open thread – January 14-15, 2022

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.

{ 1,232 comments… read them below }

  1. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

    Hi – would love to get thoughts on an underperformance situation. I have an employee who has regularly for the past 2 years had issues with time management / deadlines and attention to detail / following directions. We discussed it very seriously at her previous annual review 6 months ago.

    She is pretty good at most of her job (though I’d describe her more as average than amazing), but incredibly unreliable – if I ask her to do a new task, it will often get to me late (my deadlines and expectations are clear at this point). For her regular tasks, at least once or twice a month they’re not done by deadlines. She also is at least once a month confused by a task that we have clear documentation for and has shared incorrect information with other teams (though all fairly minor).

    The business impact of all of this is fairly low and nothing is actually on fire, but the problem is I spend an inordinate amount of time coaching her and working with her on what seems to be very basic professional expectations – and am therefore unable to dedicate time to my other employees or my actually important, impactful projects for the business.

    I’ve been working with HR on tools to help for the past 6 months, and now HR is suggesting a Performance Improvement Plan. Part of me is hesitant because these issues just don’t feel BIG enough (again, nothing she does actually hurts the business and she does do most of her actual work fine when it does get done), but I’d love to hear other perspectives on whether that makes sense. Thanks!

    1. ThatGirl*

      Have you had a come-to-Jesus big picture talk with her? That she needs to improve on these things on her own or it may come to a PIP? Like, I would just lay out the stakes for her, if you haven’t already. It doesn’t have to hurt the business to be a problem. But I do think you owe it to her to be clear about expectations and how she’s not meeting them.

    2. Roscoe da Cat*

      If you are spending too much time just to make sure that her work gets done, then it is a problem. You shouldn’t have to handhold an experienced worker and it sounds like you can’t trust her to get her work done by herself. It is a major problem actually. Can you narrow done what her issues are – is she disorganized? Bad time sense of how long it takes to get work done? These types of questions can help you create a PIP that actually helps her improve.

    3. IL JimP*

      “Part of me is hesitant because these issues just don’t feel BIG enough (again, nothing she does actually hurts the business and she does do most of her actual work fine when it does get done), but I’d love to hear other perspectives on whether that makes sense.”

      It is a big issue, it’s costing you time which is harming your ability to help others on your team. Just think of adding up all the hours you spent having these coaching conversations and documenting them over the 2 years. I’m sure it adds up. This is a clear case for a improvement plan, and these plans don’t necessarily mean the person is fired at the end but gives them one last shot to get it together before you make that decision.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It is a big issue. In the world of retail this employee would have been fired long before now.
        Missed a deadline? bye!
        Failed to do a procedure after being shown? bye.

        The biggest problem here, is that you think this is not a big problem. Nope. Please reset your thinking. It’s huge and it’s cause for dismissal.

      2. Be kind, rewind*

        Agreed! The time cost is definitely a huge factor, and I want to also point out the emotional/mental energy cost. It can be really draining to deal with repeated failures like this, even if each one is “minor” on its own, which further dampens a manager’s productivity.

    4. Tipcat*

      What hurts the business is that you are “unable to dedicate time to my other employees or my actually important, impactful projects for the business.” Also, when good employees see others getting away with poor performance, they can be disaffected enough to leave. Listen to HR.

    5. Katie Porter's Whiteboard*

      I get the desire to overlook issues that don’t have a big immediate impact, it’s a kind thing to do, but I think if I were in your position I would also be looking at a PIP. You said that you’re spending what sounds like a lot of time fixing her mistakes when that time could be spent investing in the work and other people on your team. That’s a bigger problem than you’re making it out to be. If I were on a team where an underperforming colleague was consistently causing more work and reducing the amount of support my supervisor could give me, I would be considering my options to move teams or job. Looking at the way you describe the work she does, you use a lot of qualifiers that lead me to believe that her output is poor. You say MOST of her work is FINE but that’s WHEN IT GETS DONE. So if it gets done, at best it’s fine? That status quo sounds pretty terrible.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, if she’s fundamentally unreliable then that negates any ‘well, she’s OK at most of her job’, I think. And she’s had two years to get better, you’ve had a serious conversation with her, and she’s still unreliable. I don’t think a formal improvement plan would be an overreaction at this point – clearly something needs to be done about the fact that you can’t rely on her to meet deadlines and you’re having to spend your own time and effort trying to coach her and sort her work out.

    6. lost academic*

      So if the problem isn’t as much on the business as it is on you, is there an opportunity for her to be moved to another line manager who isn’t as negatively impacted by the need to provide that level of coaching? That sounds to me to be an option to consider if it’s feasible. But if it’s not sustainable to give them this level of support going forward, then the business needs to look at the overall impact, including on your time and energy and capacity, and decide if this is an employment relationship they want to continue. And that needs to be made clear to this person too.

    7. Nonprofit Exec*

      I would have moved toward firing her at least a year ago so a PIP is definitely not an overreaction. Look at the impact you described on your business. You can’t keep someone on who takes up this much of your time. Well, maybe in this labor market you need to but not in a normal one.

    8. Kess*

      Is the sense that you get in working with the employee on these issues that she feels overwhelmed and can’t get the work done, or that she is straight up forgetting these things? I’m neurodivergent and can sometimes have brain fog that makes it extremely hard to remember and make a plan for what to do on a given day. I have methods for helping those days not be disastrous, but it’s something I generally need to ride out and just prepare for the best I can. Forgiveness and support from my manager on those days is extremely helpful, since when I’m stressed that I might forget something I tend to move at a snail’s pace, and on days when I’m not feeling so foggy I am a stellar performer who can get a lot of good work done.

      All of this being said, if I didn’t know that what I was experiencing was an illness and I didn’t have the resources that a diagnosis and healthcare offers me, I would most likely be in a similar place to this employee, and might be scared to admit to my boss that I don’t know what’s going on.

      If it’s possible that she’s struggling because of some factor out of her control AND it’s not impacting the business in a majorly disruptive way, it might be worth having a conversation with her where you lay your cards on the table about this attention to detail being a serious concern and asking how she sees the problem and what she might want to try to improve her performance. Basically, before moving to a prescriptivist PIP it would be kind to give her a chance to offer her own ideas as to what might be going on and what could help. This might be how the PIP system works at your place of work already, but if not I’d really advocate for sitting down one on one and trying to work out a collaborative plan for trying to improve things together.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Nod. Often I’ll not get things done simply because on the day I wanted to get them done my mind or body was acting up.

      2. 1,000 Snails in a Lady Skin*

        Great point. OP here and I’m neurodivergent myself but have always excelled in the workplace because I’ve been able to figure out how I need to manage my work. I think the problem here is that I have spent the past 2 years working with this employee and bringing this to here attention, offering various tools (to-do lists, time blocking, communication strategies, etc) that don’t seem to have worked. Agreed that next step seems to be one last conversation before a PiP.

    9. High Score!*

      In normal times, I’d say the PIP is probably the way to go. But COVID is still reeking havoc on everyone’s lives.
      I’d suggest having having a discussion with her clearly outlining what you need improved. Like a pre-PIP. And ask if there’s anything you can do to help her get there.
      One thing I love about my manager is that she always tells the whole group to please let her know if there is anything she can do to help us be successful.

      1. Be kind, rewind*

        Yeah, I would combine this with the comment above about a “come-to-Jesus” conversation with the employee where the stakes are really laid out. (“These things are serious enough that your job could be in jeopardy.”)

    10. calonkat*

      There is someone out there looking for work who will do much better in this position. A PIP will be good if you think this person CAN improve, but it honestly doesn’t sound like they can.

      The sharing of incorrect information is really concerning to me. That’s a level of “doesn’t really care/understand what’s going on” that is very troubling in an employee of 2 years!

    11. Coder von Frankenstein*

      If she’s taking up a big chunk of your time, that’s a significant issue right there. Anything you don’t get done because you’re busy coaching her, that’s a cost to the business, too. It *might* sometimes be worth accepting that hit if her work output were stellar; but it’s not.

      I agree with HR, a PIP seems like the way to go here. It isn’t punishment, it’s a commitment to resolving a problem. You give her a clear warning that her performance needs to improve, and set clear standards for what that means. If she can meet those standards, you get the performance you need, she keeps her job, everybody wins. If she can’t, then you let her go–but without her being blindsided or unclear on the reason, and she can (with any luck) find a job that fits her better.

    12. anonymouse for this*

      Can you calculate how many hours in the last 6 months you have spent coaching her and what if any improvement she has shown during that time? Then think about out how, if you had that time back, you would have used it – on your own projects or supporting your other employees and what you would have expected to achieve. And then decide if she’s worth the time investment.

    13. Double A*

      As a teacher, when students have issues like this it’s a flag for me that they are struggling with executive functioning. Now, it’s my job to help them learn these skills, so I put a lot of time and effort into helping students learn strategies to keep organized, etc., as well as setting my own materials up in a way that makes it the least confusing and most accessible for them.

      It’s not your job to do more than basic coaching in this area, but do you have an EAP where she might be able to connect with a coach or therapist who specializes in help with executive functioning? Is there any professional development you could offer her — or propose that she find– that specifically helps people with organizational strategies?

      The issue sounds serious, but from the way you describe it, it doesn’t sound like laziness or an attitude problem, it sounds like she is lacking certain skills that are coachable but in a more profound way than you’re capable of. This type of work may simply not be a good fit for her, but if she wants to succeed, she will need to work on some fundamental skills and you could connect her with some resources it would be a kindness.

      1. Metadata minion*

        +1 to this! This has also been a *profoundly weird and stressful two years*. And I say that not to mean you should overlook errors of this frequency, but just that it sounds like a prime environment for someone with existing executive functioning issues that she’d had reasonably well in hand to really start dropping things due to increased stress and possibly rapid routine changes.

    14. V. Anon*

      I have had people like this on my team and I can almost guarantee you that the rest of your staff is low-key pissed at her for never getting it together but mostly losing respect for YOU for not managing it. If the rest of your team is reliable and on-time but you spend all your time with the one person who can’t seem to do the job, what message does that send? Are they getting nice raises and mentoring to make up for having this drag around? If not, you are slowly creating a situation where your best people leave and you get to devote all your time to getting a low-performer to perform at all.

      1. Belle of the Midwest*

        As someone who has worked alongside someone like this person, I second this comment. The rest of us ended up having to pitch in at the last minute many times when she couldn’t get the work done on time and as much as we liked her personally, we reached a place where she was so unreliable that we didn’t want to give her anything important to do. For me, it came to a head when she’d agreed to edit a Power Point for a presentation and I was actually calling and texting her an hour before when she was STILL working on it, to tell her to get to the presentation site NOW. after that, I said, no more. Not long afterward, our directors finally put her on a PIP and she was dismissed. I am still in touch with her and after a really hard six months or so, she found part-time work in an adjacent field and then went to a full-time job at another institution, where I assume she is still working and hopefully has a more limited scope of work to do.

        As a manager, you don’t want to gossip about her to the other team members, but if they bring concerns about her to you, you need to listen and take them under advisement.

    15. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, but they’re not improving (or any improvement isn’t really sticking), they’re sucking up your time, and it’s been two years.

      I’m on team PIP but if you can’t be convinced to do that you need to at least “pre-PIP” about how serious this actually is, and then be ready to do it for real if/when things slide again. If you’re spending this much time on her you’re not as available for the rest of your job and your other, more competent employees.

      You’re not saying that she’s a terrible person, dumb as a brick, etc., you’re just saying that her capacity to do this specific job isn’t measuring up. I’d be a disaster as a lawyer, teacher, wedding planner, any number of jobs, not because I’m terrible or stupid but because my personality and temperament are wildly ill-suited to them. But I don’t work in those.

      Also, a PIP =/= firing. A PIP is an effort to *not* fire her.

    16. Anon attorney*

      The individual tasks she isn’t doing might not be that significant, but their cumulative impact is because it’s taking much more of your time and energy than is productive. A PIP should be a framework for setting clear expectations of performance and the consequences of not meeting them. If it is clear and achievable then it is a fair approach. I’d also want to check there are no ADA issues which need addressing by accommodations, and provide any skills training she needs to be able to achieve the PIP metrics. But really, it is also about getting yourself out of the mindset that she is a good performer. Being able to do some of the job adequately does not cancel out an inability to do the rest.

      Is there another role in the business which might suit her better?

      1. All the words*

        “Is there another role in the business which might suit her better?”

        Sometimes this is the best answer. I was the struggling employee a few years ago. Luckily I’d been with the company long enough to have established a strong reputation as a reliable employee and an asset. My manager recognized that I was struggling and helped me to transition to a different role where I’m now doing great.

    17. JSPA*

      Suggest she check in with employee assistance for focus, schedule and time management strategies, rather than re- inventing that wheel. They can take it from there. Strategies work, whether or not there is also something diagnosable in play; if there is potentially something diagnosable in play, they can include “get seen” in their large list of options, in ways that you (legally and by professional norms) cannot.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        The one thing I will ask is weather this person has a single source of work or if she is getting pants from multiple people. If it is clear who she reports to and if it is clear that she takes assignments from only that person, she is a problem. But if is being given assignments by several different people who do not coordinate their deadlines, the system is a problem that is setting her & you up to fail.

    18. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Seems like it’s time to part ways with this employee. If you shift your perspective and see that the time spent on coaching one employee is hurting the bottom line, since that’s time that could be spent in more profitable ways. If this was a new challenge then everything you mentioned you’re doing makes sense. But after 2 years…
      Or is this related to the pandemic? Either way, seems like a bad situation for both of you!

    19. anonymous73*

      I think a PIP is completely reasonable in this situation. Expectations have been clear and she is not improving. You are basically ignoring all of your other subordinates and your own work to coach her on things that should not still be an issue. I would maybe suggest one final “this needs to change or you’re going on a PIP, but that’s kind of what a PIP is and it seems you’ve given her plenty of chances to improve.

    20. Bagpuss*

      It sounds as though the individual instances are not any of them high impact, but cumulatively it hs a fairly significant effect.

      I think a PIP is appropriate – bear in mind the purpose of PIP is to improve her performance, it’s not (or shouldn’t be) a box-ticking exercise to make it possible to fire her.

      It may be that she hasn’t really grasped that there is n ongoing issue, and a PIP may bring that into focus for her that yes, this is a big deal.

      If you haven’t had a formal dit down talk with her where you have been very clear about the issue, including the fact that you are seeing a pattern of behavior and naming the specific issues and that they are performance issues, then do that first, but that conversation should be very clear – don’t soften it it, and should include a clear statement that the next step if you don’t see clear and consistent improvement will be a formal PIP . As you’ve said here that doesn’t feel big, I wonder whether you may have been softening the message a bit too much when speaking to, and given her the issue that it’s not a big deal, or that you’ve been giving her advice rather than setting hard requirements , for example.

    21. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I’m going to come at this from the perspective of someone else on your team (unclear if you have other reports). Is the extra time you have to spend with her time that is being taken from her teammates? For example they can only get ten minutes for a monthly one-on-one because you need to reserve thirty minutes for underperformer? Are they not able to get advancement type training or push-projects because of the extra time you spend on coaching? What about if the others have questions – do they have to wait longer to get answers because your not available to help because you’re back assisting underperformer with more questions?

      I don’t mean this to be mean, but it’s only fair to the rest of the team to evaluate her impact on the team just on how much of your time she occupies. When you’re two years into a job the employee is probably performing as well as they possibly can, they’re out of the training environment in most cases by now. So can the team afford for you to constantly be spending more time with her and less working with them?

    22. Osbert the owl*

      I know that it can be tough to put someone on a PIP when they are doing some of the work well (especially during COVID). I understand that it might not feel “big” enough to put her on a PIP and that it isn’t directly impacting the business.
      However, it’s been two years. You’ve had a serious discussion at her annual review 6 months ago. HR has been working on tools to help her. I think that a PIP is the next logical step. You don’t have to wait until things are actually on fire.
      I think Alison said that you should compare the employee not with “an average person doing this job”, but with “a great person doing this job”.
      And, as others have said, she’s probably de-motivating your other staff who are able to meet the deadlines and follow directions.
      It’s tough to do and I wish you good luck

    23. Purple cat*

      This person is well past time for a PIP. When I was struggling with guilt over putting an employee on a PIP my boss reminded me that I have an obligation to spend the company’s money appropriately. The amount of time and support you’re giving this employee seems out of scale with the payback you’re getting.

      The other thing to consider is that you can’t want success for this employee more than they want it for themselves. 6 months after a tough review with no improvement is squarely in PIP territory.

    24. Observer*

      Part of me is hesitant because these issues just don’t feel BIG enough (again, nothing she does actually hurts the business and she does do most of her actual work fine when it does get done), but I’d love to hear other perspectives on whether that makes sense. Thanks!

      I’m going to be very blunt. You are wrong. Period.

      She *IS* hurting the business in a number of ways.

      1. She’s keeping you from taking care of the things that you need to be taking care of.

      2. She’s almost certainly wasting other people’s time because of her confusion and mistakes.

      3. She shares incorrect information with people. That it has not YET been something major doesn’t make this of. If it’s happening as often as once a month, that means that she needs to be considered unreliable.

      4. Regularly missing deadlines means you can’t plan. It also generally messes up other people / departments’ workflows.

      5. This is almost certainly hitting morale in your department quite hard. People who are getting their jobs done, are looking at this and asking why they have to get their jobs done,and done well, when she gets to mess up and have no consequences. The people who need your attention to deal with issues, move their projects forward are looking at this and getting frustrated. The people who are suffering because you don’t have time to take on those other tasks and projects you mention, are frustrated too.

      You don’t need things to “actually be on fire” for the damage to be real and significant.

      The bottom line is that you totally need to reframe your thinking. This is not grade school where as long as you don’t get an F, you get promoted to the next grade.

    25. A thought*

      The first thing that struck me is the “two years.” That’s about how long we’ve had COVID to deal with. Was she reliable before that? The pandemic has put so much stress on people. And worse for some than for others — because they struggle with anxiety anyway, or depression, or don’t have reliable child care, or have lost family to COVID, or…..I know it’s a long time now to be giving grace to people, but it’s something I think is still warranted if you can swing it. I don’t mean you should do it forever, and there may be things to still do to assist/coach her, but a PIP or firing (as some have suggested) may be premature given the state of the world.

    26. Katie*

      “She does do most of her actual work fine when it does get done.”

      The “when it does get done” part feels kind of important!

    27. Public Sector Manager*

      Even if each individual event is not enough for a PIP, cumulatively it’s PIP worthy! If you keep telling someone they need to do X, Y, and Z, and they don’t, it’s either a training problem (which sounds like you’re on top of that issue) or an insubordination problem.

      You either need to do a PIP or some other form of expectations memorandum (“we expect you to meet deadlines,” “we expect you to be on time,” etc.). Informal conversations are great when a person listens and then tries to change. Here, the problem looks like the employee isn’t changing (or trying to).

  2. high performer*

    I submitted a question last week regarding half my team being out sick with COVID and the only other member being a low performer. I want to thank everyone for their input and provide an update. All the feedback was really helpful and helped me to think of multiple sides of the equation, but the resounding response was yes, I need to speak up to my manager about this. He needs to know.

    I pulled aside the manager we work with a lot, and she mirrored my sentiments. She had been on the receiving end as well to many of the low performance issues. She was planning on bringing this up herself, but I asked for her advice for how to best approach this with my manager to be most effective in getting the point across. There were two things I needed to get out of this conversation: clear feedback on the low performer, and communication that I was burning out from carrying such a heavy workload for so many weeks.

    By the time it rolled around that I had my regular meeting with my manager, he had already heard from the other manager on these issues, so it was really helpful that I was just reiterating that point. He has a plan of action, which I won’t share the details of, but he is taking appropriate action in my opinion. We also discussed me taking some time off in the near future. My other two coworkers have come back to work this week, but it’s obvious they’ve still got a lot of fatigue and some side effect conditions (pneumonia and such) that are keeping them from a full recovery. So in discussing some time off, we agreed to keep an eye on them and decide when a good point would be for me to take a day. It would benefit none of us if I took the day and all the work was still there because they couldn’t keep up, nor would it be beneficial if they weren’t up to taking on the extra work from me being out and delayed their recovery further. So we’re aiming for next week sometime. I’ve also been working this week to set further boundaries with low performer, single-tasking, replying to her messages much slower, not always being available, and pointing her to her notes and other training resources. I should also point out that I am the newest on the team, but we were all hired within a few months of each other and so have been taking on new responsibilities and advancing all together at the same time. Thanks again for your feedback, the hive mind was exactly what I needed in that moment.

          1. Lady Danbury*

            Pneumonia isn’t something you just tough out, especially combined with covid. Obviously I don’t know what their doctors have authorized in terms of returning to work but from the outside looking in that’s a HUGE red flag about your organization/management and their expectations for sick employees.

            1. high performer*

              No alarm bells needed! They thought it may have been, similar symptoms, but it was ruled out. Mostly fatigue and still coughing, but nothing serious.

              1. Mary*

                “Mostly fatigue and still coughing, but nothing serious.”

                This is serious with pneumonia! This could mean they are not getting enough oxygen into their system. Unless a doctor gives their okay for them to be working again.

            2. PT*

              I’m one of those Everything Settles In My Chest people who’s had bronchitis and pneumonia a bunch of times. That cough/fatigue period of being almost better can linger for weeks or months past when the doctor says “Looks good, get back to your regular life.”

              1. Metadata minion*

                Same here. There’s this horrible period of being kind of tired (but up enough to work, especially from home, and at that point I’m really sick of being stuck in bed so I *want* to work) and my voice still sounds like death but I actually feel fine.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      So glad to hear that your manager is taking things seriously and taking steps to address the problems!

      And great idea with making yourself less available for the low performer! I experienced something similar, a new-ish person kept asking me questions about things that they knew how to do and were well documented, and I figured that if it was always easier/quicker to just ask me rather than try it themselves or look it up, why would they ever change? So I stopped responding immediately to every question, or said something like “I’m in the middle of [project] right now, why don’t you play around with it/check our documents library/etc, and if it’s still a problem I can take a look at it around [later time].” Worked like a charm! 99/100 times I’d check back in and they would say they had solved it. (Note: these were always non-urgent things that I knew for a fact they were fully capable of figuring out for themselves, for real problems I was always willing to help.)

  3. Spam Call Magnet*

    I started my current role about six months ago, I have both a company-issued mobile phone and an old-school landline phone in my office.

    I am having issues with the amount of spam calls I receive on the office landline phone. In six months, I have received 1 or 2 legitimate phone call for me on the landline (everyone else emails me or calls my work mobile phone instead), and between 1-5 spam calls/wrong number calls everyday I’m in the office. These spam calls are largely from:

    – the same two people (I recognize their voices) soliciting donations to various fake charities (I’ve looked them up on Charity Navigator) — they call several times a week. I’ve asked both of them to stop calling me but they won’t. I’ve told them that I know they are representing fake charities and they hang up on me and then call again later on using a different spoofed number (which is why I can’t just block them).
    – numbers that call with no one there when you pick up
    – gift card scammers (the kind that are featured on Youtube channels like Jim Browning’s, that lure you in by telling you that you’re owed a refund by some company, ask you to screenshare with them, hack your bank account and demand you send them thousands in gift cards)
    – occasionally, I also get wrong number calls from other people at my (large) company. I’ve received a few calls asking for my predecessor who had this office and this phone number before me, and who left the company a year ago, so I explain that to them.

    I’ve tried several things with no/limited success:
    – I put this landline number on the Do Not Call Registry (I’m in the US) months ago — that hasn’t helped
    – I’ve contacted the telecommunications department at my company, and they say that spam calls are rampant in the company and they can’t stop them all. They can block a few numbers for me if I want, but that won’t work because most of these calls have spoofed numbers that look like they’re coming from our local area code and change every time.
    – I removed the landline phone number from my work email signature and just have my mobile phone there.

    Does anyone have any other advice? I guess my last recourse would be asking for the company to issue me a new landline phone number, though no guarantees the new number wouldn’t be subject to the same amount/more spam calls than I’m getting now. I suppose I could also see if I can silence the ringer on the landline and change the voicemail message to something like “please call me on my work mobile phone” without stating what the number is, so that people who are in my company and see my mobile phone in the directory can still reach me but others can’t.

    1. CTT*

      Is there any reason you can’t let all calls from unknown numbers go to voicemail and be diligent about calling back quickly if it’s legitimate?

      1. Ama*

        Yeah that would be my advice. I get maybe 1 in every 500 calls on my work line that are actually legitimate calls — they are either spam or for another department (we don’t have a receptionist currently so we have an automated menu and because my department is listed last people sometimes get to the end of the list and hit my department’s number because they aren’t sure who they want). So I pretty much never answer my work line unless I am expecting someone to call me; if they leave a voicemail and it is someone another department needs to speak to it’s actually a lot easier for me to forward the voicemail anyway.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I would change the voicemail message to “I am screening calls, please leave a message or call my work mobile phone if this is urgent”, silence the ringer or put on ‘do not disturb,’ and then just delete the scammy ones.

    3. Roscoe da Cat*

      I like your last suggestion!
      My work cell (federal agency too) is getting so many spam messages that I never answer it. I just call back when someone leaves a message.

    4. FisherCat*

      I would do the voicemail thing. The scammers/spoofers seem to just run down phone numbers more or less sequentially without regard to do not call lists or where they got it from. I’ve been getting spam calls on an unlisted/unpublicized number and I’ve not found a good way to stop them, only ignore them.

    5. Just a Manager*

      Don’t answer the calls. When you answer, the number goes on a list as a validated number and you’ll get even more calls. We have a company policy of letting all unrecognized calls go to voicemail.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am glad you said this. I noticed when I stopped answer all calls at home, the number of scams went down.

    6. Purely Allegorical*

      Agree with the others to set up a voicemail message that tells customers you are screening, but the inbox is monitored regularly and if they leave a message, you will call them back promptly. Then let all calls go to voicemail, and you could even turn off the ringer if possible so you’re not interrupted by it so frequently.

    7. DMLOKC*

      I would love a solution to this. We get 5-10 calls every day. It’s a shame that these calls to personal phones can be stopped legally but the calls to businesses cannot. We’ve gotten to where we just pick up then hang up the phone. It’s just too much expensive time wasted.

      1. FisherCat*

        Oh, no, the do not call list essentially no longer functions for personal numbers either since its usually offshore spoofing/scamming operations. I don’t answer any unknown callers on my personal number (obviously unless I’m waiting for something).

    8. I'm just here for the cats*

      Yeah, unfortunately there’s not much that you can do.

      I don’t know if this would be possible but does your office phone have the ability to connect voicemail to your email. At my work we have cisco phones and the IT people can assign the voicemail to an email. If you can do that I would just put the phone on silent/ turn off the ringer and then be dilegent about checking your email.

      I would certainly ask people not to call your desk phone. Maybe you can have an voicemail that says that you only check voicemail X times and if it is an emergency to email you. People who need to get in touch with you would have your other contact info.

      good luck, Spam calls are the worst

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          Pretend you have phone incompetence. “Oh, that wire connects the phone, I did not realize.”
          Or, “IDK how that got unplugged.”

    9. tw1968*

      If that office line is voip-based at all, you might be able to sign up with nomorobo to help block spam calls. Did this with my home line a few years ago, you can read up on how they do it but the end result is, if a # calls you that’s also calling multiple other people, they block the call. Your phone rings once and then the call is disco’d, if it’s a spammer. Real calls will continue to ring. Not 100% effective but kinda fun when you hear it ring once and then it stops and you say to yourself, that’s ONE LESS scammer/spammer I have to talk to!

    10. calonkat*

      My sympathies. When we got rid of our home landline a number of years ago, I took that number as my cell # (because it was so important to our lives, all the doctors etc had that number) It took multiple years of letting unidentified callers go to voicemail, but the number has finally worked its way off most spam lists apparently. Still get some, but not nearly as many. And the legitimate callers are willing to leave a message!

      A new number will have the same issues if it’s listed anywhere and may come with preexisting issues from the previous holder (my cell#/previous landline I know who the previous holder was dating, who they owed money to, etc)

    11. Spam Call Magnet*

      Thanks everyone! I changed the voicemail for this number to a generic message that doesn’t include my name, role, or company stating “I am screening all calls, so please leave a message or, if it’s urgent, call my work mobile number. Thank you.” I’m working remotely today but when I return to the office on Monday I’ll see if I can silence the ringer.

      FWIW, I get a fair amount of spam calls and texts on my work mobile phone (an iPhone) as well, but that’s easy enough to deal with — I have all calls from unknown numbers silenced and sent to voicemail, and if I did happen to answer the phone and it’s a spam call, the number gets blocked. Similarly, spam text numbers get blocked. I get a fair number of voicemails from people looking for the prior holders of this cell phone number but I generally don’t return those calls and hope that they’ll get the message.

    12. anonymous73*

      Yeah, I would modify your VM without giving the mobile number and just not answer the phone. You say most people call your mobile, so I think this would be the best solution.

    13. Beth*

      Oh, for the days when the Do Not Call registry actually worked! Back in another era, that was. It only worked on legitimate callers who paid attention to legalities, and those are now very rare.

      If you’re issued another phone number, you will get exactly the same number of calls. The calls when you pick up the phone and nobody is there? That’s the robocall system verifying that your number works. Once verified, your number is on all the robocaller lists.

      Robocall abatement options:

      For your cell phone, there are spam/robocall blocker apps. Just google “best robocall blockers android 2022” or similar to get the most recent reviews.

      For your landline, there are physical devices that use the anti-robocall databases used by the apps; they’re not always as effective, but they’re a hell of a lot better than nothing at all. I’ll put a link to a relevant article in a subcomment. If it gets stuck in moderation, try googling “best robocall blocker”.

      The website also has a good rundown of spam call blocking advice, with links to other resources.

      1. Beth*

        Yet another note: the anti-robocall apps often have a subscription fee. It’s worth it. You are paying for their databases to be kept as up to date as possible.

    14. Eether, Either*

      Yes, let the unknown numbers go to voicemail. If it’s legit they’ll most likely leave a message. (I realize that not everyone wants to leave a voicemail these days, but oh well.) I am the admin to a VP and she doesn’t answer unknown numbers. I answer them. I get those calls on my landline as well. The “Warranty Lady” has been calling me all week…

    15. Purple cat*

      Go for the super simple – just.stop.answering.
      I don’t even have a company cell phone and I don’t answer my phone. (Don’t even have one anymore due to hotdesking). Obviously everyone else has been able to reach you, so no harm caused.

    16. Hillary*

      I agree with the others – let calls go to voicemail. You don’t even have to change your message, just check the voicemail promptly and respond just as if you’d stepped away from your desk. We have VOIP phones and I don’t even log into the software for my “landline.” The people who need to reach me know to chat, email, or call my work cell phone. Voicemails go to my work email and I get less than one a month. The only one in December was semi-legit, a sales call from someone I’ve done business before.

      I also don’t answer unknown numbers on my work cell. The downside of that is I have to be diligent about address book maintenance.

    17. Observer*

      1. Have your telecomm people talk to your phone service provider about spam call blocking.
      2. See if there are any services you can use, similar to what’s available for cell phones.
      3. Don’t pick up the phone. Return messages.
      4. Put your number on the Do Not Call list and tell the repeat scammers that you will report their violations. That does scare some of them.

      I hope that some combination of the above is helpful.

    18. noahwynn*

      I forward my office phone to my cell phone. There is an app on my cell phone (Call Protect) that prevents most of the spam calls from getting through.

    19. MissDisplaced*

      Ugh! Yeah, my landline number at OldJob published on our website as a company contact which meant lots of spam and solicitation. Some of those people do not want to take no for an answer and become downright rude. We were also in an industry that can get some nasty consumer ire, and occasionally I got “screamers” accusing me of poisoning or killing people. Lovely.

      Send all those calls straight to voicemail and turn off the ringer!
      Check them morning and end of business day and say something to that effect on your message snd you’ll return the call next business day if necessary, or they can email at x.
      I recommend NOT giving your mobile number on the VM because they’ll only bug you there too.

  4. Missy*

    I’m looking for scripts for how to approach that I deserve a promotion with my boss during a performance review where I’m ranked ‘exceeds expectations’ across all the categories.

    It would be from a Teapot Marketing Manager to a Senior Teapot Marketing Manager and the day to day wouldn’t be too different. The senior level might be more involved in the big picture.

    I figure I can also talk about my career goals and my list of accomplishments at my current role, which I’ve been in for almost 2 years.

    1. Jaybee*

      I wouldn’t phrase it to your boss as ‘deserving’ because that’s not necessarily how your boss (or the company) looks at promotions.

      I’d suggest opening the conversation with “I feel like I’m succeeding in this role and am ready to take on more responsibility; what would be the steps for me to advance to a Senior Teapot Marketing Manager?”

      1. English Rose*

        Yes, this. Gaining their advice is both psychologically useful as people (generally) like to help, and their response will give you clues as to whether this request is viewed as way out of left field or expected. Good luck, let us know how you get on!

    2. JSPA*

      If you demonstrate with hard numbers how your exceeding of expectations has improved a) their bottom line b) their reputation c) their turnaround times d) their quality control score or d) some equivalently quantifiable metric / score, that’s a strong way to make the argument that 1. You’re worth more pay and 2. If they promote you, you can eventually train people to be diligent and forward thinking in the same ways that you are.

    3. anonymous73*

      Provide facts. Make a list, and run reports if you can to support it. I would also approach it as you’ve “earned” the promotion, not that you “deserve” it. Something earned can be proven, something deserved is more subjective sometimes.

    4. Agency Survivor*

      I just had an employee approach me about this and what she did was very effective. First, she told me she wanted to grow, was open to my feedback. Then, she began asking me if she could work on assignments that people in the role she aspires to be in were doing if she had completed her other tasks. She did an amazing job at this, and not only that, when I gave her feedback along the lines of “amazing job except for this minor XYZ” she asked for the chance to try another above-and-beyond project and this time didn’t have the XYZ.

      Finally, she approached me and asked me how she could get promoted. I am currently working through a development plan to do exactly that. With all the things she did already, I easily have support for this from the people above me who ultimately decide.

  5. Sunflower*

    Those who have been promoted at work-, what percent increase did you receive (and what was the breakdown between COL increase and new title)?

    I was just promoted at work. My new position is a newly created title/position- I wasn’t promoted into an vacant role. I haven’t been given direct additional responsibilities, moreso expanding on my current ones, and there’s no new job description. Given this, I don’t know if my expectations were too high as once I remove the COL increase, the raise was about 4% and much lower than some of my colleagues past raises.

    1. Lady Whistledown*

      4% is very low for a promotion! Definitely look at Alison’s salary survey to see if you can spot some comparisons for industry/role/title. My recent promotion to Director was an almost 30% raise (I had been underpaid in my prior role so this was a market adjustment + merit increase + promotion trifecta). 10% would be the minimum I would’ve anticipated for the promotion alone.

    2. ItsFridayI'mNotinLove*

      I’ve gotten promoted twice in the past year and a half (different companies). And was sorely disappointed by both. First promotion, which to years to achieve and I had to fight every step of the way was 5%. Second promotion at new company which they called “right sizing” not an actual promotion despite there being a title change, was 3%. There’s also a bonus structure which was not an option at the previous title. They wanted to only give me the bonus opportunity, and no raise, I negotiated to 3%… which should’ve been my COL increase anyway. So it did not feel like a great offer at all. Prior to my first promotion I was expecting a minimum of 10% so maybe my expectations were also too high. Or I got screwed.

    3. DG*

      That’s really low and, honestly, given inflation over the last couple of years is not a pay increase at all. In fact, I would guess you’re effectively making less than you were a year or two ago.

      My promotion raises in the past have been around 20%, but I would say anything less than 10-15% is pretty cruddy.

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      My increase from “Teapot Manager” to “Senior Teapot Manager” (midlevel, I manage teapots, not people) was about 11-12%. That’s not adjusting for COL.

      4% seems low for a promotion. Out of curiosity, what did use for the COL adjustment? I quickly looked it up and the number for 2022 is 5.9%, way up from 1.3% for 2021. So I’m guessing your increase could have been 6-10% overall?

