open thread – November 5-6, 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.

{ 1,365 comments… read them below }

  1. Garnet, Crystal Gem*

    Hey AAM folks! I’m about 5 months into a contract role and will be converting to an FTE next month. I was recently reassigned a new manager, who isn’t new to the company but new to my team and people managing.

    The former part, the new to people management, is giving me pause and has admittedly tainted my view of this person. I’ve had horrible experiences with first time managers in the past and am bracing myself for the worst.

    All that aside, since this person is new to both the role and team, my last 1:1 with her involved a lot of questioning. I understand this is her way of info gathering and getting up to speed but it felt like an interrogation and like I was being assessed on my ability to answer her inquiries (likely a projection on my part).

    My therapist recommended flipping the script in our next 1:1 and coming to her with questions and also advised me to read some articles on leadership to try get a better understanding of her perspective so I feel less put on the spot.

    My question: Does anyone have additional input or recommendations on approaching this?

    Any good AAM posts or other articles about this topic? How should I lead the conversation so that I don’t feel ambushed? Also, does anyone have a script or anecdotal advice on how they approached teaching/coaching a new manager on how to work with them.

    For more context, I always come into my 1:1s with a prepared agenda of some sort. We’ve had two 1:1s so far, the first was more of a getting to know you chat, the second was pretty standard check-in that went from an organic conversation to me being barraged with questions.

    So far she hasn’t given me a reason to be concerned about her managerial skills…yet, but I still feel anxious.

    I’ve been really enjoying my work and the company so far, and the relationship I had with my former manager turned out to be one of the best I’ve had so far—it was a much needed break from the trauma I’ve experienced from bad managers.

    1. anonymous73*

      Honestly I don’t think her approach is a bad thing. She’s asking lots of questions to get to know you and the work that is being done – that’s how you learn. It may have felt like an interrogation simply because of the amount of questions. I wouldn’t write her off as a bad manager this early. Come to your meetings with your own questions – maybe examples of situations and how she would handle them – and give her some time to adjust.

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        Having witnessed a situation where a new manager never sat down with her report who did finance and get any kind of sense of what she did, leading to a blowup when the manager, not understanding her workload, tried to assign her something impossible to fit into her hours, I do agree that asking about the work OP does is a good thing, I acknowledge how it could come over as an interrogation though.

      2. tamarack & fireweed*

        But putting a new-to-you report on the spot so that she feels like in an interrogation is quite manifestly not a good thing! I wouldn’t go right to “bad manager”, and the OP isn’t, but the manager started this out quite badly.

    2. Murfle*

      I don’t have any advice, but I do want to commend you for being aware of your reaction and how your previous experiences have influenced them.

      1. Garnet, Crystal Gem*

        I really appreciate this! I’m doing my best to keep my personal history and feelings in check, so that I actually give this woman a fair chance

        1. Fran Fine*

          Yes, please do give her that chance. One of the best managers I ever had was a first time manager, and I would have ever known that if he hadn’t told me himself that he’d never managed a team before. He just had an innate ability to listen, lead, and inspire.

    3. Liv*

      I think what you really need to do is give this person the benefit of the doubt. You’ve had bad experiences with first time managers in the past, but there’s no reason to believe that this person will be awful just because they’re new!

      When you say you felt interrogated, was it the tone/type of her questions, or was it just that there was a lot of them. If the latter, then again, I’d give her the benefit of the doubt. It was only the second 1:1, and like you said she was just trying to get the lay of the land.

      As for advice – it’s not your job to teach or coach her as a manager. But you can certainly give her feedback and ask her questions. As you get more used to working with her, this will come naturally, but for your next 1:1, maybe try asking her some questions:

      1) about her leadership style (“Since we’re new to working together, I’m just curious as to what your leadership style is like so I can get a better view of how we can work well together”)

      2) what she’d like to see from you in the next 3/6/12 months (“So that we get off on the right foot, can we talk about my objectives for the next X months so I can make sure we’re on the same page as to what I should be going after”),

      3) If there’s anything partiuclar she’d like to cover in these 1:1s so you’re both getting the most out of them

      Her answers should give you a good insight into what she’s like (or hopes to be like at least) as a manager, and then you can go from there.

      But honestly it just sounds like you’re judging this poor woman on past experiences, which is more of a you problem than a her problem! It’s a totally natural thing to do if you’ve been burned in the past, but try to judge her on her actions rather than your fears.

      1. Garnet, Crystal Gem*

        When you say you felt interrogated, was it the tone/type of her questions, or was it just that there was a lot of them.

        Honestly, it was both. Tone and also the volume of questions.

        Thanks for this—all great advice. I’m going to need more prep (professionally and emotionally) going into these conversations moving forward.

      2. Purple Cat*

        “it’s not your job to teach or coach her as a manager”

        I would gently counteract this point. Yes, you aren’t the one officially responsible for developing this person as a manger, that’s the grand-boss job, but the manager-employee relationship is a 2-way street. If Garnet needs more guidance and specific direction from her manager, she needs to raise that point. If she wants to be more self-directed than she needs to raise that point. Managers should adapt their styles to what their individual employees need, and Garnet needs to help shape that style for her.

    4. R*

      It might help if you ask her to provide you with her questions ahead of time. If you have time to prepare, it may feel less like an interrogation. You can then also plan an agenda around her questions, so you both get what you want from the meeting. But really, she is new to the team, it’s very natural that she would have questions.

    5. Lurker*

      I think that another thing that might help is if you said to her in advance something along the lines of “I’m putting together a quick agenda for our 1 on 1, do you have anything that you would like to cover/add to the list? I am asking because you had a lot of questions on X process during our last 1 on 1, and thinking about it after the fact, I think I could have answered you better/more fully if I’d had an opportunity to prepare a bit”.

      1. anon today*

        Agree — while you come with an agenda, are you communicating it ahead of time?

        Also, do you know what kinds of pressures she’s under? What’s the “question behind the questions”? Is she getting grilled in meetings for progress reports on your work? Does she feel like she doesn’t know your work well enough? As a manager of six-ish people, I am asked at all sorts of meetings for impromptu updates on the work of anyone I supervise, so I’ve definitely had to work to establish the right balance of “Hey, I need aaaaalll the details on this project this week because it’s caught the eye of the C-suite; no I don’t want to micromanage you but yes I need to know everything.”

      2. Mockingjay*

        Or, during the barrage, ask her if you can get back to her on a couple items. “Let me pull last month’s sales numbers so you have the latest figures; I’ll send them to you this afternoon.”

        Sometimes a “laundry list” of questions is simply how someone new remembers to cover everything. Waiting to verify something shows her that you are conscientious and can be relied upon to provide her with solid information, so she can check those off her list. She’s in a new role and is probably nervous or uncertain.

        Try to reframe this as an opportunity to build a relationship with her. Start by presuming the best intentions and look for ways to help her. Keep it process-related for now. What info does she routinely need? What tasks are urgent? How does she get that? Database, process, report, weekly meeting? Let her know that you are comfortable handling X, Y, and Z as normal duties, but you’ll always loop her if you encounter a problem. And so on.

        Be open to changes she wants to make. She may have different ways of doing things that were successful in her former department (she did get promoted, after all) and that may work very well for you and your team. Some ways are simply going to be her preferred methods of executing a task. Not right or wrong, just different.

    6. Canonical23*

      I think it’s good that you recognize that it seeming like an interrogation could be a projection on your part. It’s never good to make assumptions about new managers – I’ve had bosses that seemed amazing and a few months in turned out to be horrific and vice versa.

      I also think your therapist had excellent advice. Ask her questions in your next 1:1 about what she thinks her management style is, what plans she has for the department, what expectations she has right now and what expectations might change within the next 2-3 years. Big picture questions like that can give you a good insight into a manager – and if she’s a good manager, she’ll appreciate those questions because she knows that you’re trying to learn her goals and preferences and make sure that everything’s a good fit

    7. pancakes*

      If you think that feeling like you’re in an interrogation is “likely a projection,” you should probably be working on projecting less rather than leaning into the projection. Leaning into it / taking it seriously is not compatible with unburdening yourself of it.

      1. Momma Bear*

        It sounds to me a bit like a new manager getting their feet wet/getting up to speed on a project, and you learning a new person/new routine. Is this manager asking for agendas? Or is this not something they’re going to use going forward? Maybe start there. If you’re on the same page upfront, it should be easier to get through the 1 on 1.

        I’m currently working with someone that came in to the company about 3 months ago and took over a program. I wish they would sit down and ask questions because they appear to be going off half informed and it’s causing a lot of problems. Maybe she’s trying to avoid that.

        IMO, give it a little more time and ask your own questions.

      2. The Vulture*

        I feel like this is a rude thing to say!

        1. She talked to her therapist about how to handle it, so, she is getting whatever therapy advice she needs from that person.

        2. Her therapist advised her on how to handle it and she is asking for advice on how to implement that

        3. To me there is no evidence she is “leaning into it”, she is taking action to combat that feeling by looking at it from her supervisors perspective and asking questions to feel more in control and understand better.

        What action are you advising she take that you feel her therapist missed to that would be helpful for her to “work on projecting less”?

        1. pancakes*

          It’s not my intention to be rude and I don’t believe I was. Direct, yes, but that’s different.

          1. Not every therapist is a good therapist, and OP’s therapist’s suggestion to read up on leadership in order to try to get a feel for the manager’s frame of mind seems unhelpful to me. It’s vague (there’s an awful lot of material on leadership out there! where to begin?), it’s time-consuming, and it won’t necessarily or directly address OP’s anxieties or misgivings about these meetings.

          2. Yes, and that’s what we’re all responding to.

          3. I could’ve been clearer on this. What I meant is that OP seems to be leaning into their projections by saying, in essence, the feeling that I’m being interrogated is “likely a projection,” but this feeling is here and I can’t do anything with it besides try to turn the tables on her by asking questions of my own. There are other ways to handle that conflict. Learning to feel more at ease with the discomfort of being asked questions rather than trying to gain the upper hand, for example. OP seems to feel anxious about these conversations because they’re not in control of them, and their therapist is apparently telling them to try to gain control instead of teaching them to how to live with the feeling of not being in control. You can’t be in control of meetings with your own boss all the time, though, for starters! Or in many, many other scenarios and events in life. My advice would be to look into ways to soothe yourself and feel more at ease with not being in control rather than trying to look into ways to gain and keep control, and maybe consider a new therapist if the current one isn’t helpful with that.

    8. Agency Survivor*

      I like the idea of having a working agenda–this has been useful for me. A sharable document is really good for this (I’ve used a spreadsheet as a status update.) Then you’ll know what you’re covering in advance.

      She might just be info-gathering right now…I think questions can be a good thing and (usually) show you have a good listener.

    9. Pam Adams*

      Maybe be prepared with a longer description- walking through situations with their multiple steps- “Let me show you how I manage this process,”

    10. Purple Cat*

      Don’t be afraid to ask for a pause in the middle of your 1:1 if manager is firing off a lot of questions. Even make a joke about it! “Phew, it’s starting to feel like an interrogation with all these questions! *chuckle*” Can we focus on “insert specific topic” first?

      It might feel rough, but it IS a good thing that your manager is trying to learn more about the department AND you as she settles into her role. And great job acknowledging how your past experiences might be influencing your perception of this situation.

    11. I'm Done*

      I’m someone who asks a lot of questions because I tend to look at things holistically and it’s the way I process data and connect the dots. But I know that some people in the past have felt that I was attacking or interrogating them when I was simply trying to figure out the process and assess whether it makes sense to me. Obviously, not knowing your manager, there’s no way to know if she ticks the same way I do but maybe give her the benefit of the doubt or just straight out ask her. I would be happy to explain how I tick if someone asks.

    12. Quinalla*

      What would help me is to go into these meetings with information I wanted my new boss to know. She has questions sure, but what do you want her to know about your role? What is most important. If you approach it this way it will be more like information sharing than an interrogation.

    13. tamarack & fireweed*

      I nearly forgot this, but reading through the answers…

      Before I went back into academia, I took a job at a hosted software company – relatively hip US company, growing European office, trying to stay committed to employee-friendly values. They had an “unlimited vacation” policy and in general during the interviews presented themselves as highly protective of employee well-being. I was to be managed out of the US, but people with a similar role were managed out of the UK, and their boss, together with my would-be US grand-boss hired me … and at the same time hired the man who would be my US boss. (The team in the US was much larger so there was an additional layer of management.)

      Anyhoo, I told my interviewers that I had a vacation already booked for about a month into my job (I was in a long-distance relationship with someone in the US at the time), and both said that *of course* this would be no issue at all. But once my boss was on board, about a week or two after me (and I got to co-interview him – he seemed ok to me), he was waffly about it. It clearly didn’t fit his idea of how a new employee should behave, to take a vacation within their probation! I went to the two more senior managers who interviewed me, who I both liked personally a lot. My grand-boss said that *of course* I should take my vacation and she would address it with my manager (who was in her office anyway – we hadn’t even met in person). She also said “when we hire new people from the tech industry here, they sometimes don’t know how we do things at [company]”. I don’t think my manager survived his probationary period, in any event, the UK office was growing and I was reassigned to report to the UK director who interviewed me.

      1. tamarack & fireweed*

        (Disclaimer – I’m not a fan of the “unlimited vacation” policy. But I do think that the company tried earnestly to be a force for good, being hampered by this being basically impossible. People I worked with back then 10 years ago are still there and sound happy.)

  2. Dino*

    Have you ever gone over your boss’s head? If so, tell me about it. What was the situation and the outcome? Would you do it again?

    1. addiez*

      I once had to recommend to my skip-level boss that he fire my boss. I’d reported to the skip-level on an interim basis while my boss’s role was vacant, and I preceded him at the organization by about a few years. We were a little desperate, and brought someone in without checking references. Turns out, big mistake. We were in fundraising and he regularly made mistakes in proposals and typos/spelling errors in donor mailings. I eventually started documenting to raise the issue to my skip-level, who sat in a different office and didn’t see us day to day. A coworker and I sat the skip-level down when he came into town and talked him through the issues, and they ultimately decided that the new hire couldn’t do the work. He still works in fundraising elsewhere which really does confound me.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Once, my team went to the director when our manager’s behavior meant that we would not meet a contractual obligation we had with the federal government. We were given direction to continue as we originally planned, & the manager was removed from her position not long after. She bounced from place to place in the company & was eventually fired.

      We definitely did the right thing, but we discussed it ahead of time & knew how serious it was & that we needed to have a united front.

      Nobody cared when she mistreated her staff, but holding up a deliverable that was really important to our contract was another story.

    3. Drago Cucina*

      I once made a formal complaint to the a library board member about the director. I made an appointment off site and had a list of concerns about things that would cause legal issues for the library. While I had a lot of personal issues that I could address I tried to keep it to it to a pattern of behavior with multiple employees. Telling someone that she had to wear make-up when it was against her religious beliefs. Telling someone else that she wasn’t allowed to wear a color because the director didn’t personally like it and told her she wasn’t allowed to be friends with someone the director didn’t approve of.

      While nothing immediately happened it did go into her evaluation that pushed her toward making a decision to retire. I am glad I did it because while it wasn’t perfect and didn’t address my conflicts with her I felt a lot better for not remaining silent.

      1. Leela*

        telling someone who they can’t be friends with? what color to wear? That you have to wear make-up at all, but even when it’s against someone’s religious beliefs? this person’s behavior is way out of line

        1. Leela*

          although I have definitely run into managers who think their employees, *especially* their female employees, are dolls for them to dress up and direct around on an extremely personal level that isn’t about work

        2. Meep*

          My former manager is extremely abusive. During the pandemic, she informed me that I shouldn’t be talking to anyone but her, not even my own mother to cover up her abuse. Unfortunately, there are evil people out there.

          1. PT*

            I had one boss- also abusive- who used to keep the security camera homepage up on her second monitor so she could keep track of which employees were talking to each other. She didn’t want people comparing notes on her, and she’d come up with ways to interrupt if she felt the people she saw mixing were a threat.

            Another place I worked encouraged employees in different departments to be skeptical of each other and be siloed/work against each other, again to cover up the various abuses going on from the two facility directors.

            It’s a common tactic.

            1. Green Beans*

              Oh yeah. Our toxic associate director wants to be talking to everyone but doesn’t want us talking to each other.

    4. ONFM*

      I had to make a formal notification to by grandboss due to my boss’ egregious conduct. (Blatant policy violations; only through the intervention of another party was something truly disastrous avoided.) I did address it at the earliest possible moment with my boss directly; his response was to scoff and say he didn’t answer to me, then stalk out of my office. So I notified the Big Boss. Nothing happened, and I would not do it again. I found another job and left six months later.

    5. BayCay*

      I don’t know if this counts as going over a bosses head technically, but I did apply to a role once within the same division but a different department. I didn’t think he needed to know; it was a toxic environment and I was worried he would take it badly if he knew I was looking around. Somebody on the hiring team told him I had applied and interviewed; in retrospect, I should have known it might go that way. He was really mad and butthurt to hear I was looking elsewhere.

      I don’t really regret not telling him, because I think he would have been upset either way I approached it, but it did really turn me off from the company in general and I officially quit soon after.

    6. RJ*

      I was in a contract where the role involved a rigid, three-times-a-year cycle. There were a lot of rules, regulations, and deadlines because not doing these things would result in the whole cycle failing. But, some departments were not at the same capacity as others, so failed to see why they had to follow the rules (because it was possible to bend those rules and not have the cycle fail for those departments). My first cycle, I enforced the rules because that was what I was trained to do. But my manager (who started just after me) totally buckled and gave the other department what they wanted when their director called and yelled at him. It made me look like a total fool. My second cycle, I sent him an email that basically said, do you want me to enforce the rules, or give them what they want? I will do as directed, but whichever way it goes I need to know you’re going to back me on it or you completely undermine me. You can guess what happened – he said to follow the rules, the director called him, he told me to do what she wanted. He came to my cube about it and I basically told him, I emailed you so this wouldn’t happen and you told me you had my back. My hint that others were struggling came when he left and people were giving me supportive looks and miming applause in our open-plan office.

      I gave my notice shortly after, but on the way out I went to his boss and told her exactly what happened, and offered to send her the emails if she wanted them. She was completely supportive and was disgusted by his behaviour. I found out he got fired a few months later. Knowing this I would have spoken up sooner and maybe not left before my contract was up – his boss couldn’t know there was a problem if no one told her.

    7. Allie*

      Ahh core memory unlocked. I work for a small state trade association. Our President & CEO was truly one of the most horrible people I have ever encountered. Honestly I don’t think this comment box is long enough for me to explain how bad he was. Just sexist, cruel, and truly just felt that everyone around him was incompetent. After several months of discussion, the entire staff went to the Executive Committee and telling them what it was like in the office, that it was a rare day if someone didn’t end up in tears. This started a year long process. He was put in leadership training (didn’t work), he was repeatedly talked to by the Executive Committee, etc. Finally, he was fired about a year and a half ago. Things are so much better now, our new President & CEO is one of the most kind people I have ever encountered and trusts everyone to do their jobs. It’s such a refreshing change of pace and we have been able to actually accomplish things rather than just treading water trying to stay afloat. Except now horrible boss now works for one of our members so we all still have to deal with him regularly. He is still forbidden from discussing anything outside of a specific request with any of us as part of his separation agreement.

    8. J.B.*

      Yes. I was young and idealistic and thought the big boss would do something about the jerky manager. Well she did get a talking to about the sexual harassment but nothing else changed. Big boss couldn’t see wrong for long in the level just below. Now that I am older and somewhat wiser I set my own boundaries then move on.

    9. Anonononononymous*

      I’ve done this twice and both times it worked out.

      First time I was one of the organizers for a large group of us going to my boss’ boss. Old boss was terrible. She was a bully. She tried to emotionally manipulate people. And she was incompetent at her job. We went to the grandboss and while it took longer than we would have liked (government job), she was put on a PIP and eventually let go.

      More recently I went to my current boss about my supervisor. Again, it wasn’t just me – my team and other folks in our management were also letting my boss know how incompetent supervisor was. Again, it took WAY to long, but she was also let go.

      Thing is, in both situations. we went as a group and had multiple people at multiple levels discussing the issues. And in both cases, the person we were going to was competent and willing to listen and act, and we had some trust already built up.

      I personally would do it again. But for folks who have been burned doing this kind of thing, I totally get why they wouldn’t.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Yes, it makes all the difference in the world when you have support while going around your immediate manager.

    10. Sleet Feet*

      I had a manager who was bullying me, although I didn’t recognize it as that at the time. I went to her boss looking for solutions, and was basically called a liar. He stated that he had worked with my sucky manager SM for years and no one had ever complained about the things I was complaining about (too numerous to name but the worst of which was not accommodating a medical need, and allowing another coworker to harass me by sabatoging my work on the server, and literally coming over to my cubicle to scream at me. That coworker actually ended up stalking me for 5 years after I left the company – he had a serious hate on that SM emboldened.).

      After going to him I learned that he and SM were attached at the hip. Essentially whenever he moved or got a promotion he brought SM with him within a month. This worked out for me in the end as he left the company after 6 months and she left with him. My new boss shut down the harrasing coworker and overall drastically improved my work situation. She was able to kill my raise on the way out the door though. My new boss gave me a 5 and she gave me a 1 so it averaged out to a 3 even though I had literally saved the company over $300M that year, and my coworkers next best amount was $124k. Real salt in the wound that I only got a $1,000 raise that year.

      I personally have never complained to a skip boss again, but if I were in a position where I thought I needed to I would ask around to try and get some information about their work history first.

      However I’ve never seen complaining to a skip boss go well. Even great skip bosses want to support the managers beneath them. Their sympathies tend to lie with the boss. Usually I’ve seen some serious retaliation after a complaint, and by then the victim feels they have no one to turn to since the skip boss handled it in a way that lead to retaliation in the first place.

      In short, if a boss is bad enough that their boss needs informed, then the skip boss is already failing to do their job and manage their direct report. Being the messenger to flag that probably won’t achieve anything but grief for you.

    11. loislolane*

      Yes, because they were denying vacation time for the entire team on the basis of not having enough staffing. They then promptly went on vacation themselves.

      The entire team sat down with our boss’ boss about that and about some other complaints we had.

      She was gone shortly thereafter.

    12. Daffodilly*

      Yes, once. My boss was going through chemo and trying to do it all but was struggling with brain fog and exhaustion. Mistakes were happening and were impacting the team and the clients. I went over her head to alert her boss to the issues and ask for advice on how to handle it while the situation was ongoing. We worked out a temporary plan, and when boss beat chemo and was back at normal functioning we stopped the workaround. Not sure boss ever knew. 100% would do it again if I was in a similar situation. But I also knew all the people involved, knew they cared and would handle it with compassion and grace.

    13. The Dogman*

      One of my bosses at the burger chucking place with a gold logo was married to a junior manager. That junior manager was leading an “in” group based on MeanGirls or something similar.

      She was bullying, harrassing and ultimately sexually harrassing staff members and complaints resulted in her husband denying everything and firing the complainant.

      I went to the area manager with the support of some staff and other junior managers, the AM and I had built a good relationship as I had been calm in a previous crisis (robbery) and stopped the corporation losing money (I was actually just defending the other staff, but a by product was no money lost and 1 criminal arrested).

      I gave him audio, video and written evidence and pointed out if the bully and the boss didn’t get let go the rest of the staff were ready to walk.

      He took it seriously, fired the JM, reassigned the boss to a non-supervisory role and got us a lovely store boss who did a lot to undo the damage the previous couple had done.

      He also got a “no married managers in the same store” policy enacted to prevent this sort of thing in future, which I thought was a good touch.

    14. Leela*

      My boss was lying about my work to other people in the company to cover up her own mistakes/poor judgement. It would usually be that she’d get in a work item and ask me to do X, which I would do, she’d say it was done well, good job, etc. She’d take it to the person who gave it to her who would get upset because they’d wanted Y and told her that very clearly. She’d lie and say that she told me Y, and that I’d done X anyway, and she’d tell ME that she’d told me Y when I knew that wasn’t true and when I’d go over what she’d said she’d deny it. Eventually I insisted that any instructions she gave me were in writing, and then when this happened again I’d show her that she had literally told me X and not Y, and then she refused to ever give me anything in writing again. This happened over and over, trashing my reputation at this company. She was FT and I was a temp to hire, hoping to get hired. I went to her manager and told her what was happening, and brought the writing. Grandboss told my manager about it, my manager got furious and guilt tripped me saying didn’t I know how BAD it made her feel, it felt like she got punched in the stomach to have to hear it (not my problem…), she then totally shut me out of work and claimed I wasn’t working, and I never made it to being hired. I learned later something similar had happened to both the person before and after me.

      Would I do it again? Not in this particular instance. It changed nothing and only caused problems for me. I do think it was *warranted* but I’d scrutinize my own situation and how well I think my grandboss can actually handle an issue before bringing it up again. I also found out that grandboss had gone on and on to my boss about how bad my issue made Grandboss feel, because my boss was making grandboss look like a bad boss and it was all boss’ fault. This would appear to be their whole conversation, nothing along the lines of “you can’t lie about Leela’s work to other people in this company to cover up for the fact that you misunderstood or didn’t ask clarifying questions”

      1. curiousLemur*

        “my manager got furious and guilt tripped me saying didn’t I know how BAD it made her feel, it felt like she got punched in the stomach to have to hear it” Sounds like the equivalent of a bully being annoyed that he hurt his hand punching someone.

      2. Fran Fine*

        It sounds like a blessing in disguise that you didn’t make it to a permanent role in that place. Can you imagine how much worse this situation would have gotten had you been hired on and still worked for this person who lied all the time and a grandboss who basically helped her double down on that foolishness because it made him look bad to his own boss? Too much dysfunction in that situation – bullet dodged, even if it didn’t feel like it at the time.

    15. LKW*

      Once. I’ve mentioned it here before. My manager was leaving for three weeks to get married. I was supposed to be leaving the project, at the client’s request, in that time. The day before he left he gave me a performance review that was vicious. It made some relevant points, but with no context and not in a constructive way. Taken at face value, I would have been put on a performance plan or just tossed.

      Rather than accept it I raised the issue that the language used, the lack of communication and other facets was unacceptable and unprofessional. I not only went to his boss, but threatened to go to the big big boss. Skip boss was amenable to working on the language, especially because I was on the project as a favor to skip boss. During those three weeks, the client came back apologizing for overreacting, realized their mistake, noted the value that I was bringing and asked me to stay.

      When my manager returned he found me still there and I no longer reported to him and now reported directly to skip boss.

    16. Jay*

      Yup. My current boss had been with us about three months and it was clear he had terrible communication skills and made decisions off-the-cuff and then had to walk them back. One of our employees was being bullied and his response was essentially “boys will be boys” (Boss and Bully are the only “boys” in the clinical part of our region out of about 25 people). Bully’s manager and I are at the same level – she asked me for advice and we decided to go to grandboss. In the course of that conversation we mentioned the precarious state of our major contract. Grandboss said “What are you talking about?” Well, Boss told us we were at high risk of not being renewed….Grandboss literally sat with her mouth open and stared at us. We’d already been renewed.

      A lot changed after that. Boss is still problematic in some ways but overall it’s much better and I would absolutely do it again.

    17. Sled dog mama*

      Reported my boss for falsifying time cards, assigning hours to the wrong cost center and removing overtime (both authorized and unauthorized).
      Totally blew up in my face because the company didn’t care the first thing they did after I reported him was call him and tell him I reported it and he immediately came to me wanting to know why I had gone over his head rather than asking him to fix it (I had previously asked him to fix a time sheet of mine that I thought was a mistake but when it happened multiple times in a row I realized it was deliberate. When I reported it I had been gathering evidence of him doing this to multiple people for 6 months)
      I would do it again for sure, mostly because I learned that the place was full of bees and that HR didn’t care about complying with the law on overtime. They trumped up something to fire me “for cause” a few months later. When I tell people what they fired me for I I get either laughter or the most confused WTF look.
      They fired me for something like completing a to-do item that I could see a coworker had completed but forgotten to sign off on, he was on vacation so rather than let it dangle I completed the to-do item, they accused me of falsifying records even though that to-do item would never be considered a record of who did the task, especially since coworker had to sign 6 different places to complete the task.

      1. Miles*

        Depending on what records you were able to recover this is something the DoL (for the fraud) and an attorney (for the owed wages) would have loved to address.

    18. KatieP*

      One time comes to mind. I had a coworker (RCW1) with a habit of telling racist jokes during staff meetings. The first time she did it, none of the supervisors were present. Since she and I shared a boss, I told our boss.
      Nothing happened. Then I ended up in a car with my boss and another coworker (RCW2) and they were both using racial slurs. Telling them that they both knew it was wrong to do that only made them dig their heels in. Since it would have been the two of them against me, I didn’t report it.
      Then RCW1 told another racist joke during a staff meeting with my boss present, and a colleague in another department was the subject of the joke. The boss did nothing. One of my coworkers (RCW3) laughed. Oddly, RCW2 looked uncomfortable.
      I reported that incident to the Director (I was already on my way out, and had serious IDGAF-itis at that point).
      He sent out an email reminding people not to be unkind. That’s it.
      I was already actively looking for a new job, because openly racist comments were just part of the toxic environment in that office. I found a new job a few weeks later, and I’m so much happier here!

