open thread – June 4-5, 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.

{ 1,243 comments… read them below }

  1. Software Experience*

    In order to move up in my field, I need experience with 2-3 standard software programs that my current low-tech job does not use. I cannot afford a subscription to learn them on my own time, these are huge packages that companies pay 5-6 figures for. How do people get around this catch-22?

    1. Reba*

      Many public libraries offer access to training resources like LinkedIn Learning. Could that be an option for you?

    2. Tuckerman*

      Do they specify which programs you need, or do you just need experience with any 2-3?

      1. Software Experience*

        Specific ones are repeated throughout most job listings. Stuff like JIRA and Perforce.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Atlassian (who makes JIRA) offers free plans. Ditto Perforce.

          Knowing how to use *any* project planning tool that supports Agile Scrum, or whatever other methodology these potential employers prefer, will be useful. Ditto using github for version management.

            1. tamarack and fireweed*

              Absolutely make use of free/low cost individual accounts, training material (don’t forget there’s bound to be a ton on YouTube).

              BUT: It won’t replace having worked with the software in a professional setting, that is, to solve particular problems or carry our particular business processes. So how can you get another edge? My suggestion, for this sort of software: Read up on the *type* of software. Ticketing systems – what kinds are there? Read the trade press about this kind of software – what do people like/dislike about Jira compared to OSTicket, Trac, Zendesk, GitHub issues… Can you install one of them or get a free account on one and just start using it for _something_ however small but vaguely professional?

              Get as familiar with it as you can and maybe, even if this was just your own initiative, you can answer the interview question along these lines: “My team and I evaluated whether JIRA or GitHub issues could help us doing X, but ultimately our use case wasn’t convincing enough to change things up from the manual tracker in a spreadsheet we were sharing. So I’m pretty familiar with the basic concepts!” … turning a negative into a neutral.

        2. Jaina Solo*

          Jira is actually free to use:
          If you’re looking for a tech/Saas company, I would sign up for Jira Software as that’s built for developers primarily in tech. Once you create your free account, you should then have access to their knowledgebase/help center and be able to train via that. I don’t recall if they give any certs tho…sorry :(

          Some bigger companies do actually make their cert training available for free…or at least the resources. Guided training usually costs money but I’ve seen Microsoft offer free resources that you can use for their various certifications. I feel like that is becoming more standard if it wasn’t already so while you may not have access to the actual program, you can study the theory of it and maybe at least sign up/ask for a free demo from the company.

          Hope that helps!

        3. DataGirl*

          I don’t know about these specific softwares, but most software companies in my experience have a Dev or Student version that you can get pretty cheap. They usually are limited to 1 or 2 users and you have to agree to only use for educational purposes.

        4. AndersonDarling*

          JIRA’s one of those systems I might have in a job listing, but I’d be happy if a candidate would know what it is and could talk about any kind of ticket/project tracking system that they used. I wouldn’t reject a candidate because they didn’t know JIRA.

          1. Mimi*

            I recently started a job that uses JIRA, which I’d never used before, and if you have picked up new software in the past, I’d say you’ll do okay. I’m not a JIRA search whiz, but it didn’t take long to be able to do what I needed to. (It does help if you’re at least a little familiar with Agile/Scrum, but if not, skim the wikipedia page and that’s probably good enough to start.)

            If you’ve used other task management software (or for JIRA Servicedesk, other ticketing systems), you could mention those, or you could provide an example of learning new systems. Definitely do not feel that a job posting that lists JIRA as a requirement is out of your reach.

        5. TechWorker*

          Jira is not really expensive for personal use (or at least it wasn’t, not sure if some stuff changed recently). The licence model is such that it ramps up (a lot) at the point you want a large number of users, but if you wanted it to play around on your own projects it shouldn’t be expensive. (The licence I had was $10 for up to 10 users).

        6. Qwerty*

          JIRA is usually free for small teams! A lot of these tech platforms have free version for small numbers of users as a way to get people using it when they are in college group projects or at a start-up, which leads to more sales once those companies grow.

          More importantly, alternate software knowledge will still apply! If you don’t have JIRA but use Azure DevOps, Trello, Asana, etc, that’s still a plus! There’s a lot of overlap. I haven’t used Perforce in a decade, but knowledge of other version control platforms or tools will usually count.

        7. Seeking Second Childhood*

          With your target jobs talking about Jira, I would suggest you read up on kanban boards and Agile development. There’s an intelligent question or three for the interviewer right there: are they implementing Jira as kanban, Agile, or some hybrid?
          Understanding why this software is useful is as important to me as having used this particular project management tool.

          1. Cookie D'oh*

            Agreed. In my company Jira is a tool used as part of agile software development. Definitely learn more about agile and possibly a scrum master training program. My company switched over to Jira a few years ago and I’ve been learning as I go. Depending on your role within the company you may not need to know all the ins and outs of the system.

        8. lauren*

          If you use git, you can use perforce! (I mean I would prefer never to use perforce but it’s fully possible.)

    3. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      Check with your local library – there are often ways to access software through libraries. You could also see if there’s a class you can take that comes with access to the programs through a local community college or online course. Spouse is getting experience with several architecture programs through his class at the community college and he was able to get “student” licences for the programs that are significantly cheaper than buying it, even with tuition figured in.

      1. cat lady*

        yes– a continuing ed class will likely come with free access to the software it’s teaching, and as an added bonus while you have a .edu email address you can apply for free access to many softwares while you’re a student!

      2. Janne*

        Often you just need an e-mail address from a university or college to get a student license for these programs. Then it doesn’t even matter which class you take, just that you are enrolled for a bit so that you can use the e-mail address.

    4. Mental Lentil*

      Is there any kind of online training or certification available for them that might be considerably cheaper? Say a few dozen or hundred dollars versus tens of thousands of dollars? Do they offer free trials for those?

    5. Malika*

      Do you have a friend with access to Linkedin learning? They can show you the ropes to most software programs.

    6. (Former) Jira Confluence Guru*

      I used to work for a company that was a reseller of Jira and Confluence. If you get the Cloud version, you can get them both for free but can only have a few users. There are some Cloud features you can not access in the free version but you can definitely learn the basics. If you have access to Udemy or anything like that (skillSoft, Cloud Academy, Linkedin Leanring) they will have courses that teach the software.

    7. TWW*

      Register for a course at a local community college so you are eligible for academic licenses. In my experience, when you purchase an academic license, you’ll need to show proof that you’re a student, but no one asks if the courses your taking actually require the software you’re buying.

      Also look into monthly/yearly subscriptions instead of buying.

      1. Clisby*

        Yeah, I audit a course at my local college every semester as part of a program for people 60 and older. When I bought a new laptop, I didn’t bother to get MS Office, since I can use it free through my student account.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        If you’re not working, you can’t afford monthly subscriptions. This is what I kept running into with Adobe. Trial versions only last for 30 days and then you can’t access it past that.

        I just search for open-source versions; at least then I can say I understand the type of software it is.

    8. Undine*

      Another thing to note is that buying a licence often means being able to set up a server with multiple users. Since you don’t want to be an admin, just a user, you don’t even want to try to do that. Want you need is to find a project or class that already has a system set up, and then you as a user can download the software for free.

    9. Sparkles McFadden*

      Look for open source versions of software as they are remarkably similar. Some larger platforms offer free access to test or practice versions. They *want* people to know their software.

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

      How strong is your network of peers in this industry? Can you find a friend that has access to or experience with these programs and will peer-mentor you a bit? If you don’t currently have a network of peers, that might be something to look into — join online forums or attend conferences. I’ve learned more in my graphic design career from other graphic designers than I did in college getting my degree.

      1. Clisby*

        Our public library does this as well, but not sure whether it’s online. Since the pandemic, maybe.

    11. Alex*

      I just want to put out there that “experience with Jira” is sort of BS. I use Jira at my workplace. No one really “taught” me how to use it. You just use it–it’s not super high level CS knowledge here.

      You might want to check out free or low cost online courses about project management or Agile workflows, etc. I think Coursera has some.

      Employers putting “experience with Jira” don’t really know how to hire well or really articulate what they are looking for. They just see that the position includes working in Jira and think it would be handy if someone has already done that, but what you need is an organized person who is good at collaborating with others and communicating problems and requests. Jira is just one specific software through which one uses those skills.

      1. Monday Monday*

        This!!! I used to work in IT and never had experience with any of these tools. They were learned on the job, as was most thing technical I did.
        It is more important to understand the processes and have good PM or BA skills.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          And people skills. Bedside manner will separate the mediocre from the spectacular IT professional.

      2. Eden*

        Yeah that was very surprising to me. It’s just project-tracking software, assuming you’re not deploying it from scratch for the whole company you don’t need to know anything to start using it. I guess companies require all sorts of weird stuff though.

      3. Momma Bear*

        I’m not a techie at all, but I can work my way around JIRA. If you’ve used any kind of ticketing system, you’ll understand that gist.

    12. WheresMyCarDude*

      Libraries are a fair idea, as mentioned in this thread.

      Additionally, not sure what your budget is but I’d recommend looking for career-development courses or even courses at your local community college — they should be an order of magnitude (or two) cheaper than getting your own license. For example, if you want to get familiar with a $20k CAD software then maybe take a $1300 introductory design course and then practice like crazy in the school computer labs.

    13. Loopy*

      I’ve been catching Udemy sales where you can find most courses for under twenty dollars. I know a person who did use a Udemy course to become extremely adept at Jira. They vary in quality but they’ve got some good stuff.

      Jira is also amazing because there’s a huuuuge community and resources out there. So much documentation.

    14. ExpertTechnicalWriter*

      In my career, whenever I received (and accepted) a job offer that used one or more applications I didn’t have experience with (or apps I used a long time ago and needed a refresher on), I downloaded their free demos or trial versions and used them until the trial period was over. These versions had restrictions of course, but I still learned a lot from them. If there was an app that didn’t have a demo or trial version to use, I searched for and watched as many YouTube (and other) videos about how to use the product as I could. That way, I was at least a little familiar about the way they worked. If there are no videos, you can look for the user guides or any training guides or videos they have on their website.

    15. Choggy*

      Do you use any relatable software that could translate into your ability to learn new technology? While many companies may have the software, they don’t always use it the same way so might be willing to train someone who is open to learning. My company uses SAP, but we are Utility so use it much differently than say, a Retail organization. I was in my second year at my company, in a highly visible but low support position where I had to figure out resolutions to problems on a daily basis. Based on my abilities, and willingness to learn, I was the only one from my team invited to join the year long off-site project when it was implemented. It’s now over 10 years later and I’m still learning, and earning a very nice salary. If you have the aptitude to learn, and can promote that in your resume, that can go a long way in getting your foot in the door, just make sure you put your money where your mouth is once inside. I work with someone who has an actual CS degree, and yet, can’t figure his way out of much of what he has to support on a day to day basis, and he’s been with the company over 5 years. What is on a resume and what is reality can be vastly different.

  2. Roxie*

    What are some ways to properly vet a candidate for their ability to listen and follow direction? I feel like the last few new team members I’ve had (I was not involved in their hiring) do not listen or retain information said by other people.

    1. Xavier Desmond*

      Can you set candidates a relevant exercise to carry out as part of the selection process? Would be a good way off assessing this imo

      1. New Mom*

        This. We have performance tasks that are actual issues/scenarios that come up in the job for the interviewees.

    2. Generic Name*

      Having specific instructions on how to apply in the job posting (like saying “cover letter required”) is a good way to screen out folks who don’t follow directions. Even if someone has a super impressive resume, if they don’t include a cover letter, or some other instruction, decline to interview them. I assume you will be involved in hiring moving forward? Or at least are in a position to make suggestions to decisionmakers? If not, it may be a “not my monkeys, not my circus” situation.

      1. pcake*

        I agree with this 1000%. My husband receives many resumes, and most don’t follow the short, clear instructions on how to go about that and what’s needed. If they can’t follo

      2. Seal*

        My department had something similar for hiring student employees years ago. We had specific instructions to call to set up an interview and then gave them specific instructions on how to find our offices, which were a bit out of the way. I was always a bit surprised by the number of students who showed up in person demanding an interview and by the number of students who were late because they got lost. But it was a simple way to see who made a point of reading the instructions in the job ad and allowed us to screen people out accordingly.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          I found that calling to say I “may” be late due to traffic always goes over well; it shows I’m considerate. It also gives them a chance to say take your time, we’re running late too.

      3. Anhaga*

        This is one I use. I hire in a tech field where the base skill for our job is some developer experience, but where reading carefully and communicating clearly is absolutely critical. My boss likes to use Indeed to hire, which is irritating to me because Indeed gives you no option to require a cover letter, but it does give me the chance to specify in the instructions that we need a cover letter *and* a resume. Not submitting a cover letter with the resume usually results in a candidate being lower in my initial rankings; if they don’t respond to my message asking for more details about why they’re interested in our field, they don’t get an interview at all. We also go a bit further after the first interview, setting a short and simply technical challenge that has a few requirements. Anyone who doesn’t include all the required elements is going to get downgraded in our preference list.

        1. JelloStapler*

          I can’t stand indeed We require a master’s degree for our positions and half the time we get ones that haven’t even finished undergrad. Or high school.

          Not against those individuals, it’s that Indeed is not doing what it should in response to what the organization needs.

          1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

            Rigidly sticking to certain educational requirements also screens out otherwise well-qualified applicants.

            1. allathian*

              True, but in some jobs, especially in the government, educational requirements are absolutely non-negotiable. The hiring manager has zero authority to change these requirements, and not being able to set the educational requirements in the applications system just wastes everyone’s time.

      4. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yes, this. If you can’t follow our application instructions, you won’t be able to follow other instructions. And, also, don’t give me a writing sample if I don’t ask. I don’t want it! And I likely won’t interview you, because you couldn’t follow instructions.

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

      I think this is one where checking references comes in — ask specifically about their ability to listen and retain info. The interview process is stressful so someone who is normally really good at retaining information might stumble in the interview if you try to test them with unexpected instructions.

      But also, since it’s happening to the last FEW people, is the person giving instruction really doing a good job giving instructions. Sometimes it’s the sender, not the receiver especially if it keeps happening with different people.

    4. JillianNicola*

      When I did hiring in my former retail job, we asked them situational questions (“tell me about a time …”). Once I got the into chit-chat out of the way, I explained the questions, and I very specifically said “I want you to tell me 1) what the situation was 2) the actions you took during the situation and 3) what the outcome of the situation was.” First question, if they gave me a vague answer or didn’t fully answer, I would gently guide them to the 3 points I was looking for – because I understood if they were nervous, etc. After that, if they still didn’t hit all 3 points in their answer, I did not move them further into the process. The number one skill you need in retail is listen to directions, and fully execute those directions. If they couldn’t do that in the interview it was a pretty clear indication we would have problems with them in the job.
      I would never hold retail up as the bastion of functional workplaces, but it ended up being a reliably good screener for me – and helped me when I interviewed for my own job!

    5. Xenia*

      I would probably add it to your interview process as a must: ie, “this position has a lot of processes with no wiggle room and the person working in it needs to be able to follow existing procedures. Can you walk me through how you handle remembering critical information, and what you do if instructions are unclear?” or “can you give me a scenario where you handled a lot of info without forgetting important pieces?”

      Also, if you’re having consistent problems with retaining info, I’d make sure that your new hires are encouraged to take notes and ask questions and that the people training them are open to getting a lot of those questions.

      1. SoloKid*

        From an interviewee POV, my answer would be “read the protocol?” and if the company said there were no protocols for a “process with no wiggle room”, I’d likely pass.

    6. Mid*

      This isn’t answering your question directly, but I’d caution you to be aware of neurodivergency and possible discrimination in hiring. I’m not great at retaining information told to me verbally, but I have excellent retention when I read something. I have issues with auditory processing, which I describe as “sometimes when people talk to me, even if I’m trying very hard to pay attention, it ends up sounding like the teachers in The Peanuts are talking to me.” But, I work in a job that’s very heavy in written communication, because I know I don’t retain audible instructions well.

      So, for the hires you currently have, are they being trained in multiple ways? Is there a way that ends up being more effective? Are the trainers communicating effectively? Are there written documents that people can refer to? Is training hands on? Are the “whys” being explained rather than just the “whats” and “hows”? Most people retain information better if they understand why they have to do a certain process.

      I’m not trying to derail you, and I fully believe that it’s possible that you had a string of new hires that aren’t great at listening and retaining information, but I’d also challenge you to look and see if there are other problems with the training itself. One person is a bad hire, but 3 makes me question the training methods more, as well as the screening.

      As far as how to vet people, I’d include specific questions on the application about how they best learn things (visually, audibly, written, etc), and look for past positions that required similar skills in listening (off the top of my head, I’m thinking food service, working in a kitchen, teaching, or construction as positions that would need a lot of listening and retaining spoken information.)

      1. KitKat2000*

        Seconded! I am not neurodivergent but don’t retain verbal information well at all. I am a *constant* note-taker as a result, and a super high performer — generally the person everyone goes to when they need to know something, and generally perceived as being the organized/reliable/”source of truth on what we all agreed on in that last meeting” person!

        I have a hard time with this in interviews, though, because it comes across as rude to take too many notes in that environment (like I’m not making enough eye contact or not engaging person-to-person well). But by not taking notes, I risk asking a question that they’ve already sort of answered, or if someone asks me a long-winded question I might have trouble getting at all the points they want to hit. I have developed good coping options for this in interviews so it’s not a huge issue, but if I’m being given a skills test I’d really appreciate the hiring manager being thoughtful about the presentation and format (ex. “I’m going to walk you through this but will then email you the text as well”, or “I’m going to give you all the instructions verbally, so feel free to take notes or ask questions in the way you would on the job!” — these are specific to my approach of note-taking, I bet there’s even broader ways to word this more inclusively!)

      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        And if it’s happened with multiple new hires, perhaps the fault lies with the people doing the training.

      3. ToodlesTeaTops*

        I agree with this. I have learning disabilities. It’s always better to send me an email instead of having a chit-chat unless I need to do it right now. I use a notebook to write down what I need to do. I think it’s also perfectly okay to ask your people to do that. It’s something my last trainer told me when I first got into my field. It’s been very valuable.

    7. Tofu Pie*

      I’ve given specific instructions on how to apply (eg “Please quote LLAMAPOO7″ as a reference when applying”) and it’s incredible how so many people ignore it. Many of these applicants will mention how great they are with following instructions on their resume.

    8. tamarack and fireweed*

      I’ve thought back on candidates we hired (in my former job in the software industry) and who later exhibited problems of that sort. The one pattern that stood out is that these candidates tended to turn interview questions that were designed to gauge their capacity to bridge the techie-customer divide, understand and explain concepts or lay out their experience into *demonstrations of cool things* they have done.

      On the face of it what they offered was *even better* than what we expected, but in the end some serious soft skills or independent thinking gaps ended up appearing. One candidate pulled out his phone and showed off an app he and a team developed during their university course. This was the worst hire we ever made, and it was one of the few I only checked in briefly during hiring and did not do an in-depth technical interview, but my manager (who had an engineering degree) and a senior member of my team both came back thumbs-up about the candidate’s tech skills. Turned out, he required step-by-step instructions to get *anything* done and was completely incapable to get from listening to a customer’s problem to finding a solution if it wasn’t one of a handful of standard processes. I have no idea whether I’d have caught the problem and given a thumbs-down, or not.

      So I’d say give the candidate clear questions about how they applied key skills you require and then listen to how *they* listened to your question.

  3. Benefits Coordinator*

    I know this answer will vary by company, but can anyone in HR give me a rough idea of what all a benefits coordinator has access to?

    A potential job has as their benefits coordinator a woman who is the life-long best friend of my cousin. (We’re in a small suburb of a small town, so this is not a surprise.) I don’t question her professionalism, but I’m still extremely uncomfortable with the idea of someone so enmeshed in my family having access to all the details of my retirement account, health care decisions, and salary.

    1. Observer*

      HR should not have access to all of that information.

      Retirement account – if your company has a 401K plan they may know how much you put in, but that’s it.

      Health care decisions – they should not have access to anything except for which plan you have chosen.

      Salary – Yes, that is something someone in HR might very well have (depending on the particular company).

    2. PJS*

      Like you said, it will vary by company, but at my small company, we have a two-person HR department. They see salary changes, performance reviews, changes to benefit elections (such as adding or removing a dependent, changing retirement contributions), child support orders, bankruptcy orders and other wage garnishments, 401k loans. I’m not sure if they can see retirement account details, but they probably can. I’m in accounting and am involved in payroll and even I see most of those things because they affect paychecks, plus I have the ability to see employees’ retirement account balances.

      As far as the health care decisions piece, I’m not exactly sure what you mean by that, but it may depend on whether the company is self-insured or not. We used to be self-insured so we paid all claims. So even myself in accounting would see that we were making a payment of $20,000 to ABC Hospital on behalf of employee Jane Smith, for example. Our HR department knew exactly what those claims were for. I know medical info of some fellow employees because our HR Director would mention things to me that he probably shouldn’t (I know that an employee’s spouse has MS and another employee’s spouse requires a medication that costs $80k a month, for example). A few years ago, we switched to fully insured where that is all handled by an insurance company and our HR Director has lamented multiple times about how he no longer has access to that kind of information.

      All of that is to say that a benefits coordinator could very well have access to the information you mentioned, especially in a smaller company where that person may be wearing many hats.

  4. PX*

    Script help please: how do I turn down a mentoring offer?

    I got onto the radar of someone relatively senior at my company and they’ve offered to be a mentor if I’m interested. Usually I’d be all over something like this, but I’m actively looking to leave this company as soon as possible. I know it might take a while before I find a new job and I might learn something useful and make a good networking contact, but I feel like it will be worse if I say yes and then 2 months later say, “Actually, I quit, bye!”.

    How do I say no graciously?

      1. New Mom*

        Agree! People leave jobs all the time, and since this person is Senior they know that fact well. Unless if they were an immature person, they would not hold that against you and I think you might gain some good insight.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Don’t say no – go for it. If you find a new job you can then thank them, and do the normal ‘something came up which was too good to turn down’ explanation, and if you don’t find something new as quickly as you hope, then you get the benefit of the mentoring and it could even result in internal promotion opportunities.

      1. Fran Fine*

        All of this. Plus, if you don’t find something else on your own, your mentor may be able to put some feelers out on your behalf. I was being mentored by a now C-Suite level executive at my current company through a formal program, and she has actually gotten me meet and greets (virtually of course) with others in other industries and within our company for possible new jobs I might be interested in down the line.

    2. irene adler*

      Why must a mentoring relationship end because one member of that relationship moved to a different company?

      I’d say take advantage of this offer, and then after you give notice, talk with mentor about how you’d like to continue the mentor relationship after you start at your new job (if you feel there’s value in the mentoring relationship and would like it to continue). Or, thank mentor for their advice, etc.

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      A lot of times mentors will stay in touch with you and offer advice / someone to bounce ideas off even after you leave the company. Unless you’re completely switching fields or know that you don’t want to be mentored by this particular person for some other reason, I’d consider accepting their offer. The exception to this would be if you know your leaving is going to be especially difficult in some way – like you’re blowing a whistle on your way out or something, and you’re worried it’ll make your relationship with this mentor difficult.

    4. Hannahnannah*

      I would take the mentoring offer, and build that relationship while you’re still at your company. That person could be a great networking contact later on in your career. Also, who says mentoring has to only go on while you’re employed at the same company? You could see if they’re interested in continuing the mentoring relationship after you depart.

    5. SheLooksFamiliar*

      Please don’t say no. Career plans can change quickly, and your mentor probably knows this.

      Also, you’re right about your search taking a while. Even in today’s candidate-driven market, you might not find your next role right away. Take advantage of your mentor’s offer in the meantime!

    6. Generic Name*

      Don’t turn down the offer! If you accept a new job in 2 months, you can use the “this opportunity fell in my lap and I couldn’t refuse it was so good” line. Accepting mentorship or training at one company does not chain you to them for the rest of your career or even a set time after given the opportunity.

    7. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’d honestly say go for it! There’s no guarantee you’ll find another job super quickly, and a mentoring relationship doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to you both being at the same company. I think you stand to lose more by turning down this opportunity than taking it up and potentially leaving shortly after.

    8. learnedthehardway*

      Don’t say no – mentoring can go beyond company borders.
      In fact, talk with the mentor about what you want from your career, and that you’re looking for next steps in your career. Don’t say outright that you’re looking to leave, but let the mentor give you advice – they might open up career paths within the company that you weren’t aware of, or they might connect you with people outside the org.

    9. PX*

      Oh wow. Thanks for the feedback everyone. I think I was pretty against taking it mainly because I feel like the leadership at this company isn’t great (and so I dont know that I want to be learning from them) and am looking to change fields somewhat. But you’ve inspired me to look more closely about whether there is anything I can actually take from this, so I’ll do some more thinking over the weekend!

      1. ecnaseener*

        Even if your mentor gives you advice that you don’t agree with, that’s still useful info! Understanding how an ineffective leader operates is one step towards understanding effective leaders.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          You don’t know what someone may offer, so unless you see red flags about this person, why would you turn this down? Life sends people into your life and you don’t always know what they have to offer you; surely yours isn’t so successful you need no new insight or connections?

          1. Joan Rivers*

            And re:
            “you’ve inspired me to look more closely about whether there is anything I can actually TAKE from this” —
            it’s not just about you.
            It’s a relationship.

            1. Varthema*

              Trrruuuue, but…it’s a fairly specific type of relationship centering around advice, so you’ll want to feel confidence that the advice is coming from a good and reliable source. And apart from that, relationships take work, so it’s natural to want to focus on good relationships (and yes, to be totally transactional about it, relationships that you take something from – whether that’s advice or companionship or just a good time).

              Just as you wouldn’t necessarily want to go on a date with someone whom you don’t respect or become friends with someone who grates on you, you wouldn’t want to take on as your mentor someone whose leadership or management or working style you don’t subscribe to. It’s not the same thing as claiming to be perfect or in no need of perspective, it’s just recognizing that one’s time and social energy isn’t boundless and choosing to invest those things wisely.

              1. Varthema*

                Also, if I were mentoring someone who only put up with me because “hey why not,” that’d not be a good use of MY time and energy, either. I think it’s good that OP is no longer ruling out the opportunity purely because they’re thinking of changing jobs, but it is not a bad thing that they’re mulling over it’d be a good investment of both parties’ time and energy.

    10. Aquawoman*

      I’d also say to take a broader/longer view of the mentoring–not just the next year or related to this organization but as a relationship between you and this other person that might be mutually beneficial down the line (they could move companies and bring you in, your new job might need a Senior Whatever and you would tip her off, etc).

    11. Artemesia*

      Agree and early on discuss career arcs in a way that makes clear you are looking for advancement in or out of the company. When you get a great new job, tell them how helpful they were.

      1. ten four*

        yeah THIS IS THE WAY. Get advice/mentorship and then when you get your next job tell them that you couldn’t have done it without them. The mentor will feel great about it, they’ll be invested in your success, and you’ll cement the relationship.

    12. Grim*

      Give them the test I got in 6th grade on the first day: the first test instruction was to read the whole test before doing anything.
      The last instruction said to sit quietly with your hands folded on top of your desk.

      It was really amusing to see kids not following the first instruction and performing the tricks and stunts included before that last instruction.

      It really showed who could follow directions. Note that the teacher was taking notes during this test.

    13. allathian*

      Don’t say no, you can learn a lot from a mentor even in two months, depending on how often you talk. If you build a good relationship and the mentor is willing, you could even continue to talk after you quit.

      The obvious exception to this is if this senior person is a part of the reason why you want to leave the company.

  5. Ruby Rhubarb*

    I’m starting a new job I’m really excited about after five years in the current one. It’s a long time since I’ve been the new person. Please give me all your best tips!

    I’m joining the UK civil service working in digital, if that’s relevant…

    1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      Hi! I am three weeks into a new job after being at my old one for 8 years. I’m in your shoes now. The biggest ones are 1- understand how you learn and lean into that. I am a learn by doing person but I also need to take copious notes. And 2 – don’t get down on yourself if you’re not fully 100% on top of things right away. It takes time to learn new systems and new office culture. Two other people started the same day as me and they were basically discouraged from day 2 because of how much they didn’t know. It was kind of sad to see them so down on themselves on the second day. Remember that they hired you because they believe you can do the job and training is a normal part of starting. Good luck!

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Yes! Being a consultant was like *always* being the new person. Always befriend the admins. What they don’t know, they know whom to ask.
        Plus, they frequently control their boss’s calendar, so they can help or hinder your access there.

    2. Marajade*

      Oooh, no advice – but I have a video interview with them scheduled for monday!It looks like a really interesting place to work. Good luck, and hope you enjoy it!

    3. Bagpuss*

      My tips would be:

      – Take notes when you are being given any training (especially about where any guides / standard templates / manuals are saved, and who to ask if you need further help) Unless you are very good at remembering names / faces, also consider notes about name / job title / location for the people you’ll be working with most closely (this may be easier if you’re mostly remote, and all you need to do is link the email address to the job function!

      – remind yourself that it’s hard work, and therefore tiring, to be learning a lot of new things and meeting a lot of new people all at the same time, so be prepared to be knackered for the first few weeks – be gentle with yourself .

      – avoid comments about how you did things at your old job, or criticism of current systems, until you’ve been there for a while.

      (Oh, and if you are working in the part of the service that deals with the websites and particularly the government gateway and HMCTS portals, and you happen to find out who designed them … well, I won’t suggest that you discreetly push that person or committee down several flights of starts,or burn down that entire department, because that would be wrong,, and probably result in you failing your probationary period, but – feel free to leave them out if you are making tea or buying doughnuts for the team!)

      1. PX*


        Design from a front-end or back-end perspective? As someone who uses a bunch of websites as an end user – they arent too bad compared to some other monstrosities I’ve seen! They do on occasion have some poor UI/UX elements which is annoying though. :D

        OP, I remember someone on Reddit once said the civil service, like most big organisations can vary wildly from team to team, so dont be surprised if some parts of the organisation work super differently from others. Also, bureaucracy is probably a given – make peace with that I’d suggest!

      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        “avoid comments about how you did things at your old job, or criticism of current systems, until you’ve been there for a while.”
        Oh my, yes. At GoodPlace#1, we had a new director who for a while started every sentence in meetings with “When I was at XYZ Organization” and it was like a scene from Cold Comfort Farm with all the staff mouthing those words along with him. Luckily, his newness faded and he became the best boss I’ve ever had – but there were months where he was the laughingstock first.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, this. The crucial thing to do is to avoid mentioning the way you did things at your old job as far as possible. If you do mention it, it should be neutral and show that you’re eager to learn how things are done at the new job. It’s not wrong to point out differences unless you criticize the way you’re expected to do things now.

    4. Artemesia*

      The two most useful pieces of advice I wish I had gotten early on were:
      spend the first months primarily listening and observing how things work in the new place
      identify who the influential people are — formal and informal power are not always the same thing

      I watched someone torpedo themselves by not recognizing that a long time admin was very powerful and had the boss’s ear.

      I have always watched people barrel in and try to teach old hands the ‘better way to do something’ before understanding how the processes work at the new place. Even when you are right, it is important to be open and learning before trying to change anything.

    5. Artemesia*

      1. spent the first month observing how things work at the new place
      2. identify the informal sources of power — who has influence

      I have watched newbies barrel in and fail to notice that the long term admin has incredible influence on the boss or that Fergus is bossy but widely ignored and Susan is quiet but pulls a lot of strings.

      I have also watched newbies try to show people the better way to do things and fail spectacularly; even when you are right, you have to understand how things work before trying to make changes or insist on doing things the ‘right way.’

  6. Violet*

    I have a second interview! Yay! But they took down the job description and the entry. I apply to a lot of jobs and remember, of course, what the job entails, but not the salary, benefits, etc. Should I wait to the interview to ask or should I ask them to e-mail me those details prior?

    1. Liesl is my dachshund*

      It’s possible they posted the position outside of their website; some job boards have a range of time the poster purchases that may be beyond this date. Have you tried Indeed, LinkedIn, ZipRecuiter , maybe Monster that might have it?

      If you can’t find it, reach out and let them know that you made a copy and it’s not working for you, perhaps they can send a copy so you can prepare for the interview. No harm there.

      Now you know to copy/paste the job to another location to remember it. I, too, learned this the hard way.

      GOOD LUCK!

      1. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

        This just happened to me with an internal posting. When I had my HR screen I mentioned it and asked for the posting and she sent it to me as we were talking so that I had it for the next round of interviews.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Wait until the interview. Wait until you’ve learned more about the job, then you can ask to confirm the salary range and discuss the benefits.

    3. Smithy*

      I think that particularly if the interview was scheduled by HR, then it would be fine to ask in advance if they could share with you the job description to ensure you’re thoroughly prepared. If the salary/benefits are normally posted, I would imagine that would be part of what was included with the broader job description. My worry about asking specifically for salary/benefits in advance of the interview would be whether or not those were included in the original post.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Yes! I create a PDF of everything I apply to + a copy of the resume/letter I sent. Listings do disappear fast and the details are helpful for interview prep.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Me too; but I found out the hard way that I can’t always highlight and save as PDF from Indeed, so I just copy and paste into a Word document.

      2. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yes, but you can’t fix it now. I’d wait until the HR interview if I can’t find a copy elsewhere.

    4. HR Exec Popping In*

      Ask the recruiter who screened you to send you a copy of the original job posting. If the org has a careers internet page their benefits info is probably posted along with general info on the company.

      1. Violet*

        You guys all rock! I found the description on another site. It was a bit of research as they had scrubbed the web nearly clean!

        I would have just winged it and asked after the interview. Things are going so well and I don’t want anything to even possibly diminish my chances. Both the asking, which probably isn’t a big deal but felt like one to me, and the awkwardness of winging it.

        Whew! Now, I’m going to prep like for a standardized test!

        (And I’m copying pasting all job descriptions from here on out. This one was only up for five days.)

  7. SME experience*

    How do you cultivate yourself as an SME? How do you get speaking gigs, get yourself quoted in trade journals, any of that?

    I’ve tried being active in my industry society; it’s a circle jerk that goes nowhere. I’ve tried submitting article treatments to expert publications; I never even get an automated response. Other various attempts have also not panned out. I’m getting nowhere after 15 years (despite a good track record of praise and promotions), and yet a fresh grad in my field just got a prestigious speaking gig at a conference…and her dad is an EVP at the sponsoring company. I’m so bitter and discouraged.

    1. cat lady*

      I think this might be field dependent. Do you have a mentor or higher up you’re friendly with from whom you can ask advice?

    2. Juneybug*

      1. Could you start an association for your profession (outside of your industry society)?
      2. Could you start a blog/YouTube channel on the subject?
      3. Could you be a guest speaker for live or online events?
      4. Could you provide could provide training for live or online events?
      5. Could you teach online or live at college/university?
      6. Do you need certification to be recognized as an expert?

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        All terrific suggestions, the only thing I could add would be if there were any industry-specific podcasts that you could pitch yourself to?

    3. Generic Name*

      In my experience, conferences are often desperate for presenters. Nobody likes public speaking. Get on as many mailing lists for industry conferences as you can, and when you see a “call for abstracts” respond with an idea for a presentation. You’ll have a better chance at success if you look at past topics and tailor your topic to that year’s theme, if there is one.

      Can you tell me why you see your industry society as a “circle jerk”? People may be picking up on your disdain. Does your society have an annual conference? Volunteering to be on society boards is a great way to become a known person in your field. I got asked to present at a conference because my boss is on the board of an industry society. Getting a plush speaking assignment because of a parent is pretty much the definition of nepotism, but being asked by a boss or coworker or even a friend in the industry is just plain ol’ networking. I think a lot of people (often women!) feel that using those business relationships is “icky” somehow and confound it with hiring a relative or your unqualified golfing buddy. Avoid that trap!

      In 10 years, I went from showing up at society meetings knowing nobody and feeling super awkward to being someone who is recognized and approached and has great conversations during networking events. Me from 10 years ago would look at people like me now and wonder how they got there. The answer is I showed up to meetings consistently, and I’ve at times offered to help out with stuff when leadership asks for volunteers to help. Being friendly and open helps.

      1. Cj*

        The circle jerk quote is troubling. I am picking up on a lot of disdain also. If that is coming across to the people she wants to impress, she needs to change her approach.

      2. Public Sector Manager*

        I agree with this! I’m in a pretty narrow field of law as a public sector attorney, and there are only two groups in my area of law that hold conferences. However, I got involved with both and I frequently make presentations at both conferences. The key is getting involved. Those presentations at the conference level then allowed me to submit articles for their publications and be approached for their podcasts and the like. So step one is to volunteer for the organization and step two is to start making presentations. Everything else should fall into place after that.

