open thread – March 4-5, 2022

It’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on any work-related questions 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 take your questions to other readers. (Questions only please — no posts just to vent, etc.)

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

{ 1,492 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Repeating the new rule from last week: Please use this post to ask questions, start discussions, or seek advice, but not to just relay stories about your workplace. They get so crowded as it is that I’m hoping that might make them more useful and easier to navigate for people.

    (Feedback on this welcome, based on how you felt last week’s went.)

  2. wondermint*

    AAM has talked a few times about being firm with your own name – no one can give you a nickname or an alternative name no matter the circumstances. It’s your name.

    I have a coworker who does not speak strong English (we are in a country where English is the official language). He pronounces my name a little off, which is completely fine with me given his accent. The problem I take issue with is he also spells my name incorrectly a lot (not always, but more often than not). He has a few spelling variations, each resembling something closer to the way he pronounces it rather than my actual name. He could be sounding it out while typing which leads to the wrong spelling. We communicate a lot via messaging apps, so he certainly sees my name on the screen and could copy it from there.

    It hasn’t caused confusion at work because we’re small, non-client facing, and the context suggests he’s referring to me. Though as our company grows, which it’s on track to do, it could cause confusion in the future (a Joaquin/Wakeen situation). Mostly, it’s embarrassing because he and I are the only people in our department and I worry it looks like we’re misaligned on a fundamental level. Which isn’t an exaggeration, our language barrier has caused misalignments before. Though I’m not the only person who has had with miscommunication working with him. That’s a separate issue which I’m glad to say has gotten better the more we worked together.

    I have called him out on it (privately, cheerfully) but it never sticks. I don’t want to him to feel ostracized because he’s our only non-native speaker. Is it best to chalk it up as a quirk and let it go? Wait until it causes an incident to be firmer?

    1. hamsterpants*

      Has the name issue itself caused miscommunication?

      Different context but I review academic articles where many authors are ESL. My policy is to only correct their English if it interferes with communication.

      1. wondermint*

        Not yet, it’s more about it causing miscommunication in the future, and on a personal level I’m sort of annoyed the coworker I work the closest with can’t spell my name right (while unusual for a woman, it’s not a particularly long name)

        1. Snuck*

          I’d be tempted to change my avatar to the correct spelling… if it’s an unusual name.

          Send him an email, and just spell it out. Be kind, and say “hey! It seems there’s been a miscommunication somewhere, and I just wanted to let you know the correct spelling of my name. I know it’s a tricky one! But as we bring on more customers, and more staff, this is going to become important. Can you please spell my name correctly wherever you can going forward? It’s important to me!” If he doesn’t then do it, you can forward that email to your manager when it blows up one day and say “look, I tried to handle it, but it didn’t work. See here, on Slack, on email, and verbally on (according to my diary) the 12 of Never”.

          But I would add… if he is making lots of typing errors in other parts of his communication this might be less about your name and a lot more about his grasp of language. If that’s the case then maybe raise that with whomever is supervising you both and say “hrm… it seems Wakeen has some challenges when communicating with me, here’s some examples… how would you like to handle this going forward with more customers and more staff?” And let the manager handle it.

      1. Everything Bagel*

        The co-worker has been told before and can look at the letter writer’s name in their system. Unless you’re comfortable just asking, hey, so why do you keep spelling my name like this, in a friendly way, I would just wait until a bigger issue comes out of this. Unfortunately when that happens it may be a bit embarrassing for your coworker for others to see that he spells your name wrong, but maybe then it will stick.

        1. quill*

          Yeah. It’s possible he’s just gotten your name stuck as a slightly different name, with a more familiar (to him) spelling.

          … I may be something of a subject matter expert, since my given name has very common letters for girls born in the US, and COULD be short for a couple of more popular names, but is definitely not.

          1. hamsterpants*

            I have a male colleague whose name is Michel, pronounced like the English girl’s name Michelle. I can’t imagine all the ways people bungle his name.

            1. NotMe*

              I have an extraordinarily uncommon spelling of the name “Lani” as my name. No one could pronounce it correctly, even when it was blatantly phonetically spelt. People do not care about the names in front of them any where near as often as the person being called does. I just lump it, and carry on. I use Lani for ease in general communication because the other version of the spelling causes so much conjecture and error.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      You can’t do this for him but side note: I had a coworker whose name I had a hard time spelling, which was mortifying because my own name is obscure and I’ve been correcting it all my life. I printed out her name and taped it to the wall above my desk so I’d see it all the time and a) always have the correct spelling on hand and b) in the hopes that repetition would drill it into my head. I eventually did get it right.

      Are there any tricks you could [nicely] suggest to help him remember? My name has vowels at the beginning and end which can vary, but my variant is symmetrical (that is, if mine had an A and an E in the first half and could have an E, I, or Y in the second, it has another E and then ends in an A, so there are fewer vowels to remember). That there are both vowels at each end also helps people remember that it’s *not* another, similar name that has a different meaning and only one of those vowels at the end.

      1. wondermint*

        I don’t know if I have any ‘tricks’ that wouldn’t confuse him further. I have been considering giving him leeway to use a nickname, as in only write out the first syllable of my name, but it just felt weird. I also don’t want it to catch on with others.

        I think I’ll just have to wait until it causes an incident. My question was more about prevention but you’re right, I can’t do this for him.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          What about just your initials? I have an indirect report who tends to address e-mails to me with my first initial instead of my first name (which I find vaguely irritating, but I think that’s mostly because it’s coming from someone whose communication in general is less than ideal). It’s less presumptive than a nickname you might not want.

          1. Cold Fish*

            This is what I was going to suggest. At my company we use initials when documenting internal notes and that has carried over to some communication (especially internal communication) because it is just so simple to type XX than Xavier Xerces

          2. Sparkles McFadden*

            Yes, I did this when I had a similar issue with someone in one of our remote international offices. I never could figure out why he had such a problem since my name was right there, spelled out in the email list, but I started using a first initial only with that office. I was fine with being S. McFadden professionally, so this worked for me.

        2. Jinni*

          Is there a way to add your name to the system’s spelling database? I know a Rachael (that’s how she spells it) that constantly autocorrects to Rachel and while I *almost* always corrected it, I didn’t always notice. I finally had to add to every autocorrect feature (email/Word/Chrome/Grammarly) because it was exhausting always apologizing.

          1. Momma Bear*

            I will forever be grateful for whoever integrated Word and Outlook so that when I am spelling a coworker’s name it gets flagged if I fumble.

    3. doreen*

      You mentioned you communicate a lot on messaging apps – is it possible he’s using speech to text and his accent is causing the issue with your name?

        1. Momma Bear*

          That might be a way to bring it up – “I’ve noticed….if you’re using text to speech you can teach it words by…”

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Does your name show on the messaging app? I am rarely more annoyed than when people misspell my name even though they can see it on the app. Right there next to where they typed it incorrectly.

      2. Xena*

        I have a pair of friends with unusual names who use speech-to-text a lot and have a running joke of never correcting whatever speech-to-text adds as the name for their conversations with each other unless it’s something inappropriate. Siri’s gotten better over the years but still tosses up some beauties.

        That said, it’s an inside joke between the two of them and not the most appropriate result for business communications.

    4. Anonymous Hippo*

      Does it actually bother you? People both spell and say my name wrong all the time, but I don’t actually care. I know who they mean, and so does everyone else. There is no confusion, and nobody is doing it out of any kind of malice. Honestly I mostly don’t even notice other people have to point it out.

      So I think you should consider that when you decide. If it does both you, than you are 100% in the right to ask that your name be handled correctly, but if you don’t actually care, and there is no business issue, I for one would let it go. I understand other people would feel differently, and that there can be a whole mess of other issues and microagressions tied up in names, but my situation is separate from those for me.

      1. wondermint*

        The reason why I care is because he and I work closely together and I fear it comes across as a misalignment on a fundamental level. I’m also trying to nip it in the bud as our overhead grows. On a *personal* level, no I don’t care that much. However, I do draw the line at nicknames, which I considered but chose not to move forward with.

        1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

          I don’t think anyone is going to think that this is a “misalignment on a fundamental level.” Working in a law firm but thinking you’re a lion tamer is a misalignment on a fundamental level. They’re just going to think that English isn’t his first language and he has trouble spelling your name. I honestly think you’re blowing this way out of proportion.

          1. wondermint*

            Thanks for the feedback. Perhaps I am blowing it out of proportion, but a name is personal . I’ll wait until it causes concrete confusion to say anything firm.

            1. Gnome*

              “But a name is personal”

              Based on this, it does sound on a personal level that you do care. I am not trying to nitpick your words. I wanted to bring this up in case deep inside you actually do personally care and take offense.

              1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

                I don’t think it’s off to care that people spell and pronounce your name correctly. And yes, I think coworker needs to be reminded every time or they won’t make more of an effort, which is what needs to happen.

                1. Gnome*

                  I agree. It’s perfectly reasonable to care. Wondermint is saying they personally don’t care, but then says their name is personal. It makes me wonder if they do actually personally care, and if so, it may change how they approach the issue.

                2. Loulou*

                  Right, but OP said above that she doesn’t care much on a personal level but is concerned about how it comes across. When someone pointed out it probably doesn’t come across the way she fears, she responded by saying a name is personal, contradicting her earlier comment.

                  It’s fine and normal to just care, personally, that people spell your name correctly! But just own that instead of coming up with sort of specious reasons that it matters besides “it bothers me.”

                3. wondermint*

                  I wanted to reply to Loulou’s comment but the thread has gotten to long I don’t think the website lets me.

                  As stated in my original post, my first concern is that the misspelling causes confusion with our growing team – a “Joaquin/Wakeen situation” for legacy readers of AAM who remember that letter. I referenced that situation because it’s closely related; Coworker spells my name incorrectly, including the first few letters.

                  My comment of “a name is personal” is because this blog has repeatedly suggested that names are personal and should not be changed. Does that perfectly apply to me? No, but it felt like an unbiased take so I brought it up. I don’t care that he says it wrong. But given it gets completely butchered in spelling, and prime communication is via written word, AND it’s on the screen to reference, I do think it’s reasonable to want it to be spelled correctly.

                  What *is* personal to me is that I am unwilling to take on a nickname to resolve this. I am considering initials, but a nickname just isn’t me.

                  I’m going to pause replying – some people are suggesting I’m blowing this out of proportion and to that I say, I’ve thought about this enough and it’s time to get back to work!

                4. allathian*

                  Reply to wondermint here:
                  I don’t much care if people butcher the pronunciation of my name. I grew up bilingual, my name exists in both of my first languages, and is pronounced differently in each. It also exists in many other European languages in various versions, and I’m not offended if people use the one that comes naturally to them. However, I will correct people if they spell my name wrong, and I will think badly of someone who consistently spells my name wrong and doesn’t even attempt to correct it despite several reminders.

            2. Momma Bear*

              I don’t think it’s out of line to ask someone to spell your name right. If your name is Randi and not Randy, then one is your name and one isn’t. You can both be understanding of someone’s bad spelling/non-native speaker status and want your name to be right professionally.

          2. Siege*

            That sounds exactly like the words of someone who hasn’t had their name mangled, misspelled, and/or mispronounced constantly. Most recently, my boss of nearly four years mispronounced my last name, my coworker is trying to give me a nickname because she is very stupid, and everyone everywhere is continuing to spell my name the much more common way. I would be livid at this coworker even as I recognized it’s likely not intentional.

            Names are personal, and they are important to get right.

            1. Smithy*

              I think this is far more context and individual based.

              In the example I provided, I was an American living in a non-English speaking country where I was able to get a job despite my limited language skills because that organization had such a high need for native English speakers for a certain role. For this and other reasons, I knew I was in a fairly privileged place and my surname in particular is a hyphenated Ellis Island evolution. Seeing it get changed again in a new context amuses me as part of history more so than offends.

              And there are other circumstances where misnaming and mispronunciations have far different contexts and people feel differently. Both perspectives are valid, but I think being mindful that there are both views on this one is helpful. Some people really don’t mind and for others those moments are far more upsetting and disrespectful. But I think knowing that both sides exists helps have those conversations and center what the issues are that you’re looking to address.

            2. fueled by coffee*

              Yep. My name is the less common of two possible spellings (think Hannah/Hanna) and is CONSTANTLY misspelled. I know people don’t mean anything by it and aren’t doing it intentionally, but it’s so grating for it to happen so consistently. My name is right there in my email signature! I communicate in writing with these people all the time!

              I’m sympathetic to the coworker’s struggle with English, but he’s been informed that he’s spelling OP’s name wrong and continues to do so. I’d be annoyed! And I think there’s grounds to point out that you’ve already asked him to spell your name correctly, and would appreciate if he would make an effort to do so. I’m a mediocre Spanish speaker but that doesn’t give me grounds to go around spelling “Eduardo” as “Edwardoh” just because that’s closer to how I pronounce it.

            3. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

              Au contraire, my first name is long and weird and my last name is “ethnic.” Most hills are not worth dying on.

            4. tessa*

              My best friend’s real first name can be spelled in a myriad of ways, and she happens to have one of the more unusual spellings, but she’s managed it. There are those times, like employment background checks, where she checks to make sure her name is spelled correctly, but other than that, she expects to have her name misspelled, just because people make mistakes, so she has a good perspective about it. Not everyone is “someone who hasn’t had their name mangled, misspelled, and/or mispronounced constantly” just because they disagree with the OP. To say that you would be angry at someone’s unintentional error at mispronouncing your name makes me wonder how willing you’d be to be on the receiving end of your own convictions when you do the same, because certainly you have made the same error, as we all have. Looks like those around you have accepted your error amicably and moved on. Good for them.

          3. anonymath*

            I might disagree. If my senior director colleague always gets my name wrong (especially when I’m the only woman) it can definitely come across as a sign of disrespect. “Senior Director doesn’t even respect Jayne enough to get her name right.”

          4. PT*

            I agree, too. I’ve worked in diverse environments and nitpicking this is just going to make you look like a racist, even if that’s not what you intend to.

        2. tessa*

          “I fear it comes across as a misalignment on a fundamental level.”

          If it helps, if I were your coworker, I would see that someone misspelled your name, and leave it at that. I mean this in friendly way: I think you’re over-thinking the situation, especially since, as you say, your co-worker’s English isn’t strong.

          I wouldn’t worry that you’re coming across as misaligned unless it becomes that you are misaligned. Even that, though, doesn’t prove that his misspelling of your name is the cause.

        3. alt ac*

          I taught ESL for a number of years, and I’m curious: Does your coworker’s primary language use non-alphabet characters? My students who spoke Arabic always spelled their names differently, and when I asked they said it’s because our alphabet didn’t translate well for the spellings of their names, so sometimes it would be “Mahmood,” “Momood,” “Mamoud,” or “Mahmoud.” It was a little hard to get used to, but especially if this is the case, I would not take it personally.

          1. Baroness Schraeder*

            We had a visiting colleague from Japan working with us for over a year, and I found it highly amusing that she not only called our senior director “Flank” (Japanese people struggle with the “r” sound) but she also wrote it that way for the entire duration of her stay, no matter how many times someone corrected her. For the record, he didn’t seem to mind as far as I could tell.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        I just want to say: It’s OK if this does bother you. It’s your name. You’re not obligated to let it go to make things easier for somebody. People learn harder words than my name all the time.

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think it’s fine to be firm with the spelling as long as you’re polite and do it privately. It sounds like you don’t much care about the pronunciation, which is good if the sounds are difficult for him to produce, but asking him to spell it correctly is not unreasonable.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I absolutely agree with this. Especially since he can see the proper spelling in the IM program they’re using.

    6. Smithy*

      I used to work in a non-English speaking country where my boss mispronounced my first/last name and assigned me a nickname the entire time I worked there almost to comical effect. She’d ask if I ever went by nickname, I’d say no – then she’d continue to call me that. Similarly, ask for the pronunciation of my surname and then continue with other variations.

      As she was a non-native English speaker and I was working in a country where English wasn’t the dominant language, I was already going into this with a lot more understanding around both the nickname and mispronunciation. But even with all of that, I think that attitude is a big piece on whether this is ever an issue or not. My boss would introduce me as Nickname Alternative Pronunciation Last Name, and I’d just smile and say “it’s lovely to meet you, I’m My Actual Name, the ABC at Llama Grooming Inc”. So instead of a Joaquin or Wakeen situation, it essentially became a “I go by Joaquin AND Wakeen”.

      This was my boss, so different power dynamics – but not making it an issue was so much easier and genuinely didn’t cause confusion. Certainly as you grow, this might present a challenge and reason to address it again. But for now I’d encourage continuing to let it slide.

      1. wondermint*

        I definitely let it slide in spoken word, in fact I don’t care at all if he butchers my name out loud. It’s his misspelling during instant message and email that irks me. Our team communicates primarily over instant message given we’re 100% remote and across multiple time zones.

        1. Smithy*

          In my situation, because the spoken language used a different alphabet, the mispronunciations did ultimately lead to my surname having a wide range of spellings as well. And even with external contacts, it really was never an issue. We worked in an international context, so it may be that my industry is more sympathetic to misspelling of names – but it genuinely wasn’t an issue for 3.5 years and what felt like a handful of different surnames.

          I think when the attitude is adjusted to make it “not a big deal”, it doesn’t have to be one. The issues that will result in escalating the issue beyond “issue that irks me” to “work related concern” is when work ends up being assigned to someone else, there’s a delay because clarification is needed to confirm who he’s referring to, a manager pops in and is confused, or something similar. If that happens, then the resolution is also easier to focus on because there’s a clear problem or concern to identify.

    7. Attractive Nuisance*

      Are you sure he understands correct spelling is really important? I had some classmates in grad school whose native written language used logograms rather than an alphabet. I remember in our second or third year, there was this big eureka moment when a professor explained that each word in English has one correct spelling and all other spellings are incorrect. Apparently that was something a lot of my classmates hadn’t fully grasped until then, even though they spoke and wrote pretty well in English. You might try to politely make sure your coworker understands this.

    8. Myrin*

      I’ve found that there’s an astounding number of people who seem incapable of spelling names correctly. It’s baffling to me, especially since most of the time I see it happen in contexts where the correct spelling is right there in front of them and I can’t for the life of me figure out what made them not just copy it letter-for-letter (example from my life: a friend of my mum’s regularly vents about her arch nemesis. Everyone involved in this is German except for friend, who is from Italy. I can totally understand why she can’t pronounce “Zängerle” 100% correctly, but I can not at all understand why she would spell it as “Zenderl” in every single text she sends to my mum).

      I’ve come to the conclusion that there simply are people who… don’t see the differences, for lack of a better word. I’m an extremely visual person so this is not something I can truly understand but I’m reminded of when my mum, who is an internet whizz but knows basically nothing about computers, had to take a course on MS Word and as an exercise, she had to try and recreate a document the teacher had prepared, with instructions and everything. She somehow managed to put the body of this document into the header, rendering it light grey and strangely spaced apart, and when I, upon her request for help, said “Obviously that’s not right, it looks completely different!” she looked at me like I had grown two heads and replied “What?! It looks the same!”.

      All that is to say, it seems likely to me that your coworker genuinely doesn’t see the wrong spelling (again, no idea how, but I’ve seen it often enough to doubt it). I don’t think there’s anything you can do; I honestly don’t know if even an embarrassing outside incident caused by this would get him to spell it correctly. An earnest inquiry on your part, like “Dude, I’m sorry, but what is it with you and my name? Why does it always end up being wrong?” might help but… well, I’m skeptical.

      1. Loulou*

        Yes, and it’s not even a foreign language thing! A lot of people just can’t spell well and don’t notice spelling errors.

        I’m actually not one of those people BUT…I email people from other countries all the time and have taken to just copy/posting their names from what they wrote themselves. Even if I think I know how it’s spelled, there are too many variations and it’s just safer this way.

      2. Kate*

        I agree with this analysis, and I also love “a friend of my mum’s regularly vents about her arch nemesis.” Please write a cozy detective novel about these three.

    9. theletter*

      I would go ahead and be firmer about it now. You’re not ostracizing him, it’s the expected that one should spell their coworker’s names correctly, and failing to do so makes him look bad.

      But on a lighter note, I helped someone once get a company to pay for some outside English training by suggesting they sell it as ‘presentation + communication courses’.

