open thread – December 3-4, 2021

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,196 comments… read them below }

  1. Boogara*

    I’ve been in my new position for a few months now and I’m still feeling low on work to do. This is odd because I’ve had several people tell me that my predecessor always had a very full plate and was constantly busy. I thought I was still just learning everything slowly but my training seems to have slowed way down; most of my days I only do a couple hours of work and then have nothing else to do. I recently learned that several of my position’s duties were spread out to other people who never told me they had those duties. I’m trying to figure out who has what so I can talk to my boss about it, who is nice but doesn’t seem to know what all my duties should be (she’s frequently scheduled me for sudden training because she ‘just now remembered’ I need to learn something). Is it weird to ask my boss for more work, that I feel like I don’t have a lot to do and it seems like some of my duties went to other people? How should I broach this?

    1. BlueBelle*

      I would say something like “I have heard from several people that some of the duties that were assigned to the previous person were transferred to them. Should we start getting a list together and work on getting those things moved to me?”

      1. Sara*

        That’s good, but I would also add something about how “Now that I’m up to speed on the core parts of this role, I’m happy to take back the items that were reassigned for the transition” so they don’t think they’d be overwhelmed by taking on new tasks.

    2. irene adler*

      Given this “she’s frequently scheduled me for sudden training because she ‘just now remembered’ I need to learn something”, it might be a good idea to sit down with boss and ask for an organized plan for your training. That way you know what to expect. And it gives boss a reason to get her thoughts organized as to what all training she feels you need.
      And then ask about what additional work tasks you should expect. See what response you get. If boss is not able to assure you that your hours will be filled with tasks, then you can point out that you are able to take on more responsibilities. And you need her to see to it that happens.

      1. Princess of Pure Reason*

        Very much agree. It’s less about recovering the tasks that the previous person in your role had, and more about what the position looks like for you in terms of both training and job responsibilities going forward. It has been my observation that when a position becomes vacant it’s often a time for organizations to revise or refine the responsibilities of that role – so you may not be doing exactly what your predecessor did in the same role.

    3. Casual librarian*

      I’m wondering if duties were spread around permanently since the previous person in your role was so busy. Perhaps this is a way to prevent burnout because they realized it was an unrealistic workload? If not, follow the advice about asking for those duties and slowly starting them.

      That being said, I’ve been in a role for a few years that started slow because I didn’t have any projects, but as time passed and more projects came up, I was assigned to those projects or joined a committee that was related to my job. I also developed more projects to work on long-term. Those are often the things that happen as time passes, and I think it’s fairly normal for people to start slow and then get added to projects as needed.

      1. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

        I don’t think thats the case here. She only has a few hours of work to do. It sounds like the OP was not trained by her predecessor, so there was a gap where others took over those duties. I don’t understand why the boss wouldn’t know who took over those duties but they need to go back to the person who is in the job that does it.

    4. A Beth*

      Wow, I had the same convo with my boss this morning (two months in to a new role). Most of my duties were given to one person when my predecessor left pre-pandemic, and we are going to meet with her and her boss to figure out who should keep what. We talked about it not as what the old role was but as what makes sense for the position now that I’m here. But I definitely feel you on not always feeling like I have enough work! I keep signing up for HR work-life trainings and I’m sure someone there is gonna get suspicious that I have enough time for a webinar every week!

    5. Today...Anon*

      Ive lost count of all of the times my position was supposed to be X but I got so bored or had so little to do I recreated it to do X,Y. Z and a liitle of A. Id just talk with your boss and ask if there are other things you can do now that you have a handle on things

    6. anonymous73*

      Not weird at all. I’m in a similar situation. I started in August and my predecessor made it seem like he was SOOOOO busy. My duties take me approximately 4 hours to complete PER WEEK. I’m working on a government contract so my manager is fairly hands off (but awesome and available when I need her), and during my 30 day check in I was honest with her. Thankfully a new contract popped up for a Project Manager so I’m now doing both. I’m still not crazy busy, but busy enough to not want to pull my hair out every day.

      Have a meeting with your manager and be honest. My situation is different because while I have a manager with my company, I also have a “manager”, i.e. customer, who is responsible for providing me with work. But in a typical office situation your manager should at the very least know what responsibilities are held by each of their team members. So it’s really her job to figure it out and have enough work for you to do.

    7. Crazy Plant Lady*

      It might help to look through your job description (this could be the one that was in the posting you applied for) and see which of the tasks listed there you’re doing already and which ones you’re not. You can then take that list to your boss to inquire what training you need to take those tasks on.

    8. The Seven*

      Tread carefully here. It seems to me like your manager is either too busy or doesn’t understand how to manage her direct reports’ workloads. This exact thing happened to me and instead of moving tasks back to me or finding me substantive work to do, my manager sent a broad email to others in my dept. asking for work for me to do. Hence, I got assigned all the odious tasks that others did not want to do.

    9. cubone*

      Another perspective: people have very different work habits, preferences and management systems. What’s busy for your predecessor might be totally reasonable for you (and not because they’re incompetent, just because you have different strengths/approaches).

      My predecessor told me she was regularly spending entire weekends on work in our busy period. But I also found that the sheer volume of work she was doing was way, way overkill to me. Eg. Making 3 separate, unique documents that I very quickly decided could be 1 without sacrificing anything. I admire her thoroughness but in all honesty I think she made a lot more work for herself than was strictly necessary. I’m empathetic though, as a recovering perfectionist, and also that I’ve worked in really toxic environments before where I learned how to set boundaries. If there’s so much work that the only way to get it done is work all weekend, then I’m telling my boss it’s not doable. Not working all weekend.

    10. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I would definitely have the conversation about duties that may have been spread out now that you’re up to speed in your role. Just curious, but you say your manager doesn’t know exactly what your duties are? Are they also new?
      I’m assuming there was a job description you applied for that is perhaps at least a baseline to start from.

      But you know, this is a good chance to really define the role YOU want as well. What makes sense to you in this role as you understood it?

  2. Remote non-competes*

    While I know that non-competes are often unenforceable, they’re common in my field and most of us take a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach to them when we move jobs.

    I’m curious if anyone knows how the usual “no competitors within X miles” aspect works when fully-remote jobs come into play. If you’re working from your house, does the company headquarters count as the location?

    1. BlueBelle*

      Yes, whichever office is your home base is considered your location. So for example, the headquarters for my company is in Texas, but my assigned office is in California, and I live in NM. California would be considered my location.

    2. Anonymous Hippo*

      I’m pretty sure that’s one of the things that makes them unenforceable. They need to specify the location in the non-compete.

  3. Murphy*

    I’ll try to make this short. I’m a part of a division of ~24 people in a larger organization. Our director position has been vacant since mid year. One of our assistant directors (the direct boss of most of the staff) left this fall so the other AD is now the interim EVERYTHING. I’m seniorish but not a manager (think like a team lead).

    Yesterday at a meeting for most of the staff, the AD and a manager threw out a comment that I think he believed was a minor change in procedure. He really isn’t aware of the day to day processes on this side of the org chart (because that hasn’t been his responsibility until recently). I pointed out that this was a bigger change than he thought it would be and we needed to discuss what this would look like. This is exactly the kind of thing these meetings are intended to discuss. I said that there were two different ways to do this, each with their own obstacles. AD was visibly annoyed. I also asked him some clarifying questions. I wanted to make sure that a) he was aware of the implications before we make this change b) as I was taking the notes for the meeting and if people were going to refer to what I was writing for the new policy I wanted to make sure I documented it correctly. He literally stopped talking and didn’t respond. Another manager made a comment that would make this policy apply to even more than what the AD and other manager had originally stated. I again tried to repeat what I’d been saying and the AD interrupted and said “Murphy, we can talk about this later. Let’s move on.” 

    Then he moped for the rest of the meeting…literally didn’t talk at all and sat there looking down. At the end of the meeting when someone referenced the holiday party (one of his favorite things) he was curt and said “Someone else can run that this year.”  My question is…what do I do about this policy now? We don’t actually have an answer for what he wants us to do. Do I email him and point out what I’d been trying to say and suggest some procedures for achieving what he’s asking for? Do I wait for him to contact me? I feel like other employees will start asking soon.

    1. Picard*

      I think you need to go see him in his office (or schedule a time ASAP if thats how they do things in your place) go over in detail what impact this change will have. I suspect from his behavior, he felt very put on the spot during the meetings or who knows what else is going on. (thats a lot of high level turnover!)

      1. Murphy*

        We’re remote so unfortunately I can’t just go in there.
        But yes, it is a lot of turnover! I’m completely fine and not stressed at all. D-:

    2. BlueBelle*

      You may consider making a comparing chart – current state/policy- new state/policy this will help show him the difference in what is being done currently and what is being proposed, it will also highlight the areas that weren’t addressed or need clarification. If you feel you can, you could add a third row for recommendations and a fourth row for the impact of changes.
      Good luck!

    3. Malarkey01*

      Since he said we can talk about this later, you should set up a follow up meeting to do that. It sounds like they thought it was a small thing and as soon as it was clear there was more to the decision it makes sense to say let’s set up a second meeting to dive in so we don’t derail this meeting.

      I think the holiday party is a bit of a red flag (and may mean you’re reading a lot more into this)- because if he’s doing the job of 3 senior leaders he absolutely shouldn’t be messing around with the holiday party.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I would make the comparison chart as suggested and ask for a meeting.

        RE: the party, this might be a sign that he’s overwhelmed, which may also be why he’s acting this way in general.

      2. ferrina*

        Agree with this take. The AD seems extremely stressed. I’ve been there, and having something you thought be minor turn out to be major can be really tough to take in stride when your workload is already sky-high.

        Next steps: set up a meeting to discuss. Come prepared with solutions and timelines. Make it easy for him to get the key info at a glance (his brain is already full, so the easier you can make this the better!). Really focus on supporting him- he may not respond right away, but trust me, he’ll appreciate it long term.

        If you run into this again, flag it but don’t go into details right away. Say something like, “Hey, this may be a bit trickier than it looks, since X ad Y process tie into this as well. I don’t want to spend everyone’s time going through it all right now, so how about we set up another meeting to discuss further?”

      3. Murphy*

        He just usually runs the white elephant and someone mentioned it in a joking way and basically said he didn’t want to be involved at all. I didn’t meant to imply he should be planning a party! He definitely shouldn’t.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          I’d do the comparison that someone suggested, but send it to him with a meeting notice so he can review it before the meeting. If he got flustered and upset because of the concerns you raised in the meeting, it might be better to let him prepare himself for the questions by reviewing your material.
          Even if he doesn’t review it, you are no worse off than if you just scheduled another meeting and started presenting it cold.

  4. Sick As A Dog*

    Should I apologize to my supervisor for my recent frequent sick leave and assure him it’s not my normal? After being jobless for a year thanks to Covid, I’ve been with my new job for like 4 months. In the last month, I’ve had to take a ton of sick leave. I suffered an injury that required 3 doctor’s appointments, started dentist appointments that I postponed due to Covid and no insurance that will require at least 4 appointments, and have suddenly developed a persistent skin condition that I’d like to take to a dermatologist. I have the sick leave to spare (there’s a very generous leave policy here) but I feel bad I’ve taken off so often lately. My supervisor has been very kind about it, asking how my injury is progressing and approving all my leave without issue, but I still feel like I should apologize and tell him that everything seemed to happen at once and this isn’t my normal. Or am I overthinking it?

    1. Murphy*

      Definitely don’t apologize! You have nothing to be sorry for. Next time he asks you can thank him for being flexible or say you hope you can get back to normal soon, but no need to be sorry or feel guilty.

    2. Liz*

      I wouldn’t bring it up. I get how you may feel you’re taking advantage, but I think the best thing you can do is just do your job, and do it as well as you can, making sure everything get’s done, even when you’re out. So maybe if you have an appt. in the middle of the day, either go back to the office after, if feasible, or maybe log in from home, again, if feasible, to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

      Since things opened back up, my mom stopped driving. which at her age (late 80’s) isn’t a bad thing. But it means I now have to take her places, which means more time off than maybe I took before. Thankfully my job is very flexible, and I will also say “i need to leave a x time, to take my mom to an appt, I should only be gone so long and will log back in to check on things when I get back” I work mostly remotely, and have been so its not an issue. I’ve also worked later sometimes if I know I need to take some time the following day. So far, never been an issue as I do my best to get everything done.

    3. Anon-mama*

      Don’t apologize! It’s yours too use, and it sounds like you have a good boss. Please let’s not normalize the thinking that illness or injury is you doing something *at* your boss/co-workers and is a fault requiring an apology. Nope.

      That being said, I give a hearty thank you to those who cover me (also not necessary, but I’ve been told it’s appreciated that their efforts are acknowledged).

    4. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Fellow overthinking here saying, Definitely overthinking! You say that your company has a generous sick leave. Embrace the culture.
      Also, do talk to your boss. Tell him/her that this year has been an aberration in your health, but you’re committed to your job. But do it in a work-centric kind of way.
      “I’ve had a lot more medical things happening at one time than I ever thought I could. I appreciate the company being so good about it. I am trying to stay on top of things now and am looking at things I want to work on in the new year. Is there anything I should be looking at/working on in particular?”

      1. Malarkey01*

        I like this! I agree we shouldn’t worry about using our sick leave, BUT when something happens in the first 4 months of employment your supervisor has nothing else to compare it to and it can lead to paint a different impression (and whether it’s right or wrong doesn’t matter as much as the reality).

      2. Gone Girl*

        Love this. Because your company has generous leave, and it seems like your boss has had more concern for your health vs. your work ethic, I’m on the “don’t apologize” team. But it sounds like you’re still anxious about it, and I think this is a great way to bring it up, while showing yourself to be proactive and committed.

      3. Purple Cat*

        Ooh, I like this framing of it.
        Expressing appreciation for the flexibility, while focusing on the work and NOT apologizing.

      4. Gary Patterson's Cat*

        Right! It’s not a “sorry” thing. However, it’s not a bad thing to note that this has not been a typical thing for you and you appreciate the understanding. Otherwise agreed that best thing is to continue to do your work and communicate responsibly. People get sick and get sudden health conditions. I always say these things tend to happen in 3’s for some reason.

    5. The Ginger Ginger*

      I don’t think you need to apologize, but it does sound like discussing it once would make you feel less stressed. If you have regular 1x1s you could do it at the end of one as you’re finishing up (so there’s less focus on it), or you could just pop your head in. I think better phrasing would be a “thank you”. Something like, “hey, just wanted to thank you for being so helpful with the sick leave I’ve needed recently. It’s not my norm to need so much time so it’s been pretty frustrating for me to have to request so much, especially in my first few months here. The way you and “new job” have handled it have really made it possible for to focus on my health when needed with less stress. I want you to know that while there are still a few more things I’m addressing; I’m hopeful to be back on track and to a point where I won’t have to be taking this much time off soon. So, thank you.”

      It covers the point you want to cover, without making it sound like there’s something you need to be apologizing for (you don’t! health issues happen at inconvenient times!), but even if your manager is a little irked (they’re probably not!) this should disarm that by making them feel like they’re doing something wonderful for you, and you are grateful for that. To be clear, giving you the sick time you already have access to is expected, and any decent manager and job will not blink an eye over it because it’s just standard when you work with humans.

    6. Lady Danbury*

      I wouldn’t apologize, just continue to be the awesome employee that you are! As a manager, the only time I’ve even thought about sick leave being an issue (not to the point of saying something to the person, just personally being skeptical) was with someone who already had issues with both their performance and attitude at work. The issue wasn’t with the sick leave per se, but with other issues that made this person untrustworthy to begin with.

      Otherwise, people get sick, people have appointments, that’s life. I wouldn’t even make my employees take sick time for something like a doctor’s appointment. If a job requires an employee to be flexible in terms of working late, then it should also be flexible in the opposite direction.

      1. tamarack & fireweed*

        I agree.

        What I would probably do – but that may not work for you, and it really hinges on a relaxed relationship with your boss where you can speak without pussyfooting and weighing every letter of every word – is at the end of a check-in when going after the next set of short-term priorities, on a conversational tone, say “… and I’ll need to pull [medium priority task X] and [low priority task Y] back onto the workbench as soon as I can free up some capacity – there really have been a whole bunch of medical appointments lately, haven’t there! I still have a course of them ahead of me, and I’m looking forward to being through with them…”

    7. Yorick*

      Don’t apologize. But you could thank him for being supportive. The holidays might give you a good opportunity; you could write a note in a card, unless it seems like giving Christmas cards would be weird in your company.

      1. irene adler*

        I like this idea!
        One time we hired a lab tech who happened to have a prosthetic leg. Did you know those things require ‘tune-ups’? And, as they age, they tend to break down at times. Those breakdowns occur when you least expect them to, necessitating a visit to the prosthetic lab – pronto- when they do occur.

        So when our lab tech expressed deep concern because she had to take off from work multiple times to get that leg fixed, I assured her no one had an issue with her doing this. And no one did.

        The thing is, her time away from the lab did not detract from her excellent work performance. And she never used it as a reason to get out of doing the work. IF there was a task she had to ask someone to do, or a deadline she could not meet because she had to get the leg fixed, you can bet she did her level best to minimize the burden for others.

        OP, you are good. The fact that you are concerned says you are a responsible employee.

    8. LikesToSwear*

      Definitely overthinking!

      If it makes you feel any better, I was out on unscheduled medical leave for 8 weeks just 6 weeks after I converted to a full-time regular employee from a part-time contractor. I thought I would be looking for a new job, as I clearly didn’t qualify for FMLA yet. But my employer has a salary continuation policy, and my job was safe. After I returned, I was still out weekly for ongoing treatments for several months.

      I’m fine now, but still have quarterly follow-ups. Management was (and still is) amazing.

    9. Sled dog mama*

      You are overthinking it. 6 weeks ago I broke my dominant wrist 1 week before the launch of the major project I am in charge of. No one batted an eye at my going to the doctor 3 times in one week. It’s not been fun but we got through the 3 week push to get things running properly with me unable to write or lift anything and only able to type at about 1/3 speed. (Fortunately it was not displaced so did not require surgery). I’ve still got 2 weeks in a brace and some PT to go so I’m still out more than normal and not allowed to lift things. My coworkers have been super caring and thoughtful.

    10. Overeducated*

      I absolutely understand where you’re coming from because I’ve had my new supervisor for just a few months as well, and this fall has been one thing after another requiring sick leave (also dealing with postponed dental work, kids constantly sick or quarantined from day care, me constantly sick from kids…). I don’t think you NEED to apologize, nor do I think using your benefits is something to be sorry for, but I have felt the need to say, offhand when telling my supervisor I need to use leave again, that this fall has been a lot worse than normal and I look forward to things calming down again. It’s not so much an apology as an acknowledgement that yeah, it’s a lot, and hopefully temporary.

      1. Overeducated*

        PS I don’t think people with chronic conditions and need for more leave or flexibility need to be sorry either, and my comment shouldn’t imply that! It’s just a different situation when it’s something ongoing where you may need to more explicitly make your supervisor aware of what you need on a long term basis, compared to when it’s a bunch of random things like it has been for me. (Although “having kids” is sort of one of those ongoing things, because it definitely requires me to use more leave than I would need to just for myself.)

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

      I wouldn’t characterise it as “apologising” but I would *acknowledge* it. Likely your boss is going to be thinking ‘is Sick As A Dog always going to be sick this often?’ etc – so will most likely appreciate you proactively addressing it.

    12. anonymous73*

      No need to apologize, stuff happens. I was at a job for about 3 months when I had to have my gall bladder removed emergently and I was out for a while. Reasonable people will understand, and it sounds like your supervisor is one of those people. If you want to say anything, just them you appreciate how supportive they’ve been recently, but there’s no reason to apologize.

    13. Andie*

      Optics do play in to it for brand new employees. An option would to see what appointments you can do on non work hours.

  5. ThatGirl*

    I’ve mentioned in another post or two that my new-as-of-January company has a tradition of mild Christmas hazing in the form of making new hires sing (holiday songs) to the leadership team (c-suite & presidents). I’m told that this year it will happen on dec 17 and we’ll be singing in person but only to the leadership team, and everyone else will somehow watch on zoom. Which honesty makes it sound like the worst of both worlds! But we get Christmas bonuses afterward so….it’s a wash?

      1. ThatGirl*

        Ha! I’ve been told that when people miss it, they have to do it the next year. I do suspect if someone really pushed back it would not be required, but honestly I’m not ready to die on that hill.

    1. Cat Lady Librarian*

      Wow. This situation is just weird. What’s the point of “hazing” new hires? Do you work in a frat house?

      I would plan to mysteriously be sick that day.

      1. ThatGirl*

        It’s a big, old, well-respected company. I don’t know how the tradition started, but people seem to love it? It’s supposed to be fun, though I’m sure if someone strongly objected it wouldn’t be required.

    2. Not a Name Today*

      I grieve for your new hires. I’ve worked at plenty of places where showering leaders with attention was the norm. Standing ovations, presentations on leader’s minor accomplishments, catering their birthdays, and I once had to sing a song to our executives along with all the other minions.
      I hate it, but I understand that this is part of office politics.

      1. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

        The Chanukah Song, by Adam Sandler
        Put on your yarmulke
        Here comes Hanukkah
        So much funukah
        To celebrate Hanukkah
        Hanukkah is the festival of lights
        Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights
        When you feel like the only kid in town without a Christmas tree
        Here’s a list of people who are Jewish just like you and me
        David Lee Roth lights the menorah
        So do James Caan, Kirk Douglas, and the late Dinah Shore-ah
        Guess who eats together at the Carnegie Deli
        Bowser from Sha Na Na and Arthur Fonzerelli
        Paul Newman’s half Jewish, Goldie Hawn’s half too
        Put them together, what a fine lookin’ Jew
        You don’t need “Deck The Halls” or “Jingle Bell Rock”
        ‘Cause you can spin a dreidel with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock- both Jewish
        Put on your yarmulke
        It’s time for Hanukkah
        The owner of the Seattle Supersonicahs
        Celebrates Hanukkah
        O.J. Simpson, not a Jew
        But guess who is? Hall of famer Rod Carew- he converted
        We got Ann Landers and her sister Dear Abby
        Harrison Ford’s a quarter Jewish- not too shabby
        Some people think that Ebenezer Scrooge is
        Well he’s not, but guess who is
        All three Stooges
        So many Jews are in showbiz
        Tom Cruise isn’t, but I heard his agent is
        Tell your friend Veronica
        It’s time to celebrate Hanukkah
        I hope I get a harmonicah
        Oh this lovely, lovely Hanukkah
        So drink your gin and tonicah
        And smoke your marijuanikah
        If you really, really wannakah
        Have a happy, happy, happy, happy Hanukkah
        Happy Hanukkah

      2. Ashley*

        Arrogant Worms might have a Christmas song if you want total non traditional… they are a Canadian Group

          1. JP in the heartland*

            Or just about anything from the South Park Christmas album. I’m particularly fond of “Dead, Dead, Dead”

      3. Sled dog mama*

        I’d totally go for Weird Al’s “The Night Santa went Crazy”
        Something about BBQ-ing Blitzen just seems perfect for this situation.

        1. pancakes*

          ThatGirl could take the Kirsty MacColl part and get a friend to wear Shane MacGowan-style false teeth . . .

      4. not that kind of Doctor*

        Tom Lehrer, A Christmas Carol. We never miss it.

        Twelve Days After Christmas is fun too but better in at least 2 parts.

    3. LaDiDa*

      I am so sorry. this is an absolute nightmare for me. I couldn’t go and sing to people and I couldn’t even think about watching such awful awkwardness on zoom.

      1. ThatGirl*

        To be clear, it’s not a solo or anything; it’s 3-4 people singing jingle bells or let it snow together. That said I knew there would be strong reactions here!

    4. DarthVelma*

      To be clear…they want you to engage in an activity known to pose a high risk of passing COVID in person?

      Do they just not remember the various articles about whole choirs passing COVID around ?

      1. ThatGirl*

        We’ll probably all be wearing masks, our state still has a mandate which the company has enforced. Though I certainly understand the concern.

    5. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      This is not normal. It sucks and your leadership is stupid for doing it.
      With that said,
      1) insist you have to wear a mask because you have a cold.
      2) take the bonus
      3) as you progress in your career:
      a) if you stay with the company, use your capital to eliminate this
      b) if you move to another company, leave this “hazing” nonsense behind. Don’t accept it as a norm and let it color your idea that company leaders should be feted in some way.

        1. anonymous73*

          You keep saying that, but is it really? A good company doesn’t haze their newbies, no matter how mildly.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Isn’t one of the rules here to trust people’s knowledge of their own experiences? Yes, it is. It pays well, offers good benefits and lots of PTO, specifically names employees as a strength of the company and encourages us to develop our careers, has 4 stars on Glassdoor… it’s literally just one small silly company tradition that everyone is jumping on here. I totally understand that for some people it might be a dealbreaker or a hill to die on. But for me it’s not that big of a deal.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              So um. What kind of response were you actually EXPECTING when you pop up all “tee hee my company is hazing us with forced singing,” when if you’ve been on this site for more than like five minutes you know for a fact that nothing in that sentence is going to result in anything less than general outrage from the commentariat, whether you personally are okay with the “hazing” or not?

              1. ThatGirl*

                I probably should not have expected the commentariat to understand the exact tone I intended, you’re right about that. But I still wish people wouldn’t immediately jump to the worst thing.

                1. Cj*

                  If you don’t think it’s a big deal, I also am not sure why you are asking about it here. I mean that kindly. I’m just confused.

    6. Pool Lounger*

      I would purposely lock my knees so I could faint right in the middle of it. I can’t sing and have a public speaking phobia and I’m Jewish so this is all a “no” for me.

    7. Lady Danbury*

      Ugh, I’m sorry. The word “hazing” (and any activities that fall under this category) should be a huge red flag for any reasonable leadership.

        1. Lady Danbury*

          Which is why I added “activities that fall under this category.” Just because you don’t use the term hazing doesn’t mean that the activities aren’t hazing.

          1. Red-head Jules*

            THIS!!!! If you are forced to do something that you consider humiliating is HAZING, whether it is being called that or not. If you just said NO, that isn’t something I’m comfortable and they give any push-back it can be considered Hazing. Hazing is detrimental to the morale of the organization.

            1. ThatGirl*

              I don’t consider it humiliating, though. It’s silly and very mildly embarrassing at worst. I realize not everyone may feel that way but I do not think the average person would be humiliated.

    8. Casual librarian*

      …Do you get to pick the song? Because rather than singing well, I’d go straight for “Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer” because it’s fast-paced without a lot of tune that you need to carry.

        1. Exhausted Trope*

          Maybe do a breathy version of Santa Baby in your best Eartha Kitt voice? No, wait, that’s highly inappropriate. And so is being forced to sing in the workplace!
          Sorry but I get seriously cheesed off by stupid office customs.

          1. WellRed*

            It’s her company; she’s allowed to view it how she likes. I think it sucks too but in the grand scheme of horribleness, I can’t get worked up.

            1. pancakes*

              Yeah. It seems pretty clear in context that this isn’t earnest hazing or a particularly big deal for anyone on either side. I can easily imagine people collectively finding this a bit embarrassing but mostly harmless fun.

          2. ThatGirl*

            Because in the scheme of things it’s not a huge deal? Five minutes of mild embarrassment at what is otherwise a great place to work? I swear people on the internet react in the most extreme ways sometimes. Not everything is a big red flag.

            1. bluephone*

              If my employer made this a condition for bonuses (real bonuses that could actually make a difference in employees’ finances), I’d bust out my best rendition of non-offensive, secular Christmas song with a smile.
              Honestly, I kind of want to work for your company now, ThatGirl

              1. ThatGirl*

                Like, it honestly is a good company – this isn’t even our only bonus of the year, we get another one in March that’s tied to the previous year’s performance as a company.

            2. I heart Paul Buchman*

              I think people are reacting to what you wrote, in exactly the way I would expect this forum to react. I’m not sure what you are looking for?