    4. Techie area*

      Depending on how large your current company is, talk with the marketing department. Marketing at the university I work for maintains a list of SMEs at the university (faculty members and their specializations, special research projects, etc) so if media calls and says “do you have anyone who can talk about the implications of this new tax bill?” they can refer them to a University person. It get’s the University’s name in the news and also helps the SMEs get out there as SMEs.

      I would guess (but it’s just a guess) that some marketing departments at corporate entities might keep a list of internal SMEs for similar reasons.

      1. Generic Name*

        This is good advice. I am the SME on a couple of topics at my company, and my mentor suggested I talk to my boss that I wanted to be the SME, and the receptionist now directs inquiries about my area to me.

      2. Lifelong student*

        Yes- when I was at a university, I connected with one of the marketing people and offered to be a person to respond to media inquiries. I think I did 6 or 7 local TV things that year and one or two local newspaper interviews. Local media people need names to contact- you can start with them.

    5. New Mom*

      Depending on your SM topic, maybe you could even reach out to non-academic publications like online newspapers/magazines and see if they are interested in doing a story/write up on the topic and you can offer your expertise?

    6. OyHiOh*

      Depending on your subject matter and industry (and assuming you have time and flexibility for this!), you might also check into community advisory boards and commissions. I have the ultimate administrative title (office manager) but because my city and county rely heavily on volunteer advisory boards, I’ve started to develop a small reputation for having some subject matter expertise in a couple areas that my sector focuses on, by volunteering for various boards and commissions.

    7. WellRed*

      As an editor for a trade publication in a niche industry, I often look to who’s speaking at events as a possible expert to weigh in when I am working on a story or need a guest commentary writer or podcast guest. We keep track if this stuff and development long term relationships. If there’s a current hot topic you can speak to, email the editor and pitch it. If you’re launching yourself as a consultant, send a press release. Include a headshot. sMEs make my life easier.

      1. New Mom*

        Hi, I have a follow up question for you. I’ve presented multiple times on a hot topic in college affordability but none of the conferences that I presented at have my presentations easily searchable. I think it’s only available to paid members. If I reach out to publications should I just mention the presentations even though I can’t link them to the specific materials or recording? One of the reasons I’d like to be featured on a podcast or an online publication is so I can actually share/showcase my work.

        1. WellRed*

          Reach out to the Industry pubs. Pitch a relevant topic or link to a recent article they published, offer an insightful comment and offer to be a resource in the future. Bonus points if you can reference any way to further push the story (I saw your story about the lag time in audits but are you aware that the national labor shortage has impacted the number of auditors available). If you’re the sME, tell me what I am missing. Always looking for story ideas angles. None of this will get you immediate fame and fortune but it can help. Don’t overlook lower level editorial members who may be hungrier.

    8. Unplanned SME*

      I’m constantly asked to speak at conferences and to write to specialized websites (the latter always paid gigs, the former at least with travel expenses paid).

      Hrere’s how it happened for me: I started writing articles in LinkedIn. People started liking them and some C-level executives would share and say “if you’re not following Unplanned SME, you are missing great content”. Then my number of followers would grow.

      Editors of websites started asking me to write for them (this was several years ago, today I imagine it’ll be harder to get “above the noise”, and I’d probably try writing a newsletter in Substack or Medium and promoting in LinkedIn). And this led to my first invitation to speak at the local chapter of an international institute and it went from there.

      As I write this, I’m reminded of the phrase from Steve Martin that became the title of a book by Carl Newport: “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”. I don’t mean to brag; I moved to the US in my 30s, with an accent and no connections or local network. I was lucky that my content had enough quality and novelty to give me a loyal audience, and that opened the doors for me to become a writer and speaker in my field.

      If you have other questions on this topic, I’d be happy to try to answer based on my experience!

    9. ghostwriter*

      Some ideas in addition to the excellent suggestions above:

      For trade journals: Get a copy of their editorial calendars, which detail topics each issue will cover, and look for those related to your expertise. Research previous issues to see how the topic has been covered before, if there are gaps in what’s been covered, or recent developments. You’re looking for an interesting angle to pitch, one that’s not been addressed previously, and most importantly, one that would benefit their readers — say by helping them increase revenue, reduce costs, save time, improve outcomes, or streamline processes. Research who to pitch, whether they’re open to pitches, and how they prefer to receive them. Keep the publications’s lead time in mind — some work on issues 6-7 months in advance.

      For speaking gigs: Identify and get listed with relevant speaker’s bureaus (industry-specific, local, regional, national); look for ones that are free to join. Consider joining Toastmasters, where you’ll hone the practice of public speaking as well as gain networking and mentorship opportunities.

      More generally: Build your reputation and credentials from within, if possible. Are you already considered a SME within your organization? Can you identify internal writing or speaking opportunities — like authoring white papers, other publications, or presenting best practices — that could be a valuable resource to colleagues, clients, or add to the org’s knowledge base? Depending on your organization, your manager or marketing may be able to help you find both internal and external opportunities.

      For all of the above: You’re a subject matter expert, but figure out what makes you unique, what sets you apart from other experts in your field.

  8. Help*

    I was told by my boss to add Llama books on the department spreadsheet. I added each Llama book- so about 50 books. My coworker “Anna” flipped out at me because apparently I was just supposed to add the total, not each book. Okay, no one told me that. She then added, “Plus, they’re not in alpha order.” (It can be sorted. It’s Excel.)

    She then proceeded to ask me a long list of questions. I told her to talk to the boss because I didn’t have that information. Only my boss would know that info.

    So we went into my boss’s office and my boss clarified what was needed. Anna was still mad and gave me nasty looks the whole time.

    Anna did something like this the last time we worked together on something. It’s like she wants to put me down and make me look like an idiot. She loves pointing out when people are wrong or make mistakes, yet she’s not perfect either. No one is. It’s getting old.

    After Anna does this, she ignores me/gives me the cold shoulder. Yet other coworkers will take pity on her and be like, “Aww Anna, it’s okay.” Wtf? She is the one that flipped out, yet they coddle her?

    They don’t explain the process, yet expect you to read their mind and get mad if it’s wrong. How is this helpful? I don’t get it…

    The drama is exhausting.

    How do you survive a place like this? How do you handle people like Anna? Why are people allowed to act this way?

    1. Momma Bear*

      This behavior works for her since she gets attention for it. Do the coworkers treat you poorly when she does this? I would focus on what the boss thinks and how it affects your work. Let Anna’s behavior reflect on Anna.

      1. Help*

        No one says anything to me directly. Some look like they feel sorry for me, but there’s nothing they can do.

      2. Joan Rivers*

        I’d be tempted to ask Anna in front of the boss “I’m not sure why you seem upset, what is the problem here that bothers you?”

        If she doesn’t expect to be confronted she might not have a very good answer.
        Then, you get to “comfort” her by telling her it was never your aim to “upset” her —
        then she’ll snap “I’M NOT UPSET!” and you can look worried for her.

    2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Just stay calm and focused on the work. She will appear unnecessarily emotional/nasty/weird and you will be the one getting the work done.

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

      Anna does this because she is desperately insecure. She flipped because SHE didn’t understand and she felt embarrassed to have the boss explain it to her. I don’t say this so that you will necessarily feel sorry for her — but your coworkers probably do and that’s why they take pity on her. How you survive is to keep doing what you’re doing and ignore her theatrics and not get sucked in.

    4. learnedthehardway*

      A) realize that this is about Anna, not about you.
      B) talk to your manager and have a discussion about roles/responsibilities, etc. Clarify whether you should be taking direction from Anna – she may be under the impression that you report to her or want to think that you do. Confirm that you don’t, and that will make you more confident about dealing with demands from her.

    5. Bagpuss*

      Does Anna have any seniority or standing to tell you how to do it?

      If not, then maybe just respond with something like “Actually, this is how [boss] asked me to do it” OR “I don’t have answers to all your questions, if [Boss] decides we need that extra information I’m sure she’ll let us know”

      If she does, maybe mention to her before you start work – ‘Anna, boss has asked meto do X, before I start is there anything you think I should include?’

      If you are supposed to be working together on a project then perhaps address it early on – say something like “Anna, last time we worked together, there were a lot of things you were critical of after we’d done work on the project, so lets start by discussing what we both understand is needed , to make sure that we’re on the same page, and that we ca avoid having to re-do anything”

      Neither of the last two will stop her picking holes but it may reduce it.

      finally, while she sounds incredibly annoying, are her suggestions in themselves reasonable? Is it possible that other sympathise with her because they see her making valid / useful suggestions, even if her timing sucks? If so, maybe consider whether you need to ask more questions before you start, either of your boss or your coworkers, to make sure that what you are producing is actually what’s needed.

      It is of course equally possible that they have learned that sympathising with her is the easiest way to void her picking on them, in which case you may decide.

      1. Help*

        Anna and the boss run the department. I don’t suck up to Anna, so that’s probably why she acts like this. I spoke with another manager in a different department and he confirmed that other people have had problems with Anna. He said that the person in the role before me was “good at her job, but didn’t suck up enough to Anna and the boss, so they didn’t like her.” (We weren’t bashing her- he could tell that I was upset and was trying to reassure me. Plus I probably looked upset, lol.)

        1. Mimi*

          This will feel weird at first, but it might help with Anna (and can be a good practice for communication in general):
          Whenever she gives you an instruction, echo it back to her as you understand it, with relevant details that can be summarized.
          A: Put the llama books on the spreadsheet.
          You: To make sure I understand, you want a new worksheet in the spreadsheet called “llama books,” with a row for each llama book with columns for title, author, and page count?

          It feels silly to ask her to confirm what she just told you, but this can really help make sure that you’re both imagining the same thing, BEFORE you go to all the work to do it.

          (Do pay attention to how she reacts, though — if she gets really annoyed at you, that isn’t helpful for your relationship with her, so you’ll want to pull back/ask how she would prefer you confirm what she wants in an assignment/ask your boss how you should react if Anna gets impatient when you ask clarifying questions.)

        2. Joan Rivers*

          You referred to her as a “coworker” but now you say she and your boss run the dept., so I’m confused. Maybe YOU have to clarify what her role is, w/her and the boss.
          What’s her job title? How does she run the dept. w/your boss? Unofficially?

          I’d want to be clear about this.

          1. Help*

            Anna is the admin assistant, but her duties extend beyond that to training others on programs and leading meetings, etc. She wears a lot of hats and even when the assistant manager retired, she was doing some of his work. She’s been there the longest after the boss and has a lot of clout.
            (Note: I don’t mean any disrespect to any admin assistants out there, I’m just trying to explain her position.)

    6. Mid*

      1. Grey rock 2. Grey rock 3. Missing stair

      Basically, document everything you can, so you can CYA with Anna. Treat her like a toddler, emotionally, and don’t engage when she acts like this. And people allow it because they get used to it, or they think if they don’t give her attention, she’ll become more obnoxious.

      1. Crabby Patty*

        Totally seconding this. OP, do we work in the same department? Because I see you’ve met my co-worker.

        Anyway, grey rock. Or, as Alison has advised, observe her as you would if you were taking notes on an animal in its natural habitat and were being as passive as possible.

        My “Anna” has made a quite a few enemies, but she is good at what she does, so we all have to orient ourselves around her as a conceptual condition of employment, it seems. It’s my otherwise wonderful boss’s greatest flaw; she simply cannot bring herself to take the steps to get Anna out. As you can imagine, morale is so low it’s below ground.

        I’m looking to leave in about a year (I’ll need the time to sharpen my skills; otherwise, I’d have already left).

        GOOD luck!

          1. Mid*

            You treat someone as if they were as interesting as a grey rock, and/or you react as if you are a grey rock. No cold shoulders or anything unprofessional, just detached non-reactions. So, if you have a bad coworker who likes to make racist “jokes” you don’t get mad, you just don’t react at all, or give a very unemotional “that’s not funny” or “why would you say that?” If someone is doing something outrageous to get attention or a reaction, you don’t react or give them attention.

  9. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I was reminded of a performance review coming up and I’m nervous as hell. I really want to” get an A” at working despite this not being a reasonable expectation. Sometimes I’ll get a gold star – I was employee of the month two times and sometimes I’m in the ” good job” email. But I’m always really disappointed if I don’t do a good job despite my many limitations. It’s like a performance review really pulls out a lot of weirdness in me and I don’t want my boss to see me being weird.

    1. Jaina Solo*

      Based on what you’ve said, you get positive feedback, right? I think focusing on the fact that you are getting positive feedback at times, and not any negative (at least that you mentioned here) indicates that you are probably doing a good job. No one is ever going to be great all the time and even if they are, not many bosses are going to praise them all the time either. If you’re doing your best, looking for how you can grow to the next level, and your boss has not indicated any concern then you should have no reason to worry.

      If they throw you a curve ball in the review, just remember that you don’t have to react to that info. You have a history of being a good employee so follow up with questions if you feel comfortable because you want to understand what their feedback means.

      Hope your review goes well!

    2. Alfalfa Alfredo*

      Eh, it’s so company-specific. We have a 1-5 rating scale and a “3” means “awesome and great job and you’re doing amazing and exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.” 4s are rare and 5s are never given.

      1. Sans Serif*

        You must work at my company. :/ I got a 5 once, the year I overhauled a website, acting as project manager and doing things way outside of my usual job description. Otherwise, 3s. Even though they say they love me. lol It’s a weird rating scale if you don’t use 40% of it.

      2. Can't Have That*

        It is well known at my company that they hire ups don’t want too many 4s and 5s.

        Because then they have to give bigger merit raises that might get close to offset cost of living increases. And we can’t have that.

      3. Nicotene*

        Oh, you must be reviewing my novels on Goodreads :D Some people just don’t believe 5 is achievable on this earth. I’m not sure where this logic comes from.

    3. a+ ratings*

      depending on your company, please know that your rating isn’t actually always up to you. sometimes your boss is only allowed to give out a limited amounts of “A+” because an A+ means you’re eligible for promotion and budget won’t allow them to give those to everyone. it sucks but sometimes it’s a negotiation with the grandboss or HR. if you didn’t get one this year even though you’re A+ material, you may get one next year because you were owed one. it’s sucky but it sort of makes me feel better to know that even if i didn’t actually get an A+ in a certain round of reviews doesn’t mean my boss doesn’t think I’m a+ material.

    4. halfwolf*

      i am in a very similar boat! i also want to Get An A In All Circumstances, Especially At Work. for me this derives from, surprise surprise, having been a high-achieving kid in school with parents who came to expect me getting all A’s. my parents were and are very loving, kind, and supportive, but as an anxious kid, having those kinds of tacit expectations definitely didn’t help the anxiety. what has helped is: a) recognizing that this tendency comes from my past, and reminding myself that it isn’t useful in this context; b) finding coping/mindfulness techniques that help keep me calm when receiving formal feedback; and c) working it out in therapy. if you have a therapist, it’s definitely worth talking about! but it’s still a tough habit to break, and you’re not alone in feeling this way.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Oh! I have a lot of anxiety too. I go to therapy but it’s hard to schedule around work ( ironic?) It’s especially difficult in this scenario since there’s no hard definition to get an A against and you’re always making some error ( right now I’m avoiding because I have to say ” I forgot the forms “)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      If I recall correctly your boss/company have no objection to you seeing THEM be weird.

      Step 1. Breathe.

      Do think about what your definition of “doing a good job” is. Doing a good job does NOT include – mind reading, putting up with verbal or psychological abuse, doing the work of 3 people, keeping insufferable cohorts placated, and so on. That has nothing to do with the work itself.

      You say you are always disappointed if you don’t do a good job. That’s pretty normal actually- most of us are disappointed.
      You can make yourself learn from it if the criticism is actionable.
      And you can MAKE yourself look at the parts you did get right. No one can do that for us, we have to do it ourselves. We have to remember what is going well for us at work.

      And in your setting, I think you said you have job-from-hell, you can give yourself a pass. Do the best you can and work on getting out.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Due to my shitty writing I’ve mixed you up. The literal worst thing my boss has done to me is ask me if anything positive has gone on this week? ( a question that for some reason I am unable to answer without prep work)
        I may seem to complain a lot because I am bad at/ don’t like work in general but somehow also want to be the best at it. This makes no sense so is probably extremely confusing.

  10. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

    Fiscal year is ending soon, and with that comes self-evaluations! Last year, HR basically said “no one has to do anything, we’re not doing COL adjustments and merit raises are frozen, there’s a pandemic on.” This year, we haven’t heard anything about COL adjustments or merit raises but we do have to file the various paperwork that everyone pretended wasn’t real last year.

    I have had a really impressive year, according to my boss, and I am gunning hard for a title change and raise, which he’s already said he agrees I deserve.

    Context: in the last six months I have had a parent die and a grandparent almost die and there was, you know, a pandemic and an attempted insurrection. Is there a way for me to make this context clear while making the case for “give me all the money and also change my title to Chief Warlock”?

    1. JN*

      I don’t know that you need to – I think they’ll probably know there was a pandemic and an insurrection! On thr perwonal side, it sounds from your boss’s feedback like you did a great job despite the tough family situation, so you want the message to be “here’s why I did great” not “here’s why I did pretty good considering what I was dealing with”.

    2. OtterB*

      I think your message is “really impressive year, despite the disruption caused by the pandemic” and not go into detail on the disruption.

    3. Momma Bear*

      My boss asked us to outline some key projects/successes. I think you should just highlight your impressive year – your boss presumably knows your personal challenges.

    4. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Also have a plan B for if they decline to give you at least some approximation of what you want. For instance, using your achievements to position yourself to be a prime candidate for Chief Warlock jobs elsewhere.

    5. Thought Leader*

      Don’t mention that context (aside from pandemic if you want). Personal challenges generally don’t and shouldn’t factor into a performance review, especially when everyone went through a pandemic and witnessed the insurrection, but you are likely being compared against certain standards and expectations. The standards may have changed during the pandemic — I have been more lenient with my direct reports, especially at the beginning — but it doesn’t matter if in the past year Joe had cancer and Jane had her dog die and Jorge went through a divorce. Their manager likely is more concerned about who is performing the best, who’s seen the most growth, who’s most qualified for a change in title / responsibilities.

      Of course caveat that I am speaking to my experience as a manager at my company and YMMV!

  11. Mophie*

    Hiring Manager and HR reached out to tell me I have an offer. It’s been 3 weeks and nada. They did tell me there were some HR issues because they needed to reclassify the role based on my credentials. I guess this is a good thing. Nerveracking, because I kinda want to get on with my life, lol.
    I don’t have reason to be worried, do I?

    1. Dog Coordinator*

      I’d follow up with them! A polite but brief email asking for an update on the timeline for hiring, and if there is anything you can provide them with. 3 weeks is MORE than enough time to patiently wait, especially after an offer (I’m assuming a verbal one, but still).

      1. Mophie*

        I should clarify. It’s been 3 weeks since offer. They did reach out a week ago and said they are still working out HR issues. I only worry because I have read here many times about offers falling apart because of reorgs, or money or various HR snafus. I don’t know if this delay is typical.
        It is a very large company. Think > 100.000 employees

        1. Lora*

          I would check in with them briefly, just a “hello any updates on a revised timeline” type of email.

          In the same boat you are right now – have one company telling me they plan to get an offer out soon as reference check is done, another who initially just wanted a second interview this week but now wants THREE more interviews spread out over the next two weeks – and they took six weeks to get back to me about the first interview.

        2. Zephy*

          Possibly silly, but if they were going to email you the written offer (and probably other HR docs, like a background check authorization and such), have you checked your spam/junk and trash folders? I’ve found that Gmail and Yahoo like to filter legitimate messages sometimes – for the job I have now, I spent all day refreshing my inbox waiting for the HR packet to come through because the hiring manager told me she was sending it over, only to find it in my TRASH folder at 6 PM – it never came to my inbox at all! DocuSign requests especially get mistaken for spam by Google and Yahoo’s email servers, for some reason.

        3. hamsterpants*

          It took almost 5 weeks to get a written offer at my first job (at a Fortune 500 company) due to a major HR software upgrade happening at the same time. Certainly ask if there’s an update to the timeline, but there could be any reason that things are slow.

    2. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      I wish they’d communicate with you what’s going on. That sucks. 3 weeks is a long time to be waiting to hear anything after an offer was made.

    3. Sparkles McFadden*

      Just check in with them saying “I was hoping to get a timeline…” etc.

      I once had a situation where I got a job offer and it took six weeks for them to handle everything. Unbeknownst to me, they were expanding the department and created a new position. They thought the hiring process would take longer than it did, so it took a month and a half to straighten everything out.

    4. Mophie*

      I should note, I have a job i currently really like, this is potential dream job. So the anxiety is because i really need to know what the offer is to see if I would move. I don’t have any other irons in fire because, otherwise I am staying put. I also want to be able to stop taking on addition projects if I will be leaving, LOL

    5. OtterB*

      The last time my husband changed jobs, he was taking a federal position and his prospective boss wanted to start him somewhere other than step 1 of the grade he would be at, because that made more sense salary-wise and for his experience. That ended up taking *weeks* (I don’t remember how many, but I do remember he was wondering if he ought to try to find something temp because he was coming to the end of unemployment). Approval had to go through a couple of layers and a regional office. Possibly a very large company may be similarly bureaucratic. So, anxiety-producing and frustrating, but not necessarily a problem.

  12. Soon to be*

    Open to both AAM post recommendations from the archive (I’m positive she’s talked about this before) as well as personal experience / advice :

    Will likely be stepping into the management of a small team soon. The team members are much further in their career than me & have been together for a long time (not unusual in my field, most people prefer to settle into individual contributor roles long-term). I am much earlier in my career by comparison, and also have major baby-face (regularly clocked a decade or more younger than I am). I am totally new to the team. Looking for advice about how to be a good manager to an established team as well as being taken seriously in a leadership role! I’d like to think from reading here & being self-aware in general that I’m somewhat savvy of how to do well, but I’d rather research and self-reflect and verify I’m on the right track than be cocky and wrong.

    1. Ruby Rhubarb*

      Don’t be tempted to try to establish your authority like some people do – ask questions and listen. I’ve always appreciated it when new managers ask me about what’s working, what I’d most like to change (without making promises obviously), what my goals are, etc.

      1. JillianNicola*

        As a former longtime retail worker – I regularly had bosses who were a lot younger than me, even up the chain at HQ. I haaatttteeeddd it when someone new would come in and shake up existing processes that worked just fine, just to establish their authority/dominance. It doesn’t put anyone at a disadvantage if you observe all the processes first, and definitely ask the workers about them (what they like/don’t like, what works/doesn’t work). THEN once you’ve made your observations and gathered the anecdotes, you can start making some improvements to processes that actually need them. But definitely don’t do the “I’m the sheriff now, this is how it is folks, deal with it” routine. Even some established managers do this – my last store director, and the catalyst for me leaving the company, was like this. The entire culture of the store changed overnight, and in 3 1/2 months she’d lost 4 leaders. Not cute.

      2. Crabby Patty*

        Ruby’s advice is sound.

        Also, watch out for the suckups. Don’t let them be the buzzards toward you that they are. Fortunately – and you likely know this – they are very easy to spot.

        Good luck, and congratulations on your new role!

    2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      As you introduce yourself to the team, give a very brief sentence or two of your background demonstrating your experience in the field and ability to manage. Consider a more grownup appearance (clothes, hair, etc.) and pitching your voice a little lower. Demonstrate respect for their expertise and intention to give them the things they need to shine.

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

        “Demonstrate respect for their expertise” this is a big one! Yes, please be sure to acknowledge that they have many years experience. If you plan on making changes, be mindful that they might have already tried what you are planning and it didn’t work, or there is information/context that you don’t have and be willing to listen and offer how your plan is going to address those issues.

        Don’t try to police their Feelings either. If they aren’t excited about changes, but will go about their jobs as professionals, don’t try to make them excited or happy.

    3. Lora*

      1. Set up one on one meetings to chat and get to know the team. Look through their background info, see what you can glean, ask about their likes/dislikes of the job, what they think could be changed, what their specific strengths are.
      2. Build alliances with other departments. The more people you have on your side politically, the better, and usually as soon as possible. Basically if you go into a meeting and say “I think we should XYZ” and people roll their eyes because they think you’re a little newbie, you want to have an ally who can say, “no, Soon to be is right, we should definitely XYZ.”
      3. I assume this is at a company where you already work, not a new job, but there will be some political stuff involved in management where you are suddenly aware of a bunch of things you didn’t know before. You will suddenly have to care a lot more about timelines and budgeting and how other departments function, and make a lot of lesser-evil type of decisions which aren’t ideal but they’re the best you can do at the time with what you got. And good experienced SMEs HATE, H A T E having to deal with these type of decisions so anticipate some conflict resolution there. Me personally I try to get people with a lot of experience more involved in projects that break down silos between departments as needed, so they learn to understand how to come up with stuff that works for everyone as opposed to just delivering on their metrics and complaining that Other Departments Are Stupid.

    4. drpuma*

      I stepped in to lead a team where everyone on the team has skills that I don’t. My first time managing where I could not do anyone else’s job. The team is happy and cohesive.

      I second Ruby Rhubarb’s suggestion to ask questions and listen. To that I would add, be transparent about your decision-making process and by extension your priorities. Be willing to change your mind for good reason, and be clear when it’s not possible to change your mind or the reason is not good enough. Stand firm on those occasions.

      I knew I’d done a good job communicating my priorities to my team when someone asking about changing one piece of work made sure to say “And this won’t be a waste of time or the work we’ve done before because…” I value my team’s time and want to make sure their time is used well, and when I heard that I knew my message had gotten through.

    5. Artemesia*

      when taking over a new group I always sat down with each person individually to get their take on what is going well, what needs change and what in particular is causing them problems that might be changed. And then when I met with the group as a whole about any changes, I would reference feedback I got from the group as in ‘several of you mentioned concerns about. . .’ so that no one person is singled out. If there are some things you want to do as manager e.g. have regular one on ones that have not been done recently or make changes in work flow or monitoring — lay it out then having talked with everyone and gotten their input. Sometimes several people want to make a change that is long overdue and being able to tell them that THEY told you this was an issue and they want to change it means you can make needed moves without appearing to dictate.

      Every time I have done this, about 80% of the things that I wanted to change/improve were mentioned by the team and so it was me helping them improve their worklife and process, not me ‘coming and changing everything.’

    6. TeaGirl*

      One thing I like to keep in mind is that one of my main jobs as a manager is to make sure that my team has the tools they need to do a great job. Those tools can be physical (computers, a better chair, etc.) but also less tangible – the training to do a task better, a different perspective on an issue, information about why the big bosses are asking us to do something we loathe.
      As others have said ask questions and listen to the answers. I would also add that you will likely have to ask the questions different times and different ways, because people won’t necessarily trust you at first.
      If you mess up – own it. Just because you are a manager doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes and owning them will get you farther than anything else.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I can make one suggestion about your perceived age. If you have any college reunions memorabilia, stick it on your bulletin board or whatever is visible on your video chat background. I had been in the workforce for ten years before I started at my company, but a couple of managers didn’t realize that until they saw my 15-year reunion stuff. It was a painfully obvious different level of cooperation. Because even if I had been right out of college, I would still have needed answers to my product- and company-specific questions.

    8. Mr. Shark*

      I’ll echo what others have said. I was part of a well-established team, and a new manager was hired, who was younger and like you, looked baby-faced.
      He did just come in a listen. He relied on our expertise and asked questions, listened, and then rather than make any changes, offered to help when we needed it. He proved his expertise by helping and jumping in when we needed someone to work with other managers or help make changes above our level in the broader team.
      Eventually he started making some small changes, but usually things that we requested. He didn’t make any huge changes because he recognized that for our team, we pretty much had been around each other long enough that we worked without much direction. But by listening and learning, he understood how he could best help us meet our goals as a team and on the business end.
      When he needed to lay down the law to meet deadlines or discipline, we had already seen him help us so much that he had earned our respect.
      So don’t rock the boat initially unless you really have to, and take your time to get to know the team, how they work, what their strengths are, and find out how you can help them.

    9. JK*

      Same as everyone else has said — for the first few weeks/months, gather information about how things work currently and be open to the idea that maybe it’s mostly fine. If possible, find a problem you can solve for the team quickly and easily (something they identify as a problem), and then do that to build credibility.

  13. The Babiest Babyface*

    I had an interview yesterday that was just, they would give me text prompts, then have me record videos of my answers. Is this a standard practice some places? I felt insane doing it! I don’t feel I interview well in the first place, but man, that was so stressful! I try to genuinely connect with others in interviews and I just felt like I didn’t have an opportunity to really shine in this case, and I think I blew it :^(

    1. I'm that guy*

      These kind of video interviews have come up before in AAM and IIRK the general consensus is that they suck and no one feels good after doing one.

    2. College Career Counselor*

      That is not standard practice. It means they can review your answers at leisure/send them to people who missed you in the interview. But it’s terrible, unless the work you would do requires video responses to text questions.

    3. PX*

      Some places use this as part of the screening process. I dont like it, but usually they will let you know in advance so you can prepare (and also google to see if you can find out what kind of questions to expect).

      I just focus on keeping my answers to the time limit and still trying to be as conversational as possible because I like to believe that someone will watch them, so its worth pretending I’m talking to that person (yes, its highly likely its some algorithm screening them, but maybe the algorithm also rewards being personable – who knows!)

    4. Decidedly Me*

      I’ve interviewed at one place that did this and hated it. Also, the program froze up during it and when I reached out to let them know, I never heard back, so there was that….

      1. Crabby Patty*

        Oh, no!

        That reminds me of a time when I was interviewing with a panel in a hotel room, with a wide-open window (as in, put your arm out for a suntan open), directly next to an airport. Someone else on the panel called in by phone to participate, and asked me a question just as a jet was taking off.

        Of course, it was so LOUD I couldn’t hear the question – no one could – and when I politely asked for the question to be repeated (thinking that the person on the phone heard the jet, too), I got a sigh and a repeat that was clearly through a set of gritted teeth. No one in that room came to my defense, either. They just let me stew in awkwardness by myself.

        It’s like intervieews are automatic punching bags for some people.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      I had an interview with a temp agency many years ago that was like this and it was excruciating! I think they wanted to show the video to clients who were considering me for temp positions, but I never heard from them again. Companies, please don’t do this. I can’t imagine anyone other than influencers or media professionals doing well in this format.

    6. Double A*

      Think of this more like a screening or phone interview. I had one for my job, but it actually makes sense because my job requires online presenting so this type of interview is at least adjacent to actual tasks I’d be doing (and they’re also clear that they know it’s awkward and aren’t going to put tons of emphasis on how you come off). A decent company knows this is not something most people are practiced at so they’re looking for if you seem somewhat reasonable, not that you made the same impression you’d make in person. There should be a live interview if you make it to the next round.

    7. whistle*

      Yeah, recording myself trying to sell myself is pretty much my definition of hell. I received an interview request like this once and just never responded. I’ve decided it’s my line in the sand, and I won’t do them.

    8. Mimi*

      They’re awful. I used to work for a company that did them. The thing to know is that these are awful for EVERYONE, so you aren’t competing against a bunch of perfectly polished candidates who can easily answer “Why are you the best fit for this job? in 60 seconds or less with 60 seconds to prepare, you’re competing against a bunch of other nervous, bumbling people who are desperately trying to form a human connection with their webcam while forgetting half the things they were going to say and maybe running out of time.

      Also, I will say that I was part of hiring processes that used these, and we did not weigh them heavily (see: they’re awful). My boss often wouldn’t even watch them because he thought they were useless, and when I watched them, I was usually crawling out of my skill with secondhand awkwardness.

    9. Pickled Limes*

      My workplace does these and I really hate it. I applied for an internal position a few months ago and recording sixty second answers to 5 questions took me like an hour and a half. I would get to about 55 seconds and realize there wasn’t time to finish my thought and have to rework and re-record my answer, or I’d lose the thread of what I was saying and need to restart the recording because I’d lost too many seconds in that mental hiccup.

      We used to do an email round, where they’d send you four or five questions and you’d send back a paragraph or so in answer to each, and that was much easier on the candidates. I can’t imagine the hiring team are getting better information on candidates from this than they were getting in the emails, so my best guess is that our leadership saw a shiny new technology and decided that using it would make us more modern and cool, but it’s just a big pain in the butt.

  14. Oy with the poodles*

    So I lost an employee due to layoffs at the beginning of Covid. I’m now being allowed to have some open positions and they saw them and reached out. Here’s the thing, for a multitude of reasons I’m not sure I want to hire this person back.

    The environment we’re working in now is much more stressful than when they left and this person did not always deal well with our business when it got stressful. It’s not something I see them having miraculously gotten over. There were also issues in this persons personal life after they left which make me wary. I’m not going to go into details, but know that I got this info directly from the person.

    I’m about 75% sure I don’t want this person back. How do I handle this? Do I bring them in and lay out my concerns? Do I compose some kind of statement that lets them save face but makes it clear I won’t be moving forward? What would that even be?

    1. Liesl is my dachshund*

      I left a non-profit organization to start a business (and meanwhile I worked for another non-profit part-time). The business wasn’t going as well as expected so when I say that the previous org was hiring for a position I know I could do it because I had worked at this brand in previous states and done ALL the roles at some point.

      I reached out to the Executive Director and let them know I saw the position and would it be ok if I applied. I wanted to give them a heads up. They wrote me back and said that they did think I would be a good fit for the role (it was managing the thrift store which I had done before) and they wanted to hire someone new and with specific retail experience.

      I felt grateful they took the time to tell me the truth and not ignore my email or tip toe around it. I responded with a ‘thank you for your honesty’ because they’re responsible for the organization, not my career or feelings.

      You don’t have to bring them in, but you can arrange a phone call or do it over email to explain how the work environment and requirements have changed. Let them know that their strengths didn’t play into the stressful situations you’ve seen them work in previously. You’re looking to hire someone who can do ‘this and that’ and this person may not be the right fit at this time. BUT that doesn’t mean they can’t apply.

      It’s not fair to use their personal life as a gauge for their work-life. You can only use what you’ve seen in person as a comparison.

      1. Kes*

        Yeah I wouldn’t bring their personal life into it – I would just explain that given that they seemed to struggle with the stress before and the environment is now more stressful, you don’t think it would be a good fit.

    2. Weekend Please*

      You say that you are 75% sure that you don’t want to hire them, not 100% sure. I would lean towards offering them an interview where you can lay out your concerns with why they might not be a good fit and give them a chance to respond. I would also lean towards making it a phone interview so that you are not making them come all the way in to tell them why you don’t want to hire them. That could seem like you are wasting their time.

      1. HR Exec Popping In*

        Encourage them to apply but let them know that they will be considered against other candidates that apply.

    3. Artemesia*

      The most important thing is to let them know that the hiring process is competitive and that you have a huge pool of qualified applicants. You don’t want to tell them they can’t apply but you need to make it clear that it is not just ‘call back’ from a layoff but a full blown candidate search.

    4. Tofu Pie*

      I wouldn’t bring them in. That would be raising false hopes when you schedule a meeting. From their POV it would feel like you wasted their time just to tell them why they suck and are being rejected. Alison has previously written about how uncomfortable it would be that they have to react to the rejection in the moment and keep a straight face when it could be pretty upsetting news.

      I would just write them a short and courteous email. How specific you want to get is up to you. That the role has changed and you are looking for a different fit is reasonable. I don’t know if i would get into the personal stuff because it opens up the potential for them to argue but you will know how defensive or argumentative they might be.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I would agree with you if Oy was 100% sure about not wanting to hire this person, but they’re only 75% sure. That leaves plenty of room for the person to have grown in the interim or simply end up being the best candidate! As Weekend said, do a phone interview first to respect their time.

        1. Yorick*

          75% is extremely high. You probably never interview people who you’re 75% sure you don’t want to hire.

      2. Can Can Cannot*

        I agree. If you bring them in, they will expect that they have the job given that you already know them and their abilities. They will assume it is just a formality. If you are not willing to hire them based on what you already know about them, don’t bring them in. But, this might change after you interview some other candidates. You might find that your former employee is better than you thought. If so, you might then be able to make a move.

    5. allathian*

      Since you’re not 100% sure you wouldn’t hire them again, why not do a phone screen with them? But the kind thing to do would be to make it clear that there are other candidates for the job and they don’t think that it’s a matter of discussing when and how they’ll be returning rather than a job interview.

  15. Thursdaysgeek*

    I’ll be going back to the office on Monday. I have a skeleton in my office there, and he had a thought bubble poem about underneath their skin everyone looked like him. A couple of weeks ago, HR asked me to take the poem down, as white people advocating color-blindness can be problematic. I thought it was being inclusive – telling people to look beyond skin color. I guess not.