    10. Sara*

      I have a few coworkers who do this. I have a name that has a few common spellings (think “Sara” and “Sarah”). I would send an email from my work account (saradoe @, sign it off by including “thanks, Sara” at the bottom, and my company signature “Sara Doe, Teapot Designer” would be autofilled at the bottom. But I have a few coworkers who message me or email me “Hi Sarah” every time. It does bother me, and I’m not sure why. English is their first language, and we are on the same level (different titles, but both admin jobs). Each time, I email/message them back, and at the bottom, include something about “by the way, I spell my name Sara.” I always get an apology/some sort of assurance that they’ll remember, but they just…don’t. I’m the only Sara here (no other Sara or Sarah) so there hasn’t been any confusion, just frustration on my part. I don’t really have advice… more just letting you know that I think some people just are bad with names, you don’t need to let it go if you don’t want to, and since you are at the same level, maybe just reminding him every time would be a good way to do it (hopefully he’ll get the point quicker than my coworker!).

    11. Haha Lala*

      As someone with an often misspelled name, I feel you on this.
      If I was a third party copied on one of his messages, I wouldn’t think it was a fundamental misalignment, but I would interpret it as him not taking the effort to learn your name, or not caring enough to get it correct (which might not be correct! But that’s still not a good look for him)

      If you’re on good terms with him, you can frame it as an issue of making the department look bad.
      “I know you know my name, but I’m worried our department looks unprofessional when my name is routinely misspelled, and it might confuse people that don’t know me well. When you’re messaging other teams or departments, can you make sure to spell my name correctly? You can copy it from my signature or messaging app to make it easier.”

    12. Cj*

      My last name has an “i” where there is most commonly a “y”. I’ve had some clients for 35 years that still spell it wrong. As long as the bank will still cash the check, I don’t care!

      But that’s just me, and if realize people have different opinions on this.

    13. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Just because he’s a non-native speaker doesn’t excuse him repeatedly misspelling a name. Especially since it’s not the same misspelling every time. He just doesn’t care to spell your name correctly, which is disrespectful.

    14. Banana*

      This happens to me. I just let it go. The guy’s job is highly complex and he’s doing it in a language that is not his native tongue, it’s like the old adage about Ginger Rogers doing all the same dance steps Fred Astaire did, only backwards in heels. His mispronunciation is consistent with his accent and he treats me with tremendous respect and is a good work partner. I’d only correct him or ask for clarification if there’s a risk someone might get confused.

    15. sushi*

      One of my co-workers has a note in their email signature line and slack profile regarding their name – their first name is hyphenated, ie: Sarah-Lee, but people tend to just address her as “Sarah.” The note in her signature politely explains that her full name is “Sarah-Lee” not just Sarah. I’m bringing this up as an idea to address your concern that other people may misunderstand your name because your coworker is spelling/pronouncing it wrong.

    16. Sunny*

      The spelling would bother me personally because that is not your name. I would just correct him like you would with anyone else — “heads up, my name is actually spelled [NAME]”.

    17. Kate*

      My son’s name is Malcolm. While not a top 10 name in our country, it’s the name of a well known historical figure who frequently pops up in pop culture, and separately, was in the title of a popular TV show that was widely watched by the demographic who are now parents of little kids.

      My friends misspell his name in texts to me ALL. THE. TIME. Including when we’ve been texting and I’ve spelled it properly just above. It bugs me, but it’s convinced me that some folks must struggle with spelling in the way others do with faces, that what seems like a normal, easy recall to many of us just isn’t, for whatever reason.

      I would say that if it causes any professional communication down the road, where your coworker writes “Consult with Kayt” to someone else and has to sort out their reply of “who’s Kayt?” that will do more to help him correct it than a slew of polite reminders from you.

        1. Ampersand*

          I’m guessing Malcom—I’m typing this from my phone, and it recognizes Malcom as a name/didn’t try to autocorrect. It does try to correct Malkolm to Malcolm, though.

          I could see how this happens with text—your phone doesn’t correct the misspelled name so you think it’s correct. Of course, this logic also requires completely ignoring Malcolm’s mom’s correct spelling of his name any time she mentions him. That’s less understandable!

      1. California Dreamin’*

        I’m an Elizabeth in the US where that is the very standard spelling and it’s not a particularly unusual name. I have a long-time friend, also American, who spells my name Elisabeth despite certainly having seen it in print many times. I’ve never corrected her because it’s more just an annoyance. Recently I texted her my new email address and she texted back “Oh, I see I’ve been misspelling your name… the Z is much cooler!” (Which… what? Elizabeth is not a cool, edgy spelling of Elisabeth.) I’m not kidding, the next day she texted me starting out “Hi Elisabeth.” Go figure.

        1. allathian*

          She’s done it so often that it’s probably in her autocorrect, even if she spelled it Elizabeth…

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          After 3 years of corrections, my phone may have finally stopped adding a second L into “Alison”…autocorrect can be really glitchy.

    18. Not So NewReader*

      Can he add your name to his dictionary so it gets twigged for being misspelled?

    19. KR*

      I’ve had similar happen in jobs I worked at. There’s a chance this person spells other names incorrectly too. My advice is to let it go until it becomes a problem. If I was your coworker I wouldn’t think you two were misaligned, I would just think this person isn’t great at spelling.

    20. A Feast of Fools*

      My manager gets my name wrong in print frequently. He’ll use either the most common spelling (which mine isn’t) or the common masculine version.

      I mentioned it to him once. Then, because our relationship allows this, I would reply to him and change his name in whatever way he had just changed mine (adding a letter or misgendering it, for instance).

      He still gets it wrong more than he gets it right.

      BUT… I also see that he misspells a ton of other things, too, and doesn’t create “perfect” sentence structures on the fly. So I’m chalking it up to a learning disability.

      Since I know it’s not malicious, and since I am never in question as to whom he means, I’ve made a conscious decision to find it amusing and endearing.

    21. Esmeralda*

      It’s your name. Correct him every time. Every. Time.

      It doesn’t matter what language he speaks, it doesn’t matter that English is the lingua franca of your office or country. This is not a language issue — I mean, maybe it is for him, but big picture it is not. Whatever his language, he has to spell it correctly.

      I have students and colleagues from non-Western countries with names that are not usual to my experience or are hard to sound out for me as an English-speaker. And yet, I manage to spell their names correctly every time. Because I put in the effort.

      Your colleague needs to put in the effort. Correct him every time.

      1. The Amazing Dr. B*

        Agreed. My husband and I work at the same place and have the very same name, just spelled differently. I always correct spelling, otherwise, it is entirely confusing.

  3. Miss. Bianca*

    In the beginning of February I wrote in the open thread how my manager of 2 years originally gave me 5/5’s on my performance review but had vague non-answers about advancing or clarity between seniority levels, and gave an update last week how he actually gave everyone on the team 5/5’s, which HR kicked back since that rating would mean that person is ready to be promoted so he told me how he changed everyone’s review to 3/3. I planned on using our 1:1 time this past Tuesday to go over each thing he rated me on. Since he never had concrete or thought out answers before during our chats about the review/promotion criteria, I sent him a team apps chat on Monday: “Hey Fergus — can you please think about some examples and reasons why you changed my performance review rating before our 1:1 tomorrow?”. He responded: “Hey. I had to change everyone’s because I did it incorrectly the first time around. It wasn’t because of anything you did or didn’t do, I promise. 3 means you’re doing a great job.”

    The next day during the 1:1, I started to go through my performance review, asking why he gave me a 3/5 rating and what a “successful” (3) vs “exceptional” (5) looked like. Right away he refused to answer and got defensive and super nasty. He even said “I’m about to get frustrated” (that sounded like a threat…) and how another coworker who was promoted last year after 5(!) years (aka, why can’t you be good like Felicity and wait?). He kept trying to put it back on me, but I held my own and he was visibly flustered and angry at the end of the call. I went away thinking, “ass”.

    Later that afternoon, he video chatted me, and apologized and acknowledged he acted more defensively and combatively than he should have. He said he had a really bad meeting with his boss and the CEO right before, and he acknowledged it wasn’t an excuse. He knew where I was coming from, and going forward he’ll take the review process more seriously. I said “I appreciate it”. But still no actual feedback!

    Y’all were so right with him being clueless, he’s absolutely beyond clueless. I’m going to update my LinkedIn profile over the next few weeks and open it up to recruiters. I haven’t seen any job posting that wows me yet though.

    How am I even supposed to speak to this man going forward? I don’t have it in me to be all nice and smiley with someone who did that to me. This is clearly a “him” issue, but does anyone have suggestions on how to act with him going forward? I thought we had a good relationship but this was so eye opening on how he really thinks. In my experience when people get that combative, it’s never a one-time thing. Who knows what will set him off again. 

    1. Miss. Bianca*

      Further notes:
      – In January I asked HR for information on the different seniority levels and promotion process, they said to talk with my manager
      – Re: My boss’s boss – his thinking is “a 3 is still very good” so I don’t think he’d get it
      – I’ve been asking my boss since January the different between my position vs. a senior, he says the only difference is pay
      – He’s clueless about everyone’s skillset (and lack thereof) and workload
      – He’s been with the company about 7 years, he’s been promoted 5 or 6 times, other people in the company usually got promoted after 1 – 2 years

      1. lost academic*

        He doesn’t want to promote you and he doesn’t want to talk about it. I don’t know if that’s the only way to get promoted where you are but updating LinkedIn and starting to look is the right move since it’s important to you.

      2. Zephy*

        I’ll +1 everyone else’s recommendations to just bounce, but if you want to take one more run at this, try using the actual words “I want to be promoted to Senior Llama Analyst this year” and see what he says, because it sounds like maybe you’ve been dancing around expressing that specific idea in those specific words. If you’ve been asking questions like “what’s the process for advancement?” “what’s the difference between a llama analyst and senior llama analyst?”, that could be construed – even if rather uncharitably and obtusely – as general-interest questions about company processes and not actual requests to be considered for a position.

        1. Miss. Bianca*

          Yep, I told him a few weeks ago I wanted to get promoted to Senior and if he saw that for me and he went, “ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm”.

          1. Jean*

            There’s your answer. If he were on board he would have at least said “Let me think about it and get back to you” or something. Anything besides crickets.

          2. Momma Bear*

            I would take this as there isn’t a clear path for your promotion at this company and you should continue to see what other jobs are available. Sometimes the only way up is out.

        2. BRR*

          I agree with this. I don’t remember all of the past posts but from this one alone it sounds mostly focused on the performance review (which I understand might be tied into a promotion). So if you haven’t been crystal clear direct (and you might have already, I just don’t know), that could be taking one last attempt with him.

          1. BRR*

            Oops I was posting while you posted and didn’t see your reply. Yeah he’s given you our answer. The same thing happened to me at my last job and it’s so frustrating. Good luck with your job hunt!

      3. Snuck*

        We’re told in this forum we have to take your word for it. But I’d say that it sounds like there’s a whole other (many?) story… If I take what you’ve relayed at face value it could well be that he’s messed up on how he did the evaluations, and didn’t realise, and has been dragged over the coals for it. He’s had to go back and have this same conversation with everyone on the team and he’s feeling defensive and worn out. (He could well be on notice/PIP over it too.)

        How does this affect you? Well I think it’s fair to ask what you could/should be doing to improve, but you need to pick the right moment for that time. And the right moment is not while this pan is hot and he’s still burning from it. Give it a few weeks. Let things settle. Let him clear his head and work out what’s happening. Who knows … he might not be there in three weeks!

        There’s more to promotion than time served and widgets completed. I’m not sure what sort of work your company does, or your role, but assuming you’ll get a promotion based purely on time served doesn’t seem right. You’ve asked HR and they’ve referred you to your manager – it’s odd that they’d do that. Is any of the following possible? A) There’s no roles to move into – you can’t just create a promotion for someone usually, normally there has to be a vacancy to fill. B) job cuts or restructures are coming and all promotions are on hold (have you seen anything that might suggest this?). C) While you might meet set targets (sales, processing times, functional targets of the job) your attitude or soft skills may not be appropriate for a promotion. D) There may not be clarity between different levels, depending on your job this sort of thing isn’t always documented in a structured way. Seniority usually requires a mix of experience (which may include time spent outside the company in a related role), skills, soft people skills and willingness to be part of the team/work cohesively.

        Another thought is a company that promotes near yearly suggests to me there’s an obscenely high staff turn over and a need to constantly back fill in the entry level ranks (or undergoing crazy year on year growth, which could well be slowing). Is this really a company you want to battle your way through in? Take a strong look around you and work out why people are leaving? Why is there so much promotion? And what will you gain if you ‘move up the ranks’? Is it really worth it? Brushing up your LinkedIn might well be worth exploring, and keeping that manager onside for a reasonable reference could be a good goal.

        1. Miss. Bianca*

          Re: the promotion process. Since Jan I’ve asked him multiple times what the difference is between my level and the senior level, each time he only says “pay”. During his meltdown, I asked what the difference was between the junior level (right below me) vs. my level vs. senior and again he only said “pay”. I replied, “that’s it?”, he exploded “well what do you think they are?!”, I told him similar to what you had above, about increased autonomy, more involved with the higher-ups, more involved with strategy, etc. and he shut me down.

          He doesn’t understand how seniority levels work and he’s clueless about everyone’s actual workload.

          1. Snuck*

            I’d say, without knowing what sort of job role this is, it’s really hard to know … is it possible that this is at this point in time the only difference is pay? I’m thinking something like a cashier/retail clerk, a floor stacker, or a call centre, where the roles are clearly defined and unless there’s an obvious vacancy the chances to ‘move up’ are limited? Then the difference literally could be just pay. The longer you’ve been in the role the more you get paid because there’s an assumption of increased general knowledge about the role, speed at tasks etc – the employee is more competent at these than a new person. I’m wondering if this is the case here? If all three levels are performing the same tasks then there’s probably a different expectation of task volumes or task complexity – but still within the same job description. This fits also with your comment that people get promoted every year – there’s probably a massive staff turnover and the is a need to constantly backfill, and people are ‘promoted’ when they have sufficient knowledge to handle a slightly more complex thing. An example of this (with no idea what your job role is) is in Accounts Payable, where a junior might process standard invoices from long term suppliers, an experienced person might put through new suppliers and non standard invoices, and a senior person might handle out of standard process invoices and amounts over a certain amount. But they all handle accounts, just over time they learn a little more and can do it a little faster and can understand the company policies and processes better.

            It also sounds like you’ve talked to him an awful lot of times about all this – are you asking him multiple times a week about it all? It’s not yet the end of the first week in March and you say you’ve talked to him many times this year, gone to HR and told him you ‘want to go to senior’. Maybe it’s time to back off for a while, I know you are super frustrated but pushing a lot is just backing him into a corner. If he’s also getting cornered on another side he’s going to be getting very frustrated, and while it’s not professional, it’s highly likely that a) he’ll get defensive/angry again, and b) he will do what his seniors want over what you want.

            It also sounds like you are very unhappy – I can feel your anger coming strong through in your comments. Maybe this relationship is irretrievable and it’s time to tee up somethings else?

      4. Snuck*

        We’re told in this forum we have to take your word for it. But I’d say that it sounds like there’s a whole other (many?) story… If I take what you’ve relayed at face value it could well be that he’s messed up on how he did the evaluations, and didn’t realise, and has been dragged over the coals for it. He’s had to go back and have this same conversation with everyone on the team and he’s feeling defensive and worn out. (He could well be on notice/PIP over it too.)

        How does this affect you? Well I think it’s fair to ask what you could/should be doing to improve, but you need to pick the right moment for that time. And the right moment is not while this pan is hot and he’s still burning from it. Give it a few weeks. Let things settle. Let him clear his head and work out what’s happening. Who knows … he might not be there in three weeks!

        There’s more to promotion than time served and widgets completed. I’m not sure what sort of work your company does, or your role, but assuming you’ll get a promotion based purely on time served doesn’t seem right. You’ve asked HR and they’ve referred you to your manager – it’s odd that they’d do that. Is any of the following possible? A) There’s no roles to move into – you can’t just create a promotion for someone usually, normally there has to be a vacancy to fill. B) job cuts or restructures are coming and all promotions are on hold (have you seen anything that might suggest this?). C) While you might meet set targets (sales, processing times, functional targets of the job) your attitude or soft skills may not be appropriate for a promotion. D) There may not be clarity between different levels, depending on your job this sort of thing isn’t always documented in a structured way. Seniority usually requires a mix of experience (which may include time spent outside the company in a related role), skills, soft people skills and willingness to be part of the team/work cohesively.

        Another thought is a company that promotes near yearly suggests to me there’s an obscenely high staff turn over and a need to constantly back fill in the entry level ranks (or undergoing crazy year on year growth, which could well be slowing). Is this really a company you want to battle your way through in? Take a strong look around you and work out why people are leaving? Why is there so much promotion? And what will you gain if you ‘move up the ranks’? Is it really worth it? Brushing up your LinkedIn might well be worth exploring, and keeping that manager onside for a reasonable reference could be a good goal.

    2. Anon for now*

      I don’t have it in me to be all nice and smiley with someone who did that to me.

      You absolutely do not have to do that. Neutral and even cold civility is sufficient. You don’t need to smile at him or start (or remain in) chitchat type conversations. A natural consequence of his behavior is that people will not want to talk to him. That’s okay. I have a manager with behavioral issues and I even have a sticky note on my computer reminding myself “say as little as possible to Fergus.” I keep my face a flat as possible with him and my tone neutral when we do need to interact. Do what you need to protect yourself from his nonsense while you work on getting out.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        This +1000. Just be professional and neutrally pleasant and GTFO.
        Living well is the best revenge!

    3. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      “How am I even supposed to speak to this man going forward?”

      Just don’t. Find a new job and give yourself the promotion and raise you know you deserve. This man has nothing to do with your life outside of this job. So get rid of the job, get rid of the man.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      I’m glad you held your ground. That’s hard to do in the face of that kind of reaction. It’s totally on him that he isn’t able to justify either the high scores for everyone or the medium scores for everyone. While I’m shocked and impressed that he apologized fairly quickly and seemingly without prompting, that doesn’t excuse his inability to give you actionable feedback or a clear path to promotion. The ability to apologize, while good, doesn’t make up for all his failings as a manager. It definitely sounds like he’s been overpromoted beyond his abilities and now it’s really showing.

      I worked in an internship where the coordinator controlling my pay reacted this way when I asked for a raise due to receiving my advanced degree while I was working there. He snapped at me that I should know I was already being paid well and should be grateful, etc. etc. when of course there was no way of knowing that because there was no pay transparency. He never apologized but he also never acted out against me again (likely because I gave him no reason) and the very few meetings I had to have with him before I left, I was scrupulously polite and kept my answers concise without being terse. He lost all my respect that day, but I don’t think he ever knew that.

      BTW, we all got that “3/5 is a very good score” lecture every year at my previous company, which subscribed to the rank/stack method of demotivating employees. I got consistent 4s from all of my managers *except* the one who had promotion authority, and of course there was just the “stay the course, you’re doing well!” kind of feedback rather than anything useful to apply. Having no clear path and no actionable feedback for three years finally pushed me to get out.

      1. Cj*

        Agree that the way the coordinator spoke to you makes them as add. But I’m curious – is it normal to get a raise when you are an intern?

        At least in my experience, they are generally only a few months long, and I don’t see where getting your advanced degree in the middle of it would be of much value to the company, unless you were actually able to use it in the duties they assign an intern.

        I don’t mean that to sound snarky, and I apologize if that’s how it came out. I’m genuinely curious as to how that would usually work.

    5. Super Duper Anon*

      The bad meeting with his boss and the CEO was just a cover excuse. He got nasty and combative because he was embarrassed about being caught being lazy and clueless. My suggestions:
      – Drop getting review feedback completely. He is not going to improve, he is not going to give you feedback, he is probably hoping you forget about it by the time you do reviews again.
      – Stay neutral. You don’t have to be happy and smile, but don’t let your anger show either.
      – Interact only when you need to. Let him know about issues that affect you and other team members where not doing so could get you in trouble (like deadlines are going to be missed on a project, for example) but assume he isn’t going to advocate for you or help fix bigger issues.
      -Apply for other stuff and get out when you can :)

      1. Cold Fish*

        Is there any way to go back to HR and/or Bosses Boss and tell them you’ve asked several times what you need to do to advance but manager won’t even tell you the difference between Llama Analyst and Senior Llama Analyst, has admitted several times that he doesn’t take the performance reviews seriously, and it is starting to effect you’re view as the company as a whole.

        As for manager, just try and keep your interactions professionally, that’s all. When my companies Owner pissed me off, I posted a picture on my wall that is not offensive at all (think a picture of a donkey) but it reminds me every time I see it that company won’t go to bat for me so why should I go to bat for company.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, I would be sorely tempted to go back to HR with exact quotes in response to your question.

