open thread – December 10-11, 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.

{ 1,074 comments… read them below }

  1. ApologizesTooMuch*

    Any advice on how to stop apologizing for things that aren’t your fault or don’t require an apology? I (she/her) have a bad habit of saying “sorry” way too often. For example, “I’m sorry I don’t have exact change,” when I hand a cashier a twenty, or “I’m sorry that took so long,” when I take a break at work that is legally allowed and not a burden on the person who covers the public service desk for me. I do this in both my personal and professional lives, and would like to curb the habit both for myself and so that my eight-month-old daughter doesn’t pick it up from me. Has anyone here tried to make a similar change to their vocabulary?

    1. Deep Sigh*

      SO HARD to stop, but I did so the same way I stopped (or lessened) the use of “um” and “like:” Slowing down and thinking through want I want to say alllllll the time, every time. Good luck.

    2. College Career Counselor*

      Don’t try to eliminate it all at once. Concentrate on reducing the instances by being conscious of what you say (as Deep Sigh says). And don’t beat yourself up if you “slip up.”

    3. WonderMint*

      Try replacing “sorry” with “thank you”

      “Thank you for accepting my larger bill”
      “Thank you for waiting while I was on my break”

        1. Quiet Liberal*

          I started doing this a year or so ago. It occurred to me that I had nothing to be sorry for so why was I blaming myself for something out of my control? I think “Thanks for your patience” is perfect!

      1. KoiFeeder*

        There’s a really great picture my therapist sent me of alternatives to apologizing in certain situations, I have it saved on my phone because I’m a habit-apologizer and it’s good to replace them.

    4. OtterB*

      One piece of advice I have read is switching from “sorry” to “thanks.” It doesn’t work for the change example, but you could tell the person who has been covering the public service desk “Thanks for covering for me.” I mean, even if it’s part of their job, it’s still reasonable to say a quick thank you.

      1. Age of denial*

        Another substitution might be “unfortunately”. Unfortunately I do not have exact change. Unfortunately, I am not able to cover for you next week.

      2. Grits McGee*

        I’ve also substituted “I’m afraid” for “I’m sorry” verbally. (It looks weird to me typing it out instead of saying it, but ymmv.)

        1. GoryDetails*

          I’ve used the “I’m afraid…” variant in the past – possibly inspired by the passage in one of Sayers’ “Lord Peter” novels in which Lord Peter, having asked his cab driver to return to the point of origin because he forgot something, gives that kind of not-my-fault-but apology about the traffic: “I’m afraid it’s an awkward place to turn in.”

          If I were the recipient of such a remark I think I’d appreciate the thought, whether it was couched as a direct “sorry for the inconvenience” or something a bit more vague; just an acknowledgement that things aren’t proceeding as smoothly as either of us could wish…

    5. Pool Lounger*

      You could ask a friend ir partner to call you on it whenever you say it. In my experience it’s the one thing that really worked, otherwise I wouldn’t notice myself doing it.

    6. StudentPilot*

      For your second example, you could try turning the sentence around – “thank you/thanks for covering for me!” (if it took longer than expected you could add “thanks for covering for me – that took longer than I expected!”)

    7. Former Gifted Kid*

      Try to replace “I’m sorry” with “Thank you for your patience” or “Thank you for your understanding”

      I have made a similar change with how I respond to compliments. I had a tendency to downplay compliments or my contributions instead of owning it. It will be hard and feel silly at first, but just keep trying it. Practice a lot on people you feel comfortable with. Even if you feel a bit rude not saying sorry to your partner or friends, you know they will love you either way. It can help re-wire that anxiety pathway.

      It also helps if you start paying close attention to how other people handle the situation. When other people take their breaks, what do they say? How do others react to what they say?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes on responding to compliments! This one was difficult for me. I repurposed “no is a complete sentence” into “thank you is a complete sentence” for responding to compliments.

        “Great job with the TPS reports, Hlao-roo.”
        “Thank you!”

    8. Corporate Minion*

      ooh I have a friend who does/did the same thing. She works on reframing the sentence and thought completely: Sorry that took so long -> Thank you for waiting
      This switch applies to a lot of situations.
      For the ‘no change’ sort of thing, you could try ‘unfortunately, I don’t have exact change’.
      Or maybe not say anything. It is completely normal not to have exact change.

    9. Malarkey01*

      This might be weird, but I noticed I did it a lot to fill silence and make uncomfortable chit chat (like your example with the cashier). During CoVid I got way more comfortable with not needing to be overly friendly and chatty- still polite and not a jerk- but when I made the shift and started running through what I was thinking of saying in my head I found that I didn’t need to fill that silence and a simple hello and then a thank you have a good day was enough, and then I stopped with the apologizing for goofy things and some of the other awkward chit chat.
      It reminded me of when I lived in Europe that every 30 second interaction with someone did not need to be akin to a long lost relationship.

    10. Dust Bunny*

      Stop and think for a second: Would you expect someone else to say “sorry” to you in the same situation? No?

    11. Hlao-roo*

      A few strategies that I use:

      1) Do you need to say anything? Silence doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. In your first example, I would hand the cashier a twenty the same way I would hand them my credit card: without saying anything.

      2) For your second example, if you do want to say something you could go with “I’m back!” and a smile. There’s reason to apologize, so use a neutral/positive acknowledgement of the person who covered for you.

      3) Professionally, when someone points out an error I made, I use some version of “thanks for pointing that out, I’ll fix it right away” or “oh, I see what went wrong here. What’s the best way to correct it?”

    12. Momma Bear*

      Think about the times when “sorry” is filler and when it matters. You could say, “I don’t have change” vs “I’m sorry I don’t have change.” I think tone also matters. Are you feeling shame or are you just stating fact? Sometimes “sorry about that” is perfectly appropriate in a “I’m owning this, but let’s move on” kind of way. If that makes sense.

    13. Zephy*

      +1 suggestion to replace “sorry” with “thank you” when you haven’t actually hurt anyone and thus have nothing to apologize for.

      Instead of… try saying…
      “Sorry for taking so long” => “Thanks for your patience” or “Thanks for waiting”
      “Sorry to bother you” => “Thanks for your time” or “Thanks for your help”
      “Sorry for the inconvenience” => “Thank you for understanding”

      In professional contexts especially, like if you’re dealing with a customer who seems slightly inconvenienced, “we appreciate your patience/understanding” is a good sub for “sorry,” too. Invoke the Company, makes it feel less personal (=less fraught IME) and frames it positively in one fell swoop.

      1. High Score!*

        If you inconvenienced someone by taking too long then you should apologize. Apologizing for something that is your fault is not a sign of weakness. Also, I hate it when people keep me waiting and then thank me for waiting when I had no choice. At least own up to the fact you inconvenienced me.
        Also, saying I’m sorry to express empathy for someone’s loss or misfortune is fine and a good idea.
        Just work on eliminating sorry when it’s not required.

        1. Tuesday*

          Agree. Sometimes I think avoiding unnecessary use of the word leads people to stop apologizing when they really should. Thanking someone for waiting doesn’t substitute for apologizing because you’ve made them wait.

          This doesn’t apply to the OP’s situation where the break is a regular work break that the coworker expects to cover. I agree there’s no need to apologize there, and a thanks would work well.

        2. Enna*

          OTOH, I know chronic apologizers who say “I’m sorry I took so long” when they took a normal amount of time. I sent an email on tuesday that did NOT require a response and got back “I’m sorry it took me so long to respond, thank you for the information”.

          I think this coworker spends a lot of time and energy apologizing and would probably benefit from eliminating it entirely for a bit, even if it is kind of rude, just as a reset. Sometimes you have to overshoot.

      2. Willy Wonka*

        “Thanks for your patience” can be loaded. Recent phone interaction with customer service rep (CSR)
        Me: This didn’t work & hasn’t been fixed after 4 tries
        CSR: Thank you for your patience
        Me: No. I haven’t been patient. I’m needing you to fix this
        CSR: Yes. We’ll be working on that. Thanks for your patience
        Me: I’m NOT being patient anymore. You can stop thanking me for patience that I’m no longer willing to give
        CSR: Yes. I understand. Thanks for your patience.
        It’s become an annoying script like nodding to get you to agree that you ARE being patient. A sorry would have been better in this case even if it still didn’t solve the problem.

    14. londonedit*

      This is such a common language pattern in the UK, for just about everyone really. It doesn’t really mean ‘sorry’, it means any one of ‘excuse me’ or ‘can I just…’ or ‘oops’ or ‘would you mind…’. There was a Very British Problems meme the other day saying that in Britain, ‘Sorry…could I just…thanks’ is a complete sentence (and with the accompanying gestures/context, everyone would understand what you were getting at! So you could always try moving here.

      Flippancy aside, I completely understand where you’re coming from and I agree that trying to frame it as ‘thank you’ would be a good way to go. I would find that really difficult, but saying ‘Thanks so much for waiting’ or ‘Thanks for taking a twenty – I don’t have anything smaller!’, with the right tone, would work in so many situations.

      1. sassafras*

        I’m pro-sorry and I use all of those constructions despite being a native AmE speaker. Maybe I should move! :P

    15. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

      My daughter’s roommate has been coached by her therapist to say “pineapple” every time she says “sorry” in this way.

    16. Generic Name*

      Moments ago, I was about to email a coworker, “I don’t have that information, sorry.” but I caught myself and said instead, “I don’t have that information, unfortunately.” It’s easier for me to catch myself in email when I do this and rephrase. There are lists online of things you can say instead of sorry. Like instead of “sorry I’m late” you can say “thank you for your patience”. I found an image entitled “email like a boss” that has a whole bunch of these replacements that I’ve found helpful.

      1. High Score!*

        “Unfortunately I don’t have that information” is when no sorry is required.
        “Thank you for your patience” when you were late and made someone wait is rude. That’s when you should say I’m sorry.
        The phrase “I’m sorry” is not a bad word, it’s not a sign of weakness, it’s but a character flaw. It’s an expression of regret when you’ve erred or of empathy for another’s misfortune.

        1. Loulou*

          This! I feel like the “ladies, stop saying sorry!” advice is obviously well intentioned but a lot of people don’t necessarily have the social instincts to apply it well.

          It’s really OK to say sorry. I say it frequently in customer service interactions and don’t intend to stop. I’ve regretted NOT saying sorry way more often than I’ve regretted saying it!

          1. Loulou*

            Customer service interactions where I’m providing the service, I mean, but come to think of it also when I’m the customer. Sorry ;) for the ambiguous wording…

        2. allathian*

          “I’m sorry I’m late” works if the person genuinely regrets being late and intends to do better the next time. If you’re habitually late and don’t intend to change your ways (or can’t change them; ADHD time blindness, etc.) then a “Thanks for your patience…” works a lot better.

      2. High Score!*

        I’ve read advice like that email like a boss and often that crap comes off as arrogance and it’s annoying

    17. Loulou*

      I…think it’s absolutely fine to say “sorry I don’t have exact change.” I say it all the time and see no reason to stop, and would put it in a different category from “sorry that took so long” (when it didn’t take long and you could/should just say “thank you” instead).

      My advice might be to clarify your mental distinction between different kinds of unnecessary “sorrys” — you mentioned “not your fault” vs “don’t require an apology.” I think it’s fine to apologize for things that aren’t your fault! Many people do it all the time. So if you’re going to train yourself out of one, maybe make it the sorrys where something else, like “thanks”, would actually be more gracious.

    18. Asenath*

      It depends on the situation. For the change, I think it’s perfectly appropriate to say “sorry” (maybe the fact that I’m Canadian affects that). If I was returning on time after a work break, I don’t think I’d say a thing other than “Hi, I’m back” or maybe “Anything come up that I need to know?”. I think the difference is that in the first case, there is a minor inconvenience for the cashier (even if it is part of the job) and although it’s not my fault that I have a twenty, it’s nice to acknowledge the inconvenience for the other person. In the second case, there’s nothing happening other than ordinary routine. I have learned not to dismiss compliments, which I suppose is a similar situation, and I did it by noticing what I was doing, and practicing saying “thank you” and then shutting my mouth instead of saying “This? It’s nothing. etc etc “.

    19. HolidayAmoeba*

      When I caught myself about to apologize, I asked myself if this was something I really needed to be apologizing for.

    20. Papillon Celeste*

      Say a variation of ‘thank you’ instead as often as possible, feels better for both parties and fulfills the urge to alleviate any possible discomforts.

      ‘Sorry I’m late’ becomes ‘thank you for ‘waiting for me!’

      ‘I’m sorry that took so long,’ becomes ‘thank you for covering’.

      ‘sorry I don’t have exact change’ becomes ‘I’m glad you can give change. It’s so difficult to break those notes sometimes.’

      It changes the perspective too. Those situations are stuff that just happens but still cause disruption or some kind of effort. Showing appreciation will make not just you feel better but the others too. It will also shift your inner guilt to gratitude, making you more positive and it will soon become more easy to not feel guilty about every tiny thing. It also makes it easier to explain those things in case an explanation is necessary without sounding overly defensive.
      ‘thank you for waiting! My bus ran late.’ sounds much less like an evasive excuse as ‘so sorry I’m late, the bus didn’t come punktual.’
      Also you will no longer take responsibility for things out of your control while still acknowledging the impact it might have on others by being grateful they put up with it together with you instead of behaving as if it was somehow your fault.

    21. Little Miss Sunshine*

      I once read that you should save your apologies for serios things, like running over someone’s foot! If you set that as your new standard, you will find yourself apologizing much less for inconsequential things and saving “sorry” for situations where it is warranted and will come across sincerely.

      I do sometimes apologize to cashiers for using large bills on small purchases, but that is a recent thing due to COVID cash shortages. I hope to drop it again soon. Good luck!

      1. Loulou*

        Wow, not a fan of this standard! I’ve never done anything nearly as bad as running over someone’s foot and hope to keep it that way, nor has anyone done it to me. What is so bad about apologizing for minor things? If I’m 10 minutes late to meet a friend it’s not the end of the world, but I still apologize. If a friend kept me waiting without an apology I’d be annoyed!

        1. Tuesday*

          I’m with you. If you actually inconvenienced someone by being late, I think the nice thing to do is apologize. If you go out of your way to avoid apologizing, I think people are likely to see through that, and it can be annoying (like the “thanks for waiting for me” dodge when you’re late). There’s this idea that confident people don’t apologize, but confident people who are considerate and not threatened by the word “sorry” do!

          1. fueled by coffee*

            100% Agreed with Loulou’s and Tuesday’s comments here.

            “Sorry” is not a bad word! It’s good to acknowledge when you are inconveniencing people, even if it’s ‘not your fault’ or ‘not as serious as injuring someone’!

            I feel like people took “Hey, sometimes women are unnecessarily deferential in workplace interactions when men tend not to behave like this” to an extreme. I don’t see a difference between “Sorry for sending this so late” and “Thanks for your patience on this”… except that I can’t “Thanks for your patience” at my boss when I’ve missed a deadline! That’s horribly inconsiderate of me and shows a total lack of understanding of office norms. These blanket rules completely overlook the power dynamics that lead people to say ‘sorry’ for minor inconveniences or things that weren’t their fault in the first place.

            1. Spencer Hastings*

              I totally agree. Also, if women are more deferential than men in a particular situation, then in some cases maybe it’s the men who should be *more* deferential, not the women less.

              I recently attended an online training seminar (the kind where an outside presenter comes in and presents to a group from a single company) with some people from my department. The first two questions that were asked at the end were asked by the same person and went something like this: “Sorry if you already covered this and I overlooked it, but (insert question here)?” and “I don’t want to take up all the discussion time, but (follow-up question)?”

              Too deferential! Nice girls don’t get the corner office!

              …but this person was (1) male and (2) probably the…third-highest-ranking person in the company, if I had to calculate? This guy’s already got the corner office.

              This is just a long-winded way of saying that sometimes when women do a thing, it’s described as thing that’s holding us back and we should stop doing it, and when men do the same thing, it’s just normal basic politeness.

              1. fueled by coffee*

                Oh, absolutely. Because if the focus is on how we’re saying “sorry” too much and using vocal fry too much and not being aggressive enough, then it’s our own fault that we aren’t being recognized and promoted and paid the same as our male colleagues, and we just need to work on saying “Thank you for your patience” instead of the institutions we work for doing anything to address structural inequities.

              2. Tuesday*

                Yes! When men and women behave differently at work, we’re always told we should start behaving like the men. Like, “Men apply to jobs when they don’t meet half the qualifications and then fake it till they make it, so you should do that too!” But no thank you. I don’t want to take a job I don’t feel fully qualified for, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just pay me fairly for my experience please.

                1. Loulou*

                  Great example. That advice doesn’t apply to my field (you literally will not get a job you don’t meet the required qualifications for) and I’ve definitely had well meaning friends from other fields pull out the “well, MEN who don’t meet 100% of qualifications…” thing. Ok, people of all genders apply for jobs they are unqualified for and don’t get them. I’m trying to get a job so I will continue my practice of applying for jobs where I meet the minimum qualifications, regardless of what a man would do!

              3. Tali*

                Absolutely, I would like to see men apologizing for causing inconvenience and encouraged to think about others’ feelings–as happens in other cultures around the world!

                There is serial overapologizing, like “It’s hot today, sorry”. That makes no sense. Or when it is not just one apology but real groveling that indicates self-esteem issues.

                But the cultural issue of “women apologize and men don’t, so women should be more like men”… why should we all follow “male norms” as if they’re inherently better? Perhaps men should learn to follow “female norms”, instead of assuming that the patriarchy imbued them with superior communication skills and confidence? (No, it just means people in power don’t need to apologize)

    22. Noisy Ghost*

      For me personally, I find it depends a bit on the power dynamic. As a customer there is a potential power imbalance and customers can really ruin a cashier’s day. Because I have worked in customer service and am a human with empathy I would say “sorry I don’t have exact change” as a way of saying “I am not going to be a jerk to you,” if that makes sense.

      On the flip side, I would avoid over-apologizing to someone with authority over me or to someone on equal footing with me for obvious reasons and also because I think it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If I apologize to my coworker every day for taking so long on my break even though I took the allotted time, my coworker might start to think I regularly take too long on my breaks. So when I over-apologize, I’m actually doing myself a disservice by possibly painting myself in a bad light to my coworker.

      These aren’t tips for reducing your sorrys but I found that reframing it in this way helped me! I especially used to find myself way over-apologizing to bosses for really minor things, most of which they would never have registered had I not brought it to their attention by apologizing (like being 2 minutes late).

    23. A Teacher*

      Timely. I am an athletic trainer that works PRN for a company. I recently covered a big wrestling tournament for my very part time job. I was shoved off to the side in the gym where there was an entry way and where my supplies and training table were. I started out asking people to move and saying “sorry about that.” Then I thought, “why am I apologizing for being able to do my job? There are stands for a reason.” it was like something clicked. I don’t have to feel bad because I need to legit be able to do my job. If I can’t see the mats and an injury happens, that’s when I’ll really be sorry. I’ve been an athletic trainer for 17 years and just realized I don’t have to apologize.

    24. Gnome*

      I couldn’t make the jump to ‘thanks’ because it wasn’t what I needed to express. Instead, I found it helped to say what I was feeling. “I wish I had a smaller bill to give you.” Or Maybe, “I hope it didn’t too busy while I was out.” If nothing else, it’s got more variety.

    25. Koala dreams*

      If you don’t mind explaining, I’m curious why you’d want to stop using the phrase “I’m sorry” especially. That phrase has many meanings which makes it very useful, but I see a lot of dislike of it online.

      1. ApologizesTooMuch*

        Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions! I especially like the idea of reframing a thought to use “thank you” instead of “sorry.”
        Koala, I don’t want to stop using “I’m sorry” entirely, but I do want to stop over-using it, especially in situations where I’m not at fault. As an example, a customer I was helping dropped his phone earlier today, and I said, “Sorry.” It’s a reflexive response for me. The customer even said, “What are you sorry for? You didn’t do anything.”
        In situations where I’m in the wrong, I will continue to use “sorry.”

        1. Koala dreams*

          Thanks for the explanation! So you want to keep using “I’m sorry” but only in the special meaning of acknowledging fault, and stop using it in other meanings. I see! That explains a lot of things I’ve been reading online, actually.

          And wow, you have some rude customers! What’s wrong with “thank you” when someone expresses sympathy to you? (At least it comes across as rude to me, perhaps it sounded better in person?) Good luck with finding new expressions!

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Them: “What are you sorry for? You didn’t do anything.”
            You: “That’s right. I say it as an expression of regret not as a statement of guilt.”

            FWIW, what an a$$ to say that to you.

            I know my over apologizing actually did center around stuff like this example here. Do to no fault of my own someone dropped something and out came “sorry!”.
            A go-to that I worked with was “oops!”, then an appropriate pause for the setting, then “Is it [are you] okay?”
            If you know the person, you might go with, “oh gosh! My phone jumps out of my hand like that also! Is your phone okay?”
            An exclamation such as “oops” or “oh gosh” became my lead word. The word “sorry” just fell out of my mouth before I even knew I said it. So I had to find another lead-in word.

            Breaking it down just a bit further, you are not wrong for showing concern. Expressing regret is just one way of showing concern. You can still show concern. As situations come up, ask yourself, “how can I express concern here?” With the phone, you could say, “Ya got that okay?” if it looked like the person was having a bit of a time trying to reach it.

            I have met these people who think that “sorry!” is an admission of guilt. I have often wondered how it goes for them at funerals, when someone says, “Sorry for your loss!”. Do they think each of these apologizers cause the deceased to become– you know– deceased? What is up with this line of thinking, anyway.

          2. ApologizesTooMuch*

            Thank you! And to clarify, this particular customer didn’t come off as rude; the tone was more, “you don’t need to apologize for something I did.” It just reinforced for me that I really do fall back on “sorry” a lot. :)

        2. Kay*

          Keep thinking about it! Think about what you would rather say, analyze why you said what you did, practice saying your preferred response out loud, get comfortable with silence, practice stopping to think before you say anything. It will be a process and you will learn what works best for you, but realizing you want to change is the first step.

    26. Meg*

      I do the thank you thing too. Another thing that helped me/stuck with me was the Julia Child wrote in her memoir about never apologizing, even when serving someone a burned dinner or something. For some reason that really stuck with me, and I think about it a lot. I’ve noticed that I’ve been saying sorry less. Another thing I do in work settings if instead of apologizing, stating that I’m thinking out loud. Instead of saying oh, sorry, I don’t know if this makes sense, naming what’s happening. Naming that I’m talking it through and haven’t previously thought it through (obviously in settings where that makes sense–not derailing or monopolizing meetings or anything). It was uncomfortable at first, but I’ve gotten more used to saying it. It’s hard and it takes time.

    27. New Mom*

      This can be a process. I was also a chronic apologize-r and I have had to work hard to improve. I can be quite anxious and for some reason the apologizing seems to temporarily relieve the momentary tense situation but it undermines in the long run. It’s definitely something that you’ll have to keep at.

      Try pausing before talking and thinking about what you are about to say. The “I’m sorry” may be so automatic at this point that it doesn’t require thinking, so if you pause and think about what you are going to say it can help.

    28. TennisFan*

      I’ve struggled with this and at the root of it is what energy I’m bringing to an interaction. For example, how I come across if I’m saying sorry to the cashier because I’m empathetic to their having to deal with an extra inconvenience around change versus saying sorry because I don’t want them to get mad at me. Or, at work, if I’m saying sorry as a way to acknowledge a mistake, or because I’m fearful of how the other person will respond to what I’ve said or done, even when I don’t believe I’ve done anything wrong.

      Of course, it’s not easy to change your internal emotional state, but I’ve practiced a lot thinking about what I want to convey before I say something or interact with somebody. It’s often a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing, but overall I’ve noticed I’m definitely using the word sorry less as a default for when I feel uncomfortable.

    29. Freelance Anything*

      Yes, absolutely. AAM really highlighted that for me (though over-apologising had always been a pet peeve, I did need to work on it myself)

      I approached it one interaction at a time. So I’d pick a scenario where I felt an apology wasn’t necessary and wrote myself a new response, and just worked on saying that instead. For me, it was mostly practice but knowing what I wanted to say instead let me pick something that I was happy to say/wouldn’t come off unpleasantly.

      So, using your example:
      ‘I’m sorry, I don’t have exact change’ became ‘I don’t have exact change, is that okay?’ or ‘is a twenty, okay?’
      It’s fine to be polite and considerate of retail workers time so I don’t mind adding the question. Key thing is that you’ve already started to end the apologies.

      ‘I’m sorry that took so long’ when relieving cover becomes ‘Anything exciting happen while I was gone?’ or ‘Have you seen those delicious looking cookies in the canteen today?’ and you can thrown on a ‘Thank you’ if you want to more explicitly acknowledge the cover.

      1. ApologizesTooMuch*

        Thank you, Freelance! This is such a great idea. I’ll definitely come up with some scripts for those situations where “sorry” isn’t really necessary.

      2. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

        Yes – for the “hi, I’m back” greeting, I think something like “hey, how’s it going” could fit nicely. That creates an opening for them to tell you anything of note. Then when you’re taking over again, you can wrap up the conversation with “thanks” – which is partly “thanks for the handover”.

    30. RagingADHD*

      First off, if you haven’t seen Baroness von Sketch’s skit about the woman who never apologizes, you should look it up on YouTube immediately.

      Saying sorry isn’t a problem. Saying it as a mindless habit, or as a way of erasing your own needs, is the problem.

      I think it’s useful to distinguish in your own mind when you are using it as social lubricant equivalent to “excuse me,” when you are using as a real though very minor apology (like exact change), and when you are being needlessly apologetic for existing (like taking your normal break). And of course, real apologies for real mistakes or offenses.

      Really, only the third category is a problem.

      The most powerful thing you can do toward changing your habits of speech is just to slow down, listen to yourself, and be intentional with your words. Sometimes “sorry” is the right word. Sometimes it’s “excuse me” or “thank you”.

      Sometimes it’s none of the above, and the right word is just “hi.”

