started calling in sick nearly every time she is scheduled to work when Regina and Karen are not. I could chalk it up to random coincidence but during the last two months, she’s only had one unscheduled sick day that was not one of these days. We are planning on addressing this in the next few days and would love to know if others have advice for this type of situation.

    1. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

      I would treat it as someone calling in sick a lot and leave the Regina and Karen bit out. I mean, its obvious to everybody, but unless you have concrete proof that its because of that, I wouldn’t bring it up.

    2. Snailing*

      I’d avoid implying anything about Regina and Karen, because the issue isn’t really about them. The issue is that Gretchen is taking too many unscheduled absences. Ask her about that, lay out your expectations, and stick with them. You can even ask about why it’s always a Tuesday, for example, and ask if there’s anything to that, but just be matter of fact and open to listening to her.

    3. have we met?*

      Don’t assume that Gretchen’s calling out has anything to do with Regina or Karen’s schedule. Focus on the impact it has on the business.

    4. Snailing*

      The issue isn’t really abut Regina and Karen, so I’d avoid implying anything about them. The issue is that Gretchen takes too many unscheduled absences. Meet with her, lay out your expectations, ask if there’s anything she expects will get in the way of meeting those expectations, and then hold her to them. Be matter of fact and open to listening to her, and also be clear about the consequences of not meeting your expectations, while letting her know that if she has some specific circumstance or accommodation that prevents her from working every Tuesday now, then she can come to you about it.

      1. Snailing*

        Oops – my first comment didn’t show and I hadn’t copied the original text, so ended up double posting!

    5. SlimeKnight*

      You don’t know FOR SURE Gretchen takes the time off to hang with Regina and Karen. Focus on how the absences are affecting Gretchen’s work. If the cliquishisness has become a problem at work, focus on what those problems are. Otherwise don’t mention it.

    6. Remotie*

      Thinking back to advice that my former boss gave me, talk to the offending employee about a pattern you are noticing (if calling out consistently on the same days etc…) and ask what is up. Not harping on the person about calling out sick, but saying hey – you seem to have a pattern of calling out on Wednesdays….and discuss. Maybe they need a schedule update due to other things etc. Keep it neutral and address the issue, especially if its leaving other staff hanging or having to cover.

      1. Not Too Short or Too Sweet*

        Thank you! This will be the tactic I use when meeting with Gretchen tomorrow.

    7. Purple Jello*

      Are they doing the same job? Maybe Regina and Karen are leaving Gretchen the tasks no one wants to do.

      1. Not Too Short or Too Sweet*

        They do all have the same job title, but we are in a retail/customer service environment so there’s not a lot of overlap in daily tasks, since it is more just dealing with customers in the moment.

  20. Anon for this*

    I was a teacher in an Illinois high school for a few years over 30 years ago. I was terrible at record-keeping and never turned in my grade book or my attendance book at the end of my last year, as they were incomplete. I turned in attendance sheets every day and final grades at the end of the year, so attendance was correctly documented. As far as I know, no one ever questioned a final grade.
    As far as I know, the books would have been microfiched and archived for 70 years (I think). I have since left the profession and moved far away, but I still have these incomplete books with me. I can’t exactly say that I live in fear that someone will try to access the archived material, not be able to find it and come looking for me.
    Can I just destroy these incomplete records?

      1. Empress Matilda*

        I am also a records professional, and you have my blessing as well. Go forth and destroy!

    1. Late Bloomer*

      You absolutely have my permission to destroy those materials. Have a bonfire or something–and more importantly, let go of any remaining guilt or shame you feel about your recordkeeping at the time! If there’s some lesson you learned from that experience, that’s the thing to carry with you. I left high-school teaching precisely 29 years ago, and I’ve lived three additional lives since then. It’s inconceivable to me that anyone would ever care about records from that long ago or would try to track you down.

    2. AnonRM*

      Illinois considers public school districts to be local governments. Contact the Records Management Section of the Illinois State Archives to determine whether there are legal retention requirements for these records. I suspect that non-final grades can eventually be destroyed and have a retention of shorter than 30 years, but it’s best to check before tossing!

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        Didn’t think of the public records aspect (I’m in industry)! Yes, this route should set your mind at ease about destroying the books.

      2. Empress Matilda*

        I would still call them transitory and destroy them (yay, records management talk on AAM!). The final grades and attendance are noted on the report cards of the time – this is the official record. Teachers notes and anything that went into the production of that record are almost always transitory – certainly they wouldn’t have a retention of any longer than a year or two, if they’re required to be kept at all.

        Think of it this way. What are the chances of a former student wanting to challenge their grade or attendance record from 30 years ago? Probably vanishingly small, right? But let’s say they do want this information for some reason. They would go to the school, or the school board, who would give them the records they have on file. Which presumably would match their report card, and the story ends there.

        THEN, what are the chances that they still want to go digging even further? Even smaller than vanishingly small at this point. But if they do, is the school board going to say “sure, we’ll contact that teacher who retired decades ago and no longer lives in this state, and see if she still has her notes?” They are not. They are going to say “too bad, former student with a weird obsession with their attendance records from the 1990’s, these are the only records we have, thanks for coming, bye!”

        I mean, everything is possible on some level. But think of how *probable* it is, that this chain of events is going to occur. Compare that probability to the value of the information (your draft notes and attendance records), and the cost to you of holding on to them “just in case.” There probably isn’t a financial cost, unless you’ve rented a storage locker or something, but think of the opportunity cost – what else could you be storing in that space? How many times have you packed them up and moved them? How many more times do you expect to pack them up and move them in the future? How much time do you want to spend contacting the state Archives to confirm the retention? If you send them an email and they don’t respond, will you send them another one? Will you call them, and wait on hold? Will you call them and leave a voice message?

        There’s no wrong answer here, and if you think the value of the information is worth the cost of retaining it (and/or tracking down someone who will give you official permission to destroy it), then you absolutely can. But all things considered, I think you’re safe to destroy it.

        TL;DR – apparently I have lots to say on the subject of transitory records! I think you’re fine to destroy them, but please do contact your state archives if you want to be absolutely sure.

        1. Damn it, Hardison!*

          Agree, these are transitory, or in my company “non-records,” which can be destroyed at any time. I love it when there are records management questions here.

        2. AnonRM*

          I agree that they’re transitory, but government entities can be weirdly cautious about retention requirements. When you’re dealing with content related to other people’s kids, it can get especially touchy. I strongly suspect that the records lose administrative value after the period for contesting final grades has expired and that the required retention period is fairly short (“x years after student’s 21st birthday”?)… but know next to nothing about IL’s RM and government transparency statutes.

          But this doesn’t help the OP. If your case, I’m perfectly happy to be distracted while the gradebooks mysteriously disappear…

          1. Empress Matilda*

            Heh. I’ve been doing RM in various levels of government for my entire career, so I know exactly how weird they…er…we can be!

            That said, even in government there are Rules and there are “rules.” There probably is an official rule about these types of records. But after all this time, and given the relatively low value of the information to begin with…I would also choose to be distracted while those gradebooks “get lost in the move,” or whatever else might happen to them.

    3. WFH with Cat*

      I’m not a teacher, but … If you turned in daily attendance sheets and final grades, and those elements were based on your attendance and grade books, I don’t think the school would need the books now. There’s a pretty good chance items like your books were collected to protect student info and would have been destroyed/recycled later — or maybe transferred to microfiche as you mention. If they had needed the books to confirm the attendance sheets or final grades, I expect they would have contacted you at the time.

      You could certainly call the school, tell them you found the books in some old papers, and offer to return them if there is any archival value to them. Maybe they will be thrilled. Maybe they won’t even be aware that such things were collected at the time. Either way, you’ll know for sure.

      1. Anon for this*

        The problem is that there’s not much im the books. I think I had most of my grading records on pieces of paper.

        1. WFH with Cat*

          Me? I would toss them now.

          But if you’re on the fence, call the school or the IL state archives (mentioned above) and ask if there is an office/department that would want them.

        2. TechWorker*

          Honestly, if it were important for the records to be kept, they should have been collected in by the school at the time and/or had some official policy they made you aware of. I would bin them with a clear conscience.

          (Fwiw data protection in the EU goes almost the other way, there are rules about *not* keeping data that you don’t need or have any reason to keep. Obviously doesn’t directly apply but maybe it can help your conscience as a concept :p)

    4. RagingADHD*

      Your students are in their mid 40s.

      Even if they needed an alibi for a cold-case murder, the official attendance record is correct, right?

  21. Not a babble*

    I am training a new colleague and she babbles! As in she takes ten minutes to answer a question that could have been done in a few words. How do I provide feedback on this? We have a busy job.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      What’s the nature of her long-windedness? The way to tackle this is going to depend on what she’s doing.
      * providing lots of unnecessary background and context.
      * going off on tangents.
      * adding lots of qualifications and ifs and maybes instead of giving a straight answer.
      * etc
      If you can figure out more clearly what she’s doing, you might be able to figure out why she’s doing it, and then tailor your response to her appropriately.

      For any of these, you’re going to need to lay stuff out to her plainly. Have an actual meeting about how she provides information to coworkers and that she needs to change. And then you’re going to have to interrupt her every time until you can break her habit.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Oh dear.

          Yeah, you need to have one big level-setting meeting. Make it concrete. “Regina, in this job, when somebody asks you a question, they expect an answer of less than 30 seconds. You are nowhere near to meeting that work goal. Here is a list of things you have done in talking to me in the last week that are not how we do things here…”

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            That is not at all welcoming to a new colleague, and I think it would make OP look like a real jerk. Yes, she can address it, but to do it in such a rude way is not the tack I would take.

        2. tamarack and fireweed*

          I’d focus on “skill she needs to learn” (undertone: to be successful in this workplace). There’s a desired communication style and she needs to learn.

          OTOH I’d leave out the “this is tedious/annoying, and we’re busy and are losing time over this”. Focussing her on blame for the effect of her actions is, in cases like this (that is, this is about job skills/performance, not behavior issues), counterproductive. Focus her on what she should do, not what she shouldn’t.

          1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

            Exactly. This is not “you’re long-winded and tedious”, this is “here is how we expect our employees to perform their jobs.”

    2. Mental Lentil*

      Tell her how you want her to answer, and then jump in after she gives you that answer.


      “Do you understand X? Yes, no, or kind of?”
      “Name one thing in five words or less you need help with.”

      Do address the issue directly with her though. Is she nervous, does she lack confidence, or does she think more feedback is better than less, etc?

      1. Buni*

        With her full permission, I do this with a self-confessed babbling friend of mine – “Do you want x, yes or no?” “Choose x, y or z in 5….4….3….2…..”.

    3. NoviceManagerGuy*

      This is an automatic DQ when I’m interviewing somebody, totally unworkable at my job. Obviously you’re past that. I think saying “you’ll need to practice stating your point quickly” is a good start and see if she can work on it.

      1. Intermittent Introvert*

        It’s very likely she knows she does it and has been called out on it before. Identify it with her and come up with a couple of easy, brief strategies to address it in the moment.

    4. Intermittent Introvert*

      I tend to babble when I’m very nervous or work with someone who obviously doesn’t like me. So you may consider it a response to the situation. You don’t need to diagnose her, but perhaps express confidence in her ability to learn and do the job. Also, assure she knows it’s okay to be wrong or make a mistake. It’s part of learning.

    5. Virginia Plain*

      “Sorry, can I just stop you there – we have a lot to get through today; could you give me the two-sentence version? It would really help as I don’t want to keep you longer than I need to!”

  22. Sabine*

    What’s the typical expiration date on equipment return/reimbursement? If my company reimburses me for a keyboard I purchased to work from home, are they going to ask for it back when I quit after 10 years? What about 5 years? I assume they’re not going to ask for the desk they reimbursed me for since the office has (nicer, matching) desks, but what about the technology and accessories? It was all done very piecemeal and we don’t seem to have a policy about it in our handbook.

    1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      I find that they won’t remember and won’t ask for those type of things back when an employee leaves.

    2. mreasy*

      They shouldn’t ask for reimbursement EVER if this wasn’t specifically outlined. They may ask you to return the equipment, though.

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        Yes, this.

        What happens afterwards depends. If it is a reimbursement for your expense, they won’t expect it back. If on the other hand they have it in their property tracking system (unlikely for a keyboard!) and you fronted them the money for their purchase (rather than expensed *your* purchase) you may encounter a large variation of how this is handled. Some organizations track property indefinitely (public ones often – taxpayer money!). Others have reasonable depreciation times.

        The keyboard has essentially no value after X years, so continuing to track it is a waste of money. But do ask! (This said, no one will care if you “lost” a keyboard after 10 years!)

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          PS: This is different for items that have storage inside and/or keep network logs. Phones, tablets, computers, laptops, handhelds, specialized data acquisition devices… even worthless they usually have to come back for data protection purposes.

    3. Tbubui*

      I think it really depends on the company and the type of equipment. I think very few companies would care about a keyboard, especially after a number of years. Technology is a bit more tricky. I suspect most companies want technology back, especially computers and laptops.

      You could ask your boss, manager, or HR since there isn’t a policy in your handbook.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        Eh, I would go the opposite route, and not ask. Of course the 100% most purely ethical thing you could do is offer to return it, but if we’re talking about tech accessories like keyboards, chances are they won’t care – especially after multiple years have gone by.

        If stuff like that is important to them, they’ll be keeping track of it and asking for it back. (Or if not, they should be!) But if they’re not keeping track, it’s *probably* because they’re not super concerned about having it returned.

        It sounds like I’m advocating for stealing office equipment – this is not my intent, I promise! Just that the combination of “relatively low value to begin with” plus “depreciating value over time” suggests to me that the by 2026, the company probably will not remember or care how many keyboards they sent home with their employees during the pandemic.

        1. NoviceManagerGuy*

          A keyboard somebody’s been using for five years is going to be pretty gross and worth about $10.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          My laptop, docking station and monitor all have inventory tags on them, but my webcam, headset, and other peripherals don’t. Our hardware guy told me they don’t worry too much about the peripherals – the direction, when people leave, is to return equipment, and they’ll take back whatever gets handed to them, but they’re only looking to track the big stuff with inventory tags.

    4. Bagpuss*

      If they treat it as property belonging to the company since they paid for it I would expect it to be written off over a number of years – they may well want any computers back so they can ensure that they remove any software / information that belongs to them, but if they don’t have a formal policy they may well not track it at all!

    5. Joie de Vivre*

      My husband works remotely and has for years. When the printer the company paid for died, my husband had to ship it to the company so they could close out the inventory record. Then the printer was disposed of.

      So, check with your company. They may not care, or it could be all equipment, whether broken or obsolete, has to be returned.

  23. AnonPi*

    I have a lead on a job I actually want! And after talking to someone that works there (husband of former manager) I stand a pretty good shot of getting it too! I know, don’t get my hopes up (too late), but it’s been a long time since I’ve been excited about a job prospect (if ever, seriously I’m like giddy here). It’s also one of the few shots to return to science work, since most jobs I either don’t have the right experience, the pay sucks, or the work life balance is bad. I had pretty much given up on going back, and was(am) working on one pivot while thinking of picking up another skill set just to get out of my current dead end job. It’s like the stars have aligned for this to be the perfect job.

    I’m rather nervous though since I’ve been out of this type of work for almost 5.5 years (I work in administration now, albeit at a science facility). Former manager’s husband advised to emphasize several big projects I worked on in previous job, since they’re relevant (this job prospect is doing similar work in an adjacent location). I already plan to cut some stuff out of my resume to add more details about previous job. I’m wondering if I should mention much of my current job in my cover letter? It feels weird not to since I’ve been in this job for over 5 years, but the work is not as relevant as my previous job. I thought about one project that was science communication related that included processing a lot of data, but even that doesn’t feel like the best use of space. Anyone have any thoughts on that?

    1. Sherm*

      As someone who is involved with hiring from time to time, I would want to be assured that your skills and knowledge haven’t atrophied over those 5.5 years. And I would probably think “What happened there?” if the current job was barely mentioned. But perhaps you can frame the current job as the “icing on the cake” of your qualifications. For example: “At PreviousJob I gained much experience at X, Y, Z. [with perhaps another sentence or two indicating that you are still familiar with X, Y, and Z.] I leveraged this experience in CurrentJob to develop a successful science communication project.”

    2. Rhymetime*

      I was in a similar situation and addressed it in my cover letter with language along the lines of this: “In recent years, my work has been in X. I’m looking to return to the scientific work that is my passion, which is Y.” That landed me interviews.

  24. DThorne*

    I’ve been working from home since the beginning of the pandemic with no issues up until now. Earlier this week, my internet was out for most of the day due to issues in my apartment building. I called my boss and let him know, no problem. I had no internet all day and thus couldn’t work at all. The next day it was fixed, but my boss told me that I have to now use pto for Tuesday because I didn’t work. It wasn’t exactly a day off either, I spent most of my time on the phone trying to get it fixed and testing it over and over.

    I guess it’s probably legal to make me use pto but it feels really unfair. Has anyone else run into this problem? Any advice for wording to my boss why I shouldn’t have to use vacation? They still aren’t letting anyone into the office so it’s not like I could have opted to go in instead.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      This seems to be an unpopular opinion around here, when similar questions have been asked in the past, but – speaking as someone who’s worked remote for going on eight years now – if the internet problem is on the VPN or otherwise on my company’s end, someone tripped over the login server power cable or whatever, then they shouldn’t expect me to use PTO. But if the internet problem is on my end, and I can’t otherwise make up the hours, then yes, I would expect to use PTO to cover it. I wouldn’t expect to get free days off if my car was out of gas and I couldn’t drive to work, or if a tree fell in my neighborhood and I couldn’t get out of the subdivision, or whatnot, because none of that is my company’s responsibility to be handling – similarly, my internet is my problem, not theirs.

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

        I agree with Red Reader. If you lost connection because work had a server issue, or there was a regional issue like a power outage or all Verizon customers lost internet, you shouldn’t be penalized; but if it’s just you, sorry that’s like having car trouble, you’re on the hook. If you did any work tasks that were completed off-line like making client phone calls or paper work, you should definitely not be charged PTO.

      2. AcademiaNut*

        The exception I would make is for involuntary work from home – if someone was put on remote work due to the pandemic, and can’t go back to the office, I’d give more leeway for internet issues, particularly initially while things are figured out. But if you’ve taken a remote work position, having working internet is like showing up to the office – your own responsibility.

        For short outages, working the missed hours later would be reasonable. And, of course, if you are working during the outage, just not online, they still have to pay you. And in a non-hourly job, a short outage probably isn’t worth fussing over any more than being late due to traffic.

    2. Josie*

      I had a power outage twice, for a few hours each time, while working from home. Both times I offered to make up the time and my boss said don’t worry about it as the power outage wasn’t anything I could control.

    3. Chaordic One*

      My employer will allow me up to 3 hours to get my internet back up and running and after that, if I can’t do it, I have to pack up my computer and trudge into the office and get hooked up there. It’s only about 10 miles away, but the commute takes between 20 to 35 minutes depending on the traffic. Or I can use Vacation Time. Argh!

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        That strikes me as generous, honestly. After 30 minutes, I start hearing “when will you get to a Panera’s?”

        1. Chaordic One*

          I guess it is not unreasonable, but I really do need to be either in the office or in my home office to do the work. It’s not something I can do at Panera’s or Starbucks. When I’m on the phone with clients there are confidentiality considerations. My employer doesn’t want to risk some random person overhearing confidential information. They’re probably being overly cautious, but better off safe than sorry, I guess. Also, frequently I need to use reference materials that are a PITA to pack around.

    4. Saffie_girl*

      With my org, the office has been up and running for months, even though we were fully remote. So when people have technical issues at home, the direction from management is to come in and work, or use your PTO. At least they stated this early and often, so no surprises after the fact.

      1. zaracat*

        I think having a clearly stated policy is what’s key. What probably makes this feel more unfair for OP is having it applied retrospectively.

    5. Anonymous Koala*

      My org would either give me admin leave (unusual, but possible), require me to make up the hours later that day, or use PTO. Would your boss let you make up the hours a little at a time over a week or two?

    6. LDN Layabout*

      For a full day’s internet outage I’d expect to use PTO. If it were intermittent and I got some work done, I wouldn’t.

      I’ve been able to hook my laptop to my phone hotspot, but I also have a large amount of data available.

    7. MMB*

      Honestly, I would view this as something along the same line as your car breaking down. It isn’t your fault that it broke down, but it also isn’t your employer’s responsibility to pay you straight time when you’re unable to work because of it.

  25. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

    I left a toxic work place 6 months ago and started a new job where I don’t have any interaction with my old employer (thank god). The last job was emotionally abusive (yelling at staff) and there were unrealistic expectations and lack of appreciation especially when being required to work in full PPE as a essential worker during COVID. I am starting to overcome the stress reaction that I had related to working in that hell mouth.

    I am finding that I feel (what I see as) a overly acute new stress reaction to my co-worker who literally does nothing but scroll on the internet all day unless he absolutely has to. For reference there are two of us in our department who fulfill the same role. I am finding that I am doing all of the day to day work to keep the office running while he will only respond to tasks that he gets if a phone call from a client goes directly to him. I have to put my phone on DND sometimes just so he will have to do something. When I do ask him to do something he says “oh you want ME to do that?” and has called me on my lunch to see if I want to take care of something when I get back to the office. I told him that he could go ahead and do it. I am a woman and he is a male approximately 20 years older than me. My boss has mentioned that he has noticed an imbalance in work out put. I do not know if boss has spoken to my co-worker but nothing has changed. I just passed my 6 month probationary period so I have been hesitant to push the issue (plus I am not this coworkers manager). Am I being overly sensitive to this due to being hyper-vigilant related to my experiences at my last job or is this coworker the lazy jerk I feel he is?

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      It sounds like your coworker is a lazy jerk and (the good news is) your boss has noticed. I say just keep doing your work, refuse to take on extra (in fact, stop putting your phone on DND to increase his output unless you need the time for other tasks). Your boss is noticing the disparity and is probably just waiting to document it appropriately before taking action (so it doesn’t look like age discrimination). Just do your thing well and don’t worry about JerkDude unless he’s making it difficult to do your job.

    2. SMH*

      Yes he is a lazy jerk. Stop taking on everything. Put your phone on DND and do not answer calls from coworker while you are on lunch. Do you have regular check ins with you boss? Explain to him that the work is not divided clearly so you feel the need to jump in and help but coworker doesn’t so not sure where to draw the lines. If you are not comfortable discussing with boss or even if you do wait x amount of time to respond to a request. Such as an urgent request comes in but you are already tied up do not respond immediately.