      1. Sunflower*

        I was told that 6% of the raise was COL – HOWEVER, we did not receive any increase at end of 2020 and were told the 6% is covering 2 years of that (3% is our standard COL raise). In total, I received a 10% increase.

        So thank you to everyone, I will definitely be doing some more research and going back to my boss next time we meet.

    5. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

      I have gotten “promoted” to Senior twice and neither time did it come with any raise.

      The first time, I had given them one last chance for the promotion before I accepted the Senior job offer I already had in hand. “Promoting” me with a title change and no salary change was an insult, so obviously I took the other job.

      The second time, I had only been there a few months. For whatever reason they told me that they weren’t 100% sure about me when they hired me. But that I was already getting paid the same as the other seniors in the company. It was kind of funny that they were willing to put their money where their mouth wasn’t. They did give me a 5.5% raise in the next performance review cycle (but that included any cost of living adjustments).

    6. YourQueerEmployee*

      I just got a promotion last week (job title was XXX, now “Lead XXX”), and got about a 15% promotion. I’ll get a COL raise this month (based on my new higher salary). 4% seems way too low… I would think it shouldn’t be under 8-10% at the very low end.

    7. Elle*

      I had the advantage of this happening in a university set up where we have clearly defined salary bands, but my promotion this summer was close to 22%. Like you, it was about recognition of the reality of the role I was already undertaking, so I wasn’t actually taking on any additional duties.

    8. Anon in Ohio*

      My last promotion in Feb 2021 was a 20% increase plus becoming bonus eligible, and immediately followed up with a 5% merit raise, effective on the promotion salary, making it a 30% raise. 4% feels more in line with a high performing merit raise, not a promotion, at least in my experience

    9. Anonymous Hippo*

      The places I worked didn’t do promotions and annual raises together, they were separate events. I think the lowest promotion raise I got was 15%, and the highest was close to 30%. The lowest COL raise I evern received was 2.5% so yeah, 4% for a promotion seems very small.

    10. peachy*

      I recently accepted a role with a senior title in another unit at my organization that came with a 54% raise. I certainly didn’t expect to get so much–I just took a shot and named a number and they had no problem matching it. But I’d have expected at least 20-30%. 4% seems… stingy, to say the least.

    11. Fran Fine*

      I was promoted last year and received a nearly 13% salary increase. I also changed teams and started doing drastically different work than I was previously doing, so I thought the increase was fair. When I was promoted at a prior company for the second time, I received a 10% increase. The first time I received 7%. I believe that was the lowest promotion increase I’ve ever received, but the reason for that was because I would be getting a 3% merit raise six months later (so my promotion was 10%, but was split into two).

      4% is low, but I guess I can kind of see why they did it. You’re not really taking on any new responsibilities, just expanding on what you’re already doing and getting a title change. The 4% is really just a basic merit increase or cost of living adjustment at that point and that’s how they should have sold it to you.

    12. Lauren*

      Years and years ago, I was promoted into a vacant role from an hourly coordinator position to a salaried director position and received a 32% increase in gross pay. I don’t know what the COL increase was but received 1% pay increases per year, until my org nearly went bankrupt and couldn’t afford pay increases.

      Definitely request and push for an updated job description – or, rather, a new job description. Are you in a new position (new job description for the new position), or have new responsibilities added to your prior position with a change to your job title (updated job description)?

    13. Be kind, rewind*

      Every promotion I had at my most recent job has been around 10%. When it’s coincided with the yearly review, it’s been a 13% increase (3% yearly increase + 10% promotion increase).

      It also depends on how large the promotion is. This is easier to determine if your company has set levels for roles. For example, going from level 6 to level 8 should be a much higher increase than going from level 4 to 5.

  6. Werewolf? There wolf!*

    I have always been confused about personal leave. A previous job had all of these rules listed out about how it could be used. My current job doesn’t seem to care as long as you don’t try to extend a holiday or vacation leave with it; it only says ‘urgent personal business or emergencies that cannot be scheduled during non working hours’. I’ve only used it once, when I just joined my current job to clean out my desk and return a laptop from my last job because it had been locked down for months due to the pandemic.

    I always thought it had to be used for a business reason that had to take place during work hours. So would that be like, spending an afternoon switching banks or meeting with my accountant to do taxes? Or can that also be for important life things like closing on a house? My current job doesn’t seem to need a reason but I certainly wouldn’t want to suddenly be told ‘you misused your personal leave, we have to take vacation leave now’. What qualifies as things that can’t be done outside of business hours?

    1. SofiaDeo*

      I am guessing services that traditionally were 9-5 businesses. Banks, doctors, having to be home to let in/stay with a home service or repair, car repair, accountant. And since the descriptor at your job is “urgent”, I am thinking it is for emergency issues only. So if the internet service isn’t working or your car has a breakdown, use it, but not for a routine oil change on the car or a planned house closing. A planned wellness doctor visit No, urgent care Yes. Routine planned accountant tax visit No, time-sensitive response to a tax situation that suddenly cropped up, Yes. I am also guessing there are only a few days of the year for this, not full weeks. So it appears to be a perk that you use instead of having to lose time from your PTO for sudden small life crises.

      1. Werewolf? There wolf!*

        It’s definitely not for Doctor stuff, I haven’t plenty of sick leave I had to use recently for emergency stuff. But your logic on anything else makes sense. And yes, it’s only 3 days of personal leave, separate from my vacation and sick leave.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Yeah, all of my medical related issues (planned or unplanned) gets taken out of my sick time bucket. I use my two personal days at work for things like going to get my hair done (pre-pandemic), my birthday (that’s always one of my two days), and/or going to a cultural event like a museum or concert that happens during the day (again, pre-pandemic).

    2. Wine Not Whine*

      “Things that can’t be done outside of business hours” can be, literally, anything that depends on someone else’s schedule. If you can’t schedule your mortgage closing for after you’re off work because the bank is closed by then. If the only time your dentist can squeeze you in this month is 10am Friday. If your kiddo is in their grade-school play that’s being performed at 2pm on a school day. If you just need to spend an afternoon in the sun at the park.
      You don’t – or at least, shouldn’t! – have to justify personal leave. It’s part of your pay and your employer has no say in how you spend it.

    3. CV*

      I would even go so far as to say that “personal business” can include things like having to be home for a technician or something (assuming that you can’t work from home).

    4. AnonBeret*

      That’s so odd. I’ve had personal leave in two jobs and it was just that – personal. The only difference between it and PTO was that it didn’t roll over at the end of the year. Most people used it as PTO. We did have additional days available for moving days, physicals, etc., but personal days were personal and that was that.

    5. Colette*

      Where I work, personal leave is just another vacation day; you can use it attached to vacation (which is usually what I do) or as a day here or there. I’d say switching banks or buying a house would qualify, but so would volunteering when your kid’s class goes on a field trip, running errands, going to an interview, taking a day off just because, getting your yard work under control, staying home because you have a furnace cleaning scheduled, taking your car in to the garage .

    6. I'm just here for the cats*

      In my job we get 3 days of personal leave which is separate from are vacation and sick leave. Our Personal days do not roll over like the vacation days. Its basically like a personal holiday or something. You don’t have to have a reason. It’s any personal thing that you need to take care of. So it could be meeting an accountant or it could be for closing a house. Or it could just be you need a day off to clean your house before a family visit.
      You could see it for religious holidays that your company doesn’t close for. Sometimes parents will use it for when the school is closed.

      I think you should be fine. The difference is that its something that is usually planned unlike sick time which can be unplanned. I would just talk with your boss or HR to ask for clarification. Like maybe if you were out of sick time you could use personal time (but you cant use sick time for personal time, unless it’s like a doctor appointment).

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        I just reread your post and I see that there is a clarification of ” ‘urgent personal business or emergencies that cannot be scheduled during nonworking hours’” I missed that part before. I think this is a little odd because any job that I’ve had personal days didn’t have any stipulation attached to it. All the more to contact HR or your boss to ask for clarification.

        I’m leaning more toward this was something they came up with for parents for snow days or something, But they wanted to be inclusive of all employees and called in Personal time.

        1. SofiaDeo*

          Right, the “urgent” part of it is unusual, but makes me think things that can be scheduled well in advance (like a house closing, or oil & filter change, or quarterly taxes) shouldn’t be included. OP states it’s not “Personal Leave”, it’s specifically to be used only for “urgent” things. I too have had “Personal Leave” in addition to Vacation and Sick days, but there was no requirement for it to be used for “urgent” things only. So IMO it should be used only for “urgent” situations. A burst pipe, not a planned visit to replace faucets. A flat tire, not an oil/filter change. An Urgent Care visit for Covid test or stitches, not a routine physical. It’s the “urgent” requirement that makes me belive it’s not the standard, do-whatever-you-want-with-it Personal Days.

        2. Dragon*

          I seem to recall hearing that personal leave was originally given to only religious employees, as an addition so they wouldn’t have to use their vacation time for religious holidays.

          However, that was considered discrimination against non-religious employees. So if personal leave was given, it had to be to all employees or to none.

    7. ThatGirl*

      “Personal business” has more of an emphasis on the personal than the business – mortgage closings, definitely; banking things, maybe eye doctor appointments, taking a pet to the vet, anything that can’t be done during the evening or weekend.

    8. Rara Avis*

      My employer has the belief that it’s personal — and so you don’t necessarily have to explain. I take it for non-medical appointments that have to be scheduled during the week (vet, appliance repair, etc.) I’ve also taken it for things like taking my parents to the airport after they helped take care of my daughter when I was on a work trip. I do know a colleague who asked to take a day for her birthday and was told no.

      1. Fran Fine*

        I do know a colleague who asked to take a day for her birthday and was told no.

        That’s ridiculous. I always use personal days for my birthday, lol.

    9. Not A Manager*

      I think you’re focusing too heavily on the word “business.” In this context, I don’t think it means “business affair.” I think it means “matter” or “concern.” You’re allowed to take off when you’re not sick, in order to attend to urgent personal matters or concerns.

    10. Picard*

      Our “personal leave” is limited to up to 3 hours in a day and is expected to be made up. If you have more than three hours, you are expected to take half day or full day vacation.
      So if you needed to get your tires changed for example and take a longer lunch hour, you can make up that time by staying later that day (or during that week) And yes this is for salaried workers that “technically” dont have hourly requirements.
      If you need to take an hour to see the dentist or doctor, you can choose to make up the time (personal leave) or use your sick time (hourly, doesnt have to be made up)

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        I’m confused. How is it “leave” if you’re expected to make it up? Isn’t that just moving around your normal hours?

    11. kittymommy*

      I’ve used personal leave for everything outside of being sick or dr appointments: hair appointments, banking, service calls to my house, getting my car worked on, etc., but I’ve only worked at places that differentiates between annual/personal leave and sick leave.

      1. SofiaDeo*

        Y’all, you are missing where OP states this leave is described specifically for “urgent personal business or emergencies”. Anything that normally and routinely planned in advance is not eligible. It’s a perk that allows not taking regular vacation or regular sick leave (or PTO if bith are lu oed together at this workplace) for something urgent that crops up, medical or otherwise.

        1. kittymommy*

          I’m not missing it, I just don’t think it makes sense (that’s not on the OP it’s on the company). There are things that can’t be done outside of business hours that may not be “urgent” or “emergencies” but still need to be done (and sometimes they develop into emergencies). I’ve never even heard of places separating vacation and personal so to me, vacation is that, an all day or multiple day event not a couple of hours her and there.

          1. Werewolf? There wolf!*

            This is the second job I’ve had that separated personal leave from everything else. I have X amount of vacation leave,Y amount of sick leave, and 3 or 4 days of personal leave. Also in both places, I get my personal leave in full at the start of the fiscal year but have to earn my vacation and sick leave over time.

          2. Spencer Hastings*

            I agree — “urgent” can just mean “time-sensitive”, not necessarily unplanned. I also think that if a company wants to make these distinctions, they should give examples of what would and wouldn’t count in the employee handbook rather than just giving the vague description the OP quoted.

    12. JSPA*

      This isn’t “business” as in, related to your past or present workplace.” It means “personal stuff that’s important.”

      House closing; taking someone* to a pressing medical appointment (*someone not otherwise covered under the terms of your medical leave); searching for a pet that dashed out the door; kid is in trouble for breaking a window; heater repairman (in winter, with a freeze predicted); getting a timing belt replaced when it’s starting to fray, before it rips loose and shreds your engine…or anything else similarly pressing.

      Not, “I hate my haircut”… but, “I needed an emergency haircut because a pint of tar fell on me” would count.

      Anything that has to be done NOW (or, in the near future, during work hours), to prevent your life from becoming significantly worse / significantly more complicated.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Not, “I hate my haircut”

        See, and this would qualify as an emergency or urgent event for me, lol. This is why OP’s company should have given examples of what are and aren’t allowed under this personal leave policy. Everyone’s definition of emergency/urgent is different.

    13. Ewesername*

      At my last job “personal leave” could be taken for family reasons – childcare issues, transporting family members to appointments. But it could also be taken to avoid burn out, which was nice. The only restriction there was it couldn’t be on a day where your presence was required..(ie- black Friday week, inventory, presentations etc)

    14. Nessun*

      We have a similar description in our HR manual, but basically we’ve always boiled it down to “something I had to do during work hours that couldn’t reasonably be coded to Sick Leave or Vacation”. So – picking up a parent for an appointment, or moving, or some appointments (such as the banking you mentioned), etc. One important comment: we don’t provide details on what we’re doing when we code time this way. It doesn’t go into our timesheets with a description, just X hours to personal leave time. We have a maximum amount per year, and we can use as we see fit, and it is not reviewed except to ensure you don’t use more than you are allocated. Scrutinizing why people take the time is seen as intrusive and unnecessary – the company expects you are using it appropriately and treats us like responsible adults.

    15. anonymous73*

      This is why I hate when companies break your leave into categories. I know some people hate PTO, but I rarely get sick and would prefer to use it how I see fit. Anyhoo, no 2 companies are going to define it in the same manner. If you’re confused, reach out to your manager or HR, or whoever approves your time sheet if you’re concerned about using it in the wrong way.

      IMO personal leave is to take care of personal things (not doctors or medical type appointments, that’s sick leave) that can only be done during the time you would usually be at work – banking, waiting for a repairman, etc.

    16. Admin of Sys*

      The only job I’ve had personal leave was one where there was time based schedules and they wanted to limit folks dropping out unexpectedly but still offer the option if there were actual emergencies. It was basically a way to allow a clearly defined limit of emergency leave without having to decide when ‘too much is too much’. (and of course, they could extend grace if necessary, but this way they had an easy cap to enforce)
      The key word for us was ‘unexpectedly’ – and from the statement of ‘urgent personal business’ I feel like they’re the same. Anything that wasn’t scheduled in advance and interferes with your ability to get to work (and isn’t sick-time related.) Furnace went out, plumbing disaster, car broke down, childcare emergency, had to go take your best friend to the hospital, whatever. For us, if you could schedule it, and knew about it in advance, it was PTO and scheduled in advance. If you called in saying your tire blew and you were changing a flat and would be 20 minutes late, it was personal time. So in that scenario, signing a mortgage is pto – you know when you’re doing it, put it on the schedule. But if you got called in the next day by the lawyer saying ‘can you stop by, we forgot to notarize page 4’ then /that/ would be personal time.

    17. Wisteria*

      have you tried asking your peers what kind of things they use personal leave for? That would give you a sense of the norms in this workplace.

    18. Robin Ellacott*

      Ours is pretty broadly defined as “essential personal business” when discussing the policy we mentioned things like being home to meet the plumber or having an appointment at the bank. We wouldn’t really police it, though – if someone said they wanted to take a personal day, or a few hours of personal time, we’d just say ok.

    19. Asenath*

      This is something that varies by employer, so you can ask what your current employer’s policies are. Some can be quite flexible. I had a job where there wasn’t personal leave as such, but “family leave” (as well as sick leave and vacation time) and “family leave” covered things like “The hot water heater started leaking and I have to wait for the plumber” to “I need to take the cat to the vet” as well as the more obvious situations implied by the name for the type of leave.

    20. Haha Lala*

      Honestly, it can vary so much from company to company, you really should ask your manager or HR (or your peers) for clarification. Ask for specific examples of how each time should be used– pre-scheduled dr appointment, emergencies dr. appointment, meeting a repair man, taking car to the shop, etc.

      And not your fault, but that’s terrible wording for a policy.
      I’d be inclined to ignore the word “urgent” since it’s too subjective, and default to using personal time for anything that I need to address during normal business hours. But then I’d also ask how I should go about “scheduling” the “emergencies” to occur during off hours….
      That should probably be re-written to “emergencies or important personal business that cannot be scheduled during non-working hours.”
      Getting coffee with a friend– do it after hours or take vacation.
      Meeting with a banker that need to be during working hours — personal time.

    21. Observer*

      Our office puts “personal leave” and “vacation” in one bucket. And outside some narrow exceptions, managers are actively discouraged from asking what the leave request is for.

    22. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      The best use of a personal day is when the bed just won’t let go (©Frank, one of my all-time favorite co-workers).

  7. Trinity Valley Cheer*

    I’m currently employed in a job I enjoy that I started a few months ago. In my field, there’s this well-known report that is widely mocked for its (incorrect) conclusions. My boss and I have dogged on this report many times. Earlier this week, he messaged me with a job listing; the company that produced the report is hiring someone to oversee work that would include things like this report. He was messaging me to make a joke, but of course I looked at the listing.

    The position salary range is 30-100% over what I make now and the benefits are great (lots of vacation compared to my 10 days, other perks companies in my field are starting to implement). I’m so tempted to apply, but I feel like it would a huge betrayal of my boss, who I like and respect, and my company, whose mission I believe in. The other component, though, is that my job is currently only funded through a few years. There is hope for more, but no guarantee no matter my performance. This other job is an integral part of the company’s mission, so it’s not subject to restructuring the way my current position is.

    So, apply? Don’t apply?

    1. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

      What’s the downside to applying? You can always decide that it’s not for you later in the process.

    2. Rey*

      Apply! Where to work is a business decision, and even if it feels like a betrayal of your boss or your organization’s mission, it isn’t really. You never know what will happen with the application, but you should definitely explore your options just so you’re armed with more information.

    3. Lunchtime Doubly So*

      Please apply. What’s best for you may not be what your boss thinks is best and companies just don’t reward loyalty anymore (if they ever did). Learn about the job and if you think it would be good for you, then know that you deserve to be well-compensated. You may even be a huge asset to this new company given how well you know their product, and you could help make it into a more valuable resource. Don’t cut off your options before you explore them.

      1. Ama*

        Yeah, honestly I would bet the company is aware that the report wasn’t well-received — you can always ask questions in the interview to see if they are really looking for someone who can help them do better next time or if they just want someone to rubber stamp incorrect conclusions and back out of the process if it seems like it’s the latter.

    4. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Apply, if you don’t feel that it would compromise your ethics to at least consider an offer from the company producing this report. It’s worth the practice and experience of spending a couple hours dusting off the resume and cover letter skills.

      Also, start looking at job postings elsewhere in your industry. While it’s possible that the position is paid at the very high end of the market for reasons, I’d suspect that if there are many postings out there for 130-200% your current salary, you’re being drastically underpaid in your current position.

      1. Loulou*

        I was wondering about the pay thing too. It’s possible OP is very underpaid, but it’s also possible this is a higher-level position and the pay is a signal (even if the title is ambiguous, which I understand they often are).

    5. HigherEdAdminista*

      Apply. As much as you might like and respect your boss, and believe in the work you are doing, there is nothing wrong with exploring another opportunity. Most businesses would not hesitate to let you go if it was helpful to their bottom line and goals, no matter how much they liked you personally.

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      I notice the fact that this report is literally a joke doesn’t come into your decision. Is it really something you want to be involved in?

      1. Loulou*

        I mean, I think OP’s rationale is that this org suffers from poor oversight or management and by taking this role, they would provide more rigor. Without having any idea what this is about, I guess we don’t know if they really can fix anything, but my guess is that’s the idea.

        1. pancakes*

          In that scenario I would want to look at ownership of the org and industry press about it, because it often seems to be the case that problems like this come from the top down rather than a handful of inept managers.

      2. Higher Ed*

        This was my thinking, too. Apply if you want, but proceed with caution and eyes open. I’d consider it a red flag that this company is putting out a report that everyone sees so unfavorably and would wonder if there aren’t other problems at this organization. Maybe the high pay is because there’s a lot of dysfunction that goes along with the job.

    7. Coder von Frankenstein*

      Hell yes apply!

      I’d say to apply anyway, but the fact that your job is only funded through a few years puts an exclamation mark on that. Your company can’t or won’t provide you with a permanent gig; they should expect you to be looking out for your future employment, and you shouldn’t pass up a good opportunity just because the timing isn’t ideal.

      You aren’t committing to anything by applying. If you do end up taking the job, you can help your boss by giving a decently long notice period, making sure to document everything and wrap up important tasks, and generally being above-board and helpful as you move on. Plus, you can fix the report for him. :)

    8. Pool Lounger*

      Would working for a company that’s known as a joke in your field hurt you down the line? If other employees seeing that on your resume would get your resume tossed, I wouldn’t bother. But if the company is still respectable might as well apply.

    9. Michelle*

      The only reason I can see not to apply is if it would harm your reputation to work for this company. Do others in your field typically view the company, and it’s employees, in a negative light? Or is it just this one report that is seen poorly? If the latter, I don’t think you need to hold your boss’ opinion above your own best interests.

    10. anonymous73*

      If you’re interested in the job, then apply. You have to look out for you. Your boss may have sent it as a joke, but hey he started it. There’s no harm in checking into it.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I would not take a job managing the report that is apparently a joke in your industry. It’s not worth the pay to be associated with something that is considered a joke.

    12. Moth*

      I’m going to hold off on recommending to apply and suggest you think a little more about how you would feel working there. When you say that the report the company produces is widely mocked, is that somewhere you would feel good about working? Do you think being associated with the company could impact your ability to find work elsewhere in the future? Even if it seems like a more stable position, could it impact your future career plans? I’m not saying everywhere has to be a dream job, but there’s a pretty big spectrum of “not dream job” that can range from mildly annoying to actively making you unhappy. The great pay and benefits can also be common at companies that have no other way to retain employees but to pay them so well that they feel like they can’t leave. It’s easy to get used to that high pay and feel like you can’t step away. I say all of this from a place of a bit of familiarity.

      All that being said though, if you want to apply to just learn more about the company and see what they’re really like, it doesn’t hurt and doesn’t commit you to a job there. Just do it with your eyes open and I recommend trying to avoid being tempted by golden handcuffs of high pay. But if you apply and decide it really is a good fit and you’d feel comfortable being there, then I support the other comments about needing to do what’s best for yourself!

    13. All the words*

      Surprise twist: Seeing the salary offered, your current boss also applied for the position!

      I kid, of course, but please do feel free to apply.

    14. Bex*

      Option 3: Apply to other jobs. If your current job is significantly underpaying you, then you should be looking at options! But also, working for a company that releases terrible products is probably not the answer. So expand your horizons and see what else is out there!

    15. OtterB*

      Do YOU think the well known report routinely has incorrect conclusions? A salary increase is great but I would not want to work for an organization that demanded I put out bad work. Plus, if the report is a joke in your field, then being associated with it might make it harder to change jobs later.

    16. Empress Matilda*

      Always apply! You haven’t committed to anything until you accept an offer, and there are lots of decision points between here and there – any one of them might solidify your decision one way or another. It may turn out to be the best job of your life, but you won’t know if you don’t send in your resume, right?

    17. Asenath*

      I’d say apply, and add that any employer who has positions with funding that might or might not be renewed knows perfectly well that employees will be keeping an eye out for more stable positions.

    18. Haha Lala*

      If you’re up for putting in the effort of applying or tailoring your resume, apply! There’s nothing to lose, and you wouldn’t even have to interview/take their calls/anything.

      Is the experience level similar to your current position? If that explains the salary difference, then ignore my next point.

      It sounds like you have a good relationship with your boss, so point out the salary/benefits to him!
      “Ha, funny job posting. Is that real? Their salary range is significantly higher than what I’m making. And look at the benefits! Are they really that desperate to hire, or is my salary that far below market value??”
      Usually you don’t want to ‘reveal’ to management that you’re looking at other job postings, but since he showed it to you, that’s his fault.

    19. Not a cat*

      Apply. It sounds like an industry analyst position. If it is, they (Management Consulting Firms) mostly recruit from the Vendors anyway.

    20. nonprofiteer*

      I have to say, as a manager I would not make a joke with an employee that involved sending them a job posting they might apply for. There’s too much risk of it being perceived as “haha (please consider leaving).”

    21. RagingADHD*

      A hundred percent potential raise and better benefits?

      Of course, apply! How are you betraying anyone? It’s business.

      After all, if the report is wrong and you know that, why not contribute to making it right?

    22. BuildMeUp*

      I’m going to disagree with the majority of the responses here. If this company is widely mocked in your industry, what will happen if you get the job and it doesn’t work out, or you eventually decide to move on? It sounds like there is enough of a negative view of their work that having them on your resume could impact your future prospects, especially if the job would involve overseeing that specific report.

  8. Kimmy Schmidt*

    Does anyone in higher ed have experience moving to a zero-base budget? How did it go? How did you make your justifications? What went wrong/right? How worried should I be about my institution’s financial future? We haven’t been provided with a lot of guidance on how granular our justifications need to be.

    1. Animal worker*

      Not in higher ed but do ZBB. Five year trending reports are your friend! Look at what you’ve been spending to both see what you do (and don’t, at times) need. Think of what you purchase out of that particular account category and if not always intuitive include that in your justification (at our institution we have some things in categories that make little sense but are historically there and can’t be changed easily). The goal of ZBB at our facility at least is both to have people think through a bit more of why they need certain amounts, look for savings where possible, and better inform the finance folks/senior management of how the money is spent. I’m sure there are some orgs that implement this poorly but I think ours does a pretty good job. Impossible to tell from the outside what it says about your financial stability – sometimes it’s implemented due to issues to save money, sometimes in response to an audit, sometimes a new person in a finance role who prefers them.

      In case helpful below is an idea of one of my justifications from a past year (I work in a zoo, for context):

      This varied category includes items such as animal capture equipment, training supplies, kitchen supplies, storage containers, padlocks, scrub brushes, shade cloth, scales, shelving, exhibit hardware, and more. Requesting a $300 increase from FY2016 to $4500. This is still below the average annual amount from 2011-2016 of $5253.

    2. Lauren*

      My university did this and came very close to closing two years later, after several rounds of lay offs, closure of several programs, consolidation of the org structure (except for administration, of course), and a shift to an adjunct-heavy faculty. I left and wouldn’t be surprised to see news that they’ve closed. My recollection of doing the budget was it was arbitrary, no one had a clear idea of what to do, and no one knew how stuff got approved vs not approved for the budget.

  9. Lady Whistledown*

    Brand new manager here (ahhhhh!!)

    Tips and tricks and what to do/avoid? He’s a great employee – hard worker who takes feedback well and I want to do right by him. We’re in sales for a Fortune 500 so metrics for success are thankfully pretty straightforward.

    (Already bought Alison’s book and have reviewed some of the archives but always hungry from more ideas :))

    1. wildcat*

      At least it is a hardworking person, half the battle has been won. I would approach him and ask he has suggestions on how you can better manage him which will be more productive for him. His suggestions will be specific to him and that way you both agree on what works for you.

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        Agreed! The other potential direct report is a nightmare so my boss took him instead and I’m eternally grateful. Our first 1:1 is next week so I’ll be sure to ask him how he’s envisioning us best working together.

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      Try to be as transparent and flexible as possible. My favorite manager would forward emails to me if they pertained to what I was working on, keep me in the loop about projects coming my way before they were announced, and tell me about upcoming opportunities and ask if I wanted to participate. Leave was never a big deal as long as I got my work done. Communicate as transparently as possible, be flexible, and make yourself as open to feedback as possible and you’ll be ahead of many other experienced managers :)

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        Definitely open to feedback! And thankfully I can be very flexible with leave – we have an unlimited policy and my own boss is quite thoughtful around vacation and burnout. As long as the work gets done (and it’s not crippling amounts of work) you can easily take off for the afternoon or a long weekend.

    3. Gnome*

      From my own fist year in management… If you have an issue you raise to YOUR management, and they say they’ll address it (e.g. like if something is above your authority level or you ask for guidance on handling a stick situation)… And they do NOT, instead of getting frustrated, bring it back up… But in the sense of ‘ I raised X with you and you said you would handle it. X is still an issue, is there a timeline on this/how can I help get this resolved?”. Exact wording to reflect the prior conversation.

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        Thankfully my manager is very supportive but our broader org is quite matrixed and can take time to navigate. Excellent reminder on, well, reminders!

    4. 30 Years in the Biz*

      I’ve been a manager/sr. manager for over 12 years in biotech. Here are some things I think are important:
      Consistent communication. Give both positive and “developmental” feedback regularly. Listen well. Make sure he knows you two are part of a team in the bigger picture of the company and will be doing great work together. Encourage his growth in the position as he takes on and succeeds with tasks. Be a model of competency and professionalism. Avoid speaking negatively of anyone in the company, even if challenging. Demonstrate how to handle multiple types of speedbumps in one’s workplace (difficult personalities, budget limitations, corporate problems, etc.) . I’ve also really liked the tenets of the “4 Agreements”:
      Agreement 1: Be Impeccable With Your Word.
      Agreement 2: Don’t Take Anything Personally.
      Agreement 3: Don’t Make Assumptions.
      Agreement 4: Always Do Your Best.

      1. Lady Whistledown*

        These are EXCEPTIONALLY helpful. Like, going to put them on a post it for my desk now. Thank you!!

        1. 30 Years in the Biz*

          You’re really welcome. Have fun managing! It’s also a chance for you to grow and learn about your business and business in general. P.S. Love your name and can’t wait for the next season of Bridgerton.

    5. T. Boone Pickens*

      David Brock has an excellent book called, “The Sales Manager Survival Guide”. It’s geared towards first time sales managers. Highly recommend it.

  10. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    How are y’all divesting from work? I’m spending so much time to not even get to the bare minimum and always feel bad about it. I really need not to care so much

    1. wildcat*

      This year I am setting boundaries, it started with removing the email app from my phone. I come to work at 9 and do the best I can do get through tasks then I leave at 5 pm. I make fun plans for when I get home so I wont think about work. I set a target of reading 20 books for fun this year and so I am working towards that goal. Find something you like doing that can distract you from work.

      1. Coenobita*

        I need to have easy access to work email on my phone (for offsite meetings etc.) so instead of removing it entirely, I just turned off the notifications, and it’s amazing how much of a difference just doing that has made. No buzzing, no little red number of unread messages. I use a different app for my personal email (e.g. Outlook for work, Gmail for personal) so I never see any work emails on my phone unless I deliberately check for them. It’s honestly made a huge difference for me.

      2. OtterB*

        First glance through I misread this as “setting bonfires.” Which I suppose is one way of divesting from work, but probably not a good idea in the big picture.

    2. English Rose*

      With you on that Stuckinacrazy! Trouble is letting go of the caring can mean not being engaged and then everything feels worse. I agree with Wildcat on boundaries. I’ve started pushing back on new tasks/projects and keeping a closer eye on how long things take me. I tend to under-estimate, therefore over-commit and end up working stupid hours to deliver what I’ve promised. I am NOT looking at a single work email at weekends now, and that helps.
      My colleague (same level as me) takes a full hour for lunch each day. No debates, he just goes out and comes back after an hour. He might eat a sandwich in his car for all I know, but it’s admirable. I’m working up to that1

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Nod. Yesterday I forgot to turn on DND on my phone and somebody texted me at 11:30 at night about work. And yes, I tend to estimate my work time to be what I can do when brain and body are working and they often malfunction

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Is there a multiplication factor you can apply to work time estimates? I’m thinking probably something in the range of 1.5x – 3x (depending on how often your brain and body malfunction). There will times when you get work done early (when everything does go well) and some times when you’ll still be late (if you unexpectedly get extremely sick) but it should lower your stress levels on average.

          If you go this route, you’ll need to get in the habit of pausing before you respond to the “when will you have this done by?/how long will this take you?” questions so you have time to say to yourself “this looks like a one-week task if everything goes perfectly, but that never happens so one week*2 = 2 weeks for this task.”

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Nod. People will ask for a task that takes a few hours, not knowing that some days I only have 6 hours or even just 4 in me.

    3. Michelle*

      I have an unfortunate tendency to look at everything I *haven’t* done, rather than everything I *have* done, and I’m working on that. Sometimes it’s helpful to take inventory of how much you can realistically be expected to do — WITHOUT running yourself into the ground — and compare that to what you are doing. You say you aren’t getting the bare minimum, but maybe ask a respected friend or colleague for a reality check. You may be expecting more than is reasonable, or your company may be expecting too much.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        When I write what I did it is often a substantial amount of work, but a lot of work is left undone and I end up with a huge backlog.

    4. Generic Name*

      I’ve deleted my work email from my phone and no longer check work emails in my off hours. I’m dealing with a lot of medical needs my child has, and I’m just taking sick time for his appointments (which we are allowed to do) instead of trying to work hours extra to make up the time. I just can’t deal with working, and then spending hours at my child’s medical appointments, and then working hours in the evenings. I’ve been making an effort to “stick to may lane” more. I used to worry more about big-picture company stuff (I work for a small company), and if I saw what I perceived as a potential issue, I’d try to fix it or flag it. I’m in an individual contributor role, and I don’t get paid to or have the job title to worry about that stuff, so when I get the urge to fix/report, I ask myself, “is this my job to worry about this?”. Often it’s not, so I just move on.

    5. justaworkerbee*

      I agree with all the other comments on setting boundaries, do not disturb on your phone, not checking emails, etc. For me, I have a horrible problem of dreading work late into the night that leads to insomnia. A year ago I started taking melatonin to help me sleep and it works wonders! I take it every Sunday without fail. Improving my sleep health has honest to goodness made my work life so much better.

      I also have to be very realistic with myself at work. There are certain individuals who sometimes nitpick my job or our organization and make it seem like no matter what I do, I’m not doing enough. I just started to let it go – “water off a duck’s back” style. I think of it like high school drama, and my minimizing those naysayers it helped my put my job into perspective. I can only control myself and my actions and *I* know I’m doing as best I can, you know?

    6. Anonymous Hippo*

      I am still very much a work in progress on this front.

      But I started being a stickler for off hours has helped a lot. The three days of close I’ll work limited extra hours (I won’t skip meals and I go to bed by midnight no matter what’s on fire) but the rest of the time I won’t answer a call/IM/text/email after 5:01 unless I personally think it’s an emergency. I also added my commute into my work hours for the days I go in the office. I’m in a senior management role, so a great deal of what I’m doing is up in my head anyway, and not like I can turn that off, I’m constantly thinking of issues and working out plans in my head, so if they get rent free time in my head, I’m at least going to create hard limits on the time they have on my physical presence. It’s actually made me a lot more efficient.

  11. Warlord*

    Hey gang,

    In a few (months? a year?) I’m looking to make a career change from government into technical writing. I’m taking some free online courses on Adobe FrameMaker and Robohelp, and I’m learning DITA. I’ve scrounged up some academic editing work, and the occasional grant editing (I used to be a grant writer), as well as writing up some systems/processes at work.

    Any other advice? I’m not sure what subset of technical writing I want to go into, but I’m thinking about fintech because I’m interested in wealth management. I’m not terribly technically advanced, but I’m very good at making unclear information clear.

    1. Jaybee*

      Since you say you’re specifically interested in wealth management – credit analysis (AKA underwriting) is a sort of ‘hidden’ technical writing position that not many people outside of banking & finance know exists, and it can lead directly into wealth management. It’s an entry level job for a lot of careers in the upper levels of banking, finance, and accounting.

      You would be writing loan memos – essentially describing a loan deal in a neat and readable package that can be presented to decision-makers at the bank. Some amount of education or experience in basic accounting is usually required because you do need to be able to read and discuss financial statements.