          I agree that he is very embarrassed. Instead of just saying, “I am working on this and it will be a couple weeks then I will have an answer.”, he is dwelling on how this looks and how this damages his rep. He could, you know, just focus and learn what he needs to learn. But that is not what he has chosen.

          You could also request a meeting with him and HR or if you really feel like giving him a kick in the butt HR, him and his boss. I’d be very careful about the latter choice and probably would not do it.

          I would point out to HR that if people cannot get promoted [in this department/in this company] then what is the incentive for new hires to start working at your department/company?

          I am almost thinking with him being so rattled and you say that previously you had a good relationship, that something else is going on and this is the tip of the iceberg. I suspect his big bosses are very angry over something he did but it’s not about the performance evals. If I am correct, then you might be getting a new boss in the future.

          Think about it though, your boss tells you that you did a poor job on your evals. Would you go to this level of meltdown? If you were reprimanding an employee for doing a poor job on evals of his employees would you melt down the way the big boss(es?) did? It’s not a crime against humanity for pete’s sake, it’s an eval that can be redone. I would be very surprised to find out nothing else is going on here.

          1. Miss. Bianca*

            “I am almost thinking with him being so rattled and you say that previously you had a good relationship, that something else is going on and this is the tip of the iceberg. I suspect his big bosses are very angry over something he did but it’s not about the performance evals.”

            This is a good point. I had assumed the CEO being there meant something about them being upset with meeting company goals (meaning new customer goals, forecast/budgets, finances, etc.), but now I wonder…but I think if it was putting him on a PIP or something else he’s in trouble for, why HR wasn’t there.

      2. Cj*

        Maybe he did actually had a bad meeting with them, and it was about his being a bad manager. Hence the skip level meeting that was scheduled with the OP.

        1. Miss. Bianca*

          Maybe, but it was probably about budgets and meeting revenue goals or something that mattered to the high-ups lol. Although, I *think* he meets with his boss before me, so why was the CEO there? Before I was thinking it was a meeting for something with revenue, but that’s an interesting thought.

          His boss told our team, probably more than a month ago, he wanted to schedule skip level intro meetings with all of us, and he sent out my invite in the period between my boss’s hissyfit and apology. But hmm, maybe there is something going on.

    6. I was told there would be llamas*

      I have no advice…I think you handled it the best way possible. You asked multiple times for examples AND gave him a heads up that you were going to ask again…there’s NO reason for him not to be prepared to explain what you need to do to get from a 3 to a 5 when you’ve given him a heads up. Do you have skip level 1:1s at your company?

      1. Miss. Bianca*

        It’s funny, I actually just had a skip level after I posted this, with his boss who joined the company a few months ago.

        It actually went well. He explained the 3’s vs 5’s in a context for the organizational setting. Not specific for me, but it was more information than I’ve gotten. He also talked about how he sent a professional development plan template to my boss and asked if my boss sent the plan to me, which he hadn’t. He also asked about career goals. He came off as very transparent and that he has his shit together.

        I’m still going to update my LinkedIn/resume, because my boss has made it clear he doesn’t care and (a) I don’t want to work with someone like that (b) it’s hurting the entire department that he’s in charge of us all. But I’m more hopeful now that we have a grandboss who knows what he’s doing, however, my boss might take his frustrations out on us

        1. JustForThis*

          Is it possible that your boss might be managed out by your grandboss? It seems that it becomes apparent to grandboss that boss is not doing a good job. So it may be worth waiting it out if you otherwise like your work environment.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          The big boss was pleasant with you. This makes me believe even more that there is something else going on here.
          BTW, I kind of thought that if you talked to a big boss you’d get a different feel for what is going on.

    7. Kes*

      You don’t have to be smiley, but it’s in your own interest to remain polite and professional with him, not just in his. Taking the higher ground will uphold your good reputation (not just with him, but with your coworkers) as well as preserving the reference. I would channel your frustration instead into the search for a new position

    8. Workerbee*

      Echoing others to go ahead and focus energies on getting the heck out. Not only is your boss not a good manager or leader, but that whole rating system is so crappy. I have suffered through these and similar before. Even a “good” boss can’t often get around that, especially with what sounds like ridiculousness coming down from leadership.

      (I was delighted when my old org finally tacitly admitted that they really weren’t making decisions based on any of that “data” anyway, and just went straight to a “Here’s the % we’re working with, here’s the % allotted to your department, if you want to put in for more for somebody, you can, otherwise, cost-of-living + any overage if we had a good year.” I mean, that has its own pitfalls, but the suffering & stress over all the useless paperwork and assigning numbers was at least gone.)

    9. Green Goose*

      Wow, what a jerk! I’m so impressed that you held your ground in such an awkward situation. This reminds me of a LW from years ago who kept trying to get an official JD (which is a very normal thing to ask for) and her manager got more and more agitated and then one day grabbed the LW by the wrist and basically hissed that they needed to stop asking.

      Are you comfortable relaying what happened to HR, and do it in a faux-confused way. “My manager had given me a 5/5 on my most recent review and I asked about a potential promotion based on my 5/5. Manager then said he ‘made a mistake’ and changed my score to 3/5. I was very confused about this and asked for examples of why my score changed from 5/5 to a 3/5 on [date 1] and [date 2] and was not provided information. Then at our check-in on [date 3] I asked for more information about my score and he became agitated and said “I’m about to be frustrated” which made me quite concerned. Is there a different person I should be asking this information from?” I’d be tempted to also mention that he admitted that he did not take the process seriously and only changed your score after you asked about a promotion.

      Hopefully you can get out soon, but I bet if he is treating you this way, there are others or will be others in the future.

  4. GTFO my kitchen*

    Does anyone have any success stories for work projects with too many cooks in the kitchen? Either shutting down the meddling or just emotionally detaching?

    I’m on a project approaching an important review. The review is soon enough that we just need to execute on plans in flight and hope for the best. There are only three engineers, including me, directly working on it, but five managers all want to “help” contribute “ideas” on how to improve the project. I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted from SIX meetings over the last two weeks with these needy managers — and these are in addition to the two weekly meetings where my project gives updates to an audience that includes all these managers (which of course several of them regularly skip).

    I don’t know if it’s about appearing smart or helpful or what but it’s like asking the captain of the Titanic “hey what if we changed the hull design, look I drew a picture and I think this could be much better” while the last rowboats are about to pull away. ARGHHH.

    1. adminatlarge*

      No success stories, but commiseration. It’s so easy for someone to say, “hey, why don’t we do x,” and then they get to walk away – proud of their “contribution” while someone else has to do all the actual work.

    2. Alice*

      Any chance of putting them off? To just tell them any changes now are a risk that may make you miss the deadline? This is an interesting idea, why don’t we circle back to this after the review?

      I’ve had some success just telling meddlesome people that I could guarantee the current plan would give us a result, but any changes now were a risk. Especially when framing it as “I’m not shutting down your stupid idea that I’m sure you spent a whole 5 minutes on, just moving it to the future and hoping you’ll forget by then”.

      Aside from that, the only solution is emotional detachment. I’ve delivered many a mediocre project with the knowledge that I’d done my best with the constraints given…

    3. TechGirlSupervisor*

      Not sure how time is tracked at your company, but one way I combat this sort of thing is to setup a tracking/charge code for meetings and make everyone log to it. Once you can point at the numbers that show how much time is wasted in meetings vs actual productivity by the doers, it gets serious.

      Another technique is to just stop going to the meetings, block off your calendar and generally be “unavailable”. Highly dependent on how likely it is you can get away with this sort of thing.

      My final piece of advise is to have one (hopefully) final meeting where you lay out the critical path of the work and directly ask all these managers which piece they would like to slip to implement their newest ideas. Make them own the slippage if they want it so badly. My job as a technical leader is to provide a solution and an estimate of the work, PMs get to decide what work they want done based on business needs. It’s their call, not yours, if the project slips, so make it their call, explicitly.

    4. Eng Proj Mgr*

      One trick that sometimes works is to put the effort back on them. Say something like this:
      “That is a great idea, can you expand on it in a more actionable set of ideas and steps so the team could put a some timing to it to see if it will fit within the scope of the project?”
      Basically return to sender but with a simple request of more detail broken down. Lot’s of time those what about this have just a basic idea and then expect other to fill in the blanks. Push back on them to fill in the blanks and then it all goes away.

      1. Mockingjay*

        I do this too. It works beautifully to make bad ideas go away. If they come back, “hey, I was waiting for your list of changes before I proceeded.” “Oh yeah, I’ll get to that.” And it fades away…

    5. Ashley*

      Use any deadlines to your advantage. Detaching is much easier when you role isn’t a leader and just a player, but if you are held responsible for the results it can just be frustrating. Try to keep things focused on suggestions that impact you the most and voice issues as that arises. Good luck trying to get out of a meeting or two or at least get them to be shorter.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      Ugh. I’ve worked on projects with executives and they use every meeting as a brainstorming session rather than planning or making decisions. They just want to hear themselves think out loud. I’ve developed a short fuze for it and now I pretty much throw the project back at them.
      “If you would like to change the direction of this project, you can discuss it amongst yourselves and get back to me when you have made your decisions and are ready to move forward. In the meantime, the project will be put on hold and we will move forward with other work.”
      Either they focus, or they say they really do want to rethink it but they never do and the project drops.

    7. Not that Leia*

      I have similar experiences. What has worked for me:
      Have the meeting, listen attentively, then just…ignore what’s not useful. Most of the time with that kind of feedback, there’s not ever really any follow through. That has tended to be easier and ruffles less feathers than trying to make a point or actually change behavior. (Even if that is warranted.) I also try to be a buffer between team and outside management so at least it’s just my time being sucked up.
      Bonus if there is anything small or discrete that you CAN incorporate, then if it ever comes up, you can highlight their “help” and counter any complaints about not listening.
      I have also tried preemptively asking for specific help that WOULD be useful (like working through a knotty technical question), but that only works if the manager person in question has the capacity to be useful in production.

    8. tessa*

      I wonder what’s going on with unnecessarily hostile profile names showing up here, seemingly suddenly.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Who leads the meetings?

      What are the company guidelines for how groups should make decisions?

    10. Orora*

      If you find any of those answers, let me know. I work in academia. Our tenured faculty LOVE to give suggestions on administrative projects, but don’t attend the informational sessions, read the emails or participate in the committees on these projects. When I brought up how frustrating this was to an outside advisor (a senior faculty member at another higher ed institution) yesterday, this was the answer I got: “Some ideas that would make a positive contribution to the mission of XYZ Organization, they [the faculty] would prefer to engage in “how can we make this work” discussion, rather than just hearing that “this is not possible”. Even if at times, some of these are not possible despite the positive potential.” So, even if something is illegal, immoral, unethical or otherwise simply not possible, I’m still supposed to have meetings about it and give consideration to it? What a colossal waste of everyone’s time.

    11. BeetleCat*

      One strategy I’ve seen used on projects I’ve been on that is effective at redirecting tons of extraneous ideas or input is reminding folks of the difference between the “would be *nice* to have” goals/targets list and the “what we NEED to have” list. That, followed with asking people to think critically about the capacity of the project team members to accomplish that NEED list usually means people recognize pretty quickly that a lot of the “nice to have” list items aren’t actually feasible to accomplish with the given team/timeline. Maybe if that can be accomplished in a meeting with at least some of the needy managers present, you could then email a summary of the agreed-upon targets to everyone, reiterating the capacity side of things? Depends on how much leadership capital you have though to make those decisions I suppose.

    12. anonymath*

      I work in a similar environment but am a manager. I saw the effect of the meetings with needy stakeholders and worked with a colleague to cancel all the meetings, including the weekly updates. Can you recruit a manager to do this for you? Phrases:
      “We are re-assessing our meeting cadence and will restart after establishing new metrics.”
      “We’re carrying out a meeting audit and want to consolidate to once a week.”
      “As we approach the deadline I want to give the team heads-down time to work.”
      “We’re approaching a critical execution phase and need to free up engineer time.”

      Things to point out: ratio of “stakeholders” to “do-ers” — when you point it out (we have five VPs and two engineers in this biweekly meeting!). Changing goals based on continuous input.

      People just want to stay in the loop and look helpful, feel like they’re contributing. But good management is not about making all the other managers *feel useful*, it’s about getting the work accomplished, no? So who is going to look worst when this project fails, and can you get them to cut the meetings and manage the feelings?

    13. Snuck*

      These extra meetings -are they trying to change the course of the project? Or just needing extra hand holding and extra attention along the way?

      If they are trying to change the course of hte project then I’d nix the meetings, and get stakeholder sign off formally on each element that needs it. Say something like “So we can meet the next target gate we need to sign off on final decisions now, and make sure that we’re all working. Then any changes after this will need to come through as post implementation changes, unless they are agreed to by all the stakeholders/reach an agreed critical mass. We need to lock the specifications of this down now if we are to make launch date and embargo changes.” And get everyone to formally agree in a meeting this is the agreed final specification, and proceed. Then if they try to change it say “you need to get stakeholders x y and z to agree, and they will need to understand this will push launch of product out by ## days and delay testing a further three, plus cost $$ in overtime.”

      If it’s attention seeking… work out why. Ponder this – are they the marketing types who need lots of pretty pictures and happy messaging to feel like they are getting the message, and hate hard data (find it dull)? I’ve worked with teams that have a clash of these two styles – soft marketing types and hard data. I used to grin internally and provide the same update information to both, but do it in two meetings. In the soft marketing people meeting (gosh full diaries can let you grab select people sometimes!) I’d do the warm fuzzy stuff, with the hard data glossed over and provided as an addendum. For the hard data people I’d give them more data, and addendum the communication messages etc. Consider tailoring your two weekly meetings to focus more on one then the other? Instead of everyone sitting around meetings maybe set an agenda for one that is “Review outstanding action items across entire project, review marketing and communications, review dates and slippages, review user experience requirements” and the other “Review outstanding actions items across the entire project, review coding and bug testing, review dates and slippages, review system and storage capacity, review specification updates.” Then people can come to one or other, but only come to both if they have a foot in each pie.

      Then schedule (control the time!) meetings to provide releases of information after key set dates in your project, cheerily say “Yes, we’re in mad slog mode now, but just before we finalise requirements we’ll have a general round table meeting for everyone to review and finalise – I’d rather have everyone at that one so we don’t miss conflicts or data issues m’kay” when someone suggests another meeting to you.

      And budget? Bump that to whomever is paying for it all. Push some of it back to your ‘stakeholders’ who need to manage their minions.

  5. bubbleon*

    Question for the commentariat about benefits. I started a new job recently and in my offer letter was told that “comprehesive benefits include [Plan] Medical, Dental, and Vision with multiple coverage options.” I definitely should have done some more digging and asked to see the plan, but I was super excited about the opportunity and desperate to leave OldJob.
    I’ve now been here long enough to enroll in coverage and find that NewJob and I share the cost of the plans. Insurance was fully covered at OldJob, so I honestly hadn’t even considered it, but reading the offer letter back it still reads to me like this would be fully covered. Am I just clueless and the assumption should have been that it would be split?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I would assume that coverage would be partially the responsibility of the employee. There are very few employers in the US who do 100% coverage of premiums.

      1. anon e mouse*

        Yes, agreed. I have had about 5 jobs that offered insurance and 2 of them were 100%-employer paid (for employee, spouse and dependent coverage was shared), and I suspect 40% is very much on the high side in terms of how many employers offer this in reality.

      2. CatCat*

        Agreed. I think the default is that the employee also pays toward premiums. Definitely something to ask about in the future.

        A job that covered 100% of premiums would likely advertise that because it is not typical and could be very attractive in a competitive job marketplace.

      3. Laney Boggs*

        I turned down a job that paid 100% of the “base” insurance. I have regrets as I enter my first full year of paying my own insurance

        (Turned 26 mid-last-year after 25 years of my dads excellent state health insurance. I also front loaded all my yearly appointments so it was still his lol)

      4. Clisby*

        I think that’s true. My husband’s employer covers 100% of the premium for our family plan, which is great. The CPA who does our taxes tells me that’s pretty uncommon. (Not uncommon to cover 100% of the employee’s premium, but definitely uncommon to cover all of the premium for a family of 4.)

    2. lost academic*

      Nothing you wrote suggests that you would get fully covered insurance options (especially since they reference multiple coverage options) to my understanding and that’s a really great perk. HR would have been immediately able to share with you the cost options. I think you should absolutely have asked to get clarification and used that in your negotiation because it represents a benefits and pay cut. Maybe that wouldn’t have changed your decision but you’d know more clearly.

    3. Harried HR*

      Most employer share benefits cost with employees particularly smaller employers. Employers that cover 100 % of benefits are a rare breed.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      Not clueless but maybe… inexperienced? I’ve never had a job where insurance was covered in full, so I would never make that assumption. But in your shoes, maybe.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      My employer covers 100% for the employee but the employee pays for any spouses or kids. I get the impression, though, that this has become an uncommon situation and in workplaces in general I think I would expect to split the cost.

      1. Cranky Lady*

        This has been my experience in many places (in the US)…employee fully covered on the cheapest plan but upgrading plans or adding dependents costs extra. But I’ve also worked primarily in non-profits or related industries.

    6. Cat Mouse*

      It sounds like the benefits available would cover a wide range of medical needs (elective surgery for example, orthodontics, procedures not always included in plans) and there are multiple plan levels to choose from. That wording doesn’t read like the employee would cover the full cost of the plan. I think it’s a safe assumption that cost would be split.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Yes, this is what I read into it as well. My employer covers most of our plan costs, but the employees also pay a portion of it, deducted from our paychecks every pay period. That has been the case everywhere I’ve worked since I first got a job with actual medical benefits.

      2. doreen*

        I would assume the cost would be split, especially since multiple plans are offered. The one job I had where I could have gotten fully paid insurance only fully paid for one plan and if you wanted one of the others they offered, you paid the difference. I think you read “comprehensive benefits” to mean it was fully employer-paid, but in my experience that’s a description of the benefits themselves. Plenty of benefit plans don’t include dental or vision for example.

    7. insurance*

      yeah, that’s pretty normal and the assumption should’ve been that it’d be split. your last company went above and beyond. hopefully they’re not too expensive.

    8. Decidedly Me*

      My assumption is always that I will be paying something unless it specifies fully covered. Benefits including health, dental, and vision doesn’t read to me as the premiums being covered, just that they offer those plans.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yep. This. I do appreciate when companies I’m interviewing at give me a breakdown of employee costs, though!

    9. bubbleon*

      Lesson learned I guess! I was at oldjob a loooooooooooooooooong time so I never even considered that they, who were doing the bare minimum everywhere else, were doing us a favor there. It definitely isn’t a dealbreaker now, just a wrinkle. Thanks all!

      1. lost academic*

        It’s an important wrinkle especially if your situation grows in complexity which is pretty much a given as anyone ages, even without considering spouse or dependent coverage. It doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker, but even going to different plans with different coverage, deductible, you name it – you need to be able to compare your coverage and your exact out of pocket costs before you finalize a negotiation.

    10. Littorally*

      To me, “multiple coverage options” is the cue that the premiums are not fully paid by the employer, because what that means is that you will have the choice between good/expensive coverage, possibly middling/middling coverage, and bad/cheap coverage. If the company is footing 100% of the premium, everyone would just pick the good coverage and be done with it.

      1. bubbleon*

        I guess, but OldJob offered multiple coverage options too (basically the same as these) and everyone had different coverage for different reasons.

      2. ANon*

        In my experience, it used to mean that, but in the past decade it’s come to mean you get a choice between a high deductible plan and a co-pay based plan. The high deductible plan will be cheaper but also means you have to pay thousands out of pocket before the insurance kicks in.

        1. Littorally*

          But if you’re not paying the premiums, why would you opt for the cheaper, high-deductible plan?

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Presumably ANon like most American employees IS paying a share of the premiums.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            A few possibilities:
            They offer multiple plans and the only one covered 100% is the cheap high deductible one. The others you pay the difference. (My last 3, all in the US, employers have all had 1 option where the employee does not pay any of the premiums. The other options were all considered “buy up” plans.)
            The high deductible plan may have a different network, or different out-of-network coverage, so even if both plans have no direct cost to you, if you have a specialist you don’t want to leave who wouldn’t otherwise be covered, you pick the one that gets you some coverage for that specialist.
            Other details of what is or isn’t covered that differs between the offered plans.