      If a new request comes in that’s due EOD wait an hour etc. Wait to give Fergus time to respond. If he won’t or doesn’t just tell him there are 5 open tickets etc that need to be resolved today. If he states ‘Oh you ME to to do that?” Respond with ‘As opposed to?” I mean if he’s not working what is he doing. This will make others note the delay in response but if you also keep track of what you are doing you can discuss with boss I resolved x issues this week and he can ask Fergus for his list. End of week 1 or week 3 go to boss and state you need a full time employee because Fergus is not working on anything unless you direct him to and it’s more than a one person job.
      Side note: A lot of woman especially early in their career feel the need to fix everything so no one feels bad and because their so happy to be working. Let others feels bad, see a delay, experience an issue. Let Fergus feel the effect of not working. Sounds like too many have covered for him for too long.

    3. Green Goose*

      Is it possible to create a system where he can’t be lazy, like all requests that come in Mondays and Wednesdays need to be addressed by him, and all requests that come in Tuesday and Thursdays need to be addressed by you, and then you split Friday. That way, you can point to requests that he is not addressing, or if there is an imbalance between response times?

  26. Ryan Howard’s White Suit*

    A few months ago I wrote in an open thread about possible career paths based on my experience in qualitative research and evaluation (I have an MPH) and someone suggested doing UX/UI work. I’m very interested but every listing I come across seems to be for someone with specific experience in UX/UI and not something tangential. For anyone working in the field who got there in a non-traditional way, can you describe your path? Specifically, do I need to look into some supplemental coursework in UX (Coursera, etc) or am I ok given my background (several peer-reviewed studies in my field, including some as lead author)? Thank you in advance!

    1. AnonPi*

      As someone also pursuing UX on the side (probably UX research in the long run if I go through with it), you definitely need coursework/training, because you may have many applicable skills (like research methods) you won’t know the specifics of user design you need to do the work. There’s a lot to pick from as far as bootcamps, college courses, coursera and the like, and opinions vary greatly on what’s best, and I admit I can’t tell you what is best, just my impressions. It seems like a lot of people early on started with 6-12 week long bootcamps, I think because as this became a sudden growing field the need was there to get people trained quickly, and bootcamps served that. Now it seems like there’s a lot of people that have done bootcamps, and it’s not quite enough anymore that that the market has changed. There’s still a demand, but its for better trained/developed candidates. I choose a company that does give various certificates for completing set number of classes. It felt a bit more in depth, and they offered a class in something I’m specifically interested in (accessibility in user design). They also have you do projects you can put in a portfolio to submit with a job application, which a lot of places want to see when applying. However I get the sense that college certs/degrees are going to become mainstream within the next few years, now that there’s enough colleges offering degrees in user design, human computer interface, etc.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      You might have more luck looking specifically at User Experience Research jobs (UXR) which require skills like you have, rather than UX/UI (or UXD, user experience design) which may require more software package-specific skills or a portfolio of previous UX/UI work.

      I don’t have much UX/UI background (some experience years ago, no portfolio) but I did get interviews for UXR jobs based on my background in qualitative/quantitative research in other areas. IME, companies with good UXR programs want people with research skills first and foremost – you need to know how to ask the right questions and then set up a study to get the right data. (This is where the cover letter comes in handy, to help explain how the skills transfer.) Companies with lip-service UXR or combined UXR/UXD roles want programmers who took a research class once. You can usually tell the latter from the job description – a research position with a laundry list of required software packages shows where their hiring priorities are.

    3. Laika the Space Dog*

      I got into UX/UI after working as an Art Director in Advertising for many years. It was a natural transition because I had already been working in a design-related role, although if you are in UX there is an assumption that you’ll be able to do a bit of everything: as a designer, I do a bit of research and even writing.

      As someone else posted, UX Research sounds like a great path for you to leverage the skills you do have, and UX Researchers are especially sought out in the industry, especially if you have experience with qualitative research. However, it would still benefit you to also learn some design tools to round out your experience.

      re: classes:
      NNg has great classes but they are quite expensive. However, they have a ton of amazing articles on their site:

      Likewise, Medium is a great place for finding information about UX (both the design and research aspect) and there are some active UX channels you might find interesting:

      ….there are a ton of UX bootcamps that have popped up with certifications and are very expensive. It isn’t necessarily a straight line to a UX role, though. Leaning in to your great experience and re-framing it in a context that can apply to UX (and also building out your related skills) will be the most impressive to people in the industry. I recently worked with a UX Product Manager who came directly from academic research, and he wowed the hiring team by articulating how that past experience is perfect for the kind of work we do in UX.

      BEST OF LUCK!!!!! : )

      1. Ryan Howard's White Suit*

        Thank you so much for the incredibly helpful replies! I’ve already started looking up UX researcher positions and have applied to one so far. I really appreciate everyone’s thoughtfulness and tips.

  27. Bread Life*

    Hi open thread folks!

    I applied for a job earlier this week and yesterday I got a request for a phone screen on Monday (!) BUT last night I noticed a decent typo in my cover letter in the last paragraph because I was modifying a letter that I had written for another job. I had left in something like “I am excited to apply my skills to llama grooming data” rather than change it to “tea drinker insights.” I think that the letter was decently tailored otherwise and the company name was correct (phew). Should I bring this up at the during the phone screen? Send an apology? Ignore it? I’m still waiting to hear about the exact time for the call.

    1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      Ignore it. They already read your cover letter and scheduled the interview.

    2. Red Panda*

      Depending on the number of applicants, they may not even notice or remember that it was in your cover level. On the off chance that they bring it up, you could have an anecdote about attention to detail at the ready to offset the mistake.

    3. Sabine*

      I literally just made this mistake in the subject line of an email last month, and I still got a job offer. Mistakes happen, and yes it’s unfortunate and embarrassing, but if the rest of your materials are good enough, the odds people will care (or even notice) are low.

  28. DoubleE*

    What’s the etiquette on ignoring LinkedIn requests from people you don’t know? I got a connection request from a person I’ve never met and I’d never heard their name prior to receiving the connection request. We work for the same employer (but so do 70,000 other people) and have one mutual connection who also works for that employer. They did not send a personalized message, just the default generic request that LinkedIn fills in. I don’t feel any obligation to respond to this request, but I’m curious what others think.

    1. Jasmine*

      I ignore LinkedIn requests unless I know the person, we have someone in common (who we both actually know irl) or they send a message saying why they want to connect).

    2. Lots of Culottes*

      I ignore many requests unless I feel we have a strong enough connection or affiliation in other areas (military, non-profit, or connections) to make it worthwhile. I will look at their activity feed to see if their contributions are interesting to me. If not, I won’t accept it. If I do accept it and later on they have weird content or like things that in my area of interest or support, I’ll remove the connection. No harm, no foul.

      There are lots of people who indiscriminately send LI requests and don’t think about it. They just like to have a high connection number. I rarely send them anymore; I follow people more than I connect with them.

      When someone sends an invite and I want to connect, but they don’t send a message I don’t consider that an issue. Many people who use the mobile feature can’t do that anyway – it’s just a button and -= whoosh=- there goes the invite. If I accept the invite, I’ll send a TY and note any affiliations we have. Most people ignore this message which is why LI (IMHO) is a game to most people.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      Ignore, ignore, ignore. Totally normal. In fact, a lot of people never check their LinkedIn requests, so it won’t be unusual. Also, (and I found myself getting caught by this just last week), LinkedIn will recommend people and it can sometimes look like the person actually reached out when it is just the LinkedIn algorithm making a suggestion.

    4. quill*

      Ignore all LinkedIn requests that you aren’t 110% certain are actual professional connections you’ve actually met.

      I REALLY wish LinkedIn would let you clear out your messages folder entirely…

    5. tamarack and fireweed*

      I ignore these/delete without any response.

      I don’t have a responsibility to random strangers for the settings I use in my software.

    6. Rick T*

      I ignore social media link requests from random people, regardless of how many mutual connections we may have.

      I guess there are rankings in Linkedin based on how many connections you have if you are social media maven.

      I consider them just a new form of spam to be ignored and blocked.

    7. RagingADHD*

      The etiquette is that you can ignore anyone you want to ignore, whether you know them or not.

  29. Jasmine*

    I think I need to quit… I need to quit, right?

    I’ve been working remotely for, let’s say a large crockery subcontractor on teapot related stuff since last May. Got promoted to being a manager in January with a brand new team of 30, 2 weeks in we were moved from pot painting to handle making (which uses totally different equipment), have gone through changes in procedure, huge increases, decreases and increases again to the workforce, and then last Friday I was summarily told that we were moving back to the pot painting department. Retrained my team and then 2 days ago it was “oh wait, THEY’RE staying on pot painting but it’s back to handle making for you!” and 5 minutes later they had a new manager. I didn’t even have time to tell them before it happened.

    The upper crockery management (and the general kitchenware company) pay no attention to what we in the front line of handle making say needs changing on procedures, and trying to effect change is futile. Plus, I tell friends what I’m paid and they think I’m joking at the low wages. And I’m struggling to find any time or mental energy to start a big academic project I really need to be getting on with.

    Now, I’d quit tomorrow, but a. This whole teapot endeavour is kind of important and I AM making a difference, b. I don’t want to leave my brand new team of handle makers in the lurch before they’re fully trained and c. I do need to pay my rent and have no idea if I can even find a job that’ll be any better until I’ve finished my academic work.

    But I DO need to quit, right? I’ve got 140 hours of holiday they’re going to have to pay out when I leave…

    1. Asymmetrical Warfare*

      If you quit tomorrow and depending on your state, they’re not required to pay your unused vacation/sick/holiday pay – you need to know this first.

      If you decide to quit, do the old-fashioned two-week notice and be a good employee so they’ll pay out your accrued holiday (assuming that’s the policy). But then they could fire you in the meantime and no one gets anything they want.

      1. Jasmine*

        Ah, I’m in the UK and the definitely need to pay my accrued holiday (I got it in writing just before being promoted because their policy was VERY unclear).

        1. allathian*

          What’s your notice period? Can they refuse to pay your accrued holiday if you quit without notice? In Europe the notice period is usually longer than two weeks, often a month or two months.

    2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      It depends, was it a promotion that they took away for no reason or are they simply reassigning tasks? If it is just reassigning tasks then I don’t think that this is a reason to quit. If the wages are low it is worth looking else where and then quitting.

      1. Jasmine*

        They’re reassigning tasks, and that would be fine if they weren’t also reassigning teams and doing it with 5 minutes’ notice.

        I’m thinking about this in a different way and possibly I buried the lede. I can’t justify staying, given the amount of stress the job is currently giving me and how hard it’s making to get on with my MLIS dissertation, when I look at the pay and the constant organisational whiplash. I think I’m leaning towards the gamble of quitting, and at least I can put in a few solid weeks of uni work plus jobhunting without having a nervous breakdown. And then, if necessary, try and pick up some temping work.

  30. Liesl is my dachshund*

    When to tell a possible hiring organization about a scheduled surgery?

    Last week I posted about red flags in a job I was applying for. Thank you for all your input. I’m still on the fence. I was invited to the 2nd interview on July 8th. The position is FT, WFH. The position would start mid-July or so.

    I scheduled an out-patient hysterectomy for August 4th and recovery time can be lengthy. I would expect without complications that within 2 weeks I would be good for at least part-time and then progress from there.

    As I noted in last week’s post, 1/3 of employees will be laid off on/before September which leaves me little time to get ramped up. At some point, my Director will be furloughed but I don’t know for how long, when, etc.

    When do I tell them about my surgery? I’m sure most of you will say, ‘after an offer is made’ but given the known changes in the organization, is that too late? I fell that telling them going into the 2nd interview will at least give them an opportunity to weigh me with the other candidate (there are only 2). I know this alone could kick me out of the running, but if I’m a strong enough candidate to assume all these ups and down going into the new fiscal year they’d bring me on anyway. Optimistic? Naive? Both?

    How I see it going:
    – Them: Offer made
    – Me: I will need 2 weeks off after August 4th. I should be good for part-time by August 18th. I should be better for full-time by August 30th.
    – Them: Surprised.
    – Them: Rescind the offer because that’s just too much OR Ok we’ll work with that.


    1. mreasy*

      No need to tell them before the offer. They could decide they don’t want you under those circumstances but they likely will think it’s fine!

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      100% after the offer is made. Make sure to tell that that the time off request is “for a necessary medical procedure” because otherwise it looks like you’re just asking for vacation. It is difficult to imagine the offer being rescinded for that (which is problematic for them because at that point it looks like potential disability discrimination — it might not be, but it doesn’t look good). If they do rescind the offer, that’s not a company you want to work for.

    3. PollyQ*

      Your analysis of how it will go is correct, but the reason you wait until you have the offer is because they’re more likely to take you out of the running entirely if you tell them any earlier. And 100% agree that you should present it as a medical issue.

    4. WellRed*

      If it takes two months to wait until you can even interview, I’d be skeptical you’d be starting anytime this summer. But it may make sense them.

      1. Liesl is my dachshund*

        The first interview was on June 9; they set the 2nd interview on June 10. The reason why it’s July 8th is that the Dev Director is on 2 weeks PTO (June 14-25). They intend to hire by the end of July. They’re on time with the schedule they posted in the position. They want to get someone in as they also lay off staff (which a conversation in itself) so that the new person is ready for the end of FY changes.

        1. WellRed*

          Gotcha. If they don’t extend the job offer till end of July, I’d just give them an available start date for after you’ve recovered. If they actually want someone starting in July… ugh. That’s a tough one.

  31. GT*

    My daughter just graduated from college and has been interviewing for a teaching position at elementary schools in the area. She got an offer (without an interview) from a school that expected an answer *right away*. I don’t want to be *that* mom and interfere, but I find the lack of time to think about it to be a red flag, as well as the lack of interview. She did ask for extra time and they gave her an extra day, she also ended up being able to talk to the principal. I figure they’re either really disorganized or this school is not the best place to work. Is there anyone who can offer any other insight? Thanks.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      It sounds like a lot of teachers have quit due to the chaos of teaching during COVID, so might that be a factor? Not that it’s not a red flag, but it might be a more generalized problem than just this school or district.

      1. GT*

        I know there’ve been a lot of teachers leaving due to COVID, but why not let her have more than 24 hours to think about accepting a job at a school she knows nothing about? I asked a teacher friend about that school and, while she didn’t have any first-hand information about this elementary school, she had had bad experiences with the associated middle school, which is next door.

        1. quill*

          Consider it a yellow flag. Teaching does not have the same norms as most workplaces, but rushing people to agree before they have time to do due dilligence can be a sign of disorganization and/or “for the cause” type lack of boundaries or consideration for the teachers.

          Signed – a teacher’s kid who has heard the whole song and needs-union-intervention dance.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I’ve had this experience but usually at the end of summer when there’s a sense of mutual desperation (and after interviewing!). It seems a little weird now when I assume they have at least a month to find someone before orientation/training/prep begins.

      First time I literally had my interview during their new teacher training, received and accepted an offer at that interview, and was teaching 2 weekdays later. It was not the most organized place but I stayed for 3 years and mainly left because I was moving.

      Second time I felt it was obvious during the interview that I wasn’t qualified for the position and I was surprised when they called me with an offer. I asked for a day or two to think about it and they seemed confused/offended and outright asked me why I couldn’t accept on the spot. I called back an hour later and left a voicemail declining lol

    3. Invisible Fish*

      Your daughter needs to turn this down immediately. Yes, there are lots of open positions due to retirements caused by the pandemic- this actually means she needs to REALLY get a feel
      for the school. Not doing interviews is going to result in this school hiring incompetent people, and then your daughter will be stuck working with them, as well as an admin team that seems to be filled with idiots. (When I was out of the classroom, I participated in the hiring process – I can’t imagine what the campus would have looked like if we hired so indiscriminately.). If she’s aiming to work in elementary schools, remember that they tend to work closely/in pods with other teachers in the same grade- people who come in without being well vetted are likely to be less than ideal coworkers.

    4. Humble schoolmarm*

      24 hours to make up your mind is the norm in my district. If school is ongoing, principals do have a lot on their plates and want to know that as many things as possible are set for next year. The lack of interview does worry me, especially if she hasn’t done any sub work, volunteering of practice teaching there.

  32. Aggretsuko*

    Several years ago when our boss got recruited for another job, it took something like a year to find a replacement. They put out job ads and then decided they didn’t like anyone who applied. Then they started trying to recruit people. The eventual winner quit a few months ago, as (a) she obviously didn’t like it here and (b) wanted to move back home. Well, nobody blames her for that last one in a pandemic. I asked if we were going to put out ads or recruit again given how badly it went last time, and her boss said they’d do both.
    Well. HER boss just quit because he got recruited for another job. So suffice it to say that the job hunt is on hold until they spend a year recruiting to hire the new boss–but also, they put out a job ad and hated all of the candidates again. Oh, for godsake. Why do they bother.
    Anyway, management in general has no idea what’s going on, as usual. We’re supposed to have a meeting with the second in command of the entire org for 15 minutes, during which I’m sure they know nothing but “business as usual.” Whee.

    1. ferrina*

      Ugh. I was in this boat. It sucks so much. My department was tiny, and it really suffered with the vacancy. I wish I’d started job hunting earlier- I was taking on a ton of extra work with no end in sight. To add to the awfulness, by the time they finally filled the position, they were pivoting their strategy and my position was eliminated.

    2. College Career Counselor*

      If they don’t like the candidates they’re pulling in, the job description, the pay, or both are crap. It’s also possible the powers that be don’t really know what they want in the role and/or are fighting over it and therefore vetoing every applicant. You didn’t really ask for advice, but my suggestion is to say “this is above my paygrade” and just keep asking for some clarity of what is expected of you while the dysfunctional do-si-do of HR hiring plays out.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        It could be the location too. Low pay + not desirable area. If they don’t offer WFH, the may not be getting good candidates. Or, they might want purple unicorns!

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      That sounds rough. I don’t know if it applies to your employer, but where I work we had an opening for a very specialized role that was hard to fill. We had a hard time getting the right person from just advertising. Eventually someone was hired who turned out to be a bad fit and was let go. The department head finally decided to spend the money on a professional recruiter and we got a fantastic person in the role.

  33. Stuck in CS Hell*

    I don’t even know where to begin on this or how to keep this short, so I apologize for the bit of long text here :(

    My job’s role was completely changed over the past 2 years, causing me unending stress over one asinine metric that’s customer depending to the point I break down crying repeatedly (while WFH so thankfully nobody sees me doing this). I knew this one metric would put my job at risk (I do well on all the others) and even though I was reassured that ultimately it’s up to my lead and supervisor to determine to keep me or not if that one metric was bad several months ago, sure enough I was put on a PIP last month regarding it that’s to run into the fall. I also did make both my lead and supervisor aware of the breakdowns before the PIP was given. I would quit in a heartbeat if I could for my mental health, but if I quit, I don’t get unemployment, so I’m stuck either waiting for them to fire me or until I can get a job offer in a non-customer facing role.

    This now brings up my current issue: we’re supposed to have one meeting each month with our team lead and supervisor. I somehow managed to not get fired yet when the first meeting came up with my lead, who I’m fine with, but now this means I have to talk to my supervisor this coming week and who I really don’t want to talk to and haven’t talked to since the PIP was given to me. Even on the best of days, they love to talk all the way to the end of the meeting, even if everything was already covered in the first 10 mins (while I really don’t like to chat). On top of some other things they’ve done recently, like deleting a shared team chat because they felt people were getting too negative and being told by them I just have to deal with my stress at work with no accommodations that I know would alleviate it (though this is more on the dept as a whole about not wanting to switch how cases come in), I have nothing further I wish to discuss with them.

    I know they’ll probably mention and praise and ask how I got that one metric up enough to not be fired yet, but the truth is I just stopped giving a shit. I’m not rude to customers but I also don’t go out of my way anymore to respond promptly, I leave a closed channel open for awhile to give me breathing room even though they should be closed quickly, etc. They could tell me I did really well or really bad on my metrics and I wouldn’t give a shit regardless. Naturally, I can’t exactly curse at my supervisor in the meeting, but I don’t know how to go about saying in a more polite manner I just stopped giving a damn about this job and company and only reason I haven’t quit is because I don’t get to collect unemployment if I do so (obviously not going to say that, but that’s where my mental state is). It doesn’t help I’m a very honest person and this job has made me very bitter so it’s bringing out the darker parts of my humor, so if they start off asking the usual “how’re you doing?” I’ll probably be very frank and tell them “I’m not ok, I’m still crying over this stupid job, and I hate my life as a result now” which is obviously not ok to say either. I almost want to ask if they could just cancel this meeting/not ever talk again/just talk through lead instead or something (probably not possible either).

    1. merope*

      I am so sorry that you are going through this. However, based on your description the person you’ll be talking with (“Even on the best of days, they love to talk all the way to the end of the meeting, even if everything was already covered in the first 10 mins”) it sounds like you won’t have to do much talking yourself. In that case, I would recommend following a policy of neutral to positive statements (regardless of your actual feelings) — when they ask how you are, you are fine; how is the metric coming, you are working on improving it, etc. You might also try asking questions to produce more talking from the person (how are you? what suggestions do you have for improving this metric?). If it helps, maybe think of this as an undercover or acting assignment — your objective is to get through the conversation as smoothly as possible so that you can carry on with your real plans.

      I wish you the best and hope you will find something better soon!

      1. Stuck in CS Hell*

        Ah I should have clarified: he tries to drag you into talking back and forth by asking direct questions, so it’s not just him rambling away (otherwise if it was just him rambling I wouldn’t mind so much). They already know I don’t like this job anymore so it might be tough to act like I’m suddenly fine now, but I’ll see if I can pull it off and just keep things to small responses. And thanks, hoping I can get a better job and get out soon!

    2. Sherm*

      One thing is to make sure that your job search is revved up to the max — being on a PIP in a job that you hate definitely warrants making every effort to get out of there. And maybe that will help a bit, that the hope that you will be out of there soon will make you tolerate the current job more. Perhaps you can detach a bit and pretend you are doing acting practice: “Okay, I have this miserable meeting coming up. Let’s see how well I can play the role of somebody who is interested in this job.”

      1. Stuck in CS Hell*

        Yeah, I’d been looking casually anyways since around Dec. but definitely ramped up the job search since April, though if my past job searches are any indication, it’s going to take about 6 months before I find a new one. They also already know to a degree I don’t like my job anymore so going to be a bit difficult to pull off the “everything is suddenly fine now!” but I’ll see if I can at least grin and bear it and not make stabbing remarks.

