open thread – December 17-18, 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.

{ 861 comments… read them below }

  1. Moving on*

    Would like stories and/or advice about transitioning into a healthier work environment

    I will start a new job at the beginning of next year. Since I already knew another person who works there I got some information about the overall culture beforehand. During the interviews I met the entire (small) team I will be part of and basically everything I heard was confirmed. I apparently have to look forward to a bunch of genuinely nice, helpful and professional people. :)
    In my previous workplace I had some co-workers who mostly managed nice and helpful, though not always at the same time, but professionalism was mostly lacking. I blame it on the team leads we had.

    For commenters who made similar transitions – how did you mentally prepare for the change?
    Did you just observe the others and and managed to relax after a while or were you more proactive about the process?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Honestly, I didn’t. I didn’t know what to expect.

      I did manage to relax after a (long) while because that’s easier when your coworkers and superiors are reasonable people who don’t treat you like you’re stupid, but it’s been years and I’m still super grateful for my institution’s sanity and humane attitude toward us. And my previous job wasn’t even terrible, it was just a pretty typical service-type job where you don’t have any control over anything.

      1. Moving on*

        Same here on the service-type job and lack of control. There will be so much more going forward I straight up can decide all by myself. As long as I communicate what’s going on work-wise and keep track of my deadlines I’m left to my own devices.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          My current job is like that but it’s fine. There was more direction when I was new, of course, but once I had the hang of it they left me alone (in a good way). They’re good about communicating any special instructions for each project so I’m not abandoned, they just stay out of my hair unless there’s an emergency or they have concrete reason to think I’m off-base.

          It’s not as scary as it probably looks right now, I promise.

    2. AlreadyGone*

      Hi! I started a new job a few months ago after leaving an extraordinarily toxic work environment.
      I definitely began by sitting back and observing (and marveling at the professionalism in leadership). I also took note–mentally at least–of the things I appreciated and wanted to emulate myself.
      That said, old habits/PTSD can be hard to just transition away from. I am definitely a bit more guarded, but I also try to open up and share when appropriate. I know what is professional to share at work (ex: general plans for fun on the weekend when someone asks) so I try to keep those chats limited to those topics–so I can still appear open and friendly without violating any of my own boundaries. I was worried I would be TOO guarded, so this has served me well.
      Congrats and good luck! My switch was wonderful for my overall health (including mental); hope yours will be too.

      1. Moving on*

        Congrats to the new job and the health improvements! Some “marveling at the professionalism…” already happened at various points throughout the interview process.

        You make a good point about emulating behavior. I tried to stick to my boundaries as much as possible and felt supported in that by talking to others outside of work and reading here. That will likely get a lot easier though going forward, since I doubt I will be seen as stuck-up or overly reserved when most of the new team would be described in similar terms by my previous co-workers.

        Along with the likely much healthier work environment I’m looking at a much improved commute. That should help a bunch.

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’ve been keeping a journal since I started my new job to help me process the change. I know the unhealthy job mindset can stick around if you don’t deal with it, so making a deliberate effort to identify the healthy patterns at my new job and the way those were different from the unhealthy patterns at my old job has been helpful.

      1. Moving on*

        I had a vague idea about journaling but no concrete goal to connect it to. I like your approach and will keep it in mind.

    4. PrairieEffingDawn*

      I’m currently a month in to this very transition and it is a process. I’ve been simultaneously stunned at the clarity and definition of expectations and worried that everything is going to come crashing down around me at any minute. It’s getting better.

      I’ve found myself stuck in old behaviors that I’m slowly trying to unravel. It turns out at organized companies not every project is a last minute panic. I don’t really have any advice, but you’re right to expect that this may be a bit of a culture shock and it will take some time to get used to a healthy culture. Congratulations!

      1. Moving on*

        Thank you! Yes, your first paragraph is basically me at the moment and I expect my first weeks to be similar.

        Tbh I moved to the previous job from an even worse one* so some stuff I can thankfully anticipate. The previous job however simply was better in comparison, not actually good. Thanks to the plague I stayed a lot longer than expected.

        *Screaming boss, harassment, unclear expectations, no/abusive communication

    5. It'sABonesDay*

      So, I have the unfortunate (maybe?) tendency to not have much of a personality for the first 6-ish months of a new job. I keep it friendly and professional, of course, but I like to get a handle on the office politics and culture before I open up a bit.

      But having transitioned from a frightfully toxic environment into one that’s pretty fantastic, the biggest challenge I had was relearning how to behave in a non-abusive environment. Unlearning those trauma responses took awhile, and (4 years on) I still sometimes catch myself thinking that it’s “not my place” to contact the Big Boss ever, at all and other things like that. I can’t remember the interaction that prompted it, something minor and very regular in a normal environment, but I felt that I needed to explain to my immediate supervisor that my last workplace was abusive and I was still unlearning the habits I had to pick up there to fly under the radar. It was awkward, but she was really good about it and it made me feel better to know that she had the background.

      I hope that the situation you’re leaving isn’t that level of bad, but the move will be good even if there may be some bumps along the way. Already knowing someone there is super helpful, too.

      1. Moving on*

        It definitely gave me some useful insight and I used it to compare some answers to my questions I’d gotten while talking to the new team. Turns out those straightforward comments had no hidden meanings and actually meant what they said.

        If you don’t mind speaking a bit to how you approached that conversation with you boss, I’d love to read more. I’m not sure yet if something like that will be necessary. Since I had a bit of a voluntary break between the two jobs, I already had to face the fact the I was a good deal more angry about some things than expected.

        1. It'sABonesDay*

          It was something I had been thinking about for awhile so I mostly had an idea of what I wanted to say, but it actually ended up happening in the moment. Whatever it was, she got a look on her face that very obviously said “this is weird”, so I knew I had to handle it immediately or risk undermining myself (I’m not a new professional by any stretch, but I’m still young enough to be her daughter). It was 2ish years ago, so I can’t remember exactly what I said, but it was to the effect of “Okay, yeah, that was weird. You’ve probably picked up on some other stuff, and there’s a reason. I make it a point to never speak negatively about a previous employer, but you should know that my last job was textbook abusive and I’m still working on unlearning things.”

          A lot of my issues were wrapped up in hierarchy and allowable autonomy, and not performance things, so I didn’t have to worry about her being concerned about my work quality. I chose to give her an example (I somehow was required to verbally thank the org president for the equivalent of a $5 starbucks gift card holiday gift, while simultaneously forbidden from speaking to him because I wasn’t C-level), but I chose that because I wanted to demonstrate that it was a them problem and not a “I can’t handle personal interactions” thing. It was a situation specific judgment call.

          1. Moving on*

            Thank you for the in-depth reply!
            Yeah, definitely judgement call. I’m pretty similar re. comments about previous employers. I will take some time to think about one or two examples I could use, if needed.

      2. LC*

        Figuring out the habits and behaviors that you have to unlearn is a huge one.

        I first noticed it the first time I asked to take time off. I felt the need to justify it so he knew it was important but also play it down, like “but if it’s not okay, that’s cool, I just wanted to check, it’s totally fine either way” or whatever.

        He was so confused, especially since he’d already explained to me that as long as I check the calendar and literally everyone isn’t already off, I don’t really need to request time, just let him know when it’ll be. And I remembered him saying that, it’s not like I forgot. I just didn’t believe him. I’m getting better at that though, they haven’t given me any reason to not believe them. It’s just kind of engrained behavior that I have to unlearn.

        1. It'sABonesDay*

          Oh my god, the time off thing– yes! I’m at a university in a “faculty-lite” position (70% of the perks like what I’m about to describe, none of the teaching or tenure hoops to jump through) and I still haven’t wrapped my head around the fact that I officially don’t have to request or take PTO when I’m sick. I just tell my boss I’m not feeling well and don’t go to the office. Like, that’s the official procedure. You mean I can just stay home when I’m sick??? And not worry about PTO approval???????????

          1. Moving on*

            Due to coverage issue there were some strict guidelines about time-off requests (mostly justified). From what I could glean so far, I might have more flexibility in that regard going forward. I guess I’ll observe first how the others handle it.

      3. PrairieEffingDawn*

        Hah, I really like your assessment of not having a personality for the first 6 months. This is something I totally go through as well but only recognized it now as I read your comment. It’s so true though, and I think it’s why I always go through a bit of a self-loathing period at the start of a new job–because I’m literally not myself!

        For what it’s worth, I think there’s some value in allowing a slow unfold of your full self. It’s partially self preservation but also just kind of a natural process of getting to know people over time. At my previous (toxic) job there was a lot of rushed and forced familiarity from my supervisor and coworkers which left me feeling overwhelmed and turned off.

    6. Green Beans*

      I just transitioned to a waaayyyy more functional workplace.

      One thing that’s helped is noting when I’m tense or feeling stressed and thinking “what my expectations? Do they align with my observations and experiences in this specific workplace?”

      I got a tiny bit stressed over a big project last week and at first I felt completely overwhelmed (oldjob had no structure beyond what I created.) And then I realized I was stressed because I felt like I would have to build a lot of structure, but in reality the structure already existed. So I went and actually looked at structure, then talked briefly to my boss during a 1:1 about the transition speed (it was fine, but I needed to hear that I had support.)

      Which helped a lot, both in making me realize that I’m in a different workplace, reducing stress/stress response, and in helping build a good relationship with new boss.

      1. Cartographical*

        I was about to say something like in your second paragraph — make note of when you feel uncomfortable or anxious, OP, preferably a journal note to make it concrete. You can expand on that by writing down why/your expectations and contrast it with what you observe or what your workplace now has said should happen in these situations as well as what actually happens.

        Likewise, be cautious and make note of when you find yourself having old-workplace reactions. If you find an exchange leaves you with a familiar tension or you feel yourself shrinking in the face of a situation or comment, try to dissect it instead of accepting it as normal. It could just be an old reflex or you could have run up against a minor instance of dysfunction that could be a trigger. Sometimes those minor things can be resolved instead of being a trigger you come to dread but are instinctively accepting as inevitable. Sometimes they can’t be changed but by observing them you can put them in perspective instead of having your day ruined when that trigger brings back all the old negativity and fear.

        1. Moving on*

          Yes, I suspect that I have a good amount of contrast/compare ahead of me. Due to a good amount of recovery work for non-work stuff I hope to fall back on those skills or rework them as needed.

    7. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      I recently went through this. As other commenters have mentioned, there’s a lot of sitting back and just soaking in the new norms. I also found it helpful to find a sort of cultural mentor on my team who I can bounce questions off of. She’s not my boss, but she’s friendly and happy to field my odd questions about “how does the company handle x when it goes sideways?” or even questions about how busy I should be, if this person is *actually* difficult or if I am just perceiving them that way. Basically a gut-check. I also found that I was reading and rereading people’s emails and other correspondence so I could emulate tone in my own emails. Also, don’t be afraid to schedule yourself for a long weekend after a couple months – I found having some extra time to decompress during the transition helped me reset my normal.

      1. Moving on*

        Mmh, I already have someone in mind that could work with. Since they will be part of my training I suppose I could use the time for the occasional cultural question.
        Time to decompress, there is an idea. I get a lot more vacation days going forward, might as well use it. :)

        I’m glad you landed well and hope things keep being stable going forward!

    8. Enna*

      I took some time to think about how being in a less professional environment had affected the way I communicated/reacted. That environment can rub off on you more than you know. I took scenarios of where I remembered particularly egregious examples of unprofessionalism and kind of thought through how it should have been.

      I also made a mental list of things to take note of early on (how are people addressed, I work in academia do they typically use the honorifics, are emails generally expected to be to the point or have some friendly personal extras, etc.)

      I came in then ready to err on the side of professionalism, take a breath before hitting send on emails, etc until I can settle into the new culture and match what is expected.

      1. Moving on*

        I actually use something similar to those thought experiments outside of work. I think that approach will work really well for me. Thanks for the inspiration!

    9. Smithy*

      If at all possible – I strongly recommend seeking out therapy and/or job coaching that acknowledges addressing some of the more emotional sides of working in problematic places.

      Like other commenters have said, giving yourself time will help with a lot but I think it can also leave you vulnerable to getting caught off guard by your trauma responses/defense mechanisms during particular stressful moments. For me, I still have particularly ingrained responses around evaluations/PME’s – and so at least that’s a situation where I can prepare to seek out therapy/support around my initial reactions that stem from those past bad environments. But the risk remains that something more surprising happens at work that can bring you back to that place and your immediate responses aren’t the ones you want relying on.

      1. Moving on*

        I do suspect I will have to adjust my expectations around being ‘allowed’ to speak up and tackling things proactively a lot more than previously. I guess if I don’t manage to react in the moment I might fall back on suggestions Alison made on how to address issues after the fact.

        Thankfully I don’t worry too much about evaluations. I basically almost always got great feedback and I am confident in my ability to respond well to and integrate constructive criticism. I likely gotta make peace with the fact that I cannot prepare for everything and sometimes will simply have to give myself some grace and address some things as they come up.

    10. Jellyfish*

      Not saying this will happen to you, but I moved from a really awful environment to a passable environment where I was not a great fit.

      I was so glad the new place wasn’t as bad as the old place that I ignored or overlooked lots of the issues. Instead, I was content with not being screamed at and lied to, so I didn’t critically evaluate my experiences with the new place. There were problems I might have solved, but I accepted things as they were instead of making suggestions or improvements. The company was frustrated with my lack of innovation (understandably), and it became better for me to move on after a few years.

      I guess, be careful not to be so impressed with basic decency that you forget it’s okay to notice problems or advocate for yourself.

      1. Smithy*

        This echoes my experience and why I flagged perhaps seeking out therapy. My job after a very bad place wasn’t utter trash, and I basically spent a few years recovering and rediscovering my voice and self esteem.

        I’d consider that employer as an overall average workplace in my sector that worked well for some, but could be incredibly disappointing to problematic for others. Upon reflection, there were some issues that perhaps had I been more assertive early on, my time there might have been better. However, I was also just thrilled to be in a place where I could do things like take bereavement leave after my dad passed without being yelled at that I wasn’t as critical of other issues that I should have been.

        I also really wanted to believe that “nice” traits of my boss were synonymous with “best practice” traits. Since I wasn’t being lied to, yelled at, misled, etc etc etc that I must be working for a manager who was leading our team in the best way possible and making appropriate business decisions. All of this to say, that you don’t need to be working somewhere that is the worst ever in the history of toxic evil employers for it to really dent your self esteem and how you perceive your own decision making.

      2. Moving on*

        Your summary nails one of my worries pretty well. I’ll definitely will keep that in mind.

        To the extent it was ‘allowed’ I already made suggestions in my previous job, but a frustrating number of them went nowhere and towards the end I sometimes just didn’t bother.

        It was actually mentioned by several people during the interview process that feedback is both welcome and expected. I hope that that will be enough to recover my motivation to speak up early.

        1. Moving on*

          Edit, because I just not saw Smithy’s comment. First sentence refers to Jellyfish.

          Re: 3rd paragraph of Smithy’s reply
          The transition from second to last to recent job was like that. It was a massive improvement in some major aspects, but in many ways they simply achieved the bare baseline of decent behavior. Towards the end a lot of stuff that I could deal with for a while culminated in a way that made it clear within a few weeks that I had to leave asap.

    11. CatMintCat*

      It probably took me afull year in a functional job before I stopped doing and saying weird things and having off balance expectations. Even now, occasionally, my boss will look at me and say “I’m not *former toxic boss*” (he knows her well). Re-setting those habits and expectations doesn’t always happen quickly.

    12. Alternative Person*

      I leaned on my most formal workplace manners and dress until I figured out the lay of the land. I came off as a little stiff and serious during that first six months-year or so, but I got a great sense of all the ins and outs as well as the various politics going on.

    13. Windchime*

      I was coming from a very toxic and unhappy workplace, so I decided before I moved to the healthier place that I was going to just keep my head down, refuse to engage in gossip, be pleasant and do my work. I really think that sticking to my new rules helped me to adjust quickly, and I really did make some very good friends there. I was also a lot happier; there were a few people early on who tried to engage me in gossip and I didn’t take the bait, so that stopped them from making future attempts.

      Good luck!

  2. Sunflower*

    Can anyone suggest good resources (a blog, Instagram or other informal site is primarily what I’m looking for vs official database) on how to evaluate sales/account management/business development/recruiting type jobs?

    I’m hoping to change industries and start applying for jobs in sales but I have no idea where to start. Im pretty clueless on compensation breakdown (salary vs commission) and I imagine it varies based on industry (I know I can check Glassdoor for this as well). I’m also looking for guidance on how to search for jobs I want and avoid ones I don’t. For example, I know what kind of travel schedule and time spent client facing vs office/WFH etc I’m looking for and am looking for advice on how to read the job listings to suss this out. When I search for these kinds of roles, there are WAY more available than there ever was when I was looking for jobs in my industry and there’s no way I have time to apply for all of these so just looking for some ways to scan the job listings and know which ones to toss and keep!

    1. Fabulous*

      I don’t know what your background is, but I work for a pharmaceutical and medical sales company with both inside (phone) and outside (field) sales. My company is worldwide and has a ton of different products they sell, specialized sales teams and overall a great setup. You might start by looking at something similar so you can get a good support system for training, etc. as you start out. I don’t know that you’d get the same with a small company. I don’t have a background at all in Healthcare, and while I’m not a salesperson, many of them don’t have that background either.

    2. 30 Years in the Biz*

      If you’re looking in the pharm or med device industry, Cafepharma has a message board where you can post questions about particular companies or roles and what to expect. I’ve seen valuable information about commissions, structure and leadership on these boards. There is bias of course, but the things I saw about one company I worked for were pretty on point.

  3. Should i apply?*

    Technical leads and project managers, any recommendations for systems on planning tasks to do and tracking status for a group that is relatively simple?

    Background: I am technical lead on a section of a large product development project. We have a PM but because the project is so large I end of basically being a PM for my section. The work isn’t standard, half my time seems to be trying to figure out what work we should be doing. That plus trying to track everyones status leaves me with hardly any time to get my technical work done.

    Constraints:
    1. We use MS Teams and due to our IT restrictions I can’t get outside software
    2. The team is mostly remote
    3. We aren’t software and no one is trained on Agile

    1. A Cataloger*

      Teams has a couple of built in apps that could be used. Tasks by Planner is similar to Trello and I’ve found useful in several different groups I’m on. Each group uses it slightly differently, it’s easy to adapt to what works best for you. You have options to assign tasks to people, there are color coding options, and ‘buckets’ you can move tasks between. Lists is another one that I’ve looked at, and looks promising, but I haven’t used it in a group yet. Good luck.

      1. Two Dog Night*

        I agree–Tasks by Planner isn’t robust, but it’s not bad. The biggest challenge will be getting other people to keep it updated. But even if you have to do all the updating, at least it’s all in one place.

    2. Xavier Desmond*

      If you are on Teams have you tried Microsoft Planner and ToDo?

      You can assign tasks to people and groups and keep track of them on there.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Not a technical lead/project manager, but I do work on projects. The various trackers different projects have used are:

      1. SCRUM board/SCRUM tasks in Teams (good for seeing individual tasks and can create checklists for smaller items inside larger tasks)
      2. Microsoft Project (good for Gantt chart style tracking)
      3. Microsoft Excel RAIL (rolling action item list–good for tracking by task)
      4. Microsoft Excel Gantt chart (good for tracking by time)

    4. Eng Proj Mgr*

      Another simple way is the classic Excel Open Issue List kept in a Teams sharepoint directory.
      This allows the file to be accessed and updated by team members.
      Whatever tool you do use make sure to have the Big Three answered : Who / What / When

      Key things in general:
      What is the Issue/Task – include detailed description
      Who is going to do the work
      When was it assigned
      When is it due / commitment for completion
      Comments on status tracked by date

      1. Should i apply?*

        Reading these comments getting this information is more of my issue than the specific tools. I have no authority to “assign” work and I am struggling with getting people to commit to doing tasks and keeping their commitment on when it will be done/ updating their status.

        I don’t want to have daily meetings with people to be “what are you working on today” because then I will never get my own work done.

        1. Birdy*

          If you don’t have the authority, it sounds like it’s not your job/problem and someone else should be dealing with it. If it IS your job/problem, then you should have authority to assign tasks and receive updates. Maybe you need clarification on your role and expectations for you and your team rather than just software recs from us.

        2. DEEngineer*

          I work on projects with PMs. I started here about 7 months ago, and it is the most functional place I’ve ever worked. The PMs typically have weekly meetings, and just keep a OneNote or Word doc with the meeting notes and actions. It honestly amazes me how much progress is made each week. People jump in and volunteer to take things on and get things done. I’m sorry I can’t help you more, but its in contrast to the last place I worked, where PMs had regular updates (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) and had to reach out a day in advance to remind people that their deliverables were due, and then people would frantically get their commitments done if they wanted to. I think it is a cultural difference, but also has to do with the org structure – whether people are full-time project resources or have another job. I’m in R&D, so everything is project-based and I don’t have many background/routine responsibilities. It sounds like you know what you need to do, and there aren’t any shortcuts. You’ll have to get clear on requirements, and build relationships so that your colleagues want to help and don’t want to disappoint you. You also might see if you can get any formal PM training – Change Management focus is very helpful when it comes to communicating change, getting buy-in, and identifying human obstacles and solutions. It’s less about learning tools and more about understanding team dynamics and how to get things done well. You’ll probably need to assume more authority than you think you have. It’s hard but absolutely possible!

    5. SleepyHollowGirl*

      I worked at a job where people used Google sheets (basically excel) for work item tracking. We had a bug tacking system, but it was common to use sheets to create and track bugs and then sync the sheets with the bugs.

  4. The Smiling Pug*

    So, I’m currently interviewing for a position that’s fully remote and more along the lines of what I want to do career-wise. However, the company is headquartered in New York and I’m in Texas. But, I’ll be working at the Texas division of the company. Does this mean I have to pay New York state income tax as well as FICA?

    1. Name (Required)*

      You pay taxes where you live, regardless of where the company is located. Even if you were working for the NY division of the company, you would be paying TX taxes.

      1. The Smiling Pug*

        Ok thank you! This means I’ll only be paying FICA, because Texas doesn’t have a state income tax.

      2. Rosie*

        Careful with this. New York in particular has “grabby” tax laws so you might have to pay TX and NY if you were working from TX for the NY branch. Always consult a tax accountant with questions for individual situations.

        1. The Smiling Pug*

          Ok thank you! I’ll be sure to do that, because I’m not sure the online calculator I used was right.

      3. Not A Manager*

        I just found a recent US News article titled How Remote Work Could Affect Your 2021 Income Tax. According to that, New York will tax your income.

    2. Not a Tax Professional*

      New York has a “convenience of the employer” tax rule that may affect you. It sounds bogus, but NY has written their tax laws in such a way that remote workers of businesses based in NY can be taxed by NY, even if they don’t live in or ever set foot in NY. I’d check out NY tax law (third option on my Google search was their site) and consult a tax professional.

      Anecdotally, I had a friend start working for a NY based business while living in GA and they had to pay both GA and NY taxes.

      1. The Smiling Pug*

        I’m probably going to have to go to a professional in this case. I haven’t visited the state of New York since 2008, so the “remote workers can be taxed” clause is good to know.

    3. Kesnit*

      I will just second what others have said – you will likely have to pay both.

      I live in NC and work in VA. I pay both NC and VA income tax.

        1. NY Anon*

          FYI, you will pay FICA (Social Security) & FWT (federal withholding tax) and possibly NYS withholding tax.

    4. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

      If they have a physical location in texas that would be considered your home base and so you would pay taxes for that state (maybe city and county too).

      there are lots of companies that have their main branch in one place but satellites in other states. You should be fine.

      good luck with the new job!

      1. The Smiling Pug*

        I don’t think they have a physical location anywhere. From what I’ve seen, they’re 100% remote and I think I’m going to be working at the Texas satellite branch.

        Thank you so much! I’m hoping that this turns out well.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          If they have a branch in Texas and you are assigned to that branch, you will very likely not pay NY taxes.

          My company is based in NY, I am 100% remote, I do not pay NY taxes. My partner is based in Missouri, he is assigned to the MO office, we do not live in MO, he pays MO taxes.

          1. The Smiling Pug*

            That makes sense. I’m wondering if it’s something I should bring up in the Zoom interview later this month.

          2. Public Sector Manager*

            I agree. Paying NY taxes would only be an issue if they didn’t have a Texas office. But if you live in Texas, and they have a Texas office, you shouldn’t have to pay NY taxes at all. But their HR department should know off the top of their heads. Not a difficult issue to bring up during a Zoom.

            Congress outlawed two states taxing you on the same income. However, that doesn’t help you in states like Texas where there is no income tax.

            1. The Smiling Pug*

              I’ve done research that’s given me two answers, but I think in this case that I should probably just ask.

              1. Clisby*

                Yes, that’s the way to go. I’ve worked remotely from both GA and SC for a company located in OH, and never paid Ohio income taxes. My husband has worked for companies in NY and MA, and just paid SC income taxes. However, none of that involved a state with no income tax.

  5. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    How are y’all with health problems holding up? I am concerned that I’m not physically or mentally able to work full time without getting ill, but of course you need insurance. Right now I have stomach issues, leg pain and a terrible cold. I can never tell when to take a break because I am concerned that one day won’t help and then I’ll have double work the next day.

    1. A Teacher*

      Not so great. I’ve had more fibro flare ups than ever and my migraines seem to be worse and last longer. I’m a teacher and this is the worst year I’ve had in a lot of years in education–and its not my students for the most part. My classes are actually good this year… its all the other stresses attached to teaching or like today where they keep doing TikTok challenges to make education worse

    2. KoiFeeder*

      Wrenched my shoulder out of place doing laundry, which is about the stupidest way to experience a dislocation.

      And then the urgent care gave me ibuprofen and (metaphorically) patted me on the head and told me that stress exacerbates feelings of pain. I was definitely more stressed after that visit than I was before!

      (Fortunately, there are resources for EDS folks who need to self-relocate their joints, and that worked.)

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Ouch. Having a rare disease must be hard because doctors seem to think if you can’t be cured by eating a salad well, that’s it.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          Ehlers-Danlos isn’t even that rare! It’s, what, as common as having red hair is? It’s just not considered important for doctors to know anything about.

          An unfortunate benefit(?) of the pandemic is that my primary care actually asked me about resources for folks with POTS (often comorbid with EDS and something I also have) because it’s a common post-covid condition. And I’m not even sure it’s a benefit because I’d rather just have doctors believe me without more people having suffer to make my conditions “common” enough for them.

    3. Red 5*

      Not doing that great over here either. I know that I need an extended time away from work and general life responsibilities to start recovering from the mental health toll of the burn out I’ve been dealing with, but because of my health issues every time I do manage to wrench a day or two of vacation away from our busy schedule at work, I spend it on the phone with doctor’s offices and the insurance company (who are currently denying the claim for the one thing that’s been helping me because it’s not “fixing” the problem, so it must not be medically necessary, nevermind that it helps me feel better because the problem isn’t fixable).

