open thread – August 13-14, 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.

{ 1,108 comments… read them below }

  1. OliveJuice90*

    I am having a serious moral and ethical quandary about a workplace situation I’m in.
    I work for an extremely large, state run institution on a very small team of around <10 people.
    I have a coworker, ‘Bob’, that myself and one other coworker, ‘Sandy’ work very closely with. We have been working remotely since March 2020 and have only been returning to the office recently on a staggered schedule. Bob has always been incredibly difficult to get in touch with. Internet issues/ phone problems/ computer problems were constantly cited as excuses, but Bob always did enough to skirt by and our direct supervisor ‘Denise’ has always seemed to buy his excuses. Bob has also had a habit of calling/texting me at odd hours of the night and then claiming that they were either misdials or a young family member had gotten ahold of his phone. I have never felt threatened by Bob, but I have grown to learn that a lot of this odd behavior is likely due to a substance abuse problem.

    A number of months ago, I was looking at my local news’s website and had to pick my jaw up off the floor upon seeing Bob’s name and mugshot listed beside an article about his arrest for possession of methamphetamine. Suddenly things began to click into place regarding his odd behavior- the fact that he would go “missing” for hours at a time, sending people odd emails in the wee hours of the morning, rambling on phone calls only to abruptly hang up. At this point, Bob has only been arrested, his court date has not happened and at our institution you do not have to report an arrest, only a conviction. I do not think Denise has a clue and I have no idea what to do.

    Bob has not come back into the office over the past month at all due to multiple excuses ranging from various illnesses to accidents that keep him from driving. Denise keeps claiming that he will have to come in “soon”, but I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with his behavior. I can't get in touch with him over phone or email and he is incredibly unreliable other than when Denise or our grandboss call him. I think he gets the bare minimum of his work done and Denise just trusts that he is completing things. I have tried to talk to Denise while not blowing his cover regarding the drugs but I’m really fed up with the situation as she just thinks he has terrible luck. I have tremendous sympathy for people with substance abuse disorder and I want to follow my ethics, but I’m tired of picking up this person’s slack.

    1. WellRed*

      I don’t see this as a moral or ethical issue because you are not required to report it. You also don’t say he’s a danger to others or a security risk. The bigger picture is the work impact on you. That’s what you should focus on if you want to seek a solution.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I agree, this was going to be my answer. You don’t need to report what you found to Denise; you need to focus on how his absence is affecting you and your work. Stick to the facts and they will speak for themselves.

    2. R*

      Explain to Denise the impact on your work. The priorities that are having to be pushed back because you’re picking up your co-worker’s slack, for example. Impact on both internal/external customers. Don’t mention the reason behind his flakiness, because it’s really not fair to out him. Good luck, this sucks.

    3. OliveJuice90*

      Something I should also mention. I have absolutely no intentions of outting him and never ever would. I think that’s profoundly scummy. I am more afraid that if I go into detail about what’s going on that it will prompt Denise or our grandboss to look further into things and possibly “out” him that way. I have been trying to cover for him because I know why he is struggling. I have tried to talk to Denise without giving any impression that I have a clue what’s going on, but it doesn’t seem to remotely be a priority for her.

      1. WellRed*

        Well, if they find out, they find out. It’s public record and you are not responsible for him. You also don’t know that they don’t already know.

      2. D3*

        Do not cover for him!
        You don’t have to explicitly out him, but you also don’t need to make it easier for him to avoid consequences. Don’t make excuses for him, don’t hide the impact of his absences or poorly done work. Stick to the work impact and let the chips fall where they fall. Don’t enable an addiction by covering for him.

      3. cubone*

        I agree with the commenter above that you should focus on the way the absence of typical resources (Bob’s people power being the resource) is impacting your work.

        But to be honest, I’m a bit curious why you think Denise doesn’t have a clue? “Denise keeps claiming that he will have to come in “soon”” made me think there’s a chance she DOES know and SHE is the one trying to respect his privacy by not outing him TO YOU.

        I know you’re not saying she should be telling you if she does know, but I wouldn’t assume perceived cluelessness means she has no clue. She very well could and it appears clueless to you because well, how else would it appear? Unless she goes around telling everyone “hey Bob has a drug problem and got arrested”, keeping it confidential and handling it sensitively would mean not acknowledging it. I’m just confused by this part.

        1. banoffee pie*

          Yep it could well be that she already knows and is wondering whether to tell you. She might read the local news website too, or his family could have been in touch to let the bosses know.

      4. HR Exec Popping In*

        You are not helping him by trying to cover for him. He likely needs professional help and pretending everything is ok won’t be of any real benefit to him other than most likely delaying the inevitable and even delaying him seeking professional help.

      5. DataGirl*

        Speaking as a person in recovery, you are not helping by covering for him. Letting him face the consequences of his actions is the most helpful thing you can do for him.

      6. Observer*

        am more afraid that if I go into detail about what’s going on that it will prompt Denise or our grandboss to look further into things and possibly “out” him that way

        That’s NOT your issue. You have no ethical obligation to hide public information from your boss. I don’t see how you take that on yourself. In fact, I would argue that your ethical obligation is to share with your boss information that she needs to know – ie the work that you are not getting done and obligations that the agency is not meeting. If that happens to have the effect that your boss finally does her job and THAT has the side effect of having her discover something that is public knowledge, that is not CLOSE to “outing” him.

      7. Bagpuss*

        I hadn’t seen this comment of yours when I first commented, but I am curious about why you feel it would be ‘scummy’ to tell anyone?
        It seems a bit of an extreme reaction.

        Bob’s behaviour and the poor choices he has made are already affecting his work, they are having an impact on your and presumably other colleagues, and your employer. If he is convicted, then potentially he could disappear over night – what impact will that have on the work he is doing and on you and his other coworkers who have to pick up the pieces. Why are you covering for him at the expense of everyone else who is impacted by his actions? It looks to me as though this is already having a negative effect on people other than you, and that it is reasonable to consider those people as well as Bob.

        t the very least, you might point out to Bob that it has been in the paper, and that if you’ve seen it, so can other employees and his boss, and he might be wide to tell them himself, and perhaps negotiate about time off to try to get help, rather than waiting for them to find out on their own.

      8. Person from the Resume*

        Don’t cover for him.

        There’s actually nothing ethically/morally wrong with telling your boss what you discovered on a public website either. You were not told anything about this in confidence or secret.

        I would tell my boss what I found myself as it’s pretty obvious that Bob’s been lying his ass off to her about why he’s unavailable, unreliable, and can’t come into the office. But I don’t think you’re obligated to tell her, but you sure shouldn’t cover for a guy who’s not going the work you need from him to do your own job.

    4. Teapot Repair Technician*

      …while not blowing his cover regarding the drugs…

      There’s no “cover” to be blown. It’s not a secret you were entrusted with, and it’s public record.

      Print out the news article and drop it on your boss’s desk.

        1. cubone*

          In what world is not telling someone’s boss that they got arrested “enabling” them? That’s such a bizarre take. The LW doesn’t have any responsibility for Bob’s drug problem.

          1. NotMyRealName*

            OP is specifically talking about “not blowing his cover.” That’s enabling. Maybe I come down a bit on the hard side, but a former co-worker is in prison for meth dealing. I sometimes wonder if she wouldn’t have gone so far down that road if she hadn’t been treated with kid gloves at work for months.

            1. cubone*

              I guess it sounds to me like she is “covering” that she thinks the source of his problems are drug related, but I mean, she does say she’s talked to his boss and his boss gets in touch with him.

              There is this part: “he gets the bare minimum of his work done and Denise just trusts that he is completing things.” But it’s not clear to me if the LW is actually covering for the work he’s not doing, or just not sharing that there is a reason why. I think the first one would be enabling, but not the second. If she’s telling Denise he’s not doing his work and Denise doesn’t care, that’s not the LW enabling him (it’s Denise!)

              1. OliveJuice90*

                Yes, this is spot on. I am not doing this person’s work for them. I have tried to hide some of his odder behavior like the phone calls and the weird antics when I do speak with him. Maybe I am enabling this person but I’m really not comfortable sharing his arrest with my boss. I will consider speaking more about the odd behavior.

                1. Observer*

                  Maybe I am enabling this person

                  You ARE enabling them. You really need to stop.

                  I’m really not comfortable sharing his arrest with my boss

                  There is no reason to share that information. She has as much access to the news as you do. But what you should NOT be doing is trying to keep her from finding it, or cover up information (like the weird phone calls) that might cause her to go looking.

                2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  Olive, I commend your restraint to this point in not bringing up his odd behavior towards you, but I think that really needs to stop. You remind me a bit of the boiling frog pot. If you just put the frog in the boiling water, it will freak out and escape the heat; but if you put it in a coolish pit and gradually heat up the pot the frog boils. From you comments it sounds like the odd behavior from your co-works has gradually increased, and sadly now you know why the behavior exists. I think you need to let your boss know about all the odd behaviors you are experiencing, in addition to stressing what his dropping the ball on deadlines does to your work flow. Make it all about the behaviors and their impact on the job.

                  But I do agree with your instinct to not report what you found with regards to the drug arrest. How he handles that is between your coworker, the courts, and his boss.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I would absolutely share this with management. It’s public record, and if he’s going to be spending some time in jail, they need to know that he’s REALLY going to be out of the office for awhile.

      2. Observer*

        There’s no “cover” to be blown. It’s not a secret you were entrusted with, and it’s public record.

        This is totally true.

    5. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think you have any moral obligation to report the arrest but I think you can, and should, document ad report the problems he is causing.

      e.g. document how many times in a day/week you have tried to contact him without getting a response, and the delays or difficulty this has caused.
      the occasions when he has called your or texted you at night when he had no legitimate reason to do so,
      document if there things you need from him that are not being provided,
      If there is work he isn’t doing, don’t cover for him or try to do it, but report to Denise so she can deal with it . Don’t pick up his slack.

      Instead, where there is slack, tell Denise and offer her the options e.g. “I can do Bob’s xx report, but , but if I do it, I will not be able to do [other job] – who should I pass that to?” or “Denise, I thought you’d want a heads up that Bob doesn’t seem to have done the TP report and it’s due tomorrow” Then if she ask you to do it, be clear that your plate is already full so you can’t.

      Or just do your own job and if Bob’s task doesn’t get done, then it doesn’t get done.

      As long as you carry on picking up his slack, there’s no big problem for Denise to sort out.

      All that said, while I don’t think that you have any obligation to report him, you also have no obligation to keep it secret –

      1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        In the OP’s place I would set up a sock puppet email account and send Denise a link to the news coverage. Bob’s issues are a threat to the organization, especially if his employer is identified in future news reports, and even if Denise is aware of his substance abuse, she needs to know that it is no longer something that can be handled in private.

        1. cabbagepants*

          If Denise clicks a link she receives from an unknown email address then she deserves a VERY serious talk from her manager and their IT director.

    6. FearNot*

      If you work for a state-run institution, you may be required to report the arrest. We are required to at my office – I know because a coworker of mine was fired when he did not report his arrest for a drug charge and DUI.

      1. lost academic*

        That’s true for Bob but not the OP.

        I think the normal advice about focusing on work behavior is useful except OP has already seen an arrest for meth. She has every reason to believe that he uses meth based on that information and his past actions. Some additional degree of caution is probably warranted here – meth addicts not being known for habitual stability.

      2. Mockingjay*

        Most government agencies these days – fed, state, local – mandate employee reporting: “If you see something, say something.”

        It’s not about getting Bob in trouble. He’s already there. You are making management aware of a (very difficult, saddening) situation that is affecting work and individual employees, so they can address it by verifying the information (in this case, the arrest) and take next steps.

        No one wants to see a coworker, even one you don’t like much, in a situation like this. But Bob’s problem is directly affecting your work. Your boss needs to know.

    7. Somewhere in Texas*

      It’s concerning that you work for a large, state run institution and his mugshot is being publicized. Are there any policies in place that speak to this type of issue? With the way things are reported, this can get linked back to your entity.

    8. Observer*

      I don’t understand your issue. You have no obligation to report this, nor do you have an obligation to keep it secret. On the other hand, you really have on standing to weigh in on this.

      What you have standing to talk about – and it’s THE ONLY thing you have standing to bring up – is your work. Talk to Denise about what his schedule and not getting work done is affecting you. What extra work do you have to do, what work gets delayed, etc. It doesn’t really MATTER why this is happening. And you shouldn’t be speculating or discussing that with Denise.

    9. TechWorker*

      You should also consider the possibility that Denise is well aware of everything going on but being vague/optimistic to you in order to preserve some confidentiality. After all if a manager did know someone had a substance abuse problem they probably wouldn’t be shouting it from the rooftops.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        This is fair – Denise may know and is just continuing to use whatever cover story your coworker was already using. But there is no excuse for not addressing any impacts to the workload are still happening.

    10. I should really pick a name*

      I’m not clear how the reason he’s missing work is relevant to your discussions.

      I’d assume you’d be saying something like “How should I move forward on X because Bob hasn’t completed Y and he’s been out of the office for a while?”

    11. RagingADHD*

      Don’t cover for him to the extent of pretending his work is fine. His work (or lack thereof) is a problem. It is your problem. Asking your manager for help dealing with work problems that your co-workers are causing is not scummy, unethical, etc.

      If you pretend everything is fine and pick up his slack to help him deny/hide his illness, you are being an enabler. Addicts WANT enablers, but enabling is very destructive.

      If you want to do the right thing by Bob, by your work, and by yourself, then talk to your managers about the work-related difficulties that Bob’s absence/unresponsiveness is causing. Bumping up against real-world boundaries is sometimes the only reality check that can help an addict begin to recover.

      You don’t have to tell the truth of what you know, but don’t create a lie about the situation either.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      You might want to check the employee handbook to make sure you have no obligation to report someone who is working while under the influence of anything. I wonder if he is giving outsiders random calls like he does with you. None of your concern, except you might be surprised hearing that others had the same experience.

      Do you know if this was a misdemeanor charge or a felony charge? This goes to severity of the charge and will kind of telegraph what happens next. If it’s like here in NY, the person may go into rehab or have to call in daily to a third party agency. If he was caught with meth while driving they probably pulled his license. He may or may not have a temp license to go to and from work.

      Just from watching this stuff with friend’s (adult age) children, this can drag on for months or even years. I think that you’re probably in for at least 6-8 months of him appearing and disappearing at work. At some point the boss will figure it all out, with or without you showing her the article.

      I am mostly concerned on why you want to cover for him. I see that you say he has problems. Well, he needs help with those problems and anyone who covers for him is hindering the process of getting help. I see you have tremendous sympathy for people with substance abuse disorder. Sympathy is not going to help him get better and it is not going to help him tackle the issues that are driving the addiction.

      You actually can’t follow your ethics AND not pick up his slack. My suggestion to you is to refine/sharpen what your ethics are and how your ethics apply to a situation involving addiction. This is actually worthwhile doing because you probably will meet other people with addiction as you journey on.

      You’re right that this is a fellow human being, but so are YOU. As it stands now, it is almost like you are earning your paycheck and you are earning his paycheck for him. This is an unethical ask on HIS part.

      You have been doing this for how long and he has not gotten “better” with this type of help. At some point it would be wise to say, “enough!”. This aspect is a boundaries question. Would you be able to do this for everyone you worked with? Probably not. I always say if I can’t do X for everyone, then I cannot do it for one person, either.

      I grew up in an alcoholic home. Most of my high school class was stoned and at least half the teachers were high. I went on to a job where my coworkers got high on the job. I realized that the common thread in all these stories was I was absorbing too much of their work, their worries, their drama and so on. In covering for others, I, myself, failed to “soar like an eagle”. This is an ethics breach against ME and I did it. I guess I really did not know anything different and that is why? not sure.

      We have an ethical obligation to put ourselves in places where we can succeed. And finally after much thought, I realized that I usually help anyone BUT I need to double check to make sure they are trying to help themselves, too. Bob is freely taking from you, not helping himself and not adding to your work-life. And he will continue to take as long as you have no boundaries. Your frustration will only grow. You’ll be at home each night, exhausted and burned out.

      As others have pointed out you do not have to say, “drug problem” to the boss. All you have to do is show all the times he has missed the boat. She can figure the rest out herself. Final tip, if you find yourself treating someone’s poor behavior differently because you feel sorry for them, let that be a caution flag that you may be headed toward some internal conflicts with your own thoughts/ethics. Emotions can be very poor guides for making decisions sometimes and this is one of those times.

    13. bunniferous*

      You know what is worse than outing him? Him dying from a substance abuse problem. I lost a coworker a decade ago from substance abuse addiction. Don’t go out of your way to out him but don’ t NOT report the work issues.

      Sometimes hitting rock bottom is the only way to get on the road to recovery. I have another friend who did just that. It was bad. But he is now clean and sober, and has a great job which he is excelling at.

  2. Anonymous Educator*

    Has anyone else who’s been WFH but planning to go back to the office have their office return delayed because of the delta variant?

    1. DCompliance*

      Nothing specifically the Delta, but that is a factor a long with not enough people getting the vax, and I think just having trouble predicting when things can go back to normal.

    2. ThatGirl*

      My company seems to be moving ahead with its unofficial official return to office in mid-September.

      I say that, but the office has been open for people who wanted to work there awhile, and there have been gentle encouragements to come in a couple days a week since May. Aside from this week, I’ve been going in 3 days a week, and in September they want more formalized agreements with management. That said, there IS still flexibility by department.

      But I’ve also been wondering if delta would have any affect on that, and the answer is: so far, no.

      1. Liz*

        This is kind of where I am at this point. we have a “soft” opening, going in a couple of days a week, although my bosses are fine with just one. And we are supposed to “return to normal” whatever that may be, after Labor Day. Again, subject to whatever arrangements you make with your own management. I was planning on going in 3 days, WFH 2. As of now, nothing has changed re: mask wearing requirements IN the office due to Delta, or a delay in “returning to normal” But i’m not ruling anything out just yet.

      2. Evan Þ.*

        My company was also planning on a formal return-to-office in September, and now it’s been pushed back at least to October. But anyone who wants to can come into the office; I’m in the office now and happy about it.

        I was afraid they were going to start requiring masks again even for vaccinated people, but they haven’t.

    3. TiffIf*

      Yup–our office reopening is phased. We’ve been in Phase 2 since May. On July 12 our office was scheduled to move to Phase 3 which is the “full reopening.” The day before we were supposed to go into the office they sent out notifications that Phase 3 was on hold, and don’t come to the office unless you are part of Phase 1 or 2.

      Today we were notified that we are rolling back to Phase 1 for our office.

      (We’re in the midst of a Covid surge, not as bad as last winter but worse than this time last year.)

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      Ugh I wish. They’re still plowing ahead with return to office plans even though there’s no business need for it and things are just getting worse. It’s infuriating.

    5. Trivia Newton-John*

      My firm has had us back 3x a week since July and we are expected to be in 5x a week after Labor Day.

    6. KnittyGritty*

      My department (tech) will be remote for ever now, but the departments that were planning on returning with a hybrid schedule have had their timetables pushed back for at least 2 months.

    7. Mister Lady*

      Yep. We had about three days in July when we got excited about a return to in-person in October. That’s been scrapped.

    8. Pony Puff*

      Unfortunately no. The entire company has been back in the office since July of this year, after a hard push of trying to get everyone back in the office July 2020 and then attempting a hybrid schedule for some departments. Ugh.

    9. Concerned Academic Librarian*

      HAHAHA! Yeah, no. According to our university president, it’s safe to go back in the water and that We Are All Going Back to Normal No Matter What.

      Delta may have other plans, but they’re dragging us back kicking and screaming.

      1. Concerned Higher Ed Marketing Specialist*

        Hello, fellow concerned higher ed employee! My university president is also pushing things forward and strongly encouraging a total return to “normal”. Their one acquiescence so far has been a “temporary” mask requirement, with no news as to when they’ll end it. My guess is week two of the semester, which will quickly be followed by the Mother of All Surges.

        We’re all still mocking the pres’s welcome email from last year, which had a rather quotable catch phrase and promised as normal of a semester as possible, and then the university had to send students home less than two weeks into the semester because cases immediately got out of control. Students were blamed, rather than the lackluster attempts at leadership or guidance from, well, university leadership that left us in that position. It was, to put it mildly, more of a shipwreck than the Titanic and tbh I’m not convinced anyone in a position of power learned anything from the experience.

      2. lemon*

        Another higher ed person here. So far, no word on pushing back our return, so it seems like we’re also proceeding as though things are normal when we’re still in the middle of the biggest crisis in modern history. I’m especially angry because my job is 100% me sitting in an office alone. There’s no reason for me to be in the office other than slippery slope arguments about “where do we draw the line?” for who is required to be there in-person and who isn’t. Do they not realize we’re in the middle of a Great Resignation?

        At least they’re requiring vaccinations and masks so… that’s something I guess.

        1. Canadian prof*

          You are very lucky that they are requiring vaccinations and masks! Our U’s president is “urging” us to get vaccinated while also having janitorial staff remove all social distancing markings on the floors, no vaxx or mask requirements, and going back to in-person classes in poorly ventilated rooms. No word on how to deal with international students who may have to quarantine, or how to enable students who have to self-isolate to participate in classes. It’s going to be such a terrible mess, and the faculty asking for leadership to deal with the new situation is just being ignored (they are still proudly citing the plan from the beginning of March, when Delta did not exist).

        2. A-none*

          Also higher ed here. Not pushing back the return for staff. Some classes will still be remote, so not all students and faculty will be on campus. Masks required, vaccinations will be required when the vaccines have full FDA authorization . . . for students only. I cannot imagine they will appreciate that faculty & staff are not included in the mandate!

      3. introverted af*

        I’m in my university’s endowment organization, and we have been back for so long and people have been traveling for so long. Plus, just got an email that everyone should continue to travel as they’re comfortable which like, yes our vax rates are great. But I have not choice about who or what I am exposed to when I come into the office, I’m just expected to be here basically full time.

      4. Unladen European Swallow*

        Another higher ed staff here. Yes, university plans to come back to campus for staff have been adjusted due to Delta. Instead of everyone coming back all at once, people will now be staggered based on how much direct student contact/services you provide. Vaccines for everyone (students, staff, faculty) were required earlier this summer (except those with religious/medical exemptions) and we’ve been told our rate across the university is over 90%. Starting next week, everyone has to wear mask indoors, regardless of vaccine status.

        Staff/Departments were given the opportunity to reclassify their positions to in-person, hybrid, or remote. It looks as if many people took advantage of this. My team will be on-campus for 3days and WFH for 2days.

        Overall, I think the school has been doing a good job of balancing public health concerns and trying to have a more “normal” school year. Though the president did send an email yesterday that had a video of a bunch of folks talking about being excited for having folks back on campus soon. The tone of it felt a bit…. out of touch/forcefully optimistic.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Sounds like your university is much like the medical system I’m working for. Staff is 90% vaccinated, and all remaining staff have to either be fully vaccinated or have their exemption paperwork (medical or religious only) turned in by Oct 1st. They have said that people on exemptions will have to be tested regularly, and everyone is back to having to wear a mask. They haven’t sent anybody who came back in office as part of phase three home yet, but there is talk of sending folks back to wfh if the surge continues here in my region (cases are climbing, but no where near the level of a TX or FL).

      5. Disposable Librarian*

        Yep, fellow academic here, where our class of people (the disposable ones, I presume) are to return to full time on campus when classes start. Faculty can work from home except for their classes and office hours, but the grimy staff and librarians are to come back full time. Vaccinations required for students and masks in instructional areas, but we will see how long we last on campus. Univ. President is pretending that we are back to normal, hah! Of course, areas such as IT can opt to be totally remote, since they are important/have options. In my corner of academia, it is not the great resignation, but the great de-motivation.

        Did I mention that our great thanks from the state for working through a pandemic was .75% raise, not even 1%….

      1. PegS*

        Yep, ours got pushed back due to the current surge. But then I live in an area where everyone is hyper-sensitive to the health concerns.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Hybrid schedule in progress was recalled to optional until Labor Day; no word yet on changing the plan for FT on site after that, but CDC declared us a red zone so it’s still up in the air.

    11. Holycookiesbatman*

      My company has people all over the country (we cover regions) and so its been state- by – state for customer access (and I’m in the NE so thankfully its been all masked around me).

      But we are going forward with our national conference… in September… in Florida… I am unimpressed.

    12. Iced Mocha Latte*

      We’ve been back as hybrid since July 1 and I wish they’d either send us back home for a few months or back off on certain things that seem risky and aren’t necessary. Management has been pretty conservative through the pandemic and made sure things were very safe, so it seems odd that they’re not reacting the same way to the Delta variant. Last I heard, the company is over 80% vaccinated and most departments are on hybrid, so that’s my only guess as to why they’re keeping in-person meetings and a couple other things (no, no huge potlucks or anything like that). I think the biggest factor, though, IMO, is the CEO is so worried about losing the culture that she doesn’t want to go back to 100% remote.

      I’m actually fine with hybrid, as it allows me a change of scenery and I feel like it puts me more into a routine. I also like seeing my coworkers a couple times a week. But given all the BS I’ve had to deal with within my department in the last few months as we prepared to come back and now after we’ve been back over a month, the path of least resistance for me is just sending us all home again.

    13. OutOfOffice*

      We’re currently in Phase 2 (volunteer, must be vaccinated). We’re holding on Phase 3, and they’ve promised to give us advanced notice if at least on month (we were going back in September, and now it’s uncertain, but won’t be at least until October). Once we’re in Phase 3, it’ll be hybrid (2 days in the office per week) and proof of vaccination will be required for anyone to work in the office.

    14. A-none*

      Nope. We are both forging ahead with the return to the office AND returning to the prohibition on working from home, even if you have symptoms or have been exposed. If you want to do the responsible thing and stay home when you have a cold, you have to use sick leave.