          1. Caterpillow*

            From The Land of I’m Sorry and the Baroness Von Sketch, we tend to overdo “I’m Sorry “ a lot. Here in Canada, it can be tonal from apologetic to sarcastic to rather outraged. I did replace an over abundance of “I’m sorries” with genuine thanks and appreciation when interacting with clerks and, sometimes, compliments towards clerks who have suffered at the hands of customers before me.

    31. Failed Manager*

      Help! I am a complete failure in my career. I am in a job that I love until the other day. I am now working with a program manager who is friends with people from my former company. She is friends with my former manager who removed me from my position. I spent a lengthy car ride with her and another lead. They talked about people’s performances. I am playing everything in my head on what I said in the car ride. I believe she knows that I failed and she can tell that I didn’t amount to much as I am still an individual contributor at age 50. The thing is should I am afraid that she is going to tell everyone that I failed at my job. I have decided that I am going to work hard and make I nail everything on this project. I also applied for a manager position at this company. I did not get it. I was relieved. They asked me to do a career plan. I have started what I have on my career plan. The company has given me some great opportunities. The thing is that when I asked on the job interview if I was removed. I said I left the position. Of course I was asked what was scaring me about getting the job. I think they know. The question I have should I disclose that I failed at leadership?

  2. I'll circle back with you*

    Earlier this week my company had a meeting that touched on the (new) review process, which includes us rating ourselves and then our bosses rating us. Within my team chat room, of 12 people, one of my teammates made a comment about the amount of time we were given to complete it, and then our boss (department head) says this in the chat –

    You all better give yourselves 11/10
    On a scale of 5
    hahaha

    The more I think about it, the more irritated I get at his comment and think it was so inappropriate. My boss tends to say things without thinking and is extremely conflict avoidant with certain people, but this might be one of the cringiest things he’s said. For instance, I am one of 4 people who share the same role, but there is this 1 coworker at this role who is lazy and does 1/4th of the stuff the rest of us do, with our boss enabling her. I also want to mention he sticks me with the most responsibility.

    It’s problematic of him to say that too because what if someone wants a promotion? According to his comment, does that mean he’s going to give all 12 of us promotions? By him saying this, I think he’s essentially saying there is nothing none of us need to improve on.

    It’s super early here and I’m having trouble articulating why I’m so bothered by this. But at least when it comes time for reviews I can put “exceeds expectations” and put it back on him on what I need to do to get promoted.

    1. The New Normal*

      It almost sounds like he thinks he is going to be held responsible if you don’t all give 5/5. Like he is covering his own butt by saying everyone better rate themselves superior so he rates superior. But he doesn’t realize it is just going to look like no one is taking it seriously.

    2. Harriet*

      The problem with this kind of system (we have it too) is that your thoughtful, self-aware/self-critical coworkers are giving themselves 3s and 4s according to their strengths and weaknesses, while the loudmouth, far-too-full of themselves wastes of space are giving themselves 5s. For this reason, I think the self-evaluation is not very useful.

      1. Jax*

        As a manager who worked with one of those systems, I agree with you. It revealed which employees struggled with self-confidence or were overly self-critical, and made me feel sad for a couple of my best employees who couldn’t see their own value.

        I also knew (where I worked) no one in HR/senior leadership was read the damn things, anyway! They were skimmed for completion, filed away, and employees were given an automatic 2% raise that direct managers could request to reduce down to 1% for terrible employees. The whole system was a waste of time.

      2. Lady Ann*

        I have an employee who gives herself 5/5 in every area, every year, even the year she was on a PIP.

        When I talked to her about it, she said, “Why would I give myself anything else?”

        Sigh.

        1. TerraTenshi*

          I hate to say this but I agree with your employee. You can argue that it shows a lack of self awareness but, unless your company is a rare exception, it’s generally well known that this stuff either A) doesn’t matter or B) is essentially a game you’re playing to try and get the highest score/biggest raise possible. In the vast majority of companies annual raises are essentially set in stone by people at the top with very little wiggle room (and most of it down, not up) so why would you ever rate yourself down and give the company an excuse to lower your already less than COL/inflation “raise” even further?

          1. Lady Ann*

            To me, when an employee does this it shows they either have no self awareness or are refusing to participate in the review process. The idea is to have a conversation about your work performance, what you did well, and what you could improve on. The reviews are only very loosely tied to our raises. If you just give yourself a 5/5 on everything it says “I don’t even care enough about this job requirement to bs it” which IMO is a bad look.

            1. Usagi*

              There’s obviously no “right” answer here since it really depends on the company, but for what it’s worth I think you’re both right. I think TerraTenshi is right in that for many companies (from my experience), the raises aren’t really tied to your self-evaluation, and those evals aren’t actually read by anyone higher than maybe your boss’ boss. But Lady Ann, I believe you’re right too in that to your immediate supervisor, plus maybe their supervisor, it’s a really bad look.

              At my last job, I oversaw a lot of entry-level, fresh-out-of-college employees. Some were fantastic, others not so much, but one place I pretty consistently had challenges was during annual evaluation time. Pretty much every employee, at least for their first three or so years with my company, wouldn’t know how to handle them. A+ fantastic employees would give themselves lower scores, focusing on their areas of opportunity, and then people that were solid “meh” would give themselves full marks. Which of course would make me and my supervisor feel like they were seriously lacking in some self-awareness.

              And while I would spend a bunch of time with everyone to help them adjust their evals to be more realistic, in the end, the raises were CoL plus X%, determined by HR. While I had the opportunity to argue for a different amount, as TerraTenshi said, when it was approved, it was almost exclusively down, not up. I can only think of one case off the top of my head where it went up, and that was for an employee that was so very obviously amazing that her projects were being seen by several directors across the company.

        2. Dasein9*

          I do this, with the caveat that I give myself a 4/5 for the one or two things I don’t want to do or be known for.

          Thing is, I am overqualified for the job I’m in and am a very high performer. Still, if there’s an area where I need improvement, I need my managers to say so outright.

          1. Your Local Password Resetter*

            Depends on if your bosses know you’re doing it. If they already know you’re a 3/5, then you just look like you overestimate yourself.

            But then again, if they already know they shouldn’t need you to rate yourself.

      3. Your Local Password Resetter*

        I think this kind of numerical x/5 evaluation is pretty useless in general, unless you follow it up with much more in-depth discussions and nuance. In that case it could be useful as a starting point. But that’s a lot harder and more work.

    3. College Career Counselor*

      I suspect you’re bothered because
      a) you’re wondering if your boss is taking it seriously
      b) you’re wondering if ANYone will take it seriously
      c) you’re hoping for a raise/promotion and your observation of the employee protected by your boss indicates that the answer to a) and b) is “no.”

      I think you’re right to put exceeds expectations (particularly those he has for the 25% productive employee) and see about that promotion.

    4. pancakes*

      You said that he tends to say things without thinking. It doesn’t make sense to put more energy into thinking about what he might have meant or ascribe more meaning to it than he himself did. By all appearances this was an offhand remark on his part. Whether it reflects actual expectations he has or not, you’re all free to rate yourselves however you would’ve if he hadn’t said anything at all, no?

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It’s hard for me to figure out why it’s getting under your skin so much. If he says cringeworthy things all the time, I’d think you would have developed calluses for this stuff – but why this in particular bothers you I don’t know. Maybe because it directly affects your well-being, while his other off-the-cuff comments you can just put down as “Fergus being Fergus”.

      But I think the bottom line is that your boss doesn’t really know how to do performance reviews, or he’s so conflict avoidant (and reviews often are conflict situations) that he’s spiraled off into his own head. There’s a chance he does know, but he’s so verbally inept that he can’t say it out loud.

      I think you should not write down in your self-review anything that directly says “I do more work than my slacker coworker.” You can say that you handle an above-average workload, that you handle the high-responsibility tasks. I think you should also reflect on why you say “he sticks me with the most responsibility”, instead of “he trusts me with the most responsibility.” You can turn that around in your head and do more along the lines of “The department has consistently relied on me to handle the higher-risk, higher-responsibility, etc. tasks like and .” Which is your wedge for then getting a promotion — you’ve already demonstrated that you can handle bigger-impact things.

      1. I'll circle back with you*

        This is great, thank you. And great point, it reflect my well-being as well as my co-workers.

    6. Random HR Lady*

      I worked in a self evaluation system for years. For the record I have always been a fantastic employee and got top marks from my supervisors. BUT I would NEVER rate myself down. That is like giving them ammo. Nope, it is a dumb system and I would not put it writing that I thought I was doing anything wrong on an annual eval.

    7. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Honestly though, I hate that people expect humility when it comes to rating yourself for potential raises/promotions. I don’t go into interviews to tell people that I’m a middle of the road candidate, I go into them telling them that I am the best choice. So just because this is internal and I already have a job should I now decide to announce my weaknesses in a forum that is determining whether or not I get additional compensation or a new role? I’m fine discussing my areas of improvement in a different forum, but I will forever talk myself up in my performance reports (especially since I’m an off-site employee, only employee of the company on my site, my boss works on a completely different site, and never visits me (security reasons he can’t get on my site)). Again, I’m not delusional that I don’t have things I need to work on. I just talk about my successes and don’t put the negatives in my self-assessment.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. Especially since there are other ways to get information about how people perceive their own work. A boss could just ask, “Where would you like more help or support?”. If the employee says, “No, I am good here.” the boss can continue with, “Your X report is due on Tuesday. It’s been coming to me on Wednesday afternoon. What do you need in order to get that report to me on Tuesday?”

        I have often thought of those “rate yourself” things as a total waste of time. Whatever I write down does not matter. It only matters what the boss rates me on. I get that it’s supposed to open a conversation. But I also see that it’s a technique picked out by people who never use it and the people who do use the system have very little idea of what to do with it. Eval questions need to be drafted with inputs from the managers who will actually be using the eval sheet.

        1. Fran Fine*

          I like your examples of questions managers should be asking instead. Since many evals I’ve taken part in don’t, I BS them and will continue to do so until these companies stop asking for them.

    8. Indy Dem*

      When I first read it, it seemed like an awkward way for you boss to say that all of you are great and 11/10 performance! (and shades of This Is Spinal Tap to me). But I guess that perception of what he said also depends on how your boss thinks about your team (it sounds like he doesn’t get how the actual work load is done).

    9. RagingADHD*

      You’re there and I’m not, but it just sounded to me like he was being generally complimentary / supportive in a lighthearted way.

      11/10 on a scale of 5 is quite obviously not intended to be literal, because if it were literal it would be nonsense.

      1. I'll circle back with you*

        I get that he meant to be supportive and positive, but it’s an unprofessional thing for a manager to say. Like someone said, it comes across as not taking it seriously.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I think it’s entirely possible for people to take a work task seriously, or to take each other seriously as human beings, without taking every word that passes their lips seriously.

          It sounds to me like you are at Jerk Eating Crackers stage with this guy. Probably for good reason. But the comment itself doesn’t seem any more unprofessional than any other work-appropriate joke.

  3. Admin help*

    I share an admin assistant with about half a dozen colleagues (we’re all low/mid six figure professionals). Our admin’s job includes things like managing our calendars and meetings, handling financial and work order requests on our behalf, and managing paperwork and forms submitted by our group to help with billing/record-keeping.

    I’m very grateful to have our admin’s help! But one thing I’ve noticed about his work is that he doesn’t seem to follow up on the tasks I delegate to him that take more than a day or so to complete, which leads to them taking much longer to resolve than they should. This has happened at least 5 times in the past few months and in some cases has really hindered my work.

    It seems like the root cause is that he doesn’t have a system for keeping track of pending requests and initiating follow-ups himself as needed. He only follows up and looks into why things aren’t completed when I remind him (and I usually wait until several weeks have passed with no updates or resolution).

    Any tips for working successfully with an admin like this? Of note, our admin reports to a senior admin who’s outside of our group, so I’m not his manager or in his managerial chain.

    1. RT*

      Sounds like he needs a ticketing system or trello board to keep track of things. There must be some sort of internal tool that is used for PM/Task Listing that he can use. Otherwise there are plenty of free apps that allow everyone to collaborate.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Yup, came here to say this. Having a CRM where you can ‘assign’ tasks to your admin so that they can have easy access to them would probably be a gamechanger for them. I’d be interested in hearing how you and the rest of the team assign tasks currently.

    2. Deep Sigh*

      Tell him why this is a problem for you and ask him what his ideas are, as applicable to his own daily workstream, that would resolve this.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I would talk to him. He may also be insufficiently juggling everyone’s priorities and it’s not so much that he’s ignoring you but another fire is hotter.

        If you don’t do so already, consider cc’ing people when needed and being really clear on deadlines. If it something more intensive, ask about his tasks and priorities so you are both on the same page.

        1. SpiderLadyCeo*

          Yep, this. If he works for a group, it could just be that multiple things come up that are more urgent. I would be clear with deadlines, and also chat with him to see what’s going on.

    3. Artemesia*

      You have 5 instances of failure to follow up. That should give you portfolio to sit down with him and suggest a follow up system for your work because you were delayed when the Fergus project was not completed on time and the Jones paper was late and the Carstairs project required extra reminders. You assumed he was taking for example these three follow up steps and were surprised when it should be completed and still had several steps to go. ‘I need you to have a system to follow up on my projects so we aren’t delayed again. Here is an idea:………. do you think you could try that on this project and see if it works well?’ Whether he does it with others is not your problem. Figure out a tickler system and then follow up more tightly for awhile.

      1. Artemesia*

        FWIW. Someone I know actually had her boss sit down with her in her very first job in a PR firm and teach her to make lists to guide her work. She had not every learned to do that and so things were getting dropped.

    4. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Do you give him deadlines? If there are six of you giving requests he could be prioritizing yours lower because others are giving more specific deadlines or are hounding him to get theirs done faster. Just because the task only takes a small amount of time to complete doesn’t mean that it gets prioritized.

      I’m not an admin assistant but I am a person that gets tasking from numerous different people. I appreciate one group that sends me a weekly email summarizing everything that they have sent me with the associated dates that they need a response from me. That way I can fold it into my priorities list faster and not have to go searching through all of my emails to see who sent me what. (Squeaky wheel gets the grease).

      Also, maybe you can talk to him to see what would help him better track your items (i.e. like the email I get sent).

    5. A Girl Named Fred*

      Former admin here – the one thing I’d add to what everyone else has already suggested (re: a better method of tracking, seeing if there’s anything else he’d need from you) is to make sure that when you’re assigning the task, you’re attaching a due date to it. You might already be doing that and just didn’t mention it, and if so, great! But if not, it is very, very easy for an admin reporting to multiple people to see “task with no due date” as “task that can be put off until I’m caught up and/or until someone checks on it.” Of course, ideally he would be asking you for a due date if you don’t provide one (IE something like “With my current tasks, I can get to this by X date. Does that work on your end?”) but if he doesn’t and you have a due date make sure to communicate it. Good luck!

    6. Admin help*

      Thank you everyone! I will talk to him and see if there are project management tools he can use to help him keep a log of pending tasks. I know that our company pays for subscriptions to several for certain groups, and there are free apps out there as well.

      Our admin does well in completing “single touch” tasks where he only has to do one discrete thing — he always gets those done promptly (same day/week) and I never have to set a deadline or follow up about them. The struggle (and a big reason our group has an admin, imo) is in navigating all the bureaucracy and red tape in our very large company, where a task requires follow-up with potentially multiple different groups to figure out where it’s situated or stalled in the process. I can’t really impose a deadline on those types of things, because it’s not in any one person’s control, and even a seamless process with no delays could take a variable amount of time. It would really help me out if our admin kept a running log of the statuses of these types of tasks and reached out proactively to the appropriate groups when things aren’t moving along in the process.

      I should also note that both the admin and I are new-ish to the company, so there’s a learning curve on both of our ends. I have repeatedly gotten the sense that some of the delays on the admin’s end are because he doesn’t yet know how to navigate the red tape and who to contact for certain things. There are several instances where I’ve had to loop in a senior admin from another group to help me with time-sensitive things after our group’s admin couldn’t finish the task in a reasonable period of time.

      1. Ginger Baker*

        I think it would be worth specifying your expectations in a conversation (or try while assigning a new task and see if it takes): “I need you to follow this all the way through to completion without me having to check in on it. If people [who need to do the next step] aren’t responding in time, please nudge them and if you have followed up twice and still not gotten a response, flag that for me so we can sort it out. [Senior Admin] is a great resource on stuff like this and probably has several tricks for how to get these things done smoothly and who to chase down to get results.”

      2. Not So NewReader*

        He is assisting 6 people and he has missed 5 things in three months? It seems like he is doing pretty good actually. Yeah, he needs a plan to recall tasks that carry over to a different day.
        Currently I leave post-its on my computer screen. In the past, I have made follow up lists. I had wrote these in a note book because hand writing re-enforces my ability to remember.
        Clearly his intent it to complete everything asked of him. It sounds like a real lot is asked of him.

    7. Mockingjay*

      It sounds like he has a heavy workload. I work in and have managed shared support staff and teams. Overtasking and conflicting priorities happen very easily and very frequently. You give him stuff, then someone else gives him something and tells him, “my task is high priority.” So yours gets dropped lower in the queue or forgotten. It’s a cascade of competition. Also consider the amount of tasks. You give him what you consider a reasonable amount of work. Multiply that by six, it’s likely more work than one staff can handle.

      People always advise an admin to use a personal system to remember tasks, but the real need is for a department task system. One in which Admin’s supervisor can review the backlog and help determine competing priorities. Whatever the solution is, make sure his supervisor is in on it. They need to know.

      1. Admin help*

        A departmental-wide system is a really good idea. Based on my conversations with our admin, it doesn’t seem like such a system is being used among the admin group, though other groups in the company have project management software available to them.

        I’m the most junior member of my group and this is my first experience having an admin assistant. I do my best to be mindful of our admin’s workload and not give him much work from my end except for the kinds of tasks that only he has the access to (i.e., our PTO system, the supplies and equipment ordering interface, our reimbursement process, etc.). Of the other people our admin supports, there are two that are one or two levels above me in the organizational hierarchy and thus who tend to use him more for administrative work. Of those at my level in the group, there is one person who frequently asks the admin to type up notes, take meetings at minutes, and manage his calendar, but my sense is that the others at my level and me don’t ask much of him. I manage my own calendar, schedule my own meetings, etc.

    8. Dragon*

      Is it possible your admin is overloaded? Or is there a pecking order among the six of you he works for?

      Maybe others are making more demands on him, and expect him to prioritize theirs first.

  4. Moth*

    I’m expecting a baby in a couple of months and told my employer recently. We offer 12 weeks of paid leave, though it runs concurrently with FMLA (which makes sense — I understand that part). They requested that I start the FMLA paperwork now, so that everything is in place ahead of time. I plan to take the full 12 weeks after the baby is born.

    However, as part of the FMLA paperwork, my employer requires a medical certification from my doctor. I was confused because the documents they gave me regarding the certification seem to state specifically that they cannot require a medical certification if the FMLA is for bonding time with a new baby. When I pushed back gently and pointed out the exclusion clause, they said that l must be confusing things and said that my doctor will know how to fill the medical certification out.

    The problem is that the medical certification asks for when I’ll be medically able to return to work and what the plan for that would be. My plan is to transition back to work with the last part of that 12 weeks (e.g., 2 days per week back for a couple of weeks and then 3 days per week back), but not for medical reasons per se, just because I think that will be a better option for myself and the baby.

    However, that might be why they want the medical certification, because baby bonding appears to rehire you to take the entire 12 weeks at once without any sort of ability to transition unless the employer is okay with it.

    My moderately-sized company deals with a lot of pregnancies (and adoptions), so I’m sure they do this every time and haven’t had much push back on it. This seems off to me, but I’m wondering if I’m just missing something.

    Does anyone know if there is a valid reason for work requiring that I submit a medical certification for the 12 weeks of FMLA I plan to take after giving birth? And if so, what if my doctor just marks that I need 72 hours (or however long) after birth before I’m released from the hospital and technically cleared to work? I don’t want to ask my doctor to lie for me on the medical clearance and state that I need the full time and the specific transition back plan that I’m wanting. But if this is normal for companies and you need to submit a medical certification for part of it or something, I don’t want to pick this as my hill.

    1. Just me, on this one.*

      I’m assuming you’re in the U.S., since you refer to FMLA. I’ll speak from my own experience. It’s medical standard for a minimum of 6 weeks for new mothers to recover from birth*. 8 if C-section, I believe (recovery for that is more medically cumbersome). When it was time to go back to work, in my case, my doctor just asked if I was ready. If I had said no (for any reason) I believe they would have extended the “medically required” postpartum time to anything up to the max 12 weeks. What I’m getting at, is you and your doctor have a lot of discretion at what it means to be ready to go back to work. As an over-thinker myself, I think you’re overthinking it. :)

      *I have heard of doctors allowing people to go back sooner when they’re doing okay medically, but it’s usually because the patient requires the income that they’re missing out on.

      1. InfrequentCommenter*

        I can’t remember all the particulars of my post-partum FMLA experiences, but Just Me, this tracks with my recollection. I remember my doctor asking me prior to my deliveries if/when I planned to return to work and letting me know that they would provide the paperwork needed to support that decision as long as there were no medical concerns at the time. OP, I would raise this concern at your next medical checkup. I’m sure your doctor’s office is well-versed in this and may provide you some peace of mind.

      2. ThisIsTheHill*

        +1.

        I don’t have kids, but I did have a hysterectomy – one of the old school slice & dice (read: C-section) types because my condition made it nearly impossible to have it done laparoscopically. My initial paperwork had me out for 2 months. As the return-to-work date approached, my doctor asked if I needed additional time off & would have submitted documentation to my employer if I had said “yes”. It’s fairly common to have an estimated return date that is updated later.

    2. Corporate Minion*

      I think you might be over thinking this a little. Normally, you would get 6-10 weeks on short term disability (depending on vaginal or C-section) to recover. So your dr would probably say something like that.

      It IS weird they require a medical certification. I don’t remember that requirement when I went through it. It might be worth discussing with your dr to see their take. They have probably dealt with this before and may know how to handle it.

      In my experience, I needed to indicate I was pregnant and then give a guess-timate on the date I would got out (I used my due date) and when I would return.

      If you want to transition back, it seems like you could ask HR how to fill out the form.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      Normal – just tell the doc your plan and they will fill it out accordingly. In general, they will put down 6-8 weeks required medical leave (depending on vaginal or C-section birth) before you are medically cleared to work along with a blurb giving “permission” for up to 12 weeks. The docs know what to right – it is very regulated.

    4. Murphy*

      You’re entitled to take off for 12 weeks, but they still need the medical certification. Even if the medical certification says 6/8 weeks, you can still take more.

      I did 8 weeks completely off and then two weeks of part time. It was all under FMLA and it was fine. I wasn’t allowed to use “sick” leave after 8 weeks because I was medically cleared to come back, but I could still take the time.

    5. Momma Bear*

      It’s been a minute, but I think there was a paper that my OB filled out re: recovery time (6 or 8 weeks, minimum). We also had short term disability in there with our FMLA, so your HR may be looking at that as well. I doubt my doctor lied to cover me for 12 weeks. I took 2 weeks of my own leave, 6 weeks of disability, and 4 weeks unpaid covered by FMLA. Office also wanted their papers in advance because sometimes babies do not get the memo about when to arrive.

      I’m sure your doctor has also seen this form before. You can ask them as well as HR.

    6. SoonToBeExHRperson*

      The FMLA paperwork is for medical confirmation that you have a need to take the leave. Unless your employer has made their own forms breaking things out, it’s the same form regardless of reason. For FMLA to be granted, you will have to fill out a medical form.

      I’ve read 100’s of these during my career and births generally come with 6-8 weeks recovery time from the employee’s medical condition that occurs as result of giving birth. That’s for your medical recovery time and while included with the bonding time it’s not taking away from the 12 week total time. It’s highly unlikely that this is some attempt to keep you from using the full paid leave promised, it’s just clicking off legal requirements related to FMLA (which is a federal thing, not your employers rules).

      If you have short term disability insurance through work, ask your employer for information on how to apply for it too.

      If your employer doesn’t automatically give you an FMLA approved letter or form once you submit your paperwork, request one. They are supposed to provide it. Also, get everything about how your paid and unpaid leave will work in writing, so you have it for reference and reassurance. I always produce letters and a calendar for my folks going out on FMLA, so they know exactly how their parental leave and other leaves with interact and when we dip into each type.

    7. AnotherLibrarian*

      My understanding of DOL Form WH-380-E Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition is that they can not require it for a healthy baby. So, I’d email HR and ask for clarity. I just finished a million emails to HR re: FML and they are the ones best positioned to explain. Once I got the right benefits person (most places seem to have one or two people who specialize in this stuff) things got much easier.

    8. Sabrina Spellman*

      What does your employer require by way of medical certification? My OB had to complete a portion of my FMLA paperwork basically to say that giving birth will require me to be off work for a period of time, and then they had to certify that I was permitted to return to work about a week or so before my leave was up.

    9. Gnome*

      I had to do that. You obviously don’t know ahead of time what you’ll really need. You could have an easy birth and be ready to go, or there could be issues that keep you or the baby out longer (I hope not!). This is probably more along the lines of making sure they treat it all the same more than anything else or for auditing or something.

    10. Not the hill to pick*

      Confirming this is typically just procedural- they basically just need the doctor to confirm that you are in fact having a baby. I didn’t even see what my doctor put for return to work but I took the full 12 weeks under FMLA both times I gave birth, and I did my short term disability and FMLA paperwork months in advance. You will have to update your STD and FMLA folks once you *actually* have your baby (unless you start your leave earlier on a set date).

      In terms of your proposed transition back schedule- that is in fact up to your employer, so you can and should negotiate that piece of it. I don’t know if your job is one that can be done remotely, but I did ask to work fully remotely for a couple months, which my employer did agree to (but I also was willing to expend all my capital/good will on it).

      Wish you a smooth, uncomplicated pregnancy, delivery, and recovery!

    11. Overeducated*

      If I were you, I’d continue to push back, and if you have to do it, work with your doctor to ensure that the form says your return to work plan is based not just on physical recovery, but also your legal entitlement to leave for bonding with the baby. Although I can’t speak to your employer’s policies, you’re right that FMLA includes bonding time separate from physical recovery – this is how fathers and non-birthing-mothers can use it!