      I’m so exhausted that I don’t know how much longer I can do this if I’m being honest. Something’s gotta give and I just don’t know which thing it’s going to be yet.

      I desperately wish that companies would realize that getting a day off shouldn’t mean that you still have to do the same amount of work but in less work hours.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Nod. We don’t have enough people to cover even the very basics of my job- still struggling for vacation coverage because of Christmas.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        I’ve been there with the insurance company. I know my doctor pointed out that one of my medications fixes the problem of me dying randomly and young, if that’s a tactic you can take?

    4. Incoming Principal*

      We have generous PTO but I don’t even know what is acceptable. We are working steadily to close for Christmas so I am busy but not crunched. I am mortified but still prioritise my health and am so grateful for insurance. This is my first year actually using it and it has been a life saver.
      The in-person medical appointments are what scares me the most as I am not on my computer. Have to do one more 2-hour MRI before Christmas. Just confirmed I need to go into a third month of weekly physio appointments but can’t book anything until January. I have to get an injection in the hip in January and was told to get a half day off of work…
      Productivity is also abysmal. ADHD been acting-up so insomnia over a few days, my GP who has been prescribing my Concerta and Ritalin for ages (after being released from the specialist) does not care, and it would take months to go back to the ADHD specialist to see if she can change my meds or something.
      Migraines off the chain. Had to urgently refill my prescription.
      Menorrhagia back with a vengeance including the dreaded rectal spasms. This cycle the meds seem to have stopped working.
      I am just glad all this happened after all the reviews were submitted and I already got my appraisal…
      Hoping to be slightly healthier in February (Jan not looking good).

    5. WhimsicalMoose*

      I’ve been holding up, but I’m not sure how much longer I can do it for. But I finally managed to get an appointment with my specialist, and he filled out some ADA paperwork for me to work from home full-time, so hopefully that will be an improvement. Also got his office fighting with my insurance to get approval for yet another drug that may or may not help. Right now I’m still in limbo on both those things (holiday staffing issues, I’m sure), but I’m hopefully gonna get some more wiggle room soon.

    6. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      My body decided I needed weird GI issues for some reason. It is more irksome than debilitating because prior to this I had zero not-self-inflicted health issues (self-inflicted = various aches and pains of marathons and training for them), so I am not used to having to account for something chronic. It sucks, smells bad, and thus far no clue why it is happening.

    7. Gatomon*

      My stomach meds are >$800 a year if paying by cash, and without those I’m constantly sick and barely functional.

      While I can work full time okay, I’ve been fully remote for over a year now and it’s working much better for me physically. Some of my medicines have to be carefully timed and I can manage it much better at home. In general I avoid a lot of the triggers for my chronic non-allergic rhinitis and asthma by staying in my own bubble of purified air. Even though I work in an office building, it’s not as clean as having my own air purifier next to me at home and I still get exposed to all the triggers during my commute.

      Mentally things are more mixed. I’ve got a good daily routine going now to be productive in general, but I tend to push myself harder when remote. I really need to start scheduling time off instead of just working until I feel I might break, then scheduling a few days a month out since my calendar is already booked till then. I have pushed through migraines and mild illnesses while remote that I definitely would’ve gone home sick for if I was in person just for fear of falling behind or having to make a coworker pick up my “slack.”

  6. The Morning Report*

    Is it normal for commissions to work in the negative? A mistake made by an operator on a job nearly cost me $100 from a paycheck, and I’m not sure if that’s normal or not. I’ve never worked on commission before. This was something that I would have no control over when it happened, though I can definitely take steps now to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

    1. awkwardoctopus*

      Nope, not normal. Mistakes happen and the company should absorb it – that’s just a cost of doing business.

    2. Name (Required)*

      There are usually guidelines in the Terms and Conditions of your sales plan that cover this. Do you have an actual written sales plan?

      That said, it is very normal in professional sales for commission overpayments to be paid back.

    3. I'm that guy*

      That’s not how commissions are supposed to work at all. You are supposed to get a base salary and then a bonus (the commission) for hitting certain goals above a baseline. You should never get a ‘negative commission’ that’s just not a thing and probably not legal.

      1. Velociraptor Attack*

        The idea of a base salary and then commission being the standard is not entirely accurate. Base plus commission is generally a pretty rare thing to see in my experience.

        1. I'm that guy*

          Really? It’s been 25 years since I worked on commission. I guess that things have changed. My father was also in sales and it was always base plus commission, but they always screwed him. They’d set up a commission structure, he’d crush it and then they’d balk at paying it and set up a new one and he’d crush it too. He was just one of those guys who could sell snow to Eskimos. You’d think that they would want to compensate him well because he was bringing them so much business. Just remembering it makes my blood boil.

    4. Ann Perkins*

      This is industry dependent. I’ve worked adjacent to insurance sales, and it’s possible in that world for commissions to go in the negative.

      An example is that if a customer purchases a policy with $2000 annual premium and the agent receives 50% of that, they’ll receive the full 50% upfront (so paid $1000 even if the client is paying the premiums on a monthly basis). But if the client cancels the policy within the first year, your premium credit gets prorated back. So if they only paid 3 months’ worth ($500) now your commission is only $250, and you owe $750 of commissions back.

      1. Frustrated Freelancer*

        This sounds like publishing! You get royalties based on sales, but when bookstores or buyers return books, those end up being deducted against future royalties so you can go back in the negative. Sigh.

    5. BeadsNotBees*

      I have seen this done in several industries, and it’s usually outlined in some kind of Sales policy/plan. Typically it’s due to customer returns/cancellations within a grace period, but I’ve also seen it under other circumstances (customer discounts because of company error, special terms for callback services being subtracted, etc.) Basically you are making commissions on income you brought in for the company- if that income doesn’t happen or is discounted, so is the commission you make on the sale.

    6. Here we go again*

      Sounds like you’ve been “charged back” and it Depends if your paid on delivered products or sold products. If you’re paid on sold and they cancel the order they can deduct what you’ve been paid for that order on your next check. Delivered is better because much less likely to have charge backs. Your commission structure should’ve been given out day one or gone over during an interview.
      I quit a job because they didn’t outline charge backs and how and why and when they did them. they charged me back on my draw which ended up less than minimum wage (draw is a loan against a monthly commission) would’ve made more money working part time at Taco Bell.

    1. Grand Admiral Thrawn Is Blue Forevermore*

      I loved this BUT orange cats aren’t generally less smart. My beautiful orange male Toby was quite intelligent. The only thing that saved him from taking over the world was his deeprooted love of sleeping as much as he could. He’s passed now, sadly.

      1. Virginia Plain*

        But Toby, no matter his powerful intellect, does not constitute a statistically significant sample. We need more orange/ginger cat data! :-)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Every orange cat I’ve known (sample size: 3) has been sweet as pie and dumb as rocks.

          1. Sc@rlettNZ*

            I concur. I’m pretty certain that orange cats share one brain cell between them and take turns using it.

            Our cameo cat however, he’s Einstein in cat form.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Husband’s tuxie girl is even sweeter and dumber than any orange cat I’ve experienced though.

        2. Indywind*

          The “orange cats are dumber” position only has anecdata, so anecdata is sufficient to counter it.

          My dear departed neutered male orange tabby was quite smart: knew his name, learned to do several tricks on voice or gesture commands like a dog; walked on leash and harness, eviscerated catnip-filled toy mice to get the catnip out and electronic squeaking toy mice to stop the annoying squeaking, opened boxes, bags, doors even slightly ajar, or window screens — the last was was his downfall, as he let himself out a poorly secured window and was hit by a car and died of his injuries. Even a pretty smart cat is no match for a speeding automobile.
          Of his successors, calico female is the next most clever, then another orange tabby male, then a brown tabby male who couldn’t figure out how to use a treat-dispensing toy until the calico showed him.

          1. After 33 years ...*

            My two orange cats were the smartest two cats I have ever hosted. Sample size: 15 cats hosted, plus numerous visitors.

        3. Can't Sit Still*

          In the area where I grew up, orange cats were so notoriously vicious that no one would own one, not even for a barn cat. This resulted in a primarily black and white cat population, since the red gene had mostly been removed from the population.

        4. Whynot*

          My (sadly departed) orange kitty lived to be almost 21, and while she wasn’t an Einstein she was plenty smart and pretty adaptable, even into her old age. At 16, she moved with us to the UK, and then back again to the US a few years later, followed six months on by another move from WA to TX. She had an amazing case of Resting Crankyface, particularly excelled in finding inaccessible-to-humans hiding places, and I’ll miss her always.

      2. Blomma*

        Yes, my dearly departed orange tabby was not dumb. We had a house panther on the other hand who, although extremely loving and enthusiastic about being part of our family, was kind of simple. It definitely depends on the individual cat, not their coloring.

        1. CatMintCat*

          I currently have a ginger boy who makes a box of rocks look smart, a calico girl who we tell “It’s just as well you’re pretty” and another calico girl who would give Einstein a run for his money. She can problem solve, open zippers, doors, windows and drawers, and generally get herself into a lot of trouble.

    2. turtleturtleturtle*

      Yes! Was laughing so hard I was crying, while also thinking about it from an AAM perspective.

    3. Virginia Plain*

      The bit about Pam having to officially agree not to butter any coworkers is like the best kind of AAM update, where we the commentariat all cheer and hang out virtual bunting etc. A glorious triumph!

    4. HipsandMakers*

      I came to this thread solely to be certain that The Ballad of Jean and Jorts was retold to this audience.

      The Twitter account is also a fun read. I’ll put it into a reply in case it’s moderated.

      1. The cat’s ass*

        This was delightful and now I want cats in my office! I have a ginger exotic Persian who looks like Gollum and definitely ain’t bright. Not sure if it’s the ginger or the Persian part. He’s really sweet tho.

        1. Leems*

          They’re orange and sweet and not too bright, I assumed. While laughing my fool head off. It’s my favorite detail in the whole story.

    5. allathian*

      That was amazing! My parents had two cats of ordinary European housecat stock (no particular breed). One of them was a polydactyl, stubby-tailed, calico cat who was very smart. He could open doors regardless of whether they opened outward or inward, enjoyed playing fetch as a kitten, and would lick my dad on the nose in the morning, when he pointed to his nose and said “kiss my nose”. When he was a kitten, he could use his extra inner toe on the forepaws like an opposable thumb, for example for holding a piece of string. He lost that flexibility as he grew older, though.

      His diluted ginger tabby brother with white socks was very loving, but also quite stupid for a cat. But whether that has more to do with the fact that he was ginger, or if it was a result of brain damage from falling from a 2nd floor window onto asphalt as a kitten, who knows.

  7. Goose*

    I started a new job this week and I’m super overwhelmed! WFH has been helpful I. Managing that, but I want to be proactive in speaking with my current manager about priorities and to-dos without seeming like I don’t know what I’m doing. Am I overthinking things? This is a brand new role so there’s nothing to reference

    1. PrairieEffingDawn*

      This was me a couple weeks ago. Don’t panic! You’ll be fine. For me I’m a month into a new job and have been on my main project for 3 weeks, I’m remembering that in the first couple weeks at a new company you learn tons of things and basically absorb none of it. After being in the environment for a few weeks things start to come more naturally. Starting a job in the holiday season makes that process take even longer. Give yourself a break!

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think that when you’re starting a new job (congratulations!), it absolutely makes sense to need a fair bit of guidance on priorities and so on! Personally, I would love it if a new employee came to me and said, “hey Wanton, can I ask you about how to prioritize my current assignments? Right now I have X, Y, and Z on my plate, and I could use some guidance about how to gauge their relative importance and urgency, since I’m still learning about the overall office workflow and how my work fits into that context.”

    3. Nea*

      I think you’re overthinking it; a new person in a new role is bound to have questions.

      Would it help to bring the issue to your manager in terms of time-per-task? Then you can show in numbers that you’ve got more than 8 hours per day and you want to make sure what is most important gets prioritized.

    4. Rosie*

      Nah just go to your manager with your current list of to-dos and be like can we go through this and prioritize and am I missing anything? You’ll sound like someone who wants to do things well, not someone who doesn’t know what to do!

    5. Betteauroan*

      If it’s brand new, they don’t know either. You will have to work closely with them to make sure you are all on the same page.

  8. awkwardoctopus*

    Does anyone have advice for interviewing after making a bad first impression?

    I’ve interviewed with the hiring manager previously as part of a panel for another job, which I totally bombed and (obviously) didn’t get the job. To keep it short, I got terrible advice on questions to ask in a panel interview and am embarrassed to even think about it now. That was about 6 years ago. I remember some awkward panel interview candidates from 6+ years ago so it’s likely she’ll remember me.

    Does anyone have advice or suggested language for acknowledging and moving past it? I’d rather bring it up before she does (otherwise it will distract me and throw me off my game) and I’d like to demonstrate that I have enough self-awareness to know it went poorly.

    1. HolidayAmoeba*

      If it was 6 years ago, I doubt she will even remember your previous interview. Even in the off chance that she does, this is a different interview 6 years later. Someone who would reject you for not doing well in an interview 6 years ago isn’t someone you want to work for, because they will old grudges over minor stuff until the end of time.

    2. Manchmal*

      A lot can change in six years! If I encountered someone who’d performed poorly in an interview that long ago (a high-pressure situation that can throw people off easily), I wouldn’t expect or assume that they’d perform that way again. I would definitely not bring it up, and certainly not at the beginning so it can color your whole interview. That was the past, and you’ve developed and grown so much since then, show the hiring manager who you are today. You can certainly acknowledge that you’ve met previously, but if they’re interviewing you again they clearly see something appealing in your materials. I would show up as that person, not with the baggage of many years ago.

    3. Xavier Desmond*

      My instinct from something that long ago is not to mention it. Just show that you are a great candidate this time round and it won’t matter about what you did 6 years ago.

    4. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I honestly think the best way to handle the situation is just to give a better interview than last time. Six years is a long time, and even if she does remember you, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect that a person will have grown and changed over that length of time. If she doesn’t remember you, bringing it up will probably be more harmful to your candidacy. So just give the best interview you can and impress her with your professionalism!

    5. Not A Manager*

      One way to ameliorate it throwing you off your game is to think of the writing maxim “show, don’t tell.” YOU are controlling the narrative by demonstrating your professionalism now.

    6. OTGW*

      I agree with everyone on not bringing it up. Even if (and that’s a big if) she recognizes you, just show them how much you’ve changed from last time and absolutely blow them away with your interviewing skills.

      If she does bring it up, like oh haven’t we met before? or something, I’d say something like, “Yeah! I interviewed here a few years ago. I’ve gained a lot more experience/learned a lot and am excited to go over it all with you. :)” Just brush over it and pivot into how awesome you are.

    7. Tuesday*

      I wouldn’t mention it! She’s definitely unlikely to mention it because that would be a weird thing to do — six years is a long time. If you mention it, it will likely be awkward for her and will risk looking like you are hung up on it. I think the best thing is to behave as though it’s completely behind both of you and make a fresh start.

      If she acknowledges it, it’s likely to come up in a “we’ve met before” kind of way. If it was a really terrible experience, maybe you could say, “I’m looking forward to talking to you about this position which I feel much better suited for” or something like that. But really, I think it’s better to let it go. I’m one of those people who seems cursed with remembering every awkward interaction I’ve ever had, but I’ve learned that most people are not like that at all. There’s a very good chance she won’t remember or will only remember vague details, and so speaking as though you expect her to remember will be more awkward. Even if she does remember, she’ll be looking to learn more about what you’re like NOW, not thinking about what you were like six years ago.

      1. CatDancing*

        Remember the guy who threw condoms all over his interviewer’s desk? Turns out SHE didn’t recollect that at all because she discovered after the interview that she had lipstick on her teeth, which totally consumed all her interpersonal attention — and he never noticed that at all because he was too mortified about the condoms.

        Your interview was six – years – ago. That’s a long time. There’s been a lot of condoms over the desk, since — I mean, water under the bridge.

    8. Virginia Plain*

      I might remember an awkward interviewee from a few years back but I wouldn’t recognise the person having met them only the once that long ago. I interviewed some I think four years ago who told a story in answer to a competency question (problem solving, perchance) about someone’s glass eye falling out. Couldn’t pick them out of a lineup now!

      1. MissDisplaced*

        Probably they interview LOTS of people. I doubt they’ll remember unless you did something super weird or unless you have a super unique name or something.

        If they do remember you, keep it light “Yes, I interviewed here some years ago for a different role.” and quickly pivot.

  9. Meg*

    A happy question to ask! I’ve just started in a department at the local college. As a Christmas gift (“From the department”) I got ~$200 gift card for various crafting places in town (SO NICE, and not at all expected to “give back” to the department in any crafting ways).

    My question is, who do I thank for this? Do a give a thank you card to the dept head? Just say thanks in the hall? I don’t want to appear ungrateful.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I think a thank-you card/in person never really goes amiss, so I guess I’d start with the department head.

      (Where I work, stuff like this usually comes from the executive director and/or HR, but we’re probably a lot smaller than a college, so I’d thank them, but since yours says it’s from the department that seems like a good place to start.)

    2. Policy Wonk*

      What I did in a similar situation was write a thank you note “to the department” (the gift giver) and post it on a communal bulletin board so that people could see it. Given that you are new, I’d add some nice comments about the department being welcoming so the card is for all, not just those who arranged for the gift.

    3. worker bee*

      Former academic and current supervisor here – no need to send a thank you card! You can express a general appreciation in the next meeting or holiday gathering, but when professional gifts flow down, there is not the same expectation of displays of direct gratitude that there might be outside of a work setting.

    4. Pancake*

      Wow – that is really great! When you say ‘department’ – if you mean academic, then you could address to the Chair and ask that it be shared with others. Regardless of the type of department, is there a mailroom or front office where you could post a thank you card?

    5. SyFyGeek*

      You can put a thank you card in the break room/copy room, some place everyone passes through.

      And how nice of your department!

      1. Virginia Plain*

        A home made card if that is one of your crafts! And yes give it to the depot head but ask if it can be placed in the break room or pinned to a bulletin board that everyone sees, so your thanks reach everyone that contributed.

    6. Mr. Cajun2core*

      Send one to the department chair/head. It was most likely that she is the one who authorized the spending. Now, if you know that her assistant went out and got the cards or somehow put some effort into it, just a nice verbal thank you would be appreciated.

      Been in academia for over 10 years.

  10. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I have my first in person interview since 2017.
    It’s at an employer through a recruiter for a staff accountant position in a small/medium sized firm, if any of this is relevant.

    I got the other stuff, experience, culture etc. but I’m struggling with what to wear. I’m 7-8 years on in the working world. Do I really need to wear a suit & Oxford button down? I have a very hard to fit body shape. Like I just cannot do Oxford collar shirts or blazers or slacks or heels anymore.

    Would something like a blouse & pencil skirt be ok?
    (Links in the comment)

    I’m overthinking this aren’t I?

    1. Policy Wonk*

      See if the firm has any social media with work photos to give you an idea of how they dress – might tell you if they are the button-down type of organization. Blouse and pencil skirt sound good to me. I’d add a sweater to fill the place of the usual blazer, finish the look. (My go-to is a black duster-length sweater – bonus it has pockets!)

    2. Nea*

      You’re overthinking. Just look professional – blouse and pencil skirt works just fine.

      I haven’t even owned a suit or button down shirt for years and my disability rules out heels. I interview in a conservative black dress & flats with a contrasting casual blazer.

    3. Nea*

      Adding: Eshakti is fantastic for the hard-to-fit woman, because you can get a dress with pockets tailored to flatter your body shape whatever it may be and whatever your personal fashion sense is.

    4. OTGW*

      You are overthinking :) Hell, even pants would work if you’re not a skirt person or feeling kinda meh about it as well. Flats or loafers are good shoes and very common. Nice, clean, fashionable boots are good options as well.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I don’t think I’ve seen anyone but high school /college boys wear an oxford button down in years and years. Def not necessary.

      The blouse you linked to is spot on for any type of professional office. And very pretty.

    6. OnIt*

      I came from public accounting. You don’t need a suit, but definitely add a jacket. They’ll want to know you can dress well for things like important client meetings.

    7. Hellokitty Supporter*

      I worked in public for years – what do you know about the firms clients? Whatever they expect you to wear to meet clients is what you should interview in. Most firms aren’t strict business professional anymore, unless the clients they service are business professional and they expect you on site. I did financial institution audit, so I did have to dress up a bit for some clients, and some clients didn’t care.

      All that said, I am also plus sized, and look flat out terrible in a button up shirt of any kind. What you’ve picked is great – so great in fact I may order it for myself! Wear a jacket, but it doesn’t have to be a suit. A pencil skirt and a jacket that coordinates is fine. In most firms, you’ll only need the jacket a few times going forward but it’s worth having. Just choose something that will make you feel confident, and not self conscious. You are going to kill it!

    8. Hillary*

      You’ve got this. Go for upper business casual/lower professional for where you live – small/medium firms in general are more casual, and staff positions are much more casual than public accounting. I’m at a big company in the midwest. The only people who wear suits at my company are the executives and the investor relations guy, and that’s only when they’re talking to Wall Street. Our female execs mostly wear dresses and blazers or blouses and slacks.

      I love that blouse and want it. I’d probably pick something with sleeves for your interview, some places are weird about sleeveless. If you run cold a structured cardigan or knit blazer would be a nice touch. Most importantly, wear something that makes you feel confident and polished. Your attitude and posture are way more important than the details of what you’re wearing.

      1. Hillary*

        Our male staff accountants mostly wear oxfords & slacks or quarter zips and jeans. I’m pretty sure the oxfords are because most of them haven’t gone shopping since 2018. A couple of the guys have recently branched out to cardigans, COVID definitely relaxed how we approach our dress code. It’s been dress to the day for years, but everyone still dressed business casual in the before times. Our female accountants wear sweaters or blouses and slacks or jeans.

  11. Sarah*

    Easy question here, but I overthink. I’m a project manager who works with both internal and external customers. I’ll be going on maternity leave soon, and since I’ll be out for four months wanted a little clarification in my out of office. Would it be unprofessional for my out of office to say I’m out on maternity leave? Or should I just leave it as “I’ll be out and unavailable until X”?

    1. londonedit*

      Most people I know who have gone on maternity leave have said so in their out of office – I don’t think it’s unprofessional at all.

    2. Eng Proj Mgr*

      If you don’t want to say Maternity Leave – use Family Leave – more gender neutral.
      But in general it doesn’t matter from a professional point.
      Congrats on the new family and make sure to disconnect. Work can live on without you.

    3. Cheezmouser*

      Agree with the above, “maternity leave,” “family leave,” or “extended leave” are all fine. Just make sure you’re clear that you’re on leave and not on vacation, so people know that you won’t be periodically checking email (as may be the expectation in some offices for people on vacation).

    4. Hex Code*

      As others say, it’s fine to say maternity leave or parental leave (I said parental leave on mine). I find it really useful when others say that, since it sets expectations for approximately how long I should expect someone to be out, versus a medical leave of unknown length and that it’s not a vacation.

    5. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

      I think it really depends on your company and such. If you think others would look at it negatively I would just say “extended leave”

      is there anyone at your level or maybe above you that you know well enough that has been in a similar situation that you could look to for advice?

    6. Overeducated*

      In my office people tend to write “out of the office on extended leave until X date.” I don’t think it’s unprofessional to say parental leave (the official name of our policy) though. My guess is it comes from a place of not wanting people to apply negative stereotypes of mothers in the workforce, or just to share the minimum of personal information.

    7. Virginia Plain*

      Having a baby isn’t unprofessional. Just say maternity leave or parental if you like – it’s helpful as well as it gives an idea of how long you’ll be away from work so people can decide what to do instead, plus it’s clear so people don’t make up their own version because of a perceived mystery. If I read “extended leave” I might think it was something bad (like cancer treatment or long term suspension pending a serious disciplinary enquiry) then if I found out it was mat leave I’d be like, why didn’t she say? Is it an unplanned pregnancy leading to adoption so she doesn’t want people to know, and I shouldn’t mention it let alone offer congrats when I see her?

  12. KaciHall*

    I work for a company that does background checks for employment and volunteer opportunities. There are strict laws on what we can report. We’ve been told to let someone higher up know if certain diagnosed charges show up that we can’t report, because they’ll make sure the client still finds it about it even if we can’t report it officially.

    I have enough issues lately with the justice system and feel like a terrible person for participating even this much, so I am looking for a different job. My question is, does anyone have any advice for if I should report the company skirting the laws around background checks? I don’t even know who I would report to.

    1. different seudonym*

      No knowledge, unfortunately, but solidarity; that sounds awful, and obviously illegal and unethical.

    2. Kesnit*

      I would ask an employment attorney. They would know (1) what the law is on the kind of reporting, and (2) which agency oversees the laws on the reporting

    3. Aitch Arr*

      The FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) generally covers background checks, so you could complain to the FTC, who oversees the FCRA.

      1. grapefruit*

        There could also be state laws in play depending on the specifics–many states (and even some localities, such as NYC) have various limitations on the use of criminal background information in the employment context. So the agency that enforces those laws (often the state Labor Department, Human Rights division, or similar) would be another place to contact.

        1. Aitch Arr*

          Good point!

          And if the employer and/or org are related to healthcare or children, there may be additional background check requirements/laws (see CORI in MA).

  13. Confused Anon*

    We have a new manager, “Liz”, and everyone loves her. However, she’s been cold towards me. We’re both younger/around the same age and everyone else is older, so maybe that’s why? When she started she said to me, “I want to know what your background is.” When I told her she then replied, “(Pause) Oh, okay…”  

    I felt sort of awkward and not sure what she was looking for. 

    We were talking with our boss (we both have the same boss) and Liz couldn’t remember the name of something. I said it and she snapped at me, “I know- I was thinking that!” (Well, you didn’t say it.)

    She seems competitive with me. I’m low on the totem pole, so I’m not a threat. (Liz called us “subordinates”.)
    I’ve tried talking to her since I sit next to her and it’d be awkward if no one said anything for 8 plus hours, but it’s awkward. She talks to everyone else, so I don’t get it. 

    Another time they were doing construction and I tripped a little, but caught myself. When I looked up, Liz had this smirk on her face.

    The other day we were talking about an entry that needed to be fixed in the database and I don’t know if Liz was offended by a comment that I made, but she then brought up the fact that I ordered 20 teapots for holiday gifts. I explained that 20 was the minimum amount that you could order, so I had to order extra. (Wtf?)

    She also does this 2 against 1 thing where she teams up with someone and puts me down. She and another manager, “John” were making fun of something that I said. I don’t know. I don’t get it.

    I’m not looking to be best friends or anything, but she already seems to hate me. I’ve experienced this before in the workplace, but never know what to do.

    I feel like the odd person out because everyone else loves her and we’re a small group. I think they can tell, so it’s even more awkward and uncomfortable. Is there a way to deal with this?