        1. Storm in a teacup*

          That’s so random.
          Can you just lip sync it and not actually sing?
          Or do a Love Actually and play a song on a boom box and hold up some signs for them to read?

    9. WellRed*

      I’m glad you are taking this with mild amusement. I can’t understand why c suite enjoys it. I vote for a few stanzas of Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song, personally.

      1. pancakes*

        In my 6th grade music class we all became overtaken by shyness at some point, and one day when we were supposed to start singing, every last one of us had decided to lip-sync instead. The whole class, not a sound being made! Everyone laughed, including our teacher. In hindsight it really helped break the tension and self-consciousness.

    10. Jaid*

      I’m partial to the Kinks “Father Christmas”

      “When I was small I believed in santa claus
      Though I knew it was my dad
      And I would hang up my stocking at christmas
      Open my presents and I’d be glad

      But the last time I played father christmas
      I stood outside a department store
      A gang of kids came over and mugged me
      And knocked my reindeer to the floor

      They said:
      Father christmas, give us some money
      Don’t mess around with those silly toys.
      Well beat you up if you don’t hand it over
      We want your bread so don’t make us annoyed
      Give all the toys to the little rich boys

      Don’t give my brother a steve austin outfit
      Don’t give my sister a cuddly toy
      We don’t want a jigsaw or monopoly money
      We only want the real mccoy

      Father christmas, give us some money
      Well beat you up if you make us annoyed
      Father christmas, give us some money
      Don’t mess around with those silly toys

      But give my daddy a job cause he needs one
      Hes got lots of mouths to feed
      But if youve got one, I’ll have a machine gun
      So I can scare all the kids down the street

      Father christmas, give us some money
      We got no time for your silly toys
      Well beat you up if you don’t hand it over
      Give all the toys to the little rich boys

      Have yourself a merry merry christmas
      Have yourself a good time
      But remember the kids who got nothin
      While you’re drinkin down your wine

      Father christmas, give us some money
      We got no time for your silly toys
      Well beat you up if you don’t hand it over
      We want your bread, so don’t make us annoyed
      Give all the toys to the little rich boys

      I…may be a little cynical this year.

      1. All the words*

        Love this.

        I get that this is supposed to be a fun silly activity, but these things always strike me as “now sing for your supper, peons”. Always.

        1. Red*

          Same! Yet I’m guilty of being charmed when it’s the other way round: founders/C suite performing for employees or doing something silly for charity.

          If this was for *everyone* else along as part of the company party, maybe that would be less icky. But just like “gifting up” isn’t done, it just feels like “performing up” shouldn’t be a thing.

    11. Gnome*

      I can’t say what you should do, but it is literally against my religion for me to sing in public unless it’s all women (I am an Orthodox Jew). I would have to take it to HR if I were you (obviously, this doesn’t apply to 99.9% of people).

      1. ThatGirl*

        I am quite sure that if you mentioned that to anyone they would exempt you. We do have Jewish, Muslim and I’m sure atheist employees as well as a pretty multicultural bunch and a DEI committee. But someone on the board or the founding family thought this was a fun and silly tradition, so it continues.

    12. I'm just here for the cats*

      So here is my idea which would only work if your in office at least part of the time
      Sing loud and really off key. Like nails on a chalkboard high screech. Then one day in the break room or someplace where leadership will hear you start practicing. When they ask what the heck you are doing say you are practicing for singing the holiday songs!

    13. Mid*

      I’ll be honest, I know I’m in the minority here, but that…doesn’t really sound that bad. I’m a *horrible* singer, I never sing in public, and it would never ever be something I volunteer for, but you aren’t forced to do it solo, you aren’t being singled out because it’s something everyone has done, and it’s one song. It seems like a kind of cute tradition, there’s nothing mean spirited about it. Not something I’d *choose* for myself, but not the horrible torture some people seem to think. And definitely not worth making a huge deal over.

    14. Sandman*

      I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas is the song that immediately popped into my head as the kind of ridiculous song that seems like it’d be fun here.

    15. Teapot Wrangler*

      I’m glad you don’t seem too phased. I think I would be genuinely considering resigning if it were me! Good luck

  6. Orange Crushed*

    I work at a place where no one trains you or explains anything. They just expect you to either magically know it and/or they yell at you if it’s wrong.

    I had to place orders for things that I’ve never ordered before. One of them had 120 items in the order. There was one thing that was miskeyed and my coworker went berserk.

    I know that it’s work and you have to be careful, but they also make mistakes and are not perfect.

    Another time I didn’t have the exact info and the manager that I work with was all upset-to the point where he didn’t talk to me for 2 weeks. My boss is conflict-avoidant, so he wouldn’t do anything about it. (I think he thinks that it’s funny or something.)

    It’s stuff that can be easily fixed, it doesn’t happen all of the time, and it’s not costing millions of dollars. Plus, they don’t talk and explain things which is a problem. There are several things that I do well, yet it’s not brought up.

    Plus, they give me other people’s work to do, so if I’m so bad, why would they do that? (ie: John didn’t finish this task, so I have to help him.)

    It bothers me because they’re nicer to people that they like- they tend to overlook things with them.

    Besides finding a new job, is there a way to not let them get to you and feel like you’re horrible at your job?

    1. irene adler*

      Why are you letting them dictate your feelings? THEY set up this asinine situation, so any errors they get upset over are the consequence of this set-up. It’s on them.

      All people make errors. It’s part of being human. If they cannot accept this reality, then they can bring in robots to perform the work.

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Look at what you know:
      You received no training, yet you only made minor errors.
      Your boss sat back while you were verbally attacked (and seemed to enjoy it).
      The manager above pouts and punishes you with silence.
      Of course you are doing a fine job. If you weren’t they would either fire you or embrace you in their sickness and you’d spend your days with them talking about this week’s winner of abuse on wheel of victims.
      They are perverse and dysfunctional. Do not let it affect your view of yourself or your abilities.
      Make a note to yourself to come here on Fridays and post what asinine thing happened to you this week. Or don’t. Don’t give their mistreatment space in your head. Do your job, go home. Leave them there.

      1. Orange Crushed*

        Thank you and irene adler for your kind words. Years of being in toxic work environments can really wear you down.

    3. Lady Danbury*

      This place is toxic and your best recourse is to find a new job. I know that’s not what you want to hear, but I’ve been exactly where you are and didn’t even realize how toxic it was and how much I had internalized the toxicity until after I had left. I compare #oldjob to an abusive relationship. No matter how great your coping strategies are, being in a place that is toxic will warp your viewpoint until you a. either internalize the toxicity and think it’s somehow your fault; and/or b. accept completely ridiculous behavior as normal.

      Based on what you’ve written, it sounds like both a and b. Not explaining how to do new things but getting mad at you when you get it wrong is so far from healthy office norms that it sounds like a parody. Not talking to an employee for 2 weeks because they don’t have all of the info that you want is not normal. A boss who is conflict avoidant isn’t necessarily abnormal but is still unacceptable behavior for a good manager. Playing favorites with employees that you like is not ok. The first step to depersonalizing the situation (before you leave) is understanding what is and isn’t acceptable workplace behavior.

    4. ferrina*

      Ugh, this sucks. I suspect this is not the only sign of dysfunction, and it will mess with your head over time. Don’t stay here for long.

      For the moment, I would be really clear on what you know, what you don’t know, and why you made the assumptions you did. Own it in coversations- “Boss, I didn’t have the spec s for the otter box. I reached out to Tanya, and she recommended using the standard specs, so I’ve used those in this report. Let me know if I should have handled this differently” Own the human errors- “there was a typo, I’m sorry, I’ll keep an eye on that going forward”. And do just keep an eye on it- human errors happen, but if there’s a high frequency, that’s something you’ll want to address (honestly, it sounds like you’re pretty accurate, so this may be unnecessary advice for you)

    5. RagingADHD*

      You should certainly be looking for a new job, because this is a terrible set up with terrible management.
      In the meantime, it might help to make your life more bearable if you can make up some mind tricks for yourself to help stop you from internalizing their nasty behavior.

      First, don’t compare or justify your mistakes or try to rationalize why their behavior is unfair or hypocritical. They’re on a power trip and being verbally abusive – of course it is unfair. They are being unfair *on purpose*. The unfairness is their goal. They have set you up to fail, so that they can berate you for it.

      (Now, in real life, it’s possible that they aren’t consciously doing this on purpose. They’re probably just incompetent and have self-defeating business practices. But in your head, take the whole issue of unfairness off the table.)

      Second, give yourself a goal that has nothing to do with getting their approval, but with your own measure of what it means to do a good job. Maybe that’s completing X tasks per day without errors. Maybe it’s getting your own work done efficiently so you can help others. What do you think doing a good job looks like? What would you praise yourself for if you were the (excellent) manager? Work toward those things, keep a log of what you accomplish, and then praise and reward yourself on your own time.

      Finally, re-order your inner priorities so that finding a new job is #1, and this job is just the thing you have to put up with for now, like crawling through a sewer pipe to escape from captivity. It’s nasty, but it will end, and there are better things on the other side. Just don’t camp out in the sewer pipe. Keep going.

      None of these things are going to fix the problem. They might help you feel more resilient and less “crushed” in the interim.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      E-mail can be your friend here. Send messages asking questions or for clarification, and save the answers. Yes, you have to be careful when keying in info, but if they don’t give you the correct info in the first place, well, GIGO.

      And if they are giving you John’s task because he didn’t finish it and they like him, ask them what they want you to put off in order to do John’s work. E.g., sure I can handle that order for John. I assume that is higher priority than preparing the briefing material you requested for your meeting, and I should do John’s order instead? (OK, a bit snarky, but that is how to get the point across.)

      And look for a new job. If the boss is playing favorites, it’s a bad situation. Even when you are the favorite.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Agreed. Document the gaps and follow up so you know in the future what needs to be done if it happens again.

        And then dust off your resume. I’ve had bosses where there was nothing I could to to appease them and we had a horrible personality mismatch. Life is too short to be in an office like that.

    7. Student Affairs Sally*

      Do you work the same place I do (that I’m about to resign from!)? From my experience, this kind of environment is going to get worse, not better. Your best bet is to try and find something else when you can. In the meantime, remind yourself that they are the problem, not you.

    8. working mom*

      My previous job was like this. My manager “trained” me by simply informing me that she knew how to do things because she’d done it for 24 years. There was no explaining anything. I made my peace with the fact that I was trained by the mistakes I’d made. It was just the cost of doing business. I learned to do my job correctly by making the mistakes and then taking the time myself to figure out what I’d done wrong. Nobody else was going to show me. I got yelled at a couple times for costing people money, but they also didn’t have a better solution to preventing the problem.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I guess one thing that I would try to keep at the front of my thinking is that my coworkers are the way they are because their management sucks. It’s tough to soar like an eagle if you work with a bunch of turkeys. I might be tempted to tap the Thanksgiving theme and ask some kids in my circle to make drawings of turkeys by tracing their hands. I’d put the drawings up at work to help remind me about the eagle/turkey thing.

      Seriously, though. We are all a product of our work environment. If our workplaces invest in us, then we can blossom. If we are kept in the dark, then we are not going to flourish. It’s pretty straightforward and it baffles the crap out of me why bosses do this to people.

      What is the most important thing here is the very thing you don’t want us to mention: Do NOT tell yourself that this is IT, this is YOUR job. Do tell yourself that you CAN and you will find better. Don’t convince yourself that you will just muddle through and try to piece things together in the hopes of better days. The person hurt the most is you, you could be at a better company learning and growing instead of what you have here.

    10. tamarack & fireweed*

      I don’t know if it’ll help, but if you’re into relatively light-hearted sci-fi I recommend “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” by Becky Chambers. One of the main characters – a friendly and competent young accountant/clerk with some skeletons in her closet – makes the same kind of mistake, and there is an asshole co-worker who is flipping out over it. The captain of the (very small – crew of 6 or so) spaceship is, however pretty good about sorting things out. The asshole ends up in serious jeopardy, the accountant also gets over her issues, and people end with more connection than they came in. And if you like it, the series has three more books in the same universe. It’s kinda a space opera that focusses on the regular people, not the generals and political leaders.

  7. Sad in Florida*

    My question is work related but I have to give you some background first.

    Over the summer I realized that my sister is a narcissist who has been emotionally abusing and manipulating me my whole life (I’m in therapy for this). Things came to ahead in the fall and we’re not speaking to each other. She has two kids that I am very close to, but since our fallout I haven’t really spoken to them – even after reaching out to them directly a numerous times.

    On Monday it was my birthday and the kids never called or messaged me to wish me a happy birthday. The only other time I didn’t speak to them on my birthday was 4 years ago when my sister was mad at me about something else and told me they were busy and didn’t have time to speak to me.

    So, I recognize that on Monday I was already upset and hurting about something else.

    Now for the work part…

    Since the pandemic started, we’ve been doing virtual cards for people’s birthdays. I didn’t get one last birthday because I was on leave. Monday came and went without a card from my coworkers (I did however get an email this morning to sign a card for another coworker who’s birthday is on Sunday so it isn’t like this tradition has stopped).

    I should also mention that I have ADHD so I know that I’m prone to rejection sensitivity.

    At the end of the day, I know the card isn’t the biggest deal, but I can’t help but feel hurt by this. I was excited to get a card this year and now I feel really let down. I don’t need people to make a big deal on my birthday and if nobody got a card, I’d be totally fine with that.

    The last few years have been really hard for me (pandemic aside) on a personal level. And at work I’m already struggling with feeling seen and appreciated.

    I have no idea if it is worth saying anything to my manager. When I try and picture what I would even say, it sounds petty in my head. Plus, I’m also worried I’ll start crying which I don’t want to do for so many reasons.

    Does anyone have any advice for me? Either about saying something (any sample scripts would be appreciated!) or how to move past feeling hurt and letdown.

    1. Picard*

      You need to let it go (IMHO) Talk to your therapist about how to handle rejection (other tools, different meds for your ADHD?) As for moving past the hurt/letdown, I’ve always found I feel much better about my life when I help others who are struggling. Volunteer at a food bank, walk dogs at an animal shelter, take a garbage bag and clean trash out of your local park… something physical (not just writing a check)

      1. Siege*

        Yeah, volunteering so you can feel better than the people you’re helping is exactly the same as feeling and being included in your workplace.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Calling a friend or going to therapy to talk about your feelings isn’t the same thing as never getting your feelings hurt, either. Going to the doctor isn’t the same as never getting sick.

          It still makes your life better!

          1. Siege*

            I don’t disagree that there are a myriad of ways to handle this kind of situation. I do disagree with any advice that falls into the category if “if you just go outside you can’t possibly stay depressed”, and saying that one should volunteer to help others who are struggling ignores that a) Sad In Florida is struggling herself; b) feeling included in your workplace is not the same as feeling like a good person; and c) trying to patch holes that should be patched by the actions of others just exacerbates other feelings of marginalization. You can find it silly or not, but I can tell you with certainty that when my coworkers just decide to ignore my emails for things I need but they don’t I feel unvalued. It’s awful feeling excluded, and the solution for a lot of us is not “I’ll turn my feelings of exclusion into overflowing charity for others!”

            Exclusion in the workplace is a PROBLEM. It isn’t a coincidence that I was left out of a birthday gift two months before I was fired for not fitting in with a team that was working to exclude me in all kinds of ways, including one person refusing outright to speak to me. It may have been an accident, but it wasn’t a coincidence.

            1. RagingADHD*

              So, how exactly do you propose that a person can MAKE other people value them and include them?

              You can’t. All you can do is tend to yourself.

              Feelings of exclusion, hurt, etc are going to happen to all of us. It’s a given. So, what are you going to do with those feelings if not look for ways to add value to the world or make yourself feel better?

              I guess you could stew on the bad feelings indefinitely. But that’s not healthy.

            2. I'm In The Office Today*

              Oh, I remember the days of “everyone gets cupcakes but me” in the office. Whee.

        2. Picard*

          I didnt say “doing good” WOULD make THEM feel better. I said it worked for me, and MAYBE it could help. Shrug. Take what you will, leave behind what doesnt help.

          And yes, if therapy is not helping you deal with rejection you should probably tweak something. The therapist, the meds, the other tools in the toolbox. No one should feel miserable just because they didnt get a card.

        3. Redaktorin*

          This is … a deeply unkind reading. Volunteering helps my self-esteem not because I feel better than those I’m helping, but because I feel good about myself when I am useful to others and can have a positive impact on the world. That’s what Raging ADHD is getting at.

    2. Clefairy*

      I’m sorry you’re going through that :( What a rough situation personally.

      As far as the card…I get why you’re hurt. I also get why you don’t want to necessarily raise something like that to your boss for fear of looking petty. I’m wondering, do you have a peer you have a good relationship that you could mention it to? “I was kind of bummed not to get a card, do you know what happened? Can you look into it without telling people I asked? I don’t want to come across as petty or entitled, but it was something I was really looking forward to.”

      Or, if bringing it to your boss makes more sense, maybe make it less about you and more about giving a consistently nice experience to everyone? “Hey boss! I love our card tradition, I think it’s such a nice way to connect. I notice I didn’t get one- while I was looking forward to a card personally, it made me realize there might be some holes in our system and I want to make sure everyone on our team gets the same fun experience here! Could we set up a better system? I was thinking XYZ idea”. By making it more about the whole team experience and the system behind how they happen, it might help make you less emotional about it AND will come across to your boss as “Hey, I saw a hole in one of our processes, here is a solution” as opposed to “Boo hoo, woe is me, where is my card”

      Again, I do want to stress- your disappointment is SUPER valid. I’m sorry that happened. I would be bummed/hurt too

      1. Ashley*

        Or if you know the person ‘in charge’ maybe mention your Birthday to make sure it on the list; just a quick polite fyi style email.
        I worked at a place we had a calendar with most but not all birthdays. I felt so bad when we missed someone’s! Though one year they celebrated my birthday and a co-worker who shared my birthday without me because I was in an off site meeting and no one could be bothered to check my schedule or mention a time.

    3. Shiara*

      Of course it’s painful to be passed over on something that your company habitually recognizes people for! That it probably isn’t at all personal doesn’t mean it doesn’t sting. And it’s valid to draw your Manager’s attention to it. Although it depends a little on whether cards are from them, the company, or if a random coworker is supposed to spontaneously handle it

      First, though, I would double check your spam folder just to cover your bases. Then I’d probably go to your manager or the social card coordinator and say “when signing a card for x, I realized that my birthday had been skipped. What’s the process for getting back on the card list?” Just try and be very matter of fact like this is any other paperwork mixup you’re trying to fix

      1. Beth*

        Yes, this! There’s clearly a gap in their records — specifically, the list of birthdays. There is an administrative hiccup that can be resolved.

        Also, happy birthday!

        1. Gem*

          Yes I think framing it by expressing concern that other people might be left off the list too might go along way. It’s not just about you, it’s about the possibility that others could have also slipped through the cracks.

    4. Siege*

      This is very familiar. I was forgotten on my birthday at a previous job (on a staff of six!) and frankly, I’ve never made peace with both the hurt of being excluded and the fact I felt like I had to minimize the problem when the admin called to tell me she’d forgotten to get me a card (…rather than getting one, which would have taken ten minutes as there was a sundries store in the building). I don’t know how to approach it, but I can tell you that, 10 years on, my ADHD/RSD has permanently added it to the stack of reasons I’m not allowed to have or care about a birthday (because obviously no one else cares) so I hope someone else has some helpful advice. In the meantime, happy birthday! I hope you make it a great year.

    5. Cat Lady Librarian*

      I’m so sorry and I’ve been there. Who is in charge of the virtual cards? Do you have a committee or is it left to an overworked admin assistant? It’s quite possible they forgot, which while I know is upsetting, is definitely not personal.

      Have you brought up this situation to your therapist? This sounds like something they could help you work through and put some perspective on.

    6. Bertha*

      If this other card is only getting to you on Friday, and the birthday is on Sunday.. I have had no experience with these virtual cards, but is there any chance a card for you could be stuck “virtually” with someone who needs to sign it?

      Who manages the cards? If it’s the direct boss, does the person you are signing the card for have the same boss?

      Any chance it went to junk mail?

    7. Bluebelle*

      Happy belated birthday! I am sorry things have been so rough. I am sure the missed card at work wasn’t intentional, but I certainly understand why it felt bad. If there is a person who tracks the birthdays and takes care of getting cards signed you might let them know, by saying something like “Last year I was on leave but would love to get a birthday card in the future! Can you check if my birthday is still on the list?”
      Good luck and I hope things are better in the new year :)

    8. Isben Takes Tea*

      How are the birthday card signings organized? Is it from one person (say the office admin), or is it up to each manager to handle?

      Perhaps an email to the right person saying “I wanted to make sure my information was up to date. It’s possible my birthday dropped off the card roster since I was out on leave last year—I’d love to be able to participate next year! It’s [November 30]. I really appreciate what you do to keep our spirits up—it means a lot.”

      Getting forgotten in the office birthday roster hurts. In my LastJob, almost everybody got cupcakes from the office for their birthday. I have a New Year’s Eve birthday, and for four of my five years in my last office, nobody remembered. (Granted, only three or four of us were ever in the office on that day, so I tried to ignore it.) Then one year, the first day back from New Year’s, there’s an all-office email that there were treats in the kitchen for my birthday! I was overjoyed until I walked in the office to a cheese and cracker plate because “everyone is so tired of sugar from the holidays.” I never said anything, but it is probably the pettiest grudge I have retained from any workplace ever.

      Many happy returns of your orbital anniversary!

      1. RagingADHD*

        This is the approach I was going to suggest.

        It’s entirely possible that there was a change to the birthday roster and yours fell through the cracks because you weren’t on it last year. Maybe a different person is dealing with the cards, or something happened to the roster and it had to be re-created, or they switched systems from a spreadsheet to calendar reminders, or a million different things.

        Nobody in an office setting actually “remembers” everybody’s birthday. They aren’t carrying it around in their heads. I mean, be honest. Do you have every one of your coworker’s birthdays memorized? Would you remember to get them a card if it weren’t organized by the office? Does that mean you don’t like your coworkers, or that you don’t care at all about their birthdays? No! It means you are a human who relies on external systems to keep up with stuff.

        They are working off some kind of reminder system, and the system failed. It needs an update.

      2. Clefairy*

        Oh man. Like, I LOVE cheese. If it had been cheese and crackers PLUS cake, I would have been thrilled. But I totally feel you, I would have been irked too!

    9. Policy Wonk*

      Happy belated birthday! Unfortunately, this has happened to me more than once as well. Shiara has the right idea – treat it like it was a paperwork SNAFU, and ask how to make sure it doesn’t happen again – to you or anyone else! Be calm and matter-of-fact. It worked for me when this happened.

      But honestly, I think doing birthdays at work is a bad idea – it shares personal identification info that could be used for identity theft and the like, particularly when people start pressing for your age. But of course everyone likes an excuse to eat cake, so at my last office we instituted a monthly birthday celebration where we would pick a day each month to celebrate all that month’s birthdays. (Different day each month to accommodate telework schedules.)

    10. SarahKay*

      Happy birthday and lots of sympathy.
      I had a long-service work anniversary that didn’t get recognised by my boss, who is usually very good at congratulating his team on these at our weekly meetings, and although I know there are excellent probable reasons for it (this was late spring 2020, and our company was looking at layoffs) it still stings a bit.
      Several of the comments above have given you some really nice phrasing. My suggestion would be to pick one you like, and then practice saying it, out loud, several times beforehand. I’ve found that can significantly reduce the likelihood of tears when saying it for real.
      Good luck!

    11. Storm in a teacup*

      Happy birthday!
      I totally feel you and may have had a little cry earlier today about something similar. Our work does an e-appreciation card and gift for milestone work anniversaries. My first one with the company was today. I saw an email go out very late last night (that I don’t think I was meant to be cc’d in) asking people to complete the appreciation notes page. My company is very big on this kind of stuff and when you normally sign for people there will be lots of other notes etc… basically it’s a big deal. When mine came through this morning only about 10% of the people I work with had signed it and whilst all of the comments were lovely, I was still so upset (and shocked that I was upset as I’m not an emotional person). Rationally I know that due to end of year it probably wasn’t circulated until yesterday so people probably didn’t get a chance to sign but it can still hurt, esp if you have other things going on.
      Feel your feels – we’re human after all.
      Have a secret cry (benefit of working from home).

      When you’re feeling better about it maybe suggest next year to put everyone’s birthdays in a team calendar or if one person is in charge suggest they double check everyone is included?

    12. Lady Danbury*

      Happy birthday! I don’t really have any work advice but just wanted to commiserate because I’ve been there (in a personal situation, not work). It got to the point where I would try to avoid the relevant group of people on my birthday because the situation was making me feel bad on what is normally a happy day. Social media helps to create this perception that the way people celebrate your birthdays/special days (Extravagant gifts! Surprise parties! Group trips!) is somehow reflective of your worth and their feelings towards you. Intellectually, I know that’s not true. Emotionally, that feeling still rears its ugly head sometimes. I realized that I was starting to have anxiety around my birthday because of a grass in greener mentality and have actively worked to address the root cause of those feelings. I’ve also started to treat myself to something nice (a present, activity or both) so that I’m less reliant on others and to appreciate those that do show up for me.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Birthdays as a measure of worth, very insightful comment. I love this.

        OP, combining many comments together here- why not volunteer yourself to go to HR/boss/whomever and mention that there is a problem in that some people are not getting cards. You can say, “I am sure I can’t be the only one and is there something I can do to help make sure everyone is included on the card list?”

        See, it’s one thing when others slight us. But it’s a whole new level when we don’t stand up for ourselves. I mean if I don’t stand up for me, then who else will, right? In the process of standing up for you, you can speak up for others who may/may not speak up for themselves. And usually people find it a bit easier to advocate for others than they do to advocate for themselves. So include your concern for others here.

        I do feel ya though, my heart kinda dropped when you said there was no card for you. Belated happy birthday from this internet stranger.

    13. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      First of all Belated Happy Birthday!! I have been on the same small team for several years and have never even gotten a verbal happy birthday from any of them. When I asked if they wanted me to keep track of the birthdays and making sure everyone gets a card (since I was the admin) they all said they don’t celebrate birthdays as a team and didn’t want to. Then I was asked to sign a card and fork over $ for everyone else’s birthdays several years running. Every ones birthdays, every year, but mine. We had several team members leave, new team members join and began work from home. I asked if everyone wanted me as admin to keep track of birthdays and make sure there was a card in the office to sign for everyone. The only thing I asked was someone else do it for me. Even though I do not live in the same town as the office I made sure everyone got a birthday card and a gift card, and everyone else had a chance to sign it. And my birthday? Crickets. After the last birthday of the year passed, I announced that I would not be the one doing this next year (living out of town provided an easy out) and that someone else would have to step up. But yeah I’m bitter too, Sad In Florida. And yes they do know when my birthday is because one of them asked me after the fact if I had a nice birthday. So yeah, I’m taking it personally. I have decided to take vacation time around my birthday every year and be so sad that I couldn’t get to the office to sign anyone else’s card or donate to the present.

    14. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

      Happy belated birthday!

      This sounds crappy and it’s completely valid and understandable to feel upset about this differential treatment at work. I was trying to find the exact Captain Awkward post where the brilliant point is made that just because we have or identify as having a particular aspect to ourselves or have had certain experiences in the past, it doesn’t make our current reactions at upsetting situations somehow off-base or “wrong” (not sure if I can link but 907 in the Captain Awkward archives make the point but Im sure its said a few times in the answers there.