      My experience when I had my last child was that my employer didn’t offer paid leave, but I was able to use my sick and annual leave concurrently with FMLA. I also wanted to use intermittent FMLA toward the end of my leave to have more of a transition back to work. What I did was use my sick leave for the first 4 weeks after birth (because that’s what I had banked) for “medical recovery,” and then I invoked FMLA ONLY for bonding for the subsequent 8 weeks. That gave me 4 weeks of FMLA left to use intermittently and ramp up my return to work slowly. I did not invoke FMLA for medical reasons at all, and did not provide a doctor’s certification, because I was not applying for it for that reason.

      I had to have multiple conversations with our HR folks who were like “…I have to check on whether you can do that, let me follow up with you” after I literally read them the text of the law AND our employer handbook. (They also said “well, we only have to hold your job for 12 weeks,” at which I just laughed because it takes them a year to fill positions, there was no way they were going to fire or replace me for coming back part time for a couple months.) Given this experience, I’d be really wary of getting something on paper saying “approved return to work date” that could be misunderstood by people who think one size fits all.

    12. Moth*

      Thanks everyone for the feedback. It helps to know that this is a pretty common request. I’ll plan to continue to talk to my HR about my concerns, but I’ll also bring the form to my next OB appointment and have them fill out the paperwork.

      My concern comes in that the FMLA paperwork states that the leave is for, “The birth of a child, or placement of a child with you for adoption or foster care, and to bond with the newborn or newly placed child.” It specifically does not mark that it’s for “Your own serious health concern”. Then in the medical certification portion, in the directions to the employer, it states, “Additionally, you *may not* request a certification for FMLA leave to bond with a healthy newborn child or a child placed for adoption or foster care” (emphasis theirs). Since FMLA grants 12 weeks of leave to bond with a healthy newborn child, it would make sense to me that this is what the paperwork is about, rather than the medical recovery time (since the paperwork doesn’t indicate that this is for my own health concern).

      I probably am overthinking this, but I’m also trying to think of what they’re requesting of parents during a stressful and busy time of their lives. I know it’s not that much more work to get these signoffs and then have my provider fill out a medical release for return to work later, it just seems like a lot of hoops to jump through for something that it seems to me FMLA doesn’t require. But again, it sounds like it’s pretty normal for companies to ask for this, so I’m not sure how far I’m willing to push on what may be a semantics issue.

      1. LizB*

        As someone totally inexperienced in this, it reads to me like the employer is not allowed to ask for a certification for leave that is only for bonding time, but since you’re asking for leave that will be medical recovery plus bonding time, they’re allowed to get a certification for at least that first part. So if you’re adopting a baby or are a non-birthing parent, they can’t make you get a doctor’s note. Since you (it sounds like) will be physically birthing a baby, they are allowed to ask you to get a doctor’s note for that.

      2. Cascadia*

        I think this is standard practice. But, you mentioned lots of your coworkers have had babies recently. Why don’t you ask one of them?

  5. BLT*

    Tl;dr: Am I overreacting to this new policy at my office? Staff are now being required to email all other staff when they leave for their break and when they return daily.

    Background: I’ve worked at a small org for about 5 years, and it’s doubled in size during the time I’ve been here. In the beginning, it was just me and one other staff person, Sally, and so we’d casually check in with each other when we took our lunch/break or left the office for whatever reason. Now there are more staff people and we’re in a larger office space. Sally has become the de facto office manager, albeit reluctantly, and we have the same job title which is not at all related to office management.

    This week Sally told staff we need to send an email to all other staff every day when we leave to take our break and when we return. I feel as though I’ve gone from being treated like a responsible adult when I first started here, to a child who needs to ask for a hall pass every time I leave my office. In addition to this new policy, last year they began sending out daily emails listing where everyone was for the day, if they were traveling or WFH, had appointments, etc.– when we could just as easily check each others’ calendars or, yunno, ask someone directly.

    I gave it a day in case she was just ~in a mood~, then asked her what prompted this change. In a nutshell, it’s because Sally recently got a dog and although she never used to leave the office during the day, now she needs to leave every day to walk her dog. We don’t have set break times, so she wants to know when we come and go to make sure someone is always here. I asked if we could just check in in person/by intercom instead of emailing and she flipped out, asked why I was so upset about it (which, although internally I’m stewing, I can honestly say I approached her calmly). The conversation was tense and uncomfortable; she told me I’d have to do this at any other organization… which is not true. I’ve worked at several such businesses (including this one for the past 5 years!) and never had to do this; even in more junior roles I would just casually tell someone else when I was stepping away. She said if I have an issue with it I can take it up with the big boss, who we both know will probably shrug and say Sally is in charge.

    FWIW, we have zero walk-in business, have clients visit our office maybe 5 times in a year, we almost never get urgent phone calls, and staff do not need to answer phones for higher ups or cover a main phone line. I have no problem with checking in to make sure someone is always available, but the idea that we each need to send two emails a day about our break times is ridiculous to me.

    Does anyone else need to do this at their office? Is it worth taking this to the big boss or will it seem petty? Other staff agree it’s an overreach but don’t seem motivated to do anything about it. After Sally, I’m the most senior admin.

    1. Jean*

      I would escalate this to your boss, especially since Sally seems so weirdly torqued up about it. Also she shouldn’t be instituting new work policies for what’s essentially a personal problem of hers. She needs to work that out herself, not add a new work burden to everyone in the office.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I would push back because you already talked to Sally and are not clear about what’s really going on. It sounds like Sally has a problem that she’s not fully addressing. That needs to be resolved. Something else that could be utilized is the comment/status in Teams, for example. You can put “out of office until 2” or whatever. For someone to unilaterally demand this is off-putting, but what’s her overall thinking here? And does your boss get cc’d? That might get annoying…

        I have to wonder if this is actually about someone saying something to Sally about her dogwalking and rather than hire a dog walker or something, she’s turned it around to make it your problem.

    2. CatCat*

      I’m confused about whether Sally even has the authority to make this policy. I mean… what if you just don’t do it?

      1. Kate in Colorado*

        That’s what I was thinking. Why not just totally ignore her request that would inconvenience you for a *personal* problem of hers- it has nothing to do with you doing your job… so, just… don’t do it?

      2. BLT*

        It’s a weird situation. She has refused the title of “Office Manager”, she says because it would change her status from exempt to non-exempt, and she’s clinging to her current title which is more of a specialized career. But in practice she’s the big boss’s right hand person and does whatever needs doing, from measuring offices and ordering furniture to planning events and billing. Managing our growing number of employees is something she’s taken on reluctantly and not handled very well. The big boss is pretty hands off; does his own thing, lots of travel and little to no involvement in daily employee matters.

      3. Deep Sigh*

        That was my thought as well. Just don’t flag you’re stepping away for a break. You wouldn’t any time you need a restroom.

      4. Jax*

        This. Just…don’t do it.

        If you’re upset by it, I’m sure your coworkers aren’t happy with it either. There is power in numbers, and sometimes all it takes is one good employee to say, “Nah, I won’t be doing that,” to start the rebellion. You tried talking to Sally–talk to a few of your coworkers that you trust, and ask how they plan to handle it. A group of two or three of you could then approach Sally again, either with another solution or more push-back against the emails.

      5. RagingADHD*

        Right, don’t do it, and don’t ask your boss. Because you can ignore Sally, but you can’t ignore the boss.

    3. OtterB*

      My office also had trouble as the staff size grew. Shortly before Covid, we created a Staff Schedule channel on our Slack. This gets used two ways: Planned-ahead vacation time, which goes on our staff Google calendar, is automatically posted to the Slack each morning. And we post directly to the Slack partial-day or last-minute things like “Under the weather today, checking email intermittently” or “out for an appointment from 1-3”. It’s working pretty well for us. But we aren’t tracking down to the detail of break times, so I don’t know if it would work for that.

      1. Windchime*

        Before I retired, we did something similar. We had a Teams chat channel where we would post things like “Running a quick errand, back around 10:15”, “lunch, back in a few”, etc. When we were back, we would just say ” Back!” or something. This kept the team informed but wasn’t cluttering up mailboxes with notifications. For longer periods away, we would update our personal calendars as well as a team calendar on Sharepoint that our stakeholders could also see.

    4. Malarkey01*

      I don’t know how many staff you have but if I was getting 10+ emails a day that just said Jane going on break, Jane back and then Bob going on break, Bob back, etc I’d be annoyed. I’d maybe start there and just say this is going to flood our inboxes and no one is going to keep up with who is coming and going. IF there’s really a need to know when someone’s out a Google sheet where people list in and out time would help if you actually needed to double check when Bob went on break or if everyone’s there.

      1. BLT*

        I mentioned that the emails could get to be a lot. If all staff were in office and took their daily breaks it would be 10 emails a day. She rolled her eyes and said “We all get tons of emails, just delete them, it’s not a big deal!”

        1. Dasein9*

          Then REALLY send a lot of emails.
          Every bathroom break.
          Every trip to the printer.
          Annoy the hell out of Sally with the emails.

          (Don’t really do this. but it can be helpful to daydream it.)
          ((Don’t forget to send Sally an email before you indulge in a daydream.))

          1. Sleepless*

            I did read once about a lower-level employee back in the 50s whose boss sent out a memo telling everyone that all communication with him needed to be in writing. The guy started sending typed notes in the format they used back then, with “To:/From:/Re” etc, multiple times a day for things like “What time is it?” “Do you think the Yankees will win tomorrow?”

        2. Jax*

          She sounds fun.

          A good leader would share the problem, share her proposed solution, listen when employees give her feedback, ask for other solutions, and find a solution to the problem that everyone buys into.

          A terrible leader dictates a solution, then doubles down and screams when people point out problems with her solution.

          I’m firmly in camp non-compliance on this one. It sounds like you’re the most senior of all the staff–if you “forget” to send the emails, they will follow your lead. And if Big Boss is as hands off as you say, he’s not going to come back and enforce Sally’s email stupidity. He’s firmly shifted this problem on to her.

          1. BLT*

            1000% agree with you, and this is sort of the crux of the problem with her ledership/management. This new policy, and how she decided on it in the span of an hour with zero input is very on-brand for Sally.

            One time she couldn’t find something in an electronic file when a coworker was unexpectedly out, and so she created a whole new filing category that made more sense to her, thus creating inconsistencies across our other files and necessitating a shift going forward… on something she didn’t even normally have her hands on. :-|

            Ugh. I like her as a person and she does excellent work *in her chosen position*, but as a manager it’s real bad. I don’t see it getting better, so I might not stay at the org much longer.

      2. fueled by coffee*

        Agreed – focus on a tangibly irritated thing (“this is leading to a lot of unnecessary emails which makes it difficult for me to manage my work-related emails”) and some sort of static reference for people to check if they’re really concerned about coverage during breaks (or just… set up a system to ensure adequate coverage around people’s breaks? That doesn’t rely on individual “I’m heading out”/”I’m back” emails every time someone goes on break?).

    5. Aquawoman*

      I would not escalate this, and it does seem you are over-personalizing it. She wants to know that there is coverage, which I think is common. I’m not sure why you have to email everyone, but I don’t know why that’s a hill to die on. FWIW, we do the attendance thing every day also, it’s helpful.

        1. BLT*

          Correct, coverage isn’t actually needed. Sally is very stuck on the concept of coverage, but none of us answers anyone else’s phones and we don’t have clients or anyone else walking into the space unannounced. If my boss was ever trying to reach me he’d call my office phone, then my cell phone.
          During our “chat” about this, Sally justified the need because big boss recently called asking where an exec was. But she won’t be tracking execs the same way, and I’m actually in a different office space in the building so if I happened to be the only person available, I wouldn’t have a clue what was going on in the main office area.

      1. Loulou*

        I work in an actually coverage-based job, which it sounds like OP doesn’t, and even we don’t do this! Knowing who’s out today, yes. Knowing everyone’s schedule, yes. Notifying the whole team whenever we go for a break, absolutely not. We use our judgement as professionals to determine when we should tell someone we’re leaving, and what OP describes would rub me very much the wrong way.

    6. Cleo*

      Could you suggest using a different, less annoying, technology to track it?

      If you use Slack or Teams, you could ask people to change their little status icon when they have to step away. or maybe make a make a channel for Stepping Away that people could comment it.

      When we first started working remotely at a previous job, my boss wanted us to use the status icons to show when we stepped away. I’m not sure how useful it was, but it was easy to do.

    7. LadyByTheLake*

      I have a feeling that after a week of everyone’s email box being swamped by “I’m going on a break” emails, the madness will end. Either that or everyone simply plans to ignore it because it is such a ridiculous demand.

    8. Lady_Lessa*

      I would also encourage Sally to get a dog sitter. I know that my pet sitter used to offer mid day breaks for dogs for less money/less time than a normal visit.

      (Her visit for my cat is about 30 minutes once a day)

    9. Zephy*

      What if y’all had, like, a whiteboard in a common area where you could mark yourself In or Out with a return time? If you’re not constantly working together and just need to know who’s where at a glance? OldJob had something like that – we worked independently but occasionally needed to interact with each other, and coverage was a concern, so we just had a little whiteboard in the back with all our names on it. Name, in/out, time returning from lunch (or notes like “out all day,” “off,” “PTO,” “gone for day,” etc).

      1. Hell Job Escapee*

        This is what we have in my office. Everyone has their section with their name and we also have magnets labeled “Break,” “Lunch,” “PTO,” “In Late,” etc. So it’s super easy to throw up the magnet as I’m walking out the door for break or to let my coworkers know I’m not in the office first thing. We also have a shared PTO/Leave calendar in Outlook, so everyone can see if you’re out.

        1. BLT*

          This sounds very reasonable! I’d totally be willing to do that. Unfortunately I have low expectations of Sally being open to trying something different based on how she reacted to me earlier this week.

      2. Squidhead*

        My church does this for all the staff and leaders of community groups that use the space. It’s important that the last person out sets the alarm, for example, and the building is large enough that there would be no practical way to confirm whether anyone else was in the building. And the white board is easy to look at precisely in the way that a series of emails is not…with the emails, I’d need to read every conversation to see whether that person had returned yet or not and then (presumably) alter my actions accordingly.

    10. Free Meerkats*

      This is a case for malicious compliance. Every time you get up from your desk, email everyone something like, “Headed to the bathroom, may be a while!” Then, “Back at my desk! Do NOT go in there for a bit!!” “Going to lunch, be back a 1:14 PM!” Then at 1:10, “Back at my desk a bit early!” “Just getting up to stretch!”, 1 minute later, “Sitting back down, that felt good!!”

      1. Free Meerkats*

        And this will work much better if several of you do this. So muster the troops and get to emailing!

      2. Random HR Lady*

        I was going to say malicious compliance too! Bathroom, refilling my water bottle, break, going to make copies, etc.

    11. Not always right*

      We used Google chat at my old job. It’s quick, easy. Email seems quite cumbersome to use for this purpose.

    12. Hotdog not dog*

      In my current office the admins are paired with a backup. If one steps away they just need to let their “buddy” know. The rest of the team does not need or want to know who’s in the restroom at any given time.

    13. kittymommy*

      Ehh, depending on how long the breaks are I can see the point of it. I mean if it’s several 5 min. here and there during a work day – yeah, annoying and not helpful. But if someone is stepping away for 15-20 + at a time, having a notification would be good. Maybe it’s just the delivery method that’s annoying? Perhaps a group chat or “out” board would work better?

    14. Machine Ghost*

      This may have to do with Sally not actually wanting to be Office Manager. Because she’s the most senior staff she is now stuck with the responsibility, possibly on top of her regular duties, and with no recognition. Would you be willing to take over? If no then I think you should just do as she asks and not take it personally. She’s probably just trying to find a procedure that works best for her, not trying to control everyone else.

    15. Rosie*

      Honestly I think this will resolve itself in that either people will probably just keep doing as they’ve been doing or after a week of constant emails it’ll get nixed.

      But add the big boss to the emails if you do send them, Sally does want EVERYONE to know

      1. LizB*

        Yeah, I think Sally will rethink this pretty darn quick when her inbox is an unnecessary mess with everyone’s statuses.

    16. MissDisplaced*

      Well, it IS reasonable to want to know when people are on break versus available if you need to provide coverage for the public or phones.
      That said, this seems rather excessive.

      Back when email was just email, i did institute a name board for the department where people could write in days they were off that week (sick, vacation, appointments, half days, etc.). It was just a way to quickly glance and know who was there. But this wasn’t down to the lunch break level.

  6. Accidental Drama*

    I accidentally made a big deal out of nothing.

    I changed jobs this summer, and was really put off by the HR lady’s intrusive questions on my way out. She was way over the line in asking the details of the new position in a way that felt like she was trying to get leverage against me (among a long list of items, she demanded to know the precise job title, company name and branch location, etc.). I’d heard rumors that she was a snake, so I refused to discuss anything, and politely side-stepped casual “Good for you, where are you headed next?” type of questions from colleagues.

    I blocked her on LinkedIn and haven’t updated my profile because I want to establish a good reputation where I am before letting anyone know. But former colleagues are getting really nosy. People message me asking where I went, and a few have escalated to specifically calling me out in those “appreciate your colleague” anniversary LI posts.

    Now it feels like I poured gasoline on a tiny fire, but I did what felt necessary at the time. Several people who left the company told me that they thought she tried to cause trouble for them. I’m not sure where to go from here. 95% of my brain realizes this is silly and melodramatic, but my lizard brain is still freaking out. FWIW, I’m a mid-career SME in tech, in my first management role, and a woman.

    WWYD? Just keep ignoring LI until it all goes away?

    1. Artemesia*

      The fact that it is escalating makes clear you did the right thing. Just keep ignoring it till it goes away. I know of a situation where an employer did try to poison the well for someone who left by contacting their new employer and undercutting them. It made things awkward and probably did damage her reputation at the new place. Just continue to be cordial and vague if you run into people and ignore any emails that are trying to snoop and dig.

      You have good instincts.

    2. ENFP in Texas*

      I’d ignore them. They’re being nosy and curious and it’s not your obligation to share if you don’t want to. They’ll get bored eventually and find something else to focus on. You no longer work there so you don’t have a professional responsibility to them. You’re not friends outside of work, so you don’t have a personal responsibility to them.

      For the petty ones who are calling you out, you could respond with something like “I enjoyed my time working with you and wish you well in your career.” But you don’t have to justify your decision to them – feel free to just not respond at all.

    3. Jean*

      You are under zero obligation to engage with anything anyone sends via LinkedIn, ESPECIALLY if it feels nosy or otherwise makes you uncomfortable. Feel free to continue ignoring this as long as it lasts.

    4. Malarkey01*

      This is so weird that after months! people are still reaching out to you. I’d ignore it all and feel no need to respond (disclaimers I’m someone who thinks LI has become too social media like for some users and I don’t go on there unless I’m actually looking to change jobs or hiring and looking up folks).

    5. Corporate Minion*

      I have reached out to a few coworkers through LI to see where they were working now and what position. I was curious, excited for them, and wanted to see if it was someplace I might like to work myself.

      It never occurred to me anyone would feel the need to keep it private. If they had replied something like: I’m keeping it quiet for now so I can get established. I’ll update LI when I’m ready.
      I would have said okay, congratulated them again, and then moved on with my life.

      1. Jean*

        That information is readily available on the profiles of those who want it known, so why ask? I’m not trying to be rude, I’m honestly curious.

        1. Corporate Minion*

          Well sometimes people just don’t update stuff like that. I know a number of people who retired but never bothered updating their LI.

          In one of these cases, I found out after the person had left so I wanted to reach out personally to congratulate etc. because we had been very friendly in the office (we had our first kids at the same time). In this case, I reached out very quickly so in that case, it made sense that she hadn’t updated her LI yet. If I remember correctly, when I ask where/what she was doing, she said she would update her LI after she started. And I didn’t think anything of it.

          Asking what a person has moved onto feels like a natural part of these transitions and conversations. To me it is like asking a graduate what they hope to do next. -but maybe I’ve been conditioned to think that. When another coworker resigned, I was one of the only people who knew he didn’t have anything lined up. Many coworkers were asking where he was going and he didn’t know what to say. I think we came up with ‘weighing options’ or something as a response and people were content with that.

          1. Jean*

            Yeah see this is why you probably shouldn’t just assume it’s an oversight. If it’s not updated in their profile yet, there’s probably a good reason. And when someone doesn’t have a plan, like that person you mentioned, or if they got let go or there’s some other not-great circumstance around it, you’re putting them in an awkward place by asking. This is the kind of information that people would make known if they wanted to. If they’re not, it’s best to assume they have their reasons for not wanting it to be a topic of small talk.

    6. Grumpus*

      Ha, I had a somewhat similar experience (regarding LI). REALLY bad experience with the recruiter at my new job who REFUSED to negotiate with me on any level, and when I started the job it was nothing that had been promised to me. I made the mistake of initially posting it on LinkedIn right away, but things got really bad really quickly and decided to remove it and I blocked the recruiter and the Hiring Manager who had flat out lied to me about the role.

      I feel a twinge about this, like I’ve committed a petty crime or something, but when it comes down to it, our LinkedIn profiles belong to US, not to the companies we work for, and who we connect with is voluntary, not mandatory. I feel like there is some kind of weird social contract around LI that ultimately doesn’t benefit us.

      But that said, next time I’m going to WAIT — like a year — to add my new job to my LinkedIn resume. I think it makes sense to see if the new job will “stick” and to take a minute and think about who I really want to be connected with. My two other direct teammates (one hired a week before me, one hired a month after me) have both left the team. This all in less than six months…..you never know what kind of toxic landfill you’ll end up in.

    7. Asenath*

      The nosier people get, the more I’m convinced that they’re just being nosy for no reason having to do with making friendly personal chat (my default assumption is that they are just inquisitive, but there are other assumptions I could and have made). So I shut down any contact with them even tighter, since they didn’t get the message that I’ve moved on and the details aren’t important to former co-workers and acquaintances first time around.

    8. WellRed*

      I’m in the minority here but absent other information, I guess I don’t understand not simply answering polite (key word) inquiries about your new job. But yeah, at this point, your old coworkers are being inappropriate and weird.

      1. Mannequin*

        I’m always curious why people answer a question of “Thing X triggers a gut reaction around my personal boundaries, what do?” with “Well Thing X doesn’t impinge on MY personal boundaries, why don’t you just suck it up and do it?”

        The Questioner has already indicated their personal level of discomfort with Thing X, and are looking for methods of coping with the pressure or shaming or disapproval of others to just “give in” to the thing that makes them uncomfortable, and adding further fuel to the “this doesn’t bother me, why should it bother you? Get over it already” fire is not helpful and is not OK.

        People are allowed to have their boundaries even if they seem frivolous or ridiculous to others.

    9. NJ Worker*

      I did the same thing, and then I updated my LinkedIn after 3 months on #NewJob. There’s always industry chatter, and I was just being super-cautious? Nobody is entitled to this information. Your former colleagues are being weirdly aggressive.

    10. anonymous73*

      I’m confused about why you ignored and are still ignoring your colleagues. If the HR lady has a reputation to causing trouble when people leave, then it’s perfectly understandable to block and ignore her. But it’s perfectly normal for a colleague to inquire about where you’re headed – that’s not being nosy. You can continue to ignore everyone, but know that you’ve possibly burned bridges with everyone and won’t be able to ask anyone for references or connections if they happen to have one for a potential future position.

      1. Accidental Drama*

        Yup, you ARE definitely confused, because nowhere did I say I ignored people. I said I politely side-stepped their questions about my next role.

    11. Soup of the Day*

      I don’t think you made a big deal out of nothing at all! If you want to ignore it, you can temporarily deactivate your LI account for a while – then no one can tag you and hopefully you can quietly reactivate later without much fanfare. But honestly, you can block whoever you’d like on LinkedIn. You don’t owe anyone access to your life, even people you’re on good terms with. I wouldn’t feel bad at all for icing out someone nosy. It’s very normal to not want the world to know your new job until you’re more established there, and if you want to respond you can just say “I’d rather not talk about my new position until I’ve been there for a while longer – thanks for understanding!”

    12. Yorick*

      If you haven’t updated your LI so it still says you work there, your former colleagues are probably confused.

    13. Mannequin*

      *You* didn’t make a big deal out of nothing.

      The people who won’t drop this are the ones making a big deal out of nothing. And it’s a good sign that you are doing the right thing.

      I’d continue to deflect until they lose interest.

  7. BRR*

    Any tips for becoming a faster email writer? It usually takes me way too long to compose or reply to emails. These are often pretty simple emails and I roughly know what I’m trying to say, but I just can’t click reply and spit it out quickly.

    1. Switcheroo*

      I have this tendency too, and something that helped me was creating a word doc of templates when I noticed that I was giving the same type of reply to different people over and over. I actually only ended up copy/pasting the templates a couple times but it did sort of fix in my head a basic structure that I could just bang out. Also if you have a colleague who writes good emails take a look at them and notice what you like about their phrasing/language and adapt those strategies to your own voice. Helps as well to remember that unless it’s unclear or rude people don’t really care about email style so for everyday stuff try to let go of needing to be perfect, you’re your own sharpest critic!

      1. Corporate Minion*

        I have a friend who uses templates for EVERYTHING. She works in school admin and interfaces a lot with parents. Almost everything she needs to tell them is the same in each case and she tweaks as needed. She has a giant Word document.

        1. Zephy*

          Piggybacking on this for the Word doc system – Outlook has Signatures which are great for making form letters/templates that need minor tweaking (names/dates). Easy to use in both new correspondence and replies, literally just pick your response from the drop-down and make any necessary tweaks.

          NB: Signatures, for some unknown reason, do not sync across devices (or they didn’t, maybe Microsoft fixed this, IDK), so if you aren’t always accessing your Outlook on the same hardware, keep copies of your templates in your email somewhere so you can set up/update your signatures when you change devices.

          1. Sleepless*

            You can store them in Evernote too. I use a ton of templates for medical notes. I keep them in a glossary in our practice software, but just in case I keep them in Evernote too. Having templates gives you a mental place to start plus it can function as a checklist to make sure I mentioned everything I should. For that matter, it serve as a checklist to make sure I do the things in the first place, not just to document that I did them.