        1. Sherm*

          I think that’s fine! Acting chipper and gung-ho will just come off as inauthentic. Maybe it’s helpful to know that you don’t have to try so hard. Be courteous, and as long as you don’t blurt out “I want to tear my hear out!” you’ll be good :)

    3. WFH with Cat*

      “[The] only reason I haven’t quit is because I don’t get to collect unemployment if I do so”

      Are you in the U.S.? If so, you should be aware that getting fired for performance reasons (as opposed to being laid off or furloughed because there aren’t enough hours or the position is eliminated) will make you ineligible for unemployment, and your claim will be denied. You can appeal that decision, but if you’ve been on a PIP and the employer can prove you did not improve enough to meet metrics, it’s unlikely that you’ll win.

      Best thing is to focus on your job search so you can get out of there under your own sail, instead of being fired.

      Good luck!

      1. Stuck in CS Hell*

        Yes, I’m in the US. It’s in a gray area as I could argue they have completely changed my job so it’s a poor fit for me now (which is all true, I no longer do any of the duties I came on for and was moved into a completely different support role I have no background in, think like being moved from helping with payments to troubleshooting why someone’s programs are crashing where I’m literally just sending cookie cutter steps in the hopes that ‘ll work and if not, bug our specialists for help) so it was a given that one metric would suffer more. I can also show that before they changed the roles, that metric was never an issue (also while the company won’t admit it, they’ve known for awhile that metric tends to be lower for this current role than the original one I was on).

      2. WellRed*

        I think this is highly variable and even if she’s let go, that doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as being fired for say, stealing from the till. With the job totally changing? Even more so. This is also a good example of why PIPs should be short term not several months. What a miserable situation.

      3. Generalist*

        Don’t know if this is too late for OP to see it, but in many/most states, you *are* eligible for unemployment if you are fired, unless it was for something heinous like stealing from the company. There are a few states that are more worker-punitive, but it absolutely depends on the state and it is inaccurate to say that “in the U.S.” she can’t get unemployment if fired due to performance issues.

    4. Not So Super-visor*

      So as a CS Supervisor, I see a lot of burnout especially in the time of COVID. I’ve had to have a really frank conversations with my boss about why I’m not drilling down on certain metrics any more. In our case Talk Time — almost all calls are too long according to corporate standards but the issues that we’re dealing with are more complex, and we’re dealing with angrier customers than we ever have in the past.
      You mention that they expect you to deal with stress without any accommodations. Assuming that you are in the US, have you filed any ADA or FMLA paperwork? I’ve also had to have very real conversations with my direct reports about the need for filing out the paperwork even when they don’t see the point of going to a doctor. Mental health issues are health issues, and your supervisors have a duty to treat them as such. I know that getting accommodations might not help you like your job any more, but they may provide you with some breathing room until you can figure out another plan.

      1. Stuck in CS Hell*

        Yeah, I think a lot of us that are considered “veterans” here (been hear at least a year) have brought up all the metrics to some degree with the higher ups (we’re dealing with more complex cases now that our roles were changed, contacts are more antsy being stuck at home/contact us more often, etc.) but even with our bosses bringing our concerns to the dept heads, we were just given “oh, ok, we’ll add an extra minute to your talk time” which you probably no is not really helpful T_T

        I haven’t considered filing for FMLA but I’ll look into that to see if I can do so, thanks! (I don’t think I qualify under ADA but I can look into it to see if there is one related to all the stress this is causing)

    5. NeonDreams*

      I feel this post so much! I’m in a customer service position and have dealt with burn out since pre COVID. Over 2 years over burn out adds up. My new supervisors are trying to work with me but it’s still a lot to overcome. I’ve a had lot supervisor turnover in the past 8 months or so for different reasons. My biggest issue is metrics as well. One of them is having to go to our break or lunch at a certain time. If not, it counts against us. My sups want me to get a medical accommodation, but I’m angry I even have to ask for it in the first place. Maybe not putting such limiting parameters on us workers would get better results.

      This week I attended an awards meeting for an achievement I received. (highest customer satisfaction among customer’s surveyed over a certain period.) I have mixed emotions about it because… yes, I can do my job well but it kills me emotionally and mentally. I’ve been job searching off and on for years and nothing’s panned out.

    6. Down to the Minute*

      For your polite response to how you improved that metric, maybe try, “I started leaving work at work.”

      I feel for you though. They’ll use phrases like, “This job isn’t for everyone,” and “It takes a special person to do this.” That’s basically code for, “We know we don’t treat our employees well, but that’s not going to change.”

  34. Beka Cooper*

    Question for others in academia: Is “guard-dogging” one’s work an academia thing? A generational thing? Or just my particular office culture?

    What I mean by “guard-dogging” is when people are very protective of their work and knowledge, to the point of being reluctant to train others on the procedures of doing their job, or getting angry when someone else appears to be doing work that they think should be their territory. I’ve experienced this with two people now in my workplace, and I was recently talking to some coworkers who have also seen it happen at another institution. This is all in staff positions, not faculty.

    My personal experience that’s affecting me right now is that when I was first hired, part of my job description was to be the backup for another person’s specific area of work. However, I only ever got an overview amount of training, and the person never trained me in actual procedures or let me do any to practice, although it was stated in meetings that I should expect to be pulled aside for this. Now, this person has retired amidst COVID stuff and myself and another coworker have been scrambling to learn those job functions with inadequate documentation. It annoys me that the transition wasn’t managed better, and that there wasn’t more oversight. Is the hoarding of institutional knowledge something that happens a lot in other places? I’m curious to hear anyone else’s stories of stuff like this too.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Also referred to as empire building.

      It happens in academia a lot. And government. And some kinds of private sector organizations.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I thought this was standard operating procedure in academia.

      I am not in academia but I have relatives and close friends who are and from what I hear, it’s territorial as all get-out. One of the doctors who donated his papers to the archive where I work won’t let his own kids see them until he’s been dead for however many years. My brother is in academia and is still untangling projects left by predecessors from the 1970s and 1980s.

    3. Eey0re's Missing Tail*

      Yup, I’ve seen it and experienced it quite a bit in academia. I’ve noticed that a lot of the people that do it tend to more insecure about their job and will tell everyone within earshot how they’re just too busy to train someone.

    4. Manders*

      I’m having that problem right now at a small for-profit company. I was actually hired to help the person who’s sitting on all the work, but she’s pretty set in her ways (and possibly seems to hate meetings?) so I spend a lot of time begging for work to do.

      We’re about the same age and experience level, so I think it’s just a personality trait, although certain types of company structure without enough oversight from above can allow a work hogger to get really entrenched. I also think it gets worse when the upper level of management don’t quite understand what their reports do day to day–I work in digital marketing, and I’ve found that when bosses who’ve never worked in marketing try to oversee marketing teams they often don’t understand how work should get delegated or how projects fit together.

    5. Hello Sweetie!*

      In my experience in academia (in science) that’s a top down situation. I saw it happen more often in labs where the PI played favorites or was very stingy with authorship. In those cases, a lab member might hoard their expertise, especially on protocols and assays that were frequently needed, so that they were more likely to get added as an author for the final journal submission.

      I would say though, that this wasn’t my experience (but I had friends who experienced it) because I was lucky that the labs I was in were very open about training others, and my PIs tried to make sure that all grad students and post docs had at least one project with a good likelihood for generating a paper.

      1. A Genuine Scientician*

        I have literally never experienced this in academic science, but I’ve always worked in labs that were very generous with authorship, so that might be part of it. Honestly, one of the chapters of my dissertation came about because someone in another lab presented at their lab meeting “I generated this data to answer question X, but I feel like there has to be more that can be done with it”, and three people in that lab all said “You need to go talk to [me], they’re doing a lot of work on a very similar set of data”. 15 minutes into the meeting with that person, he just said “Instead of you explaining any more how to do this analysis and what other things could be answered with it, can I just give you the data and let you run with it?”, so I made him a coauthor and onward the project went.

      2. tamarack and fireweed*

        Yes, it’s a culture thing, I agree – and it can be changed (and I hope more people commit themselves to changing it) by those who are in leadership positions over a segment of the institution. While incentives for staff and faculty/researchers don’t function the same way, in general academia often seems to be a field where individual achievement is highly prized. Management, PI training and setting of cultural norms can help.

        (I think the worst I’ve personally seen was in a university’s IT department, possibly aggravated by the fact that they had some long-standing leaders some with tenure (!! which they wouldn’t be getting these days) that were quite incompetent in the roles they were in now, required constant flattery, and were hard to dislodge. Academic adminsitrators don’t often seem to know how to manage IT organizations, so this was worse than it typically becomes in the industry. On the academic side I see a lot of thoughtless individualism, where PIs don’t even think in terms of teamwork, cross-training, spreading knowledge around. And the insecure ones actively hoard it. My own larger team has been led by people with “team science” management experience, so for the moment I’ve been relatively fortunate.)

    6. The New Wanderer*

      Generally it happens a lot because most people here (private industry) just don’t have the time or inclination to share knowledge, it’s not done purposefully. I’ve only known one person to do this in a very blatant manner. This person not only closely guarded their work but also took credit for other people’s work and drove off more than a few coworkers because of it. They changed jobs and I spoke to someone who worked with them at the new job, same story there. I believe they did so at my company in order to guarantee that they would be the public face of the work (this worked for them for a while) and potentially leverage it into a private consulting gig (so far has not happened), but the end result is this person used up a lot of funding for the work and left little to show for it.

    7. Lora*

      Information hoarding! Or sometimes when it’s a whole department who refuses to work with other departments, it’s silo-ing. And yes it happens in private industry allllll the time. Someone is afraid of being laid off so they try to make themselves indispensable.

      At one job where layoffs were frequent and common and anyone could be next, information hoarding was EPIC. I basically used to let people fail miserably and complain to anyone who would listen about how overworked they were, before I would ask in meetings in front of witnesses if they’d mind me taking a crack at it. Often they were very confident in how irreplaceable they were and told me to go ahead, but at least they couldn’t complain about having their toes stepped on afterwards.

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

      I non-faculty in higher ed and it is definitely a thing here but I’ve seen it in non-academic places too. Any culture that fosters a competitive environment among employees tends to have it because there is very little/no personal benefit to sharing and often a penalty for not being the subject-matter expert.

    9. tra la la*

      I’ve experienced this in a very brief job in government (it’s why I quit) and in nonprofit jobs and in my current nonfaculty university job. I experienced it less as an humanities instructor. However, I did have a bad experience with another scholar taking some of my scholarly work without appropriately crediting me, an experience I’ve also had with a nonfaculty colleague. And that can make people lean towards hoarding, if they worry that someone will take their work without crediting/citing.

    10. AcademiaNut*

      Common all over the place – I’ve seen it in academia, government work, and volunteer situations. Not generational, but somewhat connected to seniority. You don’t see it as much at very junior levels (because they don’t have the knowledge to hoard), or at the more senior levels (they have tenure and are often leading the projects), but more in the established but not senior level.

      I find there are several reasons. There’s wanting to be indispensable – if other people can do what you do, they don’t need you. Then there’s people who are either bad at the task, or want people to think it’s harder than it is – they don’t want do be found out. And the perfectionists, who would rather do it themselves, properly, than entrust it to someone else who will screw it up (sometimes, however, this attitude is justified). And, of course, people doing naughty things they don’t want discovered.

      My field, fortunately, is moving more towards open data and software, which makes hoarding actual data and tools harder.

    11. The Dude Abides*

      I’ve been guilty of this in both private and public work to an extent. On the private side, I would rewrite procedures from scratch, but in general did not trust co-workers to do everything I did the way the things needed to be done.

      In government, segregation of duties was strongly upheld in my unit.

    12. NotSoHigherEd*

      Yup. I see it a lot- also politics between departments and divisions. It’s quite frustrating when the people on the front lines are just trying to help the students, but administration won’t play well in the sandbox together.

  35. BobLobLaw*

    My company is considering starting an internal point system for employees to reward one another with good work. The points wouldn’t lead to additional compensation or vacation days. But I think there is supposed to be some sort of non-financial prize for points received.

    Have other companies tried this? Has this system inadvertently (or deliberately) replaced more traditional top-down rewards like raises, promotions etc?

    1. Estimator*

      I work for a construction company and we do this with the field crews. They get points for safety, exceeding production, things like that. Any supervisor or manager can give points. The points get redeemed for nice company swag, stuff like yeti tumblers and Columbia jackets with our logo that are useful in the field. The crews like it and it doesn’t replace the standard reviews and merit raises.

      1. LKW*

        I still have my pocket knives and binoculars from my site safety awards – that was 20 years ago!

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Lots (most) of the large companies I’ve worked for have appreciation things like this. The “rewards” are so small (company swag, a plaque etc) that there’s never been even a hint that this would replace traditional raises and promotions. Even when the awards are bigger for a few outstanding performers (a company retreat, or a couple hundred dollars), they are small in the scheme of things so absolutely did not interfere with other advancement opportunities. Getting the rewards can be a benefit at review time, but only one small part of the performance metric. More like a “hey, I see that Finance gave you a reward for your support on Smithers. Good for you.”

      1. quill*

        Interesting. New job uses something similar, but it’s more like collecting arcade tickets (in terms of the actual rewards) so far. 5 tickets and you get a company branded bouncy ball, 50 tickets can be redeemed for the slime hand, etc. :)

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      When I worked for Disney, we got pins for meeting certain goals, such as anniversaries, perfect secret shopper score, etc. I liked it & still have my pins, which are probably worth something on the collectibles market now.

      I’ve always been very motivated by extra credit, so I like these kinds of programs. And I feel like they’re a nice type of easy rewards.

    4. LKW*

      My company does recognition rewards that get broadcast across large groups in the company (client, industry, country, etc.). We have little icons that will go on your internal profile if you’ve achieved an award or did something else notable. And then there is a point system where you can use the points to buy stuff – like a gift card, but the points expire within a year so one is unlikely to rack up enough points to get the bigger ticket items. I assume it’s a service we belong to, it’s not a program that we manage directly.

    5. Girasol*

      When our company started that, it didn’t replace raises or promotions. It just helped improve recognition. Our managers were so busy that they rarely said thanks unless HR nagged them about it. Then there would be effusive thanks and attaboys for about three days before life went back to unappreciative normal. Having employees call out the successes of other employees helped managers to see good work that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. That made evaluations more specific than “You do a lot” or “People say you’re nice” because the boss had drawn a blank on what the person had actually done, and might have improved the chances of a deserving person getting a real reward. The program wasn’t the non-starter that HR management recognition programs had been. Employees who craved a kind word seemed to understand that they might get it if they gave it, and so it kept being paid forward and paid back over and over.

    6. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I believe I read one story (here?) about a thing like this, where a group of coworkers figured out how to game the system and give each other the lions share of the rewards.

      Make sure you think hard, and do some dry-runs, so you don’t end up with something that unscrupulous people can take advantage of, to the detriment of your honest employees.

    7. The Dude Abides*

      My partner’s giant multinational does this, and she has procured some nice items from it. Nothing world-shaking, but it doesn’t replace the raises/bonuses. She works with a number of different units/departments within the company, so it’s nice that others can clearly show their appreciation and she can get a tangible benefit from it.

  36. Blackbird*

    Asking for a friend- he works at Company A who is being bought by Company X, and the sale completes October 31. Everyone in company A is being required to sign a new Code of Ethics by June 30. The new Code now includes a non-compete clause, which prevents “any attempted solicitation of current customers” for one year after ending their employment. Due to the industry, most of these people derive their marketability/employability from their client list. Can company A legally require them to sign, and if so, would this be enforceable? We are in a very pro-industry/free market state. Thanks!

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Generally, a non-compete must be “reasonable” in geographic area and timeline for it to be enforceable in a court. One year would likely be considered reasonable.

      Depending on where your friend is, the non-compete may be void if your friend does not receive some additional compensation or benefit for signing it. But always remember that just because something isn’t enforceable, it doesn’t mean that you won’t get sued over it and lose time and money proving your case in court. Your friend should take the proposed non-compete to a local lawyer for advice. (I think a one-hour consult would be more than enough time to discuss the paper and your friend’s options.)

    2. Rick T*

      Are any of the parties (you, Co A, Co X) located in California? The CA Business code explicitly bans this kind of contract if you aren’t a principal of the business being purchased, this kind of non-compete agreement is facially illegal and unenforceable.

  37. Fluffyyyy*

    Any suggestions on how to think of answers to situational/behavioral questions? I want to have situations prepared beforehand so I can answer these questions better but being entry-level, a lot of the results would be “I brought it to my supervisor and we figured it out together”. I’m going to try to be better at writing them down to note for the future when I experience them in real time but I have an interview next week so that doesn’t help me now.

    1. irene adler*

      Assemble all the behavioral questions you can find (google). Then jot down answers to them.

      Your responses don’t have to be earth-shattering or cancer-curing. They want to see candidates who can successfully think on their feet. And if the only example you have is not something work-related, use it. Remember that school and volunteer experiences can also count.

      Follow the STAR method (google that too). You want to make your response very short and direct. And don’t take too much time to think up your example. The interviewer can ask follow-up questions if they want details.

      Some articles I’ve read indicate that there are 4-5 general types of behavioral questions. And you can get a STAR answer for each type and be covered for most of the questions you are asked. Not sure if I buy that, but adapting your responses to different behavioral questions is something you might be prepared to do.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      There’s a lot you can add to “I went to my boss and we figured it out together”!

      When and how did you realize you needed to escalate it?
      What information did you take to your supervisor?
      What were your decision criteria or top policies/principles that you relied on?
      Did you do anything to get that ad hoc decision made into SOP?

      1. ferrina*

        This. And depending on the role, this is actually a plus. I loved when my junior staff knew when and how to escalate situations. Too often a staffer will decide that they need to “show initiative” and take on something they really shouldn’t.

        If this is a role where they expect you to be more independent, I’d highlight scenarios where you had a solution ready for your boss. “I recommended that we do XYZ to address it. My boss thought that sounded good, and I went forward with the implementation.”

    3. cubone*

      Use the SAR method from resume writing: Situation (what was going on?), Action (what did you do?), Result (what happened as a result of your actions?). The Action might be “I took it to my supervisor”, but you can expand on that quite a bit! How did you evaluate whether your supervisor needed to be involved and why? How did you communicate the situation to your supervisor? Did you make a recommendation? For the Result aspect: how did you support your supervisor in taking action? Did you change your behavior/a work process/communicate differently as a result, to prevent the situation from happening in the future?

      Personally, I DON’T practice by trying to find examples of behavioral/situational questions. It takes a lot of guesswork and you can get thrown off too easily by questions that are the same but phrased differently than you practiced for.

      Instead, spend half an hour jotting down some of your most memorable, successful, and challenging workplace experiences. Think of times you had to create something from scratch, adapt on the fly, work with others, deal with an unforeseen challenge, communicate during a conflict – really broad stuff. Write out SPECIFIC memories you have (not “my former coworker was always late on projects” — write out specifically the project they were late on). Write them out (bullets or sentences doesn’t matter) as narrative stories that follow the SAR format. Give them a title so you remember!

      Once you have a bunch of these (I usually do 10, but I also have a stockpile now), give them “tags”. Stuff like conflict, leadership, communication, teamwork, project management, etc (usually these tend to be soft skills, but might be technical too). Some might have 2-3 tags, others might be very clearly focused on 1 tag or skill.

      Now you are prepared to practice two very specific skills:
      1) Being able to recall and tell these stories in the SAR format. I cannot stress this enough: BE SPECIFIC. Having hired dozens of people, there is a huge difference between “I dealt with conflict a lot and tried to be sensitive to the other person’s needs so I could understand the source of conflict” and “On a time sensitive project (situation), my coworker and I disagreed on how to proceed with task X, so I (actions), which helped us (result)….”
      2) Being able to pick one of your stories based on the behavioral interview question. This is where compiling a list from the internet of common situation questions can be helpful, but what you’re aiming to practice isn’t “how do I answer that?” but “which one of my SAR stories is the best example for this question?”

      This is my go-to method and it makes my interview prep significantly more focused (and not to brag, but I’ve gotten past every first round interview I’ve received). It’s also a helpful way to combat interview anxiety, because it’s no longer about wondering if I’ve prepared for the questions they’ll ask, but feeling confident in telling my own stories. Stories are memorable and human; canned interview answers are not.

      1. Hattie McDoogal*

        I’m not the OP but I am someone who recently realized how bad I am at interviews so I just want to thank you for this excellent answer! I’m going to copy it and save it to refer to for next time I get an interview.

      2. Mimmy*

        Ditto to what Hattie said! I know all of the basic “do’s and don’ts” of interviewing but I am not as strong with coming up with authentic stories. I’m absolutely saving this as well.

    4. Tabby Baltimore*

      I don’t mean to overwhelm you, and I’m not sure if this is going to bust some kind of AAM reply-box character limit, but here is a list of questions I gathered from the comments to a March 3, 2018 open-thread post on this topic from Irene Adler:
      – Tell me about a time when you had to work with someone with a difficult personality. How did you make this work?
      – Tell me about a time when you had a disagreement with a co-worker.
      – Tell me about a time when you could not make a deadline.
      – Tell me about a time when you worked as part of a team.
      – Tell me about a time you took individual responsibility for a project.
      – Tell me about a time when you had to complete a large project. How did you stay organized? How did you meet deadlines?
      – Tell me about a time when a client/customer was dissatisfied. What steps did you take to assist them?
      – Tell me about a time you received feedback on something you hadn’t realised you had done wrong. How did you respond?
      – Tell me about a time you intentionally stepped out of your comfort zone to learn something new.
      – Tell me about a time when your manager gave you feedback that you didn’t agree with.
      – Tell me about a time when you had to learn a new skill/task very quickly.
      – Tell me about a time when you failed or felt you had made a huge mistake.
      – Tell me about something you’re proud of accomplishing.
      – Tell me about a time when you had to work with a diverse group of people.
      – Tell me about a time when you had to work with multiple internal/external stakeholders to get something done.
      – Tell me about a time you received feedback on an area of development. What steps did you take to learn and improve?
      – Tell me about a time you exceeded a target or goal.
      – Describe a time you had to work with other members of your team or wider network to achieve a common goal.
      – Give me an example of a time you’ve challenged yourself to be the very best at something.
      – Describe a situation where you had to manage multiple priorities under tight timelines or circumstances.
      – Tell me about a time you encountered a problem with a project, what was the issue and how did you resolve it?
      – Tell me about a time you disagreed with your boss. How did you navigate the situation?
      – Tell me about a time you disagreed with how a project or process was being handled. How did you handle the situation?
      – Tell me about a time your manager asked you to do something you disagreed with (not unethical, just related to workflow or process), and how you handled that.
      – How do you react to stressful situations? Give us an example of a situation you found stressful and how you handled it.
      – Tell me about a time you had to make a big decision.
      – What are 3 work values that you believe are important to have and please give an example where you demonstrated each of them.
      – Tell me about a time when you had to work with people you did not agree with. What was the outcome?
      – Tell me about a time you had to communicate a technical concept to a non-technical person.
      – Tell me about a time you had to quickly shift priorities. How did you respond?
      – Tell me about a time you had to make a decision without 100% confidence.
      – Tell me about a time you showed initiative.
      – Tell me about a time when you had competing priorities and couldn’t get everything done in the expected turnaround time – how did you decide what to do or not do, and how did you communicate that to others?
      – Tell me about a time you were in a stressful situation and how you handled it.
      – Tell me about a time you were having difficulties with a group you were working with
      – Have you ever been asked to do something you felt was unethical? If so, how did you handle it?
      – Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a co-worker (or boss). How did you handle it?
      – Tell me about how that choice was made and what you considered in making that choice. – How did you/your team convince other stakeholders that this was the correct choice?”
      – How did you/your team convince stakeholders that you needed to use the effort to move from an established technology?
      – “How did your team make decisions? What role did you most frequently take on in team decision making?” … “Tell me about how your team interfaced with stakeholders, whether internal to your organization or external clients? What interactions did you handle in your team’s relationship to outside teams?”
      – Tell me about a time when you had to balance conflicting requirements.