    11. AnonAnon*

      I’m assuming you’re in the US? I think you don’t necessarily have to call yourself clueless, but it would be good to know from now on that there’s a range in how employers handle health insurance coverage contributions. I’ve only worked for large organizations, and there were typically 3 options (or 3 tiers) for employees to choose from: an option for no additional employee contribution, a middle option, and a “high-end” option. In my experience, typically the no-additional contribution option had a higher deductible and more out of pocket expenses, but while the high-end option asks for more employee contribution up front, it also offers lower deductibles and lower out of pocket expenses. Personally I always took the high-end option. So yes, asking to see the plan before accepting the job would be a good idea. The plan offered may or may not be a deal breaker but it would be good not to be caught off guard in any case.

    12. I was told there would be llamas*

      And I’m the opposite…I had no clue that there were companies that covered 100%! If a company covers 100%, I would expect they would mention this multiple times (now that I know it’s a thing!)

    13. Lady Danbury*

      I’ve never had a job that covered insurance fully, in both the US and HomeCountry. I know that some places do, but that’s def the exception, not the norm.

    14. ArtK*

      The norm everywhere I’ve worked is this: Company covers part of the premiums. The remaining part is deducted (pre-tax) from my paycheck. I’m responsible out-of-pocket for: Copays, deductibles, and the difference between what the insurance pays the provider and what the provider charges. A company that covers 100% of health care costs is a unicorn as far as I can tell.

      My current plan is a High Deductible plan with an HSA. Extra money is taken (again pre-tax) out of my paycheck and put into a special account that I can use to pay for the things that aren’t paid for otherwise. Given that the family deductible was $4500 last year, that was a big help. BTW, I work for a Fortune 10 company.

    15. BRR*

      I wouldn’t say the assumption should have been that it would be split but you should always ask for further details about the insurance. Not only the premium but what the plan covers. The insurance at my last job was fully covered but the copays were higher than my current insurance, which I have to pay part of.

      I think it’s pretty stupid for job postings to only say a benefit is “we offer insurance” though. That means basically nothing. Job posting should provide a lot more details on benefits.

  6. Millie Mayhem*

    We’ve been working on filling a key role at my organization for the past two months and have had difficulty finding the right person. We had one candidate who we were pretty interested in, however it’s been a bit of a challenge to nail her down for interviews. This candidate is currently working full time, and I’m aware her job is demanding and keeps her busy; however, in all the back and forth with her, we’re feeling that she isn’t all that enthusastic about this position. She would often reply and say “I’ll get back to you about this tomorrow,” and then I wouldn’t hear from her for several more days.

    While waiting to hear back from this candidate, we scheduled and had a successful interview with a contractor. This person would be able to fill in for the next few months, but is not a longterm solution. However, she’s available to start immediately, and we have a huge project that we’d like her help on. We’re inclined to bring her on and re-post this position again in a couple months towards the end of her contract.

    I spoke with my boss, and we’d like to go back to the other candidate and let her know we are no longer interested. She had e-mailed me back yestesrday in response to a request I sent her regarding her availability for an in person interview. In her e-mail, she asked if I could call her to get this scheduled (which is also kind of weird, as I asked her to e-mail me her availability). Would it be rude to e-mail her back and let her know we no longer want to move forward? Or would this warrant a phone call?

    1. hamsterpants*

      If you have trouble nailing her down for interviews then to me that suggests that it would be hard to nail her down for a phone call, too, right? I vote for an email. At this stage a phone call would not be an offer, so if you ask to call she’ll probably guess what it means anyway so it’s not like a phone call will let her down more gently.

    2. Sloanicote*

      Yeah just tell her you’ve found another candidate and wish her good luck. I find holding on for that wishy-washy person never works. They don’t take the job in the end or they leave right away. Hire the one who seems eager to start.

    3. lost academic*

      If you’re still interested in this candidate and you’re just going to go with a contractor for a short term, there’s no reason to burn the bridge with the candidate unless the back and forth has ruled her out enough to do so. It doesn’t cost you anything to continue talking to her.

      1. Snuck*


        I would try to ring her! She’s letting you know email isn’t working for her. I’m not sure where you are emailing her but if it’s her personal one she might not be (probably shouldn’t be!) checking that during office hours, and sometimes we have crazy busy lives out of work (kids, families, dogs, the universe) so things get dropped. They shouldn’t, but we don’t know what is happening.

        I have no idea what her job role is currently, but she’s saying the best way to contact her is via telephone, so do that. You can do a soft screen call with her, ask her about her interest in the role, ask her why she’s looking to move on, her availability, and provide her with salary range and confirm it meets her expectations. If she comes across as a good candidate after that schedule an interview within 48 hours and explain you have another strong candidate available immediately and want to move forward. She then has to work out how she’s going to make that work (particularly as it’s seems its’ taken longer than a week? To get ahold of her, so the onus is on her to be a bit more available right now). Consider an out of office hours interview if that’s all she can wrangle, but schedule it soon. Tell the contractor you are keen but just finalising another applicant and can tell her in 3 days. Then… work it through fast, in three days.

        If the phone call shows you that the commitment just isn’t there, or she cannot interview for various reasons for a week etc I’d just go with the contractor now, and explain to the applicant that you are sorry, but this is a time sensitive appointment right now, but you are confident you’ll have another opening in a couple of months and if she’d like to keep talking with you and be considered for that one then would that be ok? And see what happens.

    4. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Have any of the interview times you’ve offered her been outside normal working hours? It’s really hard to interview for jobs when you’re employed full time because hardly anyone will offer an early morning, evening, or weekend interview date, and it’s even worse when the job you’re trying to leave is so busy you can’t carve out any time.

    5. social work data nerd*

      I think an e-mail is fine and I would say something like “our plans for filling this position as posted at this time have changed. We may repost at a later time. Best of luck with your job search.”

    6. tessa*

      If she is this flaky at the pre-interview stage, imagine what she’d be like at work.

      I’d go with the contractor and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.

      1. Mouse*

        I don’t think this is necessarily fair. She may be looking to leave her job because she’s severely overworked and not willing to risk her current job security for a possible new job. I agree that at this point OP should move on, but I don’t think this is definitely an indicator of how she would be as an employee.

        1. Cj*

          I agree that her being extremely busy at her current job good affect her ability to interview, particularly during normal business hours. But her saying she would respond to your email tomorrow, and then doesn’t respond for several days can certainly be viewed as “flaky”.

          Would she be flaky and a new position? Maybe not. Maybe she’s been flaky with the job interviews, etc. so that she is not flaky about keeping on top of her work at her current position and would be a great employee.

        2. anonymous73*

          I wouldn’t call her flaky, but I would say she’s unreliable, and whether that would translate to the new job we don’t know. But would you be willing to take that chance? Even if you’re busy at your current job, you can’t expect the company that’s doing the hiring to make all of the compromises and hunt you down for an interview. That’s sure to be a one way ticket to nowheresville.

        3. tessa*

          That could be true, but “…in all the back and forth with her, we’re feeling that she isn’t all that enthusiastic about this position. She would often reply and say ‘I’ll get back to you about this tomorrow,’ and then I wouldn’t hear from her for several more days.”

          I’d move on no matter what, because that isn’t a first great impression, at all.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            One of the most useful things I remember Alison saying about somebody who was an iffy candidate was something like, “This is what they’re like at the interview stage, where most people are trying to come across at their best. If you’re not happy with them now, you probably won’t be when they’re settled down and trying less hard to impress you either.”

            Even if this candidate is overworked and all that, she’s supposedly trying to come across well if this really *is* a job she’s interested in. (And if not, the OP’s gut feeling that she’s not all that enthusiastic about this job is correct.) If she says she’ll get back to you tomorrow and you don’t hear from her for several days, then either she’s not actually that interested in this job, or she is interested and she’s like that even when she’s trying hard to impress. Neither one sounds like a candidate I would want to have work for me.

    7. Ashley*

      If by a few months you are really just talking 2-3 I would keep the posting and still follow-up with any candidates that apply. By the time all the background, reference check, and notice periods this person may not start for that long even with a decision in a few weeks.
      If this is a really strong candidate and not an entry level position I would give them the benefit of the doubt and try to accommodate them, but talk about it during the interview regarding their availability. This is 2022 where daycares are not always open and as people keep switching jobs those left sometimes are really feeling the work load and trying to balance everything.

    8. Hiring Mgr*

      This isn’t a direct answer to your question, but if the new person is just there for a couple of months, why cut ties with the first one when you’ve said you’ve had a hard time finding good candidates?

      If it’s truly a key role and you’re hurting for good people, I wouldn’t hold some scheduling difficulties against them. Plus it doesnt’ sound like they’ve been rude or missed an interview, just going at a slightly different pace from you..

    9. Lady Danbury*

      It’s totally fine to email her, especially since she’s been hard to get on the phone.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Just my opinion, so FWIW. This is a person who either can’t prioritize/control their scheduling or this is a person who can’t say no even when pressed.

      I’ve seen it here where people prefer to be told “no thanks” in a email. This allows them a moment to collect themselves, where phoning does not. Put it in email and be done with it.

    11. fhqwhgads*

      Fascinating. This candidate is treating you the way employers usually treat candidates.

  7. Resenting my boss*

    We’ve had several posts here in the last few weeks about how hard things are for working parents, and they always make me feel like such a miserable Scrooge. I guess I’m here for a gut check and some advice on how to stop feeling resentful.

    Here’s the situation. I work for Sam, whose partner travels a lot for work. This means that when one of the kids is sick or the school is closed, Sam is frequently the only person available to take care of the situation. We’re a customer-facing government office, so very little of our work can be done from home and I’m the person most of Sam’s work falls on when they’re out of the office. I’ve stepped up and done what was needed, and Sam’s bosses have expressed their gratitude and told me they’re impressed by my capabilities.

    But now we’re severely understaffed. About half of our positions are currently vacant and we’re still required to cover all of our normal hours, including evenings and weekends. This month, Sam enrolled the kids in an evening and weekend sports league, effectively taking themself out of the evening and weekend rotation. I’m working twice as many weekend shifts as usual this month and they’re scheduled for none at all.

    I don’t want Sam’s kids to have a miserable life with no fun and no sports, but I’m so exhausted and overwhelmed all the time and I’m really mad at Sam for putting me in this position. I know being a working parent is hard, and being a working parent whose spouse is rarely around to help is even harder, but this is hard for me too and I don’t know what to do with these feelings.

    1. Sloanicote*

      I think separate your anger at the company, for not hiring enough staff, versus Sam, who presumably didn’t do anything wrong. If the company can’t address your workload, job search; don’t feel obliged to care more than they do. Draw your own lines in the sand about availability – they’re unlikely to fire you. And taking on tasks for people who are pulling back due to other obligations is often a road for raises and promotions for you – if you’re not getting those, see my second sentence.

    2. hamsterpants*

      This is a problem with your company’s staffing, not with Sam. Sam has drawn their personal boundaries and let the professional chips fall where they may. You should do the same.

      1. Cj*

        I’m not so sure. If all employees are expected to work at least some evenings and weekends, and Sam intentionally took himself out of that rotation by signing his kids up for optional sports. I think it is partly a Sam problem.

        The difference between that and the kids being sick is the fact that this is optional for Sam. If you have a partner that travels I can’t take the kids to practice and games, and your job requires you to work the evenings and weekends when these events take place, then it may just be something your kids can’t do right now.

        1. Anon for this one*

          It would be uncharitable for me to suggest that Sam might have intentionally picked the evening and weekend commitment for the kids specifically in order to get out of it. Sam is presumably feeling the burnout as well.

          1. Cj*

            I guess I probably worded that wrong. While I realize it sounded that way, I didn’t mean that he was (necessarily) trying to get out of those shifts by signing the kids up for sports. I meant “intentional” as in intentionally scheduling things for those times, as opposed to unintentionally not being able to work because the kids are sick.

        2. Purple Cat*

          It’s not “resenting’s” problem with Sam if he’s not working his required shifts.
          That’s Management’s problem with Sam.
          Just like dumping all of the missing shifts on Resenting is also management’s problem – and that’s who they should be mad at.

    3. Yarrow*

      I know it’s easy to blame Sam for this, emotionally but I think you know intellectually that this is your employers’ fault for having these positions vacant for now. Maybe shifting the blame in your head will help dissipate the resentment or at least place it where it belongs. If you employer were able to hire more staff, it wouldn’t be so hard for everyone.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        The key line: “customer-facing government office” may mean that no hiring is possible.
        Despite that, it still isn’t Sam’s fault, and you’ll have to decide if the situation is still tolerable.

        1. Chaordic One*

          A lot of the time additional hiring is possible, but for a variety of reasons, they aren’t attracting qualified candidates. Low wages, a cumbersome application process (think USAJobs-dot-com), poor training, odd work hours, not making hiring (or even retaining) a priority, etc, etc.

    4. Harried HR*

      Repeat as Needed…
      I’m unavailable to cover that (shift, project additional workload)

      This needs to be a Manager problem NOT a you problem.

      The reason you are unavailable is irrelevant (childcare or a netflix binge session)

      The issue is with Management and the way the work load is distributed not the fact that your co-worker has kids.

      1. Antilles*

        It’s also a Management issue because apparently they’re cool with Sam just unilaterally deciding to opt out of the weekend/evening shifts? That really isn’t how this should work.

        1. Clisby*

          “Sam enrolled the kids in an evening and weekend sports league, effectively taking themself out of the evening and weekend rotation. I’m working twice as many weekend shifts as usual this month and they’re scheduled for none at all.”

          If Sam can just opt out of weekend work, so can the OP.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Sam is the manager (OP of the thread says that they “work for Sam”) and in that sense I think it’s more of an issue with a manager making themselves unavailable than it would be for a ‘standard’ employee. Part of the remit of management, and why it’s typically paid more, is the responsibility of being on the hook for things like coverage issues. Sam is just letting that fall to their staff at the moment.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      This is fundamentally an employer problem but, yes, I commiserate with you about Sam taking themself out of availability when they presumably know about the understaffing and that you, primarily, will have to take up the slack. Sam still has the right to do this and it’s still your employer’s problem–and you apparently need to make sure it’s your employer’s problem so they don’t get lazy and just let you drown–but I’d be privately miffed and thinking of taking up evening pottery classes, too.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I’d be privately miffed too. I’d be a lot more sympathetic toward Sam’s mandatory absences (sick kids, school closed) than I would toward this optional activity.

          1. Snark*

            It’s not like optional activities aren’t important for kids. I don’t blame Sam for looking out for his rightful top priority. The office is understaffed and that falls on more people than just him.

            1. Loulou*

              Right! To me an optional activity would be like, leaving early to take the kids to the zoo. Scheduled enrichment activities are different. I really sympathize with OP here, a lot, but I would also be horrified if a coworker told me they had pulled their kids out of dance class or whatever because of my work schedule. I don’t want that! I want the boss to add more staff.

              1. Dust Bunny*

                Except that in this instance they would have pulled their kids out of dance class because of their own work schedule, because this department is expected to cover evenings and weekends.

                I’d be horrified if my coworkers were working all the weekends and evenings because I filled them up with my kids optional activities.

              2. Rusty Shackelford*

                Sam has recused themselves from ALL evenings and weekends. Sam’s kids don’t trump Sam’s coworkers every single time. Some compromise is called for.

              3. Rusty Shackelford*

                I would also be horrified if a coworker told me they had pulled their kids out of dance class or whatever because of my work schedule.

                So if your coworker asked you to work all of the evening and weekend shifts they would normally work, and you said no, sorry, I need some time for my own things, and they said “well I guess my kids don’t get to play soccer then!” you would be horrified?

                1. Loulou*

                  No, I would be horrified if someone avoided scheduling any evening or weekend activities for their kid or themselves because there were not enough people to work evenings or weekends. I would say that more staff needed to be added because the current levels are inadequate, which indeed seems to be the case. I work someplace where we all rotate evenings and weekends but there are a few people whose schedules require accomodations, I assume for things like their kids’ schedules. if my boss just made me cover all their shifts, that would be bad management.

            2. Dust Bunny*

              They are, but maybe not every night and weekend?

              I already said it’s still an employer problem, but it’s also pretty tone-deaf at best of Sam to nope out of evenings and weekends when they know that there is the requirement that those be covered. It’s worse that the employer doesn’t enforce it, of course, but then what would Sam’s plan be if they did? Sam could have done that.

              1. Cold Fish*

                Also, can’t Sam get help with other parents in the sports league. (Carpool, Sam takes Y’s kids to practice and games this week and Y will do the same the following etc. so that then Sam can take some of the shifts, not just leaving it all on OP.

                Also, I know you are short staffed, but is there any way to work out with manager more time off during the week (theoretically when Sam is working and can cover). You’re working Saturday so you get Wednesday off?

      2. Snark*

        On the flipside, though, one’s kids shouldn’t end up holding the short end of the stick for understaffing at a parent’s workplace. Sports and activities are important. The fact that it’s falling on OP is bad management at higher levels, not a failure on Sam’s part to give up stuff that’s important for his kids.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Kids adjust to parents’ work requirements all the time, though. Or Sam could find a job that doesn’t require evenings and weekends.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Just dropping this here because it’s the first comment in the thread where it shows up. At no time in this letter has Sam been gendered. They could be Samantha; they could be Samuel; they could be nb Sam. We just don’t know.

          1. Loulou*

            Yup, I notice OP specifically chose a gender neutral name and didn’t use gendered pronouns, but it’s interesting a lot of people seem to be assuming Sam is a man.

      3. RetailEscapee*

        If Sam weren’t resentfuls superior this would be the case, but they are in a position where they are responsible for the coverage and running of things, and they are choosing to make Resentful the solution when they have authority over them. That’s not ok. When you’re in a leadership role you sometimes need to do the right thing fir your business, not force those beneath you to bear the brunt for LESS money and respect

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      This month, Sam enrolled the kids in an evening and weekend sports league, effectively taking themself out of the evening and weekend rotation.

      Wait. Sam can do that? Sam can just say “sorry, I’m not available?” And if so, can *you* do that? Not to be petty or vindictive, but to maybe force the issue about being short-staffed?

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        +1, some of these things are just about parents setting firmer boundaries with their time. The company respecting that more for parents is certainly a company issue, but “I will not be available” is a line you can use too.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        I would 100% do this. Sorry. I’m a pretty accommodating employee but there are limits.

        1. Clisby*

          Yep. What are they going to do – fire you? So they have even fewer people to cover shifts?

      3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        Yeah, this is where I’m at.

        If there’s an evening and weekend rotation, then Sam needs to be available for that the same way the rest of the rotation is available. I would be deeply irritated if the person who is frequently needing coverage ALSO limits availability during those non-prime hours.

        And if you’re not scheduled, and Sam needs coverage for one of those slots, you can happily be unavailable to fill in on a Tuesday night.

        And if this is govt, are you union? You can check with your rep about how coverage can be handled.

    7. Dancin Fool*

      I think your anger, while valid, is misdirected. It’s not Sam putting you in this position it’s your company. If you were properly staffed then Sam not being as available wouldn’t be an issue.

    8. LGC*

      The problem isn’t Sam per se. It’s management for making you shoulder the entire workload for Sam. So, if you can go to your boss…do so! Let them know that you’ve basically been covering your and Sam’s share of extra shifts, and it’s been difficult. Provide suggestions – ask if Betty and Lucinda and Jane can each pick up some shares of the shifts that Sam can’t do.

      On your general point, I’m going to be honest – it’s “yes” to everything! In many ways, being a parent is difficult. I don’t have kids myself, but I totally get that it’s a mess if your child has COVID or whatever, or even something less dramatic like sports leagues. But in many other ways, employees without children sometimes get taken advantage of in this way – they end up shouldering undesirable workloads, like you are, or otherwise miss out on opportunities because they “don’t have a family to support.” (And yes, employees with families – notably, mothers and women/female-presenting people – do get discriminated against as well.)

      1. Chirpy*

        I hadthe parents at one job completely dump everything on me – sure, the one had to do flex time to pick up her kids from school, but she shouldn’t have dumped them in *my* office to watch movies for the rest of the afternoon. And the other started doing it despite having a stay at home spouse, leaving me to close alone every Friday, despite it being the time we were most likely to get crazy visitors and I felt unsafe.

    9. Parenthesis Dude*

      Sam should probably be fired. Presumably his job description had weekend/evening work as a main part, and now he’s not doing that. He should be expected to cover his share of weekend/evening hours, or else he’s not doing his job.

      But that’s not in your control. If I were you, I’d have a chat with Sam’s manager about the situation. But ultimately, you may just need to get a new job if your boss is doing this to you.

      You should feel resentful about the situation. You’re being abused. Now the question is what to do about it.