    15. mcl*

      Large public university here. We are apparently plowing ahead with “everything will be magically okay again in September, all hands on deck!” And our spectacular legislature has put the brakes on any sort of vaccine mandate, so we kind of have to mask and hope. At least I now have a remote work agreement in place where I can WFH twice a week, but with Delta in the air and a ton of students coming back to town from all over the world, I’m not excited about going to campus to work.

      My spouse’s employer is a large private tech company that is requiring all employees to be vaccinated by October 1, and all hands back to the office full-time this fall.

      1. ampersand*

        Same here (verbatim—we could be the same person!) except my husband’s office just pushed their opening back to January, and they’re requiring vaccines, and I’m jealous.

    16. I'm that guy*

      Yes, not full time, but we were supposed to start coming in part time starting the 2nd week of September and that’s been pushed back a least another month. People who do need to come come in will needs to be masked even if they are vaccinated.

    17. Lyudie*

      Our return has just been pushed back almost a full year. We were supposed to go back in Sept at the earliest, now it is next summer.

    18. quill*

      Lab work, so we were here anyhow, but we started back up mandatory temperature checks and masking this week.

    19. Jane of all Trades*

      Yes. My firm (and it seems a number of other firms in our market) had initially planned to phase-in coming to the office 2-3 days a week after Labor Day. Due to delta this has been pushed back.

    20. Admin of Sys*

      Our voluntary hybrid ‘come in and test out hoteling’ was supposed to be moved to scheduled / mandatory hoteling as of September and that got put on hold ‘until things calm down’. And they added back the mask mandates for the hoteling space, and forbade eating together inside. But the hybrid model is still an option, and I’m still occasionally going in.

    21. Anonandanon*

      We have been going in a couple of times a week for a few weeks in preparation for returning fully in Sept, that has not changed. I learned yesterday three of my coworkers are not vaccinated, so they will have to wear masks indoors at all times and keep 6 feet of distance, but only found out by chatting with one of the managers. I think everyone in my department should be made aware of who is/is not vaccinated. There has been some discussion about a hybrid WFH plan, but have no idea what that would look like for anyone of us. We are a utility company, so it’s a boots on the ground mentality, regardless if you work in the field, or in the office. I’ve already had people who have been calling in for support, for over year, and us not missing a beat, making comments that it’s good we are going to be back in the office. I don’t know why they think it’s good, since my work will be affected by all the interruptions I will have to deal with that I did not working from home.

    22. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Spouse’s job just pressed pause on plans to have people back hybrid starting the beginning of October.

      I’ve been in office the whole time, but we are back in full masks at work. Medical adjacent, only about half of my job can be done from home – we focused on sending that part to the folks with more sever risks so that they could stay wfh.

    23. Amtelope*

      Yep, we went from “we’re expecting people back on a hybrid schedule starting September 15” to “we’re postponing return to the office, but people can still work in the office occasionally and voluntarily” to “no non-essential personnel in the office, period” over the course of two weeks.

    24. Cheesecake2.0*

      Over and Over and Over. First it was Aug 2. Then it was Aug 16. Then it was Aug 30th. As of this morning it’s “after August 30th if your manager convinces HR your presence is required for operational support”. I suspect I will be asked to come in one day a week at that point and continue remote work the other days.

    25. Loves libraries*

      At a school in Georgia. We are returning on time but with masks required for all instead of optional.

    26. Nusuth*

      Yes. Like others, ours got pushed back from 3ish days a week in September to “who knows?” They concurrently announced a vaccine requirement for everyone in the office, including employees who choose to come in and visitors – which is nice, but I’m planning on staying 95% WFH.

    27. Gatomon*

      We tried the phased return last summer and it blew up with the winter wave. Eventually it got so bad with infections and isolations that business was severely impacted and they sent every home who didn’t have to be on site.

      This spring they approached it from a WFH as the new default going forward, unless your work product is an issue or the job isn’t well suited for it. Thus I’m still basically remote, some folks come in occasionally and others are there all the time. I’m really relieved. I come in, do what I need to and leave. I’m not sure if it will change as vaccines are not very popular in this state.

    28. 653-CXK*

      I was working 2 days a week from the office, but our boss has told us not to come in until it’s safe, and even so, we must wear masks unless we are alone in the office. (I might go in on Monday or Tuesday to collect the mail.)

    29. allathian*

      Yup. When I went on vacation there was talk of us going hybrid in September. Now it’s been pushed back into at least November.

      Our case numbers are worse than ever before during the pandemic, but thankfully this hasn’t impacted hospitals much. The most vulnerable populations have largely been vaccinated (at least 90% in the 80+ age group). Currently it’s mainly the 15-30 year olds who are getting it, but most manage without needing hospitalization. That said, long Covid is an issue, but the medical community is getting better at recognizing it and providing necessary support.

    30. MissDisplaced*

      I’m not sure it’s been officially delayed, but there’s been no mention of “going back in” either. Our office has been open to those who want to use it, they just have to sign up for when they’re using it. It seemed like they were leaning towards a hybrid model anyway. I hope it stays this way.

    31. JB*

      Ours should have been… but we’re two weeks into reopening and we got notified someone in our building has already tested positive for COVID. We were sent a follow up email by one of our higher ups assuring us everything is just fine… *eyeroll*

  3. Kath*

    Hi all. Hope you are all keeping well. How do you address midly infuriating things your coworkers do at work?

    There’s this very unprofessional admin. If she likes you, she’s the sweetest. If she doesn’t, she halfasses things she needs to do for you. There have been a million small things. For instance, she is supposed to create a weekly schedule for the team. She checks what people have on their calendar with people she likes but doesn’t bother with others. It’s caused inaccurate schedules many times but our manager does nothing.

    Another example is today we were meant to have a weekly team meeting. This is a casual and informal catch up. 3 people (of 7 total) were off. All her favorites… She canceled the meeting without telling anyone! Apparently only mentioned it to one coworker in passing and said that it was because ‘most people were on holiday’. Well the majority were in so not sure what she was on about. I find it hard to address without my manager’s intervention. No one challenges her as they probably don’t notice a pattern or whatever. On a rare occasion when someone calls her out, she plays dumb and apologises but carries on with the same problematic behavior. It is indeed hard to spot but I know for a fact she plans this kind of petty things as she used to tell me in detail until she decided she doesn’t like me anymore when I was a couple of months into the job! No idea why, I don’t necessarily care. All I need from her is to do her job really as I do mine. I would love to hear your opinion about how to address these issues, or else how do I let it go? It’s just irritating!

    1. Firecat*

      Hmm. I’m not seeing that cancelling a meeting when 3 out of 7 team members as gone as problematic, so I think you do need to reframe some of your thoughts on her actions in your mind. Not sure why you all couldn’t see the cancellation, those are typically instant in outlook, so that part.cpuld be addressed. If you are using outlook and she cancelled the meeting then I think it is odd that you expect her to come tell you.

      As for her not getting your schedule right, again it sounds like a failing or the system to me and not personal. I would go talk to her the next time it happens and say something like – I wasn’t able to attend the project meeting because I had a conflicting client meeting. Can you make sure I can attend the project meeting going forward? Is there anything I can do toake scheduling easier?

      Then see what she has to say.

      1. Nonnynon*

        Kath said that the admin actually told her in the past that she purposefully does this kind of thing. So it seems like it really is personal and not just an issue with the system.

        I agree that cancelling a meeting when 3/7 people are out makes sense, but in that case she should tell people. (Based on the post, it doesn’t sound like the meeting was cancelled on outlook where people could have seen it/been notified, but that all the admin did was tell one person verbally. I might be wrong about that though)

        Kath- I agree that it might be a good idea to tell her the issue you are having with scheduling and ask if there’s something you can do to make the scheduling easier. That way if there is something else going on and it really is just an honest mistake, you can clear it up, and if she’s just being petty and keeps doing the same thing you can refer back to this conversation when you bring it up again, and then if you do end up talking to your manager or hers about it you have some solid examples of what you’ve already done to try and fix the situation yourself.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      If she doesn’t report to you I’m not sure you can address it directly. Would documenting her “mistakes” and taking that to whoever is responsible for her work?

    3. HR Exec Popping In*

      In these situations, I work hard to have them be on my good side. In other words, kill her with kindness.

      1. Workerbee*

        I have worked with this calibre of employee before. Once they decide they don’t like you, it is rarely worth the extreme effort to try to change their mind.

    4. Bagpuss*

      With the scheduling issues, is this for meetings? can you ask if she can send invitations – I know with outlook you can then accept, decline or suggest a new time, so if there is a conflict you could decline and suggest a new time. I think those go to all participants, not just the organizer

      I also think that if you feel it is an ongoing issue you need to document and then speak to her boss or to HR , but don’t make it about her having favourites, make it about specifics – e.g.
      – I have asked her to check my diary before making client appointments but she continues to book appointments when I am out of the office / already booked for other meetings
      – I have now twice come into the office for meetings she set up to find that she had cancelled them without notifying me. I spoke to other attendees who told me that she notified them 2 days ago

      or whatever.
      I agree that cancelling a meeting once 2 or 3 attendees were out doesn’t seem unreasonable.

    5. Not Me*

      3 out of 7 people *is* almost half missing from the meeting and probably should have been cancelled. Now should she have sent out a notice, yes of course. I also want to say that managing calendars is incredibly difficult especially when numerous people are involved. I did it for 3 busy executives and it took hours sometimes to get things to sync up. Its a bigger pain in the butt than most people realize.

      I dont think there is much you can do other than just be persistent with things like the notices not being given for cancellations etc. And TBH she just might be forgetful because she has so much to do. Thats a time management problem on her side.

    6. Kath*

      Thanks for all comments so far. Just to make it clear, there was no meeting cancellation. She verbally confirmed this to the aforementioned coworker without sending any of us an Outlook cancellation.

      For background, the meeting shouldn’t have been canceled. We’re never full house. There are normally 5 people attend these on average. I even remember on one occasion it was only her and one more coworker last year and they didn’t cancel the meeting!

      Sure, I’m not the greatest fan of hers. But I try so hard to step back and not take things personally. It’s less irritating when you don’t anyway. But I do know that things are very much personal and not because she’s too busy or incompetent. As I mention above, she admitted to me that she messes around with people she doesn’t like before.

      Here’s a few more examples:
      She gives clients our direct numbers and tells them to call back. When the call is for someone she likes, she puts them through directly
      She skips you and gets others sign birthday cards
      She celebrates your birthday on wrong day or doesn’t celebrate at all
      She asks people if they need anything (beverage or office supplies) but you need to chase her a few times if you aren’t one of her chums

      1. Sock Knitter*

        Ugh, I’ve worked with some of these. If those meetings are casual and informal, my work history tells me that these were a ‘good idea fairy’ product that has turned into a social thing. The admin invites everyone because “technically” it’s working that way, but if the clique is out, oh darn.

        While this might not sound very satisfying, accept this person as they are and work around her as best you can. That she’s told you about her plans in the past tells me that she’s already schemed out the angles, tested boundaries, and knows what she can get away with. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that this person will cause just enough problems to be irritating but not enough to warrant management intervention and has probably worn down her current manager.

        If you’re seeing it, others are seeing it. Walk your own path, do the right thing, and others will see that too.

      2. Laure*

        I totally see why her behaviour is awful, and even more awful because what she’s doing, a thousand paper cuts, is very difficult to explain or to prove. If you say she’s acting unfairly on purpose and you only give two or three small examples, people will think those are minor things and believe you are the paranoid one! She’s very clever.
        My method in countering someone like that would not be to document, etc, because making a big deal out of her conduct going to reflect bad on you. I would instead lightly allude to the situation (the admin is playing favorites), as if it were not a big deal, but also as if her unfairness was common knowledge and obvious to everyone.

        For example:
        – “Ha, yes, you did not get the birthday card! Well you’re not on (admin) list of favorites, so… You know the drill, right?”
        – Ah, yes, sorry. No I did not speak to this client on Thursday… (Admin) doesn’t like me, she doesn’t transfer my calls, you know how it is.
        – Ah, you got on (Admin’s) shit list too? Now you’ll never get that (coffee, new computer, etc.)

        Then you don’t explain yourself, you even change the subject if you want. If you get a question, you say lightly: “oh yes, you noticed, right? How differently you’re treated if you’re not (admin’s) favorite?”
        But the secret is to say these things cheerfully and offhandedly, like you don’t really care, but or course, her behaviour is obvious to everybody, right?
        At first people might not believe you. Don’t insist! But you put the idea in their head, and once they notice something, they will think about what you said… They will realize what is happening… And once they see it they won’t be able to unsee it.
        Then… Well, people will be more aware of her behaviour. Maybe they will talk to her, or show annoyance, and maybe it will generate change (maybe not.) Maybe several people will talk to your manager. Or maybe nothing will happen, but at least you will have allies and feel less alone in that fight.

      3. banoffee pie*

        She sounds as if she’s sbout 13 years old. I’m not sure why she’s boasting that she does it on purpose, because it really doesn’t reflect well on her. Maybe it’s a power thing; she feels that she has little power so is playing these games to make herself feel important? It would really infuriate me, to be honest. I think you’re doing well to be as patient as you are. I can’t think of any advice, I’m not very good with people like this and always seem on their hate list. Sorry you have to put up with this :)

    7. Angsty(former)Admin*

      The people who’s calendars she checks prior to scheduling might be the ones with seniority/need to be present in order for the meeting to work/she directly supports/she has calendar access for/etc. That’s pretty much the list of priorities you run through as an admin tasked with organizing meetings – ultimately, those who fall outside of those categories are expected to realize that they’ll need to rearrange their schedule in order to attend.

      Her playing dumb when “someone calls her out” might have something to do with the fact that it’s an easier out than straight up informing someone that they’re not high up enough in the pecking order, especially when its clear they’re already annoyed with you.

      1. Sashasoo*

        But Kath said that the admin has outright told her that she does this kind of thing on purpose. It’s nice for people to give the admin the benefit of the doubt, but she’s already admitted to doing it on purpose because she doesn’t like certain people.

    8. NopityNope*

      I want to reframe this a bit. The comments so far have been on how to fix the two examples Kath supplied. But it’s not about those two things. Kath has noticed a PATTERN of deliberate pettiness from an admin. In fact, the admin TOLD KATHY baldly that she PLANNED those kinds of petty things. So, rather than trying to solve specific example–because there are surely tons more–let’s focus on what can be done about someone whose petty behavior is having an impact on the whole team. One should not have to be on an admin’s “good side” to have them perform their core functionality in the appropriate way.

      So my question is: Kath, have you had a conversation with your manager about this? Unless you want to continue addressing each thing as it arises (so far an unsuccessful approach) or just sucking it up, you might need to have a frank convo with your manager. Focus on the impact to the team.

      Option 1: Pick the most impactful things and approach as request for help. “It seems that managing the weekly calendar is challenging for Admin, and it’s causing X, Y, and Z. What can we do to help Admin ensure that the calendar is accurate?” She continues to be petty? “Manager, unfortunately Admin did not fully update the calendar last week, and the project will be late because the calendar indicated that Cecil would be available when in fact he’s on vacation this week. Shall I have the client call you to discuss?” I’m a big fan of making those kinds of problems my manager’s problems, not mine.

      Option 2: Address the pattern. The challenge will be to keep the manager from falling down the rabbit hole of trying to analyze (and excuse) the specific examples. Natural tendency, perhaps? Collect some very diverse examples and schedule a meeting with the manager. But continue to focus on the impact, and point out the pattern. My hope would be to prompt the manager to observe and confirm that pattern of behavior, then take action. Of course, if your manager is not someone who will DO anything about it, that’s a different challenge.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        So this is where I am. I think at time (myself included) focuses too much on the specific example instead of the entire behavior. But the fact that when OP was on her good side she told her her dirty secrets takes this to another level. I do think at this point the pattern has to be addressed, because it is impacting work. If I have a meeting on my schedule and have updates to give and no one tells me it cancelled that can cause a communication issue and bottle necks, where if I am alerted I can send an update or say “hey, I really need to have this meeting so we can flush out some items”. That’s what to focus on.

    9. Lucky*

      My team had an admin like that, so I love-bombed her with kindness until she liked me and started including me in her favorites and then . . . I grew to really like her and only be mildly amused-annoyed when she pulled her shadiness.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      My thought here is to go line item by line item. These petty people are a lot of work and they know it.

      Checking weekly calendars. If she is routinely skipping the same people that should show up as a proven pattern.
      All you can do is keep track of your own. So if your calendar has been skipped over say, 3 out of 4 weeks then ask in front of others how you can be included in the meeting notices more often. The key is to ask in front of others.

      Meeting cancelations are not that hard to send out in email to everyone. Ask the boss if you all can have a SOP of email notifications for cancelled meetings. Asking the boss in front of others is probably your best bet.

      She gives clients our direct numbers and tells them to call back. When the call is for someone she likes, she puts them through directly
      This one impacts the customers. How about giving customers direct dial numbers to use? Otherwise, just covering you and your own customers, keep track of how many customers have to call again unnecessarily. (This is a lot of work, I think I would just ask for everyone to have direct dial numbers.)

      She skips you and gets others sign birthday cards
      This is not a very inclusive activity. If she cannot get all sigs then perhaps this is a routine that needs to be dropped. It has a grammar school feel to it the way it is playing out here.

      She celebrates your birthday on wrong day or doesn’t celebrate at all
      Of every things here, this one for me is the easiest to ignore. I would not want anything from this person and I def don’t want some insincere birthday wishes.

      She asks people if they need anything (beverage or office supplies) but you need to chase her a few times if you aren’t one of her chums
      This one is the second easiest to ignore, just my opinion. I don’t like people “waiting on me” and I prefer to get my own [whatever thing]. If you like a coffee or whatever, why not just get your own and if you want just get one for the person working closest with you that particular day. If you pretend not to notice you are not included in the coffee run, sometimes the coffee run just disappears. You can also stop chasing her. She’s enjoying that too much anyway. I ignored the coffee run at one place and I found after a while the coffee runs stopped.

      I can see that this woman is really grating on you. I understand the reasons, I get it. But in a healthy workplace stuff like this is not really a big deal. I am wondering what else is going on. If this woman quit tomorrow, would your workplace be great?
      Meanwhile, for your own sanity build workarounds for each hurdle she throws out there. Like the direct dial number idea, find ways to take her out of the picture. I assume you need your job like the rest of us, and people like this can drive us nuts if we let them. Find ways to take back your power.

      1. Pennyworth*

        Reading your comment made me wonder why the admin has to do all the birthday tasks. It is nothing to do with her job and seems typical of offices where that sort of stuff is just dumped onto the person at the bottom of the heap. If signing a card is so important, how about offering to walk it round yourself? Who arranges a card for her? She might be quite resentful. Apart from that, she does sound like a pain!

    11. Juneybug*

      Could you make suggestions for improvements that would lessen her opportunities to mess with folks? Bonus points if you make these suggestions at the meetings with your manager and teammates present.
      Examples –
      Weekly meetings – ask if they can occur the same day/time every week. That is one less power play she has.
      Office supplies – ask if a sign up sheet can be placed on a shared drive where employees can put their requests. Or email her directly with your requests.
      Birthday cards – can a routing slip be placed on front of the folder (with card inside) so you know who needs to sign the card next.
      Good luck!

  4. Anon Designer*

    Hi everyone! I’m looking for recommendations for a good online, self-paced course for touch typing. I never really learned how to do it, and my work has tilted in a direction where I’m doing a lot more typing than I used to. My awkward workarounds just aren’t cutting it anymore.

    I’m a freelancer, so no employer-based resources are available to me. I do have access to Udemy through my library and they have one option, but I’m curious about what others have found useful.

    TIA!

    (note to Alison: sorry for changing my name again; I’m sticking with this one for all AAM posts from now on)

    1. CTT*

      This may sound silly, but have you looked into typing games? That’s legitimately how I learned to type 20 years ago. Those were all ~edutainment~ CD-rom games, but I just googled and it looks like the concept still exists as free browser games.

        1. Coenobita*

          I did too! I was on the younger side and had no idea what a semicolon was, so that was frustrating.

          We did have an official typing (actually “keyboarding”) course in middle school, ca. 1997, using keyboards that had no letters printed on the keys so you couldn’t cheat. Except there were 25 students in the class and only 24 of the special keyboards – as the alphabetically last student, I had a regular keyboard and thus did not actually learn how to type until we got AOL at home a couple years later and I started instant-messaging my friends all the time.

          1. Windchime*

            I took typing classes on an actual typewriter back in the day, but I didn’t get truly fast at touch-typing until I started chatting online in the 90’s. My son learned this way as well; he has this strange way of typing with two fingers on one hand and three on the other but he is just as fast as me with my “proper” typing.

      1. Mr. Tumnus*

        Typing of the Dead is great, if it’s still around! The zombies will get you if you aren’t fast and accurate. Sounds so dumb, but it’s fun and it works.

    2. RJ*

      Instead of a course, I would recommend finding a free online typing game that you like. There are tons of them out there and they will motivate you to practice! Getting good at typing is much more about muscle memory than about learning…it will feel clumsy at first but if you just keep practicing you will improve much faster than you think.

      1. Another Mimi*

        I used a program for kids called Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing after college to up my typing speed. It was kind of silly, but really helped out.

      1. 8 bit llama*

        A lot of the retro ones are now playable online from the internet archive, they have a bunch of 80s and 90s games too, have fun!

    3. Diatryma*

      What worked for me when I learned a new layout was to print out the keyboard layout, tape it above my monitor, and then do lots of very slow typing– comments, chat rooms, Word Shark– without ever looking down.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        This is what I did. I actually taped it to the bottom of my monitor so it would catch my eye as I tried to look down. It took me about three weeks in total to get up to speed—I’d recommend starting on a weekend doing a lot of typing for personal needs. Or, for practice (since I wasn’t savvy enough to find the games when I did this) I just transcribed paragraphs.

    4. Mimmy*

      As a keyboarding instructor, I teach typing to blind and visually impaired adults. I use a website called Typing Club. I use a school edition, but there is a public version that is free to sign up for. It’s a very comprehensive touch-typing curriculum that does include games. I’ll put a link in a reply so this comment isn’t held up in moderation.

      RJ is right, building muscle memory is a big part of learning to touch type. You’ll begin to find that typing certain patterns of letters becomes more natural, for example “the”. So, it becomes more about a pattern of letters rather than thinking about individual keys. It will take time, so have patience with yourself.

      As an aside: I’d be interested in what typing games are good; I’m always interested in resources I can offer my students once they finish my class (students have to take keyboarding before they start the rest of the technology curriculum), and I think those with some usable vision may benefit from these games.

    5. Dave*

      Try and start memorizing the keyboard. It will help with your typing so even if you are off a letter you know how to adjust your fingers. (Yeah for the raised bar and f and j.)

    6. quill*

      If you don’t absolutely need it to be done online there are a few older typing “games” that you might be able to pick up for cheaper than one designed for a course, if of course they’re compatible with your computer.

      Personally I learned from “Timon and Pumba Typing” even though I was in middle school, and then made my mom do it when she went back to school for her masters (it didn’t stick as well but that’s because she didn’t need to type as much post-grad since she was a classroom teacher) but IDK if the CD-Rom would install on a modern laptop.

      But remastered versions of other edutainment games that weren’t owned by disney might be cheap on steam.

    7. LizB*

      My favorite typing game is called ztype – it’s more pure practice than teaching, but the practice is great!

    8. PollyQ*

      Alternate suggestion: get an old-fashioned book of typing exercises. I, and everyone in my generation, learned to touch type using them, and it’s served us fine.

    9. Anon Designer*

      hey everybody, thanks again to each of you for your tips and recommendations! I have many more options than I realized. Hope y’all have a great weekend~

  5. irene adler*

    Have a question about applicant tracking systems. Do they really require the applicant’s date of birth?

    Here’s what’s going on: A local recruiter agency sends me a weekly list of open positions. In the email, the recruiter asks for anyone interested in one of the positions to email to her your DOB and SSN (“last four digits only”). Her explanation: this information is needed to submit the resume through the client’s applicant tracking system. This is in addition to the resume and a short paragraph explaining why you are right for the position.

    Do I understand this correctly? DOB mean date of birth-right? I’ve filled out a heck of a lot of applications in my time, presumably via applicant tracking systems. None ever asked for DOB.

    Is this something new?

    This seems wrong somehow.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      First off, I’ve never had a recruiter put my resume through an ATS. That seems like a waste of time– why use a recruiter when you can just apply yourself?

      Second, never ever give that info over email. Ever.

      Third, I have worked with internal and external recruiters and I have never been asked for my DOB or my SSN. That information only appears when I’m filling out my I9.

      Basically, this sounds like a scam. If it isn’t a scam, then it’s just silly.

      1. Clisby*

        The I9, or maybe for a background check? I wouldn’t expect to have to submit it at the application stage.

    2. Empress Matilda*

      A lot of times these fields come standard with the software, or the business just enables them without really thinking about why they need it. I can see why a recruiter would want to have a unique tracking number for each individual, but they can create one easily enough without asking for your sensitive personal information.

      Is it possible to just fill the fields with 9’s, or some other info that’s obviously false? Just for the sake of submitting the application. If it turns out they really do need to know your date of birth for some reason, they will likely have a human person contact you for it.

      1. irene adler*

        If it were me submitting directly to the ATS, yes I’d use the all “9’s” method. But this is a recruiter at a recruiting agency who is tasked with finding candidates for a lot of biotech jobs. And this is her instruction to us- the potential job candidates. So I can’t “coach” her on doing this method. She is insisting that she must have DOB to submit candidates to her clients.

        I think this is a blatant screen-out of older (and possibly more expensive, at least in the client’s mind) candidates.

        1. Observer*

          Ask her to double check if she REALLY needs the DOB as it is often used to illegally screen out people over 40.