    1. cat lady*

      The “color-blindness” argument is often read to mean, regardless of the speaker’s intent, as *ignoring* skin color. That intrinsically means ignoring all of the negative experiences that have been inflicted on POC due to their skin color (higher rates of incarceration for the same crimes, higher murder rates with lower rates of effective investigation, generational trauma, red-lining, and innumerable others).

      1. Ramona Q*

        Right. And it doesn’t matter if everyone looks the same under their skin when they aren’t being treated the same in the ways cat lady mentions (and more!).

      2. Thursdaysgeek*

        Yes. I know. It just hurts that I try to be inclusive and I still fail. Not the same hurt as POC get, however.

        1. Aquawoman*

          Being anti-racist means failing in your efforts to be anti-racist sometimes. It’s just part of the deal. That fear of failing is the thing that makes anti-racist efforts most difficult for me personally, so I commend you for your failure.

        2. ThatGirl*

          It’s OK to be hurt for a second, but the important thing is that you take a very gentle criticism to heart and learn from it.

        3. peasblossom*

          It can certainly be painful when we realize that our attempts to be inclusive are actually hurtful! I’ve found it to be a real danger point* to get stuck on my own pain, however, and so when I mess up now I try to think about concrete actions I can take to help build real inclusivity. They might be something small, like monetary donations, or something big, like advocating for more inclusive hiring practices at my work. Trying something like that might help you bounce back.

          *When I say “danger point” it can so easy to get stuck in that painful moment that becomes all about my pain and that forgets about others.

        4. JillianNicola*

          IMHO the best thing white people can do, including me, is to stop trying to DO something. By that I don’t mean stand idly by while injustice is happening – but stop trying to throw your voice and your perspective and your opinions into the ring, because this isn’t about us. We’ve had our moment. It’s time to sit down, shut up, and let the other voices stand up and speak for a while.
          (A lesson I’ve learned, and continue to learn, the hard way, btw. We are all works in progress.)

          1. ThatGirl*

            A very good point. Definitely say something if you see injustice happening, but it’s really important for white people to listen and learn instead of doing performative things.

        5. Nicki Name*

          I think part of this is bound up in our tendency to speak of people being inherently racist or not, rather than actions being racist. Instead of “that strategy to fight racism did not work as well as planned” we wind up hearing “YOU are a BAD PERSON”.

        6. Pickled Limes*

          I like to think of the process of becoming more anti-racist like maintaining a garden. You wouldn’t think you were a terrible gardener just because some weeds popped up. You’d understand that all gardens get weeds and the best way to get a better garden is to make sure the weeds are dealt with.

          When you’re a white person trying to shake off the racist attitudes and structures we’ve all been marinated in all our lives, you’re going to have “oops” moments. We all have them, just like all gardens get weeds sometimes. The important thing here is that you don’t make the oops moments all about you. Beating yourself up doesn’t make the weeds go away, you have to get in there and dig them out. So take the oops moment as an opportunity to dig in and make a better contribution to creating a more inclusive workplace

        7. Generic Name*

          Yeah, it’s hard to try to do the right thing but end up offending someone anyway. I once made a comment on a friend’s facebook post that I had meant to be supportive, and he privately let me know that the comment didn’t land how I intended. I thanked him for letting me know and I apologized and edited my comment. We are stronger friends now because of that interaction. Yes, it hurt a bit that my comment wasn’t taken the way I meant it, but I’m glad my friend thought highly enough of me to let me know. As members of a dominant culture (white, or male, or straight, or cis), it’s up to us to learn from our mistakes. We’re human, and ideally, when we know better, we do better.

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        +1 Color-blindness / same beneath the skin is an ideal that was pushed *hard* in the 70s and 80s. We’re not anywhere close to the ideal. And yeah, white people pushing that ideal when the reality is so different is unkind.

        I had to unlearn a lot of my childhood in order to support BIPOC in today’s reality, and my family is relatively progressive.

    2. ThatGirl*

      The idea of “color blindness” was popular in the 90s, but it’s long since fallen out of favor. As cat lady notes, it ignores the actual lived experiences of people of color. It tends to flatten culture and heritage, and ignores that systemic racism and white supremacy are real.

      1. Kits*

        Totally agree. I’ve often said only white people can truly afford to be color blind. I certainly cannot. And the Trump era which still remains told me 71 million people despise me and would like me out of this country forever if possible.
        I see color every day – I am awash in a sea of white people in my work, in my personal life, in my community. Often I am the only person of color in a room. We did some DE& I interviews recently and 3 people in the whole organization identified as a person of color. In 35 people. And now it’s down to 2 already.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yeah, it’s not as if a non-white person ever forgets their skin color. I’m sorry that you’re so frequently the only person of color in a room.

        2. Gracia Pearl*

          I’m the only white person in a room of [different ethnicity] at work. That’s 1 out of 50+ in a place that has 0.1% white people. I see people not color. But I know others see my color first, and I know I am judged for it (you’re white so you must be x, y, z). So I’m the racist because I don’t see the color of the people around me but those around me aren’t racist because they do (at least for white people)? You can understand why it can be confusing. See color, don’t see color. Damned either way – at least if you’re white.

          1. pancakes*

            No, it is nonsensically self-pitying and obtuse to say that you’re “damned” by being white, and if the people you work with are telling you you’re racist it’s not simply because you’re white.

      2. Nicki Name*

        And well before that. As a middle-class white kid in the 1980s, I was taught (both at school and at home) that you simply DID NOT talk about skin color. Giving any hint that you had noticed it at all was immediately punishable.

        It took me a lot longer than I want to admit to figure out later that refusing to discuss a subject means never being able to find out if there’s a problem going on or not.

        1. ThatGirl*

          You’re right – I just remember it very specifically being a thing in the early 90s, perhaps not helped by the En Vogue song “Free Your Mind”.

    3. Ruby Rhubarb*

      Why did you think that was inclusive? I’m asking because I think one thing to bear in mind is ‘being inclusive’ doesn’t mean implying everyone is the same / has the same experiences.

      1. Thursdaysgeek*

        I think this was my thought process: when I see someone different from me I don’t want to pre-judge them on their skin color and make any assumptions – I want to see them as a person first. It’s not that I don’t see color, but it seems like making assumptions based on that, before knowing the person, is part of the problem. That’s what I thought my skeleton was saying.

        1. Flooffff*

          I get your intention, but as a POC…my skin color is part of who I am and how I exist in society. If you don’t see my skin color, you don’t see all of me.

          1. Thursdaysgeek*

            I think the issue is that some people ONLY see color.

            However, those people are not my co-workers. I know people like that, but I don’t think I work with them. So I will keep fighting that fight outside work. They will describe a white person by the color of their hair or shirt, never mentioning skin color, but anyone else is just the color of their skin. That’s what I was objecting to. But not at work, because that is not happening at work.

        2. Dark Macadamia*

          I think you have the right idea but not the greatest execution. Like it sounds as if right now, your brain is going “Coworker is (race), but they’re not (stereotype), they’re (positive trait)!” which is better than jumping to the stereotype and staying there, but still kind of has this vibe that being (race) is abnormal or bad, or as if Coworker is an exception. You can more effectively reject stereotypes by seeing the whole person than by pretending everyone is white. (I don’t think that’s your intent and I’m not trying to sound mean, but that’s basically what being “colorblind” boils down to)

        3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          But how it comes across is like the people who reply to “Black lives matter” with “All lives matter.” That response ranges from ignorant to all-about-memememe to outright racist. You don’t want to be any of those.

    4. TWW*

      “I don’t see color” is a phrase famously used by Stephen Colbert when performing his racist alter ego. It also reminds me of when people say, “I don’t care if your black, white, brown, yellow, purple… I just don’t care!” (For some reason they always end with purple.)

      Any version of saying, “I think race is unimportant,” doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re racist, but it does mean you’re repeating a trope used by a lot of racists.

      For the record, as a mixed-race person, I *want* people to see that I’m not white. It’s an import aspect of who I am, where I come from, and what my everyday experience is like. A non-racist isn’t someone who pretends not to notice my skin–it’s someone who sees me as I am (dark skin and all) and is cool with it.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Nod. I’m black and it shapes everything from what career I’m in to how my family of origin works- for example my parents weren’t allowed to live in the same area or go to school with white people ( they are 66?) And the memory lingers.

        Being color blind can cause problems at work if you work with a POC client base and can’t see their perspective.

      2. Msnotmrs*

        I still laugh thinking about Colbert once saying, “People tell me I’m white and I know it must be true, because I buy my drugs at a pharmacy.”

      3. Dark Macadamia*

        30 Rock does this too, when you put it in context it becomes really ridiculous!

        Queen Latifah: As a member of Congress, and a Black woman –
        Alec Baldwin: I don’t really see color or gender, Mr. Chang.

      4. Siege*

        I believe at least once Colbert also extended the joke by indicating that he heard people of color but couldn’t actually see them because he didn’t see race, which seems incredibly meta when you think about it.

    5. Sallyhoo*

      I think it’s also a little bit… elementary maybe? For a lot of people “looking beyond skin color” seems to mean “pretending we don’t notice that you’re not white” with the implication that being not-white is something negative that you as polite people will overlook. But people of color don’t want you to “look past” their skin color, we want you to see that we are POC and that that is part of us, and be accepting of it.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      Another way to think about color-blindness is that if you “don’t see race” then you don’t see how it affects people, which means you can’t do anything to combat racism. It “blinds” you to reality, which causes you to be unintentionally complicit in the status quo even as you think you’re doing the opposite.

      You sound really well-intentioned, and a lot of us were raised to believe things like “we’re all the human race” or “we’re all the same inside”, but we shouldn’t need to deny our differences to achieve respect and equality.

      I recommend Ijeoma Oluo’s “So You Want to Talk About Race” as a really accessible beginner’s guide to anti-racism and common misconceptions about race :)

    7. Observer*

      I thought it was being inclusive – telling people to look beyond skin color. I guess not.

      I think that this sounds a bit more snarky than you intended.

      People have given you some good explanations of why it actually is not as inclusive as it sounds. It’s also worth noting that even where it’s appropriate to look beyond skin color, the route you chose is rather reductive. There is SO MUCH more to people than the literal bare bones of our bodies.

    8. Analyst Editor*

      To me, it feels like a power flex: HR walking around and telling people to take down innocuous decorations, because they can. I think it would grate at me a lot, because their request is petty and unreasonable, like a teacher taking off points for writing in the margin or something. The message you described is a good message, and you think so, and probably most of your co-workers would agree. If you care a lot, as a matter of principle, keep it up until the instruction comes from your boss and not HR; if you don’t care, take it down, not the hill to die on.

      1. pancakes*

        This is terrible advice. The message is not innocuous for the many reasons many other commenters have explained. Even if that was not the case, “ignore HR unless and until your boss repeats their instructions” would be terrible advice. It would not benefit Thursdaysgeek at all to try to make a point of being obtuse or obstructive about this.

      2. Thursdaysgeek*

        No, of course not. I’ve had that sign up for years, and if HR has an issue now, that means that it bothered someone. Why would I not want them to be comfortable? Of course I took it down. And I very much see the point about it being taken as advocating color-blindness.

        I know people in my life who only see color, and don’t see the people (unless, of course, they are white). But they are not in my workplace.

    9. SuperAnon-Lost|And|Confused*

      Wow, it seems like OP is damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Its insensitive if they don’t acknowledge race, but it seems like for years( at least for me) that acknowledging someone’s race was wrong because it’s using race to “define” the person and unconscious bias can come into play. Its almost feels like folks have been set up to fail. How can folks express that race,(and in a broader sense, any other difference that may be between them) doesn’t make a difference in interactions with them, but doing so makes it seem like a defining part of a person is being ignored? In all seriousness, what should happen? What can we do better? Because I feel like I’m walking on eggshells, worried about saying or doing something that’s racist, sexist or some other -ist without even realizing it. There are ( good and needed) changes happening, and I feel like I can’t keep up…

      1. pancakes*

        There’s a great suggestion for you in one of the earlier comments you must’ve missed, from commenter Dark Macadamia:

        “I recommend Ijeoma Oluo’s “So You Want to Talk About Race” as a really accessible beginner’s guide to anti-racism and common misconceptions about race :)”

    10. ToodlesTeaTops*

      As a white person, I wanted to share some things that I learned. Physical differences matter a lot. It’s been used to hurt, exclude, marginalized, along with many other things. The “solution” that earlier generations gave was “Be color blind!” but that is just another form of ignoring POC back when segregation was around. It’s slowly has turned into racist rhetoric. We are very similar in the fact that we are humans. However, we aren’t the same individuals or even the same race or ethnicity. We all have different experiences, cultures, thinking styles, and ways of life. The proper movement is to appreciate the differences because it’s those differences that can build better unity.

  16. About To Be A Bridge Burner*

    I have never burned bridges. I have always gave adequate notice and adhered by professional norms. For 27 years. But I have never reached out to those folks again. Once I leave a job, I never really lay eyes on those folks again. Which is fine with me. I have switched careers a bit so that explains some of it. But most of it is living in a big city and not wanting contact with those folks again, even if we ended on good terms.

    So why not rage quit? Quit without something lined up? I’m feeling so trapped by norms that don’t benefit me. I’m not a networker, nor do I want to be. And times change, even with people in your personal life you work hard to stay in touch with. I’ve learned to roll with these changes.

    So anyway, that’s common advice here, but I think it only really works if you really cross paths with the folks/industry again. But if you change careers or just move frequently because that’s how the life cookie crumbles, I don’t think it really matters and you should do what you feel you can live with. Not what people expect.

    I feel a non-professional norm action in my future soon. I’m willing to take all consequences for it but playing this game isn’t going to work for me. Being polite and quiet and likeable and “professional” hasn’t gotten me anywhere. Time for a change!

    1. Liesl is my dachshund*

      Up until 2019, I never burned a bridge and complied with all the professional norms. I’ve done the same thing – I rarely reached out to people I left because I usually left jobs because we moved all the time (either my military or my husband’s military and later on civilian career requirements).

      Until…. Sept 26 2019. I rage quit in that a heated conversation with my immediate boss and the Executive Director found me saying, “This isn’t working for me anymore. I’m quitting and my last day is Thursday, Oct 3 (because I didn’t work Fridays).” There had been a lot up to that point, all of it documented on this forum under various fruit/veggie titles :) should you care to read them.. LOL

      I intended to return to job search in 2020, but ‘The Pandemic’ put that on hold. We were in a mid-sized city but I lived far from where most of my coworkers so crossing paths was unlikely and it was a small org.

      Sometimes you have to quit on your own terms. The closed-door meeting with my two bosses was enough to make me sizzle from all angles. It was such an affront to my 20 plus years in non-profit and how they treated me that I flicked that Bic and threw open the door as if I finally took charge of my life.

      Sure now I trying to cultivate my references and I have one employee from that non-profit that will be on the list. I’m trying to figure out if I want to ask the ED to be on it. She’s super professional and I think if we came to an agreement that it’s in the past and we can be cool with one another. I have talked to her recently when a fraud unemployment claim was made on my SSN and the orgs account – we were business but she at least responded to the inquiry.

      Good luck and get an extinguisher :)

      1. About To Be A Bridge Burner*

        Thanks you for sharing your experience.

        I did think about references but they are from other jobs anyway. I can’t tell the Current Place I’m looking and I don’t really want to use them in future, either.

        Do you regret rage quitting, though? I’m not in a rage, but I do feel I’ve sold myself for some future professional capital I’m never gonna use because I don’t want to use it.

        Never pulled the pin on an extinguisher, either! Lotta firsts to consider!

        1. ecnaseener*

          Remember though that even if you don’t list any references from the current job, reference-checkers could still call them.

          Not saying don’t do it, just saying consider all possibilities!

        2. The New Wanderer*

          I’m not sure what the definition of rage quitting is here. I picture someone just losing it and storming out never to return again as several people at my company have done. Liesl might have been motivated to quit due to anger/frustration, but saying “this isn’t working for me” and giving (roughly) a week’s notice is a relatively benign way of stating an intention to quit even with the strong undercurrent of rage.

          The way I’ve seen rage-quitting used, usually the focus is more about the drama around how you quit than about getting the heck out. Like sending huge long emails detailing how much everyone sucks or writing I QUIT in fish parts. If you just want to leave without the obligation of giving notice, that’s always an option without the drama. If you don’t want to keep in touch with people, not a problem.

          1. About To Be A Bridge Burner*

            I think the undercurrent of rage is key. Even if it looks calm and normal on the outside there is lava underneath. I guess I just don’t care who sees the lava anymore. It’s gonna peek out no matter what I choose to do at this point.

            The ‘I QUIT’ in fish parts was classic! Too bad I don’t work in fish!

    2. TWW*

      I’m the same way, I move on and never look back. But even in a large industry, I find small-world connections constantly popping up. My current boss is a former boss of my previous boss, and that boss used to work at a company that I used to work at.

      Why risk developing a bad reputation, when for the small cost of giving two weeks’ notice, you can quit the “right” way?

      1. Liesl is my dachshund*

        The ‘right way’ is a conventional requirement placed by employers who feel we owe them two weeks to hire someone which hasn’t been a current timeline for decades. And it doesn’t preclude the employer from firing you before that two weeks anyway. Two weeks might work for one role and a day for another.

        The only caveat to ‘two weeks’ is an employment contract or if the employer has company policies requiring their employees to give two weeks’ notice. Although an employee is generally not required to comply with the policy, many employers penalize employees who do not, where permissible under state law. Such penalties may include forfeiting accrued vacation leave or other accrued benefits.

        Employers don’t have to show the same requisite two-week notice of termination or lay off, barring union requirements. But because we rely on an employer to have some major influence on our future we must bite the bullet and do the socially conventional thing of two weeks even it’s damaging to us.

        One’s reputation shouldn’t hinge on a mythical two-week notice. If that’s the way the employer treats their departed employees they’re the ones with the bad reputation.

        Nonprofit is small and rarely crosses state lines, if not county lines. Not to say that rage quitting is a thing to do at each job but one rage incident shouldn’t kill someone’s entire carer. That’s being incredibly strict on one’s self and dependent on others for your well being.

        1. Observer*

          Waht SHOULD be and and what ACTUALLY IS are two different things. And if someone wants to do it their way, that’s fine. But let’s not pretend that there will definitely not be negative repercussions. Maybe there won’t be, but there definitely could be repercussions even though it “should not” be that way.

          Nonprofit is small and rarely crosses state lines, if not county lines.

          As someone with decades of experience in the field, you should be aware that even when dealing with a small non-profit, the networks can be far wider and diverse than you expect. People have all sorts of relationships and also move around in surprising ways.

          I’m not saying that you should NEVER rage quit. Just be realistic about what the ACTUAL risks are.

          1. unpleased*

            Seriously! When I got my latest job, I mentioned on FB I was moving into this industry in a new city, and by context clues, a good friend figured out what company without me saying and knew the company. He was in a third state from me and completely different industry. And as more companies shift to remote workers, the chances that your reputation will cross state lines will vastly increase in some companies and industries. Always assume you don’t know people’s social networks and who they talk to!

        2. OyHiOh*

          This is different because it’s not employer/employee, but for me it represents a value in conducting myself professionally, no matter what, because I do not know where I or someone else will eventually land.

          I realized recently that I presently know 4 people working in city hall in my community of 100,000-ish people. I’ve known them for 1 to 4 years and they all worked in various non profits or local governments prior to arriving at city hall. I’ve met them through being a board member, serving on citizen advisory commisions, and through mutual interests. And now, all four are in offices where, if my org runs into an issue and I need a problem-solver, I can call one of them. If any of us had burned bridges at some point, these women would not now be valuable members of my professional network, nor would I be to them.

      2. About To Be A Bridge Burner*

        Why risk developing a bad reputation, when for the small cost of giving two weeks’ notice, you can quit the “right” way?

        Because I don’t always want to do things the ‘right’ way. I have for 27 years of working. Maybe it has helped in ways I don’t know. But I don’t know that it has and there isn’t a way to really know that. I don’t even know if I have a ‘reputation’. Honestly, people have quit in numerous ways where I work. I don’t think that follows them at all. Only one has really rage quit, but I don’t think that has followed her, though I only knew her a few weeks.

        In fact, my workplace’s ‘reputation’ is what the industry is getting to know. As it should. It’s reflecting on them and not us.

    3. Purple Cat*

      To me, “Rage-quitting” is having a massive blow-up with the boss and storming off and quitting RIGHT THIS INSTANT!
      And if that’s what you want to do, go ahead and do it.
      But if you’re “thinking” or even dare I say “planning” on rage-quitting, why aren’t you going ahead and giving your 2 weeks notice this afternoon? And not doing a big dramatic blow-up?

      1. About To Be A Bridge Burner*

        Purple Cat! I was about to do that when I read this at 4:30 pm Friday afternoon. But I didn’t. But it’s always in my back pocket that I *can*.

        I don’t want to give two weeks notice, though, so we’ll see. I have actually planned some trips. I got other stuff I want to do in July, honestly.

    4. NerdyKris*

      I’m in tech. I used to live in New York. I moved to a completely different state that normally isn’t a big tech area. My current boss hired me because he used to work at a company that used my past employer for their help desk. Our tenures didn’t overlap, but there were people he could have reached out to that would have personal knowledge of me. (He hired me because he figured if I could handle that for five years I could handle anything)
      There was an employer in between that job and my current one. One of my coworkers there had a sister in law who lived in the town I was moving to. She worked at the pharmacy I transferred my prescriptions to and recognized my address. She asked if I knew her sister or brother in law.
      One time my mother had to call AAA for me because my card on the family plan got deactivated. She got someone I used to hang out with on the phone.
      There’s a very good chance someone I went to high school with works at this company, in a different state, but I haven’t bothered confirming it.

      You don’t burn bridges because you never know when you’re going to run into those people again. It’s a very small world.

      1. About To Be A Bridge Burner*

        You never know. But in 27 years none of this has ever happened to me. But! I don’t make much small talk. I have so many addresses that whenever I have to do a deeper security check for something, I even forget those were my home addresses.

        A friend of mine also said I have almost no online presence. I’m stealth! And I like that. There are consequences to it, as there is for anything, but I’m good with those consequences.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You’re forgetting about word of mouth. People talk. I am in a big city, but my industry is much smaller. I’ve heard things about people that I’ve never met. Now, if you’re truly changing industries that might be different. If you’re changing locations that might be different. But there is always the chance that the gossip will follow you. Sometimes, burning bridges is worth it, sometimes you really won’t care or it might not follow you. Just be sure to think it through.

    6. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Honestly, I think this depends so much on the work you do and where you are! Many people want to progress within a particular field and cross-movement between others in that field can mean that you’ll run into the same people again.

      I recently joined a gov’t organization and ended up having to contact references from several years ago due to their onerous reference process.

      Another factor is networking — if you ever find yourself needing job leads, it’s helpful to have a network of past colleagues and managers who are willing to connect you with their network.

      1. About To Be A Bridge Burner*

        I did all this play nice stuff for reputations and networking but none of that ever worked for me. I never got anything through a network, nothing. I also think after all these years, I don’t know if I even want to connect with former people anymore. No one has ever reached out to me, either.

        I dunno! In theory, I understand it. In practice, that’s just not been my experience. And at this point, I’m kind of okay with that.

        Actually, some people in my network are encouraging me to quit! They know I’m so unhappy at work and deserve better.

    7. Eden*

      > Being polite and quiet and likeable and “professional” hasn’t gotten me anywhere.

      Not-rage-quitting-and-not-quitting-without-a-job” aren’t tools to “get” you anywhere. They’re to avoid closing doors you haven’t even come across yet and to avoid being like, evicted for lack of paying rent. I don’t understand why you think doing this things will help but but it’s your life.

      1. About To Be A Bridge Burner*

        It is my life, that is true. :-)

        I’ve been sticking it out but at this point if I had to couch-surf, it’s worth it. I also think I need to release some negativity to allow new things to come in. (Which might also be negative but new negative.) The place takes so much of my mental energy, it’s hard to have enough left over for anything else.

        Whether I go now or not, there is so much mental stuff to undo after this experience. It does feel wrong to keep doing it to myself. It’s my life and if I stay then I’m consciously choosing that sort of daily damage. But yes, I understand your point and appreciate the comment. I appreciate all of these comments!

    8. Hillary*

      As other have said, it’s about your reputation and network. Even in a big city there are a lot of unexpected connections. I met a gal at a hobby class whose husband used to be my brother’s supervisor, I had two coworkers who were second cousins and didn’t figure it out until two weeks after the second one started. I got one job through a random school connection and two more through a recruiter who’s married to a former coworker. I run into the same sales people five or ten years after the last time we talked and it’s nice to reconnect. I don’t want to be known as someone who left my colleagues in the lurch.

      1. About To Be A Bridge Burner*

        I understand. Some of my colleagues left me in the lurch! (My workplace is a lurch and positions remain sometimes permanently empty, two weeks notice or not.) It’s like last person standing over here. But I understand they had to go and it was enough with me comforting crying people in the bathroom, you know? They had to go for their sanity.

        I haven’t had these sort of connections other people describe, though. Still possible as I plan to live a long while if I can. But so far, nope! Maybe in the next 27 years, who knows?

    9. RecoveringSWO*

      Be aware of extensive background checks required for things like security clearances and professional licenses. Even if you think you can get a coworker to vouch for you, what if years pass and you can’t reach that person? I ended up using a toxic boss as a contact for a 5 year old job because he was available and I hadn’t burned that bridge. I would never use him as a normal reference, but I did need someone to vouch for my character and the quicker that happened, the quicker I could start my job!

    10. Observer*

      I have never burned bridges.

      ~~ SNIP ~~

      So anyway, that’s common advice here, but I think it only really works if you really cross paths with the folks/industry again. But if you change careers or just move frequently because that’s how the life cookie crumbles, I don’t think it really matters

      Nope. Of course sometimes it’s still worth risking the bridge or even burning it down to the ground. But the reality is that burnt bridges can come back to haunt you even if you never lay eyes on that person again. Whether it’s someone calling a prior employer even though you are applying in a different industry (I’ve done that), or people just knowing someone who knows someone etc. a negative impression can follow you.

      1. About To Be A Bridge Burner*

        Well, I hope that my so far positive impressions have followed me as well, though I have no tangible evidence of that. That doesn’t mean they haven’t, though.

        This workplace has been so negative overall, I tell you. But I’m willing to risk whatever consequences. If I’ve gotten something positive all these 27 years, I’m willing to have some negative consequences to save my sanity right now.

        It’s a risk! I’ve always been risk-averse. But things change. People change. Maybe the positive thing is this crazy workplace has made more comfortable with risk. For once in my life, I’m no longer willing to play it safe.

        Thanks for this comment. You guys are great!

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      You don’t have to burn the bridge to leave within the month. There’s a middle ground! Why not just give a polite 2-week notice even though you have nothing else lined up?
      And when they ask why you are leaving, just say you’re ready for a change and need some time off to think about what you want to do next.

      1. About To Be A Bridge Burner*

        Why not just give a polite 2-week notice even though you have nothing else lined up?

        I like the way you think. :-)

    12. LabTechNoMore*

      Professional bridge-burner here. My criteria has to do with references. If they undervalue your work and think so lowly of you that you’re getting a bad reference regardless of how strong your work actually is, then let it burn. They were never giving you a good reference, and have already damaged your professional credibility and career path, so what’s the point of showing them any more professional courtesy?

      (Unless we’re talking about literal bridges, then I would strongly recommend against it. Arson is bad.)

      1. About To Be A Bridge Burner*

        Not a literal bridge! Goodness. I like literal bridges.

        “If they undervalue your work and think so lowly of you that you’re getting a bad reference regardless of how strong your work actually is, then let it burn.”

        Exactly. Or even a lukewarm reference. It’s best to just avoid using them altogether. The only good thing is there is so much attrition that I can use managers from Christmases Past. They got out before it affected their mental health and they knew me before I was so burned out and know *how* I got so burned out.

        So I have those folks too. I’m not thinking of torching ALL of my business relationships and bridges. Just this one.

    13. Wordybird*

      I have never rage-quit and/or burned a professional bridge because of my own personal morals/ethics (hi, fellow Enneagram 1s!) not because of what other people may or may not think of me. For me, doing so would be the “wrong” thing and I try really (obnoxiously) hard to do the right thing as often as humanly possible even to my own personal detriment.

      I was awfully tempted, however, when I was laid off a job while I was (unbeknownst to them) 8 weeks pregnant & just having finished receiving a glowing review from my manager — who laid me off and then told me that while he knew I was a better worker, they were keeping my colleague on because he had “more seniority” (3 months more than me).

  17. 6644920*

    I work in a mission-adjacent role in a non-profit (think in-house counsel in a teapot design company) and although I’m senior in the hierarchy my role is always forgotten and treated almost like a necessary evil. There’s only one other manager at my level and they get to be good cop to my perceived bad cop, so they are usually at the forefront of good things in the eyes of the staff group. Whenever there are promotions of our business, or even holiday parties, inviting ‘Cersei from legal’ is always an afterthought, if it’s considered at all. Now I’m a big girl so I can handle not being the shining star because my role is a back-office one, but this extends to training and development opportunities, networking, and general regard for the fact that I also like to excel in my area of work. I guess it’s seen as unimportant compared to the people who design and manufacture the products whereas I think there’s space for us all to do well (and I’m not looking for a bio feature on the website or to be on the cover of Teapot Monthly magazine!). Conversations with my boss haven’t been productive and I’m finding it really grating as the time goes on. Is there anything proactive I can do about this or is it just part of being in a role supporting a wider mission?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Welcome to life as a cost center.

      Some organizations just treat the ancillary or support departments as necessary evils. Others are more open-minded. Networking around with others in the bar association (or whatever professional society you’d actually be associated with) is a good place to start.

    2. Aquawoman*

      Legal is inherently a downer, because we’re like the superego to all the ids running around. Sometimes I say we’re the brakes on the car. So some of the “yuck, lawyers” part is sort of intrinsic to the role. However, that said, some of this sounds like a corporate-culture thing. Some of the attitude toward the legal department is top-down, so while people may find it a drag, they understand its importance (like going to the dentist–not fun but important!) Your culture does not sound like recognition of the importance is all there. You definitely should get training and development opportunities. And the not being invited to things aspect creates a feedback loop.

      I have a couple suggestions. One is, have you presented specific fix-it ideas to your boss? If not, see if you can think of an action that would be an improvement and suggest that specifically. E.g. if training opportunities are targeted to certain departments, maybe your Co. could start sending them out to all employees? Along those lines, if you have a central training department, can you talk to someone there about what would be useful to you? If you hear of trainings before they happen and you think it would be helpful, can you contact the training folks and say, hey, that teapot design seminar would actually be really helpful to me in my patent enforcement work, can I take that?

      1. 6644920*

        I love these ideas but unfortunately we have no training dept (small non-profit) and what I do is so far removed from the actual mission of the org that their trainings would be of no value to me (and my boss wouldn’t let me go anyway as they’d consider me taking a space away from someone else and wasting company time)

    3. Bagpuss*

      Is there anyone other than your immediate boss that you could speak to?
      Maybe someone more senior in one of the departments which gets more attention, to perhaps pitch as “I can better support the designers if I have more understanding of their roles in x & y, I’d like to be included in the next round of training [or as appropriate]

      Why doe the other manager get to be good cop? Do they refuse to do the less pleasant bits of the job, or are they officially in a different role? Are they someone who might be able to advocate for you, if they do get those opportunities? Either by passing details along or actively suggesting to the person who invites them, that they should invite you as well?

      Are you large enough to have an HR department you can speak to, especially about training and development issues?

      1. 6644920*

        There’s just a CEO who shows up for photos and not much else so we tend to manage ourselves in a way. The other manager gets to be good cop by suggesting all these off the wall events and initiatives and then I’m the one who has to say no because of the legal implications. So they’re the yay ideas! person and I’m the no, unfortunately we can’t do that because of xyz person. No HR dept.

        1. ronda*

          don’t say no anymore.

          Maybe, “that sounds really good/interesting/whatever, but I am concerned about “whatever liability/ legal obstacles”. How are you addressing that?”

          and if they try to put it on you.. “We can talk about it later, don’t want to derail this meeting with everyone and it will require “whatever research/preparation you would need to do””

          Kinda pointing out your idea is only half-baked, you need to do better preparation.

    4. Msnotmrs*

      I have a very similar experience. I am a one-person department in a large state agency (in other places here on AAM I’ve likened myself to an archivist at the State Patrol; i.e. a sort of intellectual/touchy-feely job in a paramilitary org). I get left out of EVERYTHING because I’m not part of the 24/7 team, and I’m not on the 9-5 admin schedule either. Unless it goes to an agency-wide email, I never find out about things like staff parties, etc. I can go an entire day without having a conversation with another staffer. It sucks.

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      Prioritize what you want from work – is it training & development, or general regard? Pick one, develop a list of things that would make you feel you’ve gotten it, and talk over that concrete list with your boss.

      For example:
      1) Find a list of training / conferences in your subject area.
      – Ask boss for budget to attend
      – Attend one conference, then look into presenting or being on a panel for future ones. Boss’s support here would be to give you time to develop presentations / research at work.
      2) Look for professional groups in your subject area, ask boss for budget to join them

      This could actually feed both options – a brief mention in TeaPot Monthly that ‘6644920 presented at Teapot International Conference on the topic of Legal Issues in Design’ may get you some pleasant attention inside the company too.

      The key is to give your boss concrete requests, with $$s included, and a plan on how it will benefit the business down the road (“After I attend once or twice, I’ll work on presenting, which would raise our company’s profile in the industry. I’d love to work with marketing on this!”).

  18. Sharrbe*

    Does anyone have any experience with freelance technical writing through an online company? Were deadlines, workload and pay reasonable? Any information would be appreciated.

    1. Abby cats*

      I found Upwork (and Elance before it) to be a race to the bottom. People in countries with very low salaries flood those sites with rock-bottom bids, driving everything down until it isn’t worthwhile. (For example, my usual rates for technical writing are .65 to .85 per word depending on project scope, and those types of sites have people bidding under a penny per word.)

      I had more success dealing directly with my pre-existing contacts, but honestly that’s a matter of luck based on previous full-time jobs. I would have no idea how to start freelancing as a fresh grad with no network.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I agree that Upwork was horrible. There’s no way to compete with those incredibly low rates and by the time you pay your taxes, you might as well be working for free.

        As an aside, I used Freshbooks for my invoicing, etc. and that worked pretty well. I was relieved to simply re-send the invoice vs having to nag the company for non-payment when the contract went sideways.

    2. Momma Bear*

      What kind of online company? For a while I responded to posts for one-off gigs with mixed success. What I often found was that scope creep was rampant and companies don’t outsource the good work. They outsource the things that are driving them crazy and will therefore drive you crazy. I did better when I heard of opportunities (like being a temp when someone was on leave) vs taking on people’s horrible projects. Some of the jobs were reasonable…and some were not. If you go that route, consider an hourly rate because firm fixed price is an easy way to make pittance per hour.

  19. Kimmy Schmidt*

    Have you ever had a good boss who you didn’t like? Or who wasn’t liked by most of the staff, but was still considered to be a good boss?

    1. Amber Rose*

      My old boss, is the best boss I ever had, and is disliked by pretty much everyone at this company who doesn’t directly report to her. And a handful that do.

      There are a lot of reasons why, some of which are her fault and most of which aren’t and have to do with what happens when half your staff is related in some way or another.

    2. OtterB*

      I had one years ago who was generally regarded as difficult. I hesitated before making the lateral move into his group. I found him much easier to work for than the supposed great boss I moved from. Difficult Boss expected you to stick to your commitments and to be able to explain the reasons behind actions you took or recommended. Supposedly Great Boss was much more easygoing, but tended to change directions easily depending on which way the wind was blowing, so even though he was always friendly and encouraging, you never quite knew where you were with him. So I would say, find out why people don’t like someone.

    3. Your Local Cdn*

      A Director I worked for had a personality that was very different than our team (think an imaginative risk forward leader for a team of risk averse technically strong members). Team meetings often involved pushback and contention, but we all respected him because even though his style was different, he actually listened to our feedback + stood up for us to senior management no matter what. I wouldn’t seek him out outside work but I would work for him again!

    4. Abby cats*

      Yes. He was extremely focused, had poor social skills, and always interrupted bloviators and “political” types who greased conversations with small talk. Once I got into a rhythm and drilled down to essentials, we had good interactions that were always productive. He set clear expectations and followed up when he said he would.

    5. Momma Bear*

      I had a boss where she was tough as nails, but incredibly fair. If you did what you said you would and you listened to what she told you, she would work with you. She’d worked her way up and was very smart, so there was no her. Flipside was she understood the trenches. Her expectations were very high and no one wanted to ever bring her a problem. She would not be *happy* about it, but she’d often be willing to help you fix what you owned up to…but if you hid something it wouldn’t be pretty. She held the line between upper management and her team and would always defend us if we were really right.