    1. HolidayAmoeba*

      Insecurity and mean girl vibes? If she’s new, your coworkers have known you longer so it’s weird that they are “taking her side” unless she is showing herself to be a petty tyrant. a la, make fun of confusedanon with me or forget about leaving early on friday.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I have had this happen to me before. There’s a particular kind of woman who sees other women as competition. (Not all other women, though.) It’s very mean girl & annoying. I don’t have much advice, besides document, ignore what you can, & get the heck away from her as soon as you can.

          People like that can probably change, but they can do a lot of damage in the meantime.

    2. Dasein9*

      Document, document, document!

      I keep a journal that is actually emails I send myself and keep in a folder. (Use a personal email account!) That way entries automatically have date and time stamps. Describe what’s going on each time as though you’re describing a scene for a documentary. A smirk may be difficult to raise as an issue with HR, but a pattern of being mocked, with others enlisted to help, is classic bullying. Establishing a pattern is what you’re after.

      It might not be a bad idea to try to “gray rock:” just make yourself as bland and uninteresting as possible to Liz. Never offer information (especially about your non-work life!) and never be interesting in any way. Just be boringly pleasant. This might make Liz move on to a more rewarding target or it could result in her goading you to try to make you do something interesting. Either way, document that too.

      If you need to go to HR, then it will be a huge help to be able to describe behaviors as clinically as possible, “On July 3rd, Liz and John mocked my wording when I answered a question.” “On September 8th, I observed Liz mocking one of her reports for mispronouncing a word.” Take note, too, of any ways Liz’s behavior impacts work. If you can show that she’s impeding productivity, management will probably be very interested.

    3. Nea*

      She and another manager were making fun of something that I said

      Get out. If she’s roping other managers into “bash an employee day” it’s time to cut your losses and get gone.

      1. PollyQ*

        Sorry to say, I think this is the right answer. A manager that actively dislikes you can do huge damage to your career and your self-esteem. It also puts you at risk for layoffs or even a BS firing. I’d look both at a transfer within the company, if you can find someone better quickly, and also outside the company for a fresh start.

    4. Samantha F*

      Sorry to hear this, sounds hard to put up with.
      It certainly sounds like Liz might feel challenged by you or jealous. First, I’d just honestly ask yourself if may be behaving in a way that comes across as challenging her authority or a ‘know-it-all’. Maybe ask another of her employees who you have decent rapport with. One thing I have noticed – I am myself an old millennial, but many of my reports are older than me, and they are generally more polite to me than the ‘young millennials’. Maybe just a generation thing. If she thinks the more deferential attitude of the older generation is the norm, she might find you ‘uppity’. You might just have to change your tone slightly. You know, avoid correcting her or speaking up unless she asks you, could be even things like eye-contact – don’t stare at her in a way that she finds ‘defiant’? I don’t know. Hard to say.
      Alternatively, it could be there are things about you that she finds threatening – maybe you have more formal education, maybe she thinks you are smarter or prettier, etc. Could be. If that’s the case, there’s not much you can do… Maybe just decide if the job is ok otherwise, or job search. Best case scenario, it could be it’s just her early -management insecurities are at play, and she’ll get better with time and age.

    5. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I think you can stop trying so hard. It’s really uncomfortable to have to work so closely with someone who doesn’t like you, but there’s really nothing you can do to change her mind about that. Just be polite and respectful when you need to talk to her about work and try to ignore the rest.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yup. If you can’t actually ignore it, do your very best imitation of someone ignoring it.

        As they say, if someone is trying to force you into a tug of war, drop the rope.

        1. Frustrated Freelancer*

          Yes, when I first started a job a few years back there was weird little cadre of mean girls. They were clearly hoping I’d audition to join their clique so they could be catty to me. One was a supervisor who could – and did – make my life unpleasant in small ways. Well I politely and pleasantly ignored them for a year – never making any friendly overtures but always being correct – was scrupulously careful wrt supervisor – and ended up being good friends with several of them later. It was weird.

    6. Jean*

      Seconding those who commented before suggesting gray rocking and not trying so hard. She doesn’t like you, which sucks, but she also doesn’t have to. What she’s not allowed to do is bully or abuse you, so when she does cross that line, document it. Otherwise just stay emotionally neutral when dealing with her and don’t give her the satisfaction of a reaction.

      If you do want to push back – which, I’m totally the type of person who gives back the energy they get – start answering her weird questions with a bright, cheerful, smiling “Why do you ask?” And if she snaps in response to that, a puzzled but still cheerful “oh my gosh, are you OK?” She wants you on a back foot to keep herself feeling powerful, so don’t give her the satisfaction.

    7. pancakes*

      Continue being polite and professional with her, and just let her spin her wheels with regard to being competitive or cruel. It seems like she’s trying to get a rise out of you, and it’s best to not give her the satisfaction of that.

      Speaking as an older person (maybe? I’m 45), it is extremely unlikely that the older people at work like her simply on account of her being younger than them. It’s much more likely that she’s treating them more respectfully than she’s treating you. The other possibility — and this seems likely with John in particular — is that they’re bullies who recognize a fellow bully in her. Making fun of you is cruel, and if cruelty is accepted at your workplace, the best thing you can do is look for work elsewhere.

    8. Office Pantomime*

      Why don’t you ask her? Not with a yes/no question but some version of “I’ve noticed…. Can you explain…. ?” Then listen to what she has to say.

  14. Raia*

    I’ve just been so disappointed in the last few jobs and all my managers. I use the AAM interview questions from the books to try to ask about management culture, so are there further tips that y’all use to sus out how a manager is really like?

    I’m in data analytics and it seems like while the managers I get are able to do analytics, they’re not getting any support in learning how to be a manager. Which I can understand but it still doesn’t help when my performance is being blamed for this, and I feel like I’m dying from underutilization.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Maybe ask how the company supports professional growth and development? Are there clear career paths and management training? That sort of thing.

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      I would ask them about their management style. How do they delegate work, develop their staff, provide feedback, etc.

  15. Jambalaya*

    Question – I am looking at jobs listed on a university’s website and in the job descriptions they all say “Please apply by x date”, but all of the deadlines have already passed. I’ve emailed to ask if that means the postings are no longer valid but haven’t heard back. Is it still worth applying? The listings aren’t on any 3rd party sites, just the university website.

    1. worker bee*

      Often universities use “for first consideration” type listings – they’ll leave it open until they hire someone, but they start reviewing applications on X date and use that as their candidate pool.

      At the universities I worked at, HR would continue to collect the applications submitted after the date, but the hiring committee would not see them unless they contacted HR and asked to see any apps that have been submitted since the last time they asked.

      All that is to say, probably doesn’t hurt to apply, but don’t expect anything of it (which is really true of all applications!)

    2. It'sABonesDay*

      We usually keep a position announcement up until it’s been filled and “review of applicants to begin on X date” is the language we use. That way if a search fails, it doesn’t need to go through the HR approval process again. I don’t think it would hurt you to fill out the application, but you should be aware that they might be in the interview stage depending on how far past the apply-by date you are.

    3. Esmeralda*

      You may not hear back soon — everyone’s busting their asses to get stuff done before the school closes.

      When I have questions like this, I *call*. Look up the main number for HR and call that. Be nice to the receptionist, who can transfer you to the right person.

      And, if a job is still up, go ahead and apply. Especially for state institutions, they may have a rule that they have to consider any applications that come in while the job is posted. We’ve had positions where we want to hire fast, but it’s academia — we know we might not be able to / we might lose top candidates because it takes so freaking long to get things thru HR. So we leave the posting up until we make an offer, or even until we hire. We’ve got people on staff right now who applied after the deadline.

    4. Dr. Clara Mandrake*

      I would still apply! I usually only pull down a posting when it is filled or the committee doesn’t want to see any more applications. “Please apply by X date” verbiage is almost always wildly optimistic on the part of the committee, in my experience.

  16. RedBlue*

    I had an interview at the beginning of the month and I think it went well. I liked them and they seened to like me! They said they would be in touch within 2 weeks with their decision. I haven’t heard anything so I sent a follow-up email a few days ago and still haven’t heard anything. I don’t know if I got ghosted or if they’re all just busy with holiday stuff. Sending out more apps tonight. Waiting is agonizing and I picked a bad time to go job-hunting. :(

    On top of all that I have a performance review at my current job next week. Who does a performance review right before Christmas??

    1. The Smiling Pug*

      I totally understand where you’re coming from! I have an interview after Christmas later this month, but at the rate things are going, I won’t be able to send in my two weeks until after New Year’s and I’m mentally kicking myself for job-searching during the holidays. It’s such a stressful, strange time for everyone.

    2. Jellyfish*

      If it makes you feel any better, we’re beginning a hiring search right now, and things are frustratingly slow on this end too. Between end-of-year stuff, holiday PTO, and other December priorities that correspond to our field, it’s not an ideal time to start a candidate search either.
      We’ve opted not to go live until January in part to avoid all the painful waiting.

  17. CNY*

    Has anyone ever transitioned to nursing school while working full time? I’m seriously looking into it now and am wondering how people do it if they’re reliant on full time income to pay the bills etc. (and don’t have family or a spouse to fall back on)? Do people just take out additional loans to live off of? :/

    1. MB*

      My roommate did this — she was working full time and then quit her job to do an accelerated 16 month post Bachelors BSN program. She took out enough in student loans to cover her living expenses, and this was the norm in her program. In fact the program recommended that people NOT work except for extremely flexible CNA-type jobs. She was 27, not married, no kids.

      (There may be nursing programs geared towards people who work full time but this is the experience that I know of!)

    2. Pumpkin Party*

      I know of two people that changed careers by going to nursing school full-time, but both had to quit their regular jobs (one was an EMT, one was a non-profit program manager). I don’t know the full story, but I believe they both were able to do so by getting scholarships/grants from a local hospital group that would pay for everything related to school and even a small stipend as long as the recipient agreed to work for them for 5 years after graduating. This was about six years ago, though, so I’m not sure if programs like that still exist. That said, if you’re in the U.S., check out these two programs for something similar (loan repayment programs): https://nhsc.hrsa.gov/loan-repayment and https://www.ihs.gov/loanrepayment/. I know it sucks to take out loans, but if you’re guaranteed to have them repaid by the government, maybe it’s slightly less risky? Good luck!

    3. Pop*

      A good friend did a part-time program while continuing to work at her full-time job. It worked out for her! She decided she would rather do it that way than have student loans. It did take longer, but the job she was in was fine and she felt like she could do it until she graduated from nursing school. She was also thinking of being a nurse as a long-term career thing – she didn’t feel any rush to become a nurse, because even when graduating at 28, she’d still have 35-40 years in the profession. But yes, this will come up for most people who are going back to school, regardless of program: either take out loans to live on or work.

    4. Hattie McDoogal*

      My best friend did this but she was already a licensed practical nurse with about 10 years experience at her hospital – so she stayed as part of the “casual” pool and worked a lot in the early part of her RN program, then transitioned to just working full time on semester breaks and otherwise picking up shifts on an ad-hoc basis when she had unexpected expenses (sick pet, car broke down, etc). Most of her expenses were covered by her loans.

      As an outside observer I will say that nursing school looked exhausting and I assume extremely difficult to do while working full time.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m a huge proponent of working while studenting if you have the capacity, but a tricky part of nursing school in particular while working can be scheduling your clinical rotations around a work schedule, especially if it’s a fairly standard M-F daytime type job. So look into what your program options require as far as clinicals/externships and maybe talk with a program advisor about how they’ve seen them work for people in varying situations in the past.

    6. pieces_of_flair*

      I work at a university school of Nursing and many of the students have outside employment, including full-time. It’s not easy, but it’s common. That said, there are also a lot of opportunities for scholarships and on-campus jobs/fellowships, so you may be able to find other ways to fund your education. Best wishes!

    7. Squidhead*

      I stopped working for 2 years to go to nursing school. In one semester of my associates program, I was taking 21 credits! I had previously worked in a live entertainment venue and the schedule of shows was definitely not flexible enough to allow me to do both. However, I did have classmates who worked at least part-time, often for one of the local hospitals as nursing aides. My former work was not well-paying, so part-time aide work probably would have been similar to my former FT job, money-wise. (If your user name is your location, that’s where I am too…in the city with 3 big hospitals plus the VA.)

      I already had a BA so I wasn’t eligible for a lot of grants, and I did take out loans to cover our living expenses plus my tuition. I aggressively paid them back over about 5 years after I started working; it was a risk but it definitely paid off since I think I would not have done well in school while trying to work. My employer later paid for my BSN. (I might have been eligible for the 16-momth-style BSN program but those programs are brutal and there was pretty much zero crossover in my BA content with a nursing degree.)

      If you’re looking into programs, consider whether you might be able to do your non-nursing classes a few at a time before formally applying to a program? A lot of people call these “pre-reqs” (classes like psych, a&p, micro, nutrition, etc…). Every community college around here teaches them and getting them done before starting the nursing program would definitely ease your course load (but slow down your overall time to your degree, which is why I didn’t do it.)

      Good luck! We need nurses right now, so I hope you find a way to make the leap!

    8. the cat's ass*

      I don’t know if this counts, but i went to grad school part time in a RN-to-MSN program for three years and worked part time to full-time ( i had three part time jobs) on my days off/the night shift. For the last semester i bailed for the big push to graduate. The school’s position was that you should not work outside the program, but tough darts, people gotta eat and as a lot of us were established in RN careers and older learners we just worked anyway. I don’t remember being fully rested for that entire three years, but it was definitely worth it, especially as i graduated into a NP shortage and debt free.

  18. Hotdog not dog*

    I’m feeling very “death to the patriarchy-ish” this week. Can anyone recommend a professional response to being asked to soften my tone? For context, I review completed teapots. It is literally my job to locate and point out errors. My (male) manager would like me to avoid using words like “please correct”, “rework” or “insufficient” when communicating with the teapot painters so as not to upset them (if you are guessing that I am a woman and most of the teapot painters are men, you win a prize!) I am SO tempted to bluntly tell them, “your work is a steaming pile of crap, quit fooling around and do it right”, so I had thought “This teapot doesn’t have enough stripes, can you please add 2 more?” was already softer than necessary.

    1. Attractive Nuisance*

      Hmm interesting. Have you asked your manager what phrasing he’d like you to use instead of the (totally neutral) words he’s banned?

      1. Ginger Baker*

        ^This. I would ask for some examples, with an emphasis on emails he himself has sent or samples from past people in the job [presuming they have mostly been men]. I SUPER suspect he doesn’t have any that don’t, y’know, include standard corrective language, and presuming he doesn’t, I would push back pretty hard and ask him to say out loud why you are being asked to use different language than previous people in your role.

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          Yes, you’re correct that most people in my role are men, and we are “focusing on retention”. I have asked for specific words and phrases. Most of my colleagues use the same neutral wording.
          I used to be a teapot painter years ago, so I do understand the pressures they experience. The clients still deserve the quality teapots they are paying for, so I can’t really let them coast.

    2. Imaginary Number*

      RESPECTFULLY, your work is a steaming pile of crap.

      J/k. While I suspect this is because of gender (just based on personal experience) it might also be that your company is having trouble retaining teapot painters and they’re looking at ways to make them happier even when their work quality is less than stellar. I would ask your manager for more specifics on why he’s worried about the language you use. Explain that you need to continue to be precise about your corrections without rubbing people the wrong way.

      Are you able to take the time to meet with some of these teapot painters in person? Sometimes putting a face to a name can help.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Yup. Just like in the military “With all due respect sir, your work is a steaming pile of crap”

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          Wait a minute.

          You have to “Request permission to speak frankly, Sir?” and be granted permission before you can say that without being insubordinate.

          If permission is denied, remain silent. Your message still got through.

    3. BossBen*

      I totally understand and empathize as a woman in quality AND I definitely think your wording should not change. It’s already polite. With that said, sometimes when you’re continually corrected, it can just be a spiral that’s hard to get out of, even if you understand you’re doing something wrong. Any chance, you’re seeing an increase in the number of issues? Or are you flagging the same amount as normal? If there is an increase, could you approach it on a higher level or push back on your boss to address it in a higher level? You still would continue doing your job and flagging (with the same language) the individual issues but there could be a conversation about “we’re seeing an increase in issues X, Y, Z and what can we do to address these.” Sometimes it helps to have the step back so it doesn’t feel so personal. Or if it’s 1 person causing lots of issues, could you pull them aside and have a hey what’s going on type conversation?
      Option 2 – if they are doing well overall aka not significant increase in issues, maybe a longer term option is also to build in some positive messaging. In quality, we are always the team flagging the issues and it helps to say, “This month we have 0 issues with X or this month 90% of products had no issues.” This would only happen if it’s warranted but positive can be helpful too.
      Hope that helps!

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        I think it’s a normal amount of corrections. Most of what I find is unintentional, just garden variety mistakes. I’ve discussed it with my colleagues (mostly men, only 2 of us are women) and I’m the only one who gets this level of pushback. Some of it I anticipated, since it’s normal to push boundaries at the beginning. (I moved to this team about 6 months ago, prior to that I was in a similar role on a different team.)
        Interestingly, my female colleague doesn’t get the same treatment. She and I are a similar age and background, and she absolutely comes across as fair but firm, which is also what I’m trying for. (And fwiw, I’ve heard her say word for word, “this is total crap! Fix it by close of business tomorrow or I’m canceling it!”)
        She has no theory about why I’m being asked to soften the message- her suggestion to me was to toughen it up more.

        1. BossBen*

          My first thought would be – can she give that tough of a message because she’s been there so long? Did she build good relationships first? Or did she start that strong? If she started that strong, then go for it. I’d definitely follow her guidance. You could also ask your boss if he’s getting specific feedback that’s causing him to tell you to soften your message. Then ask why your coworker is able to be firm and give strong messages and not get pushback and how he might recommend you getting to that point. Maybe she just scared them into submission (which I fully respect btw) Alternatively, you could ask one of the teapot painters you trust for some feedback. High level, I feel like a job like yours is always built on consistent behavior, respect and ethical behavior. If they that you respect them and are ethical, they’ll come around. That would definitely be the long game.

          1. Hotdog not dog*

            Oh, they’re definitely afraid of her! The only thing I can think of is that she also speaks Russian, and occasionally switches to it when she wants to say something out of bounds. I don’t find her intimidating at all, but possibly because we’re the only 2 women we’re less guarded. (We’ve worked together on and off for about 15 years, and I consider her a friend outside the office as well).

    4. JelloStapler*

      I would ask the person if they had examples of when they had to deliver similar info or news and they felt good about their tone. It would help you to see what they consider appropriate so you can see if they are over-apologetic or if they have a double standard.

    5. Virginia Plain*

      Whilst my initial response is, what a load of old bollocks, that’s not too helpful.
      Could you try to lead with the improvement required rather than the inadequacy, to sound more positive? Like, “we need a slightly smoother curve on this handle/a further coat of glaze” as opposed to “the handle is wonky/it has not been properly glazed”? You might be doing this already though.
      I sometimes ask the people I manage for changes by leading with the reason for the change, like “industry best practise is to make the lid fit quite tightly so it doesn’t fall off during pouring, so can you please etc” or “health and safety legislation means we really must ensure we don’t use that arsenic-based pigment any more so those green pots had better be redone or we’ll have a problem”.

      It’s still bollocks though.

    6. Katie*

      Death to the patriarchy! I hope your manager can provide alternatives to your wording. You might ask, “I’d like to honor your suggestion but to do that I need to understand more of what you’re looking for. What do you have in mind to replace ‘please rework’ or ‘insufficient’?” (I’m not confident they will have replacements, though!)

    7. Dasein9*

      Death to the patriarchy!

      As someone who receives and incorporates feedback at work all the time, I will confess to flipping off my monitor as a coping tactic, but the feedback always improves the work. I have had people try to soften feedback or go through it with me line-by-line and frankly I wondered why they weren’t treating me like the professional I am.

      I agree that you should ask your manager for specific examples of the wording he’d like to see and share Ginger Baker’s suspicion that he doesn’t have any. But if he’s looking to retain staff, he may want to workshop feedback that may help with that. (He may not know that this takes time, effort, and planning because, yes, he probably assumes a softer touch just comes naturally to women.)

  19. Imaginary Number*

    Does it look bad that I work fewer hours than my counterparts?

    Context: I’m a salaried, exempt employee but my company offers overtime for every hour over 40 which is an awesome perk. I generally work a few hours of overtime every week but not nearly as much as my coworkers on average, who often work 50+ hours out of necessity (although a small number take on extra work to make more money.)

    The reality (trying not to brag) is that I’m significantly faster and more skilled at my job (I’m in a highly technical role.) I can meet my deadlines with fewer errors and still have time to assist and/or mentor my coworkers or other teams without working a ton of overtime. But there’s a limit to how much I can support without completely taking something over (we’re design engineers and can be a bit territorial.) I can and do take on additional projects to work more hours, but I’m not super interested in working 50-60 hr weeks out side of crunch time. I was in the military for 7 years and I’m kind of done with that life.

    But I do worry that it looks bad when I’m heading out at 5 when so many of my coworkers are looking at several more hours of work.

    1. Stoppin' by to chat*

      I completely get that. However, I would just remind myself anytime you have that thought that if it was an issue, hopefully your manager would let you know. Sounds like you are very efficient, so thus don’t require as much overtime. Do you have regular 1:1s of check-ins with your manager? That’s a good time to not ask about working more overtime, but to confirm that you’re still meeting/exceeding their expectations. But again, I’ve definitely had concerns like this. But as my therapist says “what do I know to be true?”

    2. Rick T*

      You are completing your projects to spec and on schedule plus you are assisting your peers where you can.

      If all that is visible to your manager I wouldn’t worry about optics about your schedule.

    3. Scott*

      Unless someone is commenting on it, I would not think you need to worry about it. I am in a similar situation in that I have far more experience than most of my colleagues, also a highly technical (engineering) field, and I am much more efficient in processing my work because of my experience. The main difference here is that, with limited exceptions, we don’t get overtime pay (government). Still, I spent a lot of years in the military working the kind of hours that I’m not willing to do any longer.

    4. Dasein9*

      If you are ending up making less money because you are more efficient at your job and don’t need overtime to finish, that might be something to leverage when raise time rolls around.

  20. Albeira Dawn*

    A while back, I read a book (Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia, for anyone curious) where the main character’s job is researching potential donors for a hospital. She looks into their internet presence, past donations to other causes, details about their life that might be a foot in the door for the Development office (like, they have a grandchild with Down syndrome and the hospital is fundraising for a new study on children with Down syndrome, for example). I was wondering what jobs exist that involve a similar amount of research and investigation, but aren’t necessarily for donation purposes?

    1. MissBliss*

      An adoption/permanency recruiter for kids in foster care. This doesn’t even necessarily require a social work background. These roles can involve going back over a child’s record in care and reaching back out to biological family members, previous foster families, old mentors, etc, to see if any of them are permanency or adoption resources.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Investigations firms! Not like, shady Private Eye things, but legitimate firms that do this kind of deep-dive research to assist with litigation, board member and executive vetting, etc. They all employ researchers who can do this type of open-source investigating at a really professional levels.

    3. Generic Name*

      Phase I Environmental Site Assessments. But that’s researching properties and not people. You still get to do a lot of cool research into historical stuff. Requires a science background.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      This reminds me that I need to read that book! I work in development research, and it’s so rare for my profession to be featured in fiction.

  21. Temporarily Anonymous*

    Please tell me if I’m being overconcerned about boundaries or justifiably setting limits.

    Background: I am a fairly new employee (less than a year) who works at a small nonprofit. There has been a fair amount of change due to growth and taking on a larger scope of responsibility as an organization. Since it’s a small org I frequently get pulled from the work I was primarily hired for to assist in other areas. The work is salaried but with specified hours of work, including earned days off (EDOs) every three weeks. When I was hired I was told there was no overtime expected beyond those hours but some people do work extra- a lot. Recently they changed the system so we have to get our regular EDO approved in advance by our manager. I got mine approved and the morning of my day off my colleague called and left a message to call them about a work thing we had been working on together(one of the helping out things). I already told my office today was a busy day off and I really don’t want to set a precedent of them calling me about work on days I shouldn’t have to be thinking about work. Am I being too rigid in not wanting to return that call?

    To add to it, I may be feeling extra defensive about boundaries because my office has been extremely bad about mask wearing even though we have a public health order and even though I have brought it up multiple times.

    TL;DR- Is it fair not to answer work calls on my day off or should that be occasionally expected?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I think there are some jobs where an occasional call on a day off is OK – if it’s a hot project, something you have a lot of responsibility for, or a question you can answer quickly. But I would not make it a habit.

      1. Temporarily Anonymous*

        Thanks ThatGirl, I was feeling wary of starting something that then ends up morphing into a regular expectation if you know what I mean?

        1. Siege*

          My personal guideline is that I will monitor the phone/email on my days off if there’s a time-sensitive issue, particularly if it’s with outside vendors. If it’s a non-staff person who’s not a vendor, I don’t take their calls. If it’s staff, it depends on the staff and what I know of their workloads (and, if they really want my attention, they can text me). I think that’s in line, more or less, with what ThatGirl said above, though I don’t answer the phone for “quick questions” unless they’re related to a project as above. You’re absolutely correct to be wary of something like this morphing into a regular occurrence.

    2. Stoppin' by to chat*

      You can ask, but already sounds like this workplace has not been receptive to other concerns like mask wearing, so what if you just didn’t respond. Like it you took the day off for a medical appt and didn’t hear the phone ring, you would have missed it anyway. So if you have a day off, try just ignoring any calls and reply when you’re back at work as if of course you didn’t respond since it was a day off. I.e. “Hi so and so, following up about x because I was out yesterday. What did you need? OR the info you’re looking for is x,y,z” So you briefly reinforce you were out, but then jump right into whatever they needed.

      Having said all that, the undercurrent in your question is that you are annoyed with your employer (and rightfully so re: the mask mandate!), so sounds like you there are broader issues to either come to terms with, or to start looking again. Since we’re in the “great resignation” in some industries (at least in the US), you can likely spin leaving a job after a shorter tenure. Good luck!

      1. Temporarily Anonymous*

        Thanks Stoppin’ by to chat, I was thinking about doing that and then I realized it was just stressing me out more leaving the call unanswered because then they might keep calling back. So I did end up calling back and- wouldn’t you know it- they weren’t answering. But at least this way it feels like I closed the loop.

        You are correct with your assessment of my frustration with my employer. It isn’t just the mask thing but a lot of changes and changed expectations from what I was told when I hired on. Where I live, jobs in my field are hard to find and moving would present a lot of complex issues especially with the pandemic still being a factor. So I am hoping to find a way to hang on until it is a bit easier to find a new place to work.

    3. WellRed*

      Don’t even tell them if your day off is “busy.” Just take your day off. I’d probably consider taking the occasional call depending on the project. As to the masking. Time to accept you can’t change this and just focus on what you can do or decide it’s a dealbreaker and move on.

      1. Temporarily Anonymous*

        Thanks WellRed, and yeah I have considered my remaining options wrt the masks thing. We have just gotten our first few Omicron cases in my area and I’m going to wait and see how that plays out (we have a work break over the holidays) and then decide what to do based on the situation. Thankfully the local government just announced booster eligibility is widely expanded next week and I’ll be in there like a dirty shirt to get the first appointment I can sign up for! (I have vulnerable friends and family so even though I’m likely safe from severe illness based on my demographics I want to protect them and people like them)

    4. Love WFH*

      It’s completely fair to not answer work calls on your time off.