      1. Coffee Bean*

        That is truly awful. I am very glad that you got out of there. I hope your coworkers’ atrocious behavior came back to bite them eventually.

      2. Meep*

        Gosh. Got to love the office bigot. My former manager KNOWS my best friend is Muslim and Sudanese. She complained once about how there was a bunch of Muslim women hogging the pool due to a kid’s birthday party. She then insisted it was so very strange that there was not a single Muslim man in sight and they must be all upstairs planning a terrorist attack. I was shocked. Not as shocked when she “apologized” the next day because she didn’t want to be “seen” as a racist before launching into “But you have to understand, Meep, there were no men there. They must have been all upstairs planning a terrorist attack.” This was over the phone so I promptly hung up on her. Unfortunately, this woman is “HR” so there is no one to report her bigoted butt to.

        And truthfully, this wasn’t the most bigoted thing she has said.

    19. Water Everywhere*

      Half above, half sideways (small company) and would definitely do it again. A male vendor was stalking & harassing my female coworker via message & social media. Coworker was very upset one day, this is how I found out about the harassment and also that it was not a new thing and people knew about it (I was fairly new at the company) & had brushed it off. Including our mutual manager (also a woman) whose attitude on this day was along the lines of “women just have to deal with this”. I was LIVID and next day brought my concerns to another manager who though not directly above mine did have more interaction with the CEO. Framed it as a health & safety issue for coworker and a reputation issue for the company (angles that hadn’t occurred to them before; you should have seen the widening eyes as it sunk in). To their credit they were 100% on board with putting a stop to it. I don’t know what happened after that meeting but we never used that vendor again in the years since.

    20. Elle Woods*

      I have. In a nutshell, a colleague of mine was sexually harassing me and most of the other women in our department. Long story short, my boss chalked up the harasser’s behavior as part of his personality and said that we all simply “misunderstood” harasser’s behavior. The following week, I brought the documentation I had recorded about this person’s behavior–including sexually explicit emails–to my grandboss. Grandboss was horrified and said he’d handle it. Harasser was out of a job by the end of the day. I would absolutely do it again.

    21. Anon For This One*

      This is pretty extreme but I went to my bosses boss when a former manager was being very belittling to me. It went on for about a year and a half, and then one day I’d had enough. I had spent so long being afraid to say anything, and I think I had gained more confidence and he had this pattern where he would sort of hold me hostage in a conversation and not “excuse” me until I said he was right and I was wrong. Yes, it was pretty degrading and I can’t believe I put up with it as long as I did.

      So one day as I was at work late, fixing a mistake he had made, we were on the phone and he started going in at me for asking a question and went on and on and on until I was crying at the office but he wouldn’t let me off the phone. There was always a thinly veiled threat that if I ever left a conversation without being “excused” I would be fired for insubordination. Feels so icky even typing that but that was how it was happening.

      When I finally got off the phone I was so upset that I went over to his bosses’ desk (who was about to leave for a multiple week vacation) and I told him what happened while shaking. I knew if I didn’t do it in that moment, I’d never do it. I had never said anything about my bosses behavior so none of the hire ups knew what was going on. I’m sooooo glad I spoke up. I just wish I had done it earlier than I did.

        1. Anon For This One*

          Yes, he apologized for not realizing what was happening and then my boss ended up getting put on a PIP. Not just because of the stuff with me, he was apparently treating other lower level women badly and doing some other things that I wasn’t privy to. But I think my talk with bosses boss may have solidified things. And bosses boss told me that I could come directly to him with questions and concerns so I just felt like I had someone in my corner and it was a relief to be believed. At the time I was convinced that if I said anything people would have not believed me or I would have been gaslit. I think my old boss had a jedi mind control over me or something!

      1. Hippo-nony-potomus*

        I worked for someone almost exactly like this, just worse (women usually lasted about 3 months). Skip boss did nothing. Boss, skip boss, and HR got sued. All got fired.

    22. Feral At This Point*

      Twice … and it was a disaster both times. Once for stealing cash and changing sales records to no longer record literal cash transations from the company (I had proof …) and once part of an anonymous 360 review that ruined the entire working relationship I had with him. I’ve learned to not care unless it’s my money and simply CYA myself, never trust anonymous reviews, and move on when the boss is bad. Sorry to add cold water to what seems like mostly positive experiences from other people!

      1. Fran Fine*

        I’m actually shocked that more people didn’t have a similar outcome to yours – there is so much potential for this to go horribly wrong when reporting a boss’s bad behavior to upper management.

    23. NancyDrew*

      Yep. I had to go to my boss’s boss in near tears because my boss was SO ineffective and frustrating. It had been a slow burn and I’d been updating her on the issues (we had regular meetings already) and then one day I got an offer for another job and I flat out told her I would take it if my current boss was going to remain my boss. She immediately promoted me and switched reporting lines so I didn’t report to him anymore.

      Eventually (years later) I then had to re-open the complaint line about him, and she ended up putting him on a PIP. He retired halfway through the PIP.

    24. Ann Perkins*

      Yes. He started seriously dating someone in mid-level management who directly reported to him. It was creating serious problems in the office since the mid level manager who toxic and complaints were coming in about her to me but I didn’t have the authority to do anything about it and he would sweep concerns under the rug. So far not much concrete action has been taken and I ended up leaving that job anyway.

    25. LoraC*

      Accidentally, yes.

      My boss was bad (understatement of the century). I saw an opening for an internal transfer and quietly applied.

      The department I was transferring to was curious about why I was transferring and they scheduled me not to talk with the original hiring manager, but the actual department head. He was curious about why I was trying to transfer. I tried to dance around it and talked about wanting different/challenging work, and he told me he knew that very challenging work was coming my way soon. Then I flatly told him my boss wasn’t doing anything and I was doing the work he should’ve been doing. Which he believed because my boss was that notorious (long story but he’d almost been fired and had been reported up to C-suite).

      He offered to talk to my current department head and it set off an entire chain since my department head was 3 levels above my manager. Eventually my skip level met with me and I told him the things that were being assigned to me were way above my current title and should’ve been done by my boss.

      And instead of doing anything about it, they compromised by giving me an off-cycle promotion+10% raise while still having me report to my current boss. And I guess I gained a mysterious reputation for having a connection with high level managers because no one ever figured out why my department head was suddenly asking about a random employee 4 levels below him.

    26. Olivia Mansfield*

      We once went as a group directly to the dean who was having some sort of undefined relationship with two women on the administrative staff.

      He was always flirting with them, and they were always flirting with him, and then whenever they didn’t like any policy or procedure from the dean’s excellent assistant, they would go into his office and tell him some sort of sob story about their difficult childhoods, or cry, or both, and then the dean would come out from his office and reverse whatever decision had been made. His assistant would even ask him in advance of setting a policy, if he agreed with a given policy and if he would back her up on it, and he would say yes, and then they would cry in his office and he would reverse that policy, too.

      About 5 or 6 of us staff, ranking from admins to directors, made a private meeting with him to discuss how it looked and how it affected us, but he was willfully oblivious that he was doing anything wrong.

      So when his annual 360 review came around, we all put what we had told him in person into his evaluation, which brought it to the attention of the upper administration of the university. Meanwhile, one of the women who was always crying in his office was fired for cause, after which she filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against him (which I don’t know why it wasn’t sexual harassment, and many of us didn’t even realize she wasn’t white until she filed a racial discrimination suit, and we were all like, Wait — what race? And why isn’t the suit for sexual harassment?).

      Anyway, at that point, the university attorneys got involved and called each staff member in to meet with them and ask about what had happened. One of the things that they asked me was, “How did you all know that they [the two women] were crying and telling him about their bad childhoods?” and I said, “Because he would come out of his office and tell us that! He would come out of his office and say, ‘We’re not going to do this policy, after all, because [M. or J.] was upset about it and she’s had a hard childhood.”

      Nothing happened to him that time, but a few years later another junior female staff member filed a sexual harassment complaint against him, and the upper administration said they were done using legal resources on him, and made him go back on the faculty, dismissing him from his dean’s appointment. He was allowed to frame it as wanting to semi-retire and spend time with his family, but we all knew it was because of the lawsuits against him.

    27. Alexis Rosay*

      My brother went over his boss’s head to request a raise after his boss denied him. He ended up getting fired instead. But the thing is…He was pretty disengaged from that job, I’m guessing his work didn’t necessarily deserve a raise, and by escalating the issue he just came off as out of touch.

    28. Momma Bear*

      I went to the big boss when I couldn’t resolve an issue with the project manager. Ultimately I decided that if the project manager was going to stay, I was not. I would do it again. Several of us left. No one should have been surprised.

    29. Meep*

      I should have been truthfully fired for insubordination years ago. My former manager is a bit volatile and anything will set her off depending on the moment. I would be working on something and she would screech and scream at me to stop “wasting” time and then two weeks later expect it to be completely done so she could take credit for it. She also makes a stink about vacation days to the point, her subordinates will come to me to let me know when they are going on vacation rather than her. Our boss has no issues with it, but she likes to pretend HE is the mean one, so I go to bat for whoever wants to go on vacation and all she can do is pout.

    30. Animal worker*

      Yes, at my last job. I’ll preface it to say that at this point my leaving was definite, which did make me feel pretty comfortable to be professional yet very honest. The reason that I went up the ladder was because my boss was also the director of the organization, who reported to a municipal director who was not an animal person, therefore I had no one else to go to within my organization about animal welfare concerns. I knew the big boss well enough to feel relatively comfortable doing this, as much as is possible anyway given the situation. I had literally six pages of notes with me grouped by category, to help me stay focused and hit all salient points. And I had corroborating documentation which I gave him on a flash drive afterwards. My goal was 1/3 petty – admittedly – that I had been treated so badly (in my opinion anyway) that I wanted this person to feel some of it, but 2/3 because my core issues involved areas where animal welfare was put at risk and I wanted the powers that be to be aware of this and hopefully help these things happening in the future.

      No idea really what the long-term outcome was. I do know that the big boss (municipal director) did take some actions as far as meetings with those involved and due to another non-animal related aspect of my treatment I ended up negotiating an agreed upon payment as well – so for those reasons and for my own feeling of needing to do something to help safeguard the staff and animals I’m glad I spoke up. I do know that no one lost their job or anything, the director (my boss) did retire within a year but that was somewhat planned, no idea if it was expedited at all or at the planned timeline. I’d do it again in a heartbeat if I had to, but really, really hope to never be in such a stressful work situation again.

    31. MissBliss*

      I’m not sure this quite counts, because it wasn’t about something that my boss did, but:

      I was present at a meeting with the board chair, event committee chair, and, inexplicably, my boss’s boyfriend (who was a community member/leader of another org, and friend of the chair, but not a staff member). My boss had to cancel last minute because she wasn’t feeling well. Board chair made a joke to the boyfriend, in front of a vendor, that she was sick because she was pregnant (which she was not– they did not want kids). I was the only woman there. I was made deeply uncomfortable, and didn’t feel like I could report it to my boss. I reported it to another director level female staff member, who encouraged me to go to the CEO, which I did. He was mortified and was glad I had spoken up, and took care of letting my boss know what had happened and speaking with the board chair.

    32. TechGirlSupervisor*

      I had to go over my bad boss several times to his boss. She knew how awful he was but he was being protected by someone multiple levels above her. She pretty much directed me to document all our non-interactions (he had taken to freezing me out of any communication by that point, which since I was the technical lead and he was the PM, was really stupid of him).

      It came to head when I had to inform him that his lack of planning meant the impossible deadline he set for a piece of documentation couldn’t be met because the team can’t make miracles happen. Even though we had been communicating that to him the entire time, he decided to yell and scream at the team in the meeting we had to discuss what to do about the document that was going to be late. He acted like it was this huge surprise.

      For me that was the last straw. I had been pretty much taking the brunt of his stupidity and shielding the rest of the team from him but I went directly to his boss after that, outlined how the meeting went and stated that given his unreasonable screaming at the team and the rest of behavior I had been documenting up to the point, I was ready to file an official HR complaint of work place bullying and harassment.

      He was pulled off the project the next day and “left” the company after that.

      I had the backing of his boss the entire time and I realize that not everyone has that, but it made it so much easier to deal with in some ways. I knew he was just digging his own hole and that I would be fine.

    33. the principle of the thing anon*

      It wasn’t just me, but most of the staff at the school. It was our second principal (a new to the area public school, K-5)–and she was new to admin and…not suited for it. She obviously harassed staff members she didn’t like, got in screaming matches in the hallways with teachers during class time, tried to circumvent union based seniority lists, lied, cheated, was sure everyone was always talking about her….She was a piece of work and rather awful. If she was out for a morning appointment and showed up midday, you could feel the atmosphere change as soon as she walked through the doors.

      Our previous principal had gone to be a director of programs at the school board head office–and after about 4 or 5 years, several of the teachers 2ndP harassed, got together and let all staff know to call our previous admin to complain about 2ndP so that central office could document things.

      Within a couple months our previous principal along with the superintendent of schools showed up–floating subs were provided for staff as necessary and the two them interviewed staff. We were interviewed individually by one or the other and asked 4 or 5 questions about 2ndP–the last questions was: “Do you want her back next year?” I don’t think ANYONE answered yes.

      The end result: she took an LOA from the principal position the next year and went back to doing resource (where she’d come from)….and the year after that she totally left the admin position and was back to resource until she left our board for good. I’ve been with our board for almost 25 years and this is one of the few times I’ve heard of this happening. I honestly think that the reasons something got done quickly is because our previous principal knew the staff and that we weren’t making sh*t up. That previous admin eventually moved up and became the superintendent of schools herself.

      I often say I survived that horrible principal, I can survive anyone. And I have.

      1. curiousLemur*

        “he obviously harassed staff members she didn’t like, got in screaming matches in the hallways with teachers during class time, tried to circumvent union based seniority lists, lied, cheated, was sure everyone was always talking about her.”

        As well as not being suited for admin, she sounds like a horrible human being in general.

    34. Robin Ellacott*

      Once. It was a situation like the letter recently where payroll messed up and none of the staff at the small chain store I managed got paid. It was the end of the month and they were panicking about rent and so on.

      My boss, a district manager, was taking a “payroll is aware of the issue and say it will take 1-2 weeks to pay them, so *shrug* nothing we can do” approach. I called the regional manager – still amazed 23-year old me dared, because she was the manager for hundreds of stores over half of North America, and a rather formidable person whom I had just met once. She heard me out politely and called back half an hour later to say we would receive cheques by courier that day, and thanks for letting her know.

      I found out later that she actually was impressed I called her. I’m not sure if she chastened my boss. I fled that pretty crappy company a few years later.

      1. Robin Ellacott*

        Oh, and I went to the CEO once about a manager who was bullying people, but she wasn’t my manager so not sure that counts. The bully got investigated and fired.

    35. Sometimes supervisor*

      Sort of and with mixed results.

      Got an excellent lead on a piece of work that would have been perfect for our company. Brought back to manager, who told me to wrap it into a colleague’s work because it was similar. I thought it was a bigger deal than that, so raised it to her manager, who agreed with me and spun it off as its own project.

      I already didn’t get have the greatest working relationship with manager but things became really frosty from there on out. Basically, no more support for any of my projects, small mistakes suddenly became a massive deal she’d flip out over, and she made it very clear she’d much rather I wasn’t on the team anymore. I left about six months later.

      But the project also did really well. It was one of the best performing projects of the business had had that year, it’s still on my CV years later and people were still asking me about it for a good while after I left the company. It was basically the sort of project that only comes along every handful of years.

    36. I'm Done*

      He wasn’t directly my boss but he was the head of the business unit. It was reported to me by several sources that he was taking kickbacks. I reported it to our corporate headquarters in Japan. He was fired the next day. Unfortunately, he was hired by the director of the European headquarters who blamed me for losing face. He retaliated by firing me exactly on the day a year later. He left me in place for a year because they needed someone to run the business unit until they could find a replacement for the business unit manager. I sued the company for wrongful termination and won a fairly large settlement. It actually turned out to be a really good thing in the long run.

    37. Chaordic One*

      This was about six years ago. My direct boss, an over-worked and underpaid lower-level manager, left and was replaced by a reasonably intelligent and (irrelevantly) credentialed, but inexperienced person who, during our annual review, said that I would be “considered” for a step raise to a slightly higher pay level. The job was horrible and I was doing a work of 2 or 3 people in a horrible work environment and I don’t think my inexperienced boss realized how much I did. Among other things, we were going through a transition of databases. There was massive resistance among the users, who continued to submit information the old way, and I had to take on the additional work of accepting this information, reformatting it and then inputting it into the new database. An enormous time suck when I was already underpaid and overworked. A year later, next annual review, and I was told that I would not be receiving the step raise and that it was mostly because of her boss.

      I was not happy and told my boss that I wanted to speak to her boss. I waited a couple of days, and crickets. So I met with my boss’s boss and he acted clueless. I don’t think I my boss had relayed how unhappy I was. I told him how disappointed I was with not being given the step raise and his failure to support my boss and our department. He did not take the criticism well and dumped all of the responsibility for the situation back on my boss. However, he did relay my unhappiness to his boss (my boss’s boss’s boss) who then did meet with me to let me know that he and my boss’s boss were now aware of my unhappiness.

      Shortly after this my boss’s position was redesigned and split between 3 people. She was, effectively, demoted a notch and while still in a position above mine, no longer my supervisor. Looking back I can now see that she was also terribly overworked, afraid to advocate for her department and employees and I now attribute this to her inexperience and desire to not make waves. It was not what I intended or expected. I naively thought they’d give her some more support. My new boss was a dim-witted, long-term employee who kept her head down and was nearing retirement. But nothing else changed. My job continued to be awful and my new boss was as unhelpful as the previous one.

      For the next year I was busy applying for other jobs, getting interviews, but no offers. I was still waiting around for the next annual review (and my hard work and genius to be recognized) when, on the day before my employer gave out profit sharing bonuses, I was fired by my boss’s boss’s boss. My boss (the long-termer) was present, but didn’t say anything and cried. I was told that I was being fired because I was “resistant to change” (which was a bizarre narrative narrative for him to use). I was unhappy and did not have a good attitude, but I would have happily embraced any change that was anything other than having more work dumped on me without receiving any additional compensation for it, and being misled about being promoted.

      In retrospect, I could have framed my unhappiness better and advocated for myself better, but I don’t think anything would have made a difference. My bosses were doing a lot of gas-lighting and it was typical for the employer. I was living in a small rural town with limited employment opportunities, so it wasn’t surprising that I had difficulty in finding another job. I ultimately ended up having to move to a more urban area in order to find a decent job.

      I would like to think that, after I was gone, they came to some realization about how much I did. I suspect that they underestimated how far along the transition to the new database was and how much extra work it entailed to make it work. They probably had to hire at least 2 people to do the work I did.

      My former employer is a nonprofit that I have sometimes refered to as “Dysfunctional Teapots”. It was heavily hit by the COVID crisis and they had to lay off a large number of people. My boss’s boss recently died (apparently suddenly and unexpectedly). The cause of death was not revealed. My boss’s boss’s boss (gas lighter par excellent and the one who fired me) retired early and is now working as a consultant for political campaigns. Before his retirement he would frequently write letters to the editor of local newspapers, mostly advocating for my employer, but also related to politics. I expected him to continue to write such letters after his retirement, but I’m only aware of one such letter and it was just a kind of meandering muddle that didn’t seem to have any point other than to say that he was still around. It was weird.

    38. Clearlier*

      It started with my greatgrandboss tapping my shoulder one day, asking if I had a minute and bringing me into a meeting room. I didn’t know it at the time but he had just finished a meeting with my recently appointed boss who had just resigned where he let loose about his boss (my grandboss) and he was trying to find out what was going on.

      He just asked me ‘how are things’ and went silent which floored me. I asked him if he really wanted to know, he said yes and I gave him a sanitised version. He offered me a raise, which I turned down saying that the problem wasn’t money it was the grandbosses behaviour (at this remove I can’t quite believe that I turned down a raise that I actually more than deserved) so he told me that I could come talk to him any time I liked.

      I noticed a change in her behaviour almost immediately, she still didn’t know how encourage or be positive but she dialed the negativity down a few notche’s.

      What I hadn’t mentioned in the meeting, because I was struggling to put it into words, was an incident that had happened a few days earlier. I had been unexpectedly called into a meeting with my boss and grandboss and told that I was doing a bad job because I was spending too much of my time talking and I was given direct instruction to stop talking to and helping people – mine was a hybrid technical/managerial role and this was to include the team that I manage outside of assigning them work and even that was to be done via the software system.

      Of course as I’m walking back to my desk sightly stunned, one of my newer team members asks if I can explain something to him. Without thinking I told them what I had just been told but said that I’d help them anyway. We sorted the issue out but the team member (who was very experienced and just taking on a low-level role part-time to keep their brain active) was flabbergasted at the instruction that I had received and couldn’t stop themselves from expressing their shock repeatedly including when after my boss had returned to his desk which was beside us. Cue my boss telling me that that wasn’t what was meant. I asked for clarification and didn’t really get any.

      The following day I get a message from my grandboss asking me to come into a meeting room that they were in. I go and immediately get this prepared monologue where I’m told that I can’t go telling people that I’m not allowed to talk to them. They had anticipated that I would deny that I had said this and as part of the monologue told me that they (grandboss) had been standing behind my direct report when I had said it to them. I apologised and said that this was what I had understood I was being told (asking wasn’t a part of the conversation). They said no and got ina complete muddle trying to explain what it was that they had meant.

      I hadn’t realised it but I was being gaslighted all the time – I had heard of the term but didn’t know what it meant until some time later. In retrospect this had been going on for sometime without me realising it. This time however grandboss had given me a specific which I knew to be a lie (that they had been standing behind my direct report). When my boss told me that they were leaving and why I confirmed my facts and stewed on it for a couple of days.

      I saw this as a verifiable example of the kind of behaviour that was so difficult to work with so decided to take greatgrandboss up on their offer, met them and related the story. I have no doubt whatsoever that they believed me however their response was that I was doing great, was invaluable to the company, that they saw me as an ideal fit for my bosses job and that I would have to find a way work with grandboss – this was the second resignation by someone in my bosses position in a 6 month period.
      It’s difficult to say if I’d do it again. In principle yes but in practice I’d be very cautious as it made no positive difference and possibly made it worse as the gaslighting subsequently escalated. The biggest mistake that I made was not leaving sooner.

      Congratulations if you made it to the end. I’m barely touching on all of the stuff that went on and I have talked about it with people but it’s helpful to write out even just this very small part of what I experienced.

    39. The New Wanderer*

      Kind of. I was assigned to a new manager, who I already knew and recognized would be a terrible choice to manage me (or really anyone). I talked to my outgoing manager first and they encouraged me to talk to grand-boss since they also knew this would be a terrible match.

      I spoke to my grandboss, someone I respect and who returned the favor, and they agreed to move me to the manager I requested (who I had already talked to) basically on the basis of my asking. Unfortunately it took almost two months before the transfer officially took effect, and during that time I was having to report to the manager I wanted. That person was so far out of their depth, they complained that I hadn’t accomplished a nearly impossible feat that I’d been working on for a while, and tasked me with solving a multi-year problem in six weeks using Agile (because in their limited understanding, anything can be solved using Agile methods). I said that wasn’t possible and tried to explain why, and they responded that my problem was that I must not understand Agile and I should read some book they recommended. It really cemented the fact that if my grandboss hadn’t approved, I would have left rather than continue to report to that awful manager.

    40. Anon for this*

      I was working on a project where the resourcing had basically been screwed up.

      Person A managed it, then got a promotion, so person B took over for a bit. (I was working for person B). Person B misreported how well things were going. I then got promoted and took over from person B (who joined a different team) and reported into person A. For reasons still not fully understood by me, they took all but one of the experienced people off the team and left us with a project in a bad state and mostly junior employees.

      It was awful, ridiculously stressful, silly hours and I was complaining to person A every status meeting (but they’re an optimist and I guess just thought I needed reassurance? Who knows). I went over their head and told someone else how bad it was and the team gained two more experienced people the next week. I should have done it earlier :)

    41. Anonosaurus*

      About 15 years ago I had a boss who was a nightmare – he undermined me by giving instructions to my team, excluded me from meetings, committed me and my team to projects without consultation and on a personal level was rude and condescending. In hindsight I did some things which weren’t helpful too, and I would manage the situation very differently if it happened to me now. Anyway, things eventually came to a head over a performance review which I thought was unfair, and I requested a review with my grandboss at which I listed some of these issues and said that I was going to raise a grievance about my boss if things didn’t improve. The grandboss’ solution was to create a new job for me in a different department rather than to deal with my boss’ behavior – although I wouldn’t know if he was ever spoken to, he remained in that role until he retired. Anyway, I accepted the new position and it all worked out OK for me. but only because I had already decided to leave the organization, which I did about eight months later. If I had been committed to my career in that organization, the sideways move would not have been good for me.

    42. Hannah Lee*

      At a previous job, I uncovered a data entry error which made it seem like the company’s bookings and revenue for the quarter would be millions greater than they actually were.

      Since I’d only been there a couple of months before just making the correction, I raised the issue with my boss, to run it by her. Iinstead of giving me the go ahead to fix it, she demanded that I give her all my notes, documentation about it and not say a word to anyone. A few weeks later the #s still hadn’t been corrected and she almost hissed at
      me when I tried to follow up about it with her.

      Then I saw a draft of the quarterly financial statements and they had the inflated numbers. This was a publicly traded tech company and earnings reports were critical and obviously needed to be accurate. It was clear to me that my boss, the finance director was sitting on the correct info and letting the false #s stay. So I went to HER boss, the CFO to explain the situation so he could take action before the financial reports were issued.

      But it turned out he already knew and was okay with reporting financial results he knew were wrong. There had already been signs this wasn’t a great company to work for, but this huge ethical and legal violation was the last straw. Even though I’d been doing great there, hitting all my goals, reenergizing my department and collaborating with other managers, and even though I didn’t have a job lined up, I gave my notice and left after 2 weeks.

      It worked out okay though – my staff gave me a sweet going away party and thanked me for everything, my old boss heard I was leaving and offered me a consulting gig at my previous employer, a role which paid 40% more than my previous position there and was in a less chaotic, toxic department, and led to a FT offer for a great job.

      Oh and bad company got caught issuing incorrect financials, had to issue restatements for multiple years, causing the stock price to tank and they got hit with a huge fine, and eventually shut down.

  3. Albeira Dawn*

    Has anyone read “Designing Your Work Life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans? I read most of their first book and am trying to decide if this one would be more or less helpful in figuring out what I want to do with my career.

    1. cubone*

      I have not, but have heard it recommended time and time again! I also think design thinking is a fantastic framework for all sorts of things though, so I’m biased. I think if you liked the first one then why not?

      (I will also say again that though it doesn’t seem to jive with everyone, I think the What Colour is Your Parachute Workbook is very useful for defining specifics about what you do and don’t like in a job).

    2. I'm In The Office Today*

      I like the idea of it, but it didn’t really apply to my life, unfortunately. My work life isn’t flexible enough that I can ask for changes to be made.

  4. Let me be dark and twisty*

    I know that sports are the great common office denominator, especially in COVID Times, but it’s really starting to grate on me how often sports come up in our virtual meetings. I am not a sporty person. I don’t play sports, I don’t follow sports, I don’t watch sports, I don’t pay attention to them. And as a non-sporty person, it does make me feel like the company is adopting a sport culture and if you’re not into sports, you’re not part of the cool kids with all their inside jokes and alliances.

    Look, I get it. I get that sports are one of the ways people are connecting at work. I’m not going to complain about it. What good could come out of it? So I’ll just grit my teeth and hope that going back to the office means the sports stop taking over our meetings.

    Are there any other non-sporty people out there? How do you deal with all this? Can we have a secret signal to recognize each other when the Monday morning armchair quarterbacking is getting ridiculous? Do you get dragged into the sporty teambuilding exercises too?

    1. Applesauced*

      Just throw out a “Did you see that ludicrous display last night?” or “The thing about Arsenal is, they always try to walk it in!” and change the subject

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        In all seriousness, this stuff is easy to fake. I am a sports person, but pretty specific about which sports. I know a lot about baseball and American football, would like to know more about cricket and rugby, am largely indifferent to basketball, soccer, hockey, and tennis, and golf makes me catatonic. So how does this serve me in an American office context? I have to be careful talking about baseball and American football. The danger is that start talking about what coverage schemes were used in yesterday’s game and I have lost my audience. They know the final score and remember a few dramatic plays and that is that. The level of the office sports talk is very superficial.

        The plus is that this means I can fake the sports I don’t follow. I can check the headlines in the morning, and perhaps a few highlights, and I have all I need for the purpose. And what is this purpose? This is social bonding, not analysis or exchange of substantive information. I have no expectation of learning anything, and don’t try to teach anything. It is, in short, small talk. And thank goodness for it! Most of my interests are very nerdy. This is my main outlet for socially mainstream casual conversation.

      2. Virginia Plain*

        Came here to say same. Link in the comment for anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure; start this clip at about 1min 40.

    2. 1234*

      Me. I don’t watch sports and couldn’t tell you who played who last night. Can you just say that you didn’t catch the game? Nod, smile, and then move onto the meeting’s agenda?