          2. Imprudence*

            One note is good for this too. I have sections for categories, and pages for each individual email.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Even better: save the templates in your outlook drafts so you don’t have to switch applications or deal with formatting weirdness. (Copy the text from the draft or duplicate the message itself – don’t send the draft template.)

      3. Mouse*

        If you’re using 365, Outlook has a Templates feature! It’s called “My Templates” and you can find it by clicking on the three dots all the way to the right of the Message tab.

    2. Overeducated*

      I tell myself I’m just writing it as a draft and I’ll send later to reduce the pressure. (Sometimes I do send it later, sometimes that gets me going quickly enough that I can just send it then.)

      1. Hlao-roo*

        This is what I often do. Write up a draft then let it sit for 10 min/30 min/1 hr. When I look at it again, sometimes I catch a type or rewrite a sentence, but mostly I ask myself “is it clear enough? is the time and effort worth the small benefit of writing a slightly better sentence?” The answers are usually yes and no (respectively) so I just hit send.

    3. Erika22*

      Any chance you’re spending too much time worrying about tone or something? Sometimes I spend ages writing an email because I’m composing it perfectly and want to make sure I start off friendly and don’t sound demanding or too short. If I catch myself doing that, I make myself delete all the fluffy stuff and hit send immediately, no procrastinating. So instead of “Hi X, I hope your week is going well. I was expecting that contract on Monday. Do you know when it will be done? Thanks!” to “Hi X, Is that contract ready? I was expecting it Monday. Thanks!” Really I just try to think of an email as a more formal chat message, and I have to remind myself the best email is the one that gets straight to the point and is actually sent in a timely manner!

    4. FashionablyEvil*

      I usually grab a piece of scratch paper and quickly jot down bullets of the main points I want to make and any context that might be helpful. (Payment has not been received; this is/is not within normal parameters, etc.) Then I type it up along with the social niceties and I’m good to go. There’s something about paper that’s more tactile/easier when I’m struggling to make a point.

    5. efrost*

      When I struggle with figuring out how compose an email I’ll sometimes start with a bullet-point list of what I’m trying to get across and then build the narrative from there. It helps me highlight things that might have been confusing at first read and keep me focused on message. It also helps keep me from straying into unnecessary detail which I am prone to doing.

    6. A Girl Named Fred*

      Is it that you struggle to write them at all, or once you’ve written it you struggle to click send? I used to do the latter a lot and made a rule for myself – once I’ve written it, if I review it three times without making any changes I have to immediately press send. That helps keep me out of “review/rewrite hell” because if I haven’t changed anything, it’s probably fine and I just need to get it out of my sight.

    7. Mynona*

      Are you trying to say too much? So many e-mails are just too long. When you are tempted to add a detail, consider if it is necessary.

      Also, multitasking mid E-mail can contribute to this. I pause, decide what I need to say, and don’t do anything else until it’s done. Good luck.

    8. Squidhead*

      I find myself trying to be too chatty in emails and/or trying to include too much supporting info. It works fine in person, but on a screen is is just sooooo many words, and it makes my sentence structures too convoluted. Like, if I need to read the sentence aloud to myself to see if it makes sense, then it is a bad sentence!

      It helped me to realize that most of the messages I *need* to send are either “here is a question/problem/document. Here is the part that is relevant to you. Please let me know your input by ___.” OR “thank you for the question/problem/document. Here is my input (citation included here if necessary). Thank you/please let me know if I can assist further.” Stripping the chaff away to make this really clear helps, and does get easier with practice! Templates can definitely help as well, but you need to know what type of message you are sending to pick the right template.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I think the clue is where you say, “I roughly know what I am trying to say”.

      What does it take to fully know what you will say?
      Sometimes I have to call someone else. Sometimes I have to look things up. Other times I have to get the boss’ permission.

      Read the email.
      Collect the info to answer the email.
      THEN begin composing.
      You do not have to answer the minute one flies into your mailbox.

      Type your answer then re-read the email. Did you answer the question that was actually asked? It is okay to say, “If you need more info please let me know.” This is useful for times where you are not certain where to stop your answer.

  8. Apparently Underpaid*

    I just find out a coworker hired two months ago in a job very similar to what I’m doing and at the same level makes $20k more than I do. I’m going to approach my supervisor about an equity adjustment (and I think she’ll be open to it. She hired the new guy, but I was hired and promoted under someone different who was known for low balling pay). My question is, what exactly is the script to open and ask? I can do the justification, but I’ve never even negotiated so I’m just not sure what to say specifically when I open the conversation and for the ask itself. Thanks!

    1. Mid*

      I’m a rather blunt person, so I’d go with “Hey [Supervisor], when is a good time to meet and discuss my compensation?” Or “At our next one to one, can we make time to discuss an equity adjustment in my pay?”

    2. TennisFan*

      To open, you could say that’s it your belief that based off research and conversations with peers in similar roles at other firms, that your salary level is considerably behind the industry and market standard for your position.

      For the ask, I’ve had certain supervisor relationships where I could be frank and share that I know the salary of the new hire. I’d bring it up and see how they respond. If you can’t mention it because you don’t know how your supervisor would react to you knowing that information, I’d still try stating the amount or range that you feel is appropriate. The alternative is not to say a number in your initial ask and see what they come back with, but because you have this inside info, I think you’re on firm ground to just ask for what you upfront. Otherwise the supervisor might be inclined to provide, say, a $10k raise, which for most jobs would still be substantial and “generous”, and not feel any pressure to go higher.

      Just some food for thought—good luck!

    3. StellaBella*

      look thru the Salary section here (on the right column to find scripts. Also what Mid says is good to start with too.

    4. Zona the Great*

      Agree with above commenter: “Oh, I just found out that this role is now paying much more than what I am making. Can we set up a time to discuss bringing my pay up to the current level? Should I contact HR and set something up with them?”

  9. ThatGirl*

    This is a very low-stakes question but I’m curious about opinions or What People Do.

    I’ve been at my current company just shy of a year, and they just reorganized my department (marketing). I have a new manager and my responsibilities are shifting – they’re splitting our efforts into Channel vs Brand/Media, whereas before everyone did everything. My title, however, has not changed. So the question is: should this be a new position on LinkedIn/my resume? Or should I note a shift in responsibilities within the position, or at all?

    1. BRR*

      I wouldn’t list it as a new position or note a change. I would just list the accomplishments on your resume like you would had your department not split.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Same. Your title hasn’t changed, but you could edit the specifics to reflect your new reality. You still do have the other skills, even if they are not your day to day job so much.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I do. It’s more just that the focus of my job is changing from what I was hired to do. I can see both sides of the argument (new team, new more specific focus, shift in strategy, but same department, same title) which is why I was curious what others thought.

    2. Mid*

      I think the shift could be addressed in a cover letter, while letting your resume just focus on highlights within the role. “during my time as a [Teapot Marketer], my duties shifted from a broader marketing role to a more specialized role in brand management for [Tea Corp.] During this time, I lead our most successful branding campaign to date, increasing customer engagement by 11%” kind of thing.

      1. ThatGirl*

        This could definitely work for a cover letter although with any luck I won’t be moving on any time soon! I just like to keep my resume updated just in case, and I like LinkedIn to reflect my accomplishments.

    3. Purple Cat*

      I would say it depends on how much of a shift there really is in your responsibilities. For example, years ago I kept the same title, but shifted to focus on different pieces of the business. Think moving from Teapot Painter to Coffee Mug Painter. I list those as different positions in my resume because the focus on each was different and Coffee Mugs was a bigger piece of the business so there was an increase in responsibility, even without a change in title and I wanted to show “growth”.

      So depending on how different the work/responsibilities are, you could split the role into 2 sections.

      1. ThatGirl*

        As hired, the job was about 65-70% channel/product related, and 30% social media posts and extraneous public marketing materials. Going forward, it will ALL be focused on social and brand media. So it’s specialization and expansion of that part of it, not something totally different.

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Maybe this is specific to your field. For me, I don’t think this rises to the level of needing to be noted on a resume, since a resume should focus on what you accomplished, not your responsibilities.

      And, in my opinion, that’s especially true because it’s not a shift from two very different roles (e.g., “Otter Cuddler” to “Rodeo Clown”), it’s that your focus has shifted (70:30 channel:social to 100 social).

      1. ThatGirl*

        I appreciate it! I honestly wasn’t quite sure but the responses seem to lean toward not needing to note it. My KPIs/goals will change, but that could have been true anyway.

  10. Free Meerkats*

    For those who have gone into freelancing/consulting, do you have any book/website/webinar recommendations for someone looking into it? I’m seriously considering it when I retire, and figure it’s probably better to get things rolling while I am still employed.

    Do I go sole-proprietor, LLC, something else? E&O Insurance? Taxes?

    That sort of thing.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Nolo Press has a couple of good books about this subject. (Probably you want to be a sole-proprietor unless you want to have staff.)

    2. Kay*

      My not financial advice that I personally took was a pass through LLC, but instead of a deciding based on reading I would have a chat with your accountant. There is plenty of info out there (and unless you already are very familiar with the subject matter I wouldn’t suggest basing your decision on that) but your accountant will be able to look at your personal situation as well as what you want to accomplish and recommend what is best for you based on that info – in addition to what is best should your situation change.

    3. RagingADHD*

      The only place you should get advice about whether you need a business entity is a CPA who practices in your city.

      In some jurisdictions, establishing an entity costs a few hundred dollars and is minimal hassle. In others, it means thousands in fees and significant annual maintenance, to the point that it could really set back your timeline for turning a profit. In some areas, you need a business license to di anything. In others, it depends on the nature of your work. And so forth.

      What type of consulting aee you looking to do? The best advice is industry specific.

  11. Jessie J*

    I’d really enjoy seeing a section like:
    “this is why I left this company”. Sort of like an anonymous letter to their ex-management.

    1. Frankie Bergstein*

      Agree! I think seeing what themes appeared over and over would be fascinating. I’m so curious if my reasons for moving on would be similar to others.

  12. meagain*

    Any good ideas for a $20-25 white elephant gift? It can be funny or nice. Everyone I work with is fun and has a good sense of humor. Also no one is very uptight. If they don’t like the gift, there won’t be any noteworthy drama. I have just been so busy and neglecting everything, and am going to be running around this weekend to come up with something. My usual go to’s – yeti cup, $20 bill, bottle of booze (which is fine amongst our people) – have all been done. Ideally I want to bring something that people want to steal.

    1. meagain*

      This may be more for the weekend thread – if so, apologies. I was thinking work since it’s for our workplace holiday party.

    2. Not a Name Today*

      I’ve gone to Five Below (or another dollar store) and purchased a bunch of fun toys. Wind up robots, light up toys, silly magnets, getting a bag of fun stuff is pretty cool.

      1. Cold Fish*

        This is where my mind went too. Fun little “kids games” always seem to go over well at my work. Especially things like the paddle with ball attached or marshmallow shooters.

          1. meagain*

            Haha, that’s a good one!! (And at my work will turn inappropriate fast, but in a good fun way lol)

    3. The New Normal*

      Pet store gift card! That was the hot item at our last White Elephant Gift Exchange. The other hot item were Lottery Scratchers – the chance that you could win more than the gift limit was exciting.

      1. Slipping The Leash*

        If you have time before the party day, go on amazon and look for color-changing mugs. $16 for the original cast star trek one that has picture of crew on the bridge when empty, but “transports” them down to a planet when full of hot liquid. totally ridiculous.

          1. Chashka*

            How have I not known about Blue Q until now? Sadly, too late for Christmas gifts this year (already bought), but not too late for birthday stuff for next year.

      2. meagain*

        Actually last year I ended up with a whole dog gift package when I don’t have a dog and no one stole it! I ended up giving it away which was fine, but it just was unlucky that it landed with me when a lot of people I work with do have pets!

    4. OtterB*

      My husband just bought a small multitool to give in his office’s white elephant gifting, but most of his colleagues are engineers or technicians of some kind.

    5. Annony*

      My coworkers enjoy board games so I often get a small game (Love Letter, Coup, Boss Monster). Local artisan goods work too. We have a popular candy store nearby that I sometimes buy from for gift exchanges. Artisan honey, tea, fudge or preserves are good too. One year I bought some tiny glass animals from a craft fair that were very popular.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      our work gift exchange is themed to either “keeping warm” or “my favorite things”, so I put in it a big blanket scarf in neutral colors, a box of my favorite cookies, and a tin of fancy cocoa. Came to a little under $25 altogether.

      1. meagain*

        Thank you! I actually did do a hot cocoa set last year with a good brand of cocoa, fancy marshmallows, toppers, chocolate spoon stirrer etc!

    7. Lucky*

      Are you near a CostPlus World Market or similar store? Bottle of wine or booze plus funny bar accessory can be a good choice. Or, basket of international snacks plus funny kitchen accessory, to appeal to non-drinkers as well.

      PS I do think this is appropriate to today’s thread since there are so many potential pitfalls for a white elephant. Nothing sexy, nothing controversial. I’m thinking accessories like: rubber pickle wine bottle stopper, llama-shaped snack bowl, cat-shaped chip clip that meows when opened. That’s why I like World Market, there’s something silly for everyone, plus all-dressed potato chips and every kind of Haribo gummy.

    8. Granger Chase*

      I think the base box of Cards Against Humanity might fall into that price range! There are also some similar games on the market now that are a bit more, uh tame for work lol

      1. Frideag Dachaigh*

        The “We Didn’t Playtest This” card game series is a favorite in my household/friend circle that is a bit less well known (so less likely for people to have it). For $20-25 you could potentially get a couple different card based games- Coup, Exploding Kittens, Sushi Go, Jaipur, Monopoly Deal, Scrabble Slam, etc. A lot of these are $5-$15 so you could do a small collection!

    9. Ali + Nino*

      I once found a mini waffle iron for around $10 at Target – almost went over my office’s limit for White Elephant. IIRC it was stolen a couple of times!

      1. evens*

        Those are cute! There are a bunch of mini appliances now, including a dog bone treat maker, popcorn popper, pie maker, and ice cream maker. Those would be fun!

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        I LOVE my mini waffle iron. It’s so tempting to get some of the seasonal shape versions and the donut maker but I don’t have space for that many novelty appliances!

    10. Chestnut Mare*

      I’ve gotten gift boxes/tins of Lindt truffles for these events and my workplace, and have seen usually well-behaved people get pretty rowdy.

    11. CG*

      I have lots of ideas for this! A can cooler bag or backpack, a bag with some interesting toiletries (Lush bath bombs and Poopourri have been really popular at past exchanges in my office), a nice plant and pot, fancy pens, fun chocolates or other snack, hot chocolate and a mug, cool coasters, a pack of nice wool socks (Costco has good ones), a bestseller book or two, coffee from the local fancy roaster.

    12. Can't Sit Still*

      I once bought a stocking and filled it with various small toys. It was a huge hit and people kept trying to steal it even after it was off limits.

    13. bee*

      Those super mini fridges (the ones that hold like 6 cans of soda) often go on sale for ~$25, and are pretty universal. In general, mini things tend to be a hit, actually—I’ve done mini foosball before, and a mini inflatable tube guy, like the ones outside of car dealerships.

    14. GoryDetails*

      There’s a series of literary-themed sticky-notes; Jane Austen characters, Romeo and Juliet, etc. I see them at Barnes and Noble pretty often, and they’re just the sort of thing that could be fun in an office white-elephant. [The ones I like are from the “Girl of All Work” site, where there are loads of other styles as well – pets, food, travel, etc.] Pairing a set of these with a book or interestingly-flavored tea or coffee might be fun.

    15. CupcakeCounter*

      I love someone else idea of lottery tickets but also…
      1. Mini charcuterie board
      2. Nice box of good chocolates
      3. Funny workplace or holiday mug
      4. Hot cocoa or coffee gift bag

      1. Picard*

        I just got our book club secret santa gift. Barnes and nobles had a great charcuterie set with book, board and utensils for around $35. If you have coupon or membership, it might fall into your budget.

    16. Dark Macadamia*

      Seconding World Market or games (I recommend Anomia). Some decorative giraffes were popular at my work gift exchange one year, and World Market is just a really fun place to browse for decor, food, or novelty items.

    17. Generic Name*

      Puzzles seem to be a thing right now. I’m sure this goes without saying, but make sure the image is work-appropriate (no racial tropes or busty lady-type imagery).

      1. meagain*

        You actually gave me an amazing idea, but I don’t think I’ll be able to get it delivered in time. :( Puzzles are definitely a thing right now. I just thought of an image that would be really cool, almost a collector’s item for our company and they have it on fine art America where you can purchase it as a puzzle for around $30. It would be totally worth it, but unfortunately I did not think of this in time. Thank you though – it gives me an idea for next year!

        One year I bought my partner a pizza puzzle in the round shape of a pizza for us to do together and that made a good gift as well since pizza was a fun thing we made together or took very seriously in determining our toppings!

    18. Gracely*

      A soft sherpa-style throw blanket? You can usually find nice ones for $20ish at TJ Maxx. Those are always super popular at my family’s Christmas swap.

      Other ideas: tiger/animal paw slippers, funny coloring book+nice set of colored pencils, Snoop Dogg’s cookbook, dinosaur taco holders, mini waffle maker + waffle mix

      1. Joielle*

        I gave one of those at a family white elephant a few years back and it was very popular! My sister in law still uses it, lol

    19. Nope, not today*

      Last time we did this at work I went to the hardware store and bought an air plant – one in a pretty wooden dish type thing that could go on a desk. I liked it, and assumed it would pass muster at least (low maintenance office decor, avoiding all the pitfalls of coffee/tea/gift cards/things not *everyone* would appreciate). It was a hit – the most prized gift that got stolen the max number of times. It was a bit unexpected which might be why it was so popular?

    20. Anonymous Luddite*

      Archie McPhee’s – home of all the random stuff you never knew you needed until the exact moment you saw it.

      1. Roy G. Biv*

        I still use my robot pencil sharpener from a $20 Archie McPhee grab bag. It was full of treasures!

    21. Fellow Traveller*

      Someone gave a nerf blaster to the last gift exchange i did and it was highly coveted. Though this definitely falls under “know your workplace!”

    22. Aphrodite*

      RFID Blocking Sleeves: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LDBA28O/ref=ox_sc_saved_image_2?smid=A3CME7OTDHSEKV&th=1

      Rechargeable Flashlight: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0039UE9EG/ref=ox_sc_saved_image_5?smid=&th=1

      For those with cats who love toilet paper and paper towels: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07M6MCF18?ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details&th=1

      Great little bedside clock: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XR712K7?ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details&th=1

      Shoehorn: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07C412KYF?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details

      Paper towels: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08RT1NF23?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details

      Great soft toothbrushes: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E841GIE/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o08_s00?ie=UTF8&th=1

      Keychain flashlight: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZPQMLSV/ref=twister_B0831JXYHC?_encoding=UTF8&th=1

      For mine, also a steal-able Secret Santa, I have put together a $20 box containing four items from Trader Joe’s: a bottle of Vinho Verde, a delicious effervescent wine from Portugal, a box of assorted organic crackers, and two cheeses.

    23. Random Biter*

      The most stolen offering at OldJob’s Christmas get togethers was always scratch off lottery tickets. Always. Even if the person who ended up with them won nothing, I guess it was the thrill of the unknown and possible walking away with the means of walking away for good. Sadly, that never happened the entire 25 years I was there, but one never knows and hope springs eternal.

    24. Anony*

      I vote buy local! I would totally go for a small basket of local foods or a giftcard to a local coffee shop – with the benefit that it helps small businesses in a difficult year.

    25. Robin Ellacott*

      I got one of those umbrellas that folds with the wet part inside for one of our exchanges. It was very popular and much-stolen. (mind you, I live in famously-rainy Vancouver). It was bought from Evil Company Named After a River.

      Those Pinch kits have also been popular – they are a small zippered pouch filled with various things one might need in a pinch, some general (bandaid, sewing kit, lip balm) and some specialized for various occasions.

    26. Haha Lala*

      Lottery scratchers are always fun.
      And my favorite play is to give a small gift, but wrap it in an exceptionally large box, sometimes with extra weights (I saw one this year with landscape bricks!). That always adds a few laughs, even if the gift is unremarkable.

    27. Belle of the Midwest*

      A battery operated wine bottle opener. I first saw one at a convention and had to have one of my own. You can get one on Amazon. the one I have will open 80 bottles before needing to be charged and it charges via USB port.

    28. Xenia*

      Some good white elephant gifts I’ve seen:
      * a desktop mousepad shaped like a cat’s paw
      * a microfiber fleece blanket
      * a small lego set
      * 4 pounds of M&Ms (in two 2lb bags)

    29. Double A*

      I feel like you can’t go wrong with socks. Could be (work appropriate) novelty socks or some nice wool socks. I love it whenever I get a nice pair of socks for the holidays.

    30. AcademiaNut*

      Basic Bar set (cocktail shaker, shot measure, citrus juicer).
      A small lego kit, suitable for displaying on a desk.
      A set of beer glasses
      A nice, sturdy 1/2 L beer stein (I have one of these, and it’s awesome as a beer glass and water glass. It’s almost impossible to tip over).
      Nostalgic kids’ candy set (Nerds, pop-rocks, gobstoppers, pixie sticks, etc)
      A box of old fashioned Christmas candy (the pillows, and cylinders and ribbons)

    31. mreasy*

      I had the idea of two of those wine glasses for picnics that are insulated and have tops too late for my yankee swap this year so I’m giving the idea to you!

    32. SG*

      You could go to Cost Plus which has a great international candy/chocolate/food choices (or even Trader Joe’s!) and put together a box of different/interesting candy and snacks.

    33. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      Booze of varying types was always a hit at my former company. I once wrapped a Heineken mini keg and it kept getting stolen. I stole a tasting pack of scotch whiskey (my husband and I like whiskey, but aren’t always sure what we like). Win-Win.
      Outside of booze, Wawa or Dunkin gift cards are popular in the Philly area along with Eagles or Phillies things.

      1. meagain*

        Booze is a hit at my company too! I’m in South Carolina and one year bought this Carolina Cream rum from a local distillery. It’s a bourbon whiskey, rum, and cream, and better than Bailey’s! It’s absolutely delicious and supported local as well! Even if people aren’t big drinkers, that’s one you can just put in your coffee or hot chocolate. If you can find it at your liquor store, it’s always a hit as a gift – liquid dessert! I have just already done that one! Skrewball Peanut Butter Whisky is also really good, especially for people who aren’t whisky drinkers.

    34. meagain*

      Thank you everyone! So many great ideas. We should recap after the holidays about what the biggest hit item was at all of our exchanges!

  13. Azumi*

    Small victory and long battles:

    I work in a small office adjacent to a much larger office and business. We are separate, but related- we use much of their services like HR, IT, and reception. However, because our space is “private” and nicer in certain ways than other spaces, this leads to people trying to come in and use our office for personal calls, use our bathroom (despite several other, much larger bathrooms on the floor, etc.) I’m pretty much the solo employee on my team using the office space these days.

    I’ve tried to put my foot down on the big things without alienating others in the office, but there are some outrageous incidents. Namely, someone tried to come in while we had an important guest, demanded to use the bathroom, and when refused, said they were going to change into their gym clothes in our conference room (?!?) all within earshot. Thankfully, my boss did speak directly to this person.

    I’ve had people try to correct me about turning lights on and off in different rooms. Someone left an important medication in our fridge, and freaked out when they thought it was missing. I found it, but this should never have happened and we don’t have any accountability. Lately, more and more people have been walking through. I’m tempted to ask them to stop, but I also value this other office’s help and I don’t want to cause trouble down the line if I need a favor. Does anyone have any advice on navigating this type of dynamic?

    (I can’t say I miss WFH full time, but I do not love office dynamics…hybrid forever).

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      Any chance you can have the main door to your space locked, either by key or badge reader? You could pick some kind of privacy/confidentiality/legal/whatever requirement to limiting access to your area. If not, do you have a receptionist who could firmly enforce entry requirements under that same reasoning? (‘Who are you here to meet with / No sorry, this space is solely for employees of Small Business and due to [blah blah] regulations/requirements we have to restrict access.’)

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Sorry, just saw that you are solo – which could make locking it easier. Official looking signage about the ‘restriction’ could help as well.

        1. Azumi*

          So it actually is keycard locked, but reception…is sometimes the problem (conference room changer? Reception.) The keycards work, thankfully, otherwise I can only imagine the deluge!

          These are issues with building staff that have general access for everything. I think I’m going to have to talk to HR about the medicine/new people coming through, to try to stop it going forward.

          1. Momma Bear*

            If there are repeat offenders, can their access be further restricted? Does everyone really need unfettered access to that space or do they really need it only certain hours?

          2. Observer*

            Talk to HR and point out that Reception is being careless in how they are letting people in, so maybe THEY should not have access to the door to your space. There are two separate reasons. One is your safety.

            The other is risk to your organization. The person who threatened to change in your conference room is clearly not someone that you want in your space.

            The medication is even worse. The last thing your organization needs is to have people’s medications in your fridge with absolutely no accountability or any way to keep track of stuff. Could you imagine if that medication had actually gone missing?

            1. Azumi*

              oh, tell me about it. HR was actually present in the medication search and told them that there was no accountability.

              Now that it’s over, I will talk to HR and try to emphasize how we all want to avoid this from happening again….

              The receptionist who tried to strip down in our conference room did get spoken to. It was a true horror story- when it happens, I was thinking that it was straight out of AAM! But it is a bit of a old-school office and people stay there for many years. So I’m treading lightly.

      1. Azumi*

        Ah, just replied above. There is locked keycard access, it’s just that people who have it for other reasons are abusing it.

        1. Generic Name*

          So it sounds like it’s just a few problem people. Have your boss speak to them directly, and if they still won’t stop, loop the offender’s bosses in.

        2. HolidayAmoeba*

          Seems like you need to make it abundantly clear that your office is not just an extension of the other company’s office, but a completely separate business. You may also need to speak to whoever is above the people in reception letting people into your office for minor stuff like wanting a place to change.