    15. Sled dog mama*

      Happy Birthday from someone else who was disappointed to be forgotten this year as well. In my team of 12 we have a birthday cake tradition where you bring in a cake for the next person’s birthday (it’s opt in and you can totally be left off the calendar if you want), my company also sends out a monthly Happy birthday to these people this month (again opt in by putting your birthday on the calendar).
      My birthday also happens to fall on the “International day of {my career}” (it’s tied to the date of my birthday because it was also the birthday of the person who is considered to have pioneered the field) and during the week of {field my team is in} and our Director’s birthday is the day after mine. This year I didn’t get a cake or card or even a happy birthday from any coworkers. We got lots of happy International day, and happy week of thing you do and the director got a happy birthday from everyone (she isn’t part of the cake group). I was also left off the company wide happy birthday email.
      I was seriously disappointed especially because we launched a huge project I had been working my butt off for on my birthday.

    16. Sad in Florida*

      First of all, thank you to everyone who took time to respond to me and for the birthday wishes :)

      To address a couple of points, I had therapy last week and my next appointment isn’t until January (therapist is taking time off for the holidays and she’s booked solid over the next two weeks) so waiting until then to try and work through this doesn’t seem the best way to handle the situation. By then it will be too late (in terms of trying to address it at work – the moment will have passed).

      I’m definitely working on my rejection sensitivity, but it’s not easy. There really isn’t medication to help with it and even therapy has mixed results. It can be one of the hardest aspects of ADHD to deal with, not even taking into consideration the controversy it can generate by some people who don’t recognize it as symptom of ADHD. BTW, I’m talking about my own experience with ADHD and don’t want anyone to think that I am talking for everyone who has ADHD. Everyone has their own experience.

      I think I am going to bring it up to my manager on Monday but use the script/language that a lot of people have suggested. That way the focus is not on my hurt feelings, but more about how do we make sure that other people’s birthdays aren’t missed.

      Thanks again to everyone who weighed in, I really appreciate it. AAM has one of the best communities on the internet.

      1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

        Sad In Florida, thank you for talking about rejection sensitivity as an aspect of ADHD. I’d never heard that before. As some with ADHD who grew up in a toxic family I just assumed that rejection sensitivity was from my childhood not ADHD. Going to have to go down the research rabbit hole now. Not quite 50 and I am still learning new things!

    17. anonymous73*

      Let it go. The situation with your sister escalated the not getting a card at work feelings and it’s definitely not something you bring to your manager.

      And I know you didn’t ask for advice about you sister, but I had a similar situation recently with a life long friend and I had to end the relationship. I realized she was selfish and the only reason we had stayed friends for 40+ years was because of time. Our friendship was toxic and wasn’t bringing anything to my life other than rage and annoyance. And her 4 girls were my godchildren (although I had grown apart from them once they got older – they made no effort to contact me, nor did their mother). I have zero regrets.

    18. I heart Paul Buchman*

      I learnt something a while ago, which I think is broadly applicable to lots of life’s difficult situations. When you have a problem it can fit in two categories:
      1) easy fix applies. In this case your response is to fix the problem.
      2) you aren’t able to fix the situation easily (that’s the case here). In which case you take two steps:
      A) stop and do something that is soothing for you. Mindfulness, call a friend, go for a run, whatever. Repeat this step until you feel calmer about the situation and can address it with a clear head.
      B) while you are doing step (a) your job is to NOT do anything to make the situation worse. Don’t anxiety bomb anyone, don’t send the email, don’t yell at your neighbour. If you aren’t exacerbating the situation by responding emotionally you are doing ok. Step a basically supports step b.
      These steps give you time to breathe.I find them so very helpful, especially when my anxiety is running my thoughts.

      Also, people whose birthdays aren’t ever forgotten are not coincidentally the same people who make a big bloody fuss that their birthday is coming up. It’s a good strategy for next year. Best wishes to you.

  8. Raisins*

    Is it okay to split a two week notice over a break?

    For context, chances are decent I’ll be receiving an offer soon. My workplace shuts down for a paid 2.5 weeks over Christmas. Would it be odd to do one week before the break and one after, or would it be better to just give notice after returning from break (assuming I get an offer)?

    Thanks all!

    1. worker bee*

      Something similar happened for my most recent leave, I gave my notice before the week the company would be closed, but set my last day for a full two working weeks after the return. I quite liked my supervisor and wanted to make it as easy on her as possible, so that impacted my decision.

    2. Jessica*

      If I were your manager I’d be thrilled with the one before/one after. I’d rather know ASAP, so if I want to, over the break I can think/plan/work on the consequences (and I guess if I could get the vacancy posted we could be getting applications, though my workplace would never move that fast). Then I’d have you back for another week to address any questions or issues I’d thought of in the intervening time. Sounds like the best of both worlds.

      From your perspective, though, it’s very generous, because the closed time doesn’t automatically not count.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I would wait until after the break, to be honest, because I wouldn’t want to risk giving up 2.5 weeks paid. But a lot depends on the start date in your offer. If they want you to start soon after the new year, I would try to do the split, knowing your current employer might just tell you not to bother after a week. Hard to say!

      But above all, hang on until you get that offer. This is the SLOWEST time for many things like that, especially as people are trying to wrap up the year. That said… I got my job offer around this time last year and gave notice right away so my last day was the 23rd. I started my new job on the 4th.

      1. Smithy*

        I’m going to advocate for this strongly.

        I had a very different situation where I was the entire fundraising department of a small nonprofit in a country where giving 1-2 months notice was the norm. I made my decision to give notice and return to the US based on extenuating circumstances that put me in a place to give three months notice where in the middle I still intended to take a 2.5 week vacation to the US (that I also needed to help move back my things).

        Obviously three months notice is far different than what the OP is discussing, but it made for a very weird period and I had to really push aggressively to keep the planned vacation. Had I been able to give two months after I returned from vacation, that would have been far better for the norms of where I was.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      I would not give notice until after the break. Too great a chance they either terminate you immediately and don’t pay you for the break, or use the first week of the break of your second week of notice.

      1. Public Sector Manager*

        I agree. You can’t assume the employer is going to let you do the split notice. They could unilaterally pick a date that doesn’t work for you.

    5. Enna*

      I would wait until after. Unless you have a really solid reason to believe they will keep you on, many places are not going to keep you for the paid break when they know you are leaving a week later.

    6. Purple Cat*

      If you are willing to give notice after the break that’d be best for transitioning.
      But…. a senior director at my company gave his notice and the 2 weeks included Thanksgiving week and nobody is mad at him or anything.
      Do what’s best for you and your new job!

    7. oscar*

      I gave my notice before the break and set my leave date for one week after.

      For me it was this way because I liked my boss and I knew she would have to jump in early in January anyway to get a replacement headcount requested and approved. For us headcount resets 1st of the year so she couldn’t even make the request in December before the break. I also figured it gave my new office (and me) time to get back after the holidays and settle back in to a routine before having to onboard the newbie me.

  9. EPLawyer*

    Hey, just wanted to let everyone know how oral argument went since all ya’all sent good thoughts.

    It was my first one and I was nervous as HELL. I hate having to do oral arguments in 1L. I mean I was literally shaking while waiting to go in the courtroom this week. But I listened to the other side make their argument (thankfully I was appellee). The bench asked an important question that I was going to hit on at one point in my argument. I decided to lead with that and I was OFF and running. I had a “hot” bench with lots of questions. But I anticpated that and had already kept my argument short to account for questions. Opposing counsel didn’t plan and ran out of time. Same thing happened in the case before ours. I think I answered all the questions. Well no, I think I kinda wandered one in one explanation and never did answer the actual question. Oh well.

    One huge difference I realized from 1L. In law school, you are handed a fact pattern and the outcome of the lower court then told to argue the appeal. Okay fine. You can memorize all that stuff. But I KNEW this case because I had handled it from day 1. I knew the details. I knew WHY things had been done and WHY things happened in the lower court. Because I lived it, not jsut read it. Also, 13 years of law practice made me a lot more confident making arguments.

    Now the waiting begins for the opinion.

    1. OyHiOh*

      Good for you! Sounds like you did the absolute best you possibly could. I hope the opinion comes back in your favor.

      I had something kinda similar, but much lower stakes happen recently. Way back in high school, we did one of those mock city council exercises and I vividly remember being handed a scrap of paper with a sentence on it, and being told I was a community member who didn’t want whatever the thing was on the paper, and told I had 3 minutes to speak to council. It was awful and terrible, and I hated it so much. I think I spoke for about 20 seconds. A couple months ago, the org I work for found itself short one night where we had more public meetings scheduled than people who usually attend and speak (I office manage, I’m not normally the person presenting at public meetings). But it was a busy week, all the planners were booked, our ED was booked, so off I went to present to a town council. And it went great! Difference was, I’d been writing and communicating on the issue for weeks, I knew it inside out, I’d already faced the most complex and likely questions in other situations, and the town council voted to sign the letter I hoped they would sign. I felt like I’d conquered a small mountain after that.

    2. Whynot*

      Congrats! It sounds like it went well, you had planned and prepared, and you’ve learned some things to add to your prep next time re: the one wandering answer. Hard advice to follow, I know, but try to put the opinion out of your mind – since you can’t do anything to speed it along or change the outcome, move it to the back burner.

      1. EPLawyer*

        oh public speaking I can do. Give me something to present on and I am GOLD. It’s the interruption of my planned presentation that gets me. I don’t think well on my feet and having to stop, answer a question unplanned, then go back to my planned presentation throws me. But apparently, I’ve gotten better at it. Practice something something something.

    3. Lady Danbury*

      Congratulations!!! I knew before I went to law school that I had 0 interest in litigation but it’s always interesting to see the view from the other side of the fence, so to speak.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This might be a moment- it sounds like you gave the judge a lot to mull over. Congratulations!

    5. Anon attorney*

      Awesome! I always think it’s better when the bench asks lots of questions, at least you know they’re listening to you. Fingers crossed for the opinion.

  10. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

    Hey guys! I haven’t posted in a couple months – because I got a new job! I’m now leading a team of two, in my first management role. The transition has been rocky and I need some advice.

    The team I’m overseeing has been without a boss for six months (took a long time to fill the role) and they’ve honestly been killing it. Both have been here a long time and worked really closely with the previous manager for 5+ years. They build the department as a team, so it’s REALLY challenging to come in as an outsider (not to mention, one 10-20 years younger). I’m trying to carve out space for me to do my role but they aren’t making it easy. They simply aren’t communicating with me! Part of that is because our schedules don’t always line up so we’re usually not in the office at the same time, but one of my staff keeps telling me “that’s a bigger conversation that we should have next time we’re in the office together” when I ask about something that’s currently going on. She and I are having a conversation today in which I’ll tell her she needs to slow down and take the time to keep me up to date, but I’m honestly worried whether it’ll change.

    My boss is also new in his role and has leaned on these two a lot, and they are rightly considered experts in this work by him and everyone at our organization. I know I was brought in for a reason, but I’m really trying to avoid power struggles and I think it’s making me more hesitant to tell them what to do or make any changes. And, I don’t want them to stop doing the great work they’ve been doing for years! How can I establish myself as the leader of a team that doesn’t seem to need a leader?

    1. Former Gifted Kid*

      In my current role, I had been pretty independent for a while, but eventually they created a new position that was to be my manager. I went from being left to my own devices to actually having an engaged manager. I did not communicate a lot of things with my new manager. I honestly didn’t know what to communicate and I default to “not bothering people.”

      What helped in my case, and might help in yours, is that my manager explicitly laid out the types of things she wanted me to communicate. We also have a shared spreadsheet about all the stuff my program is doing that my boss really only looks at at our check-ins, but is a really handy passive way to communicate with my manager and keep her on the same page.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        Absolutely this. Clarifying what they need to communicate tells them exactly what you expect. It will also help you to figure out if they’re just unsure about what you want or if they’re actively undermining you/cutting you out of the process. Once you’ve laid out exactly what you expect, you have the tools to hold them to that standard. Also, are you having regular check-ins? The “bigger conversation” line could be an excuse or it could be an indication that you do need to have more regular conversations. Some conversations are simply more effective in person/over the phone/zoom, rather than via email. Part of setting your expectations should also include when/how to use different communication methods, whether it’s a WIP spreadsheet, email, slack, in person/zoom checkins, ccing you as appropriate, etc.

        I would also discuss this with your boss. You say that you were brought in for a reason but you need to make sure that you and your boss are on the same page regarding that reason. I would approach the conversation as seeking clarity on your role, not complaining that your team isn’t listening to you.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I moved into my first management role this summer, with two team leads who are both 20+ years older than me, have been working in the field twice as long as I have, and kept the team (12 ICs) running for several months during the interim without a manager (and have been leading the team for six years), so I feel you. My situation is a little different, because they’re team leads vs individual contributors, but what’s worked well for us is figuring out our division of labor in working with the team – the TLs handle everyday questions about the process of teapot painting and “hey, should this one be blue or green, the order slip says teal but that’s not an option,” etc, , and I trust them to do that stuff (because they’ve been doing it for six years) while I handle the administrative side of things. I told them in our first meeting, my view on management is that my job as a manager is to make other people’s work lives flow easier, both up and down the org chart. I specifically don’t stick my head into the majority of their day-to-day work unless they ask my input, because they know that I trust them to do it, so at this point if I do get involved with something, they trust me back that I’m doing it for a reason. (I’m also generally pretty transparent with them as to why, as much as I can be.)

      So maybe a big-picture discussion from that angle? “I don’t want to get in the way of you guys doing your jobs because you’re awesome at it and Teapots Inc depends on you, but at the same time, I need to be more in the loop on this process so that I can do my job, which is to make your work lives easier in xyz ways. How can we make sure that all of us are getting what we need to accomplish those goals?”

      1. Nicki Name*

        I like emphasizing the part about being there to assist. I was once part of a team that ran itself for several months while waiting for a new boss, and while the day-to-day work got done just fine, we were very disconnected from the overall company. We had zero direction, for instance, when the company wanted everyone to write up their goals for the new year and didn’t give the worker bees much idea of what those goals should look like.

    3. ferrina*

      Do you have regular times to communicate with them? One of the first things I like to do is set up regular 1:1 meetings with each member of my team (weekly or monthly, depending on what the team does). These meetings are so 1) I can stay up to date with what they are doing and what they need from me and 2) I can give them a head’s up on anything that might impact them. Junior staff may also get mentoring during these meetings, but for senior staff it’s more to ensure communication is flowing, I have a set time where I can ask all my questions without bothering them, and they know they have this time to get ahold of me for anything they need.

    4. Nesprin*

      In general:
      You protect them, listen to their complaints, and ensure that their outstanding work is seen by higher ups as much as possible.

      In specific: be as curious as possible about how they carry out work, document problems/successes and change your work schedule (if possible) to align with theirs.

    5. aubrey*

      Two ideas: they don’t know what they’re supposed to communicate to you, and/or they find the process of communicating to you to be an extra hassle that they don’t see the point of and so they’re dragging their feet on it. I think discussing with them what your role is and how communicating to you will help them and the company would be a good step. How did it work between them and the former manager? They might need some reassurance that you’re not trying to come in and steamroll, but you do need to know what’s going on and understand the work more, and that you have a plan for working out that process.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Their beef about needing time is legit and probably a HUGE part of the problem.

      I have (and had) bosses who were great bosses. But I never got to tell them things because there was NO time. They were not in the office when I was and this worked into a huge problem. Fix that problem.

      Let me say it this way. These great bosses never fixed the time problem and the gaps in communication never got resolved. Fix the time problem. If you aren’t around the people enough the learning curve is too steep and too long.

  11. Albeira Dawn*

    Favorite sealable snacks to keep at your desk in the office? Especially now that it’s colder out and I’m less willing to make the trip to a coffeeshop or convenience store a block over.

    Also, we’re moving into a new office at the end of the month and I’m looking to optimize my desk setup. Anything you’ve bought, made, or used that has enhanced your in-office experience? (I work in CADD, so I usually am looking at my computer and a printout at the same time.)

    1. Gladiolus*

      Two monitors, one turned portrait. Keep the CAD stuff on the landscape side, and the administrative stuff on the portrait side.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        oh my gosh, turning one of my 24″ monitors portrait was a total life-changer. It’s awful for spreadsheets, so those stay on the other one, but anything where I want to look at the whole document with minimal scrolling, plus my email (at the bottom) and Teams (at the top), all go on the portrait side. People think it’s weird when they first see it, but then after like 30 seconds of seeing how I have it arranged in action, they make the same “Holy crap that’s genius” face I made when I first tried it.

      2. LikesToSwear*

        Second the monitor riser and two monitors! I bought a riser that handles two monitors and I love it. Gives me room to put the laptop (and keyboard if I need the space) under it, plus a spot for all the little extras (dock, headset, etc).

        For snacks, I like to get large packages of individual servings of snacks. I especially like Chex Mix or beef jerky.

    2. Let me be dark and twisty*

      I have a stash of goldfish crackers and pretzels I keep at my desk. I buy the snack-size packs from Costco since I have no moderation when it comes to goldfish.

      For desk setup – get a riser for your laptop to lift it off the desk. That way you can store papers or other office supplies underneath it instead of cluttering up your desk. (My previous office set-up had us use our laptops like an old CPU tower with monitors, keyboard, and mouse plugged into it. Lifting my laptop off the desk surface gave me a lot more space back on my desk. I used a perforated metal hanging file folder box for my laptop stand.)

    3. NotRealAnonForThis*

      Flavored roasted nuts, if you can do nuts. (I personally enjoy wasabi soy roasted almonds. A lot.)

      Having a separate swing arm lamp for your drawings-go-here area of your desk set up may be a good addition.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Yup, I’m team almonds as well. I like to buy the large 25 oz or bigger sizes at either Costco or when Amazon has a good deal on them. Ooh, those wasabi soy flavored ones sound interesting, do you have a brand name you’d recommend NotRealAnon?

        1. Enna*

          The Blue Diamond Wasabi Soy almonds are good.

          I also keep plain almonds, pretzels, peanut butter filled pretzles, really good chocolate and the snackpack sized fig newtons.

          1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

            OMG I love the Blue Diamond wasabi soy (and also their sriracha, and spicy dill pickle almonds). I can only find wasabi soy in the zipper bags, but the others do come in a tin with a lid so I guess that works.

    4. not mrs peanut*

      Granola bars. Also I see a lot of people recommending nuts and nut containing products in this thread but speaking as a person with airborne nut allergies I beg you to check with your surrounding co-workers in the same space just to make sure you won’t be accidentally sending anyone running for an epipen in the middle of the day.

    5. Sammy Keyes*

      I really like TJ’s turkey jerky sticks (I think they are called chomps). They’re nice to eat at your desk because you don’t have to touch them with your hands and there’s no mess that will get into your keyboard nooks and crannies.

      1. I take tea*

        I like seitan sticks, easy to eat and very filling. Keeps forever. Also Digestive’s and flavoured rice or corn cakes. A jar of peanut butter, as long as nobody is allergic, of course.

    6. Xena*

      If I can go shopping ahead of time I love oranges–they’re not sealable in the same way maybe but they’re surprisingly less messy than anything powdery as long as you have a trashcan.

    7. MacGillicuddy*

      Don’t know about your office but in a couple of different jobs we had a mouse problem – the little buyers would get inside desk drawers and eat snacks, toothpaste (!), etc.

      So to keep your snacks I’d recommend a metal box, like a lunch box, metal cookie tin, or even one of those metal money boxes (and at this time of year you can find decorative tins, cookie, or popcorn tins).

      Critters will chew through plastic stuff like Tupperware or Glad storage boxes.

    8. AcademiaNut*

      For snacks, one thing I’ve started doing is having a personal fruit bowl. On Monday, bring in some fruit like apples, oranges, plums, passionfruit, bananas, persimmons – stuff you eat in a single serving without needing a knife or refrigeration. I can have a mid-afternoon fruit snack, and just have to remember to take anything left home before the weekend. A good sturdy cheese keeps well if you have an office fridge, and cheese and crackers, or cheese and apples, makes a nice snack.

      For shelf stable stuff – in addition to the usual pretzels etc – dried fruit, nuts, Asian style dried fish/squid snacks (I like these, as they’re protein heavy and not too calorie dense), wrapped biscotti (dip it in your coffee). Instant noodles (check out an Asian supermarket for the really good ones – we get ones here that have actual stewed meat in them, for example). Individual servings of tuna salad with crackers. Those deep fried pork skin snacks. Bagel chips. Granola bars. Individual serving cans of soup. Pop tarts or breakfast bars.

      I will note that I work in a culture which is significantly less delicate about food smells than Canada or the US. Snacking on dried fish at your desk is totally unremarkable to people raised with stinky tofu.

    9. VegetarianRaccoon*

      I always keep LaraBars in my drawer. Tasty and as convenient as granola bars, but they’re fruits and nuts. Also ginger chews, but those are there in case my stomach feels less-than-perfect.

  12. SamPoster*

    I left Toxic Job earlier this year for a much more interesting role in an expanding sector with better work life balance and about the same salary (Toxic Job was in a highly paid sector and new job a lower paid one, so I was pleased to get my slight increase). I was fine with the trade-off.

    Today, I had a call from Toxic Job Clients who want to hire me back… as the head of an entire new department in my area. This is literally insane – I only qualified to work in this area 2-3 years ago. Usually this kind of role goes to people who have 5-10 years experience. And likely a six figure salary.

    I was really happy and making plans to settle in at my new place and have time for family stuff – the only thing I am now certain of is that I wish they’d never contacted me.

    Can I afford to turn this offer down? My heart sinks at the thought of having to go back there and deal with Toxic Job people. Also, putting my plans on hold and giving up my new sector, while having to likely work flat out to do this demanding role (assuming of course I can, given I am definitely under-qualified – I’ve never even managed anyone before)

    But I also don’t think I would be human if I wasn’t hugely flattered and amazed at the thought of this jump (which is absolutely where I was going to aim for… in another few years, in my new sector). I worry if I turn it down, I’ll end up resenting my current job as well and regretting my lack of career advancement.

    I know what I need to do in terms of waiting for the official offer, trying not to let the imaginary job affect my real job and weigh all my factors (money/work/kids etc) but any input from people who’ve been in a similar position would be helpful.

    TL;DR – My old Toxic Job’s clients want to hire me back for a lot of money and I’m conflicted. Help.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      How much of the toxicity at Toxic Job were due to tis client? Or to the immutable features of the industry?

      If the answer is more than 5%, then I’d say pass on the offer.

    2. Grits McGee*

      I think it would be helpful to dig into why this company specifically wants you, if the norm for this position is someone with much more experience. It could be that you’re a rock star, despite being relatively new to the field, and you’ll knock this out of the park; it could also be that they want someone familiar to them, and they haven’t seriously considered how well your skills and experience would fit in this high-level position.

      The money vs work environment question is important, but I would just be very wary of making sure this company isn’t inadvertently setting you up for failure if you take this job.

      1. Smithy*

        This right here.

        I’ve known a few people who ended up in leadership positions who were then very eager to hire “their” people. Having people they knew and people they felt would be loyal to them became more important than necessarily going through general HR processes and looking at more traditionally experienced candidates.

        When I’ve seen this happen – I’ve seen two general results. The first is that those people would last for a rough period of time, figure things out and then be able to transition somewhere normal – typically at a lateral level. The flip side would be for people to feel trapped that they’d be unable to do the job somewhere else because they weren’t being adequately trained in all aspects of the job. So maybe they were doing really well as a subject matter expert but being allowed to entirely flounder as a manager and it would be a role typically expected to manage a large department. For those people, after those jobs ends – the next period has often involved periods of consulting or more uneven transitions.

        Obviously, this isn’t set in stone for every sector and every experience – but if your gut is telling you that something seems off, it may not just be imposter syndrome. There may be something off happening on the other side.

    3. Jarissa*

      Can you afford to lose your work-life balance? Can you afford the accompanying hit to your physical and mental well-being? This is like the toxic ex-“friend” who showers you with compliments and the expectation of future gifts if only you’ll wade back into their Available Victim pool.

      You wish they had never contacted you! I think you are being wise.

      I, personally, out of prurient curiosity, would contact back to ask, “What factors led you to offer this position to me, specifically?” just to see if they will explain why they do not offer this job to the candidates you would expect — the ones with experience (including with saying “That’s not going to happen here” and enforce it). Why are they not interviewing? And letting the candidates interview them right back? One phone call with a verbal offer in it is not a proper discussion of what this position would really entail in responsibilities, authorities, and compensation.

      But then I would still thank them for the offer, say of course I am flattered, but it’s not the right fit for me at this moment. (And then debate with myself for weeks about whether to block that number!)

    4. Whynot*

      Listen to your gut, the dread you feel just thinking about it is just a fraction of the dread you’d feel going into work every day. This is not the only opportunity you will be given for future growth – and if this one is with people/organizations you know to be toxic, it isn’t worth the price of your mental health, no matter how good the salary might be. Also, if they want you to set up a whole new department when you don’t have the experience level to do so, they’re likely to lowball the salary and not set you up with the tools you need to make the new department a success.

      You sound like you’re in a good place with the new job; based on what you’ve relayed here, I’d stay put, learn, and see what opportunities come in the future; if the sector you’re now in is expanding, more and better opportunities are likely to come your way.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Came here to say this. That bad feeling you’re feeling is your guy telling you not to take this job. Allow yourself to be flattered, but vote for your WHOLE self.

        1. Overeducated*

          This. I am usually a “go with your gut” person, the last job offer I got I wasn’t sure and just felt like “man, I wish they hadn’t contacted me so I wouldn’t have to make this decision.” Turns out “wish they hadn’t contacted me” means “I don’t want to say yes.” Listen to that. I took it, and I’m now a person who cries regularly, and these things are not unrelated.

    5. Rusty Shackelford*

      What would you do if a rich person, who you weren’t romantically interested in, proposed marriage to you? Would you feel like you had to take it? Or would you say “that’s flattering but it isn’t the life I want?”

    6. Beth*

      Were these clients toxic themselves? Are there any red flags to make you suspect that they might be?

      How closely will you have to associate with the Toxic Job people? Will you be interacting with them from a point of advantage? It might be nice, in a way, if they’ll have to make nice to you, as it were . . . but if it’s the other way around, that all by itself is a huge red flag.

      Is the new potential employer offering you that six-figure salary? If not, why not? If so, are they also offering you an overall package that doesn’t have any hidden poison spikes in it?

      Will you be able to maintain a healthy work/life balance?

      What do you know about the people you’d be managing in this new department? Will you have input in hiring them? Will they be people you want to work with and manage?

    7. Lady Danbury*

      Having to deal with ToxicJob, feeling underprepared for the role, and the lack of work/life balance are the 3 biggest red flags for me. I’ve seen people hired into reach positions where they were given the necessary training and grace to get up to speed and excel in the role. I’ve also seen situations where management claimed to understand that it was a reach, but did not provide any training or assistance while expecting the new hire to perform at the more senior level, eventually leading to the new hire being fired or otherwise harmed careerwise. A lot of comments have provided great questions to ask/consider, so I won’t rehash them. You may also want to consider whether the increased hours would be temporary while getting up to speed or a permanent feature of the new role.

    8. ferrina*

      I’m really worried about the experience discrepancy. That experience expectation is there for a reason. I’ve seen a few people try to ignore it, and it almost never goes well. FormerBoss had half the expected experience for her role, and she had no clue what she was doing. The staff were always frustrated, she was frustrated because she had no idea how to handle what people wanted her to do (reasonable expectations for her role), and productivity plummeted. I ended up shouldering most of her responsibilities (I did have the experience expected), and when I left she pretty much disappeared. She took the job out a naiveté and the appeal of six figures- she genuinely thought she was so smart and worked hard and therefore deserved to jump rungs on the career ladder. She didnt’ think about why those rungs were there, or what new responsibilities would look like in the new role.

      So be really honest about what this role requires and what experience you have doing that. I did end up jumping a rung on the career ladder, but that was because understaffing meant that I was always doing the higher level responsibilities, so I already knew what I was in for and how to handle it. I also had management experience from an unrelated industry that I was able to pull in that helped a lot.

      It can help to really quantify the stress. What would that look like in your daily life? How much would someone have to pay to make it a lifestyle? Really value your time- it’s a non-renewable resource. Good luck!

