open thread – September 24-25, 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.

{ 1,377 comments… read them below }

  1. Collie*

    Last year I reached out (cold email) to someone in an area where I might like to work hoping to make a connection by way of asking about professional networks in the area and never got a response. I’m thinking of this area again and wondering, especially in light of the pandemic, if it’s reasonable to reach out again or if I should just take it as a loss. Thoughts?

    1. Tara*

      It’s hard to answer without more context.

      Are they in a very busy job?

      Did you actually ask to talk to them or just ask them a random question about professional networks?

      Did you give any info about yourself?

      1. Collie*

        – At the time, it’s possible they were closed (library). Workflow has varied a lot according to what admins expect from their libraries during the pandemic, so it’s hard to say whether this particular person was more or less busy than usual.

        – I can’t seem to find the original email I sent so I’m no 100% sure, but I recall asking fairly specifically about what options were available in the area (and possibly also specifics about their current programming) that would have led to further conversation. I probably included an option of phone or email.

        – Yes; definitely shared some about myself as part of the introduction.

        1. Tara*

          “that would have led to further conversation”

          Well, yes and no. If you just asked for that info and didn’t also express any interest in talking to that actual specific person, I can see why they didn’t reply.

    2. Yorick*

      I wouldn’t. It’s possible they just overlooked the message and would be responsive now, but it’s also (much more likely?) possible that you’d annoy them too much by sending a second message. I don’t think it’s worth the risk.

    3. MamaSarah*

      What about a quick call or stopping by for another purpose just to catch the vibes? At different points in SIP, I found email to be so annoying (it was totally me). FYI, in my profession, it’s typical to encourage persons who want to join the field.

      1. Tara*

        And I say that as someone who is not averse to phone calls and happy to help newcomers.

        It sounds like you kind of treated them like a human Google and forgot to actually express a wish to connect.

      2. Emma2*

        I have to say I would find this pretty aggressive and intrusive. Cold calling someone to try to get a networking discussion is essentially trying to corner them or force the conversation on them. While people may be willing to try to encourage others who want to enter their field, they also may not be able to assist or encourage everyone. I think it is appropriate to email someone to ask if you can arrange a call or a meeting, but they may not agree (and they may not respond) and that is their choice. We don’t have a right to other people’s time.

    4. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Are you trying to get into an organized network that you heard about, or are you trying to find out if such a network exists?

      1. Collie*

        The latter. I did some searching myself and expressed that in the email but wondered if there were more local/casual things that might not show up on an internet search.

        1. Teapot Repair Technician*

          I wouldn’t contact him again. Your first shot-in-the-dark was worth a try, but considering the network you’re looking for may not exist, it’s probably not worth pursuing further.

    5. Elle*

      If you had been reaching out to me, I wouldn’t mind you reaching out again. I am forgetful with a lot of things, and if I truly were not interested I would just ignore your email the second time too. No big deal.

    6. Hiring Mgr*

      I don’t think it’s a big deal to reach out to someone again after nearly a year, but i would think there are also plenty of others in that area you could try

    7. MissDisplaced*

      I think it’s worth one other try as long as you’re not being super pushy. I’d mention you tried to contact them back in X month. I say this because it is possible people didn’t see or forgot. But only do one more time and move on.

    8. Job Seeker*

      One of the keys to networking – in my opinion – is volume. Whether or not you reach out to this person again, try to reach out to several others as well. That way you increase your chances of getting a response, and you don’t put so much weight on trying to get a response from any one particular person.

      That said, I might reach out to this person again, too. I’d carefully write the message to ensure that it didn’t sound like I was annoyed that they didn’t reply in the past. People do get busy and emails get lost in inboxes.

      Make your ask easy to respond to and be clear that you don’t want to take up a lot of their time. Meeting by phone or Zoom are popular these days, so I wouldn’t ask to meet in person.

    9. Purple Cat*

      I feel like your approach may have been a little *off*.
      If someone randomly contacted me asking if I knew of any llama grooming organizations, and I didn’t, then I would ignore them and move on.
      If someone wanted to talk to me specifically about my experiences and expertise, then I might respond (although I don’t respond to obviously canned emails).
      I think a second attempt after a year isn’t egregious, but really think about why you thought this person was a good contact and what you would want personally from them that a google search can’t provide, and try again.

  2. Tiny company?*

    I’ve been interviewing at a company that has only 25 people. While the work looks right up my alley, and the three people I’ve met so far are nice, what are some questions I should ask about their operations because they’re so small? I’m in the USA.

    I know I need to ask about their medical leave policy because they’re not covered by FMLA. I’m not sure what salary to ask for either because there’s no salary information about this specific company online.

    1. Taryn*

      I’d probably ask what hats they’re expecting this role to wear…if it’s a teeny company, there’s a good chance that everyone pitches in with things outside of the scope of what you’d expect from their job title.

      1. Teapot Repair Technician*

        Agreed. At tiny companies, there’s often the expectation that everyone does everything. That can be fun, but also frustrating.

        As a tech writer working for a 30-person company, I enjoyed occasionally driving the forklift, but getting dragooned into counting nuts and bolts for “inventory week” was a real drag.

        1. Purple Cat*

          In fairness, I work for a large company and we drag EVERYBODY from Finance into helping with inventory. That’s the only way to get it done in the quick time frame required. If our company was only 30-people we’d grab people from all backgrounds…

          1. Vanilla Bean*

            Yes, but if you’re literally individually counting nuts and bolts rather than weigh counting them, you’re doing it wrong, unless they’re thousand-dollar spaceship nuts and bolts.

    2. Aquawoman*

      If it’s an owner-operator at the top, I’d ask what their management style is and listen for code words and obfuscating.

      1. Elle*

        this this this

        Every time I’ve worked at a small company you need to make very sure you vibe with the top dog AND that you aren’t getting any code-words from the staff (especially staff that recently left). Small places can get very dysfunctional very fast if there is one person with not-so-great attitudes at the top.

    3. Ex-Dog Coor*

      -company structure (like who reports to who, or if there’s a real structure at all, who you can refer to for support)
      -expectations for emergency work (if that applies; so something like what happens if there’s an urgent situation during off hours)
      -ask about ALL benefits, (including things like if a company computer is provided, if they expect you to use your personal phone, mileage/general reimbursement, stipends for computer/phone if not provided, plus the normal things like medical and retirement)
      -what duties are yours, and what duties you may be asked to help with (as Taryn pointed out, you may be asked to “pitch in” to help with other duties you wouldn’t have thought you would have to do)
      -work/life balance (in my experience, the smaller the company, the more of a “family” they claim to be, and the more they intrude on your off-the-clock time, or expect you to give of your off time)

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        The work-life balance is a good area to check. Asking about “work-life” balance will probably just get you a flurry of vague buzzwords, so try asking about “typical work hours”, “busy seasons”, or “how often do staff work late/work after hours from home/work weekends.”

        1. Clara*

          I straight up ask a usually more junior person “how many days in the last week did you work after 6pm?” or whatever is appropriate in your role. They may say “oh last week was busier than normal” but at least you get a more concrete answer

        2. voluptuousfire*

          I ask about expected work hours. That usually nets a better explanation than “work-life” balance.

        3. Joielle*

          Once I asked about work-life balance and someone went “wellll….” and there was a long pause while the panel gave each other nervous looks, and then they sort of broke out into awkward laughter. They hurriedly tried to assure me that the work-life balance was ok, it was getting better, there are just a few big projects right now… but the message was pretty clear. I did not take that job, lol.

      2. Recruited Recruiter*

        Agreed with this one. I now work for a small, family owned company. As part of the management team, I get asked to take part in community charity events. I enjoy them, but make sure you know what kind of stuff you can expect outside of work hours.

    4. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      I previously worked for a company about that size and during the interview process was in much the same situation – the work was exactly what I wanted and I felt comfortable with the people I interviewed with. Unfortunately the place was a disastrous hotbed of dysfunction, which I might have been able to suss out if I had asked the following:

      – What does the company org chart look like? In my case, there were a whole lot of Directors and VPs for such a tiny org. These titles were handed out as ego boosts to favored employees with hardly any of the experience I normally associated with those roles.
      – What does HR look like? Is there a professional, qualified HR person in the chain of command, or is there just an office manager with no real HR training who can do payroll but not much else?
      – What is turnover like in a given year, and at what level? If the managers stay forever but lower level employees are a revolving door, RUN. The company I worked for had an average of 11 people quit or get fired per year in a 24 person company.
      – How many employees are related to the owner/CEO? My place was a mess of nepotism.

      1. Weisarom*

        Huge agreement with that last point. At my last company about that size, all mgmt positions were given to friends of the owner. Competence wasn’t required. Due to this kind of thing, there was a huge double standard and 2nd class citizenship in how rank and file and those mgrs were treated.

        Also, if it’s a small company, there may be no growth path. You may be stuck forever in whatever role you get hired into. A fun twist on this: your job functions may expand dramatically based on what skills you bring to the table, but since TPTB are used to seeing this role as it was beforehand, there may be much unwillingness to pay you fairly for the new expanded value you bring to the job.

    5. Brave Little Roaster*

      Definitely ask about PTO and what coverage is available for the position in order to be able to actually take PTO. See if this is a new role or if you’re replacing someone. For a small company, you might end up doing different work than the person you’d be replacing because of your relative difference in skills/interests.

    6. Lizy*

      If you’ve only ever worked in larger companies, ask how work is distributed, especially during busy times. For example, if you know one of the staff is marketing, and there’s a big annual conference, ask what help others are/will be expected to provide. It’ll be important to know how much time is actually spent on “your” job verses “other job duties as assigned” (meaning, help others with their job).

      Personally, I LOVE smaller companies like this (or at least, I love the ones I’ve worked with lol). I always felt welcome to talk with grand-boss and that my voice/opinion was heard, even if the company ended up doing something else. If I had too much work, it was easy for me to go to my boss and/or coworkers and ask for help. On the flipside, if there was a big event (or project or whatever), I definitely helped out and felt like my help was valued. I still spent the majority of the time doing “my” job – it was a pretty rare thing to help someone else do their job. However, we definitely had the culture where we all understood we were helping each other when needed. Where I’m at now, I’m still on the same “level”, but I feel a lot less… valued. I know my direct boss/supervisor values me, but on the company-level, I definitely feel more like a random minion rather than a valued voice/employee.

    7. Marie*

      – Advancement opportunities if you hope to grow your career there.
      – Are they planning to grow the company, and if so at what rate. I’ve been at a couple companies or teams that doubled in under a year and it was a wild ride that resulted in people who weren’t good managers getting promoted into high level management positions.
      – If it is relevant to the industry you can ask about things like on-call, answering phones, working evenings/weekends. Every small company I’ve been at has expected on-call or phone answering or both.
      – Performance reviews if that is important to you. I did two (small < 100 person) companies in a row and didn't get a performance review, and therefore a raise or a bonus, for 8 years. Not getting feedback on my skills also really annoyed me after a while.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        Definitely agree about advancement opportunities. In a small company it can go either way – if they grow quickly, it could mean that you get more advancement opportunities as they grow, but if they stay roughly the same size and don’t have much turnover or are a relatively flat hierarchy, there may not be room to grow after a few years.

    8. Vesuvius*

      One red flag I didn’t notice at old job was “tell us about the company culture” DURING the interview process (yes, seriously, wtf was this doing in there?). If you get any weird questions that give you a bad vibe, pay attention to them. For any role, get it in writing what kind of work you’re actually signing on to do. I worked at a small to medium sized firm, in a relatively small office, and there was a really bad ratio of middle managers to staff-level employees. If that is the case here, RUN. That is a very bad sign for any office. Usually staff are not promoted for skill if you have so many mid-level managers. If the firm pays more “in experience,” do a lot of research before signing on. If any of your interviewers gives you strange vibes, like mine did? At least an orange flag if not a red one.

      With regard to salary: if your field is lucrative enough, they should be offering something close to competitive. If they are not in a field where they really SHOULD be, that’s a big red flag. If you work in say, publishing, I would expect different salary norms than in my field (environmental). Smaller places still have to pay you somewhat competitively to keep you. If the pay doesn’t fit the industry norms I’d be very cautious about accepting a job with them. Even if it is a tiny company, they need to pay you enough for you to be willing to work for them. If it doesn’t fit the otherwise-accepted norms for your field and doesn’t have some comparable thing (i.e. really good benefits), then I would be cautious accepting that offer. Also, be wary of a place that has you just above the cutoff for Exempt work for a small firm, because in that instance you’re likely expected to do between 12h-16h days regularly, and work weekends. “Consistent bonuses” do not in any way make up for this and usually do not compare to CoL-adjusted wages or salary.

      With regard to general culture: In my field, there are a few companies that are known for scandals and enormous screwups. Because Environmental is a field that directly affects where people live (i.e. drinking water — yes, really!) these make the news. If there is a similar focus or political-undercurrent in your field, this is where you do due diligence. Even if not, there are some things you can do to check in on it. What kind of projects does the company do? Look at who interviewed you and the way the interviewers talk to each other. Does one person control the interviewing process? Do they ever admit that the company failed? Do they all seem to be looking at you as a person or have they immediately judged your cues and don’t care what you say?

      (My litmus test is currently: can an interviewer respond with patience, or do they get impatient when I have difficulty with a question or need a minute? If the interviewer responds sharply or is mean about it, I don’t want the job. If they are patient with me, that’s generally a good sign, especially if I have questions about their company and company culture.)

      And at any point, if your BS-o-meter is beeping, pay attention to it. Your gut feelings are very often correct!

    9. Nicotena*

      Ha sorry this doesn’t answer your question but in my segment of nonprofit, 25 would be considered quite a large organization. I would really like to work for one that large! I keep getting jobs with orgs that have 4-6 staff, depending on who quit recently, and it’s quite stressful. It’s always “all hands on deck.”

    10. Retired(but not really)*

      Most of my work experience has been with small companies. It is very common for a person to have a particular title reflecting why they do the core part of their job but for the job to expand randomly to include many other short term tasks that may be for only a couple hours up to a day or two. It can be totally fine or it can be annoying if it coincides with another task that is also time sensitive. Usually it’s pretty easy to determine which task has priority but sometimes it’s a toss up.
      That being said, I actually prefer the variety that this brings to the job plus the opportunity to learn all sorts of random skills that you never thought you’d ever use again but end up needing at a later date at another job.

      As far as questions to ask, for me an important one was the possibility of flexibility in coming in early and then leaving early for events my kids were involved in like band and sports or awards ceremonies at the end of school that were scheduled during the day.
      Also sick/vacation policy, what/how many holidays are paid.
      Good luck!

  3. should i apply?*

    Favorite work from home office upgrade? Since our going back to the office has been pushed off indefinitely, and even then it is supposed to be hybrid I am looking at making my office set up more permanent and less makeshift. What has been your best upgrade to make your work from home set up more comfortable and / or nice looking?

      1. bumbleblue*

        I cosign the magnetic whiteboard. I also have small whiteboard attachments for my monitors. It’s good for reminders to myself but is sooooooooooooo helpful when I have to give presentations and share my screen. I have a lot of training experience but I was not prepared for how often my mind would just go completely BLANK during virtual presentations. I never had that issue with in-person training.

    1. Yorick*

      I got some monitor risers that make it easier to look at my screens all day and gave me more space on my desk.

      1. Windchime*

        I got a clamp-on shelf for this purpose. It raises my monitors to the correct height and gives me room for things underneath. I also turned my desk so it faces the window; that gives me good light for being on camera and also allows me to see my rose bushes right outside. My router and modem were sitting on a cabinet behind me in plain sight and they looked untidy, so I bought a basket with a loose pattern and stuck my equipment in there. It looks so much better. Finally, I put a small side chair in the office so the cat has a place to nap near me if he wants to.

    2. DarthVelma*

      An HDMI splitter that lets me convert one of my monitors back and forth between being the 2nd screen for my home computer setup and a 2nd screen for my work laptop at the push of a button.

      1. KitKat2000*

        Someone in a previous thread suggested to me a KVM switch, which does that but for keyboard and mouse as well. It’s really handy!

    3. Elle Woods*

      About this time last year I bought myself a new desk and chair. The desk I had didn’t have enough flat space for me and my chair was at least 15 years old. Really glad I upgraded.

      1. New Commenter*

        Co-sign the chair–I bought Wirecutter’s recommended one and have not regretted the truly outrageous cost for a second.

      2. AVP*

        co sign on both of these! They’re really the only two things I’ve bought since starting to work from home (in 2019) and they’re essential. If you’re still just working at the kitchen table, do what you need to do to create a real “work only” area with a good chair and desk. It really, really helps that you won’t have to clean it off each night for other uses.

      3. A*

        Ugh, this is going to be me in the near future. When I bought my beautiful antique writers desk I was WFH one day a week – I’ve been able to get by thus far with just my work laptop to avoid having to find tiny monitors that fit the limited flat space, but need to upgrade for the long term. I’m still holding out hope of finding a second monitor with a small enough foot print to fit, but an slowly coming to accept I may need to switch to a modern boring, but functional, flat desk :(

        1. No Sleep Till Hippo*

          You might try looking into portable monitors – I have a 14″ one that matches my laptop screen size and it’s super useful in my limited space! A lot of them work over USB-C instead of HDMI, which I’ve also found useful.

          YMMV, of course, but I love my little two-screen setup and now when I’m using a full size monitor I get a little agoraphobic… Too much space, lol.

      1. Nessun*

        Same! Finally reclaiming my dining table instead of shoving all the work stuff to one side each Friday evening.

    4. Opaque_Chatterbug*

      Standing/sitting convertible desk (+ fatigue mat). Flexispot’s been having some regular sales, this helps me immensely when presenting. I speak way better when standing, but sit when tasking.

      1. cubone*

        fatigue mat was key! I got one that has like a lip on the edge, so I can rest my foot or stretch out my calf (the way you might by placing the ball of your foot against a wall) and I love it.

          1. cubone*

            oh, it’s at the back (front?) of the mat. Like when I stand it is on the edge that my toes point towards, so no tripping risk (though I have seem some on 3 sides, which seems like it would be hazardous)

        1. Opaque_Chatterbug*

          aa, mine goes the other way, the middle is raised up and it’s beveled down around the edges. I’ve tried a co-worker’s bumpy fatigue mat (before we were all sent home) but it was a bit too weird for me.

          I think mine’s a kitchen-style I got that fits perfect under my desk. I just push it back under when I don’t need it.

      2. Totalanon*

        Second the sit-stand desk. Only upgrade I’ve bothered with, so worthwhile. I got a ~$250 one from Walmart. It’s manual to raise (as opposed to mechanized/motorized), but that is fine with me.

      3. Clisby*

        My husband has this, and loves it (also has the risers for monitors). He also would co-sign “get a real office chair.”

    5. Lizzie*

      Mine aren’t much as I don’t have space I can dedicate to an actual office, and work from my dining room table, but I got a larger, ergonomic keyboard, a laptop stand so it kind of sits like a desktop, and a full size monitor. I also got a mesh metal double drawer stand to put my monitor on. its not the best, but it works well enough for me as moving isn’t an option.

    6. cubone*

      my office is switching to permanent remote so I kinda went all out, but a motorized sit/stand desk was super worth it in my opinion. If that’s too much for you, proper monitor/computer risers, or a sit/stand coverter (the kind that go one top of an existing desk).

      Quality chair was also key. I got the Secret Lab chair (which is a gamer one, but it’s black and pretty simple and my gosh, it is incredible and was so worth it)

    7. AnonEMoose*

      I got two 27-inch monitors fairly inexpensively at Costco, plus a pair of very adjustable monitor mounts that make it easy to move the monitors exactly where I want them.

    8. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      A keyboard with physical (mechanical?) switches that’s split in two pieces (a cord connects them).

    9. Three Seagrass*

      I redid my entire work from home setup when my work announced we are going hybrid permanently. I bought a used desk (actually a workbench) that can go up and down, a laptop stand, an arm for my new ultrawide monitor so I can move it around and it isn’t sitting on my desk, and made a keyboard tray. There are no cords in sight (I wrapped them all up and stored them in a basket under the desk) and I can use the top of my desk for note taking, rather than having a keyboard take up all the room. It is dreamy.

    10. a tester, not a developer*

      An old fashioned corkboard that I covered with fancy patterned cardstock. It can be swapped out if I feel like a change. I’m left handed so whiteboards are just a fancy way to cover myself in markers.

    11. TooManyCooks*

      A good desk chair. Like for real, a good chair. I bought a used Herman Miller Aeron chair on craigslist for about $350. A new one sells for $1k. Best investment I ever made.

    12. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      37″ monitor. If I’ve got to experience the world through a screen, it might as well be an AWESOME screen.

    13. Ama*

      Honestly one of the best adjustments I made was rearranging my space so I have a designated place in my closet to put away all of my workstation items (laptop/keyboard/mouse/paper notebook) in my closet when I am not working. Since I work in a tiny room that also serves as my crafting/sewing space and my wardrobe, it was stressing me out that on weekends/days off I couldn’t even get dressed without seeing my work stuff — and if I wanted to get out my sewing machine I had to pile everything onto the floor and then move it back when I was done. Having a place where I can put the work stuff where I don’t have to look at it but that only takes me about five minutes to get back out on Monday morning/first day after vacation has really helped me put a clearer line between work and nonwork.

      1. Totalanon*

        I went a step further and arranged my closet so I could work in it as a separate workspace. I feel like a pleb working in my closet compared to my coworkers with lovely WFH backgrounds, but I just use a fake background.

      2. Lizzie*

        I actually do this as well. While my “spot” isn’t out of sight, its off my dining room table, and on a small chest that’s at the end of the table, right under my window. that to me says i’m done with work, and while I can still see it, its not as visible as when its covering most of my DR table. I put it back Sunday nights right before I go to bed, and its wokred well for me.

    14. TechWriter*

      Second monitor and laptop stand. The second monitor has always been necessary, but the laptop stand brings the laptop screen up to a comfortable viewing height and also makes it a bit more seamless to extend the desktop to use two programs side by side. If you’re working from a desktop, just a second monitor in general!

      ‘Docking station’ AKA USB hub that plugs as many of your peripherals in as possible. A must with two of us working from home. We switch who gets the “good” office weekly (the one with more windows and plants; both have an external montior and good chair!)

      Also a really good chair, if you don’t have one already.

    15. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      A heated electric throw blanket to wrap around the non-zoom visible bits of ne when it was cold, or I had cramps, or when I needed a cuddle. Best pandemic purchase, hands down.

    16. Let me be dark and twisty*

      Desk edge protector! It’s 18 inches of padded rubber that I stuck on the edge of my desk. It keeps the desk’s sharp edges from digging into my arms and causing strain in my wrists and hands while working on my computer. It’s a little ergonomic and has been really helpful. (I have an Ikea desk/table so the edges are pretty severe. Bought the desk edge protector from Amazon. Both are in black so it kinda blends together from a distance.)

      I also liberated an old ottoman from my parents’ garage sale pile that I use as a footrest under my desk.

      1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        Cosign the ottoman! I finally pulled the one from the living room that was just in the way unused (because of the way we have it laid out) and put it under the desk, now I can put my feet up and lean back further in my chair.

    17. Delta Delta*

      I bought a very nice desk. Mr. Delta also has been WFH and bought himself one (similar but different) as well.

      I’m also a huge fan of my AirPods, which aren’t necessarily an ‘upgrade’ per se, but I was able to get them as part of a WFH upgrade grant and they’ve become my new best friends.

    18. Student*

      Room divider screen. Helps cut my office area from my apartment, since I don’t have the space to dedicate a whole room to work-from-home. Also provides a good backdrop for video calls.

      1. Birdie*

        Yes, I got a bookshelf that I use to divvy my work corner off from the rest of the living room! It’s backless and a stair-step style (so not quite as wide up top), which keeps it from feeling too cramped and lets the light from the windows reach the whole room. But it’s enough that I can’t see my work space out of the corner of my eye when I’m sitting on or standing by the couch, or vice versa, and that really makes a huge difference for me, mentally. Before I got the shelf, I basically gave up using the living room for anything leisure-oriented and spent any non-work time in the bedroom or kitchen. It’s definitely been the best addition to my WFH space.

      2. Might Be Spam*

        I bought a room divider too. It’s two vertical tension poles with a crossbar. I’ve been hanging holiday tablecloths like curtains.

    19. Cute Li'l UFO*

      I bought a secondhand barely used Aeron chair in 2019 for $300 after a lot of stalking on Craigslist and earlier this year I bought a nicer desk that’s vintage from FB Marketplace. It has drawers and it’s a much more reasonable size.

      I also bought some color-changing LED strip lights from IKEA because more lights = more fun. I worked from home on and off for 7 years but in the last year I’ve really made my desk a work-centric space.

    20. Xenia*

      Multiple monitors! I got a decent 27” at Costco to supplement the one my work supplies me with and wow, what an absolute game changer. No more flipping between 5 different apps on my laptop screen

    21. MissDisplaced*

      When our trip got cancelled in March 2020, and it looked like this was going to be around for a while, I took the money and redid our home office. I bought 2 big L-shaped corner desks, 2 rolling drawer units, a new rug and pull down shades, and a big office lateral file cabinet I lucked out on and got used for $40. I had some nice chairs “rescued” from a former job, but if you don’t have a good chair it’s worth spending the money on one. In all, I spent perhaps $1200.

      The big L desks made a HUGE difference in my WFH quality. Previously, I had an antique teacher’s desk for my Mac+ a cheap side table I used for my work computer/monitor. It was the wrong height, so it was killing my back! If you work on multiple monitors it’s a must. I love being able to turn to each easily. If I had room though, I would also add a standing desk, but alas my office is too small.

    22. Fernie*

      Houseplants. I never had them in my office cubicle because I had no natural light. The fact that I am with them every day means it’s much easier to keep them alive and healthy.