      There are a lot of free seminars on YouTube etc for beginning credit analysts, I watched a couple myself before getting into the field to be sure I was making the right move.

    2. Current TW*

      I’m in technical writing. RoboHelp and FrameMaker are still used by a lot of old-school places (like manufactured goods) but if you’re looking to get into fintech or enterprise software, they’re outdated. You’d be better off learning Flare and InDesign.

      I’d suggest lurking on the Write The Docs slack to get a better feel for the current technologies that are most in demand. Also, comb through LinkedIn to find TWs at the companies you’re interested in, and look at their skill stacks.

    3. starsaphire*

      Tech writer here.

      I had a long struggle looking for positions before I found this one. Many places advertising for tech writers aren’t really looking for writer/editors; they’re looking for someone who can read and fix code. (The “G” company, for example, is usually looking for tech writers – but they require coding experience for all TW jobs.)

      Knowing DITA will help, so that’s a step in the right direction. If you’ve got a coding background, you should be okay; if not, focus on more traditional industries rather than tech.

      Best of luck!

    4. Baeolophus bicolor*

      I’m in technical writing. I second learning InDesign. If you can, I’d also suggest learning Oxygen (a popular DITA editor). I’m not in anything financial, but you might want to take a look at the Society for Technical Communication and CIDM for more resources, newsletters, etc. Two good books are DITA 101 by Rockley, Manning, and Cooper and Developing Quality Technical Information by Carey, Lanyi, Longo, Radzinski, Rouiller, and Wilde. The IBM Style Guide is also a good resource.

    5. Warlord*

      Thanks, y’all.

      I’ve poked around Write the Docs, and they listed the Adobe Technical Communications Suite as a skill to learn. The online training is free, so I thought why not. I can check out Flare and InDesign.

      I’ve looked at oXygen too, and they have a very helpful DITA style guide. I’ll check them out in greater detail. I’ll look into those books!

      Yeah, tech’s where the money’s at, but my coding background is non-existent and I don’t really want to go into coding. Traditional industries it is.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Don’t rule out tech. Sure, you won’t get a tech writing role for API documentation if you don’t understand coding, but you could write proposals for a tech company (that’s what I used to do with zero programming background), you can write their employee training documentation, style guides, and even work with their instructional design team (if they have one) on documentation. I’ve done all of that in tech and only have a certificate in technical writing from the University of Washington (I was a journalist and actually completed my program nearly two and a half years after joining a software company – I was previously a proposal manager in a different industry making peanuts).

    6. No Cheap Ass Rolls Here*

      My company can always use help with writing how-to information and we have one project that involves writing about how to apply for grants. Do you have a website for your freelance writing work? (Hope this is okay to ask here.)

  12. Becky*

    Hi everyone! I’m looking for examples on AAM where Alison addresses the issue of a company sending an org-wide email / announcement to all staff / new rule for all staff rather than addressing the actual problem employee(s). Trying some searches but coming up empty. Thank you!

    1. awesome3*

      I mean, the funniest one is “Wednesday of last week” but there are others that are probably more relevant to your needs.

      1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

        Did you mean “I will confront you by Wednesday of this week” ?

    2. Becky*

      I’m looking because my partner is stuck on a committee formed to address the problems being caused by a subset of employees (?!)

    3. awesome3*

      Another one that probably isn’t as useful as others, but “my coworker tried to film her pregnancy announcement and now there is chaos” from yesterday had elements of that from both corporate HR and from the local HR.

    4. theletter*

      I couldn’t tell you where or when it was posted, but there was the story about a hiring manager who moved Heaven and Earth to recruit a high-performer onto the team.

      They same day the new recruit started was the same day that a VP decided to end flex hours due to a few people abusing the unspoken system. So the new recruit comes in and finds a letter on his desk outlining how he needs to be at his desk at 8 AM sharp and don’t overextend your lunch break etc, so the new recruit doesn’t even sit down. He said something along the lines of ‘well this won’t work’ and ghosts the job.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        That one is one of my favorites! It’s the 6th story on the “resigning via cod, a glorious out-of-office message, and other quitting stories” post from October 5, 2017. I’ll put the link in a reply to this comment.

  13. LongDistanceWorkLife*

    TLDR: Anyone have experience staying in your own country with kids (with no plans to move) while spouse went to work in another country for an opportunity too good to pass up for a defined period of time – say 2-3 years? How did it go? What do you wish you knew before you did it?

    Long version:
    Spouse may be offered a job in another country for his current company that is a huge opportunity and it would be structured with an end date but for more than 1 year. For all kinds of reasons including my own career and family obligations, I cannot move with him. We don’t speak the language and while business will be in English daily life would not be. I will have more support and help at home than I would if I went with my spouse and I’m in the kind of job that is really hard to get into and a little niche – I cannot just pick up and leave. I also don’t want to quit my job and I have non-negotiable family obligations that no one else can take over. We have more than one child.

    This is not something that my spouse will do without my ok and we are both not sure we’re willing to do this, but we need to seriously consider it. We will obviously need more details before deciding anything.

    I know people who have lived in different areas of the country for part of their marriages without kids – sometimes these marriages survived, often they did not. Either way I know it’s going to be hard as hell if we do this. Has anyone done this and if so how did it work? Would you still have done it knowing what you know now? What do you wish you knew before you decided to do this?

    1. AnonEMoose*

      It might be worth talking to folks who have had a spouse on military deployment for an extended period. It’s not exactly the same, but there is the factor of having a spouse away for an extended period and trying to keep the marriage alive, plus adjusting once they come back. They may have insights/advice to offer.

      1. LongDistanceWorkLife*

        This suggestion somehow makes me feel a little better. I hadn’t thought of this but you’re right a lot of military families deal with this regularly. Thank you for the suggestion.

      2. Ann Perkins*

        This is me, though it wasn’t quite as long – my husband went on a deployment when my first was only 4 months old. The deployment was only 6 months though. It was hard – I have no family nearby so it was lonely, I’m not going to lie. But we made it through and the money was nice since he gets paid more for his reserve work than his civilian job. I think if I’d had family nearby that would have eased it a lot.

        I know that sort of distance can be really hard on kids and the parental relationship, so that’s definitely something to consider. I only dealt with it when my kid was a baby so he’ll have no memory and it really didn’t affect him, as far as I can tell.

      3. Panicked*

        Mil spouse checking in! We’ve done 4+ deployments at various ages and stages of our kiddo. Does it suck? Yes it does. Does it take extra effort to maintain your typical baseline? Yes it does. Can you do it? Absolutely. Here are my suggestions.
        – Get a Power of Attorney before your spouse leaves. You’d be amazed at how many times I’ve used it.
        – Schedule vacation time as soon as you can. It gives everyone something to look forward to and allows you to better plan your own schedule.
        – Get into a routine now and stick to it after they leave. It will help the kids transition; the stability is incredibly necessary and helpful.
        – If you have school-age kids, have your partner connect with your kids online. My daughter and my husband played Minecraft together through one of his non-combat tours. It gave them a great way to stay connected, have fun, and build memories. (It also gave me a break!) They’d even go onto their game while the other was asleep and leave each other in-game presents. It was so cute!
        – Lean on others for help. Single parenting is HARD. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family for assistance.
        – Make sure you take care of yourself. This is a tricky one, but one that is the most crucial. For 2-3 years, everything will fall on you and you can’t pour from an empty cup. Take time for yourself, even if it’s just for a few minutes after the kids go to bed. Trying a new hobby is always fun. It is very easy to get stuck in a rut, but try really hard to push yourself out of it.
        – Give yourself something to look forward to. Try to plan a fun outing or activity for each month. Pumpkin patch, 4th of July parade, strawberry picking, winter festival, whatever. Just something to keep your sights on. It also helps with the countdown. “I have six more months before I see my spouse again, but I only have three weeks until we go to this concert! And six weeks until that pottery class!”
        – Those first goodbyes are the most challenging you’ll have. It’s 100% okay to cry and be sad for awhile, but don’t let it consume you. I “allow” myself to cry from the drop off point until I get home. Then it’s “buck up, buttercup” and get into the new routine.
        – You will fight with your spouse leading up to their departure. It’s totally normal and a way to start separating yourself so it’s not *so* difficult when they do actually leave. You’ll also fight when they return. You’ve been doing things a certain way for the past few years and they will come and try to change it. You’re going to argue. I’m telling you, it’s 100% normal. It’ll pass.
        – Let your spouse help. If they want to help with something, let them. Even if it’s only ordering dinner for delivery or researching a roofer for the house, keep them involved. It’s easy to take everything over, but it can make it really challenging for them to not be able to contribute. They are still a member of the household, even if they’re miles away.
        – Prepare for the time difference. You may only have a few good hours where you both are awake and not busy. Get used to not having full access/communication all the time.
        – This isn’t going to be easy at all and a good therapist can help you through the really rough patches, if you need them.

        Good luck! Whatever you both decide to do, just know that you can get through it.

        1. Deployment Mom*

          I’m a military spouse, he’s a reservist who only deployed twice in the 20 years we’ve been married. Once before kids and once when our kids were 3, 5, and 7. I would not do it if I had the choice. My 3 year old was a mess- daycare drop offs were brutal, she developed anxiety of all men, and her daycare provider asked if she was just born grumpy. (She was not) Our marriage is better than ever 3 years later, but that year was not worth it overall. My older kids fared much better but still make wishes like “dad will never be deployed again” I agree with all the other advice people have given to make it better, but know that for some kids, it may be really really difficult. And parenting a kid through that is no joke.

    2. Mostlyalurker*

      How old are the kids? A few years is a veeeery long time to be a single parent, even with support. I don’t have direct experience doing this, but my boyfriend did something similar with his now-ex-wife for a few years, and it was really hard on everyone. It’s not the entire reason they divorced, but it sure didn’t help matters. I’d also consider the impact on his relationship with the kids- two years is a long time to go without seeing dad very often.
      If you want more data, maybe you could do a weird sort of trial run where you take in full kid responsibility for a few days or a week, just to get a sense of what it would feel like to do it all on your own?

    3. Colette*

      I have not done this, but here’s what I would consider:
      – what’s the time difference between the new country and your currrent country? How would you stay in touch about the big and small stuff? Could you have daily phone calls with and without the kids, for example?
      – how often would you be able to visit in person?
      – you have a support system at home, which is great. Are you able to handle not just the kid stuff, but the house/finance stuff? Are you familar with the bills and how to pay them?
      – how often would you be able to get someone to babysit the kids so you get some time to yourself?
      – thinking about your specific kids, what kind of effort/energy do you need to deal with them? A high-energy 3 year old who will climb anything they see is difference between a quiet 7 year old or a sulky 13 year old.
      – do you have enough flexibility at work to take off the time you need for the kids (e.g. if someone gets sick, what’s the plan? What if everyone gets sick over a 2-week period)?

    4. Policy Wonk*

      I have not done this, but know lost of people who have. Some companies have expat packages for people relocating outside their home country. Check to see if the company has something like this. If possible, spouse should negotiate for the company to pay for visits home. This is actually pretty common in such cases – some have had twice per year visits, some four times. (And of course travel goes both ways – arrange time for you to visit spouse.)

      The cost of a second home can also be expensive – see if housing or a rent subsidy can be included in spouse’s compensation. Ditto furnishings. Is there anything in your home spouse will want to take with, that you will need to replace/buy another one?

      Video-chat regularly. You don’t say where you are, but if in the US, health insurance continuation could be an issue. Make sure that is all spelled out.

      If you have kids, might need powers of attorney or other documents to ensure they can get passports and travel without spouse’s consent. And look at the things you rely on spouse for – do you have someone to pick up those duties? (E.g., get kids to sports practice, shovel snow.)

      This may not be sustainable over the long-term, but if it is truly for 2-3 years, it is doable.

    5. Cranky lady*

      I haven’t done it but it’s not uncommon in my field. Thoughts: 1. make sure that travel costs and “home leave” are spelled out in the benefits package so spouse can come home and you can go visit, 2. Ask for cross cultural training for the whole family, not just spouse, 3. Think of what things spouse does at home that you may need to outsource and whether the salary/benefits of the overseas assignment cover that, 4. Make sure you are on the same page (and keep talking about) what happens if spouse hates new job/country, you hate being alone, you want to join them in a year or two.

    6. Not A Manager*

      When you’re making this decision, I suggest that you pretend that you’ve accepted the job and the separation, and now you’re explaining to the kids (a) now, why you are doing this and what the benefits are, and (b) 20 years in the future why you did it and what the benefits were. I would also (c) pretend that you are now retired and you’re discussing with each other why this was the right choice.

      I know it sounds like I have some super-secret snarky agenda here, but I don’t. I’m on the far side of your situation – my kids are grown and I’m in later middle age. Looking back, I see some of our family decisions in a very different way, not just because of course now I know the actual outcome, but more because now I have a larger overview and slightly different priorities.

    7. anonymoose*

      From the practical side what kind of package does the company offers for visits home – at my company people who are married but come out without their family have 2 paid vacations each year (the allowance is very generous) and between vacation time and various company holidays and national holidays they end up with almost 2 months of vacation time. Also families come out for a visit during school holidays, not sure if you would be able to work remotely and do that. From the husbands/wives I’ve spoken to it is tough as they are essentially single parents for large chunks of time but they usually have a timeline and a reason – pay off the mortgage, college funds, retirement funds etc and they focus on that.

    8. Mockingjay*

      I’ve done this for 6 months at a stretch, multiple times. Hodgepodge of hints:

      1. Power of Attorney. You’ll need this for a lot of unanticipated items. I did.
      2. Finances: who pays what and how. Set a budget and bank the rest. Make sure bank accounts are joint. Have him add you as an authorized person to handle his credit cards in case of billing errors. Insurance (home, auto, med, dental), car payments, utilities, mortgage – ensure you can access every account that costs money With online banking and account and global internet, these things are easier than I had it, but if you have to call, they won’t talk to you unless you’re authorized on the account.
      3. MWR/Home leave. See if he can negotiate periodic flights for home visits, as part of or in addition to vacation time. And plan for a vacation over there (assuming pandemic ends and it’s not a world hotspot).
      4. Schedule standard Facetime or Skype with the kids. Mine loved it – even with the grainy, slow video of the day.
      5. Schedule standard Facetime or Skype for you. You both need time to connect as spouses.
      6. Line up your friends for support. I had an amazing group that helped out in all kinds of ways. I got the flu and they promptly took my kids for playdates so I could rest, babysat so I could attend appointments, etc.
      7. If you own your home, are there any big ticket items due: furnace replacement, roofs? Figure out what has to be done now, what can wait, and what will be done while he’s gone.
      8. What chores does he handle that you’ll have to pick up or outsource? Hire someone to cut the lawn.
      9. Keep a positive attitude and remember it’s hard on both sides. You’ve got work, family, and household on this side, he’s got work and some really lonely evenings on his. (You can only do so much tourist stuff before you get tired of it.) Talk to each other about daily lives: ask each other advice, but leaven that with humor and funny stories about kids, neighbors.

      1. PT*

        Look at exchange rate plus currency change plus international bank transfer fees, too, if he is going to be paid in the country he’s living in and transferring money home to cover home expenses.

        This is totally different but my husband and I looked into moving to Canada from the US for a job and the process for paying US student loans while being paid in Canadian money involved an exchange rate, a currency change fee, and an international bank transfer to a US account just to draft the loans. It would have been a huge pain with a chunk of extra expenses tacked on.

    9. Loulou*

      Look closely at pandemic border laws in this country. Is there a chance that you would be unable to visit, or that if your husband visited you he’d be unable to return?

      Good luck with this decision.

    10. Camelid coordinator*

      We’ve lived apart for career reasons before kids and are finishing up a two-year stint of having two households for work/career/school reasons. All the reasons we decided to do it make sense and are still valid, but I have a lot of regrets. My kiddo is in high school and seems to do better when both parents are around, which in our case is most weekends and when I can work remotely.

      I remember middle school as being intense in terms of scheduling, increased academic demands, and activities, and my advice would that if you want to do this, elementary school age (or earlier?) might work ok.

    11. OtterB*

      Not exactly the same, but while our kids were preschoolers more than 20 years ago, my husband had a project for work that took him out of the country during the work week for … I’ve forgotten how many months, maybe 9 or 10? Seemed like forever. He normally flew home Friday night and went back Sunday night, which meant we saw more of him than you might if he’s relocated, but this was pre-Skype and Facetime.

      One thing we did that I think helped was that the kids and I went to visit for a week a couple of times during the project. That let us have a mental image of what his location was like.

      One thing I would do differently if we had it to do over: when he was at home, he really wanted to do family things, so we did. But that meant we didn’t do date-night things or just-for-us things, and I think that was a mistake. It took a long time to get our connection back.

      Mine was long enough ago that there wasn’t much cell phone use and little electronic communication, so it might be easier now to keep in touch, but I’d suggest setting ground rules for decisions you make unilaterally while you’re the parent in charge, and decisions that you should consult your spouse about.

      He was very lonely for a lot of the time. I had all our built-in neighbor and church support; he had a few colleagues from work, but he spoke the language haltingly, there wasn’t any public transit where he was and he couldn’t drive (though there were taxis). So it’s hard for the parent with the kids to manage single-handed, but it’s also hard for the one alone.

      And (looking at other responses since I started typing this) yes to what Policy Wonk said about power of attorney. I had forgotten – the first time we went to visit, we got to the airport and discovered that I couldn’t take the kids out of the country alone without notarized permission from him. Cue lots of scrambling, phoning, and faxing, and we caught a flight the next day, but better to have avoided that one.

      1. LongDistanceWorkLife*

        This isn’t just a reply to OtterB but to all of you who responded. I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to provide such thoughtful responses! You’ve given us a lot to think about and talk about. I appreciate all the advice and questions so so much. It makes it feel a little less overwhelming. Thank you so much.

    12. Spearmint*

      I would really think long and hard about the potential negative consequences for your kids. Being separated from a parent for years is huge for young children, and time they won’t get back. Additionally, even if your relationship is on solid footing it will probably strain it at times and up the chances of divorce, both of which would be and for your kids as well.

      My partner’s father did this for a year when she was eight, though in his case it was just a few states over rather than out of the country. She found it really hard to be separated from him, and it also led to her parents divorcing which was also really hard on her (it wasn’t the only reason for the divorce, but it was a major factor).

      I’m not saying these are arrangements can’t work, but they are very risky when kids are involved and I’d think long and hard about it.

      1. LongDistanceWorkLife*

        Its my kids and my marriage I’m most worried about. If the kids were older that might be a very different thing…We need to have some really specific conversations about goals that I don’t think we’ve done in a few years – or at least not about this kind of thing. I also probably need to get my own head clear on what I want and what’s important to me. I’m trying to look at this as an opportunity to really talk some of these big things through.

    13. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Seconding people’s points about spouse’s home responsibilities and outsourcing, beyond the kiddos.

      For example, I’m reasonably handy but I’m not physically capable of snow-blowing our long driveway as a thin-ish nearly middle aged lady (I tried it once and it was a disaster). If my spouse were relocating in the summer, I might not even think about this! So 1) are you going to be able to do these activities or hire them out? 2) is doing so going to make the finances or emotional part (resentment) of this unsustainable? Or other things – what if you get locked out? Pipe bursts? Car won’t start?

      I’m not saying you’re incapable of dealing with these things and obviously single parents figure it out, but I’d be getting angrier and angrier if I had to do all the home maintenance stuff (plus kids, doctor’s visits, child care, school, food prep, grocery, cleaning, etc) on my own. No point in relocating if it kills the marriage.

    14. Beth*

      Are you good at communication? If not, make that a key area in which to improve very, very fast. With good, warm, caring, regular communication, you can weather almost anything.

      My context: my wife and I started our relationship 4,000 miles apart, and kept it going for almost ten years before we were able to be together for more than a few days at a time. We communicated constantly — email, messenger, phone, text, online communities with comment cultures, mailed stuff — I don’t think there was a single day without some form of contact, even (or especially) when it was only a brief note or a pretty picture or a lame joke.

    15. A thought*

      A close family member did this for 3 years, with some breaks in between. They needed the extra pay, and the person who went overseas definitely benefited from it in many ways. But their spouse and kids….not so much, other than the extra money. The kids were teens and for a variety of reasons really needed that parent around. The spouse had so much responsibility placed on them, including the kids, that in spite of a support network it was really hard. They skyped every day and that helped everyone, but it’s no substitute for being there, especially for the kids in this instance. Also the spouse who went was in a dangerous country, so that was hard on everyone — that may not be true in your situation so at least you won’t have that stress. Lastly, when they finally came home, their spouse got a new job very far from where the traveling spouse was working, requiring the family to move and making the returned spouse’s commute very very long and impossible sometimes. The home-spouse thought it was only fair to take care of themselves professionally after the other one had done so themselves for three years (and I agreed), but the returning spouse didn’t see it that way. They have all recovered (I think) since then but it was hard on the family.

    16. Self Employed Employee*

      People are suggesting scheduling facetime and video meets. I would take this a bit further and get in the habit (if you can) of leaving the connection open for hours at a time. That can really give the feeling of the other person being with you in regular, daily life. A much different feeling that scheduling a short duration of time.

    17. Tali*

      Many in my circle have done long-distance, and it is difficult but can be done–harder across time zones and borders. Honestly I would not recommend it right now during the pandemic. I have seen/experienced too many sudden travel shut downs to be confident that your spouse would be able to get there and return safely, I have heard stories of spouses still not reunited 2+years in.

      I would also encourage you to look into COVID restrictions/practices in the target country. Many countries are stricter than the US and it could be very isolating for your spouse in a new country with no language skills or social network and no opportunity to safely build relationships. Maybe vaccines are harder to come by and safety is an issue.

      Many companies are suspending overseas travel with omicron surging, so I would check how his company will support him in this regard, in addition to all the others (local language learning, accommodations, etc.)

  14. wildcat*

    Struggling to find a job in the wildlife conservation NGO space (think WCS, WWF etc). I have revamped my application documents using advice on here but I am not getting interviews for jobs that I qualify for. Any advice? I hear a lot about networking being more important in the non profit sector but how do you find and network with people in positions to make hiring decisions?

    1. Green tea*

      I work for one of these orgs, and hiring is incredibly competitive. Without knowing your background and what kinds of jobs you are aiming for, it’s difficult to say whether you should be looking for networking opportunity or would be better off focusing on ways to strengthen your candidacy.

      1. wildcat*

        I am interested in research (have applied for research positions and program officer ones to get my foot in the door- is that a good idea?). I have an ecology graduate degree.

        1. Ama*

          I would caution against applying for program officer if you really want to do research — I’m in a medical research nonprofit and it’s pretty easy to spot people who are trying the “foot in the door” approach. Nonprofits hiring for administrative jobs want to see people who actually want to do the administrative job.

          1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

            That depends on the type of non-profit. The one I worked at was a cultural institution, and many of the professional positions were filled by people who first had a foot-in-the-door admin job.

        2. Green tea*

          A grad degree might be a better fit for a program associate position at my NGO, over a program officer position if you don’t have additional relevant experience or academic publications. My advice would be for you to find someone with the job you are looking for on LinkedIn, and ask for an informational interview to get specific advice on how to become a more competitive candidate – but do not make the ask in connection with a job you’ve applied to, or ask them to recommend you for that job. I get a lot of requests like those and find it off-putting since of course I am not going to recommend someone I haven’t worked with before.

          I also disagree with Ama’s advice as there is a huge difference at my NGO between program officer roles and admin roles. Many PO positions do include opportunities for research, both grey literature and academic, and you are definitely not overqualified for them. Don’t apply for any admin roles though, as that is a different track altogether and if you are hired as an admin, you will likely not have the opportunity to move onto another track.

          1. Coenobita*

            Yes, this is consistent with my experience. My employer hires subject matter experts under job titles like “analyst” or “advocate” (+/- a word like “policy” or “program” in front) – super vague, obviously, but just some more terms for you to keep an eye out for. We don’t have program officers per se, but I work with program officers both at peer organizations and the organizations that fund us, and they’re doing program rather than admin work.

            You might also want to check out consulting firms – they’re often the ones that big NGOs are paying to do the actual research work!

    2. Cranky lady*

      What do you want to do in that space? Are you a project manager, accountant, policy wonk, manager, IT support person? The best advice I ever got was to focus on the skill and then apply that within your NGO area of interest.

      1. wildcat*

        I am a scientist, have an ecology graduate degree. I have revamped my academic resume to highlight the skills instead of qualifications to make it clear how I am a good fit for positions but haven’t had any luck yet

        1. Bex*

          Do you have work experience? If not, I’d recommend looking into post-grad fellowships. A lot of the big NGOs (WWF, TNC, etc) offer them and they are an excellent way to get a foot in the door.

            1. Bex*

              So, I spent 10 years at one big green NGO and have been at another one for almost 5. In my experience, that sets you up for a research/scientist position but not necessarily a program officer role. I still think targeting fellowships is worth a shot, as those are definitely door opening positions. Generally what I’ve found in my career is that almost every open job is highly competitive and as a result there are very few entry level opportunities. At my prior company, we regularly hired admin/program assistants (allegedly a fairly entry level position) who had masters degrees and 2-3 years of post-grad experience.

    3. Never Nicky*

      People I know in this field have only been able to find paid work after extensive volunteering. Whether it’s the experience this gives, or the networks and contacts this leads to is difficult to unpick.

    4. YourQueerEmployee*

      I work in that field, and agree that it is extremely competitive! It’s particularly hard to find full-time year-round positions. You don’t mention how long you have been out of school or how much experience you have in the field. If you are able to swing it, it can work well to take on seasonal or contract/project-based work to help you develop specific skills, directly-applicable experience, and contacts. At my job, we frequently hire contractors on an hourly basis to help with specific projects we don’t have the capacity for (yes, this is a problem! but I don’t have the power to change it).

      I landed in my current role through a string of positions like this, each one introducing me to the next person and making my resume more and more refined to the exact field and role I was looking for.

    5. Sloanicote*

      This is my field! It has a strong sense of dues paying unfortunately and you may have to grow from within. Some orgs like TNC, DU, TU or NFWF or similar do have science roles while many conservation nonprofits do not, having program staff instead and just bringing in consultants or academics as needed. Interning/volunteering can help, and maybe focus on building experience at smaller local nonprofits over trying to enter with large regional ones everyone has heard of – due to prestige they are difficult.

      1. wildcat*

        Oh wow, this community is very diverse! Those organizations are on my list, I am also trying to network with people inside to hear about their work and experiences with the organizations. Yeah it has been tough to get in, been looking since Dec 2020 :(

        1. Sloanicote*

          So, everyone’s experience will vary, but for me, I’ve been alternating between “stretch position at a small local nonprofit with crappy pay/benefits but will gain lots of experience” and “same role at an established national org with better pay/benefits until I get bored/frustrated by silos and hierarchies” as I work may way up the ladder. From coordinator/assistant to manager to senior manager to director.

  15. AnonEMoose*

    I recently started a job search, basically because my current company finally pissed me off enough that I decided job hunting was preferable (and I HATE job hunting with a passion). I’m wondering whether LinkedIn Premium is worth it.

    Most of my experience is in administrative support for adult education (intentionally vague) though I have done a smattering of what could be called higher level stuff over the years, and it’s not what most people think of as traditional admin support. So, is it worth the money after the “free” month they offer to sign up for LinkedIn premium? Anyone got experience with this?

    1. friends with the mustard under my bed*

      I used premium for the free trial month and then canceled. I didn’t find that I got any more interaction than I did with the free version. I have noticed that when I interact with content on my LinkedIn feed such as articles and media releases from companies, I get more recruiters reaching out to me.

    2. liquidus*

      I used the free month to message talent acquisition/recruiter folk who can’t be reached otherwise when asking about open positions, but anything else that LI sells with Premium (e.g., who looks at your profile, job data, etc.) isn’t really worth it.

    3. irene adler*

      I subscribed for about 9 months. So not worth it!

      They offer things like a group for posting job hunt questions. Much like here at AAM. Only difference (and this is huge): there’s no one on the LI group to offer expert advice. It’s merely people offering their knowledge based on… whatever. So you may get “gumption” and outdated advice with no one to step in and say “no that’s not a good idea. Here’s why. Do this instead.”.

      They say Premium puts your application at the top of the list (for the Easyapply jobs) for the recruiter. So what? The recruiter decides who they want to contact-regardless of the order the applications are presented.

      If your communications plan is to reach out to many folks on LI, then you might consider it. I’m finding that basic LI membership greatly restricts those I can contact. If you are going to reach out to people via LI, first see how many you can contact on the basic membership. If you run into too many roadblocks, then maybe try the one month free.

      1. Hunnybee*

        Same — and literally AAM is so much more worth it from the standpoint of advice and community. I got nothing out of LI Premium except a bill.

    4. AnonEMoose*

      Thanks, everyone! That’s what my instincts were saying, but it’s really good to have the gut check! If anyone has other recent job search experience to share, especially after 10+ years with the same company, I’d love to hear it.

  16. lala*

    If you tell your boss you’re quitting, do you have to wait for their go-ahead to tell other people and make arrangements? How long would you wait before proceeding?

    1. Warlord*

      If the boss is decent, wait. If they are garbage humans, tell whoever you want. Sing it from the rooftops. What are they going to do, fire you?

      1. lala*

        Thanks, that is helpful. In this case, boss is decent, just doesn’t actually know specifics of my job or what I do, so I will need to talk to the people who do in order to transition everything over. How long would you wait?

        1. londonedit*

          Can you just ask them? ‘Hi Boss, I don’t want to jump the gun – is it OK for me to start talking to people about handing things over when I leave?’

        2. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

          Did your boss give any timeline?

          Alison answered a similar question a few months ago.

          From that answer:
          “It’s one thing for a manager to say, “Can you give us a few days to figure out the plan before you announce it to others?” That can be reasonable, particularly in a situation where hearing someone is leaving is likely to generate lots of anxious questions about how their work will be covered, or what it means for the X project, or so forth.

          But a few days only. After that you need to be free to talk about your plans with others and to start working on transition items (which is much harder if no one knows you’re leaving).”

        3. Jaybee*

          Ask your boss. “I need to discuss my departure with (x, y, and z) so we can hand off duties/wrap up loose ends/etc. Is there anything you need to do on your end before I talk about this with them?”

          If you do need to wait it shouldn’t be long. Only enough time to loop in HR or something like that.

      2. Bagpuss*

        Can you have a conversation with your boss about it?
        I was recently on the other side of this, one of my direct reports handed in their notice,I had a conversation with them about when/how we tell outside people (clients etc) and asked them before I mentioned it to other people in the department, so that they had the chance to tell their co-workers first.

        I’d say that for coworkers, it is fine for you to tell people straight away, for people outside the company such as suppliers and clients, it’s reasonable to check with your boss first about how you tell people and what information you give them, and it’s often reasonable to wait a bit so the message can be ‘I’m leaving ABC & Co on 21st January, Jane Doe will be your point of contact after that , here’s her email / direct line / whatever’

    2. anonymous73*

      Unless he specifically tells you to keep it to yourself, then you are free to let others know if you want. I would start documenting your duties as best you can, ask your boss if there’s anyone specifically you need to train/talk to/give the documentation to, and then wait for further instruction.

    3. lala*

      Thank you everyone. I think it’s tricky because it’s hard to have time to talk to my boss, doubly for it to not be out in the open, it was a feat being able to find them when they weren’t busy in order to resign.

  17. Anon-because-current-job-doesn't-know-yet*

    I need some help specifically from US citizens who have moved to New Zealand for work. If there are any in the commentariat, can you point me to resources that will help me make the transition smoothly and without surprises? I am super-excited, but also a bit terrified as I’ve never had to move internationally before.

    1. awesome3*

      Random, but youtuber mamadoctorjones just did that. Some of her moving to New Zealand for work videos might provide useful information

      1. Anon-because-current-job-doesn't-know-yet*

        That probably will be a help, thank you! Oh, she moved with kids. Perfect. I’m taking a spouse and three children.

    2. Purple Penguin*

      How exciting! I moved overseas 14 years ago (to France) and have since worked in a bunch of countries, including in Aus and NZ.

      Things that helped me were:
      +finding blogs written by other expats in my destination country. This can ease the uncertainity and give you a bit of insider knowledge. I did a quick search and this site might be a good starting place:

      +Assuming you’re USian, find an accountant now, before you relocate, who specializes in USian expat taxes. This is super important because US tax obligations can be super complicated. Argh, just thinking about FATCA gives me chills.

      +Know what your company is offering re relocation and know who to contact should things go pear shaped. I would also plan for there to be hiccups. For example, during my last international move, I didn’t get paid for a few months because my org didn’t file the correct paperwork AND, once they completed the needed paperwork, I couldn’t open a bank account right away as an international person. This is an extreme cautionary example, but because I’d moved a few times before and hiccups always happen, I had a few thousand earmarked for immediate living expenses.

      +A continuation from the above point, get a credit card now that doesn’t charge international transaction fees.

      +There are a bunch of orgs and groups for discussing international work moves. Check out Reddit, Facebook, and Internations.

      1. Anon-because-current-job-doesn't-know-yet*

        Thanks! That’s all really useful. I’m *hoping* that my new employer, being the government of New Zealand, will not mess up too badly, but who knows. The tax thing definitely had me a bit worried already, though; it was rather difficult to sort out.

          1. JustaTech*

            Seconding this: my friend who moved to Norway has had endless headaches with the IRS because they insist on mailing stuff and so it shows up weeks after the due date. (She got a state side accountant to deal with it.)

      1. Anon-because-current-job-doesn't-know-yet*

        All the things, really, though a lot of them will probably be specific to my status as coming from the US. For anyone, though: how much does the remoteness of New Zealand affect your ability to get new household goods? We figured we would be buying new furniture once we got there (we don’t have anything irreplaceable or really expensive) and new small appliances (food processor, toaster, etc.), but we know we’re going to have to find new shopping venues.

        1. Random Antipodean*

          Australia and NZ both use 240 volts rather than 115 (I think that’s the US standard, right?), so don’t bother bringing any appliances over unless you want to bring a transformer as well, they _will_ make popping noises and let the smoke out. If you’re bringing IT equipment, I’d look into solutions now; I’ve only gone from our higher voltage to lower, so I don’t know what the fix is, sorry.
          But yes, there are definitely appliance stores over here.

          1. allathian*

            With a laptop, you’ll need a new cable with the appropriate power supply. (I’ve only moved internationally within the EU.)

            1. Kiwiapple*

              you might not – my partner has a UK laptop, with a UK plug and we just use an adapter. simple as.

        2. Kiwiapple*

          When I rented my apartment (one of the major North Island cities) I needed to buy a fridge/freezer
          It took over a week to get here from Christchurch on the South Island.
          Warehouse and Kmart are your cheaper “they sell everything stores”. Noel Leeming for applicances. Harvey Norman for appliamces and furniture (more pricey).

          I don’t know what the cost of stuff is over in the US but going back to the fridge – it was a lot more expensive than an equivalent in the UK. Hope that helps! If you aren’t already, there are some reddits and FB groups e.g r/New Zealand (Reddit) and moving to New Zealand (FB)

          1. Anon-because-current-job-doesn't-know-yet*

            Thanks for confirming what I’d read about appliances (whiteware is the right term?)–the idea of having to move with your refrigerator is definitely a new one for people from the US. We have to bring our own clothes washer and dryer sometimes, but not fridge (or cookstove).

  18. Headset Help*

    Hi! I’m hoping some folks can weigh in on possible headsets for my situation. I’m a sign language interpreter working in a call center. I’m on video and audio calls for 8 hours a day.

    What I need:
    – Binaural with passive noise cancelling (must block out coworkers taking calls around me).
    – Rotating mic arm so I can wear the mic on the left and not whack it with my signing hand all day.
    – Corded with a quick-release adapter since wireless won’t work with our proprietary software.
    – Preferably black and as unbulky as possible as it’s visually distracting for callers otherwise
    – Less than $200. I requested a different headset from my company as a disability accommodation (ADHD and call centers don’t mix well, haha) but what they provided is exactly the opposite of what I need so I’m taking matters into my own hands. Cheaper is better.