      1. oscar*

        to me the red flag if they’re trying to hire someone with less than half the normal amount of experience, is that either 1) they don’t really understand what they’re hiring for and that mess will fall on your shoulders or 2) the people with enough experience to do the job have all already looked at it and run away for one reason or another (toxicity, bad rep, low pay, could be any number of things).

        I guess my default is less about “wow I’m so flattered” and more about “why hasn’t someone else more qualified already jumped on this allegedly great opportunity”.

    9. Gracely*

      Be flattered that they asked, and grateful that you don’t *need* to take this role.

      Remember all the reasons you left. Those haven’t changed, and will likely be worse if you’re in a role that you’ve got less experience for.

      If you’re happy where you are now, I would stay there rather than go back to a place I’m still labeling “Toxic Job.”

    10. Ex-Dog Coor*

      If your heart sinks when you think of taking the other job, it’s not the right job for you. There are more important things than the salary, especially when you were already happy and making plans at your new position. Having time for family, like you said, is more valuable than the added salary you could make. Factor in the stress/demands of the role, dealing with toxic client, feeling under qualified… It sounds like you would be a lot less happy if you took the offer!

      It’s absolutely ok to say no!

    11. Enna*

      I did the job switch to a toxic job for $$ once. It was NOT worth it except for waking me up to what it was I really wanted. You left toxic job for a reason. Those reasons still exist.

      Your current job sounds like it has a lot on the pro side of the column.

      I am team lean OUT, I left my reasonably high paid sector (low 6 figures) years ago for a job in academia. I am severely underpaid (think 60% pay cut but great benefits) but I would not go back for anything. The hardest part was realizing that it was OK to “not live up to my potential”.

      The job is more interesting
      I am GOOD at this job because it interests me and it is just challenging enough without keeping me up nights
      The job provides great work-life balance – I have time for my family and I am not too exhausted to use it.
      I can afford to live this way <– This is the question you need to ask, is the pursuit of career advancement something you REALLY want or is it something you think you SHOULD want. Are you going to regret turning it down because you will be living paycheck to paycheck and can't see a path to homeownership/ retirement/ travel/ affording kids whatever your life goals are.

    12. I take tea*

      I wouldn’t do it. As long as you can live on your salary and have decent benefits, you have no reason to take a work that makes your heart sink. Your work is interesting and gives you space to do other things, you are good.

      A toxic place harm you. I have a good situation myself, but I see from the side how a bad work situation takes over and poison both work time and free time, because it’s hard not to think of it all the time. No money is worth that. You can’t enjoy it because you’re tired all the time, and “I can probably retire early this way” just makes me sad.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      You have this set up so you won’t let you win.

      Choice One. Old toxic job. Your heart sinks at the very thought of it.

      Choice Two. Current job.” If I turn it down I will resent current job and regret lack of advancement.”

      How to let your own self win: Commit, with every cell in your body, that you will do what it takes to get the advancement you want at current job.

      Don’t make life decisions based on fear. Make life decisions based on raising your commitment to the choices that you know deep down are the better choices for you.

  13. I'm In The Office Today*

    Posting this because I need advice and last time I asked it was late in thread: mandatory in-office, indoors, food-eating party next week. Which I was okay with because my work has mandatory vaccination. BUT a few weeks ago I found out that my boss’s boss got a religious exemption. She wears her mask in the office and is frequently out of the office (so, fine), but she absolutely plans on being there for the party–and two other all-of-us-together events, one of which would be more food again. Oh yeah, and she’s JUST getting back from an out of town conference the day before the party.

    I was fine with the party when everyone was vaccinated, but finding out she’s not scares me. However, she’s in my direct line of supervision, I’m probably not supposed to blab to the entire office she’s not vaccinated (she told me directly) and it would probably be considered discriminatory if I said I had a problem with it, and she’s had a heavy hand on me for most of 2020 and while we’re getting along again, I don’t want to tick her off again.

    BUT I just read some article about how half of an entire office party got Omicron despite being vaccinated. I’d really rather she kept her mask on and didn’t eat with the entire office, but is that going to happen?!

    I don’t know what to do. I cannot be the one who speaks up and says she has a problem about this. I will get in trouble. All I can think of is “fake sick” on the day (but again, MANDATORY I HAVE TO BE HERE day) or just refuse to eat all day and keep my mask on, which probably also looks pretty bad office politics wise. Any other ideas that don’t involve me being the one who speaks up and gets written up again?

    1. Anon-mama*

      If you’re getting written up for speaking out on day issues and are mandated to be at a social thing… I’d be looking elsewhere.

      Is the room ventilated? Do you have your booster? An N95 mask? Reasonable ability to maintain 20 feet from her?

      Without the work history I’d just be honest about omicron and how there are in general exemptions to the vaccination policy and this is dangerous. But in your case, to steal an earlier comment, I’m sorry to hear about your sudden illness next week.

      1. I'm In The Office Today*

        No clue on the room, I have a booster and KN95. I don’t know if I can maintain distance from her since she’s head of our unit.

    2. DarthVelma*

      Maybe push back on the party happening at all and use the article about the office party getting Omicron to do s0?

      1. I'm In The Office Today*

        I’ve been considering it, but socially I don’t think I can do that. “So many people will be so disappointed!”

    3. ES*

      If you don’t want to speak up, just wear your mask and don’t eat! If anyone asks just mention that article you read about a vaccinated office getting Omicron and didn’t want to take any risks, that is extremely reasonable. If you say it in a friendly way and swing by (masked) to say hi to everyone it should be fine.

      1. pancakes*

        +1. Anybody who asks why you’re not eating or tries to push you to eat something is being a busybody. If you feel you need an excuse, just say you have a big family dinner that night and are saving room for Aunt Mary’s lasagne (or whatever). Or that you have high-risk people at home. It’s firmly no one else’s business whether or how much you eat at an office party.

        1. Former Young Lady*

          If you need an excuse not to eat that avoids the subject of the plague altogether, you can also pretend you have some unrelated “doctor’s orders” that preclude partaking of the food? Fasting glucose test, say, or dental stuff right after work? Or “D’oh, I just took a prescription med and I can’t eat within 4 hours of it.” (Performative facepalm here.)

          Obviously, it’s not that you should have to give an excuse at all (nor fast all day). But, nosy types gonna nose. Sometimes it helps to bore them.

          Good luck, and I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

      2. I'm In The Office Today*

        Yeah, I think that’s what I’m going to have to do. I don’t want to put everyone else I’m around these days at risk, even if nobody’s immunocompromised.

    4. Silver*

      You can say you have relatives who are high risk. Being vaccinated greatly reduces your risk of severe disease but you can still be a vector.

    5. Jarissa*

      Since you cannot be the one who speaks up, you’re definitely in a tough spot! But you could keep the mask on and wash/sanitize your hands a lot. If anybody asks, cheerfully say, “Oh, I woke up yesterday with a sniffle, the usual thing this time of year. Probably just ((pollen or dry air related, whichever fits your region)). But I can’t stand the tiniest chance of being the reason anyone at Company got Omicron! So I’m taking precautions. Hey listen, I like your shoelaces!” and change the subject as hard as you can.

      1. Loulou*

        I’d be really careful with this one. In my office coming to work with symptoms is a serious violation. Of course many of us have allergies etc. and if we stayed home every time we were congested, that would be every day. But still, someone telling me they had a scratchy throat and were “taking precautions” (but not staying home) would make me nervous.

        1. Loulou*

          Edit – to clarify, my main issue with your script is that it makes it sound like OP thinks their symptoms could be covid. There might be another framing that loses that line that could work.

        2. I'm In The Office Today*

          Yeah, you’re not supposed to come to work with symptoms At All. Which yeah, faking sick is about the one thing….

    6. Doctor is In*

      Is there anyone you can talk to about asking her not to come in person? At the very least she should have a rapid test the day of the event. Since the big boss doesn’t have the good sense to avoid infecting others, I agree you should find a way not to be there!

    7. Sherm*

      You don’t have to single out the boss’s boss. It should be fine (at least in a functional office) to point out that cases are rising and Omicron is a potential threat, and regrettably bow out. Or “fake sick” indeed. But if those don’t feel like options, I think you could indeed wear your mask the whole time. I doubt people will be scrutinizing your meal eating — but maybe you can put a bit of food on your plate to give the impression that you already ate most of your meal. And leave as soon as you think it won’t hurt you politically.

    8. CG*

      In this situation, I think you would be justified in a “SO sorry: I have food poisoning (I just hope it’s not norovirus!) and won’t be able to come in today/I’m so sad to miss the party!!”.

      1. pancakes*

        That’s more self-depreciating than necessary. If a coworker told me they came to a party while potentially contagious with norovirus I would think a lot less of their judgment.

    9. oscar*

      It would absolutely violate all kinds of things for you to blab to anyone else that she isn’t vaccinated. Don’t do that.

      The least worst of options if you feel you absolutely need to be there would be to say you have a commitment on the same day you can’t change but you can come for an hour, go for an hour, keep your mask on the whole time, limit contact and bail as soon as you can.

      1. I'm In The Office Today*

        Yeah, can’t do that…in office work day for me anyway, but also it’s a 3 hour event. Though frankly I hope masks are off only for the eating part of it.

    10. CCC*

      I’d wear a kn95+ a surgical mask over it, make sure all the edges are sealed, and then not eat. The chances of you getting sick through all that, I would imagine, are probably very small.

    11. Red*

      It’s a difficult situation, and there isn’t much to gain by speaking out against your upper management. Keep your mask on and don’t make a big deal about it. If anyone does ask if you’re eating/aren’t you having something, etc… “no, not right now” is a valid response.

      Is it possible to avoid the other two events, or are all three mandatory? At any rate, good luck.

    12. PollyQ*

      Instead of fake sick, how about a “doctor’s appointment” during the time of the party? “Yeah, I wish I could make the party, but I had to wait 5 weeks for this appointment, so I can’t change it. Oh well, maybe next year!”

      1. I'm In The Office Today*

        Hahahah, I have to ask permission for doctor’s appointments. Wouldn’t have been approved anyway!

    13. allathian*

      Keep your mask on, and don’t eat anything.

      I’m glad your company has mandatory vaccination, but it doesn’t really help unless those who have a medical or religious exemption are willing to wear a mask at all times, and only eat on site when they can keep a physical distance.

      In your shoes, I’d be looking for another job. You’re being targeted at work, and it’s not a healthy work environment for you. I honestly don’t think you can win this, no matter what you do. So do what you have to do to stay safe, keep your mask on and don’t eat, even if it’s bad optics.

      Is everyone else in your office comfortable with the idea of this unvaxxed person eating with them? If she’s told you she’s unvaxxed, I doubt you’re the only one she’s told. Can you push back as a group?

  14. Murfle*

    My husband just found out this morning that he got the job he interviewed for earlier this week. He’ll be starting on Monday. He was convinced he flubbed the interview (and frankly, since I heard him talking in the other room, I felt that his interview answers were kind of long and meandering), but HE GOT IT!

    I’ve asked him to call me when he has some free time so I can get more details. Once I do, I’ll tell my family, but I’m bursting with this news so I need to share it here.

    This is particularly momentous because he works in a school board as a supply. The way the board is set up, supplies can’t access postings for internal positions unless they go external after no internal candidate is found. Which means that once they’re external, ANYONE can apply, even if they don’t already work for the board.

    He’s been a supply worker for OVER A DECADE. And this is the FIRST TIME HE’LL BE PERMANENT ANYWHERE. I’m still having trouble processing the news!

    1. I take tea*

      Lovely, congratulations! But the language barrier makes me confused – how do you work as a supply? For me school supplies are things as pens, papers and books.

        1. Murfle*

          Yes, that’s correct – he was working as a substitute. Though he isn’t a teacher. Instead, he’s an educational assistant, someone in a classroom who works with students who have special needs like a learning disorder or behavioural issues or mobility issues.

    2. Oui oui oui all the way home*

      Yay! And congratulations to your hubby for landing the job. I’m happy for you!

  15. Spillz*

    Let me preface this by saying that I strongly believe that no one person is better than another in the office just due to their title – whether you are CEO or in the mailroom, we’re all people, and we just have different skill sets. 

    However, the attitude of our junior employees is driving me crazy! They have a very casual approach to their work, don’t have an understanding of office norms, and don’t seem to realize that while I don’t directly oversee them in a manager role, I am senior to them. This only matters because I am giving them assignments or directions, and they are treating it like an open conversation. 

    Some examples: I sent an email to our coordinator, asking her to add something to the company site. I forwarded the email and said, “Confirming this should be added to the firm calendar.” She wrote back and said, “Yes, I agree! That’s a great idea – we should add it to the firm calendar.” I had to write back and say, “Sorry, to clarify, I am not asking whether we should add it. I am asking you to please add it to the calendar.” 

    In another example, our writer sent me an invitation draft that had completely the wrong tone for the event. I sent back my track changes, and said that I had made a few tweaks in the attached. He wrote back that he was “very supportive of my tweaks.” I wasn’t looking for his support – I wanted him to understand that what he wrote did not make sense for the purpose of the event.  

    In a third example, our technology coordinator came in and starting making changes to our long-established templates for marketing campaigns. I appreciate wanting to change things up, but she did it without consulting with me on the design for my campaigns. I didn’t like the new design and asked her to change it back to our established templates, but she went back and forth with me on it and why I was wrong and we should change them.  

    My annoyance is exacerbated by the fact that all of them are very new (less than 3 months) and none of them are delivering high-quality work. In the case of the calendar incident, it was the second or third time I had to remind the person that she was supposed to be adding the events to the firm calendar, and she kept forgetting. In the case of the invite draft, there were simple mistakes in there beyond just the tone (e.g. getting the date wrong), and there have consistently been errors in everything he’s turned in, and I have concerns about his attention to detail. For the tech coordinator, she had big ideas about changing the campaigns, but has sent out several campaigns (unrelated to mine) with incorrect links or spelling errors that I’ve had to log in and fix at 11PM after frantic texts from our boss. 

    Essentially, what I want is to communicate is that they need to nail the basics and prove they can be trusted, before trying to tell me why I am wrong in my requests. I don’t want them to be afraid of me and I certainly don’t want to micromanage, but I’m not happy with the quality of work I am receiving, and don’t know how to make them understand that I am not some random person requesting things from them –  part of their job is to support me with these tasks. It’s not that I don’t ever want to have a conversation about how we can improve – I absolutely do! It’s just that there is a time and place, and often when I am asking for something, it’s because it’s come straight from the attorneys and needs to be just so. 

    Lastly, I’m sure that some of this is related to my own imposter syndrome and problems with softening my language. On my end, I’m working on being more direct and less fearful of managing, but their casual approach to their work and office norms is throwing me for a loop. Gah! Any advice on how to handle? 

    1. Jessica*

      If I were their manager in this situation, I would be very grateful to hear from you and would be glad to step in with an attitude adjustment/reality check for them about how things work and where they stand in the office hierarchy.

      1. Spillz*

        Thank you. We are working on it, for sure. The problem is exacerbated further by the fact that they are all super new, and we are still trying to fill the manager roles for two positions. However, I’m in talks with the third person’s manager, and HR is involved due to other significant performance issues, and other workplace norm “misunderstandings” (if you can call taking off for four days of vacation without notifying anyone a misunderstanding) so hopefully things are progressing in the right direction, and once we get the managers into the other roles, they can alleviate some of this back and forth of me managing their work directly.

      2. ThisIsTheHill*

        +1

        You may also want to consider that there may be some generational linguistic differences. It may come down to you needing to be more direct with the junior staff (stating as a polite command vs. “we should do this” because they may interpret what you’re saying as more of a collaborative request). That doesn’t fix the problems with sloppy work & disregarding workplace norms, but reframing your requests may help.

        The best training that I ever attended was about how the different generations approach work & life. At the time, we still had some Silent Gen folks along with older Millenials (most of us in-between) & it was an eye-opener.

        1. Spillz*

          Yes, that’s definitely helpful! I am struggling with my own transition to more of a senior project-manager type role, so figuring out how to assign work in a way that feels polite but is clear. That training you attended sounds great! I do think part of it is a difference in generational styles (I don’t feel much older than them, but I suppose I am! LOL) from Millenial to Gen Z.

          1. ThisIsTheHill*

            It was an amazing session. They split us up into generational groups & had us answer prompts on whiteboards. You could see the change from the “live to work” to “work to live” & “I’m a solitary worker bee” to “let’s collaborate!” mindsets based on real-time responses from our co-workers. This was in 2008, so it would be even more fascinating to watch the transition from Boomers to Zoomers.

            Best of luck to you!

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Absolutely– was just about to write this. Don’t be afraid to be direct with them: “please add this to the firm calendar,” and, “I made some tweaks and tracked changes. Please update with those changes and send me a revised version.” That’s not micromanaging, it’s direction, and they need it.

          I had an intern once who argued with me about requested changes. I was the most junior permanent person on my team, and I still said, “I understand what you’re saying, but I need you to change it back the way I asked.” You can get into the reasons after she does it.

          Bottom line: you have our permission not to soften your language! They’re learning, you’re teaching.

          1. Spillz*

            Thank you for your permission! I need it, truly. Navigating this all is hard for me!

            On the plus side, an email I wrote to one of the coordinators yesterday about another situation where she had acted inappropriately at a virtual client event was forwarded to my boss (to keep her in the loop on the aforementioned HR convos/issues) and my boss said I handled it perfectly and appropriately for an awkward situation. Yay me!

          2. Bernice Clifton*

            I agree 100%.

            It sounds like you are expecting them to make the connection between “X needs to happen” and “You need to make X happen”. I’m guessing you are frustrated because it seems like they are ignoring it or questioning it, but it’s better for everyone if you assume they won’t make that connection and therefore you need to spell it out.

          3. WellRed*

            Yes! From the first example in particular, if I was super new, I wouldn’t have understood either that I was being asked to do the task.

            1. Spillz*

              I get that! The further context there is that we had just had a meeting 2 days beforehand to discuss that she would be taking on this task, so I had sent it more as an FYI (as she had already said that she would add the events as the invites came in, and hadn’t done so) like hey, this is an example of what we talked about and it should be added, but I see that I absolutely should have spelled that out more clearly.

            2. oscar*

              Same – “confirming this should be done” doesn’t say to me “you need to do this”.

              Be clear, concise, direct. I work for a global company and we have had lots of discussions about how to people in the US, “should” often is used interchangeably with “must” but for people outside the US, “should” means maybe and “must” means definitely. It has made subtle changes in the way I communicate both written and verbally: simple, clear, direct instructions when I am letting someone know there is something they “must” do.

          4. Lady Danbury*

            100% this. The first two examples definitely sound like language issues, performance issues aside. Is it possible to loop in whoever is temporarily managing the two manager-less employees so that they can clarify the appropriate chain of command? Office norms differ in terms of who may direct your work (in terms of seniority versus actual managers), so that may also be an issue. Further confusion may arise if certain roles can only delegate certain tasks, while others have to go through a manager/partner/whoever.

          5. LikesToSwear*

            This!!!!

            As someone who has been on both sides of this (and has ADHD), I prefer to receive the clear instructions on what I need to do. On the flip side, I find it necessary to be more conscious about saying “please do this” and providing the clear instructions and expectations.

          6. Lucy Skywalker*

            Plus, some people cannot understand subtle hints/cues due to disability, culture, etc. I have a learning disability that makes it hard for me to understand anything unless it’s stated as directly as possible. I absolutely could see myself responding to your requests the way your junior subordinates did.
            While I always disclose my learning disability to my supervisors and explain how to communicate with me in a way that I can understand, don’t assume that just because an employee DIDN’T disclose such a disability, that they are capable of understanding nonverbal or subtle cues. Many people with my disability don’t even realize that they have this problem. When you don’t understand nonverbal communication, you DON’T KNOW that you don’t understand nonverbal communication.
            So my advice is this: When your subordinates don’t respond appropriately to subtle requests, ask them again in a more direct way. If they genuinely don’t understand subtle requests, they most definitely will NOT be offended if you rephrase it in a more direct way.
            And if it turns out that they do understand subtle communication and they were just being flip, then you need to have a stern talking with them and tell them that such behavior is not appropriate in the workplace. Or have HR talk to them, or whatever is appropriate.
            But judging by other people’s answers, it’s clear that many people without disabilities have a hard time processing communication that isn’t as clear as it could be; which is all the more reason to be more direct.

            1. Spillz*

              Thank you! Ironically, I myself struggle with subtle hints due to my own disability, so I thought I was being sensitive to that, but it sounds like I have much work to do there.

              I really appreciate your perspective!

        3. Generic Name*

          Yup. While I agree with your (OP’s) assessment that these new people need more training-at best- it would help things to be more direct with them. I’m from the Midwest, home of Reading Between the Lines, so I am well-versed in all forms of indirect communication. Yes, in your first example, the person who is tasked with updating a calendar should know to update the calendar when forwarded an email that says “this should go on the calendar”. But that’s not working, so you need to say, “Please put this on the calendar”. As I’ve moved into project management, I’ve had to learn how to be more direct while still feeling like I’m being polite. Saying “please” helps me feel less like I’m just barking orders, as well as generally having friendly relationships with coworkers.

        4. Cj*

          I think I would have been a little confused myself about the confirming we should add this to the calendar e-mail. Just say “please add this to the firm calendar”, and there is no room for misunderstanding.

      1. Spillz*

        LOL I agree – I kind of have to laugh at the absurdity of it all, but at the same time its frustrating because it’s playing into my fears of not feeling confident in my skills as I progress to a more senior level in my career. To be honest, I could use a little of their boldness and confidence, though perhaps I can trade them a little of my tact in exchange!

        1. Mockingjay*

          Here’s the thing about tasks – they are work instructions and should be direct and explicit. I think you are focusing on personality and worrying about communication styles, but the larger issue is that this team is not completing assignments as directed (or if they are, the work is getting lost in the ‘messaging’). Try firming up the tasks themselves. “Clarissa, the templates are approved and cannot be modified. If I need one changed, I will provide instructions on what needs to be altered.” “Fred, attached are my edits in Track Changes. Please review and incorporate, and provide the final report to me by x Date.”

          It’s fine to have relaxed convos and discussions among teams occasionally, but your role involves assigning work and ensuring it is completed to company or industry standard. The more clear each assignment is, the better the result.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Well, I will say that “confirming that this needs to be added to the firm calendar” sounds like a question — I would not understand that to be directing me to do something, I would understand that as asking for my confirmation that it should be added, so maybe being more clear “Please add this to the firm calendar” would help. But some of these (the template changer!) sound really annoying. I think that again, clear communication is key. “Before you change X, you need to clear it with me.” “I’m interested in hearing your ideas, but sometimes we do things for specific reasons that you might not be aware of.”

      1. Spillz*

        Totally understand, and I am definitely making an effort to be more clear and direct in my language.

        I actually looked back at my email because I was curious, and I actually had said: Confirming that this event should go on the internal calendar, but not our external website.

        They wrote back and said I think you are correct, just internal.

        And I thought, of course I’m correct! That’s why I’m telling you where it needs to go. (of course I didn’t say it that way) I can see how it sounds sort of vague taken out of context, but the background here here is that we had just had a meeting regarding adding events to the calendar earlier in the week, and she had said she understood, and then didn’t add it to the calendar, so I was sending her a reminder per our previous conversation. I didn’t think I needed to elaborate, but now it seems I do, after these recent experiences.

        I love your language RE “hearing your ideas” and definitely will incorporate that into my conversations going forward!

        1. sagc*

          Yeah, that example makes it sound like you’re really, really underplaying what should be direct orders.

        2. oscar*

          Yeah I’m sorry Spillz but that one’s on you – I would have interpreted it the same way the junior employee did (and I’m definitely way beyond Millennial age).

          1. Spillz*

            I appreciate hearing that – I’m definitely taking an honest look at how I communicate and how I can improve going forward!

            1. I heart Paul Buchman*

              I think the issue with this example is the dual meaning of ‘confirming’ you are saying ‘[I am] confirming’ they are hearing ‘[just] confirming [?]’. Both readings are valid. The second is arguably more common these days. If you want the first you need to expand the sentence and say ‘This message is to confirm that you are to….’. Personally, I would just say ‘Please do x’.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Agreed. I probably failed in some spots at my early jobs because I took people at their word. In the examples you give you sound like a chatty friend. I would respond in kind- I matched what I saw coming at me. I probably would have responded the way these people did here. If you had said, “Please add this to calendar!” I would have typed back, “Okay, done, I just added it.”

            Please learn to speak directly. Statements like you show here, would leave me saying, “She wants me to mind read. I dunno what is on her mind.”

            I got into my 30s and 40s and I came to recognize this as someone who is afraid to lead. I also recognize this as a recipe for failure. Ultimately the leader’s failure but for the short term the junior/subordinate’s failure rates will be very high.

            When we show people what they need to do to keep their jobs is when we are being at our absolute fairest. Try to frame it that way. “In order to be fair, I must make sure that Bob or Sue know exactly what they should do here.” You can still remain very polite, “Please add this to the calendar”, and then after, “Thanks for doing that.”

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

          I’m typically direct with these requests and here I agree with other posters who said this (“confirming”, etc) is unclear. Maybe they were thinking “yeah, you’re the senior person so I’m not sure why you need me to confirm this but I will anyway”… (I have a lot of experience navigating indirect people though and would likely have picked up on the ‘hint’ that you wanted me to do the thing though, but a lot of people wouldn’t!)

          You need to say something more like “as discussed, details below for the xyz event. Please can you add them to the internal website but *not* the client facing one (because ABC reason), thanks!”

    3. Ginger Baker*

      As someone who is currently working to have an intern take over as backup for a Key [time-sensitive] Daily Task…I feel you on this. There’s a lot of reminders I am having to give myself around how things I think of as basic are…actually NOT for new-to-corporate-life folks. It’s an adjustment and there have been several “I need you to do [very basic X thing]” and “if you are waiting for Y and it is delaying this getting dome TELL ME ASAP” moments.

      That said, I would really check your language in emails and make sure you’re not getting in your own way. There is NOTHING wrong with delegating, and it is different than collaborating. I know you know that, but like…maybe remind yourself when you send that email – is this a delegation or a collaboration? If it’s the first, it’s “Add this to the calendar; please confirm once it’s done – thanks” and “See my changes and comments. Please send me the revised draft before the end of today so I can review, thanks”.

      And with the third example, which is a bit of a different situation, if someone so wildly steps out of their lane in the future, I would go with something like “The templates are this way for a number of business reasons. Please do not make revisions to them.” and then a separate conversation “I appreciate that you have a lot of enthusiasm in this role – that’s great. However, in your excitement you have on several occasions overlooked typos and errors in materials you sent out. I need you to slow down and make sure you have double-checked and proofread everything. If you need a second set of eyes on something before it goes out, let’s discuss that. It’s important that everything that goes out [to clients/from this office/whatever] is 100% correct. Our departmental reputation takes a big hit when there are mistakes in our campaigns and making sure the information is correct every time is the absolute top priority.”

      1. Spillz*

        I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you typing all of this out.

        One thing I think is relevant to my own feelings on this is that I am a bit neurologically atypical, and have some struggles of my own with rejection sensitive dysphoria and also knowing what is the right thing to say. I will agonize over getting the right phrasing, and a big part of what I am struggling with is knowing what to *actually* say in these situations that’s not mean, but is direct. I have also always been in a very service-oriented role, and a lot of my communication errs on the side of deferential and somewhat formal, so I’m actively trying to learn how to be more direct and concise, both to help me in situations like this as a manager as well as presenting myself to more senior leadership as more of an equal and a consultant, vs an assistant-type role.

        That’s a big reason why I love Alison’s scripts so much, and now yours as well. Thank you again!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          You can work into some routines where you use a template for various requests.

          And that service role WILL actually help you. I am a big fan of leaders using a service mentality for their subordinates. Leaders can serve in many ways, providing tools/supplies, being advocates, relaying important information and so on. Leaders serve their people, so their people can get the job done.