      That said , if the message indicates that’s something’s really on fire, I’d probably answer.

    5. Rosie*

      It’s definitely fair not to answer work calls on your day off. I’ll sometimes respond to messages if it’s a very easy answer or to direct them to someone else but calls it’s like nope don’t see you, if you want my attention on my day off then clearly explain what you need first so I can gauge if it’s something that needs my specific input and can’t wait.

    6. Temporarily Anonymous*

      Thanks Love WFH and Rosie, the matter they had called about was something we’d been working on urgently but my part had ended (and I’d already passed on all the info/documents). They didn’t clarify what they wanted in the message. But- and I neglected to mention this in my original post- I wouldn’t be back to work for a while because of holidays so I did end up calling back as a courtesy (and then couldn’t reach them). They haven’t called back since but I feel less stressed about it now because it’s not just hanging there.

    7. Echo*

      You are not being too rigid – let these calls go to voicemail and then return the call on a work day as though that is a totally normal thing to do. (That is: “Hi ColleagueName! I just got your message…”)

      This is industry-/function-dependent though. In most nonprofit work I don’t think you’d ever need to answer a work call on your day off, but for example sysadmins probably do.

      1. Temporarily Anonymous*

        Thanks Echo, I appreciate the confirmation that it’s normal not to answer work calls on days off. I am not a sysadmin (but subtract the “sys” and you get what’s supposed to be my area of work).

        1. CatDancing*

          Echo is absolutely correct — it is NOT normal to get work calls on your day(s) off. It needs to be a emergency, in which multiple cars with flashy lights on top have congregated outside the building. Or someone casually yanked all the rods out of the reactor core. An arch-villain is twirling his mustaches and chuckling that the cage in the piranha tank will be opened in 15 minutes. That sort of thing.

          And if that IS what happened, you call back in a few minutes and say, “I just saw the message on my answering machine. What’s up?”

          If it is NOT, you return that call the next day.

    8. Alexis Rosay*

      Definitely don’t let people get used to contacting you on your days off. It trains them into bad habits.

      When I worked at a very small nonprofit, I would only take calls from my direct reports on my day off, but not from my boss or lateral coworkers. My direct reports were hourly workers with fixed schedules and little flexibility, and my job as their manager was to support them and be a resource for them. However, I would expect my boss and other salaried workers to have the knowledge, resources, and flexibility to work around my absence (especially an absence of only one day).

      It’s also fine to decide on a case by case basis. If your day off is right before a major deadline, you could be flexible with responding to work requests, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it regularly.

      By the way, I never give out my real cell number to coworkers for this reason. I give out a Google Voice number because it’s much easier to ignore when I need to.

    9. HR Exec Popping In*

      This is really going to depend on the organization. Generally, for a salaried employee it would not be unheard of to get a call when they are off in the event of something urgent. But not normal day to day things. A call should be unusual and not typical.

    10. Frustrated Freelancer*

      I feel ya, and I struggle with this so hard. I’m PT at one job (username checks out) and it’s so, so hard to set boundaries. They text me on my non-working days with some frequency. Personally, I let at least an hour go by without replying, and then I usually make a point of saying “I’m not at my desk today but …” – even if I am. I’m sure they don’t love this but I also don’t love being secretly coerced into working FT unpaid, and I noticed the frequency dropped quickly. If it’s truly an emergency I would work, and I would take comp hours another day – but it’s almost never a true emergency that I really have to work on right this second even if it feels urgent to my boss at the time.

    11. Nani Moose*

      There is nothing wrong with not answering your phone or texts when you aren’t specifically being paid to do so – in fact, it is to your benefit not to.

      My go to is not answering the phone (I’ll check a vm if I feel like it), and I’ll look at texts only on my notification screen so they don’t show as read (I also don’t send read receipts – but ya know, technology, so to be safe I don’t actually go into a message unless I’m okay with the sender knowing I did).

      Obviously, there is a nuance to this. There are some people who I know will only contact me in an emergency, so I’ll respond to them – there have been some hiccups to this but overall I’ve decided I’m okay with this, as we are human, due to the amount respect and care they show me in return. If I know there is some outstanding “thing” that I may need to address, etc. I’m more open to interruption. If that starts getting abused then I’ll say something like “Oh my gosh I see you’ve called AND texted on my day off without giving specific details so this must be some confidential shitstorm we’ve got brewing, DO TELL!!” That usually provides the offender with the reality check intended.

      It also helps if you have hobbies that take you out of cell coverage range. I’ve many a time used the “Oh I spent the day out hiking and cell coverage is soooo spotty – ever so sorry”, “Ah, you must have called when I was at the pool, that concrete locker room gets the worst coverage and for whatever reason my phone always screws up messages that come through then – so weird”. There is always technology “ugh, I just now got your message! Must be Apple update time or something”, or simply the standard practice of not looking at your phone on your day off (spa days are good excuses too).

      Be rigid, and soften as necessary/desired.

  22. IT But I Can't Fix Your Printer*

    Today my employer surpassed 1,000 open positions. We only have about 11,000 positions total. But we need to keep people in the office and not allow them to WFH because of uhhhhh reasons.

    And yes, I’m polishing my resume… not going to go down with this ship tyvm.

    1. Love WFH*

      My employer has lost a lot of people in IT. We’re all WFH now due to the pandemic, but they’re being vague about “flexibility” in the future — so I’m looking for a new job at a company whose policy is WFH.

      1. Siege*

        Not in IT, but I’m looking for a new job whose policy is WFH too just because my boss wants us in the office for, uh, vague reasons. We have not gone back yet and are still fully remote though some of the administrative staff spend a fair amount of time in the office due to the nature of their work, but my boss seems to think that we’ll be more collaborative in the office, and I want to scream, because my job doesn’t involve collaborating with anyone, and I can do that on the phone or via Zoom anyway. Like, she thinks office drop-ins are better than making a phone call or texting someone. Since half the staff is field staff, the odds of being able to do a drop-in collaboration are very low anyway.

        But it’s the “uh reasons” component that ticks me off. I want to scream “You don’t have any reasons! You just don’t like being remote!” But we’re union and our contract is up this year, so we’re going to bargain it.

        1. Bonk*

          Same, boss wants us in the office for vague reasons (we’ve actually never gone fully remote, just individuals sticking up for themselves and then pressured back into the office in June 2020 with lots of back and forth since then :-|). Higher ups WFH indiscriminately but side-eye other people who do it. Very little logic to it, and others in this industry are moving to remote-first and the people in my office who have standing are regularly telling big boss we’re going to start losing people if we don’t get with it. I’m job searching, only applying to remote positions.

    2. Berkeleyfarm*

      If you were in my area (or a dev/dba/app support analyst) I’d say come work for us … some teams are pretty much going to stay remote, some are hybrid (desktop and L1/2 support mostly). (SF Yay Area)

  23. ThatGirl*

    I got my first-ever holiday bonus today! It isn’t a lot – but it’s also separate from the bonus we get in March that’s related to the company’s performance for the prior year. And I’ve gotten so many little gifts from various managers, it’s sweet.

    1. ThatGirl*

      By the way – a couple weeks ago I posted about my company’s very silly holiday singing tradition. We did it today and it was fine. Silly, yes. I can tell if someone really didn’t want to do it nobody would hold their feet to the fire, and my holiday bonus was direct deposited overnight so it was in no way dependent on this tradition.

      Also, we sang with masks on in a large boardroom with a small audience standing at the other end.

  24. Orbital*

    Today is my last day at my current job! I’m mostly leaving because I want to be in the same US state as my family, but also because this team is going to be in a lull until probably 2023 and we’ve been in a lull since July 2021… I’m anxious about starting with a new team again after almost 5 years here, but this is a step exactly in the direction I want my career to go. I’m staying in the same “line of business” within our huge corporation, but moving to a different type of program. My corporation’s relocation package is super generous, but even so I’m anxious and annoyed with the process of moving across the country and having to use a moving company that we got no say in picking. They’re coming to pack up our stuff on Sunday and then loading it on the truck on Monday (or maybe even Sunday evening). But even so, they don’t know when our stuff will arrive at our destination, so we may have to live out of a hotel for a week or so.

    1. whistle*

      Congratulations and good luck with the move! Love your user name – is it a reference to the band by any chance?

      1. Orbital*

        Thanks! No, I actually don’t know what band you’re referring to! It’s more of a reference to the work that I do and what I studied in college haha

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A friend who grew up in a military family recommends packing one extra bag as if you were going camping. That one YOU schlep to destination so you at least have the basics to eat sleep and meet basic hygiene needs. Congratulations on the new job!

  25. can I actually tweak this?*

    Hi folks, first time poster. I’d be grateful for any insights you have.

    I am job hunting in degree-adjacent fields and one of the local companies is hiring for a LARGE proportion of the jobs I’d be a good fit for. I got an interview for one several weeks ago and blew it. I wasn’t clear on how much of the job would be the solo tasks listed and how much would be collaborative, and I aimed off just enough that it looked like a bad fit. I realized the problem and still thought I would be good at it and happy doing it, so I tried to correct it a little in my thank you email with no reply. HR encouraged me to apply for other openings in the future, but the listings are all fairly similar at the moment. Is there a way to reboot the hiring process for another spot this soon? It’s not clear from the listings if I’d be working with the same hiring manager, but I feel like trying to halfway rebrand myself would look weird at best and deceptive at worst.

  26. Thanksinadvance*

    Does anyone have PRN experience they can share? How does it work for you? I applied for PRN roles at my local hospitals because my health is really suffering under my current full time job, but I’ve never done PRN before, or worked somewhere where there are people who have PRN roles. How is it different from being part time?

    1. Squidhead*

      I’m assuming you are in some type of patient-care role? At my hospital we have some PRN RNs…they have to work a minimum amount per pay period (I think it’s 16 hours? Our pps are 2 weeks, and FT RNs work 80 hours per pp.). No matter how many hours they work, they aren’t eligible for some of our benefits like tuition payments. I’m not sure if they are even eligible for our health insurance or union membership. Honestly, there aren’t too many PRN positions on the inpatient units. Managers want a little more consistency than 32 hours a month. Part-time positions are a little more common and they are scheduled with their unit, just for fewer hours than FT. If they are at least 0.6 FTE they are eligible for some tuition benefits and I assume they are eligible for health insurance. I think they are all union-eligible positions as well.

      If you’re an RN you know what staffing is like these days…so no matter what kind of position you are looking at, I’d ask what their policy/procedure is for mandatory overtime. Being PT at my hospital does not protect you from being mandated to stay when other staffing options are exhausted. (We can’t be forced to come in, but we can be required to stay for up to 16 hours once we are already at work. Doesn’t happen often, but it’s possible.)

      1. Thanksinadvance*

        This is very helpful – thank you! Not an RN, I work in a non-hospital non-healthcare setting but hospitals are the only employers who do PRN for my role as far as I know. My understanding is that as a PRN they call you if they are short staffed, but since that’s all the time now… I wonder how that works.

    2. SMh RN*

      I’m in Canada and I’m guessing you’re PRN is what what we call casual. I was casual for the first 5 months of my RN career. In my experience everywhere does it a bit differently. At the general hospital I started at we had a scheduler who would book you kind of a month in advance and you could pre book posted available shifts. Where I work now the causuals call in for shifts the day before mostly with pre booking done a week ahead sometimes. We’re moving to a new system next year that will be different again. Being casual was nice in that I had control of my schedule but crappy in that i wasn’t guaranteed shifts and had no benefits. Like you said tho with staff shortages lack of work won’t be a problem, my one friend is casual at a few sites, works Monday-Friday only and vacations when she wants. It can be a great option

      1. SMh RN*

        Also when you start try very hard to not say no to any shifts. If you get a reputation as a go to person for short call/helping out your schedulers will remember and throw more stuff your way

  27. LC*

    Question for anyone familiar with business nexus. I’m sure that it depends on a lot of factors that I can’t share and I’m definitely not looking for a firm answer, more just a general idea.

    Context:
    I want to ask my employer if I can relocate to a different state where we currently don’t have any employees, and I’m trying to figure out how big of an ask this will be in terms of cost to the company.

    Facts:
    My employer provides insurance for companies (not individuals, if that makes a difference).
    We currently insure companies in other states.
    We only have offices in one state (where I currently am), however we have remote employees in other states (including states where we don’t do business).
    As of today, we do not do any sort of business or have any employees in the state I hope to move to, but before I hope to move, we will start doing business there.
    By “doing business,” I think that means we will be insuring companies that are physically based in the new state. (I’m in IT and fairly new to the insurance world, so I am honestly completely clueless about what it means beyond that.)

    Question:
    If my employer does business in a state but has no employees in that state, would an employee moving to that state trigger any sort of new nexus or have any other big implications in terms of finances/taxes/etc.?

    1. Marie*

      Depending on the state, it can have a huge impact on your company. At the very least they have to apply to do business in the state, which comes with a fee (somewhere in the thousands). Applying to do business in the state (which is what they have to do if they have people physically located in the state) is not the same as doing business with companies that are based in the state. HR software will have to be updated with your location, which may or may not play nicely with all of the downstream systems which control payroll, etc. There may be other nuances of HR and Operations at your company that could be impacted by your move. Also, if it’s a state with a lot of regulations or employee protection (California, Colorado, New York….) then your company might straight up say no just because navigating those regulations can be a headache.

      Bottom line, ask- but be prepared to hear no.

      1. LC*

        Yeah, it’s to California, and I know that won’t really do me any favors. My current state has more regulations and employee protection than most, but not quite to the level of CA, etc.

        Good to know that having an employee located in a state has different implications than doing business with companies in a state. I wonder if it’s a little different for insurance though, I think we had to apply for a license to do business in California and we’ve been working with data security compliance people in California to make sure we’re up to snuff for that.

        “Ask but be prepared for a no” has been my plan, but I definitely think it’ll be good for me to know as much as I can about the impacts before I ask, thank you for your reply!

        1. HR Exec Popping In*

          If they haven’t been letting other employees work remotely from new states, it will likely be a no. They will need to set themselves up as an employer in the new state which comes with a cost plus it adds complications to their taxes as well as employment policies and rules. And California is one of the more difficult states frankly. But they still might say it is ok. My company has been allowing people to move to states we don’t currently have employees in and realize it is just the cost of doing business in this new world.

          1. LC*

            They have been letting employees work in other states, they just don’t have anyone in California yet. I’m hoping that the business we’re going to start doing in California will be enough to establish nexus there already, so it wouldn’t be like they were doing it just for me.

            I could probably just ask that particular question in a casual enough manner. I’ll try to think of who at my work might know.

        2. Chauncy Gardener*

          California is super tough. I 100% agree with Marie that sure, go ahead and ask, but don’t be surprised to get a no.
          Being registered to do business is different than having an employee in a state. For instance, CA requires that all employee be paid out their unused vacation time at the end of every year. No use it or lose policies. That is what engendered the whole unlimited PTO thing, I think. And it’s a total PITA when a company has to start tracking vacation so closely when they didn’t need to prior to having an employee in CA
          And I’m sure you’ve thought of this, but be prepared for a large increase in withholding taxes once you’re in CA.

    2. Merci Dee*

      Your company would have to register with the state taxing authorities so that they could remit payroll taxes for you, and would also probably have to register for worker’s compensation with the state. Those two items alone are going to be massive headaches for your company.

  28. WineNot Change Careers*

    I currently work in wine/alcohol distribution/wholesale and while I enjoy it, am constantly learning, am finding ways to grow in my role and am encouraged by my superiors to do so…it isn’t my passion and I don’t LOVE it. I’ve been here for almost 3 years. My passion is in a completely unrelated field – health, nutrition, wellness, etc. I am ready to start taking planning my future career seriously. It will involve some kind of school/program (online) to get certifications and everything I will need to be credible. I don’t know the timeline for actually beginning a program (sometime next year?) or implementing what I learn there into my future business, but that will be ramped up further down the line.

    My question is how do I go about talking about this with my current team, bosses, company? How do I tell them I am going back to school for something completely unrelated and don’t see a long-term future with them? I would hope that in 2 years, I am pursuing my passion career full time. I don’t want them to think I am unhappy with my job, or don’t want to be there. I do, and am going to continue to do everything I can to be the best in my role and do the best for my company that I can. I just don’t want anyone to take it the wrong way in the meantime. For what it’s worth, I work from home and only go into the office once a week. I am “close” with my colleagues, but not in the way that we tell each other everything. I have mentioned this passion of mine before, pre-COVID. I know I don’t HAVE to say anything, but I would want to at some point. Any advice for navigating this would be appreciated! Thanks :)

    1. OTGW*

      Okay, idk how much this will really be relevant but I hope at least something is helpful.

      When I got my BA in my early 20s, I was working two part time jobs. I was only going to school part time as well—only taking 2 classes at a time, cause that’s all I could fit between my jobs. But I just went up to my managers in the summer before the semester started and said “hey I’m going back to school, here’s my class schedule, how can we make this work?”

      My jobs are all desk coverage so I had to deal with that and each one had different ways of dealing with it, but that sounds like it might not be a problem for you. But both managers were excited and supportive and they both understood. My BA is kinda related to my field though my field isn’t really something I wanna do forever, and they both knew that and didn’t care. I imagine your managers are gonna be the same.

      If your managers are :/ about you going back or guilt trip you about it, well sucks for them. I’d say something like, “I appreciate the concern but this is what I’m passionate about. I’ve loved working here and with everyone and am happy I get to work here still while getting my certificate.”

      Also, do you really need to bring up your plans? Is it going to interfere with your job? Do you need to change hours or is it gonna be something you get as soon as you’re done with work/do on weekends? If you think your company is going to be asses about it, and you don’t need to change anything at work, you don’t have to bring it up.

      As for your co-workers, I’d bring it up next time the whole “what’s new? how you doing?” conversation happens and just mention you’re going back to school to study health or whatever.

      Sorry this is long lmao. Hope this helps!

      1. WineNot Change Careers*

        haha no, any insight is helpful! I think my company would be great about it, though I do think they are hoping that I am in it for the long haul with them so they’d probably be bummed. I don’t think it’s anything that would interfere with my job, so that is good. I don’t HAVE to bring it up, but I think once I figure out which program I want to do and when I want to begin, I would mention something to a few people. It’s a relatively small company with some family history so I don’t want to blindside anyone or feel like I am sneaking around trying to find ways to get out of my current situation…stressful though for sure!

      2. RagingADHD*

        I think the reason you can’t come up with what to say is because there is nothing to say, as of yet.

        What do you need from them? How does this plan impact your work, or how you get your job done?

        On the flip side, what do they need to know, why do they need to know it, and when will they be able to act on it? How does it impact their plans and needs?

        When there is something that actually needs to be said, it will be relatively easy to figure out how to say it. For example, if your boss wants to start training you for upper management, or they want you to make a 5-year personal and career development plan. You wouldn’t be obligated to disclose your real plans, but if you’re comfortable discussing it, that would be an opportunity.

        If you have coworkers that you chat with about personal stuff, then your classes (when they happen) will come up in ordinary “what are you doing after work?” type conversations. Just let it be organic.

        Wait until it’s relevant. Right now, it only matters to you in your own thinking and isn’t relevant to them.

    2. AMinion*

      Definitely wait until you have a plan and/or are accepted in a program. Honestly, I would even wait until I was partway through the program (like if it is a multi year program). I would want to ensure I have a steady income during my education.

      However, if you think they’d be okay with it, it could be to your benefit to tell them in case you need to adjust your workload/schedule during finals or an internship or something.

    3. HR Exec Popping In*

      I appreciate you wanting to be transparent, but I wouldn’t tell them until you are already getting close to making an actual move to a new job. There is no benefit in telling them and there is risk. They could decide to stop investing in you, could push you out before you are ready or just start treating you differently. Your current industry tends to be full of people passionate about the products and they may not be able to understand someone who is not and wants to make a change.

    4. Wine-o who says Ni*

      I work in the same field (your current one), and there are a lot of people leaving with all of the COVID stuff and the massive shipping and staffing problems that have been rocking the industry in the past year. It probably won’t be a shock, and as long as your manager is decent and you continue to perform your best, there should be no real problems. They should appreciate the heads up and the long lead time to find a replacement.

  29. NYPD Detective Robert Goren*

    Hey y’all,

    I doubt you remember me, but I posted last week asking for tips about an interview process I’m going through. Guess who has updates!

    Good: I spoke to my Would-Be Lead on the phone last night, and he extended a verbal offer for the job. I wrote an email to him this morning re-expressing my interest in the role and wanting to confirm the offer in writing. WBL wrote back to confirm, and that’s all well and good.

    Bad(?): As part of the reference/background checking process, WBL mentioned that he wants to speak to my current supervisor. Y I K E S. I’ve never had to put a supervisor in touch with a WBL as part of an interview for any of my past jobs, and it’s making me itchy. Does anyone know how to do this smoothly/easily/without causing ripples? Is there a “nice” way to push back on that? I don’t have specific worries about my supervisor, per se (we have a pretty good relationship even if she tends to stray to the neurotic from time to time), but I don’t love the idea of asking her to talk to WBL when I still need to work out my new salary, benefits, etc. Also, my company has an official policy of not having managers give references (and instead having HR simply confirm our length of employment to anyone who asks).

    What do?

    1. introverted af*

      I would have wanted them to fully write their offer out to me and have some way for me to accept it before I would be ok with them trying to contact my supervisor. For my just-finished job search, I accepted an offer letter through an online portal and did a bunch of onboarding stuff – then when they said part of the background check was a reference check, I gave them my supervisor’s info but also gave them my most recent performance review. You might see if they would accept a performance review instead since it’s a good indicator

    2. SnappinTerrapin*

      Even if you have worked out all the details on the new job, they can withdraw the offer if your current employer says or does anything that makes them uncomfortable. That includes your current supervisor following company policy and refusing to answer any questions.

      You’re better off cutting to the chase: Losing this offer while keeping your current job is better than having the offer withdrawn and having your current employer start treating you like you already have one foot out thee door.

      If your WBL doesn’t understand that, it reflects poorly on his understanding of business norms outside his own company, if nothing else.

    3. Windchime*

      So much of this just depends on how much you can trust your current manager and how sure you are that this new job is going to come through. I left a toxic job to work for a state university, and their policy was that the HAVE to talk to my current supervisor before the offer was final. (It’s a horrible policy). I had to have faith in my boss-to-be; I was honest that it was a toxic situation and I wasn’t sure what my current boss would say. It all worked out for me and my boss-to-be agreed that it was a horrible policy.

      I think it depends on how desperate you are to leave and how reliable the new boss seems to be. I was lucky that toxic boss just referred boss-to-be to HR to confirm hire date, etc, and I had plenty of other non-toxic supervisors who gave me good references.

  30. OTGW*

    I got a new job that’s really chill about letting us do whatever we want during downtown, barring that it can only be on the computer. So like, no reading regular books, knitting, etc.

    So far I’ve been reading ebooks, familiarizing myself with the job and our resources we offer to patrons, and reddit. Any other ideas on ways to occupy my time? Bonus points if it’s library or history related.

    Can’t be videos cause a) distracting to patrons and b) can’t use headphones as I need to be available for patrons.

    Thanks!

    1. Midwest Writer*

      Someone a few months back posted about a site (I forget which) where you could help with scientific research. Trying to find that site led me to the U.S. National Archives, where you can create an account and transcribe historical documents to make them searchable. Go to archive (dot) org and look for Citizen Archivist.

    2. Katie*

      RA for All is a good library related blog; lots of emphasis on diversity, and lots of great book recommendations.

  31. CalAH*

    Does anyone have experience with workplace health and wellness teams/committees?
    My grandboss recently created a safety team and a health and wellness team. I was one of a few people in the safety team, and no one signed up for health and wellness. The teams were combined. Around that same time, the other team members had to step back to focus on other duties.
    I was (nicely) voluntold to take more leadership in the Safety, Health, and Wellness team. I am familiar and comfortable with the safety part of this work but would appreciate resources on health and wellness. Does anyone have online trainings they’d recommend? What can I do besides share information about the EAP?
    Thank you for your time.

    1. HoundMom*

      I work with a lot of companies on these type of committees. Do you have a budget to provide education, do group or individual challenges and award prizes? Do you have a consultant to work with to ensure anything you do is inclusive and compliant with ADA? If done well (big if), wellness stuff can be culture enhancing and positive but done poorly, it can create a ton of unhappiness and negativity.

      I usually recommend that you start with a survey — what would people find interesting and then build a program around the results. I don’t recommend tying wellness to the health plan (so no discounts on premiums for meeting certain standards), but activities that can broaden people’s knowledge of a topic, of co-workers and just fun.

      1. CalAH*

        This is very helpful, thank you for the specific advise. I’ll ask my grandboss about our budget and if I can survey coworkers at an all staff meeting.

    2. Reba*

      My company does a lot of these things, but we are large and the committee seems to be well-resourced. They focus on lot on education and host monthly-ish webinars on various topics, everything from chair yoga to signs of a stroke to nutrition on a budget. They work with the health and safety department to offer flu shots and very basic medical screenings, and in the before times they organized walks and voluntary fitness accountability groups/challenges.

      Without a programming budget, I would say that compiling information for people in one place/webpage is definitely helpful

      1. CalAH*

        These are great points. Our office works with the health department frequently, so building on that relationship would be fairly easy and a great resource. Thank you.

    3. JelloStapler*

      I am on such a committee but it is lead by our health partner on campus; we just offer ideas and feedback from a staff/faculty perspective and help distribute communication about programs.

      1. CalAH*

        It sounds like your committee is doing well at including worker feedback. I’ll ask coworkers how they’d best like to share their ideas and perspectives as this project grows. Thank you.

  32. Let me be dark and twisty*

    Why is the last day of work before a vacation or the holidays always feels like it drags on forever and ever?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      For me, it’s the opposite, lol! It flies by so quickly and I end up working a bit late to get all the last pieces in place.

      1. londonedit*

        My morning was like that today but I shifted everything off my desk before lunch and now I’ve had about three emails all afternoon!

      2. Square Root of Minus One*

        Same! Time flies when leaving is up in the air. I had to wrap up everything on Thursday (3 reports, not a bad day), tidy and clean my desk, also took a few minutes to wish a good holiday to team and friends in other teams.
        It’s like at home. Packing, tidying, cleaning up, cooking whatever’s left in the fridge to freeze, and so on before you go go go get the plane.

    2. WellRed*

      3 hours, 45 minutes but I actually planned it so I have just enough easy to mop up stuff to keep me occupied. Helps that I’m wfh.