    3. Bloopmaster*

      Wow. I am so glad I don’t work in your office. There is almost zero of this in my office (just an occasional remark about taking a kid to their sports practice and one team member who follows basketball but knows that the rest of us aren’t interested). I would be so miserable if this was discussed frequently and at length, and I think there are plenty of offices or even whole organizations where sports doesn’t dominate mandatory work activities. I hope you find one.

      1. Let me be dark and twisty*

        It really isn’t that bad. I think it’s exacerbated by everyone working from home and all of us being in the same meetings. In the office it was easier to tolerate since all the sportstalk happened in spaces where I wasn’t working and people could do drivebys to talk about it. The drivebys and those ad hoc “water cooler” conversations aren’t happening in the remote world so it gets dragged into all of the meetings.

        I will say I think one of the more frequent violators is a guy I’m thisclose to entering BEC status with so there’s a very high chance it’s particularly more annoying because he’s the one who keeps starting the sportstalk when people are popping into zooms before the meetings start.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Heh. I have a sneaky idea. Find another team member who shares your interest in something else. Log on to zoom a few minutes earlier than he does. And start a lively conversation about… TV shows, pets, gardening, the latest archaeological discovery in your neck of the woods, whatever. Bonus if you can get a third person to log in early who will join in on your topic as soon as sports dude seems likely to change the subject.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Also share in the phrase that helps when people start getting negative about you not liking sports.
            “Unless I personally know the people playing, it’s kind of like watching somebody else eat dinner.” Admittedly the person I heard this from follows it up with “I’ll try any game you teach me the rules to, but please don’t make me watch someone get paid to play games.”
            I wouldn’t add that unless you really do like to play games.

            1. Not a sports fan*

              The one I’ve used is “after this is over, let’s turn on General Hospital so I can explain to you who all the people are and all their 40 year character backstories and why that matters for the current storylines.”

          2. Yorick*

            This isn’t even sneaky. Bring up other mainstream interests that several people are gonna have. Movies, TV, what your kids dressed up as for Halloween, whatever. Let that be the chitchat today. Sometimes the topic can be sports, sometimes it can be the newest Marvel movie, sometimes it can be the festival you were at this weekend.

      2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        It helps to work someplace full of amiable nerds. We had a few people who followed college soccer or hockey, but they seldom mentioned it except to each other. Lovely!

    4. B*

      Yup. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at some after-work function where sports is the default entertainment. All of my co-workers are watching a game and I’m like, “Peace out, ya’ll.” It is aggravating sometimes.

    5. Sports Go Sports*

      People who are really into sports generally tend to be happier and feel a stronger sense of community, so in offices and especially during Covid it makes sense that it’s coming up a lot. But I’m also not a sporty person and have been in your position in offices before where everyone is talking about the Superbowl or whatever big thing is happening and I don’t relate or understand! Sometimes I chime in with something I heard from a friend about an important game I know just happened just to feel included and usually I just ignore them or say “oh I don’t really follow that” if I’m asked directly. But everyone has interests in multiple things, so find people who are really into your favorite TV show or baking or whatever you may want to talk about to make friends at work and you can reap those same benefits of workplace relationships.

      1. londonedit*

        I agree. None of my current colleagues are into sport, and I actually really miss having someone at work to talk about football with. But I just have to suck it up and find something else to talk to them about – and turning that around, I’d definitely recommend just saying ‘Ah, I don’t really watch sport – but did you see that amazing sunset on Friday night? I couldn’t resist going to the park to take a few photos’ or ‘I’m more Great British Bake Off than football, I’m afraid – did you see it the other night?’ or whatever.

        1. quill*

          My default is usually “I don’t watch that often, who won?” and then allow 2-3 minutes for either annoyance or smugness, depending on what the outcome was. Sports people can entertain themselves by conversing about sport, you don’t actually need to know, participate, or remember anything. :)

          1. londonedit*

            That is such a good point, and one I’d never really considered! If you’re happy to listen to two minutes of me bemoaning the fact that we are about to be demolished by Manchester City tomorrow before I say ‘Anyway – how’s your day going?’, that’s great :D

      2. ...*

        “People who are really into sports generally tend to be happier” — hard disagree on that blanket statement.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          There’s actually research that supports this. Basically, having a sense of belonging in a community (of fellow fans) results in higher self esteem, a feeling of connectedness, a sense of purpose, all sorts of good psychological effects. Obviously being a sports fan isn’t the only way to achieve this, but the sentence “people who are really into sports generally tend to be happier” is objectively true.

          1. All the words*

            What’s being described is tribalism.

            While participants may enjoy it there’s an opposite side of that coin.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Nesting failure, my reply I ended up below. Tldr…it’s not just sports. It’s some ongoing group community activity.

          3. Richard Hershberger*

            Look at the victory parade when the local team wins the championship. It is a love fest of total strangers. Very cathartic.

            1. pancakes*

              In a lot of places these seem to be mostly about getting sloppy drunk and bellowing. Sometimes cars get flipped over. These aren’t my ideal ways to express love.

          4. Not a sports fan*

            I wonder about that research. Did they compare sports fans against non-sports people with other strong community ties and engagement? Or was it just sports fans vs people with no community engagement at all? Because the control group you choose to compare sports fans to is going to have an impact on the results you get.

            1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

              Yes, it sounds pretty biased to me. Did they compare against musicians or cosplayers or amateur theater people?

      3. Generic Name*

        Yep. I used to look down on sports/sports fans as being “low brow”, but my opinion has changed. Sports are fun! They are a great way to bond and feel civic pride. Do I watch sports now? Not really. Sometimes I’ll catch part of a football game, and I really love going to baseball games (but big league games are expensive). I normally follow the gist of how local teams are doing by seeing what folks post on their facebook feeds. That way I can chime in with things like “I can’t believe they traded Von Miller!” on occasion. I think of it as a way to bond with coworkers without getting overly personal.

        1. Pikachu*

          > look down on sports/sports fans as being “low brow”

          Can you clarify what drives this thinking? I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but it is such common perception and I’m wondering what the root of this is. Because athletes are unintelligent? Because fans rejoice in the successes of others, not their own? Because it’s athletic achievement and not brainpower?

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            It is the stereotypical division between jocks and bookworms. It is akin to the stereotype of the classical musician who would not be caught dead listening to pop music. These stereotypes do not correlate well with reality. I was once at the symphony when, between pieces, they announced a local team winning a playoff game, with the audience cheering.

          2. Anony*

            I think some people view sports as not an intellectual pursuit and less productive than a hobby like reading or making art. Particularly people who build part of their identify from liking what’s perceived to be outside the norm (e.g. self-identified hipsters, nerds).

            1. An Nonny Frog*

              I find major league sports annoying. The culture of sports is not inclusive, and promotes gender stereotypes and drinking, which sucks when you are not a white male and/or have alcoholics in your family. The cost of attending a game is so ridiculous now all fans can’t afford it, and many teams whine when the taxpayers don’t want to pay even more to buy them a new stadium when they make several times your salary…

              I also just don’t get it. I understand the idea of wanting to follow a team and having camaraderie, but players are traded and hardly ever actually from the city they play for anymore. It’s like yay for those people we paid the most money for?? I guess…

              The sports culture near me is hostile, too. Our sports fans are poor sports. They flip cars over when we WIN, I could understand the anger when you lose, but wtf? There is a lot of shaming if you even mention another team.

              At OldJob, I had to pretend to care about sports to avoid getting bullied about it, that was the last straw.

              1. PT*

                I agree with this assessment. I’ve lived in some major sports cities and their fans can be scary. They are drunk and violent, and when they’re playing rival teams there’s elevated violence, such that I wonder why parents buy their small children jerseys because it just seems like a way to expose their small child to verbal and physical assault.

                Additionally in some parts of the US, sports colors/logos get adopted by gangs, and that adds a whole second ugly dimension to things.

              2. Green Beans*

                That’s a really biased view against sports. The joy is in watching highly trained experts do something physically demanding and exciting well. In feeling like a part of community that supports their efforts (win or lose). Honestly, the same reasons we like ballet and concerts and museums. Not just the experience, but sharing in the experience with others.
                You don’t have to like it, but literally billions of people find value in the experience.

                1. Down to the minute*

                  Agreed. Sometimes it’s much easier to make gender/race/lifestyle stereotypes than to look in the mirror.

                2. pancakes*

                  Come on, now. You are not comparing similar experiences. There are no military fly-overs or other displays of nationalism at the ballet or at museums, or people who paint their faces or their beer bellies in the colors and logos of their favorite ballet companies bellowing in the audience, for starters. Some of us who enjoy playing sports and might otherwise be open to watching now and then have noticed this stuff and find it repugnant. The one sporty boyfriend I had who liked to watch football (and was a brilliant soccer player himself) would only watch it with the sound off because he hated that it has what he called “the tackiest presentation of any sport.” If you truly believe that anything popular must be good, you are going to find yourself defending a lot of terrible stuff.

                3. pancakes*

                  Yorick, I think it’s reasonably clear from my comment that it isn’t face paint itself I dislike, but the context for it at so many sporting events – militarism, nationalism, loud sloppy drunks, the simpleminded nature of hollering for one team or place to beat another, etc. I don’t know much about comic cons, but my impression is that they generally don’t tend to involve these things!

              3. Hannah Lee*

                The thing I always find amazing is when ‘Sports-Fan adults’ mock others, for example sci-fi or other genre fans for being passionate about *their* thing, while being literally fanatical about sports… attending multiple games, watching any others, playing in fantasy leagues, listening to sports talk shows, slapping team stickers on their cars, desks, gym bags, strewing team swag about their workplace.

                The there’s my personal favorite, the NE Patriots fan I worked with making fun of a co-worker who went to a con and cos-played their favorite character… while he was wearing a Pats team jersey with his favorite player’s name and number on the back … AT WORK in an office.
                My cosplaying co-worker and I had a silent conversation like that Tostitos commercial “Can you believe this guy?” “Are you going to tell him he himself is cosplaying” “no YOU tell him!”

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I disagree with you on one thing– it’s not just ‘sports’. It’s any regular group activity. So for me it’s more:
        “People who are really into ( art classes / acting / dance / chorus / being docent for their local history museum / parent-teacher organizations / church committees / Pride parade planning / etc) generally tend to be happier and feel a stronger sense of community.”

    6. Anonymous Koala*

      I am right there with you, fellow non-athlete. My office loves team sports and my idea of a fun leisure activity is reading a book. What I do is own my non-athlete-ness and volunteer to cheer teams on, coordinate sign ups (sometimes. I don’t want to be That Person either) and often I just don’t participate in the “optional” sports activities – the “I’m a terrible athlete” excuse generally goes over fine.

    7. Charlotte Lucas*

      Completely non-sporty here, & I live somewhere that everyone follows football & the state college teams. I cannot express how much I don’t care about sports and how annoyed I am about the fact that so much money & attention in higher ed go to sports. On the other hand, I can turn off the local news after 15 minutes, because the rest will all be sports reporting. (High school included, which is so strange coming from a market where local news is an hour, & there’s enough of it that high school & college sports rarely, if ever, make it on the news.)

    8. Zennish*

      I generally just answer, totally deadpan “I do not follow sportsball, I am not a sportsball person.”

      1. Marguerite*

        That seems a bit… I don’t know, rude? Childish? I’m not sure what the right word is. A bunch of us at work are into plays and musicals. If someone just deadpanned “I do not follow playshows. I am not a playshow person” it would reflect weirdly on the person saying it.

        1. londonedit*

          Yeah, I have to say I hate the ‘sportsball’ thing. It feels patronising and childish. There’s a section of the population that likes to act as if anyone who enjoys sport is somehow a lesser being, and they’re clearly superior because they spend their time on higher-minded things, and in my experience those are the people who tend to do the whole ‘Oh yes, sportsball. I do not follow sportsball’ thing. Like people who think they’re morally superior because they don’t own a TV.

          1. STG*

            I always viewed it as the person making fun of themselves for not knowing sports, not the person interested in sports. I might be the minority though.

            1. Marguerite*

              True, it probably all depends on the delivery. The poster above said they “deadpanned” it, which strikes me as pretty condescending. Like there’s an underlying “you uncultured fool” addition. Same energy as someone going “Oh, are you still watching your little Lord of the Thrones show or whatever?”

              And I don’t even care about sports. It’s just that not caring about sports doesn’t make me an intellectual.

            2. A*

              Ya, on the rare occasion sports comes up in the workplace I usually make a sportsball joke but it’s 100% self deprecating and me poking fun at myself for being so far out of that loop I wouldn’t even know where the loop begins/ends. That being said, I only do that when I’m amongst colleagues that I’ve worked with for a long time and know my personality. Otherwise I agree that it can come off wrong, although my concern has been more so that they might think my ignorance about sports extends beyond that realm – but I can see why it might also be viewed as a bit rude depending on the delivery.

          2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

            Maybe because the sports people in many places are too much like the jock/cheerleader types from high school who were on the power side of the social dynamic? Think country club, season ticket holders, privilege. The non-sport people have had to rely on being a bit defensive most of their lives.

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                Sports teams & cheerleaders are the definition of “cool kids” for many k-12 schools.
                Those of us who were bad in gym class were picked on.
                If your school was different, send a thank you to your PE teachers.

            1. Green Beans*

              Lots of low and middle income people are both athletically talented and follow sports. Lots of non-white-cis-male people are both athletically talented and follow sports.

            2. Yorick*

              I mean this with kindness so I hope it doesn’t come across poorly: If your high school athletes and cheerleaders left you with that kind of trauma, that sucks but you need to work it out in therapy rather than deal with it by being rude to your colleagues.

              1. pancakes*

                It’s a little over the top to characterize not wanting to watch something on TV or preferring other topics of conversation at work as manifestations of “trauma.” Not everyone has to like the same things. You also seem to be overlooking the fact that the person who said they call sports sportsball isn’t the same person who pointed out that a lot of people had bad experiences with jocks in high school.

        2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Yes. What purpose does saying “sportsball” rather than “sport” have, other than to indicate one’s disdain?

          1. Theo*

            It’s a lot more fun to say? Also like, as someone who has spent the entirety of my life with people trying to drag me into a conversation or to events surrounding a topic I have literally negative interest in because they think I’m boring for not being interested in it and I NEED to UNDERSTAND at least SOME of it or what kind of person am I??? ……yeah, I’ve got some disdain for the attitude and the fandom. I wouldn’t pull out “sportsball” on the first offense, no, but this doesn’t sound like a first-offense situation.

        3. clapping rat*

          I find it rude and childish too. But it lets me know who thinks they are better than those who happen to enjoy sports, so I suppose they can carry on with outing themselves.

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        I mean, how would you feel about a co-worker who, upon hearing you discussing a hobby you’re passionate about, would answer, totally deadpan, “I do not follow YourHobby, I am not a YourHobby person.” How does talking to a co-worker like this help you get along with others in your workplace?

        1. All the Words*

          It’s possible the person saying “sportsball” has been subjected to many monologues about sports, even after dropping subtle hints like “Yeah, not really a sports fan”, then “I don’t watch X sport” followed by “I don’t know who you’re talking about” “I don’t know the plays so I don’t actually know what that means”.

          Not that this would ever happen, of course.

    9. peachy*

      I also am not into sports at all. Don’t know anything about them. Don’t care to.

      Whenever it comes up in work contexts, I just give my best blank stare and make a quip like, “Is that a sportsball team?” Being vocal about your disinterest can sometimes help you find that one other person in the group who is also not into it.

      I went to a sportsball game for a work outing once. I managed to make it fun by finding another co-worker who wasn’t into it. We kept ourselves entertained by trying to Google the rules (because we had no idea what was going on) and making fun of how weird they were.

      1. quill*

        Much like the baseball bingo card, before cell phones, served to entertain people who had been brought along to the live event.

        1. peachy*

          I had no idea such a thing existed. Will need to look this up for the next sportsball game I feel obliged to attend. :)

      2. NJ Worker*

        Another non-sporty person here. My frustration is that why do the sporty people get to determine the conversation topics? I was at a social event – seated dinner. And we discussed sports. When I started talking crafts with the women, all the men literally were very vocally rejecting and talking over us. When I pointed out the sexism and misogyny — not allowed to discussed “female” topics in a mixed-gender group, but “male” topics are okay – I think I got through to a few of them.

        1. rl09*

          I think it’s equally sexist to assume women would prefer to discuss “crafts” ?? I know I certainly wouldn’t.

          The idea that sports are an inherently “male” interest is also sexist. Just because you personally are not interested in something doesn’t mean it’s only for men.

          1. WellRed*

            Ha! At our first work get together since before I wanted to run away screaming when all the women started talking knitting techniques! Gaaahhhh! I kept quiet knowing it would pass.

            1. rl09*

              Yeah, that’s kind of what bothers me about the whole “ugh sportsball!” conversation here…like there’s a lot of topics that I don’t care about, but I just smile and nod politely until the conversation moves on to something else. You don’t have to make everything about yourself all the time, you know?

              It reminds me of a coworker who (in response to others’ talking about their New Year’s Eve plans) said something to the effect of “ugh I can’t imagine a bigger waste of time and money than going to a bar! gross.” Like…I don’t really like going out on NYE either but just let people enjoy things, dude!

              1. peachy*

                I think there’s a difference, though, between cultures where sports occasionally come up in conversation, and cultures where sports tends to be one of the *only* topics of conversation. If it only occasionally comes up, sure, I can just smile and nod and wait for the topic to change. But in cultures where it’s the only thing that people talk about, and all team-building activities tend to revolve around it in some way, that feels alienating to someone who isn’t into it, hence the “ugh sportsball” attitude.

          2. Pippa K*

            This is true, but it’s also the case that sports, crafts, and lots of other topics are distinctly gender coded in many social contexts and that experiencing/enforcing/rejecting this as gendered is a thing. Thus the “fake geek girls” memes, the bro-culture/lockerroom talk as male bonding, etc.

            So no, sports aren’t “inherently male”; they’re socially masculine in many cultural contexts. This is problematic in lots of ways but noting it as a social dynamic in the workplace or elsewhere isn’t just coming from someone’s imagination.

        2. Malarkey01*

          I think like any conversation the interest of the majority of the people determine the conversation and usually sports is something that has a broad range of interested people. If one person is into sports and eight like crafting then that’s what you discuss. It’s polite to ensure everyone is enjoying the conversation and participating but steering the topic to something the majority aren’t interested in is a strange social tactic.
          Also classifying sports as a “male topic” is rude, sexist, and also pretty incorrect.

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            This. Sports have a broad following, so in any random group of people it is likely to be one of the few things most have in common. This is why I make an effort to know at least a little about the sports I don’t follow.

        3. pancakes*

          That sounds like a really boorish group. The idea that crafts are a female topic and sports are male is pretty sexist in itself, though. I don’t know how you’re not seeing that. If you want to attend more dinners with people who aren’t quite so hung up on gender essentialism you should probably drop it yourself.

          1. peachy*

            This is tricky. I’m with you on challenging traditional gender stereotypes and know that there are lots of women out there who like sports. The thing is, I’ve never worked in woman-dominated environment where sports was one of the only topics of social conversation which led to me feeling excluded. However, I have worked in male-dominated environments where it definitely felt like sports-talk and sports-related social activities were used to keep me, a woman of color (usually the *only* woman of color) excluded from the group and professional opportunities. So, yes, let’s recognize that an interest in sports spans the gender binary, but let’s not gloss over the ways that, historically certain interests have been used to signal what kinds of people do/do not belong in certain cultures.

        4. NJ Worker*

          I do understand the assumptions behind male vs female interests, and don’t share it. But this group skewed along gender lines, so that’s the way it played out.

      3. Might Be Spam*

        Making a game out of Googling the rules sounds entertaining. Maybe count points every time your companion yells or groans. Extra points if they hide their eyes.

    10. Quinalla*

      I like sports fine, but follow any right now. As long as it isn’t getting over the top, I just let folks have their sports talk and then move on. I also try to make sure to pipe about something I am interested in at others times too so it isn’t all-sports-all-the-time talk. Video/Board/Card games, books, baking, remodeling, kids, vacations, family, diversity, podcasts, etc. are things I talk about at work with folks and I’ve found that the non-sports people are generally thrilled to find others who don’t want to talk sports 24/7 :)

      1. Anony*

        This is good advice. If you don’t like sports talk, bring up another safe topic! I can totally see how people have a hard time coming up with topics for chit-chat and default to safe topics like sports, but if someone else started talking about something like remodeling or podcasts, I’d be happy to jump in.

    11. CBB*

      I have no interest in sports, but I also don’t care if other people want to talk about them. Why not let people enjoy a little comradery?

      I sometimes chat with coworkers about subjects that other coworkers aren’t into (music, books, etc.). As long as it’s not offensive, I should hope that my uninterested coworkers aren’t sitting there silently gritting their teeth in annoyance.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I think it’s fine when it’s one of *many* topics of conversation, but for some reason it can take over more than other topics, like mentioned in the original post.

        I think the annoying part is that sports people just make the assumption that *of course* everyone follows the popular local sports/teams.

        Weirdly, I’ve also seen this with poker, when everyone assumes that the general public knows the rules. I know a ton of card games, but never bothered with poker, which honestly seems kind of boring to me. (Lying to people for money is not a skill I’ve ever wanted to cultivate.)

        1. CBB*

          Yeah, I remember being annoyed by such things when I was younger. But now that I’m older, for some reason I don’t mind listening to small talk I can’t add to, or sitting out a card game I don’t want to play. As long as it’s not getting in the way of work.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            It actually bugs me most when either are a major plot point in a TV show. Especially when the writers assume the audience has knowledge that just… doesn’t exist in my household. (Totally OK with it in sports-oriented dramas, which I don’t watch.)

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        But it sounds like this office’s ONLY non work topic is sports, and that’s really isolating for people who don’t follow them. So yes, it’s good that the sports fans get to have camaraderie, but where’s the camaraderie for non-sports fans? We deserve that too.

        1. CBB*

          Maybe I don’t have a good sense of how much small talk happens in other workplaces. In my experience, chit chat goes on for a few minutes while we’re waiting for everyone to show up, and then we spend the next hour talking about work stuff. And there’s plenty of camaraderie to be had during the work-related discussion.

    12. a tester, not a developer*

      I managed to shut things down when I referred to the Toronto Maple Leafs as the Maple Leaves. Drove the hockey people to distraction, so they quit talking about it in team settings.

      1. Xena*

        To me, hearing people talk about “Maple Leafs” in any context would drive me to distraction, like having the one tile rotated in the wrong direction in a floor.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          There have been linguistic analyses of this sort of thing. Often when a word that is inflected irregularly gets used in a specialized context, it will be reinterpreted so as to take regular inflections. A classic example from baseball is that the past tense of “fly out” is “flied out.” Another is that many people take the plural of “mouse” in the computer sense to be “mouses,” though my sense is that this is less common than it was twenty or thirty years ago.

        2. Forty Years In the Hole*

          The “Maple Laffs”…bless their hearts. Hubby leads/interjects/follows most convos with most of his (male) buddies on the state of play of the Ottawa Sens…but misery loves company.

      2. Junimo the Hutt*

        I shut down all people attempting to talk to me about sports by replying, when being asked Cubs or Cards, “That’s hockey, right?” Worked like a charm. Sports immediately became a thing nobody wanted to talk to me about, and everybody was happier that way.

    13. WomEngineer*

      I see it as good small talk. It’s also one of the few current events since most people aren’t going out like before COVID.

    14. anonymous73*

      There are plenty of pop culture topics that dominate the workplace that some people may not be interested in. I love football, but know nothing about hockey or basketball. There are some popular tv shows and movies I couldn’t care less about. If it’s dominating a meeting in the sense that you’re not getting work done, speak up and try changing the subject. Otherwise, just let it go. Just because you don’t have something in common with a majority of your colleagues, doesn’t mean they need to stop taking about it.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        OP’s point was that it has become the ONLY topic during their office’s ONLY time to socialize.
        There’s something to be said for finding ways to make the topic vary.

    15. Allie*

      While I am a sports fan, I hate basketball. Which is unfortunate because I work in Milwaukee aka home to the NBA champs. My brother would text me a cliche sports thing I could respond with most mornings during our staff meeting. So someone asks if I saw a certain play the night prior I would just respond back “Bucks in Six” or “Fear the Deer.” That might not be super helpful. When all else fails, just s*** on the refs and say they are blowing the game.

    16. Unladen European Swallow*

      I follow the local professional sports teams and enjoy having people in the office to talk about them. I’ve found that during COVID, one thing that makes it difficult for non-sports folks is that a group Zoom call holds everyone captive. So one or two people can be going on about a play from the weekend, but there isn’t a good way for other people to have a side conversation about the latest episode about a particular show, or whatever. This is different than when we were in person, where there could be multiple conversations going on at the same time.

      At one job many years ago, the agreement among a group of 5-7 of us was that the two people (me and another woman) could talk about sports for about 5-10min during lunch on Mondays and that was it. And that worked for our group.

      In my current office, non-sports conversation topics enjoyed by many are about food, kids/grandkids, weekend hobbies.

    17. ErgoBun*

      I’m the same but I generally just tune it out until people have finished their conversation. If it starts to go on a long time, or people are looking at me expectantly for some input, I usually smile and pleasantly tell them about the last cool maneuver I pulled off in my D&D game. They typically look exactly as confused/disinterested as I feel during the sportsball talk, and it usually convinces everyone to get back to the meeting agenda — or at least, lets me get back to work!

    18. RagingADHD*

      I live in a very sports-intensive area, and I’ve never really gotten into it. I can enjoy watching a game because I appreciate feats of athleticism or strategy, and I’ll root for whoever my companions are rooting for, but I don’t really care who wins.

      I just nod and smile. If someone asks me who I support, I just say “whoever’s winning” or “our side” or something like that.

      Gotta say though, as a fellow non-sporty person, I got used to not being a “cool kid” a looooooong time ago. Like, by middle school. Didn’t everyone? At some point you realize that being a cool kid just isn’t going to happen and choose your own alternate adventure.

      The coping mechanisms don’t really change as an adult. You can either fake it, or you can be tragically hip and Emo about being an alienated poet, or you can nod and smile and be generally friendly because you like the people if not the activity.

    19. NJ Worker*

      Another non-sporty person here. My frustration is that why do the sporty people get to determine the conversation topics? I was at a social event – seated dinner. And we discussed sports. When I started talking crafts with the women, all the men literally were very vocally rejecting and talking over us. When I pointed out the sexism and misogyny — not allowed to discussed “female” topics in a mixed-gender group, but “male” topics are okay – I think I got through to a few of them.

      1. NJ Worker*

        Also, I do understand the sexism inherent in male vs female interests. But there’s no way to do air quotes in text, I meant it ironically (IDK is that the correct word?)

    20. fakefootballfan*

      I also am not a big fan of sports. This year I decided to join my work’s fantasy football league for the hell of it and it’s actually been kind of fun. I’m winning right now because I just looked at the stats when picking my team and have no bias on any players. It’s been fun being able to poke fun at my coworkers for losing when I keep winning. If you don’t want to do something like that in the future, I recommend bringing up topics like movies, tv shows, and pop culture. Or things to do for fun in your city.

    21. Joielle*

      Ugh, yeah. It’s actually not super widespread at my workplace, but one of the very highest leadership people is a big sports fan and he ends up bonding way more with the other sports people, who are95% dudes. I have a brand new coworker who is a fan of one of the same teams as the higher-up guy, and he ends up getting a TON of face time because he’ll come by just to chat about last night’s game. It’s not a huge deal in terms of my career trajectory but it does kind of grate on me. Like, our agency talks the talk about DEI but if baseball fandom is one of the biggest ways to get face time with leadership, that excludes a lot of people!

    22. Sleet Feet*

      This thankfulky varies by team. No one talk sports on my new team. I love it. Makes chatting much easier.

    23. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I mean, people like to talk about the things they care about. The folks who care about sports have found each other and enjoy talking to each other about that. If it’s genuinely taking over a meeting — as opposed to being a main topic of pre-meeting chit-chat — that’s a problem. Otherwise, find folks who want to talk about the stuff you want to talk about and get to it.

    24. Hillary*

      I’m into sports as a spectator and have it in my small talk arsenal along with many things I’m not interested in (I’m a vegetarian who’s never shot a g*n in my life, but I can talk hunting and fishing if necessary). One thing I’m trying to lead on is adding other topics to our small talk. The challenge is a lot of people I work with don’t want to be perceived as geeky or other – we only figured out this week that everyone on my team is a sci fi geek when I brought up Dune.

      1. pancakes*

        I don’t think it is often necessary for people who want to talk about sports or guns to dominate conversation that way, though. Why would their interests take precedence over everyone else’s? I don’t think seeing a sci fi movie makes anyone a geek, either. Dune is the top movie at the box office right now, and has been seen by millions of people – it’s not like it’s some esoteric thing that only a small subculture is aware of. The self-consciousness of your team around that seems a bit over-the-top.

        1. Hillary*

          It’s not that sports have to dominate the conversation – it’s that it’s safe small talk for the demographic along with kids, traffic, and weather. We have a lot of superficial contacts due to the nature of our jobs, and we have to work together in spite of the fact that many of us would never be willing to socialize. As an example, I work with people who probably still associate D&D with satanic panic. They almost certainly voted to deny rights from my friends, and some of them support a school board that has consistently refused to address bullying in a school district with a horrifying suicide rate. I profoundly disagree with their core beliefs and vice versa.