      Some people did not like her attitude and her straightforwardness was sometimes hard to take. If you were the kind of person who tried to talk your way out of something, you would quickly find yourself in a corner. She was intimidating, but especially in retrospect I appreciate her leadership.

    6. Lora*

      Heh, I loved my previous Head of Engineering. She was one of the only women in senior management and engineering generally in the area, and she was widely considered a Dragon Lady by the men who worked for her.

      She treated men engineers the same as women engineers are treated: questioning, second-guessing, encouraging them to come up with different / better / cheaper solutions, demanding value engineering. She critiqued PowerPoints down to the formatting to be sure they would be exactly what the finance guys understood and wanted to see. She insisted that people take responsibility for their work instead of blaming the contractors – they’re your contractors, you manage them.

      Since all her criticism was very specific, clear, work-focused, actionable, and goal-oriented, it was very easy for me to make the changes asked for and learn to anticipate them. I thought it was a vast improvement over being told to “be nicer to the boys and don’t upset people” which is the usual crap I get from male bosses. My male colleagues hated her guts because they couldn’t stand to have their work questioned at ALL, especially by a mere woman. Like, even if you asked a simple “I don’t understand how you did this calculation, here’s what I got, can you explain why the numbers are different” in a nice tone of voice, they would LOSE IT because how DARE you question their genius.

      I was so sad when she retired due to a new CEO coming in.

    7. MsSolo (UK)*

      I had a manager who would have been a great fit for someone else, but grated against me. She was very big on mentoring and encouraging you to reach out – she’d worked in a role with teens to teach them life skills previously – and she was a great cheerleader to higher-ups and always made sure she gave you credit. Great boss if you were a new starter or very ambitious (also, good at talking to funders, which was important!).

      But… she often asked me to look up the same information for her over and over, rather than learn how to find it herself (and save herself time), which was irritating but I could live with, but she always apologised before asking. You’re my boss. You’re allowed to tell me to do things you don’t want to do yourself (as long as they’re within scope of my role). Adding a lengthily apology on top meant it not only took longer to get to the actual request, but felt completely insincere because she’d just ask the same thing again next week.

      And it’s only a small thing, but it just kept rubbing me up the wrong way. We were always very polite and professional, but I was glad to move into a role under another manager where he’d moved up from a previous role, so didn’t need help with the basics, and I had more freedom to work on interesting projects without feeling like someone else’s project. And it’s a slightly larger team, so instead of “will you do this” it’s “who’s free to do this” which gives you a bit more ownership even over boring tasks.

    8. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Hmm. Do you mean like on a personal level? Not a boss, exactly, but I’ve had colleagues who I disliked but who I respected as employees (they did good work, and at least in one instance the aggressive bulldozer quality that I struggled with was directly correlated to this person’s effectiveness at their job).

      I’ve also had professors I didn’t like (one felt smarmy and insincere) but who were effective teachers nontheless.

    9. Cookies for Breakfast*

      My current boss is a good person. A nice and likeable human that clearly enjoys making an effort to connect with others. But he has this style that really grates on me, which is half micromanaging and half clueless. He wants control over every little piece of work, so that I have no autonomy despite lots of domain knowledge…and he only way he can make his decisions is asking me the same questions about how systems work over and over again. I tried explaining that I’m ready to take on new projects, and move on from the support work most people in the company seem to think comes with my title (it doesn’t). It’s always in one ear, and out the other the next day.

      My boss two jobs ago was generally disliked (and I shared some of my team’s frustrations at the time), but thinking back…I didn’t mind him as much as the others. Sure, he wasn’t much of a cheerleader, and probably enjoyed our team because we were so competent he hardly ever had to deal with escalations. But because he wasn’t trying to control all of my work all the time, I felt trusted and free to use my initiative, which feels like a dream now. Also, despite his hands-off approach and reluctance to take responsibility, he’s also the only one that pushed for all of the team to get an important professional certification, at a company that very rarely spends money on external training.

    10. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I was warned when I was asked to go work for, let’s call her Endora. “She’s really mean, she has a temper, she’s difficult.” Then I started working for her and we got along like a house on fire! She does have a temper, but the only time she ever lost it at me was when I’d made a big mistake and totally deserved it. We’ve both left the company but she’s actually hired me since then to do freelance work for her new organization.

      One thing I really respect about Endora: She walked the walk on diversity. Tech teams are not known for their diversity, but by the time she left she had built a team that was more than 50% female and less than 50% white — just by hiring capable people who happened to be from different backgrounds than the industry norm.

    11. The New Wanderer*

      I don’t know whether this one manager I had would generally be considered a good boss (too early to tell), but he did do some positive things for me during his brief tenure as my manager that no previous manager had done. He was really keen on seeing my project get visibility and advocated for it loudly and often to leadership. Also since he was new to managing me, he made the extra effort to obtain feedback from my previous manager and my peers. None of my other rotating slate of managers did that kind of ground work to get to know me and my skills. That list of feedback is still the nicest thing I’ve gotten from a manager in a long, long time. I believe he does these things for all of his direct reports and I think this is great manager behavior.

      However, he also tried to dictate to me how to run my project (that had been working just fine for over a year), mansplained to me when I pushed back on his proposed strategy, and basically grated on my every nerve at a visceral level. I had requested an immediate transfer when I found out he was my newly assigned manager and it took six very long weeks to go through. If the transfer had been denied, I would have gotten out as soon as I possibly could.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Kind of a variation of what you are talking about. I had a boss that I reeally liked, he was smart, practical and had a hysterically funny dry sense of humor.

      He also had a problem. He had one key employee who screamed. At everything. All the time. Let’s call her Screamer. The tension in the workplace was so dense you needed a chain saw to get through it.

      The boss and I chatted, I understood he could not let Screamer go until he found someone to replace her. I think I might have been slated to replace her but I had to learn the job from her. Yeah, the screaming person. That went the way you would expect.

      One day I was tired of shaking all the time, tired of taking stuff for headaches and stomach aches and I quit on the spot during one of her screaming sessions. I was able to talk to a few people and I said, “You actually work for a good boss and a decent human being.” Of course they could not see that because of all the issues with Screamer
      A year later I ran into one former cohort. She said, “I thought you were crazy when you said we had a good boss. But Screamer has been gone for a while now and we are all realizing that we have a really great boss. I am really happy in my job now.”

      This boss made it to my favorite bosses list. He probably never realized how some of us really liked working for him, because of all the mayhem Screamer caused.
      Screamer took a job near me and we crossed paths a few times, decades later. Yep. Still screaming.

    13. Zephy*

      At my last job, my boss and I were a department of two (plus a cadre of volunteers – on paper we had about 60, in practice it was more like 6). My boss had been with the org forever; it was a nonprofit, and she fell into that all-too-common nonprofit trap of working for free at odd hours and using her own car/gas/money for things that should have been done on the org’s dime because she Cared So Much About The Mission (also she was salaried so it didn’t matter how many actual hours she worked). It was a large and well-funded nonprofit, we did actually have distinct departments with well-defined duties and we did actually have budgets, there were about 200 regular staff and a small army of volunteers. Our division didn’t have to just be the two of us, is my point. Basically they worked with her to split off this department as a specialized division of a larger one, to develop this one specific program, and I was tapped to be her sole direct report…because the vibe my boss got was that I was the only person who could stand to be around her, LMAO. We did jibe really nicely, to be fair, and I did like working for her for the most part. She just had…let’s call it, a “working knowledge” of boundaries, and there was some kind of issue between her and upper management that made both of our work lives unnecessarily difficult. (She called me gleefully about a year after I left to tell me the big bosses responsible for that difficulty got canned, to give you an idea of what her “working knowledge of boundaries” consisted of.)

    14. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Sure, I had a boss that just grated on me as a person – we didn’t have anything in common, his personality really clashed with mine, I hated his sense of humor, I found him embarrassing to eat with (we were in a client-facing role and traveled together). But he was (trying to be) a good boss, and I learned a lot from him, and I did my job to the best of my ability so when I did leave he understood and continued to support me. You don’t have to love your boss as long as you can focus on the professional things they’re doing well.

    15. Tofu Pie*

      My ex boss at a small company liked me and treated me well. But she and the management had some weird ideas about managing people and it made me wary of her. She strictly enforced bizarre rules (“don’t hang your coat on your chair” was one of many) and micromanaged a lot. The company was sued – and lost – for wrongful termination because they treated the fired employee appallingly. I hated seeing how my colleagues were treated and pushed out the door for minor infractions. So even though my ex boss gave me multiple pay raises and was good to me I was pretty much job searching from the first month and left shortly.

  20. Hot-desk question*

    What do companies do to make hot-desking ergonomic? My company is going to a hot-desk model as we return to in-person work, and I want to take ergonomics into consideration. I think the idea will be that people can book a desk and bring the lap-top they are currently using.

    1. Lyudie*

      Adjustable desks would be great. There are some things that go on top of the existing desk to make it sit/stand vs a specialized sit/stand desk (I have heard these referred to as kangaroo desks but I’m sure there’s a better name). They’re pretty popular at my company with people who want the option to stand sometimes, I’m sure they’re much cheaper than desks designed to be sit/stand.

      1. Techie area*

        The one thing those tabletop sit-stand things CAN’T do is make the desk surface lower, ugh. I had to have a special fully-height-adjustable desk put in because I am short in odd proportions (specifically from knee to floor) and I couldn’t work with under-desk foot rests for Good Reasons. So if I adjusted my chair appropriately, any standard desk work surface was two inches too high and I got wrist/arm issues.

        (Not meaning to put down your suggestion – the add-ons are great for people who want a standing desk without as much cost. It just doesn’t solve *other* desk height issues.)

        1. Lyudie*

          A good point! As a fellow shorty I get it (though I am leggy for my height). It’s a really challenging thing to do something ergonomic when you can’t tailor it to a specific person.

          1. Momma Bear*

            Could some desks be reserved for tall/short people specifically? Also, find chairs that fit the most people. I hate chairs that don’t adjust right and you end up either bashing the arm rests on the table or dangling your feet from the floor. Maybe pick a few options and let people vote? That’s what our library did.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              Chairs are so specific, I’d almost recommend being able to reserve yours / store it in a specific place.

        2. Filosofickle*

          I have an adjustable standing desk, and had to buy the extra range option so I could make it low enough for me :/

        3. Emma2*

          I think some (many?) adjustable desks are designed so that the lowest height is at a level considered appropriate for the average man. They cannot be lowered to the height recommended for the average woman.
          This is the case in my office – I have checked the data on average heights for men and women and recommended desk heights; our desks cannot be lowered to the level that would be recommended for a woman of average height. It really annoys me. Many of the women in my office have requested foot rests, which they then need to move around to whichever desk they are using for the day. Many others just do not have a desk set up that is appropriate for their height (obviously this is also true for any male employees who are shorter than the average man). Could we not just have desks designed to take account of the existence of women in the workplace?

          1. No Tribble At All*

            Hooray institutionalized sexism! :) equipment not being designed to fit women is a real safety and health issue. I’m sorry your desks are designed like that.

    2. Krabby*

      I don’t like hot desking for this exact reason. The only thing you can do is get easily adjustable chairs and have ergonomic equipment in each space (like every desk is a convertible standing desk, and also has an ergonomic keyboard, gel mouse pad, foot rest, etc.) which costs way more $$, so companies are very unlikely to do it.

    3. Working mom*

      Height adjustable desks are getting to be really popular for new office renos. (I sell office furniture.) Task chairs typically fit 95% of the population, but try to have a couple spares to fit the other 5%. Mobile pedestals or locker systems to keep a few personal items on site.

    4. JustMyImagination*

      When we go back we’ll be hot desking, with assigned “neighborhoods”, too. They’re making all the desks sit/stand adjustable. I believe each desk will also have wrist-pads and foot stands for people to use.

        1. ecnaseener*

          That probably wouldn’t be helpful for hot-desking, if like 20 different people could be using that desk.

          1. Pickled Limes*

            Right. I have an adjustable height desk but it only has 2 preset buttons, one for sitting height and one for standing height. If I had to share my workstation with another person, they wouldn’t be able to add new presets, because both buttons are already programmed. (there’s the standard up and down buttons, so it could still be adjusted, just not programmed in the desk’s memory.)

    5. PurplePeopleEater*

      Where I work, all of the desks in office are electric sit-stand with highly adjustable chairs. Each station has a dock (though we’ve got a few generations of laptops with a few generations of docks across the company) to connect your laptop to two monitors, keyboard, keyboard, etc.

      This includes the desks that are set aside for employees who either usually work remotely or at our other offices. I am much shorter than the average, so being able to adjust a desk to actually fit me was a very pleasant surprise!

    6. Coder von Frankenstein*

      Make sure the setup allows people to bring their own keyboards and mice as well. I used to struggle with tendonitis, until I switched to a vertical mouse a couple of years ago and it evaporated like magic.

      1. Coder von Frankenstein*

        (I should add that the regular “ergonomic” mice and keyboards did absolutely nothing for me.)

      1. Shirley You're Joking*

        I wonder whether you can have a pool of chairs for people to choose from when they are in their “neighborhood.” We’ve ordered specialty chairs for people of all sizes and it would be nice if, for example, someone who needs a wide chair didn’t have to worry about it. (As someone who is under 5’4″, most office chairs don’t work for me because the seat is too long.)
        I would also see if people could be given their own headsets so that they don’t have to share phones and worry about disinfecting them.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          This, or something like it, yes.

          ‘The standard’ is built for the average man. Make it easy for people who are not average men to find the tools they need.

    7. Nessun*

      We hot-desk by bringing in our laptops, and we can book the same seat for up to 5 days (then we have to re-book the next week, first come first serve). All the desks are adjustable for height (sit/stand), and have two monitors which swivel and can be adjusted both side-to-side and up/down. The chairs can also be shifted up and down a bit, and there’s some movement on the lumbar support too.

    8. VI Guy*

      Please remember that people with disabilities may need accommodations and their own desk.

      1. allathian*

        For some people with disabilities, the best accommodation would be to WFH permanently. Of course, if everyone else is at the office at least some of the time, this may make them a bit invisible to management, unless there are processes in place to prevent that.

    9. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Is this model necessary? Why not just let people continue working from home, where they presumably had control over their own physical setup?

      1. allathian*

        Good question. Although hotdesking is a thing at many companies that go hybrid. Some of my employer’s offices have been remodeled as activity-based, meaning there are areas for collaboration and “library rooms” where your phone has to be on silent and the sounds on your computer switched off, as well as standard office space where you can take phone calls and sit in virtual meetings as long as you aren’t the presenter talking all the time. There are also private booths for presenting and taking longer phone calls.

        I haven’t worked in an office like this, but from what I’ve heard, most people seem to like it as long as the rules are enforced and followed, and at my org, they seem to be.

        All of that went out the window with the pandemic. Everyone who could WFH or whose job could be modified for WFH got sent home.

  21. Binky*

    I’d love some advice about how to handle temp jobs. I was laid off earlier this year due to Covid, and was able to find a pretty good temp job. I’ve been working for a few weeks (and expect to keep working at least until the fall, although there’s a slight possibility of converting to a permanent employee) and I’m getting pretty much no feedback. I feel very awkward about asking for feedback, since they’re obviously not making a full investment in me as an employee. But I really don’t want to mess up and not have a chance to fix it. Any advice on how to deal with this – what the line is between acceptable asks and bothering people?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I wouldn’t be asking for info every day, but something like “I just wanted to touch base – I’ve been here a couple weeks now, is my work at the level you’d expect, or are there things I can be improving on?” And then if you get “Nope, you’re doing great,” something along the lines of “Excellent – if any issues do pop up, I would of course want to know asap so I can course-correct. Thanks!”

    2. AllTheBirds*

      If you got the job through an agency who pays you, I’d start by asking them to contact your manager for feedback.

      1. JuJuBee*

        This. Absolutely go through your agency. It’s customary for them to check-in with employers.

  22. Amber Rose*

    I have… FRIDAY GOOD NEWS!!
    I mean, it’s not mine but it’s indirectly mine because it’s my husband. He was hired for a new job. As a manager. With a 40% raise! Around $7K more than he was planning to ask for even. He’s making more money than me again. xD

    I helped him edit his cover letter and resume with advice from AAM in mind and we prepped for the interview together and he managed to get hired as a manager of 50 people with no prior management experience, so how. About. That.

    The increase in pay is going to mean unbelievable things for us too. And he’ll finally be free of his current job, which has been destroying his mental health for over a year now.

    I’m so proud of him.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Oh this is so wonderful, AR! Congrats to him and to you. Does this mean you can get out of your trap that you are dealing with?

      1. Amber Rose*

        Nope! My situation remains ridiculous. And since his new role is technically temp for 2 years, I have to be careful not to lose my stability.

        But my situation is… I dunno. It’s OK? I’m pretty checked out but it’s not like anyone cares.

    2. allathian*

      Yay, congrats! But 50 people to manage with no prior management experience, whew!

  23. LadyHouseOfLove*

    After years of public service, I’m ready to transition as an academic librarian. I have a job interview next Friday. Wish me luck and if y’all have any advice, I’m happy to hear it!

      1. Librarygal30*

        I didn’t know about this, either. Thanks; I always appreciate library specific interviewing help/resources!

    1. Dog Coordinator*

      Luck luck luck!! My sibling is on the hunt for a new library job after being let go during the pandemic. I know how tough it can be to get those jobs. Fingers crossed for you!

    2. Tomato Frog*

      Full-day interview? Things that have been useful to me: You don’t need to worry about finding new things to say for every group you meet with, it’s fine to repeat yourself. When prepping questions, divide them up by which groups/people are the best people to ask (so you don’t end up doing what I did, and asking the Head of the Library about vacation time or other HR-y questions because your brain is fried by the end of the day). Make quick notes of who you talked to about what for thank you/follow-up letters. Don’t order a drink at dinner even though the jerks scheduled the interview dinner at a brewery.

      Good luck!

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Day long interviews suck, just know that going it. Be hydrated. Wear comfortable shoes. Bring a copy of your resume, so you don’t forget what you’ve done, though try not to refer to it. It is okay to take notes (and totally normal). Try to scribble down people’s names, so you can write thank you emails later. If you are doing a presentation, remember that not everyone in the room is a librarian, so plan to explain things for people in the room who don’t have the training. If you are wearing makeup, bring a little so you can touch up as needed. Lastly, and this is the biggest one- Bring a list of questions to ask, because your brain will turn to mud once you’re in the room and you will forget. Also, Tomato Frog is right, you can ask the same questions to several people. Assume you’ll be grilled over the dinner (if there is one) and that you may not be able to eat much, so have a few snacks in your hotel room for a late night nibble if needed. Good luck!

    4. Oxford Comma*

      If it’s tenure track, be prepared to talk about research interests. You can change these later, but it indicates you’re thinking about research and we like that. If it’s tenured or some kind of permanent appointment, you want to know about the process for that, what kinds of benchmarks you need to reach, support for professional development/travel, writing time, etc.

      Our interviews tend to be longer affairs so be prepared for that.

  24. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Gunning for a promotion to manager. I had an interview with the hiring director last week, a panel this morning with another director in the department and the peer managers from both departments, and an interview with the dept VP here in a little less than an hour. I’ve known and worked with all of these folks (to varying degrees, but all of them regularly) for six years. Somehow the interview process still always feels like it’s designed to make one feel like the people interviewing you are suddenly intimidating and judge-y, even when they aren’t and most of them couldn’t be if they tried. :P

    1. Ali G*

      Good luck!! I’ve never done an internal interview. I could imagine it feels so awkward.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My boss: “Ok, go ahead and tell us a little bit about yourself and your career path!”
        Me: “So, stop me if you’ve heard this one before…”

        Apparently I did manage to include a few surprises, haha.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      They have to put their best foot forward, too, not just you.
      Bestest of luck!

  25. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

    Recently I was told of an incident where a couple who wanted to pursue IVF treatment started raising money from friends and family via ‘Fundraising Parties’. The woman invited a number of her colleagues to these events. This reminded me of an incident several years ago where a colleague wanted some cosmetic dental work, which, while not strictly “necessary” would likely improve their lives given how much our society often stigmatizes “bad” teeth.

    I was happy to donate some funds to my colleague several years ago because I had the funds, but if I had been asked at another time I may have struggled. And, frankly, I think the IVF fundraiser would make me uncomfortable for a number of complex reasons. But they also feel like very loaded requests to turn down (more so than say, girl scout cookies).

    Does anyone have a go-to rule for how they respond to more sensitive fundraisers like these? And for people who’ve had to fundraise for sensitive personal reasons (memorials, medical expenses, etc) were there responses that you found sensitive and/or insensitive?

    1. Weekend Please*

      The ones that I have seen have had no need to respond. You give or you don’t. No one was ever approached directly. It was usually a mass email or a sign on a jar. It would be really awkward to be asked directly.

    2. Jaina Solo*

      I’ve not dealt with fundraisers but I have dealt with gift-giving and that can be quite tricky in an office setting. I started saying last year, when a colleague wanted to do a group gift for someone in leadership, that I hadn’t budgeted for that and couldn’t participate. Since I work with awesome people, saying that once has meant that they don’t expect me to donate to any other group gifts. I’ll give my time to create a card or other media to show our birthday/holiday wishes for that person, but I just won’t contribute money. So I think that finding a variation of that “I didn’t budget for this” might help you…maybe?

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        I think that sounds good — I was maybe not clear enough with my question, since largely what I’m wondering is how to be supportive of a colleague in a difficult state even if you’re not able/willing to donate financially.

        Cards / letters do seem like a good solution.

    3. Bagpuss*

      I thinjk if approached directly , you can say something like “I’m afraid I can’t donate” or if you want something slightly softer “I’m afraid I’ve already maxed out my budget for this kind of giving”

      I don’t think you should be actively asked – a one off e-mail with a link, or jar in the break room, is OK, and I think if you are being approached more directly it would be reasonable to speak to your HR person / department.

      (Where I work, we actually have a formal policy which was that if you were looking for sponsorship, or selling something, or holding a sales party, you could send one (1) generally e-mail giving people information and the opportunity to donate / buy / join, and you could put a sign-up sheet / sponsorship form / order form in the break room, but you were not allowed to chase up, or to directly ask anyone or comment on whether or not people had donated. We put the policy in place after a couple of people got very pushing about sponsorship, one of whom was sufficiently senior that we were concerned that people would feel pressured to give. maybe you could suggest something along those lines if it is a thing that happens regularly, or when there is a fresh example?)

    4. DataGirl*

      “I’m pretty broke right now” or expanded, “I’ve had a lot of unexpected bills lately so don’t have room in my budget” are things I’ve said. But if you don’t want to go into detail just not responding should also be fine.

    5. Haha Lala*

      For an IVF fundraiser in particular, I think it’s important to remember that no matter how ‘uncomfortable’ it might make you, the couple that is raising the money has likely been struggling with infertility and the desire for children for quite a while. Going public with this fundraiser puts them in a very vulnerable state, with their private life now exposed to everyone they’re reaching out to — and kudos to them for willingly being so open.

      As for a rule for what to say if there’s a conversation, don’t pry for more information, and don’t start telling them about other people you know who have gone through similar situations. That’s always the worst to hear about.
      A simple “Good Luck/Congrats/I’m sorry”, and sending them good vibes/prayers works in almost any circumstance.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Yes – I’m 100% in agreement. That’s why I’m wondering about particularly thoughtful or sensitive ways to respond to these requests — I don’t think people set up fundraisers like this casually. They’re probably in a very vulnerable state.

    6. Artemesia*

      If I ran a company I would not allow those fundraisers or if we did allow them to be publicized would not allow any personal contact — the website is there, no peer or management pressure to engage.

    7. Lemon Zinger*

      “I’ve already allocated my charitable donations for this year and I don’t have room in my budget for anything else.”

      If they push back after you say this, they are harassing you. At that point you can go to your supervisor to ask for help.

    8. Tofu pie*

      I’m generally not a fan of fundraisers in the workplace but if they are done, it should be made absolutely clear that contribution is voluntary. You’re under zero obligation to respond with either a yes or a no. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with IVF fundraisers – they’re exorbitantly priced and it’s a Big Deal for couples to go through. But whether it’s IVF or panda rescue or paying for a butt implant or whatever, you don’t have to give anything.

      If you’re approached directly, it’s fine to say, “I have no more budget left for donations, but good luck.”

  26. Colleague Culture*

    What do you do about a colleague that has socially isolated themselves from the rest of the team in a way that is counter to the culture? Our team is small (<10 people) and we interact a lot with each inside and outside of working hours, except for this person. They have been here for two years and have always been like this.

    1. StudentA*

      Why does this bother you? If they’re good at their jobs and are friendly enough, I don’t see a problem.

      1. jenny*

        Seconding this. Also make sure you are not unconsciously (or consciously!) viewing them negatively because of it.

      2. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Also, identifying the source of the discomfort might be helpful to the solution. Are you bothered because you feel a bit socially rejected by them? That might indicate a need to do a little self-talk and remind yourself that lots of people chose not to engage socially at work for reasons that aren’t personal to their colleagues.

        On the other hand, does it bother you becuase you’re worried that they’re isolating themselves not due to preference but due to feeling left out? Or because they’re actually missing bits of context and information that’s coming up in social occasions? Both of those would require different responses on your part.

    2. Ali G*

      You shouldn’t hold it against someone that doesn’t want to hang out with co-workers outside of work. Most people don’t on a regular basis, and a lot of us do it sparingly because we feel we have to.
      If they talk to you pleasantly about work things, and do good work, but just aren’t chummy you need to let it go and let them be.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Unless there’s some really strong reason (like you all live together on a remote military base in the Arctic), I’d urge you to ignore and get over the interacting after office hours thing. There’s not really any good reason to think that’s an important part of your culture, and in fact it can be a negative. How are people going to get any new ideas or experiences if they spend all their time with the same group of people?

    4. Orange Crushed*

      Maybe they have other things to do after work. A lot of my coworkers go to a second job, attend school/take classes, spend time with family, go to the store, etc. I have a long commute and am too tired on the weekdays to hang out. I also care for family, so I have other responsibilities outside of work.

    5. JillianNicola*

      As an introvert who can appear to be extroverted if the conditions are right, agreeing with all the other voices to just leave it alone, unless it’s affecting their quality of work! I will socialize when I feel up to it, thank you, and trying to force me into it is a good way to lose me. Some people like very clear boundaries between work and personal even if they’re not introverts, and that’s something that should be respected.
      (Also there’s been a lot of horror stories on AAM concerning small teams that blur those boundaries, so I would be mindful/careful with that, tbh.)

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            And there are also people who are trying to be friendly but distant with colleagues during to previously being on a toxic and/or dysfunctional team. I know that I’ll never try to bond with a team so much outside work again after trying to do that in my last job and having a hellish time when things went bad. Some people are just trying to protect themselves and their mental health by keeping a distance.

    6. Momma Bear*

      Unless it affects their work, please let them be. I’ve been the one who didn’t do Happy Hour, etc. Maybe I was feeling anti-social, maybe I was fed up with an open office and needed a break, maybe my kid was sick and I just wanted to get home. I talk to people at work, but rare is the job where I regularly took lunch with coworkers and even more rare is the job where I hung out after work. I prefer separation of work and private life. Maybe this person does, too. After two years, this is how they are. Accept it.

    7. Sparkles McFadden*

      Be pleasant and professional with this person because that’s how work is supposed to be. It’s great if you like your coworkers but being friends at work should not be a job requirement. Some of us like to just get the work done and get on with the rest of our lives.

      Now I’m going to go search the rest of the posts for one that says “I have been in my job for two years. I am a quiet person who just wants to keep to myself and do a good job. Everyone else in the department thinks we all need to be friends inside and outside of work. How do I deal with this?”

      1. Joan Rivers*

        Ha. Or says “My team hits Happy Hour hard and it’s not my preference. I try to stay off the roads when they’re driving home.”

    8. Fran Fine*

      I am this coworker (at least for the past year anyway), and I would advise you to leave this person alone, especially since they’ve seemingly always been like this. As long as they’re pleasant when you guys need work-related things out of them, whether or not they want to talk to y’all after hours should be of no concern to you.

      1. Pickled Limes*

        I am also this coworker. I just don’t really fit socially with the rest of my team. They have interests and causes in common that I just don’t share, and that’s fine. They’re nice people and we work together well, but not everyone is meant to be in a friend relationship with everyone else. I’m guessing there may be something like this at play with the coworker in question. They likely don’t think poorly of their work team, they just don’t feel the need to form a strong friend bond, and that’s totally normal and fine.

    9. Massive Dynamic*

      What sort of social activities are there to isolate from? Are they bro-y or very specific in nature, and pretty much never deviates from that? Examples: heavy drinking happy hour, sports-viewing-related, sports-participating-related. Are they always outside of work hours? Does this person have obligations that the rest of the team doesn’t, like small children to care for with no at-home spouse?

      Try this instead: whole team goes out to a restaurant for lunch, during working hours obviously so it’s paid. Make sure dietary concerns are addressed, especially if this is one of the reasons the outsider doesn’t “fit in” with your culture: if she’s vegan, no steakhouse, etc.

    10. Lemon Zinger*

      Nothing. If they are doing their job, leave them alone. Many people go to work to work, not to make friends.

      1. Chris too*

        There’s a point where it’s sort of rude and weird not to share anything at all personal – is that what you’re talking about? Or is it just that they don’t want to hang out at happy hour? ( in which case that’s their call.) If I’ve worked with someone for a couple of years, I’d think it was strange if I didn’t know anything about them, but people aren’t obligated to share things either. People who insist on strong work/life boundaries sometimes take it a bit too far, and should realize that things flow a bit better when we can see our coworkers as fellow people. You don’t need to share your relationship status or the contents of your womb, but it’s nice if you can mention something personal – “I like siamese cats,” or “I’m an ardent cyclist.”

        1. Pardelote*

          It’s so interesting to me that you wrote about people taking work/life boundaries ‘too far’ and also implied that not knowing information about a colleague’s life somehow means they’re seen as less than a whole person.

          I have had such negative experiences with workplaces and permeable boundaries that for my own wellbeing I keep firm boundaries now (and will always do this).

          If your colleagues are polite and you can work with them, please don’t expect them to divulge details about their life so you can feel more at ease.

          1. Chris too*

            I don’t want to argue with you, and I’m sorry that you’ve had bad experiences! But supermarket cashiers are pleasant and polite while doing their jobs well. I don’t expect us to be friends but if I’m going to be working together in a room with you for forty hours a week, yes, I’d prefer to have a bit more of a relationship with you than with a cashier that I only deal with once in my life for three minutes. Maybe you have found ways to do that well without divulging anything at all about yourself, and that’s great! But otherwise, yes, if all I know is your name and that I’m supposed to hand you this paperwork when I’m finished with it, and I’ve been working with you for two years, I will be uncomfortable and probably quit. To each his own! I imagine it also depends on the kind of jobs one is used to doing – I’m used to doing something with a two-person team that works closely together but kind of independently from others.

            1. allathian*

              I hear you on that. I also work closely with a coworker. We’re part of a bigger team, but my coworker is the only one who has the same job description. I’ve told him some things that have to do with my professional life that I probably haven’t told my husband who’s in a completely different field. We also talk regularly about what we did on the weekend, our vacation plans, etc. I agree that it would be awkward if I had a coworker who didn’t want to share anything about their private life, and I’d probably enjoy my job a lot less.

              I was involved in interviewing him when we hired him, because my manager thinks it’s really important that people who work together also get along. He was in our top three candidate pool, and basically picking any of the three would have got me a decent coworker and I’m a professional, so I would’ve found a way to work with all of them. But my manager told me later that she selected him because she could see that we got on like a house on fire when we got talking, and at the interview, we only talked about work.

              That said, if you’re working in a bigger team, like the LW, the issue is less critical if there’s one person on the team who prefers to keep work and private life completely separate.

        2. Lemon Zinger*

          I completely disagree, sorry. I think it’s weird and rude when folks feel entitled to know details about the lives of people who are only connected to them because they work in the same place.

          Let adults manage their personal and work lives the way they see fit.

          I am not unfriendly to my coworkers at all! I love seeing baby pictures, dog pictures, etc. I just won’t be sharing any of my own.

    11. allathian*

      Honestly, leave the colleague alone. As long as they get the job done and aren’t so grumpy that you’re wary of approaching them with a work-related question, let them be. If the person’s standoffishness is getting in the way of actually getting the work done, that’s a different matter.

      The expectation to interact with your coworkers outside of working hours is horrible, there’s no way I’d be happy with that expectation.

      I’m a chatty introvert and can fake extroversion pretty well at work. I like my coworkers and I vastly prefer eating lunch with a coworker to doing so alone if I’m at the office, and I enjoy our coffee breaks as well. But my job involves a lot of thinking and writing alone, so I guess I’m ambivert enough that I appreciate at least some social interaction with my coworkers even at work.

      But when I’m not working, I neither want nor need to socialize with my coworkers, it’s just the way I am.

  27. Struggling Copywriter*

    As my username says, I’m a struggling copywriter. I’m wondering if it’s normal for all my job searches to take years. No matter the stage in my career or the economy. Although copywriting is a pretty desirable job, so I am not sure how affected it is by the economy compared to other jobs.

    I have a pretty good portfolio and resume. Not phenomenal, but pretty good. It’s a competitive industry but I just don’t know how long a search is supposed to take. Maybe because I’m looking to write about something I actually care about at this point in my career, but still, I apply at plenty of jobs and haven’t had much success. Tried networking, most people seem in their own worlds. But mostly relying on applications. Had my resume redone a bunch of times. Still landing something that I’m excited about seems out of reach.

    Can anyone relate?

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I am also a struggling copywriter and while I have a job in the field, I’m not convinced it was a good idea. It may of course just be my organization, but I’m being micromanaged, spend much more time on administrative tasks than writing, and am having trouble gingering up much enthusiasm for the products I’m marketing. I’m currently considering whether it’s worth trying to stick it out for a full year. Sorry to be Debbie Downer! But it may be that your writing skills can find a better outlet — perhaps tech writing or writing for nonprofits?

      1. Momma Bear*

        I was thinking along these lines. If your main goal is to “write about something I actually care about” then, yes, it’s going to be harder. Could you find a balance between “food on the table job” and “passion project”? Most of us have to compromise. Have you considered porting your skills to a different kind of role? Are you good at customer service?

    2. ThatGirl*

      I’m also a copywriter – and I got very, very lucky for my last job search which only lasted a month. But I really think it depends on a lot of things
      where do you live? big city, metro area, smaller city or town? (I live near Chicago so I have a big metro area as part of my searches)
      what kinds of jobs are you going for? agencies, corporations, other? (I’ve only done in-house creative work, my agency applications have gone nowhere)
      have you gotten any feedback? are you getting to the interview stage, and if so how far? it might just be a matter of time. like you said, it is competitive.

      1. sagewhiz*

        A great deal of the problem is due to the economic impact of the pandemic. I’ve been full-time freelance far longer than (I’m sure ;-) you’ve been alive, and started off primarily with copywriting. Said to say I still have lots of friends/contacts in the ad/mktg/PR fields. Every. Single. One lost the vast majority of their clients when the economy tanked, resulting in massive layoffs of staff. Which means the talent pool you are in is very crowded. And this mess hit just as most of those places were gaining stability after the end of the Great Recession. So they’ve been through a double-whammy in the past decade. Right now, every single one of my contacts has said they still have seen almost no up-tick in clients returning, which means hiring is still almost nil. I do wish you luck! Honestly. Except for the Client’s Wife who wants to dictate the campaign, it’s a gas!

    3. AllTheBirds*

      You “had your resume redone” or redid it yourself?

      Honestly can’t imagine a CW not writing their own…

      1. WellRed*

        Eh I’m a writer, not a copywriter, and am considering getting it done to help kick me out of my inertia. Then I can tweak it myself. It’s the cover letter that’s important for a writer

  28. Anxious Annie*

    Have you ever regretted applying for a job after you’ve arranged an interview? I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I applied for a job last week and ever since I arranged the interview, I feel so… ugh, regretful? The job is pretty similar to a position I had last year.

    I’m in a pretty competitive field (libraries) and jobs ARE hard to come by. Last year I applied for a 1-year mat leave contract position, took a leave of absence from the job I had at the time, and moved about 4.5 hours away from “home” for the job. The job itself was fine, I made great connections and had a good experience. Also, I don’t mind moving BUT maybe it’s just the impact that the pandemic had on me, but in many ways it was a terrible experience for my “personal life.” I rented a room, because what was the point of renting an apartment in a strange city for 1 year and spending a ton of money on furniture? (I don’t have any to bring with me). That turned out to be a mistake, my roommates were impossible, the landlord was absent, the neighbours were a complete nightmare. I couldn’t go out and make new friends because COVID-19 cancelled any “extracurricular” activity I could do. I ate terribly, gained weight, barely left my room.