        2. quill*

          Biotech and pharma recruiting companies tend to do this and I really wish that I had known years ago that this was DEFINITELY not necessary. I could have blocked Randstad years before I did…

        3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          The only time I’ve needed to give a DOB at the application stage was when it was a nationwide agency, and even then spouse didn’t have to do DOB, just poor me with the super common first and last name did. The logic told to me was we may get multiple Jake Smith applications, but the odds of them all having the same DOB, or even two having the same DOB was very low.

          They were not asking about last four at all.

    3. Decidedly Me*

      Ours doesn’t require it, though I’m sure there’s an option to ask for it somewhere in there.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      Systems can be configured differently. It’s possible that date of birth has been made a required field for their particular system.
      It’s also possible that they’re just asking for that information because they’ve always asked for it and have no idea if it’s needed or not.

      1. irene adler*

        I have received these weekly emails from this recruiting agency for a couple of years now. This week was the first time the request for DOB and last four SS# was made.

        1. I'm just here for the cats*

          I would not give my DOB and SSN. Even if you have received these emails from the same person at the same agency for years, this could be a scam. Maybe their system got hacked and a scammer is using their email address.

          If possible give the recruiter a call and ask. If you don’t have a way to call them, email and say that you do not want to provide this information over the phone because of security concerns. I would also state that asking for the DOB just to apply is edging on discriminatory practices and they could be looking at future lawsuits.

          As someone else pointed out, this sounds really odd and like it could be used to discriminate against older candidates. The only reason why I could think that this would be needed would be that the position requires by law someone be above a certain age, (18 or 21). Someone was thinking “how can we scan out people who are too young? Oh lets require their DOB. But really they could just have a field that says “I confirm I am X age or older.

    5. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      When I’ve been asked for DOB in this scenario, I pushed back and was told “day and month is fine.” I could also just give them a 4-8 digit number to identify myself. It was only to anonymize my name away.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I noped out of that application as well. DOB as DDMM I would consider, but SSN without an accepted job offer is a Hell No.

    6. GigglyPuff*

      I’m going to say if this is a legit company, it’s how they organize their applicants in the system. If they have 10 Jane Smith’s, they differentiate them with their DOB or SSN. It’s like how doctor’s office used to do it (maybe still do but I don’t give them my social) and why they asked for your social, that’s how they coded/organized filenames.

      But agree with others it’s bull that they are asking for this info in e-mail. It should be in their system and they should use another way to verify the correct Jane Smith contacted to apply.

    7. AndersonDarling*

      One time I was working with a 3rd party recruiter and he asked for this information after a thorough conversation about a specific role and my experience. After we agreed that the role was a match, he asked for this info to submit my info to the employer after I signed the contract with the staffing company. He said it was unusual but this employer required it for applicant management. It was a massive international employer.
      I wouldn’t trust sending this info to a random email. I had established a relationship with this particular recruiter and signed a contract and that was the only reason I handed it over.

    8. Karo*

      Yeah a lot of ATSes feed directly into background screening systems so they require everything upfront that you’d need for a background check. Ideally they’d just ask for the stuff they’d actually need and have you go back in later to update with your PII, but that’s an extra step that a lot of people don’t want to deal with.

      Not saying to give your info to the recruiter necessarily! It’s weird that she’s putting you into the ATS. But it’s unfortunately not necessarily weird for them to ask for that info.

    9. aiya*

      I’ve worked with two external recruiters who asked for this info, but one caveat is that they very much specified that they are looking for birth month and date, NO YEAR INFO. They were very explicit in that detail and assured me that it’s just how they organize applicant data in their system. I made it to the final rounds for both positions, and they were able to use this info to do a background check. Not sure if this part matters, but all of this info was conveyed over the phone.

    10. Search First SSN*

      I usually push back about this info but when pushing back makes you “look difficult,” I use a SSN I found by Googling “the first SS number.” I always use birthdate Jan 1 or Feb 2 then a random year. This gives the company/recruiter the identification number they swear they need then if you get to the job offer background search stage you can correct the info then citing privacy reasons.

  6. froodle*

    Actually had someone try the “altering the text in the body of an email trail to pin blame on another person” this week!

    I was honestly more gobsmacked than I was annoyed, especially given that we’d so recently had that letter on AAM and I’d read it with a raised eyebrow and an attitude of “what kind of absolute cartoonishly villainous buffoon would even try that, seriously?!”

    It wasn’t my manager, but it was *a* manager, and therefore someone two whole levels above me in the company hierarchy.

    He’s the one I posted about in an open thread a few weeks ago, the one who’d been hired to manage a team but actually only “managed” to alienate every single one of them, get hit with at least two grievances that I know about and probably a couple more I don’t, and got quietly side-lined to a limited-term project with no direct reports.

    (he’s also the one who got directly compared to my nightmare former manager, which is how I found out that NFM’s name had become a pejorative term around the office, causing me no small amount of glee at the time)

    He’d asked me to walk him through an element of my job, which I’d duly sat down and done with him. He then sent me a flowchart of the process, with the entire body of the email reading “As promised”. I filed it away and thought no more about it.

    Except that on Wednesday, I come in to find he’s emailed me again, changed the text in his original email to say “please review and let me know of any changes”, and copied in my manager (in our company structure, that’s my boss’s boss, double-boss, or grandboss), making it look like I’d just ignored his request for review and feedback for over a week.

    I quietly let my supervisor know what’s happening, taking pains to strike a balance between “Carl is being an utter NFM level buffoon” and not actually saying “Carl is being an utter NFM level buffoon”*, which turned out not to matter when the man himself appeared at our door, wanting to know why we weren’t logged into a Zoom call that not only were we logged into, but which was actively playing on the speakers as he demanded an explanation, forcing him to raise his voice as he explained how important our attendance at the meeting he was talking over was.

    Eventually the meeting ends and I email Carl back, still with Double-Boss copied in. I politely apologise for the fact that I didn’t seem to have received the email he was referencing, as all I had was the one marked “As Promised”, which I’d attached for clarity, and could he resend the document he needed checking?

    And when he didn’t respond, I sent a polite and careful and very pointed reminder the next day. And a third today.

    I did eventually get the stupid thing, and the exact things I’d pointed out during our sit-down as needing correction or clarity remains uncorrected and unclarified. I’d taken DB out of the chain after the initial response, but you can bet I’m filing copies of every email somewhere I can find it easily in case this happens again.

    What an idiot, though. I can believe a mediocre and widely-disliked manager would stoop to this level of sliminess, but I can’t believe anyone would be so BAD at it.

    *(for the avoidance of doubt, let the record state that Carl is an absolute NFM-level buffoon)

      1. froodle*

        Ikr! When I (eventually) got the thing he wanted me to review, reviewed it and sent him my suggestions, he came back with this super snivelling “thank you for your contributions, your input is very valuable” response, which I have a hard time reading as anything other than a cowardly bully who wasn’t expecting me finish back realising he might have picked a bad target.

    1. NopityNope*

      Just some solidarity here. I had a case where someone forwarded my email and changed the sent date to cover the fact that they never took action, blaming me for the thing not being done on time. The problem is, they will always remove you from the thread, so you only hear about through someone else. Luckily, my manager said, “That doesn’t sound like something Nopity would do,” and came back to me. And of course, I had my email in my Sent box.

      So I think you’re right that the only thing you can do is be meticulous about retaining your own copies of everything. But kudos to you for remaining excruciatingly polite–I would have struggled majorly with that!

      1. froodle*

        Fistbump of solidarity from a fellow member of the wtf-gang! Thank goodness your manager had your back and knew how you worked; that’s really the only thing you can hope for when someone gets extra sneaky with that stuff!

        Oh, my politeness was definitely calculated at the “clearly this is meant to be insulting but in a very plausibly deniable way” level. Also, being on email helped, as I think I’d have had a hard time maintaining a neutral tone and facial expression in person.

  7. youmustclickit...*

    Does anyone have a link or a good explanation for the mindset behind process click-counting for me? Not website clicks/visits, internal auditing of clicking.
    I’ve never been able to wrap my head around it. It’s come up at several jobs almost exclusively the focus on it came from newer or managers of entry-level teams. Two examples:

    Long ago as an entry-level support person, I had multiple trainers and managers who were far more concerned with how many “clicks” something took, rather than the time. If I tried to hotkey (like…ctrl+C and ctrl+V), I was scolded and I was told to use the mouse only (highlight, right click, copy, right click, paste) so that clicks could be counted and not to “accidentally overclick your mouse”.
    Spoiler: There was no software counting clicks. A skip level meeting where a higher up was trying to understand why our team was so slow revealed this. We no longer had to count clicks.

    I’m on the IT (CRM) side now, working closely with a dev team. I totally understand it when a regularly used button or feature ends up a bit buried, and we need to reduce how much a user needs to dig to get to that.
    But recently we got pulled into a meeting to discuss overhauling our record types to swap to all free-text-entry fields so our support could avoid using checkboxes and picklists to “save clicks” on information that’s heavily used in reporting. We directed this end-user manager to submit such a change request, which required their own upper management’s approval (where it was shot down).
    Spoiler again: We don’t have any click counting software.

    1. Empress Matilda*

      Overclicking your mouse? I’ve never heard of such a thing!

      Also, I’m very curious as to how a free text field uses *fewer* clicks than a checkbox or a picklist. Unless…they’re only interested in mouse clicks, but not keystrokes? This whole thing is kind of mindboggling.

      1. Chaordic One*

        While it wouldn’t necessarily use fewer clicks, it is often quicker to use a free text field than to scroll down a long picklist in order to find the correct item on the list to click.

        1. youmustclickit...*

          The fun part is our picklists are usually less than three options (but picklists for use in our reporting/algorithms and record type swapping), but our SKU picklist has a search bar in which you can either input the SKU, line, product, or any other keyword and it’ll give you a narrow set of choices.

        2. Chaordic One*

          And then there are the picklists where the items are all listed out of order and randomly. If you have a picklist, at least have items in numerical and/or alphabetical order. Where I work, there are a lot of picklists that are not in any particular order.

      2. Observer*

        Sometimes it works better not because of the number of clicks but because it makes it easier to use the keyboard. Pick lists with “walk menu” type functionality generally work well with tabs, so you can stay with the keyboard. Radio buttons and check boxes, on the other hand, generally don’t.

        Depending on the form or interface that could be an issue or not.

    2. Firecat*

      Click counting can be useful in determining if a location change is helpful. If a daily process is ran 500 times, reducing the clicks from 10 to 5 is a reduction of about 25 minutes work a day. The idea being that you can see where people are going the most to reorganize.

      That said I have never heard of anyone insisting that you right click copy/paste on the name of click counting. That sounds absurd.

    3. Allypopx*

      I can only guess that someone heard the advice of less clicks being more streamlined and somehow it ran amuck and took over the office mentality.

      That thought process is designed to save time, and is meant for like…systems where files are several folders deep, or software that requires you to navigate through to many pages, or other efficiency sinks. It’s a shorthand, clicks are not literally bad on their own. The goal is not clicks, the goal is time.

      I wonder if you’re in a position to point that out? That what you’re really looking for is speed and efficiency, and that clicks can be a useful short hand for that, but can also distract from the goal? Long text submissions are much more time consuming than checklists, for instance. Getting everyone oriented around what your ACTUAL goals are is the only solution I can see for that, but it really depends on how much capital you are willing to spend to change such an obtuse but integrated culture.

      1. youmustclickit...*

        I think you’ve gotten the explanation I needed. I’ve long felt there must have been some truth behind wherever they picked it up, just horribly misunderstood, but I wasn’t sure exactly what they’d picked up.
        On the IT side I understand the frustration when getting to the information you need is buried or process gets too manual and we try to keep that eased.

        Being on the CRM admin side (for a relatively small company that sells product, less than 50 CRM users) and we can politely point out that such a change will take us time and negatively affect other processes and other teams. It’s mostly just one end-user manager who sends us the most absurd requests and we require their department director (their grandboss, who we work with more often) involved for such changes. The director has yet to approve any of their more strange change suggestions. Just a side effect of the open door policy we’ve had for a while.

        I’m sure it’ll only be a month before they come in again with “So you know Clippy?”

      2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Yeah, somebody has read about 1920’s time-and-motion study industrial engineering, or picked up something from a magazine in the 90s, and it’s just fossilized.

    4. Campfire Raccoon*

      I… wait, what? As an accountant I’d rather tab through everything and never use a freaking mouse at all. Anything heavily data-entry related really needs to be click-free. It really slows the user down and makes your wrist/elbow hurt switching back and forth from mouse to keyboard – even with ergonomic equipment. Ta-heck with saving the mouse, I’m saving my joints. Is this what they’re talking about?

      1. Llama face!*

        When they implemented the new database at my last job, the developers switched from a keyboard tab model to a mouse click model. For high volume data entry. Yes we all banged our heads against brick walls trying to get them to change it back. Oh and they screwed up the built-in pdf doc creator so it wouldn’t automatically select which orientation to print (half our docs were landscape and half portrait) and just told us we’d have to manually change it each time.

        1. Liz*

          we just got a “new” database that replaced one we had for 20+ years. I am responsible for populating it, and even though we tested it out the wazoo, somehow the fact that every time i enter a record, and hit save, I then have to choose new record and the category, where in the old one, it automatically did that, so I could just being to enter a new record.

          of course the contract with our consultants has been fulfilled and they will only work on errors, etc. but it makes me CRAZY every time I have to do this as its awkward and time consuming.

    5. Susan Calvin*

      Baffling – I’ve had unnecessarily heated discussions with users about the relative merits of long, flat context menus vs. ones with complex nesting, and if the latter, how to most efficiently arrange them, and of course the general refrain of “we do this X times a day, there has to be a way to do it in fewer clicks” but I have never encountered anything like what you describe!

    6. SlimeKnight*

      This is mind-boggling. I used to do data entry for state government system, and the best way to save time was to tab between fields instead of clicking, and to judiciously use CTRL V + CTRL P.

    7. AndersonDarling*

      I can see this as part of a whole process improvement overhaul. But clicks alone won’t tell the whole story. You have to account for load times, switching between software, and other factors that impact task times.
      The best thing to do is shadows some users and build a flow chart with every step.
      I’ve had people whine about a task taking 5 clicks that used to take 4 clicks, but they ran the process once a month. Adding one click once a month does not impact the organizational performance. But add one click to a process that is run 400 times a day? That has a huge impact.

    8. Zephy*

      Both of your examples are bizarre. As a heavy user of keyboard shortcuts, I would have been miserable in a job that insisted I use the mouse to copy and paste of all things. And for the second example, a free text field is going to create some incredibly messy reports – any variation in how an item is entered will create a new class of object in that field, it will take so much more time to reconcile whatever data you’re reporting. What is so bad about picklists/checkboxes???

      1. youmustclickit...*

        The first one was misery! I was glad when we were told that wasn’t how that was to be handled (and we were moved under a new manager). I’m also glad it was years ago.

        And yes, that was some of the exact reasoning we were unwilling to swap all the fields (especially without requests being confirmed from the higher ups and other teams).
        We have some training/compliance issues overall in that our small support teams that are up to their management to fix. Their newer director has been great at getting them into shape lately though, but sometimes the “why” doesn’t come across very well.

    9. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I have a coworker who critiques everything as “too many clicks.” I use it to pay attention to creating an inefficient process, but it’s clearly a pet peeve, not a hardware or software issue.

      Maybe preventing an RSI, but the keyboard does that better than paranoia.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Ages ago, I took an intro to web page design. This was a baby-course, nothing super serious.
      The instructor did talk about how many clicks it takes to do something. Each click represents lost time and wear and tear on the users hands and wrists.

      I am now seeing at my own job what she was talking about and your examples are not it. If something can be done in a few clicks why-oh-why do you need to click on 15 things to do it? Well, one reason is antiqued software that should have been junked years ago but $$$$$. So as new things come up, “oh let’s cram that in over here and we can make Other Thing fit in over there….”, hence so many clicks. Our drop down menus have grandchildren and great grand children. It’s unbelievable.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Taking this opportunity to flag something for any software designers who might be reading here. Where I have a choice between two pieces of software, the one with keyboard shortcuts will get my dollars.
      Keyboard shortcuts improve ergonomics and in my opinion should be an ADA requirement because of how many people have issues with fine motor control, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel pain.

    12. Yorick*

      I’ve experienced this too, not as a way to evaluate but as people trying to reduce their number of clicks to complete a task. Come on guys, you’re not doing more work if a process takes 8 clicks instead of 5 now. It could even be easier with more clicks!

    13. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      “Number of clicks” is a useful metric (taken more broadly) for process optimisation, as in whether it takes 10 ‘clicks’ to locate the next available appointment or if a ‘show next free time’ button would be more efficient, is there a more efficient way to key it in rather than have to click through things (as in your example with the free-text fields) etc.

      My guess is what happened in your case as the entry-level support person, as I see happen a lot, is that the people have somehow got hold of this concept without really understanding the context or what’s behind it, and seized on it as a rule that always has to be followed.

      If I’d been told to use the mouse instead of ctrl C/V and then that it was so mouse clicks can be counted so not to “overclick” the mouse (!) I’d have tactfully asked why, and upon not receiving a coherent answer my estimation of their critical thinking skills would have gone right down the tubes immediately…. I have to ask if the people showed a similar lack of critical thinking in other areas or if it was just this one thing that they’ve latched on to?

  8. DCompliance*

    What is up with this new trend of recruiters and hiring managers spending about 20 minutes talking to you about how and when they will get back to you after an interview and then never do? I anyone else experiencing this? Before it used to be, they would just not get back to you. But now why are they wasting my time with a 2o minute timeline they are not following? I could have spent that 20 minutes gardening or cooking dinner?

    1. Silver Linings From Dreamland*

      Maybe they’re trying to cover themselves in the event of “ghosting”, which is ironic since the more they say, the more you expect a response and you’re ultimately ghosted anyway.

      Ugh, I understand it’s frustrating but my guess is either they’re just trying to come across as friendly or they’re reading from a script (which may be a fairly new directive probably in light of the “ghosting” phenomenon).

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’ve never spent 20 minutes on it, but as I interview a lot of entry level folks and academic hiring is super weird, I do try to give an explanation of the timeline and the steps, especially because we do not notify folks of rejection (by campus policy) until the person we are hiring has signed the contract and that can be months. Then again, I’ve never ghosted a candidate on a committee I was running.

    3. Skippy*

      Just about every hiring manager I’ve talked to in the last few months has promised that “we’ll get back to you either way” and precisely none of them has actually done it.

      It takes every ounce of willpower to keep from responding “yeah, sure you will.”

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        I guess I should be thankful, because at least Amazon got back with me in a timely manner to let me know they didn’t want me.

  9. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    How are y’all self caring? I need some ideas to bring to my boss. ( My anxiety suddenly started mimicking heart symptoms causing me to believe I had to go to the ER. ) I already do yoga and sleep. I have very poor executive functioning- if it requires me to self manage 20 steps, I won’t do it. Lol.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      To be honest, my first response is, “why is that your boss’s business?” Your boss can certainly suggest you find a way to manage stress, but it’s up to you to figure out what works best for you. Why do you need to present him with examples?

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Oh she asked and I didn’t want to be like ” your gesture of concern about my well being? I’m very offended about you caring about me! First of all…how dare you!”

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          That’s a very extreme, black-and-white way of looking at it! She’s concerned, ok, but you are allowed to say, “I appreciate it– I’m working on a few things” and leave it at that.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        I think if it’s reached a level where it’s impacting OP’s work (e.g. not fully clear whether the ER incident resulted in missing work but I got the impression it did) OP is right to want to be able to go back to the boss that she has possible solutions/approaches and is working on it, even if she doesn’t go into detail about those with the boss.

    2. Kath*

      I’ve been suffering from anxiety for a while now. It doesn’t fully go away but I manage it with the help of a few things. I go out for daily walks. I do yoga and I meditate for 10 mins every morning. I also journal, nothing fancy, just putting down what I’m thinking or what happened every day. It helps me organize my thoughts. Lastly, I tend to withdraw from people when anxious but the more I stay away the worse my anxiety gets so I make sure I have regular contact with friends & family. Hope everything gets better for you.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I’ve been journaling lately too, and it’s really helping me reduce my stress levels. I never jumped on the fancy bullet journal trend, I prefer to stop by Target at the end of their Back to School promotion and get a stack of notebooks when they’re 10 for a dollar. And I just tell myself I’m going to write down whatever thought pops into my head for as long as it takes to fill a page, front and back, before I go to bed at night. Emptying my brain of all the stuff that’s been frustrating or worrying me right before I start the rest of my bedtime routine has made it a lot easier to fall asleep, too.

    3. ThatGirl*

      I’m confused by this too. Managing stress is important, self-care is important, but the details should not be up to your boss.

      On a personal level, exercise and time with friends helps me, but what works really varies by person, and if you have diagnosed anxiety disorder, a psychiatrist or therapist might be a good person to talk to.

    4. Anonygoose*

      I’ll be following this too for new ideas, lol. What I’ve been trying: Setting a Sat/Sun for pampering (long shower, doing nails, sheet mask, etc.). Deactivating social media accounts. Limiting news intake to 1 day a week. Watching comfort TV. Crossword puzzles.

    5. D3*

      IMO your self care is NOT something your boss should be making you report on. Your boss wants to micromanage your self care? That’s bizarre.
      And probably a proxy for not being willing to fix work issues that place undue stress on workers, tbh.
      I’d tell your boss that your self care is a boundary between work and your life and you won’t be sharing anything else with them.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        Yeah, that’s a big no from me as well. Can you push back on this at all? If not, I would just make something up – long baths, bike riding, whatever. Something plausible, but not too personal.

        To be clear, self-care is important! And if you need ideas for yourself, that’s a different conversation that deserves proper time and effort. But your boss does not need or deserve that time and effort – honestly I would just google “how to self-care” and give him the first answer that pops up. Sheesh, some people!

    6. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      Regular short breaks away from the desk. I also gave up caffeine when I had a similar anxiety reaction. See if you can reduce your workload temporarily to reduce some stress. Take some time off of work – even a half day. I started doing 1 day or half day every month just to have some extra time to recharge. I also have phone games I can disassociate into – Merge Magic, Delicious World, Decurse, Lilys Garden. It helps me turn off the brain noise.

      Also, if you’re having executive function issues + anxiety it’s worth it to examine yourself for ADHD as well. I found that my anxiety was actually rooted in undiagnosed ADHD. Knowing this has allowed me to create systems that work better for myself.

      1. quill*

        I’ve been binging Critical Role during data entry, it does help to not have anything around me taking my attention away from what I’m doing…

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

      Set timers on your phone or computer to get up from your desk and walk around the building, or go outside if that’s a calming place to go. I use the Headspace app for guided breathing, nature sounds, exercise breaks, or little pep talks and that has helped me. If you’re giving ideas to your boss because you need accommodations, maybe see if they will pay for the subscription to the app as part of a wellness program.

        1. Uranus Wars*

          I was going to suggest maybe 10 minutes on the Calm app or some breathing exercises. I am also a bad self-regulator but when I do my breathing exercises when I am NOT actively stress I am in a better space. I can do them in the car driving or in line at the grocery store or at my desk. Sometimes I do it before going into a meeting.

    8. Mister Lady*

      honestly, for me, it’s back to counseling. (not that I’m sharing that with my boss, nor would I be expected to.) I’m coping okay, but just setting aside designated time to grieve, to feel…everything, makes me feel less stressed out the rest of the time. It lets me feel okay about NOT addressing it all the time, because I know I WILL have time for it.

    9. KB*

      Why does your boss need to know anything about your self care practices? That seems like a crossed boundary to me, unless you’re talking casually about it like “oh I go to yoga, what kind of activities do you enjoy?”, but that doesn’t seem like what’s going on here. Also, ignore this if you already have, but have you been evaluated for any kind of executive functioning disorders? If so, you may be able to get accommodations at work or develop strategies for your personal life to handle multi-step processes with less anxiety.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Oh I have ADHD. My boss is probably just concerned that I’m randomly ill all the sudden so she’s trying to help, but she doesn’t know I’m not actually sick- my mental health just collapsed out of the blue. It’s kindly meant but I’m very weird.

        1. Squidhead*

          Mental health = health. Your head is a part of your body, it is literally an actual place, and it affects the way the rest of your body works. (In case you or anyone else needs to hear that today.)

        2. KB*

          Oh I see. Well, then I feel like a good reply if she asks how you’re doing would be something like “Thanks for asking! I’m working on a few things health-wise, but I’m getting on the right track.” As for self care, I like dedicating time to do things I really enjoy (reading books that are purely for fun, self pedicure, watching tv, etc) – it’s like making a non-negotiable appointment with yourself to do something you like, and focus your energy on only things that make you happy.

    10. DataGirl*

      Spending time outside: That can be as simple as sitting on the porch or as complex as starting a garden or landscaping.

      Crafting: lots of crafts are easy to learn and don’t require a ton of supplies, like embroidery, cross-stitch, or crochet.

      Reading/listening to audiobooks: I have audiobooks going pretty much all the time I’m not actively working. I have chronic illnesses so sometimes I’m in too much pain to do anything but lie there, and the pain is often too much to let me sleep, so I’ll play an audiobook and ‘rest my eyes’.

      Journaling: personally I hate this one because I hate thinking about my feelings but many people find this a helpful activity.

      1. Iris Eyes*

        Crafting is a great suggestion, repetitive motions like stitching, whittling, crocheting or knitting have a meditative effect and can provide a great sense of accomplishment by creating a physical object that has a defined start and end point.

    11. Bucky Barnes*

      I agree with everyone else about your boss not needing to know this.

      As for self-care for anxiety, I’ve found that working puzzles and doing a Lego build works for me. It gets me out of the dreaded anxiety loop.