          As you go along you will probably find opportunities where it is appropriate to ask, “Do you need anything from me to do X?”. Depending on your setting, I know I have found times where I have jumped in an helped a subordinate who just had way too much work OR a very tight deadline. After seeing this aspect of my role it became a lot easier to ask people, “Please do Y” as I knew I would jump in and help where ever necessary.

      2. Xena*

        As a very new staff–thank you for thinking of those reminders! Onboarding, especially now in a sometimes-remote or hybrid workspace has become a wild and wooly area where there’s not always great communication about what information has actually been passed on. Crystal clear written language is a very helpful resource to have.

    4. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Your examples come across to me as conflating “subtle” and “nice or polite.”

      For the calendar, I would advise you to write something along the lines of “Confirming this should be added to the firm calendar. Jane, please add this to our calendar.

      In the second, instead of “making a few tweaks,” I say “Your draft didn’t strike the proper tone. Please incorporate these revisions into your professional writing style for your work here.

      In the third, I’d recommend a blunt “I appreciate you wanting to improve the templates and I think there are ideas we can work with here. However, XYZ is the process for updating the templates; you must revert those changes and work through the proper process. Otherwise, your changes will be DOA irrespective of their merit.

      Directness is a kindness and I think it would serve you well.

      1. Spillz*

        Thank you for this. I really appreciate the feedback and examples – it’s super helpful to hear how others manage as I’m trying to figure out my own style!

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Just to clarify, I don’t manage and don’t aspire to. I was thinking of things I would have appreciated hearing when I was in that role in my younger days, and to a lesser extent now if what you were starting with were not working.

          1. Spillz*

            You know what, these recent experiences have shown me that I really don’t aspire to be a manager either LOL Unfortunately the nature of my role demands that I delegate to others to deliver aspects of my programs, but this is not enjoyable in the slightest. I do still appreciate the language though and your perspective!

      2. CG*

        This is perfect! I was going to chime in to say similar. Especially if they’re brand new to your organization or the working world, they are going to have a hard time reading your mind and knowing that casual mentions of things = tasking, but even to people who aren’t new, every organization has a different culture around this stuff. Plain, direct language is the way to go.

      3. Chauncy Gardener*

        One thing we do at my current company which might help, is if we’re emailing or Slacking and you need someone on the email chain to take action, you say “and @Chauncy Gardener, please add this to the calendar”

    5. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

      Your last paragraph seems true to me. These are new hires, you need to be more direct and help them understand what type of response you want. To me, ““Confirming this should be added to the firm calendar” is confusing. If I were your employee I’d be thinking “are they asking me if it should be on there? Are they asking for my input?” I think a better way would be “Ann, please add meeting X to the firm calendar’ and then Ann could respond with ‘yes, I added it.” It’s direct, but polite. And then when she responds that she added it, go in and check to see if it is there and then either send a thanks or follow up if it is not to see if she is having issues understanding how to put the meetings on or other issues. For the meeting invite, especially if he is a new hire, did you explain why you made the changes? This would be especially helpful for him because then he can see ‘ok, the firm likes to use the word ‘adjudicate’ instead of ‘discuss’ or the corporate culture uses certain ways of phrasing things. The third one is a little out of line, they should have provided recommendations to you before making changes. I would recommend for that one, telling them that you appreciate that they want to be proactive, but that they need to run recommendations by you, with appropriate justification for why these changes needed to be made before they make them.

      To be honest, as the manager, you’re encouraging the casual approach because you seem to be making direct things open ended and making them guess on how they are supposed to respond.

      1. Spillz*

        Thank you! I really appreciate this insight, and can see how my own language is adding confusion to this. It’s definitely one of my 2022 goals to be more direct and concise in my work communications, overall, and your examples are really helpful.

    6. Christmas cookies*

      Your next to last paragraph just needs a bit of tweaking to be the perfect thing to say to each one of them (separately)!

    7. fine tipped pen afficionado*

      Everyone is right about being more direct about your communication, but I think you might want to do some reflection about why you brought up their attitudes in the opening when all of the scenarios you cited later and in the replies are related to the quality of their work. Those are two different things and one of them is very subjective and not at all your individual right to police, especially if you really do believe in the equality you claimed at first.

      Please ask yourself if your feelings about their attitudes and personalities and (I’m guessing here) generational differences are coloring your perceptions of these incidences. Also if this is a problem across the board why are you not bringing it up with whoever is their manager? Clearly there is something being missed in the expectations communicated to them if it’s happening to more than one person.

      1. Spillz*

        That’s a great question, and I will try to explain what I meant there. Perhaps I didn’t communicate what I was trying to say clearly (a running theme apparently, lol), but what I was getting at is that while I don’t want to pull rank and just be like, you need to do this because I said so, I am getting frustrated that even the most simple of tasks are turning into a back and forth, where they are taking my requests as suggestions, not as directions. What I meant is that it’s not that I think I am better than them as a person and that everything I say is law, but I do want them to realize where they sit within the team, that there is a reason I am asking them to do the things they do, and that not everything is open to a conversation. Again, I also realize that a lot of this may be stemming from my communication style.

        To answer your question about the managers, the situation is further complicated by the fact that two of the junior people do not have a direct manager at the moment. We are in the process of hiring for those roles, but for now, the oversight falls mostly to our CMO, though admittedly she is not as involved in the day to day as perhaps is needed to help get them up to speed. I’ve raised these issues with her more broadly, but want to also try to manage the individual situations on my own before running straight to her.

        The third person, who does have a direct manager, is currently in ongoing talks with HR and her direct manager, with whom I regularly communicate and keep in the loop on her performance issues, as well as copy on all emails to her employee. Unfortunately it seems that there are broader issues at play with her, but I do want to make sure I’m doing my part to improve the situation if I can, not worsen it.

        1. CCC*

          Just my two cents coming from a college career services person: A lot of fresh grads/interns who are new to the white-collar workforce have a really difficult time navigating ambiguity. They haven’t had to do it before; they have spent nearly their entire lives being rewarded for their ability to respond to very direct supervision and directions. There’s a lot of suggestions to be more direct in your requests, but I’d also suggest that you ask your CMO to tell them something like “Although I’m your supervisor for now, Spillz will be assigning you tasks and monitoring your work until we fill the manager opening.” They very likely see you as a coworker with whom they collaborate, something that you’ve accidentally reinforced with your writing style, rather than as someone who is, for all practical purposes, managing their work.

          1. Spillz*

            Thank you! That’s a great point, and essentially what I was trying to get at (but failed to communicate) in my original post. I feel they see me as an equal to collaborate with and not someone who is essentially managing them in the interim, and I think it would be worthwhile to have our CMO clarify. (That is her expectation as well, so I’m not going rogue in trying to manage them myself without clearing it with her)

            I also plan to have conversations with their new managers when they arrive and let them know it would be great to provide them with some stronger guidance and oversight of their work. Good news is we have folks starting in those roles soon!

            1. Loulou*

              Yes, I think you nailed what needs to be clarified. I’ve worked with plenty of people who are far senior to me (in terms of tenure, not necessarily position) who DON’T have the authority to delegate work to me, and if they sent me some of the messages you described, it really would be a “what do you think?” Or an “I’m telling you this to be helpful, since I’ve been around longer and know something you don’t.” If these people don’t have managers, and if you work at the kind of place where titles tend to be ambiguous or jargony, then I’d especially say a clarification is in order.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Your first paragraph here is way, way over thinking.

          One good rule of thumb I found is that if I caught myself saying, “All Y or X people have a problem with Thing”, that meant that I had not broken the problem down far enough to find out what is really wrong.

          Here you have the younger people have a problem. Well, why is it only the younger people? Okay they haven’t learned office norms. (This is big, we’ve identified something here.) So my next question to myself is “It’s up to me to guide them in some manner, what can I change about what I am doing so I get a different response?”

          I found this to be such a handy exercise that I used it when ever I hit a situation that seemed difficult to work through. In one example the issue was low productivity and ex-boss would say, “The workers are lazy.” There’s that pattern again- this time the problem rests with a group of people called the workers. And, of course deciding the workers are lazy is not a solution- it does nothing to speed up productivity. I went in for a closer look- what can I change here? I found the machine they shared was not running correctly and needed repair.
          I would do whatever to get the machine fixed and productivity levels would be restored. I also chatted with them about when to notify us of a problem. Since this was a factory machine, no one could be expected to have familiarity with it from home. It’s not used in homes. So we talked about what types of issues the machine might have that should be reported. The employees indicated they felt better about it all.

          Don’t be afraid to keep breaking situations down until you see a solution or at least an idea that you can try.

    8. ArtK*

      I agree with everyone else that you need to be much more direct with them. Something in your opening stuck out to me, the idea that “nobody is better than anybody else.” That’s well and good (and my own attitude), but it has nothing to do with the current situation. Neither does the fact that you’re not in their chain of command. The authority to direct them has been delegated to you. Use that authority.

      “As we discussed, this needs to go on the corporate calendar; please take care of this today” is not rude, even if it might feel like it. “Here are some edits to the document; please update it and send the updated document to me for approval.”

      1. Spillz*

        Thank you. It’s clear from these comments that I need to get more comfortable with being direct, and that it’s not rude, but in fact, necessary to be able to manage these projects effectively and avoid confusion. I appreciate your insight!

        1. ArtK*

          You’re welcome. Something I didn’t address was the IT coordinator changing your templates. That’s an egregious over-step. I recommend getting together with the other template users and having a sit-down with her. My wording is a bit harsh, but I’m actually quite angry on your behalf: “These templates are our tools and they are working well for what we do. Please do not change them arbitrarily. If you believe that there are improvements that can be made, we can meet and you can present your position. In the end, though, the approval for any changes belongs to us.”

          Frankly, you *should* have a formal process for making changes that includes approvals from the folks who actually use them.

          1. Spillz*

            Thank you! I was quite irritated by that as well, and I love your suggested approach. My CMO had actually stepped in to say something along those lines, as I wasn’t getting anywhere with her in the back and forth on why I was wrong and the templates needed to be changed, but just recently I had the same conversation with her again because again she sent me an old and outdated template, so I think it’s worth saying something along the lines of the above.

  16. Just Here for the Cake*

    Is anyone else company dragging their feet on deciding if they are going to be fully remote/hybrid/in the office full time? My company has been remote since the pandemic started, and is still operating under our emergency response plan. Every time some asks if we will being going back to the office, management says they are still trying to come up with a plan and will let us know as soon as they decide. A year+ of this has made it really hard to make any permeant changes to our workflow (i.e. “why put in the time to change things if we will just be back to normal next week?”) and the constant up in the air nature of everything has already cause some people on my team to leave.

    Is anyone else dealing with this, or is my company the only one?

    1. Elle*

      My company was like that. Several of us spoke up because we needed to make plans and budget for childcare. Spots for camps and daycare are limited and require a deposit. People were very unhappy with the flakiness. Between that and people starting to quit they finally committed to a plan.

    2. Emi*

      We have a committee. Plans are in work. We are engaging all relevant stakeholders* (*except the labor unions). We are so excited about the future of work, which will be transformative and flexible and put employees’ welfare at the center while always prioritizing the mission. You may have heard that we are taking your office away, and you may be concerned about this because you work with sensitive data, but don’t worry, we are not able to confirm or deny what might happen to your office. We are maximizing space efficiency. We are opening a collaboration zone where hundreds of people can work at little tables like they have at the public library. Also, we are selling that other building. We are unveiling a website! The website has a lot of words on it. Some of them are just links to magazine articles aimed at a different sector. The future of work is coming!

      1. Windchime*

        In other words: We will be hot-desking. You won’t have a permanent space; you’ll all be crammed together at tables with no place to put your personal things but it will be GREAT because collaboration! You will love it! But if you don’t, please come to my private office and knock on my door and we can talk about it.

        Yay Team! Collaboration! Innovation!

    3. ferrina*

      Yes, though it’s more of “What are we going to do next month?” rather than next week.

      Like Emi said, there’s a lot of considerations in play. How productive is the company remotely? Are new team members able to still form relationships and get the training that they need? Were new team members recruited specifically because of the remote option? Who wants to go into the office vs remotely vs hybrid? Will you lose people if you go all-office? If you work with clients, are the clients able to be handled (and be happy) with remote interactions? What is the actual space that is needed, and how much will that cost? Are there creative solutions we haven’t explored? etc., etc.

    4. pancakes*

      There are lots of companies doing this. Search Google News for companies still deciding return to office and you’ll get pages and pages of examples, including Google itself. Also an article out today from CNBC titled, “CEOs across the market, economy agree on one 2022 prediction: More volatility, no end to Covid.”

    5. KuklaRed*

      I was told when I was hired (just about exactly a year ago) that no one would be asked to go into the office (unless their job required, i.e. people who received equipment at the office, etc.) and the company has stuck to this. We can go into the office if we want to, or just continue to work from home, as we have been since the pandemic hit.

    6. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      My company previously put out an announcement that were were all WFH until 2022. But with the new variant news, I suspect they’ll extend it again. Our office is open to those who wish to come in and use it though.

    7. Alpacas Anonymous*

      We are hybrid or WFH. The people who came back to the office are mostly only coming in 2-3 days/week.

      We are a smaller company and our work in internet based. We already had a few fully remote staff out of state and a few hybrid folks before the pandemic.

    8. allathian*

      My employer decided to start implementing our exit strategy in mid-October. We’re essentially hybrid now, although individual teams and employees have a lot of discretion in deciding how often we’ll be at the office. That said, our Covid case numbers are worse than ever, ICUs are full to bursting point, and the vast majority of patients are unvaxxed people of working age.

      When my employer decided to implement the exit strategy, I was convinced this wasn’t over yet and they were jumping the gun. I can’t find any satisfaction in being proved right. I suspect that any time now, it’s going to be back to mandatory WFH for the vast majority of employees.

      I’m glad we had the chance to have in-person development days two weeks ago, because it was the first time I got to meet my current manager who was hired during the pandemic, as well as 6 new employees who’ve also been hired during the pandemic (our team’s grown, one coworker recently retired, and two have left for other opportunities).

    9. NancyDrew*

      “Dragging their feet” makes it sound like they’re intentionally keeping employees out of the loop — but as someone who is working on return-to-office programs for three different large companies, I promise, it’s much more likely that they just simply don’t have answers and/or have dissent among the exectuive team about the correct path forward.

  17. Joobie*

    How would you go about negotiating a larger PTO allotment?

    I am anticipating an offer soon (the hiring manager told me to!) and I am reasonably confident that my salary expectations will be met. However, I’m concerned about PTO. According to New Company’s employee handbook (which I found online) they have a single vacation/sick bucket, and in years 1-2 you only get 18 days. In years 3-9 you increase to 23 days, years 10-24 is 28 days and 25+ years is 33 days. If I were to add my official vacation and sick days up, I have 23 days right now. I certainly don’t want to move backwards in my allotment! It’s possible that with a VP designation (likely for this role) it will come with a larger allotment, but I want to be prepared for negotiation if not!

    1. ThatGirl*

      “Given the role and my years of experience, could we increase the PTO to 23 days?” (Or more, if you wish.) it’s as simple as asking.

      1. Texan in exile on her phone*

        Exactly this. It worked for a job a few years ago, didn’t work for another one earlier this year.

      2. LimeRoos*

        Yep, pretty much this. My company is the same, but if you’re thinking you’ll be at a VP title, the professional band employees start at 23 days for 1-2 years, 28 for 3-9 etc. And there’s another level above that which starts at 28 I believe. So you might already get more than you’re expecting. But definitely just ask for whatever you’d prefer! Especially if you’re getting 28 days now.

    2. Gnome*

      I can’t help, but I’m jealous. Current company has one bucket and it starts at 15 days. I just moved up to 18 days. They DO have a ‘major medical’ thing that can be used after your PTO and is 5 days per year, and you can accrue PTP across years… But it’s not very much (on the other hand, the 401k is really good)

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oh my, yes! At the VP level you should be telling them what you want. Do not go by years of service. Go by how much you have now, if you are happy with that, or how much you would like to have.

  18. Former Gifted Kid*

    First, I have to tell you all about a recent candidate search that my organization did in hopes of demonstrating that organizations can be awful about this and it’s not reflection on you as a candidate. I work for a non-profit. We are in need of a new development director, which they advertised with an entry level salary. Surprise, surprise! Only two people applied. One was somewhat qualified. She has some development experience, but not enough experience to plan and execute a nation-wide development strategy. My manager, who is C-level, told our CEO that they pay was too low. She also told him exactly what experience we needed. He did not listen to her at all when making the job description. The CEO put this poor candidate through 4 interviews, I think. The final one was a panel interview that I was a part of. Finally, when everyone on the panel said unanimously that the candidate was great, she did not actually have the skills that the department needed in real life, did the CEO listen. I feel awfully for the candidate, especially since she was rejected and the job was immediately reposted (I think with the same bad description). Our CEO is definitely one of those people who think that the mission should be enough for people, not, you know, actual money.

    Secondly I might leave soon for a better paying job. I know Alison has told us not to feel guilty time and time again, but I do! Leaving now will probably really negatively affect one program and they are going to have a hard time finding a replacement for what they want to pay. Tell me not to feel guilty.

    1. Not a Name Today*

      I worked for a non-profit that paid wildly below par for executives. They ended up hiring execs that were all fired from their previous jobs and were blacklisted from the regular working world.
      Good for you for moving on! Don’t worry, the guilty feelings will disappear as soon as you start your new job. Good luck!

    2. Generic Name*

      Do not feel guilty. You get to be paid fairly for your work. If your company really wants to retain you, they need to pay you fairly. Belief in a mission doesn’t pay rent or put food on the table. The owner of my company is apparently surprised that much of the workforce at the small company I work at doesn’t get all of their life’s fulfilment simply from working at the company, and therefore doesn’t want to work long hours for no extra pay. Typing that out sounds absurd, right? Because it is. Same with your wanting reasonable pay.

      1. Windchime*

        I agree. You are literally trading hours of your life for money; you should get the best deal that you can (within the bounds of your belief system, of course). Your current workplace is a business; they are trading money for work. If they aren’t offering enough money or other enticements, then of course people are going to decline to work there. It’s just a business decision; nothing more. People wouldn’t move jobs if the conditions were good and the pay was generous.

    3. Ginger Baker*

      If you leave and make more money, you can actually donate cash to causes you believe in. Win-win.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        This!
        And your job is supposed to allow you to support yourself. Your job is NOT your charitable contribution for the year

    4. Mazey's Mom*

      Don’t feel guilty! You need to do what’s best for you/your family, not the organization. I’ve been there. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how often it’s been brought to their attention that their pay scale is too low, the only way to get them to make any changes is when they’re suddenly without your help.

    5. Double A*

      That really sucks for that candidate, but she doesn’t know she dodged a bullet. She would have been thrown in the deep end without a rope and probably would have about killed herself trying to do that job.

      Good luck in your search!

    6. Jay*

      My husband worked at a non-profit for 15 years. In addition to ridiculously low salaries (I paid my babysitter more than they paid professional staff) they also had an incompetent ED. For a variety of reasons – including the kind of guilt you describe – he stuck around way longer than he should and eventually the ED targeted him and fired him. Mind you, he had already told them he was thinking of resigning and I was just about to sign a contract for a new full-time job that would have made it financially possible for him to quit. If they’d waited three weeks they would have saved themselves 30K in severance – but I digress.

      My point (and I do have one) is that as soon as he left his blood pressure dropped back into the normal range, his chronic TMJ pain resolved, and he was happier than he had ever been. Their director of development quit two weeks after he did and the big project he was working on tanked. None of that was his fault. Whatever happens there after you leave will not be your fault and you deserve better treatment. No guilt.

    7. freedom fries*

      Don’t feel guilty leaving an entity that doesn’t feel guilty about anything it’s ever done to you :)

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Don’t feel guilty.
      Even with you there they have shown that they are very capable of botching things up. If you stay you will be running from one fire to another fire, as the CEO does not believe compensation involves something with paychecks. And that is a fatal flaw, right there.

      I bet the CEO’s pay is very healthy.

    9. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Don’t feel guilty. This non-profit sounds like it is poorly run (from the top, though there are some sane people?).

      Unpopular opinion ahead: As a non-profit employee (about ten years and counting…), there are too many ineffective non-profits competing for too few donations. If you leaving leads to this place shrinking, then that might be a net good to the community you serve.

    10. Zee*

      As someone who works in the non-profit sector, I know how difficult it is to not feel guilty about leaving a job, especially if you’ll be difficult to replace.

      But you have to keep in perspective: they’re the ones who created this situation, not you. You (I assume) held up your end of the bargain: do your job well and contribute to the organization. They did not: compensate you appropriately for said work. They took advantage of you, and in any other context you wouldn’t feel guilty for walking away.

      It’s really easy to think “I’m letting the clients” down, but you’re not – they are. It’s their responsibility to recruit and retain staff, and they’re the ones who are letting the clients down by failing to do that job.

  19. worker bee*

    So I inherited my current position from a retiree after a long career. This retiree is divisive (some people love them, and I’ve had plenty others tell me very candidly they’re glad the retiree is gone).. but the retiree is not actually gone. They’re still volunteering and super present in the organization, to predictably varying levels of enthusiasm from others. I’m trying to navigate guiding the person out (or at least, out of our part of the org) when it’s not actually my call to end the arrangement (that’s a level above me). Would love the thoughts of the commentariat!

    1. ferrina*

      Well, you can’t really guide the person out if that’s not your call to make.

      I’d start correcting people when they say they’re glad Retiree is gone. “Actually, Retiree is still volunteering and comes in to braid the lion’s mane every Tuesday and Thursday.” This will 1) give the person a head’s up that Retiree might overhear them and 2) maybe push a couple people to push their manager to help Retiree leave.

      I’d also be extremely neutral about it all. Certainly don’t try to cover up for Retiree, but don’t really smacktalk them. Phrases like “I didn’t work with Retiree, but I’ve, um, heard some stories” will usually provoke a laugh and some respect. It also helps people focused on moving forward, which is really helpful.

      For Retiree, as much as you can direct their energy to areas where they can help is great. Sometimes people that sucked at their job will do great with a different outlet (though not always). Damage control is also something to be proactive on. Certainly don’t let them back into your role- if you think this might be an issue, don’t engage on conversation about current and future endeavors. Make up meetings to attend or emails to answer to get out of conversations. Good luck!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Involve your boss.
      Set boundaries, that is actually describe areas where the retiree will be working for your company.
      It is fine to set rules just like with paid employees.
      Start with where you see legit (verifiable) beefs. Let’s say Retiree always screws up the X Report. Okay good information, that goes on the list of things Retiree will no longer be doing.
      Limit the amount of hours he is allowed to work, perhaps even the time of day.

      And adding, if you are a for-profit there may be legal implications about having people work without pay.

  20. nomnom*

    Hey all – there was a podcast recommended by a few folks in the comments this week, but now I can’t find it (and also can’t even remember the topic). Does anyone remember what it was? (or I suppose even have some podcast recommendations? I have a 3 three drive coming – I like serial podcasts, but am no much into true crime).

        1. Gem*

          Also “You’re Wrong About” – it’s done by the some of the same people as Maintenance Phase and equally as awesome.

      1. Amber*

        Maintenance Phase is so good. If you want a one-off to introduce you to the show, the most recent one about the history of sex toys had me crying with laughter. The Angela Lansbury one was also delightful. The more serious episodes have helped me understand and reframe my relationship with food and my body in a way that nothing else has. It isn’t exactly serial, but they sometimes do build on and refer to earlier episodes, and also you can hear the hosts’ relationship developing if you listen in order – they had wonderful chemistry from the get-go, but I believe they didn’t start out knowing each other all that well.

    1. Zona the Great*

      Wow! That was impressive! You basically said, “hey there was once a thing–a thing I don’t remember” and hi knew what it was!

      1. Double A*

        Seriously, that is some longtime-partner level understanding!!

        Me: “You know the guy, in the thing with the *waves hands* that we saw the one time?”

        Spouse: “Jake Gyllenhaal?”

        AAM: the internet spouse you didn’t know you had.

  21. PrairieEffingDawn*

    I’m dealing with a strange feeling right now.

    I have always been good at applying for and getting jobs. I’ve had my fair share of disaster interviews, but for the most part, every time I’ve job searched I’ve gotten a good response from my applications and often get job offers. I’ve been lucky enough to have recently turned down a few offers and started a new job I am enjoying.

    The thing I’m realizing though, is that I really miss the rush of the job application process. I get such a thrill from waiting for the perfect job to get posted, perfecting my cover letter and portfolio, getting those callbacks for interviews. I’m the kind of person who always did well academically and struggled early in my career because I wasn’t getting “gold stars” the way I did in school. I’m already craving that validation again. It feels a little sick. Am I addicted to interviewing? Does anyone else feel this way?

    1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

      I mean, I get it. Maybe channel that urge into something that will scratch the itch but, um, not lead to job hopping? Heh, you could always start auditioning for community theater. If you think about it, finding the perfect productions, researching to narrow down the best roles, preparing audition materials, actually auditioning, getting a call back… kind of similar, right?

      1. The Smiling Pug*

        I second doing community theater. That rush towards the end to get everything finished…it’s quite unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

    2. Forkeater*

      No advice but yeah, I think I’m similar. I just find the job search and interview process so interesting, I guess I llike imagining what other roles at other organizations might be like, and I think it’s so interesting to talk to people at different organizations during the interview process and learn what they’re like. Are there jobs that do this? At any rate as I move up in salary and title it seems more difficult to get jobs offers, so I only end up changing jobs every three years or more, but I do enjoy the hunt!

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      I’m definitely like this too! I think it comes from being academically competitive in school. I tried to channel that feeling into side projects and extra training for my job (especially in slow periods). Getting praise/recognition from my current job is almost as good as the interviewing rush. The other thing I would suggest is to take up another activity, either as a hobby or a professional certificate of some sort, that allows you to get that ‘gold star’ feeling.

    4. Generic Name*

      Oh yeah, it’s great to be smart and a good student and see those 100%s and those A’s flowing in while at school. Maybe work a job based on commission? I mean, assuming you want to work extra long hours? Maybe you could do stuff in your personal life that gets adjudicated and graded to get that same rush. I think there are various contests for art or poetry, and there are county fair awards for growing the biggest squash (I am absolutely not being snarky about the county fairs- they are big deals in every place I’ve lived).

    5. Purple Cat*

      Can you figure out how to bottle up that rush and sell it?
      I need to embark on a job search and I am absolutely dreading it, I hate, hate, hate everything about it.

    6. Xena*

      My first thought was immediately that you should have the job of requesting research grants. Is there any way you can either do something similar at work or volunteer at a local nonprofit that could use some help raising capital? Or heck–finding somewhere where you help small businesses apply for capital funding? Or IPOs maybe.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Do you validate your own self? Do you give YOU gold stars? Maybe the deeper question is why does validation from others rate higher for you than your own validation?

      To me this sounds like you are not challenged by your jobs enough. You say here you look for the perfect job. Does that mean a job where you have 100% of the required/desired abilities? This is a job that will NOT challenge you and it will not grow you.

      I am kind of cautious here because it is a NORMAL thing for us human beings to want to make a contribution and know our contribution is meaningful. Crime news is loaded with people who felt they could not contribute anything anywhere and so they started on their destructive course. Yes, that is an extreme example, but it clearly shows how important it is to feel needed, it’s on a par with food/water/shelter. It’s a basic need.

      If you catch yourself saying things like “a chimpanzee could do this job”, then you are not putting yourself where you feel challenged.

  22. Anontoday*

    I took a new job that has turned out to no be a good fit. The work life balance is terrible. The type of work is much more the undesirable task that was supposed to be a much smaller percentage. I was assigned a task that I loved and did a lot of front end work and then was pulled from that project to cover other needs. Everyone around me is burned out. There is a strong narrative of “you’d never have it better somewhere else. Long story short- not a good fit.
    I’ve reached out to my former employers and they are welcoming me back with open arms. Same pay. Better benefits. Much better work life balance. More control and creativity in the work I do.
    I’m giving notice at the end of next week. I’m giving a month to cover holiday coverage and close up appropriately. I am anticipating a bad outcome. My boss is a little short. We are short staffed.
    Does anyone have any advice or words of encouragement for getting through four weeks of awkwardness. And possible hostility.