          Less political but still indicative – I accidentally made someone uncomfortable a couple weeks ago by suggesting learning a mild swear word in another language for an icebreaker. The culture’s starting to shift as many things become more mainstream, but we have to live in the world while change happens.

          1. pancakes*

            I think the key phrase here is “the demographic.” What you are describing is not the demographic everywhere.

    25. pancakes*

      I’ve never followed sports either, but I feel like this has been a non-issue for me because I don’t particularly want to fit in with sports people. We don’t have the same interests and that’s fine. I haven’t worked anyplace where it’s been a dominant topic in meetings, though. If it’s really taking up a lot of time I think you can definitely say something about that, but it would probably be best to leave your own lack of interest out of the request and make a point of focusing on how much time is being wasted instead. Or, if it’s always talked about for the first 5 minutes or so, show up a little late.

        1. pancakes*

          Which sports fans? I was referring to the ones I’ve worked with. It is theoretically possible I might have some overlapping significant interests with other sports fans, but with these particular people I don’t believe we did, no. I have since mentioned a lone sporty ex-boyfriend in another comment (one among many other men and women who, like me, aren’t into sports at all), but we didn’t work together.

    26. The Dogman*

      I used to enthuse about really violent sports like MMA and boxing, since more or less no one I ever worked with was into them. It usually pushed the convos back to something we could all talk about.

      I am with you, I like playing sports personally, but caring at all about people moving, hitting and kicking things on lawns is just so strange to me, let alone getting excited a team of certain colours did better than another team of different colours is just bizarre!

      Tribalism at it’s weirdest really… well maybe that is K-pop but you know what I mean! ;)

    27. Cle*

      I’m a nonsporty person, but my coworkers absolutely are. I just lean back and enjoy them enjoying things. It’s kind of fun to watch. If someone turns to me or expects me to speak, I just let them know that I don’t follow any sports teams, and that’s that.
      I used to get really annoyed, but the thing that helped with that wasn’t anything they did– it was reframing it for myself. I’m a big nerd. It feels so good taking a few minutes to delve into the details of Pokemon stats or making little Hitchhiker’s Guide references or whatever. I look at the sports talk as just another flavor of fandom and thinking about how it is probably so fun for them to go on about it with each other. I shift into people watching mode while they do it, or I just sit and make notes for the day or some other small mental task I have to do until they are done.

    28. NancyDrew*

      I loathe sports and sports culture. I would absolutely tune out if someone brought it up in a work environment.

    29. Massive Dynamic*

      I’m a non-sports person who’s worked at sporty offices… the best one was one where we were all invited to participate in various superbowl pools and bets, and it was always structured that you didn’t have to have inside knowledge on the teams to participate. I won our March Madness bracket thing! But don’t ask me which team of mine won so that I could win because I do not remember!

      1. Might Be Spam*

        When choosing teams, I pick the location that looks like it would be more fun for a vacation. I still lose, but sometimes I lead the week and that really annoys some people. I always do the worst, when I actually try.

    30. This again?*

      I’ve never understood this complaint. Everybody has topics they are interested in and ones they aren’t. Why not just say it’s not your thing and move on?

      I worked in an office where everyone was baby crazy. I am so NOT baby crazy, nor will I ever be so. So when people wanted to talk about kids, parenting, babies, etc., I just deferred.

    31. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

      I’m sorry – I am a sports person, but I feel for you because at my company people are hugely into pop culture and are always talking about which Marvel movie is the best or making references to things I have no clue about. It’s not that I’m older, I’ve always been this way. Anyway I let it wash over me and if someone directly asks me which Avenger I like best, I say something vague like “oh, I’m not much of a movie goer”.

    32. tamarack & fireweed*

      This is one of those things where a) it’s totally ok to have a running conversation about a shared interest and b) it’s not going to remain a shared interest forever as new people come in. Same if it was opera, or marathon running, or any other absorbing hobby interest.

      I know that the good managers I’ve had would very much perk up if I said, casually “it’s a bit much, all that sports talk every time”. My current manager would handle it by cutting it off the next time and throwing in a new topic for a little chit-chat, and people have good enough social skills to know they’re supposed to tone it down a little and be more inclusive. Dunno what would happen if someone, or worse, two someones, were to keep harping on it.

      OTOH, I have no problem with people spending literally 10 seconds on it (ONE exchange of conversation), even if it’s a topic that for me to participate I would have to ask first “are the Red Sandals a basketball, football or baseball team?”

  5. House Tyrell*

    I turned in my notice on Monday and am working out my last two weeks now. I have my exit interview today and I’m not sure what they’ll ask? What do they usually ask in these? I’ve never had one! Also, my boss is mad I’m leaving and being passive aggressive and sometimes just downright aggressive and mean. Should I let it go since I’m on my way out anyway, tell her to stop, or tell HR?

    1. whistle*

      I’d let it go and take it as a sign that no good will come from you mentioning anything useful in your exit interview. Just give bland answers to anything they ask and enjoy the weekend!

    2. rl09*

      They’ll usually ask why you’re leaving, whether you would ever consider working there again, would you recommend the company to others, would there have been anything they could have done to get you to stay, etc. Sometimes they’ll ask if you are comfortable sharing where you are going, what your new salary will be, any benefits you’ll be getting that they don’t offer, etc.

      As for your boss, I would just let it go, and take it as more evidence that you made the right decision to leave.

        1. rl09*

          I still wouldn’t. You should always assume anything you say in an exit interview will be relayed back to your boss.

          1. ...*

            If they think they won’t get a good reference, then maybe they should still share with HR. If HR wants to know why there is turnover, this will give them an answer.

            1. Sleet Feet*

              I’d go further and say, if they don’t expect to ever work at that company again, as these exit interviews are sometimes held to the same standard of “don’t trash a former employer”.

              Also in general if a company only waits until there is turnover to see how employes are doing (e.g exit Interviews instead of stay interviews) then that’s a sign they actually don’t care. Speaking up risks you for their maybe gain. It’s generally not worth it.

          2. Sleet Feet*

            Yep. I once left a glowing exit interview for a boss. 99% positive, and the only piece of critical feedback I left was pretty benign imo. Essentially they loved to tell a story of Bob the Slob getting drunk at the Christmas party 10 years ago. So I shared as a new hire hearing the anecdote made me uncomfortable since it impacted the way I saw Bob before I even worked with him and made me worry my boss would tell embarrassing stories about me too.

            When I reached out for a reference a few years later my boss was like – “No. Afterall I may embarrass you with my stories.”

          3. tamarack & fireweed*

            Well, that’s the idea of it, yes. But given you’re gone, or practically gone, they don’t have an impact on your employment any more.

            I have, on occasion, seen points in meetings of senior-level employees where “feedback from exit interviews” was summarized. Such as “one of our retention challenges is X [unattractive health benefits, a difficult local labor market for employee spouses, rising housing costs in our locality] and therefore we’re considering Y as a counterbalance measure”.

            As for feedback on the individual manager, it could in a well-run company totally become part of the manager’s performance evaluation, and it’s relatively low-risk for the leaving employee to give it.

            1. tamarack & fireweed*

              (Reading some of the other comments, maybe I should clarify that the feedback I was envisaging was of the scrupulously professional kind. At least in the absence of a major situation of harassment or discrimination. If it’s basically a crappy boss, that could look like “the workload was unmanageable / the stress level really high, and I didn’t feel that management was able to turn this around effectively”, or “[manager] and I didn’t mesh too well, and I saw no development path for me at [company], so I looked elsewhere”.

    3. Rayray*

      Depends how bad the aggression gets. It’s one of those things that you could report if you felt like their bad behavior would affect others.

      If your boss were to send any nasty emails though, I’d suggest replying and blind copying HR so you have solid proof about how they’re behaving. We need to stop letting bad bosses get away with being aggressive and petty when people quit jobs.

    4. Mbarr*

      It’s usually just you and HR in the room, and they’ll ask about why you’re leaving, thoughts on the company, what could have been done to keep you, where you’re going, etc. Once I was asked, “If you could tell our CEO one thing, what would it be?”

      As for how honest you should be – I think that’s a judgment call… If you think HR will protect your comments, then go ahead. But it could also maybe leave a black mark on your record if you ever want to get hired there again. (Maybe? I have no proof of this.) When I left one company, our national headquarters for an international company, I was very honest that I thought nothing was accomplished, that employees didn’t accomplish things, etc. I don’t think I could ever apply there again.

    5. Student*

      Sometimes it’s a pretty basic survey to take some satisfaction survey and get some basic info on what your next job is.

      Sometimes they want to know exactly why you’re leaving.

      None of what you say is remotely confidential, so if you are worried about professional repercussions, it’s not in your own interests to be honest. If you are not concerned about repercussions on future references, or willing and able to risk it, then there is a very modest chance you could help point them at real problems to fix.

      Most of the time the HR person conducting the exit interview is just as apathetic as the person leaving, and they are going through the motions because their boss requires it. In those situations, they’re very unlikely to act on anything you say. Had one just straight up ghost my exit interview, and I can’t say I was sad about it.

    6. MissBaudelaire*

      At my last one, they asked why I was leaving. I refused the in person interview so I did a survey. The options were “Leaving this field”, “relocating”, “education”, stuff like that. They also asked if there was anything they could have done to retain me, wanting to know about pay and benefits.

      I sang like a bird and any place I could leave a comment, I did. I was leaving for the toxic environment, explained why it was toxic, detailed the injuries I had sustained working there, talking about the crappy boss I had. I didn’t care because I didn’t (and don’t) intend to work there again. I have interviewed, and the crappy culture remains, so me saying anything didn’t change anything.

      1. Jax*

        At my last company, Director shared the HR compilation of exit surveys (including comments) with our management team each quarter, and I have to share what that side of the table looked like.

        – “Only angry people fill these out. Take it with a handful of salt.”
        – “Obviously this one was disgruntled.”
        -“I know who this one is. Good riddance.”
        -“Good point, but that’s an IT issue. Nothing we can change.”

        The comments people carefully filled in? Largely ignored. The only thing our Director cared about was the overall average score improving, and that no one sitting at our table was directly called out by name. Zero strategy or meaningful changes happened from those surveys.

        So…yeah. Either decline, or make bland comments. In my opinion, the exit survey won’t improve things for the people you’re leaving behind or make a meaningful difference. When my time came, I used it to thank the people who helped me grow in my career and didn’t bother saying anything bad. Senior leadership wasn’t receptive to it, anyway.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          Doesn’t shock me. Nothing I said was exactly news, either. The issues were widely known, and no one cared to fix them, so I left. Meh.

          I worked out my two weeks, I didn’t have a disciplinary record, my boss got fired, my department no longer exists. When that facility is called for a reference, all they do is confirm the dates I work there and that I was eligible for re-hire.

          Felt better to now I told someone the problems, not that it mattered.

        2. Jax*

          Forgot to say to original OP: My experience with two week notices is that the first week is usually rough. Management seems to be cool, passive-aggressive, or mad–to me, anyway, because I’m sensitive to people “not liking me.” Meanwhile, they are trying to find a solution to the labor crisis you just gave them, not necessarily angry because you betrayed them. (YMMV. Some managers are ridiculous.)

          Week 2 is always better! 90% of the company has come to grips with your news, they have a basic game plan, and you’re starting to pass off projects to others. If they are still being weird, usually by Wednesday you develop a, “Oh well! Not my problem any more!” bounce to your step and suddenly you don’t care at. all. The back end of Week 2 is all *chef’s kiss*

      2. London Calling*

        I filled in one of those.

        Would you work for this company again? Yes.
        Would you work for this manager again? No
        Would you work for this ED again? No

        And left them to make of that what they would. I didn’t hold back on the staff survey issued mid-pandemic about what staff thought of the support they were getting from management while WFH, though. Knowing that company it made zero difference.

    7. Growing Strong*

      I have not actually gone through an official one and only had one unofficial one where the person that I turned in my notice blurted out asking why I hadn’t come to them for a counter offer. “You can’t afford me now” was my one moment of cool in my life.

      The official questions that they ask vary widely from organization to organization. The main thing to remember is that you owe them nothing. No information about where you are going, why you are leaving, etc.

      Answering truthfully is dependent on whether you want to preserve the reference and believe that anything will change based on your feedback.

      Most people default to bland “opportunity that I couldn’t pass up” language, and that is perfectly valid. Not everyone wants to resign in cod.

    8. Countess of Upstairs Downstairs*

      I can only speak form my own personal experience that the exit interview content can vary widely. For example, I had an exit interview with HR at a large organization. The only two things that happened in the “interview” was 1). the HR rep handed me an “exit checklist” and asked me to make sure I did everything on the list before my last day – It was super mundane stuff like “return all assigned keys to rooms, closets, and cabinets.” They didn’t ask anything about my experience working there or about my boss. I don’t think they cared. 2). the rep went down her own checklist and told me some boilerplate info about last paycheck, PTO payout, standard disclaimer about COBRA, etc.

      Another one at a different large organization was just a brief call with an HR rep. It was basically “We’re grateful for your contributions at our company, best of luck with your future endeavors. Do you have any questions? No questions? okay good luck bye!” To me it didn’t seem fairly perfunctory (not that I minded), but I got a sense they weren’t planning to get into discussions about my personal experiences.

      Of course YMMV. Personally, if I were you, I wouldn’t get into specifics about your Boss at the exit interview.

      1. Sherm*

        The checklist thing happened to me, too. I was leaving a toxic organization, and I was so looking forward to speaking my mind and holding nothing back…but the “exit interview” consisted of being handed a form and filling out basic information.

        As for the OP’s boss being mean, I would say “Boss, I am here for these 2 weeks for the purpose of courtesy, but if you don’t share that purpose, then it makes more sense for me to move up my end date.”

    9. lemon*

      The only time I’ve done one, it was very obvious that I was leaving because of a bad boss. I resigned just a couple of weeks after having to report him to HR for an incident that made me feel physically unsafe. So, during the exit interview, HR asked me point blank if that is why I left. I answered extremely truthfully and totally unloaded about all the dysfunction I’d put up with there. They also sent me a survey to fill out, which asked about the things other people mentioned: your new salary and benefits, satisfaction levels, etc. I also unloaded in the survey. But I only felt comfortable doing so because I already knew I couldn’t count on that boss for a reference, so I had nothing left to lose. So, if you feel like the relationship is salvageable and you could count on your boss for a reference in the future, I wouldn’t be too honest during the interview.

    10. BayCay*

      I’ve been here. I would just let it go and chalk it up to a “Thank goodness I’m leaving a toxic environment” realization. At least you know your decision to leave was the right one.

    11. anonymous73*

      I’ve done one and I was honest about why I was leaving and my feelings about the way my manager treated me. I only disclosed things that I was directly involved in or had first hand knowledge of, and in your case I would 100% tell them how your boss has been behaving. It may not do any good, but a well run HR office will document your comments and make changes due to a history of bad behavior (key words “well run”).

    12. Anonymous Hippo*

      They are usually just looking for “why” and not necessarily from the standpoint of “fixing” more about ticking off a box that says “them not us”. For example the last time I left it job it was 99.9% because I was miserable in the job for about 100 reasons, and 0.1% because the new job paid me double. I just told them the double part. The discussion was very quick lol. So I’d just come up with a reason they can’t argue with and give that.

      That assumes you don’t want to tell them. I think you don’t owe them at all once you’ve quit, but if you wanted to share the true reasons you totally could.

      IMO, if your boss is being aggressive, passively or not, you should tell HR, if they are doing the exit interview tell them then.

    13. Leela*

      I’d tell HR right now that your boss is doing this. And that you’re worried about needing to use the company as a reference due to her behavior and it’s putting you in a difficult spot professionally, AND maybe mention that you’re intending to fill out the 2 weeks for the company but you’re not interested in doing so if this is how you’re going to be treated.

      I wouldn’t bother putting it in your exit interview, I never see changes come out of that and while it can feel very good to finally be able to tell the truth after having to hold it in while you’re still at the company, the actual benefit is pretty slim – they probably won’t change anything based on that, and if you ever need to come back to this company for something it could put you in a spot that’s more uncomfortable than it needs to be.

      1. Rich or Poor...*

        Co-signed. I’d report the behavior as well. A professional/manager should not be antagonizing a notice-giver for fun.

    14. awesome3*

      The one I’ve had was like, here’s how to get the money you put into your retirement account, here’s what we’ll say your dates of employment were if someone calls for reference, etc

    15. STG*

      I’ve always been honest during exit interviews about my reasons for leaving although I might pad it a little with a compliment of some sort. ‘Oh, Bossperson was easy to approach but I struggled with their micromanagement style.’

      1. Geek5508*

        Hah, my exit interview with the VP went so bad she actually called my boss to tell him to cancel my going away party !

    16. House Tyrell*

      Hi everyone I just had the exit interview and I think it went well! We have only had 1 HR coordinator the whole time I’ve been here and so the director I spoke to has only been here for a month. She was really interested in learning more about big picture stuff about the organization’s dysfunction and I softened the stuff about my boss a little but she still said she was sorry that was happening and to let her know if I wanted her to step in. She also told me how she will step in and phrase things to intervene with some other issues with my boss without bringing it back to me directly which made me feel comfortable. I didn’t tell her every little detail so it didn’t turn into me trashing my boss but I kept all your comments in mind which was helpful in balancing what I wanted and needed to try and make this job better while also protecting my future reference.

    17. Higher Ed*

      Give general reasons for leaving and don’t elaborate, since this won’t be useful when the boss is already angry. I gave my boss background info as to my thinking on the matter of leaving after I gave my notice and her normally cool demeanor changed immediately. After the fact I realized that I should have been more perfunctory.

  6. Sir Humphrey*

    I am a brand new manager who has broken Allison’s cardinal rule: never take on a managerial position without the ability to fire. Here’s the reason: I work in federal service.

    Jane has 7 years of underperformance, but in an area where there were only 2 employees, no one had the energy to document (projects late and/or full of errors.) During COVID, Jane lost a sibling, a spouse, and last week, a parent. Jane’s judgement has always been off–under the guise of helping, she causes confusion. Here’s the crux: Jane is the nicest person in the entire organization. (Personally, I think that there are issues of using niceness as a manipulation, but I can’t pinpoint it. Plus, I am a cynic anyway.)

    Any advice?

    1. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      I guess the best advice I have, since you can’t go back in time, is to start documenting now. Be very factual about the effect of her actions/nonactions on the job itself. But also – probably brace yourself for having to deal with Jane for the foreseeable future. Good luck!

      1. anonymous73*

        Agreed but know that it may not resolve the situation. Not sure if all government is the same, but my husband is a manager in the government. He can write his people up, but as long as they do what they need to do for the period of time specified, the PIP is removed and essentially wiped from their record. So basically the same person can screw up over and over and won’t ever be fired because the history of their screw ups is essentially pointless. My husband has one of these people on his team.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      I would be supportive, since she’s legitimately reeling at this point from the losses she has experienced.

      Your “supportive” can include taking an active interest in her work and closely supervising to make sure she is getting the work done, or reassigning the work as needed, or getting her to run any decisions she makes by you before sending things out of the department.

      1. ANon.*

        Agreed, even if she has had past performance issues, this is the time to cut her some slack. She lost her sibling, her spouse, and a parent. That must be incredibly hard to deal with.

        You may want to recommend your EAP to her, assuming your company has one.

      2. Littorally*

        Right.

        I’m sure Jane is endlessly frustrating, but Alison has handled these kinds of questions before and I like her approach — if someone has been allowed to bump along at the bottom of the barrel for years, you have to have a really good answer why their performance is suddenly a problem now, when they’re in the middle of a really awful life situation.

        Obviously, since Sir Humphrey is a new manager, there’s the desire to get things up to snuff, but if the department has lasted for 7 years with Jane doing the Jane thing, it can probably get along a little longer while she recovers from these blows.

        By all means offer more support and see if you can encourage better performance from her, but I would not start the PIP process at this time.

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      Is there another position at a similar salary band that Jane might be a better fit for? In fed service sometimes transfers aren’t that difficult, and Jane might be happier doing work that she’s better suited for. Could you have a (sensitive, but frank) conversation with her about her strengths and goals and work with her to find a position that fits better? If she’s really nice and diplomatic, maybe she’d be well-suited to a public facing position (if you have those)?

    4. Grits McGee*

      No advice, but deep sympathy and commiseration. The only time I’ve seen someone actually fired/put on a PIP is when they’ve completely stopped doing any work or they make the same major error multiple times after being warned (ex- continuing to call members of the public “baby mama” after being told to stop multiple times).

      The only advice I can give is at least start the documentation process, and work with HR to make sure you’re following the letter of the law. With a 2-person team, this will probably be less of a risk, but also be mindful of whether your attempts to hold Jane accountable will cause issues for her peers. I worked in an office where the managers had been trying to discipline one employee for years, and to try to get proof he was shirking they made everyone spend hours detailed logs of work they had done to demonstrate problem employee was doing a fraction of the usual work. They assigned problem employee to group tasks they new he would mess up, and the rest of the office would have to pitch in to fix the mistakes. Well, 4 years on, problem employee is still in the office, but almost all of the productive employees have left.

    5. just a thought*

      One of my former roommates was the internal council to a government agency. He said it actually is possible to get people fired for poor performance in the government, it’s just very time consuming and has a lot of paperwork, so most people are too lazy to do it and just live with the problem person.
      You would try to learn the process, begin documentation, and start now.
      It will probably take awhile, but it is possible.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I want to echo that you can (usually) fire someone in federal service, it just takes extra effort/time/documentation.

        I think your best course of action is to (1) address Jane’s under-performance and judgement issues as they come up and (2) learn and follow the termination process. I’m guessing there will be a lot of overlap between conversations about Jane’s performance and the termination process. Best-case scenario: through active management and coaching, Jane improves as an employee. Worst-case scenario: you have to jump through all the bureaucratic hoops, but eventually, Jane is no longer your employee.

      2. Atlantic Toast Conference*

        I think your former roommate is generally right!

        My husband I both work for the feds. My husband’s job is to write a certain kind of report; generally, he is supposed to deliver about one report a month. He had a coworker who’d worked for his agency for 6+ years, and had never delivered a single report. Several bosses had just accepted that this was how the coworker was, and essentially washed their hands of the situation. Finally someone came in and decided it was time to deal with her. It took about a year, and quite a bit of managerial time and effort, but they did finally get her out. A lot of times people just don’t have the desire (or bandwidth) to do that, though.

      3. Fed Too*

        While it is possible to fire, as a new manager (and maybe new to your agency?) you really need to find out what your agency’s requirements are. I’ve worked for one agency that did effectively use performance plans and assessments and did remove people for performance. I have also worked with an agency where people watched porn repeatedly and someone stabbed someone else with a pencil and neither situation got more than an “official document in their file”.

        So find out what your leadership’s take is, make sure you have very defined roles and responsibilities with definable metrics, start supervising Jane more (some fed performance issues are due to never having great management in the past), and then start documentation.

      4. LDN Layabout*

        I always bugs me when people say ‘you can’t fire people in government jobs!11!1!1’.

        You very much can and there are detailed guidelines to describe how to do so and quite frankly it should require proper documentation to take part in something that’s ultimately fairly lifechanging for someone that you (the employer) has a responsibility towards.

    6. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      You can fire. It just takes longer and is more effort. You need to have the paperwork, so as people have been commenting, you need to start documenting. Then you will likely have to move to the PIP phase where Jane has set goals that she has to meet, and you will have to keep documentation on until it is resolved, or she is fired. Also, check with the unions to see what the process is, because some federal orgs have unions that specify what steps need to be taken.

    7. Shiba Dad*

      I agree with Monty & Millie’s Mom. One question though: has anyone ever confronted Jane about her underperformance?

      I would recommend that as you document what she is doing wrong you should meet with her periodically if you don’t already. Maybe meet with her for a project review after a project has been completed. Give her feedback of what she did right and what she messed up.

    8. Policy Wonk*

      Start by talking to your HR. Yes, you should be documenting, but how? What documents does HR accept/want to see? Do they have a process for putting her on a PIP? Is Jane part of a bargaining unit? If so, there are likely very specific procedures to follow, based on the contract. March in lock step with HR, and make sure to get their guidance in writing to be sure you have the most recent info.

      Get copies of Jane’s last few employee evaluations. Given that you say she is the nicest person, even though you flag seven years of underperformance, don’t be surprised if they show that her work is outstanding. If that is the case, taking any action against her will be more challenging.

      Alert your chain of command of every step you are taking – you never want to blindside your boss. Don’t be surprised if Jane bad-mouths you to the boss and co-workers because of the steps you are taking, and gets others to join in her cause by singing Jane’s praises and saying you just don’t like her. Keep an ear out for the rumor mill. Probably can’t do much about it as you can’t discuss personnel matters, but you need to know what is being said. (And it will arm you when someone in the chain of command asks you about it.)

      And do us all a favor – don’t write her a glowing evaluation if she doesn’t deserve it! Sometimes a less than stellar eval is enough to get a poor performer to move on.

      And good luck!

      1. manager schmanager*

        Seconded. I went through a PIP process that ended with terminating the employee and all along HR was telling me to document but less helpful when I asked what that looked like in practice. The whole thing went to arbitration and the hours of time I’d spent on documenting wasn’t what they had in mind. Do not skimp on employee evals and if you have in person meetings or phone calls be sure to follow up with an email summarizing the meeting that just happened so that it’s clear the employee got the feedback

    9. ONFM*

      You’re going to have to start with her as if it’s day one. Have a clear conversation about expectations, abilities, and deadlines – then hold her to them. You want to be compassionate, and you should be – but you also need to have clearly documented her performance issues. Offer EAP and document that. Check in regularly. Provide her with the resources she needs to be successful, and document the outcomes. I’m a little concerned that your message doesn’t seem to offer space for her to actually improve; what are you going to do if she is able to turn it around? That’s the goal, of course.

      1. All the words*

        This! The majority seems to be jumping on the “you should fire her” bandwagon, but I saw very little in the letter about actually managing this employee.

        I’ve been the struggling employee (for reasons outside my control). My manager worked with me and helped me move into a different position where I was able to succeed. In my case, this was probably the best solution for all of us. They could have chosen to fire me. That would have been the easy solution for them, and would have put me in rather dire straits.

        Still here, years later, doing very well.

        1. Kathenus*

          Years back I inherited a bargaining unit employee with a lot of baggage, and HR’s guidance to me was to ‘manage her up or manage her out’ – set clear performance standards (that had to be consistent with those others were held to), provide consistent oversight and guidance, and hold her accountable to the standards including documenting as needed. She ended up choosing to move on herself, but agree with ONFM and All the words to use your management platform to give her the tools to succeed or the rope to hang herself, then it’s her choice.

      2. None the Wiser*

        This is what I came here to say. And what do you know of Jane’s previous manager(s)? Perhaps they weren’t the right person/people to manage her effectively?

        Start at the beginning, as if Jane was just walking in the door herself. Try to start from a place of positivity and support for Jane, who is surely at a low place in her life right now. You becoming her manager is an opportunity for her, too.

        This is not to be all glitter and unicorns. If she truly is not right for the position, you can also simultaneously document that despite all your best efforts, she still cannot perform to expectations.

    10. Hiring Mgr*

      given that you’re “brand new”, where are you getting all this info about Jane’s past seven years, that she’s manipulative, etc? I’d certainly watch closely but i would also be willing to approach with a clean slate if this is all just second/third hand

    11. Leela*

      Document now and talk to her NOW. Very clearly about the changes you need to see, and be very direct about what happens when the goals you’re setting with her aren’t meant. It’s really unfair to her and you (and your staff) to do anything else. The employees in question won’t always know something is wrong, if no one has documented or talked to her about it, she might think that everything is fine. Even if she knows she’s making mistakes, she will know that everyone does and she probably doesn’t have a high level on every one else’s work to see how many mistakes and what kinds are allowed, unless she knows that she’s *really* messed something up (like released confidential info or cost a bunch of money on a mistake).

      Already, “you’ve been messing up for years but no one really told you about it” is a very upsetting conversation to be on the receiving end of if you’re working in good faith. If everyone was just wringing their hands hoping she’d “get it”, they’ve been expecting her to be psychic.

      All of this could culminate in you needing to let her go still, if she’s causing issues and not improving when told it’s not fair to you or other staff to have that just continue. But if you don’t give her solid, extremely clear feedback with very tangible changes that she can implement, and an idea of what has to be implemented by when, you’re actually failing her and not the other way around!

      1. Leela*

        *Well, it could still be the other way around, but you would be failing her if you didn’t tell her that she’s apparently been bad at her job for years with no coaching, explanation that it’s happening, or discussion about change

    12. pancakes*

      If you’re weighing her niceness against her poor performance as if niceness is an essential part of her performance, you are manipulating yourself a bit. It’s not as if she’s crawling into your mind and pulling levers to make that happen. It isn’t cynical to speak as if she somehow prevents people from addressing her shortcomings; it’s deflection from years of complacency around it.

      I agree with the people who are saying that you need to start documenting her underperformance, and you need to be sensitive to the fact that she’s probably reeling from all those losses. Maybe you can move her someplace rather than try to get rid of her.