      Before interviews (like the day before or a few hours before) I always write myself some notes so if I’m IN the interview and draw a blank, I can look at my list. Just cliff’s notes like:
      Problem Solving – big excel project X, array formulas
      Leadership – organizing monthly training
      Saving money – implemented annual vendor review process

      I think this kind of question can be split into a few super-questions:
      – how you deal with people – teamwork, difficult coworkers, difficult clients
      – how you deal with difficult situations – ethically-questionable tasks, screw-ups, decisions you disagree with, failing projects
      – how you deal with pressure – conflicting priorities, impossible deadlines, being put on the spot
      – how you deal with new situations
      – how you solve problems
      Maybe you’d find it helpful to list examples of projects or jobs for each of these categories.

  38. Veryanon*

    I was just informed that a promotion I had applied for, and for which I was very qualified, was given to someone else on my team who is less qualified (and younger) than I am, but has worked longer for the company. I’m not overstating this; they objectively do not have the same qualifications or relevant experience that I have. I think this person will do an okay job, but how do I stay positive, professional, and move past not feeling valued? I’ve been told over and over that I’m a valued member of the team and they appreciate my contributions; I always get excellent performance reviews; but this is the second promotion in 6 months that I’ve applied for and haven’t received, and the reasons I’m being given just don’t seem valid to me. My manager has offered to meet with me and talk about ways that I can position myself for the next promotion, and I intend to take her up on this once I’m in a better place emotionally. But if it’s relevant, I’m pretty senior in my career at this point and I’m not sure what else I can do in terms of professional development to make myself a more attractive candidate. I guess I’m just feeling frustrated and extremely disappointed.

    1. Am I the Jerkface?*

      Time to go. I watched this happen twice at my current place and although I’ve finally gotten the promotion I thought I wanted, I realize that I wanted a promotion at my org as it existed 5 years ago, not the way it exists now. Don’t wait for it to get better, they’ve played their hand. But the good news is that you have a great job and if you are senior in your career, you can be picky. I feel you. Good luck.

      1. Veryanon*

        Thanks. The problem is that I really like the company as a whole, the culture, what the company does, and so forth, so I’m reluctant to try to start over again elsewhere. I’ve been here 5 years. I’m 52, and there aren’t a ton of options for me out there in terms of jobs that would provide a similar compensation level, but I’m too young to retire (and I have two kids in college, so I can’t afford to!). I guess I’ll mull over my options over the next few days and try to get past this feeling of being kicked in the stomach.

        1. Am I the Jerkface?*

          The feeling WILL get better, that I do know b/c time really does help erode some feelings. I very much feel all of the above (Except kids, I don’t have them and I’m a little younger at 45). It’s hard. Solidarity, friend!

        2. The New Wanderer*

          I am in the same position, watching other people less qualified get promoted over me, despite my getting glowing feedback and no actionable recommendations for moving up (well, one new thing that is absolutely moving the goalposts for me).

          I started looking around last year and finally did find a job and I’m 90% likely to take the offer when the official communication happens. I really like everything else around my current job but this is likely my only option to progress. If it helps, I’m 47 with two younger kids and I’m looking at 15 or so more years before retirement so I just needed to see what my options are. I wouldn’t be leaving if it were a step down or a subpar offer. But I’ll be honest, seeing a way out of my current stagnation has been really good for my attitude. I have not been able to fully set aside my unhappiness at being passed over for several years – it’s not affecting my work quality or relationships at work, but there’s a bitterness under the surface.

          However, I also know a handful of people who’ve hit their personal ceiling at this company who are just riding things out til retirement. They have been able to shift their focus to the work, which they really seem to enjoy, and then they mentally disconnect from anything having to do with the politics. If I stayed, I would redouble my efforts to do this also but I know it would be tough.

    2. Mr. Cajun2core*

      Do you believe it might be age or some other form of discrimination? If so, contact the EEOC.

      1. Veryanon*

        I don’t think that’s it; we’re both over 40. But the successful candidate is definitely less qualified.

        1. PollyQ*

          Less qualified in what sense? I’m wondering if your company is valuing different things than you are.

          1. WellRed*

            This is important. Do you have hard qualifications but lack soft or people skills that might be required? Is there something else going on? I’d already be sitting down with the mgr so I could start thinking hard about my future here or if I’m needing to move on. I m 51 so I get your concerns.

        2. Mr. Cajun2core*

          It is regrettable but sometimes companies value years of service over other things. This concept is not always bad and can sometimes be good.

    3. Reluctant Manager*

      Is anyone else in your company that you feel would be honest with you about the dynamics of what’s happening? It’s great that your manager wants to work with you on positioning yourself for a future promotion, and barring more information, I would consider that to be an indication of good faith in supporting your career goals. But, I’ve also been part of meetings in which staff junior to me were discussed and where the message was quite clear that these individuals were not going to be considered for promotions or had hit their ceiling in the organization, except that no one ever TOLD these staffers that was the case. Leadership just quietly hoped they would look for opportunities elsewhere and move on, so they could be replaced with a new entry-level person who would work for a few years before hitting the same sticking point. It felt icky to know this is what the desired outcome was without it ever being made explicit.

    4. irene adler*

      Certainly take the meeting with your manager. Ask them directly what you need to do to get promoted.
      Then let them do all the talking.
      Then evaluate their response. Were you given actionable, constructive things that you can do to get promoted? Are they reasonable tasks with a reasonable time-frame to do them? Would they be things that will make you a better candidate should you take a job elsewhere? Might be worth doing.

      Or were you given the “we value you” talk? IF so, then you aren’t going anywhere – in that company.

      Either way, dust off the resume and see what’s out there.

      1. Veryanon*

        Yes, I’ll take the meeting with my manager and see what she says. I just want to stop feeling like I was kicked in the stomach.

    5. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I get it, am also in my 50s, late 50s. Two things helped me get over not getting promoted.
      1. another person here did not get promoted, I took my cues from her. She just appeared to let it roll off her back and no one appeared to treat her differently.
      2. the book, rich dad, poor dad. I just read it for the first time and it made me think about work differently.
      Here is what I mean, is your goal to stay because you like the company and the culture or is the goal better pay and title? Really get clear on your priorities and keep your focus on what you do like/value.

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

      You might be too qualified to promote if they think you are more valuable to them staying right where you are. You should definitely see what else is available. Even if your manager gives you a list of what you need to do to get promoted, and you check all the boxes, there is still no guarantee that you will get promoted the next time a position opens up.

  39. Eey0re's Missing Tail*

    I have a question about adding my pronouns to emails that I’d like to get some opinions on. Where do you put your preferred pronouns in your email signature? My organization doesn’t have a standard email signature template, so I’ve seen them all over the place. Right now, my signature has them at the end (see below). Should they be moved up?

    Eeyore’s Tail
    Llama Services Coordinator
    Department of Llamas
    Llama University
    Phone: 555-555-5555

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Am I the Jerkface?*

      I typically see them:

      Eeyore’s Tail (she/her/hers)
      Llama Services Coordinator
      Department of Llamas
      Llama University
      Phone: 555-555-5555

      But I think yours is fine too!

    2. Paris Geller*

      I think it makes more sense to do it after your name, since your pronouns are what will take the place of your name grammatically when someone is referring to you.

    3. English, not American*

      I never use my signature, but most of my colleagues put it either in brackets at the end of their name or under their job title, e.g.

      Abun Dance (Ms/she/her)


      Abun Dance
      Pastry Choreographer

      Institute of Culinary Performance Arts
      Baker Street etc.

    4. Anonymous Pygmy Possum*

      I don’t think it matters really, it is a matter of personal preference. For me, I put my pronouns next to my name in my email signature, like this:

      Anonymous P. Possum (he/him/his)
      Teapot Engineer
      Teapots Limited
      Phone: 555-555-5555 x 5555

      I suppose one could make the argument that including pronouns in your signature is a way to let people know how to refer to you, so they should go next to or near your name, but it really is a matter of personal preference so I don’t think it matters in the grand scheme of things, and most people probably won’t care.

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

      I think your way is ok, but I wouldn’t even notice it at the bottom of a long signature like that; I stop reading after Llama Services Coordinator. So if you are wanting to be subtle, and ok with people missing the info, it’s fine. But if you want to have people notice, beside or under your name will be more obvious.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yes, depends on whether you need people to see them or not. My pronouns match what you’d expect from my gendered name, so I have them a bit lower down — they’re just included for people who want to check before assuming.

        Job Title
        pronouns: she/her/hers
        Phone | Email

  40. Elle*

    Anyone else’s company being really flakey about fall return to work plans? We were told to clean out our desks in the early spring because we’d be mostly working from home. If we go into the office we’d have a hot desk situation. Now they’re telling us to get ready to go back to the office with more info in Sept. God forbid you need to make school drop off/pick up, caregiver plans.

    1. Reluctant Manager*

      100% same. And then when some new detail is announced, it is effective within like two weeks, so there is almost no time to prepare. I’m expecting it to continue like that until September.

    2. Chaordic One*

      My employer has been very flaky. After being told that we couldn’t WFT because there wasn’t any money for laptops that would let us work from home, they suddenly came up with the cash when the pandemic hit.

      Then, after being told that we couldn’t bring in much-needed additional staff (because we didn’t have any place to put them) they suddenly hired a bunch of much-needed additional staff and they put them in the offices that all of the WFH people left behind.

      The latest gossip is that my employer is looking for new, smaller and cheaper to rent, digs because they plan to continue having us WFH. But no one will say anything because no one knows anything.

    3. Anonyanony*

      Yes, very flakey! My company actually posted a phased approach, and included that a number of employees are working in the office on a full time basis, but they are spread between a large number of offices, not all in the same building! They added that vaccinated employees don’t need to wear masks, but unvaccinated employees do, but who knows who is and who is not? I really don’t want to be around too many people, even though I’ve been vaccinated, my cubicle is too small, and people who come into our office have been around the public. There has been push back from employees about going back into the office, and I am right on board with that. I have NO reason at all to go back into the office, my work is all computer-based, and I can call into meetings, or come into the office when needed, but not 5 days a week.

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

      Yes. There is a lot of “we are making plans” but no actual details of what the plans are…with the exception that if anyone remains WFH or becomes hybrid, we lose our office/cube and have to hot desk going forward. This has caused a lot of people to rethink WFH/hybrid because they don’t want to lose their office.

      1. Elle*

        Yup. When we ask for clarification (because many of us need to make child care plans in the event we’re back in the fall) we’re told more info will come in Sept. no one will commit to an actual plan.

    5. Elle*

      What kills me is that they’ve been saying how much more productive we are at home and talking about how much money they could save by closing offices. Last week our director led and all staff meeting and talked about how much she loves working from home. And then this week they tell us to get ready to come back. We’re all very confused.

    6. mediamaven*

      There isn’t a playbook for this stuff and people are still trying to navigate CDC guidelines, what other companies are doing and other factors. Sept is quite a bit of time to start planning but I would assume if you have a special case they would consider it. It’s not really about being flakey it’s about balancing business decisions with other factors.

      1. Ellie*

        There isn’t a playbook but consistency and compassion for employees would be nice. We’ve been led to believe we’d be working from home. I did not budget or register for school aftercare because of this. Many in my office are in the same boat.

      2. SummerBreeze*

        This. I’m on the team trying to sort out our own company’s plans and it’s HARD, especially if you have a vocal employee base. Plus, local guidelines and recs are changing often.

        Companies should definitely be transparent, of course. But it’s impossible to make a call right now that won’t have some sub section of folks upset.

      3. ecnaseener*

        I think you misread the “more info in Sept” part — the info isn’t coming until September! So they can’t start planning now!

    7. ecnaseener*

      My employer has only said “the current remote work policy will end on Labor Day.” …and it’s anyone’s guess whether that means the current written policy in the employee handbook (aka the pre-covid policy) will be scrapped and replaced with something more flexible, or just that the current enforced policy (never formalized) will end and we’ll go back to the handbook.

      They’ve asked for headcounts of how many people want to do in-person/hybrid/remote, with no mention of needing to meet the handbook policy’s requirements for remote work (eg having a quiet space without kids/distractions) but we still have no idea whether those options are going to be on the table!

  41. Jane Doe*

    I’m working as a manager for the first time (since January 4). I didn’t work here before I was a manager. I have one report and besides dealing with him the rest of my time is devoted to working with other managers. I don’t deal with other employees or clients so maybe I’m just off-base with this but I figured this was a good place to ask.

    I’m annoyed because my report is too good and I feel like that doesn’t make any sense but it’s how I feel. For background he has been in his role for just over 12 years. He didn’t apply for the managers job even though he was encouraged to. We work for the government and currently he is unionized and has great job security, which he said were why he didn’t apply as he would have to give both of those up, and he said he didn’t want to deal with the politics of management.

    I don’t know if I’m some kind of imposter syndrome or something but I’m annoyed at him because of how good he is. The other managers, employees and clients praise him all the time. He knows what I need before I need them. I go to ask him for something and it is already done. Even reporters and elected officials have nothing but good words. He is so efficient and while performance reviews aren’t done for union staff I can’t think of any way he can improve. He is actually nice and not arrogant at all which makes it worse for me. That he is kind and helpful to everyone.

    I don’t want to be “that” manager but he grates on me. I can’t figure this out. The job change was a smooth transition for me and my manager says I’m doing well. Has anyone ever dealt with this problem? Any tips or advice you have would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Reluctant Manager*

      The fact that he didn’t apply for the manager position suggests this is someone who is in his comfort zone and happy to keep doing a great job in his current role. I’ve always loved managing people like this, i.e., that don’t really need a manager at all and are more like colleagues. It certainly frees up a lot of your time to focus on other priorities when you know this employee is rock solid and will deliver without any hand holding or cajoling. It may be that your personalities or work styles don’t mesh well, and that’s where the irritation come from, but if you can mentally separate that from your satisfaction with his work product, you may find that this is a great way to ease into managing. The alternatives can be pretty gnarly!

    2. SJ*

      This is so understandable honestly! I would be frustrated in this situation too, even though like you said it doesn’t make “sense”. I hope you can cut yourself some slack for these feelings. For example if you were anxious/nervous leading up to a first time manager role, now there’s nowhere for those feelings to go — sort of weirdly feels like a letdown or a waste when something you were all keyed up about turns out to be nothing. And/or if you were looking forward to being a manager, because it meant you could be someone who handled situations and solved problems — and now there’s nothing to handle or solve so,,,, where’s that satisfied feeling you were looking forward to, you know?

      I could be projecting all of this, haha. I’m sending you good vibes, keep acknowledging and validating your own feelings and things will get better, is my guess. Much love!

    3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      It sounds like you’re feeling like you won’t have authority or, for lack of a better word, “control” over this employee because he’s so good at his job he doesn’t require much managing. I think it’s good that you’re recognizing this feeling and would strongly recommend you do some work to let it go before you allow your resentment or insecurity drive this stellar employee out. Please don’t become the nightmare boss we read about, who comes in and feels a need to shake everything up in order to assert dominance or control over employees who were doing great work.

      Try to think of this employee as a partner, rather than a subordinate. Having a rockstar on your team will make you look good as a manager, so try to see him as an asset rather than an adversary!

      I was actually just reading an old letter yesterday that might help frame this for you – I’ll link it in a comment but the title is “I now manage the guy who hired me — and I’m afraid he might quit over it”

    4. Empress Matilda*

      Did you have a lot of experience as a subject matter expert in your industry before you started this job? It can be hard to let go of that role, and that part of your identity – I struggled with it as well when I became a manager. I’ve spent twenty years building up my reputation as a SME, thank you very much! What do you mean, this other person is just as good at it as I am?? It was a big change in mindset for me, and I’m still working on it nearly two years later.

      I would start by thinking about how the role of a manager is different from the role of an individual contributor. His job is to do the work – that used to be your job, but your job now is different. Your job now is to make long-term plans for the program, interact with other managers, and report to senior management. The subject matter expertise is still there, and still useful, but your role now has a broader focus.

      Also bear in mind that your to-do list will look very different at this point as well! When you’re in an individual role, your list is mostly “do task X by date Y.” Whereas now, it’s more like “create visibility for my program,” or “build relationships with the other managers.” It’s much harder to quantify that kind of thing, so it’s easy to feel like you’re not doing much of anything from day to day.

      Learning to be a manager takes time – it’s not just “my old role but bigger.” At 6 months, you’re still pretty new at all this. But the fact that you’ve noticed this thought pattern, and you’re asking for help addressing it, suggests to me that you’re probably doing just fine!

    5. Samuel Johnson*

      Well, it’s definitely not imposter syndrome because that’s not what that means in any way.

    6. LKW*

      Agree with the others that if he didn’t apply that means he didn’t want the job, he’s happy where he is. With that said, tell him he’s great. Tell him other people tell you all the time how great he is. If he’s making you look good, then do what you can to reward him and tell him he is valued. Why look a gift horse in the mouth?

    7. Nancy*

      That’s not imposter syndrome. That’s someone who has found a role they are good at and are happy with, and who has no interest in manager positions. I could move up into management but I also don’t want to, so I don’t.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Jane’s not saying the employee has IS, but that Jane might. Maybe from a sense of “I’m not good enough to manage this guy”

        1. Clisby*

          I guess … I don’t get that. Before I retired, I worked for something like 27 years as a computer programmer. I never once met a manager who knew more, from a technical standpoint, than a subject matter expert. That wasn’t what managers were hired to do. And what managers were hired to do, typically just didn’t appeal to SMEs.

          1. Stitching Away*

            Imposter syndrome is thinking you’re not good at what you’re doing when you are. It is, by definition, not rational, and logic doesn’t come into it.

    8. LQ*

      Honestly this is such a nice problem to have. But also a pain, it likely means that most of your job is managing the flow of information in and out of your team (of one) and the expectations of others and not managing your team. Which is kind of great, but the thing that may be annoying is you’re a manager with no ability (it’s actually no need) to use manager powers to make changes. You have to use peer and persuasive and whatever other powers to change the other pieces. But you don’t get to/have to make any Manager changes.

      It’s a great place to be but it kind of doesn’t feel like you’re a manager which is maybe why you’re annoyed. You know it’s a you problem it sounds, which is good, because there is something you do get to do here. You are the boss of you and call tell you to knock it off, you got a GREAT gig because you have a lovely employees who is efficient, nice, helpful, kind, good at his job…seriously. Just manage the politics and like…take a vacation. Congratulations on the best problem. And if this is just a secret brag about how great your employee is, well done ;)

    9. RagingADHD*

      Your employee is making your job easier and making you look good. You are not competing with him about anything.

      Good organizations give new managers easier assignments, so they can learn the job before it gets hard. This is a great opportunity! You can invest your time in big-picture learning, thinking and planning, and use your direct report as a resource for institutional knowledge of the work, the processes, and the history of what’s gone right or wrong in the past.

      I think it might help if you let go of preconceived notions about what a manager is “supposed” to do, like teach, train, correct, criticize, discipline. And look at the possibilities you have open to you to really level-up your skills in the long game of management, rather than the short game of day to day work or solving problems.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      He’s right in that some people just don’t want the headaches or politics of management! Your report is a specialist and seems happy there.
      As a manager, you will run into this often! LOTS of people under you will know more than you do! That’s just how it is, and you don’t have to know more than they do to manage them well. Instead of this grating on you, embrace this person’s experience and skills.

    11. Stitching Away*

      He may be grating on you because you feel like you ought to be doing more “work” managing him, but he’s very low-need on the management front. Since you are a brand new manager, it’s natural to feel like you need to be putting a certain amount of effort into managing all of your reports.

      When you aren’t conscious of this, it can lead to feeling frustrated or negative about someone, but not knowing why.

  42. Am I the Jerkface?*

    I’ve been at my organization just over 10 years; I started as a manager. I’ve been there under three diff’t CEOs and during the time of the most recent one was a senior manager around year 8, then associate director at year 9 (which didn’t exist before year 9), and now a director. However, there are also senior directors who have more access to the CEO and other leadership, which I thought happened at the director level. I’ve pushed back against this and have been met with a pretty strong wall of nope. I also discovered a couple of other colleagues felt this way and we pushed back as a group. My boss and the CEO are pissed and/or frustrated at us and have firmly shut it down in individual meetings with us. Which I just had and it was awful b/c my boss is SO frustrated and I asked why. They said to me that it’s b/c I always want more. Am I the a**hole?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Why do you want more access?

      Do you need it to get your job done? Do you want it for career advancement? Do you just feel better if you’ve got frequent informal contact with the CEO so you have a better idea of how you and your team are doing?

      Hard to make a judgement without knowing why this is important to you.

      1. Am I the Jerkface?*

        Important b/c of status: being a director used to mean access to all these things. Maybe I want the job that existed in the previous version of my association. But I also want access so I can do my job better. It’s both.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          “Maybe I want the job that existed in the previous version of my association.”

          It’s been 10 years. If the organization has grown or changed in that time, then you may have just nailed it. I’ve been there myself and it sucks – the thing you were working for isn’t there by the time you climb the mountain.

          Also, what the CEO of 10 years ago thought was a good policy may not be what the current CEO thinks.

          1. Am I the Jerkface?**

            Yep. That’s the thing. Still curious: my boss made me feel like an a-hole. Am I?

            1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

              It may be just that you don’t know how to read the room. And your boss, after having said “no” once, may be pissed off that you keep asking, and therefore lowered the boom on you.

              If you otherwise have a productive relationship with them, then you might need to apologize. If they routinely jerk you around, then it may just be their style.

              1. Am I the Jerkface?*

                Thank you. I think you are right! I also literally *just* realized after our convo today that it’s that I want a job that existed 5 years ago but not anymore. What you said is perfect, “the thing you were working for isn’t there by the time you climb the mountain.” I will work in an apology while also conveying that to them and say that I hear the answer and understand how to move forward. But I also kind of hate that I have to apologize.