    Does anyone have a headset they love that would fit the bill?

    1. Blarg*

      I adore my Sony wireless but they don’t meet a few of your criteria. BUT. They have a plug in to become wired. So I wouldn’t limit your search to those that are already wired as you may be able to make them so. The Sony ones I use have a mic that’s built into the ear cups which I know isn’t perfect. But the noise cancelling is epic. Like I thought my cheap-ish old ones were great. And then I upgraded on a bleed-through-noise whim and wow. I can’t even hear my cat meowing at me. Plus they are so comfy. Anyway. Sony WH-1000XM4 are my best friends. Those and the Loop ear plugs I first read about here.

      1. Headset Help*

        Thank you, I will check those out! I hadn’t considered a mic in the ear kind, that would help broaden the search as does knowing that some wireless sets can be wired. I really appreciate you weighing in!

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

      I use a Logitech H390 headset: wired, mic on left that can rotate up and out of the way, over-ear and seems to reduce background noise but I’m not in a noisy place to begin with, black and $40 on Amazon… but not subtle…it’s pretty bulky and noticeable on camera but I don’t see why that would be distracting. Something you didn’t mention is comfort…the headphones are padded/soft and comfortable and can adjust up/down for fit, but they sit tight on my head and therefore sometimes hurt/squish my ears if I wear them for hours without a break.

      1. Headset Help*

        I work with deaf and hard of hearing people so it’s important to minimize visual distractions. We’re not permitted to have painted nails, jewelry, visible tattoos (although that’s slowly changing), or wear clothing with patterns. Those things really can be distracting and make it harder for the deaf person to understand the interpreter.

        Deaf culture can also be very blunt, and while using the other headset multiple callers thought I was working from home and playing video games in another window, causing a lack of trust which made it a lot harder to do my job. Professional appearance is very, very important in this field, essentially. But I’m glad you’ve got a good setup that works for you!

  19. The Crowening*

    I feel like this is an odd problem to have, but would love everyone’s two cents. I spent a long time in a job I loved and was good at, but over the years the role changed to one that was a lot more passive than it had been in the beginning. My final five or so years there, I basically just took what was handed to me and did my job; my input was rarely solicited and even more rarely listened to, and almost never implemented.

    Several months ago I was hired into a new position and there is so much more freedom. All ideas are welcome. There is a lot of brainstorming. This would be great – but I sit there passively, like a lump, trying desperately to get my brain to cough up an idea. :( I feel really stupid and I know it’s not a good look. In my year-end performance review it was the only thing my manager mentioned – try to contribute more.

    What what what can I do to engage my brain and have ideas? I feel very much like, “Y’all can decide what you want and I will be happy to help you implement/execute whatever you come up with.” Which is EXACTLY how I kept my sanity at the old job. How on Earth do I leave that mentality behind? I’m really struggling to contribute in this way.

    1. Dasein9*

      Can you start with just quick comments like “That’s a good idea!” at least to begin? That might turn the ignition on the more social type of problem solving you’ve learned to put the brakes on at Old Job. Questions are also valuable, so the occasional “Ooh, good idea. How will we make x happen?”

      1. Michelle*

        This is something I am doing! I had a medical condition that caused brain fog, and I kinda checked out of certain types of conversations/socializing because I had trouble thinking. Now I’m trying to get back into the habit, but it’s overwhelming. I find that just looking for places to make whatever contribution I can really helps. Even if it’s just small responses, it gets me more engaged and that leads to ideas that allow for even more engagement. It really is something you can “fake it til you make it.”

    2. CV*

      I’ve used the idea of morning pages to jumpstart my creative mind. The idea was from Julia Cameron’s the Artists Way. Generally, it’s flow of consciousness writing for 3 pages on a daily basis. I found that for me, it didn’t need to be in the morning, just sometime during the day. After 3-4 weeks I found that as I got into the second page, the really good stuff started to come out – new solutions or approaches for problems that had been bugging me, and more clarity on my own thoughts and feelings (which was helpful because once I knew the crux of some unproductive habits, I was able to change them!)

      1. MissBliss*

        I was going to suggest something like this, as well. Part of the reason you’re struggling is because you haven’t practiced this type of thinking recently in your work environment! That doesn’t mean you’re a lump or no longer capable of it. It just means you need to cultivate those skills again.

        I would highly recommend carving time out each day to do your own solo brainstorming, and CV’s suggestion sounds like a great way to do it. You don’t have to share these things with your boss/team (unless you land on something you like!) but it will help you get back into the groove. Best of luck!

      2. Empress Matilda*

        I’m one of the few people who doesn’t like Morning Pages – they just didn’t work for me. Fortunately there are lots of other ways to develop creativity! I took a great course through EdX a few years ago – we learned about the 6 Thinking Hats, and a handful of other strategies to get your brain working again.

        Good luck!

      3. OtterB*

        There’s an “Artist’s Way at Work” book also, applying the original ideas about creativity to your work life (morning pages are key, but not the only technique).

    3. Tara*

      Although I can see that you want to respond to your manager’s feedback, remember, it’s much better to be quiet rather than just throwing bad ideas in for the sake of being heard. I’m sure it will come as you gain more confidence in the role.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        Yeah. And when you’ve only been somewhere for three months, the suggestion you think of could easily be “the thing we just stopped doing last year, for good reason” at the new place.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      Do you have access to the topics ahead of time? Try and do some preparatory brainstorming, either alone or with a friend. It doesn’t matter if the person you’re talking to has no idea about your subject matter – just getting used to brainstorming out loud might help.

      Also, give yourself time. Your brain spent many years in ‘survival mode’ and now you’re asking it to think really differently. It’ll take time to reengage the creative parts of your mind.

      1. calonkat*

        This! You spent 5 years “shutting down” just to survive. You’ve had “several months” in relative freedom. Undoing 5 years of an experience is not immediate. Consider making sure your manager is aware that you are working on this and the reason it’s hard. Then the other suggestions are great. I especially like the idea of small interactions to help you get used to contributing.

      2. Tipcat*

        Can you get an agenda or any info ahead of the meeting? If not, can you ask your manager to change that? Lots of people think better outside of meetings.

    5. Not A Manager*

      It sounds like you’ve trained your brain to filter out prompts to engage in creativity and problem-solving (understandably!). In addition to prepping for the actual meetings, I would take opportunities to re-learn mental flexibility and brainstorming. If you can, take an improv class. Play games alone or with other people where you get a prompt and you have a limited amount of time to come up with concepts based on it. When you read or watch TV, stop when there’s a problem or a conflict and try to solve it yourself.

    6. AnonEMoose*

      Could you start with asking questions about things others have said? For me, the process tends to go something like “Hmm…but if we do X, that impacts Y, and how would we account for that?” Or “If we do Z, then we could do A, and…” and go from there.

      Depending on your relationship with your boss, could you just be honest with them? “In my last role, contributing ideas was discouraged/ignored/punished, so I’m having to retrain my brain. I’m working on it and I plan to do X and Y. Do you have any other suggestions I could try?”

    7. Hermione Danger*

      I am an idea person and they come to me very easily, generally more than are remotely useful. One thing that has helped me contribute in situations where I was unsure and more quiet was becoming an expert in some area of the work that intrigued me.

      Learning as much as you can about the subject will help you identify places where change needs to happen and spot connections that other people may not have seen. You’ll have a better idea of what’s possible and what boundaries you could push. As a rule, the more you know about a given topic, the more you’ll be able to contribute.

    8. Square Root of Minus One*

      What your brain has learned makes it unlikely for you to get ideas on the spot for now.
      But I suppose you’re not sitting at a brainstorming sessions all the time, are you? You probably have a daily routine of work. I suggest using it.
      What makes you stop on your tracks? What makes you groan in frustration? When are you slowed down and why?
      You don’t need to answer right now, but just work, and start noticing those things, and jotting them down, on a notebook or a Word file. Problem, context, possible solution if you have one handy, just notes. Once a week, come back on those notes, expand on them.
      I bet you’ll get on to something soon enough.

    9. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I was a medical device engineer (retired) and I worked at several startups where there was usually a crisis of the day that needed solutions asap. I was never good at brainstorming in group settings and never got better at it.

      I would try to add on to others suggestions or spring out a crazy ass idea, but they usually weren’t executable ideas to the problem at hand.

      Where I shined was coming up with off-brainstorming ideas; they would come to me in my dreams or just randomly pop into my head. I was also extremely good at creating prototypes of these ideas, called reduction to practice, and testing them to see if they addressed the problem at hand. I had about a 40% success rate and my ideas were then vetted and improved by the team at the next meeting.

      My last boss really thought I was the most creative problem solver he’d ever worked with and he knew that my precipitation in the brainstorming meetings would yield results, just not that day.

      I suggest you let the problem dwell in your mind a bit, let it simmer and not try to force ideas to come out.

    10. Santa's Helper*

      I was in a similar situation a few years ago! Not sure how big your team/brainstorm group is, but it might be helpful to sit by someone you feel more comfortable with, and sharing small ideas more quietly to them? That helped me a lot when I was first in my current job, I could share a small idea with one person who could bring it up to larger group if it made sense or was a good idea. It also helped me to have internal brainstorms with myself before official brainstorms just to flesh out ideas ahead of time. I know sometimes these collab sessions can be a bit more spontaneous, but if you know something is coming up, it can help to think through your own ideas first!

    11. I'd Prefer Not To*

      Something that helps me is taking long walks with podcasts about related topics, especially those with long-form, free-flowing conversations. Are there podcasts by thought leaders in your area? They can help you stay on top of trends and see what others in the industry are doing. Similar idea is to start your day by reading an article in your area of expertise. Find some blogs that you love reading. Great for greasing the gears, so to speak.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Not engaging can become a habit. In extreme examples we see this with abused children and abused animals. They learn for the sake of survival to just ignore everything.

      Five years is along time to go without engaging. It’s going to take a bit to reverse that habit. Forgive yourself when you think you have come up short and just simply vow to try again at the next opportunity. This is unfortunately one of the ways toxic work places can harm us.

      There are so many things you can do here.
      1) Watch what other people are saying and offering. Think about how they may have come up with their ideas.

      2) Never underestimate the power of a good question. Here the tricky part is we assume we have to have an answer. This is not true. Some times a very good question can send the group off in a different direction that leads to a group answer.

      3) Prep for meetings. Try to keep track of what the topics are and where the topics are tangent to your own work. In uncharted territory, if you keep to talking about what you do know such as your own tasks, you can feel like you are on more solid ground as opposed to talking about what Nancy is doing in Dept. XYZ.

      4) Prep for your workday. I used the commute time to think about my tasks. For one place I mostly tried to streamline my tasks because of this environment I was working in, but this still lead to questions, ideas and suggestions for resources. In your case, you could review a successful suggestion a cohort made and try to estimate how they came up with that idea. At first this will be hard if not impossible. But if you do these reviews often enough you will start to get into the swing of things.

      5) Read AAM as often as possible. The good thing about this step is that it’s actually fun. But behind the scenes you are doing the virtual equivalent of hanging out with people who are sincerely interested in bettering themselves professionally. We go with what we see, it’s tough to soar like an eagle if we hang out with turkeys. You hung out with turkeys for five years. Hang out with some eagles and watch what they are saying and doing.

      6) Practice self-forgiveness and self-kindness. NO one ever came up with a good idea by beating themselves up. “Oh I can’t do this.” “Oh I am not creative.” “Oh I am failing at my new job.” These types of thoughts/self-talk will not get you to where you want to be. A good thing here is to remember if you cannot say it to a good friend then you cannot say it to yourself either. Cheer yourself on: “I will get this.” “I will put time into improving on this and that effort will pay off!” One of my personal favs is “It’s [whatever IT is] okay. I will just keep trying and I will get it.”

    13. WoodswomanWrites*

      Lots of good ideas here, including starting small with concurring with other things people bring up so you feel more comfortable speaking up. I wonder if it would help to draw on why you were interested in this job and applied. What about the role got you excited? Were there things they brought up in the interview about the role that motivated you?

  20. HNY*

    When you took on your first management role, how many direct reports did you have and how much support were you offered as a first-time manager? Know there will be huge variations depending on sector etc. but just interested.

    1. DG*

      4-5, BUT my entire job was managing them and their work (training and coaching, reviewing their work, leading calls and meetings they were too junior to do on their own, owning some client interactions that would inform their work, representing their work to higher-level management, etc.). This was in a research/analytics team at a professional services company.

    2. Adereterial*

      I had 12 direct reports, 4 of them problematic. UK public sector, and pretty much no support, bar some ‘management’ training (which was theoretical, not practical). There were robust HR practices in place, but it was hard.

    3. Bagpuss*

      4 or 5, I think (it’s a while back) , and nothing formal but I had a couple of people who I could use as mentors or ask for help or advice. It as a role where the management wasn’t my main role, in a smallish organisation where senior people all wear several hats, not a dedicated management role.

      It was a weird situation as I became my former manager’s manager (they were not demoted, but I became a partner so leapfrogged them) It did mean introducing any changes to procedures etc was a bit tricky to navigate, but it helped that that individual didn’t need much direct managing.

    4. Anonymous for This One*

      6 direct reports (12 total in group, so half of them reported to my #2). No support for people management or for the subject area that was new to me. Expectation that I would also be a working manager, with my own projects. Two problem employees and a whole bunch of dead wood that didn’t quite rise to the level of “problem”. US public sector.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        Are you me? Also 6, no training, player-coach. One on a PIP, two who were coasting to retirement, one solid worker, one superstar, and one knew the job but needed a lot of emotional support. Financial back office operations.

    5. Agency Survivor*

      My first management role was at a start up in the year 2000–I had six. I was 25. Startups were crazy!!
      I made many, many mistakes.

    6. ECE Policy Wonk*

      About 12-15 direct reports (some part-time / seasonal). I was in an Asst. Dir. role and had a Director (in another building with other direct reports) who was my mentor, and a total leadership team of 5 people who helped support me. But we were all in different buildings, and I didn’t report to the director who was my mentor (I reported to the ED). It was a good level of support for my first real management position.

      I’ve had roles with up to 40 direct reports (which was untenable, but my BOD refused to let me implement my own org. structure [spoiler alert: I left pretty quickly]). 12-15 is really my limit, and that’s only if they’re all doing essentially the exact same job.

    7. TechGirlSupervisor*

      I just started as a first-time manager as well. I have 9 direct reports (one is a contractor, so doesn’t require as much HR oversight). I’m in the defense contractor industry as a software manager. I wear two hats, one doing line management, another as a senior technical lead. Some of my direct reports work for other projects than the ones I am a technical lead for, others report to me for both. I got good on-boarding with my manager and some courses. They offer continuing training over the year for all line managers at my company. We have a limit of 10 people for direct reports. Between myself and the other software manager we have 19 people (and 2 co-ops/interns). We probably wouldn’t get a third manager until we got to about 24 people (so soon, since we are actively hiring).

    8. Coenobita*

      One and zero, respectively. That was pretty standard at my old job. I feel bad for all the staff who were new managers’ training wheels!

    9. NeonFireworks*

      8, and a moderate amount.

      It went fine for the most part, except that I wasn’t told with enough notice how to divide things up for the pre-holiday rush in December. This was someone else’s accidental oversight, but because I was being paid so much more than any of my reports and had zero holiday plans that year, I gave all 8 the maximum amount of time off over the holidays and spent an extra 10 days quietly doing all the loose ends basically alone in the office myself. Which was tolerable. But I’m glad to know better now.

    10. Rhymetime*

      I was a first-time manager at my last job. I had shied away from being in a supervisory role for years and took this job because it had only one report. It turns out I was offered no support unless I brought it up, and my own manager’s style was not helpful for mentoring. My report was new in their role but a high performer. Unfortunately, I was over my head in a supervisory role and not a good manager. I eventually helped to get my report a promotion to a peer, which was appropriate. That experience reinforced my initial perspective that I’m not interested in being a manager again.

    11. CSmithy*

      4 direct reports, minimal support and no training. My manager was very hands-off and far too busy to really be a resource.

      Thankfully I had an experience and supportive team of direct reports. I’m in the tech space and was at the time at a small startup, which probably says a lot!

  21. AnonBeret*

    Does “PTO” generally always refer to vacation + sick time?

    In my industry, PTO is just vacation time because the vast majority of companies offer unlimited sick leave. I had no idea they were conflated until the question Alison answered earlier today, but sounds like that may be more common than my interpretation?

    1. Constance Lloyd*

      As with all things it can vary. My current job has a bucket for sick time and another bucket they call PTO, which is in effect vacation time. My first professional job, however, had a single “PTO” bucket to cover not only sick and vacation time, but holidays the office was closed as well! I started at the beginning of December and had several unpaid days off because I hadn’t accrued enough PTO to be paid for the office holiday. (Companies: don’t do this.)

      1. AnonBeret*

        Wait WHAT. You had to take unpaid days for HOLIDAYS? Truly, companies, don’t do that. But yes, that’s a fair point that it varies and I probably shouldn’t be as surprised by that as I am. I think what caught me off-guard was Alison’s immediate assumption that 3 weeks PTO meant combined vacation + sick time, which made it sound like that’s more common than separate buckets and made me wonder if I should have been saying vacation instead of PTO all along when referring to non-sick-time-off.

        1. pope suburban*

          Yeah, my job is like that too. Full-time employees accrue four types of leave at a breakneck pace, but the rest of us get what feels like five minutes per paycheck, and have to use it on holidays when the offices are closed. It’s one of the major reasons I’m looking to leave; they lean on the rest of us a lot and I really don’t feel that five less hours a week mean I’m less of a valuable or functional employee. Having to dip in for mandated holidays while also using the same bucket for sick time and- god forbid- vacation is just unreasonable.

          1. LDN Layabout*

            Ouch. There’s a reason my org has a lot of part-timers (usually of the 4 days a week variety) and it’s because the only difference between PT and FT is that PTs have their leave allowance pro-rata…

        2. Very Social*

          My impression is that Alison assumed that the LW meant combined vacation + sick, since they were listing all the benefits their company provided and didn’t explicitly list sick time–not because it’s necessarily more common.

        1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

          I think this is referring to a policy of shutting down between Christmas and New Years. Some companies do that, and some of those companies do require you to either burn PTO/vacation or take it unpaid.

          1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

            Which I don’t disagree, is crappy of them. But is not uncommon.
            (The one company I worked at that shut down, gave it as paid holidays thankfully.)

          2. emmers*

            No, my last job did the same thing as the commenter above and it was for the standard federal holidays. It was a trash policy.

            1. RussianInTexas*

              My current one has 5 vacation days (10 from year 5), 4 sick days, and 5 paid holidays – Christmas Day, NY Day, Thanksgiving Day (but not Black Friday), Labor Day, Independence Day. We do not get paid Memorial Day off.
              Your paid holidays start after 6 months, and your PTO starts after a year, so in your first 6 months, if you want to be off on a holiday, you take it unpaid. Same for any non-holiday or sick time for the first year. It’s really stupid, because if you “work” on any of the holidays you don’t get as paid, you can basically turn on your laptop, and sleep, because nothing is happening. But you are “working”.
              It’s not retail, but it’s a manufacturing/distribution business which operates basically with the retail industry benefits.

          3. ThatGirl*

            That’s not what Constance Lloyd said, though; she said she didn’t have enough PTO to be paid for the company holiday.

            Either way, I think if a company is closing its offices on what would otherwise be a work day, it should be a paid day off that does not come out of PTO.

          4. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            Nope! Mine was 15 days PTO including the 8 standard federal holidays when the office was closed – if you wanted to be paid for Memorial Day, you used a PTO day.

          5. Constance Lloyd*

            A bit late because I haven’t been watching, but nope! This was for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. This company did not shut down for a whole week at any point and only acknowledged the bare minimum US federal holidays.

        2. calonkat*

          Working for the state was literally the first job I ever held that I got paid holidays/sick leave/vacation. Only 40 years of employment history by that point, but it’s not as uncommon as you think.

      2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        My first job did that too! “15 days PTO” sounded great until I realized that included the 8 paid holidays, leaving me 7 days for both vacation and illness.

    2. SofiaDeo*

      It depends on the company. I have worked at places where PTO was combined sick and vacation, and places where there was a separate sick leave. Mostly places that used the term “PTO” combines them, but that’s just my experience.

    3. NeedRain47*

      I get the impression that it varies, and also that it’s sometimes used to try to hide the fact the employer is ungenerous with vacation time.

      I’ve never worked anywhere that called anything PTO, always had separate vacation and sick time.

    4. Jaybee*

      In my experience, yes, PTO has always been a combined bucket for all paid time off. (Thus PTO) Including vacation and sick time.

      I’ve never worked anywhere or heard of any company that offers unlimited sick time.

      1. Nessun*

        We don’t have a maximum on sick time. You use it when you need it, and code it appropriately. If you are over 5 days off in a row then the HR group has to be informed due to benefit requirements and short term leave issues, but otherwise, you just …code your sick time when you’re sick. It’s basically unlimited.

        1. A*

          Same, only restrictions are that it shouldn’t be abused, and to work with HR if going to be out for more than three days at a time (in my observation it seems like they handle it on a case by case basis as to whether they then require a doctors note, or different types of leave to be used). It’s great – I take less sick days than I did when there was a set amount because people don’t feel pressured to come into work sick in order to bank those days.

    5. Kimmy Schmidt*

      In my experience, if a company calls it PTO, they’re lumping all leave into one bucket. However, there is also a more casual shorthand that people use to talk about time off, and that might get shortened to PTO regardless of the type of leave we’re talking about. So if I’m chatting with my friends across different industries, we might mention PTO but mean bereavement leave, sick time, vacation, personal days, or other types of leave.

    6. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

      My employer had PTO (which covered sick, vacation, paternity, childcare emergencies, etc.) The only additional type of leave was bereavement. But then recently, they added a few days each of both sick time and floating holidays. I guess the difference is that unlike PTO, they don’t pay those out when you leave employment.

    7. Lady Danbury*

      I’ve always had separate buckets for sick and vacation, though neither was unlimited. I didn’t know that having one bucket for both was a thing until AAM but I would hate it. I always max out my vacation days, so I would either have to cut back on vacation time or risk having to take unpaid sick days if I didn’t have enough days left.

    8. Rosie*

      I do think there’s a difference in colloquially talking about PTO and what a company means by PTO. People tend to use it as an umbrella term in conversation regardless of if a company combines it or not

    9. I'm just here for the cats*

      This varies from company to company. I think PTO is just a general term to differentiate between paid leave and unpaid leave. Then there are usually buckets for sick leave, vacation, personal leave.

  22. DeepAnon*

    I’m being assigned work that is not typical for my role. The work is more interesting, but it also carries a lot more responsibility than my peers take on. Yes, I have the skills, but am not being given what I need in the way of time and support. That makes sense: the missing support is not usually provided for this job because it’s not usually needed and so our systems are not set up for me to get what I’d need.

    My supervisor understands and has been pushing back on my behalf, but both project managers and upper management keep assigning me higher-responsibility projects.

    People keep telling me, “That’s a great reason for you to get a raise!” But I don’t want a raise that carries the expectation that things will continue in this vein. I want an easier job than I have had in the past, which means the level of responsibility typical for this role. Money’s nice, but not the expectation that it makes up for the increased responsibility.

    Entropy being what it is, I can’t really expect this to stop, but I would like to slow it down. Any tips?

    1. Friday clockwatcher*

      If your goal is to have the work slow down then I would be frank that the deadlines need to push out or fewer projects should be assigned. If your supervisor has not been effective in making that clear, are you able to respond to the project managers with that directly when assignments hit your inbox?
      I am in a somewhat similar situation. I met my breaking point this year and requested to be removed from the project. The client rejected that but I found the honest discussion with the clients (after telling my boss that I was doing so) regarding my lack of support and experience allowed me to let go of some of the responsibility and much of the stress. I still dislike the project but now when I miss deadlines or make mistakes at least I know they are well aware of my position and opted to continue.

      1. DeepAnon*

        Yeah, the assignments are always described as urgent and exceptions. Problem is, as a result, I haven’t built up deep knowledge of our actual processes and practices because I’m so often dealing with exceptions. Then I’m the only one, or one of only 2, who knows what’s going on at any given time, while also being quite low on the food chain and having very little clout.

        1. Friday clockwatcher*

          If you didn’t dislike it I would suggest you try to continue. In my field dealing with the exceptions on a regular basis makes for a greater understanding of what is possible and why, a deeper understanding of the work if not the standard processes. Its paid off for me now, but it is very tiring not to be able to fall back on established processes and is absolutely more time consuming. I have leaned on requesting help from my coworkers for the “easy” processes that I know they deal with a lot while they are able to come with me for the tricky items they haven’t dealt with. If your role functions within a team it can be a good set up although not helpful if you aren’t enjoying the role.

    2. Bagpuss*

      What support is needed? Is it something where you can refer the project back to the person who assigned it at that point (e.g “I’ve done a & b, but as I don’t have support I can’t do c or d as that request [specify the support needed] – if you would like me to do c & d can you confirm who is assigned to provide me with the necessary support / how soon can the training / equipment needed be allocated?” or as appropriate.

      Right now, they are getting the higher level work done without the effort or expense of providing the support, so maybe you need to try to stop that by asking specifically for the support each time? Squeaky wheel.

      if you know what needs to change then you can put that in each time e.g. “If IT can give me access to x / add me to the authorised users for Y, I would be able to complete this task, can that be set up, if not, who should I pass this on to to complete this part of the project?”

      1. DeepAnon*

        I’m trying to figure out how to explain more without coworkers recognizing me. :)

        Essentially, though, I don’t want the resources to do these assignments; I want to do the job I was hired to do instead of the one they have found out I can do.

        1. Cold Fish*

          Is there any way to see if a coworker may be interested in learning or developing their skills in this area? Maybe you could try mentoring/steering one of them into the role instead of you. Especially as it sounds like your manager is aware this isn’t the direction where you want your role heading.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The very first thing I’d look at is the quals for the role. And this is just for your own self-protection. You do not want to be working on something that requires education, certification or experience that you do not have. First and foremost do not allow yourself to fall into legal jeopardy.

      I had a friend who was working without proper certifications and it went into news paper headlines. She felt she had to do the work for [reasons]. In reality those reason did not matter, which is why I am not stating the reasons here. The situation was cut and dry- she did not have the certifications necessary for the job she was doing, period.

      Next and this is more of an action step: Ask your supervisor to announce that all requests for your labor must go through your supervisor first. Tell her you want to be able to say, “I can only accept assignments from my direct supervisor. You will have to clear it with her. I am not allowed to just go ahead and do the work.”

      Make sure you keep telling your supervisor that you do not want the work. Don’t let up on this.

  23. Free Meerkats*

    Well, word came down from Administration last Friday that the people who can are back to working from home. I work for a small city and we have already gotten push back from some members of the public. “Wasting tax money lazing around in our PJs” and the like.

    My group is back to one person in the office each day. I developed a fairly decent setup at home over the first go ’round, but took the good chair back to the office. Since this is a week-to-week thing this time, I’m not sure if I want to bring it home again. My home computer chair is OK for occasional 6 hour gaming sessions, but not all day, every day.

    The case rate for city employees is ~5% right now and my department is at ~15%. My small workgroup is at 25% – but we only have 4 people.

    How’s your Covid adventure going?

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      They’re making all sessions face to face in the middle of the surge and using the misguided CDC quarantine thing even though you’re often too sick to get services for some time..

    2. The Smiling Pug*

      One of my soon-to-be-former coworkers (today’s my last day) is out with a positive test. Thankfully, she left and is now quarantining at home.

    3. Michelle*

      Our city is overwhelmed with cases and has recently been moved back to the highest threat level, and we are taking zero official precautions. Everything is open and in-person throughout the city, kids are in school, we are legally forbidden from having mask mandates or requiring vaccines (except where the federal government has been able to force it), and generally most people are pretending the pandemic is over. My mother refuses to travel, not because she’s worried about her health, but because everywhere she wants to go requires a mask and she hasn’t worn one in months. I think my immediate family are the only people I know who haven’t had COVID yet (or in the past month, for that matter). Personally, I just upgraded to an N95 mask and am in the process of making sure my children get their boosters now that they qualify.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I’m guessing you are a fellow Floridian due to the “legally forbidden from having mask mandates or requiring vaccines” part.
        My workplace is private and does require everyone wear a mask indoors – I “only” have to remind about 50% of the people to wear them. At a local, government version of my workplace, a worker was attacked when they asked a member of the public to wear a mask. Thankfully they were treated by the paramedics and were back to work the next day but that is bad.

    4. OyHiOh*

      A week ago Wednesday, one of our remote staff went out for beers/watch a game, after a day of site meetings. This is probably where Patient Zero was exposed. The following day, a second day of site visits, Patient Zero worked side by side with my New Office Mate. New Office Mate worked in the office with me on Friday, and then we had brunch together with my partner on Sunday. Monday, Patient Zero informed us of confirmed positive COVID. The four of us who actually work in the main office all immediately went into procedural, who was exposed to whom and when mode. My Old Office Mate and New Office Mate both tested positive on Wednesday. The big boss and I so far are negative.

      It’s taken close to two years of COVID for me to get “this close” to having COVID. On the one hand, I understand that just about everyone will eventually get it but on the other, I have a bunch of dysautonomia symptoms that are similar, in some ways, to long haul COVID and I would not wish that constellation on my worst enemy, even if, as is the case right now, my symptoms are well controlled with a variety of lifestyle choices.

    5. NoRulesandthePointsDontMatter*

      We’ve been in office the entire pandemic. Omicron finally hit our office and we’re running at 35% cases. Remote work has never been offered and been actively denied. I cried in counseling this week. I think my nerves are totally shot.

      1. meagain*

        I’m sorry. It is stressful. I hate that the guidelines now say if you have been exposed, no quarantine needed unless you have symptoms. So people are still coming into work even though their spouse has tested positive, or sending their other kids to school even if one sibling is home with covid. And of course these people all end up testing positive a few days later after they have already exposed everyone. The guidelines are so conflicting and a total mess. I’m in the south and it’s like covid doesn’t exist here even though our rates are extremely high.

    6. Cj*

      In my office of seven, one co-worker was out the week after Christmas with covid-19 that she caught on Christmas Eve, and her sister that I also work with was out this week. She got it from her son who got it from school.

    7. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’m luckily not one of the people who has to do a handful of face to face appointments each week, but still have to haul in 3x/wk to do virtual activities from an open workspace.

      Trying to decide whether to invest in a docking station as they finally just issued us work laptops, and I’d like a less annoying set up process at home. I already bought my own laptop, chair, headsets etc. I’m a bit burned out with the fund it yourself strategy.

    8. OtterB*

      My office opened up over the summer but nobody was required to go in and mostly we don’t. Especially since rates started ticking up again. I think a couple of my coworkers have had Covid, but nobody I’d seen in months except over Zoom and nobody had a serious case.

      My husband’s federal office is technically on maximum feasible telework, but he’s a maintenance engineer and more days than not, he has to actually get his hands on the equipment. There’s been a steady trickle of coworkers with Covid, which is part of the reason for the maximum feasible telework – they want to protect the people who MUST come in so that the facility can continue to operate. Husband got tested last week (negative) due to contact at a volunteer gig with someone who tested positive – they were mostly outside, but working closely together.

      Not work, but I’m a board member of a social organization currently deciding whether to cancel an in-person event in two weeks. We probably will. But if I have one more Zoom call about PCR tests and masks and so forth, I’m going to scream.

    9. JustaTech*

      On New Year’s corporate said “if you can WFH, do” to which my director replied “except lab staff, you come in”. So we did that (masked, everyone at our site is vaccinated [we’re reasonably sure]) for about two days and then everyone went back to “WFH unless you have lab work or an office to hide in”.

      Someone has tested positive, but we don’t know who, only that they were not working on-site when they tested positive and that they’re not back yet. If there was more contact tracing done I don’t know about it.

      So yeah, that’s the closest call we’ve had so far at our site (had one coworker out because their kid tested positive, but they didn’t). Not super thrilled, but glad we’re not getting any pushback on not being onsite.

    10. Paris Geller*

      Pretty sure those people complaining about tax money will not like it when essential services start shutting down because there’s NO ONE to do them. I also work for a city and that’s where we’re at right now. My department hasn’t been too badly hit (except for me, as I have just returned after having covid for the second time–ugh), but yeah, turns out when an entire department is down an entire department is, well, down.

    11. Purple Cat*

      Just before New Year’s we were asked to work from home through mid Jan.
      That’s since been extended to early Feb…

      It’s deja vu all over again.

    12. Pam Adams*

      My campus has decided that the first 3 weeks of Spring term will be virtual. After that, we will see. (Biting the bullet one nibble at a time). The campus remains open and staff can rotate between office and work-from-home.

      My team is trying to do 1 day/week in-office each, but have been adjusting as needed, due to people who got Covid over the holidays.

    13. Aphrodite*

      Crazy! I work for a community college in southern coastal California. The college and the union (for classified employees), I have to say, have been fantastic. We went to WFH in March 2020. Were going to come back in June 2021, July 2021 and then in August 2021 for the fall term. The union got us a $40 per day bonus for up to four days a week, minimum of two hours work on campus. I went in M-TH for 4-7 hours per day and worked at home on Fridays. Fortunately, I have a nice private office.

      We took the Christmas break but have been home again (with the exception of security and grounds) from January 4 through today. Classes were postponed, and many of them are now online until February then are scheduled to go to in person. Other classes are wholly online or wholly in person, the latter mostly lab type ones. (I work in adult ed.). We went from Healthy Roster to Cleared4, and I have had some trouble adjusting with the technology but am okay now. That bonus has been extended though most of May so I am anxious to get back.

      Overall, I am proud of my employer for its caution and adherence to CDC and local Public Health department guidelines. It is not kidding around and very few exemptions were granted. As an older person I am much relieved, especially because of the stories that continue to pop up here and at the New York Times.

    14. Part time Professional*

      My small city has been in-person since this past summer, but we’ve been one person in the office at a time for the last two weeks.

      Citizens are unhappy we’re here but also unhappy when we weren’t, but now I get to close my office door at least!

    15. Coenobita*

      My day job has been fully remote since March 2020, but we’re still having staffing issues since basically everyone who has kids is dealing with some level of quarantine/no childcare/being sick themselves/all of the above. We had a snowstorm recently and there was a big cascading situation where there weren’t enough people to drive the plows/fix the utility lines/etc., so schools were closed, so teachers who live here but teach in nearby less-snow-affected districts had to stay home with their kids, so THOSE schools were also closed… oy!

      My side gig is with my local public library system, and we’re closing entire branches for days at a time because we don’t have enough staff. Luckily our extreme testing shortage seems to be easing up.

    16. A*

      We were planning to return to office at least one day a week min-Jan, but they just pushed it to ‘sometime in Feb’. Then ramping up to 3 days a week starting in March (they are allowing 3 day a week WFH hybrid permanently). All dates subject to change, of course.

    17. WoodswomanWrites*

      My employer has a combination of people who can work from home, like me, and others whose jobs can’t be done remotely. They are taking everything as seriously as they have from the beginning, including providing PPE, and no one is required to be in the office unless we individually determine that we need to be there. We have a sign-up process to limit how many people can be in the building at the same time, with strict masking protocols. We are looking at a hybrid model long term for office workers that was originally supposed to start this spring but it will likely be delayed. I feel fortunate to work in a place that values everyone’s health.

    18. Grace Less*

      It’s traveling down my row of desks — but I should stay in the office and not worry. The company president vocally celebrated SCOTUS striking down the vaccine mandate and the executive over me actually said (while I was reporting as the last uninfected person and wearing a KN95) “everyone will get it eventually. It’s fine.” Except, you know, with my pre-existing conditions it is unlikely to be fine. All emails have been saved to an external folder for use in the wrongful death lawsuit. Not even kidding.

    19. Chaordic One*

      I’ve been working from home for the past 20 months. I’ve actually worked from home, for more than half of the time I’ve been in my current position. The office gossip was that after a vaccine mandate, we’d probably be called back to the office in January or so. Every time someone in the building I used to work out of is diagnosed with COVID, they send out an email informing us about it and they send a cleaning crew to “sanitize” their work stations and the restrooms and break rooms the newly infected used. (The office is like high school the day after Carrie went to the prom. There aren’t many kids around.)