    12. Iris Eyes*

      Not that you need to bring it to your boss but some things I find helpful:
      – plants: petting them, caring for them, walking in a forested or green space
      – try and give your body a physical outlet for the anxiety? Shadow boxing your problem, dance battling your issues, run and leave it in the dust, hold a pose like a plank while your problem tries to find you but can’t. Something that allows your body a chance to match the energy your brain is wanting from it.

    13. I heart Paul Buchman*

      In my industry (social Work) it is very normal to discuss self care with your boss, so assume it might be for you as well. I exercise, sleep 8 hours and watch my caffeine. I also try to get outside regularly, meet with friends and once a week I eat snacks and drink tea in front of bad tv. I find busy work very helpful when I’m anxious as it stops rumination (knitting, Duolingo). I find DBT strategies quite helpful if you wanted to google. Good luck!

      1. Retired(but not really)*

        One of the things that I’ve found helpful is doing something useful outside – pulling weeds, moving sand from the edge of the creek to the ruts in the driveway, trimming the overhang along the driveway or the path, planting flowers or herbs, or even just taking a walk in the woods or along the creek.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Same. Because my work has such a high burn out rate, they want to make sure you aren’t driving yourself into the ground. It attracts a lot of martyr and savior types so they want to take care of that on the front end before it becomes a big mess.
        I’ve always wanted to try DBT for the children but maybe a self test…?

  10. ANunnymoose*

    I have an employee who is convinced that my attempts to have him cross train his peers in ANYTHING means I’m pushing him out the door. His exact words when I asked him to show the new person how to do something were, “Are you pushing me out? Because I’d rather you just stabbed me in the face than in my back.”

    I couldn’t help but laugh because the idea is so preposterous. I had JUST finished saying that I was writing up an award for him because he’s taken on so much additional work during the pandemic and we’d really be floundering without him.

    Does anyone have an employee like this who refuses to share their institutional knowledge? What do you do?

    1. not a doctor*

      You have to make it clear it’s not an option to refuse. Tell him ONCE: “I can assure you that I’m not trying to push you out. This has nothing to do with your job performance and has no impact on your job security. I’m hoping you can accept that. Either way, I need you to train Wakeen on llama brushing and Jolene on llama trimming.” After that, it simply needs to happen.

    2. D3*

      Are you also asking him to cross train other people’s duties? IME when my employer started cross training, I taught some things *and* I learned some things.
      One direction “cross training” would make me suspicious, too.

      1. Yorick*

        I agree with this, but if he’s taken on new duties, it might make sense for OP to try to take some old ones off his plate.

    3. Firecat*

      I’ve never managed someone like this, but frankly I would manage them out if it continues. Make it clear it’s mandatory then put them on a pip of it doesn’t happen.

      Personally I hate these coworkers. They almost always purposefully obsfucated their work to seem indespensable at the expense of the team. Glad you are seeing through that BS because a lot of managers seem to think – No one but Bob knows – to mean Bob needs a raise/promotion so he will stay.

      It could also be an insecurity thing – If you have other staff, have them cross train too. Maybe if he sees cross-trained coworkers not getting laid off he will chill a bit.

      1. J.B.*

        The deliberate confusion of some people become “that was fast” when they leave and someone competent takes over.

    4. ThatGirl*

      Ugggh the last company I worked at had a lot of people like this, who siloed their knowledge and processes, and inevitably one or more of the following would happen:

      – they’d go on vacation, and nobody else could do their tasks for the week
      – they’d get promoted/move departments and still need to do some of their old tasks
      – they’d leave the company or get laid off and all the institutional knowledge would leave with them

      so frustrating. if you can, explain to him that it’s for his own good – having other people know what he does means he can go on vacation without worry, or work on new projects, or get promoted, and that HE can also be cross-trained to help other people out when they are overloaded or on vacation. and tell him it’s not negotiable :P

    5. Bagpuss*

      I think you need to tell him that it is not optional, but also tell him explicitly that you are are very happy with his work but that it is good practice to cross train so that there is cover for emergencies, for when he is on leave or to ensure that he is not over burdened.

      Perhaps point out to him that other staff are also cross -training (and if he is not being trained on other people’s work, explain why e.g. “I want you to cross-train so you are familiar with Janice’s work, but right now, the extra work you have taken on in covering the llama-mask fitting work is more important – once that quietens down a bit I will be arranging some training for you as a back-up in the plate-spinning department”

    6. lost academic*

      It is part of his job to do this, Full stop. If he won’t, then he’s a weakness and a liability, not a strength, and he SHOULD then be pushed out because his future departure will be much worse than his immediate one. He needs to really understand that. Every time you hear this attitude from him, stop and walk him back through it so he can understand.

    7. SlimeKnight*

      We’ve had people like this before and it always plays out a way to be the martyr. They’re the only one who can do the work. They can never vacation, or if they do, see what it’s like when they’re gone for a week. The minute you try to cross-train their roll, “Why are you doing this to me? Don’t you trust me?!”

    8. I'm just here for the cats*

      I’m not a manager but does he know why you are cross training? He may have had problems with past employers where he ended up training his replacement. I think his wording is odd and a bit confrontational but he may be just trying to protect himself. Also, are there others that cross train, or is he the only one. Or is it not noticeable that people on the team cross-train and he feels like you are singling him out.

      I am assuming that you cross-train so that if one person is gone tasks can still get done. Explain to him
      “on this team (or in this company) we cross-train with others so that if one person is unexpectedly gone and we need X task done we can still get X done in a timely manner. It also will be helpful to you if Jane learns how to do X she can be your backup in case you get swamped with tasks A &B.

    9. Artemesia*

      I consulted with an office that had one of these. He had genuinely contributed to the creation of the in house data management system for a data heavy function. BUT he made it sound incredibly complex and refused to train anyone or allow streamlining. (they had multiple paper back up systems as well as the computerized system laid on top of that, so everything was time consuming and cumbersome). Tried everything; met resistance. The only thing that worked was firing him and training the director of the operation so she could adequately the newly retrained staff.

      I would make it clear to him (as subtly as he can understand) that while you are not pushing him out, refusing to cross train would be grounds to do so. Don’t put up with that crap another day.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Ooo, that reminds me of a time that a co-worked was supposed to train me on a process and they kept making excuses. When they were finally forced to sit down and do it, I realized that they had no idea what they were doing. The task was dumped on them and they had been faking their way through it for months.

      2. RabbitRabbit*

        I was going to recommend similar to a manager-type in my organization. I used to be in a ‘hired gun’ fill-in type of role and one manager (who was very not pleased with one of her underlings) brought in me and my manager to discuss with them our possible options for workload relief. The other worker was obviously being very protective of her work and was (is) the ‘working at all and odd hours’ type.

        Never did manage to get one ounce of work with them, and the other worker is still in the same role. I don’t know what she was being protective of, but when you react like that, generally good assumptions include: financial wrongdoing, massive work neglect being covered up with just-in-time fixes, or major anxiety disorder leading to paranoia.

    10. AndersonDarling*

      I’d remember that the resistance is coming from a place of fear. I’d ask why them why they feel like their job isn’t secure. There could be gossip about layoffs, a manager that threatens firing people, review processes that discourage reporting success, or a general pessimistic environment that feeds into a fear of firings/layoffs.
      Once you solve the trust issue, then you can have a more open and collaborative workplace where people want to crosstrain and support each other.

    11. Observer*

      “No, this request is not about pushing you out. BUT. If you don’t start cross training people without making a fuss about it, we could change our minds.”

      Don’t really say that, at least not to start with. But be very straightforward with him that you are not trying to push him out but still, training is a REQUIREMENT of his job. Period.

      And then if he keeps it up let him know that this kind of obnoxiousness is more of a danger to his job than the cross training.

    12. The Other Dawn*

      I agree with others to tell him this is not optional– it’s part of doing his job. You also need to explain why cross training is so important. That said, I doubt that will solve the problem. In my experience, someone who thinks and acts like this is not going to change. This is something deeply rooted in who they are and their thought process.

      I’ve managed someone like this. (She, too, got awards, but was also convinced she was being pushed out.) She was a complete bottleneck because the manager before me allowed it to happen and actively managed the department in a way that forced literally everything to go through her. People who should have been able, and in fact would normally be expected, to do these things couldn’t, either because they didn’t know how or they didn’t have the system permissions, or both. Shortly after I arrived I started a cross training initiative, especially with her. (I’ve been in a position before where I was the only person who knew how to do something and it was absolutely miserable and it created audit issues eventually.) It didn’t matter how many times I explained why she needed to cross train on her duties, and that it would not only empower other team members, but it would also free her up for more important things. She was absolutely convinced she was being pushed out. Nothing I said, and nothing my manager said, ever convinced her. It was just who she was. It was evident not only in regards to cross training, but pretty much everything she did and the way she conducted herself.

    13. L in DC*

      Please, please use the scripts here. I had an employee like yours drop dead just before the pandemic. We’ve been in a tailspin ever since.

      1. Disco Janet*

        Yes! And maybe add something about how his tone when he says that comes across as quite adversarial, which is not okay. (Stab me in the front instead of my back? What I’m the high school drama is that about? Who says that to their boss?)

    14. Thursday Next*

      I had an employee like that – I told him it was very important to our work that knowledge is shared in case he gets hit by a bus, but he just hemmed and hawed and never shared knowledge with anyone. I managed him out.

    15. ANunnymoose*

      Wow, I went and did a bit of work and came back to see some really great advice from so many! Thanks, all!

      It’s interesting that many people brought up the idea that I should sell him on cross-training by saying it’d free him up to take days off or vacations. That’s exactly where I’m coming from. This individual has said to me, “I’m so stressed, I feel like I can’t take a vacation without work piling up.” It seemed like the logical solution was cross-training, so I was a little surprised to hear his reaction. On the other hand, I’ve worked with this person for a decade (managed him for less than a year), so it doesn’t seem wildly out of character.

      This person has been there for over 20 years and has job security in spades, but I think a lot of the insecurity is linked to the fact that I’m his relatively new supervisor and I have a reputation (some good, some bad) of being a person who likes to change things…not for the sake of change; there’s lots broken here. I think I’ll try to be more sensitive to the fact that this person is insecure for whatever reason, and I have to do a better job of speaking his language.

      Appreciate all of your insights.

    16. clairendipity*

      Everyone here has good advice. I completely agree that it’s a requirement that employees share their knowledge so they don’t become bottlenecks or cause other problems. The responses to your question got me thinking though, about times I’ve been resistant to cross-training and why.

      1. For me it’s always one way and I get burnt out. I’m the recognized expert in the software my team uses, so I’m constantly answering random Teams questions, getting on quick calls to show people how to do things, and sharing tips and tricks in team meetings, but there really isn’t anyone who is showing me anything.
      2. Sometimes I’m asked to cross-train people on something I was never trained on myself. This happens when I run into a problem (either with a process or the tool), figure out a solution, and implement my solution into my own workflow. Let me preface what I’m about to type next with the statement that I always end up sharing these things with the team, but I sometimes I feel resentful and don’t want to share. In these situations my reward for solving a problem is that I get to create documentation (which I hate), make sure all the documents etc. are properly organized on Sharepoint, craft an email to the team explaining the problem and sharing the solution, and then forever be on the hook to answer questions about it.

      I’m not saying any of this applies to your employee’s situation, which sounds like it’s more about information hoarding, it just got me thinking about the other side.

  11. Rayray*

    Ever have those days you just can’t focus at all? I’d rather lay I the couch and stare at the ceiling than work today. Any tips or tricks to get me through the next few hours?

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Also, have “make list” be the first thing on the list so you can check at least one thing off.

        1. R*

          And then item #2 is “put ‘make list’ as item #1” and then item #3 is “cross off items #1 and #2” and then #4 is “oh and also cross off #3 and this one,” and hey, you’ve already gotten four things done off your list and you haven’t even finished your coffee!

          Did you forget to make coffee? I know what list item #5 is!

      2. Parakeet*

        Related to this – split tasks into smallish manageable chunks, to put on this list (if your job is not the sort where tasks naturally come in this size).

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Start with one easy thing that you know you can do quickly. Usually once you start, you can move on to other things (at least for me).

    2. I should really pick a name*

      I’ve found the Pomodoro method sometimes helps when I’m feeling like that.
      Set a timer to work for a fixed period of time (say 45 minutes) and then another timer to rest after that (say 10 minutes).
      That way you know you have a break coming up, and sometimes it can be a bit easier to push through.

      1. mcl*

        I also like pomodoro. I have a pomodoro app for rote tasks I dislike doing; it really does help. Look up some short videos about the method and see if it would work for you!

    3. Empress Matilda*

      Any reason you *couldn’t* lay on the couch and stare at the ceiling for a bit? Not all day obviously, but if you don’t need to be at your computer all the time, there’s nothing wrong with taking a nap. It feels weird to be napping during the workday, but honestly it’s no different than taking any other kind of break. If you can have a half hour lunch break, you can also have a half hour nap!

    4. Donkey Hotey*

      OK, I’m a nerd. I recently discovered something that works for me. Don’t know if it will work for you, but I’ll put it out there just in case.
      I write up a list of everything I want to do: errands and chores but also fun stuff like read or cross-stitch.
      I number them all and then (nerd) roll a die. I promise myself that no matter what number comes up, I will do that next. More than once, I’ve had “watch a movie” on my list and it comes up first, so I’m watching a movie at 9am.
      But for me, it’s a way of eliminating getting stuck in deciding what to do.
      Good luck!

      1. Admin of Sys*

        nice! I do this with index cards – i shuffle them and then whatever one gets chosen out of the ‘deck’ has to be done next.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      Lately pandemic brain has made it really hard for me to focus long enough to complete tasks, but I’ve found I do better if I’m listening to something (show, podcast, audiobook). It’s like giving my brain something else to latch onto allows it to keep doing what I need to do for longer.

    6. Liz*

      Yes! Honestly, sometimes I just do what needs to be done, and the heck with the rest of it. My job isn’t really about deliverables and deadlines; a few, but most of it is stuff i do all the time, and while it needs to be fairly up to date, there are no hard and fast deadlines for it. I’ve come to realize some days I am just more productive than others, and that’s just how it is.

      but when I really am feeling like doing NOTHING, i’ll set short timers, 15-20 minutes, and make myself focus that time on what I need to do. When its up, i either reset them, or take a short break. It helps me alot, and also allows me to “goof off” a bit as well.

    7. officeninja34*

      I’ve noticed over the years that Thursday is always my least productive, unfocused day of the week…probably because I push so hard M-W and then Friday itself is motivation to get lots done so it’s not mentally bugging me over the weekend. Attempts to “pace” myself and be at the same level of productivity M-F haven’t worked–and I have also learned that it doesn’t need to! I’m a human being, not a machine. It’s okay to have less-productive days!

      So, I schedule my less-demanding tasks and projects for Thursdays when I can (sometimes other things take priority of course). I do more industry-related reading/professional enrichment, maybe sign up for a webinar, catch up on headlines, schedule an informal meeting with a student (I’m in higher ed), things like that on those days. And definitely make plenty of space for procuring snacks and tea/coffee throughout the day :) You’ll have to figure out what works for you, particularly when the days sneak up on you like it sounds!

      Since it’s now 3PM I hope you have been able to find something suitable to get you through, OP. Hang in there-the weekend is nearly here!

    8. Ahdez*

      I work on projects that have small components so I can feel accomplished. Don’t even attempt huge, looming tasks on unmotivated days. Socializing with a coworker for ten minutes or even just checking in on projects also helps me feed off of their energy.

    9. Two Dog Night*

      I like catching up on little admin tasks when I feel like this–they’ve got to be done sometimes, and it helps if I’m not doing the same old thing. But you’re allowed the occasional unproductive day.

  12. Skye*

    I have a phone interview on Monday! First time in a long while and I’m anxious that I’m going to mess it up somehow. I’d love some nice thoughts or advice, it’s a data entry job and the main thing that excites me about it is consistent hours and not being fast food.

    1. TexasTeacher*

      Good luck! Make sure you’re in a good physical space for the interview, that’s my advice.

    2. Trivia Newton-John*

      Make sure you have questions ready when your interviewer asks if you have any! Make sure you’re smiling (you can hear it through the phone) and that you’re in a place where you can focus on the call.

    3. Mister Lady*

      good luck! i’m sure you can get better advice on this site than i can give, but the one thing i’m likely to forget is to remember it’s a two-way conversation; you’re trying to assess whether they’re a company you want to work with, just as much as they’re trying to assess you.

    4. Wordnerd*

      Not dissimilar from Trivia-Newton John’s advice (lol at that username) but I think the “one weird trick” that can get phone interviews off to a great start is to pick up the phone with, “Hello, this is Skye!” rather than just “Hello!” Introducing yourself without the name then gets you and the interviewer off to a weirder start where they have to confirm you’re the right person. It’s a small but super helpful thing.

    5. NoLongerYoung*

      Read Alison’s guide on preparing for an interview. Review the job posting (I print it out and mark it up, next to my resume). Prepare – say out loud – some answers (where you match, where you don’t but how you are close, why “this” company and “this” job).
      And have a couple of questions – at least one – ready to ask them. You might run out of time but good to have one ready. is this an entirely new position? something like that. (replacing someone promoted is different than a role they think they need…). Or clarifying the description to prepare you for the next round.
      I have been hired previously for a different role – because I did well on the phone screening. We ruled out that job A was not a great match (and yes, I turned down job A once I heard some of the details), but the recruiter (internal for that company) matched me to a different, subsequent role because I was in the system AND I had gotten along very well in the process.
      In a different hiring, the phone screening was basic – more or less confirming that I “sounded” like I really was the person on the resume and had that level of education…. and I proceeded to the first real round interview.
      I didn’t get the first job… however that manager was impressed enough to pass my resume onto other hiring managers. And I got the third job they had with their group.
      So I’ve found the phone screenings to be good, but more of a “confirm that I am in their salary range” and ” not just sending out someone else’s resume.” Being articulate and prepared is helpful. (and I do practice the bullet points for all of this).
      But to me, it is like passing the screening for a matchmaker. Doesn’t mean there is a match, just that I “qualify” to be included in the pool.

    6. NopityNope*

      Congrats on your interview! Knock their socks off.

      Absolutely all of the above, plus all of Alison’s advice from past posts–and the “magic question.”

      TLDR: Don’t just tell them you have X Y Z skills/qualities, be ready to give examples that demonstrate that you have those skills. Think through likely examples ahead of time and practice relating the story clearly and succinctly.

      Are you transitioning from one job (fast food?) to data entry? If so, I would recommend you think of examples that show how your skills translate. For data entry, of course speed is important, but accuracy is probably even more important. So you might prepare a story that demonstrates you understand this. For example, maintaining an accurate cash drawer or accurately completing customers’ orders could be used to demonstrate that you take care to perform your work accurately.

      So think about the underlying skill (attention to detail, comfort with computers, etc.) and be ready with stories where you shine on those things. It doesn’t have to be about data entry specifically.

      Also, find a story that shows that you have common sense. If I was hiring for a data entry position, I’d appreciate knowing that you are on the ball enough to notice and bring up anything that doesn’t seem right. If someone wrote $5,000 and all of the other numbers are <$10, would you just shrug and enter $5,000, or would you double check? "We received an order through the app for 50 pizzas. This customer consistently orders 5-8 pizzas for staff lunches, so I gave them a call and sure enough, it was a typo."

    7. RagingADHD*

      You’ve got this!

      Just remember to breathe, take your time, and think about what you want to say. You aren’t putting on a performance, you are just having a useful and hopefully pleasant conversation. And you are learning as much about them as they are learning about you.

  13. Pyanfar*

    Hi all! I’ve started a small consulting company and am about to start hiring. Some of the things that have bothered me as a candidate, I want to proactively avoid as an employer. I’ve listed some of what I plan to do below. Are there any other things you wish employer’s would do in job postings or in the process that I should add? (note that client refers to our consulting clients)

    • Your resume and cover letter will be read, in full, by an actual human being with experience in similar roles. No computer screening will be used.
    • You will receive a response to your submission within 7 calendar days.
    • We will never share your information with our client, or anyone else, without your express permission.
    • We only work with clients that are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees.

    Thoughts?

    1. FD*

      Post the wages (if it’s a wage-based job). If it’s a commission based job, share information about how it works and set a realistic expectation of what people should expect in their first year.

    2. 867-5309*

      I think it would be odd to read bullets one to three in a job description. This is an example of show, don’t tell.

      As for number 3… who company’s are sharing your information with permission? That feels like something you would see when signing up for a whitepaper or buying a product online, and would make me think the exact opposite if I saw it in a job ad.

      The most important thing you can do is be clear about the role and include a salary range, and create a process so candidates feel respected and communicated to.

        1. Pyanfar*

          I’ve had companies share my resume with their client before interviewing me or making me an offer — either in a proposal or as a “see what great people we can get” sort of thing. It always struck me as disrespectful.

          The lead-in to that list is “[company] promises all our applicants a fair review process and full communication throughout the process. Specifically: …”

          1. 867-5309*

            To me that is different. If someone is being hired to work on a piece of business, it is not unreasonable to share a resume with a client.

    3. BRR*

      As others have said post the salary and benefits in full. Bonus points if you mention how raises happen. Honestly I wouldn’t believe one or two if you stated them. Plus seven days is short to collect applications. But you can certainly set an internal policy of responding to applicants!

    4. Arachnophilia*

      Honestly, be sure that you can meet any quantitative deadline you give yourself. Like, what if you get 100 resumes in 2 days? Unless you have enough staff to read through them (and read them carefully) in 7 calendar days, then you are setting yourself up for an unachievable deadline. I say this as someone who coaches people on what I call the “restaurant waiting list” rule of setting expectations: If you tell someone there’s a 20 minute wait, and the wait is actually 40 minutes, then you’re going to make them angry; but if you tell someone there’s an hour wait, and the wait is 40 minutes, then you’re making them very happy. Same outcome, different expectations.

      Since at my job we have to give our “customers” (term that I don’t like in my actual job’s context) an idea of when we’ll get stuff to them, I coach my staff to give an actual reasonable amount of time – and NEVER to miss that self-imposed deadline. Like, I’d much rather them say, “I’ll get this back to you in 2 days” and have them realize it’s an easier task than expected, and get it to them in a day, then to say, “I’ll get this back to you this afternoon,” and realize that it’s actually really knotty and take a couple of days at minimum.

      So, even if the goal is 7 calendar days, I might pad that out, and say 7 business days, or even 10. Just so that you’ll have every opportunity to exceed the expectations you set.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        That’s what occurred to me as well. Better to under promise and overdeliver than promise something and break that promise. And I can guarantee you that some of the things that annoy you as a candidate will turn out to be logical and necessary from the hiring point of view.

        Some things to consider
        – what happens if you get ten (or 100) times as many applications as you expect. Do you have time to personally and carefully read 500 resumes, 400 of which are completely unqualified for the job, and respond in a week?
        – what happens if you get sick, or are swamped with other work, and you’ve promised responses in a week?
        – keep in mind that hiring can be iterative. If you make a short list, send them interview requests, and send rejections to everyone else and then no-one on your short list is suitable or accepts you’ll have to start over. So you might send rejections to the obviously unsuitable, schedule phone screen for the top candidates, and keep a pool of middle ones in reserve for more than a week.

        What I would do
        – list salary and benefits in the job ad
        – give a clear list of duties and requirements
        – separate “must have” and “nice to have” in the job listing
        – be clear about telecommuting, flex time, and, if applicable, out of state candidates
        – do phone screens first, and then interviews. Be flexible about scheduling both.
        – do send responses to everyone once you’ve finished the process.

    5. Hillary*

      Reading them carefully may be too much to promise. You’re going to get resumes that are profoundly bad fits – maybe something along the lines of given focus and consideration. (I’m not coming up with language that doesn’t sound condescending, but I’m sure it exists. I’m so tired after a week of business travel.)

      this doesn’t fit exactly, but I think underpromise overdeliver can be foundational for an honest culture.

    6. fueled by coffee*

      This maybe goes without saying, but list the intended start date! I’m always surprised by the number of job postings that don’t give a time frame for when they want the new hire to start. My job searches have been either at the end of a degree program or after a term-limited position (e.g., a 2 year fellowship) that I can’t leave early. It’s not worth it to me to apply to a job that needs someone to start in (for example) March when I won’t be available until June… but if a job is posted in February with a flexible start date that extends into the summer, I’m *way* more likely to apply.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      I don’t know that you absolutely need to respond within 7 days.
      Put an auto-responder on that you’ve received the submission of course, but I think that’s all most people expect for the first 2-3 weeks.

  14. Sister Spider*

    I need some outside perspective on whether or not I’m over-reacting to this or if my boss is just generally on my last nerve. He is a brilliant project manager, but really lacks some basic people skills at times so I’m not sure how to interpret an email I received, forwarded from a newsletter that sends out management tips.

    I had my first child about 8 months ago, and it became pretty clear to me from telling my boss that I was pregnant that I was going to be the guinea pig while he figured out how to manage someone going through a pretty major life transition. FWIW, we are around the same age and have the same amount of professional experience and I work on a senior level on our team. He sent an email to me this week called “Dealing with Childcare Emergencies” with a bunch of quasi-tone deaf tips. We have at least two or three other working mothers on our team who did not receive this email. I’ve never had a childcare emergency that has affected my work, so I’m not sure if this was meant to be helpful (although I doubt he actually read the article based on the suggestions).

    I’m honestly insulted and I feel condescended to, in addition to singled out. This obviously doesn’t rise to the level of HR involvement but am I off base here?

    1. Susie Q*

      Honestly, that is insanely tone-deaf. I would keep the email and any other email or message that indicates that he is discriminating against you and/or other moms. I agree that I don’t think it’s HR worthy but that doesn’t mean it won’t help as evidence if your boss starts acting even worse.