    13. PollyQ*

      Is there no possibility of coaching her into better performance? I know, poor judgment is a tough thing to teach, but given that you say firing is somewhere between “difficult” and “impossible,” it might be worth the effort anyway.

    14. Anonosaurus*

      I have worked with people who have suffered multiple bereavement over a short period and it has also happened to me although not quite so quickly. I find that people who have not yet sustained such losses underestimate the extent to which they impair all kinds of performance – memory, cognition, general coping ability. It’s really very difficult to understand that unless it’s happened to you. I certainly didn’t realize the effect it would have. It’s not a lack of compassion it’s more that people can’t grasp just how profound the impact is on just about everything.

      This is not to say that Jane should be able to underperform without anything being done. But surely the real issue is that Jane was underperforming before the shitstorm hit her and nobody dealt with that at the time? This is regrettable because I don’t think now is the time to come down hard. Not only would that be lacking in compassion but Jane may have limited ability to change at this stage of her bereavements, even if she is motivated to do so.

      I would be wondering if there is a different role in your agency that may suit everyone better -including Jane. And being clear about your expectations and consequences, per AAM standard advice. I don’t doubt that Jane needs to be managed and that her limitations impact others, which needs dealing with, but the tone of your post suggests you have already decided that Jane is incapable of improvement, and may even be cynically manipulating you and others. I don’t think that’s a great mindset to take into this process, especially given her personal circumstances. If Jane has never really been managed, one possible outcome of doing so is that she improves. If you see this as solely a process of being able to fire her, you might miss that. I’d try to keep a more open mind.

  7. Sunflower*

    Does anyone else have so much work on their plate right now that it feels impossible to excel at what you’re doing?

    I plan events and we pivoted right to virtual during the pandemic. My number of events skyrocked since then and I’ve felt so maxed out putting out fires that I haven’t felt like I’m able to run the amazing events my boss expects and I’ve just been getting by at pretty good. My company knows everyone is stressed and maxxed out and generally seems they would prefer we handle more volume than increase quality but I feel like I’m getting dinged on this when it comes to review time (I’m generally told to be more creative or given vague wording about elevating my events- things that are very hard to do with an already full plate). With year end reviews coming up, I need to speak to my manager about this especially if I am not promoted.

    My manager in general never asks about my workload and the few times I’ve tried to push back, she tells me I need to find a solution if I want something off my plate (when I’ve tried to suggest specific names to lend a hand, I’m told that person is over capacity also). Help?

    1. Cat Tree*

      I’ve been in jobs like this. Since you have raised the issue to your boss and she’s completely unwilling to help (which is literally part of her job), your best option might be searching for another job. This won’t get better by accident and you don’t have the power to make meaningful change to the system. In my experience, supportive, competent management is much much much more important than the actual work I’m doing when it comes to job satisfaction. Being in a position where you have all the responsibility but very little authority is a recipe for disaster.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        This. It’s a job seekers market, especially for people with experience in virtual events. I would start looking.

      2. Llama Llama*

        You have described my job perfectly here. I’ve told my boss I can’t do everything, told them I needed help, that we needed to prioritize…and I just get nothing back. I’ve tried to offer options and solutions and ideas and it generally comes back to “everything is a priority” and “there is no more capacity” meaning no one who currently works there can help me and we can’t hire anyone else so I have to do it. As a person who wants to excel at her work I feel like I am doing mediocre at everything just to hold it all together and that makes me hate going to work. I used to get so much gratification out of this job because I could do it well. After this going on for more than a year I’ve decided to look for other jobs. This is a great example of “When people tell you who they are, listen.” Your company is not a supportive place to work and neither is mine.

        1. Be kind, rewind*

          Wow. Being forced to be mediocre at my job would make me miserable, too. That sounds really frustrating.

          1. Llama Llama*

            It is really frustrating. Especially because I used to really like this job and was really good at it when the workload was manageable but I have absorbed the work of three people and it’s just too much to be able to do it all well. My boss made a joke the other day to a new employee “Llama Llama can only do the work of three people, not ten!” and she meant it as a compliment but I had to hold my tongue from saying something snarky.

    2. 1234*

      Can you use the phrase “I can do XYZ but I will need to give up something in exchange for that. What would you like me to give up so that XYZ can happen?”

      “You mentioned elevating my events in my previous review. In what ways should I be elevating my events? What actionable steps should I be taking to do this? This statement is unclear to me. I want to make sure that I understand what you are asking.”

      Also, are they open to hiring someone whose only job would be to help you/assist in your department?

    3. Ex-Dog Coor*

      The event industry is rough right now… Clients think virtual events are easier but in many ways they are much more complex! Can any of aspects of the event planning be outsourced to (trusted) subcontractors? For example, an event photographer that also runs a step-and-repeat so you don’t have to? Another commenter asked about an assistant. That could be useful for some of the administrative tasks that you may have to do, but I know that’s often not possible. Are there other metrics you can provide to your boss that show the increase in technical difficult and involvement that the change to virtual events has brought? Can you say “no sorry, I can’t take that on” when asked to do an additional project? (I know the answer is likely no, it’s so common for event production companies to never turn down a job…). If you can’t say no, can you say something along the lines of “Ok I can try to do this, but given X Y and Z, this new request is going to suffer and not be as polished as I would like it to be”. I had a boss like this, that would never let us turn down an event, no matter how last minute. Stating point blank, “We can take this on, but it’s going to be bad and/or fail entirely because of these reasons” usually got through to him.

      Otherwise, I second fixing up your resume to look for a new job. Events are coming back in a big way, and so many people left the industry during the pandemic, so there are openings out there! Good luck

    4. BayCay*

      She doesn’t ask about your workload because she knows it’s bad and wants to avoid talking about it.

      It sounds like your boss is well aware of the situation but either isn’t in a powerful enough position to make significant changes, or is hoping by burying her head in the sand, things will just eventually work themselves out. Both are unfortunate. Sadly, there’s not much you can do that you haven’t already tried, it sounds like. You’ve done your due diligence in not only bringing up the issue with her, but you tried to recommend a specific solution with suggesting people who might be able to lend a hand. Now, maybe she doesn’t think those people have the bandwidth to help, but it’s her literal JOB to find a solution to this serious problem, and she’s hanging you out to dry because she herself has no clue what to do.

      I hate to say it, but my best advice is to start looking elsewhere for a job, if you truly feel that your workload is unmanageable. It sounds like the company is struggling and your boss isn’t in your corner, fighting for you. I personally wouldn’t feel obligated to suffer through.

      1. Leela*

        Agreed. I think it’s very likely that she knows it’s bad and doesn’t know what to do/isn’t authorized or doesn’t have the resources to do something about it and is taking some kind of “hey, not everyone can hack this job” type of attitude I see a lot at jobs that are just bad and no one is fixing what’s wrong. I would definitely tell you to start looking elsewhere, or just understand that you’ll only be able to do mediocre work and finding a way to come to terms with that (something I’d really struggle with myself, if I was in that same situation!) Good luck:/

    5. Ama*

      I was kind of in that place earlier this year — mostly due to a perfect storm of events that left me with no support staff at a time when we had planned out a level of work that should have meant hiring extra people. To be honest I got to a point where I did not care if I got fired because the job was taking so much out of me so I just started making my own decisions about what I could and couldn’t get done, and if anyone asked about a project I had decided was low priority I would just say “I have had no time to work on that and that’s where it is going to stay until someone else can pick it up or [long laundry list of more urgent projects] are done.”

      I should note that I am priveleged to have a partner with a well paying job and enough savings to float us for several months of reduced income, and my partner was supportive of the fact that I couldn’t continue on as I was. (We were also pretty sure my employer wouldn’t fire me because there are crucial day to day tasks I do that literally no one else there knows how to do. They had absolutely made their own bed by understaffing my department for years and I was finally mentally prepared to make them lie in it.) So I totally understand if that isn’t an option for you, but it was where I found myself about six months ago.

      My boss was much more sympathetic than yours (although it still peeves me that I had to start literally dropping the ball on things and burst into tears in a one on one before my years of regular complaints that my workload had grown beyond what one person could handle actually sunk in), and we have both hired two new employees for my department as well as moved towards a restructuring that will mean I have much less involvement day to day with about half of my old workload. It’s tenable, for now, I no longer feel like I need to quit without anything lined up at the end of the year (which was the deal my partner and I made if things had not improved).

      BUT, I am still looking for another job because it has become very clear to me that my employer has become too reliant on my strong performance bailing them out of their habit of committing to projects before they realize the full scope of the work and I don’t think it is good for me or my current employer’s professional growth to continue this relationship long term. However, at least for now I feel like I can get through the work week and continue to contribute here while I look for something new.

    6. Quinalla*

      We’ve been very over capacity in Q2/Q3 of this year, it was rough, but damn my bosses have been nothing but supportive, pitching in where they can, adjust deadlines if we have to, helping us figure out how to spread work out in highly creative ways, etc. I would be pissed in your shoes frankly if your boss is just like, welp too bad. What solution are you supposed to come up with to make the work magically get done?

    7. Disco Janet*

      I think pretty much all K-12 public school teacher’s can relate to having too much to do and not enough time/resources to get it all done, so yes, I know what that is like, and I’m sorry you’re experiencing it!

      I’ve found it helpful to figure out what things are really important to my boss, and what things do they not really notice if I let it slide. For example, my boss really pays attention to how our classes begin and end, so spending some extra time planning that is worth it. On the other hand, he really doesn’t care at all if I take forever to submit my development plan or if I’m a slow essay grader. So I can prioritize/arrange my time accordingly.

      Now if they care equally about everything, then it’s trickier and even more unrealistic.

      1. Flower necklace*

        Yes, as a teacher, I can definitely relate to being overworked. Right now, I’m handling it by putting in an insane amount of hours, but obviously that’s not healthy or sustainable.

        I think it does go back to having a supportive boss. The admin team is well aware that teachers are feeling overworked, and I know they’re doing everything they can to mitigate that. They can’t control everything, but the choices they can make are oriented towards reducing teacher workload whenever possible. If they weren’t, then I would definitely be looking.

    8. Chaordic One*

      This! My large employer was shut down because of COVID last year. Different departments were shut down for different time periods. I was furloughed for a month before let me start working from home, but other departments were furloughed for longer periods of time. (up to 6 months in some cases.) Supposedly everything is up and running now, but we are so far behind with everything and it is creating so much extra work. Stuff was sent in, but it is not being processed because of the backlogs, meanwhile bills are being generated by the computers that show balances unpaid and paperwork not being submitted.

      I get phone calls from clients and most complain about having to wait on hold before they get to speak with a CSR, but then these same people are completely unprepared to provide the account-related information that is required to address the issue they’re calling about and I’m so frustrated by all the extra research that is required to locate the information they need and all the extra time it takes.

      They get a notice in the mail, but they don’t have it with them. They don’t know their account number, they don’t know the address their account is listed under, they don’t know any previous addresses their account might be listed under, they don’t even know their own name. (The account is listed under the name they used when they applied for the account. It might include a middle initial or a suffix like “Jr.” or “Sr.” If you married and changed your legal name, if you didn’t submit a change of name form, we’re not going to know and it will continue to be listed under your old previous name. Moreover, I’m not allowed to change the name on your name over the phone. There’s a department dedicated to that and they only do it when you submit the form and supporting documentation.) They set up the account under a particular business name and then changed it, without telling us.

      We’ve had 4 times as many phone calls in the last year as we had 2 years ago in the pre-COVID era. But these same people who complain about the hold times are unprepared to speak about the issue they’re calling about and then wonder why it took so long for them to get a CSR.

      My employer has been on a hiring kick lately, which is good and which is actually helping some, but the new hires aren’t really up to speed yet and it is going to take a while for them to get there. Meanwhile, I just feel like we’ll never get caught up.

    9. MissDisplaced*

      If you have an overload, it’s normal to sort of “stick to the template,” for easy repeatability. You just can’t spend the extra time to elevate or get creative and think outside the box.
      This doesn’t necessarily mean your review would be hurt by such a thing if the volume has increased dramatically since the pandemic though.

      If this is a continual, I would say you do need to talk to your manager about the workload and if they want volume/repeatability or creativity/innovation?
      Or, maybe there is a solution to choose 2-3 events you’ll put more effort into while the rest can be more standardized?

    10. Overload*

      Yes- it feels like because we’re so good at what we do they keep on giving us more. They don’t realize that they’re burning people out. Plus, we’re not able to excel on the things we’re meant to do because people keep on giving us more. Unfortunately there’s also a culture of not being able to say no without some implication that we’re not being positive or a team player.

  8. Burning Dimly*

    Can anyone help with how to deal with burnout towards the end of a career? I have about six years to go till early retirement and am counting the days. I can only manage early retirement due to a policy within my employer, so getting another job is not an option. And my area is specialized, so changing departments is not possible.

    Right now, I just feel like I am existing and nothing matters. I can rouse myself to do thing directly for people, but working on continuing projects or creating new projects seems beyond my interest level.

    My vacations are occupied with helping my mother in a retirement center, so taking off to a beach is also not something I can do.

    Kinda down, but know that I should be grateful that I will be able to retire a bit early. So guilt on top of the disinterest.

    1. Panicked*

      Six years is a long time to be in a job you don’t like. Would a switch to another employer/career field make it easier for you to work to a typical retirement time?

      1. Burning Dimly*

        Panicked, my area is specialized so any switching to another employer would require moving. And, well, my friends are here. Right now, I am trying to convince myself that trading six more years will be worth it for the five years early retirement. So close, but yet so far.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I think you should take a good, long look at all of your options. Not in a “you must find a new job and move away from your friends” way but in a “you must convince yourself you are really on the best path” way.

          Based on your comments, the paths that I can see are:

          (1) Stay in your current job. Live near your friends. Retire in 6 years.
          (2) Find a new job in your same industry. Move away from your friends. Retire in 6 (maybe?) years.
          (3) Find a new job in different industry. Live near your friends. Retire in ?? years.

          Obviously there’s a lot of nuance that I’m missing as an internet stranger, but if you look at your life and options more holistically and staying in your current job is far and away the best path, then I think you will be able to feel better about your work while you’re there.

          1. Burning Dimly*

            Hlao-roo,

            Thanks for setting out my options so clearly. The second and third options would involve working an additional five years unless I work for other branches of the same employer. So I am trying to manage in my head by telling myself that I am roughly trading one day of being at work (the remaining six years) for a day of retirement (retiring five years early). It seems the best path, but I hear Alison lecturing in my head about wage theft whenever I want to (or actually do) slack off due to lack of interest in my current job.

            Thanks from an internet stranger.

            1. Your Local Password Resetter*

              If you’re struggeling with burnout and what certainly sounds like some kind of depression, then that’s a health issue. Not an ethical one. You’re clearly trying to do your best, and failing at your job does not mean you’re deliberately scamming your employer by being there. It’s just the reality of what you can handle right now.

              Given the options Hlao-roo gave, I’m also wondering if option 1 is actually feasible. Even if you’re willing to endure six years of a miserable job that you’re failing at, can you actually keep that up? Six years is a long time, and burnout is notorious for sneaking up on people until they collapse completely. If some personal crisis hits you halfway through, or you just run out of endurance, do you have a fall-back plan?

              I’m also wondering if you’d prefer to trade one work day and a retirement day at this job for two work days at a job where you aren’t unhappy or burning out? Are you making the trade because the retirement days are so valuable, or because you want to get away from your job?

              1. Burning Dimly*

                Your Local Password Resetter,

                You have given me a lot to think about. I think I have been so focused for so long on retiring early that I haven’t thought about changing paths. I started counting days at 13 years, 6 months, so have progressed fairly far toward the early retirement goal. Just kinda feels like slogging through molasses right now to get to the end point. My job isn’t miserable, btw, just feels like nothing matters. And there is a lot of turmoil ahead with one direct supervisor retiring next year and my other direct supervisor’s boss retiring this year. Maybe I am more down than normal as well, since this is the time where we lose light.

                I appreciate you giving me a lot to consider.

      2. CBB*

        Agreed. Now that I’m approaching 50, I’ve started thinking about how I spend my time in terms of how much time I have left. Even if I live a long life, six years represents a not-insignificant percentage of that time.

    2. A Beth*

      Can you take a small step back/dial it in a little bit for a while without jeopardizing your job and retirement? Your second paragraph seems like that’s possible; you prioritize the immediate needs but don’t create new projects. I’m sorry you’re going through that!

      1. Burning Dimly*

        A Beth, thanks, I have stepped back a bit (mainly sulking that the powers that be won’t let me continue to telecommute) and no one has noticed. A bit of a blow to the ego, actually, but focusing on things such as AAM are getting me through my day.

        1. Jax*

          You’re not alone in feeling this, regardless of stage of career! Count me as another No Telecommute Sulker. I thought I wanted to come back and be around people and I wouldn’t mind it, but *I mind it*. I’m annoyed by the commute, annoyed by climbing into dress clothes at 6:30 a.m., annoyed at packing lunch bags and travel mugs, annoyed that I can’t step away without a reason because I’m in an office full of people again, annoyed that even though I’m not I *feel* micromanaged just by virtue of having to SIT HERE FOR 9 HOURS.

          Also, we’re still in a pandemic! Everyone is just pretending that the whole thing is happening in some alternate reality that can’t touch us, but my mind seriously won’t work that way! We’re in masks, still being careful, stick freaking out over random fevers and trying to protect elderly relatives and non-vaccinated children. Am I supposed to just absorb the contact tracing phone calls from the school nurse and chuckle or something? None of us have had a real vacation in 2 years, or normal holidays, or normal *anything*. Of course work isn’t lighting us up inside. We’re not in the “new normal” yet–we’re solidly in transition.

          Just keep showing up, hun. That’s all any of us are doing! You’re successful each day you keep going. :)

          1. Windchime*

            This comment basically sums up the entire pandemic for me. I think that it has caused many people to take stock of life and to realize that just working until we are too old and sick to work is not the way we want to live. I lost three cousins (one to COVID) and my dad this year. I also turned 60. I decided that I had worked enough; fortunately, my financial advisor also thought so and now I am retired. I won’t live a life of travel and champagne and fancy stuff, but that’s not what I want. I just want to have control over my schedule and not have to sit at a desk doing boring shit for the rest of my life.

            I know it’s not possible for everyone. Insurance is hella expensive and I wish I qualified for Medicare already. But it’s a choice I’ve made and for now, it’s working for me (it’s noon and I’m still in my pajamas).

            1. Burning Dimly*

              Windchime,
              You are an inspiration for me. Someday I will get there. The policy that I mentioned is that my employer will pay for the employer part of medical insurance from 60-65 with some qualifications. Which is why I am hanging on for six more years. No other employer will have that option, that I can find in my industry. Happy pajamas!

              1. WellRed*

                I assume you’ve looked at other insurance options. Also, are the qualifications something you know you’ll still meet then?

              2. Zan Shin*

                Re insurance: a lot depends on what state you live in. I retired at 62 in California. By making sure I didn’t pull too much out of retirement accounts, I kept my taxable income low enough to get great insurance subsidies from Covered California (our version of Affordable Care Act). The subsidies actually brought my monthly insurance premium, for a decent plan, LOWER than what I now pay, on Medicare, for my part B premiums + supplemental “Medigap.”

    3. Alex*

      The fact that you aren’t able to use your vacations to recharge sounds pretty difficult, and I’m getting the impression from that that you’re going through challenging times in your personal life, not just at work. Getting some support from a therapist could help you in both places —maybe it’s not going to make everything zesty cheery but having someone professional in your corner can help you handle stress and strategize, because it sounds like things are really hard. Wishing you the best.

      1. Burning Dimly*

        Thanks Alex. Yeah, it is somewhat challenging right now, but no more than any other person whose employer is handling the pandemic…not great. I worry about my mom and she is the last relative that I have. I have not had good experiences with therapy, but maybe there is a good one out there.

    4. a tester, not a developer*

      Can you talk to your leader about shifting your focus towards user support (doing things directly for people) and baking away from project work for a while? Even people who aren’t eyeing early retirement get burned out on project work – I say this as someone who is 3 years into an 8 year project, and trying to remember why I thought this would be fun. :)

      1. Burning Dimly*

        a tester, my job is fairly split, so I am laying back a bit on the projects and focusing on the people side. Not sure if I would be able to change my job completely to the people side. Sympathy to you for being in the middle of a huge (seemingly never ending) project.

    5. dry erase aficionado*

      Can you get approved for FMLA to deal with some of your mom’s stuff so you can also use some of your vacation time for actual vacation? The time might end up being unpaid under FMLA, but depending on your overall situation the dip in income might be worth the benefit of an actual break.

      1. Anon-mama*

        This is a nice idea, but many workplaces require you to draw down your PTO when you’re on FMLA. If that’s the case, or just using it intermittently will still leave you unable to hit the beach, I’d instead ask if you can use sick leave for helping mom.

      2. Burning Dimly*

        dry erase aficianado, I hadn’t thought about exploring FMLA. I used it with my father’s chemo treatments, but not for my mom’s doctors appointments. Thanks!

    6. Business Librarian*

      I ran across a phrase that summed up how I’m feeling lately: existential exhaustion. It sounds like you’ve got it too. One thing is, I don’t actually think you’ll feel this way for the next six years. I believe that one day we will all walk back into the sunshine. If you’re like me that doesn’t help much but I really believe it’s true.
      We expect a lot of ourselves especially if we’ve always been good at our work. Just doing what’s in front of you rather than getting creative the way you’ve been before feels like slacking. You’re not slacking, you’re surviving a global plague and major political problems. Even if you think you haven’t been affected directly, you have been.
      I’d concentrate on loving yourself for making it through this long, and think about special treats for every week. Really savor some good chocolate or take a slow walk near some trees. Whatever does it for you, plan it like it’s a work project and enjoy it as much as possible. Good luck and best wishes!

    7. Self Employed Employee*

      Burnout is an actual mental health thing, and maybe you can focus on that part? I work for myself and do not get to retire, and I have also been suffering burnout for the last few years. For the last 3 months I have taken it on as a health issue and… things are changing! Slowly, but I am starting to see light again. I am starting to be creative again. Everyone is different, but for me, I just needed to let go of every obligation besides work and rest so my brain can recover. I am wondering if there is anything outside of work that can help, even if you need to throw some money at it. What can you hire someone for that will free up your non-work time so you can get rest or time to yourself? Can you take some extra time off? Can you hire someone to help with your mom just for a short while?Can you talk to EAP and see what they say? Burnout is not fun at all. I hope you can find something that works.

    8. Sail On, Sailor*

      Burning Dimly, you are me from five years ago. And I very much get what you are saying.

      I love my career, but have been with a company that sucks the souls out of people. I’ve stayed mainly so I can be eligible for the retiree medical benefits. Now retirement is finally just around the corner.

      The only way I’ve been able to get through the past five years is to 1) focus as much as possible on the parts of my job I still love, and 2) keep my eyes on the prize (retirement).

      I wish you the best of luck, and strength. Try to hang in there! (Agree with the commenter about seeking appropriate help, though.)

  9. Goose*

    I made a dumb mistake counting deliverables and we were short five. They go out today, and I’m about to go run around trying to find replacements. Do I offer to cover the cost? I signed the invoice and confirmed everything had arrives (and what’s worse is I was sure I counted everything correctly, but I clearly missed something.) It’ll be about $30 out of pocket

      1. londonedit*

        Definitely don’t offer to cover the cost. I’d just go with a simple explanation like you gave there – ‘I could have sworn I’d counted everything correctly, but I’ve just double-checked and we’re five short. I’ll source them from elsewhere but annoyingly it’s going to cost us $30 – I guess I’ll be triple-checking from now on!’

    1. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      No definitely not. This is the cost of doing business. I would just explain that you could have sworn you counted correctly, how you’ve fixed the problem, and any new checks you’ll build into your process to help ensure this doesn’t happen again. You sound like a very conscientious person. Good luck!

    2. Math is Hard*

      No, and any organization that would accept money from their employees for an honest mistake manufactures red flags.

      Can you go back to the company that was supposed to deliver the, er, deliverables and see if they have a process to double check what they sent?

      Also, what is the chain of custody of the deliverables? At my employer, we have had some items “go Elvis” (left the building) after they were checked in and before they were provided to the requester. The more transportable and the looser the chain of custody, the more likely the items poofed on their own.

    3. Goose*

      Update: I was able to get half of the missing items, but in the process scraped my car and paid for parking when it should have been free. My guilt is assuaged?

      TGIF y’all

  10. no dogs on the moon*

    is it weird if i try to set my end date for a day the office is closed? it’s possible i may be giving about three weeks notice in the next few weeks where the last couple days would be on a day we’re typically closed for a paid holiday. would it be weird to ask for my last day to be on a holiday so i don’t lose wages? i have a pretty good relationship with my team and it’s important to me not to burn a bridge, but i also don’t totally know how me leaving will go over. i don’t want to seem rude or out of touch!

    1. A Beth*

      I’d be surprised if they agreed to that. I’d say plan to be in the week after the holiday to be eligible for holiday pay.

      1. no dogs on the moon*

        that’s fair! my tentative start date with the new firm would be the monday after the holiday so i’ll just anticipate wrapping up before the holiday and stick to ramen for my unpaid days off!

      1. no dogs on the moon*

        only in the sense that if i do two weeks and have that full week off i wouldn’t get paid for the days we’d be open that would be part of the third week, which i can’t afford (which in turn is part of the reason i’ve been looking to move on, ha ha)

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      A lot of employers won’t pay for that holiday unless you’re on paid status the day before and after, so you’d lose the wages anyway.

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        This came up for me this week , actually! At my institution, you have to be present at work on your formal last day. You can’t use vacation and I don’t think they’d let you use a holiday.

    3. MondayMonday*

      I gave notice that would have fallen during a weeks vacation. To mitigate, I gave 3 weeks notice instead of the standard two. The week in the middle was my planned vacation and then I was back for a week to wrap things up.
      If I were you, I wouldn’t count the company holiday in your notice and add another day on the back end. OR when you give notice, ask them what will work best. Maybe your last day can be on the holiday if everything is wrapped up.

    4. Alternative Person*

      Depends on company rules, you’d have to check in with HR and maybe accounting for an answer. Some companies might be fine with it, especially if you’re not leaving stuff hanging, others may want the full two weeks for whatever reason.

  11. Dr. Doll*

    I plan to retire in a few years, a little bit early. I want to take on a second career, which will require me basically to get a second bachelor’s and master’s degree. Is it ethical of me to begin that process at a community college right now? Community colleges generally serve people who need a boost. I don’t really need the boost, I would be doing it because community college is more flexible. Thoughts? I am especially interested in hearing from fposte if she is around, as I have great respect for her judgment as regards higher education.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Community college is an awesome resource that more people should use. I really don’t think they’re intended exclusively for people who “need a boost” — you’re fine!

      1. Coenobita*

        Community colleges are for everyone!

        The word “community” is right there in the name! :) In my experience, career-changers and people with full-time jobs who want to take a class or two on the side are generally a core part of the community college student body.

    2. House Tyrell*

      I work in higher education and it’s definitely not unethical to go to community college! Anyone can take any classes at community colleges and they are not just for people who need a boost. Life long pursuit of education is admirable and you should go for it! Also, community colleges collect tuition dollars and need enrollment numbers to report just like any other college and admissions aren’t run on a one in-one in policy so you aren’t “taking” a spot from anyone.

    3. Also an academic*

      Not fposte, but I also work in higher education and have experience w/ community colleges. It’s 100% okay to attend one even if you don’t consider yourself as needing a boost! The whole point of community colleges is that they serve the community, without regard for how well-resourced/under-resourced people are. Also, though, enrollment is down at many community colleges around the country right now, so you’d be funneling much-needed tuition money towards one right now.

    4. Overeducated*

      Community colleges are funded by the state for the broad benefit of the community, as well as by your tuition dollars. They are not just for people in need, and adults take classes there while working aaaaall the time. I don’t think there is any ethical question here – go for it!

    5. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      What do you mean by ethical? Anyone can take classes at a community college. It’s kind of elitist to think only people who “need a leg up” can go there. Many CC’s also offer non-credit education so people can learn all sorts of cool things.

      Something also to consider is that your CC might not have the classes you need to earn a bachelors, depending on your field of study. The same can be said of 4-year universities. And some programs don’t allow someone with a degree to enroll. I’d start by doing that research if you haven’t yet.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Like everyone else said, community colleges are there for everyone!

        I *would* recommend, though, since it sounds like you already have a Bachelors degree, to look into what the entry requirements are for your intended Masters and see whether you actually need a full second Bachelors, or if taking X number of courses in the field will be sufficient. Saving time and money is almost always worth it.

    6. learnedthehardway*

      Sure! Why would you feel that is unethical? You have every right to get the education that you need. Community colleges exist not just to help individuals, but also to ensure that the overall economy is served. Whether you go to the local one or one in another city, you’re going to be contributing to the economy. That’s entirely aligned with the goal of community colleges.

      Also, you have a lot of work experience – your fellow students will benefit from that. You’ll be able to provide some work perspective that could be helpful to them, even if not in the same industry that you’re targeting. eg. you’ll know how business people think about problems, and that ideas that might seem amazing may have hidden costs that people without a lot of work experience wouldn’t be aware of. So, you can provide value as a mature student to your classmates.