    2. Intermittent Introvert*

      Could you also consider some strategic furniture and decor arrangements? Move desks, chairs, big plants, etc. to discourage or redirect movement. Obviously keep safety in mind. It may not influence the more aggressive trespassers, but might curtail some others.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I think upper management needs to step in and spell out the rules for the use of the area. This could be a broadcast email or a general meeting involving everyone.

      This one is tricky. The times I have seen it done, it did not go over well. The group felt divided- those who were allowed regular access and those who were only allowed limited access for specific reasons.

  14. South of the Border*

    How do you deal with coworkers who want to get a reaction out of you? I work with “Fergus” and he seems to always want to either get a rise out of me and/or make me angry about something. He used to talk to me and socialize, but now he’s into the new manager, “Amy.” Whenever I see him, he mentions her name. “Oh, Amy was just back here.” He always hangs out by her desk, etc. Fergus is the office player and has a bit of a reputation, though boss loves him and ignore it. (Fergus is also married, but that doesn’t seem to stop him.) I asked him if he wanted to go to the meeting and he said no, but then later on I heard him ask Amy if she was going and he went with her.

    Fergus and I work together so we have to socialize at least in order to complete our work. I’m trying to ignore his antics, but he’s done this with other women and it’s just annoying. He also badmouths me- I caught him talking about me to a part-time worker and he acted as if I misheard him.

    I asked him for help moving items for a meeting and he made excuses/didn’t go, but he helped Amy set up for a meeting. Wtf?

    Any advice?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      You don’t need to socialize with Fergus, you need to work with Fergus. Ask him for what you need on a work level, and disregard all the petty nonsense. Fergus wanting to go to the meeting with Amy instead of you or hanging out by Amy’s desk instead of yours or helping Amy with meeting setup and not you is silly high-school stuff. Rise above him.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I agree. I would look at it as strictly business with Fergus. If he doesn’t want to go to the meeting with you, then whatever. What I would look for, however, is Amy giving Fergus preferential treatment that affects others/you. Sounds like he’s getting some Boss Face Time, which could be a career strategy for him.

        It might sting that you thought you had a friendlier relationship than you do, but try to just ignore his mentions of Amy unless they are relevant to the job.

        1. South of the Border*

          The thing is that he *can* be very social, when he *wants* to be. The environment is very laid back/relaxed so if I’m formal/uptight, it’s obvious. It’s the mind games that are driving me crazy because one second he acts one way, the next, he’s someone totally different. If I didn’t have to work with him, I would just ignore it, but unfortunately I have to.

    2. Colette*

      Assume Fergus will not help you if there’s another option, and behave accordingly. Don’t ask him for favours; treat him civilly, but don’t try to be friendly.

      I’m also a little concerned that you’re assuming Fergus is hitting on Amy, when he could very well be sucking up because she’s in a position of power.

      1. South of the Border*

        “he could very well be sucking up because she’s in a position of power”- This is true. He does do this.

        Though he did ask Amy if she wanted a hug and has given hugs to others. He’s… very touchy-feely. There were rumors about him and another young female worker meeting for lunch. Not sure if anything happened- none of my business, but people talk and it’s a slippery slope sometimes.

        1. Gander*

          Stop speculating, stop thinking about what this all means, and focus on what you know and what you need to do. It sounds from your comments like you are getting sucked into the high school mentality of these people and that’s not a good look. Your entire second paragraph here is just so irrelevant and gossipy – it’s worrying.

          Rise above this nonsense. You’re better than this (I hope!). Don’t let this stuff take up space, it’s toxic and it will negatively impact your work and your reputation.

          1. South of the Border*

            This is the workplace though- gossipy, rumors, etc. I don’t even know half of it because I’m quiet, keep my head down, and work! There’s more going on than I know or care to know, but it’s difficult to not get sucked into the drama when everyone else is in it.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Agree with Red Reader. Fergus wants to get a rise out of you, and the way to deal with that is to not give him what he wants. Often easier said than done, I know. Maybe use the anthropologist approach? Pretend he’s a different species you are observing, and narrate in your head like a wildlife documentary. “The Fergus pokes his head out of his cubicle. What will the office environment bring today? After a quick check for prowling managers, the Fergus makes his way to Amy’s desk…”

      Stay reasonable polite with him in order to get your work done. If you can/want to chit-chat with him on light subjects (the weather/sports, maybe TV shows/pets), go for it. But nothing wrong with keeping things strictly work with him.

    4. Asenath*

      Forget about Amy, deal with Fergus when you need him to do something related to work, and if he refuses or ignores requests that might be semi-optional – like moving stuff when he’s not employed to do so- work around him like you would any somewhat incompetent and unprofessional co-worker.

      But if he badmouths you, correct him then and there, and if it happens more than once, start keeping records. If he badmouths anyone else in your hearing, say something contradictory (and very brief), like “I always found Sue good to work with” and move on.

      This is a combination of working around the useless types you are always going to encounter, and decreasing the more malicious habits of the backbiter/gossip.

    5. Jean*

      Gray rock. Google it if you’re not familiar. Only speak to this person in a neutral tone and only about work related matters, period.

    6. RagingADHD*

      The thing I find troubling is that you don’t seem to be bothered about Fergus flirting with the boss or hitting on other female co-workers, so much as you are bothered that he *stopped* paying so much attention to you.

      A married, known creeper stopped creeping on you. This is good news. My advice is to take the win, and reset your expectations of what professional, collegial behavior is supposed to be.

      1. Fran Fine*

        All of this. OP, you sound almost jealous of Amy, which is weird because Fergus is completely inappropriate in the workplace. He definitely needs to stop talking crap about you – that you can address when it happens. However, everything else? Let it go.

        1. South of the Border*

          They all love Fergus though and act like he’s the best. That’s what’s driving me crazy. I feel like I see a different version of him than they do. Or he acts differently with them than with me?

          Amy seems to handle things better than I do and seems to handle him with ease or in a way that I wish I could.

      2. South of the Border*

        I know what you’re saying, but it’s difficult to see things clearly when you’re in a messed up situation and no one acts like it’s messed up. I’m working on getting out and will hopefully very soon.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Fergus is an a$$ kisser and a gaslighter.
      You don’t have to socialize to do your work. Socializing is (to me) talking about things other than work. You can limit your conversations to the work itself.

      Because it is kind of in keeping with my personality, in your setting up example, I would just turn and ask Amy for help or ask Amy to assign someone to help you. At some point Amy will figure out that Fergus should be helping you. Here the strategy is focus on getting the job done and what do you need to get your job done. This allows you to think of Fergus as a distant problem.

      In the meeting example, I’d stop asking him to go to meetings. I’d just go on my own. Here the focus is preventing opportunities for him to annoy me some more.

      In the end, I have worked with a few of these people and I have found they made me stronger and sharper. I did more work independently and I grew very resourceful. Because I was handling various things, I was the person in-the-know. People would ask me about this or that as they could not ask my Ferguses because the Ferguses had no clue.

      Focus on being your best professional self and let Fergus play his games as he wishes.

  15. Goose*

    I start a new job on Monday! I’m late to the party with remote job resources, but what has been the most helpful for everyone? I have a desk, and I expect to have a small budget for things to make WFH easier. I already plan to get a second monitor, but what else?

    1. ThatGirl*

      The company may cover some of that or reimburse you for it — I didn’t end up using it, but my company offered to send me a full-size keyboard, second monitor and mouse to use at home and reimburse me up to $100 for home office supplies. So maybe ask your manager or HR about that on Monday.

      1. Xenia*

        My office had a similar policy—you can request the electronics and get a $200 rebate on WFH furniture

      1. Nope, not today*

        THIS. I made it two days on a wooden kitchen chair and could barely move…. I spent more on my chair than I did for a ne w computer or new monitors. Absolutely worth it!

        Also, I bought monitor stands for my monitors – having them at a decent height also helps with posture and ergonomics!!! I got some off amazon, but they have spot that acts as a phone holder, and I can stash notes and supplies under them, so the desk space under the monitors is not completely lost forever.

    2. ENFP in Texas*

      A good chair that fits you and your desk well. Pay attention to the ergonomics – the angle of your hips, back, knees, elbows, shoulders. Get something with multiple adjustment options if at all possible.

      A convenient file cabinet or shelves for supplies. Your desk real estate gets taken up really quickly with stuff you’re working on – I never realized how much stuff I stored on my desk at the office until I moved to work from home and had half the space and no cabinets!

    3. WorkNowPaintLater*

      Either a small all-in-one printer (if you need to print/scan) or a small desktop scanner – I always had something I need to scan to someone. Update your wifi router if you haven’t recently. And a good office chair.

    4. Euphony*

      I’d also recommend a good pair of noise cancelling headphones with microphone. Gives you more privacy on calls if there are other people around your workspace, but also cuts out any external noise. Even if you live alone, your neighbours could suddenly start major building work, there could be roadworks right outside your house etc.

    5. ecnaseener*

      If you have cold hands / bad circulation, and if you can’t keep your home at 73F in the winter like most offices do, fingerless heated gloves are great! I have some that plug into a USB port to heat up.

      1. Quiet Liberal*

        I have to second this! I love WFH, but I get chilly, too. I use fingerless gloves, which do keep my hands warm. I also bought a little oil filled electric radiator-type heater for under my desk. It works great because it’s quiet and keeps the envelope around me cozy without my having to jack up the whole house’s heat. Haven’t seen much of a difference in my electric bill, either.

    6. hamsterpants*

      I sprang for the super-delux wifi speeds and I have never looked back. I can deal with a lot of crap when I’m WFH but flaky internet is just infuriating. The extra $30/mo I’m paying for the fastest internet offered by my ISP is the best-spent money in my budget.

    7. CS*

      I need to make a lot of video calls for my job, so I need stable internet. I got these thingamajigs that connect my computer to the router through the electrical wiring of the house. Powerline adapters? They may have other names. Much more stable than using wifi in the house, I’ve been very happy with the solution.

  16. SurlyGirl*

    Any tips on navigating a relationship with a previous boss who is recruiting you for a new position? An ex-boss of mine (whom I loved working for) recruited me for a position at her current company, where she would be my grandboss. I’m definitely interested (and have continued to be interested as I’ve gone through the interview process), but I’m not 100% sold yet. The process was fast, and I’m meeting with the CEO this afternoon for (presumably) the final step of the process.

    I know she wants me for the job since she’s been giving me some non-public information. I just don’t want her to feel like she put all of her eggs in my basket and then I screwed her over if I don’t take the (currently hypothetical) offer.

    Am I just overthinking this? Should I have kept her in the loop about my thoughts as I went through the process?

    1. Zephy*

      Nah, you gotta look out for your own interests. As long as you’re operating in good faith, what your ex-boss chooses to do with the resources she has available to woo you is her business.

    2. Purple Cat*

      Just because you agree to an interview and to move forward in a process, doesn’t commit you to taking the job.
      My boss just left, and was supposed to work with Former Coworker A. When he told Former Coworker B he was resigning, B mentioned that he had an opening on his team and Boss went to B instead. “A” totally understand that boss had to do what was best for him and it wasn’t personal or anything.

      I would say that you should talk to your ex-boss about your concerns and let her know if you’re going to decline before officially declining. I think she should hear that directly from you and not from her HR person. If they’re not pursuing other candidates at the same time, that is on them and not on you.

    3. BRR*

      You’re over thinking it. Unless the conversation has been “I want you for this role” and you said “great, i will start monday” you’re not screwing her over. If you don’t want the role it’s perfectly fine to say you appreciate her thinking of you for the position but it’s not the right move for you at this time.

    4. Jaybee*

      Interviews aren’t just for the company to evaluate you, they’re also for you to evaluate the company.

      If she gets upset that you went through the interview process and you determined it wasn’t a good fit, that’s an issue with her, not anything you did. After all, if you went through the process and didn’t get hired, would you be angry with her for it? I assume not.

    5. Lady Danbury*

      As long as you’re acting professionally throughout the process, you’re completely fine. The only time I felt like a referral screwed me over was when she was a complete no show for a schedule interview and never followed up. Turns out she had gotten another offer that she liked better and completely ghosted my company. I would have been fine if she had reached out to cancel the interview but just not showing up is completely unprofessional and I felt like it reflected badly on me.

  17. Pool Lounger*

    Does anyone have insight into companies doing “cognitive tests” as part of the hiring process? These are very general online tests that don’t seem to relate to the actual functions of the job. I applied for an assistant librarian position at a community college and had to do a cognitive test that was entirely math and spatial reasoning. My friend applied for a mid-level project management role and had to do a test that was word problems, math, spacial reasoning, and a few other things. We’ve both had multiple jobs and have been in the workforce for decades and have never experienced this before. If you’re applying for a position that’s not entry level and you submit resume and cover letter what exactly is a cognitive test like this telling you as a hiring manager or hr?

    1. Hermione Danger*

      I worked for a company that used these because they said the only wanted to hire the best problem-solvers. They would not even interview anybody who scored below the 92nd percentile, no matter what the position. The great part about it was that our office was full of really smart people who did their jobs really well. The downside was that our office was not particularly diverse because those tests tended to weed out anybody who hadn’t had the advantage of a top tier education.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I bet it weeded out people with certain learning disabilities, too. Just, ugh. (Said as someone who is great at taking tests & find this oh so problematic.)

        1. Badger*

          Yeah this screams disability discrimination to me, but also racism, from what is known about these tests.

    2. Twenty Points for the Copier*

      We used to give these to applicants based on a strong recommendation from a mentor who’s in the same industry. Though this is for an entry-level job that requires a high level of being able to learn new things, handle details, and work quickly. After a few hires (some where we used the tests, some where we didn’t), we’ve stopped using the pure cognitive reasoning test and go with a couple of assessments that are based on actual types of work done in the role.

      I’ve also come to realize that if you feel like you need someone in the 95th percentile of reasoning and quickness to do a support job, you probably actually had someone doing 2-3 jobs and need to hire accordingly.

    3. Zephy*

      When I applied for my current position I had to do a weird test that was like 30% job-specific knowledge, 30% simple math/quantitative reasoning (“here’s a picture of a clock showing a time, where will the hands be after X amount of time” was one of the weirder ones I still remember), and 40% “do you think it’s OK to show up drunk and steal from your employer” type “behavioral” questions. It’s weird for sure.

      1. Zephy*

        edit to add: there is absolutely no situation in this job that demands that i am able to read an analog clock. I can do that thing, but especially in this increasingly-digital world, being able to do that feels like an antiquated skill in the same category as being able to load a film canister to develop photographs (which I can also do, but I have literally never had the need/opportunity to flex that since taking a photo class in high school).

    4. J.B.*

      I had to do a test like that that was really hard for a tech company hiring from colleges. The scuttlebutt from those who knew about the hiring process there was just to see if you persisted to finish.

      My one experience with library hiring was also weird.

      1. Pool Lounger*

        All my other library hiring experiences have been very normal and easy—application, phone screen maybe, interview with a few people, done. The cognitive test was a super weird addition and it made me doubt the company’s ability to properly judge candidates.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        Was it in the Midwest, because I might know which one. (Also locally (in)famous for preferring to hire straight out of college, because people paying off student loans are more OK with no work-life balance for high pay – even though most burn out & leave before their 5-year anniversary when the better benefits kick in.)

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I hate it.

      These exams are coming from companies that exist solely to market the tests to employers as some kind of hiring gimmick. Not only that, it’s ableist to people with learning disabilities and/or anxiety to use these for screening. The potential for discrimination is high—you would have to disclose a disability to request an exemption, which could knock you out of the running.

      If the employers need to test for job competencies, then the tests should be related to the actual work. But I’m going to argue that at mid-level, you shouldn’t need to do any of this. A portfolio or references should suffice. It’s lazy hiring at best and again, discriminatory at worst.

      1. Reba*

        It’s absolutely ableist, and plus it strikes me as… demeaning is too strong a term but it’s not exactly treating candidates with dignity is it — especially when it’s part of time-consuming stuff that is demanded early on in a process.

      2. Fran Fine*

        All of this, but especially your last couple of sentences. P&G has these kinds of tests (I believe for every role), and people I know who work there said they had a friend inside that gave them the answers so they could get around it. Don’t know if that’s totally true or possible, but if it is, serves them right for playing games with job applicants like this when a skills test or portfolio would suffice.

    6. Susan Calvin*

      I just did one of those… almost dropped out of the process on the spot tbh (I didn’t and have now reached the round where actual job related skills are being tested).

      It is *very* bizarre, and I can only imagine it’s supposed to be about attention to detail (mine had a bunch of ‘spot the difference’ type things?) and maybe time management (there was a time limit, and explicit instructions to just move on if you got stuck on any one question)

    7. Environmental Compliance*

      Oddly enough, the only time I’ve had to take one of those was for a retail position with Farm & Fleet when I was in high school (and it was combined with a behavioral test).

      I don’t think it’s worth anything, to be quite honest.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I’ve had to take math tests as a cashier back in the day. But that was to see if I could still check people out & give correct change if the registers went down. (They were all specific to calculating cash transactions.)

    8. Beth*

      “what exactly is a cognitive test like this telling you?”

      It’s telling you, the applicant, that this company doesn’t know what it’s doing when it comes to filling this position.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Amen.
        Sometimes I have had luck by getting off the employment website and going directly to the company’s website. A lot of these ridiculous tests seem to come with employment websites. Just my opinion though, no scientific research going on here.
        But yeah, I took their stupid tests and then crickets. What a waste of time.

  18. Grits McGee*

    How to document how much work goes into a project for performance appraisals?

    I’m not getting the performance rating I think my work deserves, and I’m wondering if part of the problem is that my supervisor doesn’t understand how much work goes into the ad hoc projects I’m working on, especially the # of hours. COVID has severely affected my normal work, so I’ve been essentially making up projects for myself for the past 2 years. And these are big projects- giant analyses of 10,000+ stakeholder comments on regulatory changes, identifying hundreds of obsolete statutes that we still technically have on the books, creating detailed training guides for internal and external customers, etc. Basically tackling all of these huge, monstrous multi-year projects that people had been avoiding for decades because they had no idea where to even start.

    I’ve only been in this position for 2 years, so last year when my performance appraisal was “Very Successful” (2nd highest rating) instead of “Outstanding” (highest rating), the assumption was that no one in their first year would be operating at 100%. But I got another “Very Successful” this year, and my boss couldn’t give me any feedback on areas where I could improve. I’m wondering if I’m making things look too easy- I gave my boss metrics on how many comments I analyzed, but not that it took me 300 hours and we would have paid six figures for eDiscovery software to do the same thing. I think the # of hours helps to explain how big/complex projects are, but I also don’t want to give the impression that I think I deserve a higher rating because of effort, rather than results.

    What do you think? Would including the # of hours a project took explain how awesome I am at my job better than just talking about final results?

    1. Old worker*

      Your boss may not be able to give out an outstanding. At one job they listed how to get an outstanding was to “change the way the company does business” which ment it had to go beyond your department and beyond even your operating area of the business, so while its technically possible to get that outstanding, it’s practically impossible.

      1. Grits McGee*

        It’s certainly possible; this is a new-ish position in an organization I’ve been with for several years. I got the highest possible rating every year in every other position I’ve held at this org, but it may be that my new office is different.

    2. Colette*

      I’d suggest sending your manager weekly reports – what you did, what issues you ran into, how you solved them, etc. I think sustained communication will be more effective than doing it once at performance appraisal time.

      But it’s also important to understand that, in many places, it’s really rare to get the highest rating, so it might not make a big difference.

    3. Eden*

      I really relate to this – I’ve often felt like something was wrong when I don’t get the highest possible ratings. But “very successful” sounds perfectly respectable for someone who is doing a good job. Unless you know others are getting “outstanding” with less effort or impact of course.

      1. Grits McGee*

        Yeah, I’ve been having a hard time gauging my performance against what other people in my office are doing. I mentioned above that before I transferred to this office, I had several years of only Outstanding ratings for doing much lower-complexity work. (We weren’t allowed to address any long standing problems, like I am in my current office.) And the fact that none of these projects are my core job is definitely a complicating factor.

        1. Eden*

          Ah, that does put it in a different light for sure. Do you have a good enough rapport with anyone on your new team who you could discuss ratings with?

          1. Grits McGee*

            I think I could, if I did it delicately- that’s a really good idea! In my previous offices people got weird about performance ratings and I didn’t want to get involved with drama discussing it, but I think I unfairly brought that baggage into this new office where people are much more professional.

    4. PostalMixup*

      At my company, we get letter grades. Most people get an “A.” A select few who had a really good year get a “AA.” The only “AAA” I know of was the year my supervisor was awarded a patent for a very hot product that ended up making multi-million dollar sales and spawned an entire field of technology. My first year I had to ask how much grade inflation there was to know how to evaluate myself, because how would you know otherwise?

  19. Not_Kate_Winslet*

    This is a dumb and low-stakes question about Facebook. I manage a small team (less than 10). Pre-managing them, I was peers with several of them. Accordingly, I was Facebook friends with a handful of them. I finally got my act together and unfriended all of them as well as anyone else from my job who I have org chart authority over. My question – do I need to mention anything about it? I am not particularly active on Facebook regardless, so they may not even notice, but I do have some faint emotions about “ghosting” them on social media…

    1. Mid*

      I would highly doubt they’d notice, and if they do, they’ll probably be relieved that their manager won’t see their posts.

      1. londonedit*

        This. For part of lockdown last year I went off Facebook having been fairly active, and friends did notice and message to check I was OK (because they were friends, rather than colleagues, and because Covid was still new, etc). Then I sort of went back on it over the winter, but mainly read rather than posting, and then this summer I gave the whole thing up again and haven’t even looked at it since July. No one has noticed – or if they have, they’ve probably just thought ‘oh, she’s taking a break again’. If anyone does ask, that’s all you need to say – ‘Oh yeah, I haven’t been on there for ages now’. But I’m sure most of them won’t even notice – the algorithm is so crap that half the time I wasn’t seeing my friends’ posts anyway!

    2. Elle Woods*

      There’s no need to mention it. If they do notice and mention it to you, you can say something along the lines of wanting to keep personal and professional lives separate.

    3. ENFP in Texas*

      Don’t mention it, but if someone asks why, tell them. “I didn’t feel it was appropriate to be Facebook Friends with the folks that I manage, because I didn’t want there to be any concern about favoritism in the department.”

    4. Lana Kane*

      I didn’t mention it when I did it. No one asked me about it, I assume they understood or just didn’t notice. But if I had been asked I would have just explained that having them on social media wasn’t appropriate any longer. One person actually unfriended me before I got to them, and he didn’t give me a heads up either.

    5. RagingADHD*

      No, don’t say anything unless they ask. If they do ask, just say you realized that in your position you need to keep personal and professional stuff separate.

      Anyone who is bothered about it just proves the point that this kind of stuff doesn’t belong in work relationships.

  20. Mid*

    I think I’m burning out, and I’m dropping a lot of balls at work. Like, I realized I marked something as done that was very much not done for the last month. I worked until 11pm last night because I needed to double check everything I’ve done for the last month to make sure I didn’t mess up anything else (I work in the legal field where mistakes are a VERY big deal.)

    I know I need more help, and my firm has agreed to finally hire another admin…after the holidays. And they can’t decide if the new person will be FT or PT, temp or permanent, what things they’ll let the new admin do vs keep on my plate…it’s a lot.

    But, my question is: how do you keep up when work is overwhelming? What systems can you put in place that won’t massively slow you down but will help make sure you don’t forget things?

    My current system is 1. Flagging emails in my outlook and checking them off when they’re done and 2. Tracking spreadsheets for deadlines for complicated things. And usually it works fine, except the major thing I forgot for a month.

    1. SallyAnne*

      I have an excel doc that includes information on exactly where each project is in development. It includes the client, the project, the next deadline, the date it was last touched and who is currently responsible for it, my last action on it and next steps. Things that are in my court are highlighted in yellow (or orange if they are a higher priority), dates I’m expecting something back are in purple, and things that are not mine to address at the moment aren’t highlighted. Every project I’m responsible for is on that document. And if something has multiple moving parts, each part has its own row. They don’t leave that doc until the project has closed, even if my part is completely done. I’m on too many teams on too many projects with too many different project managers to not be tracking this stuff as closely as possible.

    2. Combinatorialist*

      Something that has really helped me has been separating the list of all things I need to do and the things I want to do today/this week. I need the list of all things because otherwise stuff falls through the cracks. But looking at it every day is overwhelming and I end up getting a lot less done.

      So I have a list of the next steps of all my projects and then every Monday, I sit down, go over my list, and make a tentative todo list for each day of the week. I try to pack all my meetings in Monday to Wednesday and leave Thursday and Friday mostly open for technical work (I need time to really dig into something).

      This has been really helpful and also creates artificial deadlines that help me when I don’t have anything pressing.

    3. Fellow Traveller*

      I still use a paper planner and paper wall calendar- I find my brain works better with tactile to do lists. And super priority tasks get written on a post it and stuck on my monitor. I’m very much and out of sight/out of mind person, so i need things staring me in the face.
      Also- deadline reminders set in my calendar.

    4. TiredEmployee*

      The thing that’s helped me is using a single task-tracking location, putting *everything* on it, but filtering it to just what’s relevant for the next week. The easiest for me is Outlook tasks, not just flagging emails but recurring “business as usual” tasks, things people ask for in meetings or via Teams, things I randomly remember being difficult and how they’d be made easier, individual tasks for individual steps in a much longer process etc., putting as much detail in the description box as I can and assigning dates to everything so it will eventually pop up in my “this week” list in the Outlook pane.

      I tell everyone to put their requests in writing, preferably email, and will absolutely stop what I’m doing to add a task if I remember it in the middle of something else because I cannot be trusted to remember it again later.

    5. Jaybee*

      You can set up your Outlook such that you have to manually mark emails as ‘read’. I’ve found this works for me better than futzing around with tags, especially because it’s easy to sort by ‘unread’ emails and pull those to the top.

      1. Ginger Baker*

        I do this too, it’s super helpful. I also keep one folder for “Processed” which holds pretty much everything that came into my inbox (i.e. didn’t get pre-filtered with Rules to a specific folder, e.g. my Fedex emails) that I have done whatever I needed to on (either an action, or just filed if there was no action to take). So anything in my inbox are items I still need to take an action on.