  43. Llama face!*

    Job search etiquette question: Once you accept a job offer do you send a message to other places you applied in order to withdraw your application? Or do you just let them know you found a job elsewhere if they subsequently contact you for an interview?

    1. londonedit*

      If you haven’t had an interview then no, I wouldn’t bother letting them know unless they contact you. If you have already had an interview then I think it would be polite to get in touch and let them know that you’ve accepted another job.

    2. ThatGirl*

      No need to do it proactively unless you were getting close to/actually got another offer.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      My rule is if I’ve already had a phone screen or interview, I contact them. If all I’ve done is send in an application, it’s when and if I get some interest back from them.

    4. Nervous New Grad*

      I don’t think you ned to bother unless the other places contact you to schedule an interview/make an offer, in which case you can politely turn them down.

    5. Llama face!*

      Thanks everyone! I was leaning in that direction but wasn’t sure if expectations had changed since my last job search mumblemumble years ago.

    6. quill*

      Don’t bother preemptively informing anyone that you weren’t actively planning or interviewing with. They’re not going to go looking for notes if they call about an interview, they’re just going to grab your number off your resume, so it will not save any time.

    7. Stitching Away*

      I don’t withdraw any applications until after I’ve had my first day, because I have accepted an offer only to have the position disappear due to a reorg one day before my start date.

      No, I’m not bitter.

  44. The answer is (probably) 42*

    Can anyone suggest a diplomatic way to say “I’m aware of the issue you’re raising and I really am making a genuine effort to improve at it, but your constant reminders are just stressing me out and are counterproductive to the outcome we both want from this”?

    For context: I have been in my current job for a couple of months, and I’m still getting used to their time tracking system. Not so much that the system itself is confusing (it’s fine), it’s more that I work odd and sometimes arbitrary hours. This has been incredible flexibility that I desperately need for medical reasons, but it also means that any time before midnight is fair game for me to be working, and so I put off recording my hours unless I’m 100% sure I’m done. Sometimes the result of that is not inputting my hours until the following morning, and I’m prone to forgetting for a day or two.

    I have strategies that I’m using to remind myself to consistently track my hours, and I’m improving but I still slip up, and my manager gets seriously on my case about it sometimes as though he thinks I forgot. I haven’t forgotten, I just haven’t done it yet. I want to convey to him that I take this very seriously and I acknowledge that his concerns are legitimate, but please please please stop reminding me about it so often because that just makes me anxious. I’d like to avoid any language that involves my mental health or even my feelings at all if I can- those are mine to manage, and I’m wary of bringing that element into the discussion.

    (Other than the time tracking issue I’m getting fairly consistent positive feedback about my work quality, so I’m not worried that I’ll get fired over this)

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      Every company has their own rules for time keeping..sounds like for yours they want your time when your don’t for the day. So I think the best option would be when you know you are done for the day that you just enter your time.
      Otherwise I would suggest talking with your boss saying how you’ve been tracking your time and how you like to enter the time and ask if that’s a problem for them. Their might be a legitimate reason why they need the time recorded when you are done. Who knows maybe someone from above is looking at the time for the employees and is concerned that you put in hours days after everyone else.

    2. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

      I’ve found that telling my boss what I’ve done to address the thing she’s worried about before she can ask me helps her to stop asking. If that makes sense! So beat your boss to the punch.

    3. Elle*

      I’m a manager who’s reminding an employee of forgotten tasks. I know it makes her anxious that I remind her but there are consequences for both of us if she lets things hang for a day or two. We talk about this a lot. I sympathize with both of you and wish I had an easy answer.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      Can you just set a day of the week by which you’ll have your hours in? Where I am, all hours have to be in every other Friday (a week before payroll, basically). So if you’re salaried you have to have all your hours put in and if you’re hourly you have to have all your daily inputs completed, corrected, and approved by your manager by then.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think these are contradictory:
      * “I’m prone to forgetting for a day or two.”
      * “My manager gets seriously on my case about it sometimes as though he thinks I forgot. I haven’t forgotten, I just haven’t done it yet.”

      If your manager wants your hours entered every day (and it sounds like he does), then you just can’t forget for a day or two or he’s going to keep reminding you, because you keep missing a deadline that for whatever reason he needs you to meet. Wouldn’t it solve it if you set a reminder to nudge you every morning about it, so if you didn’t enter them the night before, you’ll be nudged to do it that morning?

      1. The answer is (probably) 42*

        You’re right, I apologize. It’s not that I’m forgetting, per se- I remember what my hours are and that I need to enter them, but for whatever reason I haven’t actually put them in yet (my reasons would sound nonsensical if I explained them, this is about my brain behaving irrationally and me trying to corral it)

        I admit that I’m a little frustrated here- I asked for advice on how to talk to my manager about this, not on how to get better at tracking my time. But all of the comments are suggesting ways to get better at recording my time. I appreciate that people want to help, but I have my strategies, and I am steadily improving at it, I don’t need any advice about that. Unfortunately “magically instantaneously stop having the problem altogether so you don’t have to worry about your boss talking to you about it” is not an option for me.

        So what I’m hoping for is a way to talk to my boss about this without coming off as though I’m dismissive or defensive. I want to make it clear to him that I am working very hard at getting on top of it, I’m taking it very seriously, I’m getting better at it, and eventually this won’t be an issue at all. We need to have all our hours in by the 1st of the month, policy is to record them every day (I’m trying! I don’t know how that got muddled here), but unless I miss the 1st of the month it doesn’t actually cause any issues for them.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The thing is, if I were your manager and you were repeatedly missing a clear deadline, I wouldn’t be thrilled to get a request to stop reminding you. I need you to enter them every day (for whatever reason) and if that’s not happening, I need to nudge you to do it. Ultimately, it’s your boss’s responsibility to make sure it happens; he can’t just leave it alone and say nothing. So I think you’re not getting suggestions for wording a conversation about asking him to stop because that conversation isn’t a great idea. You’d be saying “I know I”m making the same mistake over and over but I don’t want to hear about it” — and that’s not something you should say, even if you know it would actually help you if he stopped reminding you.

          You could definitely tell him, “I realize this has been an ongoing issue and I’m working on it” — but you don’t really have the standing to ask him to stop nudging you. Honestly, if I were your boss, I would wonder why you hadn’t just set the daily reminder (and would insist that you do that) and would feel like if you want my reminders to stop, the way to make that happen is to do the thing on time. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but I do think that’s the reality of it.

          1. The answer is (probably) 42*

            Thank you, I think you’re probably right that there’s no reasonable way for me to ask that he stop reminding me. I know full well that this is something that is entirely on me to solve, I’m not looking to absolve myself of responsibility here, it’s just that his reminders actually make it harder for me. I’ll have to deal with the stress it causes me privately. I might let him know in a broader conversation that I’m aware of this and I’m working on it, although I know he does see that I’m improving.

            For what it’s worth, I actually do have two daily alerts that appear on my phone and my personal email (one in the morning and one at night), a buddy system with a peer where we check in with each other about recording our hours, and also post-it notes on the screens on both of my work stations. Even that doesn’t work 100% of the time but that’s why I’m getting better at all!

            1. A Non E. Mouse*

              Can you revise the hours once they are inputted, or are they final as soon as you save that input session?

              If you can revise them (like, add an hour later to a certain category), could you do a daily “5pm entry”, then add additional hours later/the next day to settle up?

              So the scheduled reminders: 5pm settle up, 8am double check to capture previous day additions, noon checkin to be sure you are on track to input at 5pm?

            2. Clisby*

              There is a reasonable way for you to ask that he stop reminding you. That way is for you to put in your hours, day after day, consistently.

          2. The answer is (probably) 42*

            Also, it’s fine that it’s not what I want to hear! I know that not all advice that I get is going to be exactly what I wish were true, otherwise I wouldn’t come here.

            I really do appreciate that you answered me even if there isn’t a neat solution to this that can be tied up in a bow!

            1. LKW*

              Well I think there is a neat bow tying solution: Enter your hours when you close your work session. Is it write once or can you edit your time in a day? Is the system so complicated and time consuming that you can’t do that? Is there a reason you can’t plan to use the last 10 minutes of your working session for time-logging?

              If you can’t edit – then you should be entering your time from the previous day as the first thing you do when you log on the next day. First thing before email, before anything else. Then you can show your manager that you’re keeping up and that to accommodate your flex schedule you’ll only be a few hours behind and not 1-2 days.

    6. SoloKid*

      You said “I’m prone to forgetting for a day or two” but you tell your manager “I haven’t forgotten, I just haven’t done it yet”?

      If I were your boss, I’d want to hear what your strategies were in order to be convinced you do take it seriously. What does “reminding so often” look like? Once at the beginning of the workday? Hourly until you get it done?

      1. The answer is (probably) 42*

        I don’t actually say to my manager that I haven’t forgotten, when he brings it up I just say “Got it!” or “doing it right now!” and then enter my hours as soon as I can. You’re right in that I was inconsistent in how I characterized the issue in my comment though (I clarified in a different reply).

        1. SummerBreeze*

          Coming from a place where time tracking is critical and also has to be turned in by noon the next day…man, sorry, but I would be making it clear that this is a massive problem if you were my employee, even if you excelled elsewhere. I know that’s not what you want to hear but the reason your boss keeps asking is because it’s his ass on the line, and your actions make it clear you don’t care.

          I wish you luck sorting this out!

    7. Koala dreams*

      Perhaps it would feel better to you if you initiate those conversations? At work, it’s often better to bring up missed deadlines before your boss starts asking about them, and often the best thing is to tell your boss before the deadline is missed. Sometimes that won’t be possible, but earlier is better than later.

    8. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Well, it sounds like it’s a procrastination problem rather than a forgetfulness problem. I can’t think of any way to tell a manager, “Hey, I haven’t forgotten, it’s just something I don’t do until my brain tells me I’m good and ready.” That’s not realistic in a work situation.

      Been there, done that (or similar), lost the job.

    9. Owler*

      I would agree with most of the advice that you’ve received saying you can’t expect your boss to stop asking for time sheet timeliness, and you can’t keep explaining your noncompliance. So it sounds like you need to reexamine your approach to timesheets.

      The reminders aren’t working. The friend reminders aren’t working. My guess (from being in a similar situation) is that you have a shame spiral going on.

      Several people has asked whether you can edit your time once you’ve entered it. If you can, I would change your entry time to the start of the day. What are your plans for your workday? Enter your planned workflow, and then review it when you have finished and see if it matches your goal. This might even structure your day better so you don’t enter the shame spiral.

      Can you enter times along your day, so it doesn’t become a huge mental task that you procrastinate on? Finish the Davis llama grooming, enter the time, and then reward yourself with a treat ( like…food, drink, a walk, a chat, a perusal of AAM, etc). Get a positive association with entering the times.

      Similarly, can you write notes on a paper timesheet, so (a) you don’t have the mental load at the end of the day and (b) you have something you can share with your boss if they ask for a timesheet update? It might be physical proof that you are trying to do better. There are software programs that do this too that you might look into.

      Finally, the reminders aren’t working. Delete them all. Start from scratch and really think about why you don’t want to do a time card accounting on time. My guess is the timecard itself isn’t the problem, it’s a symptom of some other issue at work (you don’t have enough to do; you feel like an imposter; you don’t feel like you are working efficiently, so you don’t want to record your time until you make real progress). Tackle *that* and the time card should be a non-issue.

  45. Reluctant Manager*

    I’m struggling with knowing how to mentor my sole direct report in an office where we all work on multiple teams led by different managers. My report has two main projects, Project A which I lead and Project B which is led by higher-level staff.
    My report was promoted recently (I had advocated strongly for it), and it would seem things are going well, but I keep getting negative feedback about her work on Project B and the impression that a number of people in the office see her as unreliable or overwhelmed in her work. She IS overwhelmed, and in another office, Project B alone would be a full-time job, not least because it’s highly visible inside and outside our organization. But, if she keeps 19 balls in the air and drops the 20th ball, that dropped ball is all I hear about. I don’t work directly on this project, so I only get second-hand reports. I have tried to take on more of the Project A work myself because I see that she needs more time to keep Project B under control.
    I’ve been told I need to insist on her being more efficient and devoting more of her time to Project A as well, but I can see plain as day that she is literally working as hard as she can (including nights and weekends). There is something to the criticism in that she is not at heart an administrative wizard, and Project B involves a huge amount of paperwork and data tracking. But that work is incidental to the main goals of the project, which rely heavily on her knowledge of the field and soft skills in building relationships, which everyone agrees she excels in. But, it seems like there is now a faction in the office, which unfortunately includes the leadership group, that has bought into this narrative that her work isn’t reliable, or she’s not detail-oriented enough, and she needs to be managed into being better at her job. So, it’s on put me as a manager to “solve” this problem, when I am really a third party to the complaints. I should also note that ours is a predominately white workplace and all white leadership, and my employee is one of only a few POC among the professional staff, so there is another dimension to the situation that further complicates my response to these criticisms and how I should act in response.

    1. SJ*

      Oof, this is so difficult.

      I wonder if you can push back on these requests one at a time so that like — when they ask for more of her work on Project A, you can ask “okay, which work should be deprioritized from project B in that case?” and when they ask for faster turnaround (or more time spent reviewing work, or whatever) on project B, you can ask “okay, which work should be deprioritized from project A in that case?” Sort of like acting as though of course people will realize you can’t magically make more work happen if someone is already working as hard as they can, and trying to get them to lay out what should be de-prioritized, or alternatively get them to literally say out loud “we need more work on both project A and project B” so that you can say something like “well, this employee is maxed out at the moment so how will we go about bringing in more person hours in that case?”

      Another related thought, can you get them to be more specific about what “more efficiency” means for the employee’s work on project B? Is it faster turnaround time on some particular document, faster response time to clients, higher number of [whatevers] output, more time for reviewing work so there are fewer errors, what? Similar to the above, if you can get the higher-ups to say specifically what they want, maybe it can come back to something like “sure, we can prioritize faster response time to clients, which internal documents can have their turnaround time slowed down to allow for that?”.

      I hope this doesn’t sound defeatist, from my perspective it sounds like what the higher-ups want is impossible so rather than trying to magically make it happen (and probably stress/burn out your terrific employee) it might be worth pushing for specificity so that if what they want is “magically more person-hours than we actually have”, they’ll have to at least,,,, say that,,, ??

      I am wishing you luck with this!

      1. Reluctant Manager*

        Thanks for suggesting this strategy. I’m going to try this next time I get a specific complaint. There has been a subtext (or maybe an explicit text?) that the solution is for my employee to simply be better, faster, able to do more work without errors, and if that isn’t possible, it’s clearly a sign of some essential inadequacy. But, I found out in a meeting with my boss that some of our colleagues were literally keeping a running count of my employee’s “process errors” and reporting it to our boss! When I asked my employee about the issue, she told me that she had no idea that specific process needed to be done that way, that she expected to provide the data needed in the Step 2 (as she had been doing the previous years), but she was being quietly written up behind her (and my) back for not providing the data in Step 1. It’s things like that that make me want to say, yes, you are being gaslit by your colleagues and our boss! (She has told me that she has this feeling.) Yes, this scrutiny and nitpicking is unfair and creating a situation where you cannot succeed on their terms!

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      I think this employee has been set up to fail and you need to step in. It pretty obvious that they need to hire someone else for Project B so that the employee can devote her time and talents to Project A and the main goals where she excels. You said it yourself that Project B is a full time job, so why is anyone expecting her to excel at both Project A AND Project B. Speak up and advocate for your employee! I don’t think you can shrug and say “well, I don’t work on Project B, so there’s nothing I can do” when your employee is being run over the by bus.

      1. Reluctant Manager*

        Oh, I have definitely told our boss in no uncertain terms that Project B should be have full-time staffing, and been told in equally uncertain terms that it will not be happening. My employee is deeply committed to the project and would not want to be taken off of it, but I agree that I am flailing at trying to protect her from the circumstances that are making it hard for her to succeed. On one level, she is recognized for what an amazing job she has done on this project, and it’s why she was promoted, but the constant harping on how she needs to be that good AND somehow never make an error AND have time to support my project…well, the only thing I can directly control is not asking for as much support on my project, and now even that is being made a problem. In every meeting with our boss, I feel like I am defending my employee and advocating for her, but it’s like a narrative of “overwhelmed and unreliable!” has been set that is now coloring the perception of everything she does to some people.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      Totally agree with SJ. To be honest, it sounds like the projects are understaffed. If your report is working nights *and* weekends to manage her workload that’s a recipe for failure and burnout. No wonder she can’t manage it all. My suggestion to you as a manager is to make sure leadership sees that this would apply to anyone in this situation, not her particularly.

      The only solution I see is for you to have a frank conversation with the leadership about the demands on her time between the two projects and, as you note, the fact that the one project is itself a full time job. If her value to the project is knowledge and soft skills, get them to reduce the administrative stuff by handing it off to someone with those specific skills. If your leadership sucks, they will continue to attribute this to her inability to be magically more efficient and this could jeopardize her job if they think they can replace her with someone else.

    4. WFH with Cat*

      This whole situation — and especially the gas-lighting you described in a later comment — is just awful. I am sorry for you and your employee.

      Could you possibly meet with the Project B manager to have a real conversation about how to better balance the demands of your employee’s (impossible) job? It sounds like you two view her differently, and it might help to share insights. That might also give you a way to end, or at least shine a harsh light on, that gas-lighting by her colleagues. (If they’ve got the time and detail-mindedness to count and report all of her process errors, maybe they could help take some of the administrative load off of her shoulders … *sarcasm* … I get really angry about that kind of behavior. )

      Best of luck to you both!

    5. Reluctant Manager*

      Thanks to everyone who commented. I am going to have SJ’s scripts at the ready, so I don’t just fall into my usual pattern of leaping to the defense while fuming to myself. I think it will make me feel better to have an “if/then” response strategy that takes as a starting point that there is only so much time and staff capacity, even if our leadership seems to think everyone on staff has the unrealized potential to be superhumanly productive and perfect. If someone else has the managerial chops to pull that out of their employees, well, it ain’t me, and I’m not going to be part of the charade that that’s the goal of managing or mentoring.

  46. I'm just here for the cats*

    Would like advice for going back to school to get my masters. How/when did you decide to get an advanced degree and why? I would want to go for a MASTERS IN FINE ARTS in creative writing and or English. It’s not a requirement for my job, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for some time. I think I might be in a place to be able to do it. I work full time but my job is at a university counseling center (support staff not counselor myself) and so everyone has advanced degrees. I know they would be super supportive and I get a lot of PTO (almost 3 weeks not including sick time!) So if I needed to take time off during a busy period I could

    I would do an online program and probably go part time. Does anyone have any suggestions for online schools, especially in creative writing/English masters programs?

    1. merope*

      Does your school offer tuition support to employees? Many schools do, and if your school has a program, why not go there?

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        I’m not really at the point of figuring out costs or anything. Just not sure how to figure out if this is a good move or not.
        My university system doesn’t have an online program for what I want. Plus I think the tuition reimbursement has to be directly related to your job. So like if I was going to step into a role in the Library but needed a masters in library science they would pay for part of it. But since my admin job does not require a masters I wouldn’t qualify.

        1. merope*

          That seems a little different from most schools that I’m familiar with. It might be worth asking if the coursework needs to be related to your position. As well, many university systems let you take in-persson classes during the workday, so you wouldn’t necessarily have to be in an online program.

          When you are researching programs, be sure to find one that is accredited and not-for-profit. I would also be sure to reach out to instructors in the program, especially if you are pursuing the degree for personal reasons (i.e. not in expectation of making a career change). You want to make sure the program will be a good fit for you, especially as you’ll be dealing with these people for a number of years.

        2. College Career Counselor*

          I’m sorry to hear that tuition reimbursement from your university must be for coursework related to your job (mine wasn’t–my graduate degree was unrelated to my career/professional work), but I can see the argument if your institution doesn’t have a program in what you want.

          As for whether it’s a good idea or not, I have a couple of thoughts.
          1) Going to school part-time and working full time can be very challenging (I often felt as if I was shirking one when I was working on the other).
          2) I would think an MFA in creative writing could be challenging to do, even in a part-time or low-residency program. Does your job give you the flexibility to write/read/critique in the evenings? Will you have the attention and energy to focus on your work?
          3) Even if this is not related to your professional work, if you feel strongly enough that you would appreciate/value the experience, sometimes that’s reason enough to undertake something!

    2. PollyQ*

      What are you hoping to get out of the degree? Are you planning/pondering a career change where it would be necessary or helpful? Just having a master’s isn’t necessarily going to help with unrelated jobs, and could even hurt you.

      If all you’re looking for is the knowledge/skills you’d gain, that’s fine, but I think you do need to be clear with yourself what your goals are.

    3. Hornets*

      I don’t know any fully online schools but have you looked into low-residency mfa programs? I did one while working part-time. I had to be on campus twice a year, less than a week each time, and the rest of the work was done over email. Vermont college of fine arts and Lesley university both have programs, for example.

    4. Professional Writer*

      First advice: don’t do it!

      Second advice: you can try out one writing course and determine if this is really for you. Don’t invest tens of thousands in a degree unless you have plenty of spare cash or a way to get this degree for a reduced price/free!

      Third advice: look closely at who will be teaching. The value in the instruction will depend strongly on which authors you will be working with!

    5. SummerBreeze*

      Ask yourself: what would an MFA get you?

      MFAs are great at convincing aspiring writers that they’re mandatory to get published. They’re not. (Source: multi-published and award-winning author here, without an MFA, and with lots of published friends who also don’t have them.) If you’ve got the spare cash, they can be super fun! But please don’t go into debt for it.

      1. jolene*

        I also am a multi-published and award-winning author and I do not have a single published friend (many of whom make way more money and have won way more awards than me) who did an MFA. And none of us would recommend doing one either in order to get published. Because they count for nothing.

        The only benefit is if you write a specific kind of literary fiction and go to one of the veryvery few programmes where the teaching authors will help you get an agent. So pretty much Iowa. It used to be UEA in the UK but I haven’t heard a peep out of anyone coming out of there for 15 years or so.

        I genuinely can’t think of any profession where it would help, either. You can write clearly or you can’t. And frankly, you might run the risk of being considered a dilettante with more money than sense. I’m not saying it’s necessarily fair, but there is a type of person who does this.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      I have a MA in Communication, and I went for this rather late in life (I was 40’s). In my case, the master’s was a cumulation of many years of related studies in graphic art, filmmaking and marketing. It also directly related to my career, and when I finished I was able to move into higher and better-paid positions. I would never say not to go for your MFA in Creative Writing, but I would say you should examine what your ultimate goals are. Because if your goal is to be a writer, you don’t need get this degree to be a writer. But if you’re seeking other career moves, maybe this degree would help.