      1. Allypopx*

        Agreed. It’s annoying as a one-off, it becoming a pattern would be a real problem. File it away and keep your eyes open for any similar behavior.

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      You are likely reading a bit too much into the email. He probably scanned it and thought you might find it helpful. That said, if you have a good relationship with him you might want to mention that you initially had a bad reaction to the email and wondered if he was trying to tell you something. This would help him as a leader to be more aware of how people can interpret things.

    3. fposte*

      If he sent it to you and not to other parents on your team, I’d straight up ask if there’s been some concern about your work.

      1. I edit everything*

        My hunch is that since she had her first child recently–and it sounds like she was Boss’s first direct report to have a baby–she was simply on his mind as a new parent.

        1. Mental Lentil*

          This is where my mind went, especially combined with “really lacks some basic people skills at times”.

    4. I edit everything*

      “Hi, Boss–
      I know you were simply thinking I might find that article interesting and you have only the best of intentions, but let’s not let our work relationship overlap into our separate, private lives. I have lots of great parenting resources already, and you’re already a wonderful source for project management and work strategies. Thanks for understanding.
      Sister Spider”

      1. Sister Spider*

        This is great – I think my initial reaction was that his micromanaging tendencies were now crossing over into my family life, which I keep extremely private and separate from work.

      2. V. Anon*

        I like this. Acknowledge it, receive it as if it was sent with the best of intentions, but nip this stuff in the bud. If it were me, I’d say something directly about avoiding the appearance of discrimination against mothers (maybe, “This could give the impression that I’m being warned not to miss any workdays due to parenting, which could be a discriminatory statement. I’m sure you don’t mean to go down that road.”)

    5. Observer*

      I’m honestly insulted and I feel condescended to, in addition to singled out. This obviously doesn’t rise to the level of HR involvement but am I off base here?

      That sounds like a real over-reaction. On the other hand, it ALSO sounds like your boss was being quite tone deaf.

      Do your other parent co-workers report directly to your manager? Are they at as high a level as you?

      In any case, it might be worth asking him why he sent you the article.

    6. RagingADHD*

      If you are working in-person, I’d take a printout to his office (and if not, I’d forward back the email) and just ask, “I’m not sure why you sent me this. Do you have some special concerns about my childcare arrangements? Because Othermom 1 and Othermom 2 said they haven’t received it. So I want to make sure I understand your intentions.”

      Then let him talk (squirm). Probably he’s just a bit of a buffoon. Don’t make a federal case out of it, but don’t let it slide either.

      If he says he thought it would be helpful, you could point out that it’s actually not helpful to be singled out like this for non-existent problems.

      1. Jobbyjob*

        Also, why is it just the moms getting this in your comparison? Why wouldn’t he send it to anyone who has children? His initial email and your follow up comment follow some very problematic assumptions about whose responsibility childcare is.

        1. banoffee pie*

          It depends on how tone-deaf the tips were! But seriously, it isn’t great. I doubt he sends stuff like this to new fathers

  15. Looking for Optimism in Engineering*

    Feeling kinda bummed about potential job searching. If you have a job that (a) has a good work-life balance and (b) is intellectually stimulating, especially in engineering, please tell me about it! I’m losing hope that those exist. Everything seems to be either you have too many responsibilities as you try to get your product ready for launch, putting in more and more overtime to meet the deadline; or if you want 9-5, you’re a glorified babysitter just monitoring the product in use, and you’re 100% reactive without any chances to do analysis or design.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I work for a manufacturing company; I’m in marketing, but there are plenty of engineers at the company. I don’t know them well enough to speak in specifics, but it’s a good company that treats its employees well, honors work-life balance and has what I think are interesting products to work on. Of course, ymmv, but I think they do exist.

    2. Ali G*

      As someone who is married to an engineer that works for a consulting firm…all I can tell you is, don’t go into consulting.

      1. Wonderer*

        I’m an engineer, working in consulting. I also worked for a long time in manufacturing, so I’ve seen both sides. There are good and bad parts to both. If you’re building a product, you’re going to hit a crunch time where you have to work insane hours under massive pressure. If you’re on the consulting side, you’ll never actually build anything yourself but rather spend endless meetings reviewing other people’s stuff. This can also end up with some long hours, since you’re often billable by the hour even if you aren’t paid that way. Still, the work/life balance in consulting is generally better.
        My suggestion is to spend some time at both types of jobs. It will give you valuable perspective and make you more effective in whichever you decide you prefer. Also, sometimes “a change is as good as a rest”!

      2. Generic Name*

        I’m a consultant (scientist) at a firm that employs engineers. I work 40 hours a week.

    3. Elaner*

      Engineer here, I think it really depends on what stage in product life-cycle you’re in. I find that the project managers get into the overwhelm you’re talking about if the company doesn’t flex well, but the floor engineers (ones keeping equipment running & supporting the floor team) typically have closer to a 9-5 in line with support the shift(s) they’re tied to. Then of course the other support roles like quality, safety, facility engineering.

      The floor engineers at places I’ve worked typically have to go out and find which projects need improved. 80/20 analysis, safety issue, frequent downtime, or quality issue typically kick off their new projects, in addition to their usual duties.

      I think my big question for you to reflect on would be, why do you see this work as “glorified babysitting”? That feels like a put down on something that is vital to keeping the workers safe, the machines running, and the company improving so our competitors don’t get ahead of us.

      1. Looking for Optimism in Engineering*

        Fair point, but it’s actually software, so it’s not a safety of workers issue. In this case, I took a job as ~ a floor engineer because I needed a break from a more hectic workplace. But I’m contractually prohibited from any of the “new projects” sort of thing you mentioned. For a hardware analogy, I’m just changing the color of paint I put in the teapot-painting machine; I’m not allowed to develop my own colors, plan what colors come next, or change any part of the teapot, all of which is work I’ve done before (which led to no work-life balance). All I do is change the color of the paint and then watch it dry on the teapots.

    4. Wonderer*

      Not to make you more bummed, but I think you’ve accurately described the two main types of engineering jobs. It’s not all space missions for NASA. You have to look beyond the actual nature of the job and decide what parts of it you find interesting. Also, maybe considering moving around a bit in either your own company or in others. You’ll want to get some experience in as many roles as possible before you figure out what your specialty is. There’s also a reason a lot of engineers slowly drift away from pure technical roles: sometimes the adjacent ‘only slightly technical’ jobs are more interesting…

    5. should i apply?*

      ME here who works in product development. While I won’t say I never work overtime it is pretty rare for me. However, I find it is very company culture specific. There are definitely employers in my area that I avoid, even though I know my compensation would be higher, because of their culture of working hours.

    6. AnonEngineer*

      I’m in test and measurement engineering. It’s a hyper-specialized field, and can come with occasional severe crunch times, but by-and-large, the work is interesting and varied, and I usually work a reasonable number of hours per work. That’s not to say that I’ve never been overworked or bored, but on the balance, it’s been a really good area for me. Lots of need to learn new things on the fly and apply them. That said, a lot depends on the specific employer and culture.

    7. TechWorker*

      Initially I assumed you meant non software engineering & thus I had no useful input, but I see lower down you actually are in software. I work in software for something fairly slow moving in terms of turnaround (it’s v important for the s/w to work which means a long test cycle followed by a long qualification cycle before the customer actually deploys). That means that most projects are on the 6 months -> a few years timeline. I’m not denying that some bits of the company are badly managed and end up with the product crunches you reference, but many are not. So you are doing development work for new features, but planned with enough time that the actual crunch points where overtime is expected are rare. We are very much not babysitting, there’s a tonne of new feature and infra requests and plenty of intellectual challenge.

      So… that would be my recommendation – look for software jobs in industries that are ‘slower’ overall, and with good reviews. Where I work comes high up in those employee satisfaction surveys and whilst I don’t think any company is perfect (and indeed some bits are notably better/worse than others), I do believe it hits both ‘intellectual challenge’ and ‘work life balance’, on the whole.

    8. throwaway1234*

      Using a throwaway to avoid doxxing myself — I am in computer hardware engineering. I find my job very intellectually stimulating. I work on technology development, basically figuring out what is possible to construct (manufacture) and that has the right electrical characteristics. There is a lot of really good work in this field. Work-life balance, though, depends very strongly on your company, your division, and even your specific boss. I recently left a shite situation with crazy over-work and am now in something much more reasonable.

  16. Don’t hide my straightener*

    Just a vent.

    I work in radio. We hired a new promotions person a few weeks back. I’m a woman. I worked with the guy last Friday at a paid promotion for an event, and his wife came for a while, which is fine. On Monday, he came in and said his wife was upset because she thought I was hitting on him. I was not. At all. I’m happily married and that’s totally out of left field. I’m pissed. I’m the highest performer and have the most capital at work. I’m planning on telling my boss (on vacation) that I’m not working with him again. I’m so mad.

    1. I NC You There*

      GRRR. You have my sympathies. I will say this: of all of the industries I’ve worked in, radio is by far the most sexist. There’s been some change but not much. I really hope your PD or GM takes this seriously, because that is so beyond OK. What a jerk.

      1. mreasy*

        Radio is bananas sexist (and many of the other ists as well). Not having to deal with that whole world is a major life improver for me now that I’m out.

    2. NotRealAnonForThis*

      ::passing choice of beverage::

      I don’t blame you for wanting to tell your boss, not at all. This type of nonsense (my coworker’s spouse complaining about me simply because I’m a woman) is freaking exhausting. Its on HIM, the coworker, to manage the issues, not YOU. Your career doesn’t get the hit because she’s for whatever reason decided you’re making a move on her husband.

      (Okay. Obviously I’ve dealt with, have no real helpful advice, am easily as mad as you are. I’m going to hop off the soapbox for now. This is seriously just bullcrap though!!!)

      1. Blackcat*

        “Your career doesn’t get the hit because she’s for whatever reason decided you’re making a move on her husband. ”

        Actually, it could be that the wife said no such thing, and the co-worker is trying to figure out OP’s openness to flirting/a relationship.

        I would 100% tell the boss what the coworker reported because it’s wildly inappropriate either way. But I would treat this as a red flag for potential future sexual harassment.

        1. I'm just here for the cats*

          Yeah, like why did he even say anything. That is a conversation between husband and wife. Getting the OP involved, even in a passing way, is way inappropriate.

        2. Observer*

          Actually, it could be that the wife said no such thing, and the co-worker is trying to figure out OP’s openness to flirting/a relationship.

          That’s even more gross.

          I would 100% tell the boss what the coworker reported because it’s wildly inappropriate either way. But I would treat this as a red flag for potential future sexual harassment.

          Also true, regardless of which interpretation is correct.

      2. Don’t hide my straightener*

        It’ll be him that takes the career hit. They can’t do these things without me, I’ll just have a different support person going with me. Me not wanting to work with him will be a big deal, but not in a way that hurts me. My boss will take that very seriously.

        1. V. Anon*

          Good. He showed bad judgement in a) bringing his spouse to a work event and b) reporting (accurately or not) on his wife’s imaginary problem with you. He should take the hit. Clown.

    3. D3*

      I would tell the boss what happened, keeping it strictly factual.
      Having your wife come to work with you is bizarre and since it caused a problem that might be the best course of action: No spouses following employees around at work!
      (Bizarre they would even have to make a rule like that but some people….)

      1. Don’t hide my straightener*

        This is more akin to we are broadcasting at a car show and she came and checked out the car show. No biggie, my husband and son came through as well and said hi, but the flirting thing is freakin’ wild.

    4. Ali G*

      Well now you know why the wife showed up. She doesn’t trust her husband/is paranoid. That’s not your problem tho.

    5. Firecat*

      Before going to your boss, I would talk to the coworker. Say something like:

      I was caught off guard when you told me that your wife was thinking I was flirting with you. To be honest I’m not even sure what you were hoping I would do with that information.

      Then pause and see what he has to say. Who knows maybe he felt that way too, which would be good for you to know and discuss.

      If it’s something stupid like – I just thought you should know – I would follow it up with something like;

      Well do you have any concerns with how we work together?

      And of he says no then say something like.

      Good neither did I. Going forward if your wife has concerns about our working together please manage that on your own. I want to keep our working relationship professional.

        1. Don’t hide my straightener*

          Oh, I told him in the moment it was wildly inappropriate to tell me that, and off base. He responded that she’s a “jealous type,” and I said they needed to figure that out on my own. I’m just also still posted. I’ve worked here for 15 years, (20 years in radio) and this is a first for me. Yes, we have to be friendly and interact, but its not even close to flirting.

          1. Liz*

            Good for you. Yeah, his wife’s jealousy is NONE of your concern. And if she feels that his job will interfere with their relationship, again, not your concern.

          2. Observer*

            What did he say when you told him that?

            That’s just SUCH bad judgement on his part. What was he expecting you to do?

      1. Bagpuss*

        This.

        Expect possible instead of asking whether he has any concerns about working together say something like
        “I expect you to be able to work with me, and with other colleagues, both male and female, in a professional way. Is that going to be problem for you?”
        Because if he is not able to attend a function where you are present, or talk to you at work, then that’s a problem affecting his ability to do his job, and I would treat it that way from the outset .

    6. Dr B Crusher*

      Ugh, gross. And also gross on him for telling you. Why should you be burdened with that sort of nonsense? What could his motive for telling you that possibly be? If I was in a relationship with someone who thought my colleagues were all hitting on me I sure as hell wouldn’t tell my poor colleagues about it.

      1. mreasy*

        Yeah the issue isn’t the wife’s jealousy, it’s that he mentioned it to you with some seeming expectation that you’d do something about it? That’s on him to manage.

    7. Eden*

      Either he’s telling the truth and it’s inappropriate that he’s telling you about it, or he’s lying and it’s inappropriate that he’s talking to you about it.

    8. AndersonDarling*

      I’d remind your co-worker that you are happy to cover for him when he goes to couples counselling. Because that is the only reason he should be sharing that kind of information.
      I had other advice, but it devolved as I was typing it all out. In the end, your co-worker’s spouse’s psychology isn’t your business.

  17. WFH with Cat*

    Does anyone have a link where I can determine how a salary for one location is adjusted to another based on a “federal geographic location adjustment”?

    I am applying for a fully remote job that pays $X in their home city (very expensive) but I live elsewhere (not as expensive). Posting says salaries are adjusted per a federal database. I’d really like to figure out what the pay will really be before applying.

    Thanks!

    1. Let me be dark and twisty*

      First, I can’t tell from your description if this is a federal job or if the company follows the federal example for pay localities. So I don’t know how helpful this is going to be. But if you go to the OPM website, you can find the pay tables that show all the salary info. There are a couple of different tables:
      * The rate of base pay per grade level without the location adjustment.
      * The percentage of each location adjustment.
      * The salary tables for each location that is inclusive of base pay plus location adjustment.

      Another disclaimer: If this is a federal job with the government and it’s fully remote (as in you’ll never go to the central office), then it’s my understanding that your locality pay is based on where you live. If it’s a partially-remote job and you are expected to go to the central office/HQ at least once a week, then your locality pay is based on where that HQ office is located.

      1. WFH with Cat*

        Thank you! It’s a nonprofit not govt. so I think they are just using the federal salary guidelines to set the salary for different locations. I’ll check the OPM website.

    2. GeorgiaB*

      Try doing a search for GS Locality Pay – this shows the adjustments made to federal salaries based on location.

  18. new_nickname*

    I have a motivation problem. How would you deal with it?

    I used to work in a bit more senior roles and switched to the current one hoping to do something similar. My impact resulted much more limited here. It’s a complex environment and people who have been with the company for 10+ years play the dominating role. I don’t have an opportunity to drive things, define the strategy anymore – things I love doing. My job mainly boils down to creating a large amount of red tape: creating documentation, standards, SLAs and similar. Whereas I know how to do that, that’s absolutely not something I could ever enjoy – I’ve always felt that’s something I have to do to some extent, since that’s a part of almost every job, but it being my main task now leaves very little for me to enjoy.

    Also, I don’t feel I’m learning much and learning is something I love doing.

    Add to that the fact that the project I’m on is outside of what the majority of my team is doing, so I’m far away from the “mainstream”, burried under documentation for something no one around me knows or cares about.

    It has been going on for more than half a year and I’m tired, have difficulties forcing myself to work. Any ideas? I want to stay in this job at least till summer 2022.

    1. Panda Bear*

      Is the work (or at least some of it) routine enough that you can listen to music or an interesting podcast/audiobook while doing it? That always helps me look forward to certain work chores, but they have to be “mindless” enough that the music or audio doesn’t distract me.

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      This honestly sounds like just a bad job fit. If you enjoy working on strategy and having a bigger impact you should likely look to join a smaller organization. There are pros and cons to larger vs. smaller organizations. One of the biggest pros is the ability to have a bigger impact.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Were you expecting the ‘step down’ (in terms of amount of strategic input etc) when you joined this company, or was it presented to you — during the interviews and so on — as comparable to what you were doing before?

      If you’d like to stay there for a reasonable amount of time, is it possible to start getting yourself involved in the groups/projects that work on more ‘strategic’ stuff?

      There are also some questions on this site and elsewhere (e.g. workplace stack exchange) about addressing “bait and switch” or workplaces that turn out to be not how they were presented. A conversation to have with your manager etc. Have you had a talk with your manager about this?

  19. Nota*

    Yesterday someone in my organization reply-all-ed to an email that went out to the whole enterprise of more than 41,000 people. It’s been almost 24 hours and by now about 150 people have helpfully also reply-all-ed to remind everyone else not to reply-all. 150 emails over 24 hours isn’t that many but just knowing that every single one of them went to 41,000 people all over the world, including high-ranking government officials, makes me cringe. They’re literally clogging up our email servers so that legit work emails can’t get delivered.

    Some of the emails are clearly *jokes*! One was a reminder for everyone to complete their timecard, which was kind of funny, but another one was just a joke about saving 15% or more with geico and can you imagine making the conscious decision to send that email to 41,000 people????

    They’re still trickling in every few minutes. At some point overnight (on the US east coast) people started replying asking to be removed from the mailing list, and now everyone else is replying that as well, as if that is going to do anything except send another freaking email to 41,000 people.

    1. new_nickname*

      Every time this happens I can’t believe that educated white-collar people don’t understand the way to go is to simply shut up and not react.

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          True. There is a clear list of who to blame here. Some enterprising soul in HR should compile a list of JUST these 150 people and send them a strongly worded email about how the solution to stopping a reply all fail is NOT to reply all.

          The most recent of these I have been involved a software system we use sending out alerts on a new release and training schedule to ALL of their customers in an open email list – so any one of the hundreds of companies that use the software that hit replied all sent something to all of the other customers. Internal things like this I can roll my eyes about, but when someone does it externally that is a huge screw up.

          1. Nota*

            #1 on the list should be the assistant who sent the email on behalf of the high ranking official and didn’t BCC the mailing list. Then everyone who made a joke.
            The problem is that due to the nature of our organization, a lot of the people who responded genuinely did not understand what was going on. And talking to them individually does not prevent anyone else from reply-all-ing to the email.

          2. Observer*

            Some enterprising soul in HR should compile a list of JUST these 150 people and send them a strongly worded email about how the solution to stopping a reply all fail is NOT to reply all.

            And cc their managers.

      1. Lorac*

        Oh I know you’re not supposed to do it, but my perverse sense of humor compels me to jump in and add fuel to the flames. How else are people going to learn to put the mailing list under BCC if you don’t rub it in hard?

        1. pancakes*

          If they’re not dense they can learn by being instructed / trained for their work and/or by making the mistake of not using bcc once. You should re-examine your idea that people learn best by being hazed or irritated.

    2. Rayray*

      The “Stop reply-all” people drive me insane. Everyone thinks they’re so smart or so clever.

      1. user4289*

        In one of my previous jobs we were expected to create an event in the calender for longer times off and to send an invite to the event the whole team, around 50 people, so that everybody knows you won’t be there.

        I once made a mistake and sent it to around 200 people instead. Then I got plenty of “I don’t even know who you are!”, “Why am I receiving that?!” replies. It was really sad. People working in IT who don’t know that somebody might have committed a simple mistake.

    3. Firecat*

      This happened at the hospital I use to work at. It went on for weeks and crashed our servers multiple times.

      It was 2 days of hell, then everytime someone either got back from vacation or got through some old emails they resurrected it.

      These were doctors and administrators with masters of hospital administration replying all with “I don’t think this was meant for me? ”

      That said, our phone outlook app, where most people used email, was set to automatically reply all. So if you hit rely then you would have to take an extra step to not reply all. This resulted in a lot of unnecessary reply all’s.

    4. Blackcat*

      Bwahaha that happened to my husband. I think it was more like 20,000 people, but still. Whole. Company. Email.

      The thing is even if only 0.1% of people are the sort to reply all with a joke, sending it to *that* many people means you’re going to have a sizable contingent of people who seize the opportunity.

      IT should disable the ability to send company-wide emails….

      1. MusicWithRocksIn*

        Anyone who has authority to send company wide emails needs to use BCC: that is the only way it should be done.

    5. SlimeKnight*

      This is like when you’re on a conference call, someone hasn’t muted their line, and half the audience decides to unmute and yell at everyone to mute.

    6. RC Rascal*

      I’ve seen this happen a couple of times, once in an organization of 100k people. Emails for days.

      I would never want my name associated with one of these episodes, and that always makes me wonder about the folks willing to jump in on the reply all.

    7. Joielle*

      We had one like that recently! It was a professional organization with about 10,000 people on the distribution list. I had probably 200 emails of people asking to be removed from the list. They were coming in so fast the “unsubscribe” button apparently stopped working because the servers were overwhelmed (or that’s what the org said in an apology email the next day).

      I deleted most without reading but I did see a few… including one from a student in our field being like “As a professional courtesy, I ask the members of [organization] to stop replying to this email” and it was like, buddy, idk how you thought that would help but now 10,000 people just think you’re pretentious. And you added another email to the pile.

    8. Iris Eyes*

      Sounds like your communication’s department needs a stern talking to about using BCC for organization level emails (and in an organization that big all organization wide emails should go through the communications department.) Bing.boom. that’s how you fix that

    9. Malarkey01*

      We once had something so incorrectly set up as a list serve or something so that if anyone emailed the original sender the entire list of 20,000 people got it, and when they set it up only about 200 people should have actually been on the list. So general email goes out at 11:00 about new list, people start to reply to get taken off the list and thought they were just replying to sender but email got sent to all 20k. Then people who didn’t know what was going on start the stop reply all nonsense. I got 1850 emails in less than an hour before our entire network went down. It was done two days before everything was resolved. Poor guy who set it up, went to lunch after sending at 11:00 and got frantic calls about the chaos at 11:15 and was running through the streets of DC with a cup of soup trying to get back to the office.

    10. Lorac*

      Oh I know you’re not supposed to do it, but my perverse sense of humor compels me to jump in and add fuel to the flames. How else are people going to learn to put the mailing list under BCC if you don’t rub it in hard?

    11. Snark No More!*

      This week I had not one, but TWO people FORWARD an email they thought was suspicious. I hastily send out a department wide email with instructions on how to report suspicious email (I work at a large university with great IT, we have a button) and to NOT forward the darn thing to anybody, pul-leeze. Turns out it was a test by the IT department. :/ They also love department wide, performative emails congratulating people…

    12. Bex*

      I know likely nobody cares… but that’s about 6.15 million extraneous emails generated in 24 hours. So hopefully your IT group is working on killing that and implementing rules to prevent further sends/receives on a server level.

      Also omg. This is the stuff my nightmares are made of. In June I took a long weekend to relax, didn’t turn on work phone. Turned it on Tuesday as I got to work and wanted to die when my email notification hit 23k. Turns out one of our major ups systems went down and just kept sending alerts to full distribution lists.

    13. Nota*

      I’m sure no one is reading this anymore but absolutely incredible development:

      The emails continued to trickle in all weekend, almost entirely people reply-all-ing “PLEASE REMOVE ME FROM THIS LIST” (which is not a thing than can happen). This morning some random person reply-all-ed to the email, but removed all of the extra addresses and sent it just to the distro list (so it looks very official):

      “If you are receiving this email, you have been removed from the email list. You may receive a few additional emails while the system processes this change, please ignore those.”

      And signed it “{organization} Email List Manager”

      Is this going to work??? I’m glued to my computer screen.

    1. Charlief*

      This is amazing – also I would like the bow, or the hand on heart head nod or the wai (hands together and sort of bow) to be a thing in the uk because I often want to convey respects or affection but I never ever want to touch anyone who isn’t a dog or my husband?

    2. I can never decide on a lasting name*

      Thank you for sharing that, Minccino, it’s hilarious! And a fantastic outcome, the rude person bowing to others.

  20. Allypopx*

    Super low stakes office fashion question.

    I’d call my style rainbow goth with bohemian influences. This is perfectly fine in my office. The thing is, I kind of dress like my boss. We both wear a lot of flowy fabrics (for me this is especially crucial to my summer wardrobe) and we both wear red glasses. I’m new, this style predates this job, I’ve only ever met her in person a couple of times.

    Do you think anyone will notice/that it comes across oddly if they do?

    1. Susie Q*

      I don’t think so. Flowy fabrics are super common in the summer. The glasses might be interesting to people since red glasses aren’t as common but overall, I don’t think s0.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        get a fun glasses chain to accessorize with and distract from the red :) Mine right now (also on my red glasses!) is plain silver, but I have some that have little “gemstones” on them. I got a six-pack from Amazon for like ten bucks.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think so.
      I don’t think it would necessarily stand out unless you both routinely chose identical outfits.
      Look around and you’ll probably see other people in the office with similar clothing styles to each other, even if they are a bit different from yours.