      1. lost academic*

        Or not? We don’t have nearly enough information to expect that Sam and OP are required to cover any percentage or number of weekend and evening hours and I would instead assume that the understaffing is what has created the situation in which the regular shift staff have just been covering those as needed because they don’t see /aren’t empowered to create another solution. There also wasn’t a mention about whether or not this is compensated work (guessing not). Suggesting that someone get fired because they have made commitment that’s more likely to not interfere with their official job description is rather much. And it’s not like it’s some sort of insane commitment. Children’s events happen in the evenings and on the weekends. So do all activities for adults, too.

        These are the situations where everyone gets misplaced anger when they feel helpless to solve the problem and because we’re all married to the idea that we are our jobs and vice versa, it’s hard to really acknowledge that you can just… stop doing things that aren’t your responsibility to fix.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          > We don’t have nearly enough information to expect that Sam and OP are required to cover any percentage or number of weekend and evening hours

          But OP of the thread said that coverage is needed for “all of our normal hours, including evenings and weekends” which does sound like they are a standard requirement. OP for example is doing twice as many weekend shifts as they would normally be expected to do (which suggests that the normal expectation is for some weekend work).

      2. Loulou*

        Jeez. I’m a union employee in a coverage based job and yes, working evenings and weekends is in my job description. But if something happened that I couldn’t, I’d expect to go through a process to find an accomodations, not just get fired.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        Actually, the last job I had that required weekends, yes, this could have gotten you fired. You agreed to work weekends when you were hired and if you suddenly changed that then your availability no longer suited our needs. And, yes, it meant the same few (childless, mostly) people would get stuck with the weekends you didn’t work.

        1. Parenthesis Dude*

          One of my friends took on a job that required weekend hours and then told them after he accepted that he can’t work Saturdays due to religious reasons. They were strongly thinking of terminating him, but decided not to because he was willing to work just about every Sunday in lieu of Saturday. Because of that, the rest of the team agreed to keep him on.

          If you’re working a job that needs weekend hours, then that’s part of the deal.

      4. Subject_Clause_Predicate*

        I think that’s a pretty big leap from “Sam has established professional boundaries that put his colleagues in stressful positions” to “Sam should be fired.” We don’t know what the job description had in it at all; this is clearly an Employer problem, not a Sam problem.

        1. Parenthesis Dude*

          It’s one thing for Sam to decide if they were an equal to OP that they don’t want to work weekends and see what their boss does. If Sam has no power, then fair enough.

          It’s quite another for Sam as the BOSS to decide they don’t want to work weekends or evenings anymore and just assign it to their employees. Would you want to work for a manager like that? If it’s for medical reasons or something, then fine.

          And the OP stated that the normal hours for this position include weekends/evenings.

    10. MsSolo UK*

      Speaking as a parent who’s partner works opposite shifts, so usually ends up on sole childcare one my days off (as he does on his). I have some sympathy for Sam, and I half suspect the point of the evening and weekend classes is actually so they can get more done – whether that’s just being able to check emails while standing on the sidelines, or if the kids are old enough to be left having ten minutes to do the washing up – rather than carving out time off work, but I do think it’s an issue that it’s at your expense.

      I think you need to separate out the two Sam issues, and the employer issue:
      1 – you’re understaffed. Employer issue
      2 – Sam has to take time off for childcare with short notice due to lack of other options. Systemic social issue.
      3 – Sam has made themself unavailable for evening shifts (I’m assuming weekends were probably already out, due to childcare needs). This one, this feels like a Sam issue.

      How are evening and weekend shifts normally covered? A rota, first come first served (or last come last put upon), one of the vacant roles? Would they be part of Sam’s usual working pattern if you were fully staffed?

      Basically, is Sam avoiding part of their job role by making themself unavailable, or are they setting a boundary to avoid being asked to do work outside of their role? And does your role have the same requirements?

      If covering those shifts is also not part of your working pattern, then now is a good time to follow Sam’s example and take up an evening class that limits your availability too! Force your employer to deal with the ramifications of understaffing. If they are something both of you would be expected to do in normal times, ask Sam what their long term plan is for making sure those shifts are covered, because you don’t have the capacity to continue to cover such a high proportion of them beyond this month (oh your kids have joined a little league team! I’ve just joined an adult softball team that also meets evenings and weekends. what a coincidence!). If it would have been an abuse of power for Sam to make you cover their shifts pre-pandemic, it’s still an abuse of power now, and you’ve built up enough credit at work that I think you’re in a good position to challenge this.

      1. Ashley*

        I think some of 3 is a management issue as well. If evening and weekends are required and they are letting one employee out of that scheduling blame management and not Sam for negotiating for herself.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        I half suspect the point of the evening and weekend classes is actually so they can get more done – whether that’s just being able to check emails while standing on the sidelines, or if the kids are old enough to be left having ten minutes to do the washing up – rather than carving out time off work

        That’s a generous suspicion on your part, but Resenting says: We’re a customer-facing government office, so very little of our work can be done from home and I’m the person most of Sam’s work falls on when they’re out of the office. Sam’s not checking email and taking care of business while sitting in the bleachers. And even if the work could be done from home, I’m not sure how driving kids to practice and games, working a bit, and then driving them home, would more effective than simply staying home with the kids and getting some work done.

        1. Massive Dynamic*

          “I’m not sure how driving kids to practice and games, working a bit, and then driving them home, would more effective than simply staying home with the kids and getting some work done.”

          Often times it is – there are other responsible adults supervising your kid doing The Sport or The Dance, so you can pay closer attention to your work. At home? Just you on hand to keep those kids alive and entertained until bedtime.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            It’s a moot point anyway, since most of their work cannot be done offsite.

    11. Generic Name*

      What if you signed yourself up for evening and weekend activities, effectively taking yourself out of the rotation for those additional work hours? Nobody but you has to know that the activities are “watching Netflix” or “sleeping” or “washing your hair”.

    12. Sparkles McFadden*

      This is not how how this is supposed to work. Should Sam get time off for sick kids/childcare falling through? Yes. Should Sam get a free pass on anything and everything because of the kids? Nope.

      Most parents I worked with were considerate and reasonable and I happily switched vacation weeks so people with kids could have time off when their kids were out of school. If I had to work all evenings and weekends because someone signed up their kids for sports? No, that’s too much.

      Document everything and use that documentation to push back, or to negotiate compensation or some equitable trade off…or to start a pro/con list to decide to get a different position or otherwise move along.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        This. If evening/weekend work is part of the job description, then Sam has a responsibility to be available at least some of the time. This is no different from a parent signing their kids up for an activity at 3pm every weekday and then expecting to be allowed to leave early every day. Yes, kids require recreational activity but that doesn’t mean that they require this specific activity. I find it hard to believe that this is the only recreational activity that Sam’s kids have access to, especially since it’s a brand new activity. What were the kids doing before?

        1. J*

          Yes, my coworker did this to me. We have a monthly commitment and the occasional second commitment but the monthly one has been in place since Day 1 and the other we get 3 months notice on. She signed her kids up for sports and then told me it was my problem to solve, which won’t work since I can’t operate solo due to licensing rules. In my opinion, she did this on purpose and then management enabled it. It was a clear expectation at interview and they actually told us it would be 4-6 times the number of events, we’ve just been affected by the pandemic. She previously utilized babysitters, carpooling, etc. but now has chosen not to, which seems to me a refusal to do duties. So I made it her problem again by transferring teams. You can probably tell by my tone that there were other issues but that was one of the final straws, especially when the announcement came while I was staffing the event on the eve of a funeral for someone very close who died unexpectedly. She couldn’t cover me that night but I was expected to cover for her always. She had her priorities and I had mine.

    13. My Brain Is Exploding*

      OK…you said you work FOR Sam? If so, this is crappy. He enrolled his kids in something knowing that he would be then be out of the evening/weekend rotation. This is putting fuel on your fire! I can understand needing to step up if one of the kids is sick or school is closed – those things aren’t optional. Weekend activities are! What to do with these feelings: take action. You have a few options (based on who does the scheduling, how you feel about talking to Sam, how you feel about talking to Sam’s bosses): do nothing, talk to Sam about this; talk to Sam’s bosses about this, find a new job. Tamp down the feelings, arm yourself with information (you are doing your X and Sam’s Y; there is inequity in the evening/weekend coverage; you are getting burned out by this imbalanced work load, etc.). Good luck.

    14. I'm A Little Teapot*

      The fact that the org is understaffed is the problem, but its not your problem. Tell your management that you need to cut back, and then enforce it. Let the management feel the pain of the understaffing.

    15. jumped all the sharks*

      If Sam is a supervisor/manager, they are absolutely in the wrong for doing this. Yes, the upper admin bear some blame, but Sam sounds like a jerk.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      Companies looove to extend accommodations to people and assume cohorts will pick up the slack.

      This is a like my family member promises that *I* will be over on Saturday to spring clean this other family members house. The company is making commitments for other people without seeking inputs or asking if it’s okay.

      Tell your boss that you need your share of time off. Tell him that it could impact your health to keep going at this pace. Suggest that perhaps they could hire someone part time to help fill in or maybe someone from another department could help. Ask your boss what the plan is if you call in sick or worse yet call in because you are in the hospital?

      I really don’t think this is a “parenthood” question. What if your cohort took excessive sick time or what if they had a sick parent or any other scenario? Your boss dumped all the work on you. Tell your boss that you think a raise is in order because of all the additional work you have taken on. Let your boss know that the pace you are working at now is NOT sustainable for you and you need to know how soon you can expect relief.

      [Notice not once did I mention parenthood, kids, etc. ]

      1. lost academic*

        A big corollary is “companies LOVE to ignore major staffing deficiencies while passive aggressively pressuring the remaining staff to handle all the work and act shocked when people stop enabling that insanity”. Everyone’s been covering for this huge deficiency and so up the chain it doesn’t really look like there’s a problem. Doesn’t really sound like anyone’s that scared of getting fired.

    17. Chirpy*

      This is mainly your work’s fault for not having adequate coverage, but it is also Sam’s fault. One’s workload shouldn’t be determined by whether or not they have kids. (And what if you did have kids too, or Sam didn’t and was enrolling in classes for themselves? It obviously wouldn’t be right for one person to have claim to all the free nights and weekends at the other’s expense then, it shouldn’t be ok just because your circumstances are different.) You still need rest, too.

      I don’t have any good advice, because these situations have never worked out well for me, but I definitely feel your pain. Probably the best you can do is talk to management, explain that this is unworkable on your end, (maybe show them that your job has basically become nights?) and see what they say. Good luck.

    18. OhBehave*

      You are being taken advantage of by this office. I understand your feelings. They are valid. I’d say this was 80% a manager problem and 20% a Sam problem.
      You’ve stepped up and that’s the expectation that was created. Resenting will do xyz, they always step up when we need them.
      Having kids does NOT trump your need for balance. Sam knows what they’re doing. Sam is not pulling their weight here. Assuming permission was granted for this schedule change? Don’t think this is a one-time thing. Sam found out it worked and will do it again.
      If your mindset is that you have nothing else to do….. You do NOT have to have something scheduled in order to reclaim your life. You deserve to have down time. Even if that means sitting on your couch with a pint of black raspberry chocolate ice cream and binging The West Wing! Don’t let them guilt you into maintaining this workload!

      Bottom line – you do not have to pick up the slack and work yourself into the ground because Sam made this decision. Please stand up for yourself. You will do yourself and others a favor.

    19. Chirpy*

      Not sure if it ate my previous reply but basically: if you and Sam were both in the same life situation (both with/without kids) and Sam unilaterally refused to do any nights/weekends so they all fell on you, that would be obviously wrong.

      It’s mainly an employer issue for inadequate staffing, but Sam having kids shouldn’t mean every childless person around has to suffer because of it, and Sam needs to make some compromises here too. It’s a mandatory part of the job, which Sam presumably knows. I don’t have great advice because this situation has never worked out in my favor, but you deserve some free time too and it’s discrimination if your employer thinks this situation is allowable just because Sam has kids and you don’t.

    20. AcademiaNut*

      I would be sympathetic to Sam when it comes to the whole wife’s schedule, sick kids part. I would not be willing to work extra hours because he registered his kids in a schedule heavy extracurricular activity, leaving me to cover extra weekend and evening duties in addition to covering his work when his kids are sick or the schools are closed. So yeah, no Scrooge vibes here.

      It sounds like you work directly for Sam? I do think that dumping extra work on an already overworked direct report because he wants to take himself out of the evening/weekend rotation for other activities is something you can legitimately be annoyed about.

      It’s entirely reasonable for you to say that you can’t take on any more work than you’re doing now, and leave it up to Sam and his bosses to figure out how to handle things. You may be required to provide services 7 days a week from dawn to dusk, but you can’t get blood from a stone, and you can’t dump a whole department’s work on one person indefinitely. Tell Sam that you can’t take on anymore without burning out, and talk to his bosses if necessary.

    21. Lepidoptera*

      I think you need to push back hard with both Sam and their bosses about the weekend and evening rota. If you allow them to double your weekends for one month you will have very hard time getting back to a normal weekend rota (been there done that).

      If you are as short staffed as it sounds you do have negotiation power. Tell them there was a substantial change to your schedule that you did not agree to. You have previous commitments and are not available for double weekend shifts this month or any month, you are available to work normal number of weekends and evenings. Let management decide what they are going to do. If they try to guilt you into covering, know what would make it worth it for you and don’t cave unless they agree. If Sam’s job requires weekend and evening availability I would be very very surprised if they had let their boss know they were just not going to do that anymore. I think they were trying to pull a fast one and see if they can get away with it.

      Also I’ve worked rotating weekends for 15 years. I know how hard it can make scheduling, and how difficult it is to not have 2 days off in a row every week. Several years ago my coworkers and I pushed back together about getting the weekend schedule for the next month mid current month. Now our manager is required to give out the weekend schedule for the upcoming quarter one month before the current quarter ends. It makes planning things so much easier, one of the best things I have ever done.

    22. Snuck*

      I’ve been both sides of this fence, pre and post having a family.

      I think you can be frustrated with Sam – she’s not exactly playing by the team ethos. BUT it’s also completely your employer’s responsibility to fix this. If they aren’t happy with Sam they should manage her. If they are always supported by you and others and never have to feel the pain of the issue, then they don’t have an issue. (is this that thing where it’s a missing stair? Everyone does a workaround and no one admits there’s an issue?) If you can enrol in a cooking class (on Netflix – Nailed It is good :P ) and suddenly be unavailable then work is going to have to resolve this. Nothing says that Sam can’t have weekends and evenings off obviously, so you too can. Home cooking. Grass painting. Nose cleaning. None of their business what.

      I stood in a school carpark recently watching the chaos of school pickup, and lent over to the Head of School and asked “So… how did *her previous school* handle this?” And she laughed. She said “We didn’t have a carpark, so we didn’t have an issue” and it’s true.

  8. Jorts Hall*

    Guys I got THE JOB. I just gave my 2 weeks to the horrible team lead and management team. I am SO happy right now. My new coworkers are already reaching out and making plans with me. Thank you for all the kind words.

    Now for the work question- What helps you stay the most organized?

    1. OyHiOh*

      I am very comfortable with my digital organizational tools, but I swear by the duplicity of a month at a glance desk calendar plus a paper planner (the kind that has month at a glance, combined with a week spread over two pages). The desk calendar is for big picture context, the planner for day to day.

    2. Scotlibrarian*

      I use Trello (and Outlook Calendar). I have different Trello boards for different things (eg 1 board has a list of colleagues, job titles, phone nos.), but my main board is split into future / thinking, waiting on responses, to dos, to do this week (and if I’m having a bad week, then I’ll have a to do today section with tasks in order). I also use spreadsheets / Gant charts for certain projects (eg at the moment I’m using 1 spreadsheet to organise every staff member trained on mental health awareness – names, dates, where based, Zoom link, etc. I also have another spreadsheet to monitor all the work being done on getting our dept ready to move into a new organisation). I reference these spreadsheets in my Trello to dos (eg send out reminder email for x training, or update transition spreadsheet with N’s update).

      Before using Trello, I used an A4 pad and wrote out lists of to dos and tickerd them off as I did them, but in my current role I juggle a lot of different projects at different stages, so found Trello made life a lot easier.

      Oh, and when I feel a bit overwhelmed I do a brain dump- either I mind map all my projects out, or I list all my to dos in no order, then I can start organising things.

      When I first started out, I found this stuff really hard, but found reading Steven Covey’s The 7 habits of highly effective people really helpful

    3. tessa*


      I stay organized with a Trello board, and mark my Outlook calendar with a M-F recurrence of “Check Trello board.” Works for me! :)

      Good luck in your new job!

    4. Silvercat*

      I have ADHD so it’s much harder for me. I have a ADHD coaching group that I pay for, and I use calendars, Habitica, and lots and lots of reminders.

    5. Lady Danbury*

      I recently started using todoist and I’m a huge fan. I can use it seamlessly across multiple devices (phone, computer, etc) and create different buckets of to do lists. It’s also great for collaboration if you need to assign tasks to someone else or vice versa. If you need to track time for whatever reason, it interfaces with toggl track as well.

    6. AnotherLibrarian*

      I use a combination of an outlook calendar and a paper bullet journal. Love my bullet journal.

    7. Asenath*


      When I was in a position that needed organization, Outlook Calendar was an absolute essential. I also used Excel – I looked around a bit at more specialized software, but what I found then seemed a bit like overkill for my needs, so I set up spreadsheets for the big longer-term stuff, with separate sheets for whatever each project needed – schedules, lists, simple budgets, records of contacts (each time I contacted each, what I said, whether they answered, what was agreed on), even email lists for contacts – although I also had them in Outlook, I liked having them directly in the Excel sheet on the project they “belonged” to.

    8. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Since there are already suggested project management and task management tools suggested, I’ll add a wild card:

      A running doc of all meeting notes, email/IM exchanges for each project. This becomes my one stop “here’s where we are and where we’ve been” record. These docs can be quite useful when I’m switching between projects rapidly.

    9. Industrial Tea Machine*

      Congratulations! I hope new job works out so well for you.
      Frankly, my best organizational tool is hand writing in a nice notebook that I always have with me when working. I track my time in it, take meeting notes in it, write to-do lists, etc. I know there are a lot of organizational tools and apps out there, but I don’t use them consistently (except Outlook meeting reminders), so they aren’t effective for me. With the notebook, I have the memory aide of hand writing, and also if I need to find a piece of info I have one place to look.

    10. Rainy*


      I use a paper planner with spots for to-do lists and notes. I also, organizationally, must use both Outlook and a specific calendaring software, and personally, I use gCal. So yes, I rock four calendars, only two of which update automatically, and only with each other. And not actually very usefully, to be honest, but that’s another issue.

      It works, sort of. I definitely wouldn’t advise it.

  9. Sloanicote*

    Am I being a bit irrational or is this a hill to die on? I produce widgets for my company. When I started, I inherited a widget tracking spreadsheet and was instructed to keep it updated with the widgets I produced, which I do. However, there is a running “staff meeting” document and our office admin lists widgets produced there by date. She has pointedly asked me more than once to update that document every week. Ugh, fine, although there’s better and more complete info on the central tracking spreadsheet. Now there’s also two more external facing versions of the spreadsheet produced by other people, sometimes in different order from the spreadsheet or with some different columns, and I get nudged to update those too. But … it’s all on the central spreadsheet? Why do we keep producing dumb static versions of the same info that then I’m then expected to manually update and get nudged/poked to do so? I tell myself to chill, it probably takes me less than twenty minutes a week to update all these dumb copies, and I don’t have the seniority to tell people to check the spreadsheet and make the updates themselves. Am I missing something? Does this just happen in offices everywhere?

    1. hamsterpants*

      I wouldn’t do it. If nothing else, it’s a quality issue. Having multiple documents of the same information being only updated by copy-paste is a recipe for these documents to wind up with conflicting information.

      I’d be tempted to just share a link to your live document with whoever asks, give one chirpy reply that the info is in the linked document if they need it, and then ignore subsequent emails. Let them escalate it to your boss before you do it, and then you can push back on your boss directly.

      I used to work at a very spreadsheet-happy organization and it was a huge waste of everyone’s time.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Even worse, people are self reporting onto a static document. They can easily manipulate those numbers to make themselves look good, or make others look bad.

      2. Sloanicote*

        Right, this is what happens! I update the main spreadsheet with some change and then later find other copies that don’t agree with my summary and now I have to track down where it went wrong. And we don’t need these other copies anyway!