      I don’t wast to dash your dreams, but think of an advanced degree as an investment. It IS an expensive proposition (I’m still paying off my loans and will be until I’m 65!). But for me it was worth it in the salary bump, plus I love the field. You could also get creative about funding your degree. Perhaps you could move and work at the college with your program of choice?

  47. many bells down*

    “Jane” has gone through our company sharepoint again and deleted thousands of files, including 99% of a folder I’d made specifically for organizing older documents. My job is to organize the files and I can’t do it when she keeps deleting stuff!

    Our best guess is that she doesn’t understand the difference between SharePoint and Onedrive and she thinks they’re all “her” files. But my God, it’s so demoralizing when hours of my work has to be redone AGAIN.

    I know it’s her because I’m also the one who has to restore everything out of the recycle bin, which shows you exactly who deleted it and when.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Oh gosh, talk to Jane’s manager or IT and have them lock down her rights and/or give her more training.

      1. many bells down*

        Jane is senior staff so I’ve looped my supervisor in so that we can have this conversation together.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Oh, how frustrating. Can you (or someone) remove her deleting permissions on not-her-folders?

        1. many bells down*

          We talked to her last time but we thought it was partly a sync issue because her account was showing things like “Jane worked on this really old document at 3am” when we knew she hadn’t. But yeah, we’re gonna have another conversation.

          1. Workerbee*

            I wouldn’t put it past Jane to have been “working on” things when there was the least chance someone might notice it right away. I can access my org’s SharePoint anytime from any computer.

    3. PollyQ*

      Ideally, IT would have a backup of what was deleted, so I’d definitely get in touch with them, pronto.

    4. quill*

      aaaaaaaaah from a documentation perspective? get IT on this IMMEDIATELY to prevent deletion not just by Jane (though lock her out! now!) but by fumblefingers everywhere.

    5. The teapots are on fire*

      Also, can you have a talk with IT about file rights? EVERYBODY shouldn’t have the ability to delete very file, and this is why.

  48. A Genuine Scientician*

    For the first time in *years* I’ve actually taken a full break from work. For most vacations, I still find myself planning “Well, I’ll be off that week, so I’ll have a chance to work on X and Y”, and then either I do and don’t really take the time off, or I don’t and I feel guilty about it. This time, I deliberately chose that there will be nothing work related during this week. And my goodness has it been wonderful.

    Pandemic, so I’m not traveling anywhere for it, just reading, going for some walks along a pedestrian trail, doing some small things to fix up my home that I’ve wanted to do for a while but which just seemed like too much when dealing with my normally ludicrous work hours. As in, I bought some additional bookshelves and reorganized my books, I bought a new television and mounted it to the wall, I changed around where some art was hanging, etc. Nothing actually strenuous, but a bunch of small things that add up to making it all look nicer.

    I definitely need to get in the habit of doing this again.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      That sounds like a lovely, relaxing vacation! Glad you are enjoying it fully.

    2. ferrina*

      Good for you!! That sounds lovely. It is so, so much healthier to take a real break from work. And so hard when you’ve gotten in to the terrible habit of working all the time. Congrats!

  49. Red Panda*

    Tips for dealing with vacation guilt? I have my first paid vacation as a working adult in a couple of weeks. I know my colleagues were overworked before I started in my role and that may well be the case during my vacation too. I work for a government entity with a strong union culture so everyone is encouraging me to take the time off. Is there something I should do for my colleagues to thank them for covering for me or is returning the favour sufficient?

    1. D3*

      Just return the favor in a good mood. Encourage them to also take their vacations.
      And when you come back, thank them verbally and tell them you enjoyed the trip. But don’t make them look at all 200 of your vacation photos.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        If your all in the office I would maybe bring donuts or something in for everyone (if you can) but otherwise there’s nothing you really need to do. It’s just normal. If someone covers for you thank them and return the favor if they need you to cover them.

    2. ferrina*


      It is so good for your mental health and productivity to have a proper vacation. It allows you to come back to work refreshed and recharged.
      I used to be really bad about taking vacation. I’d take a vacation, but then end up working half the time. I was always exhausted, never recharged, always feeling like I had to think about work. It was so bad for my mental health, and my physical health too. And once I got in the habit, it got harder to get out of it.

      I’ve tried both ways (taking proper vacations and working through “vacations”) and taking a really vacation was not just better for me, but for my team as well. Yeah, the week I was off was a bit tougher, but having a colleague who wasn’t perpetually stressed was DEFINITELY worth it.

    3. PollyQ*

      If you’re traveling, then bringing in a box of regional treats on your first day back is nice. But definitely don’t feel guilty — you’re not remotely doing anything wrong or bad! Covering for people on vacation is an absolutely normal, standard part of any job. And presumably they’re taking vacation as well, probably this summer, so you’ll get to “pay them back” as part of your normal, standard duties.

    4. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Returning the favor is sufficient! Especially since your coworkers will take leave and you will have to pick up the slack there (like D3 said, don’t complain about workload when they are out and make them feel bad about going). But if someone does something specific with your projects when you are out, I would thank them personally for handling it while you were gone.

    5. Stitching Away*

      It’s not your fault that your employer doesn’t have enough coverage to allow for a reasonable workload even before you go on vacation. The only guilty party here is your employer.

  50. Bluestreak*

    I’m the poster last week who was asking about negotiating a job offer via phone or email. Most people recommended phone.

    I decided on email because I’m more comfortable that way. It’s also because I was planning on countering significantly more than the offer and wanted to spell out my reasoning for my ask instead of saying, “can you offer more” so I laid out my research and reasoning for my counter in an email. I could not have done over phone.
    I ended up getting 30 percent more than the initial offer!

    So I say go with whatever method you feel most comfortable with. I think both can work.

  51. AndrewC*

    My company has the standard holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Independence Day, etc. However, there are some holidays that are thrown in based on our important meeting schedule (some years we may get Presidents’ Day, some years we get Veterans’ Day, etc.). I would like to make our holidays more inclusive for next year. We’ll be adding Juneteenth, but I’m wondering if anyone has suggestions. Rosh Hashanah is two days, so that would be a stretch, but would Yom Kippur be appropriate? That kind of thing.

    1. have we met?*

      Other posters have mentioned that their companies offer floating holidays. This might be a more appropriate way to allow staff to take time off for explicitly religious holidays (or other days important to them individually) that are not Federal holidays.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        That is what we do. We have some holiday days like xmas, new year’s day, Thanksgiving day, etc.
        And 3 or 4 floating holidays. It works well.

      2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Here here.
        Give everybody July 4th, Thanksgiving, and New Years, plus 6-9 floaters. Let them decide individually what’s important.

        I worked on a government contract with 2 contracting companies teamed up – mine gave floaters, the other didn’t. Those of us who had floaters would often work some of the ‘minor’ federal holidays – since we had to have 24/7/365 coverage anyway. We’d often do chili cookoffs or potluck lunches, and when 50% of the office is out, it was a good opportunity to tackle disruptive maintenance tasks, move furniture, etc.

    2. ferrina*

      I love this idea. Yom Kippur and Eid al-Adha jumped to mind, but I think it’s also important to have a floating holiday. I’d also be thoughtful about what people at your company might need. Christianity, Judaism and Islam are the most common religions in the U.S. (source: , but that obviously can differ based on workplace.

      Election Day is another big one, depending on what state you are in. Especially if your state makes it hard to vote by mail.

      You can also accommodate religious holidays without doing a holiday. Some businesses will mark key religious days on internal calendars to avoid scheduling critical meetings or deadlines on that day. That way it’s easier to take a day off without feeling professional ramifications.

      Why not ask your staff?

    3. LKW*

      Instead of adding a bunch of holidays to the calendar – it may be easier and make more sense to acknowledge the holidays with broad communications and make sure to set the expectation to leadership/managers to be respectful of requests for time off. I definitely prefer a floating holiday. Given the diversity of religions in the US – it would be challenging to allow all religious holidays as company wide holidays.

    4. PollyQ*

      Speaking as a Jew, albeit a non-observant one, I don’t think adding Yom Kippur would be a good idea, and I feel that way about other religious holidays as well, e.g. Good Friday. We Jews are a very small percentage of the population, and giving everyone the day off, even if they’re not Jewish, feels odd. It’s also not a “celebratory” holiday — it’s the Day of Atonement.

      Juneteenth feels different to me, since it’s a day to celebrate fixing a wrong in our country, even though that wrong was done specifically to Black people. I do like the idea of floating holidays, though.

      1. Enough*

        My thoughts exactly. Except for Christmas all the other days are related to the history of this country. And even Christmas has become less about religion and more about sales.
        But the ones mentioned are definitely related to specific religions that in most cases only apply to a small number of employees. And given the description sometimes holidays give way to company the optics of taking a religious day back for work needs is not good. Would suggest giving everyone a couple of personal days or floating holidays for them to use as they see fit.

    5. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Federal contractor, my company does zero holidays and gives us the hours associated with federal holidays as part of our vacation package. Therefore, you can take leave whenever you want. I prefer that because I would rather take a week in the summer than the January/February days. And being a single adult, there’s not much to my Christmas celebrations, so I normally do a few hours on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day.

      I think that is a much better way of handling things because it gives people the autonomy to do what they want for personal or religious reasons.

      1. Clisby*

        I agree. I did like taking Christmas off, but I never gave a hoot about July 4, Labor Day, New Year’s, Memorial Day. I would much rather have been able to take those at other times.

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

      You could add Lunar New Year (sometimes referred to as Chinese New Year), Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Indigenous Peoples’ Day (formerly called Columbus Day).

  52. Hate That I Need Help*

    I don’t know where to begin, since I am struggling with my job and myself at the same time. I am currently three months into my job training program in my career field in a very large company. This training program as a pass/fail aspect and I need to pass it in order to get a full-time job in the company. I joined this training program because my family thinks it is a very good rare opportunity, and I have always struggled a lot with job searching. So far I am struggling with the program because it presents a lot of assignments and tasks with skill requirements that are new to me and I need to work on large amounts of data, which I have not done in my previous job experience. My trainers have given me some critical feedback stating that they sense my struggles and my troubles with grasping some of the concepts that they are teaching. I also am assigned a mentor in my job training who can gave me some guidance, but sometimes I am not too clear what her role is and how I should communicate with her. All my trainers and mentor in the program will be my potential bosses in my company’s full time position, and there is some pressure to impress them or show them that I can take on the job’s tasks. So far I am not making that impression and this worries me.

    Currently I have been feeling anxious hearing that my siblings might want to find jobs in my career field so that they can make more money. I understand that need since my siblings and I all have responsibilities to support our family. My siblings have always been more outgoing and extrovert than I am. I think with their great people skills they can find jobs, probably even more easier than I would. And they probably excel at my career field better than I if they meet the right supervisors in their jobs. I am the only one in my family with a graduate degree in my career field, but I still struggle with job searches due to my lack of large company experience and that I have zero network connections. Analyzing my anxiousness made me realize something about myself. I am an extreme introvert who values my own privacy above many things. When working in my job training program, I don’t talk to my family about what is going on or any matters in my work life. I care about my family and I understand that they care about me and wanted me to do well. But in my past, my siblings and my parents have done things they thought will be a good help to me, but were instead kind of violating my privacy. So I tend to avoid talking to them to avoid getting their help. I am also afraid they might try to help me but seeking help from relatives or friends that I don’t really like much. If my siblings become successful in their careers, then I will be the only one “that need help.”

    I hate the thought of needing help. I don’t even know if I am ready to tell my family about the pass/fail aspect of the job training program. I wanted to be able to help myself. Right now I have very few friends simply because I want to avoid conversation about my social life with my family. I don’t tell my family if I am talking to any friends. I don’t want them to ask questions about my friends. So I am keeping all my struggles to myself, and seeing how far I am behind makes me have a lot of anxiety. I am also afraid of failing the training program and having to break it to my family. The training program can take half a year to a year. If I fail it, I will have almost a year gap in my employment record because I don’t think I should put a training program I failed on in my resume.

    The training program still have some months to go, and maybe there is some time I can improve myself. But dealing with all of this in secrecy can be a struggle. I think my extreme introvertness are causing me some career problems, but I am just not into socializing and I am in a place where I cannot express myself in my home or outside my home.

    Any thoughts on my issues?

    1. merope*

      It sounds to me like you would really benefit from having a therapist or other neutral third party to work through these issues with. That could help you untangle all these things that seem tied up as enormous bundles of pressure in your life.

      I definitely understand the drive for independence, but it can be challenging to see larger patterns in your work/family/personal life when you are enmeshed in it. Speaking with someone unconnected to any of this could help you see those patterns without worrying about their influence on your life.

      1. pancakes*

        Yes to all this. I think talking to a third party could be very helpful in learning to set boundaries with family. Avoiding making friends in order to avoid discussing friendships with your family isn’t healthy or sustainable long-term.

    2. Merry R.*

      Unfortunately, it seems you have bitten off more than you can chew. What are you doing to ensure your success – watching YouTube videos, taking additional courses (through CodeAcademy or something) to bolster your skills, engaging with others in your class to ask for help? The point of the program is to see if you’ll bee successful in the role, and if you are struggling, it’s a good sign that you won’t be. Your problem with asking people for help, networking, and advocating for yourself will be a major downfall in your career, especially if this specific technical role doesn’t come naturally.

      Introvertedness =/= inability to express yourself. That’s social anxiety, and I’d suggest reading more about it and potentially seeking help to try to understand how your thought patterns spiral out of your control. This issue will not go away – if you are able to pass the training and land this job, you will be forced to work on a team and collaborate. They will ask you about your family, your social life, and will expect you to ask them the same.

      1. D*

        So agree with jumping online to learn…there are so many data science courses on edx and coursera… a lot of them you can do for free if you don’t need the certificate.

    3. Initial B (they/them)*

      Wow. This sounds like a lot to deal with, and fairly similar to a program I did a year ago.

      You sound overwhelmed with the need to be perfect. What a mood. At the heart of all of this- your trainers can see that you are struggling, you have been assigned a mentor but don’t know how to speak to them, you’re withdrawn from all social contact including your family- you don’t want anyone to know that there’s anything wrong. The problem is, it seems at least some of the people who care about you (for whatever reason, be it being invested in your job performance or your happiness) can already tell. Being an introvert who values my privacy highly, I understand. Trusting total strangers and family alike with my problems is difficult, especially when they have the power to bomb your current career path and financial prospects.

      Asking for help is a skill. Socializing is a skill. Starting out learning them now is difficult, but you do have the ability to improve them and excel, even if it takes years. Is it possible for you to find a short-period therapist or support group that can teach you some methods that may make it easier to practice? You don’t have to shout your problems from the rooftops, but finding someone in your life who understands what you’re going through so all of this doesn’t eat you up inside is incredibly important. Even asking for small things at first is an awesome first step.

      Succeed or fail in this training program, it’s a growth opportunity. Whether it’s for your career or for yourself or both, you’re still learning.

      I hope this makes sense and I wish you all the best. Know that I’m cheering you on, internet stranger.

    4. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Try breaking down your concerns into bite size pieces so they don’t overwhelm you.

      First, don’t compare yourself to your siblings. They haven’t even gotten in the door yet, and you’re on your way. You’re the first, so even if they come after you, you’ll likely be helping them through the process. Also, you don’t need to tell your family anything about the job, especially if they’re the type that will jump in and think they are solving issues when they are just expounding them. And how do you know if your siblings haven’t asked external sources for help with things? This is a total read into what you wrote, but I bet they wouldn’t admit that because they want to act like they have everything together in front of your parents. No one has it all together, and no one gets through life without asking for help.

      As for the job, write down areas that you think you need to improve in. Set up a meeting with your mentor and ask for resources to help you get better at those areas, and ask them for guidance on what else you can do. Represent yourself as trying to learn in order to master the skills on your own, not that you are asking them to do it for you. Training is your time to get help and learn how to do the tasks. They want to see that you will attempt to do the task, and when you get stuck you know where to go/what resources to use to get unstuck. Again, as long as you aren’t telling them that you won’t do it or that you want someone else to do it for you, you should be fine! When you get critiques, make sure to write them down and follow up if you do not understand them. Remember, its training, you’re learning new skills! You’re here to learn not to be an expert!

      Bottom line: asking for help is not a weakness, it is a strength. It shows your organization that you are willing to grow and learn. It is difficult to do when others look like they are doing so much better, but trust me, we’ve all been there. YOU GOT THIS!

      1. RagingADHD*

        This is a good point: asking for help is not a sign of failure. It is what successful people do to grow, to leverage their options, and to make their lives and work more sustainable.

    5. Koala dreams*

      Mentor relationships can be different things, and your questions about your mentor are things that the mentor themselves will be able to answer. Perhaps you can start with an email or a phone call to them?

      As for your family, it sounds like your family want to talk work topics with you and you don’t. Think of some non-work topics in advance so you can change the subject, and ask them to help you to avoid work talk in your free time.

      Anxiety is perhaps more a subject for health professionals, like your doctor or a therapist.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Being an introvert just means someone who needs more alone time to recharge, and gets tired more quickly from socializing. Extroverts get energy from being with people, and get tired/lonely quicker when alone.

      The secrecy, shame, and disconnection you’re describing go way beyond introversion, and I second the recommendation to get some help from a counselor or therapist. You need to talk to someone who can help you manage these feelings and get to a healthy place with your family.

  53. sparkly mouse*

    I am in an ethical bind. I am a freelancer who works with a small team of 3 (they are also freelancers, but we work as a unit). Recently, our team was recruited for a major project with a prestigious employer. We were incredibly excited, since the project presents an opportunity for us to really shine and take a major step forward in our industry.

    Unfortunately, I received some disturbing news last night. I have a close friend in the same industry who had been acting weird for some time. I finally asked him about it, and he told me he found out about my team being recruited, but that he was devastated because he had worked with the company previously and initiated the project himself. Apparently there was some turnover in management and the new higher-ups were unaware of my colleague’s role, so they reached out to a different team without realizing they were steamrolling the person who got the project started in the first place.

    I am blindsided by this information and feel completely terrible. I spoke with one person on my team, and we agree that the right thing to do would be to offer to step down, inform management about the mix-up, and return the project to my colleague (if the company is amenable).

    The pros: I feel that this would be acting ethically and would preserve the close working relationship between my team and my colleague’s team (they are more experienced and higher up in the industry, and we often get work through them in addition to simply being friendly). I’m also not sure I will be able to participate in this project without feeling personally bad about my friends being unfairly passed over.

    The cons: my team would lose a major opportunity, and perhaps more in the future with this company. A project like this would elevate us in our industry and likely lead to more work with similar companies. We have been struggling for work post-pandemic and this was going to slightly relieve that situation, though not solve it entirely. We also know that my colleague’s team, while in a similar situation, already has more work than us because of their experience.

    I am leaning toward stepping down, but it hurts. I would be grateful for any suggestions or input.

    1. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

      Which one is going to let you sleep better at night? Do you feel reasonably confident that your colleague will do what they can to help you and your team if opportunities arise? This super sucks, I’m sorry.

      1. sparkly mouse*

        Probably stepping down would help me sleep better, and it’s probably that my colleague would help us if other opportunities arise. However, work is notoriously hard to get in this field, and my colleague’s team is admittedly territorial. They’ve been generous with us, but we’ve always been kind of “team B.” Part of the initial excitement about this project was that our team got recruited on our own, and not through my colleague’s team. It means our work is starting to speak for itself, and we were incredibly excited for the opportunity to prove this. Sigh.

        1. LKW*

          Do you know for an absolute fact that the company would give the project back to your friend or would they find someone else to do this work? Have you ever worked with your friend? Maybe your friend just isn’t gelling with the company. You can’t tell the company who to hire to do the work. The sentiment is nice, but you don’t have to set you and your team on fire to make your friend warm.

          What if the company says that they won’t turn the work back to your friend. Will you still step down from this?

          1. sparkly mouse*

            This is a good point, and one that had crossed my mind as well. Your analogy is well taken. I will definitely think more about this.

            FWIW I think the company probably would hire my friend’s team. But, you’re right, I can’t absolutely tell them to do so. I can only alert them of the mix-up and volunteer to step down so my friend’s team can be reassigned.

            But yes, this is a risk.

    2. Merry R.*

      Is there a way for your friend to join your team part-time? From the language you used, it doesn’t seem like he is on a team currently, but as you say, is a freelancer. You could make the argument that because this is such an amazing and large opportunity, you brought on another team member who was familiar with both the project and company.

      1. sparkly mouse*

        Sadly there is not–I should have been more specific, my colleague has his own team (also 3-person). It would be his team who would do the project. I’m hesitant to give away the industry, since it might reveal my identity, but there is no flexibility in the number of people who do the project. It would either be his team or ours, or at least a combination of people from both teams that doesn’t exceed three.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      I guess I’m not clear on why one would be “devastated” by this? Your friend did work for the company but does not currently, and it’s been long enough that there has been some turnover in management, so . . . he has not been in the loop on this project for awhile, correct? If he started in on behalf of/in the context of work for an employer for whom he is no longer doing any work, it’s not his project any more and it shouldn’t be a surprise that he’s no longer on their radar. If your team got the offer because you’re available and possibly the work you’re currently doing is more relevant, then I don’t think you need to feel guilty about this.

      1. sparkly mouse*

        That’s an interesting point and one I will definitely consider. FWIW, I don’t think the length of time is the issue–I think it’s that the management turnover happened fast and unexpectedly, and the person who helped him initiate and get the project rolling didn’t have the opportunity to communicate important details.

        1. sparkly mouse*

          I should also add that the devastation is probably very personal for him. He invested a lot on the project and really cared about it, and I suspect he may have contributed to it in personal or even financial ways, though I haven’t confirmed it. I realize that’s not on me, but as my colleague and friend, it’s important to me that he knows I value our relationship and his own efforts in our industry.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            But . . . it still wasn’t his private project: It was done as work for an employer/as a contract employee (correct? I’m asking for clarification)? Generally, work done for a company that is employing you is considered to belong to the employer.

            I instituted a training program in [specific thing] at a previous job but I don’t expect them to re-employ me as a consultant on it now that I don’t work there any more.

            I mean, he can be devastated if he feels that way but I think this level of personal investment is misguided if the project wasn’t his independent endeavor to begin with.

    4. Colette*

      Your friend feels how he feels, but you didn’t do anything wrong, and neither did the company (assuming they didn’t break a contract). They are allowed to hire whoever they want to hire even if your friend started the project. Maybe they didn’t know; maybe they did know and made a deliberate decision to hire someone else. And even if you turn down the work, that doesn’t mean your friend will get it.