    23. Retired(but not really)*

      Had the option to upgrade internet to fiber optic instead of my phone’s hotspot. Actually decreased my overall cost as well as dramatically increased WiFi capability.
      Other best thing is a truly comfortable chair that adjusts properly to fit my long legs and tweaky back.

  4. curly sue*

    CV length for higher ed administration?

    I had a number of different non-academic jobs in my life before going back to school, had regular adjunct positions since, but now I’m applying for a position on the admin side (grant administration). I’ve got a reasonable cover letter worked up, but the CV is throwing me off. I know that academic CVs and non-academic ones are different, but is the rule still two pages max for non-academic resumes? Is that the same for admin positions in higher ed?

    I was so pleased when I finally had enough conferences and publications on my academic cv as a fairly recent grad to get it to a respectable five pages, and the two-page ‘professional highlights’ version just looks so inadequate by comparison!

    1. Wordnerd*

      I work in the Learning Support/Retention areas in higher ed – so not grant admin but also not academic, and I would say you do want to swing back to shorter. Folks with really long academic CVs stand out as just being not what the rest of the applicants are submitting. Plus I would also say that the other folks working in grant administration are less likely to have come from teaching and might not really understand what academic CVs look like.
      If the info is online, you could look at the backgrounds of the people who already work in grant admin at this university (or maybe nearby universities if the info is hard to come by) and feel out if they’re all previous academics or not.
      Good luck!

      1. curly sue*

        Thank you! There isn’t a lot of information about backgrounds available but I can see that most of the upper-level staff have PhDs. including the person currently holding the posted position. So that’s encouraging!

        I took all my academic work off the CV when shortening it, under the assumption that they really wouldn’t be interested in my publications or ‘invited talks’ lists. Should I make some reference to those, do you think, or will they ask if they’re interested?

        1. fueled by coffee*

          When I’ve applied to academic-adjacent non-academic jobs, I’ve either listed an abbreviated list of “selected publications” or tried to mention it elsewhere in the resume (I usually list a general ‘Doctoral researcher’ or whatever position and add a line saying “published X number of peer reviewed papers and presented at Y conferences,” without specifying all the details, since it’s not really relevant.

          For grants admin, I could see maybe including this when talking about grants that you’ve received? Something like “Secured research funding from Grant Organization which resulted in a publication in the Journal of Llama Wrangling” or whatever.

        2. Wordnerd*

          Definitely agree with Lisa B – refer to it in cover letters in a way that shows how it strengthens your candidacy for this job, and highlight the most outstanding accomplishments on the resume.

          We have folks in our assessment and retention departments with PhDs but who didn’t spend much time in the classroom or the conference/publications arena.

        3. Nesprin*

          Am an academic, but when I shorten I do this:

          Selected publications (from ###, full list on googlescholar)
          Pub 1
          Pub2

      2. Birdie*

        I agree. I work in higher ed administration (specifically academic affairs), and I prefer candidates for non-academic positions to submit a more standard resume over an academic CV. As documents, they have a different purpose and focus, and I generally find a CV less useful for these kinds of jobs. My recommendation would be a two page resume, but do reference the additional aspects of your career, perhaps in the cover letter. If you have your full CV online, you might also include a link with your contact information so someone can seek it out if they are particularly interested in the academic extras.

        That said…is this grant administration related to your particular field of study or a more centralized office? If the former, do a lot of the current employees in that office have directly relevant PhDs? If so, they might be more interested in seeing the details of your academic pedigree, but a shorter resume + linking the full CV would probably still cover your bases.

    2. Lisa B*

      Higher ed administration here! For a non-academic position I would keep to the 2 pages. In your case I would highlight in your cover letter that your extensive experience on the academic side with publications and conference presentations makes you appreciate what faculty and researchers go through and how that will help you make their role as painless as possible. You could pull in just a few to your resume that were particularly noteworthy, esp if they won an award or were a top selection by your peers, and make a note that a complete listing of your conferences and publications is available upon request. If you put too many I would wonder if you really understood the admin side of the house.

    3. Tequila & Oxford Commas*

      Higher ed adminstration here too, but on the non-academic side of the operation — I’d expect a resume (not a CV, which is how you can tell I’m not an academic!) to be no more than two pages. I’ve been in the field for almost 20 years and when I changed schools last year, my resume was one page, single-sided.

    4. Abax*

      Hiring manager in a university central grants office. We don’t care how many pages your resume is, although 5 pages would be way too much. What we care about is your experience and skills in shepherding a grant through the application and award processes. I would bullet point that at the top of the resume. I will say that we sometimes get applications from investigators whose funding has dried up, and their experience as an investigator isn’t always applicable to the actual grants admin processes.

      1. curly sue*

        This is all great information – thank you! It’s tricky because there are so many people jumping off the adjunct treadmill these days, but I really don’t want to give the impression that this is some kind of second-choice option. I’m not chasing TT lines, even if they start becoming more available.

    5. CCC*

      Also in higher ed. Are they asking for a resume or a CV? If they want a resume that’s what you should give them, and I’d say any more than 2 pages is overkill.
      When we have an opening, we always get adjuncts applying. We always ask for a resume, never a CV. It’s not helpful for us to read through all the publications, conferences attended, etc. Usually anyone who turned in a CV gets cut right away; it just feels like they couldn’t follow the directions, take the time to research resumes vs. CVs, or take the time to think about what is useful/relevant. Turning in an academic CV for a nonacademic role kind of says “I’d rather be full-time faculty but that’s not working, so now I’m applying to staff jobs.”
      (Note: this is US based advice, I think resume/CV are more interchangeable in some countries)

      1. curly sue*

        It actually asks for both, in a way: “Résumé / Curriculum Vitae (CV)” It’s a bit more interchangeable up here, and I believe the ‘tell me about your work history’ document is always called a CV in Quebec, whatever the format. Because it’s admin, I’m assuming the usual definition of non-academic resume.

        1. CCC*

          I’d go with something more non-academic than academic in that case, but sections that you typically see in a CV and not often in resumes like publication history and speaking engagements would be okay to include if they are relevant. I do think there’s good hybrid ideas out there– like listing publications CV style, and bulleting out specific accomplishments beneath the publications resume style. It’s likely that whatever the topic of the paper was isn’t important for this job, but how you got the funding, what the reporting requirements were, etc. probably are.

          1. curly sue*

            That makes sense – thank you! I’ve got a little bit of space to include a couple of grant-supported things, and then use LisaB’s suggestion to add a line about making my full list available on request.

    6. Lemon Zinger*

      I work in university admissions. It should be a resume, not a CV. No more than two pages, please! (This is just my experience in this particular functional area)

    7. Eukomos*

      You want a normal two-page resume for higher ed staff jobs. Remember resumes are different, it’s not a comprehensive reference document like a CV, it’s a quick summary to explain why your background is a good match for the job.

      1. Bon voyage*

        Just seconding this as someone who recently was in a similar position to the LW! About a fifth of my 2-page resume was about my research, and only as it related to the direct responsibilities of the job. My cover letter emphasized why I wanted the job and how my professional experiences–especially non-CV-worthy work!–directly applied to the role. (A pet peeve of mine is academics who think that their narrow research experiences automatically qualify them for “alt ac” jobs of all stripe, so if you have direct professional experience to draw on, make sure to include it!)

  5. General Organa*

    I applied and am a finalist for a job with a posted salary range that was listed as “New York, DC, or remote.” I’m located in a large city that is neither of those, and they just told me months into the process that if I want to stay remote, the salary will be lower than the range due to cost of living. It doesn’t sound like they had a pre-existing system for this, which would have been annoying but fine, but are working it out on the fly. Does anyone have any ideas on how best to negotiate? I think I will still take the job if they offer me near the bottom of the posted range, but probably not below it, and I’m now feeling a little sour on the process. Thanks!

    1. Reba*

      It is annoying that this is coming up later in the process, but it’s a really common and pretty reasonable policy so I don’t think you should let this alone sour you on the company! (If this is just one more flag about processes that aren’t thought out, or how they treat employees, that might be a different matter.)

      I would say, do your own research on the cost of living in your city, compared to NYC/DC, and ask them to tell you how they are calculating COL differences. I also think it would be fine to say, in the course of that convo, “I understand cost of living adjustments to the pay range, but I want to be candid with you that I would not be excited about this role if it came in below the posted range.”

      Good luck!

    2. Ann Perkins*

      I think we’ll see more and more companies that hire remotely factor in cost of living. It doesn’t make sense to pay NY salary to someone who lives in Kansas. In addition to what Reba said, I would also ask if there’s a system in place to factor in adjustments if you were to ever relocate to a different city.

      1. Lizzie*

        I think you’re right. My company, whose HQ where I work, is in a higher COL area already has a salary differential for our office vs. the few others we have in different, much lower COL states.

      2. Aquawoman*

        I agree it makes sense not to pay someone in Topeka DC rates, but it also doesn’t make sense to pay someone in Boston the same rate as someone in Topeka.

      3. New Mom*

        I’m curious about that though, what if the applicant is living in a higher COL area or similar? I wonder if the companies will still try to pay lower if the person is not in their general area.

        For example, job is based in DC but the applicants are from NYC or SF.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Basically, they’re paying a premium for in person presence (full or part time) in high COL areas. If the position is fully remote, the don’t pay the premium. From the employer’s perspective, the fact that the prospective employee has chosen to live in SF or NYC isn’t their issue – with a fully remote job, they could, theoretically, live wherever they wanted.

          It sucks for people who are already in high COL areas, who aren’t able to easily relocate, but it’s the inverse of the previous problem. In the past, big cities produced a lot more and better career opportunities in some fields (finance, tech, government, for example), and people who weren’t in a position to relocate were locked out. Now those people have a much better chance at the jobs.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            Honestly, I would feel more comfortable with this if they left the whole COL thing out of it and just said openly, “We feel that people who work in person in the office provide more value than those who work remotely, so we pay them more. We’re still happy to hire remote employees because they do plenty to make us enthusiastic about having them, but in-person staff offers a little extra, so we compensate them a little extra.” Pay should be about what value you provide to the company; where you live has nothing to do with it. But I can understand if people who do the little things that come from being at the office but nobody thinks about until they happen, from informally mentoring the new employee fresh out of college to opening the mail, get paid more than people who do their official jobs but nothing else.

    3. Aquawoman*

      I’d suggest looking up your area’s cost of living versus DC and NY and “rest of the country” (the fed government has locality pay for basically every part of the country, so you could check that). You may be able to convert DC-pay to your-city pay and ask for that.

      1. Grits McGee*

        Yes, the GS pay scales are super helpful for this- I think the OPM website includes the percentage higher each locality is from the base pay.

    4. Hawkeye is in the details*

      I disagree with the above commenters. The only reason it should pay less is if being remote causes you to not be able to do some duties that can only be done on-site, like go into the office once a month or so.

      The value of the work you do for the company does not change based on where you live, if your duties would be the same as someone living in NY. After all, if you base it on things like that, then people with dependents and bigger mortgages/rent should get paid more, even within one city. Also, if your landlord raises your rent, can you submit your new lease to your bosses for a raise?

      I don’t think this argument will sway many companies, but it should.

      I would ask if not being in one of those cities causes a reduction in responsibilities, and if they reply it does not, gently say something along the lines of, “I believe salary should be based on value brought to the company, not my personal costs, such as rent.” And then stop talking and see what they say.

      1. cmcinnyc*

        I get your point, but if I was told “we won’t pay you a NY salary because we believe the work is the work” I would end my candidacy. Because I live in NY and getting that $ is essential. So this basically argues for what amounts to a big pay boost for everyone in Topeka and scrape-by pay rate in NYC. If I was hiring I’d expect my Topeka-person-making-NY-bank to be an absolute rock star. As in: life isn’t fair.

      2. Purple Cat*

        I agree with this “in theory” HOWEVER, cost of living is a real thing, and market rates are a real thing. The real-life experiment we’re living in, is will enough employees move OUT of the current high COL areas to bring down the rent and start evening out COL around the country. The drawback to that is that “cheap” places to live now become more expensive and that will hurt employees who have to stick with local companies and can’t leverage a higher pay that remote-based company might offer.

      3. Ann Perkins*

        The value by dollar amounts is different though as it relates to candidates in different cities, since the value of a dollar is literally different by location. A job can still be, let’s say an 8/10 on the difficult to find candidate and seniority scale, but what 8/10 translates to in dollars is different across the country.

      4. _wirving_*

        There should be equity in pay (equal value for equal work), but the value of a dollar is unequivocally different in Topeka vs. NYC. Companies should strike a balance by paying comparable, but not necessarily equal, wages, so everyone gets the same value for their salary.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      If they were planning to pay a NYC city for an NYC worker.. I get it.
      I think you have to do the research on what this role pays in YOUR city and go from there. Who knows, their offer might still be higher than similar roles in your area despite the lower expectations for NYC or DC.

      It’s funny though, I have never noticed that DC based companies actually paid any higher salaries than say Philly or Boston or Baltimore. The two cities you most notice this with is San Francisco and NYC. I can attest that Los Angeles salaries were crap when I lived there.

  6. The Limit Does Not Exist*

    Yesterday I was filling out a job application and it had a required question for “maximum salary requirement” (in addition to minimum salary requirement) and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with that. What’s the point of asking that? I put the largest amount (this is an executive-level position requiring a lot of experience), but… are there really people who would say no to more money than they asked for? “Oh no, I couldn’t possibly!”

    1. Yorick*

      It’s silly if you think of it as a maximum they’d take the job for. But if you think of it as the top of the range they’re looking for now, it does make more sense.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Agreed. As I’ve designed mini-databases, I could see myself designing one with that phrasing and not realizing that’s terrible phrasing in this context.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        RightO: I think it is just the system form has no way to accommodate a “range” thus the Min and Max.

    2. Lady Lynn Waterton of Bellashire*

      What the heck?! Can you put in $0 or X or something like that? So weird. This is a lose-lose for you and I honestly think that’s a red flag.

      1. The Limit Does Not Exist*

        No it was a drop-down menu… My minimum is fairly high so it wasn’t TOO outrageous, but it was still pretty ridiculous. They are trying to recruit me so we will see what happens.

      1. RobotBee*

        I put in the number 10. What does it mean? I don’t know, but I hope it suggests We can discuss it later. For reference I’m more motivated by the work and culture than the salary. It varies greatly in engineering since work weeks can be 40- 80 hours.

    3. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

      “I will take this job for $257,534.26 and not a penny more, do you hear me??” *shakes fist*

    4. Purple Cat*

      This just makes absolutely no sense. No employee has a maximum they’re willing to work for.

      How high did the drop-down go??

      1. The Limit Does Not Exist*

        The highest level was “over $300,ooo”. My minimum is already in the six figures but not that high. I selected it anyway – if they want to pay me over $300k, I’ll take it!

    5. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      are there really people who would say no to more money than they asked for? “Oh no, I couldn’t possibly!”

      I’ve walked away from recruitment where the salary has been beyond my skills. An employment situation has to be win/win to be stable; I have to be bringing more value to the table than I’m being paid. If I’m being paid more than that, I become attractive ballast to cut if things get tight or even if I make a small mistake. It’s a bad position to be in if the employment offer is based on an implausibly quick growing into the role.

      It’s rare and my being crazy is a running joke, so YMMV.

      1. Product Person*

        And that’s a good consideration. The minute a layoff happened in my previous employer, the director, product management making $195K a year doing similar work of a peer with a more compatible salary of $158K was the first to be let go…

  7. Scoffrio*

    I’m really struggling with how to word my discontent to my boss. I’ve been working there six months and he’s walked back a bunch of the promises that were made when he hired me — I stressed how important having a team member was and he assured me that there was someone else on my team and then promptly fired them and only told me when I showed up for my first day, told me I could work from home one day a week and then took it away after three months, told me my job would be supervising but won’t relegate any authority to me for me to do so (and fired the team member I would have been supervising). I’m obviously considering leaving the job but would like to give him an opportunity to realize what he’s been doing just in case it’s not really in bad faith (though I think it is at this point). Any advice on how to phrase things? Every time I try it comes out…angry.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I think practicing saying it out loud a few (dozen) times might help you say it more dispassionately, but it’s also totally legit to be frustrated by this! “Boss, I’m frustrated by how things are going. You told me I’d have a team member, but you let Philomena go, which means I can’t get the butterfly report done on time and have nobody to cross-check my work; you told me I could work from home and then changed your mind… can you tell me what’s going on?”

      That said, as I’m writing this out I’m thinking your boss might just suck and isn’t going to change, so you have to decide if it’s even worth raising.

      1. Scoffrio*

        Thanks for the validation, I didn’t realize that that’s what I was looking for a little, and it really helped to see you write that I’m not crazy for being super frustrated and wanting to quit over this.

    2. 867-5309*

      Before saying anything, given it seems like he has very recently fired two other people, make sure this will not put your job at risk. It might not be worth it.

      If you decide to have the conversation, you could approach it as a 6-month conversation. “Thanks for having a six-month check-in with me. I wanted to talk with you about a few things we discussed prior to my starting that seem to have changed and see if you have specific feedback for me. Originally, my role was going to be part of a bigger team and have supervisory responsibilities, along with being able to work from home one day a week. Those things seem to have changed and I was hoping to get some insight into what to expect going-forward?”

      1. Scoffrio*

        They were the same person, but yes, I am worried about that too. I have already started looking, and am experiencing a lot of burnout so have decided that I’d be okay if I did leave immediately (though being fired scares me), I would just take some time to recover from burnout and search for jobs. That isn’t my first plan of action though because this job pays me very well.

        Thanks so much for the language (both of you)!

      2. Mockingjay*

        If you do have the 6-month convo, suggest you pick just a few items to address with Boss. What top things do you really want/need to resolve? You’re more likely to get a positive response with one or two ‘reasonable’ requests than a laundry list.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Agreed. This sounds like it’s going to accelerate the deterioration rather than reverse course.

    3. I'm that guy*

      You should be applying for other jobs. Your boss lied to you a bunch and talking to him isn’t going to make it better. In fact, based on his willingness to fire people, talking to him may lead to your being fired as soon as he can find a replacement.

    4. cubone*

      “would like to give him an opportunity to realize what he’s been doing just in case it’s not really in bad faith.”

      Maybe I’m just cynical at this point, but so many times I have wanted to “give someone an opportunity tor realize what they’ve been doing” and you know… I think most people either already know what they’re doing, or don’t care (and sometimes both). I think 867 below has the best possible script, but do you have any evidence otherwise of this person taking available opportunities to change their behavior? I get that it’s good to give someone a chance to explain themselves (see the response to the letter about the employee “manual” today), but rarely have I ever seen that work in an upward direction at work (and if it does, it’s usually with the kind of boss who wouldn’t get themselves into this situation to begin with).

      Usually when I practice saying something and it only comes out angry (aka all my glassdoor review drafts for my last job), I can see that what I really want is retribution, acknowledgement, closure, etc… and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten it. I’d say you already have your answers and it’s time to move on.

    5. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      The alternative to the boss not operating in “bad faith” would be, I think, a boss who is ignorant and obtuse. Occasionally you need to walk back promises, but when you do, you should be transparent and treat it seriously (it’s not something you should do lightly).
      Trying to figure out if your boss is operating in bad faith or not is a red herring. Clearly, for whatever reason, your boss does not value you, nor is your boss is any way committed to being a decent manager.
      This is not a problem you can fix. Start searching!

    6. Anonymous Koala*

      nth-ing the advice to start searching…but if you do decide to have a conversation, I’d approach it as a general conversation where you gauge your boss’s overall happiness with your performance and your future at the org as well as voice your concerns about your boss’s flakiness. At my org, work from home is only taken away if people’s performance indicates that they are not capable of working from home, and that coupled with the dragging feet on supervisory responsibilities makes me worried that this is part of a larger concern on your boss’s part about your readiness for increased responsibility. Maybe I’m way off base, but I’d try and gauge how happy your boss is with your performance before you advocate to get those things, even though you were promised them and your boss should tell you directly if they have concerns about your work. And def start searching, there’s a lot of hiring right now and you might find a better fit somewhere else.

    7. Girasol*

      Could you remind Boss of the specific items that were promised, note that there obviously were some short term issues, but how soon would you be able to go back to the job as promised? You could take the attitude and tone of someone who thinks that of course they always meant to give you what they promised, and maybe not sound so angry.

    8. learnedthehardway*

      I’d be starting to look for a new role. I could understand firing someone and that just not being something the hiring manager could avoid, but it doesn’t sound like the person is being replaced, meaning YOU are the replacement (and the promise of a team to work with and someone to supervise was a lie). Also, unless you have real performance issues (which would perhaps require closer supervision), then it looks like he waited until you were embedded in the role and then took away a perk that was important to you. I would be concerned that any future promises from this manager – eg. about career growth, pay raises, etc. etc. – would simply be lies designed to keep you in the role.

      In your shoes, I’d start my job search, and take your time to find a great company and manager. Don’t rush or accept the first thing that comes along, but make sure to do your own due diligence. Then, make your move when you’re ready.

    9. Cold Fish*

      I see in the comments that the team mate & supervisee was to be the same person. Could you address that part of the conversation. Something like “Hey boss, it’s been 6 months since Philomena was let go. Is that position going to be filled any time soon? And if they are reporting to me, would it be possible for me to take the lead in the job search?”

      Take it one issue at a time. Save the entire “You know, you walked back a bunch of the promises that were made when I took the job. This position turned out to be much different that what I was led to believe.” conversation to the exit interview. Then if they are just oblivious they can work on it for the next hire.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        At my previous job, I was responsible for the lab tech, and I was NEVER part of the interviewing process. I was always just given one that management thought would be a good fit.

        They sent me to management classes, but I have the responsibility but not any authority. Like I couldn’t do anything about attendance.

        Eventually, I was let go by a new supervisor, but toward the foreseen end, she was trying to get me to get evidence to terminate one that she had encouraged to come to us. (after we bought their company)

    10. Purple Cat*

      Type out bullet points for yourself of the things you want to address. Read and re-read them to make sure they are “factual” and not “Feelings”.
      Then you can either send them to your boss and schedule a meeting to discuss. Or print the list to have it as a reference point in front of you. For me, having something to physically hold on to helps to manage my emotions during difficult discussions. It also gives you something to “look away” at.

      Good luck!

    11. Karlee*

      I like the 6 month check-in idea. You can also note that the position has changed since he originally hired you and you’re wondering if he has thought about how the position might evolve over the next year and whether or not he expects it to include a team, supervision, or remote work (or anything else you want, even if it wasn’t part of the original job). If you need to soften it, you can say that you’d like to be sure you’re focusing on your own professional development in a way that’s aligned with how he thinks the position might grow.

  8. Jellyman Kelly*

    I’m a (relatively) new manager and facing some insecurities both in terms of being a good manager and being a good employee to my manager. Definitely feeling some moments when I’m being pulled in different directions and thought it might be helpful to ask the commentariat…

    What are some skills/tips/tricks you wish you had known when you first started managing people?

    1. 867-5309*

      Take LinkedIn learning or other leadership training. Many people become managers due to their “technical” work capabilities but most organizations do very little in terms of training for leaders. It is a big miss. Look up things around situational leadership, be open to giving and receiving feedback, etc. I also think Alison has several articles you can read that would be helpful.

    2. Lisa B*

      So many REALLY uncomfortable conversations could have been avoided with one minorly uncomfortable conversation taking place early on.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      These are pretty basic:

      *Include a standing item in 1:1’s with my manager to discuss how things are going with my direct report(s). Not every time, but maybe once a month
      *Setup a handoff meeting (I hate that phrase) when a direct report transfers to a different manager
      *Have a priority list, so I am clear on what my manager needs, what my direct report(s) need, and where they are relative to one another in priority.

    4. I'm Going Down to the Library*

      The advice that has been most helpful to me is to give yourself time–time to learn the role and your team as a whole but also time in specific situations. As a new manager, I often felt pressured to have or know answers immediately, and that’s not what people necessarily expect! I make much better decisions (especially about stressful situations) by letting the person know I need time before answering or deciding. This can go for things with my direct reports and things as an employee for my own manager. The other thing seems basic, but true communication and transparency go such a long way. I always tell people that I err on the side of over-communicating, but 9 times of out of 10, I find that people are lacking context to decisions being made that directly affect them! Any context you’re able to share will go a long way with getting people on board for decisions and new things. Finally, if you’re worried about it at all–you’re probably already doing a great job! :-) We can all improve on things until forever, but if you’re seeking out advice and evaluating yourself and how things are going, I think that’s a great sign.

    5. Decidedly Me*

      – Don’t be afraid to ask your manager for help – I have learned so much from mine by asking for tips, tricks, and advice on different situations I’ve run into
      – Don’t forget that some things DO need to be escalated to your manager and if they step in on some things, it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong
      – Learn how your team likes to receives feedback – some need it/want it more frequently than you may think
      – Address issues in the moment
      – Be open to feedback and ideas

    6. cubone*

      I feel like i’ve said this in a few open threads and I just want to swear that I am not a paid shill! … but I regularly recommend the book Radical Candor by Kim Scott to new managers, as I think it gives some really practical tools and principles on how to give good feedback. Personally, it changed my mindset a lot and I have found that it’s always been a good recommendation when anyone says they’re worried about “being a good manager”.