    3. Just Commenting*

      Possibly, but it’s definitely less noticeable if your makeup and hairstyle (including color) are also different? And that can be as simple as whether you more consistently wear your hair up or down. It also depends on patterns and colors of fabrics. But honestly, while I personally do notice what my coworkers wear and look like over time, I don’t usually remember specifics. I find they dress within a similar range since we’re in a business casual (emphasis on casual though) environment, but I would only find it “odd” if they wore the exact same outfit on the same day (and even then, I’d assume it was a funny accident and think nothing more of it).

    4. Chaordic One*

      Well, I suppose that a few people might notice and a few people might think it is odd, but so what? Maybe they’ll think it is a business culture thing, but again so what? Since you’ve dressed like this before you ever had the job, it’s not like you are deliberately copying her. (We’ve read the stories here on AAM about the new co-worker who suddenly starts dressing like someone else in the office.) Don’t worry about it.

    5. Joielle*

      I’ve been growing out my hair for a while and recently it’s looking very much like my boss’ hair. And I’m the unofficial second in command/working towards a promotion. I just try to style it a little differently and hope nobody thinks I’m copying her!

      If you were in my office, I might notice, but just like “ha, that’s a funny coincidence,” not a bad thing. Personally, I might pick another color for my next pair of glasses, but it’s not that big of a deal either way!

    6. Reba*

      I don’t think it’s odd. It made me think of a friend’s experience at work in which she got red glasses (switching from a neutral color) and suddenly lots of people began to remember her name/who she was who never had before! So maybe there is a slight chance that occasionally will confuse you and your boss at first glance, because of “red glasses” as shorthand? Idk, don’t change!

    7. hmmmmmmmmmmmm*

      Serious yet goofy answer: as long as your hairstyle is different, it’s fine. You can dress similarly, or have similar hair; just not both.

  21. I forgot the name I usually use*

    So… I started a new job at The beginning of the year. And I just do not like my coworkers. I feel really bad about it, and at every job I’ve had, I’ve found good friends who I kept in touch with outside of work. I don’t necessarily expect that but it’s bumming me out not to have it I guess. My team now is the absolute opposite of my team at my old job. There’s a weird blame culture among us and we just never joke around. It’s usually fine but I’m just kind of upset that we don’t connect as human beings. There’s no chit chat (I really don’t require this, I’m an introvert, but it’s just extreme compared to what I’m used to). We talk about work and are really just kind of dry with each other. Im constantly afraid of doing something “wrong” because someone will inevitably harp on it til kingdom come. I’ve tried to change this by example and people seem to appreciate it but don’t extend that courtesy to others.

    We’re also all remote, which maybe has something to do with it, but I’ve had good relationships with other remote employees or colleagues in other countries virtually.

    At this point I have worked pretty hard and feel successful at integrating into the team but I am so unmotivated by the attitudes and they don’t exactly inspire me to go above and beyond for them.

    Am I doomed? Has anyone who has dealt with a similar situation figured out any coping tips to make it more bearable?

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’m sorry to hear about your work situation as that would drive me bonkers too.

      On a positive note, if your company has a referral bonus situation, you should share your hiring link because your work environment is probably a dream scenario for at least 25% of the AAM commentariat! (this is sarcasm, please don’t do this!)

    2. Firecat*

      Sounds like you are in the wrong office culture. I’d start looking. You aren’t going to change their dynamics and trying to walk on eggshells for a few years for the resume is not a great idea unless you have lots of other short term stays.

    3. AFT*

      I work at a company that very much doesn’t match my personality or values. I’ve found my fellow misfits (and luckily my boss is one of them!) to be able to eyeroll with when a particularly tone-deaf communication from the top comes out, but I think my tenure will be somewhat limited and hopefully my next company is a better fit.

    4. RagingADHD*

      I have dealt with uncongenial work environments by just bringing the energy I want to experience. You kind of have to let go of the intention to change other people, because you can’t. But you can influence the dynamic of the room you’re in by creating a positive experience for yourself. Don’t go above and beyond for them, go above and beyond because that’s who you want to be and the kind of dynamic you want to have.

      Be patient, detach from the outcome, and keep low-key looking for other opportunities. Maybe this isn’t the right long-term fit, and that’s okay. Sometimes just knowing that you could leave makes it easier to stay.

    5. BadCultureFit*

      I started a new job this past winter and I can empathize with this. They’re just…not my people. We are all virtual and I’m sure that, plus a general pandemic fatigue, contributes to my feelings. It’s tough. I’m still great friends with lots of people from both my previous jobs and already know I won’t have lasting relationships with these folks. It’s even tougher because I’m leadership and I just…don’t think much of anyone on my team. [Yikes. Writing that out sounds harsh.]

  22. Stephen!*

    I was cleaning out some of my parent’s old work stuff, and found a binder from a conference (1998- this junk goes waaaaaay back!) that was titled “Exploring the Caverns of Professionalism.” Granted, the conference was taking place in an area known for its caves, but… I found the title hilarious.

  23. Let me be dark and twisty*

    My team is having a discussion about sick leave and I’m curious what everyone’s thoughts are.

    Here’s the question: If you take sick leave for a medical appointment that also overlaps with the time you usually take lunch, do you take a separate lunch break when you return to work?

    We’re split pretty evenly. Some people do so their time off is leave out of the office + lunch in the break room. Some people don’t and will extend their leave to include time for lunch before returning to the office. Some people will pick up lunch during their time off and eat it at their desk getting caught up on email. FWIW, my organization doesn’t have a policy and we’re lucky to work for a boss who doesn’t have a preference as long as the work gets done.

    1. Ali G*

      I typically do whatever results in me using the least amount of sick time. So I would probably use my lunch and either take a shorter break, or make any extra time up at the end of the day. Typically for appointments less than 2 hours I don’t even use any time because I rarely take a full hour for lunch so I just make up the time, but we are pretty flexible overall on time keeping.

      1. Joielle*

        Same here. I usually schedule my dentist appointments around noon and then only use sick time if it goes over the amount of time allotted for lunch. I’d probably just bring lunch that day and eat at my desk whenever.

        I have plenty of sick time so it’s not necessarily a matter of trying to conserve it, just that I’d hardly get anything done in a day if I was gone for an appointment and then took another chunk of time for a separate lunch. And it’s easier to schedule an appointment mid-day when most people are eating lunch and not likely to stop by my desk or schedule a meeting.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      I do whichever adds up to the expected amount of time for the day (or adds up to an amount of time I can balance on subsequent days). I’m expected to work 40 hours a week so if I’ve asked for three hours of medical leave, I’ll work five that day, in whatever format makes sense. Or maybe I’ll work four and a half but then make up the 30 minutes during the rest of the week (which depends on there being other days of the week, so I wouldn’t do this on a Friday). Or I ask my supervisor to amend the time off to make it up. But if your employer doesn’t care as long as the work gets done, I don’t think it really matters.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        This is what I do. My time card has to show 8 hours of work, so if I take two hours as sick or vacation time, I put 6 hours of work time. Sometimes I’ll take my unpaid lunch break on those days, sometimes I won’t.

    3. I forgot the name I usually use*

      I take sick leave only if the appointment will take more than two or three hours, in which case I take a half day off. If it’s something I can make up easily I do not take the leave.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      I take a separate full lunch break. I’m not able to “make up” time by skipping lunch, so there’s really no reason to do so, IMHO.

    5. Decidedly Me*

      We don’t limit really sick time, so there isn’t that consideration for my team. However, most tend to skip lunch when leaving for appts (either by scheduling appts to overlap with their lunch or working through it before they leave/after they return). It’s not an official policy and it’s not asked of folks, but many do it to reduce the impact the team (coverage based job).

    6. Firecat*

      It depends. Is the appointment at 2pm? I’m probably going to take an early lunch break and use leave. If it’s at 10am I would feel awkward showing up at 11:30 then taking an hour break so I would likely pick up lunch on the way back and eat at my desk.

    7. Can't Sit Still*

      I have several chronic illnesses that are largely invisible to my co-workers, so sometimes, I just need the extra time after appointments. As an example, I had an appointment that was supposed to be a quick, painless 20-30 minute procedure that turned into 2 1/2 hours of torture. I absolutely took my lunch break afterwards, and left early that afternoon, too.

      This is solidly in MYOB territory, as far as I’m concerned.

    8. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

      I think it depends on how hours are calculated.

      In my office, each pool of leave is calculated separately, except lunch, since it’s not paid leave. That is, we only work and are paid for 7 hours per day, the 8th hour being our lunch break. Any additional hours off come out of the 7 hours allotted (e.g. I take 2 hours off to get my hair done, my hours for the day are 5 and I need to claim 2 hours of personal time, so it adds up to 7). We also have comp time: if I work 8 hours one day and 6 the next, it averages out to 7.

      So, if I have a medical appointment and I want to use as little of my sick time as possible, I don’t take a lunch break the same day.

      If I don’t care about preserving my time, or if I have a surplus of hours (say I worked several 8 hour days this pay period, so I’m very over), I take the lunch break as well.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Sure you are. If my schedule is 8-5 with a 1 hour lunch, and I take 4 hours of leave because I’m gone from 8am to noon, I still get my noon-1pm lunch hour and I come in at 1 pm.

        1. mediamaven*

          Well right but it’s not paid for. You are just coming in at 1 or am I missing something?

    9. Metadata minion*

      I don’t usually take a separate break, but I’d only request sick time for the bit that isn’t my lunch break (i.e., a 12-2 appointment is one hour of sick time and one hour of my normal lunch break).

      If it’s something unusually short that I can handle *just* on my lunch break, I’d probably take an actual break later, but without a car I’m usually requesting a half day off anyway.

    10. Lemon Zinger*

      I am in a state where lunch breaks are not required by law so I have no right to a lunch and get it as a courtesy. We are supposed to use sick time in four hour increments. If our appointment takes up less than that amount, we are supposed to just make up the time that day or the next in lieu of submitting sick time.

      I accrue more sick time than I could ever use, so I just make all of my appointments for the afternoon and make that a half day.

    11. RagingADHD*

      It would just depend on what was happening in the appointment. Some things, I can run in and out quickly, grab lunch on the way, and be ready to go when I arrive at the office.

      Others, the appointment itself was very long and I didn’t get a chance to eat, or it was taxing for some reason and I need a little time to settle and get my head ready to work.

    12. AcademiaNut*

      What I would typically do is either eat lunch on my way to/back from the the appointment, or take a quick lunch after getting back (ie, just enough time to eat). I do work in a job where I can schedule a morning or evening appointment and flex the time, so I would only take leave if I wasn’t able to do that. If the appointment abutted my lunch break, I wouldn’t include the break in sick leave though – so, if my usual lunch was 12-1, and I had an appointment from 12-3, I’d take leave from 1-3 (two hours).

    13. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Anywhere I’ve worked, the expectation is to minimize absence due to the appointment by scheduling it at the start or end of the day etc. In your case, it would be expected to use the lunch break towards the appointment yes.

  24. Super Duper Anon*

    Has anyone created work goals (formal ones, in a performance tracking system) that are, for lack of a better word, selfish?

    For context, in my past two jobs and my current one, most of my formal goals are tangible side projects with a deliverable at the end. I have to create something (a process, a document, update a thing, etc.) and work with other team members or stakeholders to get it done or get input. These have been great because they have been easy to document in the performance tracking system and the end result is obvious. The thing exists and how good I did can be measured by how much other people like it or find it useful.

    However, I am getting tired by *waves hands at all of this* and for next year, I would really like to create one goal that would just be for me, working on my own, at the pace I dictate, without having to bug other people. I just don’t know yet what kind of goal that could be or how I could document it. Has anyone created goals like this for themselves before? What did you work on? How did you measure success?

    1. TiffIf*

      That’s interesting–on my team we have been explicitly instructed that our goals should be as independent as possible–because if you are dependent on an other person’s or department’s timeline you can’t control when your goal gets completed. A lot of times if there is something that needs to be done that does require another person or department the goal is worded something like “Rewrite x document/procedure/policy and deliver to y team for edits by z date.”

      Our goals are quarterly.

      I work in the software industry so this will be heavily dependent on your industry and role. Example goals I have had in the past:
      * Refactor automation tests that were brittle or failed often to be more reliable.
      * Reduce dependence in our automation on an outside resource that we don’t control–we needed to test the interaction between that outside resource and our application but we were also using it in places just for convenience instead of where it was absolutely necessary. So if for some reason our connection to that outside resource failed or they were down, a bunch of unrelated tests started failing too.
      * Document customizations for a client. I was the one who best knew the client’s workflow and paid custom work we did for them and so I made a comprehensive document in our department Wiki with all the information that anyone in our Client Service or Account Management department could access.

    2. Lyudie*

      I’ve done things like this in the past…creating new reference documents or tools for myself or the team at large (processes, style guides, tracking spreadsheets, etc), learning skills or topics related to my job, that kind of thing. Learning stuff is great because depending on what you do and are interested in, you could read books and take online classes totally on your own schedule.

    3. Siege*

      I’ve made goals that included “become more familiar with our product line” (I read a lot of our books) and “learn X skill” where we had a program I wasn’t super familiar with but was critical to my role, so I bought some tutorial books and went through them, blocking off an hour on my calendar about 3 times a week to work on it. I’m looking for a course on website and team management now that I’ll do the same way.

      I measured success by having read at least one trilogy by our four major authors and one work in each other setting (minus the line I managed), and then by completing the training manuals. But neither job used performance-tracking software, so really the final outcome was “I am now more informed and therefore better at my job”, and that was demonstrated by being able to handle massive projects in InDesign and knowing what makes Forgotten Realms stylistically different from Eberron, beyond the setting – we had targets for rating and type of story each world supported, internally.

    4. Super Duper Anon*

      Thanks! These are all really helpful. I do think what I want is a “learn X” type of goal, it was just hard to justify in my head because the outcome will really just be “I am now better in X”.

      1. Metadata minion*

        So long as X is something useful for your job, it seems an entirely reasonable goal! :-)

  25. Anon for this*

    I will be firing someone today over performance issues. All the steps to try and resolve things before making this decision have already been taken. Any advice for this conversation?

    1. JT*

      Be direct and get to the point – dithering around the topic for 20 minutes while working up the nerve to say it will do no one any good. Be empathetic. They should know it’s coming, if you’ve gone through the typical performance management steps.
      “Greg, as you know, I’ve asked you previously to improve on x,y,z. Unfortunately, I just have not seen enough/any improvement/attempt at improvement (etc.) and I’m going to have to let you go. I’m sorry that it ended up this way, but I hope that you’ll be able to find a place in which you will succeed, and if I can help you to get there, please let me know. So let’s talk about your last day/returning your equipment/etc.”

    2. irene adler*

      Have a plan for what happens with this employee after you “drop the bomb”.

      Do you immediately end the conversation and usher them out of your office? Or will you let them sit to absorb the news? How will you handle any excessive emotional upset they may exhibit? That includes anger. Weeping not so much.
      Then what? Hand them off to HR?
      Or will there be an escort to take them to get their things and then show them the door? You? Another party? Make sure anyone involved with escorting is ready to do so. You may not want to wait around several minutes for the escort to show.

    3. Pyanfar*

      If your company’s policies allow it…
      1) Have a representative from HR present to witness the conversation.
      2) Avoid discussing reasons/why…just state that today is their last day, and that here is how things will wrap up (equipment, personal items, last check, what a reference check will say, unemployment eligibility, Cobra/etc. paperwork, etc.) You can offer to discuss it later and give them the HR person to set up a phone meeting in a few days.
      3) Offer to have the HR person or someone you trust to be discreet to escort them back to pack their desk and walk them out instead of you doing it. Getting fired sucks; so make it less so if possible.

      1. Eden*

        “Avoid discussing reasons why” <- What is your thinking here? That seems pretty cold to me, just "today is your last day" end of.

      2. Observer*

        Avoid discussing reasons/why…just state that today is their last day

        No. Obviously, this is not the time for an EXTENDED discussion. But “You’re fired” without acknowledgement of the history leading to it is needlessly cold and inhuman. As for no notice period, that’s cruel unless there is a real need for it.

        Just because someone needs to be fired it doesn’t mean they should be treated without some humanity or empathy.

        1. Metadata minion*

          “As for no notice period, that’s cruel unless there is a real need for it.”

          I think that really, really varies both by job and by person. I don’t really deal with anything high-security where there’s a need to have a flat policy of walking people out immediately, but I still actually like that people usually leave on the day they’re fired/laid off here. I’d much rather have pay in lieu of notice (if you’re not doing that, it’s definitely crappy!) and have time to lick my wounds and start my job search than to work an awkward two weeks of knowing they don’t want me there, especially if we’re talking firing for cause rather than just budget-related layoffs.

          1. PollyQ*

            Yes, it would seem far crueler to me to expect someone to come in and keep working after they’d been fired.

    4. Bagpuss*

      Be direct, be calm.

      Have information to hand about things like hen their insurance coverage ends , when and how they will get their final pay, whether or not there is any notice period to serve etc. Consider having that in a letter to give t them as well as telling them verbally, as they may not not in the best frame of mind to remember what’s said.

      If you tell them early in the work day, give them the opportunity to go home straight away if they want, and as it is Friday, if you can speak to them earlier rather than later so if they need to speak to any outside organization for advice they don’t have to wait until Monday.

    5. HR Exec Popping In*

      I know that the conversation will be hard, but remember it is not about you.
      Be direct, be succinct and be kind.
      Write out a script of what you want to cover.
      Be prepared to answer some common questions or know where to direct them to get those answers – things like severance, medical insurance, vacation day payout, how will their separation be communicated to the department, etc.
      Do NOT say things about how this is hard for you – “This is so difficult, I feel so bad, etc.”

    6. Tiffany In Houston*

      Be kind but firm.

      If you can offer some severance, pls do so. It’s a blow to lose your income.
      If you are not going to challenge an unemployment claim, please let them know so that they can start the process of filing one as soon as possible.

      If they don’t drive into your office, please arrange for a cab or Uber to get the person back home.

    7. L in DC*

      Open with: “I don’t have good news”
      Middle: to the point. Kind tone.
      End: “this decision is final”

    8. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Too late for you, but years ago I read the book “The Gift of Fear,” and the author has a chapter on Occupational Hazards where he discusses firing people. Although he’s discussing people who may be a threat, many of the suggestions are good overall.

    9. Thursday Next*

      When I have to fire people (which is rare thankfully), I write out exactly what I want to say and actually read it out loud to the person. It keeps me from ad-libbing something I shouldn’t, and it tamps down the anxiety. I include what will immediately happen (they go to their desk under security supervision, gather their personal items, and they’re walked out.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        I do this as well – it helps me make sure that I cover what I need to and keeps me focused. I’m also able to really stay present in my compassion and empathy with the person if I don’t have to worry about saying the right things.

    10. Decidedly Me*

      It’s done. Thank you all so much for your thoughts and advice – it helped a lot. It’s also good knowing that I’m not alone in having to do this. While I of course knew that before, seeing it is helps in a different way.

    11. Rick Tq*

      Call your IT department just before the meeting starts so they can lock down the ex-employee’s accounts and access *while* she is in the termination meeting.

  26. Anonygoose*

    Can anyone share experiences with handling recruiters from staffing agencies? I usually get 1-3 recruiters a week on LinkedIn but haven’t followed up with any yet. Most of them are vague and don’t say which company they’re recruiting for (red flag?). Sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s from a legitimate company, even with Google searching.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’ve worked with a variety of recruiters over my last few job searches. Agency recruiters purposely don’t tell you what company they’re recruiting for because they don’t want you to go applying for the job on your own. But they should tell you what agency they work for, so if you can’t find any info on THAT, it’s a red flag.

      I will also say that while I’ve gotten interviews via recruiters, I’ve never actually landed a job that way, and I had one where I did get an offer and then they tried to lowball me on the pay, so I’m not usually enthused about working with them.

    2. Silver Linings From Dreamland*

      It varies a lot. Just go with your gut; if the job they’re describing sounds interesting, then respond but don’t be surprised per se if you never hear from them again.

      Recruiters have jobs to fill, not candidates to place. It definitely can seem a bit shady at times, so try not to depend on these recruiters to aid you in your job search.

      Source- I was job searching for 3 years and wouldn’t be shocked if I was approached by >100 recruiters during that time. Had some easy-flowing convos, some shaky ones and learned a lot.

    3. Lyudie*

      They often seem to spam people, I get tons of recruiters with either jobs that are something I no longer do, nowhere near where I am actually located, or both. I rarely reply, if it sounds like a particularly good opportunity I might pass it along to someone I know is looking or if they seem to have actually tailored their message to me and paid attention to my profile I might thank them for reaching out but say I am not looking at the moment. The ones trying to get me interested in a 3-month llama grooming contract on the other side of the country when I left llama grooming for teapot painting three years ago get no response.

    4. quill*

      Personally I don’t bother with recruiters who contact me via linked in. Because the signal to noise ratio for linkedin contacts is ludicrously high, and it STILL WON’T LET YOU DELETE ALL YOUR PM’S.

      (I guess my advice boils down to “if looking for a job don’t do it on linkedin.”)

    5. NoLongerYoung*

      * All of this advice varies, of course, if you are not looking and they are random blasting. (I had the “not visible to the public” looking for work – not the “open to work” frame – up briefly. But I’ve been random blasted for the last year+ so this is just how I have cut down on the traffic.)

      If you are getting that many hits a week on their search algorithms, it is worth writing up a brief, friendly blurb that you save, with your appropriate bullets, and copy and pasting it into your responses.
      * I have met some very very good recruiters, but they were internal for very specific companies. You want to be able to filter our the “random blasts” from the great outreach ones.

      First, it’s fine to ignore them if they are not reading your linked in profile.
      * No, if I am already a senior/team lead llama groomer, and not listed as “open to work” (which you can do without your front profile noting it)… I am not interested in being a junior llama groomer on a 9 month contract. (you can see from my profile/ job history that I am currently employed at a full FTE role, as I’ve been doing it for more than 3 years). Hit ignore. It’s not rude.

      * I am not an expert on this, but since I work in a very very hot field, I “think” they just run searches on key words and spam the candidates with a template email. (NLY your experience matches X… ). WHY would I leave this job to take a step down AND move from an FTE to contract, if I am not open to work/ unemployed?

      Second, if you are interested depending upon their company/ your situation… like, your current role is filled with bees and you WOULD take a lateral to get out of it – consider responding with what your requirements are, immediately. “I am interested in a Llama team lead groomer role, since I’ve been the senior llama groomer for 2 years and have been interim lead for 1” and “I am looking for a base salary of $XXX,XXX for the team lead level. If you have that role/ level and range available I’m open to further conversations.”

      * If you have deal killers, you may also need to mention “I am only interested in positions that are FTEs, hybrid remote/WFH in Northern CA” for example. (If you think you would flex – let’s say it is a Product manager at Google and you are looking for a senior product manager – but you are “dying” to get into product management at Google – then put in your “open to discussion for the right role” and don’t use the word “deal killer” :-)

      It’s kind of like figuring out which person is the hitting on “everyone” at the party, vs. which ones are looking for someone like you… and paying attention to what your interests are.

      Think about it this way – some of them have to make a certain number of contacts a week to show THEY are working… you don’t have to respond to all of them. Just discern which – if any – are possible dates for you.

    6. Hunnybee*

      Ugh, I have been having the worst experience with this on LinkedIn. I wish that we could set up a filter so that recruiters could not randomly reach out to us all of the time.

      I’m guessing that about 70% of the recruiters who have been reaching out to me are not even legitimate as well.

      When I was job searching, I would answer some of them, but they wouldn’t give job descriptions and were all super sketchy. I did end up connecting and sort of working with one of them…and later found out that the “exclusive contract” he was submitting me for was an open post on their website and I would have made -60% less than if I would have applied on my own, no thanks.

  27. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    So I’m considering talking to my doctor about taking leave at work for mental health reasons. Here’s my question: is it okay to look for another job while on leave?

    1. cubone*

      abso-friggen-tutely. Also, don’t want to freak you out, but in my experience, a lot of savvy managers will know that a leave can sometimes (not always!) mean that person may need a change and won’t be in the job for long anyways. Like they may not necessarily assume, but they might not be surprised either.

    2. Llama face!*

      The only challenge would be if you were receiving government assistance and it had rules around that. For example here in Canada you can’t job hunt while on EI Sickness Benefits. But if you mean ethically, then yes. That is fine.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      Yes, but I wouldn’t start the new job while you are on medical leave. Really, no one would know unless you tell your new employer, but that is where it gets ethically icky. I’m guessing you would only get 2 weeks leave, so it shouldn’t a problem.

      1. Observer*

        Actually, your old employer could easily find out if you start a new job while on medical leave. And not only is it ethically icky, it could come back to bite you in a number of ways. Resign from your job before starting at another place.

    4. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      Thanks everyone! I guess my next question is how to broach the subject with my doctor… make an appointment? Let them know my symptoms?

      1. Metadata minion*

        You can be pretty straightforward here — just explain you want to take leave for mental health reasons and want to discuss it with your doctor, maybe including some of the specifics of what you need from them (do you want help deciding whether leave is a good idea, discuss treatment you might do during leave, get a doctor’s letter for stuff you’ve already discussed in the past…?)

  28. Trivia Newton-John*

    I have a job interview a week from today for a fully remote position that really looks like the next step up in my career, which is exciting! There isn’t room for growth where I am. The position seems to be what I am looking for (I had an initial screening with a recruiter earlier this week)

    How do I get over the guilt of potentially leaving my current workplace? I’ve been there 7 years and our managing partner recently called me “the linchpin of the firm” and said he doesn’t know what they would do without me.

    The main partner I currently support is old (mid 80s). Over the past 3 years, my partner’s longtime paralegal (who had all the institutional knowledge and long term client relationships) passed away, and a year ago, his right-hand associate left and his junior associate left, leaving me a lot of their tasks that never got reassigned (and he has literally no idea how anything works).