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Welcome to uncontrolled spreadsheet hell. Why people still use a 50-year-old technology (which replicates a centuries-old paper product!) for this kind of thing is beyond me.

      I’d look at it from the perspective of the business, instead of your time and effort. Is this inconsistency/delay causing actual problems? Customers being promised widgets that aren’t in inventory? Widget component purchase orders that are too big/too small for the actual pace of widget production?

      If any of those things are true, then it’s reasonable to bring this up to your manager. If it’s just a matter of you having to copy/paste data into 3 other spreadsheets, that’s probably something you’re just going to have to deal with. Write it up as inevitable friction.

      1. Sloanicote*

        Yeah sadly it’s the latter haha. These other spreadsheets aren’t really being used for anything important, other than making managers feel like they contributed something to the widget process.

        1. Cold Fish*

          I agree with AB’s Evil Twin & hampsterpants above. If the updates are for actual work production and it’s not a bid deal to you, update. If it’s just another manager too lazy to check the main spreadsheet to get the info they need, don’t do it and make them escalate and justify why you need to do it to your manager. (Especially the admin who just wants to note it on the meeting agenda.)

          Fingers crossed your manager isn’t like me though. We are constantly making changes for other departments because of an off-hand comment in some meeting where we are asked to bend over backward then walk on the ceiling. Managers response, well we were told to do it (no we weren’t) and it’s not that hard so just do it. I don’t care if it takes 30 seconds or 30 minutes, if I’m up to my eyeballs in work or spending 6 hours a day on AAM, the information is available to other dept. and the sole benefit is to other dept… Let other dept do their own work! Sorry, major squirrel moment there.

    3. Lady_Lessa*

      Not being an expert at computers/spreadsheets etc., but is there a way that when you put the data into the central one, that the info automatically updates the other ones?

      1. Xena*

        There is, but if OP’s coworkers are already struggling at copy-pasting from one to another then there’s a good chance someone would break something.

        1. Sparkles McFadden*

          Yup. Plus, even when it works perfectly, you get people who freak out over the automating updating and say “I don’t trust it.”

          1. quill*

            You really need buy-in and basic computer literacy from on-high to get auto-updating, edit-restricted spreadsheets to work.

    4. Oh No She Di'int*

      This has “I’m used to doing it this way, so let’s keep doing it this way” written all over it. This is very common and is usually attached to legacy people clinging to the path of least resistance, which usually means keep doing things the way you’ve always done it.

      Not exactly the same situation as yours, but I once worked in a department that was issuing purchase orders by drawing them up in QuarkXPress, which if you aren’t familiar, is an ancient graphic layout software. It makes about as much sense as creating purchase orders in Photoshop, but they’d been doing it that way for years and so it just continued.

      1. Xena*

        Everything about that idea makes me cringe. There might be a less effective software for purchase orders but I can’t think of one.

        1. hamsterpants*

          Now I’m imagining using an on TI-83+ graphing calculator to write up the PO in grainy cursive.

    5. Anon for This*

      This was the situation in an old job of mine. Keep the official spreadsheet. Point others there for the info they need. Push back on doing their work for them – if they want you to input it tell them unfortunately you don’t have time but here is the link to the main spreadsheet. (Important to note – make sure they cannot edit your spreadsheet – they may try to make yours match theirs.) Right now you have three people asking you to move data from your document to theirs. If you keep doing this the number of “other” spreadsheets will proliferate and no one will be sure which one is accurate.

      1. Ashley*

        And at some point it makes sense to loop in your manager about the problems and time spent doing so many different updates with the same information.
        If different people need pieces it might become worth it for you to create an spreadsheet that breaks off the pieces of info those people need from the master via automatic update formulas. You may spend time on the front end but it will save you in the long term. Also I would really ask the question what some people are tracking and what they use the tracking for in helping to limit the number of different sheets and updates.

        1. hamsterpants*

          Yes, the more this can be automated, the better. Basically make it so people get access to information without you having to hand-manage everyone else’s system. Maybe you can set an email to automatically email everyone who wants it the latest version of your spreadsheet.

          The other risk with updating other people’s spreadsheets is scope creep. Like if they decide they want a new column, suddenly it becomes your job to add that column, rather than just giving a pre-defined data product at a pre-determined interval.

            1. hamsterpants*

              At my old company the bosses decided that everything had to be under control all the time, so errant one-time mishaps always necessitated new columns in the spreadsheet. If one teapot wasn’t glazed on time because the glazer was late to work because he slipped on the ice because there wasn’t enough rocksalt available to the grounds team, for the rest of time the teapot team would have to track rocksalt inventory.

    6. quill*

      My suggestion is to ensure that all of those people have access (potentially read-0nly access if they are likely to be clicking around in ways that could disrupt the record) to the central tracking spreadsheet with an email to all of them. But also to split the central spreadsheet, if you have not, by year (different sheets, different workbooks, whichever is more appropriate.) It’s possible they’re making new spreadsheets because the one you’ve had is too large to load or navigate for them.

      1. Sloanicote*

        Yes, I think they all want to add their 1% to the spreadsheet so creating one master spreadsheet with everybody’s dumb addition would get unwieldy pretty fast. I guess I should talk to the people about a database but I still think they wouldn’t actually use it to pull data. They really like updating their spreadsheets. Or making me do it.

        1. hamsterpants*

          You probably can’t directly slay this dragon. Spreadsheet hell is just a symptom of a systemic problem with how your company functions. The more you try to fix it, the deeper you’ll get pulled in and the more you’ll be targeted for this loathsome busywork. Trust me, I got pulled into a years long project to streamline my company’s own SH. All I got was carpal tunnel syndrome from the endless mousing. My evil boss saw that I could be motivated to try to fix these messes and just sent more my way while other colleagues used weaponized incompetence to avoid having to participate.

          Take care, we’re all rooting for you to not get pulled in.

          1. Sloanicote*

            Yeah I suspect I’ll just continue to do the same job of updating the other spreadsheets when I feel like it and rolling my eyes. I’m the only widget maker in a company that needs widgets to continue so they will take it.

            1. quill*

              Yeah, the only reason that when I had to slay the spreadsheet dragon I succeeded was because the group boss was 100% behind “I never want to have to ask where this information is again.”

              If she hadn’t been, no professional way of saying “If you merge cells on the pivot table ever again I will wreck your week” would have done the trick.

    7. ArtK*

      No advice, but oh do I feel for you. I’ve got 3 organizations all tracking the same class of bug. Two of them generate their lists from old data and I’m constantly having to explain why mine don’t match theirs.

    8. Database Developer Dude*

      I second the link. Hell, if we’re talking about Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, you can use Visual Basic for Applications to do an automatic pull from the spreadsheet as soon as a Word document opens. That way, they’ll always have the latest version, because you updated the central spreadsheet.

    9. Shieldmaiden*

      This is called version control or version management. Google the terms for a quick primer on why it’s important to establish and follow best practices. The other commenters have great advice too; I just wanted you to know a term to wield in case management comes poking.

    10. anonymous73*

      You’re not at all wrong to be bothered by this, but depending on how much capital you have will determine how far to push this. You and others shouldn’t have to update multiple versions of the same exact spreadsheet. It should be shared in a central location that everyone can access. Or if your company lives in the dinosaur age, changes should be submitted to one person nd they should maintain it (although that sounds like it would be a full time job in and of itself).

    11. Asenath*

      I tried to absolutely insist that there be only one record of whatever I was tracking, updated by me. I didn’t always have the seniority to insist, but honestly, going around manually updating otherwise static lists is a pain, and just asking for errors to sneak in, and then you get blamed for it even when you point out that you don’t update daily, and if they waited for the update, the numbers would be right. So, yes, it happens in a lot of places. I still remember how thrilled I was when I could have a particular list automatically updated by IT which had access to an official master list. I no longer had to keep our separate list updated, always getting something wrong, and almost never getting anyone willing to review the entries when I asked, although they often complained eventually that they were wrong. I had the contact information for the person who maintained the master list in case an error was noted, and I didn’t have to try to chase down the information and update it manually.

    12. Kay*

      Do you ever attend these “staff meetings” where this is discussed? If so, could you simply bring up the multiple versions of this spreadsheet and suggest that everyone use the central version for efficiency, accuracy and insert whatever buzzword that may resonate best with the people involved? Expect the world to end, be prepared to offer many examples of where things went wrong and for those to be correspondingly dismissed, have a proposed solution that will be named impossible, and take comfort in knowing you told them so. Ah the joys of communal spreadsheets…

    13. I'm just here for the cats.*

      Do the people that are asking you to update the other documents have access to the tracking spreadsheet. You say that you “inherited” the spreadsheet. To me that sounds like only the person in your role has access to that spreadsheet.

      If you can push back on this I would make the spreadsheet available to all who are asking for updates and then they can include the info in their own documents.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, everyone has access to this spreadsheet (it’s on a central drive) but these people are several levels senior to me [except the office admin – but she still has tons of seniority and isn’t in my reporting line] so I have hesitated to say “please use the central spreadsheet to update your own weird static list.” (or, “please don’t make new versions of the data without a better reason haha).

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Can you add reports into your sheet that show the info in the format the others are using and present it a a new tool you’re giving them?

    15. fhqwhgads*

      Shadow databases are the devil’s plaything. These extra spreadsheets are shadow databases.

    16. Snuck*

      It sounds like it’s time for a reporting audit ;) Not sure if you have the gravy to request that, but generally this stuff can a) consolidate reporting requirements to reduce rework, b) identify reports that can be programmed to auto fill so no one has incorrect data (your extra spreadsheets are a prime example of this – those fields could auto fill from the original file!), and c) remove reports no longer needed.

      It’s not hard to have a report auto fill a field if someone wants to work out how to do it. Google will answer this fairly fast. I’d look to do that if you can. A not too technical/reasonably clever person can also then set the file up to tweak so every week it updates automatically with a new file name/date too.

  10. Katie*

    Hi all – would love your advice on a situation I’m dealing with.

    I finished an internship last December on what I thought were great terms – I got a really nice thank-you card signed by half the team, my manager told me to stay in touch, etc. But I’ve since reached out several times via email and LinkedIn to that manager and another co-worker asking for a reference, and neither responded. (Even though we’re still LinkedIn connections and I see them respond warmly towards other former employees’ updates.)

    I have other references, thankfully, but I’m fairly hurt at being ghosted (I wish they would at least write back and explain why). I’m scared that I’ve accidentally done something to offend them, and that maybe something’s come up that’s changed their opinion of me. Most of all, I’m worried that they’ll tell background check companies that I’m not eligible for rehire or something like that, and I’ll lose a summer internship offer and not even know why.

    I signed a reference release form, but I do have the option to revoke that consent and so the company would only release title and dates of employment, but that seems… like an admission of guilt? And what if they tell background checkers I did that? But at the same time, if I do have a bad reference, I should probably proactively manage it.

    Ugh – I should mention here that I have fairly severe anxiety, so I instantly jump to the worst conclusion. I would love any advice.

    1. kina lillet*

      How long has it been since you sent the emails/messages?

      If it makes you more comfortable, I think you can list other references. Also, if you know someone who’s very comfortable on the phone and is familiar with office life, you could try having them call to see what HR says—but I wouldn’t try this before you’ve pinged your possible references again.

      An additional ping might look like, “I’m starting to apply to summer internships, and wanted to check about listing you as a reference—if you’re willing to do that please let me know!”

      Background checks aren’t really going to ask about rehire. Reference checks will, but I’d be pretty surprised about extensive reference checking for summer interns.

      1. Katie*

        So I first sent an email to my manager in mid-January, and a follow-up email three days later, and then a quick LinkedIn message basically saying “hi! not sure if you got my email, but I just wanted to see if everything’s ok” in mid-February. For my former co-worker, just the one email last month. I’ve thought about sending one final ping, but I don’t want to do anything that would be unwelcome, or look like I can’t take a hint.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          From previous conversations here, many people rarely check LinkedIn messages when not job hunting, so I’d say a separate followup email would not be overkill.
          Although I personally would include a bit of chatty “I hope all’s well at $Company” and ask how the (recent event or trend) has affected them.

    2. not a doctor*

      I think you’re overthinking it! It’s not great that they’re not responding to you, but it doesn’t mean anything about their impression of you. It’s more likely that it keeps falling off their radar! They didn’t know you long, and you might not be a big priority to them, which definitely doesn’t mean they don’t care or actively dislike you.

      Are you asking for references for specific things, or just a general “will you be a reference when I start looking for internships?” If it’s the latter, I’d try again only when you have something very specific on the line and can tell them exactly what you need.

      1. Katie*

        Hopefully! My former manager did mention once during my last week that she’s given out tons of references for former interns, though, and I did ask for a letter of recommendation specifically for a fellowship application. After not getting a response, I asked a former manager from a different internship, and the latter enthusiastically agreed in less than an hour.

    3. social work data nerd*

      That’s really frustrating and I would feel the same way. I would try calling them. It very well could be that they are busy and have missed your e-mail. I hope it works out.

    4. Zephy*

      What are you expecting to happen when you ask them for a reference? Do you need a reference letter for the jobs/internships/grad school/whatever you’re applying for? It’s possible they assume “can you give a reference for me” means they’re now expecting a phone call from someone else, asking about you as a job candidate – there’s not really anything for them to do with you at this point, if that’s the case. If you need something in writing, you should specify that.

      1. Katie*

        I asked them if they’d be willing to give a reference, and if so, to please give me their preferred contact info – or to let me know if they’d rather decline for any reason. I don’t expect them to give a reference if they don’t want to, but I wish they’d at least respond.

        1. Esmeralda*

          If they said “yes” to your request, but haven’t respnded to the “preferred contact info,” just use their work contact info.

          And email them when you’re applying to positions to give them a heads up. Make the subject line clear.

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      If you’re asking for a reference, are you asking for a written one? Like the recommendations on LinkedIn? Or might they be thinking that you’re using their name as a reference so they might get a call?

      If you’re hoping for something written, it’s a good idea (preferably after you’ve reached them again via email or phone) to send them a copy of your resume and a couple of ideas that they could use to get started. (Like — “Hi Fergus, thanks for offering to write me a LI recommendation. I’m looking for more tech support/call center positions, so if you could mention the big Teapot App launch and all the calls we got, it would be great.”

      Projects like this can easily drop to the bottom of the to-do list. Reducing barriers by giving them a prompt can be all it takes to get back up to the top.

    6. Snuck*


      I’m not sure the situation so I’m going to mentally potter about a bit.

      Was your role incredibly entry level? And are the jobs you are applying for in the field you interned or another? Have they been asked to be a reference a few times already?

      If they are being contacted regularly for references for roles that have nothing to do with your internship then it’s probably somewhat annoying after a while. Preserve that relationship for when you need it!

      If your role there was really entry level, and not generally ‘business important’ is it possible they churn through a lot of such interns and don’t really keep in contact with any? This sounds a bit rough, but basically if they have six interns a year, on constant rotate, then you really need to stick out to them, and it sounds like you were okay at what you did and they’d hire you in the right role at the right time, but aren’t going to put a huge investment in you?

      Have you applied for a lot of jobs in your field and they’ve had to reference multiple times for you? Even when it’s their field the reference should be ‘preserved’ and kept for quality applications. Maybe list them without their contact details and include a “contact details can be provided” so you can screen out the companies that routinely badger references before they’ve even interviewed you. You want to wait until you actually have interviewed for the role, know you want it, and the company actually wants you, before annoying your ‘A list’ references. (I could be out of touch on this. I’m Australian, and in reasonably professional/senior roles. Happy to be corrected.)

      I doubt their opinion of you has changed! I know social anxiety can claw at you a bit… so listen to this little voice of reason… they know how you did your job, at the time, and were happy with it. They might have moved on with another intern (through standard intern programs, nothing more) and time might be slowing their memory of you. Maybe, if you haven’t reached out in a while, pick one key person there (your direct supervisor I’d recommend) and send a short email “Hi Jane, I’m applying for summer internships and I know a few might be needing references. I’m also really aware that we’re nearly a year away from when I interned for you last summer. Do you mind helping me out again as a reference this summer? If it’s taking too much from your time would you maybe write me a written reference instead that I could provide the various programs I am applying to, to save you having to repeat yourself? I’m really excited about two this year – one on squirrel capture and release, and another in squirrel flying photography. Nothing quite compares to your ‘circus squirrel training’ though! Let me know if it’s ok to put you down again, Katie.”

      This is a heads up that you are applying for more and needs her help, it’s gives her some options to consider how she can help, and is cheery and helpful. It references her time as being important, and it helps her understand what sort of roles you are applying for so she can have context when that contact is made.

      Good luck. Don’t let the anxiety bite! It’s not you, it’s just busy lives hon.

    7. Stoppin' by to chat*

      My advice is this is your anxiety talking :) LinkedIn is not the most reliable platform to assume intent since some people NEVER check it. Do you have an email address for them? I would use that to ask if they would be a reference. But do NOT assume the worst. I promise that’s not what’s happening :)

  11. anon e mouse*

    This might be too broad to generate good discussion, but what are people’s thoughts on trying to get an easier job? By easier I mean similar pay for less work (in terms of quantity and/or difficulty)? I used to think I needed to be challenged but honestly it seems like challenging jobs I’ve had just give me more anxiety while not actually being any less boring. Have you done this? Did it work out, or did you end up regretting it?

    (To anticipate some questions, I probably have undiagnosed ADHD and yes I probably should be doing something else with my life, but I make pretty good money in my current field and I have a young child and a wife who is currently a SAHM and we live in an expensive area, so a total career change is not in the cards for at least several years.)

    1. Dust Bunny*

      In the same field or changing fields?

      My knee-jerk reaction is that unless you’re currently underpaid and likely to get a better offer simply by changing employers, this is mostly a fantasy. I’d love to get paid more for my same job but reality is that I get paid pretty much what people get paid to do what I do.

      1. anon e mouse*

        Without getting too deep into personal details, I currently work for a well-funded NGO. My job is really a job and a half, in my opinion. They have openly told me that they tried to get budget to hire two people but only got funding for one. (Apparently they don’t expect me to connect the dots about what that implies.) A roughly similar job in local government is way less work for similar pay (I know, I had a job like that before we relocated during the pandemic) but, in that previous case at least, it was also extremely boring. My sense is also that feds doing similar work are not under as much pressure although I don’t have direct experience there. Compared to the private sector I am underpaid in either case, but my background makes it hard for me to not get screened out by private sector employers unless I network into an interview, which I have found hard to do during COVID.

        1. ArtsNerd*

          Private sector, then. I’m making almost just as money doing the easiest admin work ever now as I did on my senior-staff position at a small-to-mid budget nonprofit.

          The gap won’t be as big for you, but the premise holds. Private sector jobs are much better compensation.

              1. anon e mouse*

                I did consulting, like the FT employee of a federal government contractor kind, not the independent contractor kind, for a number of years after undergrad. I hated billing my time in small increments, although my impression is that our contracts were unusually detailed in how hours were allocated and so this is not as big a deal at other firms, where you might go months at a time only billing one or two projects. Not sure if you meant that kind or the 1099 kind, though.

        2. Jonquil*

          For sure go to government. It’s stable and has great benefits, which is appealing with a young family. Government is always dealing with budget cuts, but it doesn’t seem nearly as bad as NGOs and it’s often unionised, meaning basic pay and conditions are better, and there’s more rules and policies in place to protect you.

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I’d like an easier job too but the hellscape of hiring depresses me. ( I have ADHD but I also have depression)

    3. Reality Biting*

      According to psychologists, what you really should be aiming for a job in which you can achieve a state of “flow”. That would mean something that challenges you just enough but not too much.

      Do you perhaps have a history as an overachiever? It’s possible your current job is just too much of a stretch. There is nothing written anywhere that says you have to take the most demanding job you can possibly find. It’s totally legitimate to ease up and take a job where it’s easy to get into a “zone”.

      Having said that, psychologists also say that some amount of autonomy or self-direction is key to happiness. So if that is true, it would be preferable not to take a job where you don’t have much say over what you do and how you do it.

      Food for thought. Good luck!

    4. AdequateArchaeologist*

      I think it depends on what you mean by easier. I moved from being a batch printer being paid $12 to an admin assistant at $15.
      The admin position was much easier in many ways (less stress, more perks, better coworkers and company) but also sucked in that my workload was awkwardly structured and it could be kind of unfulfilling. I like making things, so doing shipping transfers just didn’t have the same satisfaction. There was also a lot of downtime/on- call time that was awful until could work from home. Then I could do house work until I had actual work to do.
      But finding another printing job that was easier and paid more was just not a thing that exists.