      My other advice after years of management is just to know that people are grown ups, they can tell when you’re lying, and no one likes feeling manipulated (or gaslit). There will be times you have to communicate things that you disagree with, or are frustrated with someone else, or don’t have the answer. This DOESN’T mean you should say: “this decision is stupid/Jane is a jerk and holding up this project/I have no clue what to do and am panicked about it” and dump all your innermost thoughts and worries on your direct report. But don’t try to lie or convince people that what’s happening in front of them isn’t real.
      Some of the things I have said that my direct reports have told me they appreciate (or a boss has said to me, and I appreciated!) sounded like:
      “to be honest, this isn’t the decision I wanted the company to make, but I understand the reasons for it and I can see how it will improve XYZ.”
      “I can’t promise to know exactly how we should handle this, but I can promise to be transparent with you and I always want to hear what you’re struggling with, and what you need from me to keep going.”
      “I think we can both tell that the delays with this project are bottlenecked with another team. It’s okay to be frustrated, but I don’t want those frustrations to impact your professional relationships, so let’s figure out some ideas for how we can work around this” (and “I can promise that if this continues to affect our ability to deliver, I will raise it at a higher level”)

    7. AnonAnon*

      Sometimes your direct reports just need to vent or talk something through. Don’t always feel like you need to fix every problem. Instead, listen and at the right time ask if they would like you to take any action. Many times they just needed to get something off their chest.

    8. RosyGlasses*

      Some things you just learn on the job. I’ve felt that most of my first year last year as my first time managing a significant group of people – but I fall back on learning and reading and trying to implement what I see as the best practices.

      LifeLabs Learning has amazing a la carte classes (I recommend Effective Feedback, Productivity & Prioritization, Coaching, and Effective 1:1s as a core starting point). They are $250 each and 2 hours packed with actionable tools that you practice in small groups (virtual).

      I also have learned quite a bit from these books : Developing the Leader Within You (and the workbook) by John Maxwell, The First 90 Days, 5 Languages of Appreciation, The Coaching Habit, and Leadership & Self Deception.

      The biggest thing is mindshift in my opinion. When you are an individual contributor, you are used to success and productivity being based on what you complete and how well you do. When you move to manager, your success is how well you coach your team, support them in reaching company goals, help boost their engagement, and removing obstacles so they can get their work done. It takes time to *feel* like you are working and being effective.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      It really helped me to think more clearly on the fly if I kept in mind that my job is to serve. I serve the people and I serve the boss.

      This led me to questions such as, “how can I help this person/situation?” It’s really good to remember that we can’t always help a person or situation. Always remember that everyone, including yourself, has limits. There is a difference between serving and trying to be all things to all people. Do not do the latter.

      It takes longer to hand out fishing poles than it does to hand out fish. Hand out the fishing poles, anyway. Spend the time helping people to do their best and serve their full function at their jobs. You will end up with a happier group because they know what their jobs are and what is expected out of them.

  9. bassclefchick*

    Can anyone else in higher ed give me some tips for being successful on a search committee for an Associate Vice Chancellor? I’ve never hired before and feel like I’m in way over my head. I had no idea how to narrow down the candidates and feel like all the comments I’ve made so far have been really….unhelpful? Naïve? It may just be imposter syndrome, but I could use some help.

    1. LCH*

      how will the associate vice chancellor affect your dept and your position/work? I’d probably focus on questions related to that since there is a reason you were selected to be on the committee.

      1. bassclefchick*

        The Associate vice chancellor is about 5 levels above me. So, they’ll be more big picture and I’m more “boots on the ground”. I don’t get to ask specific questions of the candidates. We’ll be asking them all the same questions.

        1. Nesprin*

          Hmm if they’re 5 levels above you, that’s about equivalent to an undergrad on a usual faculty committee- so things like are they jerks to the little people? Are they only good when pointed up or do they work well both up and down the heirarchy? How do they handle talking strategy to someone who doesn’t do strategy?

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      “Associate Vice Chancellor” sounds like a really squishy title.

      Figure out what specifically this person is going to be doing, and then concentrate on this. If the role is mostly about faculty management and development, then ask questions about that. If the role is mostly about alumni fund-raising or corporate partnerships, then ask questions about those.

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        My guess is that this is an Associate Vice Chancellor for *something specific*. At least they should be. My institution has vice chancellors for research, student affairs, community education, administration … These all have extremely distinct roles: the first sets overall research development direction and talks a lot with governmental funders; the second oversees students’s academic, on-campus and discipline matters; the third is basically the chancellor of the community college; etc. Any Associate VC who would assist them also would be a specialist or at least credentialed in these various disciplines.

        I think that the angle that comes out in the comments is useful: The OP could clarify what they expect from their particular perspective, and they can focus on how they expect the candidates would interact with (and be able to work effectively / be respected by) the types of staff they have experience with.

    3. bassclefchick*

      I won’t be getting to ask questions during the interviews. All candidates will be asked the same set of questions. This position is higher up than I’ve ever (or will ever) be. I guess I just don’t know how someone at my level could possibly contribute anything helpful when I’ve never hired anyone at all, much less someone who will report directly to the Chancellor.

    4. OtterB*

      My not-for-profit in the higher ed space is currently hiring a new Executive Director. The hiring committee includes two staff members. Decision authority rests with the Board chair and there’s also a search firm involved. What they want from the staff on the committee is a view of how the new hire would affect the staff and what the staff wants to see. To the extent that you have ideas on what matters to the organization as a whole, fine, but especially contribute your view on the things that you think matter to people in your role/at your level that others on the committee might not think about.

      If the search committee chair is reasonably approachable, ask them how you can best contribute. There’s probably a reason you were put on the committee. It may be that “our policy is that someone in Role X participates in these committees” but the policy exists for a reason. Possibly a CYA reason, but also quite possibly a desire to have a broader view of the needs and the candidates than a more insular hiring group might have.

      1. bassclefchick*

        Yes! We have a Committee chair and a search firm. I did provide some insight that was helpful because I work closely with the tradespeople and they talk to me. So I hear about what THEY are unhappy with. And, I was here for the last person who had this position and he sucked. I’m sure he was fine with the Chancellor, but he sucked with the people he considered “lower” than him.

        1. Reba*

          Ok, these are really good reasons why you are on the committee! (aside from, somebody’s got to do this thankless task, let’s get bassclefchick on it :) ) So I would focus on those things you know that others don’t, rather than on “how to hire” or whatever. Continue to reflect on what perspective you have that people “higher up” or in different departments, reporting lines will not have. That’s what you have to offer, along with your general perceptions.

          Also, because of your comments about feeling like a lightweight in the meetings, I want to put out there that it may be the case that your voice/position does not carry as much weight or have as much impact on the decision as others, who may work with the person more closely or have more understanding/authority over the direction the institution is going in. That’s okay and makes sense! I’m not trying to say “stay in your lane,” but just that it doesn’t reflect on you AT ALL if other people are more experienced with hiring and have more command over strategic direction of the university, and if therefore their sense of priorities has greater influence on the process. Those people are on the committee for those reasons and you are on the committee because of the things you know about. Like, you don’t have to “perform” at the same “level” as these admins to be contributing!

          All that being said, if people are being snooty with you in the meetings, they suck.

      2. Countess of Upstairs Downstairs*

        OP: listen to OtterB’s advice. Find a way to ask the search comm chair, or an approachable committee member, or your boss. Since it’s your first time, and presumably the chair and other members know this too, they aren’t expecting you to contribute at the same level as the more experienced people.

        For now, don’t focus on being able to make helpful comments. Focus on the being present in the search process instead: 1) attend the committee meetings, 2) keep reviewing the CVs and interview questions/rubric, and 3). listen to other members comments and learn from them.

    5. tamarack and fireweed*

      Are you the search committee chair or a member?

      Anyhow, your institutions HR org may have a talent acquisition team that has tips/guidelines. I’d never heard of them, but on a completely different committee (not hiring, but to do with diversity/inclusion) we contacted them to get some input about something and were surprised to find quite a solid set of principles and resources.

      Also, you should have a rubric for evaluating candidates. You should be able to ask your fellow committee members to have a discussion to put together a preliminary list of qualities you’re looking for. Obviously everyone will have different perspectives (that’s GOOD) and some may even disagree (that’s NOT BAD either), but it’s going to make the committee more effective (that’s at least how you can sell it to them).

      You could also talk to a senior member of your own organization who you trust or a mentor (are you academic or staff or a student?) to give you some *confidential* input to inform your thinking. Be careful not to pick someone who’s cynical about the exercise.

  10. a small frog*

    I feel lost. I need to get out of my current job because management just isn’t functional but I feel like I just hit dead ends whenever i comb the boards. I’m just spinning my wheels in place with no further potential than perpetually leeching off my family.
    I’m so scared. I’m scared of what comes next, I’m scared of my own inability to do things, I’m scared to reach out to past mentors or colleagues because I don’t want them to know what a failure I’ve become.
    I’d kind of like to go back to grad school because i’m desperately searching for some familiarity and most of the jobs and internships in my field require either a grad degree or current enrollment in school. But I don’t know the first thing about choosing and applying to grad school programs, and where am I supposed to get the money from?

    1. Yorick*

      In some fields, you shouldn’t go to grad school unless they pay for it with scholarships or assistantships or something (or at least half). I’m in a social science and that’s definitely true, and a professor in the humanities gave me that advice too. Unless you KNOW you will get a specific job or a specific promotion if you have it, a Master’s that you paid for or took out loans for is probably going to be a waste.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      “I’m scared to reach out to past mentors or colleagues because I don’t want them to know what a failure I’ve become”

      YOU HAVE NOT BECOME A FAILURE.

      Your employer has failed, not you. Even if you take the attitude “well, I should have known this was going to happen” (which you shouldn’t!!!), everyone makes mistakes. And past mentors want you to do well, and want to help you overcome obstacles.

      Go hit your network.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Agreed!

        @a small frog, imagine if someone you had mentored or worked with contacted you in a similar situation. I’d guess you wouldn’t think, “Wow, why did you do that to yourself?” Rather I’m guessing you’d be thinking, “Hey, how can I help?”

        Give yourself some of the compassion you would give others in a similar situation.

        Also agree with others, avoid grad school unless you can get it paid for *and* you know that what you’ll do with the degree afterwards needs that degree.

      2. Sue*

        You sound like you’re really down on yourself right now. Is this only career related or has it seeped into your personal life as well? And how long have you been feeling this way? I just detect a bit of looking at school as an escape and please don’t do that. It’s too expensive and time consuming if it doesn’t lead to pretty direct benefits. Maybe career counseling would be helpful or just talking to someone for more generalized help. Many of us have been there! I hope you are able to sort it out.

      3. Chauncy Gardener*

        This a million times, OP!! It sounds like you’re just in the wrong job/culture for you to succeed in. You are SO not a failure! Please reach out to your network! Please reach out to supportive friends and family and try to take care of YOU as you navigate this transition. One day you will be posted in the Good News Fridays, I am sure of it!

      4. Your Local Password Resetter*

        All of this.
        And honestly? Even if they do think you’re a failure, that’s not actually a big problem.

        If you kept close contact with them, they probably already know you’re not doing well.
        If you mostly use them as professional contacts/references, then they would have to be terrible people to refuse to help you just because they’re dissappointed in your career.
        And if they do somehow cut contact with you or refuse to help, then you’re no worse off than if you never asked at all. Besides the pain of social rejection, which you’re already inflicting on yourself anyway.

    3. MamaSarah*

      Can you do a class or do workshop in your preferred area? What about a side gig like bartending or taking a crack at being a barista? Cash tips can create a nice sense of autonomy.
      Also…there is great line from an MC Yogi song “when you’re separate, that’s when you service”. I see the doubt and fear in your post. Those feelings are real and fair, but finding opportunities to be of service helps us shake it off.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      First thing: Know for sure about whether you NEED grad school for the jobs. It looks like in this case you do.
      I talk to a lot of career changers who talk themselves into needing schooling when really what they need is confidence in themselves and a new resume.

      Second thing: Find out what programs your colleagues attended and what programs are familiar to your potential employers. The last thing you want to do is get talked into an inappropriate program by a recruiter and promises on a website.
      Ask around within your network about the programs that people chose, and whether they are happy they made those choices.
      If you are too shy to ask, or don’t have contacts in the industry, you can look up people who have your target job on LinkedIn and check out their education/credential sections to see where people have gone. Peeping in on strangers you might never contact is a totally underrated research tool for all career exploration.
      If you get really brave, reach out to a couple of people about a program you’re considering and ask them how it was. (You could also ask the school for graduates to talk to, or you could reach out to instructors for brief questions.)
      And look closely at the job descriptions for your target jobs after school. Make sure the program you’re considering meets the education requirements for the places you’re hoping to work for.

      Third thing: Look HARD at the descriptions of costs, and then talk to the financial aid office at the school. Go ahead and fill out the FAFSA to see what sort of grants/loans you qualify for. If you are working and making ok money, you might not get a lot as a grant, but could qualify for loans. Avoid taking loans for living expenses. (Folks who are NOT working, and thus have bigger incomes on their relevant tax returns than they’re currently getting should click the YES box for where it asks if you’re a dislocated worker. That helps the financial aid people adjust their expectations about what you’ll have available to you to pay out of pocket.) There may also be grants/scholarships that the school knows about — e.g., a local scholarship for students in a program that are in a particular category, like first generation scholars, etc.
      Also, if employers in your field are open to people who are currently enrolled in a relevant program, they may have tuition reimbursement benefits. Ask at your current employer if they’ll help with tuition. If they don’t, and you can’t bear to stay, then focus your “for now” job search on employers that do have generous tuition reimbursement, whether or not you’d stay with them until the end of time.
      Also, ask if your field qualifies for any loan forgiveness programs and make sure that you pay attention to any requirements/timelines about how that can happen.

      Fourth thing: Consider whether a PT program while working is doable for you, or whether you’ll have to go to school FT. Some graduate programs expect students to have FT jobs and have most or all of their classes in the evenings. Some expect students to be attending school full time during the day. Look at the current class schedule to see when/where classes are offered for the program you want to attend.

      Fifth thing: Start cutting expenses NOW and saving up. The act of budgeting will remind you every day of your next new goal. Imagine every purchase that you skip as an investment in your awesome new future. It will take some time to research and apply and get started at school. How much of your costs can you save up in the meantime?

    5. Turd Furd*

      I totally can relate to how you’re feeling. I realized earlier this year after over 6 years that it’s time to move on. I’ve been fearful, worried, anxious, stressed, etc. If I can offer you some encouragement… you are strong, capable and you WILL find something good! It can take months to a year to find a good next step. It’s an endurance trial. Take small steps, one foot in front of the other. Find someone(s) who can support and encourage you each time you feel down. Look back at how far you’ve come!

      Some steps I’ve been taking that is helping me overcome my fears:
      – I set up zoom chats with two of my old directors. I asked about their career trajectories and shared some of how I’m feeling in my current role. The meetings were very encouraging, and one of them asked me to come join her team. I’m meeting with her again today to talk more about the role! It’s not set in stone but it feels good to know it’s a possibility.
      – I researched how to optimize my linkedin, resume, and portfolio, and spent countless hours working on it. It’s not necessarily fun, but I’ve seen an uptick in response from potential employers. Have someone you trust check out your materials and give you feedback. It will only make you stronger!
      – I’ve gotten strategic with my job searching. That meant becoming aware of what it is I’m actually looking for, and not allowing myself to settle for less than ideal situations.

      I believe in you!! You got this!

    6. mreasy*

      Hi! It sounds like you’re really spiraling about this, which I understand. You definitely aren’t a failure, and you have enough skills to keep your current job, which means you could get a job elsewhere. Past mentors and colleagues will NOT look at you as a failure! I say that as a past mentor and supervisors to folks who range from unemployed to beyond me in their careers. If it’s someone you got along with, it’s likely they’ll be happy to help. Maybe expanding your search a bit will help with those “dead ends” – do you have a friend or a relative you trust that you could think out loud with about other roles that could use your skills that you would be interested in? Even if not directly in your field, you could expand complementary skill sets and gain experience for future, more senior opportunities. You are by no means a failure! The world is a difficult place, especially now, and you are doing your best. You will find something that works. We’re here for you!

      1. Mimi*

        This!

        Think through your network for people who, if they messaged you saying, “I just got laid off and I have no idea what I’m doing next,” your reaction would be, “That’s awful, but it’s really nice to hear from you!” Those are the people who are most likely to be equally happy to hear from YOU, no matter what your career is doing. Reach out to them! You don’t have to tell them how much you hate your current job, you can just say that you’re looking for a change and interested in XYZ, do they have any ideas of where you should look?

        If you aren’t sure what XYZ you’re interested in, think about things you’ve liked in jobs you’ve had. What was satisfying? If there’s someone you know who’s good at helping you figure stuff out, or is even just a good listener, it’s probably worthwhile to talk to them about what you want in a job/to be doing.

        You aren’t a failure. You’ll get through this. I believe that you will be emailing Alison your Friday Good News someday.

    7. Diatryma*

      You have not failed.

      When I was in your position, I tried so hard to make a story out of it. There had to be a narrative, right? But there wasn’t. Sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes it’s just That Really Sucky Time in your life story, and you can’t find a reason or someone to blame. That’s okay. You have not failed.

      Jobsearching makes you hate yourself. That’s a known side effect. As long as you are jobsearching (and possibly as long as you’re in a dysfunctional job) you should not trust your self-evaluation. You feel bad and like you’re a failure, but that doesn’t mean you are bad or a failure, just that you’re jobsearching. You have not failed. You will be okay.

      You have not failed. You are not a failure.

    8. tamarack and fireweed*

      I could have written a similar letter ~15 years ago. I was stuck and in a financially unsustainable situation, and obsessed about not daring to ask anyone for help or advice, because they must think of me as a failure.

      In retrospect, this was a huge and painful waste of emotional energy. Please, please: try to get away from this mindset as fast as you can, as it’s not constructive and almost certainly a way darker picture than the reality of your situation warrants. And you are absolutely certainly more scared than you should be, and it’s not doing you any good.

      There are some good pieces of advice in the comments already. I’d second the idea that if you *do* decide to go the grad school route, make it conditional on having the financial side hammered out – and depending on the field, absolutely only do it if you get some form of grad assistant support. In addition, what comes to mind:

      – Are you first generation to go to college in your family? I’m asking because you say that you feel unsure about how to go about grad school. There’s recently been a rise in resources that target people who are new to the whole academic pathfinding thing. You could call up / email 2-3 universities in your area that have master’s programs that might theoretically fit, introduce yourself, say what professional field you’re in and that you are considering grad school. Then ask if they have any first-gen resources/advisers that might help. (Or look on their web site. Often people from departments don’t even know about these resources for prospective students.)
      – Whether you seek formal or informal further qualification, it is *really* common to do this while being employed. Can you talk with anyone in your field who’s doing what you’d like to do and figure out how they got there?
      – Professional organizations – again how useful they are really depends on the field. But if you see paid (!!) internships that people are getting into to get a foot into the kind of career you’d like to have, it might be worth checking them out. Do they have career / networking / early career sections on their website? Maybe a mentorship program?
      – The way I got out of my own personal funk. I put my dreams on hold for a while, because they were clearly not happening, and I felt they were slipping away. Instead, I clarified for myself a) what kind of company I wanted to work for (not picky – just a recognizable real company in roughly the industry I thought I’d have a chance in – not a staffing company/subcontractor though) and b) what skills I could put forward *right now*, including any extras I could offer (rebranding circuitous paths as “special skills”). The company I ended up with for a few years had a crappy product, and management of varying quality (at least an excellent local managing director, though) and required me to work in a mediocre place for a while. But I got my personal finances on track, and started to learn additional skills that went right back on my CV, and I could bootstrap from there into a sustainable career.

      Don’t give up!

      PS: If you have the means, it would likely help to talk with a therapist. I didn’t, but wish I had.

  11. Neon Dreams*

    Has anyone had experience finding work on Flexjobs? I paid for a year’s subscription at half price and some of the jobs look really promising. Was curious if anyone else had used the site. It looks reputable, having be featured in many media outlets.

    1. DivineMissL*

      I used it to find a part-time job for nights and/or weekends. It was a little difficult because most of the jobs were full-time, it was hard to pull out just the PT ones, and even most of the PT ones wanted work hours during the day. But I found them to be reputable and reliable. They show the name of the companies, so I guess theoretically you could apply directly through the corporate website rather than through Flexjobs.

      That being said, I thought their search function was a little confusing and not user-friendly, but this was a few years ago; it’s possible they have improved it since. Overall, I’d say they are a good value for the price, especially if you got it at a discount rate.

    2. voluptuousfire*

      It’s pretty good but I didn’t see many jobs there that I didn’t see on other mainstream boards/other remote job websites. IMO, it’s worth it if you pay the discounted price, not the full price.

    3. MisgenderedAndSickOfIt*

      I didn’t personally have great luck with it, but I didn’t spend a ton of time there. However, they have a lot of great job postings, and I think if someone was doing a more targeted search it would be a good investment.

    4. anonymous73*

      I signed up for 3 months and I wasn’t a fan. Very few jobs I found (for my profession) were not full time remote and I rarely found anything locally. Or they advertised as full time remote, but when you opened the description and read the whole thing, it was only remote until COVID restrictions were lifted. I felt it was a waste of time.

      1. voluptuousfire*

        They did update that! They have an option for “remote for the pandemic” as one of the remote options.

    5. Spice for this*

      I am looking for part time remote work and signed up for a year’s subscription a couple of months ago (during a 50% off special price) based on recommendations from my friend who has found contract type jobs on Flexjobs.
      I do like the emails, reminders, new job notifications, etc.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      I did purchase and use FlexJobs for 3 moths during my last serious job search. I never got any super great or unique job leads from it, but I did take advantage of a resume service for $99 that surprisingly was well worth it (I asked them to revise/write it for stretch jobs).

      I did notice some of the job were focused on those who have disabilities and/or need to WFH, so it might be worth it depending on what you’re looking for.

  12. The Other Dawn*

    Does anyone have recommendations for books on learning SQL? I’m currently learning Crystal Reports and part of that is understanding SQL and databases. My company assigned some training videos, which was fine for Crystal; however, I think I’d do better with books or just something I can read in general when it comes to SQL. (Yes, I can Google, but I’m hoping someone can point me to something specific and of decent quality.)

    1. Forkeater*

      I have a book on my shelf called “Teach yourself SQL in ten minutes” which is actually pretty good. I used SQL with Tableau, I really don’t know much but I learned enough to really help my dashboards work more efficiently.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yep, I’d recommend watching video tutorials and there are some sites that have practice SQL databases. It’s something that you have to practice along with rather than read about. It’s like learning to play an instrument, some code you have to type again and again to get it drilled into your memory and then it becomes natural.

    2. Excel Jedi*

      You really just have to write queries to understand query writing. There’s something about the syntax that just starts to click as you do it. (I’m learning that R is the same way for me now.)

      W3Schools is one of the best free resources I’ve found, both for the ability to look up different syntax, and because they give you space to try writing things yourself.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yep, I ordered giant books on SQL and R and it was a waste of money. Although they look snazzy on a bookshelf.
        I learned everything by practice. And it’s so easy to reference questions through google, I couldn’t imagine flipping through those books looking for answers.

    3. LC*

      Not a book, but way better than either a book or a video, imo – I really enjoyed W3Schools dot com. I knew a bit about SQL when I started this job mostly from teaching myself (+ google) VBA for Excel, and I thought their SQL tutorial was excellent. Good mix of reading (so you understand the why) and doing (so you can start building some muscle memory of the how), and easy to use as a reference after you finish it.

      I just did the free course, which was way more extensive than I expected, but at some point I’m going to ask my employer to get me the paid one.

      I also started working with Crystal Reports at the same time, and yeah, I thinking having at least some understanding of databases helped. There were several things I learned that I would have been able to do, just by memorizing the steps, but at first I had no idea of why they worked and definitely wouldn’t be able to troubleshoot if something went wrong or to do anything new or make improvements.

      Other thing that’s helped me a lot is to try and write my own scripts for stuff I’m asked to do, even when we have a whole library of ones that are either exactly what I’m looking for or really easy to modify to be what I want. It’s not at all a particularly quick way to get things done, but I learn soooo much more that way. I try to make something that works, then I’ll compare it to one we already have and usually go over it with someone to see how they’re different, how mine could be more efficient or even just more the style that my work uses, etc.

      There was even once that my way was a little better! That was very exciting. And just yesterday, I went over what I’d done so far with an assignment that I felt was a huge stretch for me with my grandboss (who is actually incredibly technical and hands on for a boss, even more so considering he’s an SVP/the CIO) and got all warm and fuzzy when he said it was great so far and my idea of the next steps was what he’d have done, that even though I have no idea how to do it, I was thinking about it right (and he’s going to teach me how to do it).

      Anyway. All that to say, I thought W3Schools was super helpful and it gave me enough of a foundation to start actually doing things myself, which is invaluable.

    4. Thursdaysgeek*

      When you do have specific Crystal or SQL questions, StackOverflow is my preferred resource. My current company prefers we have our procedures in the database, rather than in Crystal – it is way easier to maintain, to see how it changes when it needs to change. Crystal is a Piece of Software at times, and can get cranky, so having the code separate makes it easier when you decide you have to start a report fresh.

    5. FridaysImInLove*

      The SQL Murder Mystery is pretty basic but a surprisingly fun way to practice your skills. I’ve used it to brush up on the fundamentals before

      1. Thursdaysgeek*

        I use SQL every day, so perhaps don’t need to brush up, but that sounds interesting anyway. …heads to google…

    6. Bob Howard*

      I found SQL for Dummies very helpful. As well as SQL syntax, it covered a lot about how databases are setup, which is really helpful for writing effecient queries.

      Obviously you need to be comfortable with the documentation for whatever dialect of SQL you will be using, e.g. Microsoft or Oracle. Also your development envionment documentation: Reporting tools, software languages and spreadsheets will have different ways of doing whatever you want with SQL.

  13. BayCay*

    Just wanted to share that for the first time since I’ve started reading this blog, I have no complaints this Friday!