      Things seemed like they were calming down right before Christmas and the week after. There was only a single announcement the week before Christmas and another single announcement Christmas week and I can’t imagine who might be left there to get infected. But then, last week and all of this week there have been a ton of emails announcing newly-infected people. Many of them were from the week before Christmas, the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and the week after New Year’s.

      The emails don’t let us know if the newly infected are unvaccinated or experiencing breakthrough infections, but the consensus among my team members is that most of the newly infected are already vaccinated and having breakthrough infections. In fact, several of them have been diagnosed with COVID, but were experiencing mild symptoms and though they were quarantining, the are continuing to work from home. One confessed that it probably was not a good idea to go to the Rose Bowl.

  24. The Smiling Pug*

    Hello everyone!! Today is my last day at my old job!! I’m feeling a bit nervous about the transition from on-site to fully remote, so I technically have two questions. 1. Did anyone else have these jitters when switching jobs, and 2. What did you do to assuage or pacify these fears?

    1. awesome3*

      Of course, it’s like any other life change or transition. My best advice is to think about times you’ve made a change and it’s had a positive impact on your life.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      You can:
      Decide to postpone worry until the first day of the job. This works sometimes. If you are a night time worrier like me, then tell yourself that you will think about it in the morning as nothing is ever resolved at 9 pm.

      Make a solid rebuttal to fear by telling yourself, “I am going to rock this new job! I am going to be the best me I have ever been!”

      Look for ways to prep your at home workspace. Sometimes even a trivial activity such as locating a good garbage can is enough to get the brain off an endless loop of “omg”.

      Call a good friend or close family member. Personal connections can help us feel grounded rather than adrift at sea.

    3. Lizy*

      Oh yeah. Did my research, then did more research, then panicked, then husband did research, got the equipment, breathed a bit, panicked a bit more, started the job, got log in info, figured they aren’t going to go through all this if it’s a scam, right?, then finally got my first paycheck and … it’s real. :)

  25. Just Another Sharon*

    This may have been discussed somewhere already, and if so maybe someone can direct me, but what are some good questions to ask in an interview that would truly help reveal the culture/work-life balance stance of the company and the management style of the manager?

    1. irene adler*

      manager: How do you support your reports? (a good manager will take this question seriously. A bad one will laugh and make a joke about it).
      Tell me about a time when… your report did not meet expectations/your report went above and beyond the call of duty/your report lacked a needed skill to complete the task/your report requested enrichment tasks as they were well able to complete their assigned tasks… you get the idea.

      Culture: tell me about how the company handled some bad news or a bad event that has happened (i.e. a downsizing or failing to win an account) and what lessons did management learn from this experience.

      Tell me about an employee success story.
      Tell me about how a difficult company-wide project was completed successfully.

      I straight out ask “what does work/life balance mean to this company?”

      1. irene adler*

        This would have an interesting answer.
        “Nothing. Our employees have never experienced any kind of burnout.”
        Yeah, right.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      A riff on Alison’s perfect question: What kind of person succeeds best in the role/with your management style?

      Once when I was interviewing I asked the HR Manager “how would you describe the corporate culture here?” and he said “ummm, I’ll let the founder tell you that.” LOL. I cut that one short

  26. should I apply?*

    Curious what managers and executives would do in this situation. Like many companies we have had pretty high turn over in the last year. We are located in the Seattle area which is a pretty competitive for technical / marketing / project management. Since there are big players
    here like Amazon, Microsoft, etc.. My company is an adjacent field but there is enough overlap that we lose of a lot of people to them and haven’t replaced nearly enough. Our pay / benefits are decent but definitely not on the level of these tech companies.

    Last spring when this started to be an issue, management said they were going to do a pay review to see where we are in the market (with my assumption that they would at least try to make us more competitive). Since then there hasn’t been any communication and we have continued to loose more and more key people.

    At this point, I am assuming that either they didn’t do the analysis or if they did, decided they couldn’t compete with the big companies and aren’t going to do anything significant. So if you were on that management team – would you make some announcement (& what would you say?) or just hope that people forgot you promised to review it.

    1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

      Have you asked management about the status of the analysis?

      I work at a small company in the Seattle area, so we face the same struggle. But also as a small company, the people doing those kinds of analysis are often wearing many hats and things can take a long time / get deprioritized (hopefully temporarily).

      1. should I apply?*

        I brought it up recently to my manager. I got on a non-answer which is why I am curious what others would do.

    2. RussianInTexas*

      Partner’s company, while not a tech per se, but has a large tech presence in his specific industry, was having the same issues. They actually did the pay review, and did the adjustments. He got a 12% pay bump – their benefits are already excellent. This happened only last fall, so it’s too early to tell if it was successful in stopping the brain drain, or getting better employees.

    3. moochan*

      >or just hope that people forgot you promised to review it.

      I’m based in Seattle and this kind of stuff is exactly why I just switched jobs. I wanted to avoid going to Amazon/Facebook and am fine with lower pay and not having certain benefits. I don’t have time for bullshit, and in this market, I didn’t need to entertain any bullshit when I was recently looking. (I’m not a dev, fwiw, but I do have technical skills.) Be as transparent and honest as you can be.

  27. Silly gosling*

    How is everyone coping with the uptick in cases? I found out yesterday that my office mate is Covid +, so I’m playing a waiting game. It makes it hard to focus on work. I get to still come to work. I live in a state/industry that legally can’t mandate masks, so my other office mates still aren’t masking. There’s also no way to make my coworker wear one for five days after returning from quarantine. I am stressed to say the least.

    1. Kathenus*

      There are so many things out of our control related to the pandemic, whether at work or in general life. The best thing I’ve found when I can’t control things in these situations is to really focus on what I can control – double masking or if you have access an N95, meticulous social distancing for yourself no matter how awkward it might feel to do so, etc. It’s frustrating as all get out when others around you aren’t doing the right thing – looking at you unmasked guy in the grocery store line who kept crowding me to where I moved to the other side of my cart to get distance – but there are some things that we can all control to some extent at least so use those as much as possible. Good luck.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Staying up to date on vaccinations; still masking; not going anywhere I don’t have to, except for the occasional movie, and I try to book the showing most likely to be empty.

      I’m not working yet, but I’m definitely asking about COVID protocols in interviews.

    3. anonymoose*

      I’m talking to my boss next week to see if I can work from home again. The numbers in my country are going through the roof so I don’t want to be here if I don’t have to be. I’m lucky in that our office requires masks and vaccinations but people are getting complacent. Walked past a conf room that was crammed with people at a meeting where lunch was provided so masks were not worn. Then had an interesting conversation with coworker who thought I was over reacting until I pointed out that she has her own office and rarely has passing foot traffic in her area of the building. I’m in an open plan space with a high traffic area and people constantly walking past my desk.

    4. Rosie*

      I mostly hide out in my office =/ Feeling like a terrible distant manager but also we had 5 people out with COVID right after the holidays (and there’s only 18 of us here) and several who reported being exposed and despite HR and our lawyer saying it was ok to require masks one of our owners refuses to let us. Most people have been wearing them anyway but not everyone

    5. Anon for this*

      Spouse is faculty in a state university system where vax mandates or mask mandates are illegal as per state law and they are not allowed to go remote. They’re cramming kids into windowless lecture halls like it’s 1999.

      This decision is wildly unpopular at all levels so the administration is handing out N95s like free pizza in the Before Times. Administration is doing everything that is within the scope of their power, at least. There’s only so much they can do when the Big Boss (the governor) is a moron.

    6. Construction Safety*

      Felt a little body achy on Sunday. Heavy gym workout on Saturday, so it didn’t raise suspicions.After dinner on Monday, got uncontrollable chills. Tested positive Tuesday morning.

      I have lost 5 pounds. I do not recommend the program.

    7. mreasy*

      How is it constitutional that state government can forbid business mask mandates when the supremes just said the federal government can’t impose them? I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.

    8. Anonymous Germophobe*

      Also feeling incredibly anxious about the uptick in cases. I have an unvaccinated co-worker who can’t wear their mask properly (always under the nose) and never gets tested. Another co-worker is vaccinated but not boosted and only masks when the manager is around.

      Despite, y’know, a universal indoors mask mandate just being implemented.

      I am very careful to leave my emotions and opinions at the door when I come to work, but it’s getting very difficult not to feel anger and frustration towards the unvaxxed coworker because people like them are the reason this has gone on for so long and why people can’t get the vital non-Covid medical care and hospital beds they need.

      1. Loves libraries*

        Georgia and my mid size city still doesn’t have an indoor mask mandate. Headline in the newspaper today said cases are surging in our city.

  28. Rey*

    I’m currently in the interview process and the HR contact gave me a quick overview of the benefits package yesterday. It’s such an improvement over my current company, and it really cements how much I want this job. I think it would be a really good growth opportunity and there’s a clear path of how they help employees keep growing, and the company culture seems really engaging and like they really care about the employee’s quality of life and balance. The last six months has been pretty discouraging at my current job, so I’m excited to finally see some chances for improvement. Fingers crossed that my next call with the hiring team on Tuesday goes well.

    1. irene adler*

      Good luck! Your positive feelings about this company are showing through your post. Show those feelings to them!

  29. friends with the mustard under my bed*

    I’ve been in my current role for about 2.5 years and have been looking for other jobs both internally and externally. I work in tech and there are a lot of opportunities right now that I’d love to take advantage of. Currently I am in the interview process (3rd round) for an external role that I am interested in, but it’s not my dream job. An internal role opened up on my current team that is kind of a lateral move, but a completely different and interesting role. My current manager manages that role as well, and was very excited when I expressed interest in that role. I am interested in the job, and I like my current team, but again it is not my dream job. My manager has made it pretty clear that the internal role is mine if I want it, but I still need to go through my company’s process which is slower than molasses. Do I need to tell her that I’m interviewing externally? If the external role comes through with a higher salary, I would take it, otherwise, I will take the internal role.

    1. Lady Danbury*

      I wouldn’t inform her that you’re interviewing externally unless you have the type of relationship where you would have told her if there was no internal role (and even then, I’d err on the side of caution). I would continue with the interview process of both roles and decide which one is preferable when you actually have offer(s) in hand. Hopefully the external offer comes first so that you have full details to decide if it’s worth leaving.

    2. Bex SF*

      Any chance you can talk to your boss about leveling up the internal role? Something like “I think this would be an incredibly interesting opportunity and I’m excited to talk about it, but I’m a little worried that moving laterally would lock my into my current level for a while longer. After 2.5 years of strong performance (assuming that’s true) I’d hoped that my next role would be a step up. Would that be possible here?”

    3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      JMO, but I’d stop thinking of any job as “not my dream job.” It’s like waiting for Prince Charming in a romantic search. Sometimes what looks like a frog turns into Prince Charming. And sometimes what looks like Prince Charming is a poisonous frog.

  30. Bex*

    I have a colleague, Sam*, who is significantly underperforming. It’s been this way for a while – apparently he was burned out when my other colleague, Rick*, started and it just continued on a downward trend.

    Why is this a me problem? Because Sam and I are now the only ones in our role at our location (Rick went for and obtained a well deserved promotion, hooray!!), and I am worried that I’ll be expected to carry us now.

    The company is not, at this time, planning on backfilling Rick’s role – if it is filled, the position will be at another location 2 1/2 hours south of us.

    I just went through our ticket report (we work IT), and since beginning of September, there have been 3 weeks where Sam outperformed me (one of which I was on vacation for). Meanwhile, there are 8 weeks where I outperformed Sam by at least 100%.

    I tried to address this with our manager yesterday, but her solution was to institute a recurring weekly meeting where we would review the tickets that are open. Previous managers (as well as interim manager, and bosses who departed a while ago) all seem to share a lack of desire to directly address Sam’s laziness (we’ve all caught him sleeping in the office etc), and have sometimes suggested it was Rick & my’s job to address Sam’s lack of productivity.

    I’m going to have a frank conversation with my manager today. While I’ve brought things up, it’s been general observations – nothing backed by hard data like ticket numbers.

    But … I’m worried. Is this just me rattling on a coworker? Does this seem spiteful to bring up the numbers? I’m just so tired and I can’t keep carrying things …

    1. ArtK*

      Focus the conversation on how Sam’s issues are affecting the company. That’s not ratting, that’s giving a manager necessary information. Absolutely bring up numbers. That gives the manager something concrete. “Sam’s a lazy git” isn’t actionable; “Sam only did 5 tickets last week” is.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Weekly review meetings won’t help and will just take up more of your time. Start looking for another job. They are just going to expect you to continue to do Sam’s work as well as your own.

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      This situation sucks, but it’s not your problem, it’s your supervisor’s problem. If you decide to say something I would only focus on how Sam’s work is affecting you and how your boss can make it right *for you*. For example, if your team has trouble meeting collective metrics because of Sam’s performance, can your supervisor set individual goals instead of group ones and only hold you accountable for your share? If other teams are complaining because of response time because you’re trying to do the work of two people, can you ask your supervisor to address their complaints directly? Try and put all the problems Sam causes back on your boss’s plate instead of your own.

    4. Bagpuss*

      I would actually say that to your manager. “I am exhausted. I’ve been trying to make up for the shortfall in Sam’s productivity but it’s not sustainable. I am burning out and I can’t continue to effectively do my own job and half / 2/3s of Sams. For instance, last week I dealt with 50 tickets, Sam dealt with 5. A reasonable level would be around 25-30 tickets a week,

      Then, moving forward, start letting Sam fail. respond to fewer tickets. If people chase you, refer them to Sam. depending on how the system works, if they are contacting you direct, you can say ‘Oh, Sam has more capacity than me right now, so speak to him about that.

      If they are all in one queue then take the ones you can take. If that means that wait times get longer or things don’t get done, then that starts to make it your manager’s problem, and your conversation with them is again “I raised that this was an issue. As you can see, I’ve dealt with 35 tickets so far this week, Sam has only dealt with 6. I can’t realistically increase the numbers I am dealing with” Hopefully you can have the initial conversation one to one with your manager but if they are group meetings then you change up the wording a little. “I can’t take on more tickets than I’m already managing. I’ve covered 35 this week. Sam has only done 6. Sam, can you step up and make sure that you are taking on more tickets so we don’t get these delays? ”

      if that doesn’t work, maybe ask for a one-to-one with your manager and ask that for a period, you have a rigid policy that tickets are allocated as they arrive, alternately to you and to Sam, so that you each have your own individual caseload and 9if applicable) those raising the ticket can see straight away who is responsible for it.

    5. Been there done that*

      Easier said than done (and I say that as someone who failed dismally to accomplish this) but focus the discussion on your own metrics. So “on a weekly basis we get x tickets-what sort of expectation is there around how many I should be targeting closing out?”. Leaves your manager open to either say 50% of x (and then he/she will work out for themselves Sam isn’t hitting that number by a long way), or give you say 75% because that’s what you normally hit and you can start to ask what’s driving that allocation, and if it’s a strong previous record whether there’s a way of acknowledging it’s beyond the norm such as pay rise, increased PTO, flexible working etc.

      Or there’s option b which I took when I failed at this. My boss also failed at any sort of fairness. I left and am infinitely happier-but I never ever even look at others numbers now so the lesson was learned….and my boss was left with a team of low performers.

    6. Bex*

      Thanks all for the advice. I tried to focus the conversation primarily on the hard facts – my disproportionate share of the workload, the overall effect on ticket closure time, and the important tasks that have significantly slipped (replacement equipment etc) because of it. That … got kinda brushed aside with a reminder that we now have a recurring meeting to discuss open tickets!

      I also tried to bring up concern about the number of end users we support who have flat out said they will no longer go to Sam, because of his failure to follow up (side note- last month I got handed a software upgrade project Sam had been sitting on for 2 years, despite what appear to be monthly email follow ups from the stakeholder). I was told that until the end users complain directly to our manager, she doesn’t have anything actionable.

      So. I’m ending the day feeling kind of defeated.

      I really like my role, and the vast majority of colleagues. Other than my manager’s tendency to waaaaay overdo it on the meetings/frequency, I like her and believe she could be overall quite effective and well placed in this role. I actually like my company overall – for a global soul-sucking corporation, they’re not too bad and actually seem to care a bit about community support and enrichment, diversity & inclusion, etc.

      But I’m sitting here, trying to figure out if I’ll be okay with this if I’m in the same position a year from now. And I don’t think I will be.

      Ah well. Thanks again for the good advice all :)

      1. AcademiaNut*

        The other thing you can do is disengage emotionally, do what you can without burning out, and let the consequences happen (possibly at the same time you’re looking for something else).

        Make the shortfall their problem, not yours. If everything gets done without them having to worry about it, there’s no incentive for them to fix things.

      2. Jo*

        Super late, but you have an answer here – make it her problem by getting users to complain to her! Stop being helpful and if you cant take on work, tell people to direct it to her. Annoying – yes, but if thats what she wants, then you can do it.

        1. Bex*

          We’ve tried that route before but I’m going to reemphasize it to end users.

          Sam is a genuinely nice person who just happens to be an awful colleague, and I think people are having trouble separating personal fond feelings from work expectations and obligations.

          But yes. I’ve started today in referring people to write an email with complaints about Sam’s output etc, as well as being open that I cannot take excessive work on.

  31. PhoneAnxiety*

    Any tips on dealing with anxiety around answering phone calls? I am regularly avoid picking up work calls. Typically people will email when they don’t reach me, so it hasn’t been an issue yet, but could easily become one. Have no problem participating in scheduled calls.

    1. SillyGosling*

      Lean in to the fact that you are playing a role and channel whoever you feels answers the phone the best. Exactly what about answering the phone is anxiety producing? If it is having to produce answers on the fly, create scripts and notes. I have the answers to common questions on sticky notes on my phone. You can always say that you need to get back to them.

      When I had trouble making calls, I used to put a piece of candy in my line of vision. I couldn’t eat that candy until I made the call. Silly but it worked.

    2. Albeira Dawn*

      (1) Mainly what helped me was working at a front desk where I had to answer the phones. Not a practical solution for most people, but it works!
      (2) Having a script for common scenarios, including picking up. Unknown number? “Hi, this is Alison at Ask A Manager, how can I help you?” Company number? “Hi, this is Alison!” Someone needs to know where a document is? “I can shoot the location over to you by email, just a sec.” They need something that you’re not sure about? “Huh, I’m not sure! Let me look into that and get back to you. Is this a good number?” Also important for me is figuring out how to sign off. “Thanks for letting me know, I’ll get back to you if anything else comes up!” “Take care!” “Have a good weekend!” Don’t be afraid to write out a little dialogue tree or practice if you think that’ll help. Having the muscle memory of set phrases helps override the anxiety, at least for me.
      (3) Knowing that in many cases, the party on the other end of the line also isn’t a phone wizard. No one is judging you for being a little awkward over the phone.

    3. Beancat*

      Hello, fellow phone anxiety worker. I’ve been struggling with this too.

      – Are you able to let calls go to voicemail and then return them, or is your job one where you’re required to answer the phone?
      – Sometimes I let myself take a few moments to breathe before picking up the phone if it’s a call that I have to take.
      – I keep small things at my desk that make me smile, like a tiny plush or a picture of my cats, and seeing them helps me relax a little.
      – Is your job one where you can create scripts? We usually get certain kinds of calls and can pretty reliably follow a script for most of them. It takes some of the anxiety out of not knowing what to say, which is often why I avoid the phone.

      I hope these help, and best of luck to you!

    4. CTT*

      Okay, so this is the same advice I gave to the person getting spam calls, but: if you can, let things go to voicemail and be diligent about calling back. I don’t have phone anxiety, but I do deal with a decent amount of out-of-the-blue calls (lawyer), and I tend to let calls go to voicemail if I can tell it’s someone I haven’t heard from in a while or on a deal that’s not active. Usually, the voicemail will be “calling about X, please give me a call back,” and I can take the time I need to brush up on X before returning the call. It’s a better conversation for me and the caller if I can competently discuss their issue and not try to pull from off the top of my head.

      1. MsOctopus*

        So as a counterpoint, I have struggled with phone anxiety and found it much easier in the long run to *not* let calls go to voicemail, but to pull off the proverbial bandaid and answer them right away (for me, “ringing phone”=one burst of anxiety/adrenaline. “Pressing play on VM” and “initiating a new call” just created two MORE anxiety spikes and also tempted me to procrastinate) Obviously this is a situation where different strategies work for different folks, and picking up calls right away did take some practice, but I think it really helped me in the end.
        Also agree with the advice others have shared to have a pen and paper handy for writing down notes, names, etc—even doodling can be helpful!

    5. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      What specifically makes you anxious around answering calls? (I had some bad anxiety making calls, which I worked through, but not answering, so this is a genuine question.) I think if you can pin-point a few reasons, it will be easier to address those issues, and in some instances, write up scripts you could go to. Also, if you don’t know the answer or aren’t confident about what you think is the answer, you can always tell people you’ll go look for that info and follow up via email. (If you frame it as you want to make sure you’re giving people the correct info the first time, the majority of people accept that.)

    6. Suprisingly ADHD*

      The biggest help is practice, unfortunately. Do you have a friend who would sit in another room and call your cellphone (out of work hours)? That would let you practice without worrying about messing up a job.

      I also recommend what others have suggested – write your own scripts for specific topics! Greeting, getting the person’s name/number, giving a phone number/address, transferring a call, and goodbye are the obvious ones, but I go the extra step and have phrases to stall for time. “One moment, let me grab a pen.” “I can look that up and call you back in a few minutes.” “Would you mind holding while I ask him?” “Sorry, I misspoke, the correct number is…” “We have a bad connection, can you speak a little slower please?” Type up a cheat sheet for yourself, with your stock phrases, and the most commonly requested information. Grab it before you pick up the phone, so if you get flustered, you have some guidance.

      Keep a pen and scrap paper next to the phone. Write down the name/company, and what they want, while you’re talking. That can take pressure off of remembering everything.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Practice at home in front of the bathroom mirror. Get used to your own voice saying, “XYZ company, this is OP.”
      You can add, “What can I help you with?”

      My biggest problem with the phone is the connections here are so baaaad. I do not have a phone fear but I am slowly gaining one. I am so sick of saying, “Please repeat that?”. If you have a problem with hearing because of the connections, then practice your answer to this at home also. “I’m sorry, we have a bad connection and I can’t hear you.”

      Def write out scripts and use them. Keep it short. People want their answer and then they want to move on. So you do not need to be fancy. It’s okay to sound very practical. “I can get then answer for you and call you back shortly.”

      When I first started working, I had a little bit of phone fear which was unusual for me. I realized that I was not exactly afraid of the phone. I was afraid of not having an answer for the person. Once I identified my actual fear I was able to disarm it some what. We had resources by the phone that I could use. (This was years ago where there was ONE phone in the center of the work area.) I also saw over time that the people asked a huge range of questions and it was NOT reasonable to know all the answers. The reasonable thing was for me to know WHO to ask to get the answer. You may find reframing helpful if this part resonates with you.

      Currently, I have a small binder with all my contacts. I can pull that out if a person needs to talk to Bob over at xyz agency. I have Bob’s name and phone handy. I have another small binder just filled with schedules. If someone calls and wants to know when X happens, I can pull out my binder and look it up. My point here is that it’s super important to understand that a lot of people do not know the answers off the top of their heads. Make sure you are not expecting yourself to know the price of tea in China off the top of your head. It’s not a reasonable expectation. Sometimes part of taming this problem is just figuring out what you will do to get an answer for the person.

    8. meagain*

      I don’t have a problem with speaking on the phone, but I actually try to schedule most of my calls which I like. Mostly because I’m rarely at a desk and while I can set my work number to ring through to my cell phone, it’s annoying to answer calls when I’m not at a desk and don’t have a computer in front of me to look up anything I need. I usually respond to people via email when I can and ask if they would like to schedule a time to speak further. Or if I leave a voice mail, I tell them to send a request to my work email. That way I can respond via email and ask if they want to set up a time to speak. This makes sense for my job because most of the time they are requesting information that I can just send attach that document in an email and there is no need to speak.

      But I would say if you do have anxiety about, just keep answering the phone and it will keep easier. Do you have privacy to speak on the phone. I actually do get really self conscious when I have to answer or make calls when other people are present and overhearing.

  32. JMR*

    I’m a semi-experienced manager and am having some difficulties with a new report. Her communication skills are so poor it is causing me constant stress. It takes me far longer than it should to figure out what she’s talking about, and she often leaves out important pieces of information that would have changed the direction of the conversation. She’ll be discussing one email thread and then switch to talking about another email thread, and she’ll reference X, which did not happen on the first email thread, which is what I THINK we’re still talking about, and it will take me a bunch of time to figure out that we’re now talking about another topic altogether. In other cases, she fails to provide important context – for example, she talked about a patient death in one of our clinical trials, which is a HUGE deal if it is related to the drug we are testing in the clinical trial, but after talking with other people, I figured out it was related to COVID pneumonia. That’s quite sad, but it’s not a work crisis for me. A conversation with her that should take 30 seconds takes 15 minutes because I have to do all this detective work, and in addition to being a huge waste of time, it stresses me the fuck out. I know this term might not be right for a work context, but it feels like emotional labor. Every conversation leaves me confused and exhausted.

    The thing is, she’s not screwing up her work, except in so far as part of her job is to communicate things to me effectively. I can’t tell if it’s just not the right fit, or if this is something I can ask her to work on. How do you ever know the difference? And how do you coach someone on something like this anyway? I have tried explaining some of these examples to her and asking for what I need but she clearly doesn’t get it. My manager is hesitant to ask her to move on because she hasn’t done anything “actionable,” by which I guess he means screw up an important document, etc. It certainly would be easier if she did!


    1. Jaybee*

      Are these just her verbal communication skills? Is she more clear and concise in writing?

      I am not a manager but I have a lot of experience ‘managing up’ in specialist roles where I’ve had to get information from sales people who do not want to give me that information (or do not want to admit they never collected that information in their rush to make a sale). Many of them have communication ‘quirks’ and my approach has usually been to work out how they communicate best and stick to that. It might feel strange to go to primarily email with a direct report if you’re usually a verbal communicator, but if she’s more clear in writing, it might be worth consideration.

    2. Echo*

      Your manager is wrong! Are you giving your report in-the-moment feedback? You can literally interrupt her and say “I’m sorry to interrupt, but can we take this step by step starting with [first email chain]”?

      1. tessa*


        I have a co-worker who does this – writes according to a stream of consciousness that doesn’t make sense even to our boss – and I “make” her take responsibility for it by asking for clarity (sentence by sentence if I must).

        Meanwhile, we have a pretty “salty” co-worker who will flat out state “Fedelia, I don’t know what you mean,” which makes me smile inwardly every time, because I’d be more sympathetic to Fedelia if she wasn’t such a mean-spirited and petty bee atch. Different conversation, though.

    3. calonkat*

      Let me restate this sentence for you:
      “part of her job is to communicate things to me effectively [which she is doing very poorly] however she’s not screwing up [the rest of] her work”

      So she is doing very poorly at a part of her job and does not seem to understand the issue.

      Maybe having a sort of outline for conversations?
      Like write down the specific thing you are talking about and if she starts discussing something off the topic at hand you can document it and bring her back to topic in the moment and mention this is a problem.
      That would also give you written documentation of the issue if needed to put her on a PIP.

    4. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      It might help to have an honest conversation where you start with “this is what I need but am not getting” but also include “why do you think that might be?” and come up with a game plan together. It could be that she’s not getting what she needs from you, either, because of her communication style.

    5. retired2*

      I am a non linear thinker and speaker. This is not a defect but the way many people in the world are. From my reading, it may be more prevalent in other counties. Can you ask her to try to tell you things in a linear way? An outline? Topic 1, sub thoughts, topic 2, sub topics, etc? It’s a good skill for her to learn and understanding different ways of communicating is a growth opportunity.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I know a few “think out loud” types, and (not a coworker) the one I appreciate the most says “I’m going to think out loud for a few moments and my brain will go all over the place” first. So I know to wait until he’s done thinking/speaking to get back to the conversation.

        If it’s a presentation/meeting where the report should be prepared beforehand, I like retired2’s suggestions on coaching her to relay information in a more linear way. When you’re having more off-the-cuff conversations with her, maybe you can ask her to tell you when she’s thinking out loud vs when she wants your input?

    6. Abated*

      I’m not a manager, but I’m trying to look at this from my manager’s perspective. If I were your employee in the situation, I can imagine my manager having a catch-up meeting with me and bringing this up. I think he would tell me the things he thinks I’m excelling at but there is an area that he’d like me to work on, which is my communication skills. You could give the specific examples where there was confusion, as you did here, and ask your employee to try to have a summary in mind before she brings these issues to you. Maybe she could jot down a bullet list of the critical points of the issue she wants to talk about before she comes to you, that way you both know you’re on the same page all the way through the conversation. Tell her that if she can work on that, your conversations will be easier for both of you going forward. If you have a positive tone and say hey I think we can improve this area rather than it being a critical tone of here’s what you’re doing wrong, you should come across well and she will hopefully get the point and work on it without taking it personally. I hope that helps.

      1. Abated*

        Well, after re-reading your original post, maybe you do need to frame it as a more important conversation that you really need her to improve in this area because it’s an important part of her job. Telling her you want her to come in with a bullet list or an outline of some sort as others here has suggested is probably the place to start. If she can’t take this feedback well or feels like it’s personal, then you really have an issue and probably need to convince your manager that she needs to move along.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I had a cohort like this.
      “Where is X located?”
      And some how this involved talking about his dog and his tooth extraction 3 years ago.
      Once you got an answer it was wrong, each time, every time.

      You may have to let her go. But you can try telling her that she needs to answer the exact question asked, not the question she THINKS was asked. And you can go instance by instance of telling her what she needs to inform you of that is important. Tell her point blank that situations A, B and C need to be reported to you and failure to do so is a failure to do her job adequately. I dunno if you have informed her that failure to do so puts her job at risk.

      I am “lucky”?, I saw early on that I needed to ask when and what to report to a boss. Most of my bosses epically failed at telling me when I needed to loop them in. So I frequently asked questions such as “Do I report ABCs to you, or do I just handle that?” You may gain ground (but I doubt it) by giving her several examples of things she needs to tell you about. Since you have had one conversation, your second conversation about this same problem can be more stern.

      Honestly, employees like this are scary. They can sink a biz or organization. “What do you mean I have to tell you the back room is on fire?” Go. Just leave and don’t come back.
      Remember you are not there to do remedial coaching, that is not your job. One good rule of thumb I used was to ask myself, “What would happen if I had to work on this level with everyone here?” And another good question to ask, “How do most of her peers handle a similar example?”
      This last question can show me gaps in my leadership if I see everyone having a poor or incorrect response to a given thing. I need to coach everyone on that specific thing.

      A huge part of any job is getting along with cohorts and communicating with cohorts. In my example up top here, we all ended up avoiding this person. I can honestly say that conversations with this person were Not Logical. I could talk to this person for 45 minutes and learn NOTHING. She is not communicating effectively, therefore she is not doing her job, and this needs to change or she cannot stay, period. Do not make excuses or minimize her behavior.

    8. BBB the cabinet builder*

      Address it in the moment, the second you realize she’s changed tracks. As in, “We were talking about email chain one. When did you change the subject to email chain two?”

      This is a common problem with ADHDers and if that’s her problem, addressing it in the moment will get her back on track. Addressing in the moment will help *you*, no matter what. You won’t be lost and won’t be frustrated. Please don’t suffer in silence. Speaking kindly but with definition can resolve this issue.

  33. LadyByTheLake*

    Anyone else having trouble engaging with work? I am a freelancer who had to take some time off at the end of the year for some medical issues, and then December is always slow — I need to start getting out there and getting some more work in. But. I. Don’t. Want. To.
    Right now I am waiting to see if a colleague who has a referral will set up a call with a potential new client –the work sounds interesting and it would be a nice bit of money coming it, but I’m desperately hoping it will fall through. No — I’m not doing anything meaningful with my time off, and yes — I need the money, although not immediately — I’m getting close to retirement and I need just a bit more years of work before no more income is realistic. Any tips to jumpstart some enthusiasm (or even grudging acceptance) of the need to work?

    1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

      Yes. I have no motivation to do next to anything. Depending on what your work is, one thing I’ve found helpful is making a deal with yourself to just get started- open the document and start reading, and putting on motivational music, whatever that is for you. Usually the music helps keep me in the zone once I’ve started. The other thing is to make sure you’re as physically comfortable as possible- I find it impossible to focus when I’m too cold, for example. Good luck getting your groove back!

      1. Spacedog*

        I’m right there. I’m a creative, but not in a creative team. I started a new job last year which ended up being nothing like the big promises I was made coming in. I worked very hard despite my disappointment, but have had nothing but criticism and disparaging remarks since I started; the other teammates I liked have left this team and I am basically the lone creative, an island in a job I regret taking. I feel zero motivation at this point and I struggle with it every day.

        I feel like part of my inertia is that I’m depressed about my job, but also COVID is depressing which is adding to this immobile inertia. Oddly, the less I have to do, the less motivated I feel, and knowing they hate everything I do or say has left me both very quiet in meetings and also unmotivated to have my typical initiative.

    2. J.B.*

      I was so burned out in December. I needed the break. For me getting back into work was easier when I was busy, a slow time is almost worse.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        That’s what I’m finding — part of the issue is that I have little (or nothing) to do. I need to go out and hustle up more work. I resent having to check my email/voicemail as if I’m working full time just for the couple of items that trickle in and I seriously have no energy to proactively look for more. When I actually do have something to do, I can usually take a deep breath and do it and once I do, it is fine (or even enjoyable), but it is how sporadic it is — I just want to lay on the couch and read my book and not have to check email!

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yeah, this is me (I freelance) and it has made me realize I’m not right for this field. I would have to be way more self motivated than I am to be successful in what I do. I actually prefer working PT at something more rote where I can just get my paycheck and check out. Hope you find a different solution!!

        2. fueled by coffee*

          Would it help to set specific “work hours” during slow periods like this? It sounds like you’re periodically checking email throughout the day, or working sporadically on projects, and that might be contributing even more to burnout (I can empathize with that feeling of having a whole day open to work on some small task, and then realizing at 4pm that it’s getting dark out and you’ve procrastinated your way through the day and are only partway through the task, so it goes back onto tomorrow’s to-do list, while you feel guilty about not being productive, wash-rinse-repeat with bonus pandemic doom ~vibes~).

          What’s helped me has been deciding to schedule work for specific hours: for example, check my email at 9am, noon, and 4:30pm, but otherwise I don’t bother looking at it. Work on task X from 10-11:00, and task Y from 1-2. Then outside of those hours I don’t let myself feel guilty about reading books/watching Netflix/etc. And *during* those hours, work feels more like, “this is unpleasant, but if I power through for an hour I can go back to Netflix,” and less “Oh my God why am I expected to do spreadsheets in the middle of a pandemic.”

          1. LadyByTheLake*

            Maybe something like this. I’m actually pretty good at actually doing what has to be done if there is work to do — I usually knock it out in the morning or right when it comes in. It is the sensation of having to be “available” the rest of the day that gets me. Maybe if I just had a “check email every three hours” schedule I wouldn’t feel so “on call” the rest of the time.

  34. Tara*

    How do you have a conversation with your boss about your compensation, when you know you’re being underpaid? I don’t want to leave, but I want my compensation to match up to the market and within the company.

    1. irene adler*

      Bring data to the table. Also, a list of your accomplishments. Show them your value to the company.

      1. Tara*

        Thanks – I always really like your comments! I understand that aspect of it, and I have the data to do both. But I don’t really know how to phrase the conversation. I don’t want it to seem like I want to leave, but I don’t know if saying “this has come to my attention and I now want to give you the opportunity to rectify” seems like I’m looking to, or doesn’t have enough umph behind it to be effective.

        1. Colette*

          “It’s come to my attention that I’m underpaid for the work I do. I’ve done some research, and people with my skills and responsibility typically make $X. I’d like a raise to bring my salary in line with those doing the same work elsewhere.”