      I say keep the job. If you want, you could mention that you talked with your friend and he mentioned being involve before – but honestly, if the company wanted to know who started it, that information is presumably available to them.

    5. LadyByTheLake*

      I feel like there is a medium road here. Can you talk to the company, say that you heard that Friend’s Company actually started the project and that while you were really looking forward to doing the work and showing Company what your team is capable of, you would understand and step down if company were to decide to go with Friend’s Company instead, given their history with the project. Leave it up to the client what they want to do. If the client decides to stick with you, you can move forward guilt free and can tell your friend with a clear conscience that you made the offer to step aside.

      1. Rosemary*

        This. For all you know, the company knew full well that your friend has history with the project but decided to go with you anyway – and as much as that sucks for your friend, that is not on you. Or, if the company did NOT know (which I find kind of hard to believe, even if there had been turnover), you are putting the ball in their court to either go back to your friend, or stick with you.

        Another thing I am wondering – if your team is less established in the field than your friend, perhaps are you also less expensive? I used to freelance, and when I started out another more senior freelancer in my field brought me on to work on some projects with her. One of the companies ended up hiring me for some subsequent work, largely because the scope was smaller and I was more affordable than my more senior colleague (the client did however ask my colleague first if she minded if they hired me instead – and she was was fine with it)

    6. Not A Manager*

      This is unfortunate, but you didn’t do anything wrong here. I think this falls into the category of “don’t set yourself on fire to keep someone else warm.” He’s not asking you to set yourself on fire (which would be wrong of him), and you could do yourself significant harm by stepping away from this opportunity.

      I think you should do what you can to maintain your network with him, do him professional favors in the future when you can, etc. but I don’t think you should give up this job. I also don’t think you should ever speak to him or to anyone in a way that implies you are apologizing for getting the job.

    7. Rusty Shackelford*

      If I had brought you on for a project, and you told me “we just realized Fergus started this project and we want you to give it back to him,” I’d find it very, very odd. Like, “I don’t want to hire this team again” odd. And you don’t know for certain that choosing you instead of Fergus wasn’t intentional.

    8. Farm Girl*

      No, definitely don’t give the job to the other team! There may be many reasons the company went with your team, and you don’t have visibility to their decision. Even if you turned it down, they may not hire the other team.
      I’m sure you will do a good job, the professional thing to do is accept and continue the job you were hired for. He may be disappointed, but you can’t handle that for him.

    9. Sherm*

      When his services were terminated, why didn’t the friend himself contact the company and say “I think there may have been a mistake here?” I’m not sure you are hearing the whole story. Maybe along with the turnover their plans have changed a bit and they’re looking for something a little different, hence their choice of you over him. If he’s your friend (and in a better financial position than you, if I read correctly) I think he can find it in him to be happy for you.

      1. SummerBreeze*

        This is where my mind went too! Wouldn’t your friend contact the company and explain? Sounds like he’s laying a pretty big burden on you. Are you sure he’s a friend?!

    10. AcademiaNut*

      I think I would keep the job, for several reasons

      – you’ve already been hired. Going and telling your employers that they made a mistake in hiring you and that you want to step down could make you look like you don’t think of yourselves as competent (definitely less competent than the other team), or as if you’re criticizing their judgement. It could easily hurt your reputation and ability to get jobs from them in the future.

      – the other teams has been generous to you, but by the sounds of it, they give you what they don’t really want or need – seeing you as subordinate. That could also explain part of your friend’s upset, if someone he sees as inferior is getting what he wants. Would they give up a major opportunity and hurt their own performance to help your team? (If the answer were yes, he’d have congratulated you on the new contract rather than making you feel guilty and acting weird).

      – the lack of communication in the first place was unfortunate, but not unethical or shady. If your friend invested money in the project, that was a decision he made, knowing how the field works, and not your responsibility.

      – if you stepped down, it would be a purely friendship decision, not a business decision. Would you be considering it if you didn’t know anybody on the other team, and had heard about the issue second hand, or is it because it’s your friend, and you feel bad for him?

  54. MMM*

    Does anyone have experience teaching themselves CRM software (salesforce or raisers edge in particular)?
    I’m considering trying to learn in an attempt to be more competitive for jobs I’m applying to, but I’m not sure it’s worth it. Raisers Edge in particular looks like you have to do training via Blackbaud, which is not free for the general public, only if your organization already accesses it. I’m also not sure if it would really be beneficial to only have introductory training on paper, but no real world, on the job experience using it. I’d appreciate any insight!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Is this just “how to use Sales Force” or “how to configure, set up workflows, customize fields, etc in Sales Force”?

      The second one is way beyond what you can do with self-teaching unless you’re already an accomplished software engineer. But there is everything from Dummies books to YouTube tutorials to community college classes for the first case.

      1. Sassafras*

        I’m certainly not a software engineer, but I’ve used the vast amount of free training Salesforce makes available at and it’s designed for both end users and system administrators, although I think it’s a bit easier to translate what you learn if you’re on the system admin side. I’m sort of a system admin (certified but not quite working in that role) and I’d say at least 60% of what I’ve learned has been from trailhead or other free training. It’s absolutely possible to learn how to do basic configuration, set up workflows and automations, customize fields, etc. Having an account on trailhead also lets you set up sample workspaces to do both the training exercises and use for your own sample projects.
        I’m not familiar with Raisers Edge, but I’ve heard there are lots of similarities between the systems. A lot of CRM knowledge is transferable – understanding how things work in one system will help you in another, but with Salesforce, it’s so configurable that how things are set up and how you’d do your job within the system could vary quite a bit between companies, especially as an end user.
        Whether it’s worth spending your time to learn depends on what you want to do. If you want to be on the admin side, you’d need to devote a lot more time to learning and probably do at least some of the Salesforce superbadges if not go for certification if you don’t have real world experience, and you’d probably always be at a disadvantage against applicants who had experience with whichever CRM you’re looking at. If you’re just looking at jobs where you’d be using a CRM, then it’s helpful to have a basic understanding but you probably won’t gain much by spending a ton of time teaching yourself the ins and outs of a CRM that might not look like what you end up using.

  55. Merry R.*

    I work in a technical field using my degree. I’m a few years out of college, but I’ve realized this just… isn’t for me. My current boss *Ed* took me in from a very toxic job in the same field, and has since really encouraged me to grow. Ed is incredibly supportive and prides himself on his team, since we are consistently one of the top five billers in our publicly traded company. Because I know he relies on me, I opened up to him that I was thinking about leaving and pursuing an MBA. He dissuaded me, saying that I could do that after I got my professional license (2.5 years from now). His rationale was, once you have that, you can always have your technical role to fall back on.

    I’ve since changed my mind and am actively applying for jobs – I’ve taught myself how to write SQL queries, use python, and the basics of data analytics in hopes of landing an analyst or consultant job. He asks me frequently if our original plan is still on – that he has me for two more years before I leave – and I give a noncommittal answer because I don’t know how to respond. Something along the lines of, “assuming nothing changes”.

    I feel incredibly guilty. I wish I hadn’t opened up to him at all, but I knew that in my grad school application process, I needed professional references and letters of recommendation so I felt like I had to tell him. Now, as I am planning to leave way before my intended departure date (eventually, still don’t have a job offer), I don’t know how to break the news.

    1. Nesprin*

      like this: “hey boss, sorry to do this, but my plans have changed and my last day will be X”.

      Signed- did that when I was young and wished I had quit sooner.

    2. PollyQ*

      First, don’t feel guilty at all — just because he wants you to stick around doesn’t mean you’re in any way obligated to. If the company had wanted to guarantee your continued presence, they could’ve offered a 2-year contract. And just because it’s his plan for you to be around another 2 years, it doesn’t mean it’s the company’s plan. They could re-structure/re-org/re-whatever at any time, and lay you off.

      Once you have the new job, you can explain that you’ve chosen to take a different path, and perhaps offer a little longer notice if that works. Will he be a little angry/hurt? Yeah, maybe, but that’s life. Things change, employees leave jobs, and everyone just moves on. You can’t let your boss’s feelings control your career choices.

  56. Just a Temp*

    Quick question about start dates for resumes!

    For my current job, my official hiring date on my paperwork is in April 2021 but because of a combination factors I didn’t work my first shift until May 2021. Which date should I put on my resume? And which date is going to show up on my future background checks/employment checks?

    Note: this is a temporary job that I expect to last less than a year, so that’s why bailing down April vs May feels important.

    1. Jasmine*

      I’d put May, just to be safe. Saying April based on a technicality of paperwork could be seen as a bit dishonest, if someone was wanting to be nit-picky about things.

    2. PollyQ*

      If your official hire date is April, then that’s almost certainly what HR will tell anyone who checks up in the future, so I think you’re fine to put April on your resume. (And FWIW I also doubt that, say, 6 mos vs. 7 mos is going to make any difference.)

    3. WellRed*

      This is the second time this q has come up today ; ) on a resume I think it should always be the dates you are actually working at the job. Prior to that you aren’t paid, aren’t preforming work, aren’t learning or gaining experience and aren’t eligible for benefits of any sort. It’s kind of irrelevant what date they hired you in most cases.

  57. Hello Friends*

    So in good news, my boss pulled me aside to tell me that he thinks I have a bright future in nonprofit management and the organization is offering to pay for my membership to a professional organization and a certification program. Problem is, I don’t really see a future for myself as a President & CEO of a nonprofit/trade association. Obviously I am really flattered though, and I don’t want to tell my boss that his assessment of me is wrong. I talked to him about a couple different programs I would be interested in first, as I don’t qualify for the management certification at this point in my career (need 2.5 more years experience in nonprofit). He said he would enroll me in those programs as well at the association’s expense. But anyways, do you think I should get this management certification when I am eligible? I don’t see it doing any harm. Thoughts?

    1. Morning Glory*

      It sounds like you see the only role in nonprofit management as President and CEO? That is not at all true and very possibly not what your boss meant when he said you have a future in nonprofit management.
      You don’t say in your post what type of career you would be interested in, but I’d recommend you look into different potential career paths within nonprofit management before making a decision. Also, the type of certification and how specific it is would also be a factor; many certifications can be useful for multiple career pathways.

    2. Llellayena*

      Non-profit management is not just about being Pres/CEO. There are many levels of management and many different specialties. Knowing the ways a non-profit can be structured and run can be just as useful at the project manager level as at the executive level. There’s a non-profit management conference near me (Princeton, NJ) in January that went virtual last year and I think might continue virtual in the future, Community Works. It covers topics like staffing, volunteer management/organization, fundraising, finances, etc. One CEO can’t do all of that, it gets spread around. What your boss is basically saying is that you have the mindset to see the big picture and how your piece of that picture can improve an organization and he wants you to get more training in that type of thinking and the nuts and bolts of how a non-profit is structured and run.

      Alison: You get a lot of non-profit questions on this site. If you’re interested, I can get you in touch with some of the organizers of Community Works. They’ve been running this conference for 20 years so they’ve got some solid insight on a bunch of different work/non-profit related topics.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Unless you actively hate the nonprofit work you’re doing 2.5 years from now, take the free education. Management skills and the contacts you make on the course are always going to be helpful.

      Also, having a boss who is enthusiastic about investing in your development is a treasure. Don’t be too quick to dismiss his insight.

  58. NerdyKris*

    How should I deal with someone overstepping their boundaries without sounding like “You’re a low level employee”? Basically, our mail room operates directly under the CEO’s personal assistant. Combined with the fact that they meet and talk to everyone in the company on a daily basis, one of them (I’ll call him Bob) seems to think he can comment on things in other departments that are WAY outside what he should be commenting on.
    It came to a head recently when a director fired a friend of his. I’m in IT. I often handle shutting off accounts. Bob stormed into my office angry and demanding to know why we shut off his friend’s work phone that he was using as his only phone. It resulted in the loss of all his personal photos. Bob demanded to know why someone else’s phone was left on for months after they left. That person wasn’t laid off, they were on medical leave until they retired.
    I calmed him down and told him that this was just standard procedure, you’re not supposed to be using company equipment like that. I offered to retrieve the man’s photos with the approval of my boss.

    A few weeks later, I find out he WENT TO MY BOSS to complain about the phone situation as well. This turned into a shouting match when he said the words “You were just following orders”. I shouted over him that I am not a nazi making excuses, and I should have just told him tough luck about the photos. That it was completely inappropriate for him to go over my head to complain about something in a department he isn’t involved in at all.

    My boss has been out this week so I can’t ask him, but I really want to make a formal HR complaint about Bob. He is not a VP or Director. He works in the mail room. This wasn’t a department he works in, and even if it was, he’s nowhere near the level to be lecturing people in a different department about something decided by HR and people many levels above him. I have the same access to everyone he does, and do the account disabling, and I can’t even imagine lecturing anyone about decisions I had no part in.
    I haven’t seen him all week, so I think he’s really upset by my reaction. I don’t trust his manager’s ability to handle him, since he doesn’t respect her at all, but that means the only person above her is the CEO right now. And this is a large company, which is what makes complaining so difficult. It would be absurd to bother the CEO with this. There used to be someone between the CEO and that department, but her position is currently empty.

    I don’t know, I think I just need to vent, but also I really think someone needs to reign him in. This isn’t the first firing he’s been interfering in. He’s friends with a temp we won’t rehire, and constantly asks why we won’t rehire him, and I can’t say “because he was garbage”, and he won’t get the hint.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Dude, make a complaint already.

      Bob has been coddled far too much and now he’s gotten too big for his britches. And if his manager can’t handle him then that’s on her and her superiors need to deal with her on that.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Why is he coming to you about another (ex)employee’s issue, and why are you talking to him about it? He’s way out of line but it’s also none of his business. It seems like not engaging with him about these things is good option. Have some scripts ready about how it would be inappropriate for you to talk to him about other employees. I’ve worked with a couple of Bobs and that’s worked best for me. Good luck!

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        You work in IT. Security is one of your functions.

        You don’t know exactly why Bob is doing this stuff, but it’s completely reasonable to assume, in the absence of other data, that he is up to nefarious ends. Talk to your manager, talk to your security officer if you have one, talk to HR.

        1. LKW*

          This – this is not a “following orders” situation. This is the company has set up security protocols that limits risk when someone leaves the organization. For you to have ignored the protocols could have led to your termination.

          The guy shouldn’t have used his work phone for personal use, not to a point where his photos and contacts were stored in one device that he didn’t own.

      2. NerdyKris*

        He was upset because this was the former employee’s only phone and now couldn’t be contacted by his son in an emergency, and the employee couldn’t call anyone that day because all their numbers were saved on the work phone. I pointed out that this is SOP everywhere, but I got the photos initially because I felt bad even though he’d made a major error in judgement putting everything on work devices.
        But Bob’s attitude and running it up the flagpole is where I think Bob crossed a line. I’ve had VPs ask me to retrieve personal data off locked devices, and they know that they’re asking for a lot. Bob is in what would be considered an entry level position at most companies.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          That’s former employee’s fault for overusing his work phone.

          Bob needs to butt the heck out.

    3. PollyQ*

      Whether you report him or not, definitely stop discussing other employees’ situations with him. Literally, say, “Bob, I can’t discuss other employees’ data or employment status with you. If Fergus has a question, he can talk to me directly.”

    4. NaoNao*

      Yeah I don’t know about this. I think there’s a distinct possibility that you might face backlash for this. If Bob’s an entry level employee and you’re not, while you’re correct to be insulted by his behavior, your superior experience and expertise should ideally have lead to the ability to coolly shut him down. “Gosh I’m sorry to hear that. Well, please send [ex employee] to our company hotline/HR/exit interview etc to further pursue this. Unfortunately I’m not at liberty to discuss the particulars of an ex employee’s equipment with someone who’s not that employee. I’m sure you understand.”

      If he’s entry level, and his manager reports directly to the CEO, that’s a rather compressed structure and it seems like you’d be bringing a very minor personal conflict to the CEO and you risk being seen as having no discernment as to what an actual work issue vs. “this person is a wad and I don’t like dealing with them”.

      So Bob complained. He looks like a meddling fool. Take it in stride like the above it all professional you are!

    5. WFH with Cat*

      I don’t think this is HR territory — and I think highlighting Bob’s bad behavior is also going to highlight your own mistakes. That includes potentially making an end run around security measures (by trying to rescue photos, especially at the request of some random employee, not the person who was fired and not your manager) as well as HR policies (discussing someone else’s exit from the business with a person who is not on a need-to-know basis and then having a shouting match with that person).

      I think you need to discuss the situation with your boss when they are available and do a couple of things: 1) apologize for your role in the fracas, 2) reassure your boss that you are aware of and will adhere to security/HR policies in the future, and 3) and ask your boss to follow up as needed with whomever to see if Bob can be told not to involve himself in IT matters.

      Then let this go. Bow out gracefully and hope Bob never darkens your door again. (And if he does, stay calm and tell him what you can and cannot do, based on your job. If he’s a problem, let your boss know. Don’t let Bob control the conversation. And don’t let him control you by winding you up.)

      1. WellRed*

        The boss approved retrieving photos which I think was the gracious thing to do. Bob has no standing here whatsoever. About this or any other issue that isn’t directly about him.

    6. Claire*

      I think it’s reasonable to complain about Bob’s behavior (raised voices/yelling is inappropriate regardless of position and IT policy isn’t up to him), but in talking to HR I would focus on his problematic behaviors and not the fact that you think of him as a “low level employee” relative to yourself.

  59. CAS*

    My supervisor, Clarice, openly admits that she is a terrible speller. She is very sloppy not only with spelling but also proofreading. Sadly, we have a required process in our organization that certain documents require two layers of review — both by Clarice and Betty, the mega boss. Clarice reviews (and edits) our work and then submits it to Betty for the final review. You can see where this is going, right?

    Clarice actually edits errors into our work. Errors that were not present before she reviewed the document are present for Betty’s review. Just yesterday, I received corrections back from Betty that included misspelled words and misplaced punctuation thanks to Clarice. These errors weren’t in my drafts! So, I wind up having to correct Clarice’s errors to move forward with my project. These errors are embarrassing to me because I am a former editor and they are showing up in my work. I am concerned that Betty believes the errors are mine when they aren’t.

    Yesterday, I told Clarice that I was embarrassed about all the errors Betty found in my documents. She said, “You mean I overlooked them?” I so wanted to say, “No, you created them,” but I didn’t. I just said, “I don’t feel good about all the corrections that were needed.” Whether they’re my errors or Clarice’s, it’s still an oversight on Clarice’s part, isn’t it? Is there a way to address this with Clarice or should I not worry about it?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Oh goodness, Clarice knows and admits that she’s a bad speller. Just tell her.

      Show her where she reworded
      “Llama grooming performance was up 15% over the previous quarter, with positive cash-flow impacts”
      “Our cash flue was increased due to a significant impovement in llama groping.”

    2. D3*

      I think you could have said exactly that, especially given that she’s open about being bad at spelling/grammar. You could suggest to her that she limit her editing/review to content, and if she thinks she sees a spelling or grammar error to look it up first.
      Remember that Betty’s corrections reflect badly on Clarice as well. Clarice will want to have fewer grammar/spelling errors and since she openly admits she’s bad at it, she seems likely to be receptive.
      Just be clear that you DO want any feedback and suggestions on content and scope, and tell her that you really value that from her.

      1. CAS*

        This is very helpful, thank you. Clarice doesn’t generally bring edits on content/scope back to me, so that makes it harder for me to improve my work. She makes the changes herself, edits errors into it, and then sends it to Betty. I generally don’t know about Clarice’s edits until I get them back from Betty. I find that frustrating because they’re edits I wish I’d known about so I could improve on the content side and also avoid the errors Clarice makes. I’m glad I posted about this today. Thanks again.

        1. justabot*

          That is so frustrating! I had a manager like this and I would often make a point to tell her that I was a great editor and proofreader, that I genuinely enjoy editing for my friends, and that I love this kind of thing and please send me anything I can give a final set of eyes on. I don’t genuinely love it that much lol, but I would sort of hype up that this was something I enjoy and get energized by, and almost make it like she was doing me a favor to let me read things before they were sent out.

          Next time she says something about how she is bad at spelling, etc., don’t patronize, but just be upbeat like that’s okay, that’s something I’m really good at! You can always compliment her on the content or some other strength she brings.

          I get it though, my manager used to do this as well. She would go in and edit an e-newsletter I had drafted. And her edits were usually pretty on point, but in the process she would ALWAYS manage to make a typo or get a date wrong, or insert some other spacing/font/color mistake that I had checked a million times. And then she would just send it out to 75,000 people without letting me review it again. It made me crazy.

          I also think typos and grammatical mistakes bother some people more than others. They made me twitch and bother me like crazy. Other people barely register an oh well shrug, if they even realize they made a typo or grammatical at all.

        2. Haha Lala*

          Ugh that is frustrating!
          Since Clarice knows she’s a bad speller, can you offer to proofread her corrections before they get sent on to mega boss? It might add an extra step, but it would also give you the chance to talk over corrections with Clarice, before anyone else sees them. It’s definitely beneficial to both of you!

        3. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

          If you think she’d have an issue with the spelling thing, you can always soften it by stating that you want to have the edits fed back to you because you want to learn so Clarice will have to make less edits and it can get to Betty faster.

          It kind of sounds like she wants to be the one to send it to Betty, so you might want to note that your second review isn’t going to mean that you will send directly to Betty.

      2. WellRed*

        Yes just read for content. People that can’t spell or use grammar have zero business editing.

    3. SweetPotatoontheCouch*

      Ooff. I wonder if there’s a way to implement a policy of using Word’s Track Changes so that Betty can see the original and Clarice’s edits.

      1. pancakes*

        Tracking changes can be very useful at times, but the documents can be an eyesore, and probably not what Betty is looking for – if she’s like most mega-bosses, she wants to see a fairly polished piece of work, and doesn’t want to get into minutia as to who wrote particular lines or phrases.

        1. Peter*

          So teach Betty to read it in “no markup” mode then we can use the tools as they are designed.

  60. OyHiOh*

    I went to work yesterday expecting a pretty normal administrative end of week (part time office manager role). Found a NOFO with supplementary pages of my boss’s chicken scratch in my inbox. Printed it, started reading because boss has been making noises for awhile about steering my role in a grant writing direction. Boss showed up, we talked about the grant and what I need to do before writing it. Get on with my day. An hour later, boss walks in again to tell me they just took a colleague off a different grant writing project and that I was getting that as well. So went from a 4 hour day making sure my boss is organized until I reappear on Monday to full day of work yesterday and today to get the second grant (the one my colleague was supposed to do) done by Monday which is when my boss promised our regional representatives the document would be submitted.