    For the first time in my professional career, I have a job I enjoy, a great boss that is flexible, and friendly coworkers. And when annoyances do come up, they’re fairly minor and temporary. Before this job, I worked the job from hell, with a micromanaging boss who yelled at me and stuck up for the office bully, who often made me her target. I was so stressed at that job that I ended up having to quit for health reasons. On my last day, nobody took me out for a goodbye lunch and my boss wasn’t even there to say goodbye. Ironically, the only thing anybody did was, one person bought me a bagel…and yup, it was the bully.

    So yeah, just feeling grateful today.

    1. Butwhy*

      This makes me feel hopeful. Funny that the office bullies so often need the boss to defend them. My office bully would go to the boss’s office after nearly every meeting to ‘fill him in’ on anything that didn’t go their way. Glad you are in a better place now. Life is so much better when work doesn’t suck.

      1. BayCay*

        Oh yeah, she was infamous for “tattling” to the boss if somebody made a mistake or didn’t do things her way. He only defended her because she was actually good at the job and got us some high numbers. So he was willing to put up with her being a crap person for the results.

        But in the end, her behavior caused me and a few other team members to leave so the lesson I learned was, it’s not good management to let bullies slide. Even if they get results, it’s not worth the damage they’ll do overall.

  14. Not an orge, really!*

    How to manage household help? I hired a team of 2 sisters to come clean twice a month. They are so shy and compliant, apologizing and thanking too often for things no one else would. No one else acts like that around me so I don’t think it’s me. One sister does not speak English, the other is fluent.
    There are things i need to communicate, like please come closer to the time you say you’ll be here (they give approximate times which is usually ok) or please use this cleaner on the toilet or whatever, but I’ve been holding back for fear of mortifying them.
    Any suggestions appreciated.

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      This might be cold of me, but could you approach it in a warm, but matter of fact way?

      “Please arrive at 9:00am. I’m not mad, but a I need you to be on time. Thank you.” Natural expression on your face that you’d have when asking a question about the weather or any other reasonable request.

      They’re emotions aren’t yours to manage.

      And it may help to think of their use of “thank you” as a conversational filler, like many of us use “um”, “I’m not sure” or nervous-kindof-laughter. So, reframe it as less about constantly expressing gratitude and more just about moving the conversation forward while they think of a response.

      1. Not an orge, really!*

        Thank you. They do a good job but seem beaten down, I guess. And are very concerned that I am happy with their work which is always excellent. If be happier if we could have some back and forth.
        Like “plz arrive at 9”, “I have to drop off my child, is 9:30 ok?” , “Sure!”
        But every time I say something they seem crushed and I’m trying to be gentle.
        But you are correct and not cold.

    2. Not an orge, really!*

      I directly hired then bc there are a lot of upper class women running cleaning services where they charge high prices but only pay those who work for them min wage which is low here and no benefits. So I never use the cleaning companies.
      Instead of tipping, I always make sure to pay at least $30/hr each for the time they work, they always try to give me the extra back, they have a flat rate but if they stay longer, I pay more.

    3. WellRed*

      How long have they been working for you? If they’re new, maybe need time to adjust? Have you been clear on expectations! It sounds like you think you have but your comment says otherwise. ( do you need them to come at a certain time or not?)

      1. Not an orge, really!*

        Not very long. They’ve cleaned for me 3 times. I hope they get more comfortable. I do tend to be an introvert so communication is tough for me too. I worked years on making proper eye contact, so I get it. But it’s tough to see them apparently crushed at my every request.

        1. WellRed*

          I’m not disbelieveing you here, but are you sure they are “crushed?” More practically, can you just set a time? And pay the flat rate? It sounds like There are still language and cultural communication issues here. I get you’re trying to be flexible but…

          1. londonedit*

            This is what I was thinking – they might just come from a culture that’s naturally more deferential than you’re used to.

          2. Not an orge, really!*

            Well they apologize a lot. Like on the times when I’ve made simple requests, like here please use this cleaner, they apologize profusely for not doing it the last time or not knowing. Or I came out of my office and they were having some water (I had told them where the cups were & to help themselves to whatever beverages they wanted) and they panicked, like I was going to harm them for stopping long enough to take a drink. I told them I just wanted a drink to and then they thanked me. Ummmm

            1. fueled by coffee*

              This anecdote in particular is making me wonder whether they might have had negative experiences with other employers who react extremely critically for taking breaks or making small mistakes. I’d suggest being straightforward with your requests, but keeping your tone warm/friendly. Eventually they’ll learn that you aren’t going to be mad about a water break or using the wrong cleaner.

              1. Not an orge, really!*

                Thank you, I hope they learn soon. I feel like I’m being thanked for treating them like I would any other human and apologized to for things that don’t matter. Always makes me feel like I’ve done something wrong.

              2. mreasy*

                I bet this is the case. I can only imagine they’ve dealt with terrible other employers who want that level of deference. I hate that for them and I’m glad you’re trying to do right and pay well.

                1. Not an orge, really!*

                  I’m stunned at how rude and people are. Decades ago when I was dating, someone advised me to watch how my dates treated the wait staff. While being young & stupid in many ways, I did pay attention to that. I watched how my dates treated everyone who wasn’t me. That was enlightening and depressing. I keep waiting for humans to evolve.

    4. Sunflower*

      How long have they been coming to you? Can you approach it like a ‘3 month check in’ and frame the things you need not as ‘you’re doing this wrong and it’s annoying me’ but as ‘now that we’re 2 months in, I’ve realized there’s some things I didn’t tell you upfront that would be helpful now’

      I would just say ‘Ladies, I love the work you do and I’m so happy to have you around. I just realized there are a few things I should have told you from the get go that I never did- sorry about that! Here’s a list of some things that would be super helpful’

      I don’t know where they are from but it’s very possible the shyness, thanking, apologizing, etc is a culture thing and I’d let it go if they otherwise do good work and you trust them.

      1. Not an orge, really!*

        I like that – thank you! That gives me a good way to let them know how happy I am with their work as well!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I think I would go instance by instance. Just tackle one thing at a time. I also think that as YOU relax they may relax a little. They may be reading any tension as “I must act in a formal manner with OP!”

      You’ve really got a tough mix here, one person does not speak English, two people are shy and compliant and you are walking on egg shells. Since you pay them decently, they may have an additional layer of worry that the pay could go away (you’d fire them) at any time. It might be helpful for you to point blank say that you would like them to work for you for as many years as they want to so when you ask them to use a certain cleaner for the toilet- it’s not a big deal. You will not fire them over the wrong cleaner because you really like their work and you like them.

      I assume you give time for the one sister to translate to the other sister so she can follow the conversation? Maybe try to learn a few words in their language such as please, thank you, have a good day etc.

      1. Not an orge, really!*

        These are valid points. I do tend to be awkward with new people. I do with for them to translate and discuss. While I understand a tiny bit of what they say and know a few phrases, it’s nothing more than yes/no/hello, I’m not good with languages. My husband is near fluent but usually must work away from our house so they haven’t gotten to meet him yet.
        I have been making a point of saying how I appreciate their work every time so I hope they don’t think I’d just fire them.

    6. I can never decide on a lasting name*

      Since you seem genuinely interested in their welfare, I’d suggest reading about life and working conditions for people doing cleaning jobs in private houses; maybe a reddit forum, maybe fiction or non-fiction.

      But! You also sound somewhat anxious, so I’d only recommend doing that if you think you will not start blaming yourself for other people’s errors.

      Something else: especially when younger, I was extremely uncomfortable when visiting people who had paid help in the house – friends who worked in developing countries, where it is important to supply jobs if you can. As a white middle-class woman from an egalitarian society, I felt sooo uncomfortable that someone was washing my clothes or making me coffee. Is that relevant to you?

  15. Analytical Tree Hugger*

    Regarding Alison’s “magic question” and the aftermath: Any advice on what to do if you get hired and realize you aren’t going to be able to live up to their expectations of an exceptional employee?

    I was recently hired to a new job in a new-to-me company (yay) but it’s becoming clear to me that I just don’t have what it takes to go beyond adequate (boo).

    The hiring manager was looking for somone to handle logistics/project management (adequate candidate, e.g. me). And bonus if the hire could become their right hand, someone who could keep up with them on technical knowledge as well (an exceptional candidate). That’s not me, as I lack the deep technical knowledge in this field; I can kindof follow along, since I come from an adjacent field. And this isn’t the type of field you can develop expertise on the job without a strong foundation from (literal) PhD training, at least for me; I know the field and myself well enough to know that.

    Any advice on what I should do? Is there anything to do? Or do I just learn to accept not being what the hiring manager wanted, but just do what I can to the best of my ability?

    1. High Score!*

      Do your best. Sometimes you have to grow into a job. When you have one on ones, ask your manager for feedback. That way you’ll know what they like and what you can improve on.
      Sometimes roles evolve to the strengths of the person in them. Maybe this will. Try to stick it out long enough to find out.

    2. ecnaseener*

      If you’re truly doing adequate work, by definition that’s not a problem. You’re under no obligation to be exceptional.

      If you WANT to find another job where you can really thrive, that’s up to you. But please toss out this idea that you owe it to your employer to be a rock star. Do your best, within reasonable bounds.

    3. Observer*

      The boss hired you because he needs what you have to offer enough that he can’t afford to wait for an “exceptional” candidate. So, I think that if you do your job well, you could be ok.

      I’d be willing to bet that you could wind up making him VERY glad he hired you by be EXCELLENT at what you can do. The first piece of this is relatively obvious – ie be an awesome PM / Logistics manager. When your boss tells you “We need X done by next week” he should be able to forget he told you about it, and just KNOW it’s going to be done. Pay attention to things like patterns of usage so that you can plan. Manage vendor relationships so you boss doesn’t need to think about it. That kind of thing. This kind of thing is incredibly valuable.

      The other thing is try to learn the pragmatic technicalities of the work. To take a wildly over-simplified example of what I mean. Say your boss does studies and always uses students from one local college for his study participants. If you can find out why your boss always uses students from this school, you might find out that you could get participants from other places without too much trouble, thus widening your pool of participants. Or you might find out that actually the reason that this is the primary pool is because of Reasons, which make it much harder to get appropriate participants elsewhere. In which case, you’re going to want to keep an eye on what goes on at the school and if any changes that might affect your potential participant pool look like they might happen, you would talk to your boss proactively about how to develop a new pool.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      There’s a difference between being a right hand and being a “mini me”. Focus on that. A right hand picks up the dropped pieces. A “mini me” generates original ideas/goods/etc on the par with the boss.

      Start by following up on dropped pieces and see where that puts you. Directly ask the boss for interim reviews of how you are doing. Do not decide FOR THE BOSS that you are doing a job that is less than. That’s the boss’ decision not yours.

      How long have you been at the job?

    5. RagingADHD*

      Do you think they hired you by accident?

      Unless you lied that you had a PhD, I’d assume that they chose you because they realized that your unique skills and growth potential were more important than whatever imaginary list they made up on the spot.

      I once asked a ghostwriting client the standard question in the planning/positioning phase, “What’s your ideal outcome for the book?” She answered that ideally she’d want to have her book featured on Oprah.

      Oprah had already been off the air for YEARS. This statement had nothing to do with my work. It was just a glimpse of the inside of her head.

      Don’t let the random shit that comes out of people’s mouths mess with your reality.

    6. Purple Cat*

      But you ARE what they wanted! You’re just not the unicorn they were *dreaming* is out there.
      My boss always likes to remind us at review time that “Meets Expectations” isn’t a bad score. You’re doing the job as expected. Not receiving “Exceeding” marks is not the same as receiving “Needs Improvement”.
      Be kind to yourself.

    7. Nesprin*

      Meh, you may be overestimating PhDs- they take 5 years but only 1-2 of that is actual coursework, the rest is just developing a skillset in a given discipline- I have known many PhDs who could not tie their own shoes.

    8. The New Wanderer*

      You’re not “adequate” here, you’re what the HM needed for the role! As others have said too, what you offered at the start was plenty good enough to do the job the HM has in mind. It’s very likely that, given your skills in general, they think you might be capable of gaining more knowledge on technical side over the years. If you do, that’s the bonus. If you don’t, the HM still has the PM they wanted in the first place.

      I’ve seen this happen to varying degrees at my (now former) job. PMs who work long term on a project learn a pretty solid amount about the work itself just by being around the technical experts and hearing and absorbing things. They still wouldn’t claim to be experts themselves, but they have a better understanding and appreciation for aspects of the project and that can make them better PMs.

      In other cases, PMs aren’t on a project long enough to really pick things up or it’s not their kind of thing, and they still do just fine and provide the support needed. When it comes down to it, it’s always the specific skills the PM brings that makes them invaluable, not whether they absorbed technical knowledge or not.

  16. Daffodilly*

    Contract/freelance workers with multiple clients. I need a better system for tracking hours to bill to different clients. Been using a spreadsheet and it’s cumbersome.
    Would love to hear what works for you.

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      I use Bill4Time. Relatively cheap, has an easy to use desktop widget, invoice creation etc. It works great for me.

    2. OtterB*

      I use Toggl to keep track of what projects/tasks I spend my time on. It has the ability to assign a client to each task – I haven’t used it but I’m pleased with the system in general.

  17. Ana Banana*

    I was sitting at my desk, eating a small donut, and was checking over emails. My coworker, “Steve”, suddenly appeared in front of me and started to pretend like he was also eating something. He was just standing there doing that- mimicking me chewing and I couldn’t speak because I still had my mouth full. I stopped chewing and looked at him funny and he made some remark like, “Just a little morning humor”.

    We’re allowed to eat in the office at our desks and other people do the same thing. I don’t know if he mocks them the way he did to me, but it was just awkward and I felt uncomfortable.

    I’m going through some stuff in my personal life, so maybe I’m being sensitive, but was Steve being a jerk?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I mean… it’s weird. But I don’t know if it rises to the level of being a jerk without knowing more about Steve. He definitely sounds like he has jerk potential, though.

      1. Empress Matilda*

        This is where I land as well. It’s weird and annoying, but if it’s just a one-off weirdness it’s probably best just to ignore it.

        Hope things settle down in your personal life soon.

    2. londonedit*

      Mocking people isn’t ‘humour’, Steve, it’s rude. I don’t know whether Steve is an overall jerk, but that was a jerky thing to do.

    3. 867-5309*

      Unless he is regularly an odd duck or rude, I would chalk this up to an attempt at humor that did not land.

      1. PollyQ*

        +1. I would bet in his head the joke was, “Look, we’re both eating! Only mine is imaginary! Ha ha ha!” If he isn’t otherwise mocking or derisive to you, I’d let this one go.

    4. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

      If he does something like that again, try saying “Huh. I thought humor meant something was funny. Learn something new everyday.”

    5. Sea Anemone*

      Definitely weird humor, but I would not have jumped from “mirroring your actions” to “mocking you.” I think you have already given it more head space than it deserves. Practice a raised eyebrow in case he does it again.

      1. londonedit*

        Really? If someone stood in front of me and imitated me chewing something, I’d assume they were taking the piss.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I would too, to be honest.
          If OP wasn’t smacking loudly and Steve doesn’t do it again, I’d just chalk it up to momentary weirdness.

    6. Rayray*

      Sounds like he’s just the type who thinks he’s hilarious and cute but isn’t actually. It sounds annoying but I personally would just forget it and let it go.

    7. cubone*

      some people are really weird. One of my colleagues does stuff like this, or will like, repeat parts of your email/words in a a jokey or laughing way. I was certain it was really callous/mocking, but as time has gone on, I honestly do think it’s a VERY misguided attempt to “connect” and show you he’s listening.

    8. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      This would make me MURDEROUS with rage, so your response was professional and muted in my book, but what a jerk.

    9. Generic Name*

      He was mocking you. Unless you have an especially warm relationship with him where you tease each other back and forth and both find it enjoyable and funny, I would say that he’s being a jerk. I don’t think you’re being too sensitive at all. If Steve really was innocently trying to make you laugh, he will understand from your reaction that you did not find it funny and he won’t do it again. Bonus points to him if he apologizes.

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

      If he doesn’t do this all the time to you, you might be a little sensitive; but also he was being…immature. The less of a reaction he receives from his little “joke” (good or bad) the less likely it will happen again. Blank stare is the way to go.

    11. Jean*

      Sounds like Steve’s definition of “humor” might be a little loose. I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you. He’s just one of those zillions of dudes who’s not funny but thinks he is.

    12. learnedthehardway*

      I wouldn’t even attempt to interpret his behaviour based on one incident like this – could be he’s a jerk, could be he’s trying and failing to joke with you. Look at the entirety of his behaviour towards you and others, and see what the patterns are. Base your assessment of him on that.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I assume you are a woman?
      I have seen a lot of this crap from men to other women. Making fun of them for rather mundane thing such as eating a donut.

      I think I would have replied, “And very little at that.” Then returned to my work.

    14. RagingADHD*

      Could be an attempt at playfulness. There are folks who share this kind of silly humor. But if it isn’t something you’d naturally fall in with, it was misplaced.

      Whether he was being awkward or jerkish, you handled it just right by letting it fall flat.

    15. Emma2*

      Steve was being a jerk.
      If he was being “funny,” what was the joke? He was trying to suggest that the way you chew is odd? He was trying to make you feel self conscious for eating? Hilarious.

  18. Anonynon*

    I have a meeting later today with my grand boss where I need to bring up some concerns about my boss, but I’m struggling with not over explaining or getting emotional. Basically, whenever my boss goes out of office, everything falls apart because I wasn’t looped into things and my grand boss is so disconnected from the day to day. I like both my boss and grand boss but am struggling with how to come at this.

    1. Tara*

      Can you not just say that you need more information to stay on top of things when boss is out? What’s the emotional part for you?

      1. Anonynon*

        I think the emotional part is frustration from being asked to make decisions above my pay grade. I feel like I’m over performing, but also stuck in my position due to how my company does promotions.

        1. Tara*

          Let me put it another way. Don’t confuse a conversation about what you need to help you succeed in your role with a conversation about why you’re frustrated.

          1. Ashley*

            And if the decision is to give you a lot more responsibility you could then ask about making those things part of your pay grade. This of course can depend on how often your boss is out — is this an annual issue or monthly.
            Good luck today! Removing the emotion can be tough but necessary.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      What about writing down a list? That way, you have someone to read or just use as a guide. You know you don’t want to over explain or get emotional, so make sure your list sticks to that.

    3. cubone*

      google “DBT Dearman” skills. It’s a therapeutic tool for interpersonal relationships, but I refer back to it all the time for challenging/icky/upsetting work conversations.

    4. Not really a Waitress*

      I had to have a similar conversation with my boss’ boss a few weeks ago. I approached it from a this is why this should concern you. My boss and I work on site, but his boss is based elsewhere. He was not realizing how much my boss is not on site. I approached it as I didn’t want to say anything but now its a running joke in the office about he is never here. Which is a perception issue which does concern the grandboss.

      1. Anonynon*

        This is also one of my concerns. I’ve had a couple cross-functional people complain about how hard my boss is to work with or apologizing that I have to pick up the pieces while he’s out.

    5. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      Think of it this way: you are flagging an issue for your grandboss that needs to be addressed. Ultimately, your grandboss will decide how to address it (and you can certainly make some suggestions). But start with simply bringing up the issue you’re observing.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      Did you talk to your boss first by asking them to make sure you’re looped in, and what happens when you’re not? Your grand boss will likely ask if you’ve tried to remedy it yourself first. If you haven’t talked to your boss yet, do that first. If you don’t make any headway, then go to the grand boss.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      Do you have some solutions to propose? Focus on what you need rather than what the boss is doing or not doing. By keeping the focus on what you need going forward, you may be able to avoid the emotional response.

      Good luck!

    8. LizB*

      Write down what you’re going to say beforehand (bullet points), focusing very strictly on the facts, then stick to what you wrote unless grandboss asks for more details. “The last few times Jane has been out of the office, I’ve learned once she’s already on leave that I didn’t have all the information I needed to cover things in her absence. For example, last week, I learned that she had promised someone would go to X meeting on the Jones case, but I was never informed, so I missed the meeting. I also had this issue with the Smith case, where I ended up having to make Y decision, which would normally be her responsibility. Something in our process needs to change so we don’t keep running into these problems.”

      Also agreed that it will be better if you can come to the meeting with some suggestions of solutions. If you don’t already have regular check-ins with your boss, can you get those on the calendar and be sure to ask about project status, or can you do a pre-PTO check in to cover that? Can your boss do a handover email before she leaves that goes to both you and grandboss? Are you empowered to either make decisions in your boss’s absence or hand them up to grandboss? Is there a central database where notes can be left so you or grandboss can quickly get up to speed if an urgent issue comes in while boss is out? It sounds like the issue could boil down to “Boss needs to do her job properly and not leave her team high and dry!” but she’s not going to just magically be better about this, you’ll need some kind of system, process, or tool to make it as easy as possible for her to do what you need her to do. Those are the kinds of solutions you can propose.

      1. Anonynon*

        This is perfect as your first example is exactly what happened last week. We had a conversation on Thursday and then everything blew up on Friday.

        We do have regular check-ins but there is also a lot of stuff I don’t have visibility too and that tends to be what comes up when boss goes out. I think I’m going to frame it as a question of what the expectation is for me and my current role. I really appreciate your response, this has been hugely helpful!!

        1. LizB*

          I’m so glad! Yes, clarify what the expectation is – if it’s stuff you really don’t have visibility on, then if your boss wants you involved in her stead, she needs to do a way better job of preparing you ahead of time. In most places I’ve worked, the options in this kind of situation would be a) the issue waits until boss is back or b) the issue gets escalated to a higher level person, even if they don’t actually know the background. If nothing else, the client might take “this will have to wait until Jane returns” better from Jane’s boss than from Jane’s direct report.

    9. Girasol*

      You could give Grand Boss the sort of actionable feedback that subordinates want from managers: exactly what categories of information that you need to be given and why you need to know, with examples. “First, when Boss cancels a llama grooming contract with a customer, I need to know. Last month the acme contract was cancelled and I was not told, so I groomed all their llamas, which put me a day behind on the big project. Second, I need to know …” and so on. If you ask to be informed about things in general, Grand Boss may not understand what you need and how badly you need it, and you’ll be tempted to substitute anger for details. If you give Grand Boss the bullet points, then Grand Boss will understand why a talk with the boss is needed and be all set up to have it.

    10. PollyQ*

      Just checking, have you talked to your boss about these issues yet, maybe even a couple times? I think it would be a big mistake to escalate before you’ve done that.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I agree with the folks who created specific sample questions for problem areas. Target the recurring problems. When will he be back? Did he remember his appointment today? Did he find the answer for [specific person/department]?

      My boss stays in touch by email. I think she checks it once an hour because I do not go long after an email- then I see her answer. Ask for a way to contact him with questions that pop up.
      If he is not sharing his calendar ask if he will share.

      I get feeling emotional because probably you feel like you are not doing a great job. Turn that emotional aspect around by figuring out what types of things you DO need to do a great job. And then ask for those things.

      You won’t think of every single thing in one meeting- you will have more questions over time. So get a plan of what to do when those questions pop up.

  19. Ali G*

    Can y’all help me out with a script?
    CW: skin condition (I am keeping it as vague as possible so not gross)
    I had been going to the office 2 days a week and I really enjoyed the hybrid schedule. I get my in-person fix, but I can still WFH and have a flexible schedule.
    A few weeks ago I found out I have a skin condition and am treating it. It’s the top of my head, and the medicine is working. The problem is there is a lot of cell turnover going on and it’s clearly visible and kind of gross to look at. So I have been staying home so as to not subject my co-workers to it.
    I have purchased a faux turban to cover my head so I can return to the office and hide my scalp until this is done. Since it’s never something I’ve work before, I’d rather proactively email my coworkers to let them know so they don’t inquire about it when I show up. But I also don’t want to go into the gory details. They know I have been staying home to treat a skin condition. How does this sound for an email:
    “As I mentioned previously I have been staying home to treat a skin condition. While it’s not entirely corrected, I would like to return to the office 2 days a week. I wanted to give you a head’s up I will be wearing a head covering until I am fully healed. I am just letting you know in advance so you don’t worry there is something more serious going on. See you Tuesday!”
    Too much? What do you think?

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      I don’t think I would blink twice at an email like that, and it would probably forestall some (not all) of the comments about “hey, what’s with the turban?” or whatever.

      Good luck healing!

      1. Blue Eagle*

        Looks good to me. I would totally appreciate receiving an email like this in advance so I wouldn’t put my foot in my mouth asking a question about it when you were back in the office.

    2. lily*

      IMO it’s a bit too much. I wouldn’t send an email, just go into the office and if someone comments on the turban, you can just say “Yep, it’s while I’m treating a skin condition, nothing serious. Should be back to normal soon. How bout that [team]?” The email kind of makes it more dramatic than it needs to be.

    3. GigglyPuff*

      I think too much and I’m friends with several coworkers outside work. If you’re friendly like that, telling them individually seems fine. But for anyone else, this seems a little weird. I just wouldn’t mention the turban. If anyone comments, just a “yeah I’m trying something new” seems like it would be fine.

    4. The Smiling Pug*

      Personally, I think this is a great script to use. Decent people will accept this without many thoughts.

      May your journey to healing be swift! :)

    5. Lizzie*

      Honestly, I wouldn’t say anything. IF someone mentions it, you could simply say its because of the skin condition you have, and then change the subject. Chances are, many won’t even mention it! I know if i saw someone wearing a faux turban, i’d just assume there was a reason for it, which is none of my business, and act like it wasn’t a big deal, aka not mention it.
      While some people are nosy and would have no qualms asking about it, you don’t owe anyone any explanation, esp. since its health related.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I agree, but I also know that some people (I am one of them) prefer to get out in front of something perceived as unusual because it makes them (me) anxious to NOT address it. If Ali G wants to preempt their anxiety by saying something up front, I don’t see a problem with that.

        1. Recruited Recruiter*

          ThatGirl, I am one of these people too. I will preemptively notify my co-workers if I am especially stressed, that I am not rude or antisocial, just busy.