          1. Chilipepper Attitude*

            There was a brilliant comment from someone about gender and salary. I cannot find it now but it was along the lines of, I would not want us accused of gender bias.

                1. Colette*

                  There may be circumstances where it’s appropriate, but there’s no indication that there’s a gender component to this, nor that anyone is being paid less because of their gender.

        2. irene adler*

          Aw, thanks for your kind words. I like the direct approach by Colette. No hint of “I’m going elsewhere. ” If the boss demurs, ask if boss is interested in doing what fair and right by the employees.

          Also, if reviews/annual raises are coming up, get the conversation started before this occurs. You want your data included in the salary evaluation. There’s always those bosses who will wimp out with, “if I’d only known before the salary evaluations were made. Then I could have made appropriate changes. Now it’s too late.”
          (I’ve seen that happen.)

          1. Lauren*

            “If the boss demurs, ask if boss is interested in doing what fair and right by the employees.”

            That sounds like going nuclear, IMO, as it would be calling the boss’ ethics into question, when they may not have the budget or discretion to do what is fair and right, even if they want to. Anecedotally, I was once mired in an HR complaint for workplace violence against me, and my boss hadn’t fully realized how serious it was, so when I told him, “I will not work for a company that supports workplace violence,” he took it as me saying that HE supported workplace violence, and our relationship has never been the same. I don’t regret what I said, and I definitely hit a nerve, but there was a way to reach the same end result without dropping that bomb. I really would not recommend questioning the boss’ principles and ethics.

        3. Marillenbaum*

          I think it doesn’t give the impression you are looking to leave; rather, that you trust based on your existing work history, relationship, track record for valuing your contributions that they will be willing to give you a fair hearing and advocate for you accordingly.

  35. So long and thanks for all the fish*

    I have an interview next week for which I was asked to prepare a short presentation on why I would be a good fit for the role. I’m in a science field where presentations at interviews aren’t unusual, but usually it’s on a past project, rather than on myself. I think this is different because it’s a role reviewing science, rather than performing it(?). Has anyone else come across this, and if so, how did you handle it? If you include that requirement as part of your hiring process, what are you looking for?

    1. OtterB*

      Guessing, since my work is tangential to this but not directly related, but my guess would be that (1) the role will require presenting your review findings, so they want to check your presentation skills, and/or (2) they want to check that you understand that the role is different from performing science and that you’re willing and able to make the transition.

    2. Bex SF*

      If I was on this hiring panel, I would be looking for a few things:
      -How do you structure the presentation. Does it make sense? Is there a clear through line
      – How do you share key information? Is it concise, relevant, and well articulated?
      – What are the actual points you bring up for why you’d be a good fit? Given what I know of your background, do they make sense, or would I have recommended other points?
      – How and where do you use crisp data/examples to make your points?

  36. Just a Manager*

    I’m a team manager. I have a fellow manager that is always in my business. For example, we had a meeting with our grand boss and the fellow manager started talking about an area I manage and how we might need to hire another person. I give him his space, even though I’ve done the role in the past. I could easily jump in with a whole bunch of “good ideas.” He’s always injecting in meetings with our boss and grand boss about things my team should do. It seems to me that he sees everything as one big team, instead of areas of responsibility.

    Am I too sensitive? Is there a comeback or something I can do to reduce this without looking childish?

    1. Policy Wonk*

      Fellow manager may be trying to position himself for the next level, by showing he is knowledgeable about broader issues. Or he likes your issues better and is trying to take them over. If he is talking about things in your area of responsibility, do not give him a “good idea” but when he has said his piece then add on your own take. Note that it is your area, provide context. For example when he says you need to hire another person, agree that yes, I do need another person in my area, as I have mentioned before, and here is the role I envision for the additional person.

      You are not being too sensitive. He may not be up to something, may just like to talk in meetings, but speak up for yourself and your work!

    2. Mockingjay*

      You need to shut him down. In a calm and firm voice, interrupt: “Thanks, Fergus, but my area is adequately staffed. We’re meeting all our metrics and then some. I appreciate your input though.”

      Don’t let him take ownership of your job and especially not with your team. You might want to check in with your team – do they have to deal with Fergus and his team? There might be friction or confusion about assignments, reviews, and reporting. Importantly: don’t be afraid to address this directly with Fergus. “Fergus, just to be clear, this area is my responsibility to execute. If you have a concern that impacts your work or team, please bring it to me [first].”

      I wouldn’t propose ideas just because Fergus does. If you do propose something, it will be a thought-out plan: “here’s a need, here’s how we could address it; I’ve looked at resources (budget, staff) and my team can implement this easily before the end of the year.”

      1. Just a Manager*

        Thank you for your comment. I like your technique for shutting him down. I’ll work on this.

  37. Anon Today*

    I’ve recently realized that one of my employees doesn’t have the customer service skills I thought they had. They do an okay to good job mostly, but their tendency to be blunt and very black and white about the rules sometimes makes fraught situations worse. In addition they take things personally like when a client is rude or disrespectful and then seem to take that as an excuse to be short with the person.

    I’ve had to work at this myself over the years, but I’m having a hard time explaining. Our organization is trying to promote a lot of professional development these days and I was thinking maybe something in deescalation on would be great for her as that’s her biggest hurdle. Does anyone have any recommendations? Or thoughts about what I can say to her?

    1. Kathenus*

      Your past experience can be a real help here. I’m dealing with something similar, I have an employee who has an issue with tone of voice, bluntness, etc.. It comes from a positive intent, but it is harming their work relationships and will harm their career progress if not improved. They’ve been coached on it and have improved but slip back into old habits at times. I’ve dealt with the very same thing and had a supervisor years ago who was amazing at helping me improve – starting it with the approach that ‘you’re amazing and can do anything you want but this will hold you back’ – followed by communication coaching. I’ve never forgotten it and will be having a similar talk with this employee starting from the premise that they have amazing skills and potential but that this will hold them back, that I’ve been there, and that I want to help them improve so they can succeed in their long-term career goals. Coming at it from a place of wanting to help them improve and using a personal experience example can be a great way to handle it versus coming at it from just a negative/constructive feedback approach.

    2. Reba*

      I don’t know about trainings, but for raising the issue, I think you can say exactly what you wrote here! For coaching, bring up a couple of illustrative examples of times when rigidity or coldness made things harder, and some ideas of things they could have said instead. If there are times they have handled a customer interaction well, mention it too. Maybe there are specific phrases or techniques that other employees use with rude clients? I think when employees are going to encounter that regularly, it’s important to equip them with things they *can* say and do to deal with a difficult client.

      Tell her that she needs to compartmentalize, she needs a “work persona” that is unfailingly professional, even if inside she is burning up like the little red guy in “Inside Out.”
      You’ve dealt with it yourself, so you know that it is a learning process, but let her know this is part of her performance and you will need her to improve. She may not react well (I know I’ve been prickly when I felt like I’m being told I talk wrong or I have to “fake it”!) but make it clear it’s a skill, not a personality change that you’re looking for.

    3. Never Nicky*

      Your employee isn’t a lost cause but some specialist skills training could be really helpful. I’m from the UK so no recs but this is my experience:

      In one of my first jobs, I was working on a role which was essentially a service role to assist fellow employees in a large organisation. For various reasons, this wasn’t a great time for me and it showed in my attitude. My grand boss signed me up to a couple of communication skills courses – I think the subtitle was “be assertive not aggressive” and it was a game changer. I changed noticeably and to this day, people say I’m direct and straightforward AND collaborative, flexible and friendly.

    4. Bernice Clifton*

      I used to have a somewhat similar issue like your employee.

      Part of it was my at the time undiagnosed anxiety that caused me to take rude remarks personally, but part of it was not having a clear sense of when I was allowed to “bend the rules” as a gatekeeper without getting in trouble.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      In addition to de-escalation trainings, can you role-play some interactions with them? Talk about the issues with bluntness and black-and-white thinking first (why they are counterproductive, strategies they can use instead). During the role-playing you can point out bluntness and rigidity when they crop up. After the role-playing you can discuss what went well/what didn’t go well.

  38. Beancat*

    Last month I spoke with my boss (the owner) about accommodations for my anxiety, such as letting me work in a space separate from the receptionist (I’m not reception but there is no room for me anywhere else). We don’t have the space to reliably do that, but to my surprise they suggested I could work from home half a day, twice a week. Most days require in person work, but there are many aspects I can do and have done in the past at this job, occasionally working from home when illness or emergencies came up. I eagerly agreed and said I’d of course wait until our new employee was trained. I started drafting an email to get it all down on paper but got caught up for a few days with the holidays and didn’t get to finish.

    My boss came back three days later and said after they’d thought about it, they actually don’t want to do that. They said that my presence is needed on site – I’m pretty sure they just don’t trust employees when either they or I aren’t physically there. There are control issues in other aspects of our work as well.

    I’m less upset about having my accommodation revoked (though I’m pretty upset about that) than I am that they suggested it, approved it, and then immediately backpedaled. As far as I understood, them suggesting it meant that they’d thought about it and okayed it. We have a potential acquisition looming and my hope was to have my accommodations grandfathered in.

    My husband thinks I should see what the acquiring company offers and I agree, but it’s also very difficult to keep coming in and caring when the medical accommodations that my boss suggested were instantly revoked without even a trial run of them.

    I also get the sense my even asking for accommodations has changed our working relationship and I’m concerned that they no longer think I’m capable, even though I’m continuing to perform as I always have. I feel ashamed and like I’m being punished for even asking. They were reasonable when I had surgery and was out for an extended period of time, so I thought they’d be just as reasonable about this. I know my boss has bigger things to think about, but I’m incredibly frustrated and don’t know how to address it – or if it’s better for me to cut my losses and look elsewhere.

    Thank you in advance for reading – I’ve been stewing on this for a few weeks now.

    1. BayCay*

      I get your frustration. Ideally, they would have simply told you they might have a potential solution, told you they would get back to you, and then offered what they could, in reality, do. It wasn’t right of them to suggest you could work from home and then backpedal on it days after.

      I would focus on a game plan for addressing this with whoever will be your best contact with the incoming company. I wouldn’t phrase it like, “They said I could do this and then changed their mind,” but instead share your situation and say you were in the process of finding a solution. You could even mention that working from home was discussed at one point. Then ask what they are willing to do to meet your medical needs.

      That said, you’ll have to weigh how all this might impact your relationship with your boss going forward, assuming they aren’t leaving. It sounds like your boss might not be the most ethical person around, and even if the new company accommodates you, your boss might feel like you went over her head.

      1. Beancat*

        I don’t believe my boss will be staying on after the acquisition (retiring), so hopefully your last bit won’t be applicable. I’ve been trying to find out when I can speak with the acquiring company about what things will look like – I love your language of “I was in the process of finding a solution”! Presenting it as what they’re going to do to accommodate my medical needs makes perfect sense, very matter of fact like “of course you’re going to do this because reasonable people would do this”.

    2. WellRed*

      Have you followed up with your boss on this? Us there another accommodation that you can suggest? What us the timeline for the acquisition and subsequent transition?

      1. Beancat*

        With our space as limited as it is and how we use it for business (trying to keep a bit of anonymity), there isn’t really another good option unfortunately. I’ve been racking my brain for other possibilities but haven’t come up with any just yet.

    3. mreasy*

      The company is required to make reasonable accommodations if you have a diagnosis of GAD or similar ADA-covered condition. Do you have HR? It might be worth reaching out to let them know what has happened – or perhaps give your manager another chance by saying given it’s an ADA-covered condition, should we work with HR to determine what can be done?

      1. Beancat*

        We’re so small that I’m not sure it applies – without giving too much identifying information we’re fewer than ten people, I functionally act as HR, and I’m one step below my boss (who considers the accommodation a hardship). If they’re not willing to accommodate me, I’m not sure where else I can take it.

  39. Binky*

    Has anyone ever dealt with a mistake spiral? I’m very stressed (new-job stress and covid stress and just being an anxious person in general). I have started to make more mistakes in my work. Most of them have been nonsubstantive, but still not great. Unfortunately, I’m now so anxious about making mistakes that I’m making more of them. Basically when I’m this stressed my brain doesn’t work as well, and I miss stuff. How can I pull myself out of this?

    It doesn’t help that my boss only gives negative feedback (lots of stuff gets no comment, and goes out with minimal changes, so I’m pretty sure she doesn’t hate all my work), so I’m constantly worried that she’s mad at me.

    Any advice?

    1. Hopeful Ex-Librarian*

      Oh I feel this so hard. <3

      I don't know if this is something that would work for you and your job, but when I've made mistakes, I've tried to find a way to make it into a note or checklist or setting alarms/reminders going forward.

      Like, at the library I work at, when I close, I have to do specific stuff. One night, I forgot to check that the bathrooms were clear (thankfully it had been a really quiet night). As a result, I now set an alarm when I work the night shift and I've made a checklist of what all has to get done for closing.

      I also tell myself, just in general when I make mistakes, that nobody died.

    2. BayCay*

      I also have anxiety and have been in a mistake spiral. I would try your best to show yourself kindness and if you find yourself in the middle of a work-related panic moment, try to stop what you’re doing and slow down, which might prevent more mistakes from happening.

      But even more importantly, I’d address your feelings that you only get negative feedback from your boss. Unfortunately, lots of managers forget to toot the horn when things are going great and only sound the alarm when something is wrong. Personally, I don’t get these folks but I’ve worked for several. If your boss isn’t lousy otherwise, I’d think about their personality and see if maybe it’s just their personality. But if they also do things like demean you, yell, never check in on you or have unreasonable expectations for your work, you might just have a sucky boss.

    3. justabot*

      My former football playing husband always says, “Gotta make like a DB (defense back) who made a bad play and shake it off!” “Otherwise one bad play leads to the next one and the next one. That play is over. There is absolutely nothing you can do about it now. Eyes focused forward. Get ready for the next snap.” (Yes he really talks like that.) But as silly as it sounds, thinking of it like an athlete, does help me. That play is over, shake it off, get ready for the next play.

  40. Hopeful Ex-Librarian*

    HI! I’m one of (many) librarians who are looking at other, non-library options. I know my skills translate, I’m just having trouble finding jobs that fit.

    For context, I’d be most interested in remote or hybrid jobs (I am looking for jobs in and around Chicago). I like helping people, but I don’t like that libraries are the default for everything society doesn’t want to fix (I am not a social worker – I don’t have the training and I don’t want to be one), and I don’t like that admin has thrown us to the wolves during this pandemic and the front desk people are expected to bear the brunt of everyone (if I have to tell one more person that the mask has to go over the nose…..).

    I have experience doing:
    -basic graphic design for promotion of programs (this did involve specific deadlines) and tools/databases and items in the library collection. I’ve been using canva because the library I work at has a pro subscription and my Mac (which I used when we were briefly remote) doesn’t let me get publisher on it (I have examples of this)
    -running a monthly book club (doubling members….. from 1 person to 2)
    -cataloging audiovisual materials (I don’t create records from scratch)
    -ordering materials for library collection (most experience is in non-fiction books)
    -collection development for said non-fiction sections
    -teaching computer classes based on a specific thing (ie: Google Docs), I’ve also developed and taught classes based on a specific thing as well as previously-developed tech classes (I have examples of this too)
    -using things like teams, Trello, Mac and windows desktops, iPhones, kindles
    -I also love: deadlines/due dates, color-coding things (my phone apps are all color-coded into folders), and to-do lists

    I don’t have management experience (other than helping to train new coworkers when asked) and I don’t want to be a manager.

    Can anyone suggest jobs to look for and where to look for them? Since I am interested in remote options, I did sign up for FlexJobs! Or even just tell me that my skills do actually translate like I think they will and everything isn’t hopeless?

    Thanks and I hope y’all are staying safe and healthy. :)

    1. irene adler*

      Ever looked into Quality Assurance (QA)?
      There are a lot of QA positions that involve document control: keeping track of documents -electronically and/or paper, assuring most recent version is used, teaching folks how to use the document management system, and keeping up with document changes -complete with lots of deadlines related to that. No, you don’t necessarily have to be the one to write the documents. Although you might be asked to proofread or format. Some small companies might make use of your graphic design skills too-layout of documents, logos, etc.

      1. Hopeful Ex-Librarian*

        :eyes emoji: I have not, but that’s something I will definitely look into. Thank you!! :D

      2. Rosie*

        I laughed because I just sent our quality person three SOPs asking her to format and proof them so I could circulate for comments. But I agree it sounds like a good fit!

        1. Hopeful Ex-Librarian*

          ooo i love proofreading things too! i used to look over our program newsletter before it went to print (me and several others) and it was a lot of fun!

          1. irene adler*

            You’d be so good in Document Control for any company that is highly regulated – pharmaceuticals, Medical device, aerospace, etc. ! Don’t let the high-tech talk scare you; these folks have a great need for people who can organize, prioritize, proofread, and generally make sure the dept is meeting deadlines and complying with any regulatory requirements (which their regulatory dept will instruct you on what is needed in that respect).

            1. Hopeful Ex-Librarian*

              oh thank god, i have immense respect for scientests and science and all that but i am….. not smart enough to have any kind of knowledge or degree or anything in it. but i can learn, so as long as it’s nothing too high-stakes, lemme at it.

              i also have experience in a restaurant as a dishwasher/busser, could i draw on that? only because sometimes i do have to prioritize and figure out what to do when, so the giant sheet trays might not get washed right away if we have a ton of stuff to run through the dishwasher first.

          2. JustaTech*

            If you love proofreading, making sure every single tiny thing matches and that everything is correctly cross-referenced then I bet you will *love* QA.

            Quality does stand apart within a company (they have to, it is their job to say “no”, though that’s usually more Quality Control (the people who run the tests) than QA (the people who make sure all the data is in order). And if you work for a regulated industry (pharma, aerospace) you’ll probably be involved (at least tangentially) in audits by whomever is your regulating agency.

            As someone who does *not* work in Quality but occasionally has to run my work through them I will say this: even though I will occasionally say “Damnit QA!” it’s not because I’m mad at them, it’s because they caught an error that I have to fix (and this always bugs me). And I always appreciate that they *do* catch stuff.

            1. Hopeful Ex-Librarian*

              omfg that sounds amazing??? making sure everything matches and cross-referenced!? :’) thank you so much for this, suddenly the job hunt doesn’t seem so daunting!

              1. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

                seconding all QA/QC/proofreading roles.
                They can be difficult to hire for as many believe they are detail orientated when in fact its to a different degree to have attention to detail for 30-40 hours a week which your librarian experience does demonstrate

                1. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

                  and you sound enthusiastic about this type of work which is a great sign!

                2. Hopeful Ex-Librarian*

                  I’ll for sure be looking into these types of positions, I’m suddenly really excited for this job search! hopefully there will be positions I can apply for in chicago (and hopefully this is more of a regular 9-5 field).

      3. doc control librarian*

        I am a Document Control Specialist, having discovered the field about 6 years ago after having no luck getting real use out of my MLIS degree. It definitely features a lot of crossover in skills!

      4. Fikly*

        Popping in to say a HUGE thanks for sharing this site – I’ve been really struggling to figure out where to find jobs that might be a good fit for both my skills and my needs, and this looks like a gold mine.

        1. Hopeful Ex-Librarian*

          right?? the job hunt has been really getting me down, but making this post has been a huge help. specifically, getting this site and why i might be a good fit for this field. i know it’s not like a 100%, sure thing, but even just having this as an option helps a lot.

    2. J.B.*

      I can tell you that our state university after budget freezes is desperate to hire people (probably more temps but some permanent). Grants management is HUGE and requires tip top organization with the financials learnable (and ahem fuzzy) after hire.

        1. Pam Adams*

          I’m agreeing with J.B. Higher ed has lots of positions that might fit- administrative, program analyst,direct student support- example, Admissions, Financial Aid….

    3. Incessant Owlbears*

      Technical project manager
      Documentation manager
      Clinical data manager
      Lots of things with “analyst” in the title could be a good fit: Business Analyst, Business Intelligence Analyst, Medical Records Analyst, so many more. “Analyst” can mean anything from an entry level grunt type job to a high level expert, so read the job descriptions.

      When I was searching, I used O Net Online to trawl through hundreds of job titles by all sorts of factors. I built myself a list of likely titles and set up alerts for those titles on the major job boards. Then I read through the job postings and pulled out the pieces that sounded like me, to use in honing my search and telling whether a given job sounded like it would be a good match.

      Best of luck!

      1. Hopeful Ex-Librarian*

        thank you, i’ll look into all of that! :D i appreciate specific titles to look for, but also that there IS hope and i’m not stuck in a library forever.

    4. NaoNao*

      It sounds like office manager or executive assistant might be a strong match (although that’s likely not remote!)—with the skills of organizing, cataloging, and general running things.

      Another to consider might be HR Coordinator. This is a kind of catch all entry level corporate job—generally you onboard people, ensure their paperwork is in order, set up and maintain employee engagement stuff, pull and use data (EEOC, audits), some interviewing, do exit interviews, stuff like that.

      1. Hopeful Ex-Librarian*

        thank you! as much as i’d prefer remote, if i can find something in chicago, that would be just as good. i ultimatly am looking for something that’s a little more 9-5, if i can’t find remote. :)

        1. used to work in a library*

          Remote positions for both of those roles definitely exist, but usually for remote-first companies. You might also look into one of those virtual personal assistant services if being a personal/executive assistant sounds like a job you’d want.

          Also, I made the switch from working in a library to doing what’s basically QA for a SaaS tech start up, but it took some serious searching because start ups sometimes list things under weird job titles. If you like the aspect of library work that involves teaching people stuff, in addition to all the detail work, then you might look at tech company positions involving customer/partner onboarding instead of the HR meaning of the term. SaaS companies always need people who can explain how their software works! SaaS companies are also of course a great place to look for unconventional QA positions like mine. I found my position on LinkedIn after many, many searches for various different possible positions.

          1. Hopeful Ex-Librarian*

            This is good to know, thank you so much for the response!

            Again, I’m so glad I have options. :’)

    5. ApologizesTooMuch*

      No advice, just wanted to say thank you for writing this! I could have written this exact post, minus the location details. Working in a public library through COVID has been HARD, and I too am ready for something new. For various personal reasons I won’t be able to move on until later this year, but I’m definitely going to look at QA positions when that happens. Fingers crossed that you find something that’s a good fit for you soon!

      1. Hopeful Ex-Librarian*

        Aw yay, I’m so glad my post was able to help someone else!!! :)

        It’s sad, for me, that I’m even thinking of leaving. But like you said, working at a public library during covid has been hard! One of the libraries I worked at really didn’t care about their employees (among other things, opened back up as soon as possible) which obviously didn’t help those of us on the frontlines.

        Anyway, I hope you’re able to find something soon, when you’re ready to look! :)

  41. Why did I do this to myself*

    I left a long-term job for somewhere new this week and I already want to quit and beg for my old job back (in all actuality, I wouldn’t have to beg, although a part of me would feel embarrassed).
    It feels so rash and irresponsible, but I know in my gut that this was a mistake. I thought more money would be worth the trade-offs – I traded 5 weeks PTO for 3. In the old job I had the option to work fully remote anytime, which is important in the age of quarantines. New job doesn’t have that ability, and is in fact very rigid with schedules with a punitive attendance policy, so quarantines eat into that 3 weeks.
    After avoiding Covid the entire pandemic, my family and I got Covid 3 days into my new job this week so I’m sitting at home, unpaid, with all this time to think and reflect on what I’ve given up. I’m trying not to assume the worst, but I also got a callback on a mammogram and am worrying given I lost my mom to breast cancer just a few years ago. So I’m also picturing the worst, and having to manage possible medical appointments within this rigid environment, and I just want to run away.
    The few days I was there I realized I hated the physical environment, observed that some some people were great but some were terrible (hostile and inappropriate with patients, and no one calling it out). I observed one big red flag related to ethics, and all in all just saw what I
    view as substandard patient care on multiple occasions. Oh, and it is a perfect breeding ground for Covid – crowded, no space for social distancing, and a full quarter of the people wearing masks around their chins all the time. Being vaxxed and currently positive, I’d guess I’ll have some more immunity omicron wise, but how long until the next variant comes around?
    I know the right thing to do is give it a chance and bring up my concerns, but honestly this doesn’t feel salvageable. And I’m immediately realizing how valuable my former flexible schedule and remote work option really was. Had anyone ever had such a strong negative reaction to a new job before, and if so what did you do? Any advice for me?

    1. Not A Manager*

      If the only reason you moved on was for the money, and now you don’t think it’s worth it, go back to the old job.

      1. Can Can Cannot*

        If you are three days in and the new job isn’t paying you, feel free to leave immediately. Call your old boss today, and see if you can go back to your old job tomorrow.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I think you have valuable information now that you didn’t before, which really changes the equation. You say you know the right thing to do is give it a chance, but that sounds like the sunk cost fallacy to me. You describe a lousy, tense, and rigid environment that isn’t going to support what your needs are. If you’re able to go back to the old job with little hassle, strongly consider that.

    3. Picard*

      If you know, you know.

      Its not unheard of for people to come back to their prior workplace after a brief sojourn across the fence to supposedly greener grass.
      HOWEVER, think hard about why you left in the first place and if any of THAT has changed or can change before you go back. Maybe you just keep job searching…?

      1. Fran Fine*

        HOWEVER, think hard about why you left in the first place and if any of THAT has changed or can change before you go back.

        That part. I get having buyer’s remorse, but maybe it’s best to just ramp up a new job search now, jump ship, go somewhere new, and then leave this new place off the resume.

    4. All Het Up About It*

      Forget embarrassment. Your new job is not delivering on expectations. If you think you could go back to your old job and say it’s not what was expected/promised and you realized that the increased salary does not make up for the benefits, flexibility, insert other wonderful things about the old company, do it.

      I know the right thing to do is give it a chance and bring up my concerns
      NO! If you feel this strongly, making yourself miserable and risking your physical and financial health is not the “right thing.” Suck up that pride and talk to old job. And if that doesn’t work, start applying to new new jobs again. I’m sure it will feel daunting, but it sounds like this is a really bad fit for you.

    5. Hunnybee*

      I’m so sorry you are dealing with all of this and I wish you the best with your health concerns. Sending you good karma.

      Re: New Job Hate: I realized in my second week at my job that I was either misled or actually lied to about the work and team culture. In fact, one of the reasons I took this job was that the manager and recruiter talked up the culture, but the team I was placed on is renowned for being the most toxic in the company and has had iterations of teams quit because of the management.
      This job paid lower than other jobs I was interviewing at — AND, like you, I left a job with more PTO. I actually had unlimited PTO. I disliked my last boss but he liked me and I was doing a great job and recognized for my work — I didn’t have to leave, but I bought in to the promises that the new job offered.

      But months later, I’m miserable working for this company and team. I’ve stopped talking in meetings and I feel completely disengaged. I was in a meeting yesterday and out of the blue knew that I was going to start crying and left the call….and I realized that I’m deeply depressed.

      I know all of the career blogs mention that we should “give it time” and that it’s just new job jitters or whatever, but that’s pretty dismissive. Trust your gut. If you’re having a strong reaction to the new job and you have the opportunity to go back to the other one AND you have health issues, why not reach out and see if you can go back? They likely haven’t hired someone to replace you. And your health will be affected greatly if you end up in a stressful and highly depressing situation. You’d likely have more support emotionally from your old job than your new job as well if things end up getting tough, and that will mean a lot.

      1. Why did I do this to myself*

        Thank you so much – and thank you to everyone that commented something along these lines! I’ve been talking to people all day – my friends, therapist etc and they’ve all said this as well. It’s so helpful to hear – the advice I was reading did come directly from reading career blogs that popped up in a “what to do when you hate your new job google search”. I am certain it would just lead to misery so I’m just going to push through my guilt and do it.

    6. Girasol*

      I’d say get out. A rigid environment like that usually indicates a butt-in-seat management policy where managers don’t trust employees. If you learned to accommodate them – as it sounds like you’d have to – you’d end up at least unhappy and perhaps kinda bent. It’s way too easy to gather dysfunctional habits when you have to spend your days in a dysfunctional environment.

    7. Lauren*

      Yes. I wish I’d left after the first day and asked for my old job back. I was worried about admitting I was wrong, and I was worried about the new employer judging me for leaving after one day. After 4 years, burning out and getting warped by a terribly dysfunctional and toxic environment, I went back to my old company in a higher role that I likely would already have promoted out of, had I just stayed for those four years.

    8. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      It is 100% okay to realise you have made an error! The next thing is to remediate it as best you can. The new workplace is not worth any more of your time- you have quickly identified all of the issues, and if you are not the new CEO then you won’t be changing that workplace culture at all.
      Get back to your old job, when anyone asks what happened you say “Yes, I made a mistake and am pleased to be able to return here, thanks for asking, has anything nice happened for you in the last few weeks?”
      Then increase your support/self care behaviours for a few months and congratulate yourself for stepping OUT of the quicksand asap, well done.
      You can do it. And you know your old job inside out, so you will relax into it very quickly.

    9. justabot*

      Have they hired for your old job yet? I actually do know someone who worked at a new job three days, hated it, and asked her old boss if she could come back. He was fine with it. Yeah I’m sure it was embarrassing for a few days and people like wait, I thought you left. But life quickly moves on, that awkwardness quickly is in the rear view mirror, and the truth is no one really cares. If that is an option, it’s worth asking.

      1. Hunnybee*

        …and it sounds embarrassing but I think that the reality is that nobody cares all that much after the first week. : )

    10. AnotherLibrarian*

      I certainly think if you hate the new job now, I doubt you’ll hate it less in three months. However, I would agree with others to really analyze why you left the old job. Whatever problems where there are lightly still there, so just make sure you are comfortable with those tradeoffs.

    11. Why did I do this to myself*

      I just wrote a long reply that somehow disappeared – or maybe it’s attached to some random post below haha. In short, thank you all for this input – it was really helpful to read and was exactly what I needed to hear. Im going to push through the embarrassment (and guilt, oh the guilt) and do what I know I need to do.

  42. Anonymous reader*

    Hello to the AAM community!

    I’ve worked in book publishing as a production editor for 10 years and I’m thinking about leaving. Has anyone left book publishing/production editorial and what kind of job did you go to? Did your skills transfer to other jobs?

    1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Not the same, I went from book retail, but ended up in digital marketing. The information management side of it is surprisingly similar.

  43. Confused*

    Have you ever been in a situation where you received a great job offer, better in almost all aspects than your current job, but your heart wasn’t in it? What decision did you take ultimately and how did it turn out for you? If you did end up taking the offer, what factors swayed your decision? I think I will turn down a 50% hike because I’m just not feeling it and I can’t see myself working there… I am feeling really foolish and would love to hear your stories if you’ve been through a similar situation!
    Happy weekend everyone!

    1. Picard*

      I can work through A LOT of “feelings” for a 50% pay hike. Why can’t you see yourself working there? You applied right? So what’s made you change your mind?

        1. Why did I do this to myself*

          I was just about to say this! I ignored my gut and told myself it was just a fear of the unknown, but really it was my intuition trying to tell me something.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        50% would get me to just over median household income in the US, I can take a LOT for it.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I don’t have experience with this, but I do think some introspection would be useful in your case. No need to answer these questions here, I’m just typing them out to get you thinking and hopefully provide some clarity on why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling:

      – Why did you start job searching? (just to see what’s out there/more money/something bad about your current job/etc)
      – Why did you decide to apply to this particular job?
      – Is there anything in the job description/interviews/offer letter that gives you pause? You say “I’m just not feeling it” but is there anything more specific you can point to? (even if you don’t know WHY the wording of that bullet point/the question the interviewer asked/etc is making you feel this way)
      – How long have you been at your current job? Is “I can’t see myself working there” because you’ve been at your current job for 10/20/30 years?
      – Did you feel better/worse about this job at any point during the application process, or have you felt kind of ambivalent about it all along? Is this fear of change kicking in now that the offer is real?

      Best of luck whichever way you decide!

    3. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I turned down a job in an industry I have a strong interest in, which is pretty difficult to enter from outside. In that situation, “better in almost all aspects” meant the manager and team felt like people I’d enjoy working with, and the stage their project was at seemed to suit what I was looking to learn. However, the company handled salary negotiations in a bizarre way (think a whole two weeks of them saying “how much are you expecting, nope, that’s out of our budget, give us a lower number”…I was asking them to match my current salary, which was well in the range they stated on the job description I was given). It left a bad taste in my mouth, at a time that was already very stressful due to personal stuff and changes at my current job, so I went for the path of least resistance and stayed.

      4 months later, regret is creeping in. My decision to stay was also tied to some positive changes to my role I was promised by higher-ups, and the new boss that came in right after completely went back on them. I’m sure New Boss will improve my dysfunctional department over time, but it will take months for any changes to have an impact, probably at least a whole year. I’m not willing to stick around that long. So, job searching again, and pretty sure I’ve blown my best chance to enter that particular industry. I’m telling myself that the salary I make now is worth staying until something else comes up, but when you said you feel foolish…heck, I can so understand what that’s like.

      Happy weekend to you, and I wish you all the best with whatever you choose!

    4. Filosofickle*

      If I wasn’t feeling it and didn’t want the job, even 50% more money wouldn’t be a good enough reason for me to take it. (Assuming I was making ends meet on half). It’s not foolish if this is what feels right! Trust your instincts.

      1. tessa*

        This. No amount of money is worth dreading going to work every day. None. That dread will eat you alive.

  44. LadyB*

    Apply, apply, apply. It sounds like a great opportunity; better salary, better benefits, more vacation and more security.
    If you get the job, your boss would understand you leaving for any one of those points, let alone all of them.

  45. NewInterviewer*

    I have my first interview as an interviewer today! What are your best interview tips for interviewers?
    What questions would you ask an overqualified candidate? We are hiring an entry-level role, and this candidate has 15 years of experience. I could see a scenario where someone wants to take a step back or is making a career change, but I want to ask good questions to avoid someone who will be bored or frustrated in this role.

    1. Picard*

      I’ve had any number of “overqualified” candidates apply for our entry level role. I even interviewed some of them. Most were immediately obvious they they were looking for any port in a storm and would likely bounce out first chance they got. Some felt like they just wanted a steady job/paycheck and were not likely to innovate or initiate much change (slow roll to retirement). I ended up hiring one (for a slightly higher level position we had not posted yet) because she impressed me with her knowledge and experience and her willingness to do what it takes – hope I’m not wrong!

      1. Picard*

        oh and as to what questions I asked – I was very upfront –
        “It seems like this role would be a step down (or two) for you. Tell me why you think you’re the right fit for it?”

        and then depending on how they answered, I would pursue from there OR it would be immediately obvious to me that it wasnt going to work.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Speaking as a candidate who sometimes fits this profile, I would just ask something like this.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      This depends on how your interviews are structured. We are required to ask all candidates the same questions. So, with other qualified canidates, I always very carefully listen to their answers to the “Why are you interested in this specific role?” question. I am looking for signs they understand the job and signs they get that the job is a major step down.

      If I get to ask whatever I want, here are a few I’ve asked:
      – I see you have X years of experience, and this is an entry level role, can you talk about why you’re interested in this position?
      – Can you give me an example of a time you disagreed with your manager about a decision they had made, how did you resolve the issue? What was the outcome?
      – Do you have any concerns about this position I can address?

      I am listening for signs they get what they have applied for and they will be easy to work with. 9 times out of ten, I know before the end of the interview if it is worth it to continue.

  46. Michelle*

    I’d like to get thoughts on something that just happened to my daughter. I thought it was pretty outrageous, but maybe it’s more common in retail work?
    A few days ago she was let go from her job. She’d received glowing reviews from her managers, and told she’d be made full-time with her pick of departments, but then her entire team was let go. The reason given was attendance, even though the only days she missed were when she had COVID. The part that surprised me, though, is that after letting her go they want her to keep working! First they said she could work the rest of her scheduled shift for that day, but that they would “understand if she couldn’t compose herself enough to do so.” But they still want her to come in for her scheduled shifts for the next two weeks, and if she doesn’t, she’ll be considered to have quit instead of being let go and be ineligible for re-hire! There is also a question as to whether she’ll be able to get unemployment if she doesn’t work the rest of her shifts. Is it just me, or is it crazy to expect someone to be willing to continue working after they have been let go, especially when it was done so poorly? (The GM actually smiled and wished her a good day while she was crying on the phone to her mother about having lost her job!)