    In the process, I’ve discovered that while I understand the big picture scope of what our organization does pretty well, I do not understand the nitty gritty details well. I took the job to be office admin. I pay attention in staff meetings to the big picture scope of our work but until now haven’t really paid attention to the vocabulary and detailed concepts of our sector. I didn’t need to know that level of the work. But of course, writing project narratives means understanding and communicating on a whole different level from what I was doing before. Fortunately, boss is willing to mentor and train and is currently reviewing drafts of my work from yesterday. I’m pretty sure boss is just grateful to have something on paper to review after my colleague spent three days dithering over this thing and didn’t produce a single sentence.

  61. sundog*

    I know I need to look for a new job, but any ideas of how to continue to perform at a high level and maintain my sanity?
    Background: My larger team has gone through 3-4 major re-orgs over the past 12 months. Our business has done very well during Covid, so it’s not financial issues (think healthcare adjacent). All of the re-orgs have also resulted in several people leaving. We were under staffed prior to covid. I am now the only person remaining on my smaller team of 5. Every time I ask our director for help or more staff I’m told “it’s coming, be patient” but it’s been 6 months. I was also promised a promotion 3+ months ago. My latest review suggested I stretch myself even more than I’m already doing and I don’t know how to do that. The comments are so out of touch and dismissive of the amount of work our team is expected to do. How do I either 1) create better boundaries or 2) get my boss to understand that these deadlines aren’t feasible?

  62. Venty McVent*

    I gave my direct report some constructive criticism on a report he’s working on. He told me he liked one of my “ideas” and that it was a good idea. It was not an idea. It was an actual directive about how to structure something.

    He’s so obtuse sometimes, that I honestly can’t tell whether he’s being arrogant or ignorant or incapable of handling criticism and so all feedback is considered optional. No clue.

    I know that I am not going to be able to make him better at his job. I wholeheartedly believe that he is not capable of doing better at his job without extensive management and I am not the right person for that. I also know that my boss will not accept my opinion (she’s a fixer and likes to help everyone) and as a result I’m stuck with him, because he’s not going to be considered for PIP or replacement unless something dramatic happens.

    I’ll be out of the office for a few days and it is my fervent hope that he will do or say something that will illustrate the extent of whatever this dysfunction is.

    1. Garlic Knot*

      I started to come out and say that this was not a subject for discussion, and while I appreciate the opinions, this was an actual order/instruction from the manager to the subordinate. Works for now.

      1. Venty McVent*

        Were you able to determine the reason behind this belief that there was a choice or that it was subjective? I think that’s what drives me crazy. If I understood why he thought a certain way, I could disabuse him of the notion more thoroughly. But half our conversations go around in circles and eventually I feel like it’s either an option to bully him into awareness or let it go… and the issue is never that significant. (A thousand paper cuts)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          “Fergus, I just gave you instructions as your manager. What, in that interaction, left you thinking this was an optional idea for you to consider, rather than your manager’s expectations of you performing your job? Because this is happening a lot, and in order for you to be successful at your job, I need you to take directions as given. If we come to a point where I am asking your opinion of something, rather than telling you how it needs to be, be assured that I will be explicitly clear about that by asking you point-blank, Fergus, what is your opinion. In the absence of those exact words, I need you to take and follow directions precisely as they are issued to you.”

        2. Garlic Knot*

          Letting it go is a poor strategy to me, because you lose even more power for future interactions, and in my experience, you are going to need that.

          In our case it’s both a personal and a cultural thing plus some general toxicity added to the mix. Also, my team is about content creation, and a lot of that is subjective by nature. And, of course, everyone has a strong opinion on what’s best. Some of my subordinates do not have much experience being subordinates; some recent changes also made them feel like their creative freedom is being taken away, so there seems to be a lot of reasons for ranting. I mean, yeah, if we can reach common ground – fine, but I do not have forever, and at some point things need to get done to the specifications that have been set, which means end of discussion.

          Really, I found that being able to persuade is great, but there isn’t always time, and the person with decision-making power needs to exercise it. Morale is, of course, another concern here.

        3. LKW*

          When this happens to me, sometimes I realize how what I said could have been misinterpreted. I often take a step back say “Oh, I see how my phrasing may have led to this confusion. Let me clarify.” I take ownership of not communicating directly or clearly – even if I think I was quite clear. However, if I’ve said something like “Please add these three columns in the spreadsheet to capture these three data points” and the response is “Oh, I’ll consider your idea” – I’ll clarify in no uncertain terms: “No, I think you misunderstood. I am not asking for your thoughts on adding the columns, I am telling you that I need these three columns. I would like them between column G and H. For each row, please fill them out using blah blah blah as a resource. Please have this done by 6pm or if you don’t believe you’ll finish, let me know by 5pm, what’s slowing you down and when you believe you’ll be done.”

          You want a micromanager? I can do that, but I hate doing it and I will not be happy you’ve made me do that.

          1. Venty McVent*

            In my case it’s a matter of saying, “add three columns here” and them saying, I like that, that’s a good idea. I literally don’t care whether they like it or think it’s a good idea. I just want them to do it because it’s what should be done (and not in a “we’ve always done it that way”)

            1. allathian*

              Is it literally the fact that he’s vocalizing that he thinks it’s a good idea that’s bugging you so much? Does he actually follow your directions when he says it’s a good idea, or do you get more pushback from him?

              If he follows your directions, I think you need to let your annoyance with his vocal tic go. He’s saying it because it’s a way for him to save face because he probably feels it’s infantilizing to be told what to do. Especially if you’re a woman, and even more especially if you’re younger than he is.

    2. Sheetz is my go to*

      You gave him constructive criticism – as you say and that is not a directive. They’re two different types of communique.

      If you think he’s obtuse you probably need to work on your communication style and tailor it to his needs. No one hears the same way someone else speaks. How does he best receive ‘directives’ vs ‘criticism? Is he better with written vs oral communication? Does he need more frequent engagement as he goes along to ensure he is successful. Right now, you’ve written him off and it doesn’t sound like you want him to be successful. You hope he gets PIP’ed right out of there. Maybe you both need some help to work better together?

      You said you’re not the right person to make him better, but are you the right person to manage him in the first place? You’re there because this is your job and that’s his job, but that doesn’t make you a right match. You’ll have to work hard to employ your strengths and help him get better even if is/not on a PIP – that’s your responsibility as a manager. You have to work harder to make things work well for both of you.

      1. Venty McVent*

        I would be delighted if he was successful. But after several years of handholding and trying to identify ways to accommodate his less than successful professional traits, I have realized I am not the right manager for him. I have tried oral communication, written instructions, in the moment chat conversations, after the moment debriefs. I have tried breaking projects into pieces for him and helping him manage each task separately and also trying to give him ownership of a project. But the end result is that he has poor attention to detail, regularly thinks fast is better than good, and doesn’t always accept responsibility for his own issues. And this is despite having conversations about how I want him to succeed and how he can develop his attention to detail, that I don’t need things quickly and would prefer good over quick, and that I need him to acknowledge issues or mistakes so I can help.

        I will continue to provide whatever meaningful support I am capable of giving. But, at this point – I do not think he will be successful in this job. I do not see him getting promoted or making more money or gaining significant responsibilities. That’s not because I don’t want him to. It’s because I don’t believe he has the skillset that is needed to accomplish that. And again, while I will do whatever is in my power to get him to a point where I don’t feel like banging my head against the wall – I also recognize that I may not, in fact, be the best manager for him. But, I will be the best manager I can be.

        My “fervent hope” for earlier – shouldn’t be construed as anything more than an opportunity that my boss might recognize the difficulties that exist in managing him. Because while she is aware of the challenges, I do not think she truly understands the specifics of it, despite conversations about it.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      Stop him with a hand up right in the moment and say, “that wasn’t an idea I was floating to you to try. That’s my directive. Please provide weekly updates on your progress.”

    4. PollyQ*

      What kind of language are you using when you talk to him? Are you using words like “suggest”, “ought”, or “prefer”? Or are you saying things “need”, “standard”, “fix”? If it’s the first, try using the stronger language and see if that helps.

      1. Venty McVent*

        I told him why certain aspects of his report didn’t work and told him what “needed” to happen to fix it.

  63. Amber Rose*

    AAM has kind of ruined most office romance novels for me. All I can think of is how I’d be advising all these people to stop swooning over the creepy harassing boss/coworker and instead report them to HR and get the heck out. Sometimes I catch myself writing an imaginary letter in on behalf of the main character.

    On the other hand, it made some other office romance fiction extra funny, so really it’s a wash.

    Happy Friday everyone, I broke a rib and I’m on the GOOD painkillers, so I gotta say I am not working particularly hard right now and also everything is really funny, which sucks because laughing hurts like whoah.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      It ruined the TV show “Without A Trace” for me. Waaaaay too much office shenanigans and white dude bosses getting away with stuff on there.

      1. Amber Rose*

        On the other hand, I was recently reading a comic about a woman who gets stuck on a deserted island with her boss and I actually gained an appreciation for how good of a boss he was. It was kind of weird, because it’s such a silly nonsense comedy but with like, really solid management practices.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          My current and recently-former supervisors would both be fine desert island companions.

          1. Amber Rose*

            I’m bad for that! I couldn’t remember offhand and had to go check. It’s called Island Manager.

    2. Mental Lentil*

      I’m so sorry about the broken rib. People really underestimate how much these can hurt. I was wrestling with the kids years ago and got shoved into a corner of the couch. I was sure I’d broken several ribs, but the doctors said they were only bruised. Every breathe felt like a new experience in pain.

      Enjoy the great painkillers and have a good weekend!

      1. Amber Rose*

        I spent three days crying on the couch before I could see my doctor. It might just be muscle damage but it feels awful stabby for that. Regardless there’s nothing that can be done except wait.

        I haven’t broken a rib since I was 15 when I had pneumonia. I feel like it’s worse now that i’m older. :(

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      Sorry about the rib!

      I’ve never liked the workplace romance trope, but AAM combined with #metoo really problematizes some older TV shows.

      Oh, and TV people: profs/instructors/TAs having “romances” with their students (whether undergrad or grad) was against the rules at most US colleges & universities by the 90s. Just… Stop it.

    4. WellRed*

      Haha! I can no longer passively accept all the inter office romantic relationships, like all the detectives on Chicago PD seem to enter relationships with each other. Or Rachel dating her assistant on Friends.

  64. Mental Lentil*

    A discussion that came up at work this week: At what point in your company’s size (re: # of employees) do you need to start actually documenting things like job descriptions, annual evaluations, PIPs, etc? (I’m referring to personnel forms, not general SOPs or work instructions.) My thinking was even small companies should do this, but others disagreed, with the argument “well, we’re small enough…”

    What do y’all think?

    1. Amber Rose*


      I have feelings about this, because our company never did these things, then we doubled in size and playing catch up on all the documenting we should have been doing but never did has been an ongoing nightmare for the better part of the last two years.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Two people.

      But probably the more relevant/realistic question when you’re hoping to convince someone who’s very, very busy running an organization and has other priorities is: When does it start getting really problematic if you don’t?When does the lack of structure that you could get by with when you were small truly stop working now that you’re growing? I’d say that’s somewhere around 7-10 people.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        Yes, this is it exactly. It’s all about ROI. We’re over 7-10 people, so I feel it’s a worthwhile investment. It’s one of those things you’d rather have and not need than to suddenly need and not have.

        But yeah, I would agree with the others that it’s worth it even for smaller numbers, if you can do it efficiently.

      2. emmelemm*

        Aren’t there a lot of regulations, etc. that start at 5 people? As in, “such and such applies to companies larger than 5 employees.” I only know this because I’ve worked at a company that has had 5 employees for a time, but most of the time has had fewer.

        So I’d say, if you get more than 5 employees, you better make sure you’re doing everything right, because you’re not exempt from everything any more.

    3. PollyQ*

      Is there any way you can triage the most important things now, and make a general project to expand the documentation over time? (In IT, we’d call this a “phased roll-out.) Even just getting the basics on what behavior absolutely is required/forbidden would be a good start.

  65. Anything but Lean In*

    I’m seeking recommendations for management/leadership development books or podcasts. I’ve read Alison’s books (super helpful!), and I’m a big fan of the HBR podcasts Women at Work and Coaching Real Leaders. I’m looking for quality recommendations that provide practical strategies/tips or take more of a coaching approach rather than just share theory. For context, I am a mid-career woman, with ADHD, in a very toxic/dysfunctional org, hoping to move up and out!

    1. Qwerty*

      I’m enjoying “The Making of a Manager” by Julie Zhuo. I’ve only read a couple chapters, but it’s easy to read and is aimed at people who are newer to management, especially those who got the job because they were a high performing individual contributor and never received actual leadership training. The part about feeling overwhelmed was so reassuring that it wasn’t just me!

      “Welcome to Management” has been recommended to me by some high ranking people but I haven’t gotten around to starting it yet.

  66. Garlic Knot*

    Could you please share some advice on how to keep my calm and stay “reasonably polite”? (I am not in retail. I am also burned out, chronically depressed, in therapy, and job hunting. I am a woman.)

    I find it hard not to react strongly to what I perceive as incompetence, lack of logic/reason, irresponsiveness, or plain stupidity. I mean, the first two rounds of explanations I can still hold it, but my patience runs out real quick. I also notice that I have developed a heads-on approach to problem-solving that can cross over into combative, which compensates for my conflict-avoidant, gaslighting boss. The high work load does not help, either. Are there things I can try while I’m still in this situation?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      If you’re overworked and burned out, everyone else probably is to, which is probably affecting their decision-making and responsiveness, no?

      If you’re shielding your boss’ incompetence, stop doing that unless you absolutely have to to protect yourself (not him/her, but yourself).

      1. Garlic Knot*

        I feel that I have to protect my subordinates, and am mostly successful in that, but it looks like I should just prioritize myself to survive relatively sane until the next job.

    2. Ranon*

      I find a lot of my frustration/ anger comes from assuming things could be otherwise- but if I assume the incompetence, etc is just a fixed part of the universe akin to gravity, it’s much easier for me to just accept and do what needs doing given the actual circumstances in front of me instead of my imagined ideal.

      1. Garlic Knot*

        Thank you, yeah, I’ve been working on this, but have not achieved much progress yet.

    3. NaoNao*

      It sounds like you need to detach a bit. Unless you’re literally in a hospital, mere stupidity isn’t going to kill anyone. It’s frustrating and annoying, but working with confounding people is part of the game. It also strikes me that usually when people use the term “stupid” it’s about a clash of values or priorities or communication styles–it’s so unlikely that any functional org would literally hire people who are “stupid” (a term I really dislike and feel is ugly) that it points to the burn out—human error and frailty is being chalked up to malice or a global malfunction of the brain.

      2020 was HELL for many of us. Many of us are still reeling from the loss of family, the fallout from friends or family who showed their true colors in ugly ways, major civil unrest and an attempted coup in the US, loss of privileges (like going out to the stores, etc) and constant, overwhelming fear. Maybe the “stupids” are people in a fog or still recovering from the worst year ever.

      I get upset when people ignore me or challenge my expertise or do things I find unprofessional and foolish. But I’ve learned that for some reason people respond to weakness much more than they do to strength. They will almost always defend the poor performer and shun the person who complained, however rightly, about that person.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Thank you for this. So many times, “stupid” is used to mean “Person X disagreed with me.”

  67. Nacho*

    How does your company handle PTO requests? Currently, we email our requests to our workforce management agent, who tells us if the day is available or not. I’m trying to get them to create some kind of calendar or something so we know which days are available, but they just shut me down.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’ve seen a few different methods, but currently I can check our team calendar to see if anyone else has already requested a day off, and then I go to Workday (our HR software) and formally request it.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Officially ours go through the timeclock program and each department juggles days off within itself. If your manager can spare you, the day is available and you write your name on the wall calendar so people know you’re out.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      I tell my boss which days I want to take off. Once she approves, I enter it onto the Excel sheet that lists all our staff, our upcoming days off and the amount of time we have left for the year. (It’s like a calendar, so if I wanted to enter a day several months away, I could do that.)
      We are a small-ish team (less than 20 people), so this system works pretty well.

    4. The Dude Abides*

      I fill out a form indicating what days/times I want to take and which bucket I’m using, print it, and my supervisor signs off on it. If I do end up taking the time, I include the signed form with my paper timesheet for that period.

    5. Wordybird*

      Ours is through an outside vendor that also does our payroll. There is a project/calendar within our project management software where we also add our PTO (once it’s been approved by our manager through the outside vendor software) so that everyone can see who’s off on any given day.

  68. MOOCs*

    Hi all,

    Does anyone know any mass open source online learning programs that is free or affordable and are good for having classes that teaches the following skills:

    Public and Governmental Accounting
    Financial Analysis
    MS Excel
    Technical/Business Writing

    I have heard of Udemy, Coursera, etc. But I don’t know which ones to choose from and which is good for a price range of less than $100.

    1. Nesprin*

      I’d suggest a local community college over any of these. Better understood/longer track record/not much more than 100$- (my local cc is 36$/unit)

    2. Qwerty*

      Edx has technical courses so should at least cover Excel. Many courses are free (unless you want a certificate, then you pay)

    3. Tessera Member 042*

      For technical/business writing in particular I echo the previous poster who recommended community colleges, since you really want feedback from a human on your writing, and I don’t know of any MOOC that could provide that.

  69. Skip*

    Was this illegal or just really annoying?

    A handful of years ago, I worked as a private teacher for a very very rich family. My title, incredibly, was “governess” (you know, like Maria von Trapp), but the job was to teach the family’s 3 kids 5 days a week from 9a-3p, much like a traditional school. The family provided my housing in a little house that served half as my residence and half as the schoolhouse, and I was paid a wage on top of that. (From an education standpoint, this was all fine & legal as a form of homeschooling.)

    My question is about taxes. I only worked for them for half a year so I only had to deal with taxes once, but: First of all, I got paid as a freelancer/independent contractor, since they didn’t pay like payroll taxes or anything. (Question 1: Was that legal?) Second, when I asked for a 1099, the parents refused & told me that their accountant said they didn’t have to give me one. So I ended up doing the math myself on how much I’d been paid over 5 months and entering it on my taxes as “miscellaneous income without a 1099.” (Question 2: Was that legal? It was definitely frustrating as hell.) And because I had never freelanced before, I didn’t know about paying estimated quarterly taxes, so I had to pay all the taxes plus a late fee.

    This was in California. I didn’t push back because I’d already quit and I didn’t have the emotional capacity or the courage or scripts to do so, but I’ve been wondering lately if they were actually avoiding paying their share or if it was technically legal.

    1. mreasy*

      IANAL but it sounds majorly illegal. No 1099? You need one if you make more than $600 (iirc) in a year from any one source.

      1. irene adler*

        Yep! And they got you to pay the taxes for them.

        Betting they didn’t even ask the accountant.


    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yeah, they owed you a 1099.

      And I’d want to ask a tax lawyer or accountant if those free living quarters counted as taxable compensation, too.

    3. Rosemary*

      I’m not a lawyer or an accountant, but I wonder if you would have been considered a household/domestic employee? I know there are some tax forms they/you should have filled out, but not sure if it would be a 1099 specifically. Regardless – definitely sounds shady on their end. Glad you got out of there.

  70. DecisionSloth*

    I’ve been working full time at a small academic library for the last five years. I love my coworkers, I have a great amount of authority over my work, and they respect my experience and knowledge even through I’m a “paraprofessional” (I have a master’s degree, but not in library science, so I am not a librarian). The work environment in my department is almost entirely non-toxic, which I’ve never experienced before. There are really nice aspects of the job that I’ve never had at other libraries I’ve worked, like my own office with a window, the ability to participate in some aspects of collection development and small-scale decision-making, and a quiet, inclusive, feminist atmosphere.

    The college as a whole has been struggling for many years and we’ve all felt pretty alienated and demoralized by its treatment of staff. I am grossly underpaid for the work I do and have never received a raise of any kind (not even cost of living) the entire time I’ve been there. I’d probably need to get a 50% raise to bring me in line with comparable jobs and my professional standing and to make up for the years of stagnation. The college itself is on the verge of collapse and we’ve all been looking for other work, but it was just announced that it will likely be taken over by another institution, and raises for staff were directly mentioned. There is no timeline for this transition, however, and there are no specifics on what it will look like. I think overall this is a positive potential outcome for us, though it’s really too early to tell. But I’m also concerned that it might fall through, or that our wages have been suppressed so long that we’ll get perhaps a 5% bump in two years and they’ll call it square, or that in some other way this won’t improve our (or my) situation.

    I have a potential opportunity at a nearby public library for which I’m highly qualified. The pay starts at 150% of what I’m making per hour, though the job is only PT. It would be an effective pay cut of $300/month at the beginning, but there is a salary scale with predictable increases and COLAs. At the top end of the salary scale I’d be making the same as I am now but for half-time work (which I would love–I miss having free time). The job has a pension (my current job has stopped all employer retirement contributions) and excellent health care (my current job has poor and expensive health care, though I am privileged to be covered under my spouse’s insurance so this doesn’t personally impact me, but it sucks for my colleagues). All of this sounds mostly terrific other than the temporary effective wage reduction, which could also be offset by future opportunities for more hours. But it’s a public-facing position with mid-range authority, in an urban area where dealing with things like medical and mental health crises, angry patrons, and difficult situations is fairly routine. The commute would be longer and more arduous. I have done this kind of work with the public before and know how, but it can be taxing and overwhelming sometimes. I am an introvert and struggle with anxiety and depression, and having a quiet office, a feeling of safety, and more control over my immediate environment has been good for me. I do feel drained by FT work, though, and emotionally involved in my job in a way I’d like to step back from.

    The public library job isn’t a guarantee, but I’m highly qualified and have a good shot at it. I’m just struggling with whether to stay long enough at my current job to see how it all shakes out. Maybe we’ll get good raises and our retirement contributions back? But the place has been unstable for so long it feels like there’s not a strong foundation to build something better. Public library jobs like this don’t come around very often, so it feels like I should jump at it. I’m just worried I’ll be anxious and overwhelmed there.

    I should also mention that I feel guilty thinking about leaving my current job since I’m the only one who can do the work I do, and hiring for the position with my skillset would be difficult. It would leave my coworkers in a bind. I know this shouldn’t be my bottom line, but they’re my friends and also overworked and underpaid and it would add a burden to them.

    tl;dr I have a job that feels safe and comfortable, with significant downsides, especially the wage. I have a potential opportunity for a better wage in a harder job that may affect my mental health, but with PT hours that approaches and will eventually match my current wage. How do I balance all these aspects and come to a decision?

    1. Annony*

      I don’t think you have anything to lose by applying. If you get an interview you can get a feel for the job and whether you would actually want it.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      What do you lose doing the interview? Because it seems like you’re making a decision before you need to.