    I’ve been back at my old position for the last 7 months in my hometown, living with my mother. It’s not ideal and my current job is part-time, so it’s not great for making money, either. I need to get a “real” job as soon as possible, so I applied for basically the same position I had in a library last year. Covering a 1-year mat-leave contract in a city about 5 hours away and honestly, even though it would be really good experience for me… I actually don’t want to repeat that same year. What is wrong with me? Would I be absolutely terrible if they offered me the job and I turned it down? I know it would be so good for my career, but I don’t know if I can handle repeating the last year again. I know COVID restrictions are loosening, but gosh… it was so isolating. Even though I am working part-time, my life in my hometown is so much better. I have been taking better care of myself (also got prescribed antidepressants from my doctor) and I’m afraid that moving back into a position similar to the one I previously had would undo everything. If the position was PERMANENT, hell yeah… I’d move without a second thought. But for a 1-year position? I don’t know if I can do it again. Is something wrong with me? If I was some how offered the position, would I be a jerk to turn it down?? Just thinking about it gives me an upset stomach.

    1. Hi, colleague.*

      Fellow librarian here.

      Would not be awful to turn it down. You’re exploring your options as much as they are theirs. You’re allowed to explore and decide its not the option for you. I turned down a position right out of school, ended up accepting another position within the consortium, and had a perfectly warm working relationship with my would-have-been colleagues in committees. There was no negative after-affects to me turning it down.

      Would not be awful to not want to go. Librarians are told a lot that if we want to succeed, we have to be willing to move absolutely anywhere at any time because that’s where the positions are. It’s true to a degree, being willing to move helps, but at the same time, don’t get sucked into that level of vocational awe. You don’t HAVE to go absolutely anywhere at any time for the sake of librarianship. You’re allowed to create your own caps : Within 3 hours of home, only cities you know people in, etc. etc.

      Remember your job is only supposed to be one part of your life. Even in the “passion fields” Don’t sacrifice your happiness or health in the rest of your life for the sake of librarianship. Libraries will never love you back like that.

      1. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yes, too all of this.

        Also, there is a difference between turning down a job after the offer is made and choosing to step out of the pool after the interview. You can interview, even a day long in-person where they flew you out and paid for you to be there and bought you dinner and then realize, “OMG, I can not work for these people. They are all nuts.” (And yes, I have done this, because it was the most toxic environment I’ve ever been in.)

        I do believe that in librarian work you can choose what you do or choose where you work, chances are you will not get to chose both. However, you also get to decide what life you want to have. What life makes you happy? Those of us who “made it” forget that many many people didn’t and they are perfectly happy doing other things. I know a lot of them.

        If you know you would not take the job, no matter what, then don’t bother to do the interview. However, if there’s any chance you might take it, then do the interview. You lose nothing and can decide once you know more. It’s also 100% kosher to ask if there’s any chance the position might be extended. It’s also 100% kosher to decide that you are not interested in a temporary position over 5 hours from your support network.

    2. Reba*

      This sounds tough. Nothing’s wrong with you, you are recovering (and still living in!) an extremely stressful period.

      I would try to evaluate this job opportunity as itself, for now. On one hand, you of course want to learn from past experience about what works for you and what doesn’t. On the other hand, this new job is a new job, it’s not the same old job, same city, same bad roommates as before! And, if you were to take this new opportunity if offered, it sounds like you are in a stronger place mental-health wise than last year.

      All that being said, if you turn it down, that’s also fine! And if you took it and needed to quit, that would be fine! I would just hate to see you count *yourself* out of a cool opportunity, before you know more about what it would be like. Good luck!!

    3. I.*

      There’s nothing wrong with you. Doing this is what made me decide to stop pursuing tenure track jobs in academia. Last year was exceptionally hard though, and I think there are real ways to make it a better experience for yourself: maybe preemptively start therapy, line up hobbies ahead of time (figure out if the new city has X sport leagues or a place to do a ceramics course or whatever), arrange for zooms to keep in touch with friends back home so even when you’re at home alone you’re not lonely, rent a studio instead of a room, make frequent trips back home if that helps. You’re not crazy for not wanting a repeat of last year, but it also doesn’t have to be like last year.

    4. College Career Counselor*

      Armchair diagnosis here, but it sounds to me like you’re craving stability more than anything else. And maybe a 1year term contract (as good as it might be) feels like marking time/delaying that stability.

      Just my $.02 of course. Is it possible that there would be permanent positions in a year elsewhere in that location?

      1. Anxious Annie*

        Yes! I think that’s what part of the issue is. I feel like moving away for 1-year… puts my life on hold, again? I just turned 33 and imagining my life being on hold for another year straight up depresses me.

        1. WellRed*

          It’s not on hold though. This is just a step on life’s path. Life is not a destination. I like the suggestions for preemptively setting up therapy and hobbies etc in new city if you do it. This will be easier without Covid. Don’t stay in a living situation that’s horrible. Etc.

    5. Dog Coordinator*

      I had a similar experience just yesterday. I work for a toxic boss, and have known that I need to get out. It’s bad for my mental health, my boss makes me miserable, and even though my team and our clients are great, I know it’s not someplace I can continue to be at. I had interviewed with my dream job (or as close as one can get to that) month back, but they had a hiring freeze. 6 months pass, still no update on a hiring time line, so I started applying for any job I could possibly do. I ended up getting 2 interviews and an offer from one of the jobs. But I felt nothing about the offer. I should have felt relief at having a way out of my toxic job, excitement at getting an offer, gratitude at even GETTING interviews and an offer in a job market where so many people don’t… but I didn’t feel any of that. I felt just as trapped by my toxic job, and was at the point of tears out of pure anxiety and indecision on what would be the right thing to do next.

      I talked it over with some folks who support me, and they all said the same thing: if it doesn’t feel right, don’t take the job. I ended up turning down that job offer both because I knew it wasn’t right and because dream job FINALLY offered me the job. And I knew it was the RIGHT offer for me, because this time I was crying tears of joy and relief, not anxiety and confusion.

      It feels weird to be in the position to turn down an offer (or at the thought of that offer), but if it’s giving you an upset stomach just thinking about it, it’s not right. Especially if what you are doing now is better for you as a whole. Just because it’s the “right move for your career” doesn’t mean it’s right for you. You’re more than your career!! Nothing is wrong with you, we just live in a society that places importance on career growth above caring for yourself. Hope you find something that makes you excited at the thought of an offer!

    6. Coder von Frankenstein*

      You are never a jerk for turning down a job offer. You have every bit as much right to evaluate a potential employer as they have to evaluate you.

      And it’s okay to interview even if you are leaning against taking the job. If you were *certain* you wouldn’t take the job, that would be different, but it doesn’t sound as if that’s the case; and you might learn something in the interview that makes you decide it’s worth it. Maybe this job will set you up to go permanent, or you just really click with your prospective boss, or whatever.

      Or, maybe you don’t, and you decline the offer (if they make it), and you go your separate ways. An interview is an exploration, not a commitment, and that’s true for both sides.

    7. Sparkles McFadden*

      Nothing is wrong with you! Treat the interview like a practice interview (you can never get enough interview practice) and if you do not want the job, don’t take it.

      I get where you are coming from. It seems frivolous and irresponsible to turn a job down. As one of my friends said once “You’re treating this job offer like it’s the last one on earth and if you pass it up you’ll never be employed again. That’s not how it works and you know that.”

    8. Joan Rivers*

      If you reread what you wrote about your life, in a room w/bad roommates, etc., a lot of the problems sound like they weren’t the JOB, they were that life.
      If the prospective job is just OK and you’re finally shopping again, going out again, coming out of a bad time nationally, doesn’t that sound hopeful? Maybe not, I don’t know about your field. But having a year to job-hunt isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        AND it’s fine to turn down a job, but as w/the letter about turning down a mentor offer, if you don’t know what the experience will bring, why not look at it more closely before rejecting it?

        It’s fine to say no but most of us haven’t had the world knocking down our door the last year so why not at least wonder what could come our way if we said yes?

    9. Purple Penguin*

      There is nothing wrong with you. Pay attention to those physical feelings that you mention. If you’re sick at even the thought of a short term position, that’s a pretty good indicator that it is not for you – at least right now. Things could change in the future, of course, but for now there is absolutely nothing wrong with opting out of another short term contract.

    10. Overeducated*

      Not a librarian, but I’ve said no to a couple great opportunities because I couldn’t deal with the relocation and separation aspects. One I regret, one I don’t, but what I think is really important is that you can’t make yourself walk into a job when your stomach is upset just thinking about it. That’s your body telling you something your brain isn’t quite ready to process. It’s not right for you. You’ll find a different path.

      1. Aiya*

        Agreed with that stomach churning statement.

        I’m not a librarian, but I got my masters degree in a similar field (museum studies). This field is really similar to library studies in the sense that there’s a lot of competition and not a lot of job openings, which meant that I held a series of temp jobs and part time jobs after graduating. The only FT opportunities that I did receive were often just tangentially related to what I wanted to do (e.g. fundraising/donor management within an art institution). Every time I got an interview invite for those jobs, my stomach would be in knots because I knew I wouldn’t be happy in those positions. I once even canceled an interview an hour before it was scheduled to start (which was insanely unprofessional and I completely burned the bridge with a rather large employer in the local area), because I couldn’t deal with the sick feeling in my stomach. There wasn’t nothing inherently wrong with the job itself, but I just knew it wasn’t the path I wanted to go towards. Ultimately, I realized that these intense bodily reactions were telling me that I just wasn’t happy in this the field even though I refused to admit it to myself. I left the field to start over in a brand new industry and am heaps happier now.

    11. Pickled Limes*

      First off, I’m so sorry you had that hard experience. It’s completely understandable that the idea of something similar would be off putting for you. That’s not wrong or bad, it’s just part of the way human brains categorize information.

      If you’re 100% certain you won’t take the job if they offer it, then that’s your answer.

      But if you’re uncertain, think of the application and interview process as research. Do a map search for the area around the library where the job will be. Are there things in that area that would interest you and prevent the kind of loneliness and isolation you felt at your last placement? Restaurants, theaters, yoga studios, religious institutes if you’re into that, anything that might feel appealing. At the interview, when it’s your turn to ask questions, it feels perfectly normal for an out of town applicant to ask if there are certain areas of the city where other staff live so you can research for a better living situation. If you do that research and decide this city or this job isn’t for you, then there’s no shame whatsoever in saying no.

      The important thing here is not you as a librarian. It’s you as a human being. Sacrificing a potentially beneficial career move because you realize it would be bad for you in other ways is a healthy choice, and you’d be perfectly justified in doing it.

  29. mreasy*

    Similar to a previous post. My workplace is not requiring proof of vaccination to go unmasked in the office, they’re taking everyone’s word for it. We’re in a high vaccination rate city, but at least one of my colleagues was posting vaccine-skeptic posts in Slack for awhile. I want to trust people but if you don’t take covid seriously enough to get the vaccine, why would you wear a mask? I presume the folks who can’t get vaxxed for medical reasons will be masking and distancing to protect themsleves.

    1. mreasy*

      I realize I didn’t ask a question. Will I seem paranoid and annoying if I tell them I don’t feel comfortable coming in yet? We’re not required to but exec team is having an on-site soon.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I realize it’s hard to make the switch from “full-on pandemic mode” to “life is slowly returning to normal mode” (I went through it myself when the state mandate changed a few weeks ago). But we need to start taking steps at some point to get back into real life. My feeling is that if I have the vaccination (I do), I’m not going to worry what other people are doing. The people who are choosing not to get vaccinated and not wear a masks are putting themselves at risk. I got the vaccine to protect myself so I should trust that I’m protected as much as I can be.

        1. ecnaseener*

          “Taking steps to get back into real life” *is* allowing vaccinated people to go unmasked. Unvaccinated people lying in order to go unmasked are the ones hindering that. A vaccine doesn’t protect you 100% — if you want to operate as if it does, that’s your prerogative, but mreasy isn’t wrong to be concerned.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I didn’t say they’re wrong to be concerned, nor did I say the vaccine is 100% effective.

          2. Calliope*

            It’s not 100% but it is true that you’re at pretty minimal risk if you’re vaccinated and not severely immunocompromised. We’re never going to get to zero risk; that can’t be the threshold.

            1. Calliope*

              (And to be clear, I’m not saying “throw all the masks away and go lick people at indoor concerts”. I’m still sound a variety of basic precautions myself, especially since I have a kid too young to be vaccinated. I just think this repeated line about vaccines not being 100% misleading obscures what the real risks are.)

      2. Fulana del Tal*

        But when will you feel comfortable? When your office requires proof? If mask wearing is allowed why can’t you wear one instead?

        1. mreasy*

          I would feel more comfortable knowing they required proof of vaccination to go without a mask in the office.

      3. pancakes*

        A company where people are permitted to post anti-vax things in Slack or feel free to do so knowing there won’t be consequences isn’t necessarily going to be reasonable about what’s considered annoying.

        1. Joan Rivers*

          Good point.

          I got a card when I got the shot, at Target, and have texts in my phone confirming the appointment. So it wouldn’t bother me to present them at work, or to wear a mask. Though summer may be hard for mask wearing.

      4. AnotherLibrarian*

        I can’t say if you’ll seem paranoid. It’ll depend on your workplace. My city has about a 54% vaccination rate. My parents city has over a 75% vaccination rate. In my town, I’m not masking at work (I know for a fact that two people I work closely with are vaccinated, because one I ran into at my vaccine appointment and the other I gave a ride to her appointments, as she doesn’t have a car at the moment), but I am masking in grocery stores and such. When I visit my family in July, I likely won’t bother, because their town has such as high rate of compliance. However, as someone whose had to work in my office since the pandemic started, being able to not wear a mask and keep my office door open (because my office has super bad air circulation) has been a godsend.

        I have coworkers who are still masking and coworkers who aren’t. I’d just decide what you plan to do and proceed accordingly- in my office, if you are wearing a mask, people immediately ask if you want them to mask. So, we’re all being pretty gracious about it. When I walk around, it’s about a 50/50 split on masking vs not masking.

      5. Anonymous Hippo*

        Why not just wear a mask and distance when you come in? That’s what I’m doing, despite getting the vaccine, because my area is an area that struggled even with masks, so I have no great security that they are vaxxed.

        1. mreasy*

          Yeah, I would just rather not go to the office than do this (it is optional til September). I guess maybe the real issue is that I am mad at my company for not requiring proof.

    2. DataGirl*

      I think you’d be fine to continue to wear a mask, if you want to. For me and my family we are continuing to wear masks at work and when in public even though we are all vaccinated. I really don’t trust that people who have been COVID deniers for the past year and who had fits about wearing a mask and social distancing are going to keep wearing a mask now that they can get away with taking them off and not getting called out on it. In fact when I am in a store and I see people without a mask my first assumption is they are anti-vaxxers. It may be faulty thinking but I feel like anyone who cares enough to get vaccinated for public health is also going to keep wearing masks until things are much better than they are now.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. I assume anyone in a grocery store without a mask is unvaccinated because this is who they are — selfish people with no consideration for others who also are happy to lie.

        We are around unvaccinated kids and so will mask in crowded places with people we don’t know. It is a pleasure to be once again having dinner parties with vaccinated friends.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I think that’s a little unfair – I’m still wearing a mask at the grocery store and Target and anywhere it’s requested, but I’m starting to ease back on it in other settings. And I’ve been fully vaccinated since April.

          1. It’s time*

            I am fully vaccinated. I live alone, I work from home. I don’t come into close contact with children very often at all…I really can’t remember the last time. I gave it a few weeks but I’m not masking at the store anymore or out for beers with friends. I’m confident I’m not a risk to others. I can’t control other people or guess at their level of integrity when it comes to masking. I believe we’re at the point individuals need to assess their own circumstances and let up on the idea they know best for others.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Yeah, I only live with my husband, we’re both vaccinated, we don’t live with or regularly interact with high-risk individuals or kids. My mask wearing is already tapering off, and while I don’t mind wearing it, I am also feeling more comfortable without one. I’m not gonna yell at anyone one way or another, and I think we can assume that at least SOME of the people going maskless actually are vaccinated and just trying to get back to normal.

          2. Anonforthisone*

            I am going to go against the grain and say I don’t think it is unfair. If I see someone without a mask now, I also do my best to avoid them because I don’t know whether they are a) a vaccinated person who trusts all the guidelines and doesn’t think there is any risk or b) an unvaccinated person who doesn’t care who they hurt.

            The last year has really been difficult. We saw in so many ways that many of the people around us do not care about anyone, but themselves, and we have seen that our government and other institutions will prioritize money over safety every time; if it won’t hurt them politically, they will always make a decision that trends towards putting the risk on the individual. That isn’t a bell that can be un-rung. I know myself and many other people I know feel that we are on our own. We have to protect ourselves as best we can.

            For me, that means I can’t help making a judgement about someone I see without a mask strolling through the store. It doesn’t mean that I am right and that you are a selfish, and horrible person, but I think the benefit of the doubt is one of the things that is a casualty of the pandemic. I can’t assume the good intentions of strangers anymore. Maybe some day I will be able to do that again, but not now.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Same; I’m wearing it until we have a higher percentage of vaccinated people. Maybe that will be until autumn; I’m not sure. I don’t trust the anti-vaxxers, and I’m concerned about variants.

              I’m still seeing job posts where the company states their Covid policies include masking in the office, and I’m fine with that for now. Besides, I kind of like the whole incognito thing at the store. And it reminds me not to touch my face!

        2. DataGirl*

          This is a bit of a tangent, apologies…

          There have been cases in my state of small children catching COVID at daycare and bringing it home to infect their entire family, even the vaccinated adults. The people who were vaccinated got milder cases, but still- vaccination is not 100% proof against getting sick. I was at Urgent Care this week for a sinus infection (my regular doctor refuses to see anyone with respiratory symptoms) and the doctor there said they’ve had 4 positive cases of COVID in vaccinated people just in the last week. And while I’m no infectious disease specialist, it seems to me that the more often someone who is vaccinated or partially vaccinated gets COVID, the more likely it will be for mutations to form that the vaccine will not be effective against. So yeah, vaccinated or not my mask is staying on in public.

            1. DataGirl*

              based off the little bit I know of how viruses mutate. As I said I’m no specialist, but I’ve read a bit and work in healthcare so have lots of smart people around me that have the same opinion.

              1. WellRed*

                And yet we are all constantly shocked by the number of so called informed healthcare workers choosing not to get vaccinated. I have lost so much respect for folks I might have otherwise respected through all of this

          1. ThatGirl*

            I am also not an infectious disease specialist or a biologist or anything. But I think it’s kind of the opposite – it’s unvaccinated people getting covid who are more likely to spread variants. Which could then possibly infect the vaccinated, of course. But if everyone were vaccinated their wouldn’t be enough spread for there to be much in the way of variants.

            1. Nancy*

              It has to do with the rate of vaccination and amount of virus circulation. A low rate of vaccination can cause an increase in infections, which can lead to an increase in mutations. Mutations will occur if viruses are still circulating at a high enough rate, not because vaccinated people are getting sick.

              Vaccines slow the rate of transmission, which slows the potential for mutations to form. There will always be some breakthrough infections, just like any other vaccine because none in the history of vaccines have been 100% effective.

        3. Maggie*

          That’s a weird assumption to make and would be totally untrue for myself, my family, my coworkers and my friends. They’re all fully vaccinated and do not wear masks at the grocery store as not wearing a mask once vaccinated is in keeping with the CDC guidance, the local rules, and the businesses rules.

          1. Empress Ki*

            How come ?
            I am in the UK and wearing a mask in closed spaces is still recommended, vaccinated or not.

        4. Anonymous Hippo*

          I assume the opposite. I see someone in a mask as someone who is safe. Unmasked I have no idea what’s going on with them.

      2. Lunch Ghost*

        What’s ‘much better than they are now’? (Asking as a fully-vaccinated person who is only wearing a mask so people think she cares about public health.)

    3. Haha Lala*

      My office has been similar, except the official policy was that proof is required (by showing the vax card to the manager, who then checks your name off the list). For the most part it hadn’t been enforced, until one of the very vocal anti-vaxxers didn’t wear a mask for a day. Word got back to the manager, who then requested the vax card. I wasn’t part of that conversation, but anti-vaxxer has been wearing a mask every day since. So it worked for us!

      It’d be worth asking your manager/HR about it. But make it clear that you don’t need to know your co-worker’s medical information, you just have reason to believe their not vaccinated. Or state that you’d only be comfortable coming back if they require proof/ dates. Or maybe even forward someone Alison’s post the other day detailing that employers are allowed to ask for proof of vaccine in order to go unmasked.

      1. mreasy*

        Yeah, I don’t need to know anything, I just need to know that HR knows that they’re vaccinated if they are going unmasked. But HR seems unwilling to not trust people. For context, we are a super pro vax company, have been supporting people getting it including not charging PTO for symptoms, and the vaccine skeptic posts were pretty mild and eye rolled by most.

    4. TWW*

      This is what I tell myself to get through the day:

      1. If you’ve received the vaccine, and you still don’t feel safe, then you’re also being a vaccine skeptic.

      2. Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with, but at this point the best path to becoming comfortable is to change the way you think, rather than to wait for everyone else to change.

      3. The evidence is strong that vaccinated people rarely get sick, rarely transmit the virus, and very rarely die from COVID. Yes, there’s still a risk, but working has always taking small risks. For instance, you’ve risked your life (and others) thousands of times just driving to work. Be brave.

      Like I said, the above is my own motivational internal dialog. I don’t expect other people to buy it, but it works for me.

      1. mreasy*

        I think you’re right. I am still masking in stores etc but mostly for others’ reassurance, and I am indoor dining tomorrow night. There is something about the office environment – being there so long – that makes me nervous for whatever reason. As I mentioned before though, maybe I just think our HR is handling this wrong (they tend to be conflict averse). Thank you!

      2. Crabby Patty*

        Mm, no, not skeptical about the vaccine, just uncertain about its efficacy and the length of time of that efficacy.

        I’m vacced, but still wear a mask. Too many people in public openly cough and sneeze and I think masks are a great way to avoid colds and flu.

    5. new gov employee*

      I have the same thought. The person in charge of making our office plan is not as bad, but when I on-boarded last summer, he kept taking off his mask in the office because “well neither of us have covid”, so I don’t fully trust him. The person making the plan wants to get everyone in the office ASAP, and says he will look at the death rates and cases (although we are not in health and I have my doubts that he will know how to interpret these to mean it’s safe to return to the office).

      Right now it’s voluntary, but if they raise it again, I plan to ask how they plan to handle it for people that have immune suppressants or other health issues that make the vaccine less effective.
      I guess it’s safe for me (I double checked with my doctor), but I would still like to raise the concerns for other people. I will probably still wear a mask on public transit and possibly the office.

  30. Ali G*

    Our COO sent out a meeting request to me, and two other dept heads yesterday for a meeting next week to discuss “personnel issues.” It’s not until Wednesday! But I know why: one other dept head doesn’t work Friday’s, and the CEO (also in the meeting and all our boss’s) and I will be out of the office Mon-Wed.
    I’m wracking my brain to try and figure the comment element and I can’t. It’s bad form to ask about it when I am traveling with the boss isn’t it? Of course I am curious, but really I want to know if I should do any digging/talking to staff on my end to prep (I assume they would have told me if so).
    This place is amazing so I really don’t think it’s a trap or anything horrifying, but I am going to be stressing about this for the next 5 days!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I wouldn’t ask in a gossip-y sense, like “Hey, dish the dirt,” but I think you’ve got room to ask something like “Hey, is there anything I should prepare for this meeting on Wednesday? The invite was a little short on details, so I wasn’t sure what the intent was.”

      1. PX*

        Yup, if it wouldnt be out of place, my go to is: Can you let me know what the agenda for this is so I can make sure I’m prepared?

      2. Susie*

        At my first job after I worked at a place that fired people on a specific day and time, my new boss scheduled our first check-in for that day and time. So, I freaked out. I did what Red Reader suggested–I asked if there was anything I needed to prep for the meeting. I did continue to low level freak out, but I was able to essentially get through the day before I got to my checkin–which was a normal check-in.

      3. Ali G*

        Yeah I thought about this. I guess it felt like I was looking for the scoop. I’ll see how the conversations go with the Boss next week.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I’d ask. If it was something ominous, I’d think the meeting would be something more obscure, like “Strategic Planning” or “Budgets.”
      The meeting could just be about an intern program, or the COO’s fav employee wants to cross train.

  31. elle*

    I joined my team in June. My company does a lot of moving around – this is my third position in 2. years and that isn’t unusual.
    In March, we announced a reorganization of our team into base positions plus specialized positions rather than everyone handling a little of everything, in order to address morale and workload in issues. This was promised to be fast, and after talking with each employee about their preferences we were told everyone’s desires matched up well with the open positions so we would all mostly be getting what we asked for.
    In June, they announced 6 people moving into specialized positions and that there would be a “second wave” announced in about 3 more months. I was not on the list of specialists for the first wave despite being very clear about my desire to either be a specialist or move on from the team. There is no information on what a second wave will look like.
    Is it unreasonable for me to feel disappointed right now? I am set to wait six full months from announcing the reorganization to finding out what my new role will be — even though this was promised to be a “fast” move. I don’t like watching other people become specialists and developing a whole new role without me which I would in the best case scenario be joining later. I don’t understand what I will be doing for the next three months while I am in limbo – presumably the specialists will take all the activities I enjoy out of my job and I will be left with the base work which I find tedious. Am I just being selfish and impatient wanting to know now what my role will be even if I’m not going to do it for another few months?

    1. Krabby*

      You’re not being selfish at all! I’d talk to your manager (like, “I’m disappointed with the results but understand the decision. However, I am still very serious about wanting to be a specialist rather than a base contributor. Can you give me any information about the likelihood of that?”). Their response should tell you a lot. From there, you can decide to maybe look for something new elsewhere or hold on for the next three months.

  32. T. J. Juckson*

    An update on my question from last week, when I asked if I should add basic stuff like Word, Excel, and Powerpoint to my resume since they were specifically listed in the job ad. I did, plus managed to include Excel in one of my bullet accomplishments, and just got call for a phone interview.

    I’ve just started applying for jobs– this is maybe the fifth application I’ve sent out?– so am feeling a little more optimistic. I’ve been in my current position for a long time and was very worried I’d completely derailed myself.

  33. On the seaside*

    Low-stakes questions about office etiquette.
    Is it ever appropriate to have your feet on a chair or table in the office? (Assuming there’s no medical reason.)
    Just today I saw a colleague resting his feet (wearing shoes) on a chair in a meeting room and another colleague with her feet with shoes on on a coffee table in our social area.
    I’d rather shoes/feet stayed on the floor but this seems to become quite common and I’m wondering if I’m in the minority thinking this is gross.

    1. elle*

      It’s really, really common for people to have comfort issues sitting in chairs “properly” — I am one of those people. I’ve seen it blamed on my being ADHD, autistic and also my herniated disc in my back. I find sitting in chairs “right” to be frankly, excruciating. I say let it go and let people sit how they are comfortable.

      1. ecnaseener*

        Same (ADHD here). If I have to look like I’m sitting “properly” in a meeting or whatever, I’ll tuck a leg underneath my butt. Both feet on the floor = BAD

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I don’t mind the coffee table, but I hate seeing shoes on “public” furniture. Though I’d rather people keep their shoes on rather than go barefoot in the wider office, so… eh, I pick my battles.

      What people do in their assigned spaces, I don’t give it a second thought. But if other people use the furniture, we should try not to get it messier than it will inevitably be.

    3. Dog Coordinator*

      Depends on the company culture! I worked at a place where we had couches in the lunch room, and folks would regularly nap or stretch out across the couch with their feet up. None of that was weird for that company and that industry. I wouldn’t have batted an eye at someone putting their feet up on their desk or another chair (as long as no one needed it, or we weren’t in the middle of the meeting), or sitting differently in a chair. Even feet up “shared” furniture wouldn’t have seemed odd.

      Now if they took their shoes off… that’s another story. Keep your shoes on, you’re not at home!

    4. Sparkles McFadden*

      I hate that too, but I tell myself someone has sciatica or something to keep from making a face about it. It probably is true. Plus I always brush off any conference room chairs before I sit.

    5. DataGirl*

      As someone with major back problems who needs some kind of prop for my feet, I am guilty of doing this, although I would never put dirty shoes on the seat of a chair. More likely I’d prop them on the chair supports or at my own desk, I’ll prop them up on a small cupboard or stool.

    6. Filosofickle*

      Personally, I don’t think people should put their feet on anything that isn’t in their own home. I don’t want to touch what you’ve tracked in from the street! But it is incredibly common and I don’t assume it’s a battle I could win. My primary peeve is shoes on things you sit on, including chairs and transit seats. I don’t think I should have to sit on a conference chair that someone just put their shoes on, and I will go to bat for that. Coffee tables I can let slide. Feet don’t bother me nearly as much, though. I’d rather they slip their shoes off if they’re going to prop their feet up.

      1. JuJuBee*

        I only mind if someone tries to put their feet on my desk, chairs or other furniture in my office. I will speak up. OOOH! And don’t come into my office and sit on my desk! Nope. I will stand, get you a chair and motion for you to sit! Then I’ll wipe down the section of my desk where your ass just was with a sanitizing wipe while we’re talking just to make a point. I EAT MY LUNCH IN HERE, PEOPLE! Seriously, that’s just rude.

        1. Crabby Patty*

          “I will stand, get you a chair and motion for you to sit! Then I’ll wipe down the section of my desk where your ass just was with a sanitizing wipe while we’re talking just to make a point. I EAT MY LUNCH IN HERE, PEOPLE! Seriously, that’s just rude.”

          I want to frame this. SPOT ON, JuJuBee.

    7. TWW*

      For those of us on team “never let your shoes touch anything but the floor”, I’m afraid we lost that campaign years ago.

      I take it for granted that every time I leave my house, whatever is on the ground will end up covering me from head to toe. I wash my hands, wash my clothes, and try not to think about it.

    8. Deborah*

      I have a lot of issues with pain, especially my back, knees and ankles for this context. I often find the type of hard, often plastic chairs lunchrooms tend to have are really bad and I end up putting one foot up on the seat across from me if possible. I have Sjogrens Syndrome, and my joint pain is disabling (for example I can only use stairs with difficulty), so that’s a bit different than ordinary people. At my desk I have a footrest but often sit on my feet. Sitting in general is just difficult.

    9. RussianInTexas*

      I feel like in your own office is more ok, but not in a conference room, or common area, or while you are talking to other people?
      I can’t sit “properly” for long, right now I have one leg under me. And I am short, always work with the foot rest. Sitting with your feet dangling is very uncomfortable.

    10. fhqwhgads*

      This is rude and gross. The bottoms of our shoes are like…the grossest thing. It’s not an ergonomics thing. Even if sitting a chair the “normal” way is uncomfy, putting shoes on a surface not intended to be for shoes is not good. I’m not saying people should be miserably uncomfortable, but if they would be sitting normally, the solution should not involve being gross in the process.

    11. allathian*

      I’m in Finland, so the culture is different. You just don’t wear shoes indoors. The sole exceptions I can think of would be formal cocktail or dinner parties, with formal dress, and then guests would bring separate indoor shoes to wear at the party. I wouldn’t bat an eyelash at seeing someone’s stockinged feet on a chair, but outdoor shoes or completely bare feet, no way. That said, my office has banned outdoor shoes for hygiene reasons, and everyone has office shoes at work that at least supposedly have never been used in the street. We also need boots for several months of the year, and those are too hot to wear for hours on end.

  34. Between a Rock*

    For reference, I’m the third person in my position within the past 2 years. I am part of a small department. My job is different from the others in the office, but there is some overlap. I sit with two other women, “Jane” (been there for 10 yrs, in her 60s.) and “Nancy” (new manager, but not my manager, in her mid 40s). We all have the same boss.

    Jane has never liked me from the start. Nancy has only been with our company for 6 months, but seems to have adopted Jane’s attitude in “mean girling” me.

    She talks with Jane and the boss a lot, but never with me. I’ve tried but it’s awkward and uncomfortable. Once we were all talking to the boss and Nancy was having trouble remembering something. I said, “Oh, do you mean Llama Cafe or the Camel Restaurant?” And she said, “I meant the Llama Cafe”, but she sort of snapped at me. My boss looked embarrassed and changed the subject.

    Another time my chair tipped back and I sort of slid out of it and Nancy started smirking. If the same thing happened to Jane, Nancy would not laugh.

    Nancy and Jane also make fun of others and often whisper to one another/talk about others, so there’s that.

    I’m the youngest female out of the three and the rest of the workers are men, so I can’t see how she would treat other women or if it’s just me. I don’t know if I did something wrong or if this is how she would treat anyone, but I feel very uncomfortable.

    I just want to shout out, “What’s your problem?” but that is neither professional nor helpful.

    I feel like I’m doing something wrong because it seems targeted at me and they’re very obvious about it.

    Has anyone been in a situation like this? What did you do? How did you handle it?

    1. elle*

      It sucks, and it’s going to suck. I’m sorry that you are dealing with it. The only strategy that sometimes helps me is deciding to pity them. They are being immature and silly, and that’s kind of pathetic. Internally roll your eyes and remember their opinion of you is not worth a bag of dirt.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        One 60’s, the other 40’s, you younger. It may be the age gap. Some 40 y.o.’s — or 60 y.o.’s — could relate to you but others may not. They have more experience, too. You may seem too “perky” for them. It depends on how people age.

        1. PollyQ*

          Nah, good people treat other people well regardless of age gaps or other demographic differences. These are just plain old nasty, unpleasant people, and I’m not suprised to hear that there’s been so much turnover in the role.

          Best thing is to only interact with them politely & professionally, but don’t expect or try for any kind of friendship.

    2. Bess*

      Doubt you did anything wrong–sometimes small groups just get like this. It’s hard to do in the moment, but try as hard as you can to understand it’s not a reflection on you. There are people who just need to feel more powerful or superior and this is one way they do it. It’s mean-spirited and unfair to you, and you’re probably not going to be able to do anything to change it. It’s very likely not about you, so try not to internalize it.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It could be coincidence but you are the 3rd person in 2 years???

      Please google around and find out about work place bullies- what are some of the specific things that bullies do.
      I worked with a woman who constantly rolled her eyes, to the point that others complained. The boss told her to stop- as in “stop- hahaha”. (No change happened.) Sure enough, frequent eye rolls combined with other things is something workplace bullies do.
      These two seem pretty close contenders for bully status. Especially with that part about gossiping about others.

      Set a time limit. Either things get better in x months or you’re out of there. At some point it stops being a cohort problem and starts being a boss problem. If the boss will not step in, there’s not much you can do here. Leave before you end up reeling from this crap.

  35. anon for this one*

    The Bored Panda piece about food thieves yesterday reminded me of the time when I worked in an office where people would constantly abandon restaurant food in the fridge. Unlike the “forgotten” frozen meal which may or may not be forgotten and – more to the point – won’t go bad because it’s frozen, people at this office would bring back full entrees from the many nearby restaurants, stash them in the fridge, then forget about them until they went bad and someone else (usually me, since it was nobody’s job to clean the fridge and I was apparently the only one who cared enough to do anything about it) threw them away.

    After the third time I threw away an entire pizza covered in mold, I put a sign up on the fridge saying all food must be labeled with your name and the date, and anything unlabeled or more than three days old would be thrown away. People actually did label their food for a while, but after a few weeks they all stopped. After that, if an untouched restaurant entree sat longer than two days, I ate it. I never touched anything that was clearly brought from home, only takeout. I’m not exactly proud, but I’m not ashamed either – I had ample evidence that the food was forgotten and would end up needing to be thrown away, so I saw it as a perk of taking on a gross job that nobody else wanted to do.

    1. Beka Cooper*

      That is an amazing solution, I love it! I always get frustrated when my husband insists on saving things, or mentions that I should leave certain leftovers alone because he wants them, but then he never eats them.

      1. Artemesia*

        In our new condo we have a refrigerator that is built in and shallower than the freestanding ones we have always had. This has been a godsend as we don’t end up with science projects in little tubs deep in the refrigerator. WE almost never have leftovers that need to be thrown away now since they can’t get lost in the back.

      2. Clisby*

        One of our house rules is that restaurant leftovers belong to the person who ordered them for 24 hours. If they haven’t been eaten by then, anyone else here can eat them. If they’re still there after 48 hours (i.e. nobody seemingly wants them) they’re tossed.