  33. CluelessAndOutofTouch*

    I am entering the 4th round of interviews for a company whose mission I very much value. It is the same industry as I have been in, but a different organization with a bit more of a honed-in focus. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but it’s been hinted that I am the top contender. Thing is, I don’t really want to LEAVE my current organization, but I had started to look around just because I am fatigued by where I have been the last 6 years (I would not admit that in an interview, of course) and our new department boss is a manipulative jerk whose approach is shaming and blaming. Other thing is, I have really good days and really bad days but when the highs are very high, I feel attached and want to stay. I am well respected across various departments and am well established. I have had glowing reviews year after year, and my boss is currently working to rewrite my job description, change my title and do a salary assessment. So I feel guilty, especially because before I started searching, I made a stink that I wanted an assessment.

    On the other hand, this potential new opportunity is very enticing. The position is permanent remote with a ton of flexibility around childcare (think: company that makes teapots and specialty drinkware for children). I do not yet have a sense of salary but that will be discussed today. I guess I have 3 questions:

    1. Am I doing the right thing? Am I an idiot for feeling guilty?
    2. If I were to arrive at offer stage, what is an appropriate way to say, ” if you don’t give me at least 10k more and the same amount of vacation time i have now, i am not interested and have no reason to leave as I wasnt looking anyway?”
    3. For parents whose kids get sick all the time, how have you navigated new jobs?

    Again, getting ahead of myself, but I feel like a lot is potentially at stake. Thank you!

    1. ArtK*

      1. Yes (and, mildly, yes.) You sound dissatisfied and are working for a bad boss; that can only get worse.
      2. Yes, but not with those words. The “or else I’m not taking the job” is implied. It’s normal to negotiate salary and/or time off — I’ve done the latter every time I’ve moved for the last couple of decades. Having built up 200 hours/yr in PTO, I’m not going back to 80 hrs/yr!
      3. Sorry, don’t have a good answer for that one :(

    2. Sandman*

      I just accepted a new job and am simultaneously beyond thrilled with the move and what I’ll be doing in my new position, and genuinely heartbroken to leave behind projects and people that I’ve been working with for several years. Transitions are just hard sometimes. And you’re allowed to have any kind of feelings about this that you want, and to set any conditions on it that you want – in fact, you probably should if you’d feel anything less than enthusiastic about the change without that.

  34. Cheezmouser*

    Not a question, just a rant: my new boss continues to treat me like a junior staffer even though I have 10+ years of experience. I nearly cried in frustration when I told him that I needed more bandwidth because I’m falling behind on projects so I’m recommending moving project A to Q2 2022 and stepping back from project B, and the part he fixated on is the fact that I’m falling behind. Instead of helping me reprioritize, I get a reminder that it’s important for me to meet deadlines. (No duh, hence me initiating this whole conversation about bandwidth). Argh, it’s just immensely frustrating. I don’t think he realizes he’s being patronizing to me. I think he’s actually trying to be helpful but he just doesn’t know how with a senior staffer (he’s mostly managed junior staff up to now, where reminding them of basics like meeting deadlines makes sense.

    I guess I do have a question: should I bring this up? It’s not hampering my performance (in the end I just decided to go ahead with my proposed solutions and I informed him of my decision) but it’s just annoying.

    1. Stoppin' by to chat*

      Since you are implementing your schedule changes regardless, sounds like a situation of either finding a way to mentally rise above your boss’ obnoxious comments, or maybe even start looking for a new job. Maybe there can be a short and long-term approach, i.e. in the short-term, you will go into any discussion with your boss knowing they will make obnoxious comments, and treat it like car bingo (they reminded me of basic concepts, 1 point), and see if that reframing helps.

      Question: Is your relationship with your manager very formal? Do you sometimes chat casually? If so, it may be worth having a chat to point out that while you realize they manager people with limited experience, you have a longer tenure with your company/what you do, so you want to make sure your meetings with your boss are more nuanced.

      OR could just be they only know one way to manage, and then you have to decide if you can deal with that long-term.

      1. Cheezmouser*

        Haha, car bingo, I love it! I have no interest in moving on yet, I told myself I’d give my new boss 6 months to see if it works out, so sounds like I just need to be patient and not take the comments personally in the meantime.

        My manager is new to the company, so right now our relationship is very formal as we’re just getting to know each other. We don’t chat casually since he’s full-time remote. I’m hoping that once he gets to know my work better, he’ll realize there’s a reason why I’m a senior staffer. I guess I’m just used to being a top performer and assumed he would treat me as such. I’ll have to be patient as I build his trust.

        1. Mockingjay*

          What about suggesting a weekly check-in? Doesn’t have to be long; 15 – 30 minutes to brief him. The recurrence is important – it gives you regular time with him to help establish a good working relationship.

          Or send him a weekly report summarizing progress, impediments, and solutions/options for the impediments. Some people prefer something written to peruse and come back to.

          Ask him how he wants communications (all bosses have preferences), so you can provide him relevant info he needs for project awareness and to make decisions.

    2. JSPA*

      If he’s doing it intentionally–which is absolutely possible!–just ignore it, or look elsewhere. And watch your messaging, so it’s not about “”*I* can’t meet these deadlines” but about, “These deadlines are unrealistic, and here’s how *we* can realistically proceed.” You can explicitly say, “the problem isn’t me, the problem is [the supply chain / the staffing / the response times / the doubling of the workload]”; he’ll either hear it, or he’ll refuse to hear it.

      If it’s not intentional, I think there’s room to say, “As I’ve been doing X for 8 years, and Y for 10, I’d particularly benefit from guidance or pep talks or training focused on Z, as that’s one of my newer duties, where I’m still working on streamlining the process.” Telling people exactly what you need from them to succeed is darn near a superpower, sometimes.

      1. Cheezmouser*

        Good idea! I do think I need to reframe things. I realized afterward that I shouldn’t have said “I’m behind on several projects,” I should’ve said, “I was forced to deprioritize several projects so I could handle more urgent issues, but now those projects are behind schedule and I need more bandwidth to get them back on track. I’m proposing X solution, do you agree?” This makes it clear that I’m behind on those projects because I made a conscious decision about prioritization at the time, not because I’m unable to meet deadlines.

        I don’t think he’s being intentionally patronizing. He’s new in the role and somewhat overwhelmed, so I suspect he’s just grabbing on to anything he can contribute. “It’s important to meet deadlines” is something he can safely say when he has no idea how to help me reprioritize my projects.

        1. JSPA*

          You’re still using “I” speak, though. Useful in relationships, or when you don’t want the topic to be argued on its merits; but “we speak” or “topic focused language” is often more powerful in the workplace.

          If he can speak as “we”–and I bet he does, when he doesn’t want to focus the attention on his role, but on the task at hand–then by 10 years in, you can, too. If he can talk in terms of job needs and job priorities, then you can, too.

          We deprioritized projects A and B to get C and D out the door. That now puts A and B on the front burner, so I’m giving you a head’s up that E and F will be on hold, and the timing could get iffy. I’d suggest [whatever] if we can swing an extra pair of hands, but otherwise, we might need to [whatever else contingency plan], as the way we’ve been running constantly leaves us a couple of sick days away from dropping one of the balls.”

          This isn’t ducking responsibility–it’s taking ownership, and taking an oversight-view of the process. Which isn’t a scheduling problem, it’s a workload problem.

  35. Rational Lemming*

    Hi All –
    Hoping to get a little advice on what you would do in my situation.
    My manager has 8 people reporting to her and still takes on complicated projects. She is… overwhelmed. Most of the time she doesn’t answer her phone and it takes a few days to get back to you via email. Frustrating, but understandable given the asks our leadership gives to her. People reach out to me when they can’t get ahold of my manager. Earlier this summer/fall she and I had talked about me taking on a more formal leadership role – 2 or 3 direct reports and a title bump. This would take work off her plate, give me my first opportunity as a manager, and recognize the responsibilities that I have already taken on.
    BUT
    Our team just got our raises for the year, and they are disappointing. I was offered a 4% raise (similar to my coworkers). I was told that I could still take on direct reports, if I want them, and a title change, but there would be no additional salary increase (at least for now). It would be an opportunity for me to manage, which if I want to move upward in my career I will have to do at some point. There is a vague promise of a raise pool in the spring/summer of 2022. But I’m not holding my breath for that.

    So what would you do? Keep the current setup (wait for a raise to take on direct reports) or Take on the responsibilities (some of which I already do) and hope the salary catches up?

    1. Samantha F*

      In my organization there is no immediate salary increase for managing others, but it gives us a lot of other advantages (essentially more ways to get promoted) and since I like managing itself, I’ve been happy with the arrangement. But we are already well compensated and I don’t feel taken advantage of. In any case, I think you might benefit from the management experience regardless of the salary increase. It will look better on your resume if you decide to leave this job. Also you are kinda doing some of the management work already, so by formalizing it you can use it to your career advantage. Ideally try to get some commitment from them in writing about the raise rather than vague promises.

      1. Overeducated*

        This is the same for me – I actually made a lateral move last year in part to gain formal management experience (I have one direct report and interns), because I’d had people advise me that I had pretty much topped out as an SME and was going to need that to move up. But my salary will never “catch up,” i.e. it will never pay more than my previous position because it involves management, I just have to look at this as a stepping stone to another job at a higher level, and that is very clear for me. If you take a job with the expectation that you’ll be paid more in the future for the additional duties, well, it doesn’t sound like a sure bet, so you have to consider how you’d feel about it if you got the higher title and responsibilities but your pay didn’t reflect them even after the next round of raises.

    2. Rosie*

      I’d probably take the title and direct reports for the experience and start planning my moves on using that to find a better position elsewhere. If you’re already doing the work might as well have that officially recognized.

      1. Frustrated Freelancer*

        Yeah I hate to be a jerk but I’d say take the title change, don’t take on more people management than you enjoy, and try to leverage it into a new job offer with pay commensurate with the work. If this is a nonprofit, some literally survive this way, by getting people to do senior work for junior dollars.

    3. Cheezmouser*

      Do you have a formal annual appraisal or performance evaluation process? If yes, then I would take on the responsibilities, title bump, and direct reports now and then turn around during the performance review process and say, “Now that I’ve been handling these higher responsibilities and managing a team as a Senior Llama Wrangler for 3 months, I’d like to make sure my salary reflects my increased contributions.” You can even seed this discussion now when you take on the responsibilities, saying, “I’d love to step up into this higher role now, especially since I’m already handling some of these responsibilities. I understand that there would be no salary increase at this time, but I’d like to discuss that once I’ve settled into my new role. When would be a good time for us to discuss?” Or even “Would our performance evaluation season in March be the best time for us to discuss?”

      If they keep putting you off, then that’s your sign to start looking around, and at least you’ll have a higher title and some management experience under your belt when that time comes.

      1. Rational Lemming*

        There is a process, but absolutely no one takes it seriously because it in no way impacts anything (raises, promotions, PIPs, etc). We didn’t even get goals pushed to us this year. And it happens on a very different time frame (raises in the fall, annual reviews in the spring). It makes absolutely no sense to me, especially at a company of this size (>10k employees).
        But more to your point, if I do take on the role, I would/should definitely follow up with conversations like that!

    4. Cordelia*

      I’m afraid it’s unlikely that your salary will “catch up”. But if you want to progress in your career it might be worth taking on the responsibilities, and doing them for a certain period of time, learning as much as you can, and then moving on to use your new skills in a company that will reward you fairly. Would you be able to get any management training through your current company perhaps?

    5. Rational Lemming*

      Thanks all for the opinions! Very interesting to hear how this works for other people. I guess I actually have to spend some time thinking big picture about my career and what I want :)

    6. Flower necklace*

      Are there any other benefits to taking the job? Not quite the same situation, but I was asked to help the department head. It’s more responsibility for essentially no extra pay (a small stipend). I’m a teacher who enjoys being in the classroom, so it’s not aligned with my career goals, either.

      However, I agreed to do it because I knew it would benefit the department overall and because I would get more of a say in leadership decisions, including my classes. That makes up for some of the downsides.

  36. Bernice Clifton*

    I started at my company in September and we are having a holiday potluck. I signed up to bring a homemade dip that’s been popular at potlucks in the past, and another coworker signed up to bring a different kind of dip after me. Don’t worry, though, I am not freaking out about her or calling it Cheap Ass Dip. :)

    1. Elenna*

      Don’t worry, we understand that the name of Cheap Ass Dip is reserved for the person who brings dip without signing up at all. :)

    2. Siege*

      This is terrible. You need to sabotage your coworker at the earliest opportunity. I recommend strewing Legos carefully in her cubicle. Try to pick ones that best match the carpet, and pay attention to the fact that they have altered their grey and tan over the years; you may need to get Old Grey. She’ll be slowed down enough that you can get your dip to the potluck first. I also recommend actually getting seven dips and a charcuterie board but don’t mention that in the signup. You just want to play it off casually. “We had this left over from entertaining the Sultan of Brunei yesterday, so I thought it made sense to bring it here. It’ll just go to waste when we go to Monaco next week anyway. What’s a little extra food at a party?” Also, wear a gown, but not Calvin Klein; he’s too casual-classic.

      1. Virginia Plain*

        Love this!

        Also you need to make sure nobody eats her cheap ass dip. Tell everyone you saw her sneeze on it, and if you see anyone dipping a carrot stick in it, knock it out of their hand.

  37. Zazz*

    How do you measure how long you’ve been with a company if that amount of time is not consecutive?

    I worked as an intern at my company from (approx.) January 15 to May 15 of this year, so, 4 months. Then I did a summer program elsewhere, then got hired full-time at the company starting in mid-October, so, 2 months. But I was still Known To The Company – in fact, I freelanced for them sporadically for a month – in the time between my internship ending and my full-time position starting.

    If all this were consecutive, I’d have been “part of the company” for almost a year. But teeeechnically I’ve only been working there for 7 months, including the freelancing.

    I’m big on celebrating anniversaries and I’d love to know when it’s “right” to start counting. Going forward, do I celebrate my one-year anniversary with the company on January 15 or October 15?

    1. ferrina*

      Depends what you’re counting for. If you’re just counting for yourself, sure Jan 15 counts!
      If you’re counting for an annual review/raise, it would be Oct 15 (when you got FT status).
      For your resume, I’d put the time frame on each position. Interning, freelancing, and being a FT employee are all very different.

    2. Me*

      I would not count your internship with your employment. Internign is very different than being an employee.

      Your resume would be
      Intern at Llama Central from date to date
      Freelance at Llama Central from date to date
      Employee (title obvi) at Llama Central from date to date

      Your 1 year anniversary is one year from the date you were an official employee.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      What do your personnel records say? I work for the government, so we are a different from private companies, but when I started as a full-time employee, they gave me credit for a three month summer job I had a few years earlier. They back-dated my “service computation date” so if you look at the summary, it looks as if I started Nov.1 instead of Feb 1. If you look at the official documents, though, you can see where that all came from. Personally, I count from Feb., and recommend you count from when you started as a full-time hire.

  38. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

    Honestly disappointed Jorts and Jean didn’t get some coverage here this week. So I’ll do the lord’s work and paste it here (this is from reddit dot com slash r slash AmITheAsshole):

    [EDITED TO ADD:]This post is about 2 cats who are named Jean and Jorts.

    THE STORY We have two workplace cats in one area of our worksite. They add value to the worksite, we all love the cats and the worksite cat presence is not the issue. One of the cats (Jean) is a tortoiseshell cat we have had for years. The other cat (Jorts) is a large orange cat and a recent addition.

    Jorts is just… kind of a simple guy. For example, Jorts can’t open a door even when it’s ajar— he shoves it whether he is going in or out, so often he closes the door he is trying to go through. This means he is often trapped inside the place he was trying to exit and meows until he is rescued.

    My colleague Pam (not her real name) has been spending a lot of time trying to teach Jorts things. The doors thing is the main example — it’s a real issue because the cats are fed in a closet and Jorts keeps pushing the door closed. Jean can actually open all the other interior doors since they are a lever type knob, but she can’t open this particular door if she is trapped INSIDE the closet.

    Tortie Jean is very nice to poor orange Jorts, and she is kept busy letting him out of rooms he has trapped himself in, so this seems easy to resolve. I put down a door stop.

    Pam then said I was depriving Jorts of the “chance to learn” and kept removing the doorstop. She set up a series of special learning activities for Jorts, and tried to put these tasks on the whiteboard of daily team tasks (I erased them). She thinks we need to teach him how to clean himself better and how to get out of minor barriers like when he gets a cup stuck on his head, etc. I love Jorts but he’s just dumb af and we can’t change that.

    Don’t get me wrong— watching her try to teach Jorts how to walk through a door is hilarious, but Jean got locked in the closet twice last week. Yesterday I installed a cat cutout thing in the door and Pam started getting really huffy. I made a gentle joke about “you can’t expect Jean’s tortoiseshell smarts from orange cat Jorts” which made Pam FURIOUS. She started crying and left the hallway, then sent an email to the group (including volunteers) and went home early.

    In her email Pam said I was “perpetuating ethnic stereotypes by saying orange cats are dumb” and is demanding a racial sensitivity training before she will return. I don’t think it’s relevant but just in case, Pam is a white person in a mostly minority staff (and no she is not ginger/does not have red hair).

    1. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

      Oh, FFS. Ya can’t teach an orange cat new tricks. Everyone knows that. :) (Please note the sarcasm font.)

    2. RussianInTexas*

      Jean and Jorts UPDATE:
      Thanks for responding to my query which had truly upset me. I work to have a good relationship with my team and the situation had gotten weird so gradually that I lost perspective.
      I just met with HR, she had already met with Pam. HR was concerned about Pam’s comparing ethnic stereotypes with giving a cat a doorstop and they addressed that which went well. HR will follow up to make sure Pam understands. (The replies to my query were helpful to me for this discussion.)
      HR also addressed Pam assigning other staff Jorts-related tutoring, as it is not appropriate for Pam to assign others work. This also went well.
      We both think Pam had a hard time with the transition from volunteer to staff, and may have “new kid” sensitivity projected to Jorts. Pam got emotional about her perception that I favor Jean over Jorts and gave specific examples. Some of these things are fair. Jorts deserves respect as a member of our team.

      There are 3 buildings in our workplace. Jean and Jorts are limited to one. HR told me there were 5 holdouts about vaccines, and restricting unvaccinated people from entering the building (to protect Jean and Jorts) was enough to win over 4 of them. That’s CRAZY, but great.
      More importantly: the cats’ presence greatly enhances our work with our clients, and Jorts’ friendly nature has been so great. Both cats truly are doing important work. Truly Jorts deserves to be treated with respect.
      We all deserve to be treated with dignity at work, so I will apologize to Jorts about some things that were insensitive or disrespectful.
      a. Jean has a nice cat bed with her name on it, while Jorts has chosen an old boot tray in my office with a towel in it. Recently a visitor put wet boots in the boot tray and Pam saw Jorts sleeping on the wet boots. I bought a bed for Jorts today and a name tag has been ordered.
      b. I will apologize to Jorts and remove the sign saying “DAYS SINCE JORTS HAD A TRASH CAN MISHAP: 0” Jorts likes to fish dirty paper cups out and he often falls into the bin or gets a cup stuck on his head, etc. (He is able to get out of the bin by tipping it over so it isn’t a safety issue.)
      c. Jean’s “staff bio” has a photo of Jean, while Jorts’ bio has a photo of a sweet potato. I did not actually know either cat had a staff bio, but we will use a photo of Jorts instead of a sweet potato.
      HR also suggested changing Pam’s duties so she is “in charge” of the cats. This I refused, the cats are my staff, not Pam’s. I think Pam was well-intended but actually not meeting the needs of either Jean or Jorts so they remain under my supervision. (Pam is also not to put cups on Jorts’ head or intentionally put him into frustrating situations given his unique needs.)
      Lastly, and this made us both laugh so hard we can’t deal with it in person and will be said via email: Pam admits that she has been putting margarine on Jorts in an attempt to teach him to groom himself better. This may explain the diarrhea problem Jean developed (which required a vet visit).
      Pam is NOT to apply margarine to any of her coworkers. Jean has shown she is willing to be in charge of helping Jorts stay clean. If this task becomes onerous for Jean, we can have a groomer help. I am crying laughing typing this.
      added: I’m so glad this brought joy. Fan mail can be directed to jortsandjean @ gmail dot com.

  39. Jackie Daytona*

    Hi there! I would love some advice on updating/creating a new resume after 11 years at the same job.

    I work at a publishing company in an editorial/writing job, and I’ve been here for a long time. I want to start looking for new opportunities, but I find myself getting really hung up on the resume! I haven’t updated my resume at all since I first got this job, which I realize is a big part of the problem. Every time I’ve tried to get started my mind goes blank, and when I look at sample resumes, they don’t feel that helpful — they often seem more suitable for jobs with quantifiable goals/results than the work I do. I feel very confident *talking* about my work, and I don’t think cover letters will be a problem for me to write. But the resume feels like an unbreakable code!

    I think there are two issues: I’m kind of at a loss for what a resume should even look like at this stage in my career, and I also am unsure how to handle most of my resume being this job. (I’ve been out of college for 16 years, and 11 have been at this company.)

    Has anyone been in this situation before? I know there are a ton of resume resources on here, and I’ve just bought the book! I would love advice on tools/steps to take/anything to get me out of this “AAAAHHHH/uggghhhh” phase.

    1. ferrina*

      I’d look to break the writer’s block first, then worry about the format.
      I took some time to just write a list of brag points. I listed every cool thing that I would brag about- it helped for me to do it aloud and with a glass of wine. Once I got that initial list, I was able to edit it down and wordsmith. That also helped me see the final shape that my resume should look like.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      You feel comfortable talking about your work, so start there. If friends/family are willing to help you with this, talk to them about your work. Either they or you can note down any particularly impressive achievements, good phrases, etc.

      If you want to work through this on your own, record yourself talking about your job for a few minutes. Then type up a transcript of what you said, verbatim. From there, try to pull out a few bullet points from what you’ve written.

    3. Mockingjay*

      Sometimes it’s easier to work backwards. Look at job postings you are interested in. Read a bunch. Identify critical, common skills and experience, and new skills that you might need or even rusty experience that you’d like to get back into.

      Now, think back on your 11 years at current job. What were big accomplishments? Or did you show steady, reliable progress? Don’t discount steady performance. Recruiters and TV would have you believe that only GUMPTION and flashy credentials get jobs, but most ‘real’ employers want reliable performers day in and out.

      Match experience to the job. What work directly matches these jobs? What is similar but still applicable? What is a stretch? Think about how you would describe and expand on these skills during the interview. Those skill and experience points are what you put in your resume. The cover letter is where you mention the applicability of a point or two to pique the hiring manager’s interest.

      Remember Alison’s point that a resume is a marketing document. It’s not a laundry list of everything you’ve done. Pull out only pertinent points to support your candidacy for a role. Good luck!

      1. Jackie Daytona*

        Thank you all for these thoughtful comments! This is all super helpful and not anything I was thinking about. I wasn’t even considering that I was having writer’s block, which seems so obvious now!

      1. Mynona*

        But it’s always my fingers that are cold! For cold hands, I microwave a mug of water and use it as a hand warmer.

        My co-worker has several warm blankets and she will cover her hands and keyboard with one–only works if you can touch type.

        Also, I wear my heavy coat indoors and get up and move at least once an hour, to help with general coldness.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Wool ones with half fingers or just no tips! Cashmere if you’re feeling like a splurge.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Just be sure to put it away in a file drawer at the end of the day. The fire dept told us space heaters were not allowed — not safe because they got left on all night, got kicked over and left on all night…

        Even if you have one that turns off when it tips.

    1. JSPA*

      Don’t wear cotton next to your skin, except maybe undies. Even slight clammy dampness becomes warmth sucking chill. Ideally, ensure you don’t sweat on the way in, for the same reason.

      Change of socks (again, same reasoning) and dry shoes that stay in the office.

      Once chilly, if physically able, and you can get away with it, stand up, then do two or three deep squats. It uses a lot more core and large muscles than the sort of arm flailing or chest hugging that people do, to “warm up.”

      A lap blanket might also help. It’s instantly off, unlike a worn layer.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Concentrate on feet and neck. See if you can get a heated carpet square to go under your desk.

    3. Purt’s Peas*

      Move around as much as you can. Nothing makes an office feel colder than sitting totally still for hours!

    4. Mags*

      USB chargeable hand-warmers. I got them for walking the dog, but now I have them in the pockets of my hoodie in the office.

    5. Lady Ann*

      I am also perpetually cold and I feel your pain. I have USB heated fingerless gloves that aren’t perfect, but they do help. I also have an electric foot warmer that I can tuck under my desk. Warm beverages help as well.

    6. Girasol*

      If you need heat but can’t plug anything in, you can pour a pound of rice into a sock and knot the end, then microwave for a minute or two to make a small bean bag sort of heating pad.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I had lap blanket and sweater at the office. Now WFH, I’ve added a winter vest, a shawl, and an insulated skirt. (I got one made for winter equestrian use…the velcro is goofy but I’m warm. I would have rather had a long quilted pencil skirt, but the beautiful ones I saw online all were from manufacturers whose sizes don’t go up to mine.)

    8. BBB the cabinet builder*

      Keep your feet and head warm. Wool cap or head wrap of some sort, fleece insoles. The USB charged gloves mentioned above are great, too.

  40. Ezri Dax*

    I just took a new job where I will have supervisory responsibilities. This is my first time in any type of management role. I’d love advice from other neurodiverse folks, particularly other autistic people, on how you handle the people side of management – stuff like interpersonal conflict between staff, communication issues, etc. I don’t think I’ll be comfortable disclosing, at least not right away, so I’d love any tips for coping that can be implemented without attracting too much notice.

    1. HR Exec Popping In*

      Start by asking them how they like to work and be managed. The best leaders are focused on how they can help their team members be successful. So it isn’t about how you want to manage them, but how they are best managed. And this can be different for each person. Congratulations and good luck!

    2. Scotlibrarian*

      Hi, I’ve been a manager for about 25 years, and I got my autism diagnosis last month! I find AAM really useful in thinking about managing. I think that being autistic can be great as a manager: clear communication is great for you and your staff – do you need x done by y? Then you say that. My emails are clear and direct. As someone who is very calm when everything goes wrong, I’m great in a crisis – super focussed on what our end goal is and how to reach it.

      When I first started managing, I worked for a brilliant manager, she was supportive, clear, direct, and let me make my own creative decisions. I tried to be like her. If you’ve had a good manager, think about what you liked and try to put some of that into practice. Talk to your staff individually, ask them what they need to do their jobs well, ask them what things annoy them and if you can help with that (eg they might have an issue with a policy or procedure that you can alter, or they might have to deal with angry customers and you can let them know that you fully support them to ask you to come out and deal with that when they feel overwhelmed).

      Communicate regularly with your staff – that might be a weekly check in with the team, or an individual meeting every fortnight, or both. It depends on who you manage and how much support they need. At the moment I mostly project manage so have only 2 reports, both of whom are qualified professionals with many years experience – I meet with them individually about once every 4 to 6 weeks, but bounce emails with them regularly and they know I’m there if they have an issue.

      My main thing as a manager is to have my employees’ backs. They know that I will protect them from nonsense from above where possible, i will support them as needed, and I will always give them credit when speaking with bosses.