    The associate on my team is remote (through the rest of 2021) and she’s pretty clearly demonstrated she doesn’t have the personality/experience/drive to help him with his practice the way he needs – she’s been with our firm for just a year. The two of them require a significant amount of hand-holding, and I am constantly working to ensure my partner doesn’t cause further issues with his clients (this has been happening more, especially in the last year and we’ve lost some despite my best efforts).

    I know I need to do what makes me happy too, and obviously I haven’t been offered anything with potential new job, but…help?

    1. Meghan*

      Just remember, they would have ZERO qualms about letting you go, if that was what was good for the company. You owe your current company very little. Yes, it sucks to leave them in a lurch, but a company’s wellbeing should not be on the shoulders of one lower-level employee.

    2. Just Commenting*

      I can understand why you would feel guilty but it also sounds like a pretty unsustainable environment. Unless you would be ultimately taking over your partner’s position and authority (which you’ve confirmed as not happening) it seems like you’re doing a lot of work to save a place that’s not adequately supporting you, your coworkers, or clients well. Not to say your workplace is terrible and having this level of experience is bad, but it sounds like the writing is on the wall and not just because you’re job hunting. As Alison always says, a good workplace should anticipate you were suddenly absent or gone for any reason, even if they value you so much. If you can somehow make documentation to really make a transition as smooth as possible, there’s that, but I think it’ll be best for everyone by not only for you find better opportunities, but to be more flexible and functional without depending so heavily on you.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        Writing on the wall — yes. Without “armchair diagnosing” I’m wondering in what way he has been ‘causing issues’ with clients increasingly over the last year; it doesn’t sound like it is just a lack of resources / delays in response kind of thing. There’s no mention of any kind of succession planning, a family member or other partner to take over eventually etc. (Not really just because of his age although that will become a factor, but also in a more general succession planning/contingency sense.) Presumably there are other lawyers who will be happy to accept the customers’ business if, as seems inevitable, they have increasing amounts of issues with this firm.

    3. BlueBelle*

      Start documenting the things you are doing that someone else will need to take over. Screen shot, and make notes, make step by step with phone numbers and contacts, etc. You need to leave if you are ready, and this will make the transition easier for everyone. It is ultimately their responsibility to have properly staffed and to have processes in place.

      Good luck!

      1. ecnaseener*

        Yep, you will feel better if you know you’ve left them lots of helpful resources! (And yes you don’t need to feel guilty at all, but you know that!)

      2. Pocket Mouse*

        Yep. It is your job (implicitly) to facilitate a smooth transition to the best of your ability. It is not your job to stay there for all your working days, nor to figure out staffing and coverage once you’re no longer working there. If you have no growth options where you are, they know that at least as well as you do and therefore have all the information they should need to be able to plan accordingly. That’s their job, let them do it (or not) as they see fit.

        And yes, good luck!!

      3. Dream Jobbed*

        This. Document everything you can, leave things in the best shape you can, and hope they hire someone sharp who can pick it up.

        But it’s your life and you have to make changes that benefit you.

    4. JT*

      None of the situation you describe is your fault. You do your job (and then some, it sounds like!). If they think that you are too important to lose, they would be making sure you weren’t in a position that made you want to leave. You provide a service, they pay you for that. If they want it to be more, you better be getting profit sharing or something. The business is not going to fold just because you leave, they will figure it out. And on the teeny tiny chance that your leaving does cause them to go out of business, they deserve to!

      1. Trivia Newton-John*

        You guys are amazing. Thank you.
        I already have some documents (that I have continuously updated through the time I’ve been supporting him) in a folder at my desk (but need to scan in as well) labeled “If Trivia Newton-John Was Killed By Hunrgy Zombies – How Do I Do This Job?” – I’ll make sure those are updated and see what else needs to be added. It’s good to have something current, anyway.
        If this last year has shown me anything, it’s that my firm has absolutely taken advantage of me and I need to go somewhere that I am valued and appreciated and that I KNOW this.

        1. Observer*

          If you scan it, OCR it so that it’s searchable. Otherwise retype it.

          Other than that, you have no obligations here.

    5. Bagpuss*

      You can’t hold their business together for them – that’s not your responsibility.

      What you can do is make it easir for someone else to take on your tasks – so make sure that you have clearly documented processes, notes of what is where, etc.

      You could of course also flag up that the other people haven’t been replaced, and suggest they need to be recruiting as they now have one (or two?) people where they used to have 3, so they are understaffed.

      They may ignore you, but at last you will know you tried, which may help you feel less guilty.

      (To be clear: You shouldn’t feel guilty at all, but knowing you did what you could to make things easier on them may help you to remind yourself of that!)

    6. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      I was in a similar position of holding a lot of institutional knowledge that I knew would be hard to replace when I left. So I assuaged my guilt by spending time building comprehensive SOPs and documentation. Leave good client notes. This is all good stuff to have even if you weren’t looking to exit, but will make transitioning out so much easier.

    7. Susie Q*

      So here is how I explain it: your company would have no qualms about getting rid of you if it was the right move for them financially. Corporate and employee loyalty has died (a long time ago). You have to look out for your best interests, not a company that would never do the same for you.

    8. Observer*

      our managing partner recently called me “the linchpin of the firm” and said he doesn’t know what they would do without me.
      … snip…
      Over the past 3 years, my partner’s longtime paralegal (who had all the institutional knowledge and long term client relationships) passed away, and a year ago, his right-hand associate left and his junior associate left, leaving me a lot of their tasks that never got reassigned (and he has literally no idea how anything works).

      The associate on my team . . . pretty clearly demonstrated she doesn’t have the personality/experience/drive to help him with his practice the way he needs . . . The two of them require a significant amount of hand-holding, and I am constantly working to ensure my partner doesn’t cause further issues with his clients (this has been happening more, especially in the last year and we’ve lost some despite my best efforts).

      The first line is directly caused by the the rest of what I left in. In other words, you are in a crucial position that should not be in because somebody(ies) is not doing their job. You don’t have any obligation to stay in a place that over-works you instead of doing what they are supposed to be doing.

  29. Left in CA*

    Has anyone else had their employer move from California to Idaho? I gather it’s a trend amongst politically conservative people and companies to flee the bluest of states for the reddest.

    1. 867-5309*

      I have not, but Disney was recently in the news for an announcement to move some jobs from California for Florida. There is some good commentary around it.

    2. 867-5309*

      I am a moderate independent, which I only mention to say that I have zero political motivation for this POV.

      While some of these moves are or might be politically motivated, practically speaking it is VERY expensive to do business in California. That cannot be discounted when looking at employers who are leaving the state.

      The favorite place I have ever lived was Brooklyn and would move back in a heartbeat, but it’s also an expensive place to do business. When I lead the opening of the first-ever U.S. office for a startup, I told them to skip the costal cities and recommended the Midwest.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        Confirmed. Midwesterner here, and we would be thrilled if an entire New York industry (publishing, maybe?) moved wholesale to Detroit. Cheap real estate, good tax deals from the state, etc.

        1. Dream Jobbed*

          Don’t forget water. California doesn’t seem very realistic about it water needs/usage.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Michigan & water are a charged combination to have in one sentence… Last I heard, Flint’s water supply was still not healthy.

    3. TexasTeacher*

      Is it a political thing? I thought it was all economically motivated. The Idahoans I’ve talked to are, well, not enthused.

      1. Left in CA*

        I think it’s both economical and political.

        The economical benefit is real: it’s cheaper to live and do business there.

        But there’s also a political (or perhaps cultural) side of it. Someone like me would feel out-of-place in small-town Idaho. Whereas someone like the company owner would feel more at home in Idaho than California. Unlike him, if I followed my employer to Idaho, I’d be making a quality-of-life sacrifice in order to retain my job and save 15% on cost of living. Not worth it to me.

      2. Kat*

        Ex Californian in Idaho here, though I did not move because my employer did. Idahoans are not enthused about the Californian migration because a) they imagine that Californians are all insanely liberal and b) while California dollars go farther here, they raise local real estate prices and property taxes for the folks who grew up here. It’s generally more liberal here in cities than in rural areas, but probably a tad more conservative in both places than much of California. That said, OP, check out the town before you make a judgment. There are places with surprisingly rich cultural environments plus great outdoor enjoyment possibilities, and there are places that are less interesting and may be short on good medical facilities, full service groceries, and such. Like California, where Pine Grove isn’t Fresno isn’t San Francisco, Idaho has a lot of variety. Do you know yet where your employer is planning to go?

    4. AndersonDarling*

      It probably has less to do with politics and more to do with taxes and trade laws. It would take a super ego for a CEO to move a company to another state just because of politics. It all comes down to money saved in salaries, real estate, taxes, commerce, travel costs and all the rest.

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        Hopefully they factor in cost of replacing most employees there. I know a company in my industry who moved their accounting and admin team from CA to a red state a few years ago – some people moved, many did not – and now they just moved the department back to CA because economically it made the most sense to abandon the move than keep accounting and admin out there long-term.

    5. Tinker*

      My impression is that Boise has been sort of a mini-Denver for some years now — obviously different political environments, especially at the state level, but a moderate-cost city with established industries of various types (tech being what I’m familiar with) that looks real attractive to places that are thinking they want to get out of the stratospheric-cost first line cities. Similar to Salt Lake City in that regard, and similarly having more progressive sentiment and infrastructure than one might think of a “red state” — which isn’t a high bar, but it’s still interesting to observe.

    6. Hunnybee*

      Eh…I know left on the political scale who are also moving to Idaho. I think that people are looking to escape the inflated costs of the west coast, where housing is impossible, and also impossible to save for retirement when you spend most of your money on rent or mortgage.

      But like any new trend, it puts a lot of pressure on the cities and states that people move into. Like Austin, for example, which has had such problems with infrastructure from the growing pains. Portland has too, and now is too expensive…it seems like there is a migration from city to city and once the cost of housing skyrockets, businesses (and families) start looking for the next potentially cool and less expensive place to live and buy.

      From a political perspective I really hope that all sides of this spectrum can come to learn to live together and be neighbors and a country again. As awkward and painful as our current state of affairs is, I long for future days when we can all care about each other as a country and as neighbors. And that only can happen if we don’t segment ourselves or block ourselves away from each other.

  30. Middle Manager*

    Can anyone share a success story of quitting a job due to burnout without having anything else lined up? I think I’m getting to that point now :( I don’t want to risk my mental health but I’m also terrified of not being able to find a job — I currently work in higher ed (not faculty) and have a lot of transferrable skills, but it’s hard to translate those outside of this field. I’ve revamped my resume, am applying to jobs, and even had two interviews this week, but I’m afraid that if I leave, I won’t be able to find anything else that pays decently and has solid benefits.

    Leaving is what I need to do for my mental health, but it’s also such a scary prospect.

    1. Meghan*

      My partner did this! We had some savings which helped. He took two whole weeks to simply decompress and recalibrate. Then he started looking for something new. He got lucky and got something within two weeks, so he was only out a month.

      1. Andytron*

        Same here, nearly 20 years ago my spouse quit a dumpster fire of a department (so bad all the full-time staff had quit by the end of the year). I think it was 2-3 months before they had something else, but the benefit to their mental health was enormous.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      I did this a couple years ago! Work was absolutely destroying me – I was putting in 12-14 hours days and dry-heaved from stress every morning, all the while being told I wasn’t doing enough. I had been made to believe that quitting with nothing lined up was Not Done and was terrified at the idea of just walking away. My spouse saw it was killing me and urged me to quit – I could go on his insurance and we could afford the loss of income for a while, plus with the hours I was working and my mental state there was zero chance I could actually find a new job while working the current one.

      It was honestly the best decision I could have made. The moment I gave notice I felt instant relief. After I was out of there I took a few weeks to just decompress, recover, and just learn how to live again. It ended up taking just under 6 months to find a new job, but it was a great fit, and no one ever really blinked at my reason for quitting a job with nothing lined up.

      So if you can afford to quit your miserable job, do it! The fact that you already managed to secure two interviews while working there is incredibly encouraging, think of how much better you could do at job hunting if you weren’t burnt out at the same time.

    3. Thursdaysgeek*

      I did that, but I had a spouse that was working and could support us both. I decided I would volunteer somewhere, but before I had a chance to really get into that, someone I vaguely knew had recommended me for a position at another company, and I suddenly had a new job. It was also a job where I finally started recognizing what my strengths and work likes really were – it was a very good job.

      It’s a success story, but your story will need to be your own story.

    4. Diatryma*

      I quit my job last March, right as Covid started up… and a higher-up who knew what was going on with me found me a better position elsewhere in the hospital where I worked. What really helped was that my spouse declared that my contribution to the household bank account would be what I made at a previous job– a pretty significant cut to my share!– so I shouldn’t feel like there was any financial pressure to stay. My job now is so much better. So much.

      1. Diatryma*

        Also, look at how many of yesterday’s ‘revenge’ stories boil down to ‘my job was bad, then I got out and got a better one.’ Live well!

    5. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I did it when I left my first job, because the workplace I was trying to leave had me locked into a notice period that was way too long for someone at my (very junior) level. I was so anxious to leave that, when I met with a recruiter who pretty much told me “no one in their right mind will hire you with that long a notice”, I cried in her office. She never called me back about any roles, I wonder why!

      I resigned shortly after that. When I told my family, all hell broke loose. My parents kept imagining doom scenarios where I’d be jobless and broke, and describing them to me in great detail. They had the same jobs all their lives, so their experience doesn’t compare, but try explaining them that; even now, 10+ years later, I can’t mention I’m looking for a change without triggering hours of “are you reeeeeally suuuuuuuure?”.

      In the end, I was fine. I got offered my next job just a few days before the end of my very long notice (completely different role than the one I was leaving), and even that took longer than I’d expected. It taught me to never rely on quick turnarounds, but also, that even in a “quitting without an offer” situation and with all the uncertainty that dredges up, things can work out.

      Interestingly, I think I’d be more at risk if I quit my current job with nothing lined up (and I have been very close to that in recent months). I’ve been promoted internally several times, but having had a few interviews already, I can see there’s a wide gap between the type of achievements my workplace enables and what companies look for. Based on my past experience I know that, if I were to do it, it would be out of being sure that the devil I know is worse than the one I don’t. I don’t regret for a second resigning from that old job when I did: the most important thing at the time was knowing there was an end in sight.

      All the best to you, whatever you decide, and I hope that much better days are just around the corner :)

    6. AndersonDarling*

      I walked off my job in 2008 during the recession, and I had zero chance of finding another job right away. It was terrifying, but I found a job in 2 months.
      I will point out that being unemployed is a different kind of mental anxiety. I traded the trauma of the workplace for the anxiety of having no income. I don’t want to drag you down, but I wasn’t able to enjoy my time out of work. It’s possible that you are in a different situation and can cope better than I did.
      But here’s the big point: You can job search 100% while you aren’t employed. You can schedule interviews anytime without hiding. You can network without having anyone notice.
      And here’s the leser point: Bad jobs make you feel worthless so that you don’t think about leaving! That fear keeps people in their jobs and it allows your company to pay you less that the market wage. You may be surprised at how much you can make if you leave. Also, your mental health is more valuable than your salary. If you made a little less for a year and were happy, would that be a fair trade? If you had to take a pay cut, then you could look for another job in a year. Or if you go to a good company, you will actually have opportunities to be promoted into better paying roles. That’s what happened to me.

    7. mediamaven*

      I will say this – right or wrong – it doesn’t look as good to interview without an existing job. I cringe when I see the people on linkedin with that #opentowork stuff. I would try to stick it out if you can.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Although the current environment is giving some wiggle room. There are many people who were laid off due to covid, so it’s not as much of a stigma.

    8. May Flowers*

      I left my job in November due to burnout, emotional stress, and severe issues at the workplace. I had nothing else lined up and decided to take off for the holidays and then reassess my situation to decide what was next. Not giving myself a firm timeline for returning to work was the right approach for my own mental health. Like some of the other responses to your question, my spouse and I had a gameplan for this before I pulled the trigger. For the past 5 years, we have reduced our expenses so that we are living on one income and saving the rest. We live very frugally to make this possible (one car, no fancy cell phone plan, no cable, etc.). So we knew confidently that we could live on his salary while I had my regroup time.

      After the holidays, a freelance opportunity knocked and I took it. Then another one and another one, until now I am at the point of turning down freelance work. Simultaneously, my spouse got a new job with a significant increase in his annual salary. So, now here we sit in a new life cadence: he has a new job he loves and I work 20 hours a week doing freelance work. We’re both happy and my mental health has returned to normal. I don’t plan to ever return to FT work.

      So, that’s my story, just to show that although everyone cautions against “quitting without having a next job lined up” it does work for at least some of us. What will work best for you will probably depend on a balance of your financials and your mental health. Best of luck to you!

    9. Hillary*

      I did it when I left my last job. I ended up getting the offer for my current job while I was sitting in my exit interview.

      You’ve got this.

    10. Msgnomers*

      I quit a job without having anything lined up about 4 years ago. I was desperately unhappy and couldn’t take it anymore. I had been applying to other places and had an interview scheduled for the next day. That interview went extremely well and I was offered the job within a couple of days. I ended up having 6 weeks off work because they wanted me to start at the beginning of the fiscal year, and I had enough savings that this wasn’t an issue. I had a lovely Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday and was able to fully recharge and spend time with my family. It was the best decision ever, though I admit I was very lucky.

    11. Ontario Library Employee*

      My husband did. His contract was coming for renewal with his company and he was miserable. It was a small business, he was the first employee they had hired, and my husband was tired of putting out fires or rushing to meet unreasonable deadlines because the owners promised too much to each client. I told him if he signed for another year he’d just be more miserable in a year. I had just landed a permanent position at the library where I had been temping, so my income had some stability, plus we had a good emergency fund saved. He gave 3 months notice he wouldn’t be renewing his contract and his boss kept asking where he was going. I really don’t think he believed my husband had nothing lined up. After he was out he spent 3 months job searching and interviewing before he landed a job making twice as much. He’s gotten raises and a promotion since he started 4 years ago. And the new company has been awesome about WFH during covid. I can only imagine what the old company would have thought about that – probably if you’re not there you’re not really working.

      It can be stressful, but if you’ve got a healthy savings account it might not be as stressful as your job.

    12. Hunnybee*

      I did it…and I was out of work for six months. But….I know others who found something within a shorter time. I actually needed that full six months, so that was fine, but stressful too. I literally used most of that time to job search, but there were lots of walks and soul searching in the process.

      If you’re asking for advice: I maxed out my 401k for the year and paired down my expenses / paid off my credit cards in advance of quitting. I thought of every day and week I was there as a big f-you to the boss I had who was making my life miserable. And even as my teammates were dropping like flies, I tried to discipline myself to continue to stay until I had x amount of money saved and my bills paid off (and I also found a cheaper place to live). When I handed in my notice, I didn’t say why and I didn’t agree to the exit interview. They dont need any of it. You can be professional and graceful and still maintain your own personal boundaries.

      It’s so hard. I feel sometimes like when you’re in that situation your heart and soul feel like they will burst. You deserve to find peace and space in your life to recover. I wish you the very best in this.

  31. Just Commenting*

    I’m wondering if I should apply for a job opening when I already like my current job. The benefits and salary would be better, the commute would probably be worse, the specific sub-field would be closer to my goals, but my current job has good benefits+okay salary, a great holiday schedule, and I really like my coworkers (as colleagues and coworkers, not on the level of friendship).

    It’s a career where fulfilling and well paid full time work is hard to find, and our department is already stretched in a way where if I left, I’d be leaving them in a lurch if I applied and accepted this job. I also have accumulated PTO and benefits planned for a medical procedure later this year and changing jobs would definitely delay that (even though I could probably keepy my insurance). I know applying isn’t the same as accepting a new job, bit it makes me anxious to consider and I don’t know if the effort would be worth it.

    1. Allypopx*

      With just the information you’re giving here, I personally would probably not apply, but that’s really personal calculus. Like you basically lost me at “I’m happy here and the commute would be worse” – but that’s me. If you’re not sure, it doesn’t hurt to apply and get more information. There’s nothing to be anxious about, you’re just checking out an opportunity. But ultimately it’s up to you and whether it would be a beneficial move for you long term.

      Don’t take your team into account though. People leave jobs. That’s okay. This has to be about what’s best for you.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I don’t see a downside to applying. Go into it with the mindset that they’d REALLY have to wow you in order for the move to be worth it, and see if they deliver!

    3. RagingADHD*

      Yes, you should.

      You make the best decisions when you have zero pressure. If you get an offer, it would have to actually be much better because you are already content. If the offer doesn’t make it an obviously better choice, you can decline and you’ve lost nothing.

      You have everything to gain and nothing to lose = the best possible position to apply for a (potentially) good opportunity.

  32. Kramerica Industries*

    Speaking of mortification week, can I just say that the high school system did not prepare me for work dress codes? I cringe at the thought of how I wore pencil or pinstripe skirts to work that I deemed as professional because they went just past my pinky finger. I genuinely thought that pinky fingers were the societal agreement of what is acceptable for skirt length!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Ouch!

      I went to a Catholic high school and us boys all had to wear ties. By the time I graduated, I could tie a tie better than my father could.

      1. Really?*

        My husband still wears ties (13 years of Catholic school) I suspect that are times he is the only one in the office with one. Now ties are not usually readied till middle school or high school and even then not all year long.

      2. The Prettiest Curse*

        I’m female and went to a secular all-girls high school that had a shirt and tie as part of the uniform. (British school uniforms are weird.) After so many years of tying a tie every day, I can still remember how. On the other hand, my husband worked his entire career in jobs which didn’t require a shirt and tie (he’s now retired) and has forgotten how to tie a tie…

        1. allathian*

          I did the same, the year we lived in the UK because my parents (scientists) worked there. It wasn’t an all-girls school, just a normal comprehensive. I was 12-13 and my puberty was kicking in, and while I didn’t exactly mind not having to spend time on choosing my clothes for school, I absolutely hated the skirt. Or more to the point, I hated the boys who kept trying to peek up my skirt and the teachers’ “boys will be boys” attitude, not to mention teachers showing up with a tape measure to ensure that the hemline was no more than an inch above the knee. I was in my growth spurt at the time and my parents got a note on two separate occasions about me needing a new skirt. The second time, I got told off because my skirt was too long. My parents figured they didn’t want to buy me 4 uniform skirts in one year, so the last one was a size too large. I refused to wear a skirt or dress again until my high school prom. Now I’d have the option of wearing a tux/black tie, but nobody even imagined that would have been possible in the late 80s/early 90s.

          But anyway, I could tie an impeccable tie with my eyes closed at 13, but I’ve since lost that skill.

    2. MusicWithRocksIn*

      Your high school was liberal – we were judged on our index finger. Which when you think about it is so arbitrary – some people have longer legs or longer arms or shorter arms or longer fingers or short stubby fingers. There is this big clashing culture thing right now with a lot of “Don’t tell young women what to wear!” but without much of a safety net for occasions where it really is rude or inappropriate to wear certain things – like the workplace or a formal event. Yes, it is horrible to tell girls not to wear shorts to school because it will ‘distract’ the boys, but also there should be something in place to let girls know that mini skirts are not appropriate for the first day of work in most places, or grandma’s funeral.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        The rule I grew up with was “fingertips to fabric,” meaning your skirt or shorts had to be long enough that NONE of your fingers were touching skin.

      2. ecnaseener*

        That thing doesn’t have to be a school dress code though IMO. File it under one of many work-related things that the schools ought to be better at teaching…but by *teaching* them, not by arbitrarily applying them to an environment that doesn’t make sense.

        1. Disco Janet*

          Agreed. Our school has business classes which are very popular, and for one week of each semester the students participate in a competition that requires formal dress, interviews, presentations – it teaches some great skills. (And there are numerous scholarships available for students who need help paying for professional clothing.)

          1. Disco Janet*

            (Realized I should have clarified – talking about the high school level here. I’m a teacher.)

      3. Siege*

        Sure – it’s a one-on-one conversation without shaming her and presented as for her benefit so she can make an informed choice, not blanket stupid rules that penalize girls for having bodies, and having bodies that are different sizes, than boys do. We can’t assume parents always know or teach these things, but we also can’t assume that a generic rule about dress length suits me at 6’4” and all leg the same way it does my coworker who is 4’10” and has a long torso.

    3. Thursdaysgeek*

      That reminds me of a story that a co-worker told at her retirement, after 35+ years at our company. When she was hired, she was told to wear skirts that were not longer than her fingers!

    4. Filosofickle*

      Lol, I just stood up and walked over to a mirror to see how long a skirt would be on me using this guideline: it would barely cover my butt. Oh my.

  33. Llama face!*

    I’m in a new job and having trouble communicating with the person who is training me and who is also my boss(I’ll call them BT). Can anyone give me useful tips for dealing with the following frustrations? Especially ways you’ve found to get info from hard-to-nail-down bosses?

    Background: My job is supposed to be a split wfh/in-office scenario. Currently I work 2-3 days in office and 2-3 days at home. So communication is a mix of face-to-face, phone, and email.

    BT only responds to emails half the time. I tried emails with lists of questions instead of separate emails: they only respond to one or two questions and not the rest.

    Multiple times BT won’t respond to emails I send/forward them for their action. Then weeks later they will suddenly ask me for details (and act like I should know this info off the top of my head). Then they want me to find & resend the email. Unfortunately BT responds to existing email chains with totally different subjects instead of starting a new conversation, which makes these emails difficult to locate later. I filter my saved emails into different folders but that only gets me so far when they mix topics.

    They also only answer phone calls half the time.

    I tried saving up and asking a bunch of question in-person. They told me it was like being questioned in court (couldn’t tell if it was just joking or “joking”).

    When I ask questions about work processes (such as how to identify which of several forms are appropriate for a particular work product) BT says “I just know because I’ve been doing it for a while” or “you’ll learn after you’ve done it more”. But these are things that should have discrete and identifiable criteria.