    1. Generic Name*

      You get to put yourself first! Your current company has created the toxic environment, they have to deal with the consequences of that. Honestly, I would not give a month’s notice to a toxic company, especially as you anticipate a bad outcome. Give 2 weeks, and be prepared to shorten your notice to “immediately” if they are jerks to you. You don’t need to deal with their crap over the holidays.

    2. ferrina*

      Neutrality was always my friend. There’s a reason the classic phrases exist- “an opportunity too good to pass up” can include an opportunity to get the hell away from here.

      Focus on how to make the transition smoother. When I gave notice, I had a transition plan in hand. I briefly shared it on my screen and talked through a couple key points, then emailed it to my boss so she could think on it more. I included who I recommended to cover my projects (this can be based on expertise, or if you are a manager, include availability. If you aren’t sure, you can include several names of people that have expertise). I gave a training schedule, including several days where I was not doing anything but was available for questions. The goal was to front-load the training so the other people could practice doing the task while I was still there and available to help when I got stuck (I hated that company, so if they tried to contact me after I left, they’d be paying exorbitant consulting fees).

      For co-workers, if you like them, say you’ll miss them and offer to do what you can (within reason) to make their lives easier for the next few weeks. Oh, and have a stash of chocolate for yourself to get through any shenanigans.

      I’m really excited that you’re getting out of there and to a healthier workplace! Congrats!

    3. Nanc*

      Even if it’s not formally spelled out, the first 90 days (or maybe 6 months) of a job are essentially a probation period for both the employer and employee. You’re both evaluating whether it’s a good fit and both sides are entitled to say nope, not working out. If they’re open to hearing why it’s not a fit for you and what they might do to get a better fit feel free to offer your opinion. Otherwise do the best possible job you can and look forward to the better work/life balance next year.

  23. Maybe a Bad Manager*

    What do you do when a direct report gives you a terrible evaluation and it blindsides you? Of course I’m going to take the feedback to heart but how do I get over the hurt? Up until I read the review I thought that I had a really good, open working relationship with this employee but based on the review that is not the case. This employee has repeatedly told me what a great manager I am so to read the opposite of that (and my boss and hr) was pretty dismaying.

    There must be a reason they did not say it to me directly, and I want to ask them about it but I don’t want it to feel like I’m confronting them. I’d much rather hear the criticism then someone being silently resentful, but I really wish I could have heard it verbally so I have time to improve before it goes on my permanent work record. Any advice?

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      I’m assuming your employee knew you’d see their feedback, so could someone else (HR, your boss) talk to this employee and get more insight on their feelings about your management style and relationship with you? They might be able to help answer your questions.
      Also, management sometimes sucks because criticism of your management style can feel so much more personal than criticism of your work. But it is just criticism of your work, not criticism of you. Take some time to process your feelings about this employee’s feedback and try not to give it more value than it’s due.

      1. Maybe a Bad Manager*

        I’m really not sure if my employee knew I would read the comments. I assume that they know but I’m not 100%.

    2. Not a Name Today*

      It’s likely that this was the only opportunity for your report to give challenging feedback, and they took the opportunity to do so. Yeah, it would be great if they could have said it all in person, but they are communicating in the way they feel comfortable.
      Remember that all the positive things are still true, and this feedback is adding to it. It is really hard to read negative feedback rather than hear it. Reading it cuts deep. But you may be reading it with a cutting edge that wasn’t intended, it may have been written with a true intent of providing a roadmap to improvement.
      If you work on the items mentioned, then it may open a door for more direct communication in the future.

      1. Maybe a Bad Manager*

        I’m definitely trying to look at it this way. I actually don’t disagree with some of the stuff, I know it’s stuff I need to work on but the review rated me as not meeting the basic requirements of my job which I don’t agree with. And I’m really surprised that they felt that way based on the many conversations we’ve had over the past year.

    3. Lady Danbury*

      I’m sorry that this happened to you. It’s important to remember that all feedback (from above and below, both positive and negative) is filtered through the feedback giver’s own experiences, preferences, personality, etc. We’ve had a myriad of stories about bosses who unfairly favor one employee and/or target another. The same happens with employees. The feedback feels personal but may not be personal at all. Sometimes increased communication can go a long way towards repairing perceived grievances. It’s also important to remember that bad manager to X (unreasonable pixie, flaky mcflakerson, etc) isn’t the same as bad manager overall.

      With that said, you absolutely need to evaluate the feedback as objectively as possible, assessing where you may need to improve, where you need to explain factors that cause the perceived bad management that are out of your control and where your employee is just plain unreasonable. You can also talk to your boss and fellow managers/other employees, if you feel comfortable seeking their feedback. What do they perceive as your strengths/areas of improvement?

      1. Maybe a Bad Manager*

        Thank you. This is really good advice. There are things within my control that I can do to be a better manager, like specific action steps and I can focus on those items.

    4. ferrina*

      I had someone do that to me! It stung, but it can also be incredibly useful.

      First- what are their critiques? Look for details in what they wrote. Does what they are writing align with what you remember happening? Is this something that you were previously aware of or that you think you need to work on? If so, take this as an opportunity to really work on this aspect. Do not ask them directly for it, as this can feel like a pressure tactic. See point below.

      Second- enlist your boss’ help to get more info. Your boss can talk to your team or personally observe your management to give you more precise feedback. This can be positioned it as a routine exercise to help management staff learn and grow, not “let’s get ferrina in trouble”. If the other direct reports flag the same issue (even as “yeah, it’s rough, but I can live with it”) that’s really important for you to know!
      However, if the direct reports don’t flag the issue or are even confused by it, that can give you more info about the other person. In my case, I was accused of being verbally abusive. My boss had never observed it, and my other direct reports said I was always calm when speaking to them and they really appreciated how open I was to feedback. This made my boss wonder a little more about the original report.

      Third- make a plan. If you and your boss determine that this is an area where you can grow, then take steps to do so! There are trainings available, have truly anonymous 360 reviews, etc.
      I’d also include in the plan that you can’t trust this employee to step forward if they have concerns. For my employee, my boss and I made sure that my employee had meetings with my boss to discuss her concerns. And my boss held her to task, asking for specific examples of problematic behavior (there actually was none, she had been denied a promotion that she wanted and she was taking it out on me).

      Oh, and document everything. All emails, all fact-finding steps, all your personal notes, etc. Be unbiased- acknowledge areas of improvements and steps you will take to improve (then actually improve). The growth will speak for itself.

      1. ferrina*

        Oh, for my scenario, my direct report was actually mad that she didn’t get a promotion due to her own lagging performance. She didn’t like that I was managing her and holding her to standards (as opposed to automatically bumping her up due to years at the company). She had been missing deadlines and lacking attention to detail (she accused my of withholding information, when she wasn’t reading the emails that she was sent). Since she escalated to my boss, she put herself on my boss’ radar. When my boss found that my management was fine, it was just Direct Report’s expectations were misaligned, Boss put her support behind me and we started prepping documentation for a PIP. Direct Report left a few months later of her own volition.

    5. Xena*

      From the perspective of a review writer more than a receiver, I would say that first, it’s terrifying to give negative feedback directly to a person. Any person. I can think of about three people where I’d be able to tell them, to their face, something that they were doing that made life harder for me, and even then I wouldn’t want to initiate that conversation. I doubt I’d be able to do that to a boss outside the formal process of feedback through the company.
      Second, it’s always easier, when writing out formal feedback, to remember the negative things rather than the positive things. For professors in school, I was happy with a lot of them but I only really gave positive feedback on review requests to one or two who’d gone miles above and beyond in knowledge, teaching skill, and class engagement, while I gave quite a few negative notes to professors who weren’t bad but had one or two habits of teaching that rubbed me the wrong way. All of this is to say that it’s maybe unlikely that the employee intended to be shattering in quite that way.

      It does sound like this employee blindsided you with the negative feedback, which I can imagine is really frustrating for you. My advice would be to maybe have check-ins with future employees where you can ask “is there anything I can change for you about my approach that would make our working experience better?” To me that would open a door for a more collaborative discussion into improvements to be made rather than feeling like I was complaining at you.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I’m suspicious because it’s just this one employee and everyone else is fine with you? hmmm.

      Okay. You asked how to get over the hurt. I’m sorry my suggestion is a b!tch. Go right into it- figure out what is wrong and what steps you will take to correct it.

      I came out the other side and what I learned about me, I really liked. I liked that I faced it head on, took the parts that needed fixing and fixed those parts. Instead of feeling smacked down, I felt empowered because I rose above my own stupid self to do better.

      Added bonus, when people realized that they could just, you know, talk to me things improved vastly.

      Look, it’s fine to wait for a calm moment and point out, “You kept saying that I was a great manager, so I am totally confused by this. Please know, that I prefer to address things as they come up. I don’t want problems to fester and fester. If I am unclear/ambiguous/whatever, LET ME KNOW, so I can apologize and we can talk about what needs to be done. I am very concerned that you went this long with this level of discomfort. That is nothing I am about nor do I stand for. I don’t want anyone being this uncomfortable.”

      For your own reset in thinking, I like what Alison says about there are no great (or perfect) bosses. So when you hear someone call you great- just dismiss it. Because in reality just to get the point of a GOOD boss we have to constantly be learning and growing. It’s a non-stop thing.

      I suspect that there may be something else going on with this employee. Perhaps they have an at-home problem. Or perhaps they are not the employee you think they are. Keep your mind open to many possibilities here.

      Sorry it’s rough. I understand. I also know that most of the time these situations do calm down by some means. As you can see I am a rip-the-bandaid-off kind of person. I don’t want months or even weeks of drama, if it can be prevented.

  24. Leilah*

    I recently did not receive a promotion, and I was told during the interview that the fact that I’d held many leadership positions made it look like I was self-serving. I was baffled by this feedback. I feel like I’m constantly trying to make myself smaller and not take up too much air, and I only step up once asked to. I have received nothing but good feedback on my many leadership roles over the last 15 years, including small nonprofit boards, college clubs, projects in my current job and LGBTQ and Disability advocacy groups at my current company. I am worried that this may be one of those situations where women who are ambitious or seek leadership roles are looked upon negatively while men who do the same thing are praised. I am white, but I am also openly queer and autistic at work (I’ve given at least three presentations company-wide and to senior leadership on those topics, so it is probably widely known although it didn’t come up in the interview). I am in a somewhat entry-level position despite over ten years of experience in my field and was looking to move up to a minor supervisory role.

    Does anyone have advice on how to combat the idea of “too much leadership desire” as a woman? I am feeling very stuck and disheartened. It’s not so much that I didn’t get the job, it’s that people would think I’m self-serving for stepping up. I work so hard to make sure I’m not taking up too much space wherever I am, and somehow I’ve still come across poorly.

    1. hi*

      I don’t have advice about your work situation but I wanted to say – you are allowed to take up space. You don’t have to make yourself smaller for other people’s convenience.

      1. Leilah*

        I feel like I do though, if I ever want to progress in my career. The lesson I’ve learned from this is that I have to be even *smaller*.

        1. Dr. KMnO4*

          That lesson (that you have to be even *smaller*) might apply to the company you are currently working for, but I don’t think it applies to every company in your field. Even though I don’t know your field, I am almost certain that there are many companies in it that value the leadership of women, queer people, and neurodivergent people.

          I’m not sure that there is anything you can do about your situation at your current company. It seems like the higher-ups at your company aren’t going to support you in your (completely valid and understandable) efforts to move up in the company. To get the higher-level roles that you want (and deserve) you will probably need to find a new job.

          I was being polite about your higher-ups in the previous paragraph, but I also want to add this – they are sexist a*holes. This is definitely one of those situations where a woman is being penalized for being ambitious, where a man who acted the same way would be rewarded, especially since you said that you only step up when asked to. You aren’t even pushing for these opportunities (which would be a perfectly fine thing to do, btw) – other people are requesting that you take them on. And you’re being penalized for it. You’re in a lose-lose situation, and you should strongly consider leaving because I don’t believe for a second that things will get any better for you.

        2. Double A*

          You’re learning the logic of an abused person. Your job is saying, “If you didn’t do X, I wouldn’t have to hit you.” So you’re trying your best not to do X, but if you succeed, they’ll just change it to Y.

          The patriarchy is trying to make you disappear. Don’t let it!

        3. ferrina*

          Fight that instinct, Leilah! You are in leadership because you are a leader. If they don’t want a leader, then they aren’t the right fit for you. You get to take your talented self elsewhere, to a place where they recognize your skills and your value.

          It can help to reframe “not taking up space” as instead “creating space for others”. The goal shouldn’t be to make yourself smaller, it should be to make sure everyone else gets parity of opportunity. It sounds like you do create space for others! And you claim your space as your own, which is as it should be! Some (who are usually already privledged) will argue that not giving them an unfair advantage is in itself unfair, but this is ridiculous (and the same argument my elementary school kid uses to argue why he gets to cheat at Sorry and I don’t. yeah, no.)

        4. Leilah*

          Thank you all three for the kind words. I really do appreciate it. I am going to keep searching the job listings and keep my resume fresh. I work in a very conservative industry (agriculture) but I am 100% devoted to it. My current company is probably one the most progressive companies in the entire world in this industry. It is also one of the biggest companies in the entire world, with hundreds of new job openings every single day. I am going to stay within this company because they are really, by far, WAY better on these issues than any other company I’ve encountered in the industry. The company is so large I am confident the problems with my current hiring committee aren’t pervasive everywhere here and I can find a home here that has less ingrained sexism.

          1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            Ooooh, yeah, I work in agriculture adjacent fields and totally agree with everyone: The lesson is “the hiring committee is sexist”, not “make yourself smaller.”

            Depending what career path you’re interested in, if you ever get sick of fighting this company, consider look at non-profits supporting ag. The salaries at the bigger and/or well-funded ones are pretty competitive, factoring in benefits, plus they tend to be more progressive.

    2. ES*

      That sounds like absolute BS! I would seriously start looking elsewhere for a position that sees your leadership skills for the valuable asset they are!

      1. Leilah*

        I might, as long as it’s within the same company. My resume already looks kinda job-hoppy. I spent 2.5 years in one job, 1.5 years in the next (as a manager), founded and ran my own business for 5 years (in the same industry), then joined this company where this is my third position in less than three years. After I ran my own business almost no one would hire me and I settled for a physical labor job that didn’t even require an associates’ degree (despite me having a BA, a BS and years of experience) because after almost a year of searching I was facing bankruptcy without a paycheck. After ten months there, my grandboss BEGGED me to apply to a position the next tier up (no degree required but a slightly better title) because no one else would do it. I did it – big mistake – the early hop made me look like a flake and it was a nightmare. I got out after 6 months of that to my current job which is the *exact* same job I did right out of college. So I’m 11 years in the industry with experience as a manager and running my own business (small but still requires having employees and working with a high six-figure budget) and feeling totally stuck in a role for entry level college grads.

        1. Pomegranate*

          The 11 months + 6 months at a higher position in the same company is not job hopping. It’s progressing within the same company, regardless of how well/poorly it went. You were selected for advancement based on the skills your grandboss saw. That’s an achievement, not a flaky job hop!

          1. Leilah*

            Thank you for that perspective. The other piece of feedback I got at after the interview was not sticking with one thing for long enough (the person they hired for the job has had this same job on this team for over 20 years). So it definitely made me think they viewed the 3 jobs advancing in the same company as job-hopping. I hope more people view it your way than their way.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              What a great way to hold women back. “You have to stay in your position for 20 years before we will consider you.” wow.

          2. ferrina*

            Exactly. Different roles within the same company isn’t job-hopping, especially when it’s a promotion (it would be different if you had been Copyediter>Office Manager>Lion Tamer>Herpatologist Engineer in a two year span, since those are all vastly different, but Contributor > Senior Contributor just speaks to the high quality of your work)

    3. Maybe a Bad Manager*

      I think the way I would deal with that is to remind myself that each individual person has an opinion, some we give more weight to than others. This is one person who may view it negatively when women are ambitious. Are you open to looking for work elsewhere? If you have been in your role for ten years and they are not willing to promote you, and give a negative spin when you seek leadership positions externally, it’s not likely a place where you will move up (but also, this is just my opinion and I don’t have all the context that you do).
      I’m sorry that you are feeling down about his rude comments, but I think you should continue to follow your passions. AAM has really inspired me to do related but external presentations and I’ve really enjoyed that, and it helps build a network if I ever do want to leave my current job.

      1. Leilah*

        I don’t have 11 years at this job, I have 11 years in this industry post college (and many jobs in the industry starting at age 14, but those are less important obviously). I only have 1.5 years at this job and 3 years at this company, however I did this same job for another company for 2.5 years. It is an entry-level college grad role, despite me having experience in management at one other employer and founding and running my own business in the industry for 5 years.

        1. Hillary*

          So I apologize if this sounds harsh. I feel so much for you right now – the situation sucks. If you’re at the huge ag company I suspect you’re at (hard to get into and no one leaves), 1.5 years is too early for a promotion. They’re conservative in so many ways, but from their perspective 1.5 years is barely hitting your stride in a role. It stinks because you already knew the role and were probably adding value much earlier than normal for the role.

          For an entry-level job that leads to leadership, I expect the first year to be basically a loss for the employer. It takes that long for a new grad to learn to navigate the culture and technology enough to be an independent operator. Heck, I’ve taught people how to use a landline before.

          They did a bad job on your feedback. In your shoes I’d think about focus and how I present myself during interviews. Candidly, the way you described your history here would make me think you’re going to get bored/frustrated and leave soon. Not because you’re a job hopper (you’re not, you’re exactly the age to get screwed by the economy repeatedly) but because you talk about so many interests. To get promoted you want to be known for your work, not for being in leadership of two employee groups.

          If you want to stay, ask your manager what you should be doing to position yourself for promotion. If you’re bored also ask for more, excel at it, and practice your accomplishments for your next interview. But please also consider if this industry is right for you. I’d bet you have transferrable skills and would be a lot happier elsewhere.

          big hugs from an internet stranger

          1. Leilah*

            I appreciate your feedback, but I’d like some clarification if you don’t mind?

            To start off I don’t think we are thinking about the same company. This company’s overall culture is obsessed with rapid change. If often feels like people barely stay in positions for more than a year or two – for example my great grandboss has changed jobs 3 times in 1.5 years. My grandboss has only had her job for 2 years, and my boss was only in her job for just 19 months. I was promoted once at 10 months in and again after 6 months. 1.5 years is definitely not too early for a promotion here. The rapid pace of change is one of the reasons I am excited to be here.

            I guess I’m not sure what sure what makes me look like I have too many varied interests – I’ve kind of been obsessed with this one single career field and shaped my life around it since I was 8 years old.
            I mean yeah, I’m bored and looking for the next move because this role is entry-level and I have 11 years experience. I don’t think it’s possible to avoid looking like I’m looking for a different role when I’m interviewing for a different role? What I was interviewing for was to become the supervisor of the team I am currently a member of — they were very committed to promoting someone from within our team, and that’s exactly what they did.

            I’ll spare you the details, but I am already well-known as a very high achiever on my team. I have more project assignments than anyone else and am still bringing in record financial returns. I’ve even won awards for it. This didn’t seem to be the focus of my interviewers though – they were pretty much exclusively asking me about leadership skills since that was the main focus of the job. I don’t know quite how I could have answered their questions without bringing up my leadership experience.

            1. Hillary*

              Certainly possible we’re thinking of different companies. I’d be careful about reading too much into moves at your grandboss and higher’s level. Do you see the same pace of movement and promotion (to supervisor/manager roles, not just grade increases in the same team) among your peers? My current company has the same rapid change among upper-middle management, but it’s much slower at individual contributor levels. It’s because those more senior people are also in an up or out setup that’s not the same lower down. I know one company where project leaders will get almost everything they ask for to achieve the goal, but they will be fired if they don’t achieve it.

              It sucks, but your peers are the people in your role, not the people with the same years of experience as you. You may be able to leverage that experience later, but for now you’re still new to the company. I know one company that counts external experience at 50% for promotion eligibility, some don’t count it for anything until senior IC levels.

              For other interests, I’m a leader of one of our interest groups at my company. It takes anywhere from 5-10 hours a month, which frankly comes out of my evenings or weekends, because I don’t have those hours to spare during the week. What would give me pause is the thought that you’re in leadership for two – that could be over 15% of your time some months. We don’t have anyone company-wide who’s on the leadership team for more than one.

              Your challenge right now is how to make yourself look focused and engaged with this job, plus ready for a promotion. Are there roles you actively want? Do you want to be a subject matter expert? or a people manager? And how do you present yourself as excited to move to that job, not just getting promoted?

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      What. The. Actual. F**k. You are absolutely right that a straight, cis, white man would be praised for that. You do you!

      1. Leilah*

        Doing me does not seem to be working. I guess I just need more patience. It’s so frustrating to have my career progression be
        entry level college grad -> region manager -> entrepreneur ->
        (now no one wants to hire me for anything) ->got desperate and took a manual labor/zero college job
        -> finally got back to entry level college job -> (stuck)

    5. Double A*

      This is absolutely infuriating. To be honest, I would look into talking to an employment lawyer. Women are actively punished for exhibiting qualities that men are promoted for. This is straight up sex-based discrimination.

      That might seem to extreme, and that’s fair. The other thing I would recommend is listening to an episode of “Wisdom from the Top” with Stacey Vanek Smith. She wrote a book called “Machiavelli for Women” and she talks about the exact type of discrimination you’re facing. The interview gives some great tips for how women can use the biases against them to reframe a negotiation. I haven’t read the book, but I really like Stacy Vanek Smith and it could definitely be worth checking out.

      1. Leilah*

        This is great advice, thank you! I am absolutely going to listen to this.

        I certainly don’t think I have legal recourse here. They hired a woman for the job, and she has 21 years experience (I have 11). Her experience has been in one single position without any leadership experience or progression, while I have significantly more management and leadership in a variety of areas. It gave me a very much wait-your-turn vibe. I am not going to sit in one place for 20 years before I pursue a promotion, though. It’s less about whether I was the best hire for this specific job (I’ll admit I may not have been – that’s fine!) but that I got that particular feedback while someone whose resume looked significantly less “ambitious” was the choice. I just want to know what I can do to thread this needle better in the future. I did explicitly talk about seeking out leadership throughout my life because I thought it would be an asset. We have such a nice overall culture here that I actually forgot (I know, silly) about the sexist double-bind that I needed to thread.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      If you are still listing college clubs, that could be the issue, rather than the fact of leadership efforts. Make sure that what you are listing is relevant to your work. (I recently got a resume from someone who has been in the work force for over 10 years that still included SAT scores and college clubs. As I had plenty of qualified candidates I passed on that one.) There can be discrimination based on being a woman as well as queer and autistic, and it is a hard needle to thread.

      Good luck!

      1. Leilah*

        I did not list any college clubs on my resume. I only mentioned it here as part of the story of being a leader in many organizations throughout my life and receiving positive feedback on it.

    7. PollyQ*

      Your company sucks and it isn’t going to change. Taking leadership positions should be regarded as a GOOD thing, and something that should set you up for promotion. Also, your sense that you should take up less space and be smaller is just wrong. No reasonable employer (or friend, or relative, or partner) would ask that of you. I don’t think your resume as you’ve stated it shows anything at all like “job hopper”, so I recommend you start job-hunting, before the toxic (and possibly discriminatory?) environment you’re in affects you any further.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      They don’t want true leaders. They want cogs for their mechanism. They want Yes-People. They don’t want people who think.

      You say they hired a woman for the same position. Watch closely. I am willing to bet that she just rubber stamps everything and nods all the time.

      What grabbed me is this part about your activities in “LGBTQ and Disability advocacy groups at my current company.” I have to wonder if they perceive you as a wave maker- they think you will upset the boat.
      So if this makes you pause also I would go back and ask exactly what they want you to do so that you appear less self-serving. Ask them to give you specific steps.

      I am betting they can’t. I am so angry on your behalf. I understand it’s your chosen field, but do you want a life time of this?

      1. Leilah*

        That’s an interesting perspective. The woman they did hire absolutely strikes me as the type to never make any waves, ever. In 1.5 years I’ve never even heard her speak in a meeting. She has had this same job for 21 years, which, if she’s had a change of heart and wants to try something new, great! I hope she does great and enjoys it. I look forward to working with her. It’s not about thinking she’s a bad choice, just about seeing the contrast between who they chose and the feedback I got.

  25. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

    You know that horrifying feeling when you’re back to working at the office and having to share space and bathrooms with people from outside of your home and there’s still a global pandemic going on and you’re in a place filled with antivaxxers and maskers and you’re in a bathroom stall and you hear someone go into the stall next to you and immediately start snotting and hacking and hacking and hacking, and it very clearly is NOT allergies? That was me five minutes ago, and I would very much like to not be overcome by the heebjeebies right now, y’all.

    1. rocklobsterbot*

      Even before covid there were times in my office I wanted to cover myself in hand sanitizer and maybe set myself on fire due to sick people in the office. You have my sympathy heebeejeebees

    2. Generic Name*

      Ew. Even pre-COVID that was not okay. I’m still annoyed that I got the flu (heck, it could have been COVID- it was February 2020) from a coworker who came to a meeting visibly ill. She sat 10 feet away from everyone, but she still got me sick.

    3. The Internet*

      If it makes you feel any better at all, I’m thrice vaxxed, but still managed to come down with a horrible chest cold/ bronchitis for the past two weeks. Definitely wasn’t COVID, got tested twice, but I still have a TERRIBLE cough even though I’m well past the contagious stage. Maybe pretend it was me!

      1. Drenched in purell*

        Yes. But. You don’t know if the cougher ALSO has Covid (maybe even asymptomatic). It doesn’t really matter why they’re coughing. They’re still way spreading their aerosols far and wide. Being icked out is unfortunately a reasonable reaction to people coughing these days. I’m sorry OP is dealing with this.

    4. cncx*

      i was in a train yesterday and someone sitting next to me was breathing like tr*mp on the white house balcony and coughing every ten seconds, literally gasping for air. this was a commuter train, he was in a suit, this is in europe so he had no immediate paycheck reason to be out…so why was he in a train? why? i was penned in to the window but found a way to move.

    5. princesswings*

      A couple weeks ago I took a big swallow of water somehow directly into my lungs and nose and finally had to go down to the restroom to finish coughing it back up because my eyes were watering and I Could Not Stop. I will cross my fingers that your coworker is equally talented.

  26. Tired Teacher*

    (Insert typical teacher complaints here). I’m tired of the classroom and ready to move on. I have been applying for learning and design/ training positions February using all the cover letter and Resume tips from AAM. I don’t know why my skills aren’t seen as transferable to hiring managers. Any tips?

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      When I transitioned out of the classroom, I had the most success applying for administrative positions with nonprofits that have an education/child/youth component. I actually started out as a hybrid administrator/teacher with a nonprofit, so I was teaching about 1.5 hours per day and doing admin the rest of the time. It allowed me to build up my non-teaching skills.

      The design/training positions are tough transition from teaching, it seems. When I was ready to move on from the nonprofit I applied for a few of those with no success, despite a good track record managing many previous curriculum development projects. From what I saw in my city, a lot of these positions wanted people with some video production skills, which I don’t have.

      1. Tired Teacher*

        Thanks for the tip. I’m wondering if I need to get an summer internship while school is out or go back to school entirely for more skills. I wish I hadn’t squandered my two degrees on an industry that doesn’t financially compensate experience and extra education.