      If I have issues with a staff member, I will be clear and direct, like the scripts that Allison suggests. People can’t change if they don’t know the issue.

      Every time I have a meeting with a staff member, I will take notes at the time, then write them up and email them to my employee within 2 days, with any action points for them and me clearly stated with times attached. I dont remember stuff unless it’s written down

    3. Scotlibrarian*

      Btw, I love DS9 – my favourite show ever!

      I’ve thought some more, about interpersonal conflict, and that’s tricky. I think the thing I do is to try and take the heat out by looking at what actually happened, talking with the staff members individually so they felt heard, then being clear about what behaviour is appropriate/ inappropriate at work, and coming to a decision that is fair and then following through. You’ll see that in AAM a LOT, which is one of the reasons I love it. When you look beyond the omg of some of the stuff you read here, you can see that Allison gets down to the nitty gritty of what happened, what was appropriate or inappropriate, then uses a script to lay out what the consequences are and what will happen going forward. As an autistic person, scripts like these are brilliant. I often bullet point what I want to say on paper before each meeting.

      Bullet points and noting down stuff is also great so you can praise people specifically about good work that you see, and what you’d like improved and how. ‘Well done on that phone call Wakeen, you were really clear even though it was complicated, you kept calm when they asked 3 questions in a row, and you checked in that they understood what you had explained and that they were happy when the call ended. That was excellent customer care’ ‘Your data input has a really low error rate Fozia, which is brilliant for a new start. I’ll get you to shadow Wakeen today to see how he does the data input so you can work with him to start increasing your speed. Well done, you’re off to a great start’.

      Sorry if I sound a little disjointed, I’m fairly low on spoons tonight :)

  41. Zaira*

    I’m applying for a job that is mostly aligned with a job I left in 2019. Since then, I’ve had 2 other jobs. Is there a way of highlighting the job I left in 2019 even though it won’t be top of the page? I need to include my most recent jobs if for nothing else just to show I did work, even though they aren’t particularly relevant. I’m not sure how thoroughly people read resumes. My other question is about education. I was let go in March 2020 so decided to go back to school full time. Should I put education at the top of my resume so it’s clear that I’ve been doing *something* while out of work?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Can you break your work experience into two sections: “relevant work experience” and “other work experience”?

      In general, you want the most relevant thing up top. So if that’s the education, put your education at the top, and the order of your sections can be:

      Education
      Relevant Work Experience
      Other Work Experience

      If your job from 2019 is the most relevant, I would order your sections:

      Relevant Work Experience
      Other Work Experience
      Education

  42. Orange Crushed*

    I’m frustrated and confused because my coworker seems to either not want to work with me or is embarrassed by me or something.

    I went by to talk to him and he had another coworker there. I was teasing him about something and later on in the day he’s all, “Why were you there?” Um, because I work here?

    Another time I said something to him around others and later on he was like, “What did you say that?” It was nothing bad- I thought we were joking around. I didn’t even say anything bad/raunchy/inappropriate!

    The thing is, my coworker jokes around and talks to me when we’re alone but when there are other people around, he acts like he doesn’t know me. He’s a totally different person. He isn’t like this with other people though, so why am I treated differently?

    Any advice? Has anyone dealt with this before?

    1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      He’s just not that into you. Maybe it’s because of something you did, maybe not. Sometimes, people are just like this. You can just let it roll off your back and not worry about it, or you can be like me and be super petty and embarrass him when he does stuff like this around other people by calling him out on it point-blank. Up to you!

    2. Samantha F*

      Hmm. Are you sure your jokes are definitely appropriate? I’m picking up on this because both of the examples include ‘joking’ or ‘teasing’, and humor is quite relative and situational.
      Has anyone else commented that you don’t read social cues? For example, it’s one thing to joke one on one about, I don’t know, getting drunk last night, but different if there’s a third coworker who’s maybe higher up in the hierarchy or known to be a prude, etc.
      Again I don’t know you so could be I’m totally off-base, but that’s what I’ve got based on what you wrote.

      1. Orange Crushed*

        It’s a really laid back environment- there’s swearing, dirty jokes, etc. My coworker has a very perverted sense of humor. I’m probably considered the “uptight” one in the bunch, but I just don’t want to get in trouble. I think that either people think there’s something going on between us or he doesn’t want people to think that. I don’t know…

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        The thing about “good natured” teasing is that you can’t do it with someone you don’t know very well. Maybe he doesn’t like to be teased at all. Maybe the teasing you’re doing is touching on a sore spot other people have made fun of him for in the past. Maybe he thinks that you’ve decided out of the blue that you don’t like him and it’s making him uncomfortable.

        Sometimes people see friends teasing each other and get the order of operations backward. The way it usually happens is that as you form a relationship and a history with someone, you’ll naturally develop in-jokes and funny memories to bring up. If you try to manufacture those in-jokes without the history, that’s going to make a lot of people uncomfortable. So I’d recommend dropping all teasing from any interactions with this guy and defaulting to polite and respectful and kind. See if that changes anything in the way he reacts when you interact with him.

        1. Orange Crushed*

          Please see my response above- he does a lot of teasing. He just doesn’t seem to like it if I talk to him around other people and/or joke around with him around other people. When I started in my position, we hung out a lot and a manager in another department gave him a hard time about it, so I think that he doesn’t want people thinking there’s something going on between us.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            Then honestly, that just sounds like a him thing that you’re not going to be able to change.

    3. Eden*

      I don’t know why, but it does seem like you just need to stop the teasing/joking. Even if he’s fine with it in certain situations or with certain people. It’s pretty clear that it’s not being received well so it does need to stop regardless of why it’s like this.

      1. Orange Crushed*

        It’s weird because it seems to be on his terms only. Today he was joking around and teasing me about something. If he starts it, it’s okay. If I do, he doesn’t like it.

        1. Jean*

          He sounds like a d*ck. Stick to work topics only. And make it awkward for him next time he starts joking around with you – give him a blank look and ask him what he means. He needs a taste of his own crap.

          1. pancakes*

            This isn’t a good idea. Minor awkwardness with a coworker is not going to benefit from being escalated this way. If someone doesn’t laugh at or respond to your jokes, the thing to do is stop joking with them, not get hostile about it.

        2. allathian*

          Maybe call him out on it the next time he jokes around with you? “How come you joke around and tease me, but get all huffy when I start doing the same, especially if there are other people around?” His response should tell you something, at least. Even if he denies doing that. If at all possible, you should do this when nobody else can hear you.

          Honestly, he sounds like a jerk, but it sounds like you have at least a slight crush on him, and other people have twigged on to that.

    4. peachy*

      Maybe your coworkers teased him about things seeming flirty between the two of you, so now he’s self-conscious about it.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Just leave him alone. Don’t joke and tease with him at all, either in private or around other people. Be civil and polite, but only talk about work things.

      He’s made it clear that he does not want you to joke around with him in front of others, so don’t. The flip side is, if y’all joke around in private it is messing with your feelings, so stop doing it to keep the lines clear.

      Just treat him the same in private that he wants you to treat him in public. Either he will loosen up and decide he really does want to be friendly with you, or if not at least you will get some peace of mind.

      Either way is an improvement.

    6. This Old House*

      I have a coworker whose jokes are a little . . . nerdy/awkward/not always funny. For some reason, I don’t think about it or they seem funny when it’s just the two of us, but when she does it in meetings with higher-ups there’s an added performative aspect that just makes me cringe. I think I don’t visibly cringe, but I also probably don’t laugh or play along the way I would if we were one-on-one. Since we work closely and are always in these meetings together, it feels like it might reflect negatively on us?

      Sometimes things that land in one situation just don’t land in another.

  43. Flying Shrimp*

    I am currently interviewing and have a final round interview coming up soon. I am looking for advice about needing pumping breaks at a new job and when/how to ask about accommodations. I’m assuming that it would be best to ask about it during the offer stage? For reference, I am pumping 2x daily and will likely continue for several months after starting a new position. Thanks!

    1. ferrina*

      Yep, mention it at the offer stage. Don’t “ask” for accommodations, just let them know that you are currently pumping and ask what’s the best way to make sure that you get the accommodations you need (including a quiet room you can use as needed.)

    2. HR Exec Popping In*

      This really shouldn’t even be a thing. Once you have accepted the job you can mention that you are nursing and will need to take pumping breaks twice a day. You want to know if there is a nursing room available. That is it. Good luck, I hope you get the job!

  44. KoiFeeder*

    Hesitantly putting this up here because it seems more work-related than not:

    Managers of AAM, how would you deal with the matter of Jorts?

    1. Llellayena*

      It sounds like Jorts needs some basic workplace accommodations to do his job (being adorable, eating and sleeping) well. Training is all well and good, but accommodations should but used unless or until such training sticks. So yes, cat door.

      1. Virginia Plain*

        If I heard that any of the people I manage were buttering their coworkers, I would speak to them in private and make it clear this behaviour must not continue.
        I would also look into reasonable accommodations to help Jorts with his inability to open doors.

        And next time Jorts got stuck in the bin I would film it and put it on YouTube.

        1. CatDancing*

          Reasonable accommodations like, say, a door stop or perhaps a cat door? Considering Jorts’s door-related challenges, I would think that Jean could use a break from opening doors for him.

          Also, if you film him falling into the trash bin, could you be sure to catch it when he comes out with a paper cup on his head?

  45. meow wolf*

    I am a W2 contractor – I have good 401k benefits and good health insurance. However, I would LOVE paid time off. Currently, I just get unlimited time off that I don’t get paid for. Is there a good way to negotiate this? Would it be super dramatic to try and start a union to improve our benefits?

    1. Me*

      Could you negotiate the paid time off into your salary? Ie, whatever your hourly rate * 2 weeks = $xxxx, and then add that dollar amount into the salary you request?

    2. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      Well, Meow Wolf already has a union, so talk to them about it! In all seriousness you might not have the standing to ask for PTO if you are a contractor.

    3. HR Exec Popping In*

      I’ve never heard of contractors getting paid time off unless they are working for a consulting company and they provide that. I would recommend that you negotiate a higher rate of pay to cover time off.

      1. pancakes*

        I used to accrue paid time off as W2 contractor, but our pay was quite standardized, both within the industry and by contract. Asking for more money than the norm is an easy request for employers to reject when there are hundreds or thousands of people willing to do the work at the going rate. In an industry where that isn’t the case, of course, it may work.

        The question about unionizing shouldn’t be whether it would be dramatic but whether it’s feasible! Has it been attempted by others in the past, is it happening now in other regions, are the major employers in your industry very resistant to it, etc.

  46. Porty*

    My husband has his 1 year performance review coming up and he wants to figure out a way to tell his manager that she talks too much in meetings. I think this is a bad idea and he just shouldn’t say anything. He thinks she often derails meetings and makes his company look unprofessional (when meeting with people outside of the company), but I think it’s just not something to bring up. She isn’t doing anything actively harmful, she just talks too much. She also thinks very highly of my husband and is gunning for him to get a good promotion and raise, so I think he needs to just stay in her good books as much as he can. Thoughts?

    1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      He really, really, really shouldn’t say anything. But if he does, well, it’s his career, not yours. Let him learn his own lessons.

    2. Attractive Nuisance*

      Yikes. No. I think the only way he can bring this up is if it has a direct impact on his work. For example, if she gets so off-topic during meetings that he doesn’t get the information he needs. But he should absolutely not say that she talks too much or that she makes the company look unprofessional. It’s not his job to coach his boss on professional behavior, and I wonder if he’d give the same unsolicited feedback to a male boss.

      1. Porty*

        Oh well she definitely does get seriously derailed. I can sometimes hear his meetings (WFH) where he won’t speak the entire time and after the meeting tell me he knows everything about what’s happening in her life and they won’t have actually discussed anything they were supposed to. The whole thing is sort of messy though – you’re right about questioning whether he would say anything to a male boss. She also apparently is *much* nicer to my husband than to any of his female colleagues on his team.

        1. Attractive Nuisance*

          Is this something he can redirect in the moment? “Sounds like you had a busy weekend, Janice. We have an upcoming deadline on the Markson teapot project and let’s decide what color scheme we’re going for.”
          I think this kind of conversational redirection will be both more effective and less offensive than bringing it up during your husband’s performance review. It’s unlikely he’ll tell her she talks too much and she will instantly say “you’re right! I do!” and change.
          That being said, he could say that he feels he has trouble getting the information he needs from her during meetings and ask how she wants him to handle that.

          1. CatDancing*

            It might be worth offering to type up the meeting agenda for her, and e-mail it to everyone who’s going to be attending. That way, Chatty Cathy will have a roadmap in front of her of what needs to be discussed, and the other meeting attendees will have something they can use to insert pertinent questions when she pauses for breath.

            “Interesting situation, Cathy! Hey, is there any consensus on the color scheme for the Massive Teapot line? We need to order the glazes to get them here in good time.”

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I’m saying this with all the kindness I can muster. If he’s not speaking for the entire meeting, then he is part of the problem. Has he tried saying something like “that was a great story Helen! I’ve got a couple of questions about the XYZ program. Can you walk me through…”

          1. A Wall*

            Yeah, like, if you know someone is a space-filler talker and you leave a huge void in every meeting that you silently let them fill without asking for any of the information you need, it seems a little silly to then leave the meeting going “wow, that other person and only that other person sure messed that up!” If he needs the meetings to go differently then he needs to actually participate in them.

            Don’t get me wrong, I think it makes plenty of sense for long talker manager to get a handle on it before quiet direct report needs to develop a whole strategy to work around it, but I cannot picture a route through which giving her this feedback in this way could possibly end up benefitting your husband at all. It’s both unlikely to be at all effective and highly likely to really muck up this relationship which, to be clear, has only been good for him up to this point and seems to only have good places to go in the future. She likes him and treats him well and is fighting to get him a promotion, and he wants to go into his own evaluation where she’s about to tell him he’s great and he’s going to… Tell her he thinks she needs to work on herself? Think this through, buddy. While you’re at it, think carefully through why you are so dismayed by a boss who has done nothing but make efforts to support you and your career development but also tends to get off topic.

          2. Windchime*

            I’ve worked with people like this, and some of them literally do not leave a space for anyone else to say anything. They just talk and talk and talk without hardly taking a breath. If I do try to say something, they talk over the top of me. This is a situation where zoom meetings actually were better than phone meetings because other people could see that I was trying to say something and sometimes get Talky McTalkerson to be quiet for a second.

            1. pancakes*

              In that sort of scenario you have to be more stern with “I need you to stop talking over me for a moment,” or “let me finish,” etc. Waiting for a space or time when a person like this has worn themselves out or an invitation to speak is a fool’s errand. The people who are witnessing this in silence also need to jump in with “let [so-and-so] finish,” etc.

                1. pancakes*

                  Of course not, but it’s not great for her to steamroll over everyone else and waste people’s time in unproductive meetings, and it’s better (and legit / fair) to try to keep the meetings on track than it is to speak to her as if she’s a subordinate during one’s own performance review. There are slightly softer ways to jump in than the examples I gave, of course. Sitting there in silence while she steamrolls over everyone is cowardly and unproductive.

        3. Bernice Clifton*

          Can he suggest meeting agendas? Something like, “Last week’s meeting we were supposed to talk about how Teapot Goals but we didn’t get the chance” Of course that means she has to stick to the agenda.

    3. Esmeralda*

      HIS performance review is not the place to comment on HER performance.

      Even if this were somethign for him to address. Which it’s not. He’s only been there a year. Has she even asked for suggestions? Is she the sort of person who will appreciate the suggestion? (he’s only been there a year, he can’t be sure tbh)

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      Let’s see . . . a new, junior, male telling a more experienced female superior that she talks too much.

      There’s no scenario where I see that ending well.

      1. Cheezmouser*

        Agree, even if it’s true. You’d need to frame it differently. Sounds like the problem isn’t that she talks too much, it’s that she spends too much time on off-topic things that they don’t have enough time to address the actual agenda of the meeting. Or maybe she spends too much time on monologue instead of inviting dialogue, so other people don’t have a chance to contribute their own ideas. Be specific about what the exact problem is and the impact it has on his performance, not her performance. And bring it to her as a problem he is having that he’s trying to collaboratively solve (Attractive Nuisance’s suggestion above is good, “I’m having trouble getting the info I need from our meetings, we seem to keep running out of time”), not unsolicited feedback that he is trying to provide her.

  47. Thank-you Alison*

    Just want to say thank-you to Alison for all that you do, and for the wonderful community here on AAM.

    (Best wishes to your niece and husband for a speedy recovery to both of them)

  48. Afraid to work*

    I left a toxic job this summer due to burnout. It’s been great and I am finally starting to feel like myself again after 5 years of being constantly stressed, overwhelmed, and miserable.

    Sadly I can’t afford to not work forever. Now that I’m starting to look for jobs again, I’m struggling with fear of ending up in another awful situation. What if my next boss is a nightmare too? What if I am bad at my new job and end up a miserable mess again? What if I’ve lost my ability to function in a normal workplace after being in a terrible one for so long? My confidence has also suffered and I find myself second guessing my accomplishments from the toxic workplace now that I can see more clearly what a f-ed up environment that was.

    I feel paralyzed and haven’t been able to bring myself even to apply for anything.

    Has anyone else gone through this? Please share stories with a happy ending.

    1. Random Biter*

      First off….breathe. Pat yourself on the back and say, “Yes! I survived! And it *will* get better!” After being laid off from the job I thought I’d retire from (offices closed) I was further pummeled by being lied to by the temporary agency that placed me in a position that turned out to not only be *not* what I had been hired to do, and after being told it was contract-to-hire I soon found out it wasn’t. But that’s another whole post on its own. Right after that I had an interview (and I suck at interviews) at a very unpretentious, small construction trades office. Thought for sure I was doomed, after all, the previous position was so under-the-radar toxic I never realized it had poisoned my own attitude about myself. And guess what. They hired me! Not only did they hire me, but it’s been one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. Don’t let what others have inflicted on you become you. This too shall pass and with a little self-love and surrounding yourself with people who care about you and will nurture you you’ll come out the other side in even better shape, personally and professionally!

    2. Windchime*

      These are the same thoughts I had when I left my toxic job 5 years ago. I literally had a nervous breakdown and had to take FMLA for 8 weeks, then when I went back nothing had changed and I had to find a new job. While I was off on FMLA, I honestly thought I might not ever be able to work again. But guess what…….the problem wasn’t me. Just like the problem at your workplace isn’t you. So have faith in yourself. You know what to look for. Go into your interviews with the knowledge that you are a valuable person with skills to offer, and you are checking THEM out to see if they are right for YOU. I told an interviewer straight up that I was mostly looking for fit; for good people who were easy to work with and from whom I could learn, and a place to use my skills. I ended up being hired at that place and they were good people, and a great fit.

      You can do this. Don’t let the bastards get you down. (Oh, I listened to “I Will Survive” on repeat a lot while I was off. It sounds corny but it helped). Good luck!

  49. JSPA*

    Situation: A local doctor refused point blank to see me, (so far as I know) never having met me, for minor but pressing surgery X. His scheduling nurse literally said, “doctor refuses to see you because he does not believe you have X.”

    Having now had imaging to prove X, and surgery to remove X,

    once I have my bills in hand, to prove that surgery was undertaken at higher expense and greater bother, one city / town over,

    what’s a proportional follow-up?

    As tempting as it is to take out a half page, “see, he’s an idiot” ad in the local paper, I’m pretty sure that’s not going to work out well for me (I do want to get local emergency medical service, if and when I need it). It also probably would not run (the medical system here has nominally two groups, but they’re effectively one two-headed group; they make up a fair bit of ad revenue for the paper, with glossy inserts and special editions and the like.)

    Sending a packet to his office, with the pictures, copy of the bill, and a request that he let me know how an infected figment of my imagination would show up in an ultrasound, is the least I’m thinking of doing. I assume the most I’d hear back is, “glad you got it taken care of.”

    It’s all documented, but only secondhand, in various online communication formats (though in theory the doctor’s booking group can make and keep a recording of the call).

    Do I let my insurance know?

    Post on NextDoor, to say, “have you been disbelieved by local doctors, only to have your concerns validated elsewhere, and would you be willing to share that information?”

    Contact a reporter for the small local paper, if there’s enough response?

    I’ve talked to the state medical licensing board. Doctors here are allowed to duck patients for any reason, or none at all. (Well, unless it’s something lethal in the short-term, and the setting is an emergency room.) They are also allowed to be as rude and disbelieving as they see fit.

    The nice person from the licensing board did think that sending the pictures and brief explanation to the practice would be very reasonable, which is why that’s my current default, once I get and pay my bills.

    Yes, I’m middle aged and present female. PhD. Both high level solo contributor and minor managerial experience. I have already chewed over why, exactly, I would be treated as fully competent to handle million dollar projects in my 20’s, but not to report on the state of my own body, in my 50’s. I think we all know the answer. (In parallel, when I now use the same tone and phrasing that used to win praise for being detailed, concise, straightforward and businesslike, people now respond as if I’d sprouted snakes on my head, rather than gray hair.) That part of the sociology is likely to derail the practical considerations.

    Reactions from people in midsize towns who’ve dealt with that level of “people know people, and people talk” would be most helpful. Or those with some background in insurance.

    Also note, I’m trying to get the person educated (one way or another), not (primarily) named and shamed. We need an “X” specialist in town. He’s about it. And apparently, when he can be assed to take his potential patients seriously, he does good work.

    1. Windchime*

      If he didn’t recognize your condition, then maybe he’s not such a great specialist. Just a thought. I hope you are doing well after your treatment.

  50. Captain Marvel*

    TLDR: I’m proud of myself and also want to know what others’ think is the best team they’ve ever been on.
    I just finished an interview with an organization I’d LOVE to work with. They asked a lot of “Tell me about a time…” questions and one of them was “Tell me the best team you’ve ever been a part of.”

    I wasn’t expecting it at all, but I think I answered it rather well! I’m really proud of myself because I had to think about it because most of the teams I’ve been a part of have solid, so it was difficult to pick. I was able to explain my initial silence while I thought about my answer and then give a coherent answer.

    It also got me thinking of what others’ ideas of what makes the best kind of team. So, what was the best team you’ve ever been on?

    1. WineNot*

      I worked at a hospitality company in a ski destination for several years, and I think that team was the best I’d ever been on. People were always jumping up to help others if they needed it. When people took time off, there wasn’t one thing they would have to worry about while they were gone. When they came back, it wasn’t like there was a ton of work to catch up on – they kind of just picked up where you left off and continued on as normal. The team was full of bright personalities who liked to spend all day at work together and then go out together afterwards. I spent Thanksgiving with most of the crew one year (we all lived away from our families). I can’t imagine spending Thanksgiving with anyone from any of my other jobs, ever. The people on that team were my best friends at that point in my life. It was definitely special!

    2. SarahKay*

      I’m divided between my current team (10 people) and a previous, slightly smaller one (4 people). In both cases they were/are led by an excellent manager, and had/have supportive co-workers who were all reasonable drama-free human beings. We weren’t necessarily BFF, but we all liked each other well enough that the occasional team night-outs were enjoyable and well-attended, and we’d happily chat at tea-breaks etc.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve gotten this question once at an interview and it made me happy too. The team I talked about at the time was one where everyone pulled their own weight and more. I was the de facto lead of the group and it was the easiest lead position I’ve ever had. Any time something needed doing, someone was already doing it. Everyone was essentially an expert in a different area that all came together for this project, but there was some cross-training so that when I had to take leave for four months in the middle of the project, I was able to hand off all my responsibilities without worry. When I came back, I fit right back in. And although one person ended up being problematic on a personal level toward the end of the project, for the most part we all liked and respected each other. Some of the team socialized often outside of work but not in an exclusionary way. Most importantly, we really performed well on a very challenging project.

      Compared with the experiences of feeling like I had to do (or redo) all the work myself, or couldn’t count on someone to know what they were doing, or had delays because someone was way behind on their part, a solid functional team is a dream.

    4. Windchime*

      The best team was the one I recently retired from. There were about 10 of us (sometimes we had a couple of contractors as well). We came from different walks of life; several were childfree and others had kids. Some were single, some married. The youngest was mid-30’s and the oldest early 60’s. But what we had in common was the desire to work together and to be kind. I have never been on a team with just about zero gossip or sniping, and I like to credit the manager for that. She didn’t engage in it and she didn’t tolerate it. Everyone on the team took responsibility for their mistakes and, therefore, it was a safe place to admit mistakes and ask for help. We all did basically the same job but had strengths in different areas, so there was usually someone to help.

      If not for Covid, I would probably still be working there. But this year kicked my butt and I decided to retire. They were sure a nice bunch of people, though.

  51. Finally*

    I just heard back that I made it to the third (and final!) round of interviews for a job that I applied for in September! This is actually the third time I have applied with this company for this job since 2016. They have always been lovely and communicative, but boy howdy does it take FOREVER. Anyone have success stories after an infinite application process?

  52. Nonny-nonny-non*

    TL:DR – do I take a move within my company to a potentially less good team but with good learning opportunities?

    Full story: I have the opportunity to apply for a slightly different role and in a city that I’ve wanted to move back to for some years, but wasn’t previously in a position to do so. I like the idea of the role change, and definitely the move, but I’m massively conflicted about leaving my current site and team.
    I’d be staying in the same company and my (amazing) direct manager would remain unchanged. However, the site manager for the new role, who I would have to work pretty closely with, has a reputation for being… difficult. He’s basically the stereo-typical early-sixties bloke with an engineering/manufacturing background, somewhat lacking in people skills. He’s a bit prone to “We’ll do it my way or I will shout until you agree with me” – and yes, apparently he does actually shout (raised voice) sometimes.
    In contrast my current site manager, and his team, are excellent. We work well together, and have built up a strong level of trust and leaving them would be a huge wrench. But I’ve been on this site and in this role for over ten years now and while the new role would have a good chunk of overlap to my current one it would also be different enough to be a challenge and a great learning experience.
    Pay will remain pretty much unchanged, so is not a factor.

    Thoughts, anyone?

    1. BB2*

      What are the pro and cons of moving that don’t have to do with work? Would the move put you closer to family and friends?

      1. Nonny-nonny-non*

        Yes, I’d be closer to some of my oldest friends, and in a city that is more in line with my politics than my current area. Family would be a bit further away – five hours drive vs three hours.

    2. Free Meerkats*

      New site manager, will you be working with or for him? That’s what I see as the work issue. If for, can you handle his “management” style? Either way, do you have the ability to let his yelling roll off your back and then do it the way you know it needs to be done?

      The only advice I can offer is, the louder he gets, the quieter you need to get. Never whisper, just talk softer and softer in a normal voice.

    3. Kay*

      First & foremost I would suggest self-reflection on what kind of employee you are. It sounds like you have experience, so do you expect your experience to be valued when you have an opinion, or are you okay going with the status quo your boss requires even though his way is asinine to you? How much does your work life impact your overall life? Are you the kind of person who can decide to work for an unreasonable boss and be happy going out with your friends at the end of the day? Or is the stress of working for someone who is known for yelling at their employees going to impact your mental health? That is a lot to ponder and knowing your limits will help. Have you worked for an unreasonable boss in the past? If so, how did that go?