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Wait, they fired the entire group due to some people’s problems with attendance, or everyone had problems with attendance?

      Retail is a whole wacky ball of wax, but this still sounds pretty extreme and poorly handled.

      1. Michelle*

        They let all of their seasonal workers go on the same day, while pretending each one was being let go for individual reasons rather than because they were seasonal. They told my daughter that she was being let go for attendance specifically.

        1. Michelle*

          (They had previously promised that good performers would be made permanent, and promised my daughter specifically that she would be, but clearly had no intention of bringing anyone on permanently.)

        2. Wisteria*

          Being a seasonal worker changes things a bit. Essentially, they are not renewing her contract (I know she doesn’t have a contract, but that’s the analogous situation) at the end of the season, which is in two weeks. If she quits before the end of the season, then she quit rather than being non-renewed. That is completely reasonable for a temporary worker.

          Even for salaried jobs, it happens sometimes that a layoff is announced in advance rather than day of.

          1. Becky*

            Except they’re calling it “firing” probably in order to avoid these workers getting approved for unemployment.

            1. Can Can Cannot*

              The word fired doesn’t matter for unemployment, unless there is something serious behind it. In this case there was not, so she should be ok. That doesn’t mean the company won’t fight it, but she has a reasonable rebuttal.

    2. HigherEdAdminista*

      It’s not too out of pocket to expect someone to work to their layoff date. Some places do that and some places don’t. But they clearly are not good people or a good work environment to give her glowing reviews and make these big promises, and then lay her off anyway. Since they laid off the entire team, my guess is the real reason has nothing to do with attendance, but they likely take zero responsibility for anything they do. Many places do have the attitude that nothing is their fault.

      I can’t say whether or not she should work the rest of those shifts, but I can say that when I was a young adult, in college and working a retail job… these jobs definitely take advantage of people, making them think this will impact them greatly. I worked with coworkers who got fired for stealing and you know what… they went on to other jobs and careers. I myself quit a job with no notice and was hired back by a different branch of the same chain years later.

      Unless she wants a long term career with this specific company or she can’t risk not getting unemployment, or she has a very unstable work history, its very unlikely this will make a long term impact on her life and career. Many retail places are hiring right now, so its very possible she could have a better job before the two weeks are up.

      1. Michelle*

        She can’t risk unemployment. She has rent to pay and it’s very difficult to find a retail job where we live right now. Everybody says they are hiring, but nobody really is. It took my son months to find his current job, and most of the places he applied didn’t even bother to respond. So she’ll probably end up working these shifts, but I can’t imagine they’ll get good work out of people they treated so badly.

    3. Kathenus*

      Sounds to me like a layoff not a firing? If so working a certain amount of time isn’t totally unusual, sometimes it’s in return for something like severance, supporting unemployement (although you should be eligible if a layoff anyway), etc. And was attendance directed at her or the other employees or is it a public facing role/institution and attendance meant declining customers so needing less employees?

      1. Michelle*

        The attendance thing was an excuse. They laid off every single seasonal employee, while pretending each one had done something wrong to be fired over.

        1. Girasol*

          That’s just weird. Nobody who’s fired for being a bad worker has conditions on what they must do to be hired back because the company wouldn’t want them back. Sounds like the company might have led her on about a permanent job they couldn’t actually provide and this is their odd way to resolve that problem. Be sure she asks the managers who thought she was great to be references if needed.

    4. Jaybee*

      They let the entire team go – but said it was for attendance?

      You said this is in retail? Is this a specialized sort of team (I’m thinking the framers at an arts and crafts store, or the photographers or printers at a Staple’s)?

      It sounds to me like what is happening is they’ve actually decided to eliminate the position due to cost (i.e. this is a layoff) but they either said it was due to attendance to avoid the professional expectations that come with a layoff, or possibly your daughter misunderstood the attendance situation?

      If it is a layoff it’s much more normal to expect people to finish out a certain schedule, it also gives those who are being laid off time to job-hunt.

      1. Michelle*

        I should have been clearer since so many are asking this. They had hired a bunch of seasonal employees, promised that high performers would be made permanent, and then let them all go at the same time while pretending each one had done something wrong instead of admitting they didn’t intend to keep anyone.

    5. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Tell her to quit. This is bizarre all the way around. Generally quitting allows for re-hire but a firing would not. That alone is strange. There’s a real cruel streak here with the “can’t compose yourself” shit and with the GM smiling at her. It really seems more like a boyfriend treating his girlfriend badly until she breaks up with him.

      1. Michelle*

        One thing I forgot to mention is that my daughter had heard this was coming, and her manager specifically re-assured her that she specifically would not be let go. She could have been job-hunting all this time.

    6. Michelle*

      So, it seems like people are saying it’s not strange after a layoff to continue working. It must just be the field my husband works in (and I used to work in — I’m a SAHM now), where it was unheard of. It’s a technical field, where access is always cut off immediately, because anyone upset about being let go could do serious damage.

    7. Hunnybee*

      There are some states that have really clear guidelines around firing and last days and payments. It might be worth it to have an informational call with an employment attorney near you and see if you can discuss the matter on a contingency basis. I know these things vary from state to state, but it doesn’t sound *legal*.

      1. WellRed*

        What exactly doesn’t sound legal to you? She was seasonal, they are letting her go. They’re being shirty about it but they have no obligation to keep her on.

        1. Hunnybee*

          …laying someone off and making them continue to work doesn’t sound legal. Not the laying seasonal workers off thing, I totally get that. : ) Been there.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            They can’t force her to work. They can mark her ineligible for rehire. I don’t know exactly how the UI would work, but she might not get UI for the remaining two weeks but be eligible after (I’d contact the office to find out first). If you give two weeks notice, and they ask you to leave immediately, you can sometimes collect UI for those two weeks, for example.

    8. CatCat*

      Having people work until a later date though they’re told their job has been axed by that later date is a Thing That’s Done, but pretty much ALWAYS demoralizing. They won’t get her best work and nor should they.

    9. Suprisingly ADHD*

      Unfortunately, this isn’t a new thing. It’s pretty much word-for-word what happened to me in 2014 at the Big Red Circle. The same spiel about how the good workers would stay on after the holidays, then all the seasonals laid off mid-January “the shifts you have scheduled now will be your last ones.” My direct managers liked me and my work, but the higher-ups were in charge of hiring and layoffs. It’s just one more example of the crappy way retail treats their employees. (Oh the stories I could tell).

    10. Lauren*

      In retail, I’ve never heard of being made ineligible for rehire due to quitting. I managed a retail store in college and we employed people who had been rehired after quitting about five times; I rehired a kid 30 days after he quit. This sounds like a terrible management team who don’t know what they’re doing and may possibly be using scare tactics to make sure they have coverage for the next two weeks. Even if this company doesn’t rehire former employees who quit (…seriously, that doesn’t make any sense, because then they’re either not rehiring ANYONE or only rehiring people they’ve actively terminated?), does your daughter really want to go back and work for them again?

    11. AnotherLibrarian*

      This is certainly sleazy, but if you’re a seasonal employee I think it doesn’t matter how many promises you get from your manager- you should be job hunting. Trust, but cover your ass, is basically the rule of thumb when it comes to this sort of thing and I’ve seen it both in retail and in grant funded Uni positions. Expecting her to keep working is not surprising, because it they are treating it like a lay off or a non-contract renewal rather than a firing. Is the employer being cruddy? Oh heck yeah, and that sucks, but seasonal jobs are like that sadly. The fickle nature of promises from managers in retail is one of the worst lessons to have to learn and I am sorry your daughter is going through this.

    12. Worker bee*

      That’s common with seasonal employees, but they could have handled it better. I was a seasonal employee and was aware I’d be let go at some point, so it wasn’t a surprise when I was given an end date. It didn’t affect me getting unemployment benefits and I was asked to come back earlier than they typically rehired people, so I hadn’t found another job yet. They asked me to be a permanent full time employee about 6 months later.

      At my company, we have a limited number of positions where we could put people during our slow times and I could see her manager wanting to do that for her, but be overruled. I do think it’s odd that they gave everyone a different reason for being let go, though. Also, I’m not sure if new employees aren’t understanding the situation, but when I’ve overheard conversations, I let them know that it’s a seasonal position and they might be laid off, so they need to clarify with their manager so they are prepared for that.

      If I were her, I’d ask her manager or HR for any paperwork she needs to file unemployment, work her two weeks, and look for a job.

      And as an aside, I don’t think this as horrible as you are perceiving it to be, since they at least let her know an end date. Many years ago, I was working seasonal at a bookstore and was the only seasonal employee left. One of the mangers told me that they generally try to keep one seasonal employee as a permanent one and I was a moron and thought it was me, since everyone else had been laid off the month before. The schedule for the next two weeks was posted this particular day and I was too busy to look at it when I clocked in, so I looked it on my evening break and noticed I wasn’t on it.

      That apparently was my last day and the SM, who leaves early on that day, didn’t bother to tell me or any of the managers, so it was a surprise to all of us. The ASM called her to ask and was told that she doesn’t like confrontation and that she assumed I’d “figure it out” when I wasn’t on the schedule. It was a terrible way to find out I was out of a job.

  47. Stressed Out Temp*

    I would love some feedback on how to handle bowing out of a temp assignment early without burning bridges.

    For background, I’ve been working for the internal temp agency for a hospital system for around a year, mostly doing admin work for covid vaccination and testing. Most of these assignments are per diem and allocated through weekly shift bidding, and I would typically pick up 3 or 4 shifts a week because I also freelance in the arts and part-time works better for me.

    In early December, I was offered a long term (at least 2 or 3 months, possibly more) PCR testing center assignment by an on-site manager “Gemma” who I had a positive relationship with. After some uncertainty the assignment ended up being 5 days a week, which I was unhappy about, but I figured I would try it due to the other benefits (short days, easy commute, guaranteed shifts, low patient volume, chill environment where I already knew how things worked).

    Then a week later…omicron hit and everything changed. I now do 10+ hour shifts 5 days a week, process hundreds of patients each day, frequently get verbally abused said patients, deal with short staffing because all my coworkers are getting covid, you can imagine! It’s chaotic, exhausting, and I’m stressed to my limit. All I do when I go home is sleep, and I’ve halted my art freelance work because I have no energy to do it and frankly I’m not doing good in the mental health department.

    Problem: I just got an unexpected offer of an absolute dream long term art freelance project. To actually have time to do it, I’ll need to go down to 3 or 4 shifts a week with the staffing agency again, especially considering the stress omicron is causing.

    So…does anyone have any ideas on how I should word this to the staffing agency? Is it okay to lean on the freelance offer as the reason my schedule has to change (I’ve always gotten the advice that I should downplay my art freelance to my “day jobs”)? Should I mention anything about how I’ve been a really good sport about all the schedule changes, covering for call outs, so on regarding this assignment so maybe they’ll give me a little more grace? Up until this point I really enjoyed this job at the staffing agency, and valued the good relationships I was building with the staffing specialists and on-site managers like “Gemma”, and was hoping for a permanent job in the future, especially because frankly this pays way better than art ever will. So I’m absolutely terrified I’m about to blow up all that good will by dropping out of this assignment prematurely, but something really has to give here.

    1. Lady Glittersparkles*

      I would hope they’d be grateful that you aren’t leaving entirely given the working conditions, but I know employers don’t always think that way, especially under stress.
      As far as reasons go, I don’t think you have to justify yourself – if it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work for you. If you’d feel better explaining though, I think that your opportunity and the stressful nature of that assignment are both good reasons to end it!

  48. Gnome*

    I was wondering if this has happened to anyone else and if there’s any advice. I work in a technical area (think science/engineering/etc). I have never had a technical mentor… I’ve always had to figure stuff out for myself or learn from coworkers. I interviewed for a position in my company that would be a lateral, but on a team with a junior, mid, and senior person. I was to be the mid-level. I was most excited about the chance to have someone with more experience in an area help guide me (think changing from teapot engineer to spout specialist) in an area I’m not as strong in. Then after I transferred, the senior position got changed and it’s now management… So I’m the senior technical person (the senior person has a different background entirely).

    I still like the work ok, but several months in, I’m just having trouble getting motivated to dig into stuff that’s “learn and do” all the time.

    Any thoughts or suggestions on the situation?

    1. Arctic tern*

      I am in biotech R&D and it is quite normal for senior roles (like PhD-level or masters and 5+ years of experience). Especially in smaller companies. You may get more technical mentorship in large companies, but it depends on the role. In many cases, in senior technical role, ability to dig into stuff without guidance is the core part of the job. But again, it is hard to say without knowing your industry and your company’s structure.
      I work in a smallish company (50 employees, 10 of which are R&D department) and I am the only person with the expertise in a certain area and was specifically hired to do research and development in this area. So there are no one who can provide technical mentorship to me. One possibility is to use your personal network outside of the company or ask technical questions on professional forums, but I am not allowed to do that because my employer is very strict about confidentiality and non-disclosure. So google is my best friend, I’m learning on my own all the time.

  49. Stuckinthemiddle*

    I’m one of those people. I can keep a secret. Others confide in me. And the two currently confiding in me are my Boss and my Grand Boss, moaning constantly to me ABOUT EACH OTHER! These conversations (mostly by phone) are happening every day at this point for about 15/20 minutes each. Grand Boss has asked Boss to do something, Boss doesn’t have capacity and Grand Boss doesn’t understand, Boss needs to make time for the task. Endless variations on similar themes and both annoyed with each other.
    I’ve tried politely cutting conversations short. I’ve tried saying Boss/Grand Boss you need to sit down with each other and have a proper conversation. I’ve tried saying Grand Boss/Boss look this is making me really uncomfortable. No effect.
    It’s wildly inappropriate and it’s cutting into my own work! Any ideas?

    1. Kathenus*

      It may not be something you are comfortable with but maybe the time has come to for directly cut off the conversations versus doing it politely. I don’t mean being rude, but come up with a script along the lines of ‘I’m not comfortable hearing about your work relationship with Boss/Grand Boss’ – then redirect to work topic, repeat if they keep trying, go off to do another task etc – and rinse and repeat as needed. If it’s consistent, every time, they may finally stop. But I get how awkward the situation is – as professionally as you can (due to the power dynamic issues) return awkward to sender consistently, every time, and hopefully they’ll stop.

    2. Jaybee*

      It sounds like you’ve tried all the usual, polite approaches. It may be time to get firm. “I have to finish this [project/report/whatever], so I can’t really chat about [boss] right now.” “Like I said before, I’m not an appropriate audience for this. Was there anything related to my work we needed to discuss?” Etc.

      I hate to say it but if it continues it may be time to loop in HR if they still ‘don’t get it’. They’re putting you in a really impossible position here and given it’s your boss and grand-boss doing it, you don’t have anyone on your side.

      1. Stuckinthemiddle*

        Thanks to you both, yes I think it is time to be firmer. @Jaybee your response however made me realise just how disfunctional this situation is – we are part of the HR team and Grand Boss heads it up. Food for thought eh?

    3. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I used to say to my boss, this does not sound like something I need to know.
      It took a few times, but she sort of spluttered and finally stopped over-confiding in me.

  50. Ace in the Hole*

    Hi all! In a comment yesterday I mentioned I was a garbage worker, along with a list of gross stuff I’ve been splashed with at work (including but not limited to: dead rats, garbage juice, rotting clams, and other people’s blood). Apparently I piqued a few folk’s interest in the garbage career route. Marillenbaum asked if I could post a bit more about it on a Friday thread, so…. here we go!

    Please feel free to ask me questions, I will answer to the best of my ability.

    I work at a transfer station (aka “garbage dump”) in a rural part of California. Garbage/solid waste is quite variable depending on region because of regulatory requirements and local conditions. My facility takes garbage from both commercial trucks and residents dropping off their own trash. We also have dedicated programs for accepting and managing recyclables, compostable green waste, and hazardous wastes. Everything we accept is loaded onto semi trucks and shipped to other facilities for it’s final disposal, whatever that may be: green waste goes to a composting company, garbage to landfills, etc.

    Some stuff about me and the job:

    – I like my job. In my area, it pays pretty well… it’s a good stable career you can get into with zero education, even with a criminal record. We have stable schedules, some of the best benefits in the county, possibilities for advancement, and salary that’s enough to support a family (although not extravagently). However this depends a lot on where you are – in some places, garbage workers are poorly compensated for difficult, dangerous work.

    – I’ve worked in garbage for over a decade. In that time I’ve worked in general labor (mostly sorting recyclables, with a bit of operating heavy equipment, maintenance work, etc), hazardous waste collection and management, internal emergency response, and safety/environmental compliance.

    – Garbage is DANGEROUS! It’s the 5th most deadly job in the US, more dangerous than ironwork, firefighting, and power linemen. My facility has a great safety record, but it takes a lot of work to keep it that way.

    – It’s a very male-dominated industry… 99% of garbage workers in the US are men. I’m part of the 1%. What’s interesting is how this disparity exists in spite of many organizations actively trying to recruit and retain women. I’ve seen this at play in my own org, even during times when we had a woman in charge of the company. I have lots of thoughts about institutional sexism, but it’s too much to fit into one comment.

    – We see all kinds of things. If you can imagine it, someone’s thrown it away. If you can’t imagine it, someone probably still threw it away. I’ve seen everything from piles of drugs to a first-generation platelet counting machine. And yes, a lot of what gets thrown away is still in great condition… many areas are currently trying to create diversion programs to keep useful items out of landfills, but we’re not there yet.

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      This is fascinating. Thank you for sharing!

      What makes it so dangerous? Is it more about human possibility for error, proximity to machines, safety issues with the things that have been thrown away? Is there anything the general public can do to make it safer?

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        The biggest hazard of the job is human-machine or human-vehicle contact. Most fatalities and major injuries happen when a worker is hit by traffic on their collection route, or when a worker at a transfer station is hit by heavy equipment.

        Second biggest hazard is the materials that are thrown away. We’ve had to evacuate our facility several times due to chemical spills that left employees with burning eyes/lungs. Items like batteries, household chemicals, and propane cylinders can cause fires or explosions. Battery fires are particularly common. Another common dangerous item is medical sharps (used hypodermic needles) that are improperly disposed of – a needle will go right through most materials including puncture-resistant gloves.

        Other hazards include things like back/joint injuries from lifting, slips and falls, getting hit with flying debris, etc.

        As far as what the general public can do to make it safer:

        – Support increased regulation and enforcement of occupational safety! This is the biggest one. According to ALF-CIO, over the last 50 years OSHA has saved over 600,000 lives.

        – Ask your local waste services what materials should not go in the trash… then follow those rules even if it’s inconvenient. If you aren’t sure about a particular item, call before you dump. Practices are variable depending on what type of equipment/procedures are used in waste handling, so if you move to a new area don’t assume they can take the same materials.

        – Never put batteries in the trash. They can and do start fires. If your jurisdiction doesn’t have a dedicated battery recycling program, ask them to start one. In the meantime there are a number of mail-in services that will send you a pre-paid box to ship your batteries in.

        – Be courteous and cautious driving around garbage truck drivers! Give them space, stay alert, and don’t speed.

        – Let your local jurisdiction know you approve of rate increases if it means better conditions for workers. Usually a municipality will contract with a private company for trash service. There’s often pressure from constituents to keep rates low, which comes at the expense of safety

        1. the cat's ass*

          Thank you for sharing this, I really appreciate it, and will be tipping my garbage workers even more next holiday!

    2. English Rose*

      So glad you posted this update, it’s really interesting. You could write a book about your experiences I bet! I’m very pleased to hear you have stable schedules and great benefits. But wow, more dangerous than all those!
      Talking about what people throw away, here in the UK, I live in an apartment block where we have a communal garbage room. People leave all kinds of things to be thrown out. From the garbage room I have so far scored for free: a lovely rattan side table which just needed one loose piece gluing down, a solid oak picture frame with broken glass which I had re-glazed for a few pounds, and a small wooden bookcase which I painted!

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        It’s awesome you “rescued” all of those from the trash! My area has a tradition of leaving stuff out on the sidewalk for free if it’s still good. People usually set it out a few days before trash pickup so neighbors have time to look it over… that’s how I furnished my entire first apartment.

        I once saw a transfer station with an amazing setup. On the way in, before getting your trash weighed (we pay by weight for drop-off), they had a donation center to take items that were still good. Since it was right on the way tons of people donated. I saw them accept everything from clothes to furniture to potted plants. They donated some to local charities and resold the rest at a thrift store to fund the program.

        1. Angstrom*

          A lot of the small-own transfer stations in my area have a setup for passing on usable unwanted items — everything from a simple “share table” to an enclosed structure with bookshelves.

        2. Picard*

          This is effin’ brilliant! Our HOA doesnt allow curbside garbage so having this sort of set up at the dump would be very cool!

        3. pancakes*

          The student-run coffee shop at my college was furnished entirely with furniture recovered from the sidewalk. Fortunately this was before bedbug epidemics were common!

        4. GoryDetails*

          Our transfer station used to have a swap shed – and very popular it was. (I scored some amazing books there!) But, alas, some folks just won’t let everyone else have nice things – there was a posted “20 minutes” time limit on parking there, to keep people from standing guard all day and nabbing the choicest bits, but the landfill didn’t have the budget for security and there were folks who not only ignored the time limit but got aggressive, shouldering other people away when anything really choice showed up. (I actually saw near-fisticuffs over some aluminum shower-door edging that *I’d* dropped off – who knew the resale value was worth assault and battery?) The landfill eventually closed the shed due to all of this. Sigh.

          1. Ace in the Hole*

            This is exactly the problem we’ve had. Without the staff and budget to keep someone there at all times, it gets out of hand fast. Plus a lot of people will dump actual garbage there to avoid paying disposal fees.

    3. After 33 years ...*

      Thank you for this! Has COVID made any difference in the amounts or types of garbage you’re seeing?

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        That’s an interesting question! Early in the pandemic there wasn’t a difference in the amount or type per se, but we had a LOT more “self haul” – residents bringing in their own garbage. That meant more people per ton of garbage, so our facility got very crowded with lines down the block most days. I think some of that was because people were at home more, so the ratio of commercial to residential shifted… But some of it seemed to be that people were bored on lockdown and we were one of the few places open.

        Covid has had a lot of other impacts on our work though. We’ve had to permanently stop running one very popular program because of regulatory challenges, safety concerns, and labor shortages. It’s been gone for two years and people still call us daily to yell about the decision.

        1. After 33 years ...*

          Thank you for that! For us, going to the landfill has become a regular Saturday morning date !

    4. 867-5309*

      When reading your note about the 99/1 gender disparity, it reminded me of the Parks & Rec episode where the sanitation department refused to hire women because the men believed they could not do the job.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        I haven’t seen Parks & Rec, but sadly that sounds accurate for some places. Some guys just can’t imagine a woman keeping up in a dirty physical job.

        Even when a place doesn’t deliberately discriminate like that, it’s hard to fix the disparity. A lot of times they’ll have work practices that are (unintentionally) burdensome on women, like truck routes with inadequate bathroom breaks. Guys can and do pee in bottles… not really an option for women, not to mention periods. Or their equipment is not sized to fit the average woman – I have trouble finding safety gear small enough for my petite coworkers, and that’s even though I am aware of the issue and actively working to fix it.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        Hard to say… probably a live bat in a bucket of motor oil. We were able to save the bat and take it to a wildlife sanctuary.

    5. Suprisingly ADHD*

      Something I’ve always wondered: I know chemicals and hazardous materials cause serious damage to garbage workers (and the environment). How can people dispose of them if their local waste disposal doesn’t handle it? Or if the label isn’t readable? How does your workplace handle materials that shouldn’t be there?

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        Ooh… hazmat is my pet project, but unfortunately it’s difficult to answer. Each state has different regulations. The best thing is to buy only as much product as you will completely use up. Of course that’s easier said than done, especially if you’re dealing with a backlog of stuff.

        My agency actually runs the local household hazardous waste program as well as trash. We have a dedicated building on site that’s open to the public for free hazardous waste drop off during most of our open hours. If we catch prohibited materials before the customer leaves, we’ll reject them and direct the customer to the hazmat building for proper disposal. If we find it after the fact, we drum it up ourselves. For us, it doesn’t matter if the label is readable or not. We have technicians (myself included) trained to identify mystery chemicals, along with spill response.

        The catch is (like you mentioned) not everywhere has a disposal program, and even if they do not all materials can be accepted. For example our permit prohibits us from handling explosives so we can’t help with stuff like fireworks or ammunition. If we find those we have to call law enforcement to handle it.

        Things to do:
        1. Check if you have a local household hazardous waste (HHW) program. They’re often poorly advertised. It might have limited hours and/or be a series of one-day collection events. Ask your garbage company, if they don’t know check with your city/county government.

        2. Call your local police, fire, and environmental health departments for advice on specific materials, especially explosives, controlled substances, and things illegally dumped on your property.

        3. Check if the manufacturer has instructions for safe disposal. Some products can be neutralized, hardened, diluted, etc. so they are no longer hazardous.

        4. ask your garbage company for disposal guidelines. You can also check with your local wastewater treatment plant about whether it’s safe to put something down the drain.

    6. JustaTech*

      Ooh, I have a question!
      Do you do your own radiation surveys of the solid waste, or does someone from another government department or outside company do that?

      I ask because my cat just had radiation treatment (she’s fine) and we were told we must keep all of her very lightly radioactive poos for 80 days (through a couple of half-lifes) so that it doesn’t set off the alarms at the waste facility and so we don’t get a great big fine.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        We don’t do radiation surveys… I think the receiving landfill does though. As far as I know we’ve never had a load come up hot!

        Glad to hear your kitty is okay.

    7. Marillenbaum*

      Oh my gosh, thank you so much for remembering! What made you decide to go into this career, and given the massive gender disparity, what has made you decide to stay?

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        No prob, I was just surprised to see so much interest! Sorry I missed your question yesterday, I’m going to answer in two replies since the answers to each are a bit long :)

        What made me decide to go into this career:

        It was sort of an accident. I had recently gotten HazWOPER training for some volunteer work I was doing around an oil spill. When I was looking for a side gig to pick up some extra cash, I saw an add for extra-help workers with hazwoper certification. I applied because the schedule worked and pay was almost twice any other job I could find at the time. Not many people have that training, so they hired anyone who applied.

        While I was working there part time I got to know the people and found it to be a respectful, stable environment with a nice variety of physical and mental work. I’m easily bored so a job that keeps me on my toes is vital. The compensation was better than most other jobs I could find, especially time off and health care, but more importantly I saw that they actually respected the workers. We had autonomy in doing our jobs, and actual trust/support from management. WAY different than the retail and food service world I was used to! So when a full time position opened up I applied and I’ve been here ever since.

      2. Ace in the Hole*

        Part 2: what made me decide to stay, given the gender disparity?

        Woof. That’s a complicated question. I think answering it requires addressing why the gender disparity exists/persists and why it hasn’t impacted me as much as others. The short version is that I haven’t personally been harmed by it. This is a sensitive topic, so please know that nothing I’m about to say is meant to disparage the women who decide not to stay, no matter what their reasons are for leaving.

        Before even touching issues on the job, a huge reason for the disparity is that women don’t apply. There are a ton of reasons ranging from historic discrimination to current childcare shortages. My org has hired every woman that’s applied in the past 6 years. All…. three of us. Yikes. In the last hiring cycle we had about 10 men apply and only 1 woman, which was exciting because normally there are 0 women applicants.

        On the job:

        First, there’s the physical issues. This is a very physical line of work that involves a lot of lifting, operating equipment, using tools, etc. Unfortunately the tools and equipment available literally don’t fit most women. This is a very hard problem to solve… I’m in charge of ordering certain supplies and even when I look really hard I can’t find something suitable that will accommodate the average woman’s proportions, much less a petite woman. Badly-fitting equipment makes the work more difficult, more uncomfortable, and more dangerous. On top of that, since women are (on average) much smaller, the lifting is much more arduous for the average woman. It means that to lift the same amount, a woman is on average moving 30-50% more proportional to her own size. That’s a LOT. I’m quite large for a woman – about average height for a man. Gear made for men usually fits me okay. I have hands and feet large enough to fit men’s shoes and gloves, and I’m bulky/muscular enough that my size doesn’t work against me when moving heavy objects. So I don’t experience the physical challenges many women do.

        Second, is institutional practices that are more burdensome to women. In my experience, these are more common for route drivers – things like insufficient bathroom access, for example. My org doesn’t have any practices that are notably burdensome on women (at least not that I’ve noticed).

        Third, is harassment and sexism from individuals (as opposed to institutional practices). Many male-dominated workplaces are hostile to women. I was very lucky that the men I worked with when I was new were generally allies. I experienced some minor hazing from one dude, but that seemed to be more because I was the NEW girl than because I was the new GIRL. Coworkers and managers treated me the same as the men I worked with, with the same opportunities and the same respect. I think this may have been influenced by my somewhat masculine presentation – I tend to dress, talk, and use body language that reads very androgynous. Female coworkers with a more feminine presentation have told me they experienced more sexism (and yes, I feel gross typing this because women should not have to “act manly” to ward off sexism). There was more harassment from customers than I’ve had in other jobs, but I always felt that my colleagues were supportive and that management allowed me the agency to respond however I felt was most appropriate even if it upset the customer.

        Finally… representation and advancement. Who wants to stay in a career if they literally can’t see a future for people like themselves? Lucky for me, my very first supervisor was a woman and a great mentor. Even after she left, my (male) supervisors were great about recognizing my strengths and helping me grow professionally. I’ve gotten consistent promotions, increasing responsibility, and good professional development. Without that I’m sure I’d have gotten bored and discouraged by now, and probably would have left for greener pastures.

    8. GoryDetails*

      Thanks so much for posting! I definitely respect the folks who haul away The Stuff – and I do try to follow the rules about safety. (I also have a compost heap, so my trash has almost nothing “rottable” in it anymore.)

    9. Cora*

      So, I don’t know if you’re still checking this, Ace, but I am thinking about this all day – is there any way I could send you an email to keep discussing this? I’m a fiction writer and this seems like such a good setting for a mystery. It might go nowhere – but if it ever did, I’d love a way to be in touch. My email is Coragyps01 (at) gmail (dot) com. That’s a zero after the S.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        Oh that sounds like an interesting story premise, I’d love to read it if you decide to do that! I’ll send you an email.

    10. Speaks to Dragonflies*

      I just want to say thank you for doing what you do. It’s one of those jobs that needs to be done to help keep civilization civil, but most people don’t think much about it. So a big THANK YOU, from one nasty job having person to another.

      1. Nana*

        For anyone else reading WAY after the fact…within the past ten years, someone did write a non-fiction book about garbage collection, after spending months job-shadowing. Her premise was that garbage collection enabled the growth of civilized cities. Without regular garbage collection and disposal, people had to live in proximity to dangerous trash and Stuff.
        Sorry, no memory of the title…it was reviewed in “Slate”

  51. Albeira Dawn*

    Extremely Niche Question Corner:
    (1) An update from last week’s CAD/plan mark up question: I got a Wacom Intuos tablet on sale from Best Buy and convinced the IT department to let me download Bluebeam Revu and folks, this is exactly what I was hoping for. I can mark up PDFs like nobody’s business, it feels very natural, and it’s quick. Highly recommend.
    (2) In the long term, I’d like to run for local office, like a city or council commissioner and maybe eventually state legislator. I’m passionate about making change and improving my community. I do wonder, though, how people keep their day jobs? Especially because these local (and state, sometimes) government offices don’t pay nearly enough to keep a roof over your head and food on your table. (My local county commissioners get paid about $25,000 a year, while the average 1-bedroom rents for about $1,800 and a 3-bedroom house is at least $400,000.) I saw a local politician on Twitter mention that she hasn’t been able to contribute to a 401k for years. I was wondering how to start planning for that — if anyone has experience with this or maybe has read a book talking about these kind of details, I’m all ears!

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      You might get your feet wet by getting on some volunteer boards – which are official government things that probably don’t require running for office. Opportunities and duties depend on the population of your locality, but even in a big city there are probably things like neighborhood advisory boards.

      This kind of thing will put you in proximity to elected officials, and you’ll be able to find out whether they can do those jobs in 2 nights a week while holding down a regular 9-5 job, or whether they really are taking a significant hit to their income. (I would discount the local politician posting on Twitter because you don’t know kind of agenda she has around the issue).

      My neighbor is on the planning commission for our ~8000 resident town, and he’s gotten to know the city manager, the mayor and council, and their counterparts in nearby townships and cities. He has one meeting a month – evening or Saturday, and then maybe spends another 8 hours a month doing solo work like reading reports and communicating with the county zoning board.

  52. Rara Avis*

    We have been talking about/forming committees on/dancing around a major operational change for 3 years. (It was going to happen last year but my grandboss overruled my boss on the grounds that there was too much else going on. (You know, Covid, building the airplane while flying it, a physical move of the entire division.) Doing things this new way really requires training to do it well (or so I read/hear), but my boss keeps doubling down on the idea that we are all so fabulous that he could institute the change tomorrow and we’d all do fine and not do any disservice to our clients. I and other committee members have asked for appropriate training; my supervisor and others on her level have also pushed back; but we had a meeting this week and another next week where we were asked to figure it out for ourselves. So I’m not confident that we will get any real training.

    On top of that issue, we just received an email reminding us of all the tasks required for a major due date coming up next Wednesday. It ended with a cheery encouragement to have a relaxing long weekend and do something for the Day of Service on Monday. Given the approaching due date next week, I imagine I’m not the only one who will be working all weekend. The program we use to do this major task went down for a week last week under a malware attack; we aren’t able to access some of the information we need until later today (maybe) but we need to do extra things with the information due to Covid; I just found the email to be extremely tone-deaf given how much work we all have on our plates this week in particular.

    The question: I’m not sure I want to point out the issue to my boss directly, given how often I have been pushing back on the operational change issue. Is it out of line to talk to his VP? She was a personal friend before she was promoted, and I’m pretty comfortable bringing things to her, but it feels a little weird to ask her to tell him how the email was received.

  53. Kristinemc*

    I wonder if anyone has dealt with the logistics of this – we are working on an employee manual, and my leadership team would like to limit vacation – you can accrue it as soon as you start, but you cannot use it for the first six months.

    However, we also have a use it or lose it vacation policy, so it cannot roll over.

    Has anyone dealt with this? It seems like it would be a nightmare to track, even with an HRIS system. If they start August 1st, do they simply lose five months of vacation because they aren’t eligible to use it before the end of year? Or do you somehow roll it over and track that separately from the other vacation?

    1. 867-5309*

      I cannot speak to the tracking but… six months seems excessive. I’ve seen the first 90 days but even then, to your point, if they accrue starting October 1 then it is unfair for a new hire to lose it.

      In most places I’ve worked that use an accural model, you can use your vacation as soon as you start accruing it but you cannot “borrow against” (e.g., take a one week vacation when only one day is available) until after your 90 days.

    2. Anonymous Hippo*

      Can you push back against that policy? It’s awfully restrictive to limit the use of vacation on both ends like that…makes if seem like the company would just as soon you not have vacation. It’s one thing to not use until accrued (which I also disagree with) but 6 months is crazy.

      Logistically, everywhere I’ve worked bases starting vacation on when you start. So if you position is 2 weeks, and you start July 1st, you’d only be eligible for 1 week that year.

      1. Anonymous Hippo*

        But coupled with the 6 months restriction, yeah, I think they just wouldn’t get any vacation that first year.

      2. Kristinemc*

        I can push back against it, and I plan on trying to figure out what they want to accomplish with it, and see if we can work something else out. 6 months is a very long time, and if I was told I couldn’t take any time off for the first six months, it would discourage me from taking the job.

        I think rather than losing it, they would simply get to carry it over to the next year – but it would not be fun to track that manually.

        We already prorate the vacation based on start date – since it accrues per pay period, they won’t accrue more than a week, say, if they start July 1st.