      As an archaeologist, which employer I work for (and further, federal vs state vs private) will affect the “easiness” factor as it relates to pay. But, the catch is it’s again hard to find a position that is directly analogous to what I do now.

      That’s being said, if you feel you aren’t being compensated fairly it’s fine to find a job that has less responsibility/hours/stress whatever at the same rate. That’s what I did when I left my printing job. But you also have to be realistic to an extent. Technically I could make more at a different archaeology employer, but I would likely have to give up some of my current perks (like living in a non-isolated area, or doing more field work/travel instead of all the data management my nerdy heart loves).

      I hope that answered your question?

      1. anon e mouse*

        This is helpful, thanks. I don’t want to go too far down the road of outing myself with personal details, but let’s just say my background is something almost as “exotic” as archaeology and so what I have actually ended up doing professionally is selling my hard skills in areas adjacent to my actual training.

    5. Dobby is a Free Elf!*

      My husband did this–minor pay cut to transfer to an internal role, when he usually works as a contractor. Contracting, in his field, is very fast-paced, constantly new things coming in, a lot of different clients to deal with and fun new things to try. At New Role, he had a lot of days when he was just sitting at his desk watching random videos and painting models all day. Much easier, much less stress.

      He hated it so much that he was out the door less than six months later. I think he started looking three months in, and got serious about it at four.

      1. anon e mouse*

        Yeah, this is what I’m worried about. The problem is that the only time I tried something like this, I got unlucky and the agency I ended up working for was an absolute mess, in a way that would have been hard to know in advance. (It was in the early stages of a slide from good place to work to bad place to work when I started, so Glassdoor reviews were not reflective of the actual experience.) I was definitely unhappy there, but I’m not sure the problem was really the lighter workload so much as the utter dysfunction at nearly every level.

    6. SwitchingJobs!*

      I would literally just start going on interviews and ask in them what the job looks like day to day and take your best shot at a new one. I have had all kinds of jobs and the “easy” ones still retain a bunch of the actual stuff that makes work stressful. I think the only help I can give is that you don’t know what’s out there unless you look.

    7. Decidedly Me*

      I thrive on being challenged and you would think doing easier work would bore me, but it really doesn’t. Those mind numbing tasks that everyone hates – I don’t. I have to remind myself not to take those tasks on, as that’s not what I’m paid to do. If I had an easier job, I would just challenge myself outside of work and be fine with that I think. I haven’t tried, though.

      Wherever I’ve worked, even if I’m doing more entry level things to start, I always take on more and more, as I tend to be good at what I do. Also, I do also really enjoy higher level positions. At this point, I don’t think I could take a step back (personally couldn’t, I’m sure I could get hired for a step back) and it would be hard to find easier work for similar pay without an industry switch.

      Overall, my thoughts are do it if that is what you need/want. If you think a challenge is important, that challenge doesn’t need to be from work. It’s not fun to feel anxious and work takes up a lot of time.

    8. Sparkles McFadden*

      I did this once while in a nights/weekends grad program. I moved to a much easier job in another department because I was exhausted from full time work and full time school. When I finished the school program, and the demands on my time lessened substantially, I said “Oh boy, this job is so boring!” I ended up moving to another position (in the same company) that was much more challenging. It was so challenging that I welcomed the boring tasks from time to time…but that was what worked for me.

      Look around and see what’s out there. You may decide that staying put is is the best choice for now. In my experience, just taking some action can relieve the anxiety.

    9. Wats*

      Easier is a subjective thing. I found my work became easier when I did work that I enjoyed more. Maybe find the things that you like about your work and try to see if there is a more specialized version of it.

      For example, I liked doing QA work, but was stressed about being the final step before things went to production. If something went wrong live, I felt like it was more on me than the developers. I used my background to move up into a Scrum Master position which is more about communication and helping out the team and felt MUCH more fulfilled.

    10. Pop*

      This is not quite what you’re asking, but my husband and I both work “easier” jobs than we could if we wanted to challenge ourselves more. For us, it’s great – we have an infant and my husband is mostly a SAHP and works part-time, and I’m able to shut off my computer right at 5, plus do misc things during the day sometimes and spend a lot of time with my family. A lot of the things that people talk about being stressed about with young kids aren’t as much issues for us as a result. We live in a tiny aka cheaper space so my husband could work part time and we’re financially fine. We have a lot of time to both do household chores and also fun stuff together as a family. Sometimes the days are long, but I love being able to read a ton and exercise and cook dinner together every night. It’s definitely worth it for us right now and we’ll probably do this for the next few years so we can have another kiddo.

    11. Cedrus Libani*

      Agree with the comments above. This is still capitalism, employers don’t want to pay any more than they have to, so if they’re offering standard pay for an easier-than-standard job…you’re giving up something.

      Also agree that the sweet spot for enjoying your job is where it’s just hard enough that you need to engage, but not so hard that you begin to struggle. The sweet spot for *getting better* is where you systematically push yourself into the struggle zone. It’s on you to decide: comfort zone, or push harder?

      People want to make this a moral issue. You’re either pushing as hard as you can, or you’re a lazy bum. Nope. This is for YOU, picking the best life for YOU. If you’re content where you are, such that you can do a good job without undue stress, and then direct your surplus energy to other things…do you. If you want to be your grand-boss when you grow up, you’d enjoy the higher-level duties and you’d certainly enjoy the paycheck, then that’s an option too. But it’s not for everyone.

      One thing I will add – I’m a big fan of the “Moneyball” approach. When evaluating the desirability of a baseball player (or a job opportunity, etc), people learn from one another how to weight various factors, and so a market develops that may systematically under-rate a particular person / place / thing.

      More concretely, I’m a llama groomer. Frankly, llamas are legacy tech. People are surprised that they still exist. Yes, they do! They’re worse than any number of modern alternatives, but if a llama is good enough for your needs then it’s probably a lot cheaper than a helicopter.

      I’m a former dog groomer. Most llama groomers are. That’s the job little kids grow up dreaming about. Playing with fluffy puppies all day. Traveling the world to attend glamorous dog shows. When you’re at a dinner party, you’re everyone’s new best friend – they want to hear all about your amazing life. Oodles of poodles! So jealous! Most people have never even seen a llama.

      You know what, though? It’s the same job. I still get to play with the critters, and use my creativity to make them look their best. I still get pooped on and/or bitten, and that’s just the owners. The difference is, my job can’t pay me in units of living out my childhood dreams. So they pay cash. Cold, hard $$$$. I’m paid roughly twice what a dog groomer at my level would get, and I have no regrets whatsoever.

    12. Blinded By the Gaslight*

      I used to be a manager, now I’m a secretary, and I couldn’t be happier. I actually make more money for far less aggravation and politics. My workload is still busy and has its own demands/pressures of course, but it’s not following me home at night and on weekends like my previous job. I’m so annoyed I fell for the MUST CLIMB CAREER LADDER trap, when I’m happier and more well-paid in a support role than I ever was as a manager.

      It’s never too late for a gear shift, or to start plotting a career shift. :)

    13. Sincerely Raymond Holt*

      Target larger, more established companies with processes and procedures already in place. Find a position that is much more specialized vs. generalist, one that wears fewer separate hats. That will allow you to get really good at 1-2 things vs. having to keep track of a lot of different projects. I have found in my experience that the more different functions I have, the more complex the position is. You might also benefit from a role that is more independent vs. team oriented, meaning one where you can work at your own pace, not having people constantly asking you for things. Good luck!

    14. Anonymous Koala*

      I sort of did this (research with 60+ he’s/wk to regulation with just over 40). What worked for me was really playing to my strengths. I was always good at the writing, critical thinking and analytics part of my job, and not so good at the precise ‘I can make my thumb move exactly .218 mm every second’ part. So switching to a field that really used my writing skills made my job 1000x easier for *me*, even though the work itself isn’t objectively “easier”.

      Are there some parts of your job that you find easier than others? You may be able to parlay them into a well paying job in an adjacent field. And by the same logic, if there are parts of your job that are really difficult, avoid postings that include them as much as possible. You may even be able to talk to your boss about modifying your job description a little to play more to your strengths, or partnering with a coworker with a complementary skill set. Good luck!

    15. bean counter*

      I’m in favor. The job I have now is much easier than my previous jobs, has better work hours, pays better, and has better benefits. I don’t know if I want to do this forever because the trade-off is it’s incredibly boring, lots of bureaucracy, and less autonomy, but it’s exactly what I need right now. Whatever decision you make doesn’t have to be permanent.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      A couple things jumped at me.

      ” what are people’s thoughts on trying to get an easier job? By easier I mean similar pay for less work (in terms of quantity and/or difficulty)?”

      I think it’s always wise to look around to see if you can get a better deal elsewhere. My father said what he saw years ago was the more people were paid the less work they did. Just a generality, but shouldering more responsibility is very different from a physical job that runs you all day long. It’s two different types of tired.
      I can remember younger me, after spending all day on my feet, would lay in bed and it felt like I was still on my feet and walking. (No, not restless leg syndrome. It’s a type of stress though.)
      I also wonder if more pay sometimes indicates a company is more respectful toward its people.

      I have often thought about work as an endurance contest. What if I were running a marathon? I would prep- exercise, good foods, proper hydration and so on. Once I thought of work as a marathon I was able to accept all this prep work as part of what enabled me to retain a job.
      It’s fine to change direction but if our health/well-being is on an “iffy” foundation it really does not matter where we work as each job will involve some internal upset/battle inside our own selves.

      Next. ” I used to think I needed to be challenged but honestly it seems like challenging jobs I’ve had just give me more anxiety ”
      Please take a closer look at how you define “challenge”. All jobs present some sort of challenge. A few jobs I had included some tasks that I absolutely dreaded. I mean lay awake at night with dread. The better companies know where common pitfalls are in their positions and they do something to train the employee so they are equipped in some manner to deal with these tougher tasks. In better work settings there is usually someone who will take an interest in a newbie and lend a hand here and there. Crappy companies laugh when people fail and gossip in anticipation of how that person WILL fail. In short, it matters where you work and the people you work with.
      If you think about anxiety as lack of necessary knowledge and/or lack of support, does this explain some of why you are anxious in this job? Or even previous jobs?

      I had a job at a crappy company. I had a lot of responsibility considering what I was paid. My cohorts in other departments had very little understanding of my department which made matters way worse. And then Life! stuff happened and my health tanked.

      Oddly, I was grateful to have a job that I was super familiar with. I decided to address health concerns THEN change jobs. And this is my suggestion to you. Find out about the ADHD or anything else that concerns you. Use this job as a constant/something familiar in your life to begin to venture into the new territory of shoring up your health and well-being. For me I did not think it would be a strong plan to change jobs AND change my health habits at the same time. That sounded like a recipe for disaster.

      Once you start feeling stronger on the inside, then start thinking about what you want to do next. Try to be a little more strategic, think about what parts of your current and past jobs have gone well for you. How can you drift towards jobs that would have more of those good projects and tasks that you seem to have a natural ability for?

      I ended up taking a “lesser” job but I am paid more. I now have energy to do things other than just get prepped to go to work and then go to work. The jobs I do now are challenging but I am not in a tank with a bunch of piranha – I have support, I have assistance, etc. While I still get tired, I know if I go to bed on time, I will feel rested the next day. This is a huge change in my life. And I still do the self-care routines I learned that I needed for myself when I was at that crappy job years ago.

      Talk to your spouse about changing jobs in the future. Talk about addressing health concerns. Ask your wife what she would like to do herself — say over the next few years. Set goals together and work together to see what changes together you can achieve.

  12. Cat Mouse*

    In this day of spam calls, will hiring people leave voicemails to set up interviews, or should I be answering unknown calls that could be about a job?

    I’m gettong so many about call center jobs and car warranties that I’d rather review a voicemail and call back within 5 to 10 minutes.

    1. MB*

      I would make sure your voicemail message is set up and professional-sounding to confirm to the caller that they’ve actually reached YOU and that would make them more likely to leave a voicemail.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        This, and make sure your voicemail is working. Have a friend call and leave a voicemail to test.

          1. quill*

            And go back and make sure your voicemail isn’t full every day. If your limit is 20 and you get four spam calls, two phone calls from people you already know, and three calls apiece from five people calling about 100% unrelated jobs because you updated your resume in some online database… you will miss voicemails.

    2. Canonical23*

      They’ll leave a voicemail. I rarely answer phone calls from unknown numbers unless I’ve finished the final round of an interview process.

      As a hiring manager, I use email to set up interviews but if they don’t answer an email, I’ll follow up with one phone call and leave a voicemail requesting them to respond to the email by a certain date if they are still interested.

    3. Stephivist*

      I don’t have any problem leaving voicemails. I’m actually more surprised when people answer (knowing that my office # does not show up on ID with a business name).

    4. The New Wanderer*

      I routinely do this because of the risk of spam calls and because legit calls either respond to the Google assistant prompts and/or leave a voicemail. I’ll wait for the voicemail and then call back and say something like “It looks like I just missed your call.”

    5. jess is my name, pasta's my game*

      If I’m calling for an interview and have to leave a message that is perfectly OK and totally understandable

      HOWEVER, if that person does not return my call in a timely manner (like within 30-60 minutes) then I’m very likely no longer interested

      Good Luck!!

      1. hc*

        30 minutes?! Are these scheduled calls or are you calling unsolicited? I really hope it’s the former!

      2. Nonprofit pro*

        That seems like a really short turnaround time. 30 to 60 minutes wouldn’t even stretch to cover most my meetings.

      3. Lady Danbury*

        Wow, that’s completely unreasonable. I’ve had days where I’ve been in back to back meetings all day, with barely any time to inhale a quick lunch in between. On those days, there’s no way I would be able to respond to any messages until later that evening. If I’m leaving a voicemail, I would expect someone to get back to me by the next business day.

      4. Generic Name*

        Woah, you are likely losing out on quality candidates because many busy people simply won’t have time to respond within that VERY SHORT timeframe, and candidates who have jobs may not be able to respond within the same day.

      5. JelloStapler*

        +1 to an unreasonable timeframe. If I have back-to-back student meetings, I will not be able to call you back in that time frame- 24 business hours would be more reasonable.

        Honestly, If you said that to me as a result of me getting back to you outside of that time frame (we’re no longer interested because X), I would be relieved that I dodged a bullet.

      6. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I’m pretty sure @jess is my name is referring to a scheduled interview (per the starter “If I’m calling for an interview”), partly because I like to pretend humans are reasonable and rationale creatures.

      7. quill*

        Yeah, that’s a very short time for most people to be able to find sufficient time and privacy to call back! There’s no place I’ve ever worked that *didn’t* have frequent stretches where I was in a meeting, working on a project, or otherwise not available to call people back for 90+ minutes

    6. Haha Lala*

      They should be leaving voicemails. Especially since they likely expect you to be working somewhere else during normal business hours, they can’t expect you to be available to answer a call at any time.

    7. Midwest Manager*

      As a rule, I don’t make phone calls to schedule interviews. I start with an email. For a phone interview, I set a time through that email exchange so they know that the call coming in at 9:00 am is NOT a spam call and will answer it.

      Any interviewer who starts the process with a phone call during the day is most likely not expecting you to pick up. If they leave a message, they aren’t expecting an immediate call back – as long as its within a few business hours it should be a non-issue, like not even on the radar for anything. Generally people understand that you are likely working a current job and a) may not be able to answer your phone during the day, b) may not have an opportunity to check messages/return a call until a break.

    8. OhBehave*

      I email for the initial interview scheduling. I then call after that if they are moving on. Your vm should sound professional. After you get the job, change it to a more personal message.

  13. noise control*

    Hi everybody!
    Looking for suggestions for noise control in a shared office. My husband and I have been sharing an office since the pandemic started, and we’re decent office mates, but sometimes we have conflicting meeting schedule or an impromptu call and we try to go one at a time. I’ve looked into a mobile wall to separate us with noise control, but it was far more expensive than I’d like to spend. I’m looking at the felt tiles to add to a couple strategic walls to dampen sound. The big goal is that we could both be on a call at the same time and our participants would not hear the spouse talking. Any suggestions?

    1. Non commenting lurker who also WFH*

      I am not certain this would work but have you thought about getting a more directional mic or headset to capture the sound?

      Ask work about a headset first but could be worth looking into.

      I work in the same space as my brother who is on a lot more calls than me. Luckily we work for the same company so I usually give a disclaimer the first time I unmute if i can hear him in a call but until my mic recently broke and I started having to use my laptop’s internal mic it rarely came up even though his volume and call frequency has not changed.

      1. Zephy*

        I agree, a very directional microphone and noise-canceling headphones would probably be better than mobile walls. My husband is a musician, so for a while his Zoom/Discord/whatever setup for audio input was a very directional stage mic; we’ve streamed/Discord-chatted/gamed with friends online while both of us were in the same room, sitting probably 6-8 feet apart, and my crappy omnidirectional gaming headset would pick up his voice but his mic wouldn’t pick up mine because I wasn’t in the line of fire, so to speak.

    2. Reba*

      You could experiment with sound-muting software, too. Supposed to be more sophisticated versions of the Zoom or whatever settings to suppress background sounds. I’ve been using one called Krisp, and it works really well on dog barks and squeaky toy sounds :)

    3. anonymous73*

      I don’t know what’s out there in the world of noise cancelling headphones, but if they have an option to cancel noise outside of your own voice maybe invest in those?

      My husband and I share an office too sometimes, but thankfully we haven’t had any conflicting meetings yet. If I have to be on camera, I make him leave the room sometimes because he sits behind me. I have 2 laptops and work on 2 different projects, so it’s not as easy for me to unplug and relocate.

    4. *daha**

      “noise cancelling microphone” is a thing. Plus, as others have said, it definitely helps to have a headset with a microphone on a boom that is just in front of or just under your mouth. The volume of your voice hitting the microphone is high because it is so close – other voices in the room are much lower in what the microphone will feed out.

  14. Rusty Shackelford*

    Things you wanted to say to your coworkers this week, but didn’t!

    I know you think I’m joking. I’m really, really, really not joking.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In keeping with the new rule I’m trying out, let’s skip this one this week (but feedback on the rule itself is welcome as I try to decide whether to make it permanent). Thank you!

  15. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    How is everyone doing on the health tip? My job made me take FMLA(??) Because I was down with the COVID. How do you think your company is dealing with covid as pro infection rules start to trickle back in?

    1. Dobby is a Free Elf!*

      I’m freelance, so I set my own Covid-related rules, but my husband caught Covid from our kids a few weeks ago. He also works from home.

      His employer fussed at him for logging in and working when he got bored. (He mostly had cold symptoms.)

    2. JanetM*

      Mine just declared, “Wearing a mask is always an option for any individual who chooses to do so,” and “It is up to all of us to make informed decisions about our health,” but is no longer asking people to wear masks.

      Me, I’m starting to feel concerned about wearing a mask lest people think I’m unvaccinated.

      1. Silvercat*

        I hadn’t thought about that, but I suspect many people who aren’t vaccinated are also not bothering to mask, at least around here. And way I figure, it’s better for random folks to think badly of me than for me to put mysslf and my family at risk

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Don’t worry about what other people think of you. If you feel safer wearing your mask, keep wearing it.

        My workplace stopped requiring masks this week too, but my family includes immunocompromised people and people under age five who can’t be vaccinated yet, so I’m going to keep wearing this mask as long as I need to in order to keep my family protected.

        1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

          Yea I went to the office briefly when I had covid and when I work I mask so it went from ” oh no ” to ” rude!”

      3. Database Developer Dude*

        Choosing to wear a mask when in close contact with others doesn’t automatically mean you’re unvaccinated. I wear one, and I’m fully vaccinated and boosted. I also have someone at home who is immunocompromised, so I really don’t give a rip what others think. Let them think what they want.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          I’d assume the reverse – most people masking are responsible people who have been vaccinated, with the occasional person who is unable to be vaccinated, while the people who insist that COVID isn’t real/serious, or vaccination is an attempt to microchip us, will be the ones deliberately refusing to wear masks under any circumstances.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            This. My family always wears masks and we will keep doing so until WE feel certain it’s safe enough to suit our own risk tolerance; not when somebody else makes a political decision about them. But I’ve never had anybody act *more* nervous about me, or suggest in any way that they think I’m more of a risk to them, or likely to be unvaccinated (I’ve got my booster, as we all do) or anything like that. Not once. Mostly, people see the mask and it makes them less nervous, if they care at all — there are some people who think I’m foolish to bother, sure, but that’s their own business; I don’t care what they think. But the ones who would be concerned about their own risk are more comfortable around me for masking, not less.