      I would then evaluate the new location – both for potential new jobs if you need to leave, and the strengths of the current relationships of your friends there. I get the political climate, but are you good at forging new communities if these friendships aren’t as strong as you thought they were (and are suddenly looking at needing a new job in a version of the town you haven’t experienced in a while with friends who now have their own lives)? Or could you go back to your old job if this didn’t work out?

      For me – I wouldn’t do well with some jackass telling me what to do (but I’ve been my own boss for far too long to take shit from some aging idiot). That said I get wanting a new city, political climate & learning. I’m also pretty independent so if my friends ended up not being as close as I thought (I don’t know your friend situation so this is a wildcard-as well as how close you are to your parents) I would do just fine. I would probably keep my current job, see about learning opportunities, and opt for more travel.

      What is your relationship with your boss – could you talk to them about this? Are there opportunities for enrichment, possibilities to come back if you tell 60s jerk to stuff it, etc – aka – how can you mix it up without going to work for an asshat? Also, is that jerk going to get fired or retire soon (don’t bank of promises of either)?

  53. Heathers*

    How do you deal with working in a small, cliquey work place? It’s to the point where there was a company party and people will text each other to sit next to one another/go to the event, so it’s not like a group thing or you can’t even be like, “Hey-, are you going?”

    I know that it’s okay to not like everyone and it’s fine to choose who you want to sit by, but it just seems to catty and juvenile, especially since there are only 6 of us on the team.

    Any thoughts?

  54. Cookies for Breakfast*

    I just got demoted via video call, with thirty minutes to spare before logging out and starting my time off. Happy holidays to me!

    The person who was brought in as my “peer” when my disastrous previous manager left, to get me “help managing a large workload”, is now going to supervise me. I have nothing against the person, but it’s someone who’s figuring things out as they go just as I am, and it hurts to realise that all along the new boss has been giving them more support when I thought we were getting the same.

    The new responsibilities and upskilling I was promised by senior leadership when OldBoss was let go are no longer going to happen, because the new department head doesn’t believe there’s a need for the role I was told I’d grow into. So it’s back to the repetitive work I’ve been doing for the past many years, with the added taste of worry that this is the first step to being pushed out before I have a new job lined up (or someone would have bothered to follow up on my cues to discuss my goals and development plan, right?).

    I turned down a job offer out of feeling optimistic about OldBoss’s departure (and the large pay rise that followed). I was so close, after job hunting for a whole year. So damn close. I sure feel very stupid about all my decisions right now.

    1. Me*

      “I sure feel very stupid about all my decisions right now.”

      Hey – stop that. You made the best decision for you at the time with the information you had. Your company and management suck, not you. You are not a bad/stupid/naive person for believing what you were told.

      I’m so sorry you are dealing with this.

      I hope you are able to relax and have an enjoyable time off despite this. Then – new year – new job! The market is still going to favor employees for a while to come so I just know you will be able to find something better. Hang in there.

      1. Sandman*

        I agree with this! This is frustrating and demoralizing, but with a recent offer you can be confident that there are other opportunities that will be a great fit too. Try not to get too much in your head about it; there’s something good for you out there!

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Exactly! You got one job offer and you’ll get another one. It’s a great job market and I’m sure you’ll be in the Friday Good News soon!

    2. Renee Remains the Same*

      I’ve been here and it’s painful. I’m sorry you have to go through it. But don’t beat yourself up over it. You made choices that were right at the time, based on the information that was available. That information has changed and now you have some pretty solid intel that will help you determine the best move for you.

      In my case, I held on to my job knowing that I needed to do a full-court press on the job search and that the best option was to keep my head down until I could leave. It was stressful and frustrating (I lost 15lbs due to stress)… But, the demotion/passed over promotion was exactly the kick in the a** I needed. I knew I had to leave before the demotion, but it clarified the situation. It could no longer be a theory or a thought, but a tangible pursuit. I landed a great job, a bump in pay, and stayed at that organization for 7 years. I hope the very same for you.

    3. Kiwiapple*

      You should never base decisions on anyone but yourself. Colleagues, bosses, the promised “promotion or raise” etc can all change or not exist. Do what is right for you.

  55. Renee Remains the Same*

    I NEED EASY GIFT IDEAS for my staff. Previous managers in my position used to take my team out for dinner…. but honestly, I have no desire to spend 2+ hours with these folks. (They’re perfectly nice, but we’re not friends and I don’t need to be)… So, do I get them coffee gift cards,, calendars, mugs, WHAT TO GET THEM that says I appreciate your efforts over the past year, here’s a useful/thoughtful/innocuous trinket that acknowledges as much.

    1. WineNot*

      Following this! I am so bad at giving holiday gifts to my team (no one that I manage).

      One year, one girl gave me a mason jar decorated as a snowman, full of oats, because she knew I ate oatmeal for breakfast every day. That was nice, but for some reason I still have that snowman jar with the same oats in my pantry…

      One year, my co-worker gave us all scratch tickets. I ended up winning $35 on them, but just remembered I still haven’t cashed them. The same co-worker also knitted us all scarves. It’s so thoughtful but it’s literally something I will NEVER wear. She also made us little reindeer ornaments out of wine corks one year.

      I need to do something for my team of 5 this year, but have no clue what to do that isn’t something that will just add to the useless junk I assume other people have as well.

    2. HereKittyKitty*

      I think gift cards are the way to go, personally. I honestly don’t want to spend 2+ hours with my coworkers when I’m counting down the days to my time off for the holidays LOL. So I think gift ard, and if your staff isn’t super large, adding a personal thank you note is a nice touch.

    3. Cheezmouser*

      Gift cards are easy. The default at my work is an Amex gift card, Starbucks, or Amazon. If you want to get fancy then you can pick a more personal gift card for each team member based on what you know of their personal interests (i.e. Petsmart for the dog lover, Godiva for the chocolate fiend, etc.)

      A box of chocolates is also pretty standard, although be aware of any food allergies (nuts, dairy, soy).

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Grocery store gift cards are also a great option. It lets people have the option of splurging on a fancier kind of food than they normally would because it’s free money.

    4. stitchinthyme*

      I don’t think you can go wrong with gift cards, especially generic ones you can use anywhere, rather than specific places that not everyone may frequent.

    5. Sun in an Empty Room*

      My husband’s CEO sent him a box of Harry and David Royal Riviera pears and I found it to be an excellent gift. They are truly delicious, expensive enough to be a treat you wouldn’t order for yourself, and are easy to share if people are gathering for the holidays. I haven’t read many recommendations for gifting fruit but with more people did!

    6. Rosie*

      I did target gift card + cute little notebook with a little note saying I appreciate them on the first page that they can totally rip out if they want + silly pen

      1. Renee Remains the Same*

        Oooh, I like the notebook stuff… I have 1:1s with each of them and they all use notebooks

    7. BB2*

      For my staff I do gift cards, box of chocolates from a local store and a card with a personal note thanking them.

    8. Bagpuss*

      Gift cards. If you wanted, you could add something such small such as chocolate – a mini box or a small bar, so there is something physical if you don’t just want to give a gift card.

  56. BossBen*

    Does anyone have any advice on transitioning from a manufacturing environment to an office or support role? I’ve spent my entire career in manufacturing engineering and now management. I’ve considered for a long time if this is the right fit or if it’s just what I know. I’m also fairly introverted and honestly, I am so peopled out after work and being “on” all day that I just go sit at home alone. My main fear is that without the pressure of having to work on something by a certain time or dropping everything to meet a delivery, I’ll struggle to stay focused and be self motivated.

    Pros of manufacturing- hands on, lots of opportunities and projects, get to see your work immediately
    Cons – Don’t get to fully complete projects, too many competing needs, firefighting

    Any thoughts or experiences that people can share?
    Thanks.

    1. yams*

      It really depends on what you mean to go into a support role. I’ve worked in support roles for manufacturing facilities for 10 years and experience a lot of the same pressures you mentioned. I have focused in procurement and in the pro list you mention the only difference would be that I don’t get to see the fruits of my work until like a year after I start a project. The cons are literally the same though lol/
      One of my coworkers recently made the switch into a very niche area of procurement and she struggled for a bit with feeling isolated, since, while there is a lot of movement it’s not as social as she is used to. She was used to handling hundreds of people on a daily basis and now while she still has interactions with a lot of people it’s a very big shift because she was always focused on the “what do I need to do to get the next shipment out” vs now that she has to focus on “what am I going to do to make sure we are successful in this abstract initiative over the next five years”.
      So, I guess the main question is, what areas interest you? (Don’t go into AR/AP would be my main piece of advise though!)

    2. Rekha3.14*

      I don’t have specific advice other than these two books may help, perspective wise, as they touch on manufacturing and management (neither is a field I work in and yet found them interesting): The Unicorn Project by Gene Kim and High Output Management by Andrew Grove.

      Best of luck in the new role!

  57. Elf*

    My husband was exposed to Covid at work – his coteacher tested positive. He is at work anyway, because according to his school, he isn’t a close contact. Of his coteacher.

      1. Flower necklace*

        I think that’s how it works at my school, too. Close contacts who are vaccinated only quarantine if they develop symptoms.

      2. This Old House*

        Well, that’s the public health guidance. Vaccinated people don’t need to quarantine after exposure. It doesn’t feel particularly safe to me, particularly these days, but I don’t think you can expect stricter rules in most places unless the public health guidance changes.

    1. Grace*

      He shouldn’t be a close contact if the school and staff are following good practice. In my school we are required to be masked at all times around others, maintain 2m distancing, disinfect surfaces regularly and between users, have all doors and windows open to maximise ventilation, and wash hands frequently. Provided we follow the rules, none of us will be considered a close contact.

      Two of my team have had Covid in the last four months. None of the rest of us caught it despite working closely with them (while following these rules). We’re pretty sure both got it from their kids.

  58. just a teacher this time*

    I’m teaching an after-school program, and only that. This means that some “all teachers” e-mails that go out do include me (like teachers’ fire drill), and some don’t (like end-of-year discussion of grades). And sometimes I get e-mails that were meant for a narrower group, so I’m never sure whether I’m included or not. This week, I got an e-mail about Secret Santa “to teachers and workers” which was to happen during my one working day “after end-of-year discussion” (which I have no information on). I wrote back the organizer asking whether I was supposed to be included or not and the answer was along the lines of “as you are just an after-school teacher, you are allowed not to participate – this is for teachers who work every day”.
    So my question would be – should I be sad about not being considered “one of us”, or should I be happy to be allowed not to participate in what sounds like mandatory fun?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      I don’t think those feelings have to be mutually exclusive! You can feel sad about being excluded, and you can be glad to not have to participate. Both are reasonable and you should feel free to feel them.

    2. Saraquill*

      I recommend writing back, asking to be taken off mailing lists that don’t involve you.

      As for how you feel, I’m reminded of schoolyard bullies I’ve known. They made a big show of excluding unfavorites, but being in their circles was also unpleasant. Complicated feelings are in order.

      1. awesome3*

        I would be careful about this. It seems good in theory, but in practice it might exclude you from knowing about the fire drills or when the parking lot is closed for maintenance or other important all staff things.

    3. WhimsicalMoose*

      Initial disclaimer, I don’t think prescribing how people “should” feel about things is particularly helpful and you’re allowed to feel however you want.

      But also, I’d just be annoyed that they can’t keep their email lists straight. Inviting you to participate in an activity, then uninviting you because they didn’t mean to send the invite is a little bit rude.

      1. Cordelia*

        does “allowed not to participate” mean that you can’t participate? I realise you are paraphrasing, you say “along the lines of” – but that’s not necessarily how I would read it. I hate Secret Santas and would love this kind of get-out, but I think if I got this email and really wanted to be part of it, I would probably email back to say “I’d love to participate!” I’d see it as offering me a choice.
        But there are no “shoulds” when it comes to feelings, you can feel neither, either or both of those things!

        1. just a teacher this time*

          I’m not so much paraphrasing as translating as this converstion was not in English. The original message that went to everyone said “go and get your Santee this week from secretary”, and answer to me was “if you want to participate tell me that today”. So my understanding is from this plus “allowed to not participate” that there was no opt-out for normal teachers – their names were already all in the hat, but mine wasn’t and the organizer would add it if I wanted it.
          The time of this exchange and party happening was in original put as “after the end-of-year grade discussion”. I asked what time would that be, twice, never got a reply to that part. But I figured that it’s probably just at the time of my program, and I’d rather do crafts with my students anyway.

          1. Agnes*

            Honestly, saying “let me know if you want to participate” to someone who clearly has a parallel but not identical role seems perfectly reasonable to me. Judging by various threads, if they’d put you in without asking, some people say “I’m not full-time, why do they want me to waste time and money on people I barely know?”

            1. just a teacher this time*

              It would surely make perfect sense if they asked EVERYONE whether they wanted to participate?
              But:
              1) they didn’t intend to ask me whether I want to participate – if they had not included me in the e-mail not meant for me I would have never even heard of it (hence “not one of us”);
              2) they didn’t allow full-time teachers to opt out (hence “mandatory fun”).

  59. AnonToday*

    In my state, employers aren’t required to offer PTO. However, is there any rule governing changes to existing PTO plans? I got shorted about $400 in my last pay because I took two sick days and a holiday and wasn’t paid for them. My boss personally instructed us to put down PTO for each holiday taken (that’s his idea of offering paid holidays), so that’s what I did for Thanksgiving. For the sick days, I think I had COVID. I was sick for nine days total, but I only took two off from work (I work remotely so no risk to my colleagues). I had more than 150 hours of PTO, so I put 16 hours of PTO on my time sheet for those two days. Payday comes along and I didn’t get paid for the 24 hours of PTO. Asked my boss about it and said he will have to reject PTO during busy months. Now I understand it’s perfectly normal to have blackout dates when you can’t take vacation because it’s busy. But we were explicitly instructed to use PTO for holidays, and I was sick as a dog for two days, so I wouldn’t have been at work on those days anyway no matter how busy it was. Is there any rule regarding retroactive changes? We were never told that we couldn’t use PTO during busy months if we were sick. The first I heard of not being able to use PTO was after I’d already taken the days off.

    1. PollyQ*

      Are you salaried/exempt? If so, they’re not allowed to short your salary for any week in which you worked at all, no matter what they call holidays. And even though PTO isn’t an inherent legal right, there have been rulings that company policy/handbooks can function as contracts, so companies can’t just retroactively change their policies willy-nilly. So yes, state labor board for a wage claim.

    2. Siege*

      Contact a lawyer. This seems like it should fall under not being able to retroactively change your pay, but you’ll need someone more experienced to help you navigate this, and you may be able to do it in a single conversation. My county’s bar association will give you 30 minutes’ free consultation with a relevant lawyer, and my city also offers free consultations with lawyers at a couple of walk-in clinics around the city (or they did, pre-pandemic), so it may be worth seeing if your city or county do the same.

      But if your boss told you to use PTO for the holidays, then said you couldn’t use PTO for the holidays … like, did he consult himself to find out why you used PTO, and then said to himself that he was going to reject the request he had had you make, on the basis that he should know he can’t grant you time off during the busy season, even though he told you to take your time off that way and to do it during the busy season? And personally I love the idea that you can’t get sick during the busy time and if you do your PTO will be revoked even though you took the time off.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          This is from the same person who gave me a raise (one raise in almost six years) and then tried to take it back a month later. We got busy enough to hire a new employee, so he wanted to take back my raise so the money could go toward her wage. Why am I still working here after that? Because I have chronic health issues and can’t just up and quit a job that allows me to work remotely. I am giving notice in January, though. Shorting me on sick time three weeks before Christmas in the middle of a pandemic is the last straw.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Time to brush up the resume as a New Year’s resolution. Your boss sounds horrible.

  60. More Coffee Please*

    I’m struggling with an issue at work that I’m not even sure how to define. I’m on a team of 7 people, and 3 of us have the same role/title. I want to take on more responsibility, but my coworkers keep taking on work that I thought I was supposed to be doing, and I end up in a supporting (instead of a leading) role.

    As one example, my manager had asked me to start putting together a report detailing some roadblocks our team was facing in our work, which would be presented up the chain to hopefully get them resolved. I started by analyzing the impact these roadblocks were having on the business. Then, I found out another one of my coworkers was writing what was essentially the same report, and he had made more headway. I don’t know if my manager asked us both to write reports, but that would be unusual / unlike her. I figured I’d just missed something. I stopped writing my version and gave the analysis I’d done to my coworker to incorporate into his paper.

    In another case, I was told that I was going to co-own a project related to introducing a new tool with a more senior coworker. I was really excited and came up with some ideas on how to get started. My more senior coworker (nicely) shot down a lot of my ideas and took on the bulk of the project herself, with me supporting. Now that we’re getting further into the project though, we’re coming back to a lot of the ideas that I had offered in the first place, but I’m not getting credit for them.

    These are just two examples, and I can’t really figure out what’s happening. Am I not advocating for myself strongly enough, and how can I do that better? I’ve tried talking to my manager, but it seems like she thinks I’m just not moving fast enough on these things (like my coworkers are jumping in to do the work because they think it’s not getting done yet). I feel like my experience isn’t being valued.

    1. Esmeralda*

      You need to talk to your manager abuot this, especially since you said she isn’t the sort of person to ask for duplicated effort.

    2. WellRed*

      You can’t figure it out because it sounds like you haven’t asked. You just gave up on the first one without seeking clarification?

    3. NotAStrawberry*

      It sounds like you’re letting your coworkers walk all over you, to be honest. You should be asking for clarification from your manager on who owns these projects immediately when these conflicts come up – not later. Don’t let overly competitive co-workers poach projects from you!

    4. Eldritch Office Worker*

      You should ask in the moment. With your coworker, you should have asked your manager if wires got crossed and if you should work on the report together now, not just handed over your work for him to take credit. If you come up with ideas that get incorporated later in a project – say something. “Oh that’s along the lines of what I suggested a couple of weeks ago, here’s how I saw that working”. If you’re becoming a subordinate on something you’ve been told to co-own, again ask for clarification. “Jane said I’d be co-owning this project so I don’t think you need to take so much on, what pieces can I take from you?”

      As for the feedback – is it possible you’re not moving fast enough? I only have the data you provided here but you did say your coworker made more headway on the report. Are there ways to benchmark your progress so you can see what kind of timelines you should be aiming for?

    5. Girasol*

      Maybe you really are too slow, but letting your coworkers grab your work out of your hands would not be an effective way for your manager to deal with that issue. I can think of several other possibilities: 1) The boss discusses the work with the usual go-to guy who assumes he has to do it, not realizing that the boss assigned it to you. 2) Your manager assigns the same work to two people with the idea that an Apprentice-style competition will yield greater effort. 3) Your coworkers are afraid that if you succeed, their opportunities will be reduced, so they’re grabbing your assignments to protect their own jobs. If a recent firing or layoff made a big impression on them, this is most likely. 4) If coworkers suspect that you are an affirmative action hire, they may have the idea that you’re supposed to be there for show and not to do real work. 5) Your coworkers have some other reason – valid or not – to think that if the work was left to you, you would do it badly. Can you tease out any signs pointing to one reason or another? In any case, keep asking the boss, “Did I misunderstand that you assigned X to me? I got going right away by doing A, B, C, but Bill says he’s already on it. How would you like me to handle this?” Eventually the reply should give you some clue about what’s really going on.

  61. Saraquill*

    I’m in the process of finding a new job. My current manager often looks over my shoulder to criticize my work, which she only sometimes understands. This week she’s gotten angry with me for saying “excuse me” while walking past her, then for staying silent when I walked by her again. My desk is next to hers.

    My question is, how do I stay under her radar until I go?

    1. ecnaseener*

      Sounds like you can’t stay under her radar, if even walking is enough to get her mad! All you can do is expect it and disengage emotionally – she is going to be weird and rude no matter what you do. “Yes” her to the extent that you can, make it boring for her.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      It seems like you’re in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation, so I recommend continuing to be polite and professional. You can’t make your boss act sanely, but you can make sure that you always have the high ground and never stoop to her level. Alison’s go-to is to pretend you’re an anthropologist observing a strange new culture as a way to not let it get to you.

      So pretty much keep your head down, do good work, and do as much as you can off-hours to get the heck out of there as fast as possible.

  62. NotAStrawberry*

    Hello!

    I’ve noticed a kind of weird trend throughout my career – I am generally very close to my immediate supervisors and get great feedback from them, but higher-ups always seem to have some problem with me one way or another. Any negative feedback I get always seems to come from my boss’s boss. Why does this happen? Is this common? Has this happened to anyone else?

    1. Robin Ellacott*

      Any idea what the problems they have with you are? Or what makes you think they have a problem? Is there any commonality to look for?

    2. Hearts & Minds*

      It sounds to me like since you are close to your immediate supervisors, they may feel awkward or “bad” about giving you clear feedback because they like you and don’t want to hurt your feelings, or they’re willing to overlook stuff. Your skip-level supervisors probably don’t have that connection with you and so when they see something that needs to be addressed they just address it because that’s their job. Ironically, your direct supervisors aren’t doing you any favors by holding back if that’s what they’re doing.

  63. Valkyrie*

    Does anyone have any advice for getting jobs following graduate school when you know that you will also be having a baby within 18 months? I am a woman, and I live in a country where maternity leave exists (unlike the US – sounds awful there, maternity leave wise!), but I will be a contractor so I will not be eligible for paid leave, the leave is simply available by law in by case, if that makes any difference, and I am of an age where waiting to have a child is not an option. I would love resources – books, podcasts, research articles, etc. taking leave + work + breast feeding, babies etc. TIA!

    1. WhimsicalMoose*

      I don’t have a lot of direct experience here, but I would expect that most of the advice is the same as general looking for a job after college advice. You look for a company that is healthy and supports work/life balance, and you figure out how you’re going to navigate the pregnancy/childcare/breastfeeding/etc. when you get there. Having a baby isn’t really something you can guarantee is going to come up, no matter how hard you try, so I wouldn’t spend too much time on the particulars until you’re actually expecting. No point coming up with a perfect plan, having a baby outside of your perfectly lined up timeline, and having to replan all over again. Just look for good, supportive companies and a job you’ll actually like for now.

      1. RagingADHD*

        This. Choose a job you would want no matter what, because having babies babies is predictable on a community scale (as in, companies should plan for it) but completely unpredictable on the individual scale (you can’t time it precisely or guarantee the course or the outcome).

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, this. You need to research what social security payments are available for contractors on maternity leave in your country.

        Other things related to becoming a parent are largely at least somewhat culture and country specific. Look for maternity/parenthood podcasts in your country as a place to start.

        I’m in Finland, where most primary parents (usually moms) take at least 9 months maternity leave, and additional parental leave. This means that the baby will be a toddler when the mom returns to work, and since the vast majority of breastfeeding parents here wean their children before the baby’s first birthday, long before they return to work, pumping rooms don’t exist in offices and nobody expects them to be necessary. Sure, some moms do breastfeed for (a lot) longer, but it’s more a matter of solace than nourishment for the child, and all children are mainly on solid foods when the breastfeeding parent returns to work, and the amount of milk isn’t large enough to need pumping during the workday.

  64. WagyuWhale*

    I’m still pretty new to the working world (<2 years out of college, working as a software developer) and have been having some health problems a large portion of my time at my current job. I feel like I haven't been producing quality work and I'm getting super burnt out simply because of everything that's going on in my life, in the world, etc.
    HOWEVER, over the past year I've gotten 2 big raises (combining the two of them, I'm making 10K more than I was at the beginning of the year) and a couple of awards at work. I'm having trouble putting together that I'm struggling to keep my head above water and I'm getting tons of positive feedback for my work. In some ways, I'm grateful to be working for a company that is so gracious and clearly values my work, but in other ways I feel like I've set the bar too high and I can't pull back to really look after my health without disappointing people and looking bad. I was thinking of talking about cutting my hours (since I'm coming to terms with the fact that my illness is considered "chronic and incurable"), but after this last raise I wonder about the optics of it.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      I’m curious what makes you think that you’re not producing quality work? Because it seems like your bosses do appreciate your work.

  65. Domino*

    I just made a joke about a “word whip” in a chat message to a colleague. It was a quick, no-thought message, but I should have bitten my tongue, because they are extremely vocal and serious about anything related to oppression. They’re also, unlike me, a POC (though not Black). Their response was to say “Nice…” and change the topic. The subtext of their disapproval was clear.

    In my head I was just thinking of taming circus animals with a whip (which I don’t endorse in real life, but I don’t care if it’s brought up metaphorically). But of course, the whip is also a big-time symbol of enslavement, so she might have thought I was making a cavalier and sort-of-positive reference to slavery. Awkward.

    I feel like it would be weird to go back and apologize for this, but this person is so sensitive about these topics that she might actually appreciate it and treat it as a teachable moment. Should I apologize, or just move on?

    1. NotAStrawberry*

      Just move on.

      Whips aren’t exclusive to the topic of slavery – I don’t think anyone would assume you were trying to make a positive reference to slavery here! Saying you are going to “whip someone into shape” or “give them a verbal lashing” for example are totally normal turns of phrase.

      1. Dr. Doll*

        Gosh, I disagree… Those are “normal” turns of phrase absolutely, but the words themselves are fairly violent. It doesn’t cost anything to try to be mindful and say something else boring but neutral like “This project needs a lot of improvement in these specific and detailed ways, Mark.”

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’m in a restaurant family. You whip eggs for meringue and whip cream for dessert topping–at which point they hold shape.

    2. Dr. Doll*

      If you’re at all like me, this will take tiny bites out of you for a long time unless it’s dealt with. If so, sounds like apologizing (without explaining, just open frank apology) might be the best bet.

      1. Policy Wonk*

        I agree. The simple fact that you wrote in means it’s bothering you. Apologize. Listen if your colleague needs to talk about it. And avoid using the term in the future.

      2. Joielle*

        Yeah, me too. I don’t think it was a horrible offense, but personally, I know it would just bother me unless I addressed it.

        I’d just say something brief and sort of general – “Hey, I was thinking about the other day when I made a joke about a “word whip” in our chat – I realized that was a weird phrase to use, sorry about that. I’m trying to be more intentional in the types of idioms I use and I’m going to cut that one out of my vocabulary!”

    3. Echo*

      Don’t go back and apologize now – that would be making them do emotional labor for you – but *next* time this happens, say something in the moment like “sorry, that was a thoughtless metaphor” and then move on.

      /Not POC but I am a member of other marginalized groups, and there is nothing like the stress of dealing with Very Heartfelt Apologies from majority-group people

      1. Domino*

        Thank you all for your responses. I’m going to go with Echo’s approach. If I’d been more on the ball in the moment, I would/should have quickly said “Sorry, that was needlessly violent. Let’s go with ‘word whistle!'” or something like that. But I think it would be strange to bring it up hours later. Next time, I won’t overthink it so much.