    While I’m asking a question in-person and am in the middle of speaking, BT will suddenly interrupt me and start talking about or giving (vague) direction on a totally different subject.

    Y’all I’m really having a hard time not getting frustrated at this person but I otherwise like my work. I’d like to find a way to get past these communication issues. Please give me some advice!

    1. Scott*

      BT sounds like kind of a jerk. AAM has over 150 posts on dealing with jerks so you may find something helpful there.
      I would find a time for a face-to-face to tell BT that you’re really having difficulty trying to do the job they are paying you to do because of their lack of communication with you. Based on the “questioned in court” comment, I probably would not blast them with everything at once, but pick two or three of your above examples to start with and ask them if they have ideas on how the two of you might communicate better. You could also frame it as Alison has suggested in the past with “Is there something I can do better to communicate with you?”

      1. Llama face!*

        Thanks for replying! I might have given a wrong impression because I really don’t think BT is a jerk, just a terrible communicator. They don’t seem to be *trying* to be difficult and they aren’t cold or unkind; it seems more like they just are super disorganized wrt emails and not good at explaining things they do. And I think they’re easily distracted. If we were a larger organization it would matter less, but they are literally the only person who knows how to do a bunch of this work.

        I might try that question for the email unresponsiveness thing (although I have the unfortunate suspicion that they won’t be able to understand or explain how to better communicate with them). I do have plans to create training documents and manuals for anyone who comes after me so they don’t have the same struggles I did in getting this information!

    2. OtterB*

      I agree with Scott. If you haven’t tried a direct conversation about communicating – asking what works best for them – then try that.

  34. Amethyst*

    Celebrating this week. I came in on Monday and emailed my boss and her great-grand boss asking for a raise. I noted that I clear X work/month, which is far more than my peers, and I’m repeatedly told via Supervisor just how much they rely on me to get our work done. I got a response from GGB on Wednesday that he’ll be working with HR to “see what we can do for you” and that I made a strong argument.

    It’s the very first time doing something like this so I’m really glad it worked out so well. :)

    My week will only be made better if my sister tells me she has a home for her and my two nephews. (Her landlord extended his notice period which runs out tomorrow and she’s exhausted the current market and no one has chosen her yet. Hoping with everything I have she gets this news today.)

  35. Julia Jackson*

    Have any of you transitioned from working in a corporate environment (>300 employees) to a small business (<20 employees)? I know that the culture will be different and I'm seeking tips for making the change when I start my new job.

    1. copier queen*

      I transitioned from a small business (7,000 employees) about 10 years ago. I don’t have any tips, per se, but here are some differences I observed:
      –In the small business, I was frequently expected to work outside of my lane/take on unanticipated job duties (but this resulted in me being able to do almost every job in the company fairly well). At large org, co-workers seem to feel like you’re “stealing” their work if you try to help with something outside your normal job duties (maybe there is fear of jobs becoming redundant if others can take on more duties?).
      –There was a lot more socializing at the small company, during work and non-work hours. At large org, I feel like everyone is friendly but not friends. I miss feeling like I have real friends at work, but it’s also nice that my boss is not part of my personal life anymore!
      –At small business, PTO was not tracked in any reasonable way. It was all approximate or based on boss’s whim. At large org, I know down to the hour exactly how much PTO I have at any time. I like the accountability at large org, but I’ve also had my pay docked if I needed to leave early and didn’t have PTO available. That wouldn’t have happened at small business.
      –At large org, there is a procedure, policy or system for everything. I generally like that. At small business, things were done differently depending on the client, season, boss’s mood, etc. However, at small business, the boss could easily make exceptions or changes that sometimes were really helpful to employees. At large org, this rarely happens for fear of “if we do it for one, we will have to do it for all.” Or, “if we do it this time, they will expect it every time.”
      –For me, it was easier to get promoted/increase responsibilities at small business, but benefits are much better at large org, as is salary.
      — I think the biggest factor is whether you enjoy the people and the work at a small business. I loved the work itself, I liked my co-workers, but it was a small FAMILY business, and after a few years I really found the owners (husband and wife) quite difficult to work for.

      1. copier queen*

        Oh gosh, somehow my first sentence got mutilated: “I transitioned from a small business (7,000 employees) about 10 years ago.”

        1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          7,000 employees is SMALL? I’m confused because your correction says the same thing as your original.

    2. Snark No More!*

      I transitioned from a large, white-shoe law firm to a small, <50 person department within a larger organization. I found it most helpful to bide my time. Observe everything as closely as you are able. Be curious-why is it done this way? What if we did it that way? Refrain from saying for at least the first month, "at my last company, we did X." Ask if people are open to a thought about the A/R process (or whatever).

      In short, establish yourself as a thoughtful observer who is curious. Much better than walking in and saying or acting like they're doing something "wrong." Respect their experience.

    3. BadCultureFit*

      I recently went from 10,000 people to 25. It’s…tough.

      I guess my tips would be to lower your expectations. Like, dramatically. A weird dynamic is built when a company stays that small, especially when most of the people there have been there a long time.

  36. Lemon Breeland*

    Warning– covid-related post

    So we’ve gone over how to ask your hair stylist/service person if they’ve been vaccinated. But what if they aren’t??

    We have a cleaner who comes to our house every 2 weeks. She’s an individual, not a business. She’s good about masking, but I know she’s not vaccinated and might not be planning to at all. I feel uncomfortable putting any pressure on her (icky power dynamics of a white middle class higher education lady with control over a Latina woman’s employment)– but at the same time…as someone who was vaccinated and now watching rates creep up again, I’m torn about her continuing to come into our house. Any advice? Scripts?

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      (icky power dynamics of a white middle class higher education lady with control over a Latina woman’s employment)

      But in this case, it’s control over your own home, which you deserve to have as much as she does.

      Would you be comfortable if she stayed masked, or do you not want her in your house at all if she’s not vaccinated?

    2. 867-5309*

      You are fully within your right to decided not to be around unvaccinated people. That isn’t classist.

      “With the rising incidents of COVID and unpredictability of the Delta variant, I am no longer comfortable having people in my home who are unvaccinated. I hope you will let me know if you decided to get the vaccine but until then, unfortunately I will no longer be able having clean my house. I will reconnect with you when and as COVID recedes and of course as I mentioned, please let me know if you do end up getting vaccinated.”

      1. Susie Q*

        “You are fully within your right to decided not to be around unvaccinated people. That isn’t classist.”

        This 10000000000%

      2. mreasy*

        Can you give her paid time to get the vaccine? May not be affordable, but I have read multiple articles indicating that hourly workers aren’t getting it due to fear of losing work or having to pay for the vax (untrue but not always clear).

        1. Junior Dev*

          This is a good idea and I’d offer it with your statement about wanting to wait to hire her until she’s vaccinated.

          1. introverted af*

            So? The LW employs her. They can do something to make sure she has time to go get the vaccine without her pay suffering, especially since they want her to get it to continue working in their home.

            Just because she’s not a hourly employee of a business doesn’t mean she doesn’t have rights or deserve to be treated with dignity.

            1. mediamaven*

              The LW doesn’t employ her – she contracts her. The cleaner is her own boss most likely. If she wants to compensate her that’s nice but to not do so is not withholding her dignity nor her rights. This is an weird thing to imply.

            2. Susie Q*

              No she doesn’t. OP is a customer. The cleaner provides a service and OP pays for the service. The cleaner is self-employed.

          2. PollyQ*

            OK, but she probably charges by the hour, and Lemon Breedland can offer to pay for an hour or two of getting vaccinated the way she pays for an hour or two of cleaning.

        2. Observer*

          I was thinking about that.

          OP, if she says that she can’t get vaccinated because she can’t afford to miss a work session, could you offer to pay her when she goes to get vaxxed rather than coming to your home?

          1. Observer*

            To be clear, you are not OBLIGATED to do this, but if you can afford to do so, it would be a kindness.

    3. fposte*

      My cleaning service has everybody in the house masked and requests the owner, if present, also stay masked in a closed room. I suspect some of their clients have eased up on that but I think it’s a great approach and have kept them to it rather than querying a varying staff of people about their vaccination status, which is something they may feel compelled to give a desirable rather than a truthful answer on.

    4. HannahS*

      If you’re not comfortable having her in your home:
      “Hi [Name], because of the rising covid case counts, I’m no longer allowing unvaccinated people into my home. If you get the vaccine, please let me know and I’ll be glad to hire you back two weeks after your second dose.
      Thanks,
      Lemon”

    5. Mental Lentil*

      The fact that she’s Latina may mean that she doesn’t have access to information about where to get a vaccination, or that there is a lot of misinformation about the process in her community. (Believe me, as a POC, there is always a very real concern about things like this. Fears that “la migra” may be hanging out around vaccination centers are common.)

      You have a right, as an employer, to expect that she will get vaccinated. But you might want to approach it with this understanding in mind.

      1. quill*

        Also this is possibly a time to ask if there’s any specific reason for not being vaccinated she’s comfortable sharing. (though tread very carefully)

        When people aren’t getting vaccinated because of fear of deportation (whether or not they have green cards) and other people aren’t getting vaccinated because of things like immunosuppression, it might change your personal risk calculation to know which is the problem.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Or it might not. If you’re not comfortable having an unvaccinated person in your home, it might not matter *why* they’re unvaccinated. If I had an immunocompromised family member, or a young child who couldn’t get vaccinated, I wouldn’t care why you didn’t get it.

    6. mediamaven*

      Unvaccinated people are going to have to understand this is an individual risk they have to assume. This is not discrimination. It’s your health. Don’t feel bad.

    7. Really?*

      Is having a cleaner a new thing? Like only a few months. If you had her throughout the pandemic why should the protocol be any different now? If anything with you being vaccinated you have less to worry about.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Because we have new information about breakthrough infections with the Delta variant, that was less of a concern with the original virus.

      2. PollyQ*

        Because the Delta variant is significantly more contagious than previous versions, so what was safe 6 months ago may no longer be.

    8. Observer*

      (icky power dynamics of a white middle class higher education lady with control over a Latina woman’s employment)–

      There is an old line about not getting “so open minded that your brains fall out.”

      I don’t mean to say that you are getting brainless. And I DO think that it’s a net positive that people think about this kind of thing before jumping. It’s just a commentary about how far out of line some of the conversation has gone that you are framing it in this way under these particular circumstances.

      This is not some random “white middle class woman” trying trying to impose something on some random “Latina woman.” Framing it that way is incorrect and obscures the actual issues at play.

      What is at play is the what moral right an employer – ANY employer – has to dictate things to an employee – ANY employee – and what moral right a person – ANY person – has to dictate who gets to come into their home.

      From that vantage point, you have the total right to insist that anyone coming into your house and anyone you employ IN PERSON is vaccinated. The genders, education and / or ethnicities involved are not relevant. In fact, it’s a total red herring, because the power dynamic that exists is not Socially High status person vs Socially low status person, but employer vs employee.

    9. RagingADHD*

      You can’t do anything productive about this until you make up your mind and stop being torn. The worst and most pressure-y thing you could do is make some vague noises about being uncomfortable and hope she magically decides to get vaxxed as a result. Because she won’t, it will just make things awkward.

      Are you okay with her coming in your house unvaxxed, or not? Nobody else can do that calculus for you, and there is nothing you can say to her until you know the answer.

      If you are okay with her being there unvaxxed and fully masked, then say nothing. If you aren’t, then tell her you’ve decided that since the new variant is so contagious, you won’t be able to have her come back until 2 weeks after her second shot, if she decides to get it, and she should call you then to reschedule.

      (By the way, if you would feel comfortable knowing she “plans to get it,” then your discomfort isn’t really about safety, because planning to get it isn’t going to reduce your risk at all. And that’s fine. You can choose to buy services from businesses that you are likeminded with, that’s a legitimate thing to do. Just be clear with yourself.)

  37. EmKay*

    I’m the admin for a small engineering firm. One of our employees, a man, has been diagnosed with cancer. My boss wants to send a gift. I can’t very well send flowers with a card that says “sorry you have cancer”.

    What gift options can I propose?

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      Is it possible to send a gift card for groceries or meal delivery? That’s probably the number-one most useful thing you can give to someone with any kind of severe illness that will actually be appreciated.

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

      Well, the type of cancer he has might play a role in what sort of gift would be appropriate but when my mom went through cancer treatment, she could barely think about food the few days after chemo treatments — so easy to prep and eat meals were nice. She also was given a heating pad — the type you microwave not plug in — and that was very helpful too. A nice comfy blanket also comes in handy.

      1. EmKay*

        I also had that thought, and I asked my HR director if we had that information, which we do not. I explicitly told him not to ask, because that would/could come across as insensitive to our colleague.

        Heating pad and comfy blanket are added to my list, thank you!

    3. Panda Bear*

      I don’t think flowers and a card are a bad gift! Obviously, the card would say something more heartfelt “we are all thinking of you and are here to help”. And then, ideally, your firm should follow up with actual help, as in: make sure he feels supported to take the time off he needs, ask if it would be helpful to deal with job tasks he needs to temporarily step back from, find out if he needs/would welcome personal support like dropping off meals. Granted, you might not be in the position of power to make any/all of those things happen, but you could certainly suggest them if your boss is a decent person!

      1. EmKay*

        I am in a position of zero power, but I will add this excellent suggestion to my list! thank you :)

      1. EmKay*

        I could send flowers, with a more appropriately worded card :)

        I would just like to include a gift that will be useful or can be used, for after the flowers die.

    4. Metadata minion*

      Nthing the meal card suggestion! I’ve gotten flowers after a couple of similar situations and while I sincerely appreciated the thought, it ended up being yet another random thing I now had to deal with during an already overwhelming time and then they sat there on the table dying at me.

      If you’re short on cash, just a card from colleagues expressing support is something that I think is almost never a bad idea. If there’s anything specific your workplace offers in terms of support that he might not know about/remember (more flexible schedule, adjusting job duties, PTO bank, etc.), this is a great time to bring that up as well.

    5. NoMercy*

      Depending on what kind of treatment he will be receiving, I found the best gifts for myself from my coworkers while I was going through chemo were: moisturizing skin cream, ginger tea (great for nausea), books, gift cards for gas to get back and forth to treatment, and a lovely card signed by everyone to warm my heart. I also found the easiest food to eat was any kind of homestyle soup (not too much sodium) so if there is a meal delivery or someplace that prepares soup to go, a gift card there would be great. Warm socks are great too as the chills can be fierce.

      1. Eeyore is my spirit animal*

        Totally seconding a gas card. There is a lot of driving back and forth.
        The best things I got (and not mentioned above) a nice neck pillow, a throw blanket, and a good insulated tumbler. If you do socks, make sure they are non-slip. I lived in yoga socks for months.

        I am a big tea drinker and instead of flowers, my boss sent me a huge sampler box of tea bags and beautiful tea cup. I shared the flavors I didn’t like at the infusion center.
        Another friend gave me a great bag to haul things back and forth to chemo, so it could all stay in one place.

    6. Kathenus*

      I’ve given a number of people who were hospitalized a nature sounds machine, which some have said was really helpful in masking the hospital sounds and letting the rest better. So that might be an option.

    7. ronda*

      my sister did following, then I did it for a co-worker when out for chemo.

      I sent weekly card with notes from the ~5 people in our group, and then occasionally included other people too. I added index cards if more people signed.

      I think they both liked getting something that people were thinking of them, but that was not intrusive.

      A lot of people seemed to only say thinking of you.. but I usually put in something unrelated, like a review of the latest movie or restaurant. She actually sent back a message that I made her laugh, so I figure I did well :)

    8. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I think it would depend on the type of cancer and treatment, if known. Some types are one and done with surgery (minor or major), others need a course of radiation, and others need chemo (sometimes also radiation). And each of those treatments can be either debilitating or merely inconvenient. Is there someone at work who is close to the employee and can ask him or his family what would be useful or just nicely indulgent?

  38. wingmaster*

    Just wanted to share that today’s my last day at this current company! I’m so excited, and I’ll have a week to do nothing before my new job. Happy Friday!

    1. MyBossSucks*

      LAST DAY HIGH FIVE!

      I am also taking next week off. I am escaping from a dumpster fire of a workplace. And I get a full week off while my husband is working and the kid is in camp. I’m gonna do house projects, binge-watch TV, and cook tasty meals.

      1. wingmaster*

        Gosh, I don’t even know what to do next week. I did plan on having a “staycation” next week, but I only planned for disc golfing!

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

    I work with Eeyore. He’s always been Eeyore and it hasn’t bothered me so much — I’ve been able to tune it out and do my own thing. But now Eeyore is on my last nerve with his Eeyore-ness and more urgently, our new boss is NOT ok with his little-black-rain-cloud. Eeyore has no self-awareness and can’t seem to read a room…so while we are on a video meeting, he continues on with his litany of complaints while our boss rubs her temples in frustration and tries to be cheery and fun; she’s definitely a Tigger — which is a different version of hell for me. Since I’m NOT joyfully frolicking in the 100 Acre Wood, how do I deal with Tigger and Eeyore? I don’t want anything to happen to Eeyore, but honestly, Tigger is in charge and I wouldn’t put it past her to manage him out if he keeps it up.

    1. Angstrom*

      Is Eeyore complaining about work stuff or not-work stuff?

      If it’s work, and the complaints are valid, Tigger should treat them as work issues and manage them accordingly. …”We discussed that last week. IT promised an update by Friday.”

      If not-work, Tigger(or you?) should run meetings with firm agendas that don’t leave openings for random whining. …”I’m sorry to hear that. Next on the agenda is…..”

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

        Short answer is “Yes.” Eeyore complains about everything. It’s literally his personality. The complaints are both valid and also not helpful because they are things that can’t be changed for the most part — learning new software or updating old software is just a part of the job but it CAN be disruptive to our work flow or cause new issues to arise — stuff like that. Most people can cope — Eeyore has to mope.

        1. allathian*

          That’s really tough, then. You can’t really tell people that their feelings are wrong, but at the same time, it’s completely appropriate to expect people to manage how they express their feelings.

    2. Bagpuss*

      How well do you get on with Eyeore? Are you on terms which would mean you could have a privart econversation with him?
      Maybe explain that you noticed he seemed very negative and that it appeared to be annoying Tigger (and if you want, that it is also pretty draining to listen to) and suggest that he make a real effort to reduce the number of negative comments and complaints..

      Do you feel that any of his complaints are valid? if so, maybe suggest that he focus on one issue of concern, rather than multiple ones, and/or suggest that a short e-mail rather than a long discussing in a meeting may be a better way of raising them – ideally accompanied by a suggested solution or a request for a specific thing / change to address the issue. .

    3. I can never decide on a lasting name*

      My sympathies, I wish I had useful suggestions. Eeyores absolute suck life out of me.

    4. Observer*

      Unless Tigger expects you to become like her, don’t worry about it. Just try to not automatically go into all of the reasons “this won’t work” every time she makes what sounds like an unrealistically cheerful projection or suggestion.

      For Eyore, it’s not your problem that Boss doesn’t like it. So, don’t take on that problem. As for the rest – when there is something actionable, see if you can discuss what’s possible. If it’s something that’s legitimately annoying but you just need to live with it, commiserate THE FIRST TIME it comes up. After that, either tune him out or move the conversation forward. eg Yes, we’ve been thought that. It’s a problem that we are going to have to live with. Now, what about the TPS reports you were reviewing?

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Start telling Eeyore that you don’t want to listen to a bunch of negative stuff. Either he cleans up his act (probably not) or she pushes him out.

    6. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Ew, I worked with an Eeyore. She could summon dark gray clouds over the most innocuous things. Someone ran into her as they were entering the building one morning and said, “Good morning, gosh, this nice weather’s a relief, isn’t it?” And Eeyore glummed “My father died on this date 27 years ago.” It was such an unnecessary thing to bring up in that moment. For some people, it’s about one-downsmanship, having to drag everyone into misery to make themselves feel better.

  40. Silver Linings From Dreamland*

    I’ve got an update on the position which I signed a contract for but didn’t have a starting date for after a couple of months.

    I just had a transparent, honest discussion with the director at the recruiting agency where he told me that the hiring manager (HM) absolutely wants me and the final holdup is getting management to sign off as the final signee needed is on vacation this week. HM actually has a week’s vacation scheduled at the beginning of September but will cancel it if that’s when the last manager signs since they’ll actually want me to start at that instant. For context, they’ve resorted to temporarily storing their data on paper since their old clunky database had become literally unusable. That’s where my expertise’ll come in ;)

    So, I don’t know yet if it’ll be next week, the following week, or (hopefully not) in September, but I will be beginning a challenging, new position! Fortunately, I wasn’t in a spot this summer where I necessarily needed a constant stream of cash.

    1. MacGillicuddy*

      After a month of what you describe, I would have continued my job search. The fact that you signed a contract isn’t relevant. Regardless of what the recruiting agency is telling you, this job is NOT a done deal.
      You need to keep filling the pipeline of job searching, applying, and interviewing, because otherwise if this job falls through, you’ll be starting your job search again at zero. This is especially important if if you’re not currently employed.

      I had a similar situation a few years back. Kept getting “just a couple more weeks because [different reason]” over and over. Then finally “sorry, but the company now has a hiring freeze because they can’t afford to add any employees”.

      It’s not a real job until you walk in the door on your first day. Even my state’s unemployment office told me the same thing, regarding whether to claim for the weeks when you’re waiting for a start date.

      Good luck

  41. cubone*

    Would love to ask for some career path recommendations/jobs that might suit me. I’m at a bit of a crossroads and I know a bunch of things I do and don’t like, but I’m struggling to “see” a job that fits what I want.

    Background/strengths:
    I have been working in non-profit programming and outreach for about 10 years. I designed, implemented, and evaluated several different programs (eg. volunteer programs, leadership and skills camps for youth, etc.) and had a period where I led outreach for a nonprofit (tons of presentations, media interviews, etc)

    I also tend to be that person who gets tagged in on weird projects. I’ve supported a ton of marketing and web development projects, even though I’m not a marketer or web developer.

    I also love managing people (and consistently great feedback from direct reports about my management skills)

    Why I want a change:
    I love the creativity involved in designing programs, but I am just finding I miss the… rigidity of past roles. I am recently diagnosed ADHD and I feel like I am not thriving in these environments where I am responsible for everything end to end, and there is very little existing process. I DO like process, but I struggle to switch gears (eg. going from leading training to creating a process for training). I also struggle a lot with project management.

    I still love leading and delivering training, but my energy for it wanes when I have so much else to do.

    What I mean by “rigidity”: In one volunteer role, I had very specific tasks every day to do and in another college job, I worked the phones at the college info desk. I THRIVED in these roles, and felt like I could really focus on what was in front of me, and take each situation as it comes. I was also the go-to person for conflict situations – I can keep a really level head in crisis (and honestly kind of love it. If I was more science oriented, I think I could be a paramedic). I also did retail in the summers and while I was meh on sales, I loved the way I could just come in and keep the store running and roll with the punches.

    Anyone have any ideas on roles/careers that combine training, creativity, and yet are also like, highly specific and task oriented? Hopefully this makes sense and thank you in advance for any ideas!

    1. Just Commenting*

      I can’t speak with experience on this but maybe administrative role or an office manager position would be good to look at? Or maybe HR (particularly around interpersonal mediation)? Those aren’t positions I’m currently in but I feel might be both a bit more rigid while allowing some flexibility and creativity.

      I also have ADHD and while not perfect, my position thankfully gives me a variety of tasks which I really like. I struggle a lot with time management and initiative on projects but being someone who’s front-facing while also taking care of a lot of administrative stuff keeps me occupied in ways that feel fulfilling but not too stagnant.

      1. cubone*

        I keep thinking around HR – I feel like I don’t know the scope of HR roles available, so this will be worth investigating.

        You also hit on something I’ll add to my list: “front facing”! I think a common theme in all the roles/tasks I’ve liked the most if I have some element of front facing work. Thank you so much for your response :)

    2. TeaGirl*

      I would also look at roles in housing. Property Managers and related roles have A LOT of things they do, but it’s also a lot of X must be done by Y as well as rolling with the punches of what tenants bring you. There are also roles in programs like Section 8 that have very defined tasks. If you want to stay in a “helping” space, look at housing authorities as well as non-profit providers of housing.

    3. Overeducated*

      You have probably thought of this already, but what about a training, instructional design, or volunteer program management role in a large and highly structured organization? The bigger and more bureaucratic you go, the less likely you are to be tagged into as many weird projects, and the more existing process and limits you’ll hit. So you could just try to go for a job that plays to your creative strengths within a structure that, well, keeps you in that specific job.

      1. Not really a Waitress*

        I was going to say the same thing. I am also ADHD. Training provides me a framework to be creative in and I never have the same day twice. there is a lot of facilitating and project management, and I have peers who will edit and give me a push to get me to my finish line.

    4. Msgnomers*

      How about something in a museum? You could oversee and train volunteers, work in public relations, or be a program coordinator. Many museums have traveling exhibit with new content every few months, so there is always something new to learn.

    5. Ahdez*

      What about becoming an expert trainer in a certain platform or solution, who would deliver training to a company’s clients? You could still deliver training but it might be more set. I immediately thought of something like Asana or Monday, or even a donation platform like DonorPerfect leveraging your NGO experience. A caveat is that these could require too much tech background but if you’re tech savvy you might be able to learn.

    6. Metadata minion*

      I recently heard an interview with someone who is an air traffic controller and it actually sounds a lot like what you’re looking for, other than probably the people-managing part. It’s VERY structured with fail-safes on top of fail-safes, but it’s a job where you have to roll with potentially stressful and time-sensitive situations.

    7. ronda*

      mediation.

      my yoga teacher says this is his day job. your working with people and solving problems sounds like it might fit this.
      I have never done it so can’t really advise more.