        1. chamomile*

          Hi Tired Teacher,
          I bet you don’t have to go back for learning/instructional design. Maybe check out Daphne Gomez’s site/Instagram/podcast, The Teacher Career Coach. She has some resources that are free and some that are behind a smaller or bigger paywall, depending how much support and detail you want (like wording for your resume, though I know you said you already did this). I think she also started a sort of recruiting agency for companies that tend to hire former teachers (the company, not the applicant, pays the agency, so it’s a free service on your end).
          Good luck! I am going to start looking closer to the end of the school year and I’m not looking forward to the process, but we will make it through!

    2. New Mom*

      I made the switch was teacher to an education nonprofit about seven years ago. Here is what I did:
      I had near-perfect teaching conditions and was still getting burnt out so I knew I would not want to teach forever but wanted to stay in a field that still valued my experience as a teacher. I decided to get a masters degree (I went abroad with a scholarship since European programs are shorter and cheaper and no GRE). Then I started applying to universities, community colleges, and education nonprofits. I literally googled “best education nonprofits to work at in [my area]” and then looked for entry level openings at those places. The bigger nonprofits tend to have growth opportunities. Though I started entry level, I was promoted multiple times and my salary doubled in five years, at this point it is more than doubled. I don’t see this as possible at the very small nonprofits.

      There is also Ed Tech which is constantly hiring and sounds pretty lucrative. There is a guy Jeff Patterson on LinkedIn who you can follow, he constantly posts lists of Ed Tech openings that are specifically for former teachers. I follow him and I think he posts at least one list a week. He also promotes free job fairs for teachers looking to break into the Ed Tech space.

      Good luck! I know it feels daunting, but there are options out there. Sometimes just figuring out where to look is the hardest part!

      1. New Mom*

        Also, when I was first job hunting I focused solely on universities and community colleges and only got one interview for about 60 applications but once I started applying to education nonprofits, college advising/prep centers, etc. I started getting interviews pretty quickly. So I would recommend casting a wide net early.

    3. fine tipped pen afficionado*

      There might be opportunities for you in Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources with local municipalities. I don’t know what you’re looking for in a new job, but I would think your skills would be transferable and attractive. The quality of the position is going to vary a lot depending on the location and the pay is never outstanding but it is stable and, in my experience, rewarding. Just adding an option.

  27. Anna*

    I’m looking for jobs and getting offers. I’ve got an offer already, and will hear back about two others early next week. I’m not sure when I should give notice.

    I’m taking Dec 20-27 off. The last day to give two weeks notice before I’m off is today. I won’t have signed anything until next Wednesday probably, definitely not after Wednesday, but if I wait until I’ve signed to give notice then either I give less than two weeks notice, or my notice period includes my vacation, or I come back and resume work at my current job for a few days after vacation. None of these options seem great. What do people usually do in situations like this?

    1. cmcinnyc*

      Never give notice before you’ve nailed down the other job. It’s a weird time of year because of the holidays, but that’s just the way it is. You are allowed to give notice in December.

    2. WellRed*

      Are you sure there isn’t wiggle room in the start date? They might prefer you to start in January.

    3. Purple Cat*

      Negotiate the start date.
      Personally, I would try to give 2 weeks notice after you’re back from vacation. Just discuss it with new company (who if they haven’t actually given you an offer yet would be out of bounds to hold you to a previously discussed “potential” start date).

    4. Rosie*

      It’s not inherently a problem to give less than two weeks or have the time include your vacation, a lot of it depends on your role, how reasonable your current company is and how much work needs to be done to get someone up to speed on covering it. Our director at my last job had his notice period include his vacation and everyone was very wtf about it but I did the same thing as an IC (and had been working on training someone to cover my responsibilities for almost a month before giving notice) and had no problems and still have a very good relationship with them.

  28. Sam*

    First time attending the company Christmas dinner party and I’m trying to figure out how much to gussy up. No details were provided about dress code but it’s after 5pm, at unnamed restaurant brought out for the night in a major metropolitan location.
    Other factors (if it matters): This is my first time meeting people in person and a senior-level associate (non-management).

    1. FloraPoste*

      My go-to for unknown vibes is plain-ish dress, tights, and ankle boots. You can have a selection of accessories which can dress the outfit up (pretty jewellry) if it’s on the fancier side, or make it more casual (blanket scarf) if it’s on the more chill side. Last time I wore a big coat over everything and just hung up my blanket scarf (with some sadness because it is very cosy) when I realised the place was a bit too fancy for it. But it was perfect for an earlier dinner party in a more relaxed place.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        This! The little black dress is a classic for a reason. Think a nice dinner out but one step up from officewear in terms of style and coverage. Dressier materials (lace, velvet, etc) in classic shapes (shift, a-line, etc) work well for events like this. I have an a-line tweed dress with a subtle metallic thread that I’ve worn to multiple events like this.

    2. Hawkwind*

      If you know the restaurant, maybe check its website or how it shows up on a Mapquest filter? (I can get a rough idea from the app’s overlay about pricing, and pricing usually leads to an idea of how dressy it normally is at that restaurant. A menu from the website is even better for that kind of clue.)

      Alternately, do you know someone who’s worked there awhile and is also going you can trust? Ask them how dressed up they’ll be, and try to use that as a guideline for yourself.

      1. Sam*

        They haven’t released the name of restaurant jus yet (weird, I know). Everyone on my immediate team is new but I could ask around. thanks

    3. Ginger Baker*

      Agree with the above suggestions and also, as long as you don’t wear something you would wear to a club, the slubbiest sweats, or like…a tux…you should be fine. (I once worked with someone who was LOVELY and EXCELLENT at her job but I will say it took ages to forget the suuuuuuuper short form-fitting dress she wore to the office party a few weeks after she was hired. It was an amazing dress! But for a different venue.)

    4. ferrina*

      Just ask! “Hey, I know different holiday parties have different standards. Does our company tend to be more casual, or more formal? What do people usually wear?”
      I’ve asked this and been asked this many times. It’s totally normal.

    5. KuklaRed*

      I tend to stick with black pants (not denim) and a slightly dressier top than I would normally wear to the office. Add nice black flats (Enzos are the best) and some basic jewelry (pearls because they are appropriate for almost any occasion) and I’m set. I do not wear makeup on a normal day, but for a party I might do a little bit (redness corrector and a nice lip).

      But I do second the idea of asking some of your co-workers.

    6. The Ginger Ginger*

      Does someone have pictures from the last event? Or is there anyone you can just ask? “Hey what’s the dress code at these usually like? This is my first year.” If you know who arranged the reservations it would make sense to ask them.

    7. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Really good advice from everyone. My suggestion is to either wear what you would to the office or one step fancier.

  29. LegallyRed*

    Should I tell my new manager about my serious medical condition?

    I just returned to work a few months ago after 18 months of medical leave due to cancer. I am in remission but I still have frequent doctor’s appointments and I’m still dealing with deficits from treatment (both mental and physical) that have the potential to impact my work. For some context, I work from home in academic publishing. I’m an employee but in many ways I’m treated more like a freelancer — I’m paid by the hour, I’m generally in control of what projects I accept and how many hours I work per week, and most of my work is done autonomously (textbook writing). Our work is deadline-based, of course, but we’re giving plenty of lead time and nothing is ever really an “emergency” — no 24 hour turnarounds or things like that. I’ve been with this organization for 14 years so I know the culture pretty well.

    My current manager is leaving and my new manager is someone being promoted from our team. We’re vaguely familiar with each other but have been working in different silos. I’m confident he doesn’t know about my illness as I don’t have any formal accommodations. (Other than my medical leave, which has ended.) So far, I’ve been able to work around my ongoing issues without asking for any, and I should be able to continue doing so. But I feel like I should give some explanation for why I’m only working 5 to 10 hours per week. Most people in my role try to hit 35 to 40 hours, as I did before I got sick, though there are plenty who work at level or even more infrequently. Thoughts?

    1. Leigh*

      I wouldn’t share unless you need accommodations or medical leave. I wish I hadn’t shared my medical diagnosis with my supervisor. As long as they don’t have an issue with you working minimal hours, I don’t see any reason for them to know!

      1. Lady Danbury*

        This! Regardless of what other people do, any requirement for a minimum number of hours should have been communicated. I wouldn’t bring it up unless they say anything. And even then, I would hesitate to disclose your diagnosis as the reason for working lower hours.

    2. ferrina*

      I guess it depends on how weird your hours situation is. If it’s something that can fly under the radar, I definitely wouldn’t disclose until you know the manager much better. There can be way too many weird repercussions.

      If it would be super noticeable, you could say “I’m coming back from a medical situation and getting back into the swing of things.” But I would only say that if you absolutely have to. (also wouldn’t say the word “cancer” for any reason until you know the manager much, much better- people can just be so weird about it and decide that a Stage 1 melanoma is the same as a glioblastoma and now they know everything about you……ugh.)

    3. aubrey*

      I wouldn’t share unless he asks about your limited hours and presses the issue. Even then I would probably be vague about a health condition. Unfortunately, people can get really weird about serious conditions like cancer (as well as things like mental health). Congrats on being in remission and I hope you continue to feel better and better!

    4. PollyQ*

      Don’t say anything. There are plenty of reasons why a person might only work 5-10 hours a week, e.g., school, family care, other job. If they ever ask you to work more hours, then you can consider telling them, (or you can just say, “Sorry, but that won’t work with my schedule”) but as it stands now, I see no upside to you proactively bringing up your health.

  30. FloraPoste*

    Hello! So we recently hired a new colleague in my team (the regional office of an organization headquartered elsewhere). Our regional team now consists of: the head of the regional office (my boss), the office manager, me, and the new colleague. My role was previously the only individual contributor role, and we hired the new colleague because the role and workload had expanded so much since I joined the team a few years back that we needed someone else. He was hired specifically as a junior, and I am responsible for supervising him, delegating, training etc. This has created a lot more work for me in the short term, but in the long term should result in a much more manageable workload than previously.

    My question: my job title has remained the same since I started, and the new hire has the same title. Given the expansion of role, and that in practice I have significantly more responsibility than him, is it worth pushing for a new title? ‘Senior CurrentTitle’, for example?

    1. Mazey's Mom*

      Yes! Your job has changed, you’re taking on additional duties. You deserve not only a better title, but also a bump in salary. You would not be out of line to approach your supervisor about it.

    2. Lady Danbury*

      Absolutely! Not only has your role expanded, but you’re now supervising the other CurrentTitle. Your own title (and pay) should reflect this distinction.

    3. Purple Cat*

      Absolutely! Especially since you are supervising/training him – that puts you on a higher level than him.

    4. beach read*

      Yes! Worst that can happen is they say no. btw- your last paragraph is perfect as a script!! Good luck and don’t forget this is update season so keep us posted!!

  31. TotesMaGoats*

    I need advice. I’m not necessarily looking for a new position but my immediate boss is retiring in May after 40+ years. The goal, at the moment, is to replace from within. I’m in academia and not necessarily qualified from a degree perspective. Work experience and knowing the job…totally got that. So, I’m kind of casually looking around.

    Then yesterday I get an email from a headhunter about a position and while I have zero details beyond the level (going from asst dean to dean), I said yes to talking. So, I’m doing that today at 2pm.

    How should I approach this? What questions should I ask?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I don’t know have experience in academia, just throwing a few things out here:
      – typical workload for the position?
      – size of the department (faculty/staff/students)?

      Think about what you like in your current job that ideally a new job would have. Also think about what you don’t like in your current job that a new job ideally would NOT have. Write them down on a piece of paper so you can note any of them that come up during the discussion/ask about the ones that didn’t.

    2. TotesMaGoats*

      That was just the most fascinating conversation I’ve ever had! The firm had clearly looked at my background and I wasn’t nearly as underprepared for the role as I thought I would be. In fact, I could have absolutely pushed and started the process for consideration. That said, I’m about 5 years from that level and I would be over my head pretty quickly. Still, the guy is hanging on my stuff and he really praised my background. While the job would be remote (5-10 days a month on campus), it’s a 3 hour drive away and would be hell on family life.

      No, my goal is to figure out what to do with this information and how it could help in my current role.

  32. Trivia Newton-John*

    I’m just frustrated.
    Great interviews with a job I thought I would love and would be perfect for – first interview was at the end of September, and the most recent one was the beginning of November. They told me they’d follow up with me the week before Thanksgiving, and…radio silence. Week of Thanksgiving (understandable) radio silence. I sent a follow this past Monday and the HR director wrote back (with lots of exclamation points, it seemed she was happy to hear from me?) that she’d be back in touch soon. What is SOON? (Also now unsure about this job based on the most recent interview)
    The other interview I had for a different-but-I-think even MORE fascinating job also 3 weeks ago now, also said they’d be in touch the week before Thanksgiving to let me know if I’ve made it through to the next round, and stated at the close of our interview that I had a “very impressive resume”. Sent that follow up Monday as well and radio silence from them.
    I just don’t understand what is happening. I am very demoralized.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      That is very frustrating! I don’t know any better than you do what is going on inside those companies, but my guess is along the lines of:
      – everyone is busy wrapping up projects for the end of the year
      – many people are on vacation, so it’s hard to get all the stakeholders in one room to make a hiring decision
      – manager are busy with project/budget planning for 2022 and are letting hiring slip through the cracks

      Bottom line, assume the lack of communication has nothing to do with you (an especially not because you’re a bad candidate–sounds like both companies like you). Might be best to assume you didn’t get either job, focus on sending out other applications, and let it be a pleasant surprise if either company reaches out to you in the future.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        Completely agree with this! The convergence of end of month, end of quarter/year and holiday time make December extra challenging for many organizations. Hiring may drop to the bottom of the priority list when people are trying to clear up their to do list before going on holiday, some are still on or just coming back from Thanksgiving holidays, planning ahead for 2022, etc. One of the reasons why some organizations close between Christmas and New Year is that many businesses are slow during that time, which creates more pressure to be productive at the beginning of the month.

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Agree with all of these things!

        The day before Thanksgiving, I was frantically answering emails as I was boarding a plane because of how backlogged my colleagues are, so when they finally get me what I need, I was trying to respond right away so I’m not holding up the process, but there are still only 24 hours in the day.

    2. PollyQ*

      What’s happening is probably just that hiring almost always takes much longer than anyone anticipates. This doesn’t sound far out of the range of normal. If you can, apply Alison’s standard advice of “Assume you didn’t get the job and keep looking. If they do get back to you, it’ll be a pleasant surprise.”

  33. Mama2Be*

    I’m about to go on maternity leave (one month to go!) and I’ve slowly been training and handing off some tasks to the person who will be overseeing them while I am out. The person taking on these tasks asked me yesterday about taking over one final piece of my work next week so that they can have practice doing it while I’m still in the office, which I agree is a good idea. While I’m still on hand to answer questions/help if they get stuck, they’ve shown themselves to be very good at picking things up so it’s getting to the point where I’m needed less and less. The issue now is I’m finding myself running out of work to do while I’m still here!

    I know this is a good problem to have, but I feel like I’m being so lazy just sitting around while they handle so much, but I also don’t want to jump in too much and not give them time to get the experience down/troubleshoot on their own. Thoughts from anyone who has been there?

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      Use the free time to take a nap. That’s what I did in the last week of so before my mat leave. I’d handed everything off and just coasted. That’s ok. You’ve probably more than earned it.

    2. My Water Broke at 36 Weeks, So...*

      Congratulations, Mama2Be!

      Hard agree with TotesMaGoats–relax. Take naps. Eat snacks. Drink water. Walk around. Go pee. Repeat. You can’t know if you are going to have a newborn in a month, six weeks, or…tomorrow. This gentle & long transition at work is exactly how it should be.

    3. Purple Cat*

      Enjoy it!
      I’m very Type A and I understand what you’re feeling, but you will be so exhausted/overwhelmed when the baby gets here that you will be SO grateful you had this additional time to wind down and relax.

      Maybe work on some additional documentation that might be needed? Or that *one thing* that’s been lingering in the corner of your mind for a while?

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Take the parts that the person does well and do those, so the person can focus on the stuff they are not clear on.

      Start a small project that you have always wanted to do. Pick something that might take a week or so.

      Clean your desk. Organize and clearly label everything in sight.

      Create a doc of odd things that come up and what to do about them.

  34. Anonymous Luddite*

    Just a small vent. After years of meditation and getting in touch with my feelings, I’m proud to report that I can now tell exactly when my last f*** bursts into flames.

    For months, the head of the Llama Training department vented that he needed an instruction manual of How to Teach a Llama to Sit for the new trainers. I said, “Certainly. We are due to get a new Llama in late November or early December. When it arrives, tell me and I will work with the experienced trainers to create a manual.” He agreed.
    I sent emails, ccing him and my boss: New Llama, Sitting, call me.
    I spoke with the trainers themselves: New Llama, Sitting, call me.
    I walked the training floor regularly, chatting with all the trainers. Yes, the new llama is here, but not ready to sit.
    Yesterday afternoon, I walk the training floor again and there is the new llama, sitting.
    I went back to my chain of emails and replied one last time: “That thing you wanted? It’s now on indefinite hold until we get a new llama, which according to my sales schedule won’t be until spring of next year.”
    And then spent the rest of the afternoon at my desk, planning my next vacation, because otherwise I would kick people in the shins.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      I wish I didn’t empathize with this as much as I do. And new llama will arrive next spring and Llama Training head will wonder why there’s no manual and will try to throw you under the bus for not having one.
      Ask me how I know…..(insert enormous eye roll gif here)

      1. Anonymous Luddite*

        Oh, fear not, Chauncy Gardener. My bus jiu jitsu is strong.
        I cc’d my boss on the “that thing you want? Because you didn’t tell me, it’s delayed.”
        My boss’s response was “well, that was frustrating.”
        Now if he can only manifest a vertebra or two, we might actually get something done. Cross fingers!

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          “Manifest a vertebra or two” *chef’s kiss*

          It does always seem that there’s little reward for forward thinking and planning, at least in a lot of places

          May your bus jiu jitsu continue to grow and prosper!

    2. Pam Adams*

      Perhaps the llama trainers can write the manual, with your oversight. You can then check its accuracy when the new llama gets there.

      1. Anonymous Luddite*

        That is remarkably sweet and heart warming in its sincerity.
        And I can’t give them that many crayons at once, or else they will eat them.

  35. Susie*

    I commented in the Nov. 24th post “The Determined Thief, They Cranberry Usurper and other Work Potlucks Gone Wrong” that I had been inspired by the cheap-ass role story to pick up a couple packs of King’s Hawaiian roll to see if they were better and I would report back. (Sorry, not sure how to link to my original comment).

    Anyway, they were pretty good and at $5.25 a pack, definitely not “cheap-ass”. We tried the ones labeled “savory butter” and they were a hit. I have a son whose Thanksgiving meal consist of only rolls and Cajun-style turkey and he said “more, please”. We tried the original ones the next day and they did have a slightly sweet taste to them and previously mentioned son said they could be “dessert” rolls for him. So overall, great rolls that we would buy again.

    I’m sorry the OP for that story got so upset about it, but I don’t think it was a deliberate insult. My son did ask if we had an “normal” rolls in case he did not like the Hawaiian rolls, so I think it’s really a matter of preference and a coworker who thought maybe some regular rolls would be appreciated in case someone did not like the sweetness of the Hawaiian roll.

    1. cmcinnyc*

      I confess to trying Hawaiian rolls when this originally posted. Eh, not my thing. But now I need to find the “savory butter” flavor!

    2. Lady Danbury*

      They’re good if you like sweet rolls. I’m not a fan (prefer my rolls to be savory unless they’re actual sweet rolls like cinnamon rolls) but I can see how they’d be appealing.

    3. HR Professional*

      I love the original Hawaiian rolls. I consider them a treat. (My mom’s homemade dinner rolls are the best, though…)

    4. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

      Yep we don’t get Hawaiian rolls in the UK (at least not so I’ve noticed) but I googled the recipe after that story – legendary.

    5. Windchime*

      I love Hawaiian rolls, so when my sister asked me to grab rolls for dinner the other night, I picked up a package. Except when I got to the house, they were Hawaiian roll hot dog buns. So we had hot-dog shaped buns with our turkey dinner leftovers. Who knew there was even such a thing as Hawaiian style hot dog buns??

  36. J*

    I recently started a job that I like but am confused about the comments of one of the higher-ups. The person previously in my job was an attorney and I am an attorney. However, the position calls for a lot of admin/management work, and when the position’s responsibilities were more limited in scope it was filled by a paralegal.

    “Bob,” who has been one of the higher-up attorneys for a long time, repeatedly refers to me as “the paralegal” or talks about “the paralegal position.” He has said this in zoom meetings before and I’ve seen some of the other attorneys’s facial expressions change because everyone knows I’m an attorney, I make six figures like the rest of them, and I had to furnish my good standing certificates to Bob’s boss as part of this job.

    My question is, should I do anything to correct Bob? My concern is that if I want to leave this position then Bob sees me as a paralegal and would talk about me as “the paralegal.” One thing that I had though of was asking Bob for more responsibility when I’ve gotten my feet under me more and discussing my bar licensure with Bob, which would be an indirect of saying “Hey, I’m actually an attorney and this is going to confuse people who ask me if I’m an attorney.”

    1. Meg*

      Unsure if you’re female or not, but this reeks of sexism. If not, then Bob’s just a jerk.
      That said, I’d 100% bring it up. Next time it happens, I’d just say, “Hey Bob– just so you know, I’m not a paralegal, I’m an attorney.”

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        I think there’s a reasonable possibility that Bob is a non-jerk who honestly doesn’t know that OP is a lawyer. But if that’s the case and he just doesn’t know, it is still a little sexist to assume that a woman doing the work (if that’s the case) must be a paralegal, not a lawyer. And in any event OP needs to correct his misunderstanding (or mis-speaking) in the moment, early and often until he gets it right.

      1. pancakes*

        That’s not the right approach. Not being able or willing to speak up for oneself is not a positive trait for a lawyer.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Make sure you (and Bob) understand exactly what your role is, because attorneys often get hired for paralegal positions and there is an important difference. Are you working for the firm as an attorney (allowed to make independent legal decisions), or are you working as a paralegal (work must be supervised by someone in an attorney role).

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Put on your lawyer pants and correct that sh-t up front and directly. Nobody’s going to do it for you.

    4. pancakes*

      Yes, of course you should say something! I don’t see how you could think this isn’t worthy of correcting, or that it’s only an issue if and when you’re on the verge of leaving. And don’t be indirect or coy about it by asking Bob for more responsibility.

    5. Lady Danbury*

      I would address it directly with Bob offline, using a benefit of the doubt script (even though it’s likely that Bob is a sexist jerk). “I’ve heard you refer to me as a paralegal in meetings. I just wanted to clear up any confusion. I know that this role has been filled by a paralegal at some point in the past, but it has since been expanded and is now an attorney role. I’m an attorney, as was my predecessor.” Maybe add a joke about having worked hard for your bar admission or something similar. Your tone should basically be of course Bob is confused and would never purposely call a fellow attorney a paralegal.

      1. un-pleased*

        Cut out everything after “confusion” and just end with “I’m an attorney.” Give Bob a beat to allow him to ask a follow-up question/apologize. Then add the correct info about the actual role if needed. I think simpler is better here.

    6. StellaBella*

      when he says this, politely raise you hand and ask who it is he is referring to as you are a lawyer and were unclear that you had another team member.

  37. Anonymous Koala*

    I’ve been the mentee in a work sponsored mentorship program for almost a year now. My mentor’s nice, but she’s said some things about career development that concern me. Several times she’s said that she thinks people in entry level roles shouldn’t pursue management as a means to grow their careers or get more money, but should instead try to be the best ‘leaders in their roles’ as possible. This is particularly frustrating because well…there aren’t any paths for career growth or more money unless you pursue management in our field (gov). My mentor just got a skip level promotion (she’s got a lot of management experience, but right now she works in the same position as me) where she will have a lot of power over career development opportunities and promotions. Is there anything I can do/say to get more insight on what she means and how it might affect my opportunities and those of my peers at this level?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds to me like she moved up by “leading in place” for quite a while. You say she has the same role as you but she just got a promotion. How long did this take?
      Government can be pretty stagnated. No sudden moves, no big surprises, etc. It could be that she does not want you to get your hopes set on a fast progression. I think many people here would tell you a similar thing.

      I think you can do a couple things here.

      1) One is to ask her to tell you her own story, of what she has done and what she thinks has benefited her.
      2) Ask her how you can be the best leader in your role. This will give you a leg up when you check all the right boxes for her at promotion time.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        Thanks for the response! I agree that it’s important to lead in place, and you’re right, I should be asking more questions about what exactly that looks like. This person moved up very quickly (less than a year) but she came from a 40 year career in private industry with several management roles and had been earmarked for the role since the beginning. Government is notoriously slow. :)

  38. Quiet Please*

    We have a new custodian that sings loudly her entire shift, whether in your office or going up and down the halls, headphones in. She’s not a great singer. I haven’t said anything because I feel like a jerk trying to ruin her joy in an otherwise thankless job, but I’m not being unreasonable if I ask her to stop, right? It’s really distracting and we have tons of meetings happening all the time.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Say nothing about how good or bad the singing is. That’s a subjective decision.

      Just address the volume.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      No one sings well with headphones in, and no one realizes how loud they are. I would say something like “you probably can’t tell, because you’re wearing headphones, but we can hear you singing in our offices and during meetings. It’s distracting, so would you mind not doing that?”

    3. Drenched in purell*

      Singing is a Covid spreading activity. You could ask them to stop based on that alone.

  39. Weegie*

    Looking for advice on using Canva to produce a professional newsletter. If you have experience with this, what’s your take on it? Easy, difficult, things to look out for? Is it possible to do it well on the free or lower-cost plannif you’re not a designer? (I’m an editor with some design training.)

    I’ll be taking over and relaunching a divisional newsletter soon and am finding the previous production method both expensive and a bit unwieldy (involves more people than strictly necessary, and reminds me of my bad old days as a copywriter pre-decent internet). I just need a one-time template that I can customise a bit with our branding and that I can slot content into a few times a year. If it can be both emailed and saved as a PDF that would be ideal. Recommendations for any other no-fuss means of newsletter production welcomed! TIA

    1. OyHiOh*

      I use Canva for quite a bit of our design work.

      I’ve had people in my org who wanted to be added to my Canva “team” so they could help edit and I’ve refused because there’s a bit of a learning curve for the technologically inept (the staff member in question was/is very inept!). For someone with design experience, it’s a reasonably robust platform. I’m using Canva in much the way you want to – building templates that I slot new information into as needed – and it works fine. You can save as PDF easily. You cannot email directly from Canva. I don’t know about other direct mailer services but we use ConstantContact, and that platform allows us to create in Canva, and then mail out on CC.

    2. Rey*

      I have no design training at all, and the Canva templates have made it very easy to get ideas for what looks good and to create a template like you described that you want to update with new content each quarter. My office originally signed up for the free account and Canva offered a 30-day trial of the paid version, so that might be good for you to try out both options and see what you want. I would use the trial of the paid version to create the template so that you’ll have all the extra features that make it easier, and then I think you could probably use the free version each time you wanted to swap in new content. Good luck!

    3. meagain*

      I just use Constant Contact to send out eblasts/newsletters. I don’t love the design features, but it’s workable. Sometimes I make graphics in free canva to insert into the eblast, but most of the time I can do enough of what I want to do right in Constant Contact.

  40. Leigh*

    I would love some guidance from all the great minds here! Sorry if this is lengthy.
    tldr: received written warning, I think most is BS, I wrote a written response, and then my boss said I should include some personal info in my response, I’m not sure if I should?

    I am a mid-level manager at a non-profit in health-care type field. I recently received a written warning at work on my performance. Some of the issues I agreed with but some I believe were false or extremely exaggerated. For instance it listed several things (report x, report y, etc) and then stated “not submitted/submitted late” but none of these reports were ever “not submitted”. Report x was submitted a couple days late 2 months of the year but was submitted on time the rest of the year. And I’ve been with this employer over a decade in several different departments and under previous supervisors, this has never been an issue to occasionally submit these reports a couple days past deadline if other urgent issues came up (particularly “patient care” type issues).