        2. Ali G*

          Yeah I probably should have added: they WILL ask about it or maybe even compliment me on it, which I just want to avoid. I’d rather it not be a topic of conversation.

    6. Jules the First*

      Too much! If you feel like you need to mention the hat in advance (which you absolutely don’t!) I’d go with something like “I’ve missed you all while I’ve been working from home. Now that my skin condition is on the mend, my new hat and I will be in a few days a week starting Tuesday. Can’t wait to see you”.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        I like this approach. It’s more about “hooray, I’m coming back to the office now that my scalp crud is under control” and the scalp disguise technique can be an aside. It can be delivered as casually as you can manage, depending on the relationships you’ve got with those folks.

        But I also might not mention the specifics until I get there, and then when I get the comment about the headgear, just say “yeah, scalp crud … I didn’t think you’d want to look at that” and just move on.

      2. Rayray*

        I like this too. It addresses it so you hopefully don’t have too many questions or rude stares, but it’s also not too serious.

      3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I think either the original script or this one are fine, just depends on whether the office tends to be more formal (original script) or more casual (Jules’ script).

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. Agreed. OP just go with what fits your office and your personality. Some times certain wording just fits with who we are and our over all approach to many things- so that the wording to use here, also.

    7. DivineMissL*

      I had had a small skin cancer removed, it was sort of on my chin just under the corner of my mouth. I went back to work with a bandage over it for about two weeks to cover the scary-looking sutures. A lot of people would come in and make “Oh, did someone punch you in the face? Haha” comments, to which I would say matter-of-factly, “Nope, skin cancer removed, just covering the stitches. What can I help you with today?” After a day or two, folks got used to the bandage (or at least ignored it) and that was the end of it.

    8. JP in the heartland*

      If it’s true, as a coworker who now knows you have a skin condition you’re covering up, I’d like to know it’s not contagious.

      1. Sparkles McFadden*

        I agree with this. Skin conditions tend to freak people out so throwing “non-contagious” into the script would be a good thing.

        I once had to show up at work with the remains of a shingles outbreak on my forehead. I wore a hat and sent a similar note to coworkers in advance (just to avoid answering the question of “What’s with the hat?”). I remember including “Shingles is not contagious” in the note.

          1. Sparkles McFadden*

            Yes…true, but I didn’t return to the office until everything was at the closed over and healing stage..

            But you are right that it would have been best to include the “you can get chicken pox” clarification .

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      If they already know about the skin condition I think an email would be unnecessary. If someone comments you can just be like “yeah, that skin thing is still healing”

    10. Camellia*

      I say no email, and if someone does remark on it, just say, “Yeah, that’s my new look”, and go on with normal conversation. Then when you stop wearing it, if someone remarks, say, “Yup, got tired of it.” No one needs to know your personal stuff.

    11. snorgled*

      I think just addressing any comments/questions that come up in person would be better than sending this email – especially if you’ve mentioned that you’ve been home for treatment, people will be able to put two and two together (and what more serious issue would the turban point to – are you worried they’ll think you have a dark wizard on the back of your head?).

      1. Ali G*

        Definitely Dark Wizard! Haha! A lot of the similar items that I purchased are called chemo-caps or the like, as they are for covering bald heads and/or keeping bald heads warm during chemo.

    12. Mockingjay*

      I know a lot of people who wear turbans. I never wonder whether they were concealing anything. I just admire how they pull off such a cool look!

      If someone does ask, there’s no obligation to provide medical detail. “Oh, just trying a new look.” “Quicker than doing my hair in the morning!” “Bad hair day.” etc.

      1. Ginger Baker*

        I legit did actually wear a Very Colorful Scarf turban-style on two separate occasions when I was so swamped and overwhelmed dealing with Family Medial Stuff that my hair was beyond any ability to even just throw into a decent looking bun, so I covered the whole mess (and then spent, what I will shamefully admit here, was close to an HOUR detangling that night…on, again, two different occasions…sigh). No one commented at all and I even took a few selfies because it was a pretty cute look.

    13. Virginia Plain*

      I think it’s a good idea to say something and your script seems fine. Frankly if you don’t say anything there will be a rumour you have cancer round the office before you’ve hung your coat up, because people. Easier to say up front and preempt that than to try to get the truth round the office, especially when people aren’t normally so rude (although they may jump to conclusions!) as to say “hey have you got cancer” so you probably wouldn’t get chance to put them straight.

  20. lily*

    I manage a small team who strongly wants our company to go 100% remote. My CEO is about to announce a hybrid model. Anyone have any thoughts on how to handle this with them? I want to send the message that I’ll still give our team as much flexibility as possible within the new policy, and hope they will give it a chance, but if it’s not working for them I hope they will come to me (and not just quit).

      1. Lizzie*

        I agree with this; because you can’t change it, but you CAN work with them if it’s really an issue. Just because people want something, doesn’t mean they’ll always get it.

    1. Not My Usual Name*

      So…my company imposed a hybrid model on a lot of us earlier this month. I’m very not happy about this. I guess I would suggest being as honest and straightforward as possible with your team about it.

      Maybe something like “The CEO has decided that we’ll be going hybrid for now; I know that’s disappointing for some/many of you. Here’s what we’ll be doing (insert relevant info here), and I’ll work with you individually to give you as much flexibility as possible within the new policy. I hope you’ll all give it a chance – as always, please talk to me about things with this that aren’t working for you.”

      And don’t expect people to perform feelings about how GREAT it is to be BACK IN THE OFFICE!

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        I’d suggest acknowledging that for some people, a hybrid option is the best fit, and ask them to keep an open mind to see if the hybrid model works well, or works well enough, for them. At the same time, commit to continuing to push for the CEO to consider 100% remote options in the future.

    2. NoviceManagerGuy*

      How much latitude do you have administering the “hybrid” model? “Oh yeah my team comes in for special events, it’s hybrid”

    3. ecnaseener*

      I would be careful with the “come to me first, don’t just quit” messaging unless you really have the ability to help make this work for them. If less than 100% remote work is a total dealbreaker for people, and hybrid work is completely mandatory…

    4. Daffodilly*

      So CEO has announced a policy
      You say you’ll “work with them” – but how much, if any latitude do you actually have within the policy?
      And if you cannot make it work for them, why exactly should they come to you? What will you be able to do?
      If my boss tried to work with me, but ultimately the policy was too restrictive, I would not go to my boss again. I’d bounce as soon as possible and the company doesn’t get to know about my job search until I’m set up with another position.
      People who want remote work – and have a job where they can do it remotely – should be allowed to work remotely if that’s what works best for them. Time to get rid of the “Butts must be in the seats I can see” mentality.
      People who want to work hybrid or 100% in person should also have that option.

    5. allathian*

      How much leeway do you actually have in implementing the policy? If you’re only passing on the CEO’s decision, what exactly are you hoping to accomplish by telling them to come to you rather than just quit?

      I do think that it’s out of line for your team to want your whole company to go 100 remote, it’s completely unrealistic. But could you negotiate for your team to be fully remote, even if the rest of the company goes hybrid?

      Whatever you do, I expect that you’re going to lose some people. But that’s just business, and I highly doubt that all of your team will quit, simply because the number of fully remote jobs is limited.

      Please tell your team that they don’t have to pretend to you that they’re happy about the change. Let them gripe. Once they get that off their chest, they’ll be more likely to shrug their shoulders and get on with doing their jobs in spite of a change they’re unhappy with.

    6. Laney Boggs*

      Yeah tbh there isn’t anyone on our team that’s happy about “hybrid” and no one actually cares that it’s the CEO’s opinion and not our manager’s

      Unfortunately, people will start looking to leave if it’s important to them.

      1. Iced Mocha Latte*

        Speaking as a manager who has this same situation (CEO will allow hybrid only, whole team wants 100% remote) and is stuck enforcing the requirements around hybrid, you’re right in that none of them care that it’s the CEO’s decision and not mine. It truly sucks and I hate it. It’s incredibly frustrating to be blamed for making sure we comply with what senior management expects. I admit it’s a bit rigid and I’m not thrilled either, but the company has never had hybrid before so I think they’re erring on the side of caution, which of course is causing frustration. And if we don’t show we’re complying, they’ll take it away. I don’t want that to happen. We’ve already had one person leave for a 100% remote job, and I’m guessing we might lose one or two more; it’s a small department of less than 10 people.

  21. avocadotacos*

    How far in advance can you ask for a sick day? Do people get weird about you knowing you’re going to be sick that far in advance?

    1. CTT*

      Is the sick day related to a treatment or something that you know will flare up at a specific time? Like, I knew based on my reaction to my first COVID vaccine dose I would probably feel cruddy after the second one, so I let people know about a week ahead of time (which is the standard head’s up on my team if you are taking time off). Since I explained it as “second COVID jab, probably going to take the next day off,” no one questioned it, but if it was just “I will be sick next Friday” I think it would have come off as really odd, and possibly like I think I’m psychic.

    2. Lisa B*

      Depends on your company and how they expect sick time to be used. Here it’s also what you use for doctor’s appointments, so nobody would bat an eye at scheduling a sick day.

      1. Lizzie*

        Same here. As I mentioned below, I’ll put it down as being off on a certain day, and maybe mention to my immediate boss why Im off, and that maybe, if I’m having a procedure etc., i may be out the following day, depending on how I feel, or I’ll be out in the afternoon for a dr. appt, which is allowed too, but if I’m just sick, no notice, as I agree that seems kind of odd

      2. Sunflower*

        Correct- but also check your local laws! In NY, you are legally allowed to use sick leave for pre-scheduled appointments, to care for sick relatives or even for safe leave. Many major cities have similar rules. My manager was not aware you could do this (but HR was) so it was a bit awkward when I asked for a day off for an appointment. It all ended fine but do not let an uninformed manager discourage you from taking your legally entitled time off.

        1. Lizzie*

          Haha. my state too and my boss can be kind of “suspicious” about stuff like this, if HE isn’t aware of how things work. Which most of the time he can’t be bothered finding out either! But now that he’s had to take time for both he and his wife for “health stuff” i’d be willing to bet he’s more aware of what is allowed and what isn’t

    3. Lizzie*

      I am lucky in that I don’t have to “ask” for time off, sick, vacation or any other. I just look at the calendar, make sure no one else in my group is going to be out, and mark down I’m taking PTO. As its a shared calendar for a few groups, i don’t specify whether its sick or vacation, I put that on my timesheet where only my boss can see.
      I can see asking in advance if you are having surgery, or a procedure, etc., and if I had to do that, I’d ask as soon as I knew the dates for it.

      1. Rayray*

        I agree. We’re all adults and should be able to use our pto as we see fit without permission so long as we follow the correct protocol. I don’t understand work places where people have to justify their pto usage.

        1. Lizzie*

          I get it if only so many can be off, certain times are more desirable than others, and coverage is a must. But where you just have to make sure that you aren’t off when someone else is, i really appreciate the fact that we don’t have to request it off, we can just put it down and that’s that.

    4. londonedit*

      Well, in my working culture, sick days are for when you’re unexpectedly ill. So it would be very strange for someone to say ‘I’m going to take a sick day on October 15th’. But if you’re talking about taking leave for a medical issue that you know is coming up, like a hospital procedure that involves taking a day off, or an operation or whatever, then I think it’s absolutely fine to let your manager know about that as soon as you have the date(s).

    5. LadyByTheLake*

      Some people do get weird. I think if you ask for a sick day in advance, you may have to explain why you know you will be sick “I’m going to have a vaccine/procedure and I have been warned that I will be ill/need recovery time” whatever it is.

    6. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Boss will probably assume that you have a medical appointment. They’re not going to think that you somehow magically know that you’re going to catch a cold that day.

    7. Sunflower*

      Whether I’m emailing my boss to ask/give her the heads up or just telling coworkers, I usually just say ‘I’m going to be out for an appointment/procedure, etc) instead of saying ‘I am taking a sick day that day’- just say that regardless of why you’ll taking a sick day. It’s not really anyone’s business and as far as I’m concerned, it only matters when it comes to internal coding to ensure I’m not going over my allotted PTO. I very rarely get any further questions.

    8. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      If it’s a medical appointment, scheduling sick time as soon as your appointment is booked makes sense to me with a note, “I have a medical appointment (and will need __ days to recover if applicable).” No further details needed.

      If it’s a recurring flare up, maybe a big picture conversation with your manager once, then a week in advance if you’re quite sure it’ll happen: “I think my medical condition may flare up, so blocking time out in case.” Again, no need too go into details. This may differ if taking FMLA or equivalent outside of the U.S.

    9. AnotherLibrarian*

      If you know you are going to be out for a doctors appointment or something, then just give people a heads up and don’t worry about it. That’s assuming your sick leave is used that way.

  22. Persephone Mongoose*

    I’m struggling with a bit of imposter syndrome this week.

    I started six months ago at my current job doing in-house IT for an education non-profit. I do not have a background in IT or any certifications, but do have three years’ experience at an MSP and know how to Google.

    For the most part, things have been going well, but recently our org’s intranet went belly-up due to a bitcoin mining virus. It took weeks of troubleshooting and finally hiring an external consultant when I realized how much coding/SQL/Linus knowledge is required to even run the damn thing. My experience with the intranet is all front-end admin work.

    The consultant got it back up and running almost immediately, so now I’m just kicking myself more for not knowing what I’m doing with this platform and also not acknowledging to myself sooner that no, I’m not going to learn how to navigate AWS and Linux in a day, so we need to get outside help pronto.

    Now I’m being asked about creating developer keys for the new LMS we’re building and I don’t know how to do that either. I’m just so frustrated by my own knowledge gaps as well as the lack of knowledge transfer before I came on. Nothing in the job description listed anything about needing to know any of these things and to top it all off, my predecessor has a PhD in this field. How am I supposed to follow that?

    I don’t even know if I’m looking for advice or just ranting, but thanks for reading anyway.

    1. IT Kat*

      I can say, from over a decade working in IT, that you’re always going to run into things you don’t know. You probably already know that, but I still get questions like that occasionally and have to struggle with my own imposter syndrome even though I have coworkers who think I’m knowledgeable, I don’t feel like it.

      The thing to do is just the best you can, be up front if you don’t know anything and offer to learn it (or ask if it makes sense to learn it). But don’t try to hide if you don’t know something, it just leads to more issues down the line.

      1. Persephone Mongoose*

        Absolutely. That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing and it’s definitely lessened the amount of imposter syndrome than what I would have felt in the past. To be clear, I am *always* up front when I don’t know something and made that abundantly clear in this case. People were understanding, which is great.

        I think in this instance, it was the amount of time between “okay, I know nothing about this, let me see what I can figure out” and “okay, I am absolutely in way over my head and need outside help” that really bit me in the butt. I needed to let go of the idea that I could eventually figure it out much sooner.

    2. Choggy*

      Is there an option for you to engage the consultant to not only train you, but become a resource for changes or issues? It’s not what you know coming in, but the actions you take to get the knowledge (once you realize you need it) which will stand out. I have been relying more and more on our consultants/vendors because we are bringing in new technology that no one knows, so we need all the help we can get now and moving forward. I have no qualms about saying I don’t know something, and asking for help.

    3. Gloucesterina*

      What is your relationship with your boss like? Would there be an opening to ask for explicit agreements and understandings you need to be effective within the bounds of your role (e.g., make an explicit agreement that if system encounters a problem that you cannot fix within XYZ time frame and level of reasonable effort, call this specialist? That is, depending on the scale of problem, does it make sense to invest in training for you or have a standing plan to activate the specialist?)

    4. BadCultureFit*

      So I’m coming from the angle of running/owning intranets on the editorial side, but yeah, if my intranet goes down and my IT person doesn’t know how to fix it, I’d be deeply concerned.

      Maybe have some discussions about what is expected in this role? Now that you know intranet maintenance is needed, you can put a plan around who/when to contact outside help next time, so you feel better prepared?

      Regardless, sorry you had a bad week!

  23. WT*

    My job is to “pre-review” my department’s plans/reports and point out discrepancies and other problems before the documents get out to other departments, and my manager seems to be unusually defensive when I go over what I think the departments will have questions about with him.

    Is the defensiveness normal?? I don’t know if he perceives it as normal discussion and it’s also my job to argue why I think so-and-so should be fixed, but I have no strong feelings about the success of the project and my view is I’m only relaying my observations and whatever he says is the final decision. In any case, I don’t find these meetings enjoyable and I will gladly be less thorough next time just to make the meetings shorter and less stressful than they are. (And no, switching to emails isn’t an option. I’ve tried.)

    1. Tara*

      “ and I will gladly be less thorough next time just to make the meetings shorter and less stressful than they are”

      Don’t do this!

      Is defensiveness normal? It’s certainly not uncommon. It’s worth remembering in jobs like this – where you need to tell people to change things – that this IS the job, or part of it, rather than something that gets in the way of doing your job. It can be easy to think of reviewing the documents as the job, and the people bits as an inconvenience. When in fact what you are doing is stakeholder management, which is evidently a part of your duties.

      I would consider how you are conveying the changes and whether you could do it differently. How are you introducing / framing them? Are you doing it in a very critical or personal way? You can say the same thing in different ways and get very different results.

      I do a lot of this kind of thing (pointing out issues, persuading people to change things) and I always try to make people feel like we are a team approaching things together. So I might say things like “I’ve got some thoughts to run past you” or “OK so a few things for you to consider”. I use “see what you think” a lot to give people a sense of ownership over any changes. I focus on what we need to do and not how they have made a mistake.

      Change up your communication. Experiment. Some people are more defensive, but dealing with that is part of your job.

    2. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yep…that’s just what some people are like. I liked writing things out in bullet point format and giving that list to the boss in advance so he could manage his reactions before we had a meeting, but it sounds as if that won’t work for you. I am sorry, because it’s hard to be doing your best to do a good job and have people take it personally.

      Part of one of my jobs was software testing. When I would present my boss and the vendor rep with a bug list/wish list, the response I often got was “It’s like you’re trying to make the software fail!” I’d have to answer “Well…yeah. That’s my job here.”

    3. Elle*

      I really like the bullet-point idea. I can absolutely get defensive in person when given corrections, just because my anxiety level is high and difficult to control. If there’s any way you can deliver the brunt of things some other way besides face-to-face, that might be ideal.

    4. Ali G*

      Is he defensive but still act appropriately on the advice you give him? If so I would say you just chalk it up to his working style. Some people just react negatively to everything right at first. As long as he isn’t blatantly ignoring all your suggestions and you can still reasonably do your job, I’d just try to muscle through the meetings.

    5. Mockingjay*

      Can the problems be categorized? That might make things easier and quicker for review. For instance, you and Manager can agree that you’ll handle typos and grammar errors, no need for Manager to review low-level stuff. Content errors and questions will be flagged for the review session.

      Always address the error, not the person. Provide context, maybe the solution. “Paragraph 3 discusses teapot sales for the current quarter, but the data table is for the previous quarter. I can download the current numbers and paste them in.”

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Ask him if he’d like you to do something differently.

      Or add more words to what you are saying.
      EX:
      Current method: I was looking at x report and noticed it was off by 20% from Y report.
      Adding more words: I think that the ABC department will ask about the 20% difference between the x report and the Y report.

      Avoid the word “you”.
      EX:
      Current method: You show x report as being 20% less than Y report.
      Avoiding the word “you” and adding more words: I think that the ABC department will ask about the 20% difference between the x report and the Y report.

    7. Cold Fish*

      Just something to think about…. but could any of the defensiveness be coming from your delivery?

      I like straightforwardness but when my anxiety is high, it can come off as more confrontational than I would have liked. Some softening language may go over better.

      Ex. 1: Paragraph 2 is confusing and too technical. Department Z won’t understand what you’re going for. I think it needs re-written.
      Ex. 2: I could follow paragraph 2 but think those with less technical knowledge, like Department Z, may have a hard time. Is there a way to make this a little more user-friendly?

  24. OkapiFeels*

    I’d like a gut check and advice if anyone has it. Tl;dr: I had to ask to be taken off a task because of my ptsd and my grandboss got really involved and is telling me i need to disclose my ptsd to hr.

    Long version: I am on a committee for an important but nonetheless voluntary taak that’s not part of my normal job duties. Think: writing the monthly community newsletter. There was a recent shift from everyone in x semi-creative position being able to contribute if they want (with very mixed results), to a hand-picked team in a more “magazine editorial” style setup.

    This new setup means we can suggest topics but the “editorial team” decides and assigns what we do–so we no longer get to pick and choose what we do, it gets assigned to us. Last month, i was assigned to cover a local community that my abusive ex was/is heavily involved with. I knew that covering this not only would trigger my ptsd, but could potentially draw the attention of my ex and be unsafe. I tried asking to withdraw “for personal reasons;” the topic is spiritual in nature so i figured I’d get misinterpreted, but that my request would be granted, especially considering the relative importance of it.

    In reality, the person running the “newsletter” committee reported me to my grandboss for “refusing to work” and turned down my request. I figured i had been too vague, so i had a coworker help me draft an email where i, without going into many details, revealed that i was asking to withdraw because of an ADA covered condition and encouraged the person running the committee to call me if she needed details.

    My grandboss ended up meeting with me over all of this, even though the committee leader and i had sorted things out by then. She asked me a lot of pointes questions that rang a bell, and which i later confirmed she had pulled her phrasing directly from the ADA website. She asked a lot of questions about my ability to do other parts of my job and kept questioning why, exactly, i couldn’t do this, and why it was a big deal. (My answer was in short that i have enough autonomy in my work that i can mitigate triggers myself, but i wasn’t given a choice in being assigned this and wasn’t given any other outlet to say so. And no, it won’t affect my work, because I’ve had both thw job and the ptsd for almost a decade and this is the first time it’s come up.) She repeatedly questioned whether i was secretly not doing my job in other ways due to this, if it was hampering me (at this point using the phrasing from the part of the ada website about the circumstances under which you CAN punish/fire ada covered employees…) She then explained ptsd to me (which: ….), and told me i really, really ought to disclose my ptsd to hr, to “avoid misunderstandings” going forward.

    So…advice would be helpful. Should i tell HR? How do i strategize to protect myself going forward? I do have a union but i want outside opinions.

    1. Meghan*

      Ugh. That person reporting you is an ass, #1.
      #2, how is the HR at your work? Do you have a good report with them? I think your answer hinges on that. But also, I WOULD get the union involved with this, because grilling you over an ADA condition over something that is technically voluntary is kinda weird.

    2. 867-5309*

      Throwing out the ADA piece very likely threw them off, since it was the first mention of it and until then you had not requested accommodations. It does not help you now but I probably would not have thrown that out there, and instead gone to grand boss in private. (Also, do you have diagnosed PTSD that is covered under ADA or are you self-diagnosed?) Please know that I am NOT suggesting what you would through is not traumatic or that you do not have PTSD, but ADA requires doctor verification, normally, when requesting accommodations so that could be throwing off your boss.

      As for what to do now…

      I would start with a conversation with grand boss to clear the air: I want to be clear that the PTSD is related to a very specific circumstance that never comes up during the course of the regular work and was related to this small, volunteer piece of writing I was asked to do and could not have foreseen. Should I need any further accommodations or something in the future, I will be sure to communicate that clearly so the necessary steps can be taken but right now, I do not anticipate that.

      If they continue, then I think you do need to engage HR because it begins to veer into harassment.

      1. Sea Anemone*

        “ADA requires doctor verification”

        The ADA requires doctor’s support for the need for the accommodation requested. Employers are very specifically prevented from asking for a diagnosis, however.

    3. Sea Anemone*

      And no, it won’t affect my work, because I’ve had both thw job and the ptsd for almost a decade and this is the first time it’s come up.

      I see where you are going with this, but it just did impact your work. You had to ask to be removed from an assignment. And, you have a new set up where you are assigned work, so it could happen again. I advise disclosing.

      Btw, there is no such thing as an ADA covered condition. The ADA covers requesting and granting accommodations. This might seem like splitting hairs, but the law is quite hairy. You can’t just announce that you have an “ADA covered condition” on the fly and expect to be granted what you ask for. You have to request accommodations in anticipation of a need, and you might not get the specific accommodation that you ask for. In addition, you still have to be able to complete the core job duties.

      1. Observer*

        I see where you are going with this, but it just did impact your work. You had to ask to be removed from an assignment. And, you have a new set up where you are assigned work, so it could happen again. I advise disclosing.

        Except that this committee is supposed to be voluntary. And it is clearly not part of the core parts of the job. And, even outside of the ADA, when someone asks to be relieved of an assignment that can be covered by other people without disruption, it’s a jerk move to not only refuse but to report it as refusing to do their job.

        My suggestion would be to drop out of this voluntary gig. Yes, it’s important, but if the people managing this are going to be this inflexible, then you need to not be stuck with it.

        1. cmcinnyc*

          Seconded. This “voluntary” part of your job just kicked up a serious cloud of dust. I especially think the person doing the assigning was out of line reporting you for “refusing to work.” Is this *not* voluntary? I’d drop the newsletter business and get your union involved stat. I do *not* recommend disclosing the details of your ptsd if you can avoid it. The misconceptions around domestic violence, ptsd, the ADA, all of it… you want to keep explaining this to your jerk of a grandboss for his/her “approval?” It sounds like this person thinks they can sit in judgement of whether it “really” is that bad and if you deserve accommodation. (for a volunteer thing????)

    4. Panicked*

      HR is typically the coordinator for all things ADA. If you’re asking for ADA coverage, then yes, HR should be looped in. That being said, your grandboss should back off. There are no “misunderstandings;” you have a covered medical reason for not wanting to be assigned a project that triggers your PTSD. Full stop.

      Hopefully you won’t have to deal with this again (and if you’ve been doing this for a decade and this is the first time it’s come up, it seems as though chances are slim), but if you do, you can absolutely ask for reasonable accommodations under the ADA through HR. Assigning you to another task for the newsletter is easy and appears to require little to no effort/cost/hardship to the company.