    2. Dog Coordinator*

      Semi related, but I had a coworker at a previous job that never brought lunch, and would eat some of the free food we had (a very common thing at that job!), but would also eat ANYTHING that was old (nothing moldy, just “self stable” foodstuffs that were expired). He wouldn’t steal anyone’s food, but I can vividly remember him eating a can of chef boyardee that was probably 5-8 years out of date. No one remembered who brought that can in or when. He said it tasted fine! Just recently I heard (through another former coworker) that he had decided to make a lunch out of some rice cakes and peanut butter left in the lunch room. The peanut butter was out of date, but he figured it would also be fine! Turns out peanut butter can go rancid! Not sure if he will be as trusting of expired foods now…

    3. Miss Bookworm*

      A coworker and I are the unofficial fridge cleaners. Whenever the fridge started getting really crowded or we noticed something had been in there for awhile we would just go on a fridge cleaning spree. If it didn’t have a name, had been in there longer than a week (excluding condiments), or was an expired condiment then it was tossed. We even started sticking a box of baking soda in there. We’ve only had to clean it once since March 2020 and that was in April 2020 when we realized we weren’t opening up fully anytime soon. Those of us who have been hybrid all along have been really good not leaving things in the fridge longer than the day they’re in the office (excluding condiments), which makes me think it’s those who WFH fully that are the issue.

    4. Bostonian*

      As long as you’re clear about what’s going on (label your food or it gets removed!), I don’t see a problem with this at all. Seems reasonable to me.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      Personally I think that’s a good solution. Maybe offer fair warning on the fridge sign that any restaurant leftovers would be considered abandoned and up for grabs after 2-3 days, but it’s far less wasteful than watching obviously forgotten but otherwise perfectly good food just go to waste.

  36. Whataboutthat*

    Has anyone seen a company actually deal with a sexist coworker in an appropriate way? I’m now in my second job dealing with a sexist coworker and it seems neither organizations have taken real action.

    I read the recent Ask the readers post about dealing with a sexist coworker and I swear it could have been my workplace. The sexism isn’t blatant like ‘women need to schedule all the lunches’ but it’s very clear both of these men speak to and treat women differently. One example is continually following up with women who support a task vs the male task owner even though they are at the same hierarchy level. If a woman has unpleasant news to deliver (ie ‘this timeline needs to be pushed back’) it’s a problem but if a man said the same thing on the same project, it’s totally OK. The way they speak to women is aggressive and has a threatening tone. Multiple women and men have given this feedback- directly to the sexist person’s manager- and my old boss actually was in a longstanding HR battle over it(over 3 years).

    I just found out my old boss has left oldjob because of their refusal to take action about this. I’ve spoken to my current boss about my current sexist coworker and while she agrees he speaks inappropriately rude to me, she sees it as more of a personality conflict I need to handle and no reason to escalate it.

    I’m just so frustrated that both of these men are not only kept in jobs but also given promotions. I do work in a typically male dominated industry but there are plenty of women at the top (both of these men’s managers are women!) at both organizations and I’m in shock that this is allowed to continue on after the numerous complaints.
    Am I being unrealistic in my expectations of the organization to do something about this?

    1. Bess*

      It’s not an expectation you should lower, but in my experience I have never worked in a place that is willing to address this kind of open sexism. Honestly, most places I’ve worked will not directly address other significant conflicts, either, which always means there’s some kind of toxic corner you have to learn to navigate around.

      It’s so easy for management to say it’s a personality conflict because most managers don’t want to go after something like this. It’s obviously not, based on what you’ve described, but it’s code for “I’m not making this my battle.”

      With sexism specifically, there’s still this really weird hesitation to call it what it is. Like it’s “rude” to name the root of the rudeness? Like we’re all just supposed to pretend the person is a general jerk when they’re just a jerk to women.

      1. JK*

        Same. I don’t think we should accept this kind of behaviour, but I’ve literally never worked somewhere that did anything about it. :(

        I’ll add that someone can be a jerk to everyone (men and women) but still show sexism in the specific way that they’re a jerk to women — it’s not necessary for the aggression to only be directed at women.

    2. Mockingjay*

      I’m so sorry. I could have written this. I’m one of 2 women in a team of 25 men. If I had a nickel for each time a real sexist issue was dismissed as “personality conflict,” I could buy a small country. I am not too surprised that the female managers are letting it go. My manager is a woman and she’s ignored some of these things, mainly because she has to pick winnable battles.

      What do I do? I fall back on process for everything. For example, I don’t follow up on tasks anymore. I get these requests daily too. We have a tracking system to route work which everyone is required to use, although the team tries to get me to fill out and update their tasks. “Sorry, that’s Fred’s task. I did my piece as requested and assigned the task back to him. Check with him, he’s got the current info.” Repeat EVERY SINGLE TIME.

      For bad news, I always cc the manager and describe the problem. “The teapot production report is late; George has not provided last month’s sales figures yet. The inputs were due as usual on the 5th of the month.” Note that I don’t provide a solution. Let the boss figure it out. There’s a process – inputs are due at the same time each month – so you can compile a report. Same thing when I reject an engineer’s report. I mark it up according to the stringent technical standards we must comply with, then send it back to them. If they make the changes, great. If they don’t, shrug. I did my assigned work. I’m not tracking whether Fred does his; that’s the manager’s job.

      TL;DR: Make process your friend. You do your piece, then send it on to the next, and act puzzled/have no idea when the boys try to dump stuff on you. Don’t accept, redirect.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      Don’t assume that all women are feminists or willing to stand up against sexism. Sounds like your organization is toxic from the very top, so you should start looking for a new position.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This is an example of how women help to perpetuate sexism in the workplace. It’s a personality conflict? Really?

      My suggestion is to get an article or two on what sexism can look like in action and give them to your boss.

      But going in a different direction one thing that jumped at me here is that she says she knows he speaks inappropriately rude to you but it is a personality conflict? I’d ask how can it be both. He’s rude or you both have a personality conflict it’s one or the other not both.

      UNFORTUNATELY, one inroad here maybe to shift from sexism to rudeness. “Okay we both can agree that he is rude. Is this acceptable here? What if everyone spoke to everyone else in a similar manner would that be okay? IF it is indeed a personality conflict isn’t it true that one of the unspokens that we are compensated for is our willingness to get along with other people? I am trying to maintain professional decorum and he needs to do the same.”
      This is lame, because it falls short, I DO get it. But if you really want the job and/or quitting is not an option then this angle might be an angle to consider. Rudeness stands on its own. We are paid to get along with people NO matter what we think of them. She seems willing to admit that he is rude, so maybe that is the common ground you have to work off of.

    5. not that Leia*

      I’m a woman in a male dominated field, and (shockingly) have been dealing with this seriously for the first time recently, and with a client. It’s really insidious, and frustrating, because even though I KNOW my boss has my back, we’re not going to give up the work. So I’m stuck managing this dude’s feelings of resentment, manifested as aggression and rudeness every time I don’t act like a secretary. It’s clearly gender-based, but oddly, it ends up being MORE confrontational to accuse him of sexism than just plain rudeness (we’re in a very liberal area), so we end up trying to deal with each individual behavior as it comes up…while I seethe with rage on the side. It’s…marginally effective at least?

  37. Limepiranha*

    How many thank you follow-ups are too many?
    I am in the 2nd interview stage of a multilevel process with many applicants.
    In my first interview, I met with the direct manager for this position and send a follow-up thank you.
    This week I met with an HR manager and then a team (previous manager + 3 team members).
    Do I continue to send thank-yous to all that I interviewed with, just the HR manager?
    How much is too much?

    1. JustMyImagination*

      If you met with them as a panel, what about one thank-you sent to all panel members?

      1. Limepiranha*

        I would like to do that, but would it be weird since one of the panel members was the manager I already send a direct follow-up to previously?

    2. Combinatorialist*

      I really don’t think anything you do once after an interview is “too much”. It is not necessary, but no one is going to be like “Limepiranha followed up after all 3 of her interviews. That is a bad thing”

  38. BananaBread*

    If there are any hiring managers, I would appreciate some advice. I currently work in a STEM field – lets call it Teapot Making. I Make Teapots. I have a PhD in Teapot Making. I have significant experience in it at this point. I hate Teapot Making. I want to move into an adjacent field where I can use my knowledge – I want to go into Teapot Regulating. When I look at specific jobs, they want my level of education, but I currently Make Teapots in an unregulated field and therefore do not know any regulations pertaining to the Making of Teapots. If you saw a candidate like me, how would I convince you I was serious about a change in field? How do I mention that I am reading about Teapot Regulations on my own time? There is some adjacent certificate courses I can take, that cost thousands of dollars, but people have told me that those courses don’t really mean much to those hiring managers except maybe as street cred. It feels like a weird thing to mention in a cover letter, and its not really verifiable until an interview at which time – I am reading on my own time but don’t know how to fit all the information in real life. Any advice is welcome.

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      I’m not a hiring manager, but I recently jumped from research to regulating in a STEM field myself. In my department most of us came in without much knowledge of regulatory work, and there’s a training program to kind of get us up to speed. I was able to leverage a lot of the skills I got in research – self direction, project management, team building, synthesizing complex information, etc. in the interview.

      1. BananaBread*

        It might be my cover letter/resume. I am incredibly bad at talking about myself. I am trying to use tips from this site but its still hard to talk about what I do and what skills I have because I always wonder if I actually have those skills and how developed they actually are. Thanks for the insight.

        1. Anonymous Koala*

          If you’re close to any of your former lab members or colleagues, this is something they might be able to help you with. When we were interviewing my lab mates and I used to mock interview each other and talk about each person’s strengths/weaknesses, etc. We spent so much time together that we had a good idea of each person’s professional strengths in relation to others in our field, and it was a good way to check my own perceptions of my skills.

    2. JustMyImagination*

      I’d mention it in the cover letter and relate it to your current scientific knowledge. I’m on the regulatory side and we want people with the technical/scientific knowledge because part of our job is advising and helping to make sure problems are handled in a compliant way. Someone with the scientific backing is more likely to make practical and realistic suggestions that are both scientifically sound and compliant.

      1. BananaBread*

        The job listings seem to want less concrete skills, e.g. preparing documents for submission, finalizing and reviews regulatory documents, rather than specific skills like a more research oriented job. When I write the cover letter/resume, I have a hard time knowing which set of skills to include (hard STEM or soft skills like project management). Do you think a mixture is better so that they actually know my scientific background and whether it fits? Thanks for the response.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Given that you have related technical experience rather than direct experience in the field you may need to take a step back on the career ladder to make such a move. You would be more-or-less an entry level employee as you are taking on a role in which you have no experience, regardless of your education and what you are doing now. So sell your relevant experience, but be realistic in what you apply for – don’t expect a job at your current level – but ask about opportunities for advancement.

    4. Jobbyjob*

      As someone in pharma (a regulated industry) who also is in a technical management role that isn’t Regulatory but works with them I recommend finding your same type of position in the regulated version of your company. Then the internal jump from “SME who works with regulatory function” to “actual regulatory rep” is much smaller since you are already expected to have a level of familiarity with the regulations in your technical role.

  39. Anonymous Koala*

    I’ve recently found out I’m the lowest paid person in my position by a lot – 87% of the others make at least 40k more than me (there are about 40 of us with the same title/job description), and the next-lowest paid person makes at least $12k more than me. I’m also the newest hire, so it’s not exactly a surprise, but it still bugs me since we’re all doing the same work. I have a mid year performance review coming up and my boss has unofficially told me that it’s going to be a great one. Is there anything I can say to try and set wheels in motion for a higher than normal raise next year to try and close the gap? Should I address the pay gap at all? Or should I wait until my official year end review to bring up money? I’m also up for a promotion next year that will come with a $10k raise if I get it, but it’s still not even close to what everyone else is getting.

    1. searching for a new name*

      Do you have the least amount of experience on your team? I get that you’re all doing the same work but usually the longer you’ve done work the higher you get paid. Like on my team we all do tax returns, but less senior members of the team do easier returns while I can get through the more complex ones or review their work or am generally just more efficient because I’ve prepared these returns many times before. Is that part of this equation?

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        I do have the least amount of experience, but only by a few months (about 25% of us were hired in the last 12 months). It’s true that some of the people who make a lot more than me do more complex work, but some of them do work that is about my level of complexity or even easier. We do regulatory work, so most people come in without any regulatory experience, but some of them have come from more senior positions in industries that command higher salaries than mine, so I suspect some/most of this is salary matching.

        1. searching for a new name*

          based on your answer I would bring it up. There might be valid reasons or there might not be. If I were in your shoes (it sounds like the salaries are public or something of that nature) I would approach my boss and explain what you wrote in your initial post. I’ve asked for a raise every year and I always go in with a list of what I’ve accomplished in the last year, even if they are just bullet points it helps her present it to the powers that be. At least if the answer isn’t right now, it might put the wheels in motion for the next time they do raises

          1. Anonymous Koala*

            Thanks, this is encouraging! I think I will bring it up, and I’ll try and work on a script that sounds more collaborative and highlights my achievements in the role.

    2. Rick T*

      How does your experience compare to others in your position? You don’t have the same tenure, and tenure and experience are two factors that drive a lot of pay disparities.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        I don’t have much tenure in this position, but a lot of us are in the same boat (hired within the last 12 months). I came in from academia, which historically commands lower salaries than some of the industries other people came from, so I wasn’t able to leverage my previous salary for higher pay when I came in like I suspect a lot of my colleagues were. But I still can’t help but feel like similar work = similar pay, not tens of thousands of dollars difference. Maybe that’s an unreasonable perspective, though?

    3. Distractinator*

      Absolutely bring it up!
      This would be a great time to ask questions like if all new hires are brought on (N%) lower than average. And if so what the timeline is for that increase, or if not how did you end up being special and how do you/boss/all fix it? You can go into it non-accusatory; you’re not demanding cash or feeling slighted by them, instead you’re interested in reasons and in defining timelines for addressing that (reasons or mistake, whatever it may be).

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        Thanks for the encouragement! This is exactly how I want to bring it up, but I’m struggling a bit with scripts and not sounding presumptuous or offended. I really love everything else about this job, so I don’t want to ruffle feathers, but I also want to be paid market rate or at least understand why I’m not at market rate.

    4. Anon for this*

      How’s your relationship with your boss? That can shape how you want to approach it. My relationship with my boss is great, so I just mentioned that I found out someone who does basically the same job is a grade higher than me. He took it to HR and is working to make sure my promotion that was already in the works is in line with my new responsibilities and not just a step up from now.

      If you’re not as close, think about the best approach with them. Are they a data person? Or swayed by stories? Frame the approach to match their style.

      Regardless, you should ask. You’re doing the same work, you learned you’re being paid substantially less, and can your boss advocate to make it right. I would do it informally now and not wait for your review – the more notice your boss gets the better. Maintaining salary parity is important, especially if a company recognizes the DEI implications.

      1. Anon for this*

        Since it sounds like you’re at a big organization, I should also mention that your boss may not know about the pay disparity. Some companies keep that kind of thing very close to the vest – my boss asked me how much they were paying me after I started because HR didn’t/wouldn’t tell him. Assume your boss’s positive intent going into the conversation – of course they’re going to react in horror and advocate to fix it. That reframes it to a “we’re in this together” conversation, which is usually easier to have.

        Good luck!

        1. Anonymous Koala*

          Thanks for the advice, this is really helpful! My boss seems great so far, but we’re 100% remote and right now another dotted-line supervisor is overseeing my work, so I only talk to my actual boss for about 10 minutes twice a month and I don’t have a good sense for how she approaches problems yet. It’s a huge org with fairly transparent pay info (which is why I was able to do so much salary digging) but they’re also pretty rigid about promotions and payscale raises and things, and she probably doesn’t know exactly how much less I’m getting paid. But I will try and approach it more collaboratively and positively. Thanks for the good wishes!

  40. ItsTough*

    Hi all. I’m looking for tips on dealing with the stress and negative emotion that comes with managing an employee that you know you need to let go.

    I inherited an employee that is a bad fit in their current role. Unfortunately, they are not pleasant to deal with and previous managers kicked the can and allowed the problem to fester and get worse. The employee liked that leadership was so hands off that now any attempts to discuss issues with him are seen as micromanagement by him which causes him to lash out further. I’ve been cussed at by them and they’ve raised their voice to me multiple times when presented with evidence of serious issues such as not working during work hours. I’ve done extensive research and tried various measures to connect with this employee and nothing has worked

    They are going on a PIP, and at this point, after they swore in the meeting with HR that they requested to have, HR is putting together a severance package because it’s not likely this employee will come off the PIP.

    I’m stuck. I feel bad. I’ve invested so much time and energy in making this work but I’ve realized that it’s a forgone conclusion. All trust I have with employee is gone and I honestly want them out now and I invest even more energy pretending to keep up appearances so I don’t hurt morale with my other employees.

    For those that have been in this spot, what did you do to help yourself and your team recover?


    1. Controlling Controller*

      I think this employee is doing you a favor by continuing their bad behavior in front of HR and that you should do you best to allow them to see themselves out as gracefully (and as soon as) as possible. I would make sure the timeline for the PIP is as short as it can be and during that time you can invest your energy into making sure you learn as much as you can about how to cover their position in the short term. A year from now, hopefully you will have a promising new staff-person and this will all be a distant memory.

      1. ItsTough*

        True. I have to admit that if they are willing to do that, how secure are they where I will have to worry about something. Workplace violence is so common that it doesn’t even make the news unless the body count is high enough. That’s the other part that is mentally draining me.

    2. curiousLemur*

      Your team is going to be SO glad when this person is no longer on the team. I’m kind of surprised the cussing hasn’t lost the person their job already.

      1. ItsTough*

        I almost fired him on the spot but that would come off as hot-tempered so I took a deep breath and told him if it happens again, the conversation ends. But I insisted HR add it to his file since they witnessed it.

        1. Fran Fine*

          That would not have been hot-tempered on your part at all. You should have gone through with the firing as soon as he started cursing at you – this is not the streets, this is a workplace, and if he’s comfortable cursing you out like this as his boss, I can only imagine what nonsense he’s subjecting his coworkers to.

    3. Sparkles McFadden*

      Stay professional and as neutral as you possibly can. You will not need to recover when this person is gone because everyone will be relieve and so much happier. Trust me.

      1. ItsTough*

        I would think so, but our HR system allows for these shout-out automated compliments and he gets them. But they don’t know what I see. Plus they don’t have to judge his work performance or interact with him as much as I do.

        1. pancakes*

          It sounds like you should give these compliments very little weight. By your own description the process to give them out makes them easy to give and doesn’t require any knowledge of the recipient’s actual performance.

    4. Anonosaurus*

      I think you may find that the team doesn’t need much recovery time because getting rid of this individual sounds like it will improve everyone’s working lives 100%.

      I’m more concerned about you – this person has cursed at you, shouted at you, and treated you with profound disrespect, but you still seem to feel you haven’t done right by them. I commend you for making the attempt to rehabilitate this person but honestly, it sounds like that effort was always doomed. This guy has made his own choices and they aren’t a reflection on your management skills – it’s about their inability to understand what kind of behavior is acceptable at work.

      I, personally, would have started moving this person towards the exit the first time they cursed at me. So, and I say this with kindness, do you need to do some reflection on your own boundaries and prioritizing your own safety and morale rather than helping others who aren’t capable of accepting help? If I worked in your team my morale issue might not be the fact the guy has gone, but the length of time it took management to get him out the exit door. Might it help to recognise that he is where he is because of the choices he has made, and disconnect yourself from being responsible for his fate?

      1. Fran Fine*

        So, and I say this with kindness, do you need to do some reflection on your own boundaries and prioritizing your own safety and morale rather than helping others who aren’t capable of accepting help? If I worked in your team my morale issue might not be the fact the guy has gone, but the length of time it took management to get him out the exit door.

        All of this. I would have serious doubts about OP’s judgment and management abilities if I were on this team and watching this mess play out. This guy’s behavior has been extremely threatening and could have turned dangerous for all they knew – I would be incredibly uncomfortable working in an environment like this with nothing being done to remove the threat.

      2. ItsTough*

        I see your point, but it’s complicated. In my first notes after meeting with him after he was transferred under me was that, in my gut, I don’t see it working out with him. But I was concerned I was subconsciously making it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Then I got to know the history. Managers hated dealing with him so much that that they just didn’t. They came and went, and each one just decided it was easier to just let him be and underperform. So there’s no HR file on him. That was battle # 1 but cursing (which was not cursing me out exactly, but was cursing nonetheless) took care of that. Which is why he’s getting put on a PIP as the next step. Because there’s no file, HR is being extra careful for multiple reasons and I get it.

        I know he’s not acting like that with coworkers, just me. He has a clear issue with authority. Coworkers give him automated compliments in our company intranet occasionally. I pride myself on being a leader that will go in the trenches with my team, and throwing my title around and firing someone shortly after coming on board and even less time managing this guy did not seem wise optically. The tantrums he’s had with me were in private by phone or in the meeting with HR.

        He still needs to go. In hindsight, I should have done it sooner, but I hate the thought I was giving up on a person. I take that more seriously than I should probably.

        1. Anonosaurus*

          I’m sorry that your predecessors dropped the ball on this. I think you should give yourself a lot of credit for being the first person to actually manage this guy properly. Being the boss is partly about going into the trenches, sure, but it’s also about making difficult decisions and you are the first person to have done that in relation to this dude.

          Even though he doesn’t act out with people on the same level as him, I’m pretty sure they know what he’s like. People like that create and thrive on tension. Other people in your team will be aware of it.

          If he has that much of a problem with authority then he needs to address that and to do that he needs to face consequences for his behaviour which he is now doing. In a way, you might be doing him a favor. I don’t think managers who let this stuff run on are doing any good for anyone including the problem person themselves.

        2. Crabby Patty*

          >I hate the thought I was giving up on a person.

          But you’re letting your guilt interfere with keeping the morale of your team healthy and robust.

          Isn’t it time to focus on your other employees rather than this one? You’re punishing good employees by making this one person a problem to comnquer. Let it, and him, go, before you find yourself blinking in bewilderment over why you’re suddenly losing good people.

          Is he really worth risking that? Doesn’t seem like it.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      This sounds too simple to work: I vowed not to make the same mistakes again. I can’t control what anyone else does. There’s me and that’s it.

      Start with the rule of three. You see something three times you have a pattern and you can address that pattern. The longer things go on the bigger the entitlement grows so nip it as soon as you know you see a pattern.

      Yelling and cussing are not acceptable. Period. Perhaps a day’s suspension is in order. Something needs to happen the first time you see this one.

      Morale is already hurt. Please don’t pretend it is not. I am not sure what you mean about keeping up appearances- but I hope you realize this strategy will not serve you. If he treated you this way, he treated them at LEAST 2-3 times worse. This is not to make you feel worse- this is to forearm you. You can explain to your people that cussing and yelling will not be tolerated between any two people. Explain that professional behavior is expected from everyone.

      For yourself, watch how most people progress along. You should be able to find patterns of ranges- such as by 3 months most people can do ABC and by 8 months most people can do DEF. This will give you basis for setting expectations for people. If people are not meeting expectations then they may need to move toward the door.

      I am not sure what you spent time researching but don’t put more care into another person’s job than THEY DO. I can tell you where I have spent chunks of time researching-as an example, I had a cohort who was slowly losing their vision. I researched key board short cuts, equipment and programing to help them stay in their job longer. Here’s the kicker: With each thing I added they were doing BETTER. It’s okay to look for incremental improvements even proactive suggestions are steps forward. But don’t work harder than the person who is holding the job.

      What helps the team recover is finding that new stability and staying there. This takes time and it takes being consistent with boundaries, rules, policies and so on.

    6. Purple Cat*

      My boss gave me 2 tips to help ease my guilt.
      1) I have a responsibility to the company and to use/spend the company’s resources appropriately. Therefore I can’t continue to waste money on an under-performing employee.
      2) As managers, we have to give our employees the tools to succeed, but we can’t MAKE them succeed. That’s on them.
      Coworkers don’t like seeing underperforming peers stick around. They will (more than likely) be relieved when this person is let go and someone else comes in their place.

  41. Negotiating for Two*

    I just got a *tentative* job offer from my top choice of employers I’ve been interviewing with. The offer is tentative because they decided to hire more people than originally planned, and need to go through some additional administrative hoops to get me a formal offer. They expect to be able to give me a formal offer around July 4. I will need to relocate for this job and need to give my landlord notice by the end of June. Normally I’d feel comfortable moving forward on the assumption that I will ultimately accept this position. However–plot twist–I’m pregnant and haven’t told the employer yet. Before making any big decisions like moving to another city, I’d like to get SOME sort of assurance that I can take SOME amount of maternity leave. I understand I won’t qualify for FMLA and probably also won’t qualify for the organization’s parental leave policy, since I won’t have worked there a year yet. I don’t really know how short-term disability works and whether that would be an option. Basically, I would prefer to wait to discuss this issue until I have a formal offer, but I don’t think I can wait that long given the tight timeframe for needing to move. Does anyone have any advice about broaching the subject with an employer before getting a formal offer? Do I have any recourse if they can’t offer any leave? For reference, my due date is September 29. Start date for the job is TBD, but I would like to start at the beginning of August.

    1. Filosofickle*

      Is there any way you can swing an extra month’s rent, to give yourself an overlap? That way you could wait to give notice until it’s a done deal, even if it means paying double rent and leaving the old apartment vacant for several weeks. Personally I wouldn’t give notice until I had that offer in hand.

      1. Negotiating for Two*

        I wish we could–asked the landlord if we could go month-to-month on our lease but he said no, we have to sign a one year lease or vacate the premises. It’s especially frustrating because he offered us a month-to-month lease last year. If we sign a lease for another year, the penalty for breaking it is we have to continue to pay rent until they find a new tenant, which could be quick or could take a long time–no way to really know.

    2. Joielle*

      Can you ask to see their benefits package and employee handbook, if you don’t have it already? I think that would be a pretty normal request at this stage and it might give you a place to start. Maybe some of your questions will be answered just through reading the policies, and if you have remaining questions you could talk to HR. Especially if your questions are about short term disability – I know that’s often used for pregnancy but not always so it wouldn’t necessarily tip your hand.

    3. Double A*

      This is tricky. You might want to check your tenant laws–some cities or states require that a lease roll over to month to month at the end of the term automatically; even if the landlord wanted you out, they would need to initiate an eviction and that takes time and money. If you push back on them, they might be willing to basically accept your notice for the end of July, especially if you give it early in the month. Another thing is, yes the penalty for breaking the lease is that you have to pay rent, but another rule a lot of states have is that if you have a tenant to replace you, the landlord has to accept them– they can’t just keep the place empty for a year and make you pay. It’s more work for you, but something to consider.

      Even if the offer is tentative, you can ask about benefits like short term disability. Unfortunately, since you’re already pregnant you probably can’t be covered by a new policy since it’s a preexisting condition. If you currently have SDI you could contact them to see if you’re able to continue your policy, but I think they’re usually tied to a specific workplace unless you’ve gone to the private market. Or if you pay into state SDI.

      It’s really sad, but pregnant people have basically no protections within the first year of a job unless their employer offers them (there are exceptions in some states; you don’t happen to be on the west coast do you?) However, this is definitely something you can and should negotiate once you formally get the offer.

      1. Name (Required)*

        Preexisting condition exclusions do not apply unless you have a significant break in creditable coverage – it used to be 93 days but may be different now. Moving directly to a new policy from an existing policy is not a break in coverage and preexisting conditions should be covered.

    4. Name (Required)*

      Do you really want to give notice at your job and plan to move without a firm offer?

  42. Totalanon*

    I need a reality check. My intern never sent me the document they were working on before they left. I’m so mad at myself for not more diligently following up before they left, but I was trying not to micromanage/be kind by not breathing down their neck. I just can’t get over the unprofessionalism of not sending your work.

    Alison says that it’s beneficial to coach interns more than you would an more advanced professional, so I don’t know if it’s worth me reaching out to 1) correct the record that they should not ever contact me for any help/a reference in the future (I told them let me know if I could ever be a resource for them) . And 2) let them know how unprofessional it was to drop the ball like that. But I think my impulse to reach out is more because I’m pissed that they screwed my company over by essentially getting paid to do no work their last two weeks. I feel like I should never manage anyone ever again after this failure :(.

      1. Totalanon*

        IT is working to retrieve, but I don’t have an insight into the timeline/progress, so for now I’m just sitting in the dark. Thanks for this suggestion through!

    1. Ruby Rhubarb*

      Also, some of the responsibility is yours here – I know it’s hard to hear that now! But why didn’t you have them save it somewhere you could access it?

      1. Totalanon*

        Oh, 100%. That’s why I describe it as a failure on my part, say I’m mad at myself, and why I never want to manage anyone again :). As for why I didn’t have them save it somewhere central, there’s a couple technical reasons for that. But I’d love to take some lessons on this for myself since I’m sure there’s other ways I could have avoided this. I know not every intern is leaving their employer in a lurch like this.

        1. pancakes*

          You don’t think that what happened with this intern is a lesson in itself? It seems like an important one. Even if the technical reasons for not having them save the work someplace accessible are insurmountable, you now know that going forward, you should make a point of talking to interns about how to wrap up their work well before they’re out the door. If handing you a print-out is the only way to share a document, then that’s what has to happen. Making a checklist of intern-related tasks for yourself to reference and setting calendar alerts for you to have this particular conversation on, say, the Monday of the intern’s last week would probably be helpful.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          omg. I hope you are joking. If everyone who got blind sided by an employee quit, no one would manage anyone EVER.

    2. meh*

      Can you just reach out to the intern and see if you can get the document? Obviously I don’t have all the context here but maybe there was confusion on the interns side about submitting final work.

      1. Totalanon*

        I did (same day) once I realized they’d never sent it. They said they would resend and then…never did and stopped responding to me/never explained it. Maybe they got hit by a bus or something, but the more likely scenario seems like they either 1) lied about doing the work and just hoped I wouldn’t call them on it 2) couldn’t be bothered to spend 15 more minutes on something we paid them to do for two weeks. Ugh.

        1. Anonymous Koala*

          Honestly I might start working on a new copy of the doc from scratch. An intern who won’t even respond to your emails is probably not super conscientious, and in my experience, even the best interns rarely produce work that is usable without serious editing. And if you suspect that they didn’t even start the document, you might be better off working on the document yourself now so you’re not weeks behind if/when IT tells you the document never existed.

          1. Totalanon*

            That’s fair. I’m swamped either way, so I am prioritizing other stuff in case IT comes through. But maybe I need to reconsider. Thanks for the suggestion.

        2. Sparkles McFadden*

          I get that this is frustrating, but you will just have to move along with this and maybe start from scratch instead of driving yourself crazy over this.

          Don’t bother contacting the ex-intern for a scolding. I seriously doubt this person would use you as a reference after not sending the document, and if the person cared about being professional, the work would have been completed.

        3. AndersonDarling*

          I was thinking #1, they never finished the project. If it was the one thing they were supposed to be working on, you’d think they would be proud to hand it over. So I’m leaning more toward that they did a really bad job and didn’t want to turn it in, or didn’t do it at all. I’d assume it isn’t going to surface and do the work over.

    3. Skippy*

      Why not just email and ask if they can send it? It’s entirely possible they may have forgotten to do it in the rush to wrap up their internship and their semester.

    4. Reba*

      Why would you not…. reach out and ask for the work? I get that this is a pain for you, but they just made a mistake, as interns and other humans do, and *you* made a mistake here too.

      Or is it that they did not do it at all? “Screwed my company over” seems like strong language for this situation to me?

      1. Reba*

        Oh, I see in your reply that you did! That is a bit different. Still I don’t really see a benefit in responding as you suggested in your original post, it’s just lashing out at this point.

    5. Teapot Gnome Scandal*

      Is there no way to get a copy of the document, either from this person or from some shared drive that IT can access? Who knows if he sent it and fudged the email address or put it in the wrong folder.

      If not, well then….it’s crappy of the intern to have dipped out like that, and some directed feedback would be warranted.

      Now that it has happened, could you turn it into something productive by trying to standardize how intern documents are handled? Create an “intern” shared drive that their managers also have access to? A singular google documents account?

      Anyway, take time to be aggravated and communicate your frustration professionally to the intern.

      1. Teapot Gnome Scandal*

        welp this is what I get for not refreshing a page I loaded over an hour ago. Sorry to repeat some of the above!

    6. jenny*

      Without knowing more than you wrote here, it sounds like you are being too punitive on the intern given that you also dropped the ball.

      >> 1) correct the record that they should not ever contact me for any help/a reference in the future (I told them let me know if I could ever be a resource for them)
      Is this the only project they did for you? How was their overall quality of work and attitude? I think you can wait to say ‘I can’t provide a reference’ / ‘I can’t help’ until they reach out to you with a request. Otherwise this seems like reaching out just to say ‘hey, F you!’

      >> 2) let them know how unprofessional it was to drop the ball like that. But I think my impulse to reach out is more because I’m pissed that they screwed my company over by essentially getting paid to do no work their last two weeks.
      Coaching should be helpful, not scolding. It sounds like there were structures missing from this internship project:
      – a wrap-up meeting to make sure everything was completed. Initiated by you.
      – ongoing mid-way meetings about the work they are doing, to make sure they don’t need anything, it’s going OK, they don’t have any questions, and the work product is meeting your expectations and schedule. This is hardly micromanaging, especially for an intern. If they were able to ‘do no work their last two weeks’ – ie if you’re not sure if they lied about doing it at all – you were not managing them appropriately. Two weeks is a long time to go without any check-ins. Again, should be initiated by you.

      >> I feel like I should never manage anyone ever again after this failure :(.

      That’s a lot! Maybe you discovered you don’t /like/ managing people, and that’s okay. Otherwise, is this really such a catastrophically huge failure that you should never be allowed to manage anyone ever again? Or… is it just something you can learn from?

      1. Totalanon*

        Fair enough that I shouldn’t reach out about the reference piece. In terms of the check-ins along the way, I set up everything but a final meeting (because if they sent this over before the end of their time, then they wouldn’t have been working on anything). I asked all those questions about the document, but I never looked at it. Which, now I know not to do that again. But I wanted to trust that when they said they were working on it and everything was fine that that was the truth.

        1. ecnaseener*

          I’d also like to know if this was the intern’s only project or one of many. I get your fury if this was the only work they had for the whole internship and so you literally got nothing out of it.

    7. AutolycusinExile*

      I’m not clear whether you think the intern did this intentionally or not, which might affect my advice. Does your organization have a shared drive/OneDrive/Sharepoint/etc that the intern would have saved it to? Given that they had no way of predicting that no one would explicitly ask them for the document on their last day, it doesn’t seem super likely to me that they’d have done *none* of it (assuming you don’t have a separate reason to suspect that of them) so I think it’s worth looking. Alternately, can your IT team look for their recent files? How would your company handle file transfer if an employee passed away suddenly? If there’s really no recourse here, that tells me that there are organizational gaps that are at least as much of a problem as either of you two, so don’t beat yourself up too much. You already know what went wrong, so giving yourself grief at this point is unproductive.

      Actually, if you haven’t done this yet – since you have their contact info, I’d recommend starting by asking the intern where they saved it (or to send it to you if it’s on their personal computer for some reason). If they are no longer employed with your company then you obviously can’t have them do any actual work, but a brief email with a single and quick yes/no, it’s over here/over there question seems reasonable enough that it’s worth at least trying, if you haven’t already.

      I’d be reluctant to call them out on unprofessionalism too aggressively without more context confirming that the intern did any of this maliciously. Most interns will have little to no experience leaving a job or handing over a project, so I’d recommend framing things more like ‘When you leave a job or a project, it’s important that [x, y, and z] happen to ensure a smooth transition. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the opportunity to go over the process with you before you left but our field usually handles these situations by [how you want to handle it next time]. I wish I had done this with you before we formally parted ways, and I apologize for the belated handoff, but would you mind letting me know where X file is saved?’ – basically, treat it as a bog-standard teaching opportunity. (For them and for yourself – I feel like you’re being too harsh on yourself, here, too! Now you know what to do next time, and you seem like you’ll probably be very proactive about wrap-up next time, which is all anyone can ask for.)

      If you really do believe that they did this maliciously, I think it would be a kindness to let them know you won’t be giving them a good reference. Be matter of fact about it and don’t make that the teaching moment; just a quick this-is-why for context as nonjudgementally (read: professionally) as you can word it. But if you can extend them the benefit of the doubt first and see how they respond, that might give you valuable feedback about them in the event that it was just an oversight based in inexperience. And hey, you never know, you might manage to find the file!

      1. AutolycusinExile*

        Whoops, I see your replies with more context now!

        If you happen to have a personal email for them I still think it’s worth reaching out to ask for the file/its location one more time, especially given that they told you they’d send it. If they don’t reply again or say it doesn’t exist, then it’s definitely fair to let them know that this will, unfortunately, change the nature of the reference you’d be able to give them.