    6. Corporate Minion*

      I’ve started using the remind feature in Outlook. You can schedule when the reminder comes through and then I can snooze it if needed. That helps ensure I follow up

  21. Emei*

    Anyone want to share thoughts on moving from a creative role/industry to something more administrative? I’m in a copywriter/brand strategist at a small agency and deadly tired of the dysfunctional office environment. And also of needing to keep track of billable hours and working for global companies with questionable ethics. I have an interview next week for a administrator role at the local uni, focused on supporting a social sciences research environment with organising meetings, communication and networking/collaboration. No idea if I’ll even get an offer, of course, but somewhat nervous I’d get bored.

    1. OyHiOh*

      I’m an admin/office manager for an economic development district. When I took the job, I was certain I was going to be bored out of my skull within a year. Surprisingly, I’m not! I get to do communications for our office, as well as traditional office manager tasks. My organization is small enough that sometimes, I need to fill in for other job titles and present at public meetings, attend events that our org needs to have representatives at, and so on. It’s not a saving the world one program at a time, kind of job but our org does valuable work in the region and I can easily see how the role I fill helps to accomplish the organization’s mission.

  22. Badger*

    What has been your favorite job and why? Could be specific tasks or something entirely different about it – I’d like to know!

    I’m currently job searching and kind of struggling to find something that actually sounds enticing, so I would like to hear other people’s experiences, even if it is a completely different field.

    1. Pool Lounger*

      I was a cataloger at a library and mostly dealt with older and rare books. Many people would hate it, and before I started other librarians told me the work was boring, but I really enjoyed it. I especially loved one job, where I worked all alone in a vault if books. No coworkers around me, just books. Basically heaven in a job.

    2. SallyAnne*

      Teaching college freshmen. I loved watching them become fully themselves as they navigated from childhood to adulthood, from living by family and community expectations to who they wanted to be. I learned so much teaching those classes.

    3. Zephy*

      Best job I ever had was adoptions coordinator for an HSUS animal shelter. I was a professional kitty wrangler (and occasional puppy snuggler – one year I was scheduled to work on my birthday, but it was OK because I got pulled in to help socialize some chowchow/GSD/mutt puppies that were the roliest and poliest little babbus you can imagine), and I got to spend my time helping people #adoptdontshop and educating the public about something I’m interested in (animal behavior). It was not very sales-y, which is good because that is 100% my weakest area – when they switched from a set adoption fee to a name-your-price “donation” model I was consistently near the bottom of the rankings for donations solicited because I’m just not good at that.

      I left because I needed to fund my raging “sleeping inside and eating regularly” habit, but other than the pay it was an awesome job.

    4. Nope, not today*

      I always go for a job that offers some variety. I’ve been very lucky in having either a job that involved different things by nature (like the CPA firm – I did taxes, bookkeeping, payroll, A/P), or that I’ve been able to expand my role by taking on extra work when I had downtime, getting exposure to different tasks and departments that provided me variety. Doing the same tasks every single day with no change is something I cannot deal with. So I lean into the variety to keep me interested and engaged (I’m coming up on 9 years with my current company, and I definitely would have gotten bored long ago if I had a more narrow role here).

      1. Badger*

        Thanks to everybody who answered so far, these are great to read!

        Nope, not today: I’m definitely similar, I like to switch it up and also be busy (but not too busy). I guess the part where I went wrong in my current job is that I let people talk me into roles that I actually don’t enjoy that much because I was “so good” at the other stuff. Time to regain my focus.

    5. Asenath*

      I had an office admin job in a post-secondary institution. I took it on a temporary basis because nothing was coming up in the field I was targeting at the time, and for a while afterwards, and I needed an income. It turned out I really liked it. There was a lot of variety, I was able to use my initiative to set up processes to get things done and schedules and it was just the right balance of other people – a small number of co-workers in my immediate department, a small number of faculty who were practically never in their offices and who gave directions and then left me to work out what to do, and no contact the large numbers of the general public and some with a subset of students. A lot of people hate that type of job – some because it was rather amorphous at times; you really needed to take initiative; some because they absolutely abhorred scheduling, which I thought was like working out a puzzle. Oh, I was frustrated and irritated at times – no job is perfect – but overall I liked it a lot, and infinitely preferred it to the better-paying and higher level type job I spent the second longest period of my working life at.

      1. HE Admin*

        I also had an admin job at a higher ed institution. It was my first job out of college and I LOVED it. I am a very nosy person and love to know what’s going on with everyone, and an admin DEFINITELY gets all of that behind-the-scenes knowledge. Also my supervisor was awesome and sometimes our staff meetings involved drinking champagne in her office for the final part of the afternoon.

    6. Buni*

      Depends on whether you want intellectually-challenging or just…pay me. One of the best jobs I worked was – without going into excess detail – one where I was given a physical goal (making stuff,), a deadline for when it had to done, and then was just…left alone.

      The place was open 6am-midnight seven days a week, so if you wanted to pull a 3-day rager to finish then take the rest of the week off, fine. If you had to fit around childcare etc., fine. If you felt bleah and only wanted to work 3hrs a day, fine. I very much liked being able to work my own hours.

    7. Pumpkin Party*

      I’ve realized my favorite jobs have been WAY more about the environment than about the actual job duties. My favorite job allowed me to work remotely most days of the week and involved lots of home visits with clients, so I was rarely in the office. I also liked that there was freedom to have flex time with little hassle–as in, if I met with a client for 3 hours on a Saturday, I just made sure it was on my calendar and sent an email to my supervisor telling them I was leaving whenever I decided to flex those 3 hours. I didn’t need to ask permission to do things, I had responsive coworkers and supervisors, and we had regular staff meetings to check in with progress and to provide updates. It was also a state government job, so the PTO was pretty decent and the benefits were good. (I’d still be there if the program hadn’t ended!)

      My other favorite job was working at a refugee resettlement agency. I loved getting to know people from all over the world and from so many different backgrounds. But even in that job I realize that I loved how flexible it was–sometimes you had to pick clients up at the airport at 10:30pm, so then you got to flex your time whenever it worked for you within the pay period. The work was different every day, and nothing was ever boring! I also had an amazing boss that was approachable, gave good feedback, and really helped me understand boundaries and appropriate workplace behavior (it was my first non-food job out of college). Also, this job had me constantly out of the office working with clients, so, again, not having to be in the office more than a couple of hours a day seems to be important to me!

      All of my post-college jobs have been in the educational or social work fields, and honestly I’ve realized that I don’t really care much about what the day-to-day tasks are, as long as the job conditions/perks are right. I’ve also gotten less enthusiastic about “helping people” over the years, although it is still fulfilling sometimes.

      Good luck in your job search!

      1. Badger*

        Thank you!

        Though I don’t necessarily need to help people, jobs that seem to have a purpose appeal to me. On the other hand… money

    8. T. Boone Pickens*

      I worked as a greenskeeper at a golf course in college. Sure, the schedule was a bit screwy (really early AM starts as you can imagine) but I loved working outside, had good coworkers and I loved the meticulous nature of the job. The money was…not great haha but it was a terrific college job!

    9. Overeducated*

      Urban park ranger! I got to do a lot of reading and research to develop programs, tell stories to people who were excited to be there and talk about history, and get plenty of exercise walking around the city, and my coworkers were just a joy. (Sadly, it was seasonal without benefits.)

    10. Yesterday's Jam*

      This is a fun question! In general my favorite is the one that’s paying the bills right now, lol.

      I once worked in a cheese shop. Every customer was happy to be there, a lot of cheese was sampled, and I learned something new literally every day. And hey, no one ever complained about moldy product. I know, I’m not funny. :P

      If I had the opportunity to do something like that again, I like to think I’d jump for it.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      My favorite job ever was receptionist/office clerk in a materials testing lab. The job was part-time with no benefits and only paid minimum wage but it worked around my school schedule. Not something that would be sustainable for me now, but it did have several desirable elements I look for in more lucrative/stable roles.

      It involved checking in samples using chain-of-custody procedures, records maintenance, and report production. I also did various Igor tasks around the lab: sample disposal, washing glassware (including some kind of weird, bulbous thing I was terrified of breaking since it cost $$$), monitoring the temperature of sample refrigerators, watering the plants, and preparing sample bottles with acid for clients. I even learned to do water pH tests when samples came in after lab personnel had left for the day—those had to be done right away before the sample degraded. Watching stir bars whiz around made me happy, lol. (I wish I didn’t have dyscalculia; I would have been a scientist for sure.)

      Oh man, I loved it. Desirable elements included:
      -Variety!
      Usual samples were soil and water from building or remediation sites and paint and oil samples for the railroad. Sometimes more unusual ones would come in. Once we got rocks from a bridge project on the Osage River. I took home the discarded samples and used them in my planters for years. Another time, we got meth water cops had poured over a guy during an arrest at the airport.
      -Casual workplace.
      No blue jeans but colored jeans, a thing a the time, were acceptable. I had red, green, black, and khaki. :)
      -Genuinely nice coworkers.
      We were a small team who liked and respected each other. We often shut the office and walked to a nearby bar that had amazing sandwiches for lunch.
      -Training.
      They recognized that I couldn’t possibly know everything and were willing to teach me. Nobody seems to do that anymore. *eyeroll* This was the workplace where my predecessor left detailed procedural documents, thus inspiring me to write them for every subsequent job and develop an actual skill.
      -Reasonable bosses.
      In December 2000, we had 18 inches of snow in one day; my supervisor called me and told me to stay home.
      -The ability to have a little fun.
      The person who plowed during the giant snowpocalypse left a huge pile out back that didn’t melt until May. We went out a few times at lunch and played on it. We also pranked each other harmlessly with a rubber rat in the fridge and a cardboard cut-out of Frankenstein’s monster we moved around the office. Someone gave one of my coworkers a stuffed duck. His name was Bertram. We added him to the org chart, and I made a little desk for him out of a shoebox and a little felt coat. When we shut down, she gave me the duck. I still have him. I also have two pothos plants from that lab; I have no idea how old they are but they’re still going! Oh yeah, I have the rat too. :)

      If the job had been full-time with benefits, better pay, advancement opportunities and the lab hadn’t shut down, I might still be there.

    12. The Smiling Pug*

      My job at summers and holidays during college was demonstrating how to make crayons with vintage machinery. I love performing, but the position was very part-time and the pay wasn’t that great. I eventually transferred to doing admin, but part of me still misses that feeling of watching eyes light up when people are engaged.

    13. Flower necklace*

      I really enjoy my current job in public education (high school). I know a lot of people shudder at the thought of being a teacher, but I like the fast pace. I’m fully engaged when I’m teaching, so the hours fly by. I also really like everyone in my department and work at a school with a very supportive and empathetic admin team.

    14. Fran Fine*

      My favorite job of all time was when I was a librarian assistant in college. I had great coworkers that I (mostly) enjoyed, the ability to read or do homework or stream video during work (as long as I paid attention to patrons when they came up to the circulation/reserve desks and helped them in a timely fashion, I could do what I wanted according to management), and I was very good at shelving the books and developing/implementing new checkout procedures that I think are still in place to this day. It was a dream job – I was busy, but not too busy – and I had enough downtime to enjoy myself during the day.

      But my current job as a communications manager is a coming in as a close second. Sure, there are tedious day-to-day tasks my boss asks me to do around tracking metrics that I don’t particularly enjoy; however, I manage the most important program in the company and I developed the process and procedures for it, so I’m getting a lot of visibility in the C-suite that’s leading to other great opportunities for me. Plus, my manager also makes sure I get to do the fun design tasks I like (building and designing our colleague portal for starters), so I’m never bored.

    15. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I worked in a small museum making things for exhibits, moving objects around, talking with tribal representatives about the stuff in our collections, and so on. It was just a student work study job but I loved it.

    16. Anon for this*

      I love being a CFO at small, growing companies, as long as the founder(s) isn’t a lunatic. I get to have such a huge span of influence, and understand everything about the company and product. I get to be involved in HR, IT, sometimes facilities, in addition to all the accounting and finance things. I usually get to do multiple systems implementations and all kinds of process improvements that lets me work with everyone in the company. I just love the variety!

    17. Diatryma*

      Two contenders:

      Grading short-answer responses on statewide standardized tests. It was four hours of evening work after I got back from subbing with the school district, paid per response graded, the computers had had their clocks removed for quality of life reasons (I really appreciated that) and it was a sort of mental throughput job. I was absolutely amazing at it. I read fast, react quickly, can read terrible handwriting and interpet creative spelling (working with kids is a big help there), and being paid a quarter per response added up to a hundred dollars an hour or so some days. I was praised and made a quarter of my (admittedly pathetic) annual income in three weeks.

      Working with disabled young adults in a school-district program for job and life skills. Very different– pittance pay, lots of trying to explain tasks and adapt either instructions or the tasks themselves for the students, tons of time in the community, including travel time, lots of social modeling and breaking down how people work. I liked it for the mental workout and how it trained me to evaluate tasks and instructions for each person. Okay, so a student can’t hang shirts right now– how do we fix that? What’s the problem? Oh, we need a jig to lay it out flat. Another student needs help understanding what ‘shoulders straight’ means. And I got to know a lot of nonprofit folks in the community, since that’s where we got most of our job training.

      In both cases, knowing that I was doing a Good Job was really important. I thrive on praise and recognition. The money matters, too– I’d still be at the second job if it paid a living wage.

  23. sassafras*

    This is too vague for a real question and is partially just a vent, so hurrah open thread! tl;dr how have you handled extreme scope creep in small companies, and how did it go?

    I’m trying to figure out how to best ask for a) reduction in scope creep and/or b) higher pay at a job that I intend to leave in the next year. I work for a very small company and was hired in an analyst position, but as is common, as the most tech-savvy person I have also become the IT manager/sysadmin and a junior developer. I’m certainly an amateur at these latter two roles but things have escalated well beyond teaching people how to post on WordPress – I develop applications in a variety of languages for internal and client use and I manage purchasing, deployment and support for work-issued laptops and software, among other things. I am the only person who is capable of doing this kind of work at the company, afaik.

    At first I thought this was run-of-the-mill small company stuff, especially since I generally like doing these things, sometimes more than what I was actually hired to do! But I’m increasingly disgruntled with the demands on my time and the level of task-switching that occurs from basically having three different jobs that I’m supposed to be professionally competent at that don’t intersect with one another. I also think that in trying to be kind, my boss is assigning less actual research work to me because I am busy with these other tasks, which isn’t great given that I’m looking to move on and would like to have more recent accomplishments on my resume (of course, I wouldn’t pitch it this way…)

    Ultimately I think the only way to solve this is to leave, which I’m planning to do when my contract is up in the summer. But in the meantime, I can’t tell if my focus should be to get more money and milk the company’s reliance on me for all its worth, or try to set and enforce boundaries to be less annoyed with life and have a better portfolio. I’m a little uncomfortable with the first because I think I’m paid fairly or overpaid for an analyst in my position and I wonder if asking for more money will further encourage my boss to think of me as professional IT, but I’m not even sure if the second is possible. Any success (or horror?) stories from anyone who went through something similar?

    1. Badger*

      I would make this decision based on what you want to accomplish in the mid- and longterm and not the short term. There surely is money to be made in IT, but if you actually want to stay an analyst and get analyst roles in your job search, I would definitely put your focus back on that – especially on getting and completing work tasks that correspond with this role.
      This can mean things like making absolutely sure that you are not volunteering (or let yourself be volunteered) for additional unrelated tasks. You will probably not get out of the IT parts now, but you can make a decision for yourself that you won’t spend more than x hours per weeks on this and if you get handed more tasks in that regard, let people know that it will take longer. If people are unhappy with that, point out that you should be cross-training or hiring somebody for this IT stuff, to be safe in case you get sick or plain because the volume is getting too much to be handled by you as a “side job”.

      1. sassafras*

        I wish I knew! It’s challenging to sort out whether my greater enjoyment of these the IT/CS tasks over the analyst work is mostly because the analyst work is getting crowded out by this other stuff, or if I should really look at switching fields. I do have a graduate degree related to the analyst work (paid for by this employer) so it might be a weird look.

        Setting an hourly goal is a great idea, and maybe even better if I can bring it up at year-end review to say concretely, I’m spending XYZ hours a week on IT, what can we do about that?

    2. Zephy*

      I don’t think you can ask for both a reduction in responsibilities and more pay at the same time. If you don’t want to pivot into IT/CS more generally as a career, and would rather show more accomplishments in your analyst role, focus on trying to get the IT stuff off your plate.

      1. sassafras*

        You’re right, that probably should be an “or”, not an “and/or” – though I’ve been thinking of it as a potential “and” because I’m not convinced that a reduction in responsibilities would stick (very small company and I can’t dip out until the summer contractually). But it’s good for me to be reminded that my boss probably won’t see it that way.

  24. Voodoo Priestess*

    I have a young engineer that I’m over-seeing/training and it’s…not going well. This is not the first young person I’ve done this with, but this is the first time I’ve encountered someone so defensive and resistant to feedback that I’ve seen no progress in the 8 months we’ve been working together. I’m not their supervisor but I’m responsible for their work on this project. After noting several patterns of behavior, I did talk to their supervisor and we came up with a plan where Supervisor would address the feedback issue and I would tackle the actual technical feedback.

    Well, that conversation went off the rails and turned into huge drama. After the “feedback” conversation, I received a highly defensive, 6-paragraph long email being defensive about all of the feedback they’ve received. *Face palm* Things were escalated, more conversations happened and we were hopeful they would turn things around.

    Fast forward to this week and it’s all the same BS. They’re not following through on tasks, making the same (repeated) mistakes, getting super defensive, and now they are questioning my judgment. I’m documenting all of this, but what else can I do?

    For additional context, I have 15 years experience and I’m an expert on the niche software we’re using. I have a MS and I’m heavily credentialed. The engineer had a PhD but less than 2 years of experience and no licenses/credentials and previous managers have had difficulties with this person. They are also from a culture with defined hierarchies, so I think there may be some cultural issues at play.

    Any suggestions other than document everything (and bang my head against my desk)? I’m not in a position to enforce any consequences, I can only provide my opinion to the official supervisor (along with my documentation).

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      Agree, continue to document. If you haven’t already, I would also say something like, “I am increasingly concerned that these issues are not coachable/fixable and that we may need to be looking at a plan to transition Fergus out.”

      (And also, I feel you on the email! Had a similar conversation with an employee recently and got a 7 page (single spaced!!!) reply.)

      1. Voodoo Priestess*

        That was what I was thinking. We had the conversation and it’s like they’re doubling down in the defensiveness. I talked with our PM (not the supervisor) and told him that I felt this would not be a good fit long term, given the feedback issue (and mediocre performance). I think I’m going to put some additional notes in my documentation to show the behavior got worse after the initial conversations. I want to give them time to improve, but holy shit, one week out and now they’re questioning my technical judgment, when I’m one of the company’s experts? Their lack of self awareness is amazing.

        1. Jean*

          Keep in mind that all the time in the world isn’t going to make a difference if this person doesn’t believe that they need any improvement, and if they aren’t willing to put any effort into improving. (Which it sounds like they aren’t.) I would go ahead and make peace with the idea that this isn’t going to work out, and more time/more of the same efforts from you aren’t going to solve this problem. The mindset from here needs to be “how best to transition this person out of this role”.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Can you talk to the new hire’s supervisor (or maybe your own supervisor, whoever the appropriate person is) and ask if the new hire can be transferred off your project? They won’t be your problem anymore, and it might make it clearer to management just how much they aren’t working out.

      1. Voodoo Priestess*

        We’ve already discussed that. The problem is that we’re slow at the moment, so there’s not a lot to transition them to. I’m not trying to foist the problem on someone else, either. But I am certainly looking forward to wrapping this up and being done with them!

        1. Observer*

          Well, maybe the next step should be to transition him OUT.

          In any case, getting his manager to deal with this is not “foisting the problem on someone else”, it’s getting the appropriate person to deal with an issue that is well within their scope.

          I would also make sure that your manager, not just the PM is in the loop and knows what’s going on.

        2. WellRed*

          It’s still a waste of your time. I assume you shared the email rant? If you’re responsible for the work itself, it might be worth pressing again or at least frame how this works in the future if it happens again. Hang in there.

    3. Observer*

      For additional context, I have 15 years experience and I’m an expert on the niche software we’re using. I have a MS and I’m heavily credentialed. The engineer had a PhD but less than 2 years of experience and no licenses/credentials and previous managers have had difficulties with this person. They are also from a culture with defined hierarchies, so I think there may be some cultural issues at play.

      Um, I hate to jump to this, but are you a woman or POC?

      1. Mid*

        That was my first thought as well. Or they’re someone who spent too long in academia and thinks that a PhD means you’re a genius and everyone else is lesser. (No offense to academics here, not everyone is like that, but there is a certain group of PhDs who seem to think this way.)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Suggestions:
      –Tell your boss and/or their boss that this person is not teachable. Cite examples of inability to stop making the same mistakes for eight months.
      Make sure you point out that you have never encountered a trainee this obstinate. You do not believe things will ever change because the trainee would have remedied by now.

      –Ask your boss to be relieved of training duties for this person. Explain that you have gone as far as you can go. Make sure the boss reads the 6 paragraph rant.
      I had super good luck in a parallel situation. I was working retail. The trainee would arrive for work and go to a particular spot in the store. The trainee would stand in that spot for the entire shift. I asked her to do things, she flat out refused. I don’t think she ever rang up a sale. Anyway, unlike your boss, my boss thought I was just making this all up. So I said, “Okay you take her then and see what you can do.” The boss worked with her one night and she was fired at the end of her shift.
      You have been working with this person for eight months, and it looks like they have been there longer than that because you say that he has had problems with others. It’s okay to point out that no one seems to be able to extract anything productive out of this person.
      Barest minimum I would asked to be relieved from training this person. They are not teachable.

  25. ChemAnon*

    my company is “very family oriented” yet offers no parental leave.

    any way to tactfully say “I need this or I am leaving”? or should i just leave

    1. Corporate Minion*

      I think it is worth telling them in the chance they’ll add it.
      Maybe point out ‘very family oriented’ should include parental leave and that is something you want?

        1. urguncle*

          “As our new benefits year approaches, I’m wondering what [company] is considering to keep people, especially those who have or want to start families* in the workforce.” If they hem and haw and say essentially we’re doing nothing, you have your answer. If they answer back, but it’s all just fluff that means “we’re happy to support you if you want to show up at work 2 days after giving birth,” you may want to mention in a competitive landscape right now, it may be worth looking into those options.

          * I recognize that “family” doesn’t necessarily mean raising children, but in this context it would be as a euphemism to say instead of “I want to know if I can get pregnant and keep my job.”

          1. Pop*

            Oh I think this is way too soft! You need to ask directly: “I would love to see (company) offer parental leave.” Because your company is smaller (doesn’t quality for FMLA), it may honestly not have come up before. Often people go into these conversations ready to have to get in an argument, but the company is happy to offer the 12 weeks, despite not formally following FMLA.

    2. Pop*

      It doesn’t hurt to ask! Their response will be helpful either way. Do you mean time off at all (if they don’t fall under the requirements for FMLA), or paid leave? If it’s paid leave, asking for something like that would be a big decision for them to change – they’d have to offer it across the board and not just to you – and so it seems unlikely, unless you’re in a pretty senior position.

      1. ChemAnon*

        Time off at all. I have STD and that’s it – they don’t qualify for FMLA.

        It’s just frustrating that my husband gets more time off for a new kid at his job than I do.

        Any ideas for how to ask?

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      Truly, one of my proudest work accomplishments was getting paid parental leave for my company. I framed it as, “We say that we value our employees and we’re a mission-driven organization focused on improving people’s lives. Paid parental leave is a critical part of living up to our mission and values.” I had a conversation with our CEO where we did some back of the envelope calculations and he took it back to HR/finance. A few months later, the policy rolled out. I remain amazed that speaking up made such a difference. (For reference, my company has about 5,000 employees and prior to this change, all you got was STD/PTO/unpaid leave.)

      1. Moth*

        This is also one of the things I’m proudest of at work as well. I can’t say that I was the only one to request it (and I didn’t take quite the same route you did), but I’m still confident it made an impact. My company also touts its family values and so anytime we had a company-wide meeting or surveys went out, I brought it up every time as a concern. I phrased similarly, but also included a lot of data about overall health benefits for parents and children when paid parental leave is provided. It probably took two years, but eventually I was invited to a roundtable with the CEO and some others where they wanted to brainstorm ways they could help parents (which says something else about how anonymous all of those anonymous questions I submitted really were…). About 6 months after that, they announced they would be adding 12 weeks of paid leave for primary parents and 6 weeks for secondary parents. I know it may not come in time to help you, but if you’re willing to stick it out and make it a point you’re willing to stick with, you might be able to help make a change that will help a lot of others.

  26. Anonys*

    Hey AAM readers – I have a rather detailed question but google and my own colleagues have only been of limited help so far so thought to ask this resourceful community.

    I’m wondering what kind of software would be most suitable for a certain kind of status reporting we do. Basically, we have a process where:
    – one person has to filll out a range of questions (about 30) – some are yes/no questions but most also have at least the option to add comments or elaborate why somthing might not be applicable (this part we are currently doing in MS forms. We used to do this in excel or pdf but found that people were skipping questions and you can make them mandatory in forms).
    – then 4 other people, all with different roles, will see the result of the questionaire, assess whether it matches with their own information and are also asked 2/3 questions as well.
    – there are about 40 people who have to fill out to fill out these status report forms and then consequently four times are many who have to check the forms.

    The process at the moment is highly manual as we have to collect the forms and then distribute them and collect the individual responses. Most of our time is spent chasing people and checking what has been done. It would be great if there were a platform where this could be done automatically, eg. where filling out the questionaire/report and assessing it could happen on the same platform.

    I feel like a lot of tools, such as power automate, are focused on creating great graphics out of data – but thats not really something we need, we just need to facilitate the communication between the different interfaces.

    Any help would be appreciated!