  66. the wait*

    I had a couple of rounds of interviews with a place that I’d really like to work for. After each prior round, I’ve been pretty good about moving on and expecting that I likely won’t get the job (and honestly, it was easy enough to do because I didn’t feel like I killed the interviews anyway). But then, this week, the hiring manager reached out and said he was interested in chatting with me further about the position and in order to do so, they needed to know my minimum salary requirement. I provided this, and he followed up with asking what my projected start date would be, which I also provided. He cc’d HR on this email, and HR reached out to ask if the day after would work instead due to some orientation scheduling issue. She also said that HR would be following up with information about onboarding and the background process. I said yes, the other date would work fine. These first emails came pretty quickly, but since then, nothing. And I’m dying over here and having a hard time assuming I’m not getting the job!

    I was thinking that they were likely working on putting together a tentative offer that would still be conditional on reference and background checks. And I recognize that can take some time. But I also know that they have a business closure for two weeks over the holidays, so if I don’t hear anything today, I likely won’t hear anything for another couple of weeks.

    Also, I’ve been stressing about whether they’ll start reaching out to references without saying anything to me (I haven’t mentioned to my current management team that I’m looking, but my boss and grandboss are on my reference list). Is it time to tell them, just in case, even though I don’t have an actual offer? For what it’s worth, I like my manager a ton and don’t want her to be blindsided anyway. When they asked about projected start date, I set one fairly far out because I want to be able to give a longer notice period. But I’m just generally nervous about saying anything too early. Plus, she and grandboss (and me too, for that matter) are heading out for leave the next couple of weeks, so while a part of me wants to say something beforehand, I also don’t want to throw it out there right before she goes on vacation and can’t really do much with the info anyway.

    Also, is it too soon for me to reach out and ask if there’s an update? I know it’s just been a couple of days, and I think it’s just the “everybody leaving on vacation” piece that’s making me extra antsy.

    Thanks all for any advice you can give me!

  67. NotOversharing*

    So, I’ve been working at my company for a few years, we don’t really have a lot of turnover so the core team knows each other really well at this point. We typically are not “we’re a family!” about everything, but we don’t tend to hesitate on elaborating what’s going on with our lives. So instead of say, “I need to be out tomorrow for a family emergency” it’s more “I have to take my son to the doctor because he’s not feeling well.” Not really specifics, but not super vague either.

    I also am not a very good liar in general, so when people ask me questions I have a tendency, despite my best intentions, to just answer them. So if I say “I need to be out next week for a medical appointment” and someone says “Oh, is everything okay?” I’ll probably end up saying “I have to get some tests done to make sure these headaches aren’t something serious.”

    All this being the background for the problem I’m dealing with at the moment: I am basically about one bad day shy of a full blown mental health crisis, and it’s taking it’s toll on every aspect of my life. While I’ve been open with my team about needing to take some time off and step back on a few projects because I’m feeling overwhelmed, the main thing is that this whole burn out spiral ended up exploding into my relationship a few weeks back. I’ve been married for nearly a decade, so we’ve weathered storms before and we’re doing our best to get through this one, but I just keep ending up getting roped into ridiculous and unnecessary projects and things at work because even as I’m saying “I really need to take on a little less” I don’t want to say “I’m having a crisis right now and need a damn break already” because I do NOT want to talk about my relationship with my coworkers. The problems we’re having are personal, easily misconstrued, and something only we can work out together (with a therapist, hopefully, not that I have time to even set up appointments because of work).

    I’m also feeling incredibly alone and adrift about this because I want to be able to at least talk about it in the abstract, but I know that my work friends are not the right place to do it. So I’m sitting on camera at meetings plastering on a fake smile and trying to pretend like I didn’t stay up all night crying the night before. I can’t even come up with a good lie or excuse if I said I was going through some family issues because I know somebody will ask, and they wouldn’t get that upset if I said I didn’t want to talk about it, but it would be so out of character and out of the norm that it would likely raise more eyebrows than just saying “I’m doing my best not to get a pandemic divorce so honestly I do not give a damn about the TPS reports.”

    I don’t even know what advice I want, maybe I just needed to rant and get that out before I spend the afternoon on some idiotic extra busy work report that got shoved onto my desk even though it’s not remotely my job and it didn’t come with any of the real instructions or information I need to complete it.

    Is everybody else just feeling so damn tired right now?

        1. Lunch Ghost*

          And if that draws more questions, you can respond with something about respecting the person’s privacy by not discussing specifics. Which is entirely true (there is someone involved besides you!) while also offering a reason this is different than the times when you’ve given more detail.

      1. NotOversharing*

        In theory, there’s nothing stopping me.

        In practice, every time I try to schedule time off another last minute “super important” project gets shoved over to my to do list because our upper management just loves to ask for detailed reports with almost no notice and unreasonable deadlines. I’ve pushed back a few times on the deadlines but there’s only so much of that I can do. Which is basically why I’m working today. I asked for the day off over a month ago and my boss said it was fine but then on Monday they moved up a deadline for a year end report (ironically because they’ll be on vacation) and nobody finished their part of it until yesterday so that I could do my part so here I am, cancelling another day off.

        It’s all untenable in general, but I’m not going to change my entire company culture any time soon so I’ve been trying to figure out how to at least take care of myself, with no success so far.

        1. Policy Wonk*

          Bosses tend to dump stuff like this on their high performers because they know they will rise to the challenge. It’s not fair, and there likely is someone else who can do this, maybe not as fast, or as high quality as you, but they can do it. What would happen if you came down with pneumonia or got hit by a car – someone would have to cover it, right? Mental health is no different. If you can’t do it, you can’t do it. Use the family emergency explanation, take a day off, and let them figure out who else can handle it.

          Sending you positive vibes.

          1. NotOversharing*

            This is definitely what is happening all over the place at my office right now. Thankfully my immediate supervisor has recognized it and is trying to mitigate it, but it’s slow to change things like that when they’re coming from the top.

    1. Lemon Ginger Tea*

      Ugh, I’m sorry. I can relate both to the marital stress and the workplace that’s familiar enough that a vague “family emergency” line would elicit probing. I work in-office and have been racing home for zoom couples counseling in the middle of the weekday once a week and 1) it’s incredibly stressful and disruptive to my workflow/attention span and 2) I’m sure at least a couple of coworkers have noticed my regular ‘appointments’ and wondered. I’m lucky to have one colleague I’m close enough with and who is going through a divorce, so we sometimes chat and commiserate.

      And while the suggestion for taking days off is a nice idea, who knows if that would land you with more one-on-one time with your spouse and escalating conflict. Maybe a few days off would be a good opportunity for you to take a solo day trip or go for a hike or something else that brings you some peace and calm.

      I dunno, I have no suggestions but lots of solidarity and best wishes to you.

      1. NotOversharing*

        I’m sorry that you’re going through something similar. It’s just stress on top of stress, and we still haven’t managed to actually get scheduled for any kind of therapy just because of lack of time.

        And seriously, I’m glad you know what it’s like to know that sometimes time off just means you’re right on top of the problem instead of being able to ignore it for a bit. Right now work is so stressful that I’d rather have days off than not, but even when I’ve wrangled one it just ends up swapping one kind of burned out for another. After the new year I’m going to be looking into what sort of nearby places I could go to so that I can just get out of the house and away for a few days, even if it’s just finding a cheap hotel room in the next town, it’s something.

        I hope you find some peace and calm yourself over the holidays, I’ll be thinking about you and wishing you well.

    2. Echo*

      Mental health is health!

      You: “I’m taking some time off because I am not feeling well”.
      Them: “Oh no! What’s wrong?”
      You: “I’m not sure exactly what, but I’m talking to my doctor next week.”
      Them (if they’re really nosy): “Well what’s going on, do you have a fever?”
      You: “I won’t bore you with my symptoms, I’m just going to log off and get some rest now!”

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Do you have a therapist right now, or the ability to make an appointment with one to start some FMLA paperwork? It sounds like what you really need is an extended medical leave to focus on your health and the health of your marriage, so if you can get a doctor to sign off on a few weeks of leave, that could give you the breathing space you need.

      1. Windchime*

        Yep, FMLA. Mental health *is* health, and it sounds like you are under an intense amount of pressure. This time of year can be particularly hard for lots of people, then dump on two years of a pandemic, relationship stress, and an insane workload–no wonder. You need a break. See your doctor and have her start the paperwork. (I think in my case, I went to my doctor, she wrote a note for immediate time off, then I went to HR and got the paperwork going).

        Hang in there. Take some time off.

    4. RagingADHD*

      You have to let other people experience the consequences of their own actions and decisions (or inaction, procrastination, etc), and stop compensating for their bad decisions.

      You have to.

      If your description of the way your boss & team take advantage of you is typical, no wonder you are about to snap.

      Let them deal with it. Take your days. If they screw around, let them screw it up.

      You don’t need an excuse. You don’t need them to understand. Let them think what they want.

      “I am taking these days because there are some personal things I need to deal with. It is not optional and can’t be rescheduled.”

  68. HereKittyKitty*

    Anybody else have big projects due in early January and are scrambling to wrap things up before the holidays? I need some solidarity here lol

    1. SarahKay*

      Our (global, US-owned) company for some reason has it’s Financial Year End on 31st December so I’m happy to send you lots of solidarity. Every year it is a massive scramble to wrap everything up in time, especially as at about this point the Out of Offices start to proliferate.

    2. ecnaseener*

      It seems like everybody is trying to wrap things up this week! (I’m on the other end, supporting their projects, so it’s just….a bunch of really frantic people who all need me to finish their stuff up right now.)

    3. Choggy*

      Let’s see, we have Open Enrollment, an audit, rolling out a major software upgrade, and an acquisition with the onboarding of about 24 new employees. It’s pretty much been that kind of year, way too many projects being handled by too few resources. Looking forward to some well-deserved and much needed time off. Hoping the same for all of us!

  69. fisharenotfriends*

    I almost walked off my job this week when I found out our “Super amazing above and beyond medical plan” doesn’t include contraception. I’ve given three months notice two months ago, and they’ve failed to hire a replacement so far.

    My company caved and paid it out of pocket for me since it was cheaper than their alternative (having to fly my boss in from another province to cover for me until they hire someone). I’m in Canada and it’s NOT legally required, but in my five previous medical plans it always has been. I was SHOCKED. They’re going to review the policy going forward but I dont really care.

    1. Me*

      I will never understand companies who do this. Paying for bc is a heck of a lot cheaper than paying for maternal care + 18 years of child healthcare.

  70. Cornelia*

    Anyone have examples or success stories for asking for ADA accommodation for depression? I’m already working from home, so that’s not an option. I just found out my manager thinks I’m doing a really poor job- public sector, I manage a program with no staff. I’ve had a crappy year on top of dealing with depression/anxiety (I do take antidepressants and see a therapist), and on top of that my thyroid is messing with me, also can cause some cognitive issues. I talked to our HR and said I was interested in exploring an accommodation, and she said I needed to get a letter from my doctor. The next week, my boss gave me a memo with a task I have to complete or I could lose my job. TBH, the accommodation I was thinking of was to help me think through some projects with specific tasks, so I’m at a loss. Not to mention being annoyed at HR for not giving me time to figure out an accommodation. Thanks!

    1. Policy Wonk*

      Where I work the people who handle ADA accommodations are not the same as HR – same overall umbrella but a different organization. I know with depression researching this can be a bridge too far, but I’d start by checking that out. Who does this in your department/agency? I have not dealt with accommodations for your situation, but have for others and the internet can be helpful here – put together the search terms seeking accommodations for depression or mental health and see what comes up.
      So sorry you are going through this.

    2. HereKittyKitty*

      Look into taking short-term disability leave- my friend recently had to do this for her mental health. Her short-term turned into a long-term leave, but luckily her manager has been supportive.

    3. Camelid coordinator*

      I am sorry you are struggling. It took months to go through the accommodation process with someone on my team. The accommodations kicked in when the employer and employee agreed on them. It is a back and forth process and can take a while. You will need medical documentation supporting your requests. The askjan website may give you some ideas of accommodations that may be helpful to you.

  71. Dolores Abernathy*

    I’ve spent the last four years in a job that was fairly normal at first, but has skewed increasingly toxic and chaotic. My coworkers and I have found ourselves behaving in ways we never would have in a less draining environment. I have a job search going, and I have some leads that I’m hopeful about, but I don’t want to bring these bad habits with me when I go, and I don’t want to be the toxic new employee. How do you change your own bad behavior when you’ve been rooted in an environment that rewards it?

  72. WineNot*

    I have a co-worker who sits next to me (when I go into the office once a week) and for whatever reason, she refuses to put headphones in when she’s on calls. So she takes EVERY. CALL. OUT LOUD. For the entire office to hear. When I am in the office, I try to force my team to do our meetings in person, but when I am home, they all sit at their desks 2 feet away from each other talking on Teams.

    I know the whole office can hear our calls through this one co-workers computer because one guy always messages me jokingly but serious about how brutal it is to listen to our conversation through her computer. Today, I was telling my team about my bathroom renovation that we are doing at home, and this guy messages me and says “oh this is exciting, send pics of the bathroom!”. It’s kind of funny…but it’s more so very cringe-worthy. There are times when we are talking about people in other departments, or issues going on, that the whole office does NOT need to hear.

    This co-worker always gets really defensive when you try to suggest a different way to do things. I haven’t directly asked her to wear her headphones while she’s on calls, but I know that if I do, it’s going to be drama. FWIW, she sometimes wears headphones when she listens to music so loud she can’t hear if people call her name. Any suggestions for how to go about this request? Thanks!!

    1. WellRed*

      You haven’t asked her to stop? Go do it. Report back. Also where is your boss? Does the rest of the group find it annoying?

      1. WineNot*

        I haven’t asked her to stop yet because I know that when I do, it will be really awkward and she will complain about me asking her to other people afterwards. I think I will bring it up when I’m in next, in person. I will report back.

        This is the same co-worker who started out as my boss but isn’t anymore, and stopped using both monitors in the office and only uses her laptop with no mouse. She’s SO SLOW at everything, like it literally takes her minutes longer to do a particular task than it would take me, because of her refusal to use a mouse or her two huge monitors. I tried to talk to her and my boss about that and she got so mad at me. So I am hesitant to give any more feedback.

        1. WellRed*

          Well to be fair, I wouldn’t have appreciated that feedback either unless there’s some impact on workflow for others. But the calls are absolutely legit to complain about,

        2. Esmeralda*

          Yeah, well, you’re not the one making things awkward and it doesn’t sound like she’s so valued that you can get in actual trouble for making a reasonable request.

          She’s mad? So what? She’s making it hard for you to work.

    2. NotAStrawberry*

      You don’t have to frame it as being about courtesy to other co-workers – this is a confidentiality issue. I would say you can send a “reminder” to the entire team that all online meetings are confidential and should only be taken in private offices or with the use of a headset. That way this particular employee won’t feel singled out.

        1. pancakes*

          One person being extremely and repeatedly loud on the phone is not an issue to bring to a manager until you’ve asked the loud talker to wear headphones (or make calls from elsewhere) without success. This is a simple request and should be made directly to the one person who is causing the problem.

          1. Kay*

            +1 pancakes..

            You’ve got to deal with the issue at hand. The guy messaging you (about your bathroom remodel or whatever else your team is talking about) is politely saying “PLEASE MAKE THIS STOP!” and you need to honor that very reasonable request.

      1. Windchime*

        “Whole team” reminders rarely work. The people who are already wearing headphones don’t need to be reminded, and the non-wearer either doesn’t care or won’t understand that the message is for her. OP needs to mention it to coworker and, if that doesn’t take care of it, ask the boss to step in.

        I hate speakerphones in offices. I don’t know why people think that’s ever OK.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I have problems taking calls with headphones. Something about hearing my own voice through the microphone and then back into my ears really weirds me out. Doesn’t affect me when listening to music because I don’t have that feedback loop.

      So she may not be doing this maliciously. See if she can handle a call with just one earbud in – that usually works for me.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Try different headphones or ask IT for configuration help. We were actually talking recently that it’s hard sometimes to tell when we are muted, because our headsets give no indication of our own voice to ourselves. (We’re on Microsoft Teams, if that makes a difference.)

  73. Joielle*

    Y’all, I am so steamed at my spouse’s boss and I need either a reality check or confirmation that this is ridiculous. So. My spouse has a chronic illness where (to greatly simplify) he’s either basically fine or totally incapacitated with intense pain and vomiting. He’s had it most of his life but there are definitely cycles where there will be more or fewer flareups for a period of time. We don’t really know what the trigger is but it appears to be at least somewhat stress-related.

    So you can imagine that during the pandemic, everyone’s stress levels have been high, and he’s been having more flare-ups than ever. Also, his boss keeps adding tasks to his place and he’s now doing at least two peoples’ worth of work, which is stressful too. He’s missed probably four weeks of work this year in total (including a full two weeks covered by FMLA when he was hospitalized). Generally a day or two at a time, at pretty short notice. He’s working with a whole stable of specialists and is truly doing his absolute best to work as much as he can.

    His boss has been really inconsistent in her reactions to all of this. Sometimes it’s “let me know how I can help, your health is most important” and sometimes it’s “I’m concerned about the amount of work you’re missing and you need to do better.” The latter reaction, predictably, stresses him out even more, so he tries to work through a flareup and makes it worse and then it takes WAY longer to recover (like, weeks instead of hours or days). It’s an awful cycle.

    This week he had to miss a day because a flareup started at 7 am and he was completely incapacitated. We ended up going to the emergency room that afternoon, for context. The next day, he went to work and his boss told him it was unacceptable how much work he’s been missing, because – get this – she once had an employee with MS who didn’t need to miss this much work on short notice. She also implied that she wished he would just quit so she could hire someone else.

    Look, I understand that MS is a terrible disease. My spouse’s illness is not degenerative and it won’t kill him, but you just cannot compare chronic illnesses like that! The day to day experience is completely different! I think that is just so unbelievably inappropriate for a boss to say. And like… she only sees him on his good days, where yeah, he does look fine. She doesn’t see him on his bad days, where he is writhing and screaming in pain, waiting for the morphine to kick in, if it does at all.

    That’s just the latest in a string of situations where she acts like (in my opinion) a jerk because of his illness. Once last year, he was in the hospital for three days and had so many painkillers in him that he could barely say a coherent sentence, let alone compose an email – so I emailed his boss from my own account to explain what was going on. She didn’t respond so I texted her the next day. She didn’t respond to me, but emailed my spouse to say that she hadn’t heard from him and was going to consider it a no call, no show situation and discipline him if he didn’t email her. So he did. I had to proofread to make it even vaguely legible. I am still mad about this incident.

    I of course am not going to unload this annoyance on my spouse because he doesn’t need to be stressed out by me stressing out about it, but I needed to type it out for some external validation (or reality check if I’m totally off base). He has FMLA approval and is taking it on an intermittent basis so I’m not worried that she’s going to fire him… just make his illness worse. He’s looking for a new position but who knows how long that will take.

    Any input or advice is welcome!

    1. CatDancing*

      I’m afraid I don’t have any advice (except to echo Kay: “Employment lawyer! Stat!”) but I sure do feel for you both! What a horrible situation to be in! I am so sorry, and I hope y’all’s issues with the crazy boss can be straightened out soon.

  74. Anon1*

    Completed a background check for a job and got flagged for intolerance and sexually explicit content because I liked some of the tweets that went around last summer where the punchline was basically men are bad at sex so women would rather have other things (like kitchen islands). Should I be worried this will tank the job offer? I can see the report and it doesn’t seem that bad to me, but I haven’t heard from the job since (been just a couple of days and outside of confirming the background check cleared I didn’t expect to hear from them). I’d be furious if something trivial like this really ruined this offer for me but I can’t help but be anxious. Would love any stories or reassurance folks have to offer.

    1. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

      Does the report give those tweets as the reasoning for the flag?
      I mean a normal person would look and see that those tweets are not really “intolerance and sexually explicit content”

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        I had a similar reaction! I was like, “I thought background checks were about criminal convictions and/or a credit check, depending on the sector? They include TWEETS??”

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This sounds like a terrible, automated, indiscriminate background check. If they really put a lot of weight on this, I wonder what else is wrong in HR & hiring.

  75. Victoria, Please*

    I know it’s the holidays and time for nice notes and cards, but really: “Dear Victoria, Please — Thank you for being the best Director and providing kind, encouraging, thoughtful direction to me and [our department]. I am so glad to be part of this team and am proud of the things we have accomplished, and excited about future projects and events like [big event coming up]. [Happy healthy everything etc.] [team member].” ~warm fuzzies all over~

    It is wonderful to know that I have learned to do it right. I want to give a ton of credit to Alison and this site, the commentariat, and the letter writers. Also the leadership coach I worked with for a while and still miss. Without you all, I am sure I would have crashed, burned, and taken the department with me back in 2014. You are all the best, and my team and organization are the beneficiaries.

  76. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

    *** warning talking about tornados and death***
    So with the horrible tornadoes that have happened throughout the midwest this week, I was talking with a family member the other day. I heard that maybe one of the factories (not sure which one) wasn’t allowing people to go to safety and threatened their jobs. this reminded me of something that happened a few years back. Basically, there was a confirmed touchdown of a tornado just a few miles away. this tornado destroyed part of a local manufacturing plant, but no one was hurt. Where this family member worked they refused to let people go into a shelter. It was a call center, and so theoretically they were safe since they were in an interior room with no windows. But it was an old Kmart or something so it was a very wide open space. Sirens were sounding and people were scared but they had to still take calls. I also worked at the same place (this happened a few years later from the storm) and there was an awful smell of natural gas. Some people got sick. They called the fire department to come to check it out but they still made us work. Literally the firefighters were walking around taking measurements while we were on the phones. We could have left but there would be no pay and it would have counted against us (not officially of course).
    So I wonder, what repercussions could be taken if someone was injured or killed because a manager wouldn’t allow the workers to go to safety. Would the company be held responsible or would they pass it off on the manager and just blame them?

    If it’s true about hte factory where they were not allowed to take shelter, I wonder if there will be some lawsuits or even criminal charges.

    1. WellRed*

      There already are lawsuits against the factory. Frankly, I’m skeptical in most cases you’d actually get fired especially if everyone leaves. But it’s easy for me say that from my perch.

    2. PollyQ*

      Legally, the company is liable for the decisions made by its managers, so upper management could say whatever they liked, but it wouldn’t affect the outcome in a courtroom. The issue where you were made to work in a gas leak should’ve been reported to OSHA (and maybe local news outlets!). I also think they probably would’ve legally had to pay you, since you were there and willing to work, but the company wasn’t providing safe workspace, but IANAL.

      1. I'm just here for the cats!*

        They said it wasn’t a gas leak and I was surprised that the fire department didn’t have them evacuate the building.

        They said that the smell was from an animal that got into the air ducts and died. I don’t think that was it at all. I’ve grown up in the country and I’ve smelled everything to a dead deer on the side of a road, to rotten fish that got thrown out after a fish trip, to a mouse that got into the wall and died. Even had an animal crawl under the crawl space and die once. This was not a decomp smell. If it wasn’t gas it was something else and it sucked because I was stuck without any way home.as my ride couldn’t come until my end time.

      2. pancakes*

        Yes – the candle factory that is now the subject of a class action complaint also has a history of OSHA violations.

  77. Lady Ann*

    I posted last week about how I found out I didn’t get an internal position through the grapevine rather than being notified directly. Thank you to the people that responded. I wanted to give a quick follow up.

    I didn’t end up reaching out to either HR or the hiring manager. The hiring manager called me late on Friday and left me a message. I ended up calling her back Monday when I felt more confident I could talk to her without being snarky. I mentioned that I’d heard already, from multiple people, that I did not get the job. The manager apologized and said she felt bad and that there was a miscommunication and they thought HR was going to notify me. I said that I appreciated the apology. However, I have participated internal hiring before and it was always the hiring manager who has notified the rejected candidates.

    In a fun twist, in my annoyance last week I applied to some roles at other companies, I had an interview this week and while I don’t have a firm offer yet, I am in the running for a job that would give me a 10% pay raise from what I make now, and in fact they’d be starting me significantly above salary cap for my current position. So maybe it will all work out for the best.

  78. ExhaustedInScrubs*

    Just wanted to vent about a job offer I had to turn down because of a very weird recruiter.

    So we first do a little phone screen/interview. She is adamant that I did not upload my resume as part of my application. I say that I’d be happy to re-send it, but I distinctly remember making a profile on their website that included my resume and just about any other info that one puts on an application. I also remembered receiving a notification that it was sent successfully. Nonetheless, she quite literally mutters under her breath, multiple times while we talked, that I should have gotten my resume to her before this phone call. After the second time I just ended up trying to steer her away from that rumination and changing the subject by asking more about the company.

    This was for a healthcare position, so next came the Zoom interview with the clinical supervisor. Things generally go well, with the exception of her forcing me to take a foreign language screener even though I was very honest about the fact that my proficiency in that language would not be sufficient for me to carry out all my duties in that language. Needless to say that because that was at the end of the interview, I felt embarrassed and frustrated, because this person insisted I do the screen. I feel like it should have been enough for me to say that yes, I speak enough Spanish to understand people and do SOME tasks, but I’m not fluent, particularly with medical terminology. So that wasn’t fun.

    The recruiter called afterward with an offer and an email of the contract. To put it nicely, the rate was reasonable- nothing less, nothing more. Recruiter tells me to contact her with questions, so I do. I ask more about the roles and responsibilities. She said she would be talking to the supervisor to clarify, but she insists on calling me during my workday at my other job and refuses to correspond over email. Each time she calls, I remind her I’m at work and my breaks are short. I tell her that email would be a great way for us to communicate more throughly and it would be helpful to both of us if we have these responses in writing. She does not agree to this.

    I start to get a bit skeptical if this is what I want. The hours are amazingly flexible, and the role has some variety, but I’m still very confused about how I’ll be compensated for certain aspects of my role and my time. I email the recruiter four (4) questions:
    – how I will be compensated for any work I do that is not directly with patients (e.g., charting, billing, writing, talking to other doctors)
    – the roles of my administrative staff/the scope of support they provide. Do they handle all of the scheduling? Do they field phone calls from patients? Will they promise my patients I’ll call them immediately to answer questions in between appointments (this is a tough one in healthcare to deal with if you’re not being paid for the phone calls, and is also an important part of boundary-setting with patients).
    – The policy for no-shows and cancellations of appointments, and whether they keep data on attendance; contractors only get paid if the patients show up to their appointments.
    – How patients are referred to the clinic and what the criteria are to be put on my schedule.

    Recruiter says that this must be discussed over the phone. I agree to this, but it takes days for us to set up. Finally, we nail down a suitable date and time.

    The recruiter says that she has the questions in front of her. The first is how I’ll be compensated for time that I’m working but not with patients (billing, charting, etc.). She again mutters under her breath that this should have been asked during the interview…and technically she’s right! The problem is that I had no idea what the role really entailed until I saw the contract. She says that she doesn’t think my question is relevant to the position. I probe a bit further, explaining that there will undoubtedly be times when I will be on the clock doing paperwork and not with patients- that’s the bulk of healthcare in a nutshell. She dismisses the question and again s