    So I submitted a response to this written warning for HR and my file. I address each point in the written warning. The points I agreed with I wrote a plan of correction or stated how I had already corrected. The points I disagreed with I stated things like “This report was submitted by the deadline 10 months out of the past year. The other two months it was submitted 2 days late. Going forward, I will submit this by the deadline monthly”. Also another point in my warning stated that I was not completing a task and this was against our regulations from our state licensing. However, this task is not in our regulations. So I responded that I understood my supervisor wanted this task completed and I will complete it moving forward however this is not a task that is required per regulations.

    So this past year has been hell for so many reasons both personally and professionally. Professionally – I have been short-staffed and in particular I have been missing one of the key people on my team. I was in the process of hiring for that position when Covid hit and then we had a hiring freeze. For well over a year I have been covering ALL of the tasks for this key position in addition to my regular managerial and operational responsibilities. In addition, we have sooooo many new protocols/tasks/restrictions in place due to Covid and my team is stretched thin to handle all of this.
    Personally – I have been going through a divorce (trigger by their substance abuse issues/many rehab stays) and dealing with some personal medical issues (new diagnosis, under control now, and I hardly took any time off while dealing with this). Unfortunately I probably shared too much of this personal stuff with my supervisor because she seemed to be very supportive and I wanted to provide some explanations for my time off (doctor’s appointments, last minute call-out due to spouse’s relapse/rehab trips, etc.)

    After I submitted my written response to the warning, my supervisor said she was surprised I didn’t include any of my personal struggles from the past year in my response. She said it is up to me but she thinks I should include it I guess to explain my performance issues?

    What would you do?

    1. Saraquill*

      No advice, just sympathy. I’m in a similar position of personal life influence work life. I’m also loathe to go into detail at the office as I don’t know what qualifies as awkward or too revealing.

      1. Leigh*

        Yes – I definitely regret sharing some of this stuff with my supervisor. Initially she just seemed really supportive and encouraged me to take whatever time I needed. I should have taken more time off in retrospect but I knew we were so short-staffed I felt bad leaving my team. But now I worry she is going to use this information against me somehow.

    2. Fed*

      Nope! Keep it professional. You don’t want your personal issues in there, plus they aren’t the reason for the write up.

    3. ES*

      Absolutely not. It sounds like what you submitted is more than sufficient, I would not want details about a divorce or health issues attached to this. You already explained in detail why the mistakes happened and how you will correct them, your personal life does not need to be part of this.

      1. Leigh*

        Thank you – I appreciate the response! I agree. I felt in my gut that I shouldn’t include it but needed some validation on that.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      I’m surprised your supervisor encouraged you to discuss your personal struggles in an official report. Where I work that kind of thing is Not Done, but perhaps it depends on your work culture?

      At my work, my supervisor and her boss would have the most say about whether I got written up, and would decide what the write up would consist of. If your supervisor has full context about these issues and agrees that they’re misrepresented/ understandable, why isn’t she pushing back on this reprimand for you?

      1. Leigh*

        Sorry if I didn’t explain well. My supervisor wrote the written warning. But then I wrote a response because I disagreed with several items and felt like it was exaggerated.
        I appreciate the response. I agree it felt wrong to include personal stuff in my response so I’m just going to leave it as is. If anything I would want to include more in my written response about how we have been so short-staffed and being asked to do more with less.

    5. JustForThis*

      Who is responsible for the written warning? Your supervisor or someone else?

      It seems to me you responded to the written warning calmly and professionally, and laid out a clear path how you will address the relevant issues in your work from now on. If you think that the staffing shortage will continue to create problems for you and make it hard to meet your goals, I would definitely mention this (which positions are unfilled? how does this impact your work?). I’d very much hesitate to mention any personal problems at this stage.

      1. Leigh*

        Thank you, I appreciate that. That was my instinct to leave out everything personal so it really surprised me when she asked me to consider including that. It almost feels like I’m being tricked…I don’t want any of my personal stuff used against me in the future.
        To clarify – my supervisor wrote the written warning. I wrote a response to it because it was so exaggerated. I sent my response to HR and my supervisor. My supervisor suggested I add the personal issues to my response.

        1. JustForThis*

          This seems really weird to me, and even slightly double-faced: While talking with you, your supervisor suggests she has your back, is understanding etc., and then she gives you a at least somewhat overblown written warning at the same time? Had she even given you a verbal warning before the written one?

          In any case, I very much understand why you are cautious. Under these circumstances, I certainly would not include any personal issues in the response.

          1. Leigh*

            Yeah I’m feeling really uncomfortable with the way this is playing out and I’m starting actively job searching. We’ve had several informal meetings together and I’m assuming she’s considering some of those to be a “verbal warning” bc in my company there’s supposed to be a verbal warning before a written warning. But she never specifically said “this is a warning”. Instead she would say she supports me and wanted me to delegate more of my tasks onto my (already over-worked) team because she knew I was stretched thin. I have a hard time believing she is actively trying to get rid of me but I suppose it’s possible. Several of my peers in other departments have been having similar issues so I think it’s possible my boss got in trouble for something and is trying to spread the blame around. I also think this could be related to our upcoming merit increases and now she has a reason to give me a smaller increase which helps her overall budget. Hopefully I’ll be giving my notice in the near future!!

    6. meagain*

      I definitely would not include any written details of personal issues in your response. The only ones I would even consider mentioning would be professional issues such as restrictions in place due to Covid, challenges from a hiring freeze and adequate staffing concerns. I don’t know enough about what’s acceptable to voice concerns about in the health care industry, but managing the constant evolving protocols, restrictions, staffing issues, etc seems to be somewhat universal right now and given more grace than other issues.

      1. Leigh*

        Thank you!! I’m so glad it’s a unanimous opinion to disregard my boss’s suggestion to add my personal issues to my response. I feel much better knowing that my gut instinct is correct here. In my initial response, I did include information about how I have been covering my missing key position on my team and dealing with all the new protocols/restrictions so I’m just going to leave it as is. And if she brings it up again, I’ll tell her I gave it some thought but decided I’d prefer to keep it professional and not include personal information. Thank you again!

        1. meagain*

          I think your instinct is correct!! Including information on legitimate, professional issues seems totally fine and even very understandable given the insanity with this virus in health care professions right now. And being understaffed, new protocols/restrictions, ever involving and the lack of clear guidance at times. No need to include the personal. But I really am so sorry you are going through a divorce and dealing with all th work crap too. It can all be so traumatic. I also understand sharing with the boss, in a moment where you probably just needed support and understanding, and she was being supportive, but then you regret later. It’s okay, it happens. Just tighten up what you tell her moving forward and definitely don’t put any of that in writing.

  41. Andjazzy*

    So, my boss has lost it. She has started sending me terse emails about me “not doing” various tasks. Every task was done days to weeks ago, well within due date. I just responded with screen shots of time and dated work completion from our files.

    She became irate when I responded with proof I did all the work. Then she sent me another task I “didn’t do” and it was a task assigned to her that I don’t have access to even see.

    What do I do here? To my coworker she sent an email saying that all of his “overdue work” was unacceptable. He asked what she was talking about because he has nothing overdue and she flipped out.

    How do i respond to her? It’s nutty

    1. JustForThis*

      Is it possible that your boss does, in fact, have many overdue tasks herself, got recently called out for it by higher-ups, and is now (irrationally) trying to put the blame on you and your coworker? If so: as long as your own work is well-documented — which seems to be the case — I’d wait and see; she might be on the verge of leaving the company. If her strange behaviour continues, you might want to speak with your grandboss about the situation.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Yeah, this is a her problem. Keep documentation about this in case you need it. But there’s no point in trying to second-guess her behavior.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yup– document and sit tight. While it stinks, it sounds like a larger issue and you know you’re in the clear.

    2. Leigh*

      Yikes. Do you have a decent relationship with your grand-boss? If so, I would consider forwarding the email where she reprimanded you for not doing the task that was assigned to her and just let grand-boss know you’re having a lot issues with boss claiming to you not completing tasks that you have been.

      1. Andjazzy*

        My bosses husband and father are on the board of directors. I’d be immediately ousted if I complained

        1. Leigh*

          bigger yikes. Just keep documentation of you completing your stuff on time and start job searching! Good luck!

        2. JimmyJab*

          Probably not helpful, but: this is reason enough to leave/find something else! You can’t win in this setup.

    3. pancakes*

      Do you mean you responded with literally just screenshots, no accompanying text at all? That’s a little too terse if so. To be clear it sounds like she is really being a jerk, but being terse with her is extremely unlikely to make the situation any better, and could make it worse.

      1. Andjazzy*

        I couldn’t come up with any written response that didn’t come off as rude…

        I literally didn’t know how to respond to that. The only one I responded to was one telling her that the task she was emailing about was assigned to herself.

        1. pancakes*

          Maybe it would help to think of how you would politely address the same accusations if she made them in person? You wouldn’t just pull up an image of the dates and hold it in front of her face, surely. Try to be bland and calm about making any corrections, something along the lines of, “I completed those on Wednesday afternoon. Here’s the file.”

    4. LikesToSwear*

      If you have a decent relationship with your boss, maybe a kind “is everything okay? You haven’t been yourself lately. Is there anything I can do to help?” Sudden personality changes can be a symptom of a number of different medical conditions.

      Also, maybe time to job hunt for a non-nuts boss.

      1. pancakes*

        That’s pretty unlikely to go over well, and just isn’t the right approach. It’s sort of the emotional equivalent of “you look tired.” And it’s not on Andjazzy to “help” her boss wrangle her bad moods or anxieties or whatever is causing her to be cranky and forgetful. Speculating whether the cause may be medical isn’t anyone’s business but the boss herself.

  42. Dino*

    My company HR is incredibly incompetent, but I won against them this week. (Aside but related: They told us we can’t ask coworkers if they’re vaccinated because “that’s a HIPAA violation” but the company makes us take HIPAA training so we all know it’s bullshit.)

    I’m trying to get an accommodation at work. Started the process in September, beginning of November I was told it was approved and to be on the lookout for the device to arrive. On Monday I email the HR person handling it, they aren’t with the company anymore.

    I contacted the POC in the out of office message and was told there’s no record of any of my documentation, nor could they find any info on the device being ordered. We go back and forth, I explain everything that’s happened so far. HR asks me if I have the doctor’s documentation, I say no because the form from the company says the doctor sends it directly to HR. I’m asked to contact my doctor to get them to send it again. Problem is I’ve moved and have a new doctor, soooo no.

    I’m extremely pissed at this point and sick of HR not doing their jobs or following their own procedures. We’d been going back and forth for days at this point, after I was supposed to receive my accommodation a month ago. I reply saying I’ll do what I can, but I sure hope HR can find the documentation because it has my PII/PHI on it and it’d be concerning if that’s floating around out there.

    Two hours later, HR suddenly located my documentation. Moral of the story: don’t mandate HIPAA training for your employees if you aren’t going to follow it!

    1. Square Root of Minus One*

      I’m so sorry.
      It reminds me of my Head Office. They’ve become really unpopular in the labs they supervise during the last few years because a new system literally buries us commoners in internal documentation – when efficient software and databases would be quicker and make no mistakes but whatever. I mostly don’t care and some of it is actual improvement.
      What I can’t live with, however, is them asking us for docs and then NOT READING THEM.
      I can’t explain in a few words, but recently my n+2 relayed to me a question from them about one of those forms I filled. This question is so incredibly stupid, I can only explain it by them having just seen the figures in the text and none of the words around them.

    2. Juneybug*

      Oh, I had something similar happen to me.
      Back in the day, I was a brand new state government employee attending orientation in our work building (but happen to be in a different building from our headquarters). HR is there collecting our paperwork, such as a copy of my birth certificate showing I am an US citizen. I turned in ALL of my paperwork to our HR person and start working my new job. Few days later, HR calls my boss to say I am missing some of my paperwork. My new boss is confused as I told him I had completed orientation and my paperwork. I ask him if we could call HR in his office. He seems confused why I couldn’t do this at my desk but I had a point to prove since HR seem to have misplaced my paperwork and called my boss instead of me (not cool on their part). The head of HR answers and I explain who I am, what was happening, what paperwork I provided, and whom I handed the documentation to. She says she will look into it. Then I ask her in a very direct voice “Should I be worried that HR cannot be responsible to ensure my personal information is safe?” The room goes silent. The head of HR apologizes and says that I should be able to trust them to do their job. I thank her and we hang up. My new boss now looks both scared and in awe of me. I thank him for his time and go back to work.
      Few hours later, I get a phone call from the head of HR letting me know they had found my paperwork. Then I get a phone call from the HR person who I had turned in my paperwork apologizing for misplacing my paperwork. My new boss also got the same phone calls.
      My boss told me later on that he knew right there I was a great hire.

  43. KayDeeAye*

    I wonder if anybody has some tips for reducing this weird, job-related intermittent stress that I sometimes feel. In its most severe form, it comes on during my morning commute. It’s this nasty, fluttery, something-wicked-this-way-comes feeling, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense since I actually like my job a lot. I am sure part of the reason is my boss – who I mostly get along with fine but who is a control freak about certain things, particularly things like my being more than 5 minutes late. Also, while we get along quite well now, there have been times in the past when our relationship was considerably more rocky, so some of it is a holdover from those days, I’m sure.

    I could understand it (a bit) if I’m actually running late, but it comes on some days when I’m really early, or even days when she won’t be in the office and therefore won’t know if I’m 7 minutes late instead of 4. So it’s not helpful, and it’s not rational. I am generally pretty even-tempered, so this bugs the heck out of me. I know this isn’t a site for psychological advice, but any tips from other sufferers of weird, job-related intermittent stress would be most welcome!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Can you just adjust your commute schedule so that your plan is to arrive 15 minutes early, and then just spend any extra minutes in your car reading or something?

    2. hi*

      I don’t have advice for you, but commiseration. When I was still working in person pre-pandemic I would often find myself crying on the way to work, even though I didn’t dread anything specific about my job. I think sometimes the body holds stress that the mind is not consciously aware of.

  44. Anonononononymous*

    Ok, going anon for this one. What would you do if you found out someone your organization let go at the end of their probationary period lied about that? I found out that a person we recently let go for being incompetent told their next employer that the were let go because the position ended. (It’s a position we are mandated to have – it will never just “end”.)

    The organization she went to is closely aligned with mine and she’s in a role similar to the one we let her go from. I’m pretty sure she didn’t give anyone from our organization as a reference and I’m guessing they never contacted anyone here even though we work closely with them on various projects. Which I guess they get what they deserve if they don’t do their due diligence…but still. What ex-employee did feels really shady.

    1. Doctor is In*

      I wouldn’t do anything. Not your circus, not your monkeys. If you have to interact with them in the new role and their lack of ability causes problems, then you can tell them what the issue is! Good luck.

    2. Bernice Clifton*

      I would keep in mind:

      – I wasn’t in the room when she was asked why she left her last job and have no way to know 100% what she said.

      – I’m not the only person at my Org so I have no idea if anyone contacted us for a reference or what was said

      – I would assume if my ex-coworker misled them and she is still incompetent, the new org will deal with that in their own way.

    3. Also anon*

      Something similar happened to a friend of mine. HR was very clear that she wasn’t being fired, she was let go at the end of the employment period. So it is possible that your person didn’t lie. (In the case of my friend, she was not inherently incompetent, just unable to do things they hadn’t trained her on. At the time I wondered if this careful parsing was intended to stave off a wrongful termination lawsuit.)

  45. gbca*

    As someone who has been conducting a lot of zoom interviews this week, I have a tip: do not have extensive notes up on your screen! I’ve had multiple candidates do this, and it’s really distracting and unnatural when they are constantly referring to them. A few notes you might occasionally refer to and a list of questions for your interviewer is fine, but basically don’t have more notes in front of you for an interview over zoom than you would in person.

    1. Kw10*

      Have to admit I’m guilty of this, though I’ve (perhaps naively) assumed it wouldn’t be noticeable to my interviewers. How can you tell? I mean if the person starts reading a pre-written answer word for word or something it might be pretty obvious, but just referring to notes or key talking points?

  46. The Smiling Pug*

    Hello AAM commenters,
    I finally have a job interview coming up in about a week after months of sending in applications. I’ve looked through Alison’s tips for asking and answering questions, but the entire idea of I MIGHT BE MOVING ON FROM MY CURRENT JOB has me immensely worried/elated. Any help/recommendations/sympathy would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!!

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      That’s so normal and usual!! Changing jobs is a huge change that brings on all sorts of conflicting feelings. Just go with it, but try not to let it run your life.
      Good luck!!

      1. The Smiling Pug*

        This is so true. I stated below that I’ve been with this company for 4 years, and this is my first interview that wasn’t for an internal position. But, I’m not really worried because I have Alison’s expert advice for interviews. :)

    2. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

      seconding this – even average boring jobs I’ve felt a sort odd feeling when it comes to leave, work is such a huge part of our lives and nerves around changing our routines, effort of being new and working out whats is a thing but what could help me is telling myself its better to regret something I tried rather than not trying something new at all – comfort zone is comfortable for reason but the air can get so stale there.

      1. The Smiling Pug*

        That’s true, and I’ve been with this company for four years now. It was my first job post-graduation, and it just….feels weird to think about leaving. But it’s necessary.

  47. A question of "disability"*

    We have an internal company newsletter, and the person responsible for it has given an open call for people’s “experiences and perspectives” relating to “disabilities and health conditions” for an article in recognition of “International Day of Persons with Disabilities” (really snappy name, that).

    I have disclosed depression, anxiety, and a recent diagnosis of autism to the company (HR and my manager) all of which are covered by the Equality Act as technically disabilities, but I don’t know whether I “qualify as disabled”. I’ve not got any adjustments in place, and it’s not really come up in a work context, but the company is so supportive and I’d like to recognise that. I don’t know whether it would be stupid to volunteer my perspective when I have coworkers with visible disabilities and undoubtedly some with invisible ones who could speak with better authority on the subject. Should I butt out or would it be ok?

    1. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      You are absolutely okay to speak on your own experience, thoughts, and feelings. You don’t have to, but please don’t put yourself through the “am I disabled enough” game, because it helps no one, especially you.

    2. Purple Cat*

      Of course it would be ok!
      And it sounds like you would have a great perspective to offer since your disability is more invisible and other employees might also think they’re experiences “don’t count” and/or that they are alone.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Send it.

      If the person writing the article doesn’t think it is relevant, they won’t use it. And TBH, depending how many responses they get and how long the article is supposed to be, they might not wind up using it anyway. But a discussion of ND-related disability is always helpful and too often overlooked. It could be a valuable addition.

  48. Cj*

    I started a new job on Monday, and in two places in our employee handbook it states that our compensation is considered to be confidential information, and it not to be discussed with other employees. I know that is against some federal regulation (FLSA?).

    I have a professional license and decades more experience than my co-workers, so there wouldn’t be any value to either me or them in sharing it. But if there would be, and/or I felt strongly about it, how safe is if for an employee, especially a new employee, to push back on this?

    Anybody have any experience with this? If so, have you been able to point out to your employer that it is illegal, they just didn’t realize it, and changed their outlook? Or did they double down on it? Fire you over it and it wasn’t worth it to bring a lawsuit/report it to anybody? Of fire you over it and you did fight it?

    1. JimmyJab*

      My only advice is to wait (how long? I don’t know) to raise issues like this. It’s not necessarily fair/reasonable to have to do so, but based on reading this site for ages it seems like raising even a legitimate issue with something like an employee handbook as a newbie would not be appreciated.

    2. FACS*

      I do have experience with this at Old Job. I have a professional license, terminal degree. Now, I came in as part of the top of the org structure. I simply pointed out that the office policy was in violation of federal law and if there ever was any disciplinary action taken against anyone then the handbook would be the smoking gun. I got back “so when did that become the rule?”. Ummm, 1938. Don’t even remind me about the battle over having a place to pump that was not a bathroom! The policy changes and all was right with the world. But I was lucky enough to have some gravitas based on my role. Front desk people, not so much.

    3. Not A Manager*

      I’m not an employment lawyer, but I think the federal rule based on the National Labor Relations Act only covers non-management employees. If you’re a manager, I think they can prohibit this conversation, unless your state has stricter laws.

      1. Cj*

        The only real manager’s are the owner and her husband. My title is “tax manager”, but I don’t actually manange anybody.

  49. BalanceofThemis*

    How do you deal with coworkers who don’t pull their weight with extra shifts? I work in a museum, which means after hours events, occasional weekends for special lectures, etc.

    Most of us are salaried, exempt, so there’s no overtime, it’s just expected that everyone helps out as needed, and if everyone did, it would mean less extra days, because every event doesn’t need all staff.

    The problem is many people just don’t sign up, leaving all the extra work in just a couple departments. And when an event is short staffed because it goes over multiple days, or is one long day with multiple shifts, my department is always expected to pick up the slack, even when no one helps with our events.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      It sounds like you need to talk with your manager to get clear on expectations for how people are providing coverage. Could the imbalance in coverage possibly be intentional? Maybe some people are not expected to help provide coverage? You could ask for a more fair way of assigning coverage, but that would probably require managers from multiple departments to coordinate.

      If that’s not likely, what I would personally do would be to make clear that I expect to average 40 hours / week and that when I work extra events, I expect to take comp time off the following week.

      1. BalanceofThemis*

        Everyone is expected to provide coverage, it’s just that there are no consequences if individuals, or whole departments, just nope out.

        We do get comp time, it’s just that right now, with the Federally Mandated Season of Cheer, there is some going on every weekend, plus our regular schedule of special tours, lectures and other events. It’s a lot, and basically 6 of us are being asked to show up almost every day.

        My manager, after getting no help for our event in November, told us we would do the one shift, and to refuse any additional shifts. She said if anyone says anything, to direct them to her.

        1. LikesToSwear*

          At least it sounds like your manager has your back. My guess is that she is forcing them to recognize that coverage is not happening equitably, and maybe it will cause some changes to happen.

          1. Kathenus*

            Completely agree. Just be careful not to fall into the trap of signing up for more because you feel guilty or are concerned about the appearance to the organization or something. If there aren’t consequences it won’t change, so it’s great that your manager supports you – definitely do exactly what she said.

      2. balanceofthemis*

        A big part of the problem is that there are 2 whole departments that never help with anything extra. And right now our Operations department, which includes Admissions, Security and Maintenance, is too understaffed to have any of their people working special events and tflexing their time when coverage for them is already hanging by a thread.

    2. cmcinnyc*

      This is not a “coworkers not pulling their weight” problem. This is a vague expectations and letting things roll downhill problem. If there are 2 depts that do not participate, that means their management backs them up in not doing these extra events. Your manager is right: sign up for one, let the chips fall where they may. Either the company is not terribly invested in these events and will just take them off the calendar if they can’t get coverage, or they’ll schedule people and it will be mandatory and you won’t have to worry about it anymore.

      The “honor system” for unpaid overtime in December is going to fail. If not this year, eventually. It’s a bad system. (Speaking as someone who would cheerfully refuse to do this unless forced. Your disapproval would not move me.)

    3. PollyQ*

      This isn’t really a co-worker problem, it’s a management problem. They need to quit expecting and start assigning. If you don’t have the power to do that, escalate it to your manager.

  50. seabee*

    I’ve searched all over the archives and can’t find any relevant posts, so asking here: anyone have tips about how to help interview a person who will ultimately be your supervisor? My grandboss has been directly supervising me for awhile now, but was recently given permission to fill the job of my direct supervisor. He wants me to be involved in the hiring process, due to my having to interact with the person so much, which I really appreciate. But I’m having trouble coming up with questions to ask in the interview, or things to look for!

    Obviously I’m kind of junior in the department, and have never been involved in hiring before, let alone hiring someone who will be my supervisor. So this is all super new to me, but also exciting, because hopefully I’ll be able to help us end up with someone I’ll work well with.

    1. ATX*

      I would grill the f out of them! lol!

      – I would ask how they have incoporated an inclusive environment in the past, and ask for examples.
      – If they prefer to be hands on with projects or let their direct reports take the lead and get status updates every so often (this question could show whether or not they’re a micromanager)
      – How they have communicated feedback in the past. Also, if feedback goes both ways.
      – I would ask various scenarios, for example: what would you do if an employee gave you feedback that was surprising to you?
      – Ask for an example of how they coached someone who was performing less than the rest of the team, or how they would handle it if they hadn’t experienced it before
      – What is their vision for a team
      – How often do they hold team meetings or 1:1s
      – What is their preferred style of communication: phone, email, messenger.
      – How flexible is the manager with regard to working hours, vacation days, appointments, etc.

      I would basically ask them any question that could give me more information as to how they are as a manager.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I think asking them about their management style is good. Also, flip the secret question on them “what sort of person succeeds best under your type of management?”
      How do they like to work? Do they like a once per week checkin with each of their direct reports? That kind of thing

    3. Purple Cat*

      First, ask your grand-boss if he wants your interview to be more technically-focused, “fit” focused, or if it’s up to you.
      It’s frustrating when multiple interviewers all ask the same question of the candidate.

      Then types of things I would ask:
      – they’re background and experience in the technical work
      – describe their management style
      – how have they handled conflict and poor-performing employees in the past
      – what they think a successful employee looks like (and ask yourself how you match up to that)
      – how have they managed their team in the past (individual meetings, team meetings, weekly/monthly/never check-ins?)

    4. Tabby Baltimore*

      Back in 2020, the AAM commenter WantonSeedStitch asked about what questions to ask when interviewing a manager of managers, but some of the responses would apply to your situation (I think) Here is the link to their post and the answers: https://www.askamanager.org/2020/01/open-thread-january-31-2020.html#comment-2833561

      Back in 2019, the AAM poster Would-be Manager asked for examples of behavioral interview questions for manager roles and got a lot of good suggestions from other commenters that you might want to consider using: https://www.askamanager.org/2019/04/open-thread-april-19-20-2019.html#comment-2439401

  51. Saraquill*

    The following is not advice seeking so much as a long vent.

    Life at the office has not been great after returning from lockdown. I know I need to communicate better. One of my issues is not knowing when or how to ask a question. Another is not realizing when an ongoing assignment has stopped or needs to be modified.

    That said, I’m having trouble at the office, particularly between the married couple Boss and Manager. My desk is close to Manager’s. She often looks over my shoulder, asks what I’m doing, criticizes my work and modifies my assignments.

    In one recent instance, she said I must run teapot painting ideas by her before going through with them, and painting must be done her way. I expressed confusion as Boss gave me other instructions and said painting must be approved by him. Manager said to disregard Boss and listen to her. She then seemed to forget what she told me and Boss was annoyed I made him wait for teapot ideas.

    It doesn’t help that Manager is often stressed and prone to taking this out on others. I have been on the receiving end on multiple occasions. I’ve been yelled at for things I have no control over. The most memorable was when she threw a fit over teapot notes a coworker emailed me. How dare I make teapot designs based on those? What was I thinking following coworker’s instructions? I must follow guidelines no one has ever told me until just now. My teapots are terrible and Manager can design much better than me, never mind this was my main job for several years. I am much more wary of Manager now.

    This was my last teapot design assignment. Last I saw, the company has put out job listings for someone to design them, for less pay. There are other duties I’ve been phased out of, though none of these have been made official. I’m supposed to guess?

    As for Boss, he wants me to improve communication, but he’s prone to doing things like using my personal email for work matters. I have a work email, and I’d rather not pull out my phone to see what Boss has assigned me. Boss was also unhappy when I stopped working on teapot sales. I had been collaborating with Manager and another coworker on sales, but it was another thing I was phased out of. He said Manager and coworker were on secondary sales, but my main job at the office was primary sales. No one had told me this, and even Manager had trouble understanding what those duties entailed for me.

    Boss is still not thrilled with my primary teapot sales, as I must do them a specific way he didn’t tell me until recently. He then asked why I’m still at this office, that I should have moved on months ago. My morale is much lower now.