    1. Not a Name Today*

      We had some workflow processes and we used a form Sharepoint. If you really, really get into the functionality, there are lots of workflow options. But you have to put a ton of effort into setting up the rules.
      There are probably other workflow systems that would work better, but if you are desperate, it’s an option.

      1. nym*

        Yes, we’re in the middle of a similar change, using linked forms inside a sharepoint list with a set of workflows driven by the data in the list. Each task may take up to two years to complete the process and we use the forms to track where in the process it is and what the next step needs to be. It’s things like “if Box A is checked, ask Person to complete questions 2-5. If Task B is completed, send email to Person letting them know the widget is ready for task C. If Date D is today and field F is not marked complete, inform Person that they have a due date today.” I’ve taken all of the output we’re getting from that and built a set of reports and PowerBI dashboards that our supervisors can use to track progress on the widgets and performance for the Persons.

        It’s taken us about a year to get up and running as probably a 20% time project. We had a dedicated SharePoint developer to do the actual form development and workflows, because of the permissions and access restrictions we have at the enterprise level. At a smaller organization, I could have done it myself with some trial-and-error and google-fu.

        My 20% of the project was mapping workflows, setting parameters for data fields, and doing mockups for data entry forms, which require subject matter expertise that our sharepoint developer didn’t have. That’s fair, it’s not her job to be an expert in my field! It’s her job to be an expert at the technology tools, and pair that up with my expertise to get the result we need.

    2. Red*

      I personally hate Google products for anything work related, but Google forms would be a good way to get this in one place digitally and accomplish what you outlined above.

    3. Cat*

      A google form might work for you or at least be worth looking into. It allows you to set up a questionnaire and then you (the owner/anyone else you have given permission to) have the option to view all responses compiled into a single spreadsheet. It would also definitely allow you to make questions mandatory.

    4. Zephy*

      Can the original status report form be streamlined in any way, like does it need to be that long?

      Is it the case that you’re using one form to report the status of say, five different widgets, so certain questions/sections are never applicable to Widget A, others are never applicable to Widget B, etc?

      I know there are ways to set up surveys/questionnaires to display different sets of questions under different circumstances (of course I can’t think of any specific tools right now that can do that, probably MS Forms has a way to?) – so maybe you put in a question at the beginning like “which widget are you reporting on” and then it only shows the questions that are applicable to that widget, rather than having someone go through and answer 30 questions where 25 of them are about an unrelated product.

    5. Not a cat*

      Enterprise Content Management (also known as content services). It’s got the forms piece, workflow functionality for approvals, or sending back if not complete. The form fields can be pushed into other systems (interoperable), audit trail and the forms interface can let you see exactly where the form is in the process.

    6. Snarky Snarkerson*

      Qualtrics. You can distribute the questions electronically and set automatic follow ups for those who have not responded yet.

  27. Frankie Bergstein*

    I’ve been in my perfectly good job for almost four years now. Multiple promotions and raises, recognitions/awards for a job well done on certain projects. Pay and hours are wonderful. It’s drama free.

    There is one quibble, that folks do a lot of indirect communication rather than stating things as they are. It could be more BIPOC/diversity friendly than it is, but they’re actually meaningfully and actively working on that.

    However, I’m getting bored. I’m no longer on a steep learning curve. I feel stale — I could do most parts of my job in my sleep.

    My question is this:

    1. Is this just how work is? It’s not meant to fulfill you, foster your growth, etc. but just provide you a paycheck and enough freedom to do things that you care about with your life. Like, maybe this is the best my professional life can be? OR
    2. Does this mean it’s time to take on new assignments at work and/or look for another job or even a temporary job (we get to do 3-6 month rotations with management approval)?

    I’m sort of a naturally restless, itchy person so am strongly leaning towards #2, especially the temporary job.

    For those of you who have been in a spot similar to this one, how did you deal with it? Thanks for reading to this point!

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        Maybe we’ll figure it out together! Or maybe the comments on this thread will be helpful to you too.

        Glad to know I’m not alone, Corporate Minion!

    1. ThatGirl*

      In your case, I would look for professional development that you can do both inside and outside the company. Learn a new skill, or more about your specific subject area. Learn more about what other parts of the business do. Ask your manager, if you have a good relationship with them, about ways to grow. Is there a career path within your company, something you could get promoted to? These are all things worth considering.

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        This is good advice! I’ve been doing this a bit — change management, facilitation, new organization systems, mentoring, new flavors of projects — I think I will have that conversation with my manager about places to grow — good idea!

        I’m pretty much promoted as far up as I can go, though, unless someone retires (which is a long ways away).

        1. ThatGirl*

          Well, the time may come when you want a higher-level job outside your company, but in the meantime, it certainly can’t hurt to know more cross-functionally. Good luck :)

    2. BalanceofThemis*

      I was there a couple years ago. The first thing that has to happen is that you do some soul searching to figure out what you want out of your job. Do you want to be constantly challenged and learning new things? Or, is work just a means to an end, a paycheck that will allow you to do the things you like outside of work? Or, do you want a job that you are passionate about, where the work is meaningful?

      Once you figure that out, it will make it easier to choose your next step.

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        I am one of those elder millennials who was told we had to go out and change the world with our work. That messaging has certainly met reality, but I’m not sure what to reset that belief to. Is it, “work is just a means to an end?” Or, “work is a source not only of a paycheck, but meeting folks I wouldn’t meet with otherwise, some meaningful (to me) accomplishments, and some learning/growth as I watch my own leadership capabilities develop.” I do want it to be the latter.

        I think I’m the kind of person that needs to be constantly growing in my personal and professional life. It’s easier to do that in my personal life, of course, because I have so much more control over it. Professionally, even if I just worked with different coworkers and picked up their new/better ways of doing things, that would feel amazing.

        What did you end up doing a few years ago? Did it work? Are you in the same job, or did you end up moving on?

        1. Moth*

          If you want it to be the latter, I think it’s worth trying to find ways to make that happen for you (like some of the options you mentioned). For many people, earning a paycheck at a job they like is enough. Others need more of that challenge and growth in their roles. And probably for most people, it can move back and forth between those two ends of the spectrum at different points in their career. For questions like this, I think it might need to be less about, “what should people expect from a job” and more about, “what’s important to me in a job right now?” I know I’ve definitely been in both positions and it is hard when you’re itching to grow and do more and it feels like you just can’t. I hope some of the options for growth work out for you!

    3. Forkeater*

      That sounds like an excellent job and I can totally relate to getting itchy (and I’ve left multiple excellent jobs more for itchiness rather than advancement). The job rotation thing sounds like my personal dream, can you try that?

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        Right?! I love the idea of the rotation too! I’m negotiating for that now. Fingers crossed!

    4. Cats on a Bench*

      I think it depends on the person. For me, I’d be happy to have the paycheck from a low stress, drama free job where I was doing well because I would then have the time, energy and bandwidth to do the things outside of work I was interested in and would rather be doing than work. That’s where I would turn for my life fulfillment needs. But other people want to get that from their work. You could try one of those temporary rotations and see if it pulls you out of the doldrums. Or you could pursue an interest outside of work for a few months and see if you still feel like you need more from work. And who knows, maybe just finding a way to wait it out a few months you will feel differently or things will change at work and renew your sense of purpose.

    5. PollyQ*

      I’d say it’s somewhere between 1 & 2. Most employers don’t much care about your growth/fulfillment/etc., so it’s up to you to proactively seek out those things if you want them. And if you want them, then I do believe you’ll be able to find them. Rotations within your company sound like a great place to start. You can also look to get more responsibility within your current job, aim for promotions, or possibly move to a different company with more growth options. It’s also possible you’ll ultimately want to change careers to something that’s more interesting to you overall. But I definitely don’t think that this is the “best” you can expect from a job/career.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Either of those can be the right answer. It just depends on what you want. Some people want the paycheck & freedom, some people want the challenge and growth. And sometimes it depends on their stage of life and what else they have going on with family, health, etc.

      If you want #2, go for it. Start with asking for new assignments or asking about professional development or a growth track within the company. Might as well see what’s available close to hand before you start looking elsewhere.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      For question #1- what is your vision for your life? What are your life goals- out side of work goals?

      I do think that there is a building up period in life where pay increases and promotions are necessary to build a well balanced adult life. However, there are also times in life where holding steady is the route to go. I remember buying this house, dealing with dying parents, training a pup and so on, I really had no interest in taking on more at work. I had enough at home. At that time I was making okay money and the hours were convenient for me. (There was not much more positive about that job.)

      When I had started that job I had a list of 5 life goals. I met 4 of those goals and quit the job so I could accomplish the 5th goal of finishing my degree. Not all stepping stones happen at work.

      I think this is actually a life question. How does this job fit in with your life goals? How does it help you meet your life goals? (some folks might say insurance or schooling, etc.) My life goals were the reasons I showed up for work every day. And these goals were my motivation for caring about my work with nothing else would motivate me.

      For the boredom aspect- there are two types of boredom (IMO). One is the boredom that comes from having nothing to do. This is THE boredom I will not deal with, it’s a deal breaker and I leave the job. The lesser boredom comes from being able to do my job in my sleep because I am so familiar with it. I changed this into a challenge, how do I look at the mundane with fresh eyes? How can I beef up the work I already do to keep it interesting to me? Any job can become boring after the years pass. I challenged myself to figure out how to stay in place so I could continue meeting the life goals I had set for myself. I have often thought if I quit a job because of boredom, what will I do when I get bored at the next job? I cannot make it a life habit to quit when bored. Hence the life goals, this helped all of that make more sense.

      Hidden bonus, there were days where being able to do my job while sleeping was very handy. I wish I was joking. Gosh, I got so tired. I ran hard at those life goals. I caught myself thinking- if I were not so familiar with my job I would be making mistakes every minute of the day- I was so exhausted that I was running on auto-pilot. I do not recommend running that hard at your goals.

    8. Mid*

      How much of the itchiness is related to this job versus the world at large? I recently realized that a lot of my desire to switch jobs was due to the fact I was feeling stuck and trapped in the world due to lockdowns/lack of travel and exploration/etc. I’m not saying this is necessarily your same situation, but once I realized that a lot of my feelings of stagnation were because my routine and daily life was stagnant, it helped a lot.

  28. GovJobs*

    I’m thinking about applying for a federal government job. Can anyone provide any insight on the process? How quickly or slowly they move, salary negotiation (is that possible?), etc. Even the smallest tips would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Frankie Bergstein*

      They move notoriously slowly — 1 year between application submission and start date. USAjobs.gov is your portal for all of it. There are some webinars that you can attend that tell you how to navigate USAjobs.gov, which are available to the public.

      I was told to use the resume builder on the site. It’s helpful — you won’t have to re-enter the same information for future jobs, so I recommend it.

      Folks I’ve known have negotiated vacation and salary successfully if they have something to link it to — a current salary, for example, or an industry norm if they’re a lawyer or something like that.

    2. AJPS*

      Hiya, I applied to 18F as a US federal application newbie a while back and though I didn’t get an interview, found their info about federal jobs for those unfamiliar very helpful. I don’t claim to know anything about TTS, GSA or whether this is current, or applicable to your search, but may be some useful nuggets if you’re looking at technology roles: https://join.tts.gsa.gov/hiring-process/

    3. just a thought*

      Really take the time to tailor your resume to the position.
      If it says something like “familiar with X policy” look up X policy handbook and find the key words and parts you’re familiar with to add to your resume.

      I got a direct hire position, which was faster, but I applied in February, interviewed in March or April, then started in July. I also already had the security clearance. Again, this was a direct-hire position where the timeline is a lot faster

    4. Twisted Lion*

      Federal resumes are supposed to be long. I suggest looking up some examples. Mine is about 15 pages.
      The process really depends on the needs of the organization. We just interviewed people this week and she had her temporary offer yesterday which she accepted. But her start date, well that will take longer. Look up the OPM pay tables for your area. That will give you an idea.

    5. Reba*

      Salary negotiation as such is not really possible, but you can talk about how the position is graded and what “step” you get — basically, your starting position in the salary band. Even that is not negotiating in the sense of seeing how much I can ask for/how much they are willing to pay, it’s more of demonstrating how your experience, education etc. align with the requirements of a higher step, or if the job is designated “difficult to fill.” Any posting will have the GS number or range for the role, and you can look up exactly what the salary is for your area, called locality pay scale. Student loan repayment and relocation assistance might also be possible!

      Make your USAJobs resume extremely detailed and use all the key words. I was also told to answer the questionnaire ranking myself as highly as I possibly truthfully could. (Does this defeat the purpose of the screening questionnaire? perhaps, but apparently lots of applicants are coached to do this, and besides it’s kind of easy to deflate your own experience in multiple choice format.)

      There are some online forums specifically dedicated to federal hiring, so you might look into those too. Good luck!

    6. Aunt Piddy*

      So slow. SO SLOW. But at least many places will keep you updated on the status.

      Some room for negotiation, but not much since there are pretty strict salary bands in place. If you want to move up a level you’ll have to show experience that would bump you up. There’s not a ton of wiggle room.

    7. Longtime Lurker*

      Use both the internal resume builder and attach a “normal” formatted version. The first will help you get through the HR system, but hiring manager may likely prefer the easier to read kind (all semblance of formatting and spacing gets zapped out along the way, it’s not pretty!)

  29. Heffalump*

    I know the case of the dress code interns has been flogged pretty thoroughly in the comments, but there’s an angle that I don’t think has been covered. Alison said the OP contacted her after the story ran and still didn’t think s/he and the other interns had done anything wrong.

    As a matter of psychological interest, I’m wondering whether, in the OP’s mind, “the punishment doesn’t fit the crime” morphed into “we did nothing wrong.” I’ve had similar feelings when people reacted to my mistakes with disproportionate anger.

    1. angstrom*

      For someone with a binary view of the world, “They were wrong” = “I was right”. Any fault on one side means that the other party is blameless. Shared blame/responsibility does not exist. “We screwed up and then they overreacted” is too nuanced for someone like that.

    2. ecnaseener*

      That could be it, but it might be simpler: if the wording was “did nothing wrong,” that wording usually implies nothing ethically wrong. They had every right to ask for what they wanted and to go about it via petition.

      They were wrong (incorrect) about how internships work, how office policies work, how professional communication works, etc etc etc, but they didn’t DO anything wrong.

      1. Jaybee*

        You don’t think there’s anything ethically wrong in explicitly calling out another employee for being an exception to the dress code?

        Clearly they didn’t have the experience to intuit that that was probably due to ADA accomodations, so they didn’t realize they were picking on a disabled woman, but that’s the biggest reason why it’s a bad idea to point someone else out and say ‘they get to do X, why can’t I?’ I suppose it may fall a little outside the bound of ethics but it was certainly rude of them.

        1. RagingADHD*

          There was a moral/ethical issue with persisting after they were told. Before they were told they were ignorant. Should they have known better? Maybe — but these are interns and at that point you’re getting into how people are brought up and what they’re taught. People don’t know what they don’t know.

          It’s not immoral to be ignorant, but it is definitely wrong to refuse to learn, or refuse to apologize or have empathy for someone you’ve been a jerk to.

          1. Fran Fine*

            Yup. Once they were told why the other employee was an exception and they doubled down on their nonsense, that’s when I lost all sympathy for them. They absolutely did do wrong and they deserved the firing they received as a result (and the subsequent dragging here).

      2. Heffalump*

        “Did nothing wrong” isn’t a direct quote. It’s my paraphrase (months after the fact) of Alison’s paraphrase of the OP’s follow-up email to her. But I think you’re essentially right.

      3. Observer*

        It seems to me that their attitude was the they did nothing wring AND nothing incorrect. But in fact, they DID to something that was both wrong and incorrect.

        Allison covered the incorrect part pretty well, but not so much the wrong part, although it’s implied.

        What they did wrong: They were disrespectful and rude. They called out someone else’s behavior with absolutely no sense that there MIGHT be a reason why that behavior was being allowed. And when they were given the information about the other person they expressed not sympathy or remorse, and could not even garner the wherewithal for a rote apology. Rather they blamed their supervisors for the fact that they didn’t have that information despite the fact that there is no earthly reason that they should have had that information. Which is to say, the expressed absolutely zero understanding of reasonable expectations of privacy AND they take absolutely no responsibility for their errors. These are all not good in a work context, but they are also just bad behavior. Maybe not the worst we’ve seen, but if this were one of my kids, they would have heard an earful from me.

        And I would tell them that even if I am 100% incorrect about how the workplace in general, or their profession in particular works. Because this is just not how good and reasonable people operate.

        1. ecnaseener*

          I forgot about the person they complained about – comfy shoes or something, right? Yeah, that part was rude and invasive. The petition wasn’t though.

          1. Mannequin*

            I’m all for people in office jobs wearing comfy shoes. Heels and dress shoes as a job requirement are ridiculous.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      “I’ve had similar feelings when people reacted to my mistakes with disproportionate anger.”
      And right in that very sentence you agree that you did make mistakes. This is very different from the interns.

      The desire to defend oneself isn’t wrong, actually that’s pretty normal. It’s the unwillingness to listen to others that is problematic.

      The unwillingness to listen to others won’t fly in almost any setting I can think of. A person can stand up for themselves yet still be willing to hear and consider other angles to the storyline.

      I remember one day at work, much younger me said “XYZ”. Where XYZ was outdated and just plain wrong. My coworker JUMPED on me. She had very bad delivery but her message was correct. I really did not respond in the moment. (I’m kind of introverted, I need to go think about it, not discuss it out loud.) So I went home and did some homework, I read up on the subject. And I realized my cohort was correct. But yes, I really wanted to dig my heals in atm because I felt a strong need to protect myself from her rant, her verbal assault. If you want someone to change their opinion this is NOT how to do it. I was reacting solely to her method of delivery and I was not able to fully process her message.

      Of course, I don’t know the examples you are thinking of. It could very well be that the angry person was just an AH and that is the explanation for your setting. Often times I tend to think of disproportionate anger as a symptom of weak communication skills. You know, like when a toddler wants a cookie and does not get it, what happens next is the toddler uses the only communication skill available to them. Adults with poor communication skills can have temper issues or other types of displays.

      1. Fran Fine*

        “I’ve had similar feelings when people reacted to my mistakes with disproportionate anger.”

        And the anger in this case wasn’t disproportionate. They deserved to be fired because they were insubordinate after their management shut them down, they kept harping on the situation even when they were told the reason behind why the one employee they referenced as being out of compliance was not following the dress code, and they were using work time to try and overturn a decision that was final instead of doing what they were brought there to do in the first place. I would have fired them, too. Who wants to put up with that mess from a bunch of people you don’t even need around to begin with?

        1. Mannequin*

          No, what they DESERVED was to be able to wear comfortable shoes at work. There’s nothing egregious about that request, and I would (and have successfully) fought for that right myself.

    4. allathian*

      Yeah, that whole thread was, um, interesting. And it makes me extremely grateful to work for an employer with a casual dress code. I will never voluntarily dress in uncomfortable clothes again, although I do recognize that the definition of comfortable varies quite a lot, comfortable for me includes jeans and an underwire bra.

  30. BRR*

    Any advice on being patient with a raise/promotion? The short version is I asked for a promotion and my manager said yes but because I work at a public college and am union there are a ton of hoops to jump through. I’m also paid well under market rate and can’t get an idea of what the raise would be.

    I’m pretty unmotivated at the momen since I’ve been doing things well above my title/pay for over two years and there’s not telling if or when I might get promoted. I’m going to keep job hunting in the meantime because I know it’s not final until it’s in my paycheck, but there are few openings in my field and I otherwise like my job a lot.

    1. Midwest Manager*

      How long has it been since you talked with your manager about this? It might be worth talking to them again to see where things stand. Public institution + union often means months of waiting for things to move, sometimes these things are held until the start of the next fiscal year due to lack of funding. If you aren’t given a specific timeline, keep pressing every few weeks until you get a concrete answer.

      Another route would be to talk to your union rep about your pay band and see if there are any solutions to explore there.

      Good luck!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Are you talking to your union rep? Sounds like you are working out of the classification for your job. The union would be interested in knowing that.

  31. urguncle*

    I actually wrote in because when I found out we’d be going back to the office a few days a week in what I now recognize was a complete panic attack. My letter didn’t get published and I’m thankful for that because I was out of my mind with anxiety. I was going to have to see a former boss who verbally attacked me and had lied about me to HR, my grandboss and the C-Suite execs. I left the team, abusive boss got moved to an Ops position and I thought she was getting managed out. And then nothing happened for 5 months.

    It’s still a secret, but abusive boss was being managed out! And they are leaving! I’m so relieved!

  32. Panda*

    I just need to vent here because I have been dealing with chronic undiagnosed pain for 8 months, my short term disability ran out 2 weeks ago, and I just found out my LTD claim got denied because they don’t see a need for me to be off work (I’m not even completely off, just reduced to .75 time). So now I need to figure out whether I take a pay cut, use up my vacation to make up the difference or just increase my pain medication and go back to full time. I don’t really have a question but would love advice or to swap stories with others who have gone through this

    1. WellRed*

      Who is “they”? The company? Where is the doctor in this? I’m sorry you’re dealing with all this.

      1. Panda*

        “They” is the insurance company. Cause pain is subjective, and the condition I have had for 8 months apparently doesn’t last more than a few weeks. (I don’t actually have an official diagnosis, the doctors have just eliminated everything else so that’s what I’m left with)

        1. KoiFeeder*

          The hell that is insurance. The letter they sent you has an appeal process, right? If your doctor is on your side with this, you can probably get their help to appeal. A lot of the time it feels like LTD claims are just rubber-stamp denied because the insurance assumes you don’t have the time, money, and energy to fight them so they can get away with it.

    2. IHaveTheOuch*

      Ooof. I was in a similar boat a year ago (undiagnosed chronic pain), but at least a year ago my work still had everyone working from home, so I had more wiggle room to deal with stuff. I also am a software developer, so it’s only really a problem when my pain makes it difficult to focus and/or I make stupid mistakes because I’m not all there. I abused my sick days a bit, but I never had to deal with any short-term disability stuff.
      By the time my bosses started asking people to come back to work, I had a surgery date booked, so they let me keep working from home until after I was recovered from surgery. Unfortunately, surgery only gave me a diagnosis, no relief, so I got myself a therapist who specializes in working with the chronically ill/disabled, and I’m working through an ADA accommodation process to get permission to work from home permanently. Until that gets worked out, my therapist got me a note to work .75 time and it has been such a relief to come home and have energy to maybe make dinner or go on a walk.
      I don’t know that I have too much advice, but that’s a story to swap, and we can commiserate together how much it sucks to hurt all the time and still have to work.

    3. IHaveTheOuch*

      Ooof. I’m happy to swap stories with you; I was in a similar boat at the beginning of the pandemic. Fortunately for me, I graduated and got hired full-time with the company I had been working for part-time, and they had us all working from home because of the pandemic, so I had a lot more space to try and figure things out. I got surgery and a diagnosis this past July, and after working through my denial of the situation, I’m working on getting some ADA accommodations to make working easier. This is also because I got a therapist who specializes in treating people with chronic illness and disability; he’s been a lifesaver in reminding me that just because I look sick doesn’t mean that I’m not and I shouldn’t worry about disappointing people or being too much trouble.
      I honestly would prefer to just not have to work as much, but everyone seems to think that you need to be dirt poor and living off of disability payments or you need to work 40+ hours a week. I just need some extra rest and extra time to clean my house and cook my food, and is it too much to ask to have some time leftover to do things that make me happy as well?

  33. A CAD Monkey*

    this weekend I will be submitting my resume to a company that i’ve wanted to work for for YEARS. while the position would technically be a step down, I don’t have some of the experience they want but hopefully the skills that i do have will be enough to bridge that gap. it will also be a change of industry. Cover letter will be the hardest thing for me to write as my introspection tends to be negative (imposter syndrome). fingers crossed this pans out.

  34. Gray Lay*

    Im very frustrated that my office, up til now great with covid, is now saying covid is over everyone go back to the office. They’ve even removed the hand sanitizers.

    Look at the numbers people! Covid is getting worse again!

    1. Terrible as the Dawn*

      I’m sorry to hear this! My office is a semi-independent offshoot of a larger org and while most of the org is still entirely WFH right now, we’ve been “back to normal” since late summer. I just started the conversation with my grandboss this week about record high numbers and new variants and how maybe we need to reconsider and follow the lead of our parent org. It sucks!

  35. No Longer Fencer*

    For those who’ve taken maternity leave via FMLA, what was the experience like, submitting forms/etc.? Any best practices/things to do/not do? My OB submitted forms and I’ve basically been told to confirm pregnancy status again 45 days before taking said leave. Wondering if I need to do anything in the meantime (e.g., gather more paperwork/etc.)

    1. Corporate Minion*

      I think you’re good.
      I dealt with STD so I needed to provide an estimated start date and how long I expected to be out. But no additional paperwork was required.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      If you’re in a state (I assume you’re in the US since FMLA) that also has family leave policies, you’ll need to start paperwork for that. I know MA has it and I think a few others as well (WA?)

  36. Time Tracking Woes*

    People who need to track your time for work: how do you do it? Is there a method or app that works well for you?

    My company is putting an increased focus on accurately recording time spent to various time codes. It doesn’t need to be “down to the minute,” but there are enough different time codes that it’s difficult to just guesstimate, and the bulk of my time is expected to be recorded in this way now.

      1. Time Tracking Woes*

        This may be the ticket… I finally counted and there are 30 of these new time codes. Plus there’s work we’ve historically always “tracked” (we all fudged it truthfully) that is tied to orders that all have codes generated after I do the majority of my work. It looks like I can track that and perhaps change the name later to match the new code. Thank you!!

    1. CTT*

      I have an excel spreadsheet broken into 6 minute increments and fill that in throughout the day. I do have technology options (I’m a lawyer, so we have time entry software that comes with timers), but this is what works best for me.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      If you find yourself needing to report 3 or more codes in a day, then I think the mental habits are more important than the particular tool. You just need to be disciplined enough that when you switch tasks, you stop for 30 seconds to record it. It also means that you can’t just respond to emails/slack messages/etc, about other codes on the fly – you need to decide in 30 seconds if a new message requires an immediate response, and if so, record that you switched codes. Otherwise, wait until the top of the hour.