        Still, though, I feel like surely IT must be able to help. Otherwise I think my point stands about your organization’s IT/handoff processes, since you never know when someone will walk off the job or pass away unexpectedly!

        Give yourself time to feel frustrated, but then try to let it be. It’s just an intern’s work, and while undoubtedly frustrating I’ll bet neither the lost work time nor the unproductive wages paid will bankrupt the company. The intern screwed up, you had an oversight, and you’ll move past it – maybe treat yourself to a ‘aw, crap, but at least it’s over now’ dinner or something so you have something to look forward to once you’ve finished dealing with it!

      2. Totalanon*

        Thanks for this very kind and detailed response. I really don’t know if they did it intentionally/maliciously or not either…I know they knew they had to send it to me, so I’m really at a loss for (non malicious) reasons they wouldn’t have. Which is why I jumped to malicious, but maybe I do need to give more benefit of the doubt. Setting up more systems in the future is definitely the way to do it, and I really like your wording on how to reach out asking where to find the document without aggressively/judgmentally calling them out. At this point I’ve written off that the intern would respond at all, but if IT needs help trying to find the document on the computer, I’ll use that wording to see if I can get a response from them. Thanks again.

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I want to tell you about “slices,” which I think will change how you approach this stuff going forward. The idea is that when you’ve assigned a fairly substantial project, you ask to see “slices” of it along the way, so that you can make sure you’re both on the same page — and can course correct if you’re not, rather than the person putting a ton of time into the wrong thing and then both of you finding out at the end that it’s not right. So with a writing project, maybe you ask to see an outline early on, or the first few pages. With a data thing, maybe you ask to see how they’ve set up their template and the first day of data they’ve put in it. And so forth. Mainly this is about making sure you’re both on the same page before they go too far down the road with it, but it will also uncover it if they’re just not doing the work.

    9. FisherCat*

      As someone who was recently(ish) and intern but now am firmly in the professional world I have a few thoughts.

      1) was the not-turned-in project their only work product for the duration of the internship or was it one of many products? If its one of many, what were the quality of the others? Its unprofessional not to turn something in, but I did this once. I hadn’t finished the last of many projects from one internship, and it turned into a whole shame spiral that I was afraid to own up to. I did end up getting hired back there, given the quality of my other work they were willing to overlook it as an inexperienced person’s error that wouldn’t happen again.

      2) is the intensity of your reaction to this (“should not ever contact me for a reference”) legitimately reflective of the scale of the error or are you reacting to other things, like your own perception of this intern “getting paid to do no work” (do you know this is true?). I could see it both ways, but I lean toward this not being as serious as your post implies, absent any other intensifying facts we don’t have here.

    10. meyer lemon*

      I get the feeling that you may be taking this a bit too personally in both directions–you seem quite angry at both the intern and yourself. But I think this sort of thing is often just par for course when you work with people who may be new to office work, may not have great organizational skills and may not be as invested in your work or your employer as you are.

      Some interns are wonderful and conscientious, but I find it’s useful to try to calibrate how reliable they are early on and adjust your micromanagement levels accordingly. And I would try not to see it as the intern cheating you out of their work so much as being a bit disorganized and distracted. It’s not ideal, but it’s probably not going to be the last time something like this comes up, so it is probably helpful to try to view it as a predictable roadblock rather than a disaster.

  43. Where there's a will...*

    Really struggling with what to do: I left a job 2 months ago that was wrecking my mental health and got a new one. The new one seemed like a good fit at the time and I was really looking to get out of my old job. Fast forward to now and I’m about a month into this new role and it’s really not what I was expecting at all. There’s literally nothing for me to do! The business is cyclical but I’m not sure when/if it will pick up. I think I have 3 options:

    a) Stick it out and hope it gets better (even my manager acknowledges things are quiet)
    b) Try to find a new role in my current field and leave this one off my resume entirely
    c) Work on transitioning to a new role/field completely by getting a new certification. I’d love to do this but the role I’m looking to transition into in notoriously hard to break into and I thought I would get some skills in my current role that would help with the transition.

    This is only my second job and I feel so upset at myself that I get myself into this situation. I have learned a lot about myself though and how closely my self worth is tied to my productivity (good or bad as that is).

    1. DataGirl*

      Personally I’d try c)- you could take some classes online like at Coursera for example to gain some new skills. Your boss might even be willing to let you have work time to do classes if s/he recognizes it’s very slow.

    2. whistle*

      Since there’s nothing to do, how are you spending your time? Are you able to work on your own professional development, like the certification you mention, or even personal development (e.g. just reading or web surfing) when there is not work to accomplish? If they are letting you fill the free time as you see fit, I say go for (a)! Stick it out and work on your own stuff and see if it gets better.

      If they are micromanaging your downtime, then I would start job searching now without this job on your resume.

    3. Deborah*

      I started a new job in August to fill out a two person team that had been juggled by one person for a while. They kept saying that she was thoroughly overwhelmed and I didn’t see how for months. In December she took a week of vacation and it was really slow. She’s on vacation this week and I’ve been run ragged! I’m really looking forward to her coming back. So it might not hurt to give it some time, if you think you would like the job/work/culture generally if work picked up.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Two months is a really short time to get spun up in a new role. It can take 6 months to really get engaged in a role. Also, keep in mind that the pandemic has affected workloads at most businesses, even companies that don’t appear to have been affected much. My workload has been extremely light for the past year and a half. It’s slowly picking up but I don’t foresee a ‘normal’ workload until the next fiscal year.

      Ride it out, take some courses as suggested, learn as much as you can about the company and its projects. I think you’ll feel differently in a few more months.

  44. Beka Cooper*

    I was wondering about asking someone to be a reference for me, but I haven’t connected with her in a few years. When you ask someone if they’re willing to be your reference, do you generally ask about just one job, or would I ask for like, blanket permission to put her as a reference for any job I apply for?

    This person was my director in a department I was laid off from when our department was combined with another. She remained as a co-director of the merged department, but ended up retiring about a year after that, which I found out when I ran into her in the halls (higher ed institution). Since then, I’ve been working in another dept at the same school and haven’t kept in touch, but I do still have her personal cell from when we did some travel for work together. Would it be weird to reach out since it’s been a few years, and also considering that she’s now retired and not working anywhere? I don’t believe she’s on any social media either, so I think her personal cell might be the only way to get a hold of her.

    1. Ali G*

      It’s fine to reach out. Email would be better if you could track it down – maybe text her and say you want to email her ask for her address.
      When I last job searched I reached out to a handful of people and let them know I was starting a search and asked if it was OK to put them as a reference if I thought they were a good fit for that role. Then when I thought there was a chance they would be contacted, I emailed them to give them a head’s up with a copy of the resume and cover letter I sent and the job description.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I usually do a blanket request. A bit of small talk/catch up and a heads-up that I’m applying for jobs and would like to list them, and I offer to send a resume or remind them of my work since it’s been awhile.

  45. Inbox Overload*

    Lately I’ve been having like, crushing anxiety around my inbox. I’m relatively new to my role, and I just feel like every time I look at it there’s going to be A Big Problem, either something I forgot or screwed up, or something I have no idea about that’s going to take me down a long confusing rabbit hole. I realize this is probably a mental health issue as well and I’ve signed up to see a counselor but obviously that’s in demand right now and there’s a long wait. Sometimes I feel like if I just always have my inbox on and open, I won’t get the crushing stress of not having checked it lately so there’s All These Things in there when I *do* check – but, that’s not really how I want to live my life, either. Does anyone have practical tips to manage this while I wait both to settle in and for an appointment?

    1. WineNot*

      I work in an industry where nothing is even close to life and death – I’m selling wine for goodness sake, most people can live without. I am in a role where everything that I do has to be done pretty immediately, so I definitely stress about missing emails or potential mistakes I may hypothetically make, even if I know those mistakes haven’t been made. I know some colleagues who only scroll through emails 3 times a day and only answer the most pressing ones in between. I am the type of person to respond to something immediately if possible, though that causes me to jump around a bit with cutting into one task to answer an email or complete another. The thing I always make sure of is that a couple times a day, I read through my unread emails to ensure that I have seen everything I need to see. I file emails away in their respective folders for reference. I also have started keeping daily task/to-do lists so I can write something down that needs to be done or is notable so that I really double down and make sure I don’t forget.

      That doesn’t really touch on the anxiety part, but for me, I find that keeping tabs on my inbox all day long helps, and writing things down on the to-do list is a must for me to feel good and calm about what’s going on at work and in my email. Sorry this response is kind of all over the place but maybe something will help! Good luck with everything!

    2. Web Crawler*

      Practical tips in no particular order:

      1. Investigate why you have this stress. For example, did Big Problems always come via email in an old job? Then come up with some ways of reassuring yourself. For example, “this isn’t Old Job. I haven’t seen any Big Problem emails yet”. Write these down in a visible place if needed

      2. Figure out the reality of the current situation. I’m assuming you haven’t encountered a Big Problem yet, but you can ask a coworker or your manager- what kinds of emergencies come up, and what do they tend to look like?

      3. Come up with a system for handling emails and stick to it. Maybe it’s looking at your email for 5 minutes every 2 hours. Or at the end of the day unless it’s flagged “important” or from a specific person. If your system is time-based, set up an alarm so that you’re not watching the clock.

      4. Look up deep breathing exercises and practice them when you feel yourself get anxious. I probably should have started with this one bc it’s the thing that every single therapist has made sure I knew before we moved on to therapy stuff

      1. Inbox Overload*

        Thank you, I’m really trying to be granular about my issue, like what is it I’m afraid I’ll find in the inbox that’s causing this issue. I don’t think it would be as scary as my feelings, but it’s hard to pin down somehow.

        I was well liked in previous jobs and didn’t really have these issues although I think I recall them in the beginning. Change is hard.

    3. Filosofickle*

      I have a friend who struggles with this. One thing that helped her was figuring out which emails caused the most stress. For her it wasn’t uniform — she looked forward to some emails, it was a specific people/projects/organizations that gave her that sense of impending doom. By creating some smart folders, those were shuttled into a safe place so she could deal with them when she was ready and they couldn’t be there to ambush her every time she opened up the inbox.

      Personally, I do keep my email open all the time. Pretty much every expert advises against it, but for me seeing things one at a time and handling them is less anxiety-producing than opening it up once in a while and seeing ALL THAT STUFF. If I’m having a day where I feel absolutely attacked by the steady drip of messages I’ll turn it off but most of the time it works the other way for me.

      1. Inbox Overload*

        Even like, over the weekend, during the evenings, etc? I find myself procrastinating starting in the morning or on Mondays because I’m so afraid to check, even though I recognize it’s pretty irrational (I haven’t actually had an issue … yet). My gut is that never allowing a lull would help prevent this specific problem, but may create other ones.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Pretty much, yes! I’m rarely disconnected from my laptop for more than a couple hours unless I’m away, and my email is just constantly running. Obviously if I’m cooking or socializing or watching a movie, it’s closed but otherwise it’s generally running and near me. I know that makes me sound like a workaholic and I’m really not! I haven’t worked full time in years. I’m just computer centric, that’s where my hobbies and entertainment are. I’m self-employed, so that probably affects my perspective. Everything I do is for me / my clients.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      I felt this way all the time at OldJob, and it wasn’t until I left that I realized how toxic the work culture there was and how it affected my mental health. One thing that helped me was to set a specific windows during the day for reading and dealing with emails. I always checked emails from 8-9AM, 1-2PM, and 5-6PM, and I turned off email notifications so I wasn’t aware when things popped up outside those windows. Somehow having a set time to deal with emails helped me freak out less – it was like having a plan took some of the anticipatory anxiety off, and the intervals were close enough together that I never felt like I had waited ‘too long’ before responding to someone.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Well, if you can do something like this, then why not make a little chart to track how many times you ACTUALLY got the type of email you dread. Keep it real simple- like date and time then put an asterisk for all the difficult emails you get.
          Then review your chart on a regular basis. Is what is actually happening matching up to your level of worry?

          I have to tell you a story. I started a new job that was IMPORTANT to me. It was unlike other jobs, I could see myself working at this job for the rest of my life. I loved this job. So what happened next? I became afraid of the phone. (No email in those days.) I am not ordinarily afraid of the phone so this was weird. Then I saw the problem. This job actually meant something to me, I was afraid if I could not answer a customer’s question over the phone then I’d lose the job or some similar catastrophe.

          Well this fear was just going to keep feeding its own self if I did not do something. So I decided to work on a plan of what I would do if I could not answer a question. I came up with ideas A, B and C. I found that I was actually answering questions a little while later. New job and it took time to learn the usual questions people ask. But I only inquired about each thing once. So every time I had to go ask someone it was a question I had never asked about earlier. I also found I could look things up in books and references that were available for use.

          Honestly, I was never 100% confident but I did get much better. Running at the same time I allowed that job to mean waaay too much to me and that turned me into a sitting duck for whatever. Oddly, part of your solution maybe reminding yourself that this is not the last job on earth.
          In the end, I left that “Best Job Ever” because when my rose colored glasses came off, it wasn’t what I thought it was. So that infatuation blinded me in more than one way.

          I suggest using a chart to see what is actually happening. And I suggest making a plan for what you will do for emails that you dread.

          1. Inbox Overload*

            You’re right, a lot of it is coming from wanting to do well here and be liked after a period of unemployment; maybe a part of it will have to be mentally detaching a little more. And I’m not sure I’ve ever even gotten whatever kind of dreaded email it is I’m afraid of, honestly. Something to ponder.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Okay, this is good. So aim lower- what emails do you see now that seem difficult for any reason? How do you handle that difficulty?

  46. WineNot*

    My colleague, Betty, (she started as my boss when I first started, but we are now on the same level) has a laptop so she can work remotely due to the pandemic, as we all do, and so she can dock it when she’s in the office and pull everything up on her two massive monitors at her desk. Most of our company is working from the office, but I am only going in once a week right now. I was in yesterday and noticed that even in the office, Betty is only working form her laptop, even though she has the ability to work from her monitors. Not only is she choosing to work from her laptop, SHE DOESN’T HAVE A MOUSE. She is going to be out next week and was showing me one of her accounts to cover while she’s gone, and the rate at which she moves her cursor around the screen is……..unacceptably slow.

    It wouldn’t bother me as much if I didn’t know Betty is CONSTANTLY complaining to our entire office about how busy she is and how she doesn’t have enough time in the day to get everything done. As if we aren’t all insanely busy at all times too! Then I sat down next to her and saw her work, and saw her straight up refusing to use tools that she has access to that would improve efficiency an insane amount. I asked her about why she doesn’t use her monitors or use a mouse, and she gave me some “it’s easier to just keep everything on the laptop and not go back and forth to different keyboards” excuse.

    Betty has been in the same role at our company for almost 15 years. She is very set in her ways (which also include printing EVERYTHING so her workspace is completely covered in paper at all time). I asked our colleague in our department about it yesterday and she said “oh, it’s just Betty, she’ll never change”. Apparently our boss and IT have both tried to show Betty how to use the technology, but she refuses to use it. She never had a laptop before the pandemic so the refusal to use a mouse/monitors is a new thing.

    Normally I don’t care what she does and just keep my mouth shut. However, when her efficiency starts to impact me and I see how slow she is working, I feel as though I can’t NOT say something to my boss. I have a good relationship with my boss so I am not worried about him taking it the wrong way…but what are your thoughts on making it clear that something needs to change with Betty’s work habits? Thank you!

      1. WineNot*

        Thanks for pointing that out! I absolutely recognize that some people may not be able to. However, Betty definitely can as she did in the office for years before the laptop became available. That is partly why it concerns me. She is way less efficient than she used to be (which was already not very efficient) because she refuses to use a mouse or use her monitors, even though she’s used them for years and years before the pandemic.

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      If you are not Betty’s boss, the only thing you can do is to reflect back to your manager when her slowness impacts your deadlines.

    2. Coder von Frankenstein*

      I would stay away from her work habits and stick to the impact on you: Her slowness delivering X is causing you to have to deal with Y. That is the problem that you need to have fixed. How Betty and her boss go about fixing it is up to them.

    3. Sparkles McFadden*

      How Betty works is not your problem. What you need to focus on is how Betty’s output (or lack thereof) affects your work. If you cannot meet a deadline because you’re waiting for something from Betty, then you get to say “I am still waiting for the llama inventory from Betty” to your boss. You can’t say “My report is late because Betty won’t use her office monitors or a mouse.”

    4. TWW*

      Sounds like a BEC situation.

      As someone who must have a full-size keyboard, including 10-key number pad, a real mouse, and multiple giant monitors, I am flabbergasted by people who don’t mind working on an un-docked laptop. But those people exist, and some of them are very productive. Which makes me suspect that Betty would still be slow even if she got set up with the ultimate battle station.

      1. Girasol*

        To each his own. I like an undocked laptop. The low and angled screen works perfectly with bifocal lenses. I need the screen reasonably close so I prefer to use the laptop’s keyboard and not a separate one. I do like a top quality wireless mouse, though I’ve known people who seemed perfectly comfortable with the onboard mouse. As for Betty, if she got a laptop at the start of the pandemic and learned it so well that she won’t use her desktop equipment anymore, does it seem logical that she can’t learn to use a docking station and has forgotten how to use a mouse? That she has been around a long time and that people at the office are gossiping about her being “set in her ways” suggests that there’s a back story here that’s more about Betty’s age than her equipment.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      What exactly is the impact to YOUR work? How much is it slowing you down and why? Keep Betty’s technology habits out of it and focus on work impact to YOU. That’s what I’d want to know if I were her manager.

  47. Socks*

    I saw the vaccination incentive thread yesterday, but was out of town all week and didn’t get a chance to read it all, so I apologize if this already came up.

    Our company just announced the updated masking policy, which is based on the CDC guidelines. We’re headed back to the office this month. When we go back it’s basically back to normal for vaccinated people. Meaning we can go without masks and don’t need to distance from each other. Unvaccinated people will need to wear masks and practice distancing. The office is now set up so that distancing is very easy and there are rotating schedules to make it even easier. Plus we have the added benefit of partial WFH for everyone now.

    Ever since vaccinations started becoming available, HR has sent out emails to remind people of clinics being offered in partnership with healthcare facilities, the incentive being offered to be vaccinated or present something showing a medical exemption (free time off in both cases), all of which will be confidential. (Although managers will know which of their own direct reports, no one else’s, are unvaccinated so we can plan schedules and spaces.)

    There’s an uproar from the unvaccinated people: this is bullying; they will be “marked” as unvaccinated by having to wear a mask; this is creating a hostile work environment; “it’s my body, my choice”; our rights are being trampled; the emails are harassment; it’s not fair that masking will be enforced; and so on. They feel that “the policy should be all or nothing, and why should they be punished for their choice?”

    As a manager, I know I can’t say what I really want to say, which is that I don’t want to be punished because I decided to be vaccinated. I did it to lessen my risk and my risk to others, and so the pandemic can finally start to be over and life can start getting back to normal. I’m absolutely want to enjoy being able to sit in my office with the door open with no mask on. Or walk to the copier or whatever. My personal feeling is that they made their choice and they need to live with the consequences of that choice, which is to remain masked until such time we get to herd immunity (probably a long way off). That goes both for coworkers and my personal life. (As to the people at work, I absolutely know they’re not getting the vaccination because they don’t want to. There’s no medical exemption or religious reason—they told me directly they just don’t want it and there’s no incentive that will make them get it until it’s “officially FDA-approved.”

    My question assumes you know that the unvaccinated people in your department don’t have any medical reason for not getting vaccinated. So if you have people in your department who are unvaccinated, but you are, how will you conduct yourself as a manager? Do you plan to wear a mask in support of those people? Or will you go about your business and let them feel however they want to feel? How about from the coworker perspective? Would your answer change?

      1. AnonInCanada*

        I’m sorry you’re being put in this position. At this point (at least in most US states) it’s now become a matter of choice whether or not to get the vaccine. And the CDC has laid out the guidelines that allow businesses to do exactly what your company is doing. Personally, I would enjoy the freedom of being allowed to return to normal: you’ve got both shots, you’ve waited the two weeks after shot #2 to become fully vaccinated, so why should you be punished for doing the right thing? If the anti-vaxxers in your workplace are so offended by your company policy, they can quit and find a company who’ll accommodate them.

        1. Socks*

          Yes, this is exactly how I feel. But as a manager, I really can’t say that. I can to my own manager, but not others.

          1. Reba*

            I guess I don’t totally see why you can’t say some of this? You don’t want to get into a debate or your personal feelings, but it seems like you can stand by the company policy.

            You can say, it’s not a punishment; everyone is free to make a choice and then there are the consequences. The consequence of vaccination is lessened restrictions, and the consequence of avoiding vaccination is keeping the restrictions. You can inform them that the company’s stance is legal and that they need to lay their complaints to rest. “harassment,” OMG.

            1. Socks*

              You’re right–I can stand by the company policy, which I completely support. When the issue of discrimination came up (forgot to add that one to the list) I simply said the company is following the CDC guidelines, which is true.

              1. BRR*

                You can also say it’s not discrimination and your company is going by the science.

          2. AnotherLibrarian*

            Why not? They are welcome to have whatever feelings they want to have about the policy, but that is the policy and it is legal. So, they can get over it. I don’t have much sympathy and while all my reports are vaccinated, I have told coworkers who have complained to me about the mask policy this exact thing. But our institution hasn’t offered incentives for vaccination, other than flexibility with time off around an appointment and not needing to wear masks/social distance.

        2. JuJuBee*

          Thank you so much for saying this.

          Also, Right now the vaccine isn’t mandatory at our workplace and some folks who ARE fully vaccinated still won’t come to work without a mask. They don’t feel comfortable yet. So, the idea that the unmasked vs masked is and indication of something is false. We have at least two people who have been vaccinated and have chronic health issues that make them high risk still – so they mask-up as well. A person wearing a mask just feels safer and they shouldn’t be labelled as anything.

          We have many anti-vaxxers who won’t be getting the shots and so far the only chronic complaints are coming from that group and that group alone. Vaccinated people DON’T care because they’re VACCINATED! Funny how that works.

          Management’s response to inquiries about the unmasked (are they really vaccinated? how do you know?) has been; “That’s none of your business. If you don’t feel comfortable you are free to go.” So far, nobody has taken them up on that offer and quit. Their policy has been that we are to follow the CDC guidelines, and if you don’t like it, get vaccinated or quit. Your call.

    1. Artemesia*

      Even if they can’t get the vaccine for medical reasons (very few people are in this category and even fewer who are working) they are a public health hazard and need to mask. I would be matter of fact. If you are not vaccinated you are a public health hazard to yourself and to others in the office, so you will need to mask to protect others. No further discussion.

    2. WellRed*

      Hr needs to quit sending emails etc about how to get vaccinated. At this point everyone not only knows they probably are. I suspect that is fanning the Flames of Righteous Indignation.

      1. Socks*

        They stopped sending them about a month ago. So the people complaining this week haven’t gotten an email in a month. But they’re still being “harassed.”

    3. Double A*

      Yes it’s their choice… between remaining unvaxxed and wearing a mask, or getting vaccinated and being able to go without. Maybe explain to them it’s like a dress code, which is allowed to be different for men and women, so this is really just a variation on that. The dress code for unvaxxed people is mask required, for vaxxed people it’s mask optional. They also aren’t allowed to come to work in just their underwear even though it’s their body, their choice about when it comes to covering it with clothes. They can choose not to wear clothes, but then your business can choose that they are not allowed to have job with you.

      It’s truly astonishing to me how many people think there shouldn’t be consequences for their choices.

    4. meyer lemon*

      I would be inclined to frame it purely as a workplace health and safety issue (which it is!) because there’s such an established precedent of workers being required to comply with wearing safety equipment. It keeps it in the realm of professional vs personal choices. You’re not compelling them to get a vaccine. You’re not telling them what to do in their free time. You’re informing them of the safety standards and protocols that are required to work at your office.

      They will still be angry, but at least you’ll know that you did your best to be reasonable and professional when, let’s face it, they’re arguing for their right to make their coworkers sick.

    5. Katt*

      Can you compare it to drinking and driving? I could limit my drinking when I’m out, but perhaps I don’t choose to. I could choose to drink heavily and then get a ride home and come back for my car tomorrow. But that’s so inconvenient. Maybe I would prefer to drive home drunk, but since that risks others’ lives, it’s not an option. If I tried, sensible people around me would take my keys. If I complained that they were being mean and it’s my body my choice, they would ignore me. Same with covid: If people feel strongly that they do not want to be vaccinated, they have an option: masking and distancing. Okay, that’s unpleasant. But choosing neither and opting instead to risk others’ health is like crawling out to the bar parking lot with keys in hand. That behavior should be treated firmly and complaints should be ignored. (You might wear a mask in support of someone who’s immune compromised, who’s stuck with masking because immunity by vaccination isn’t an option. But that’s a different matter.)

  48. Maggie*

    Vent: We had a merger with another company and got 3 new members added to our team. One of them has shown herself to be unreliable and unprofessional. She doesn’t open up her email, says whatever comes to mind, called me “hon”, throws fits and doesn’t have the technical skills really needed for her level. She was supposed to report to me (I am the team lead) but she threw a fit to my boss how she was so shocked she was reporting to me and how she doesn’t want to change what she’s working on. My boss and I are annoyed with her and are going to have her continue working on her current tasks (a much smaller project) so she won’t have to work under me.

    I’m glad at least my boss recognizes her terrible behavior, but as we all know from this blog, incompetent people don’t think they are incompetent. She’s also slighter older (by 5-8 years) than the rest of our team but has the least experience and gets defensive if you point something out to her she did wrong. I wish she would leave.

    1. Mid*

      That also doesn’t sound like great management…she threw a fit and was rewarded by getting what she wanted? Why is she still employed and not on a PIP or let go?

      1. Maggie*

        We can’t give her a PIP yet technically, but my boss hinted how he doesn’t want me to deal with managing a PIP since he wants my main focus on my project. But we’ll see what happens.

    2. Artemesia*

      your boss by caving and letting her NOT work under you is reinforcing her dysfunction. How bouts he acts like a boss and let’s her know she will report to you and do X. And prepare to put her on a PIP with long term plan to terminate if she doesn’t perform.

      This is classic failure to manage, both by you and much more so by your boss not supporting you. Being defensive when corrected, refusing to report, insisting on doing what she has not been tasked to do are BEHAVIORS which should be managed.

      1. Maggie*

        Yes I agree. We discussed it, both him and I don’t want her working (since it would likely led to a PIP faster) on my project because there is a lot of stake in it. So it’s going to be on him to put her on a PIP.

        1. Maggie*

          I just reread what I wrote, finally processing this. I should have been firmer with my boss from the get go, but he kept getting into the weeds with me on her training, not telling her to reach out me instead of him for questions, getting an updated timeline (which I asked every f-ing week) and pushing back on him when he wouldn’t give me an answer on how she would support me once this transition was finally complete.

          Yes, she should have been let go or put on a PIP immediate. It’s that learned helplessness, very manipulative. She got want she wanted by asking like a brat, so why should she change? I like my boss, but he’s very laidback yet in the weeds with a lot. I doubt he’s going to tell her directly to shape up.

  49. Down time*

    I’d like some thoughts from people who have a lot of downtime at work. My work is very cyclical during the month, so sometimes busy sometimes not. There is not more work to do, I’ve asked my boss for additional work and she said that is just the nature of our area (we have to wait on other departments to finish their pieces before we can start on ours) and it’s fine if I’m not busy all the time. She even said going to coworkers offices to chat and reading on my phone is okay.
    We worked from home since March 2020 and are just starting to come back in the office half days and I forgot how boring it gets sometimes. It wasn’t as bad at home when I could throw a load of laundry in or walk around the yard but now sitting in the office waiting for work is mind numbing.
    I love what I do but I’m wondering how I used to fill my days or I just didn’t notice as much (the pandemic and losing loved ones to it have starting me asking a lot of questions about what I want out of life.)
    If you have a lot of down time at your job, how so you make it work?

    1. DataGirl*

      When I have periods of downtime I’ve taken free classes online, or I do things like organize my electronic files (for someone who works with data, I’m TERRIBLE about file organization).

    2. whistle*

      Read. I worked a smoothy cart for nine months once that did essentially no business. (They knew this – it was a health incentive at a college gym, so it wasn’t really supposed to make money, and I was told I just had to be there for the few customers each day.) I read and did crosswords all day long. I kept track and read 57 books in those nine months!

    3. Deborah*

      I had this a long time ago when I was much younger (2002-2006) and I used to talk on the phone, browse internet forums, and do computer based projects like preparing to lead a bible study or doing homework from college. More recently when I had downtime I read books or short stories online through websites like Scribd (ebook subscription service or clarkesworld (online scifi short story magazine). It depends on whether you need to look busy (i.e., using the computer) or could use your phone (i.e., play a game) or read a book or something.

    4. JustaTech*

      I try to keep a list of backburner projects that aren’t urgent or important, but I could do during the slow times.
      I’ve done a lot of Coursera/EdX type stuff, and last year our HR added a ton of “general business” online courses, so I took a lot of those (“how to be an good remote employee” “How to run an efficient meeting”, that kind of stuff).

      And I try to keep up on the literature (I’m in the sciences).

      But when all that runs out, well, there’s AAM, and tangential blogs and cleaning my email.

  50. Bored employee?*

    Is it ok to ask my manager what impact my work is making? I’m only three months in but I feel at times my work is kind of redundant: social media postings, newsletter emails…sometimes I’m not even sure how my work day passes and I’m left feeling like “what did I do today?” I finish all my task timely and sometimes with enough time to spare…am I just bored?

    I’m working at a nonprofit to so I would like to think my work is contributing to our mission but lately, I just feel like I’m clocking in and out.

    1. WineNot*

      I used to work at a non-profit in development/events/social media/PR so our team would always be posting on social media, sending newsletters, emails, etc, as well. For me, it was really cool to be able to see how many people were clicking on the links in the newsletters or the invitations. It would be really fun to stuff donation envelopes to send to our supporters, and then see the money physically come in in one of those envelopes. The non-profit I worked for was very small, so our whole team, Executive Director included, was always very open about money coming in and budget, so it was easier to see our direct impact. I also was around the kids we helped/in-kind donations we gave them, so it was very hands on and I always felt involved and like I was helping change lives.

      I am not sure how big yours is, but I think a little visibility would probably help you a ton to feel more fulfilled in your role. I would definitely talk to your manager and just ask if there are metrics and numbers they can share with you that would give you some of this information. Good luck!!

    2. OyHiOh*

      Start tracking your metrics! All of the social media platforms have data you can watch. Depending on what you use for sending out emails (we use ConstantContact), you may be able to track metrics on those emails as well. Start paying attention to trends. What kinds of material gets people to do something with your organization? Over time, that data can help you and your organization build more effective communications.

      Also, for your own headspace, track your tasks. Not to report to anyone, but so you can see at the end of the day what you’ve done. I keep a running log in a lined/dated journal, with notes about how long tasks took, if necessary. Like, I won’t note the 5 minutes spent uploading a document to our webpage, but i will note the 3 hours I spent collating the board packet into something useable and sending it out. It’s strictly for my eyeballs (and ocassionally a reference when my boss comes in and asks exactly when we did something) so I can go home knowing I did that whole page of stuff today.

    3. Liesl is my dachshund*

      I’ve worked in non-profit for 20 years in all the roles and I’ve felt this as an Executive Director and every role in between. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like you’re moving the needle even though it’s right in front of your face.

      Honestly, your manager might not know how your work is explicitly impacting the mission. I hate to say this but if I were asked this I’d be empty-handed. This is where you need to keep tabs on what you do, how you do it, and then figure out the results. This will do well for your resume. People often forget, in non-profit, that results matter not just how many envelopes you stuffed. You stuffed 1100 envelopes. Ok, so? “Coordinated an 1100 donor mail-out which resulted in $3,000 in donations, a 2% increase over the previous campaign.”

      Social media: what were the follower numbers before you arrived and at specific points during your work there? Increased, decreased? Engagement numbers (shares, comments, etc) Hoping you have a social media analytics tracker to make this easier. Did you start a theme or concept that increased engagement? Are you starting conversations with comments/posters through which you can note themes, concerns, areas of their interest so you can capitalize on that for future content?

      Newsletter emails: Reader numbers before you arrived and reader numbers now that you’re doing it? Are people sharing your newsletter? What are the click-through rates (CTR) before you arrived and now that you’re doing it? Are you just maintaining the way they were doing things before or are you ready to add your expertise to increase readership and make it more engaging? Have you reduced lapsed readers and what percentage did you move from lapsed to active?

      Sometimes this type of work takes time to show results. Three months is a short time for social media and newsletters to show results. You’re just getting to the point of creating your voice in partnership with the non-profit.
      – What are the outputs and outcomes they expect from you per your performance plan?
      – Did they hire you to revamp social media and newsletter or maintain it? If it maintains is it showing in the numbers? If it was to re-vamp, are the numbers going in the right direction?
      – Where else can you see your skills and interests benefitting different areas (since we don’t really know what your job is and overall responsibilities).

  51. mdv*

    I have an opportunity to rewrite my job description to more accurately reflect the work I’m doing, going from “admin assistant senior” pay band classification to “program manager” or “program director” pay band classification, with an intended result (including from boss and grand-boss) to be a wage increase that will almost double my salary. Crossing my fingers this is not such a big jump that they have to advertise the job…

    Any tips or tricks from other people who have rewritten job descriptions for themselves like this?

    1. LY*

      I recommend that you talk to your HR department. My director rewrote my job description last year as part of a promotion. He had to work with our HR department to ensure that a specific percentage of my job duties remained the same so that we wouldn’t have to advertise the job. If too much of the job description was changed, I would have had to apply for the new job and my old job would no longer have been available.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Know the standards for the pay band you want and be sure you include all of them in the job description. It is not uncommon in government to have a project such as you describe result in a down-grade rather than an up-grade because the person writing the job description doesn’t know/use the appropriate HR jargon or terminology.

  52. Kiki*

    My male (I’m including gender because I think it is relevant to the dynamic) coworker doesn’t read things thoroughly or keep track of important things and largely relies on female teammates to fill in his gaps. Everyone skims and misses things from time-to-time, but my coworker misses essential info A LOT. It hasn’t caused any major catastrophes, but there have been smaller incidents that would have been prevented if he had fully comprehended what he read. He also doesn’t “believe in bookmarking” so he loses track of essential pages/information quite often. He asks for the link to the team calendar ALL THE TIME and it’s right on what I’d consider our essential team information “hub.”

    1. Kiki*

      Submitted too early on accident–
      He’s not senior to any of the female members of the team (though he is paid more for reasons that have not been adequately explained). I think we all started by not-so-subtly hinting and have escalated to being really forward (“You should really save this somewhere– either bookmarks or in your notes”). It doesn’t seem to get through in any consistent way. Our manager doesn’t seem to think this is an issue because all his technical work gets done well enough, but it only gets done because women intervene (and often have to delay our own work to help him).
      We’ve debated just stopping, but collaboration is really normal and expected for our roles, so we don’t want to come across as maliciously stonewalling.

      Has anyone else been in a situation like this and can offer advice?

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Our manager doesn’t seem to think this is an issue because all his technical work gets done well enough, but it only gets done because women intervene (and often have to delay our own work to help him).

        Well, this part can be addressed without looking like you’re refusing to collaborate. “Sorry, Fergus, but I’m pretty busy on the Sucracorp project right now. Why don’t you try looking in the training documents/Google?” And when he asks for that calendar link, cheerfully tell him “it’s on the hub.”

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          Yes! “It’s the same process/in the same location as last week! All the info is in my email from Monday/in the documentation/on the hub.”

          Eventually, turn the questions back on him: “It’s always been on the hub, did you check there?” The goal is to make it take more time or effort to ask you than to figure it for himself, while still technically being helpful.

        2. Kiki*

          You’re right. Some of this stems from our societal conditioning to be helpful and the fact our team and department is very collaborative by design. But another bit we’ve been struggling with is that he kind of fakes us out with genuine-seeming help requests and then brings people along on a journey they didn’t sign up for. He’ll ask for help with a problem that *is* genuinely something he should feel free to ask for help with and then along the way we discover that he didn’t do the baseline of expected preparation (e.g. actually reading the documentation) even if we asked about that initially. Then if one of us says, “Oh well, come back to me once you read the documentation” he’ll ping someone else, “hey! Kiki doesn’t know the answer to this question– can you jump on a call?” making it seem like it’s something I don’t know and a legitimate question, but ultimately he’s really just trying to get an answer from someone without reading the documentation or figuring it out for himself. Even if we all successfully avoid supplying him with the information he should be finding himself, we still spend time in this time-wasting loop. Part of what annoys me most at this very moment is that he interprets us directing him to documentation as if we don’t know the answer, but we do! If he does ever find something for himself, he makes a big to-do about posting it in our team channel or offering to teach us what he learned.