      1. OkapiFeels*

        I requested a different task in my original request, and I ended up being given one, so you’re dead on, that’s how easy it was to resolve.

      2. quill*

        Speaking of “misunderstandings” when you go to HR maybe mention that grandboss is really pushing you to disclose more than you’re comfortable with.

      3. AcademiaNut*

        Yeah, that’s what it comes down to. If you’ve formally requested accommodation under the ADA, HR really does need to be looped in – you’ve moved into the realm of employment law, and things are going to need to be official. You can’t really say that you want formal accommodation as required by the law, but you also want it to be informal and off the record.

    5. Double A*

      Hm. So it sounds like your invoked the ADA but you don’t actually have your condition on file so you don’t formally have accommodations (correct me if I’m wrong). And this makes sense as you generally don’t need them!

      I think what maybe went a bit sideways here was you possibly didn’t need to invoke the ADA in your first conversation. I get why you did, in order to convey the seriousness of the request. But I think your first conversation could have been, “I can’t cover this topic because there is a safety risk to me. Can I be assigned a different topic?”

      I think it wouldn’t hurt to have a conversation with HR at this point? Otherwise, you should avoid using language about the ADA going forward because you do need to disclose your disability in order to have the protection.

    6. CCC*

      It sounds like your condition has affected your work, and you need accommodations. Following the process for accommodations is really the only way that you can protect yourself moving forward. ADA isn’t a magic word that you can say to make problems go away. You, your employer, and your doctor work together to find a way for you to be able to engage fully in your work and workplace. So yes, you should go to HR and tell them you require accommodations.

      1. Observer*

        It sounds like your condition has affected your work, and you need accommodations.

        Not really. This is a side, voluntary task. And it could have been dealt with with no disruption. Someone chose to make an issue out of something that should not have been an issue. That’s not something that is actually affecting their ACTUAL job.

        The Grandboss trying to turn that into a digging expedition to claim that it’s actually IS affecting their actual job that they are doing is out of line. Nor is pressuring the OP to disclose information. If there is any evidence that the OP is actually not doing their job, then ALL the Grandboss can ask for is medical documentation of what accommodations would work. And at that point they would have to decide whether those accommodations make sense and are doable. But there is no way that allowing someone to take a different task on a VOLUNTARY work project that is not even part of an employees job would be considered anything close to an undue burden.

        1. CCC*

          If you get paid to do it, it’s part of your work, even if it’s optional or usually not your job. Grandboss is absolutely out of line. But the only way for Okapi to protect themselves in the future from Grandboss or a jerk colleague is to get the accommodations on file. If Okapi goes through the process with HR, they can say to Grandboss, “If you have any more questions about this, HR Susie can fill you in on my accommodations.”

          I absolutely agree this won’t be an undue burden. I’m familiar with the process. It could be that HR says “Hey, it looks like this accommodation you’ve asked for isn’t necessary because it’s outside of your duties, but we’ll document it anyway.” It sounds like Okapi is in a situation where their work isn’t normally triggering, but it is adjacent to their trigger. Personally, that would be close enough that I’d want to avail myself of the legal protections that I am due. But of course everyone is different.

          1. OkapiFeels*

            I work in a public sphere, where my work is adjacent to anything and everything. Honestly, that’s a big part of why I’m struggling so hard to picture the conversation with HR; do i just….give them a list of all of my known triggers and then e-mail them any time i find a new one?

            1. Sea Anemone*

              Do you still have a health care provider? I saw that you have a diagnosis, but I don’t know if you can still see that person. I would talk to your health care provider about how to word the request. In a nutshell, you want to be able to request a new topic if something triggers your ptsd. Between askjan and your healthcare provider, try to work up something sort of general that doesn’t get to personal about what the triggers are. Make that a first request, and assume HR will have more questions for you. Since your grandboss was sympathetic to the request and you did get a different assignment, assume that they are acting in good faith and want to give you things to do that won’t trigger PTSD. However, they have to mind their ps and qs legally, so they might need things from you. A good HR will have an ongoing conversation.

          2. Dolly was Right*

            This is a very good point. I think you’re a bit confused- understandably- of how these things work. Generally, HR will not have a list of things that people can not approach you with. HR can’t and won’t make sure you are never given a task that is covered- it will be up to you to determine if it’s something you can’t do based on your covered condition, bring it to HR and they will work with you to determine if it’s covered or not.

            I think some of your concerns comes from that you don’t seem to trust almost anyone you work with- the guy who reported you to grandboss(jerk IMO so deserved) grandboss(you seem to think she is trying to trip you up and say you’re incapable of doing your job) and HR(you say they are literal-minded). It generally makes for not good feelings in the work place if you feel you can’t trust anyone so I would just mentally flag that as something to consider and if this is worth potentially finding a new job over.

            HR deals with several avenues of things and an employee dispute is not in the same camp of a legal accommodation. I don’t know much about your interactions with HR but IME there is a pretty clear line about where and who handles certain issues- things that aren’t covered by law are better handled by your manager (ie that the guy went above your head in the first place) and legal issues are best handled by HR(the ADA accommodation) so your situation has put you directly in the middle of 2 very separate things.

        2. OkapiFeels*

          You’ve reminded me of a key context here that I probably should have mentioned–I was recently officially reprimanded for “purposefully not doing work on work time.” The full context is complicated–in short, my work keylogs every work computer and they caught out me and several others complaining about work via discord. the choice to reprimand us was unusually severe for our org, and seems likely motivated by the fact that we were complaining about work. (Yes, i was being stupid as all get out. I’m never doing anything even slightly like this again. The fact that it felt perfectly justified at the time doesn’t change the fact that it was stupid to do at work. And for other reasons, i can’t really fight the reprimand.)

          I myself am undecided on how unnecessary this conversation was. I mean, i think it was bullshit, but more because i think society should work differently, not because i expected to go unquestioned. I knew the situation was weird and awkward, and i knew I’d have to explain myself, but the larger sociopolitical context of my workplace and my relationship to my grandboss made me give a lot of internal side-eye to the way she approached this.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            That context is pretty important, I think! Sounds a bit like you were reprimanded, you were sort of mildly reprimanded again, you brought up the ADA. If I were your boss I’d be asking super pointed questions too, because it sounds like a legal issue is about to pop up. In the future, if something like this comes up, you have to start with a conversation about your refusal. You don’t have to give details, but you have to be pretty up-front– you have a conflict of interest and will be unable to do this task, how can we resolve this.

          2. Observer*

            That does change things. The person who reported you is still a jerk, but it’s not surprising for the GrandBoss to be looking to see if you are using the ADA to cover for other issues.

            Still out of line, but you probably need a slightly different approach here.

        3. PollyQ*

          There’s no such thing as a completely voluntary task at work, and the fact that it was easy to accomodate because of its being a side task doesn’t mean that it wasn’t an accomodation at all.

    7. Observer*

      I think you may have made a mistake in invoking the ADA here. But in any case, you should loop your HR in.

      Explain that you have never brought up ADA because your condition is highly unlikely to affect your ACTUAL job, but now that the GrandBoss knows that you might have an ADA covered condition, she seems to be concerned about your job performance. Also, talk to the person running the committee leader and HR about whether it might be a good idea to drop out of this newsletter project.

    8. Dolly was Right*

      So..it sounds like the original person is a jerk but I’m also putting myself in your bosses shoes and I’m guessing your boss went to HR and asked them what to do because if my direct report brought up an ADA accommodation to me, then yes, that is what I would need to do. I understand this wasn’t your intention but I think you unknowingly opened up a big can of legal stuff when you said you had an ADA covered condition and your company needs to be sure they are not violating any sort of ADA or legal laws right now. I get why you may be taking your bosses questions personally but they sound like textbook, CYA legal things they might need to say to someone who has not disclosed an ADA accommodation. IIRC- and I could be wrong!- HR can not come to you and ask if you need an ADA accommodation, you need to approach them. So that could be why your boss is asking you to disclose to them.

      I totally understand where you’re coming from and why you said what you said (because the original person IS a huge jerk and I’d probably panic too) but agree that throwing out the ADA thing probably threw everyone for a loop and caused some confusion.

      I would go back to your grandboss and explain the situation. If she is a reasonable person, she will understand and hopefully can make this go away. I wouldn’t go to HR right away until I spoke with my boss. I totally understand your reaction and I’m not trying to fault you but looking at it from the other side, I don’t think anyone is trying to undermine you.

      1. OkapiFeels*

        So you’ve hit on a related issue–if I go to HR, i actually don’t have a specific accommodation I think I wohld reasonably need or ask for related to my ptsd. So I’m at a loss as to…what hr can do and how it would help, i guess?

        I mean, i know what’s triggered me before, but i literally couldn’t have envisioned this scenario if i tried, so it’s not like i could’ve requested a specific accommodation for this ahead of time. Is there such a thing as an accommodation for “if employee says they can’t do it and it’s not a core job duty we grant that request?” Because…that’s how i thought workplaces were supposed to work to begin with.

        I guess i need to talk to my psych about what ptsd accommodations look like, but I’m just…struggling to understand how to have that conversation in a way thar has constructive results. My workplace hr is also known to be very literal-minded, so “i have ptsd and can’t tell you how it’ll affect my work but it might” won’t be good enough.

        1. RagingADHD*

          That’s not just your work HR, though. That’s the way accommodations work.

          Accommodations are based on impact. They can’t plan or document accommodations without some kind of scope or specificity.

        2. PollyQ*

          “if employee says they can’t do it and it’s not a core job duty we grant that request?” Because…that’s how i thought workplaces were supposed to work to begin with.

          It isn’t, though. The employer gets to define what the tasks for a job are and also gets to change them any time they want. Unless you’re in a union or have a legally regulated job, then your boss can tell you to do just about anything, and if you decline, they can fire you. But if it’s something you can’t do because for a medical reason and it’s not considered a core duty, then ADA might protect you.

          It might be worth talking with your therapist about why this particular task was a problem and try to predict what other things might be an issue in the future. Then you could bring that info to HR, although I would say you can still emphasize that you’re not sure exactly what might or might not be a problem specifically.

    9. RosyGlasses*

      Lots of great advice in this thread. I would also offer the resource askjan (dot) org – it is the ADA compliance website that is run for free and helps employers and employees navigate the law and how to ask/give accommodations and support. They have live advisors you can reach out to and they may be able to help you understand what your responsibility is to your company in terms of what information to provide and when.

    10. Dino*

      I think this would have been a good time to state this as a conflict of interest, rather than as a “personal” problem. ADA definitely added an element you didn’t want. In the future if something similar happens, I’d state that it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to handle X due to a conflict of interest.

    11. RagingADHD*

      The other commenters have made great points about how ADA works and the mechanics of what happens when you invoke it.

      I know the horse is out of the barn now, but perhaps in future it would be more useful to find a middle ground between totally unspecified “personal reasons” and going full “formal accommodations.”

      Like, “Can I swap assignments with someone? I have a bad personal history with [community] and not only would I not be able to do an unbiased article, I have reason to believe my involvement could lead to retaliation against me or against the company.”

      So you aren’t disclosing any details about your history of abuse or your ex, or your PTSD. You also aren’t making it sound like you just are anti-religion or anti-[community] for no reason. But you are giving them some very clear and logical reasons why it just makes sense to swap.

      1. WellRed*

        I second this. Also op, you asked above if you need to keep indentifuing triggers but what you need to do is identify the accommodation/s. I get why it’s stumping you in this situation but if the only thing that you can’t do is write about things that trigger you, the accommodation in theory would be to not do writing assignments. Or be able to choose the assignment.

    12. Cold Fish*

      I don’t know all the in’s and out’s of HR or ADA but my first instinct is to say… go to HR, not to disclose your PTSD but about Committee Lead. Something like,
      “I wanted to report an incident that made me incredibly uncomfortable. I have volunteered for the community newsletter for a while now, and have enjoyed it since I could write articles of interest to me. However, now that has changed and I was assigned an article I did not feel comfortable writing about. I emailed the committee lead and asked to be taken off article for personal reasons but she pushed back to the point I felt I had no recourse but to disclose a very personal information and a medical issue. Even after disclosure she kept interrogating me and implying that I was unfit for my job and has taken this to Grandboss who is now questioning me. I would like advise on how to move forward.”

    13. Portia*

      Talk to an employment lawyer. This is far beyond the abilities of an Internet forum. Most plaintiff side employment lawyers will work with you on payment plans, so if you are (understandably!) concerned about cost, don’t let that be an insurmountable obstacle.

      1. RagingADHD*

        I am really curious as to what employment law issues you believe might be at play here.

        OP invoked ADA without any prior request or documentation of accommodations.

        The boss asked clarifying questions drawn from official ADA public guidance, and then encouraged OP to get their accommodations formally documented in order to make sure everything was done properly.

        Grandboss also asked questions about whether there were impacts on other parts of OPs job, since there was at least one prior situation when OP was (justifiably) reprimanded for avoiding work.

        Why does OP need a lawyer, do you think?

  25. LadyByTheLake*

    I’m torn — I’ve been working on a temporary basis at a job that I have often hated with every fibre of my being. Some of the work and people are great, but most of it has been a constant exercise in frustration. Most of the time I’ve been there I’ve been counting the minutes until I can leave. I found out on Monday that my contract will end at the end of this month and strangely, I’m a little salty about it. I think I’m peeved because I can’t do a warm handover to the person taking over the role and I’m worried that it will look like I just dropped everything. The problem is that my boss has zero understanding of what the role actually entails (a large source of my frustration) and so he thinks there is no handoff needed, when in truth an overlap of at least a week would be in order. Any suggestions on how to either let it go, or give people a heads up that the new person will be starting from scratch?

    1. WellRed*

      This is so not your problem. A warm handover? Not your problem or even realistic. Be glad to be shot of a job you hate.

    2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Not your circus, not your monkeys – if the new person is starting from scratch that is on your manager, not you.

    3. Sparkles McFadden*

      Document as much as you can and then wash your hands of everything. Keep telling yourself that this is not your problem to solve. The lack of understanding is probably one of the major reasons you hate the place, so be glad you’re leaving.

    4. PollyQ*

      Given that 2 weeks notice is almost never enough time to hire a new person, it’s actually really common for a new employee to not have access to the previous employee in a role for training or handover. Document what you do as best you can, and then remind yourself that your boss has made his choice, and whatever happens next is entirely on him.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        Part of the issue is that they didn’t give me enough warning so I won’t have time to document anything — I had been expecting two weeks warning, but it is turning out to be more like 5 days (given some already planned PTO). But you’re right, I just need to let it go. It’s hard.

        1. Windchime*

          I’m kind of in this situation. I told my team months ago that I was planning to leave, but nobody was ever chosen to take over my tasks until this week. So she’s getting a couple of meetings and a giant one-note file, and that’s about it. It’s not going to be my problem in a few days, and it’s not my fault that they didn’t backfill me in the months that they had.

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

      Boss has shown that they don’t care; you don’t need to care about it more than your boss does. As others have suggested, write up a sheet of notes (if it lends itself to that) with current status etc, the rest is up to the boss.

  26. contract negotiations*

    Have you ever walked away from a job offer due to the contract/agreement terms? I’m in limbo because I pushed back on line items in the non-compete that are excessively onerous. Days later, it is unresolved. The humans in this organization have been great, but their employment contracts and policies are hostile. There are reasons this is a good opportunity and an expedient means to an end, and I’m still hoping for a positive resolution. It would feel a little silly to walk due to what’s likely an unenforceable document. But it’s not wild to think how they handle policies and negotiations indicates what they will be like to work for.

    1. 867-5309*

      I do not know companies that are willing to change a non-compete unless you are incredibly senior and usually at that point in your career, they become more and not less restrictive.

      1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        Technically, everything about your employment should be open to negotiation, so it never hurts to ask for changes to these things if you dislike them. But that doesn’t mean your employer has to be willing to negotiate on the topic – if they still have other candidates they’ve been interviewing, their best alternative position to negotiating on the topic you dislike may be “we go with our second choice, who is really just as good.”

        But, if there are particularly onerous restrictions on their non-compete, it’s also very possible that it is not a legally enforceable agreement. Might not be a bad thing to take to a lawyer to get an opinion on.

    2. Elle Woods*

      I did once. This particular company had a non-compete clause that said you couldn’t work in say llama grooming or llama grooming adjacent fields for a period of five years after ending your employment with the company. I pushed back on it because it was so onerous. The company refused to budge at all so I walked. I’ve since learned that I dodged a bullet by not taking the job.

    3. Reba*

      My spouse recently went through this, and ultimately had to fold/not walk away after noting his concerns to HR and sending it to legal who said, “nah [various weasel words].” There were some other shenanigans with the offer terms too. It particularly sucked because everything was presented just a couple days before his start date, i.e. after quitting other job, as if a mere formality! It’s likely unenforceable but like, it’s not good to sign things that you intend not to abide by?

      And yeah, it has absolutely colored how he views the company and his intention to stay.

    4. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Just because it’s ultimately unenforceable doesn’t mean that you won’t have to respond to a lawsuit if they choose to sue you. Even if you win in the end, you’ll be spending time and money and stress fighting the lawsuit. The other side of that coin is that you can’t be sued over the noncompetes that you never signed.

    5. Some shady contracts out there*

      I walked away from a consulting job bc contract said they could fire me at will but I could not leave before the end of the 1 year contract. For any reason. I tried 30 then 60 days notice. They said no. I said, “What if I get in a car accident and can’t work?” They told me don’t be ridiculous that of course that would be ok. I said I needed the contract to reflect such instances. No. I walked away.

  27. Courtney*

    I’m struggling waiting for a new remote work policy that has been “in the works” for over a year. Every time they push back our return to the office (planned for July, then beginning of October, now back to “indefinite”), they push back the new policy too. I want to move across the country, so I’m stuck in limbo. Not just me, either. We don’t even have anything in writing on what the telework policy will be once we return to the office. 1 day per week or 3 days makes a difference in where people can/will live. How long can they leave us hanging without expecting a lot of anger? I’m guessing everyone making these decisions has a mortgage and not a lease, so maybe they don’t realize people need this info now, not later.

    We have a meeting in 2 hours where it’s going to come up and I want to ask a question that communicates my frustration without being rude. “Can you explain why the release of the new policy keeps being pushed back?” is what I’ve got so far, but it doesn’t really express how frustrating and demotivating I’ve found this extended waiting period. Anyone else have any thoughts?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      My read — they don’t want to write a policy, and they don’t want to have a staff that does work from home. They’re hoping it all goes away and they can go back to what they are comfortable with. I’d wager you a week’s worth of lunches that they haven’t even started writing a policy beyond the most vague outline.

      My sympathies. I’d go ahead and call out the elephant in the room during this meeting. “A lot of us are stuck needing to make decisions about leases while we wait for this policy. If we are not going to be able to do permanent remote work – with occasional short trips to HQ – then we’d like to know now, rather than just waiting and hoping.”

      And asking them why the policy hasn’t been issued yet probably isn’t the right thing to do. The answer they give you won’t really help you make your decision, and they’ll probably interpret it as you trying to embarrass them.

      1. Courtney*

        I fear you’re right. At first, they were very enthusiastic and transparent about expanding remote work. Told us how they were making decisions and what the hurdles were before the new policy could be finalized. It all sounded so likely that at least 3 people from my office moved to the West Coast! Lately though, they’ve been cagey/vague and every update seems to make it less likely that remote work will be a viable option. But they simply cannot hope everyone will forget, because at least those 3 people absolutely need to know the new policy before any return to the office happens.

    2. Lucille B.*

      I would say/ask something along the lines of “Is there an updated ETA of the new policy being released? I have put a few life decisions on hold waiting to make sure my plans line up with the company’s and that is getting difficult for me to do month after month.”

    3. Girasol*

      This is a risky move. My old boss got permission to work remotely. She did very well at it. She moved to a new place because why not? Then there was a shift in senior management and someone way up the chain made a new policy that no one would be allowed to work remotely. Anyone currently working remotely had a month to start coming daily to the nearest office. My boss’s new house wasn’t anywhere near an office. Her “choice” not to show up was taken as a resignation, so she lost her job with no unemployment and no severance. Bear in mind that if you do get the go-ahead for remote work and you moved across the country, you could lose your job if remote work permission was then rescinded.

    4. Skeeder Jones*

      Oh my god, I am living this too!!!!! It’s making me crazy. I have been waiting since last April. Current policy allows for me to move to another state where we have offices and I already telecommute (since November 2017) but because they are creating a new and so they won’t approve me. I’ve got most of my belongings in storage, my lease ended last June so I’m paying more since it’s month to month now and they don’t seem to be in a hurry to finish this policy since the temporary remote work policy keeps getting extended. And it doesn’t even apply to me since I was already remote. It’s got my whole life on hold and it is emotionally draining. The logic behind this is baffling. They’ve already said they are expanding the number of positions that are fully remote and I was already fully remote so why the hell are they unable to authorize a move? I’ll still be close enough to an office if I needed to go in and my team are located throughout this state and a few in another state so it’s not like I need to be near a specific office. So I totally feel you! This is 100% descriptive of my situation too, I wonder if we work for the same company.

  28. TheAccountant*

    What’s a ‘normal’ amount of sick/vacation days to have for entry level positions? My current job gives 5 sick and 5 vacation days for the first year (but since I started in July I only have 2 1/2 of each..) which I feel like is ridiculous but also I don’t have anything to compare it to.

    1. Lizzie*

      I think it really depends on where you work, the size of the company, etc. Every company is different in terms of how much time they give for vacation and sick time.
      My company is medium sized, maybe 120 employees. New employees, up to to director level, I believe get two weeks PTO, plus 7 floaters and personal days and 40 hours sick time annualy, the last two everyone gets regardless of your level. 5 yaers = 3 weeks vacation, 10 = 4, 20 = 5, and that’s it. And depending on when you start, its pro-rated.

      My last job was with a medium size law firm. I got 3 weeks vacation off the top, and I don’t recall the rest, although we got every federal holiday; if the courts were closed, so were we.

      another job, was with a big pharma co. I believe there too, i started with 3 weeks. But I’ve also had friends who started with much smaller companies, and got ONE week of vacation and no personal days, and sick time was as you needed it, but not really.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      The 5 sick days at least to me, seems pretty standard. The 5 days of vacation feels a bit light, 10 days would be much better.

      Your pro-rated amount of time off at least to me makes sense if your organization gives you all of your time off in one ‘block’ on January 1st. Since you joined the team halfway through the year, getting 50% of the time off seems spot on.

      I don’t think your position being entry level should really have any factor on your time off, some organizations are more generous with time off than others. What does paid holiday/retirement plan + match/benefit plan cost look like?

      I have a couple clients that are stingier on time off (their plans are similar to yours) but pay for 90%+ of their employee health insurance premiums which is a terrific perk. As with most things, it just depends on what is most important to you. Plus, your salary is also a huge part of the equation.

      1. TheAccountant*

        Gotcha, thanks! It does make me feel better that the pro-rated thing is common. I took this job because it was a job but I don’t really know what to look for in the future so this is really helpful.

        1. Cold Fish*

          My experience, the pro-rated thing is not common. More common would be no sick or vacation leave until your anniversary in July.

    3. Red*

      In my experienced position where I’ve been with my company 2 years, I get 3 days of sick front loaded on my anniversary date and can accrue up to 5 days a year until I hit 5 years where I start to accrue 14 days.

      The prorating thing is super common by the way. So I wouldn’t feel too put out by that.

    4. ThatGirl*

      5 sick days seems pretty standard, but only 5 vacation days is ridiculous. Even at my very first job out of college, which paid peanuts, I got 10 PTO days. At my first non-newspaper job I got 18 PTO days – and that was standard for new hires.

      1. Coenobita*

        Same, I think my first office job had 5 sick days and 10 vacation days, plus paid federal holidays. You could also get 5 additional sick days, but you needed some sort of approval. The approval part was a little weird (who knows how equitably those approvals were granted…!) but at least there was a recognition that sometimes you have a bad year and need extra sick days.

    5. 867-5309*

      I thought – for salaried, hq kind of roles, anyway – it was 15 days of PTO to be used how you wanted as an average.

      I am in the fortunate position and level that I do not need to accept a job with at least four weeks of vacation with sick time usually either unlimited or two weeks.

      You are correct that 5 and 5 is absurd. Two vacations time is definitely standard.

    6. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      To me that sounds a bit low but unfortunately not that far from the norm. In my first job I was given 15 days combined PTO, which sounded good until I learned it included sick, vacation, and PAID HOLIDAYS. The office was closed 8 days a year, and if I wanted to get paid I had to use a PTO day. That left 7 whopping days a year for sick AND vacation.

      My next job offered more time, but it accrued monthly and you only got access to it in July (beginning of the fiscal year). So I started in September and didn’t have access to any paid time for 10 months, at which point I got the days I accrued over those 10 months but not a full years’ worth.

      So, there are lots of ways employers can be jerks about accessing time off!

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Our PTO bucket (which includes undifferentiated sick and vacation time, plus six official holidays) varies based on hourly vs salaried and how long you’ve been with the org, but the smallest PTO bucket for a first-year hourly employee is 23 days per year, accrued on two-week pay periods. (The holidays are included in the PTO bucket because we’re a 35,000 employee medical system and have some departments that run on banker’s hours and nominally close for the holidays and some departments that are 24-365 come hell or high water and everything in between, so people can choose in most areas to work the official holiday and save their 8 hours of PTO for a different holiday or treat it like regular PTO.)

    8. Teapot Repair Technician*

      In my experience (in the US) that’s bottom-of-the-barrel, but not unheard of. I would not accept a job there unless I could negotiate at least 10 vacation days.