      1. Time Tracking Woes*

        Hmmm, this is a good point. I frequently get interrupted by IMs or phone calls that usually aren’t urgent that drag me off task. It’s already happened this morning since I posted. I have email notifications off and just check my inbox periodically. I’ll experiment with silencing my phone and tweaking IM notifications and see if I run into any issues. Thanks!

        1. RagingADHD*

          Most of my work is cloud-based, so if I forget to note my start or end time, I can usually reconstruct it from my browser history or the edit history on a GDoc, that kind of thing.

          1. Time Tracking Woes*

            Most of my work is outside of cloud-systems/web browser, so while there are lots of logs, it’s not very easy to work with because nothing is centralized. For example, I may plan to make a changes to a certain machine or machines on the network. I usually log in to look at the current configuration, then work up my planned changes in a plain text document, then enter those changes into the machine(s). Then if there’s a project tied, I need to note that I’ve done the task in another system and likely send an email/IM since that first system doesn’t send notifications (eyeroll). Depending on how long it takes me to prepare those changes, I may log out of the machine or be automatically logged out if I stop interacting with it. I’ve tried noting start/stop times, but with calls and IMs frequently interrupting me it becomes a page of 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, 30 minutes on that that I need to reconcile at the end of the day.

            Admittedly I also struggle with math and tend to make very basic mistakes like adding instead of subtracting, so it’s just been a mess for me when I’ve tried taking notes by hand and it doesn’t add up like I expected.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Pen and paper for me. While I’m working I tend to have a pad of paper or some scratch paper off to the side. I write down my “in” and “out” times as I’m working. Then at the end of the task or the end of the day, I enter it into the firm’s time tracking software.

      The software has a timer functionality like a stopwatch, using that doesn’t match my working style.

      1. pancakes*

        Me too. I’m otherwise pretty app-happy, but pen and paper (or similarly simple entries in the Notes app) is easiest for me to be consistent with for timekeeping. Otherwise I’ll tend to put it off, and that’s a bad habit to get into. One thing I do like about having to log into everything work-related via VPN and with Microsoft authentication is that I have a back-up record of date-stamped texts.

    4. cobb salad*

      I have to generally account for time on stuff but it doesn’t need to be specific or exactly accurate. I just write it down throughout the day or estimate generally where I was spending time

    5. Panda*

      I work in consulting where I need to bill time to specific clients, and I find timeboxing using a dedicated outlook calendar to work best. I plan out my week, then adjust on a daily basis based on what I actually do. At the end of the week I can look back and see where I spent my time.

      1. Time Tracking Woes*

        I do a lot of time blocking on my calendar already to try and stay on top of tasks/projects, though I never seem to accomplish as much as I expect at the start of the day! It definitely helps me see what I have been working on and stay on top of priorities. Or at least feel guilty on that one thing I’m always shoving off until next week….

  37. Lady Ann*

    This week I found out I didn’t get an internal promotion I applied for. This isn’t the biggest deal – nobody owes me a job – but I found out through the grapevine rather than being notified officially. Apparently the news was announced at the staff meeting of the department I applied to work in and then eventually trickled down to me. By the time I found out it seemed like literally everyone but me knew I didn’t the job.

    For context – I am a mid level manager, so I am already in a leadership position at my company. The job I applied for is basically a single step up and one I am well qualified for, so it’s not like it was a stretch and it was a given I wouldn’t be getting it. The job was at a different office in a different (but nearby) town, so while I wouldn’t have found out immediately when they announced it, the news was bound to reach me eventually.

    So two questions, am I justified in being upset that I wasn’t told? I know that ghosting job seekers is normal but for internal jobs it seems rude. And two, if so, do I say something? I was considering writing to the folks who interviewed me (politely) stating that I would have appreciated a heads up and that they might want to consider revisiting their process for internal hires, but would that be too much?

    1. J.B.*

      Yes you are justified in being upset. For an internal candidate that is especially crappy.

      I wouldn’t write them but would start seeking roles elsewhere.

    2. Purple Cat*

      IMO you are absolutely justified in being upset.
      That being said, I don’t think the interviewers are the ones you should go after. I assume there was an HR contact that facilitated the process? That’s the one I would reach out to.

      1. Jaybee*

        Agreed, at most normally functioning companies there would be an HR contact who should have told you.

    3. Time Tracking Woes*

      I’m so sorry you found out this way. They absolutely should’ve contacted you to let you know. Someone in HR should’ve reached out at least, but frankly I would’ve expected the hiring manager to at least reach out to you as well given your level within the company. I think I would at least reach out to HR and find out if that is standard procedure or if someone just dropped the ball on notifying you. If that’s the procedure then I would absolutely push back, but if it’s just a mistake then it’s important for them to know what happened so they can prevent it happening to another candidate.

      Years ago at an old job, I learned I didn’t get an internal promotion via the boss effectively announcing it in our weekly staff meeting. He said that a selection had been made and they just needed to inform a few unsuccessful candidates before they announced who the hire was. Well no one had told me anything yet, so it wasn’t hard to figure out, and it was easy to see that my coworkers all figured it out too as we sat there. Then I had to sit through the rest of the meeting only to be pulled me aside afterwards to learn I didn’t get the job. As if I hadn’t figured it out already. A few months later, I sat through another staff meeting where that same boss slammed two internal candidates for a supervisor position by name as being not good enough for the position as explanation for why they were opening it externally. One candidate was from another office, the other was from our office, but out that day so not in the meeting. Both highly regarded and qualified individuals who would’ve excelled, in my opinion. And this boss was surprised when I didn’t apply for any future openings in that office after that experience. I share this because it was just “how things worked” under that boss. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t get the promotion because I wouldn’t have wanted to work any closer with that man or tie myself down any further to that job. Needing to make more money spurred me to change careers and employers, all for the better.

  38. Granger Chase*

    Any advice for how to help a coworker who has a terminally ill spouse? My coworker’s spouse has been sick for several years, but they were just told this week by the doctors that their spouse is no longer responding to treatment and the illness has spread. I don’t know the exact timeline they were given, but unfortunately I don’t expect it would be more than 3-6 months based on the type of illness.
    Besides offering to cover our in-office duties so my coworker can spend as much time working from home as possible & handling some of their more difficult duties that I am cross trained on, what else would you recommend? We are peers and have been working together for a year. I do not have any authority over the schedule or vacation time, but I know our manager would be happy to allow coworker to WFH as often as they need if I am on board with handling the in office coverage.
    Would it be over stepping to offer any help outside of work as well? Such as offering to cook a couple meals a week for them so they don’t have to worry about dinner? I know my coworker’s parents have been helping out a lot with the kids, but I feel bad not doing anything when I can’t even imagine how difficult this situation must be for their family.

    1. Midwest Manager*

      If you’re close with the coworker, do make the offer to help outside of work! If you’re sincere, make sure they know that. Even if it’s making a grocery run or bringing over a meal, small things during this stressful time can make a world of difference. They may not take you up on it, but the offer will be appreciated.

      My spouse’s coworker did something similar when I was laid up for an extended period of time, and they ended up becoming close family friends after the crisis had passed. The value of kindness and normalcy cannot be understated during such upheaval.

    2. Ali + Nino*

      At my last job, when a colleague suddenly lost an immediate family member, our boss sent (on behalf of the office) a generous gift card for meal delivery (e.g. GrubHub). Gives the person one less thing to think about while going through this turmoil, while allowing them to choose what they want to eat and when to use it.

      1. StellaBella*

        +1 to your user name I just read the book by Kurban Said! Highly recommend it!

        For a reply for Granger Chase, helping outside of work, dropping off groceries, a gift card, all would likely be appreciated. Covering for them as the WFH is also a great idea.

    3. Anono-me*

      Tell both your boss and your coworker that you are AOK with taking the office stuff & the cross trained stuff. (That way you coworker doesn’t worry that you might be resentful.

      For out of the office help, you might want to consider helping with the yardwork and snow removal. These are both big chores that are hard to do when caring for someone. (Hard to hear a call for assistance outside with power tools on.) Theses are also chores that are less intimate since they are outside.

      As far as meals go, if you know 100% that you can cook foods that meet any dietary restrictions, a couple of heat and eat meals like lasagna or quiche might be useful.

  39. Midwest Manager*

    Any advice on how to deal with a direct report who is suddenly not performing?

    We returned to the office in a hybrid scheme in August, and since that switch this employee has become unreliable, hard to reach, and frequently not sticking to their agreed schedule of remote/in-person. This attendance change has then begun to highlight some other issues with accuracy and attention to detail that have been present from the beginning but were fixable when we were all working together and attendance was better.

    I’ve asked the employee directly what’s going on and pointed out these issues I’ve been seeing. They became defensive and seemed surprised that I thought there was a problem. Every example that I brought to them of the issues was hand-waived or an excuse was given about what “actually happened,” completely mansplained and condescending. The employee then ended the meeting by asking for a raise. (SMH) I’ve heard from people above me that work directly with this person that they are making plans to change to part-time work to begin a graduate program. The role they have is NOT part-time, and this hasn’t been discussed with me directly.

    I’m running out of ideas short of forcing a PIP. Any suggestions?

    1. HolidayAmoeba*

      Let them know that their work quality and output isn’t acceptable and let them know if I doesn’t get back to X by Y, then they are looking at a PIP. If there are issues that are truly out of their control, they need to be communicating that so it can be addressed. If it is lazy excuses or avoidable issues, call them to task about it.

      1. BRR*

        This. Essentially you need to do a pre-PIP at this point. Be very direct and clear that their job is in danger. Your wording should include “if this does not improve, the company will need to terminate your employment.” Asking for a raise after being told there are quality of work issues is so out of touch though, I’d prepare yourself for the very real possibility this will not get better.

        As this person’s manager I think you’re well within your right to ask about the part-time thing as well.

        1. Midwest Manager*

          I did actually ask them about the p/t thing and was again brushed off “oh, I was just making conversation with them” – which tbh doesn’t track well knowing who these folks are and their roles in the department. Spidey-sense is tingling that something just isn’t quite right with all of this.

          Overall I love being a manager, but this part of it really sucks.

          1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

            Are they trying to skip over you and talk to someone above you to get what they want because they know you won’t approve it?

        2. Chauncy Gardener*

          This. Pre-PIP and then rapidly segue into PIP-land. He’s totally taking advantage of the situation at this point, I think.

    2. Annony*

      I think you are at the point where a PIP is needed. If you clearly communicated the issues and they still don’t see it as a problem, I don’t know another way for them to see it as serious.

    3. Observer*

      I think you are in PIP territory. Don’t let him “explain: things. Simply state (and restate as necessary) what happened and what you need to have happen, whether he likes it or not.

  40. SadPanda*

    A lot of you gave me feedback and advice about how to deal with my supervisor who has been a complete terror since she took over a few months ago. Prior to her, I was a top performer and now I’m not even allowed to send emails to clients without them being reviewed to ensure they are “professional enough”.
    I got a verbal job offer elsewhere with a step up in pay and responsibility and I am cautiously optimistic until I get the written offer. Based on the scuttlebutt I am hearing, by February, this supervisor will have 80% turnover by then when factoring those who have already announced they are leaving/transferring and those who like myself are on the way out, but keeping it quiet until things are firmed up. I am still interviewing until I get a firm offer with this org, but things are looking up.
    Thank you all for your advice and support.

    1. Corporate Minion*

      I’m so glad you are getting out! That sounds awful. Maybe upper management will notice the fallout and do something.

    2. irene adler*

      Good for you in taking concrete action on improving your situation!
      Life is too short to put up with unreasonable bosses. Or unreasonable people, either.

      Good luck with the verbal job offer- hope it materializes into everything you desire in a job.

    3. StellaBella*

      Good for you. If you have a real HR team and exit interview process, explain this 80% thing clearly and the email thing too as two examples of why you are leaving and note the comparison that prior to the manager you were a top performer now you have to have emails read because they are a micromanaging dolt that is costing the firm money (in trying to replace people and all the turnover).

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      Good for you and I hope the written offer comes through!! And karma is a b**h for your soon to be former supervisor. Bwahahaha

  41. Observer*

    Has anyone been following the lunacy at better dot com?

    How he fired people was BAD. His apology would not have been great, but ok. Except that he also sent out some REALLY bad emails before and alongside that apology.

    Given that the recording of the firing leaked, which is why he was forced to apologize how did he not realize that those emails were also going to hit the public?

    I’m unfortunately used to Execs at this level being pretty awful as people, but I find this level of stupidity pretty unusual.

    Aaaaand. It looks like it’s come back to bite him. Not only did a bunch of top execs resign over this mess. The CEO is going to “step back” and “take some time” over this.

    1. HolidayAmoeba*

      What a fustercluck. Not to mention they are pushing to go public and this can turn into a WeWork level failure. Person with good ideas and gets enough support and smart people around them to build into a decent sized business. But it then falls apart quickly because the person at the center is nuts and success makes them think they are infallible. So they drive the business into the ground faster than they built it up.

      1. pancakes*

        Both companies got huge cash infusions from SoftBank. The excerpts of emails from the Better CEO that I’ve seen in a couple emails do not suggest he’s a good leader or good investment. To the contrary, he seems like a tempestuous, erratic mess with a sketchy history. Everyone involved in putting together valuations for companies like these has a lot to answer for, but somehow it never comes to pass.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Agreed.

          This company is going to tank with the current CEO in charge. He has serious problems and is completely unprofessional.

        2. Chauncy Gardener*

          He seems like a total narcissistic clod. Who the heck DOES stuff like this??
          And I couldn’t agree more – who is doing these valuations and why aren’t they being held accountable for these huge misses?

    2. Katt*

      I saw an article on CBC the other day! Good Lord, what an insane mess that was. I can’t believe he thought that was a good idea. Why wouldn’t you get the managers to tell the employees themselves?? Like… why? And the emails he sent after were, like you said, really bad.

    3. Annony*

      I think it is less that he didn’t realize it could be leaked and more that he really doesn’t understand why he looks bad.

      1. Observer*

        I suppose that’s possible. But again, it’s a pretty astounding level of stupidity when what’s in your so called apology is directly contradicted by the emails you are sending out in the same time frame. Does he think that people can’t read?

      2. Filosofickle*

        Agreed. He thought it was okay to call them a bunch of dumb dolphins and say they were embarrassing him. What a glass bowl.

    4. WellRed*

      Late to this but he’s apparently now “taking some time off.” Haha! Also read an article in which one of the fired, after being fired and taking several days to obtain needed info, also received a package with trophy, certificate and company shirt. WTF.

  42. Siege (The other one)*

    Just got offered an internal promotion to another team!! I wasn’t expecting to get it they said I interviewed really well. I even negotiated a higher salary!

      1. Siege (The other one)*

        Thank you all!! It is, it’s moving from entry level into a career direction I’ve wanted to move towards for awhile.

  43. Cendol*

    I just wanted to say, I never in my life thought we would get an update to the cheap-ass rolls saga, and this has been an amazing week on AAM.

    1. DEJ*

      I was grocery shopping the other day and picked up a small pack of Hawaiian rolls just so I can look at them at laugh about all this.

  44. Corporate Minion*

    There has been a complete reorganization at my company, top to bottom-merged with another company. During this time, a pretty high number of people (from all depts) have resigned to move onto other opportunities. This isn’t surprising. Many of us were not sure we would continue to be employed. In the last 4 weeks or so, people leave have been sending Company Wide emails saying goodbye and thanks for all the fish, thanks everyone, find me on LI, etc.

    This is weird, right? I have never worked with or even heard of most of these people. It just seem SO odd to send a Company Wide email saying its your last day.

    1. Hannah Hopkins*

      I understand the general spirit of it, but yes, sending to the entire company (including people you’ve never interacted with) is weird. It would be much more appropriate for them to send it to just their address book or contacts.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I’ve definitely seen it done, but I think those kinds of emails are better targeted to specific departments or teams.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I agree. In my org, some employees who are retiring have posted a goodbye blog post on our intranet, but I haven’t seen this happen with employees who are going elsewhere.

    3. eisa*

      I think it’s fine, actually.
      Apparently, a lot of companies would never voluntarily inform their employees that Jane left for greener pastures, or Kathy was let go. (some even going to mindboggling lengths to hide it .. wasn’t there once a story here where LW learned from her/his customers(!) that Louise was no longer working for Teapots Inc., however Teapots Inc. had someone sending emails under Louise’s name to pretend she was still there ?)
      I am always of the mindset that more information is better than less information.
      If the information that Fergus is leaving is of some interest to you, all the better.
      Doing Shift-Del on the corresponding emails from Wakeen, Joanne, and Tom takes no time at all.
      (and I’ll go out on a limb to say : if you are working, as you seem to be, in a not-small company, these “Ciao, Amigos” mails are probably far from the only “one glimpse, Shift-Del” ones you receive !)

    4. Anonymous Hippo*

      What kind of I.T. department allows just anyone to send company wide emails? That’s so bizarre to me. Everywhere I’ve worked if you want a company-wide mailing you have to submit it to I.T. or H.R. in order to get it out.

      So yes, this seems weird. Sounds a little flouncy.

  45. Katt*

    How do you cope with a setback at work? It’s not a huge deal, but my work did this like professional development course and I failed the test at the end. You don’t need a passing score unless you are getting a certification, but I struggled greatly with the format of the course and was having a bad day which sounds like an excuse, but… My manager said it’s fine, but I am still worrying. I still learned a lot and I have the course materials that I can refresh myself on.

    On a similar note… I have been struggling with insane anxiety for the past several months which has caused me some health problems. My doctor actually recently prescribed me medication. The anxiety has impacted my work performance I think, and although people seem to think I’m doing fine, I have been open with a few people (including my supervisor). I don’t know what/if I should tell people? It’s worth noting this is a public sector organization that seems pretty open about mental health, but like, I don’t want them to think I’m a slacker, I am so good at what I do, but lately… God. The resurgence of the pandemic is NOT helping. At least Christmas holidays are coming up. Thoughts?

    1. fueled by coffee*

      1. You are not a ‘slacker’ for having anxiety. We’re in a freaking pandemic; EVERYONE is struggling to cope.

      2. That said, I don’t think you’re obligated to disclose anxiety if you’re concerned about the politics, but I do think it might be worth it to say that you’re dealing with a medical condition (in the sort of “non-covid related, non-life threatening, but something I need to take care of”) kind of way (because you are! Anxiety is medical! Your coworkers/employers don’t need to know all the details). If you’re feeling more anxious because you’re worried that people think you’re not performing at your best, you might feel better if you know that your coworkers know that there’s a reason for this.

      3. Bummer about the professional development course. But it’s in the past now, your manager says it doesn’t matter, and you have the course materials if you do end up needing the information that was covered in the future. I don’t know if this is the kind of thing you can re-do in the future (or if it doesn’t really matter since you don’t need the certification), but either way, people perform poorly on tests sometimes. It happens. Buy some ice cream, watch some crappy TV, and treat this the same way you would have treated getting a lousy grade on an exam in school. It’s tough in the moment, but life will move on, and you’ll have more opportunities in the future to perform at the level you want to be performing at. Hang in there – the holidays are coming up!

  46. Nuke*

    Can an employer suddenly introduce requirements for full HSA funding? My insurance kind of sucks ($2,800 deductible, but has an HSA) and my employer keeps adding things we have to do get full funding from their side like get a physical, etc. This year they suddenly required us to get a blood test for a “biometric scan” or they will only give us a fraction of what they normally contribute to the HSA. tldr is I have a medical condition that would make this extremely, extremely difficult to do, and I was told there would be “absolutely no exemptions” for the medical test.

    Just wondering if anyone else has dealt with employers touting “wellness” while adding more and more hoops to jump through to get money we were given before with no issue. In the email they sent out, they kind of implied that it’s super easy to get doctor’s appointments now (it’s not) because “things are going back to normal” (no not really).

    1. Ashley*

      For most public jobs the bar for what is legal is pretty low so as long as they don’t use it to discriminate illegally I would guess they could, but it just seems gross. (And honestly I wouldn’t trust them not to use it improperly.) Honestly I would be trying to get on my partners if I could or just go with lower HSA funding while job searching for a job at a less invasive company.

    2. The Ginger Ginger*

      If you’re talking about how much the employer is matching your own contribution to the HSA, then I think they can put requirements on that until the cows come home. They’re not actually required to match anything at all. If they’re interfering with YOUR contributions to the HSA, that would be very concerning and definitely not okay.

      1. Nuke*

        I figured they could do whatever they wanted.. which is a bummer. I just wonder about the whole “no exemptions for a medical condition” thing. Since I know employers can’t require medical exams unless it’s like, required for the job or whatever, but this isn’t required to keep my job, just for the HSA funding. I tried looking up more info but nothing seems to really discuss it! Thanks for the reply :) And yeah they’re not touching MY contribution at all which is uh, nice lol. My job is actually really great with everything but this weird stuff they only recently started doing…

    3. Midwest Manager*

      This sounds to me like the company is trying to cut back on the money they are forking over for healthcare coverage. Using a HDHP plan, and putting restrictions on the employer-funded portion of the HSA. They’re hoping people fail to do these things so they pay less in the end.

      I’d personally start looking around at other ways they’ve cut costs to see if there’s evidence of financial instability. Cutting back on benefits offered is a pretty big flag, IMO.

      1. Nuke*

        What’s weird is that we’ve actually had a big boom in business, didn’t lay off a single person due to the pandemic (because almost everyone was able to go home), and are actually looking to hire a bunch more people for a couple departments in a bit. We’re related to healthcare ourselves. I can’t help but wonder if it was odd pressure from the insurance people themselves, as we changed our provider a year back and they’re ALSO pushing all this bonkers “wellness” crap with a weird point system with stupid “activities” to complete (like talking to a Health Coach(tm) a billion times) to get more HSA credit. Who knows tbh, but it’s definitely not related to not having money. We have a preeeetty sizable contract…

        1. HoundMom*

          Is your carrier UHC? They offer a program where they contribute the employer’s portion of the health savings account if the employees/covered spouses/DPs do certain things like take a health risk assessment, speak to a coach, walk a certain amount of steps. They offer lower premiums for that plan.

    4. HolidayAmoeba*

      We are insure through my husband and every year there are hoops or else they reduce their match. It’s slog every year.

    5. Anonymous Hippo*

      I’ve never had a company fully fund an HSA, so it doesn’t seem unusual to me. Usually it’s just a partial (like 500-1000) so giving extra by doing some health related stuff seems ok to me.

  47. Mary Anne Spier*

    Anyone else have that coworker who feels the need to comment on/touch everything on your desk when they come by? I have this one coworker who I like but whenever she comes in she has to pick up anything I have sitting here and say, “ooooh, what’s this?” “You have a Mary Poppins coffee mug?!” “What are you doing with this yellow paper?”

    Dude, please just ask me/tell me what it is you came in here to ask me/tell me. You don’t need to pick up/touch/ask about every object I have. It’s to the point where I see her coming and I kick myself for having anything remotely interesting sitting here because I just know it’s coming and for some reason (this could be a big flaw in my personality) I get extra annoyed when someone already does something that annoys me and I can predict that it’s coming.

    This is a minor gripe, I know. Just needed to get it out. ;)

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Are you referring to the “my disgusting boss touches and chews on everything on my desk” letter or a different one?

        1. Mary Anne Spier*

          This isn’t about being disgusting. It’s more… nosy? Maybe I just mind my own business more than most. I just don’t feel the need to pick up things that belong to other people and pester them about them.

    1. Corporate Minion*

      My spouse keeps random/fun stuff at his desk for these people. He arranges them on the desk so they’re ‘upfront’ and naturally the first thing people see and play with

    2. OyHiOh*

      I have an art piece on my desk that I created, and which people literally, actually go out of their way to pet. It’s a glass and origami sculpture titled George and is eye catching enough that sometimes, people walk into my office for no reason other than to pet George and ask about the piece. I have a lot of affection for George and also have a spoken word performance about the piece and how I came to title it George. Since I’ve been in art galleries and museums since childhood, it seems weird to me that people touch art, but I kinda get why it comes up with this one.

      But no, nobody picks up/comments on anything else on my desk, and I have some other pretty interesting objects in view when you come through the door. I think your co worker is being weird and I don’t think it’s a you problem at all.

    3. Badger*

      To be less annoyed in the future I would just assume she is a distractable person (as am I) and say something directly. “Hi X, I’m quick to lose my focus so when you come around, can you tell me what it’s about? [When we go into chatting about what’s on my desk it gets me out of work mode which is hard to get back into].”
      Or whatever white lie make sense to you.

      You can of course also be more direct.” Hey can you please not touch that”, which you might need to repeat a few times until she gets that it’s about the whole desk.

      But don’t seethe about something that’s so easily corrected.

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      Ummmm. We’re in a pandemic and she’s TOUCHING stuff on your desk? I would whip out the Lysol wipes right in front of her and wipe down anything she touched while giving her a wane, polite smile

  48. I got a raise, and now there's drama*

    An aside question, in the state of GA, are you entitled to know what your coworkers make? I know we have a legally protected right to discuss amongst ourselves, but am I entitled to see the payscale for the whole company?

    I had made a case a few weeks ago for a 25% pay raise. I had well though out, concrete bullets points as to why I should make that much more.
    Yesterday the bosses agreed that I did deserve the 25% raise, but since business is still down compared to 2019, they couldn’t offer that. They offered 12.5%, which was the minimum to get me to stop looking for other jobs.
    Well the rest of the company got 5%. I was asked not to tell anyone but my husband. Well I knew that was not a legally enforceable request, but I didn’t call them on it. Apparently they feared there would be a mass resignation? But everyone with whom I had discussed salary felt we were ALL being underpaid, but me more so than anyone else.
    I did tell my husband that I got a larger raise than he did, and he is beyond upset. And I get it. I told him that he needed to be the one to make the case to bosses for his own raise. But he thinks it shouldn’t be on all of us workers to ensure that there is pay equity. It shouldn’t, I agree, but sometimes you need to advocate for yourself.

    Ugh. I like my raise, but it sucks that it made my husband so upset.

    1. Gracely*