    7. Bloopmaster*

      I’m confused about the idea that “Community colleges generally serve people who need a boost” – and that attending one without needing this “boost” would be unethical. Community Colleges serve communities and the people who live in them regardless of why they want or need post-secondary education. As long as you are planning to take your studies seriously and be respectful of everyone you meet there, there’s nothing unethical about attending one because you need flexibility (or for pretty much any other reason).

    8. Adademic Anon*

      Not unethical at all! I work at a university and when I was considering getting a masters at my institution, I went to the local community college to brush up on my higher math. The degree that I was thinking of required calculus and mine had degraded. No one questioned taking community college classes, especially since they had quite a number of returning students in the classes. The boost you are referring to can be applied to the flexible scheduling that the community colleges have versus the presumed full time attendence for a university.

      Attend away!

    9. peachy*

      Community colleges are awesome and they are for everyone. As others have pointed out, enrolling actually helps them out because it gives them tuition dollars and can possibly boost numbers for under-enrolled classes that might be on the chopping block soon. I’ve taken classes at a couple of community colleges, and there were often other working professionals in my classes. Also, if you do well in your second career, it reflects well on them. If you really want to assuage your guilt, you can give back as an alum by donating or mentoring students.

      1. Windchime*

        Yeah I am a big fan of community college. My son earned is AA there way, way cheaper than if he had spent those 2 years at University. He was then able to transfer to University and finish his bachelor’s. I was looking for a career change in my late 30’s and took 2 years of classes at that same community college and it changed my life; I got a job in IT and was able to live comfortably for the first time in my life. People overlook community college as “less than”, but I believe they are an under-appreciated resource.

    10. Anon for This*

      Of course it is ethical! My son took a required English literature course at a community college, and half of the class was retired people who liked to take interesting classes here and there. Community colleges do help give some a boost, but they are there for everyone.

    11. Hapax Legomenon*

      I did my first two years of my bachelor’s at a community college and I felt I got a better and more academically rigorous classroom experience there than at my four-year university. Community college is a great resource, and it’s not just for people who “need a boost,” it’s for people who don’t think they know everything already and want to keep learning–just like any other kind of school.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        My son did that, too. It also really cuts down on college debt because community colleges are so (relatively) affordable. It’s especially good if you don’t know what your university major will be.

    12. JB*

      This is like saying it’s unethical to go to a library if you can technically afford to buy your own books.

      Community colleges exist to serve everyone in the community, and the more people they serve, the more resources they receive. It’s not like you’re stealing a scholarship or something.

    13. Zennish*

      FWIW I’ve worked at a community college. They are for anyone who might benefit from them. It’s true that they usually have a greater focus on nontraditional students, which is why they offer a more flexible environment, but that isn’t limited to people needing a (I assume you mean socioeconomic) boost. You’d certainly fall under the usual definition of a nontraditional student as someone older working towards a second career.

    14. Anonymous Luddite*

      The only way this would be unethical would be if you are taking your community college classes during punched-in work time without your bosses knowledge or pre-approval.

    15. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m taking community college courses purely for fun, because after 10+ years of being a full-time student (I have two bachelors and two masters degrees already) I have a hard time not being one. (Hey, I don’t knock your hobbies. :) ) Go for it.

    16. Canonical23*

      There’s nothing unethical about going to a community college! Having worked at two in my career, I’ve seen everyone from wealthy housewives taking classes because they’re bored to high school students that need a challenge to broke 20-somethings that are trying to get into a field that will give them more security. Community colleges are for everyone. Also – the money you pay for tuition will go into their revenue and allow them to offer services and funds for students who do “need a boost.”

      Schedule an appointment with an admissions counselor – they would love to talk to you and recruit you to their campus.

    17. Veronica*

      I’m a mentor at a community college. One of the side benefits of college is meeting fellow students. Going to community college will widen your perspective and provide your fellow students with the benefit of your experience in the work world.

    18. Generic Name*

      Community colleges are just that. They are for the community. They are meant to be accessible to anyone who wants an education. They are not specifically “for” any particular population or income level. You may be surprised that many of your fellow students are just like you. :)

    19. Dr. Doll*

      Thank you everyone! I will rock on!

      Explanation of why I asked: When I began to apply online to my local CC, there were so many questions on the form that indicated that the primary groups expected to participate are historically underserved and marginalized people. It seemed to be “their space” into which I would not want to intrude as a person with both privilege and resources. (I’m coming from a good place – maybe donig it rwogn, always possible.) Also I’m not sure if they have too many students, and if my taking a spot would in fact prevent someone else.

      I don’t need a full second BS, of course. I need a bunch of math. I am in the same boat as the commenter whose calculus had degraded – the only thing I remember from calculus, literally, is what an integral sign looks like! I might be able to write a quadratic equation. So I really need to start with college algebra, and feel lucky that I don’t have to go back to sixth grade arithmetic. :-D

      1. Pickle*

        They’re doing this (asking these questions) because they need to answer/report on this data to the state/accrediting entity.

        Lots of community colleges struggle with enrollment, especially sustained enrollment. You being able to pay, on time and without aid, is a tremendous boon to them and their need-worthy students.

      2. Pickle*

        Also – community colleges generally accept all applicants. You’re not taking someone else’s spot by applying – you’re reserving yours. Apply away!

      3. Anne of Green Gables*

        Yes, I agree with both of Pickle’s statements. (Community college employee here, I posted below before seeing your clarification)

        All those questions are probably things the institution needs to report on. Community colleges also realize that students (ALL students) are really struggling right now and likely have programs in place to help students be successful, so some of those questions are possibly to determine who needs things like a laptop or hotspot for online classes or food support or extra financial support–all things that my college is actively doing with CARES Act/federal funding relating to Covid. But just because you don’t need those things doesn’t mean community college isn’t for you!

      4. A Beth*

        Your explanation definitely makes sense but I’m glad folks with more CC experience have chimed in!

      5. MissDisplaced*

        Remedial math is one thing community college is perfect for! I spent a LOT of time in both my early 20’s and 40’s at community colleges. It’s perfect for the don’t know what to do young, the broke, the career changers, and the people who just love lifelong learning.

        Go back, enjoy, and good luck!

    20. Mrs. Smith*

      I taught community college for years and it really is for everyone – first-gen students, returning learners, second-career starters, traditional students, students needing remediation, those hoping for an affordable start before transferring, retirees auditing interesting classes – everyone. And you are part of that: when you contribute to classroom discourse, your experiences and ideas make that ferment even more rich for everyone who is in it. So jump in!

    21. Gul DuCat*

      I have worked in community colleges and they are for everyone! They can make life easier because they often aim to be flexible, and I think it’s a richer environment when there are a lot of different people from different situations all working toward goals. And, you might even be paying taxes to support the community college, so it is indeed everyone’s!

    22. Cle*

      I work at a community college and we have all kinds of students. I love it, and I think a lot of students do, too. The huge range of abilities and backgrounds and ages is awesome, and I think is difficult to find anywhere else. Yes, you’ll find more services geared towards those who are more likely to struggle than yourself– because usually they’re the ones who need more services. But that doesn’t mean it’s not for you, too.

    23. My straight A kid goes there*

      Community colleges are for everyone in the community.

      Please stop perpetuating the myth that community college is only for kids who “can’t handle” real college or didn’t thrive n high school.

    24. Anne of Green Gables*

      I work at a community college in a large metro area. (Top 25 in population in the US but not top 10) The estimation I have heard is that 1 in 4 adults in the metro area has taken a class at my Institution. It really is a “something for almost everyone” kind of place with continuing education, trade programs, 2 year associates that transfers to the state university system, ESL, and tons more. If you do take classes at your local community college, I think you’ll find that there are students there from all kinds of circumstances.

      If it helps, my institution has an active campaign geared toward attracting students like you, who are adults looking to re-train. Also, community colleges are really hurting right now (nationally, enrollment at community colleges is down about 15%) and their funding depends on numbers of students enrolled, so you’d actually be helping your local community college!

    25. Beth*

      I’ve been to a small, very expensive private college; a great big state-funded university; and a community college.
      Some of the best teachers I’ve ever had taught at the community college. I can’t quite imagine why you would think it’s unethical. Go for it.

    26. RagingADHD*

      Is it ethical for you to check out books from the public library when you could afford to buy them?

      Of course!

      The resource exists to be used, and by using it you are helping to make sure it stays available for everyone.

    27. Chaordic One*

      Of course it is ethical for you to begin that process at a community college. They’re there to serve the community and you are a part of the community.

      There is a bit of a stigma to attending community college. Sometimes the stigma is deserved, but most of the time it is not. There have been times when my community college was not well-funded, classes were over-crowded and there weren’t enough classes to accommodate all of the students who wanted to take them. During those times I can understand why someone might decide to attend elsewhere.

      I do hope you’re not allowing unfortunate, usually undeserved, stereotypes to dissuade you from attending community college. If the schedule works for you and you can enroll in the courses you want, I hope you’ll take advantage of the situation and take the courses there.

    28. SemiAnon*

      Community colleges serving people who need a boost is a side-effect, not the main purpose. I did my first year at the local college (Canadian system, so a bit different than the US) so I could live at home and save some money before moving away, and I have family who teach at them. They’re at their best when they serve a variety of students, not just people who can’t afford (or can’t get into) four year universities.

      And honestly, you sound like a classic case of the kind of situation where community college is ideal – you want to switch careers, and plan on taking courses part time while working, and therefore need more flexibility. Just be sure to check the transferability of the classes towards your planned degree, so you don’t end up having to redo stuff.

  12. Screaming Bug Prank Update*

    I posted a couple of weeks ago for feedback on “exterminating” the “fun” prank at my office – a prank involving hiding a screaming bug all over the office. The screaming bug has been relocated and the office has been scream-free for over a week. It. Is. Glorious.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Have people figured out that it’s gone or is everyone just on edge waiting to see where it pops up?

      1. Screaming Bug Prank Update*

        I haven’t heard any mention of it one way or another. Here’s hoping everyone has forgotten about it!

      1. Screaming Bug Prank Update*

        Ha ha, neither! I couldn’t risk it being put back into the rotation by our cleaning person. It hitched a ride in my purse. Haven’t decided its ultimate fate.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Well done!

          And clever, I was worried disposing of it at work would mean someone could stumble upon it and bring it back into circulation.

  13. Grits McGee*

    Does anyone else find that the perspective they bring to their job bleeds over into their personal life in weird ways? For example, I’m an archivist, and as a result I am *brutal* about culling my photos and personal papers. Not everything has enduring archival value!

    1. Albeira Dawn*

      Ha, whenever I have an open-ended, fairly large decision to make (like what neighborhood I should find an apartment in) I make very detailed forcefield diagrams which I learned from training at work for project management. I’ve also made critical path diagrams for larger craft projects with a lot of self-contained pieces that combine in the end.

    2. Cat Tree*

      Yep. I work in sterile manufacturing, and when I’m washing baby bottles I pay extra attention to “product contact surfaces”.

      Our company has also invested in human error prevention. I’m no expert but we all got some intro training and it’s hugely useful in my own life. For example, if I need to take something with me to work, I put a sticky note reminder on my doorknob the night before so I literally cannot get out of my house without seeing that reminder.

    3. Meghan*

      I work in academic science and I’m meticulous about labeling food that goes into my freezer. What is it, when it went in, and because its a habit I can’t break, my initials. Why do I need to initial the food that goes into my freezer? I DONT KNOW!

      1. Mockingjay*

        My grandparents raised a family during the Great Depression and were very parsimonious. They labeled everything in the freezer and refrigerator. In the pantry, canned and dry goods were stored oldest front, newest back and also labeled with date bought (the stamped label print was often too small to read).

        They dated the PAPER TOWELS AND TOILET PAPER too. I could only surmise it was habit.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      Lol kind of. I’m a researcher and I do tons of research on candidate policies, political history on specific issues, etc. before voting each year. I didn’t realize that everyone doesn’t do extensive research before voting until I started talking to friends/relatives about how they choose whom to vote for.

    5. Bloopmaster*

      HAHA—I am the exact opposite type of archivist. I’m not getting paid to manage my personal photos and documents, so I am very unmotivated to do so, especially when I just spent all week culling and organizing.

      1. EA*

        this is me too! I’m an executive assistant and book a LOT of business travel and I HATE planning/booking my own personal travel

        1. SyFyGeek*

          This^. My friends and family have this idea that since I’m so organized at planning things for work, I must want to do it ALL THE TIME.

          Newsflash, I don’t want to do it. When I get off work, I don’t even want to decide where to eat, much less plan anything.

    6. Tom Servo's Sister*

      Hi! Also an archivist, and I find it comes up most with not letting people touch photos and copyright issues. Whenever copyright comes up, I into a “well, actually…” and then realize that no one cares.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        Oh good, I thought I was the only one who did that! I embarrass myself on FB sometimes when I start lecturing people about attributions.

    7. LunaLena*

      Yes, me! I have a very specific file organization system for my work files, and I always keep my files at home organized in almost exactly the same way. It’s how my manager/mentor at my first job in my field taught me to do it, and now I can’t do it in any other way!

      Also since I am a graphic designer who worked a lot in print and ad design, I tend to scrutinize the junk mail flyers that come to our house and point out all the design flaws, much to my husband’s amusement. More often than not I check out the design quality before I even notice what the ad is for.

      1. Ad Recall*

        A friend of mine used to work in a print shop and was the expert on making stuff work.

        He will look at an ad and be able to tell you what process they used and whether it was the right one, even down to the type of file it might have started out in the beginning. I say uh-huh a lot, but it does make him happy that he still retains his skills.

        And when he helped do the flyers for a county political campaign we were both involved in, I basically had all of the printing presses practically weeping at the quality that he generated. Apparently, the quality they get from small political campaigns were…variable.

    8. Anonymous Luddite*

      Ha! I remember when a friend of mine who worked in a college lab tried to take up homebrewing. Suffice to say, we had a long discussion about how “sterilize” can mean two different things.

    9. ShysterB*

      I am a lawyer — a litigator, in fact. My spouse and teenagers have, quite reasonably, asked me to turn off the litigator’s approach to asking questions when we are talking about things: “I am not an adverse witness!” has been said to me more than once.

    10. Buni*

      ugh, I’m just the opposite to you @Grits; I do a lot of volunteer work with kids so I’m constantly saving stuff I think might be useful, especially craft stuff – bits of card, ends of wool and string, shiny stuff.

      I currently have 32 empty egg boxes in my kitchen…

    11. Generic Name*

      I’m a biologist, and it’s basically impossible to turn that part of my brain off. I identify plants wherever I go. I birdwatch while driving (bad idea!!). My friends and family know they can text me photos of mystery plants to ID. I also help lead my company’s quality program, and I’m constantly thinking of how I can do things *better* and *more efficiently* at home. lol

      1. Generic Name*

        My most recent amusing plant ID was when I noticed a tumbleweed growing in the middle of a planter of petunias in a fancy resort in my area. I’m sure the gardeners had no idea it’s a terrible weed and should be pulled and thrown away.

    12. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Formerly had a ton of design-adjacent work; I’m a bit better about it now but a poorly designed menu at a restaurant still makes me visibly cringe.

    13. Map Nerd*

      I work in GIS and have amused family and friends with my detailed rants about the shortcomings of the outage maps put out by our local electric provider.
      In my defense, they are TERRIBLE.

    14. Yesh*

      Yes – I’m a paralegal and I fall right into the same meticulous, note-heavy info/paperwork/email maintenance for my personal life as I need to do at work. I’ve gotten snickered at a few times by friends/family but it makes it a lot easier to resolve billing or customer service disputes when you have copies of everything filed away and notes about who you spoke with, when, about what, etc.

      Earlier this year I had to claim some $ from my state as unclaimed property due to notification errors by the bank on a joint account I had with my mother (we never heard they were closing the account and the $ got turned over to the state.) My mother couldn’t get past being infuriated and frustrated and I was just like, “hmm, collect documentation, fill out some forms, get them notarized, file it with a government agency, follow up on status… literally what I get paid to do! I got this!” :) Proud to say I got that check cut on the first try!

    15. Jay*

      I’m a hospice and palliative care doc. So yeah, that affects everything. I don’t think most parents talk to their 18 yo kids about a living will before said kid goes to college (she refused to do it).

    16. Not My Money*

      I do payroll and have to track/file all sorts of documents but my personal life filing is a bunch of piles until/unless my spouse takes care of it. I just can’t do it all the time.

    17. LCS*

      I work in Supply Chain and prepare a lot of construction bids. We were renovating our back deck and the manager of the construction deck at the hardware store offered me a job on the spot because of how ridiculously detailed my scope of work documents were for a personal project. Pretty sure in retrospect it didn’t need to be quite that intense (But the deck looks great! And was on budget!).

    18. talos*

      I’m a software developer, so I assume at best constant incompetence and at worst competent malice everywhere I see software.

      The field has some problems.

      1. Might Be Spam*

        So true. I had a boss put things into production without testing and absolutely couldn’t possibly work. She told me to stop testing so much.
        I also teach computer literacy as a volunteer because I love explaining how things work. Staff members tell me that my older students like hearing me “rant” about software quality because they don’t automatically have to blame themselves when stuff doesn’t work. Apparently it makes them relax and feel more comfortable.

        1. talos*

          It makes me really weird at parties, because I’m incredibly tech-skeptical, and I like my job but am not proud of it. Nobody can catch the rhythm of the conversation.

    19. Msnotmrs*

      I’m a librarian and I’m exactly the same.

      A friend of mine who is a correctional officer says he finds himself absentmindedly searching through his laundry sometimes instead of folding it, as if looking for contraband.

    20. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m an engineer. I often paraphrase a line from an episode of Miami Vice: “I’m a cop – it’s not what I do, it’s what I am.”

      I wouldn’t say it’s the job that necessarily bleeds over, but the thought habits that came about from 4 very intense years of education.

      I moved to a new area 7 years ago, and my second summer there my closest new friend said “Hey AB, want to come berry picking with me? I know a place where you can get a quart or two of wild black raspberries.” So I did. And then that winter I looked up the life cycle of the plant, and in the spring went out early along the trails, and off the trails, to find patches that people didn’t know about. And put together a private Google map with GPS coordinates of the patches and landmarks, plus a spreadsheet to track my harvests. Also built a drying rack so I could wash, dry, pack, and freeze the harvest. And worked on better techniques for brushing through the patches, avoiding thorns, identifying which patches are going to ripen next, etc.

      With the result that the next year I got 14 quarts, and the year after 29, and the year after that 38. A bad year for me now is 20.

      So at some point a bunch of us are hanging out, and my buddy is describing everything I went through to the group, and says “So in other words AB put a process together, and then **optimized it**!” And I involuntarily looked at him funny, because his slapped his head, and said “Oh duh, of course he optimized it.” I added “What’s the point of developing a process if you aren’t going to optimize it? That’s what processes are for.”

      So yeah, that’s my brain. I’ll let you know next year how I’m doing building an automated temperature-monitoring and drip irrigation system for my garden. Other people are happy using some scrap wood to build a raised bed. I’m going to use a solar-powered RaspberryPi computer with multiple sensors, a controller for some water pumps, WiFi, and a cloud database with web interface.

      1. James*

        “I’m an engineer. I often paraphrase a line from an episode of Miami Vice: “I’m a cop – it’s not what I do, it’s what I am.” ”

        I just told someone today that I (a geologist) am convinced that geologists and engineers are born, not trained. The training just polishes it off. The way we look at reality is fundamental to our personalities; it’s just a part of us.

        “What’s the point of developing a process if you aren’t going to optimize it? That’s what processes are for.”

        That’s one difference I’m talking about!!! To an engineer this is intuitive; it’s the natural first reaction. A geologist, on the other hand, wants to understand the reasoning behind the process. We’ll improve things, sure–but only after we fully understand what we’re dealing with. Or, to put it another way: You want to pick berries more efficiently. I want to understand what the plant eats (raspberries are fantastic for removing stumps), and how animals eat them (I’ve speculated that sauropods were berry-eaters after using a blueberry picker), and where to find the best berries (crouch down and look up), and how to use the berry bushes (I’m growing a ring of blackberry brambles around my house right now). Actually getting the berries is almost tertiary to me.

    21. Cheezmouser*

      One of my early roles included proofreading responsibilities. I cannot not see typos and grammatical errors wherever I go. My favorite error was a giant banner atop a grocery store that said “Re-Grand Opening.”

      1. allathian*

        I’m a translator and proofreader, and I’m the same way. At least I’ve learned to curb my enthusiasm for letting everyone know about the errors they’ve made, unless they’re truly egregious (pubic for public…). These days, if I’m not getting paid for noticing errors, I can ignore them.

    22. Four Horned Brother*

      Copywriter here, filling out any form takes me about twice as long as it takes an average person because I consider every possible alternate meaning of every question asked. I’m also obsessed with information categorization strategies and have trouble navigating the grocery store because I’m constantly spiraling deep into rabbit holes about why they made the decision (for example) to put bacon with eggs rather than with other meats.

    23. Animal worker*

      Totally – my career has been in animal behavior/welfare and I take that home not only to my critters but I see human behavior through the same lens – I can usually see both good and bad behavior in people as I go through my life and I have an internal conversation about the reinforcement history that caused it. And what could/should be done if those involved wanted to change it. I’ve also become the animal welfare guru to some of my neighbors to look at their pet set ups and offer suggestions.

    24. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I’m the opposite. I was in an archivist-adjacent career, and I find it impossible to cull ANYTHING. Some of my family were multi-generational packrats, and the older things are, the harder it is for me to discard. I certainly don’t NEED those 1856 newspaper subscription receipts, but who am I to throw them out when so many generations before me kept them? Unfortunately for my conscience, most items are too trivial to donate to museums.

    25. LaFramboise (in academia)*

      This Librarian weeds everything-books, clothes, kids’ crumbling art projects. And also all the old crud at work. I fully support your m.o.!

    26. Susan*

      I’m a project manager but to my eternal shame I was very bad at scope control when I had my kitchen renovated. I fell prey to “while they were there” and ended up with not only a new kitchen but my entire first floor hardwood being refinished, an upstairs closet expansion (due to a chimney removal), and new paint and light fixtures in the kitchen.

      1. James*

        I had the opposite experience. Right after I became a PM my wife and I hired a contractor to put in a fence. I read the contract, read who was responsible for what, etc., the way I do for work (read, memorize forward and backward). The contractor keep trying to milk us for more money–they didn’t have everything so it would be an additional delivery charge, they needed someone specific so they’d have another mobilization charge, the fence was longer than they thought so they would have to charge extra. I calmly listened, pointed to the part of the contract that said what we agreed to pay, and informed them that I was unwilling to pay for their inability to read a document or plan ahead. They stopped talking to me, trying to con my wife instead–who immediately passed all questions on to me. (This is unusual in our relationship–usually she makes the decisions about the house, because I travel so much–she just thought it was hilarious watching me make the contractor squirm.)

    27. Chaordic One*

      More recently, in my current job as a CSR, I worry about our country and its future. It just seems like people are getting dumber and dumber. Of course, my outlook has been skewed because I’m mostly getting calls from people who have done stupid things, often for many years in a row, and it comes back to bite them. I’m not hearing from the majority of our customers for who pay their bills and submit all of their required paperwork on time and who don’t have any problems.

    28. James*

      My wife refuses to watch certain shows with me. I criticize the nitrile gloves. CSI uses a horrible brand. Warehouse 13 uses the good ones. The powder blue ones? I refuse to use them–too thin, they break if you look at them too hard!

      My wife and I both also have studied anatomy, and I have a fair grounding in Greek and Latin thanks to my science background (once you realize how organisms are named you can have a lot of fun translating them!). Once a doctor and nurse tried to talk over our heads, using medical jargon, while we were in the room. We both chimed in, as 1) we know what they were doing and were not happy with it, and 2) we were able to follow the conversation perfectly and ask some pretty pointed questions. The medicos instantly started treating us like we were real people, and involving us in the discussions about my wife’s care.

    29. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

      I’m a tech writer. I write up instructions for things like how to clean the turtle tank filters (not a simple job) and re-write knitting instructions to make them more understandable.
      Before that I was a programmer. I have databases of my books and things I collect.
      Do I do these things because of my work, or did I get into that kind of work because my mind goes that way? Good question!

    30. Green Beans*

      Comms/writer here and yes and no! My writing for fun (like here) has gotten worse because now I only break the good stuff out for money. But I’m hella critical of communications campaigns (marketing, public health, whatever) and will happily pick apart what works and what doesn’t.

      I’ve also gotten really, really good at active listening and reflection, since that’s a big part of my job – what are you saying, what are you trying to say, how does that fit together into a story, what pieces are missing? Doesn’t matter if it’s a science paper, a COVID guidelines change, or someone processing a personal issue – the process is pretty much the same for any content.

  14. Me Again*

    How do you know when it’s time to move on to your next role? I’m struggling so hard because:

    1 – I like my coworkers and boss (boss has been at company for over 20 years so she’s not leaving anytime soon). Everyone is generally helpful and kind etc.
    2 – Generally, the job isn’t overly difficult and I can manage most tasks. I’m also being trained on New Skills due to the type of work we are getting in. My boss and I both agree that New Skills is part of my strong suit with room to learn more.
    3- However, I’m not interested in Company Subject Matter. The longer I’ve been here (5+ years) the less interested I get and I find myself making careless mistakes, even though I’m also known for great attention to detail. I was told this at a performance review one year and have worked to actively address this issue. They haven’t brought this up again.

    Honestly, if this job was for a company where I was interested in the subject matter and I had everything noted above, I would stay. So how important is it to be interested in the work?

    1. addiez*

      For me, it depends on the life stage and what’s going on outside of work. If your focus is on your career, it sounds like it could be a good time for a move – if your job isn’t really challenging you and you aren’t enjoying it. But if your life has a lot going on (caregiving, whatever else) then perhaps it’s helpful to just stay where you are and deal with all the other stuff.

      1. Mbarr*

        I’ll second this. I’m in my late 30s, and while I don’t super care what my company does, at least it’s mildly interesting. Now I’m focused on finding jobs where I enjoy the tasks and like my team members.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I don’t think you’ll know until you see what else is out there. This doesn’t sound like a black-and-white Move On From This Job ASAP situation, but you can start looking around! If you don’t find anything that’s more interesting and otherwise just as good or better as your current job, then you’ll stay. (Of course, with #1 especially you would have to trade something you KNOW you like for something you HOPE you’ll like — the hiring manager could seem nice in interviews and turn out to be terrible.)

      1. just a thought*

        This is probably the ideal situation. You can afford to be picky and take your time. You can look for something you would like better but don’t have to settle for a job that would be worse.

        Like Alison says, it goes both ways to decide if you also want the new job. You can interview or get an offer and still decide you prefer your current situation.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      Sounds like it is time for a new challenge for you. You’ve been there 5 years. While you could continue to learn and grow, it sounds very much like you have outgrown your current role and need to move to find a role that will be sufficiently engaging for you. The fact that the company’s subject matter is not of interest to you just makes the decision more obvious. It’s almost lucky this way – if the company’s subject matter was truly, deeply interesting to you, you might be too comfortable to realize that you’ve outgrown the nest and need to fly.

      1. Me again*

        5+ years :) Closer to 7 – 8. I started as My Title and then promoted to Senior My Title in 2018.

        I think it’s the “Know You Like This” part that’s making it so hard to leave.

    4. Liv*

      I was in your situation, loved my team, the work was interesting enough, I was good at it but no longer challenged, and I was given the opportunity to learn some new skills. But I was supremely bored and there were no progression opportuntieis, so I started ‘casually’ job hunting – nothing major, but if I saw something that looked really cool I’d apply.

      I’ve ended up accepting a new role at a similar organisation, but it’s a step up career and pay wise which Im really excited about.

      Some people don’t find it essential to be interested in the work, but for others if the interest isn’t there they go mad. Only you know what type of person you are. But in the mean time, it certainly can’t hurt to have a browse and see what else is out there and if anything jumps out at you.

    5. efrost*

      I’m in a really similar position at the moment. I started out liking that I didn’t care about the job because I had a lot going on in my life outside of work, but as I took on more responsibility my job started to take up more of my time and brain-space. Now I’m in a position that is engaging but not too challenging with agency and a supportive boss who is always there to help my growth… but I just don’t care about what I’m doing. The job itself is… fine, but the Company Subject Matter frankly doesn’t matter to me and because of that I’m having a hard time engaging with my growth. That was my queue. If I’m not connected to my growth, I’m probably not going to get as much out of it as I could/should.

      For what it’s worth, I’m working on an exit plan. I’m spending my energy focused on what I do like about my job, talking to as many people in my network as I can about their jobs, researching new paths, and working on getting my work set up so that when I do find the right new job I’m leaving my awesome team with an easy transition.

    6. Marketing Director*

      I think being interested in the work can go either way. Personally I am not passionate about the industry of the company I’m currently at, and I think it makes it easier for me to avoid getting too personally invested in specific projects or specific outcomes.

      But honestly, it sounds like your gut wants to explore new opportunities and your head wants to rationalize it before giving you permission. Or you’re worried that you can’t “have it all” and won’t find a workplace where the work is engaging AND the people are nice.