    9. Generic Name*

      My last job had 10 days of PTO (combined sick and vacation). I think it’s super stingy. My current job had 2 weeks of vacation, plus sick time for years 1-5, 5-10 you get 3 weeks vacation, and 10+ is 4 weeks vacation. I think anything less than 2 weeks vacation to start is stingy as hell.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I’ve had office jobs where you had to wait a whole year to get any at all, but it was usually 10 days once it came around. You also got paid holidays the first year and if you were really sick, you stayed home but you didn’t get paid.

        A decent job will offer 10 days after the 30 or 90-day probation period. A really good one gives you full benefits upon hire and accrued PTO or a bigger bucket with rollover. (I’m hoping for one of these last two.)

        I would just catch five cases of “flu” because that’s ridiculous.

    10. Zephy*

      It really depends. For a point of comparison, my job has one PTO bucket (no separate sick/vacation/etc), new hires get 10 days/80 hours PTO right from the jump, +5 days/40 hours after 2 years, +5 more days/40 more hours after 4 years, maximum 20 days/160 hours. Unused PTO used to expire on your hire anniversary each year; now it rolls over into an FMLA bank on your hire date, whereupon you get your allotment of PTO for the year based on your seniority. So for example, this year on my hire date I still had 4 days PTO that I hadn’t used. That rolled over into the FMLA bank, so if I need to take FMLA leave, I can get paid for some of that time at my full rate, rather than taking short-term disability and getting a fraction of my normal pay. It’s better than just losing that money (like, we didn’t even have the option to get it paid out before, and even now they’ll only pay out 40 hours upon leaving the company even if you have more available), but I’m pretty sure the company made the change to discourage us from using PTO even more than they already do. We already need authorization from God, Jesus, and all of His angels to use more than one week/40 hours of PTO at a time – like, I’m pretty sure that’s something I can only get approved once, if ever, and I’m going to spend that capital on the honeymoon I still haven’t been able to take since getting married last year (thanks, COVID)…once international travel is a sensible, sane thing to do again. I got an 8-day vacation approved in 2019 by doing it Wednesday-to-Wednesday and agreeing to work the Saturday after I got back, so three of the eight days weren’t working days and thus didn’t have to be charged to PTO, and that took a lot of finagling and three separate managers to sign off on it.

    11. Policy Wonk*

      In the federal government it’s an earn as you go system. At any level a new employee will earn 4 hours of annual, 4 hours of sick leave per two-week pay period. As you gain seniority you will accrue more annual leave (6 then 8 hours), but sick leave stays at 4 hours. You can accrue a certain amount before some of it becomes “use-or-lose.”

      If you need leave and don’t have any in the bank there are systems to advance you leave up to the amount you will earn that year.

      1. Joielle*

        State government here but very similar. I accrue 4 hrs of sick and 5 hrs of vacation time every pay period. Vacation accrual increases with seniority. We have 26 pay periods per year, so (just did the math) I get 13 sick days and just over 16 vacation days per year (plus 10 paid holidays). Sick days have unlimited accrual and I think vacation we can accrue up to 275 hours?

        The pay isn’t amazing, but it’s worth it because of the benefits (like, my family insurance plan has a $300 deductible. Wild). I’m such an evangelist for government employment for this exact reason.

    12. fueled by coffee*

      My first post-college job was in a school-based non-profit. I had a bucket of ten personal days (sick and vacation were lumped together), in addition to all school vacations (federal holidays, winter/spring break, etc.).

      So I would say that 10 days is not necessarily unprecedented, but do you also get, for example, a week off between Christmas and New Years that’s not counted towards those days? Or is it really just 10 days total?

    13. Maggie*

      My previous company we got 10 combined and no paid holidays. My current company we get 15 combined (one bucket sick and vacation) plus 5 paid holidays. I’ve heard of places giving more or less. I would call it adequate though I’d like a couple more days off, who wouldn’t ha! Oh we also offer bereavement time, so when my grandpa died, I took 3 paid days off to attend his funeral that did not count against my 15 combined. However my aunt also died this year and she didn’t ‘qualify’ for this policy so I used reg PTO.

    14. LC*

      For my entry level job, I accrued PTO and sick time per hour I worked, and it was added to my balance with each paycheck. My hours were pretty steady, so it was roughly the same each paycheck, but could definitely vary.

      Sick time – almost 9 days a year (1 hour of sick time per 30 hours worked)
      This was due to a city ordinance though, I know that for people who worked in a location that didn’t have a Sick & Safe type ordinance, it was less. This was consistent for all hourly employees, regardless of tenure (changed to essentially unlimited sick time if you moved to a salaried position).

      PTO – about 13 days a year (1 hour accrued per 20 hours worked)
      This went up a teeny bit every year, usually worked out to an increase of about a day to a day and a half each year. This was how it worked for everyone, hourly or salaried.

      For reference, this was a large retailer with locations across the country and multiple tens of thousands of employees. I wasn’t in a store, but it was pretty much the same system for all hourly employees.

    15. anonymous73*

      Most of my more recent jobs have combined PTO, but when they used to split vacation and sick time, I never started with less than 2 weeks of vacation.

    16. BB2*

      I work for a local government:
      First year I got zero vacation days but I was able to accrue one sick day every month.
      After a year I got 6 vacation days, 3 personal days and 9 sick days
      after 2 years I got 10 vacation days, 3 personal days and 9 sick days

    17. Purple Cat*

      My company, everyone gets 40 hours sick time, and entry level would get 2 weeks, increasing up to 5 weeks with seniority.
      We accrue hours monthly, but if you needed to take extra time (sick OR vacation) you can borrow up to 40 hours of each, signing a form that you promise to immediately pay it back if you leave before you’ve re-accrued the balance.
      We also get 2 Floating Holidays, unless you start halfway through the year, then you only get one.

    18. Bayta Darrell*

      My last job had a combined 10 days PTO (vacation and sick time), and the option to take time unpaid and make it up on other days. There were 7 paid holidays and sometimes we’d get a few extras at Christmas time. There was no increase ever, unless you negotiated for it with a promotion or something, and even then I only knew one person who had done that and he got 15 total days.
      I left that job and now I get 25 days PTO (again, all one bucket) and 10 holidays.

    19. Chauncy Gardener*

      I think two weeks of vacation is way more standard, although I personally think it’s too little. I always try to give folks more because we’re all human.

  29. Lizy*

    Anyone know of good remote or work-from-home gigs? FT or PT, at this point… I’d prefer NOT a bunch of phone-time, mainly because I’m hard-of-hearing and the phone just makes it worse.

    I’ve reached the point where “my organization’s organization and communication sucks and is not going to change”, and at this point, I’m just over it.

    1. anonymous73*

      I’ve tried to find WFH gigs many times in the past, and unfortunately the only ones that exist (as far as I could find) were customer service rep positions, and I have no desire to spend all day on the phone talking to angry people. If others exist, they must be in some magic portal with a pass code because I’ve never been able to find one.

      1. Redaktorin*

        I am an editor. There are many, many WFH positions for writers and editors. The hitch is that few are entry level, and virtually all require a portfolio to apply.

  30. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Dear AAM,
    This morning, I sat on my coworker! I had gotten up to use the bathroom, and he stole my chair while I was gone. He reacted by yelling and attacking me in a delicate area.

    Who is at fault? Are both of our injuries eligible for worker’s comp? Does this matter come into sexual harassment territory? Do I steal his toy mice in retaliation?

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      I have a similar coworker who frequently settles in when I get up. Oh, how he yowls when I sit on him. Pouting, hurt looks. A gift of catnip sometimes soothes.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      That’s your coworker’s chair that he sometimes graciously allows you to use. Apologize with treats immediately!

    3. mlem*

      It sounds like your coworker has been relying on an informal accommodation for his conditions of “being smol” and “owning all furniture in the office by natural right”. Provide treats as your apology and then enter accommodation negotiations to prevent future occurrences.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I feel you; I regularly have to grab my seat-stealing coworker’s backside and shift her whole back half over to the right so I can have the part of the chair I need because she likes to take her half out of the middle.

    5. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

      Rule 1 in our house: Don’t sit on the cat. Rule 1 dates back to when eldest cat was the office cat.

    6. Teapot Repair Technician*

      I know we’re supposed to take LWs at their word, but I suspect we’re dealing with an unreliable narrator here. LW’s “coworker” is clearly actually their boss.

    7. Ali G*

      Yesterday my coworker fell asleep behind my chair and then freaked out on me when I got up and it slid into him!

      1. Purple Cat*

        OMG, I needed to read the replies before it really sunk in.
        No, the toy mice wasn’t a big enough clue, and I HAVE cats! :)

        OP, your coworkers is the boss, the sooner you can accept that, the better.

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

      My coworker keeps trying to steal the spotlight in video calls. Any time I start to say something he talks over me, his input isn’t useful (though typically not the worst contribution I’ve heard that day in a meeting…), he leaves crumbs all over my desk, doesn’t seem to respect when I am focusing and have headphones on. I’m also having problems with my cat when I work from home :-)

  31. Escaped a Work Cult*

    Should I hold out on changing jobs until end of year? We’re adding profit share end of year bonuses but mine would be somewhere between 1500-2000 because it’s five percent of annual gross net salary. It feels like a pittance but crap, it’s the most money my boss has offered for bonuses.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Start the job search now. It may take awhile. Then once you have an offer, you can decide whether it covers the bonus amount, or whether you want to try to negotiate a Jan 2 start date. (Or start at the new job while you’re spending out vacation days from the old one.)

    2. should i apply?*

      For me it would be based on 1) how much I want a new job 2) what the pay & bonus if offered would look at the new job. Higher salary is almost always better than a bonus since it is (mostly) guaranteed.

      1. LC*

        Higher salary is almost always better than a bonus since it is (mostly) guaranteed

        And builds on itself, since raises are so often a percentage of your salary, not including bonuses.

    3. JustMyImagination*

      My last company did bonuses based on how the company did that year. But they waited until the books were pretty solid so you’d get your 2020 bonus in March 2021. And if you left before March, you walked away from the bonus.

      When I left that job and started at my current job, I mentioned that I was walking away from an anticipated bonus of X, and used that to negotiate a signing bonus.

    4. Purple Cat*

      Start your job search now because you don’t know how long it’ll take.
      My company bonuses are ~20% and you have to work until 12/31 to receive them, although they’re not paid out until March. Even then, some people do leave in Q4 but it’s exceedingly rare. Those that leave do so for significant promotions where the new salary/responsibilities were too good to pass up, and/or they negotiated some part of the foregone bonus as a signing bonus with the new company.

    5. Stoppin' by to chat*

      Agreed with the advice to start a job search. While it’s not impossible to start a job in say December, there are often more people out of the office around in the November/December holidays (at least in the US), so you may not even get an offer for a few months. Or you might, and then you can ask if the bonus could be added to your office since you would be leaving before it was paid out. But definitely start the job search.

  32. Ann Perkins*

    I would love some advice or if there’s anything I haven’t thought of with a decision I might need to make between two potential job offers, particularly from other working parents. Spouse is hands-on but his office is inconveniently located so most day to day dropoff/pickup falls on me. I suspect the salary offers will be similar.

    Job A: Traditional 8-5 downtown (near my kids’ daycare and school), some flexibility is fine if needing to arrive late or leave early but probably not as an every day thing. A little bit more of a stretch job with some additional licensing required and lots of responsibility. Potentially better overall career and salary trajectory since I would be in-person, but would also be a good job to potentially have the rest of my career.

    Job B: Fulltime remote with a company out of state but with some travel involved, 6-9 trips per year of 3-4 days each. Very flex time so it’s not a big deal to block off 30 minutes at 3 pm to go pick up kids from school, and it’s likely they could be home during the summers once they’re more tween/teen age and don’t need active childcare. More comparable in skill level to my current job but would be better pay for it. Less room for advancement since I would be remote, but again, might be the last job of my career anyway. We’d actually spend a bit more on commute though to do kid dropoff and pickup. The travel part would stink while my kids are so young though. Spouse does get lots of PTO at least and can flex some as well.

    Also a twist, I’m pregnant and neither company knows. Job A, I think they would react supportively but I’m really not sure, and it would be unpaid leave (though I have short term disability at least). Smaller team so it’s harder to cover. Job B, I’m already familiar with the company and people and it wouldn’t be an issue, and they offer 12 weeks fully paid parental leave with no minimum requirement for how long you’ve been there.

    If I get both offers and the salary is similar, I’m leaning towards B since I think I would save a lot on afterschool care and summer care over the years once my kids are a bit older (currently have 2 kids under 5). It feels kind of lazy though, like I’m going for the easier job because it’s easier… but then I think, why shouldn’t I go for a lot of flexibility and good job for comparable pay?

    1. jane's nemesis*

      I would be leaning towards B. I don’t like the idea of no parental leave and having to rely on short term disability. I would probably be inclined towards remote/flexible over traditional 8-5/inflexible no matter what, though.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      Hmmm, an interesting dilemma Ann Perkins. Congrats on the two offers!

      The only thing I didn’t see if what do the respective retirement plans look like? With the 3rd kiddo on the way (I hope it goes smoothly!),

      I’d lean towards Job B. It sounds like you’ll have quite a bit of uncertainty in your personal life with the 3rd kid. While I don’t have kids, my friends that do have mentioned the jump from 2 to 3 kids was much bigger than they anticipated.

      How do both jobs fit in with your long-term career goals? Are you still interested in climbing the ladder or are you in a ‘work to live’ type scenario? Good luck with your decision!

      1. Ann Perkins*

        A has a very good 401k match once you’ve been there a long time. Depending on years of service, it goes from 50% match, to 100% match, then 150%, then 200%. B has a 2/3 match on 401k but also a true pension so it’s harder to evaluate what that pension payout will eventually look like since it’s a points system.

        Both jobs are similar in nature though A is a smaller company so my job would touch more areas. Either way, I’m senior enough that the job could be the last of my career, so I’m not overly concerned about not being able to continue the climb the chain if I go remote.

        1. T. Boone Pickens*

          Hmmm, ok, I follow you. That is a really solid 401(k) match w/ company A. I’d want to know what the vesting schedule looks like and how much they’re willing to match. Another nice to know would be the specifics of the plan and if there was a Roth component. Agreed that with company B, would need some more information on the points systems.

          It might be worth doing some different simulations with job A on the retirement piece. Getting a 200% match is pretty powerful and depending on your savings rate, might allow you to shave off a few years for retirement purposes.

    3. NoThanksRiskyBusiness*

      I don’t think it’s lazy at all to do job B if that’s what you’re leaning towards. I think something that feels comfortable might be a nice change if you’re feeling overwhelmed in your current role, especially with a life change on the way!
      I’m not a mom so I’m not speaking from direct experience, but I think parents deserve as much of a break as they can possibly manage during the pandemic and in general. I think paid leave is a good enough reason to choose one job over the other too.
      For the travel for school runs and the WFH part, maybe practice what the route would look like on a weekend if you can and see what it feels like. I’d also think about if you need to be in person with other adults during the day or if virtual interaction will be enough of a balance between kid time and adult time.
      If your instinct says Job B would be a better fit, trust it.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        So, so agreeing with the “not lazy” part!

        @Ann Perkins, you’re raising two humans and are literally growing a third inside of you! Lazy does not enter this equation at any point.

    4. Scoffrio*

      I’d also be leaning towards Job B, but I prioritize flexibility and making my home life as un-stressful as possible – so I’d just remind you to think about what would be best for your mental health. Are you and Spouse in a good enough financial position that spending on childcare wouldn’t stress you out? Because if not, then its possible you’d be pretty stressed out about your home life in Job A. Also worth thinking about if you do actually want to take on the extra licensing and stuff to perform Job A, and what the timeline for that would be in relation to your pregnancy – if it sounds exhausting to you now, it’s probably going to be overwhelmingly so when the job starts.

      Are there ways to ask job B about taking on more responsibility that you’re excited about? Or perhaps you could negotiate for a review of your work in a year to talk about added responsibility and/or promotion? This way you can decide in a year whether that’s something you want but Job B will be prepared for you to ask so you won’t be starting from zero?

    5. ferrina*

      Fellow FT working parent here! I’m seeing trade-offs at both jobs. Here’s my thoughts:

      -What are the OT expectations for each job? Not just what they want, but what you want. If you are doing pick-up and drop-off, you won’t be able to come in early or stay late to do work. With remote work, sometimes that comes with more flexible hours, but you need to have childcare (including a very on-board spouse). I had a year where I was working remotely, my spouse would theoretically be caring for the kids so I could work in the evenings, but lo and behold, it was time for me to work and the kids were crying and the spouse was yelling for cooking instructions…. 30 minute tasks then take almost 90 minutes

      -How on-board is your spouse? What are their expectations? Are they excited for the travel time, or are they dreading it? How will they cover the childcare pick-up/drop-off aspect? Seriously, talk this through with your spouse and leave no detail unturned. If it’s going to be tough, it’s better to go in knowing that.

      -Don’t count on the afterschool/summer care to balance things out until the kids are 8-10. 5/6yos are much better than 2/3 yos, but “better” means “they give me 20 minutes to work without interuption instead of 5”. Make sure that the tasks of the job align to what your kids can reasonably give you.

      -Job B has sweet maternity leave (for the U.S.). I’d count that as a point toward Job B, but not a point against Job A.

      -Lastly, it’s not lazy to “go for the easier job” because you are about to have 3 small children!! Nothing is easy with small kids! Listen to yourself and what you want. Good luck!

      1. Ann Perkins*

        Oh, these are great questions! I would say neither has OT expectations, they’re standard 40 hour workweeks. B would give some more flexibility if I did want to flex a bit into the evening because I started late or took off a couple hours in the afternoon, which could be nice once my kids are in after school activities, though in general I wouldn’t want to work into the evenings. I could see myself starting super early in the day though.

        B would be tougher for my spouse because of the travel, and because I would want him to pitch in for dropoff and pickup. But, he also gets a TON of PTO and is laid back, so he’s on board with whatever I do. Another perk though would be if we ever wanted to move for his job, B would make that way easier.

        That’s what I was thinking on the 8-10 year old thing. My kids are 2 and 4 so even in summers I would have childcare. But I could see once they’re 8, 11 and 13, that I wouldn’t want to leave them home alone all summer but also would feel like I wouldn’t want to spend money on a nanny at those ages.

        And thank you for the kind comments (ferrina and everyone); I’ve been working in an environment where I’m the only parent with young kids and while I don’t ask for special expectations, it would be so refreshing to be in an environment where I’m not the odd one out to have different family priorities.

    6. ThatGirl*

      It’s not lazy to prioritize your family when making a career choice. Especially if you think you would enjoy the job itself. But don’t forget about the actual job while making a decision!

    7. Lizy*

      Unfortunately I think this is really one that you have to answer for yourself. I’d personally go for job B, because the flexibility is huge for me, and I (personally) am not terribly worried with climbing the corporate ladder. I’d like being remote, but being around my kids all the time would … be interesting, so the travel would, for me, be a welcome break!

      Going for an “easier” job isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Do what works best for you and your family.

    8. Teapot Repair Technician*

      That’s a tough choice. For me it would be job A for now and maybe look for a job like job B when the kids are in middle school.

      The childcare cost savings of B won’t happen until years from now. In the meantime, you’ll be paying just as much and making two roundtrips every day for dropoff/pickup.

      How does your spouse feel about the travel? As much as I love being a parent, I found being the only parent at home with an infant and a toddler for days at a time was a real challenge.

      If I took job B, I would want it to pay well enough to hire a fulltime nanny (who can drive).

      1. Ann Perkins*

        I might be too much of a natural pessimist, but unfortunately it’d be difficult to get another job like Job B later on. My industry is generally very averse to remote work and that company is the only one of comparable companies that offer it, so it wouldn’t be possible to get a job at a competitor, for example, unless things change between now and then. My role is also pretty specialized so not a lot of opportunities come up; I’ve been looking for about a year and this is the first time there have been relevant openings for me.

        Spouse is on board, he’s present with the kids and this would make it easier for him too if we wanted to move for his job (which he has wanted but was held back by my job only typically being in major metros). It’ll be hard on him though for sure. We already outsource our cleaning but could probably bump that up or even also hire a mother’s helper to help him with the dinner/bath/bedtime evening for while I’m gone.

    9. Stoppin' by to chat*

      I don’t think a job that includes several weeks of travel each year is a lazy choice! But I also wouldn’t plan to save money on childcare in the near future. I wouldn’t expect to benefit from kids being able to be home in the summer while also leaving you alone until at least middle school. If it helps, the way you describe Job B in your post comes across like that’s the way you’re leaning.

  33. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    Any advice for moving forward after accepting a counter-offer?

    All the advice I see out there is how to and why reject one.

    1. Free Meerkats*

      Get everything promised in writing in the form of a legal contract. As we’ve seen time and again here, they promise you a raise and a title and a corner office and then start recruiting for your replacement while you end up in Milton’s “office” in the basement with your red stapler while your new office “is being prepared.”

      The next time you see daylight during the workday is when you’re being walked out.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Getting escorted out could happen anyway; at will and everything. I’m not worried about the counter-offer being honored; it was given to me formally, in writing, on letterhead, and the CEO signed it for me in my presence. My job security has always been in tomorrow’s workload.

        I like my employer, I’m mostly in good esteem, and I really am happy staying.

        At this point, I’m trying to come back from having to look outside the company for more, harder work, and reaffirm that I’m a loyal employee, which I know will take time.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          I think you already have your answer, that it will take time. Of course, that’s time where you continue to do good work, which shows you are a valuable employee.

          I will say, though, I don’t like the sentiment of having to be “loyal.” I’m guessing that was just a turn of phrase though and not a culture of expecting employees to perform gratitude for their jobs?

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I will say, though, I don’t like the sentiment of having to be “loyal.” I’m guessing that was just a turn of phrase though and not a culture of expecting employees to perform gratitude for their jobs?

            It’s not an expectation. They’ve been objectively very good to me over the years. It was really the fact that I’m at least one skill short on paper of being able to secure another gig to support my family should I find myself needing a new job tomorrow that led me to listen, the work to hone that skill was the offer that was countered, and the centerpiece of the counter-offer is the work to hone that skill. The feeling is genuine; it’s not an act.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Make sure that the counter-offer is in writing, is clear and specific, and has buy-in not just from your immediate manager, but also from your grand-boss.

      You want a clear position description and job duties list spelled out, if your role is going to change.

      Personally, I would not accept a counter-offer unless it included a promotion in title, duties and responsibilities, as well as an increase in compensation. That would indicate to me that the company has some interest in retaining me beyond the time it would take to find a replacement for me.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I got what I wanted in the counter-offer. It was actually more than I wanted and I negotiated it down to where I’m comfortable.

        I’m also lucky in that grand-boss of the team I’m joining is also my current supervisor on the team I’m not leaving. To use the Teapot Analogy, I’ve been a Glazer and I’ve had Glazing mastered for a while. The supervisor for the Painting team reports to the Glazing supervisor; going forward I’m going to continue to Glaze and start Painting as well.

  34. Free Meerkats*

    This is a semi-question for Alison. This week has been a series of posts from the past so you could enjoy some time off. I’m curious if there are one or two that you would answer completely differently now?

    1. ecnaseener*

      In case Alison doesn’t get to this, she did a similar post in 2016 – search “here are things I’ve changed my advice on over time”

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’m glad the cell phone thing has changed since that’s all I have. And it took me longer than most to ditch my landline, too.

  35. NoThanksRiskyBusiness*

    My boss says in writing that I don’t have to come into the office and can be fully remote if I’m not comfortable with the Covid risk (I’m not, they refuse to wear masks or take any precautions) but since I’ve accepted this option and been working from home he’s been pressuring me into writing out what indicators would make me feel comfortable going back. When I did my best research and put together numbers, he said he doesn’t like them and wants me to reconsider in two weeks. They don’t take the pandemic or personal boundaries seriously. Do folks have any tips for what to say to hold this boundary?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I’d be tempted to just submit the same indicators again, with any current data updated, and say these are the circumstances you’re comfortable with based on CDC recommendations. Pandemic precautions aren’t determined by how much he LIKES them!

      1. ferrina*

        A spin on this- you can say that this is what you are comfortable with based on current CDC guidance. New data is being gathered all the time, and when the CDC updates the guidance, you’ll be happy to revisit.

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      Your boss “doesn’t like” the metrics your comfortable with? What…? I’d be job searching, honestly, but in the short term I second resubmitting the same metrics and citing CDC data as justification. You can also turn this on him and ask if he has specific concerns about your not being in the office, and try and come up with strategies to mitigate those concerns or explain why they’re not likely to be issues. Like if he’s worried that your not being in the office means you won’t be able to write the llama grooming report with Jane, you can explain that you and Jane have worked out an effective collaboration using google docs and zoom to collaborate on the report in real time.

  36. tiny_strawberries*

    Question. Some coworkers and I started meeting with others who do a similar job across our company. However, most of us are quite social, and I’m worried one person is feeling left out. How can we help them feel comfortable talking or going to Happy hours with us?

    1. ferrina*

      Be friendly when you see them, and it’s okay if you’re not friends. Invite them (“hey, we’re heading out if you want to join us!”) but they may be happier not going to Happy Hours, and that’s okay.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I would add that if happy hour is planned in advance, let this person know early. Some people (me) want to socialize more in theory, but need to gear up for it. A same-day invite can be very daunting if you’re not in the right mood.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, me too. I can sometimes make exceptions, but I very rarely attend any after work events unless I get the invitation at least two days before, preferably longer. This was true even when I was single and had only myself to please, at least now I can blame my lack of flexibility on my family, even if they wouldn’t object if I accepted an invite on short notice if they had nothing else planned.