        1. JustaTech*

          At least for tracking manually, can you check and see if your payroll system can do the roll over for you? I’ve been helping my in-laws with updating their employee handbook and vacation/sick time stuff and I’m pretty sure their very basic software has an option to do calendar-year rollover.

          1. Kristinemc*

            Yes – I know they can do a roll over, but since we currently don’t have a roll over, so we’d have to set up a second PTO plan, and I’d have to remember to change it for each person.. but I will check with them.

      3. Paris Geller*


        I work for city government, and every job I’ve had limits no vacation in the first 6 months (though I agree for other industries that’s quite a long time–I think 60 or 90 days is much more reasonable), but you can’t take it for 6 months AND use it or lose it? That’s. . . not a good deal. That would be a dealbreaker if I was job searching tbh.

    3. Squidhead*

      My employer (a large hospital) tracks everyone by their start date, not the calendar year. We begin to accrue vacation on day 1 but it doesn’t show up in our “bank” until 6 months in. It would probably be a huge change for you to switch from a calendar-year system to an anniversary-year system, but since the system was already running at my work before I got there, it seems pretty logical. We do also have lots of other things tied to our anniversary dates too, like manager evaluations and our contractual annual raise, so no one expects to be on the exact same timeline as their coworkers anyway.

      1. Kristinemc*

        This policy definitely looks like that, I agree. I don’t think that is truly what is happening here – I am not sure if there is a specific issue they are trying to solve with this that I am unaware of, but they are normally pretty good about giving time off!

    4. Elle Woods*

      In one of my previous jobs, they had a similar policy: you start accruing vacation as soon as you’re hired. The caveat was that you couldn’t use any of it for six full calendar months. If you started on the 1st of the month, that actually meant you couldn’t take vacation for seven months! And, like your example, if you started in the second half of the year and cannot roll it over, you lost vacation time altogether. It was a complete nightmare to track, even with the HRIS system.

      Frankly, it was demoralizing to not be able to take even one single vacation day off for that length of time.

    5. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Most places I worked started vacation and other PTO accrual in the first full month of working. I don’t remember how soon we could use it, but the usual rule was it could roll over for one year, unlike sick days, which had an indefinite accrual. So vacation was use it or lose it every other year from point of hire, and sick time was rollover any days left plus get new accrued days each year.

    6. AcademiaNut*

      So half of your new hires are going to get no vacation in their first 1-6 months (depending on when they start), and only after that will start accruing it. So someone starting Jul 2 will have no vacation for six months, and at that point they’ll still have no vacation accrued. If you, say, give 12 days vacation a year, they’ll have been at the job nearly a year before they can take a week off.

      I hope that’s a nightmare for the employer! That way they can suffer a bit with their employees.

      A better system – limit vacation for a much shorter period – no vacation for a month or two while training is more reasonable. Once the training is over, the accrued vacation appears. Allow people to roll over up to a year of vacation (or half a year, if you have generous leave), so that they have the ability to do radical things like take a vacation in January. That, or after the first year front load the vacation in January, so they can use it if they want.

      I do think that this is a vacation policy that’s going to drive away good candidates, if they have better options.

      1. Kristinemc*

        It would be a nightmare for me to track, probably not for my employer. :) But I do understand what you’re saying!

        This is a draft of a manual from a few years ago, so I am hopeful that the current job market will encourage them to drop it. This is definitely something that would make me take a second look at taking a job – vacation is so important!

        I hope I can convince them to drop this entirely, but if not, to limit the amount of time – maybe 60 or 90 days, but six months is a really long time. And I think we’d have to let people roll over vacation for their first year.

  54. Gnome*

    Hopefully this doesn’t double post… I’m having tech issues…

    I interviewed for a transfer position in my company. What I liked most was that it was going to be a team with a junior, mid, and senior person – I was to be the mid-level person. I’m in a technical area (think engineering/STEM type stuff) and I’ve always been more or less on my own, the sole teapot engineer in a team, so I’ve done a lot of self teaching/growth. I was glad to have somebody to work with senior to me in this area I’m not as strong in, say going from general teapot engineering to working specifically in spout design aspect). I transfer and the senior position is switched to a management position. The person hired into it has no teapot engineering experience, so I’m the senior technical person on the team.

    I still like the work ok, but I’m struggling to stay motivated in the “learn and do” AGAIN… and also working with a entry-level spout designer trying to bring them up. I’m capable and doing good work, so that’s not the issue… it’s just… the thing I was most looking forward to is gone and it’s kinda leaving me feeling “blah.” Anyone have similar experience? Advice?

    1. 867-5309*

      Do you want to stay on the technical path or move into managing? If the latter, can you view this as a step toward that path?

      1. Gnome*

        I actually moved to this position from a technical management position… I’m not horrible at that, but I want to grow my technical skills.. if I really want to manage, I’d need to do that anyway.

    2. TechGirlSupervisor*

      Are you me? That is exactly what happened to me a few years ago. I was supposed to be the “intermediate” teapot designer, with a “senior” designer. The entire project was estimated on that. Well, the senior designer was re-assigned to another project and instead we got a transfer from another office that was a junior designer. Which left me as the technical lead and supposed to train the new person in best design practices, etc. And management was somehow shocked and amazed that they couldn’t get the same level of work out the junior person as the senior person. A good senior designer can literally be equal to two juniors in my industry and not at double the pay. It was very frustrating. You have my sympathy.

      As for advice, what worked for me was essentially presenting the situation to project manager that we would have to do more prototyping and on-the-job training since the senior person is not around anymore. We got to do more of that sort of work up-front, which re-engaged my interest in doing the design work and it was satisfying to watch the junior designer start to get his feet under him as well. I also took it as the opportunity to take ownership of the design and experiment with some things I thought would work better, since I was now the senior person and the technical decisions fell into my lap.

      1. Gnome*

        Sorry, I am not you :)

        I have run projects before and we definitely have the time/resources to run this way…so at least there is that. I am getting to mentor more, which is nice, but I have been in my field for about a decade and have yet to have a technical mentor… And it’s starting to hold me back because, while I’m good enough to make it work, I can’t learn as much as quickly.

        I guess I’ll have to decide if I want to stay with the job as-is, at least for a while, and transfer, or go looking for greener pastures. Heck, I keep thinking about taking classes even, but that’s not feasible time-wise right now.

        Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone!

  55. Mary-Anne*

    I am no longer employed due to childcare instability. When I’m interviewing for new jobs, what is the best way to talk about this time period? I wasn’t fired, but there was basically an ongoing conversation with my manager where if I couldn’t get stable childcare (no more covid quarantines/sick days for minor symptoms), I’d be fired and therefore ineligible for rehire. I’m worried saying I quit for childcare reasons will make it look like I’m disorganized and also penalize me for being a mother, but it’s not like being fired sounds much better either. Thoughts? Advice?

    1. Kathenus*

      There are SO many people in the same boat as you including a dear friend of mine. People will understand, it is a very unfortunate but known, outcome of this pandemic. I truly think most employers would fully understand and not count this against you at all. Not to say there aren’t some a$$holes out there who might, but that’s an indication that they would probably not be great to work for anyway. Sorry you’re in this situation.

    2. Not A Manager*

      “Everything was up in the air for a while due to COVID. Now that things are more stable(!), I’m looking forward to this new employment opportunity.”

    3. Sloanicota*

      Especially if you are applying for remote or flexible jobs, this can be a REASON why their job is a perfect match for you. I have convinced my employer they are lucky to have me cheap because I need the flexibility (when in fact I was pretty desperate for a job). Since the issue of childcare is likely to be recurring these are the kind of jobs you might want right now anyway.

    4. J.B.*

      That sucks I’m sorry. I think your best bet may be if your field is hiring a lot right now to confront it head on as a childcare problem for which you need flexibility or part time and try to ramp back up later.

    5. Nesprin*

      Covid really threw a wrench in my work- up till then I’d been highly productive/responsible, and really looking for a role where I can use my skills in X again.

    6. Purple Cat*

      I would emphasize that your company wasn’t responsive to the changing needs of COVID, so you had to quit.
      It doesn’t necessarily spell out that “childcare issues” were the problem, but is still honest.

    7. Bex SF*

      Good managers and good companies will understand. And really, you probably don’t want to work for someone who doesn’t.

  56. This Old House*

    How do you get ahead at work when you can’t seem to get ahead? Since we got back after the New Year, we’ve had snow days, weather delays, daycare closures, I’ve had 2 doctor’s appointments, and had to take several hours sick time for random, unexpected pain. I have deadlines and the work needs to get done, but I’m just falling further and further behind, and the more overwhelming it gets the less I can bring myself to tackle things. It’s not that there’s too much work, it’s that I haven’t been there often enough to get it done for reasons mostly beyond my control. I have the sick and vacation time to accommodate the time away from the office, but it doesn’t take the work off my plate. And taking time off is not restful or restorative if you’re using it because you’re in too much pain to work, or have to go to difficult, emotional medical appointments. And it doesn’t help that I’m falling equally behind at home, and my house is falling apart at the seams, because after my kids go to sleep I’m trying to catch up on the work I missed until all hours of the night. It just feels like it never ends. Every minute away from my kids I have to spend on work or chores, every minute away from work I have to spend on my absolutely relentless kids.

    1. CrappyAnon*

      Pick 30 minutes. Spend 20 min on one task, take a 10 minute break. Do that once every night if you can. Keep a list of potential 20 min goals, then tell you brain I am not going to worry or focus on XYZ, it’s on the list, it will happen eventually. Also maybe triage the list – what if the house was just extra messy this month and we worry about it next month? What if we just ate a lot of grilled cheese and canned soup this month instead of agonizing over shopping, planning, meal prepping? More breaks seems counter intuitive, but you’re more productive in the long run if you are not functioning burnt out.

    2. Anonymous Hippo*

      I’ve found the father behind I am the more crucial adequate breaks are. You just can’t expect your brain to run at 110% constantly. You’ll actually start messing up and being more inefficient. One thing that helps me is before I go on a break, I make a plan for my next work segment…that way, when I come back, refreshed, I jump right in and don’t have to think about a lot, so I can knock out a good chuck of work…when I start needing a break again, I do a quick review again, make a new plan, then break and come back fresh again.

      Also, I’ve called my boss and wept and demanded he get me more help. I know that’s not a normal recommendation, but it worked. LOL

      1. WellRed*

        I think talking to the boss is needed at this point, at least to help you gain perspective on how far behind you think you are. Maybe you are putting unneeded pressure on yourself, maybe things can be pushed back. And I don’t mean to sound flippant but unless your job involves curing cancer or brokering world peace, STOP working all hours trying to catch up. If you damage your health, you won’t be helping anyone.

        1. JustaTech*

          As someone in the oncology space: even if you job *does* involve curing cancer, take a step back. Ask for help. Ask your boss to prioritize what *only you* can do that has to be done *right now*, and set everything else on the back burner. (Maybe your boss will see that there are some things that don’t need to be done at all.)

          As for home life, seconding CrappyAnon about easing back there too. I had like a whole year when I was in middle school where I ate mac’n’cheese or boxed stuffing or canned spagetteos at least 2-3 days a week, and I turned out a perfectly fine, vegetable eating adult. As long as everyone has clean underpants and the house is safe, try to let it be. (I don’t know if your kids are old/tall/capable enough to do some of the laundry or dishes without it being more work for you, but that might be a place to start.)

          1. This Old House*

            Definitely pulled dirty underwear out of the laundry for one kid yesterday, so perhaps there’s not much more we can let go . . .

    3. Camel whose back has broken*

      No advice, just commiseration. My family was just barely getting by in the fall. For months I was getting up in the middle of the night, because I was lying awake thinking about how behind at work I was so I figured to just get up and work on it. I had to make a rule for myself that I could get up no earlier than 5 AM so at least I would get *some* sleep and be able to think somewhat straight to actually get some of that work done.

      And then over the holidays, Omicron closed our day care. Three of our (wife’s and my) parents told us they have cancer. One of mine has already passed away from theirs. We’re too nervous to all fly for her funeral but my wife is asking her workplace if she can take bereavement leave anyways because she doesn’t think she can get any work done as a (temporarily) single parent with no day care.

  57. Scoffrio*

    Does anyone have any advice on starting a new job where your manager is also new? I’d love to get things set up so that it works for both of us right off the bat and would love any strategies or recommendations for things I should incorporate! I thought there was AAM guidance somewhere but I haven’t been able to find it.

    1. New Mom*

      The Management Center has a really helpful check-in doc that I’ve used with all managers and employees over the years. I think figure out how often you both need to meet. In my experience at least once a week is important, and to prioritize that time. You could also go over communication styles.

      1. Nonprofit Exec*

        I remember Alison saying a long time ago that she wrote that! (She worked there for years/maybe still does.)

    2. English Rose*

      Interesting, I’ve never been in that situation.
      I think I’d combine informal chats in which you can ask her about where she’s worked before and share some of your own work history with sharing some first impressions of your new workplace (assuming they’re generally positive), and maybe asking “have you met so and so/found out who deals with such and such here yet”. So it’s kind of friendly and collaborative ‘you two as a team’ stuff.
      And like with any new manager try to establish what their expectations are of you in terms while (politely) helping them understand how you like to be managed.

    3. Gnome*

      Well, in that position I would try to open a dialogue that covers stuff that’s important to you (and likely the manager).. Like, “I find I do really well with teapot reports if I have a day to set them aside before proofreading, can we make it a plan to build that into the schedule whenever possible?” Or “How do you prefer I handle Y when you are out of pocket and a deadline is coming up… I know I’ve had managers with vastly different preferences in the past.”

      This marks you as someone who is proactive, looking to do your best, and to work with others’ preferences. It also makes it more like your new manager will be comfortable telling you, “I’d like you to…” If something comes up because you are signalling that you are open to that information.

    4. OneTwoThree*

      In my last company, I was in your position. I realized too late that I had been doing things the way my manager wanted them done, not the way the rest of the company did them. No one told me I was the only one doing these things in an odd way. For example, the way I turned in time cards caused more work for me and those who approved them. It was my manager wanting to see a report of what I did every day. There would have been much easier ways to do that.

      I also trusted that she knew what she was talking about. I even had suspicions and would double-check things with her and believed her. For example, I was under the impression that if I hit x goal in sales, I’d receive $x commission. She was WAY wrong and I found out too late to save my paycheck.

      This is 75% because of her personality and my personality. I don’t want to freak you out. However, I wish I would have been more aware of the possibility.

  58. Cat Tree*

    A new temp started in my department, and I know him from a previous job. The thing is, I hated working with him. He is both lazy and incompetent. Honestly, I just outright dislike him as a person. I’m actually surprised he got this job because I didn’t think he has the qualifications, but the standards are somewhat lower for temps. (We have lots of great temps too who transition to permanent and it’s sort of like an extended paid interview, but there are occasionally some bad ones.)

    Anyway, I won’t be working directly with him but I am the SME for several things he’ll work on so I will likely help him learn those things. I know I have to be completely professional and let him stand or fall on his own merits. I won’t sacrifice my professional reputation to be outwardly petty to him. But I’m feeling petty inside!

    I guess I’m not looking for advice because I know I can’t do anything about it. Maybe some commiseration though?

    1. calonkat*

      Oh my sincere sympathies.

      Maybe reward yourself every time you restrain yourself?
      And remember, you only have to deal with him at work, he has to be himself 24/7. And he probably has family who have to deal with him frequently.

    2. Gnome*

      I will commiserate!

      I ended up managing a team with a person who displayed a serious lack of judgement about appropriate office conduct when I was their coworker (no details, too identifying) and in my personal direction…
      I was totally professional about them and their performance… Which totally sucked. They were eventually let go (person above me had authority, not me, but I helped it along because this was NOT the person you want doing the thing he was going to be doing if they stayed… Something akin working with hazardous materials). The petty part of me was glad to see them go, but my inner manager was sad I couldn’t make it work (but safety first, right?)… And I really did try, probably more than I would have if I hadn’t had a bad experience first.

      They just reached out to connect on LinkedIn. I am ignoring it.

    3. Policy Wonk*

      I’d recommend you document your interactions with him. Be positive – he may have improved – but keep a record of your dealings with him, including what you trained him on, so he can’t later say that he was never trained on it. I’m fond of e-mails to self, as that way you get date/time, but any record will help.

      Sending you commiseration…

  59. Identity Crisis*

    Can I ask the internet commentariat whether I’m just a mom with a baby in their 4mo sleep regression taking things personally due to exhaustion, or actually have grounds to give feedback to my manager?

    I came back from my 14 week maternity leave two weeks ago, and only today by complete accident found out that my national supervisors changed the name of the program I lead, which has implications for things like my resume, how I refer to the program with major partners and stakeholders, etc. This means I’ve been messing this up for 2 weeks because no one told me! I only found out because I happened to look at an “FYI when you can” type doc sent yesterday and pinged my supervisor asking why our name was weird. TBH, this is in line with other things that have happened before within our organization, so I might be overly sensitive.

    I’m honestly very irked – this just seems like one of those major updates I should get a heads up on my first few days back, and I want to tell my supervisor that I wish it hadn’t been handled this way. There’s no action to take to “fix” it, per se, so I also don’t know if it’s worth it? My sense of what’s appropriate is being clouded by a severe lack of sleep, tbh and I don’t trust my own emotional responses at the moment…

    1. CrappyAnon*

      I think its ridiculous to change the name and not tell you. But I think you just have to let it go. Or start calling it the Project formally known as [old name]. They probably weren’t being malicious in not telling you, thought they had looped you in, or thought someone else had. Congrats on the tiny human!

    2. New Mom*

      Is your job kind of a disorganized place? I ask because mine is and I could see something like this happening, but you are valid in feeling frustrating. Who made that decision while you were gone? Can you talk to them? Also, I was in a daze for the first three weeks after mat leave and then it got a lot better. Good luck!

      1. Identity Crisis*

        Sometimes I think it defines disorganized! Turns out it wasn’t a broad announcement that I just missed, apparently, but rather only certain people knew? Which is unfortunately, not surprising for us. **sigh**

        1. Fran Fine*

          Yeah, I’d be upset by this too. If you’re leading this program, you should have been given the heads up about the change when you got back and an explanation about why it happened.

    3. 867-5309*

      I could see a supervisor thinking, “This name makes more sense” and making the change without considering it much further than that. I can definitely see being irked but it’s unlikely it was an intentional slap in the face or anything.

    4. Jaybee*

      It does sound like this hit you more personally because you’re in a vulnerable place right now, but it sounds like a simple issue of poor planning or poor communication rather than something that they intentionally did to you. I’d give yourself time to process the emotions, then maybe flag it as something that could be improved on in the future, or maybe something that action could be taken on now – if you weren’t informed, are there other people involved who should know but maybe don’t?

    5. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      Like others, I don’t assume this was a slap in the face. However, as a manger, I appreciate knowing when something I’ve done has rubbed someone the wrong way. If you reported to me, I would not mind and would in fact appreciate you asking for a quick chat and explaining how you feel.

    6. OtterB*

      Like the others, I don’t think this was deliberate, just something that happened while you were out that nobody remembered to tell you. And being sleep deprived makes everything harder.

      Maybe you could tell your supervisor that you know things can slip by, but can they think of anything else that was new while you were out that you ought to get a heads up about?

    7. Policy Wonk*

      When was the name changed? If it was changed shortly after you went on maternity leave they are all accustomed to the change now and it probably didn’t occur to anyone to tell you – they might not remember that it wasn’t changed before you left.

      It does seem weird that no one corrected you when you used the wrong name, but I really don’t think this is personal. Not a bad idea to give your supervisor a heads up, and suggest that perhaps when people go on extended leave the person/people covering be responsible for some kind of “welcome back, here’s what happened while you were gone” document. If you can, avoid getting emotional, or they won’t take your seriously.

      Congrats of the new family member, and on returning to work – two very big accomplishments (and challenges)!

  60. Echo*

    What are your favorite resources for figuring out what kind of jobs/titles might be a good fit for your skills, interests, and experience – especially if most of those are not particularly specialized or technical? Is What Color Is Your Parachute still good in 2022? Thoughts on how to find informational interviewing contacts when your question is “what kind of job am I even describing”?

    1. Employed Minion*

      I have had conversations with friends who know me well. They work in very different fields than I do so I got some interesting suggestions. Many of which did seem like they could fit.

    2. BB2*

      I’m in the same place as you. What Color is Your Parachute didn’t give me any job ideas but it helped hone in on what I wanted out of job. I’m in the same place as before reading the book with not knowing what job/title I should be looking for but more aware of what type of job would be a good fit.

    3. OtterB*

      O*Net online is a US Dept of Labor website with lots of information about job requirements, job families, etc. You might browse through that. It’s helpful if you can think broadly, less so if you’re trying to find something in a limited geographic area.

    4. Rhymetime*

      I recommend a book published in 2020 called Awaken to Your Calling – A Guide to Discovering Your Career Path and Life Direction. It’s published by SheWrites Press. I did some career strategy sessions with the author, and the book is excellent.

  61. New Mom*

    Hey other parents, how’s it going? Our daycare we closed all week due to covid exposure and we’ve gotten a really waffle-y response about if it’ll be open next week. What’s hard is it feels like employers (at least mine) have “childcare issue fatigue” and are not being as sympathetic about it. My husband and I both have pretty demanding jobs, and while my family can help us some, they are not available to be full-time childcare which is really what we need.

    My daycare workers live with immune-compromised people and are asking that we only be indoors with immediate family for the next two weeks and since my work CAN be done remotely (job just wants face time for collaboration) I didn’t think this would be a problem but now my boss is telling me to get this written up by the daycare and sent to HR to assess. That is a bit stressful for me, but maybe a normal request? Are others experiencing less understanding at this point?

    1. This Old House*

      Not going well, although so far daycare is the least of our worries. Honestly, I think your daycare’s request is more out of line than your boss’s – none of us can control what coworkers or clients do outside of work, or who they come into contact with. If you’re willing and able to work from home, the least the daycare can do is put the request in writing. (Though it would be nice if employers were allowing work from home, no questions asked, these days, unfortunately we’re not all so lucky. My job’s official rule is no work from home at all, no matter what.) I can understand how reluctant you would be to jeopardize your existing childcare arrangements at this point, but I wonder what would happen if you pushed back. And what are the parameters of this request? Are you not allowed to go to the grocery store? Aren’t there children there whose parents can’t work from home? Are they being kicked out?

    2. Employed Minion*

      It seems really weird to require documentation from daycare for HR. Our daycare isn’t the best at communicating and I don’t see them able to provide anything formal that would be accepted as official.

      1. New Mom*

        This is my concern too. I usually get voice memos, and I think my daycare is getting harangued by parents about the closures so I have asked and not received something in writing and am hesitant to pester. I just want to focus on work things that are stressful enough instead of ALSO focus on hurting my relationship with my childcare option.

        1. pancakes*

          Could you offer to draft something for them to sign? It sounds like it would only need to be a simple paragraph saying, basically, “For the safety of our workers here at Such-and-Such Daycare, we are asking clients to [etc.] for the next two weeks.”

        2. Employed Minion*

          It sounds like your boss has little to no experience with daycares. I think it would be worth talking to HR directly and seeing if they even require anything. Then you can also learn -directly- what your company’s policies are etc.

      2. This Old House*

        Is your daycare an in-home daycare? I can’t imagine a center not being able to provide something official. Not having time, sure, but we’re talking about a business that bills and invoices; orders supplies; pays their bills on time (I hope); bills DSS for low-income students who receive subsidies; passes inspections several times a year, which includes providing copious official documentation of what they’re doing and who they serve; maintains family confidentiality around things like health, income, and financial information; maintains files of required vaccines and other medical history; keeps background checks and required certifications up-to-date; etc. Daycares should be pros at official documentation. (I may not have realized this if I were just a parent, but at my job I work with my kids’ daycare on a couple of projects and I’ve learned things I never knew I never knew.)

        I’d expect to have trouble getting something if I talked to the classroom teachers, but the front desk or the director could absolutely put something on letterhead for me if I asked them to.

        Again, that doesn’t mean the initial request is reasonable. I don’t think it is. But if they’re asking, the very least they can do is make it official.

        1. New Mom*

          In-home and they are super disorganized with anything billing/communication related. But very loving and kind with my child.

    3. emmers*

      Yeah we are in a 10 day daycare closure in an infant room so no masks and no vaccines. My workplace is letting me work from home no issues, although caring for a 5 month old while running 6 hour virtual trainings feels impossible. My husband on the other hand, emailed his boss to say he needs to quarantine and work remotely the next week and was told that ‘if that was truly the case everyone in American would need to quarantine now’ His boss is old school and I guess assumes I’ll be taking on all childcare?? Grand.

    4. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

      Our after school care was closed before school even started. They said someone in the program tested positive. I can only assume it was a staff member, given that the program had already been closed for the holidays for two weeks, none of the kids could have gotten it there.

      It’s been a huge pain. We have to pick up our kiddo at an exact time every day (I had to block half an hour on my calendar to make sure nobody tried to schedule any meetings), pickup takes longer because of all the parent traffic, and then we have a bored kid around the house interrupting us. In some ways (e.g. increased uncertainty, sitting in that parent traffic) it’s worse than when we were just doing virtual learning.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Sorry offtopic here but is your username a mix of the nursery rhyme + the cheap ass rolls????

    5. WellRed*

      Are you sure your daycare is saying you need to wfh? Surely that’s not workable for all the parents and it seems a huge overreach. Maybe they just want you to curb unnecessary contact. Maybe I’m naive. Hang in there.

      1. New Mom*

        I think she wants all of us to work remotely. She doesn’t “need” her job as a daycare provider so I think she feels that if the families aren’t willing to keep her safe then she’s fine with just closing which would be really, really hard for us. It’s close by, cheaper than other options by HUNDREDS of dollars a month and she is really wonderful with our toddler. Just thinking of all the repercussions of it closing makes my head spin, and it would be easier to just WFH for me since my job can be done 100% remotely. I’m just juggling a lot and wish that work could be more flexible.

  62. CrappyAnon*

    Any advice for being told you are underperforming when it feels like goal posts are constantly shifting, and there’s no clear benchmarks for success besides higher up is happy? I’ve been trying to implement my own benchmarks, and I refer to them (Ran 10 datasets thru process XYZ, improved ABC in that process as well). I thought things were improving. But I got same feedback yesterday. Definitely feels like rock bottom. I’m giving it another 2 months (1 year) before wanting to job hunt, but I would really like to make it work here.

    1. Kathenus*

      Get, or put, the goal posts you are told in writing so you can refer to that in your progress reports instead of having to use your own. If you can’t get the guidelines/goals sent to you in writing, after a verbal meeting on them send an email to your boss following up – ‘thanks for meeting, I understand that the priorities/goals/deadlines right now are x, y and z – I’ll keep you updated on progress’ or similar.

      1. JustaTech*

        Yes to written goal/metrics!
        I’ve been helping my in-laws with their small business and I swear 60% of the issues they have with staff is because they, the owners, don’t give clear instructions in writing and don’t have clear (any) metrics on what “doing their job” looks like.

        Another thing to consider (and this will depend on your office/manager) is maybe to ask for more frequent performance check-ins. If you only get evaluated quarterly can you ask for maybe very quick monthly check-ins, both so you can find out of the goals have changed, and so you can show your managed not only what you’re doing but that you are being conscientious about your work.

    2. 867-5309*

      Have you had the big picture conversation with your manager to get specific and actionable feedback?

      What kind of feedback are you getting – is it about on the job performance (not running enough reports in a timely manner), behavioral related (e.g., communications, etc.)? It’s tough to offer any meaningful advise without a bit more info.

    3. Girasol*

      Is this related to forced ranking? Some companies find that too many people are being ranked “exceptional,” and to stop the grade inflation insist that managers rank most of their people average or below. A manager with a good group can end up having to say that a good person is underperforming.

    4. Diatryma*

      When I was in my previous terrible job, I looked forward to my PIP because I wanted to see data and metrics. I was disappointed, ultimately, but that was also their last chance to prove to me that they were willing to back up my ‘poor performance’ with actual numbers. Track your own if possible, and tell them you’re doing it. If nothing else, it will satisfy you whether the job is a poor fit.

  63. Dani*

    Is it OK to ask for a raise if I have already received on within the past year?

    I work for a large company that does raises every June. 1% if you underperform, 2% met expectations, 3% for high performers. There is no negotiating these raises, all the budgets have long since been allocated by the time we find out what our raise is.

    I always get either 2% or 3%, but given the market right now I feel I am underpayed for my role (similar roles in the area pay at least 10 percent more). The yearly salary adjustment that barely (if even) covers inflation just does not do it for me. I am aware I could change companies, but would prefer to stay here if possible.

    Is it OK to ask for a raise even if I received one last June (and will again this June)?

    1. 867-5309*

      Have you made the business case to your boss for why you deserve the raise, related to performance? Do you have (beyond Glassdoor and anything anecdotal from your network) that reinforces you are underpaid by 10%? The time to bring this up would be your performance review and make it a bigger picture conversation, not just about the annual incremental.

      1. Dani*

        If I decide to ask for it, I will of course make a case for myself.
        I have evidence from HR reported websites showing the salaries in my area, as well as the salary ranges of jobs currently being posted.
        The performance reviews occur at the same time we receive our salary increases (June) at which point there is no negotiation to be had because, as I mentioned, the budgets have already been allocated and the raises set.

        1. irene adler*

          IN which case, get the conversation started well before the performance review. Now maybe? Otherwise you’ll get the ‘can’t change anything now’ excuse. Don’t want that.

          Why not ask for a raise even though it has been less than 1 year? If you have the goods…

          1. Dani*

            In Alison’s guides for asking for a raise, she mentions that it might not be a good idea to ask if you’ve already received one in the past year, that was my main hesitation.

  64. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    Hi ya! A few months back I posted here in a meltdown over having my raise shafted when I moved roles internally, thanks to everyone who replied – I sorted it out and within 48 hours had secured my pay increase, backdated too! I would never have been as confident in dealing with it without you.

    New role starts Monday, I just deleted my shortcuts and old meeting invites, feels SO good!

  65. Onion Rings*

    I work in retail. I would like readers’ thoughts on a situation that keeps popping back up. We have medical masks in a dispenser by the door. A customer comes in with no mask, then says, “I forgot my mask–oh well!” I point out that we have free masks. The customer declines, often adding that they are vaccinated. It’s so weird. Is this something you all have seen? Do you find it acceptable? I’m really trying to understand.

    1. Kathenus*

      They didn’t forget their mask, they didn’t bring one intentionally. They will not wear one unless your store requires it, and even then who knows. It’s completely unacceptable. The vaccination thing is a red herring – first of all who knows if it’s true, even if so are they boostered? If someone truly forgot their mask and cared, they’d say thanks, take it and put it on. The people you describe have no intention of wearing a mask, unfortunately.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Concur – I’ve forgotten my mask before (because nearly two years of wearing one still doesn’t make it stick) and I would never hesitate to wear a free one if available. I’m vaxxed but breakthrough cases happen a lot with Omicron and vaxxed people are just as able to be carriers as anyone else.

        It’s only technically acceptable for them to decline if your store policy doesn’t require masks to be worn. Even if it were required it could put your personal safety at risk to enforce it, which is unacceptable for other reasons. I’m sorry you’re stuck with jerks like that.

        1. OyHiOh*

          I have a stack of masks in a drawer at work. Besides that, I have one in every bag I use, a couple in my car, and a couple in my partner’s car, in the pockets of both my winter jackets, and a few hanging on my closet door just in case one disappears from where it’s supposed to be. And I still need to scramble for one occasionally! The places that have a box by the door, I am eternally thankful for when I’m caught short.

    2. MT*

      It’s not something that I would personally find acceptable. Is there some sort if store policy about customer’s being required to wear a mask? I walk into my gym without a mask because they have a free mask box that I grab one out of by the check in desk and I haven’t been able to find disposable masks in stores. I personally want to be wearing a mask in public places but I also know they will ask me to leave if I tried to work out without a mask on.

    3. Rara Avis*

      In my area we have state and local masking requirements to fall back on. All retail establishments have signs on the door basically saying “no mask/no entry.” Is it always enforced? No, but I can understand that understaffed and overwhelmed grocery store clerks find that above their paygrade.

    4. Virtual Hugs*

      I’m really sorry you have to deal with this. There’s often no win here. If you get too insistent then they’ll tell your manager you’re rude. Or worse, they’ll breathe their unmasked virus laden breath on you, intentionally cough, or just raise their voice.

  66. an inquiry*

    I had this debate with friends…. are there companies out there that pay a decent salary, decent raises, decent benefits; etc in order to retain employees for the long term? I mean the company where you might be able to get slightly more elsewhere but your current position is best compensation overall. Employees stay just because they are compensated well.

    One friend is in such a position. They have grown with their job, could maybe get slightly more elsewhere but overall is a great company. Another friends says looking out for yourself means every 1% more in pay makes a difference.

    1. 867-5309*

      I know of several companies who do this and whose employees have been with them for years for that reason. While it was not a culture fit for me, one of the big automakers (and many of the automakers in general) are known for this – they give people new roles every couple of years for those who want them, pay is excellent, raise and bonus structure is good. Job titles are notoriously flat, which is the only negative.

      I would also say the company I am with now is this way.

      I disagree that “1% pay makes a difference” as a unilateral statement. Total compensation and culture of the company matter a great deal to overall happiness and contentment. An additional 1% raise but losing a week of a vacation would sure as heck not be a net-win for me, as an example.

      1. Fran Fine*

        + 1 to your last paragraph. I work at one such place that pays well, has really good benefits, has a nice company culture (for now), and I’m comfortable to stay put for now even though I know I could make more money working for a FAANG doing what I do (and I already earn $90k/year, so…not bad). However, those FAANG companies have horrible reputations with people who look like me, so I would never work for any of them – my peace of mind is equally as important to me as my salary.

    2. NaoNao*

      Totally. My just about to be former company was like this (as well as my Mega-Corp several jobs ago, which was known for having lifer employees due to the “Cadillac” benefits package and one of the few for-profit org pensions left in the US). The pay market rate but not much more, but the benefits and culture are very solid. WFH/hybrid is allowed, unlimited PTO for salaried people, raises aren’t anything to scream about but are reasonable, promote from within, wellness benefits, and best of all, in all honesty in a >300 company I haven’t met ONE jerk. That company had several employees retire in the last couple years after >25 years with the company, including Employee #2, who retired after over 30.

    3. BayCay*

      Yes, these unicorns do exist! I currently work at a land grant university and it’s the best job I’ve had ever. In my life. Point blank.

      Academia can go many ways but my department is amazing. The pay could be a tad better but I have lots of flexibility (negotiated working from home one day a week), great coworkers, a great boss, good benefits, including tuition assistance and money for personal development, all in an affordable college town.

      I could make A LOT more money in my field (marketing) if I looked elsewhere. But I know the chances of finding something exactly like this but with more money are pretty slim.

    4. LaDonna*

      I think beyond a great company that offers good pay/benefits/flexibility/the whole 9 years, it depends on your department, who oversees it, and your boss.

      For example, I work for a prestigious Fortune 100 company. I’m compensated very well, have great PTO, my boss lets me travel and work at the same time (even abroad, within reason of course. I can’t live on the seaside of Italy for 3 months a year. But 2 weeks? hey, why not.), and our director goes to bat for us when she sees something that isn’t right. We can work remote most of the week and no one monitors anything. The department is very much into professional growth and new opportunities for people, not only the analysts but managers too.

      My boss is exceptionally cool, but I know others are more stingy within the department. I’m not overworked and none of the team I manage is, but knowing some other departments and divisions are way overworked, and they don’t have the same remote work options as we do. Their turnover rate is super high compared to ours for this reason.

      So yes, it exists, but it’s hard to find and I’m lucky. I pretty much can never leave :)

    5. irene adler*

      There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ response to this.
      Sure, that 1% can make a difference when subsequent raises are based on a per cent of current salary and moving to a new job can garner a nice bump in salary. But, as others pointed out, other aspects can matter more- like increased PTO, or top-notch benefits or a great place to work.

      I debate this in my head all the time.