      My advice would be to start casually applying to things, taking interviews, and talking to people. As others have said, you’re in a good spot to be picky about your next move. You may find that talking to other companies helps you clarify what you want–it might even remind you what you like about your current role. Or who knows, maybe you will find a new position where you can have both great work and great coworkers!

  15. B*

    I’m about to leave the military and I’m struggling to figure out how to translate my skills into a civilian career. I feel like I know all about the Federal government and contracting industries, but I have no idea what civilian industries or jobs even exist. (Or how I would seek them out!) I’ve been told to network and seek out informational interviews, but I’m not sure how to do that.

    Any advice?

    1. addiez*

      A lot of large companies have veteran recruiters – look into those, they can help you figure out how your skills map.

    2. Panicked*

      Are you working with transition assistance? That’s literally what they are there for. They can help figure out what civilian careers your MOS skills would translate to. Also, check out Onward to Opportunity. They are a free program that can help you get civilian certifications in all sorts of fields. I used it to get my PHR credentialing; they paid for the test!

    3. Albeira Dawn*

      First, look into Skillbridge information. You’re probably too late to actually join the program, which allows leaving servicemembers to do an “externship” with a private company for the last few months of their service, but the advice there is pretty applicable after retirement as well. There are lots of LinkedIn groups if you just search “Skillbridge” + your area!

      Second, I like looking at industry news. What’s a recent project you would have loved to work on? For me, it was the redesign of a local children’s museum, but for you it might be a large event thrown, a comprehensive county planning process, a book published, or so on. Think as big as you want. Then I look at the companies involved: the architecture firm, the event planner, the literary agency, whatever’s applicable. Who works there? What kind of projects do they work on? What other companies do they work with? This has helped me get a general understanding of an industry that I wasn’t at all familiar with before, and helped me figure out what part of the project I was actually interested in. “I want to create 3D scans of the interior of a historic building to facilitate renovation” will give you more of a direction than “I want to participate in historic renovations.”

      Third, my mom (retired from the US Navy and the reason I know about Skillbridge) got a lot of use out of the book “The Two Hour Job Interview” in terms of giving her a guided process to follow and tweak, instead of staring at a blank page.

      1. B*

        I’m in touch with the Skillbridge people right now. I have not tried to search Skillbridge on LinkedIn though. That might be a good idea.

      2. L in DC*

        Same position as B, but I retire in two years.

        Love the advice about industry news! I’m set on going on a different career path from what I did on active duty, so this is valuable advice.

        Did your Mom get a job through her Skillbridge company? I’ve heard some people say that they were happy with their Skillbridge company but ended up getting a job elsewhere.

        1. Albeira Dawn*

          Actually, she was so frustrated by how hard it was to get her Skillbridge approved that she now works for a consultancy advocating to the DOD for streamlining transition options and working with companies to get their Skillbridge programs set up!

          1. L in DC*

            oooh. I’m not surprised that was the case TBH. I am probably going to pursue Skillbridge through a company that doesn’t have it yet, so I should probably try to lay the groundwork now :)

            Does your Mom’s consultancy group advise individual servicemembers as well on Skillbridge? Kind of like a job matching?

            1. Albeira Dawn*

              It’s not their main thing, but I think they partner with another organization called Veterati for mentorship and networking!

    4. Zephy*

      Caveat: I know basically nothing about the military.

      Is there an office or a person that can direct you to resources about transitioning back to civilian life post-military service? Is vocational rehab a thing you qualify for? I don’t know if that’s specific to veterans with disabilities or what, but I know it has something to do with military.

    5. LunaLena*

      Do you qualify for the GI Bill? If so, consider enrolling in a few classes or a degree program. Not only will you update your skills and gain networking opportunities, you’ll have more time and resources for transitioning to civilian life, like help with writing resumes (I’ve been on several hiring committees, and I can always tell when a candidate is former military because their resumes are just written differently). My former military husband just completed his own 4-year degree, and while he was taking classes he also took a public-facing student job, which helped him to transition to civilian life and become engaged with the community in general. He has now started a lucrative job that he loves and uses skills acquired from both his degree and his military background.

      If you can, find a college that is military-friendly. I live in city with a high population of military and military-related families, so the one I work at is extremely military-friendly and has many programs and services specifically for those students. And good wishes to you on your transition to civvy life!

    6. B as well.*

      Bit of a long read so I apologize up front. Retired military here. I’ve been where you are now and it can seem terrifying. First off, I’ll second what was already said, many companies have veteran/military focused recruiters that can help you as you transition out of the military. Your Transition Assistance Program or TAP (not sure what they call it today) should give you ideas and resources on translating your military skill sets into civilian ones.

      https://www.military.com/veteran-jobs/skills-translator is one such website that can help you find careers related to your skills. There are similar conversion tools at indeed.com, zip recruiter, and others I’m sure. People have different views of LinkedIn, but there are a number of veteran’s groups on the site that can offer advice/assistance.

      Something to think about…your first job out of the military is just that your first job. It doesn’t have to be the job you work in for the rest of your life. Also, don’t be afraid to branch out from what you’re doing in the military into something completely different. What I do not is completely different from what I did in the military. Networking is key. Both of my jobs during the last few years I found through networking. I just started talking to friends and acquaintances. I found people that I knew on LinkedIn and would talk with them as well. It’s a process. Hope this helps and good luck.

      1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

        to second what was said here – Your first job isn’t and (almost certainly) won’t be your last job, in the modern job market. I think a lot of veterans have a hard time connecting emotionally with that truth, because the military really is your life when you’re a part of it – understanding the civilian labor market’s mindset can be very difficult, coming from that context.

        Definitely use all the resources at your disposal – and that includes the local (civilian) workforce development authority of where you will be transitioning to civilian life. Federal WIOA programs place a premium on serving veteran populations, so the local workforce development board will have a lot of retraining programs you should qualify for, if you want to branch into something entirely unrelated from what you did in the military – and also career coaches who should be motivated to work with you about actually doing assessments of what you want to do or already have skills that are useful for (ie, diving certified military members may not think about underwater construction as a big thing for the civilian market place, but coastal states are actually cuing in to it being a hugely important part of their long term economic development policies)

    7. Anonymous Luddite*

      I’ve been there, friend. I remember talking to my command master-chief six months before my discharge (in 1995), trying to get sent to a base function that was seen as punishment. “But why?” he asked. “Because there is no civilian equivalent to anti-submarine warfare. Going to X department will teach me how to operate a forklift so I can get a job.” Suffice to say, I did not get the transfer.
      My best advice: was there something that you REALLY enjoyed while you were in? I had a collateral duty of maintaining the classified documents in our facility. My chief gave the team an assignment (the dreaded group assignment) of making a training video. Like all group projects everywhere, very few people actually did any work and I dragged it across the finish line because I enjoyed doing it. (Got a letter of commendation and everything.) Suffice to say, there is no classified data (of the same caliber) in the civilian world.
      These days? I’m a technical writer. I write instructions all day on how to build stuff so the people go home with as many fingers as what they show up with.

      Beyond that: there are a ton of veteran programs out there. You’ll find it.

      Good luck!

    8. Pickle*

      Also – consider working for the Veterans Administration. Use your TAP program to help with your resume, and set up an account on USAJobs. Veteran status gets you a leg up on government jobs.

    9. Rick T*

      Your NEC/MOS is what you do now but it isn’t the entirety of your skills and abilities.

      I’m ex-Navy Nuclear Power and a submariner but I haven’t done ANYTHING related to my NEC code since I left the service, so don’t worry about that part.

      While I was in I learned about personal responsibility, what it takes to maintain standards, and I learned how to learn and retain a LOT of technical material quickly. I use *those* skills every day at my job 30 years later.

      Focus on the military habits and skills you’ve developed that will make you a great employee: punctuality, resourcefulness, and reliability.

      Good luck, and thank you for your service.

    10. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Informational interviews can be hit or miss – if you can target them fairly well to your interests, they can be really useful, but I see a lot of people asking for them when what they really want is a coach who will convinced them that this career is for them. Remember that the person giving you the interview doesn’t know you, and really can’t give you that sort of help (actual career coaches may be worth finding, because they can) – the best they can do for you is talk about what a typical day/week/month/year looks like in their specific company, and possibly their broader industry. Prepare your questions accordingly (please prepare at least some questions!).

      Generally, remember that if there is a thing you want to do, there is someone out there in the civilian world willing to pay for you to do it. If you’re looking for a career you will enjoy, the trick just lies in finding those people. If you’re more worried about the pay and career concerns than simply enjoying what you do, things get a bit trickier.

      If you know of a particular location you want to settle down in (even for just a few years), it can be worth pulling up the state department of labor market information (every state has to have one, but the names and where it is actually located might need a bit of sussing out – talking to local librarians, even via phone and email, can be helpful there). That data should tell you a bit about what jobs are currently in high demand, and which ones are projected to be in higher demand in the near/immediate future, which can be helpful for narrowing down the list of things you want to try doing.

    11. Cheezmouser*

      I’ll preface this by saying I know nothing about the military, but I wonder if it would help to ask yourself some of the typical questions that job seekers need to figure out at the start of their career: What type of career do you want? What fields are you interested in? What training or technical skills do you have? For example, did you support communications? Logistics? Medical? Or think about other skills/interests you pursued on the side or before joining the military. Do you like working with kids? The elderly? Are you passionate about climate change? Animals? Social justice? Are you a computer geek? Are you handy with tools? What do you like to do?

      Another question that might help you hone in on a direction: What soft skills did you gain in the military that would translate into a civilian job? For example, are you good at leading people and providing clear directions? Are you good at following directions and can execute complex tasks with precision and attention to detail? Are you good at building relationships with people from different countries or walks of life? These are all great skills to mention in a cover letter, resume, or job interview.

    12. Chauncy Gardener*

      Been there! (a VERY long time ago)
      All the above advice is great. I would just add the following:
      Please do not underestimate the value of the transition programs, use them to the fullest extent possible. Also, get a civilian (or three) to read your resume and help you to translate it (AND your LinkedIn profile) into civilian language from military language. Get rid of all the military acronyms and try to use words to explain what you did, like you’re talking to your grandmother who has no idea about the military. So for instance, if you were in Supply Chain, you’re going to want to talk about how many different parts you were buying and how much money that was worth. Were you managing a lot of assets? How did you do that?
      An informational interview is when you want to explore a particular field. You tap your network (family, friends, everyone) to find folks that work in that field and you ask them to coffee or a Zoom call to find out what the field is like. Things to ask are: How did you get into this field? What are the requirements to enter it? What’s the best way to get started in it? What’s the career path like? What’s the compensation like? What’s been your path in this field? What are the hard/easy things about it? What are the different areas/avenues in this field?
      If you have more questions, please let me know. I’m always happy to help a fellow vet!

    13. cheapeats*

      Weird to see the “no submarine jobs in the civilian workforce” comments since that’s exactly what I’ve been doing the last 20 years. Anyhow- Skillbridge and your TAP program should be able to assist you, and most defense contractors are *always* looking for subject matter experts. Though I am not a veteran myself, about half of my co-workers are and I really enjoy working with them. They’re always able to answer the questions like “how critical is this when you’re on mission” or “how can we make this better for the sailors?” Your skills are likely more valuable than you are giving yourself credit for. There are also a ton of veterans’ career fairs depending on your location, and many have gone virtual so it doesn’t matter where you are. In the DC area I could probably go to at least one a month as a hiring manager, if not more.

    14. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      Late to the party but I hope I can help. Full disclosure, I’ve never been in the military but my work partner is retired Navy. I think what you get into doing as a civilian could depend on what you did in the military. Partner was an aviation electrician and he was over a repair shop towards the end. When he got out, he started working for an aviation repair shop working on airplanes. This lead to him moving into his current job as the same thing I am, an industrial facilities maintenance technician. We come from completely different work backgrounds.. The main job you did in service may not directly translate, but some of the duties you did as part of the main duty could. We don’t do any kind of aviation work, bit the skills he learned troubleshooting and repairing aircraft translates easily to troubleshooting the processing equipment and VFDs we work on now. So if you were say, a *tank commander* maybe those basic skills would make you good for a leadership role in civilian work. I hope this helps in some way and thank you for serving.

      *I don’t know if that’s a real thing, I thought up something that sounds plausible for an example*

  16. Lizy*

    I want to reach out to my network to help with a job search, but… who is included in my network????

    More specifically…. I worked with a small professional/networking organization (20 staff) that had a large presence in the US (and Canada). I can legitimately say I’ve worked with some of the VPs and c-suite members of large and prominent companies (for example, a VP at CBRE). However, I wouldn’t be surprised that if I reached out to one of them, they may not necessarily remember my name, and I’d have to say “I did such-and-such at OldOrg” for them to put one and one together.

    On the one hand, I definitely DO think these people would be helpful to me, and at least some of them would be willing to help – the organization they were/are involved with is known for its members helping others like this. But… is this a thing that’s actually done??? I don’t want to abuse my relationship(s) with them, or imply that they should help little ol’ me just because.

    I’m not necessarily worried about what I’d say to them (by email), but more worried that I’ll seem like an idiot who doesn’t know professional norms by reaching out. I’m not entry-level by any means, but definitely not on the higher rungs of the ladder. Help!

    1. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      That’s totally normal. You’re just reconnecting with people you haven’t talked to in awhile. As you mentioned, it’s a good idea to remind them how you know each other. Good luck!

    2. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      From my experience, reminding them of who you are, a brief summary of your accomplishments (or attaching your resume) and being direct about your ask, so they can determine if they have the resources to help (especially time), is the best way. And once you send that information, if they don’t follow up, just moving on and not hounding them.

      1. Lizy*

        If there’s a position I want to apply for, should I reach out before or after I apply, do you think? Or does it matter, necessarily?

        I submitted an app for a remote position last night, and can reach out to someone in the company, but I don’t know if it’s the same department or anything, and I don’t want to sound presumptuous.

        1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

          Others might have different experiences, but I would do it after I applied, just so the response isn’t ‘have you applied through our talent portal’ or to make it look like you’re trying to circumvent the hiring process. Also, that way if it is in a different department, it won’t make your contact look like they’re trying to get around someone else’s internal process. And they can then be on the look out for your application.

  17. Mbarr*

    This is a brag post :)

    Back in July, I applied for a role on a different team and got it. I just found out from my manager that not only did I get an “Exceeding expectations” rating on my annual performance review, but that I got, “consistently exceeding expectations” and that I have the highest review of my team, and that it’s the highest review she’s ever given. Now she’s talking about promoting me to the next level, and creating a new job title to more accurately reflect what I’m doing. Woot woot!

    (Now, all this being said, she made a comment that made me snicker. It was something to the effect of, “As a manager, I get access to your previous reviews, and I just don’t understand how anyone could rate you lower.” Not gonna lie, I was NOT a good fit for my previous roles in the company, but at least I finally found my niche!)

    1. Mbarr*

      I don’t want to downplay my accomplishments, but part of me thinks her bar was too low for previous people who filled this role. (Granted, the role was previously filled by someone who was put on a PIP/quit, and then an intern who was hired full time). LOL. But I will admit that I HAVE done some amazingly funky things to improve efficiency.

  18. notMichelle*

    Hey folks – my company is about to return to the office and we just learned we’re not going to have assigned seats (hot desking). My gut reaction is that I hate this. I want to have my own space and I absolutely do not want to sit near sales. Am I wrong to be so against this or are there amazing benefits to this that I haven’t figured otu?

    1. addiez*

      I don’t love it either – but if you’re not in the office for all/the majority of the week, it’s hard to argue you deserve to hold an empty desk. My office does ‘neighborhoods’ so you can be nearby to those you work with, perhaps you could suggest something like that?

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      You’re not wrong to be against this. Sometimes you want to have your own stuff you keep at your own desk (e.g., ergonomic computer setup, a photo of your family, a granola bar, your preferred headphones). Having to move that stuff around and keep it with you is annoying.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        My office has boxes labelled with people’s names for personal stuff. It takes a bit of extra time to set up in the morning and put stuff away in the evening, but otherwise works fine. Though they did just have to give me a bigger box because I have a large ergonomic keyboard that didn’t fit in the old box.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’ve been hot desking since we returned to the office. We have 2 offices and you have to book a specific desk for whatever day you want to come in. (Currently this is only 1 day/week, but we’ll be moving to 2 days soon.)
      The good thing about this system is that it allows you to decide who you are going to sit with – but even with a hot desking system that didn’t allow that, you only have to sit there for a day, then you can move again. I don’t really miss having an assigned desk, but if this was a 5 day a week thing, I might feel differently.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        I’d be hot-noping out over it.

        Those who sit near me know I carry Epi-Pens, know where I keep them, and have been shown how to use in an emergency. Our company safety manager already said hot desking cannot apply (because he’s not dealing with rewriting emergency plans due to this).

    4. Alex*

      We had hot desking at my job for a while and I haaaaated it. Specifically, I developed neck/shoulder issues from not being able to use my special annoying ergonomic personal desk setup. But also, it’s hard to deal with physical materials or collaborate when people are floating all over the building unpredictably. I was very relieved when our return to office plan specified a return to specific seat assignments.

    5. Liv*

      My company did the same thing – we’re all now hot desking. Except… they’ve assigned each team and area, and because my whole team also hates hot desking we’ve all just assigned ourselves desks.

      So you might be able to unofficially claim a desk. If not, hot desking is super annoying but the benefit is in theory that if you end up near people you can’t stand, you can… just move. Also depending on your company culture and personality type, it can give you the opportunity to be around other people and get to know other co-workers you wouldn’t normally interact with. Which can not only just be nice on a personal level, but can be great from a work level to. For example you could overhear convos about a project you’d love to be involved in and organically raise that you’re interested/could help out in X way/whatever.

      But yeah, I hate hot desking too. Also I don’t understand why so many companies are doing it, when sharing desks and having to do extra cleaning between people seems and extra risk during a pandemic…

    6. Forgot My Name Again*

      I hate hotdesking too. I can see the benefit for certain methods of working but for the majority of people it just seems to be a space-saving device. We were able to push back against hotdesking here recently due to the increased infection risk of Covid in shared spaces. If you can’t have your own desk, perhaps you can suggest that spaces are “bubbled”, so desks are only shared between specific people?

    7. Filosofickle*

      I’m not aware of anyone who actually loves hot desking! Some people don’t hate it as much as others but no one prefers it. It offers benefits for the office and business, not the employees.

      1. Generic Name*

        The people who love it are the folks at the top who get all the benefits of lower operating costs (bigger bonuses!!) but none of the drawbacks because they have private offices.

    8. notMichelle*

      wow thanks everyone! We’re all going to be in on the same days and we only have this one office so it’s not like some folks are in some days, we’re all in on all the same days. I guess I’m just going to have to be loud about my dislike for this.

      1. Cordelia*

        you’re not wrong, hot desking is grim! But, if you’re all in the office every day, does that mean there are enough desks for everyone? in which case you may well find that you all end up claiming your own desk anyway. Perhaps that will happen informally, perhaps its something you and your coworkers can agree between you? They probably don’t like the hot desking idea either, no-one does in my experience!

        1. notMichelle*

          Yup, no idea why they’re doing this. There’s enough desks for everyone. And I’m on vacation during the first week back. (I’m not doing anything, just specifically NOT working). It may end up as people just sitting in the same spot. I just really want my own space, y’know?? A place to store my snacks/ibuprofen/fav pen/notebooks/shoes.

    9. Anon-mama*

      My husband has tried, and mostly failed, at resolving the hot desk issue. He first tried to advocate for a permanent, 5-day a week desk for himself as employee retention/perk for being a superlative employee (he’s one who finds WFH really difficult, and frankly, I’d love not to have his bosses “in our home” at 8 am or 5 pm late Zoom meetings). That didn’t fly, despite the numbers evening out as to how many wanted to continue full-time remote or just 1-2 days and the very few like him who want 4-5.

      The best they can do is lockers so he doesn’t have to carry in tissues and reference files every day, and might be able to get weekly schedules for his group instead of daily. Maybe that might help.

    10. Zephy*

      If there are amazing benefits to hotdesking, I haven’t figured them out yet, either. I’m firmly in the “I want my space and don’t want other people touching it” camp.

    11. anonymous73*

      It seems like this will become the norm with people working a hybrid schedule. A company isn’t going to pay for larger spaces when only half their employees are in the office at the same time. With that said, I would hate it. I like to personalize my work space so it feels more homey, and I’m not just a robot in a personality-less cube.

    12. Xena*

      I just started at a place that technically hot desks. It’s not too bad. Folks in the same department tend to reliably sit in the same general area, if not at the exact same desk, from day to day. We also have a system that lets you check out desks ahead of time and up to two weeks in advance, and a good amount of privatized conference rooms and lounges. The only downside is not being able to keep our belongings in the desk but I’m in public audit anyways and traditionally that’s been a role where a lot of time is spent at the client so not having a permanent desk is something I was expecting already.

    13. Your Local Password Resetter*

      Most people seem to be against it.
      The only benefits I ever heard were for the company: lower costs and fitting more people into the same office space.

    14. Alternative Person*

      Hotdesking is (mostly) functional at my office because different people are in everyday (we do a lot of offsite work), so it makes sense that people only book desks on days they are in the office, but it is frustrating that there’s limited private spaces available and desk stealing is rampant. If we ever get to the point that social distancing can be safely relaxed I suspect most of the issues would disappear but until then we’re at the mercy of the cumbersome booking system.

    1. Also an academic*

      It’s fine. Higher ed generally is more open towards stuff like pronouns than the wider public, especially in librarianship/info sciences (or at least, that’s my experience; YMMV). The places that aren’t open to pronouns, you’d be weeding out spots that you (presumably) wouldn’t want to work; if you don’t want to weed those places out or are a little more desperate, that would be something to consider before including pronouns on your cv.

      I’d put them immediately after your name, like this: First Last (they/them).

    2. ANon.*

      I work in higher ed and it is becoming increasingly common for people to proactively list their pronouns. Do it!

    3. fueled by coffee*

      I think this probably has all the same caveats as pronouns on CVs in other fields. Definitely fine in public postings of your CV, unless you work for, like, Liberty University (or even somewhere like BYU tbh). In job applications, you probably just want to consider whether you want to screen for places where it would be an issue anyway. Grant applications and things like that probably take the same discretion as putting pronouns anywhere else would.

      FWIW, I’m a cis woman with a gender neutral name and am seriously considering sticking pronouns on everything I submit anywhere, because even including my feminine middle name doesn’t prevent about 25% of the emails I get going to “Mr.” LastName anyway (major motivation to finish my dissertation so I can be Dr. and done with it, I guess).

    4. Rose*

      I do it (I’m academic staff). I mean, I also have them in my work signature and plenty of people I work with (though certainly not all) do that as well. I’m pretty neutral on whether other people do it or not; I’d see it as just a personal choice.

    5. A Genuine Scientician*

      Completely fine. It’s increasingly common, and it doesn’t even take up a line on the CV, since you’d do it in parentheses after your name.

      Also, honestly: if you’re the type of person who wants to include your pronouns, would you even want to work for a person or organization that judged you poorly for including them? Might serve as a useful screening mechanism.

  19. Ciela*

    The letter about reasonable accommodations got me thinking about a round of hiring we did in 2005. We were looking for a receptionist / CSR. At that time the job was about half verbal communication with customers. We had 3 people you came in for interviews.
    One had a very pronounced stutter. He looked good on paper, but during the interview took a VERY long time to get each sentence out. Maybe he was just super nervous and stuttered less in more normal communications? He did not get an offer.
    Second person stated that she only wanted the job to get health insurance. Because she was actively trying to get pregnant, and would quit as soon as her maternity leave was over. Ideally in 12-18 months. She did not get an offer. This was not about her plans to get pregnant, it was about her plan to quit in as little as a year. If she had said that she wanted health insurance to get knee replacement surgery, and was planning to become a professional surfer as soon as she healed up, she also would not have been offered the job.
    Third person interviewed well, said all the right things. Claimed to have experience with 2 rather unusual software programs we use, and prior experience with “decorating teapots”. She was hired. Took less than a week to realize that she had completely lied about her prior experience. Her former manager ended up in fact to be her husband. She’s still here, and often claims to not know the first thing about teapots, and to not even be in the teapot business. ::SMH::
    I still wonder sometimes if the guy with the stutter would have worked out better. If he came in now, he would probably get hired, as a lot of our customer service is now done over e-mail.

    1. Odge*

      > Maybe he was just super nervous and stuttered less in more normal communications?

      This was the case for a coworker at a previous job. The roles were reversed (he was one of several interviewers) but he stuttered quite a lot while interviewing me. I then went on to work with him for 5 years, during which time I heard him stutter MAYBE once or twice. I guess it was simply that it was a higher-pressure situation with a new person.

      1. Liv*

        This. My brother has a stutter and it only really comes out when he’s super stressed or super tired. 99% of people don’t know he stutters.

        Unfortunately there’s probably no way of knowing up front whether they were a person who only stutters under stress, or if they’re a person who stutters all the time. I guess you could possibly ask, though that would risk making people uncomfortable, but maybe the way to phrase it would be:

        “I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable, but I notice you have a bit of a stutter. Is this something that tends to happen more when you’re nervous? I only ask because this role involves a lot of verbal communication with customers.”

        1. JB*

          Honestly, I’m not sure that ‘stutters all the time’ should be a disqualifier. Obviously he is able to be understood, since the issue isn’t that the interviewer had difficulty understanding his answers. So is this even an issue?

          One of the receptionists at my doctor’s office (as in the office I go to as a patient) has some sort of speech impediment. It isn’t a typical stutter, but it does take her, I’d estimate, about twice as long to say something as it would take most people. It’s never bothered me as a ‘customer’. She speaks clearly and explains everything well, so from my perspective, she’s giving me good service. It doesn’t materially make the transaction take longer. And I’ve known tons of people in sales who have conversational quirks or habits that will drive some people up the wall, or make a conversation take ten times longer than it needs to – but that’s ‘just their personality’.

          Will some customers get impatient? Probably. Some customers will find a reason to be assholes about just about anything. Back when I was head of a teller line, I had customers complain that one of my tellers had her hair cut too short for their liking. We didn’t fire her or tell her to grow it out.

          It really does seem like sometimes as soon as the label ‘disability’ gets involved, people suddenly treat something like a much, much larger inconvenience/issue than they would have otherwise.

          1. A*

            I think it depends – I was briefly a receptionist early on in my career at a business with an insanely high call volume and I had to move between calls within ten seconds or so to keep up. These weren’t calls where I was just transferring lines etc. but actually providing information – in that specific situation every second mattered, and it definitely would have put a hardship on the employer if they had to hire a second person in the role to handle overflow.

            In many industries I think it wouldn’t be an issue, but not always.

            1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

              I was thinking it might matter for something like a 911 operator or other emergency person.

              1. Pool Lounger*

                This all depends on the individual stutterer, which is why asking them about it is a good idea. Someone who stutters heavily in a job interview may rarely do it in normal day to day work. Someone who stutters in person may do it less on the phone, or vice-versa. It just depends. Stuttering has never made me take longer to make phone calls than other employees, or made it harder to do fast-paced jobs.

            2. Ciela*

              If the third candidate had not presented themselves as having a good deal of relevant experience, we likely would have hired the person with the stutter. But experience in our industry vs. no industry experience made the difference. And then we realized that she had flat out lied…

    2. Pool Lounger*

      I have a stutter. I’ve also worked in many customer-facing jobs. It’s never been an issue. Stuttering can be considered a disability. If the person seemed like a great candidate I think you made a mistake not hiring him. Feel bad for him too—stuttering makes other people uncomfortable, but it often doesn’t truly impact one’s ability to be understood. When in usual situations many stutterers develop ways to reduce it. I’ve had friends who’ve known me for decades who only know I stutter when I tell them.

    3. SnappinTerrapin*

      One of the most effective salesmen I ever worked with – from whom I learned a lot – stuttered.

      However, I also noticed that he was so familiar with, comfortable with, and sold on our product that he stuttered much less while talking about its qualities. He still stuttered during the other conversations with customers, but that didn’t prevent him from being an extremely effective sales representative.

      Honestly, I think he turned it to his advantage. He had an endearing personality, he believed in his product, and his customers seemed invested in wanting him to succeed.

  20. madge*

    How do you move from a more junior role to a senior one without mentoring or professional development at your current job? I’m starting a job search and the lack of growth opportunities is a big reason. We start and stop projects so frequently that I’m having trouble pointing to any real accomplishments for my resume and potential interviews. I’m really stuck on the next move and feel like there’s no one I can ask.

    Also, are there sites that let you search for remote opportunities and places with generous PTO (I have the latter now, and coupled with genuinely liking my team, it’s the reason I’ve stayed this long)?

    1. peachy*

      I’ve been in this situation at multiple jobs. I realized I had to look outside the org for development opportunities. For me, that meant doing a bootcamp and then deciding to get my master’s. But depending on what you want to do, maybe volunteering, getting a certificate in something, or taking on a passion project might be options. There might also be professional orgs for your industry that have mentorship programs that could pair you up with someone who could give you more specific advice for your situation.