          1. pancakes*

            It sounds like people need to call him out on it when he says nonsense like that. “Fergus, that’s not correct, Kiki does [xyz] every week.” More broadly speaking, with this clear of a pattern of him misinterpreting instructions to look at documentation as “she doesn’t know the answer,” it’s well past time for someone to talk to him about it. He is wasting a lot of people’s time. His manager needs to be made to understand that Fergus’s own technical work doesn’t speak to his interactions with his coworkers at all, and that he’s making other people’s work more difficult. Maybe it would help to track exactly how much time everyone else is wasting on helping this dude.

          2. Pocket Mouse*

            Oooooh, annoying. Honestly, to short-circuit this, I’d propose a team troubleshooting channel, and all questions like this get asked/answered there. His willingness to teach the team what he learns is so appreciated, and this channel builds on that to benefit everyone, so of course he’s on board, right? (Wink wink.) In general, I have genuinely found channels like this beneficial when encountering similar issues down the line! If he gets an answer from someone without figuring it out for himself, fine. But otherwise, if he pings an individual with a question, you/they can direct him to ask in that channel, and then it’s a forum to clarify to the group “It might be because of X, which is covered in the documentation, so I pointed him toward that and we’ll see if it addresses the issue.”

            Maybe he’ll feel the need to ‘teach’ people which section of the documentation it’s in, and that’s fine. Let him! Feel the deep, satisfying stretch as your eyes roll! But if you can make troubleshooting, and his nonsense, public… it’s worthwhile.

            1. Double A*

              Ooh, yes, I like this idea. Then you can direct him to the team chat, and you can ping the chat when he’s asking you a question so everyone’s on the same page and he can’t divide and conquer. Also, in the team channel, all the women could be silent on his posts and wait until a man responds (or even @ a male coworker with Fergus’s questions).

              “Hey team! Fergus was asking about how to access the teapot blueprints, I’ve directed him to the hub but wanted give a heads up here as he may have follow up questions once he’s checked the documentation. @johnsmith is really knowledgeable on this topic, touch base with him on questions, Fergus! Go team, love the collaboration!”

            2. Kiki*

              Oooh, I love the idea to get him to ask his questions more publicly initially and frame it as a way to benefit everyone even though the main benefit, in my view, would be that he can’t keep privately dm-ing everyone until he finds someone who will accidentally cater to his learned helplessness. AND the public questions will stop him from throwing folks under the bus for not giving him information that they actually did (this just happened to me last week when I went on vacation– he told me I didn’t give him all the information he needed to take over a process when actually I very much did).

              1. Kiki*

                Also, I feel like the male seniors on our team are under the impression he’s a very independent worker because he rarely asks them for help but he gets help from us ALLLL the time.

          3. Pickled Limes*

            When you’ve talked to your manager about this in the past, was it just you or did you and your colleagues go together? Because if you haven’t had a group meeting about this yet, you need to. Your boss needs to see a unified front (even if not all the women from the team go to the meeting, a group of three or four can carry more weight than a single individual) so the boss can get a clearer picture of this guy’s behavior pattern. He’s wasting your time by asking you for things he could find himself if he bothered to try, and he’s damaging your reputations by telling your other coworkers you don’t know how to do things.

            1. Kiki*

              We’ve all brought our concerns to her separately. She has historically tended to be very hands-off, so it’s hard to tell if she does understand the gravity of this situation and is just reluctant to do anything about it or doesn’t think this behavior is a big deal

      2. Sparkles McFadden*

        Y’all need to stop helping. You’re busy. Say you’re busy. You can do it politely, but say “I can’t help you out. I’m right in the middle of something.”

        In my case, I was the only woman and I had multiple men trying to do this with me. I had more seniority and more political capital, so I pretty much went straight to replying “Good luck with that.” Eventually, the less annoying men started saying “good luck with that” too.

      3. Anonosaurus*

        As others have said, stop helping him – essentially make it easier for him to do it himself than to have to deal with you – but I would also suggest being very deliberate about maximising and being seen to take opportunities to work collaboratively (with each other, as well as him) so you can’t be challenged on that basis. What he is doing is not collaborative, it’s exploitative. However, it can be difficult to deal with guys like Fergus especially if they’re the charming type who are just a little bit helpless but are cute about it so other people think you are mean if you draw a line (ask me how I know). But the hell with missing your own deadlines because Fergus can’t be bothered to learn how to navigate the intranet!

      4. Mockingjay*

        Redirect, don’t accept.

        This is “learned helplessness.” People use it to avoid all kinds of things, whether they are just lazy, don’t care, are misogynistic, think they rank higher than they do (self-promotion – I’m important and can’t be bothered with the little things) – the reasons are endless.

        You are still a team player if you tell him, “sorry, in the middle of something. Look on the home page.” You are providing a solution, only that solution is not YOU anymore.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Heh. I had this at my last job. Three of us were peers, and the guy was always asking us women for notes, information, etc. And to do things for him that he should have just done himself. We started responding to everything with things like:

      “You should have that in the X folder.”
      “It makes more sense for the person writing the report to do the analysis.”
      “Oh, I don’t take notes that would make sense to another person– is there something missing from yours?”
      And just responding with the path to whatever folder he forgot existed.

      We couldn’t make the president do anything because he thought this guy was sooooo great and he didn’t want to hear it. So I unfortunately have no advice there. I left. Sadly, most of my work went on the other woman’s plate, but I had to put on my own lifevest first.

      I would document every time you intervene. Bring it up to your manager if you can– “This is delayed because I have to help Max complete his project.” But ultimately… consider whether you want to stay if nothing changes.

    3. meyer lemon*

      Ooh, this is so annoying. I used to work with a similar guy, with the fun twist that he worked in a totally different department but still kept trying to make me do his job for him. I didn’t have any idea how to do his job! But he would find ways of making me look bad because he’d tell customers that I should be able to help them with questions that were 100 percent his responsibility.

      Anyway, the only tactic that I found helpful was to make sure his boss was aware how much he was doing this. Maybe it would help to let your manager know about the general pattern, and see if you can get some backup about how firmly you can draw boundaries around his requests?

      1. Nicotene*

        Yeah I think you’re being too generous, OP; this behavior sounds pretty deliberate and malicious. I think you’ll have to dish it back. “Fergus still isn’t able to complete X task without assistance, boss” can be expressed in many ways that are still part of politeness jujitsu. I’d get all the women together on it if possible. Up to your reading of the situation if you want to make it more explicit with Fergus exactly how you’re onto him and what the consequences will be if he doesn’t stop bugging you about these things, or if it’s better to find ways to help him fail more.

        1. Nicotene*

          I should note that putting other people in the position of assistant and making your own work seem higher level and more important is an actual strategy to drag down the competition. It’s at least 50/50 that Fergus knows exactly what he’s doing; he may also believe he’s genuinely too good to bother with small stuff and that you inferior types should do it for him, if that helps light your fire. Charming is an action he’s doing.

  53. Elizabeth*

    I need a very nice phrase that says “That’s actually your job, do it.” I joined a company a couple of years ago that is at least 10-15 years behind current industry standards. We have a logistics team, but they don’t like to actually take care of shipping anything and have convinced senior management that this is reasonable. I can’t count how many times they come back to me and say “oh either you or the vendor can just contact X directly, here’s the account. Also, get these 5 documents from the vendor in this format, and argue for me that they’ve coded everything wrong.” I’ve mostly just done it so as not to rock the boat, but it’s becoming unreasonable. And management doesn’t know enough about supply chain to understand that this isn’t normal.

    1. PX*

      Document what problems this causes to you/others (time lost/money wasted), see if you can dig up what the job descriptions say for that team/department and then use those to point out to senior managers: As per the job description, this is what they should be doing – so why arent they doing it? And if they arent doing it, what ARE they doing? And given that we need people to do these things, can we then find other people to do these things?

    2. Kiki*

      Unfortunately, I think this is something where the solution needs to come from upper management. Either they need to convince the current logistics team that shipping is included in their responsibilities or upper management needs to hire a person/team to handle shipping. I have found that upper management is most receptive to me pointing out something I read from an industry-leader. “Oh, this thing that is obvious that I have been suggesting for months? It seems like Google/ Netflix / Target does it that way! Isn’t that interesting! Maybe we should do that too!”

  54. HR disaster*

    We are a team of 2. My direct report is on mat leave for a year (Canada) so we hired « Sally » on a 12-month term contract to replace her.
    Now we are trying to expand my team, I got the authorization to hire an additional employee (same level as Sally) on a 24-month contract, with the hope this position will become permanent.
    Sally applied, we had an interview with her but decided on another stronger candidate who accepted our job offer. It was a hard pill to swallow for Sally, she found it humiliating and awkward, especially as she will work alongside this person for a few month.
    But today, the new hire who was supposed to start in 2 weeks just announced they have a change of mind and accepted another job. Shitty but it happens.
    What to do with Sally? All the office got notified of the new hire name and start date (but the whole office doesn’t know Sally had applied)
    Can we even offer Sally the job back after having told her initially we were not choosing her? Thing is, not even sure we want Sally in the role (in part because she may only stay for an extra 12 months not the full 24), but I find it super insulting if we were to do the hiring process again while she is still working for us.
    Any wisdom for us?

    1. StudentA*

      Aside from the reason you provided, any other reason for not hiring Sally? The other candidate was better for the job at that moment, but if Sally is good, just talk to her about it. She may be glad to take it! If you don’t make it that awkward, it won’t be!

      1. HR Disaster*

        The other reason not to hire here: 1. She lacks basic technical skills (not computer-savvy) 2. She has heard time with directions when it’s not the way she wants to do things.
        I find her harder than it should to manage her and to train her. She has some very good qualities like her organization and interpersonal skills.
        Right now I’m stuck doing the technical stuff for her but when my colleague comes back from mat leave it will probably become her problem and I don’t want to have her stuck there either. Don’t want to make it like my colleague becomes Sally’s assistant.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          “We need someone with stronger technical skills” is a really straightforward reason to give her for why you’re not hiring her and are reopening the search.

    2. AllTheBirds*

      Why not keep interviewing? You’re not sure you want her in the role. So look elsewhere!

      1. Littorally*

        Right. Plus, unless the direct report’s mat leave is ending very soon, it sounds like the point is you need two people doing the work, not just one. If you hire Sally into the 24-month role, who’s going to complete the rest of the mat leave work for the existing DR? You’d have to be interviewing anyway.

        1. HR disaster*

          That’s correct, we want 2 people now but we are flexible when that can happen. We could technically have Sally get the new position and wait for the may leave to end. Its 3 months away and summer is quiet.

      2. HR Disaster*

        It might be where we need to go. Waiting on HR to let me know if we can even “give” the job to Sally once it’s been public we selected someone else.
        Thing is, I don’t even know if Sally would take the job since she has a lot of pride! But she surely would enjoy having the opportunity to decide to turn it down.
        She would surely feel deeply insulted if we go through the hiring process again without even consulting her about taking the job, while telling her she can re-apply if she wants to..
        She found the whole process humiliating for her the first time (interviewing and not being selected) I can’t imagine how she will feel the second time.

        1. Pickled Limes*

          She sounds *exhausting* and I would not offer her this job if it were me. Do another round of interviews.

          It’s always a better idea to keep looking until you find the right person, instead of just hiring the least bad person on your radar.

          1. HR Disaster*

            She is indeed exhausting, I always feel like I’m walking on eggs with her. And writing here about it makes me realize it even more.
            So I agree I need to restart the hiring process, but I’m really dreading the effect it will have on Sally. She may become a toxic disgruntled employee for the remainder of her 4 months (1 month overlap with the mat leave return) but in subtle enough ways that it will be draining for me to address.
            Oh well, that’s how your earn your manager’s stripes I guess. To thrive in uncomfortable situations..

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      Bottom line, did you not hire Sally because you don’t want her in that role, or because the other candidate was better?

      1. HR Disaster*

        A little bit of both. Sally is good but she lacks basic technical skills that makes my job harder. However, she is good for interpersonal skills which is 50% of the job. Also, she is technically still employed in an industry which has been hard hit by Covid, which is why she took the 12-month contract to begin with. She may extend her leave there but not for a whole 24 months. We will get her max for another 12 months.

        1. Can Can Cannot*

          Have you explained the skills gap to Sally? Has she shown any interest in developing the technical skills she would need? If no, Sally should not be considered for the 24-month contract and you should be continuing your search.

          1. HR disaster*

            I have explained the skill gap, but she feels like she progressed a lot. While this is true, it’s not nearly enough. But I don’t think she sees it that way, she doesn’t see everything I do that she should be doing. I’m pretty quick in doing it and it’s too advanced for her (think mass email and mass texts, designing them and managing the database and matching fields, etc.). But because I do it quickly, she thinks it’s not a big deal.

            1. Can Can Cannot*

              Then that’s a no for her. Not only has she not closed the gap, she doesn’t even see the gap. Better to let her finish out her existing contract, and find someone else for the new contract that is a better fit.

  55. Tabby Baltimore*

    Came to ask a question: What does leadership accountability look/sound like to you? I’m not necessarily looking for specific examples of COVID-related accountability, or accountability related to reducing/eliminating discrimination based on any of the protected classes of employees (e.g., sex, race, religion, etc.), but if you want to offer an example of what you think illustrates good (or bad!) leadership accountability within a specific context, that’s fine.

    Here’s an example of what I would consider good leadership accountability: leaders who deliver a decision to the workforce are also transparent about what things they considered that helped them arrive at the decision they made. (Bonus points given for also anticipating any workforce questions arising from that decision, and answering them in the decision announcement.)

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Admitting when they’ve made mistakes.

      The COO of my first job out of college was great about this. At all-hands meetings, if we lost a big contract we were counting on, he’d go through a 5-minute lessons learned drill and explain how they’d be doing things differently for the next big proposal. It takes guts to admit in front of 500 of your subordinates that you made a mistake.

      1. allathian*

        Oh yeah, that’s a biggie. It also sends the message to employees that it’s human to make mistakes and that’s OK, as long as you learn something from them. This is crucial, especially in fields where innovation and creativity are essential. Not every innovation is going to work out, and employees need to be shown that this is normal.

    2. JillianNicola*

      Yup, I’m big on explaining the thought process in a way that makes the conclusion logical. “Because I said so” didn’t even work for my own mother, there isn’t a leader alive who would be able to get away with it (at least not without losing my entire respect for them).
      Another would be setting clear, direct expectations/instructions (do not make me read your mind, I’ve got an overactive imagination) and being reliable – i.e. if I ask you for X by Y timeframe, I get X by as close to Y as humanly possible. I hate having to rely on a leader for this or that and never knowing if I’m going to get it.

    3. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      My manager acknowledges when something is a problem or barrier that she can’t do anything about, which is SO refreshing – my old manager and my current grand boss will just deny or minimize there are any problems.

      1. Kiki*

        Yes! And acknowledging *why* it’s a barrier they can’t do anything about. Sometimes someone can come up with an innovative solution, but first they have to truly understand the problem. It can be frustrating to try and find solutions but be shot down for reasons you don’t understand.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This one is a tough one. I think a leader is acting in an accountable manner when they look at their gross pay as compared to their lowest paid employee’s gross pay. Probably not a real popular answer….

  56. Violetta*

    I’ve been selected for a mentoring program at work – I’m the mentee. We’ve gotten a basic introduction to how things should go, and I’ve set up my first meeting with my mentor over lunch next week. We’ll meet every 4 to 6 weeks for a year. Any tips on how to make the most of it?

    I’ve had a mentor before when I was more junior in my career (like 2 years versus 10 years) and we didn’t really click, and I was too shy/intimidated at the time to really flesh out the relationship. I’m obviously more experienced now so I think it’ll be fine, but I’m still a bit nervous.

    1. JustaTech*

      I’m in a similar situation and I’m also interested in anyone’s tips! So far my mentor has suggested that I write out my short and long term goals (which changed immediately after she suggested this, so I’ve been a bit stuck).

    2. Workerbee*

      Who is running the mentoring program? I’d ask them for more guidelines. Surely they have examples in mind of what success in this can look like and what they hope the pairs will get out of it. (Or they should.)

      Failing that, send a note to your mentor before the meeting and ask if they had anything top of mind they wanted to discuss, and offer a couple suggestions of your own. It helps if there’s a common topic (like, community management, or Power BI tips), but could be things like, how to advance in the org, how to arrange for informational interviews/shadowing in other parts of the org, diplomatic ways to deal with people who don’t report to you but who you need to get work out of…

    3. Policy Wonk*

      I have been a mentor through one of these programs a number of times. For me, the easiest person to mentor showed up with a list of either questions or issues to discuss each time we met. Must admit, I was more a go with the flow kind of person, so we didn’t stick to her script. But particularly when the relationship was new and we didn’t know each other well, it helped get us through those awkward meetings where we weren’t sure what to discuss. She got a lot out of it as her questions were answered and gave us a jumping off point for her discussions.

  57. Ronny*

    Is it wrong to take vacation days before giving two weeks notice?

    The start date for the job I just accepted isn’t until the end of the month, so I’m taking my three accrued vacation days next week before giving my two weeks notice at my current job. I haven’t taken any vacation time in the nine months I worked here, and the employee handbook doesn’t say anything about paying out unused vacation time, so I thought it seemed like a reasonable thing to do.

    An employee on another team at my job that’s quitting took this entire week off to use up all their vacation days and plans to work the next two weeks as their notice period. My boss expressed disapproval and annoyance over how they really shouldn’t have taken any vacation days at all when they knew they were leaving. I don’t understand why that would be bad?

    1. Liesl is my dachshund*

      Take the days you earned! Your boss is mad that someone is quitting and they have to spend time hiring while the employee is taking their EARNED days yet working the requisite 2 week period to prepare for their departure.

      No one knows that they’re going to leave some place until the opporutnity arises so how do you know when to take your leave unless you have it allocated/scheduled otherwise? And then if your scheduled leave is after you leave the organization what then? No pay out of earned days.

      Happy new job and 3 days off!

    2. Elizabeth*

      I think the boss is being a little unreasonable – if you’d taken days as they accrued, you’d still have taken the 3 days. Boss thinks it looks bad because then you give notice, but I don’t think so. You’re entitled to them.

    3. Anonymous Hippo*

      I don’t actually think it is bad, I think the boss is just annoyed the person is leaving and being a grump.

    4. Sparkles McFadden*

      Take the days. That way, you’ll be refreshed and be able to prep everything for a good transition over before you leave. Your boss may complain but that is for your boss to deal with.

    5. Just Another Manic Millie*

      Of course it’s okay to take vacation days before giving notice. Vacation days are part of what the company pays you for working there. As for the boss who claims that people shouldn’t take vacation days when they know they are leaving, does he feel that they shouldn’t cash their paychecks when they know they are leaving? Because it’s the same thing.

    6. Coder von Frankenstein*

      Your boss is full of it. You earned those vacation days same as you earned your salary. Complaining about you taking them is like complaining about you collecting your final paycheck.

      (Legally, it’s a significant difference, and paychecks are protected in ways vacation days aren’t; but from the standpoint of what’s professional and ethical, there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking the vacation you have coming to you.)

    7. Lemon Zinger*

      Many places don’t allow employees to take vacation time once they’ve given notice. You are lucky that this is an option! But it’s a great reason why you should never tell your boss that you’re job-hunting and only give two weeks’ notice (unless something else is required per your contract). Take the time off. It’s part of your compensation.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      In retailing and other low paying jobs it reads as if the employee is saying, “I don’t trust you to cash out the time you owe me, so I am taking it while I can still pretend I work here.” It really ticks some managers off.

    9. allathian*

      I work for the government, although not in the US, and here it’s standard practice to use your remaining vacation days to work out your notice period. Granted, it’s 2 months here, and because it’s the government, they vastly prefer people to take time off rather than pay out earned days.

  58. Undine*

    Another thing to note is that buying a licence often means being able to set up a server with multiple users. Since you don’t want to be an admin, just a user, you don’t even want to try to do that. Want you need is to find a project or class that already has a system set up, and then you as a user can download the software for free.

  59. Free Meerkats*

    For those who have moved into consulting/freelance work, what were the pitfalls/high points you experienced?

    I’m looking at retirement from my municipal job about end of 2022 and thinking about doing consulting to stay engaged and stay a bit busy. So not a full time gig to keep food on the table, but mainly to help agencies and people who are starting up new programs in our niche area.

    On the plus side, I’m well known nationally and having gotten into the field when it was new in the early 80s, I’ve seen a lot in how things are done.

    So, thoughts?

    1. whistle*

      I quit my job in April to do freelance/consulting work. So far my only client is my previous employer, but I have been networking through local business communities, and I have lined up a couple of potential clients. It feels great! It’s so nice to be out in the community representing myself. I still don’t know if I’ll end up with a viable business, but I’m in a financial position to give it some time.

      From what you’ve said here, I think you’ll really enjoy it. Really, there’s nothing to lose if you are not relying on the income.

    2. zaracat*

      Pitfalls: Depending on how long it takes to get paid after each job, cash flow can be a problem initially. Particularly if there is a long lead time to getting paid, it is important to have a system set up for follow up of unpaid acounts so that things don’t fall off the radar. I do this by having fields in my invoicing database for “next follow up date” and “what next”, which means I can keep track of where I’m up to with each account and sort the database by follow up date so I know specifically what needs following up each day/week. I’ve also found it useful to have a separate “business reserve” bank account where I put money aside for quarterly taxes, annual professional registration etc – basically anything that is paid on a different cycle from how you manage your business transaction account.

      Deciding how much time you want to spend working, and setting limits, is vital. Having empty calendar space is not the same as having the physical + emotional capacity for extra work. Similarly, it can sometimes take a while to get used to the idea that as a freelancer you do have the choice (finances permitting) to say no to clients you don’t want to work with.

      Even if your business seems “too small” to record and track data on workload, income etc and you find it tedious, in the long run it’s worth it to have that info. You can see patterns which you might not otherwise notice, and can plan around this eg noticing that is a lull in workload at the same time each year which is unrelated to major holidays, and either proactively seeking out new work ahead of this or scheduling your own vacation then.

      Highlights: I’ve found a niche area in my profession where I can flourish and have a great work/life balance, which I wouldn’t have been able to do within traditional employment arrangements. Seeing my business grow steadily solely through word of mouth referrals with no paid advertising/social media presence. Getting to a point where I can choose to only work with people I like.

  60. McMurdo*

    Had a first interview yesterday with a small company that’s looking to bring in fresh talent as they expand, and noticed Some Things:
    (1) One VP messaged me over my school’s job board, on which I applied, to tell me to email another VP to set up an interview with the first VP.
    (2) The posting I applied for was a Project Coordinator, but at the beginning of the interview they told me they were considering me for an Assistant Project Manager (don’t mind that at all, just a surprise).
    (3) They spent nearly the whole time explaining minute details to me (some of which I studied in school, but other candidates might not have, so I get) as well as things like “insurance” and “401ks”. I think I answered maybe 2 questions.
    (4) I asked about the organization’s structure and they seemed a little unclear themselves? The vibe I got was that it had been recently restructured and my interviewers had just been promoted, but hadn’t worked out all the kinks yet.

    This is The Field I want to work in, the geographic area I want to work in, and for the right salary I’m pretty sure I could deal with some of the long-winded explanations and low-level chaos they exude. If I get an offer, obviously. But are any of these things Huge Red Flags that I should be giving much more thought to? I just graduated college and this would be my first full-time position so I want to make sure I’m not overlooking anything.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Well one thing for sure is that they don’t know how to interview. So that could mean that your coworkers might not be the right people for their jobs. Red flag #1.

      If they’ve re-orged, and lots of people are titled as VPs, that makes me wonder how old this business is. How much revenue? Are they still in start-up mode and living off investment capital? Do they have an actual business plan that they can follow, or are they flailing around trying to find their nihe? You need to ask questions about revenue, cash flow, glide path, etc. If they don’t have good answers to those (and especially if they don’t know, or don’t understand those questions), that’s huge red flag #2.

    2. Coder von Frankenstein*

      Not red flags necessarily, but yellow for sure.

      What they are telling you is that they are very disorganized and not good at interviewing. If this is a startup company, that’s fairly common and need not be a deal-breaker–as long as you’re okay with working in that kind of environment, and as long as you keep your Perspective Goggles firmly in place and don’t absorb this kind of thing as normal and expected.

      If it isn’t a startup company, I would definitely see those yellow flags taking on a ruddy cast. A company that’s been around for a while should have gotten its procedures sorted out better than that.

    3. Wordybird*

      It doesn’t sound great to me. Not an immediate no but not an immediate yes, either. If your gut is already telling you to be cautious, you should listen to it.

      It reminds me of an interview I had with a small business where the owner interviewed me. He spent my entire phone screen telling me how he had acquired the business from someone else, how he knew the someone else, and what his 10 year plans for the business were. It was obvious he had never actually run a business before and since the job he was interviewing me for was an admin position, I had a good feeling that I would suddenly be in charge of getting things straightened out. I took the in-person interview just to see if my hunch was correct… and after another 30 minute interview (and he took a 10-minute phone call instead of starting my interview on-time) where he asked me 2 questions about myself before launching into a long speech about how he had recently been really sick and recovered (?!), I knew the job would be a disaster. I laughed when he sent me a rejection email 6 months (!!) later telling me that he’d hired someone else because he “felt like” I had more admin experience than technical experience (information obvious from the resume I had submitted to the job ad, of course).

  61. Andrea McDuck*

    I’m on a year-to-year contract, and am approaching the end with no idea about whether I’ll be renewed. We have a new Big Cheese boss who is doing lots of things differently, and the usual norms no longer apply. I report to her, but we haven’t had a conversation lasting more than five minutes. She is very aloof and hard to read, and has been intensely occupied with a lot of high-level strategic planning and senior staff changes. It’s highly possible she has just forgotten that she needs to renew contracts. (I’m not the only one in this position.)

    Contract renewals are typically done much earlier in the year. Now I’m four weeks away from being unemployed – or being set for another 12 months.

    What’s the most constructive and polite way to bring this up and ask for a quick answer? I’ve gamed out the conversations in my head and just get flustered and/or angry.

    1. Mid*

      I’d just send her an email! Let her know that your contract ends on [date]. She very likely forgot. Also, if there are a group of you with more or less the same renewal date, you could approach her as a group, saying that 1/3 of the Cheese Cutting department is contracted and their end date is 7/7/21 if they aren’t renewed.

      I’d also start job searching, just in case. It never hurts to be prepared!

      What is angering you about this? If someone isn’t used to working with contractors, and is transitioning into a new role, it doesn’t seem unlikely that it could slip their mind.

  62. Instructional Designer*

    I started a new job about 2 1/2 months ago and so far it’s been pretty good but over time I’m beginning to grow concerned about a couple of things.

    I’m on a team of 4 people, including me. We’re all creatives and mostly work together across all our projects. After 2 1/2 months I’m still not being brought into projects in a way that allows me to see how we do things.

    For example, we do a lot of work with external customers and I am never involved in the meetings with the customers or in the processes of making the sales orders, things that I have been told I will eventually be doing. Two of them often come out of customer meetings and then I discover I wasn’t invited to it. Considering this is all supposed to be a collaboration, I’m just completely confused why I’m not in those meetings. I have asked about this and I’ve been told that a lot of it is because these things were made production when I came on board. And that doesn’t make sense to me to a certain degree, but at the same time I don’t understand why I can’t just observe? One of my teammates even sent out an email asking the customer service team if they would like a demo on the sales order process. I replied saying that I would be interested in also learning that process but my email was ignored and I was not added to the meeting to participate or even observe.

    In addition to that, I was hired as an instructional designer and a graphic designer and it sounds like I’m not going to have any opportunity to do any of the graphics piece of it. And to be completely honest I don’t want to have a position where I don’t get to do the creative portions of my job. That’s the whole reason I love this job. Writing can be creative but I want to be part of the development process, which is part of an Instructional Designers role. When I asked about this, the answer was that they like to have a collaborative effort and the implication was that I would always get the writing pieces and our graphic designer would get all of the development pieces.

    On top of that, it was also said that the pieces of instructional design that include designing the interactive elements of a course would be some thing that I would work on with the graphic designer. This is something that instructional designers typically do and I can’t help but think that if we are collaborating and I can’t have a hand in the graphics side, why can’t I fully own all of the instructional Designer pieces. (Or at least what they seem to think is the instructional design side of it. Again, designers do have a hand in the development piece where we do the visual aspects as well. So I’m not sure why they are viewing it as something that needs to be separate.)

    To be honest, I feel like I’m in an entry-level role with senior coworkers guiding me. But I’m not a novice at this. I was in a senior position at my last job and I’m ready to move into management next. I’ve been doing this for over 15 years. This isn’t new to me and I’m quite good at it. But so far all I’m doing is some writing and mostly copying and pasting things from storyboards to match templates that already exist. I’m rarely getting an opportunity to put any sort of creative spin or thought process of my own into anything. All this time they’ve been saying “you’ll eventually get your own customer courses,” but then with his last conversation it was said that I would be splitting some of that with the graphic designer, so now I’m even more worried that it’s not going the direction I it want to or that I expected.

    When I interviewed it was with the vice president of the company and I was told I would report directly to him. So I was really excited to be in that high level of a position and one that I felt was where I belong to because of my level of experience. But since starting I have basically been reporting to somebody else who also reports to the VP. But he essentially treats me like I’m his employee. I have to run my days off by him and let them know when I have doctors appointments and things like that. It feels really strange and not like I’m in a role that is appropriate for someone at my level. While he’s been with the company much longer, I don’t think that means I should be treated like an entry-level employee. I view us as partners but It feels like a manager/employee situation.

    I have a one on one with my actual manager next week and I really want to raise my concerns about not being included, about the future of my position, and get clarification on “who’s the boss?” Specifically, I want to make sure he knows that the situation feels like I have little control or impact, that my coworkers haven’t given me any room to run with anything, that I’m doing entry-mid career level work, and find out if my teammate should really be treating me as an employee as opposed to a partner.

    Thing is, I want to do it in a way where it doesn’t sound like I’m throwing my coworkers under the bus. To be completely honest, I don’t really know what is normal here or what they’re thinking and it could be that they have a plan that I’m just unaware of and that they’re not fully communicating to me. But I still think I need to bring it up. I would love some advice on how to do this effectively without sounding like I’m complaining it doubting my coworkers. I really don’t want to be in a situation where they end up thinking I will rattle on them to the boss.


    1. Instructional Designer*

      Very sorry for all the typos. I was using voice to text and unfortunately hit submit before proofreading by accident.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        People comment on this open forum all weekend. Don’t give up so fast.

        Meanwhile back to your setting. I don’t see how you’d be throwing your coworkers under the bus. All you do is say, “I expected to be doing x which involved talking with customers and I am just doing y instead. When will I be doing x?”
        It’s fine to throw in “In previous jobs I have done x, y and z. I was under the impression that I would be doing blah-blah-blah here. I am wondering what the time frame is here and I am wondering what you need to see from me in order for this work to be under my purview also.”

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Please don’t be snarky here. You’re asking for free advice; there is no obligation for people to provide it, and people may not always feel they have something helpful to offer. Every week there are at least a few posts that don’t get replies; that’s just the nature of forums like this.

      3. Ramona Q*

        Perhaps you’d get quicker responses if you asked more up-front questions. You’re asking a reader to absorb a lot of information, and it wasn’t immediately clear what help you were seeking.

    2. New Senior Mgr*

      I think this upcoming 1:1 will be helpful for you. From what you describe it sounds like a disconnect between what you expected and what’s actually happening. I think there’s something else going on behind the scene. Get clarity from your manager and be or seem open to their feedback. Sending you good vibes that you get useful answers whether positive, negative, or neutral.

    3. New Senior Mgr*

      One other thing, it’s only been 2.5 months. A probation period for many. As a manager, I’d be keeping a close eye on anyone this new before giving them full rein.

  63. cactus lady*

    Two of the employees I manage (let’s call them Monica and Rachel) used to be managers themselves, but moved to individual contributor roles by choice when they took their positions with our company. Both were hired before I came on board. I’m running into the issue of both of them trying to manage my other employees for me, which is causing me to not know about performance issues until they’ve been going on for a very long time and causing a lot of frustration among the staff. It’s also causing the employees that are doing it to become frustrated that they “have to do my job for me”. The latest issue with this came to my attention yesterday in a 1:1 with Monica. I had asked Rachel to train a new staff member to take over one of her tasks (that this staff member was hired to do, and Rachel was aware of this and happy to have help), and let me know if there are any issues that I should address. Apparently the staff member has just not been doing the task at all, and instead of telling me this, Rachel set up a performance metric for him to have weekly check ins and has been very upset to watch this task not get done. However she did all of this without talking to me, and it’s not what I asked her to do at all. She vented to Monica, who vented about it in a meeting with me and my boss, which was the first time I heard about it.

    This is just one example of an ongoing pattern, and I’m not sure how to address it. I tell both of them to stop when I see it happening, and mostly they do, but I’m not sure how to prevent it from happening at this point. It seems like no matter how many times I tell them that if there’s a staff performance issue it needs to be brought to my attention, they should not try to deal with it, they just… don’t. They try to fix it themselves and complain about me. I know Monica doesn’t like my management style because I give the staff a lot of autonomy (I also know that she was a micromanager was when she was a manager, because I know some of her previous reports outside of work, and I can also see it in group settings- sometimes she tries to do it to me as well).

    Does anyone have tips for managing former managers who are now individual contributors, but can’t let managing go? Or if you have been in that situation, what has worked for you form your managers?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      2 things.
      1) You delegated some stuff to Rachel that made her think she was a manager. Knowing what you do about her, you should have said “Rachel, develop a training plan for handing off your teapot polishing responsibilities to Newby and get it to me by Friday so I can review and approve it.” Then assuming that the plan is good, you should have been the one to lay it out to both of them, and you should have implemented metrics for Newby and for Rachel.

      2) Knowing that you have some employees that are apt to try to take over management, you need to be clear to the other people in the department that you are the manager, and that Rachel and Monica have no role in assigning or reviewing work; if they do try to manage, your employees are to come to you directly. And then have a 1:1 with Rachel or Monica as needed when they’ve done it.

      Tl;dr: you’re going to have to get hands on.

      1. Weekend Please*

        That’s a good point about making it clear to others that they don’t have that authority.

    2. Weekend Please*

      You already know that they won’t actually tell you when there is a problem. When you assign them to a role like training a new person, you probably need to check in with them and ask how it is going and also check in with the other person. You should also let them know that attempting to manage people that they have no authority over is not acceptable. How clear have you been that this is a pattern that needs to stop? When you talked to Rachel about the recent incident, did you explicitly tell her that she handled it poorly and has no authority to set performance metrics or did you apologize that the task wasn’t getting done?

    3. Susie*

      I can speak on this from the manager to individual contributor side of things. While I’m 100% committed to this position as my job (and numerous people have pushed me to move back to management–not going to happen for the time being), I basically had work muscle memory that I had to consciously overwrite. There were situations where, if I was the manager, I’d handle it it one way. But now, I’m not the boss, so I had to consciously relearn what to do. I’ve been upfront with my boss and grand boss about this process and to let me know if I overstep.

      So I suggest you give Monica and Rachel the benefit of the doubt and have ONE very frank conversation where you name the pattern, specifically identify their role and your role, and give them concrete examples of when they need to kick stuff up to you. Then I’d follow up on more frequent check-ins for a short period of time to identify what is on their plates and if those tasks should actually be on their plate. That said, I don’t foresee them handling this oversight particularly well…particularly with Monica. Because I’m being thoughtful with my role vs. my boss’ role, she can say like “I wish you had mentioned that to me at the time” when I handle an issue she feels is her job. I know I overstepped and won’t do it again. Doesn’t sound like this is something Monica is going to do. Since it is impacting work, I think you need be prepared to be more hands on about managing this.

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      Think about how clear you have been with Monica and Rachel — in your posting here you say they “mostly” stop and that you’ve told them that they “should not” try to deal with it. That’s not very clear. Sit them each down, tell them unequivocally that while you value their contributions, they do not have authority to do XYZ and must not do that. Back it up with some teeth such as, “if you continue to take on authority that is not yours, that shows me that you are unable to do the job you were hired to do and we will have to consider whether this is the right position for you.” Don’t sugarcoat it — be direct.

    5. JustaTech*

      To echo what Susie and LadyByTheLake said, I think you need to give Monica and Rachel a bit (a lot) *less* autonomy, even though it goes against your personal management style.

      Be super clear and direct about what behavior you need from them, and then keep a close eye on them. You don’t have to ride their backs, but since you *know* that they