          This applies only to after work stuff, I’m happy to go to lunch with no notice.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Make them know they are always welcome, but that it’s totally okay if they skip too. They may be worried about repercussions if they don’t go, or that you all will think they are rude, snobby, etc.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      You could also make an effort to have social-like experiences IN the office to make sure it’s clear that you want to include the not-so-social coworker in your friend bubble. Even if it’s just a few casual moments at the end of the team meeting or whatever, or plan a lunch date with all of you at the table.

      At these moments, you can mention that sometimes you like to get together outside the office, and what would Quieter Friend be into for fun? Maybe happy hour isn’t for them, but going for ice cream is.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am not into alcoholic beverages. Perhaps this person would appreciate the group rotating off with a place that offered other things? Or maybe it’s the hour, perhaps they prefer to get home by a certain time. I know when I worked full time, I had to be in bed by a given time, maybe set an end time for your night out?

      1. beach read*

        This. Speaking as someone who has never been comfortable in the bar, I’d say change it up once in a while and sit at a restaurant for a meal instead.

      2. Bayta Darrell*

        As a fellow non-drinker, I agree that it shouldn’t always be happy hours. Go to lunch, go to dinner, grab a coffee, switch it up every now and again.

  37. GoingAnonToday*

    I’m having some issues wrapping my mind around an issue that is pretty visible today (pandemic related).

    I have a co worker who lives and works in Texas. She had Covid last year before she joined my team. Apparently she had it bad then. She lives in a state with a lot of anti current administration sentiments, as well as a lot of anti-masking and anti-vax. Her son came down with Delta last week and now she has it again. She is very very sick, and may be going to be admitted because she has Asthma as well. She did not get the vaccine when it was offered to her because despite having a bad case of covid in 2020, most people in her area still feel like it is a hoax.

    I know that this is an entirely its own subject, but her situation is really impacting me at work. During the busiest time of the year she is now unavailable for an undetermined amount of time. Has anyone else had an issue like this? Directly related to the pandemic only. I’m just so frustrated and am having a problem not judging her and being angry. I don’t think I would have felt this way before the pandemic and may just be pandemic fatigue.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        This is my feeling as well. I mean…the science is there. If they chose to ignore it and they were the only ones impacted by that choice, it would be one thing, but that is not how respiratory viruses work.

    1. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      So … judge her and be angry. Vent to a trusted friend (not someone at work or who knows this person). Write a letter on paper and burn it. Go for a run, or smash a plate, or find some other safe way to express your anger. If your employer has an EAP, you may be able to get a few therapy sessions for free.
      Your feelings are valid, and it’s ok to judge and feel angry, so long as you are not acting out in an inappropriate way.

      And then make it your bosses problem to solve the issues with your work. Have your boss get involved with prioritizing work or pushing back deadlines or whatever you need to better deal with this issue.

    2. ferrina*

      How much can you send the problem upwards? You are down a person for an extended period of time, so that’s on your boss to manage the workload so you aren’t burning out.

      And yeah, I’d be a little iffy about her judgement after this.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’m so sorry. The anger and frustration are real.

      It may be helpful to keep reminding yourself that she’s ill, and you’d have compassion for anyone who was ill for any reason. Rename her being out sick as anything but the Big Words Of Controversy and Scariness. Maybe just Jane is in the Hospital.

      Then calmly make sure that you are not unnecessarily impacted by her being out. Plot out a judgement-free list of impacts, identify which things you can manage, and which things you’ll need to either postpone or get help with. Go to your manager with the list and see what can be arranged – can someone from another team be borrowed? can a temp help at all? Having a plan for dealing with the busy season will at least mitigate some of the anger stuff.

      Then give yourself permission to go home and vent really hard for a specific amount of time about the STUPIDITY that caused it, possibly with the venting beverage of choice, and then stop because anger doesn’t fix stuff and will just hurt your soul, which doesn’t need that right now.

      We’ll all hope that she and her son get better, and that she’ll make some other choices going forward.

      1. Chantel*

        My hope is that the non-Covid patient from who the willfully obstinate ill friend is stealing a hospital bed is able to get necessary treatment.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Why coworker is in the hospital is not relevant. What is relevant is the effect her absence has on your workload. Make a list of your tasks, her tasks, due dates and other info. Then meet with your Boss and pull out Alison’s trusty script.

      “Boss, if I pick up Tasks A and B for coworker, I won’t be able to complete my own Tasks X, Y, and Z. What should I prioritize?” Ask for help: “Boss, can we borrow someone from the other department. A couple of people have similar experience/duties as Coworker.”

      As frustrating and tiring as the pandemic is (dear heavens, will it EVER end?), the root problem is how to cover an absent coworker’s tasks. Focus on that.

    5. learnedthehardway*

      I’m judging, and I’m not even you! This is kind of along the lines of a non-swimmer having gone out in a boat without a lifejacket, almost drowning, and then doing the same thing the next weekend – terminally stupid.

      I think the Darwin Awards are going to have to come up with a new COVID category – I’m nominating your co-irker.

      1. Gipsy Danger*

        There’s a whole community on Reddit called the Herman Cain awards, and that’s all I’m going to say about that because it’s not nice but is in the vein of the Darwin Awards.

    6. Teapot Repair Technician*

      Be as judge-y as you want, but for some perspective, consider this type of situation isn’t unique to COVID. I would apply the same judginess I would to someone who got injured in a car accident because they weren’t wearing a seat belt, or someone who smoked and got lung cancer.

      1. pancakes*

        Bad analogy. A person who chooses not to wear a seatbelt is only potentially causing injury to themselves, and there isn’t a safe, effective, and free vaccine against car accidents.

        1. Chantel*

          A person choosing to not wear seatbelts can be a projectile through the windshield of another car, and wastes valuable emergency resources.

          Not wearing seatbelts does affect others directly.

          1. pancakes*

            That could happen, sure, but it doesn’t happen often.

            I don’t agree that providing emergency services to injured people is wasted on account of them having caused their own injuries. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where emergency services are provided only to people deemed worthy, and I hope no one else here would either.

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        someone who smoked and got lung cancer

        This is incredibly insensitive, and I sincerely hope that you never in your life lose a loved one to a smoking-related disease.

        1. Autism Dad*

          I think that’s the point — when a lifetime smoker gets lung cancer, we don’t go on message boards and rant about their “STUPIDITY,” or that they should be eligible for a Darwin Award, or writing how appropriate it is judge them because “it’s September 2021 and the science is there” (because, duh, the best way to show you’re a good person is to make fun of someone for being sick and act like everyone who disagrees with you is a moron, amirite?)

    7. allathian*

      You can judge her all you want, but even if she’d been out for some other reason, it would have affected your workload just as much. It would be more constructive to talk to your manager about the untenable situation and ask for help in prioritizing your tasks, and maybe get some of them reassigned to someone else.

    8. anonymous73*

      I have zero empathy for the deniers, but it’s not your co-workers fault that the work is falling solely on YOU. That’s on your manager. The reason WHY she’s unavailable to do her job is irrelevant (see: the old got hit by a bus analogy). If someone is out for an extended period of time unexpectedly, it’s up to your manager to have a plan B. And that Plan B shouldn’t be to make someone else do 2 people’s jobs for a month because it’s not sustainable.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Hard agree. Often times cohorts can be upset with each other and the actual problem is management. But the upset with a cohort allows the angry person to avoid dealing with the real issue. I have seen cohorts actually fighting/arguing with each other because management was asleep at the switch.

        Usually when something gets under my skin and festers, it is because it’s one thing in a long chain of things that have happened at that company. I’d suggest you mull over your history with this place and see if this holds true for you. Your anger might be misdirected and looking at a bigger picture may help you to arrive at a new conclusion.

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

        By the sound of it a month (I know that was just an example) is probably an underestimate. It seems to me that the co-worker is likely to be out much longer than that, and that OP doesn’t see an end in sight to the overwork situation.

        I won’t go into anti-vax etc specifically, but would say that covering for people on an extended basis (with the attendant overwork situation) does hit differently if it’s on account of something perceived as “reasonably avoidable” or “self inflicted” as opposed to truly unanticipated. For example, being swamped with extra work due to the co-worker being injured doing mountain climbing compared to in a car accident.

    9. PollyQ*

      How much of your emotion is about the workload, and how much is about the fact that there’s a decent chance this is going to kill her? You have a right to feel angry and frustrated about both, but it would probably be helpful for you to dig into your feelings a little bit before you tackle the problem of how you can get your workload balanced while she’s out.

    10. RagingADHD*

      If she broke her leg, or got cancer, who would you be angry at? If she had a 10 year old kid who wasnt’ eligible and got Covid, who would you be angry at?

      Yes, antivax disinformation is infuriating. People with high-risk medical conditions deliberately putting themselves at dire risk is horrifying and disturbing. Pandemic fatigue is real.

      But the workload issue is completely separate and that part is not, in fact, your coworker’s fault. That’s management’s fault. Why haven’t they hired more coverage for the busiest part of the year, when they know there is a huge surge going on, and even fully vaccinated people may get sick, or have small children who might get very sick?

    11. Lorine*

      So, compassion fatigue is real, but you have to remember that it’s compassion fatigue. At the end of the day, this is a human with other people who love them that is in a bad way.

      I would focus on working with your manager to make your workload more reasonable.

    12. Vesuvius*

      I’d be very upset in your shoes. You are now overworking because your coworker refused to get vaccinated. That’s very bad! Antimasking and anti-vax sentiment is just…yikes. I’m lucky I’m in an area where that’s not an issue, but even where it has been I am conveniently deaf. (I’ve had to deal with contractors who wanted to moan at me about how this is Murica and you don’t have to wear one bc freedom, when county mandates required it. I’ve never seen grown men turn into toddlers so quickly!)

      A few people in my family are immunocompromised and will probably Actually Die from COVID so I am…very judgey, because all I can think of is the personal effects of that choice. I’m with you — judge away, it’s September of 2021. The science is there.

      Are you able to ask for some help while your coworker recovers? If this has doubled your workload, definitely bring it to your supervisor’s attention. You sound really frustrated by this and, while that is valid, please don’t burn yourself out to cover for your coworker!

      1. Vesuvius*

        To add on to my previous response, as I hit enter too early: I’ve actually had the very conservative antivaxxers ALL up in my business. This has wrecked my ability to sympathize with them. (I have nearly been punched out by a man I was in charge of over him refusing to wear a mask. Yes, really, and yes, this happened several times.)

        That does not mean be rude/cruel/nasty to her during her time off or even when she returns. You can judge her all you like OUTSIDE work, and that doesn’t mean that her family isn’t frustrated and upset and sad about possibly losing a loved one. It is really sad, and it is always hard having someone in the hospital. Don’t make this about her work judgment, though, if you can. If this is the latest in a string of poor judgment calls, that’s not the same thing as “coworker made a very costly mistake.” She’s going to be paying those hospital bills for the rest of her life if she survives this.

    13. bunniferous*

      You asked for help with the anger-so look at it this way-she might have felt that having Covid previously would have protected her from an additional infection. I haven’t heard locally of someone getting it again after having it the first time-so this news shocks me a bit- but a local news figure was hospitalized over a week with Covid and he had been previously fully vaccinated. Probably if your coworker had been vaccinated she would be ok now but we don’t really know for certain. In any case %#&$ Covid and the horse it rode in on….

      1. linger*

        Thinking “I’ve had it so I’m immune” comes from the same wilful ignorance that characterises anti-mask, anti-vax, Covid-denying freedumb fighters.
        Antibody protection wanes over time.
        Proven cases of second Covid infections (not relapses, because different genetic variants were known to be responsible) were already being reported a year ago, within as little as 3 months from the patients’ initial infection.
        It turns out, very similarly, that vaccination only offers about 6 months of protection on average (less for more susceptible individuals) before a booster shot will be needed.

      2. pancakes*

        People who are making decisions about covid based on what they “have felt,” or on what they’ve heard anecdotally, are very bad at decision-making. They might nonetheless be lucky, but choosing to make healthcare-related decisions based on feelings or anecdotes rather than guidance from professionals is indefensibly silly. Someone who feels that having had covid in the past offers just as much protection as getting vaccinated, for example, is simply uninformed, or misinformed.

    14. Autism Dad*

      We have a person who is “very, very sick,” to the point where she has to miss work amd might be admitted to the hospital.

      The OP (and others) show no compassion whatsoever for this person’s well-being — and what’s more, they insist they are justified in having no compassion for this person, entirely because she may have different feelings about the vaccine than others (we don’t actually know that she does, just that she didn’t get the vaccine). For all we (aside from the OP) know, she could be a Black person who grew up hearing about the Tuskegee Experiment and is scared of vaccines because of it.

      There are people who have entirely preventable health problems because they are obese, or because they play a lot of sports and had to miss time from work for surgery. Or they have mental health issues caused by stress because they over-focused on work instead of taking care of themselves.

      I understand why people in this thread are upset about others not taking the vaccine. I can’t understand why the OP and others have lost any sense of compassion for those who are sick. It’s pretty sad to read.

  38. GarlicMicrowaver*

    Who else is having a bad day?

    1. My daughter is battling bronchitis and an ear infection.
    2. I spilled her amoxicillin all over the counter top.
    3. My colleague (of 6 years, who was formerly my boss up until 2 years ago) quit.
    4. I injured my knee at barre class and now I’m limping.

    1. Anon for this*

      Horrible, frustrating two days. I feel you.
      1 Hired someone to work on yard Wednesday. Numerous texts and FB messages later, I was told it would be done Thursday AM. I ask where he is at noon Thursday, he texts back he is busy and to be patient. Partner shows up at 3:30, leaves job half done at 5:30, states he’ll be back in the AM. Hasn’t shown up yet.
      2. 1 1/2 day fight with UPS and Amazon on a package
      3. Need to run ad in local newspaper. Contacted a week ago with info and they will design it. I need a proof. Still hasn’t started.
      4. Spouse crabby all day.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Tonight might be a good night to head to bed early. Get some extra rest and maybe tomorrow will be better even if it’s only in small ways.

  39. Dino*

    Software People: Can anyone explain what “deploy” means in your context? I’m an interpreter/translator and I’ve tried to grok it myself through research but I don’t understand the nuances. Anyone down to explain it to me like I’m a college freshman?

    1. Toodie*

      Our software isn’t given to customers on CDs or diskettes like in the old days. Instead, the software lives up in the “cloud,” and our customers access it there. Deploying our software means putting a new version of our software up in the cloud.

      1. Dino*

        Toodie, thank you so much! I was getting more abstracted definitions/explanations when researching but this makes so much more sense! I appreciate you helping me out.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      These days, for most kinds of software, “deploy” and “release” are pretty synonymous. Deploy is the verb, deployment is the noun; release can be either a verb or noun.

      “We are going to deploy version 2.4 of the product to our North American customers on Monday, and to the rest of the world on Wednesday.” Or “The developers are going to deploy the new version to the test server next week.”

      You might even say this informally as “We are going to push version 2.4 …” or “Push the new version to the test server…”

    3. Brownie*

      “Deploy” means putting any change to coding, user interfaces, any aspect of a piece of software, website, or application into a place where it currently isn’t. It could also be called “release” or “update” depending on what common terminology or context the specific person is used to using. “Deploy” can also apply to IT hardware or people as well, which is something to watch out for when trying to figure out which word to use in a given situation. The simplest translation I can come up with is “to move.”

      Examples:
      -Someone makes a code change in development, then “deploys” it to beta by copy/pasting the changed code into beta’s file.
      -A new website is “deployed” to production by moving all configuration and coding files to the production web server.
      -A software update for Windows is “deployed” by the Windows Update program.
      -A new computer is “deployed” to an employee by the helpdesk removing the old one and plugging the new one in.
      -An IT person is “deployed” to another physical location because the other location had too many people out sick and needed more people to help out with “deploying” computers to their employees.

      1. Dino*

        Yessss, that’s fantastic! Thank you, Brownie! Because of confidentiality I can’t elaborate on the context, but I appreciate this thorough and broad breakdown. I owe you one!

    4. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Some off the top of my head definitions:

      Code – what a software person writes. (There are various nuances that don’t really affect the rest of this answer)
      Environment – the place where the code “lives”, or “runs”. In web development (what I do), this is a web server
      Server – a computer that runs code. Web servers, which run code that give you web pages, are extremely common. If you get to the thing in a web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, Safari, various others), there’s a web server involved somewhere.
      Deploy – putting a specific version of code on/in a specific environment so it can run there. There are a couple of different ways to do this, but the end result is before the code is deployed, you have version 1.0 running in that environment, and after the code is deployed you have version 1.1 running in that environment. (Numbers picked at random, but they will generally increment.)
      Rollback – putting a previous version of code on a specific environment. If version 1.1 doesn’t work, deploying version 1.0 is called a rollback.

      In my case, we have four environments. “Local” is the computer at my desk. I write the code here, and I can run it here. Since the code is starting here, I don’t have to deploy anything. Next environment up is “Dev”. This is an actual web server that we use so the developers can verify that the code works the same way on a web server as it does on our individual machines. We deploy multiple times a day to this environment. After Dev, we have “Test” – same concept, except we only deploy to it twice a week. QA does their testing in this environment, so it’s helpful to them if it doesn’t change as often. Final environment is “Production”. This is the web server our customers access. By the time code is deployed to Production, we expect the code to have been fully tested and any problems fixed. We deploy anywhere from 2x a week to once every 2 weeks.

      Clear as mud?

      1. Dino*

        I’m seriously going to print this out and keep it at my desk/make a flowchart based on this for me to understand the process. Thank you Ada and Grace’s Daughter!

    5. TechWriter*

      In my world (telecom) it’s the last step before the software/component can be used in an online/networked system.

      Usually you download, install, and configure a thing, then you deploy it to various servers, saying “put this software package on this server”, and it goes into live use. Often you’ve got an existing system or network set up, and a new component/feature/customization to add. So you do the configuration work offline or in test mode, then when it’s ready to use, you deploy it to the existing network.

      1. Dino*

        Thank you TechWriter for explaining! I wasn’t sure if deploying meant pushing it out to users or simply making it available on the server so this helped a lot. Thank you!

        1. TechWriter*

          Ha, well I might not have helped! I think it could really mean either one, depending on the context. Like Daughter of Ada and Grace said, you can deploy to an internal-only server or a customer-accessible one.

  40. a tester, not a developer*

    Any suggestions for interview questions to see if a candidate is a ‘big picture/two-step’ thinker? My team is posting for a role where you’re expected to think about the impact of something like a process change to our immediate team AND a much larger group. Let’s say I’m in cat herding, but if we’re changing the dates of the cat stampede you need to consider if that’s going to mess up the dog rodeo and the lama races.

    We’ve got a couple of candidates that I’ve worked with on things in the past, but I’ve never seen them show that kind of … initiative? Creative thinking? I don’t want them to be ruled out just because of the work I’ve seen them do, but I don’t want the team to be stuck with someone who can’t think outside their own role.

    Thanks!

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      You could ask them to tell you about a time where they were responsible for building something up from scratch maybe? Or, if they’ve ever led a project rollout that had a long timeframe and how they kept things moving.

      One of the positions I recruit for are enterprise software sales reps, how I dig out their problem solving skills is to ask them to describe a project where it took 12+ months to close the sale and how they navigated the process.

      1. a tester, not a developer*

        That’s a great idea! Our average project is about 18 months, so that would be a good thing to ask about.

    2. cubone*

      I’ve never heard the term two-step thinking, but could you ask some behavioral questions? Like:

      “tell me about a time when you had to think strategically about possible impacts of a change..”
      “tell me about a time you had to evaluate the risk vs reward of a proposed change..”
      “tell me about a time you had to evaluate the impacts of a change on a variety of stakeholders..”

      I would look in their answers for evidence of awareness of both positive and negative impacts, and what they based their decision on, how they mitigated or communicated any negative impacts, etc.

      Alternatively, this is one of the few areas I might think an “in interview” test could be appropriate. Like give them a SWOT analysis of a proposed change and ask them to choose how to proceed and communicate why. I would be paying more attention to how they “show their work” than if they made the “correct” choice.

      1. ferrina*

        Agree, combination of behavioral questions and in-interview tests is a good way to suss this out.

        I’d also add:
        “Tell me about a time when you had to change your approach or revisit the approach you thought you were going to take because you needed to get a certain outcome.”
        Or after they give a different examples, say “We have a similar situation except [DIFFERENCE]. Do you think that approach would work for us, or would you recommend something different?”

        Listen carefully throughout the interview and probe in to their thought process. You want someone that asks questions, talks through ramifications, and is interested in problem solving. You do not want someone that seems to be parroting your words or looking to you for approval for what they said, or changing their answer just to make you happy (as opposed to changing their answer based on the scenario details, which is a good thing).

      2. a tester, not a developer*

        Thank you vey much! I’m terrible with coming up with behavioral questions, so these are a great starting point.

        1. cubone*

          This is more a general rule for behavioral questions, but I think in this situation, definitely look/push for SPECIFICS. Like if they just say “we had a project that impacted everyone but we worked it out and communicated in advance” that wouldn’t give me the kind of specific understanding I think you’re looking for. Personally, I’d (ideally) want to hear some awareness of having made the wrong decision, why, and how that changed their process, or making a decision but having to deal with conflict or challenges around it and how they managed.

          1. Llama Wrangler*

            Yes – I agree – really look for specifics – if they’re not giving you what you want – either in focus or level of detail, ask probing questions. Sometimes people will be off-base in an initial answer, but when you follow up will really hit the points you’re looking for; sometimes an initial answer will sound good and when you probe you’ll realize the approach is very different than what you want.

    3. JustMyImagination*

      If they have experience with project management: “Tell me about a project you completed but that had unintended consequences. Looking back, what would you have changed to make sure that didn’t happen?”

      1. a tester, not a developer*

        Nice! Our company has a really bad habit of passing blame around. If their response is “It wasn’t my job to figure that out”, then we know they won’t be a good fit.

    4. Nynaeve*

      I am interested in this topic, but from the opposite side.

      I feel like this is one of my absolute strengths, and a perspective I could bring to a team. Caveat being: a team that wants it. I often feel like working through this sort of big picture thinking is looped upon as just wasting everyone’s time and it’s quite frustrating. Especially when, time after time, you end up being correct about the impact on thing 3 steps and 2 departments removed from the original scope of the thing and no one even remembers that you brought it up 6 months ago when we first talked about this.

      Any tips for finding positions where this sort of perspective would be welcomed, and how to emphasize it in interviews, would be awesome.

      1. Ginger Baker*

        How about something like “one thing I pride myself on is my ability to think ahead and consider the potential impact of a change across other departments outside of my own. For example, I once worked on [your example here]”

      2. Bayta Darrell*

        Maybe try looking for positions with Coordinator in them? Then check the posting for things like “coordinates with several teams to accomplish X.” In interviews, you can give a specific instance of a time you caught that kind of thing in advance or looped in someone no one else thought to include. If you managed to get a process changed that encourages collaboration/looping others in, definitely highlight that.

  41. CSR MGR*

    Very low stakes question here…I manage a small group of customer service reps and every so often, I will see an e-mail that says “your welcome” vs. “you’re welcome.” What are your thoughts on correcting it when I see it? To date, I have not pointed it out because I don’t want to be nitpicky, but on the other hand, I feel it might reflect badly on them and/or the company. If I were to point it out, what’s a good way to do it without sounding like a scolding school marm? Thanks!

    1. cubone*

      I’m usually not a fan of correcting people’s grammar, but it sounds like this is a role where communication and proper grammar matter. If it really is just that particular phrase (“your welcome”), you could give a 1:1 FYI. I also wonder though if you have a style or communications guide, or any type of training documentation where you could go over proper grammar and give some examples of common mistakes.

    2. Blue Eagle*

      On this one I would just leave it alone. Technically “you’re welcome” is correct (i.e. you are welcome) but I have seen “your welcome” in writing so often that it seems that both are accepted.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Sorry, no, your welcome is never going to be correct, no matter how many times you see it. I cannot accept that, and I think if you see it constantly in a managerial role it’s worth mentioning.

        (The only exception is a sentence like “you’re overstaying your welcome”.)

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Agreed. And when I worked in CS, all written communication was reviewed by QA before it went out the door. If you see it a lot (and other typos), maybe require some basic grammar training?

          But be glad it’s not “ur welcome.”

          1. LC*

            Oof, all written communication? That sounds … exhausting.

            When I was in CS, we probably each did something like 50 emails a day, and iirc QA would pull 6? I think? random ones per month to score. The ratio of CS to QA would have had to have been nuts to have to approve each one ahead of time.

            If I (as a team supervisor, not as QA) had someone that I thought might be struggling a bit, or if they were just new, I’d keep an eye on them more myself, either just a quick scan for big issues or pulling a few to go over more fully. Sometimes I’d go through everyone’s just to get a feel for common themes of why customers were contacting us, or if there was a particular issue, I’d go in and look for emails related to that.

            @CSR MGR Personally, I’d probably say something if I’d seen it from one person more than once. I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it, just a quick “oh hey, I noticed this a couple of times, make sure you’re using the right one” and then drop it.

            I second the other comments about style guides and training too. It’s sooooo much better to have your people sound like actual individual people, rather than the same copy/paste job for everything, but you gotta make sure they’re set up for success.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              These were letters. No emails went out, because it was a federal contract, & we had to send on official letterhead, etc. But you could send quite a few letters on a busy day. (We did both phones & written inquiries.)

              A lot of it was from letters, but you had to make changes. And once you proved yourself, you only got random audits of about 25% of your work.

          1. WellRed*

            Sorry, poorly worded in response to a comment above saying both are accepted. One is accepted, the other is wrong.

    3. 867-5309*

      If it’s a one-off, let it go.

      If it’s a repeat pattern, mention it like it is an unintentional mistake during a touch base. “I wanted to mention, the last few emails that have gone out said “your welcome” instead of “you’re welcome.” It happens to all of us and just wanted to mention it since I’m sure you didn’t even realize it!” Then, move on to another topic so it doesn’t become a big deal…