    2. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      1. Whether you stay where you are or move on, workplace politics are likely to play a large role in who moves up in a company. If this is something you try to keep apart from, start thinking about how you can factor in the people side of your workplace on top of the performance aspect. This doesn’t mean you need to “suck up” to people or completely change your personality, just that you may need to be open to the fact that this stuff really does play a role in opportunities to upskill and move up in an organization. This is something that takes YEARS for many people to learn because if you are a straightforward/take-things-at-face-value style person, or someone very focused on measurable outcomes, it doesn’t come naturally AT ALL. You need to figure out who has the real decision making power and watch how they do it.

      2. Your peers can of more help than you may think, especially if a small group of you talk through workplace problems together. Think about a biweekly or monthly meeting (at a pub or restaurant in the before times, now maybe on zoom?) where you can say “Oh I got this weird email from the head of a different work group, does anyone know if this is how they normally are or am I misreading something?” — your other colleagues may have great answers to stuff like this once you start talking specifics.

      3. Telegraph your interest in advancement as much as possible in advance. You want people to know you’re a potential candidate long before an actual opportunity arises, so that if three people are in a room discussing X leaving, they think “Hey I wonder if Madge would be a good fit for that?” even though you don’t know the opening exists yet. Trusting that the internal posting will appear and you’ll be considered when you apply can often put you a bit behind where the internal hiring conversations are.

      4. Don’t be afraid to approach people in your personal network (family/friends) who are wildly outside your field. Some conversations only make sense to people in the same line of work, but there are lots of other career-related discussions that can be helpful. Look for people who have a similar personality to you and ask them what conversations that are outside of their comfort zone paid off at work. Talk to someone whose office is around the same size as yours to ask about interdepartmental conflicts and how to resolve them. Ask everyone questions like “what’s the one thing you wish you knew 10 years ago that you learned the hard way?” (Mine are all above)

      Good luck! Remember that you can seek this stuff out on your own and that continual development is the goal.

      1. Cheezmouser*

        +1 to all of the above, especially #1.

        Earlier in my career, I was an introvert who would happily spend the whole day in my cube churning out excellent work and talking to no one. But as you climb up, you realize that being an individual contributor, even an excellent one, will only get you so far. To advance into project or team leadership, you need to demonstrate you can work with people, and that means navigating politics, personalities, conflicting agendas, who holds influence, exerting your own influence, etc. This is a whole different skill set from what you do as an individual contributor, but it’s one that separates junior staff from senior staff. I didn’t know all this back then, but now as a senior team member, this is one way how my peers and I can tell when someone is ready to make the leap from a more junior role.

    3. Cheezmouser*

      When you say “without mentoring,” do you mean that there are no senior people willing to mentor/sponsor junior staff in your company? Or there are senior people who do mentor junior staff, but you’ve had difficulty finding someone willing to mentor you and would like to know how to build that type of relationship? (Where is your manager in all this?)

      Also, why does your team start and stop projects frequently? Does that indicate lack of clear strategy or leadership at the top? Does this affect just your team or your entire company? If it’s just your team, is there a lateral move you can make to a different team that has a track record of completing projects so you can build your list of accomplishments? If it’s your entire company, then you may need to jump ship.

  21. Overeducated*

    Is anyone else’s head still exploding two days later over the 2 jobs post? I keep going back and reading more comments.

    I just…can’t imagine. I can’t imagine making that kind of money with that little accountability. Working in a sector where there is always more to do than our funding enables us to get done, where there’s always a multi-year “wish list,” the idea that someone could just be “done” in a high-level, strategic job at 25 hours a week absolutely blows my mind. A “job” is not always a fixed quantity of tasks, part of a higher level salaried job is generally to figure out how to use your work time most effectively, and only planning to use 60% of it seems like literally wasting someone else’s money on purpose. I don’t buy that “other jobs expect overtime without extra pay” argument this because it’s not one-to-one, it’s new companies, so this is not a creative way to get “back pay” from a specific employer who mistreated you that way.

    I will admit that part of it is also resentment that apparently you can make multiples of my salary by just doing slightly over half the work, though. How do I get on that gravy train?

    1. Cat Tree*

      I didn’t read many comments but I’ve been thinking about it. And I think I can make more money long term by doing one job well, rather than half-assing two jobs. So for me, it’s worth investing my effort into just my current job. The effort of constant deception is also a lot of work, so it’s more l like doing 2.5 jobs.

      But honestly, I also cringe at the thought of intentionally doing a mediocre job, which has really made me start thinking about why I feel that way. I haven’t landed on a conclusion yet.

      1. Education-ish*

        I can’t stop thinking about it either. I am a member of a high- responsibility, lower paying profession. On an FB group for members of this profession who want to change careers, there are often posts from people who want to get into tech but can’t get past the gatekeepers. I can’t help but think that with some training in tech they would be great workers: hardworking, conscientious, independent, taking initiative to solve problems and help people: qualities that the LW doesn’t seem to exhibit, based upon her choices. Her taking up 2 high- level tech jobs maybe doesn’t directly impact these people, but if others make the same choices that she does it could certainly impact those looking to enter the field, by making it harder for those a level below her to get to her level, which could trickle down to entry- level positions.
        It also amazes me that some think she is an anti capitalist hero by shortchanging(most likely) 2 jobs to earn $400,000? When people such as stay at home moms or part-time working parents who choose to get by on less income, are often just assumed by some in society to be privileged, resented for being lucky, or even called “spoiled stay at home moms”, no matter what their household income (usually much less than this person), family circumstances, special needs of their children, etc.
        Also, if she thinks she can pull this off, she probably has an inflated view of her abilities. And by the way, what does “dotted-line report” mean?

        1. Hlao-roo*

          RE: dotted-line report

          I was in a situation once where I had a manager and a “dotted-line” manager. So Beth was my manager-manager, who had hire/fire authority, determined raises, and gave me the bulk of my assignments. I also “dotted-line” reported to Carol. Carol didn’t have hire/fire authority, but she gave me about 20% of my assignments. During end-of-year reviews, I had conversations with both Beth and Carol. I think Beth asked Carol for input when determining raises but I can’t be sure.

          The specifics of a dotted-line manager/report relationship may be different at that LW’s company, but in general I would assume that the LW is sort of a secondary manager who assigns some work to their dotted-line report.

          1. A*

            That’s how it is at my employer. In my last role I had several dotted line reports because their work output all flowed through and was managed by me, but their department manager was the one with hiring/firing abilities and would have final say on performance ratings as it relates to their subject matter expertise (with my input on the productivity side). It took a while to get used to and I initially rolled my eyes at it, but it made sense in the long run.

            1. Education-ish*

              So the letter writer is at least partially in charge of giving lower-ranked, presumably lower-paid, people tasks to do for their jobs, at 2 different jobs where she is highly paid and only doing enough tasks herself to amount to 25 hours each job. Yucky.

          2. tamarack & fireweed*

            Yes, this.

            In extreme cases for example there may be a functional manager who manages, say, all system administrators, or all professional services staff, but each of them is semi-permanently assigned to a project team (backend infrastructure maintenance, datacenter deployment, networking… , or big client X) and there are managers that oversee these cross-functional teams, and you dotted-line report to them. So the functional manager would sign raises or be responsible for putting you forward for promotion, but the dotted-line manager would give highly relevant input on this.

            In some cases the dotted-line manager knows more about your work and performance than your straight-line manager. In other cases, the dotted-line is just a secondary function (such as, you are part of some strategic team attached to the CTO’s office for 20% of your work effort, but oversee some operational engineering function as per your job title for the other 80%).

            (The metaphor is that the relationship would be indicated with a dotted line on an org chart – you aren’t formally reporting to them but there is a secondary relationship.)

            BTW, the two-jobs letter was one that I knew would annoy me if I delved in deeper, so I just skimmed Alison’s response and completely skipped the comments.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I’m with you. I didn’t comment on that post, but I did read a lot of the different perspectives people offered. Ultimately, I think it’s incredibly unethical and will not work out in the long run, especially with the expected travel. The only way this would be acceptable in my mind is if both companies knew and agreed to the situation, and were fully aware that they were paying a much higher by-hour rate to this employee/getting substantially less time and attention from this employee than any other of their employees in a similar role. As it stands, neither employer is getting what they think they’re paying for, even if they don’t realize it, which makes it a bait and switch by the employee in my mind. Each company thinks they’re getting approx 40 hours of quality high level strategic thinking, and in reality they’re maybe getting 25 hours of whatever it takes to meet the minimum expectations (it may be that the employee is a rock star in both jobs, but how much better would they do if they focused on just one?).

      If the employee had to account for the hours, it certainly would show how this isn’t right. (I saw that the OP said she would in fact be honest about hours worked in a reply to the original post, but if she doesn’t have to be …) Similarly, if the employee had to disclose any outside source of income to either company, it would be clear what they’re doing. The companies may not have specific conflicts of interest in the subject matter, but they do in the employee’s time and effort.

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      I think we need to remember that OP has only been doing this successfully for a month. Director positions have a LOT of accountability. Staying accountable to two companies for strategic planning is a lot of work, and I doubt OP will be able to continue working two jobs at 25 hours/week each long-term without work product suffering. But if you do manage this, OP, please write a self-help book – I would love to be that efficient.

      1. Bernice Clifton*

        This is where I landed as well. As my dad always quotes, “You can fool some of the people all the time and you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”

      2. Malarkey01*

        This where I landed too. At that level the work is never “done” in that you should be coming up with new initiatives and new projects when other projects slow and advancing the company because you are leadership. Sure you may have a week between things when you aren’t putting in a full week or a slow month. But, at $200k you are not engaged to wait or in a job where they’d be cool saying oh you get so e on 50% of the time? Enjoy your weekend.

        This will catch up when they get to month 4 and they’re suppose to be up to speed and they ask what work/ideas they’ve generated.

    4. intl devt worker*

      I’m in the non-profit sector so your general sentiment of “how they hell do they have that much spare cash lying around to do a job that is apparently only half-a-job?” resonates.

      Is it unethical? Frankly, I don’t know- because if OP was an entry level employee working for a pittance, I’d have more of a “screw them, take it if you can get it” attitude. The amount of money OP was getting paid changes my own personal emotional reaction (read: I feel incredibly resentful of OP), but I’m still not sure if it changes the ethics of the question. I can only imagine how furious lower-level employee’s in both of OP’s companies would be if they discovered what OP was doing.

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        I have to admit that that’s pretty much the reaction I also had. When first reading the question, I assumed both jobs were maybe somewhere in the 30-50k range, and I was thinking, “I mean, I don’t LIKE it but I understand the societal shortcomings that have led to you pursuing this.” Then I got to the “both are director-level at around 200k each” part and went, “… I’m not sure that ‘should’ change my evaluation of the situation, but it absolutely does.”

        All of my jobs have been positions where I got all of my work done in less than 40 hours a week, anywhere from 25-35 hours, and I admit I let some of that extra time just be slacking off (there’s only so much paper shredding one can do before they lose their mind.) But none of those jobs were at the director level where I’d actually have power to support a team by removing barriers, or work on making strategic decisions, or otherwise affect changes.

        1. Overeducated*

          Right – I sort of feel like with the higher position comes more responsibility. It’s not just the pay, it’s the level of the job and that you’re not just being assigned grunt work, you’re choosing not to commit.

        2. intl devt worker*

          I had the exact same thought process while reading the original post!

          I definitely don’t do a perfect 40 hours of work a week (we’re only human), but I step up when needed. If I was a lower level employee at one of OP’s companies and found out that a senior executive was being paid a full-time salary for 25 hours of work a week, I would be enraged. It wouldn’t matter to me that the OP was meeting all the deliverables set by their own manager- my question would be “why the hell is someone getting paid $200k when your expectations for them are so minimal and unambitious.”

          1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

            Exactly this. The director of the institution I worked at was paid an obscenely high salary, and included in his contract was several weeks of paid time off each year, separate from his vacation time, to write a book NOT published by us, and for which he’d receive separate compensation from the publisher/purchasers. We resented the hell out of him because it felt like double-dipping on top of said obscene salary, while he did diddly-squat for our place during that time.

        3. Pam Adams*

          I also feel it’s selfish- if this jerk hadn’t grabbed the second job, someone else would have a job and benefits.

      2. Llama Llama*

        oof yeah. I also work at a non-profit where I could easily work 50 hours a week on my one job, still not get everything done, and only make 48k a year. Honestly I want to know how I can get a job that seems to only require 25hrs/wk that will pay me 200k. If I could make 200k a year I don’t think I would feel like I needed two jobs. That seems obscene to me.

        1. intl devt worker*

          Yeah, I completely share this sentiment. Making $400k/year to give minimum effort to two jobs just doesn’t align with my personal values for two reasons: 1) who needs that much money; and 2) I hate the idea of doing the bare minimum (although maybe I’m just brainwashed by working in non-profits for 10+ years).

          But, not aligning with my personal values doesn’t = unethical. And if I would be fine with it for a lower wage employee…? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        2. Pescadero*

          “Honestly I want to know how I can get a job that seems to only require 25hrs/wk that will pay me 200k.”

          Acquire a highly in demand (usually technical or financial) skill, and have high level experience with it.

        3. Ampersand*

          This letter seemed to reinforce the idea that the higher up you go, the less work you have to do. Clearly if you can hold two jobs at the same time, unnoticed, at the director level, something is not quite right.

          OP’s letter definitely rubbed me the wrong way. I thought at first it was that I’m jealous—but the truth is, I don’t WANT two jobs at the same time. Even if I were making 400k! It’s the deception that bothers me. I think most people are bothered by deception and lying—and when someone flat out states they’re willingly withholding information like this, information that would likely cost them both their jobs, it’s hard (for me) to think highly of that person. It points to a lack of integrity.

          It’s true that companies have treated employees badly for much too long (so sure, maybe they deserve this), and it’s also true that lying by omission is not a good look.

      3. Moths*

        Whether it’s a reasonable thing or not, I feel like in lower pay positions, it’s often expected/assumed that you might be working a second job in your extra time. I feel this is the most true for hourly positions, where your time off the clock is truly yours, but even at lower paid salaried positions, I think it’s very normal for people to be working some sort of second job. Once you start rising in pay/position, I feel like the general expectation is that you’re being paid well enough to focus your time and effort on that one sole position.

        I can’t say for sure why the post made me a bit uncomfortable as well — maybe it’s preconceived assumptions that I should work on changing. But one thing I can put my finger on is that most exempt salaried positions have the salary set by the assumption that you’ll be focusing on the job for about 40 hours each week. They know some weeks may be more and some may be less. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to call it wage theft, but I definitely feel like there were knowing false pretenses entered into — knowing that the company was hiring you with the assumption you’ll work 40 hours, but you joining knowing you’re not going to.

    5. Persephone*

      I don’t have anything to add, just that I 100% agree with your post and thought that OP was being incredibly selfish.

    6. Syl*

      It bothered me a lot too. I do cancer research and get paid a little over minimum wage with a Masters degree. I have two other part-time jobs so I can afford food and to go home and see my family occasionally.

      It saddens me that our society is constructed in such a way where this guy can make so much with just *one* job, is able to get two such jobs, and I’m struggling to afford new socks.

    7. anonymous73*

      Ethics aside, it pissed me off. It’s one thing to have 2 jobs at a lower level, but 2 DIRECTOR positions??? Honestly though, I doubt it will last and they’ll probably end up with no jobs. As a director there are expectations, and you can’t phone it in for long before you get caught.

    8. Hiring Mgr*

      I was more confused about the “Fire her immediately” response to yesterday’s researcher letter compared to the “Well the ethics are fascinating, maybe it can work” attitude with the DDD (double dipping director)

      1. Neptune*

        Me too. It shocked me that both Alison and many commenters clearly can comprehend that a person who constantly lies cannot be trusted and will probably have to be fired – but when the person doing it is very rich and manages to market their dishonesty as some kind of blow against the Man, then it’s a whole other story.

        This person is undoubtedly either passing off her work onto others or simply not doing it, something that will cause big headaches for whoever has to clean up the mess after she is inevitable caught and fired. She is occupying two jobs with the intention of doing a mediocre job of both, when one or both jobs could have gone to someone who actually might have done a good job of them. She is in a position of authority and access at two different companies and clearly has no problem with dishonesty if she can profit from it. But hey, maybe it can work.

    9. STG*

      I fought with this one internally. Ultimately, if he’s completing the work to a level that it’s still successful for the business and still providing the service that he agreed to offer enough so that his employer is good with it, he’s doing his job. Particularly as a salaried employee, I’m not getting stuck on the number of hours he’s actually spending doing his job if the company is pleased with his output.

      Now, I question whether he will be sufficiently doing his job eventually but that’s for his business to decide. You are either successfully providing the work for your company or you aren’t.

      I think that the ethical question is a bit murkier but personally, I don’t see a big difference between doing this for 50k vs doing this for 200k either. Seems like if one is unethical, the same logic applies to the second. An action that is more understandable because of pay doesn’t exactly change the ethical implications. I know I’m in the minority on that opinion though based on all of the comments.

    10. New office girl*

      Same! I have thought about it a lot. One on hand lower paid people do 2 jobs all of the time. Also employers are rarely ones to advocate against their own interests and the employees should be able to do it right back. BUT I can’t see how they won’t get caught.

      Yet, I have friends who are faculty at community college and work full time for a private institution and full time for a public institution at the same time. They used to teach extra classes at the one job for extra money. Now they teach the same amount of classes for 2 different places for double the money. Can’t fault their planning

    11. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      Yeah, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it and going back to read more comments. I’d commented on it at the time, basically that it makes me sad that someone has this “problem” while others have to struggle just to make it. It’s privilege – and I find that no one really likes to hear they’re privileged! But realistically, someone who gets into an Ivy League school b/c they had wealthy parents who put them through a feeder high school and/or had the connections isn’t BETTER than someone who was raised without that privilege, but that other person is definitely not going to have the experiences and connections to have the opportunity to worry about whether or not it’s ethical to work 2 “full-time” jobs that pay $200k+ each. I guess it’s the privilege and cluelessness about it all that’s somewhat infuriating and makes me so sad and disheartened. That, and the discussion in the original comments about how “it’s not unethical b/c corporations/capitalism is unethical, so this is just payback” when – that’s not what ethics is about. So. Anyway, yes, my head is still exploding! As a theoretical, it’s interesting, but when I really stop to think that THIS IS SOMETHING THAT IS HAPPENING while many, MANY other people struggle to make ends meet is also a thing that is happening, it just makes me sad. (That was a terrible sentence, but I said what I said!) Those with the power to do something about it and effect real change are just moping about, getting paid double salaries for half the work and angst-ing about it.

    12. Sunflower*

      I agree that I kept thinking ‘how do I get on this?!’

      I think it’s irrelevant what we think because while I agree with Alison that I’m definitely pondering how I feel about it, if you’re the one employing him, you aren’t going to think it’s OK. I think it’s irrelevant if he’s getting the work done or not. If he is getting it done then that’s a red flag to the organization that his job can most likely be combined with another or they can slash his hours and income in half. No company is going to keep going along with this unless the OP has some super niche skillset- and even then, they would probably just add another job to his.

      I also think doing this is probably one of the worst marks to have on your employment record and I’m not sure if you could come back from it. OP is saying one thing but I guarantee you very few employers are going to believe you can do 2 full time jobs to the best of your ability at the same time (whether that’s truth or not doesn’t matter. A lot of people would probably rather live in denial than believe they created that high of a level job that only requires 25 hours of work a week). I also don’t think the OP can keep this up for more than a few more months and I don’t think permanently besmirching your employment record for an extra 10-20k at most is worth it.

      1. Fed Up*

        I was once promoted and told, directly to my face, by the CEO himself during the official meeting that I was signing up for 3 roles (the one I was doing now, plus management of the team–which was somehow 2 distinct roles). All of which I already knew and was ok with. What was not ok, and was a big part of the reason I left was that this promotion did not, and would not, come with a raise because “we don’t give raises outside of your date of hire anniversary”, which would mean I would be doing 3 jobs for the price of 1 for the next 6 months and then any raise I did receive would only be based on the salary of the lower level job.

      2. Flower necklace*

        Same. I have a 6th section (extra class), help with department chair responsibilities, and do tutoring after school. I get paid extra, but all that still adds up to less than 100K.

    13. Anony*

      There’s kind of an immediate reaction of “This is so unfair since I work way over 40 hours a week and make a fraction of what OP does,” but after that, it mostly made me think about my management practices in a remote/semi-remote environment and the balance between being overbearing or micromanaging and just not following up enough with remote employees. On the companies’ sides, it’s a management problem. She is essentially not being assigned enough work/responsibility/projects, if she’s able to do this. How is it possible that this person’s managers (plural) are not aware that she is only dedicating 50% of her time to work? I think after more time passes it will come to light – especially if she’s asking to travel at the same time for both companies!

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I both agree and disagree with you. Please, hear me out.

        First, OP was one month in, so she was just getting settled (I’m side-eyeing her assertion that the ramp up stage is more involved than the actual work, but that may reflect the type of worker she is, which lines up with my nect point).

        As I have moved up in seniority at my job, my responsibilities have grown. Not just in the sense of having more and deeper deliverable, but in that I’m supposed to find and invent *my own* ways to add value to the company. There’s a shift away from “Manager said to do X, Y, and Z” to “Hm, I think if I do A, B, and C, that will have these benefits. Let me run that by my manager.”

        At the director level, I expect the work is 80% the latter type of work, with more freedom to execute without checking with a manager. And that’s what I mean about side-eyeing the OP; the fact that she found the on-boarding phase harder makes me think she sees it as a shift from “I have these hard deadlines” to “well, now I guess I just have to do these few things and the rest of my time is free.” When, in fact, the rest of her time should be generating original ideas and products. A good manager wouldn’t be checking in super frequently at that level, since it would be expected a director can…direct themself.

    14. cactus lady*

      I don’t know, I still don’t think it’s ethically wrong. Can that letter writer do it well, or even long term? I don’t know, I don’t think we have enough information. I think we just aren’t used to considering someone having two high-level jobs because traditionally those require being in the office or having direct reports. We also don’t think of people making $200k as wanting for money so why would they have a second job? But no one ever said the rules of capitalism only applied to large organizations that have been exploiting workers for years.

      I think back to 2008 when jobs were getting cut and responsibilities were being piled onto the people who were left, who were told to “do more with less”. I feel like this is now companies being asked to do more with less. I recall the job I had back then making it very clear that we could easily be fired and replaced so we shouldn’t complain about how our low wages meant we were barely making ends meet, “keeping your job is the new raise”, etc. I wouldn’t necessarily make the same choice as the letter writer, but I do think they are playing the game of capitalism in a way workers haven’t been empowered to. I don’t feel like it’s unethical at all if it’s executed well. I just think it would be difficult to actually execute it well, especially long-term.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I’ve been thinking about that letter a lot and what made it unethical to me was that OP pushed work down to lower level workers to make it work (the opposite of finding ways to ease their workload or at least add value to it). I’d be curious if that part changes your perspective on the situation.

    15. Samantha F*

      I can’t get over Alison saying she would not condemn this as much as before. I’ve been an avid AAM readers for over 5 years and it was the first time I seriously considered stopping. But of course I couldn’t, I love the posts in general. But to me this issue was so glaringly unethical that it makes me really sad that there are people I otherwise respect who think this is in anyway ok.

      1. pancakes*

        She didn’t say it’s ethically ok – she said aspects of it “could be a huge ethical issue,” and that the deception is “a big deal,” and that she doesn’t condone it.

      2. bluephone*

        Comment twins! That OP is not “sticking it to the man” or whatever their BS justification is. They ARE “the man.” Even a Victorian-era robber baron would be like, “that’s too far, dude/female dude.”

    16. Chaordic One*

      Well, honestly, um, no.

      I guess I’m becoming terribly cynical and jaded, but no, it sounds like something someone would try to do and might get away with. At least for a while. It probably wouldn’t end well, but it still seems like something someone would try.

      1. Monty & Millie's Mom*

        Oh yeah, I’m definitely not SURPRISED! It took up a lot of space in my head for a few days, though, because it just seemed to me such a big, glaring problem, showing just how disparate “work” and incomes are. Like, the people I know are more likely to be hustling and working extra jobs to stay afloat while this chick is just angsting away because she’s getting paid a crap-ton of money for – apparently not much? It’s just something that doesn’t surprise me, but I can barely even connect with – that’s not at all my experience, and while I know, intellectually, that there are people/jobs/salaries out there like this, it’s just not my reality. The divide is just too vast to make it meaningful for me!

    17. Deanna Troi*

      The part about it that bothered me the most is that in the comments she said she felt like it was okay to treat her employer poorly because she had been treated poorly by other employers. This is after she said how great, understanding, and flexible her managers are at both current places. So, essentially she is punishing these good managers for what other bad ones have done. Additionally, by saying that, she was admitting that she knew what she was doing was wrong.

  22. Vampirina Ballerina*

    How do you function without leadership? Our director positions has been vacant for several months (not unexpected, tough position to fill), one of our two ADs also just left, and the one left is not super reliable and also super swamped now. The departing colleagues took a lot of expertise and institutional knowledge with them. I’m not a manager, but one of a few people that my colleagues will come to with questions and I’m struggling with a lot of anxiety about basically working without any leadership.

    1. Admin 4 life*

      Have you thought about applying for a management position? Or also connecting with another manager to get information on timelines? I would go up the chain of command until I reach a filled position and let them know your team needs some guidance. Also reach out to HR about hiring to see if they have a timeline for backfilling those roles.

    2. Overeducated*

      This happened to my organization from the top down a few years ago. The overall strategy was to keep plugging away to maintain the status quo and avoid making any major changes if at all possible until new leadership came in.

    3. Grace Less*

      My company is adopting an ostrich approach. It’s like we never had a leader and the tasks she did don’t exist anymore. Supervisors are puzzled why we are frustrated. Many, many people implementing exit strategies.

  23. Amber Rose*

    We hired a new person (Sally) and she reports to me. I’m basically trying to teach her to do the most time consuming part of my job so I can focus on other things. It’s not complex work exactly but there’s a lot of details and it requires a certain level of investigative thinking.

    She’s interested, but slow. Complicating matters is that the day we hired her, her husband was diagnosed with cancer, and she already needs to be out of the office a lot for appointments for him and is obviously pretty distracted. I’m trying to be reasonable but we do have to get work done which means I need her to remember the work that’s coming in and make sure it’s getting done.

    I’m going on vacation in two weeks and I’m worried about it. Is there anything I could do to help her out while I’m gone, do you think?

    1. ecnaseener*

      Can you write up instructions/guidance for her to follow? (Or if it already exists, tell her to read through it now and ask you any questions she has before your vacation.) For the investigative thinking parts, you won’t be able to give specific instructions but any guidance like lists of factors to consider would be helpful. And is there someone she can go to for questions while you’re gone?

    2. MissBaudelaire*

      Could you help her set up a calendar with the due dates of different projects she’s responsible for? Is that possible?

      1. Amber Rose*

        It’s not projects. It’s just that work gets emailed in and needs to be dealt with as it arrives.

        1. Reba*

          It sounds like a checklist could help, or something like a flow chart that will help her with the investigative thinking part. Sorry if this is an obvious suggestion!

          For tracking work, if there is a simple, ideally visual way to keep the projects in front of her so they don’t get forgotten, that could help a distracted person a lot (ask me how I know…) A white board or bulletin board, some kind of tracking chart?

        2. JB*

          So where is she falling short?
          1. Opening the email and then forgetting to complete the task? – help her change her email settings so that she had to manually mark an email as ‘read’. Tell her she only marks an email as ‘read’ once the task is complete.
          2. Completing the tasks, but she keeps coming to you and basically asking to be walked through it? – you need to get her confidence level up ASAP before you go on vacation. Next time she comes to you, ask her to do her best to complete the task on her own, then bring it to you for review if she’s not sure. If she hasn’t had this kind of work before (esp. the investigative part) she probably doesn’t feel confident in her skills yet.
          3. Completing the work, but just too slowly? – unfortunately this might just take time…but have a frank conversation with her about what tasks are taking her too long to complete, and what the turnaround timeframe is meant to be. Ask her if there’s something in particular she’s getting hung up on. It may be that she could benefit from a ‘cheat sheet’ for some particular kinds of tasks, or there’s a system she’s struggling with, or she may just not know she’s supposed to prioritize tasks in a certain way.

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      Do you use Trello or any other sort of workflow management software? I’m a visual person, and clear workflows with lists of tasks to complete really help me stay on track.

  24. MissGirl*

    Question on my resume, which is growing too long. I know the standard rule is to go back ten years. Here’s the problem:

    Job 1 (book publishing, 2005 – to 2015)
    Quit and took two years off to get masters and completely change careers to tech.
    Did two internships during those two years
    Job 2 (2017 – 2019)
    Job 3 (2019 – current)

    The thing that makes the most sense to me is to take off my internships but that leaves a two-year gap. I took off my school years because I’m competing at the level of coworkers ten years younger than me and I’m uncomfortable about that (which, maybe I shouldn’t be). If I take off the unrelated job, I lose some specific experience and only have six years of overall job history.

    1. londonedit*

      If you’re applying to jobs that are only to do with your current career, I’d be tempted to take the publishing off altogether and give more space and focus to the relevant positions. Then in your cover letter you can say ‘After 10 successful years in the book publishing industry, in 2015 I took the decision to retrain with a Masters in Llama Grooming and have since built a fulfilling career during which I have gained promotion to Lead Groomer’ etc etc.