      4. Everything Bagel*

        I’m vac/boosted and I still wear my mask at work even though my company said this week that masks are no longer required. I’m not the only one. I’m going to wait a while to see if cases increase again in my area before I’ll consider taking my mask off at work. Let people think what they want. Some people couldn’t get vaccinated due to medical conditions. There’s nothing wrong with saying I am vaccinated but I’m being extra careful until cases go down in our area, or whatever you are willing to share with others.

      5. Elizabeth West*

        I’m not taking mine off until I have health insurance and PTO. If other people don’t like it, they can go jump in the lake.
        I will gladly answer that question if asked. And yes, I’m fully vaccinated and boosted.

    3. Silvercat*

      I’m slowly going nuts. I just started a job at a medical company, where you’d think people would be better informed. But lots of people are wearing just surgical masks, fabric masks, masks that don’t fit, or wearing them under their nose. While I have a silicone mask from Castlegrade that’s as good as a N95 and doesn’t fog up my glasses. We’re all tested once a week (it was twice a week when I interviewed) but think of all the people you’re in contact with during a week!

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        In fairness, there are a couple of fabric masks that are as good as an N95 also. Check out Sonovia. I don’t doubt you that most of the people you’re working with are being idiots about their mask choice, but you can’t assume that somebody is automatically being foolish because you see a fabric exterior; the filters are inside.

        I was very annoyed this afternoon, because I was asked to switch from my Sonovia N95 equivalent (I’ve seen their test results) into a surgical mask when I was at the doctor’s office. I’m sorry, but no; your surgical masks aren’t safe enough for me! I did have some actual N95s on me, and offered to switch to one of those instead, because I understood that they couldn’t tell what kind of fabric mask I had on and I didn’t want to make them uncomfortable, and that was accepted, so it worked out. But if I hadn’t been carrying them, I would have had to *reduce* my protection — both for myself and for the people around me — because of their policy, and that suggests a problem with the policy. If someplace is going to ask you to wear their masks instead of your own, they should give out KN95s at minimum.

    4. J*

      Mine told us 1) we need to be back ASAP, 2) they are dropping all vaccine and masking rules, 3) they’ll be opening to the public again with no precautions, and 4) they won’t offer any leave for anyone sick minus our regular PTO. We’re a place that specifically hires a higher percentage of disabled employees (including me) and serves high risk communities and this isn’t what I signed up for. I don’t think it’s ethical to not even acknowledge the risk. It’s not even what they told us in September. They also don’t have policies for if things get bad again. So I’m job hunting.

    5. Pam Adams*

      My university system has re-approved Covid leave, and has been pretty flexible about allowing people to work from home when they are quarantined or have symptoms.

      California State University

    6. abbynormal*

      My office has remained super strict, but very accommodating. They put a vaccine mandate in place last year so everyone is vaxxed or medically exempt.We are all still required to mask with KN95 masks (provided by the company). Any mild Covid symptoms? Rapid test (also work provided) if you have no known exposures, or PCR. No return to work until 7 days post-exposure with a negative pcr, or 10 days after a positive pcr with 2negative rapids at day 8 and 10 post PCR test. I was out for 2 weeks for exposures in January, and 3 weeks when my whole family got it, and all of it was paid. They’re strict, but doing a really good job. The only thing they have relaxed on is we don’t have to strictly stay in department zones any longer. I feel like I’ve been lucky

  16. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Is it normal to constantly have pay issues as a contractor? My pay check from the company I contract for has been short almost each time this year. Work that I do isn’t counted properly for the current period so whatever shortage occurs is paid in the next period. My point of contact explained that there’s errors or delays in teh reporting system they use to track payments for contractors.

    They’re not “huge” amounts, like $15-60, but it does leave me a little anxious as this is my primary income for now and I can never be sure that I’ll be receiving. On my end I try to keep a buffer in my budgeting so that a shortage won’t be hurting me. At most, it makes it a little annoying to reconcile my spreadsheet with theirs since half the time the report isn’t available, and I can’t copy/paste any data from there.

    (FWIW I was an employee with them for 5 years prior to this and I never had any issues with my paycheck when working there AND so far they have always made errors right on the next check. so I don’t think this is a case of them trying to screw me over…just a really crappy report system I think).

    (also if it matters – I am contracting with a second company as well and no issues there but it’s like 70/30 time commitment for now).

    1. Antilles*

      No, it is not common to “constantly” have issues.
      If you just started contracting with them, maybe the first time or two when they get stuff set up. And occasionally, someone might miss approving an expense or something.
      But it certainly shouldn’t be an every single week thing.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I began working with them last year but didn’t have issues. The company changed the pay terms effective 1/1 to something a bit more complicated where we get partially paid up front and the remainder once completed. I’ve had 4 paychecks so far and 3 of them have been short.

    2. I was told there would be llamas*

      What are the pay terms? If you’re only paid every 60 days or something like that, ask to amend the contract to change the pay terms to monthly…then at least you’re not waiting so long to catch errors and catch up on pay.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Every 2 weeks, same as employees. From my past experience as an employee there, managers would have a post mortem after busy season to discuss how to change things for the coming year but as someone 1000% remote with no face or voice time, I’m not sure how to convey my complaint…..

  17. Should I Apply?*

    Thoughts on “full day” interviews being spread over two days? I am currently in the final round of interviews, 6, 45 min interviews. Pre-covid it would be a 1-day in person marathon. Now the interviews are virtual and spread across 2 days. I see the benefit for the company as it’s probably easier to schedule for them, but for me I have to take time off during two separate days. Its definitely less intense / draining than an all day interview, which I appreciate. However, its given me too much time to over analyze my 1st couple interviews, focusing on all the things I did wrong.
    So which do you think you would prefer – getting all of it done in 1 day or spreading out the interviews over multiple days?

    1. Raboot*

      I had one of these recently. I was actually asked if I preferred doing all 4-5 hours in one day or split and chose split. In this case it worked out well because after the first half I could already tell I didn’t want to continue and was able to graciously decline day 2. Also, I’d done 5 hours in one day the previous week and it was exhausting, and my voice just about died. Splitting it avoided that issue. I completely agree with what you say about taking time off being harder when it’s split, but when a candidate is able to, there can be benefits too.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Personally, I would prefer the split, because I find video interviews more draining than in person ones. I also have the privelege of a flexible schedule and don’t use much vacation time, so I probably wouldn’t need to take time off (or could afford it if needed).

    3. Loulou*

      I would feel the same as you — having to take two days off is much more difficult logistically than one. A full day of zoom does sound awful, but I don’t even know what excuse I would come up with to take two afternoons in a row off.

  18. NYC Nonprofit*

    If you and your former boss work at the same company, is it bad etiquette to ask them for a reference using your work email account?

    I transferred depts awhile back, and am now looking for a new job outside of the company. I want to ask my ex-boss from my previous dept for a reference. Is it bad form to ask him using the work email accounts we both already share? I could technically email him from my personal email address, but thought that would be weirder to do since we are still working at the same company.

    1. Xaraja*

      If it was me i would try to contact him outside of the work system entirely. Can you connect on LinkedIn or something?

    2. Lady Danbury*

      Personal email to personal email unless you’re ok with your company knowing that you’re looking.

    3. anonymous73*

      I don’t think it’s a question of etiquette, it’s a question of does your current manager and/or company know that you’re looking to leave? Because if you use your work email it’s possible that someone else will find out.

    4. NYC Nonprofit*

      Thanks all! Yeah, I’m not sure. He’s only ever been completely professional in the past, so I have no reason to believe he would sabotage me. Do you think the concern is that he might tell my current manager that I’m looking? aka, have more loyalty to my current manager than to me? Or is the concern more that someone else could end up seeing the email I send him through some sort of other fluke?

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        “He’s only ever been completely professional in the past, so I have no reason to believe he would sabotage me.”

        I suggest reframing this. As a manager, FormerManager would have a responsibility to let the company know you’re using company resources to job search (that stretches the meaning of “using company resources”, I know) especially if he was acting as a reference. So it’s professional of him to share with CurrentCompany.

        Being contacted off hours, via a personal email, makes it more allowable to not say anything.

      2. Kay*

        Can you speak to them in person? Before doing this, I would weigh what you know of your former manager, current manager, and your company structure, as well as the risk to you if your company finds out. You are asking them to potentially withhold relevant business information from their colleagues and employer. In some companies this wouldn’t be an issue at all, in others there could be serious blowback if it ever came out that they knew and failed to mention it, perhaps during some pertinent discussion where this could be need to know information.

        Personally I would try to use any other references, and if I had to use this former manager I would wait until you were into the final stages of interviewing before asking, I would have a discussion in person and frame it as “would you be interested in being a reference for me should I ever need it” to feel things out, and if you can’t have a personal discussion I would do it outside of work email. Just because your former manager may not say anything, doesn’t mean your email couldn’t get stumbled upon for any number of other innocuous reasons. Good luck!

        1. Jonquil*

          Yep, talk in person, or phone call. Nothing that can be monitored by the company and no paper trail.

  19. Grits McGee*

    Any advice for working with a supervisor who doesn’t always have all of her ducks in a row before giving directions? My boss is great in so many ways, but she has a habit of jumping in with instructions before I have a chance to give her all of the necessary context; or, she doesn’t keep up with organizational changes, and gives outdated instructions. This is a persistent issue that has caused problems in the past. Obviously it’s unprofessional and undermining to say “Are you sure about that….?” in response to everything she says, but that’s what it feels like I’m doing to her every time I need to ask for guidance.

    1. Xena*

      Would it be possible to provide her with the context ahead of time? Send her an email that she can read through before?

      Otherwise, the phrase “my understanding was that X in our structure prohibits us from doing Y in response to Z. Could you clarify what you meant by suggesting Y?” is probably going to be your best friend.

      1. Grits McGee*

        Yeah, I usually either send her an email summary of what I need her input on, or forward her the chain- she just usually either skims it and misses a lot or doesn’t read it at all. Usually things are pretty convoluted by the time I need her to weigh in, so I completely understand why she she’s not seeing the whole picture, but it’s a major issue.

        1. urguncle*

          If/When I ever manage people, one of my sticking points is going to be never to be sent just email chains with no recap if you want me to weigh in. If I wanted to read poorly formatted and cryptic information, I would get on a Reddit thread. I would try to send a straightforward recap of the email threads with what you see as possible next steps. This saves her some time from wading through “Hello Diana!”s and “per my last email”s and condenses it to “What, so what and now what.” This is also a great way for her to see your decision-making skills!

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Can you push back when she interrupts, with a cheerful reciprocal interruption:

      You: I have a question about the plank-a-thon. See, I…
      Boss: (jumps in before you can finish)
      You: (interject) “Oh, I think l there’s more context that you need. See, we found… And the new protocol is… Given that, what do you think we should?”

      You may need to practice 1) Interrupting and 2) Not pausing so Boss can’t interrupt you.

    3. anonymous73*

      I’d bring it up in a general sense when you meet with her, outside of when she’s actually interrupting with her instructions. Tell her you appreciate her support, but that you’d like her to listen to you in full before she provides any guidance or feedback. As far as using outdated instructions I’m not sure how you get around that unless you can do some research and adjust accordingly.

    4. Stoppin' by to chat*

      I think the crux of this is assuming it’s unprofessional to explain why someone is incorrect. I would say that’s exactly the time to clarify. It’s not about professionalism. It’s that you have information you manager may not have since they presumably have other priorities, so I see it as part of your job to explain some context they may not have. However, they also sound like they jump in with randomness, which is also annoying. But if you approach sharing context as part of your job, then maybe that will help you feel more confident explaining why your boss’ idea or direction won’t work.

  20. Paris Geller*

    My fiancé and I are eloping soon (two weeks from today!) and I could use some advice navigating it at work. My coworkers know that I’m engaged–I’m not intensely private like some people, but I’m also not as open with my personal life as many of my coworkers are. My workplace generally celebrates milestones and will throw wedding/baby showers, holiday celebrations, etc. though they’re very good about *not* doing celebrations if the person being celebrated doesn’t want it. I’m just not sure how to approach the conversation. We’re getting married on a Friday, and I took off Thursday & Friday–advice on telling people before/after? Would it be weird to preemptively tell my boss I don’t want a big celebration, but a card or something is fine? I don’t want to act like entitled to a card or congratulations, but I’d also like to fend off a larger celebration. I’m also hyphenating my last name so I’d rather people know in advance so they don’t get thrown when the see my new email signature, my name in our online directory, etc.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I just said the day before I left “we’re eloping so I won’t be checking email on my days off, see you next week!”. There was a small cake when I got back which was nice. You don’t need to make a big thing out of it, but saying a card would be fine doesn’t sound entitled. I wouldn’t worry too much about your name, people will figure it out.

      1. Paris Geller*

        Oh, for clarity: I’m not worried about people adjusting to my new name–I meant more I would like them to know ahead of time I’m getting married so they’re not thrown by the fact I have a new last name, not the name itself! Typing my questions in a hurry today in between projects. But this is good advice, thank you!

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Can you announce it instead of just talking to your boss? Ooh or put it in your OOO? “I’m getting married this weekend, please note my name will be Geller-Doyle upon return. I’ve chosen to forego a celebration at work, thanks for understanding! See you next week.”

          1. Everything Bagel*

            I don’t think this is appropriate as an out-of-office response, but maybe just sending this email to your coworkers would be helpful.

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      If you want people to know before you come back, I think sending a quick email before you leave on Wednesday might be a good idea. That way, you can control the messaging and have it be whatever level of formal or fancy as you’re comfortable with. Just “Doyle and I are happy to announce that we’ll be getting married this weekend, and when I come back to the office I’ll be using the name Paris Geller-McMaster,” with whatever other details you want them to know.

      Congratulations on your upcoming elopement, I hope it’s wonderful!

      1. Raboot*

        I like this because it sets the tone as warm and friendly. Like how Alison often says you can often get the response you want by speaking as if OBVIOUSLY your audience will agree with you. A message like this kne doesn’t come off as apologetic about the timing or “secrecy” or anything, just “this is good news, aren’t you happy for me” which seems perfect.

      2. LC*

        That’s basically what I did, and it worked great.

        I told my boss when I asked for the time off because it was in the middle of the very, very busy season with required overtime and PTO was denied, so they wouldn’t have okay’d it without a good reason (and some managers still wouldn’t have, but my manager at the time was a lovely person who was happy for me and happy to make the time off work).

        And this wouldn’t work the same with remote work, but I also mentioned it to one or two of the people I was closer to, and usually in earshot of others, so it at least partially spread before I even sent the “I’ll be out for the next two days, we’re running off to get married! And I’ll be switching to Elle See when I get back, but I promise it’s still me!” (My given last name is very distinctive and my new last name is much more common, so I definitely felt the need to share that.)

        Also, I’d suggest signing the email with your new last name in the signature, even if the actual email name hasn’t changed yet.

    3. The Wizard Rincewind*

      As someone who also married without informing anyone at the office until after it happened, I kept it casual. I took a long weekend, got married, then at the next weekly meeting, when my boss said “So, anyone do anything fun this weekend?” I responded, “Yeah, actually, [Spouse] and I got married. Small ceremony, just family, it was lovely. Anyone else have a good story?” My team responded to the cue really well and the only celebration I received was a nice card from my boss and a shout-out at the following staff meeting.

      I didn’t change my name, though, so no advice there. I think in general that if you’re calm but pleased, people will follow that lead and respond to your level of enthusiasm. However, I’m the only woman on my team so it’s possible that those guys just didn’t care as much about *~wedding~* stuff as much as others might.

      1. WellRed*

        I don’t think the name change needs to be such a big deal. Announce it beforehand or announce it afterward, like this.

    4. Belle of the Midwest*

      My director and his longtime partner got married three years ago. The way he handled it was telling us at a team meeting the week before. “Partner and I are getting married this weekend. We are just having a civil ceremony with our kids and my brother attending. So when I come back on July 30, I’ll be a married man!” We all said congratulations and then we went on with the agenda. He’s a really chill guy to begin with and he just kept it short and sweet.

    5. Haha Lala*


      I agree with other comments, you can email an announcement before you leave, or have it auto-send after everyone’s left for the day, or first thing that Thursday morning.

      Is there someone in the office that usually heads the celebrations/cards? You can tell them directly (either before or when you get back) that you don’t want a party, and that should do it. Or if you have a close work friend, let them know ahead of time, and they can speak for you when it comes up.

      Will you also need to clue in your IT/HR in order to get your name updated? Official name change paper work take awhile (especially with SS offices still being closed due to Covid…), but depending on your office they might be able to change your name internally before they change it for payroll/taxes. If you change your email address to match your hyphenate name, you could have it set up in advance so you can send your announcement from that address.

      When I got married, I changed my name but didn’t formally announce it to my office or any of my contacts. I took a week off, and people I worked with regularly new I was getting married, and other people didn’t know until they saw emails from my new name. (I also kept my maiden name in my signature so it was pretty clear to everyone what happened). A handful of people were surprised and and said congrats, and then went about business as usual.

    6. Midwest Manager*

      Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials! My spouse and I eloped, and it was amazing. I recommend telling your manager the day before your time off, as in “I’m looking forward to the time off. Fergus and I are getting married on Friday, but we’re trying to keep it low-key.” Be sure to ask for resources for updating your name/email address and any benefits that will need to be changed (switching to family plan, life insurance beneficiary, etc.). You can take care of the paperwork after you get the completed marriage certificate (and updated D/L and social security card), but remember that there is often a limited window where the insurance stuff can be changed.

      Enjoy your wedding, I wish the best for you and your fiancee!

    7. anonymous73*

      I would tell them once you come back. And I would say something to your manager about your feelings on office celebrations. Don’t hint around about what you want, just tell her clearly. I made sure that those I was closest to at work knew that I 100% did not want any type of celebration at the office when I got married. I don’t like to be the center of attention, and my wedding shower and walking down the aisle on the day of the wedding were enough for me to handle.


    8. AcademiaNut*

      If you’re in person, I’d be inclined to not say anything in advance, show up on Monday with a cake or box of fancy doughnuts, send out an email with the name change and announcement of treats.

    9. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I always thought one of the purposes of eloping was to NOT tell anyone beforehand, partly to avoid unwanted celebratory stuff.

  21. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

    I work in a NPO. We’re forbidden from going over 40 hours per work week. Occasionally, coworkers will go slightly over 40 hours, like say 15 minutes, 20 minutes, etc. Never anything more than an hour.

    Recently, my coworkers have begun noticing that their managers have begun to “adjust” their employees’ electronic timecards so that they don’t have to pay overtime. So if i had worked 40.5 hours by the time i clock out on Friday, I’ll come back Monday and see that my time card was “adjusted” down to 40 hours, leaving me not getting paid that half hour of overtime.

    This isn’t legal is it? What can i do?

    1. WellRed*

      Point out calmly and matter if fact that this isn’t legal and “we could get in trouble for this.” They need to pay the back pay too.

    2. Pop*

      This is definitely illegal. Alison has a lot of scripts for how to approach this kind of thing, mostly approaching it from a “we” perspective – you and the company are a team, and so you wouldn’t want to do anything illegal. However, the company can also start disciplining you for working overtime aka refusing to follow directions, including firing you. So, if you think that they may get stricter, it may be worth it to forego the fuss – up to you.

      1. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

        they always encouraged us to stay at our 40 but understood sometimes our jobs required us to get overtime (before covid i was authorized overtime and was averaging 42-48 hours a week with no issue) but only within the past few months we were told no overtime at all whatsoever even though our workload has stayed the same if not increased. within the past couple months they’ve started the timecard thing.

        1. Cold Fish*

          You could do the “of course” trick that Alison talks about…. “The extra half hour I spent on Tues because of X isn’t on my time, of course this was a system error. The company can get in a lot of trouble not paying employees for time worked!”

          Don’t sign or approve the time card if you notice time missing. Keep track of any discrepancies if they keep happening.

        2. Can Can Cannot*

          If you are told “no overtime” is allowed, then you need to stop working at 40 hours. If you don’t, you will need to be paid but you could be fired for now following a direct order.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Yes its illegal. But also, you know they don’t want you doing overtime. So don’t. It doesn’t matter if its 15 minutes. Clock out/leave on time, every time, without fail. If something doesn’t get done that day/week, it can get done the next week.

      If they have chosen the path of no overtime, then they also have chosen the consequences of no overtime.

      1. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

        Unfortunately we deal in patient and community care and we can’t just up and go at 5PM. We also get disciplined for incomplete work. (We’re also told we’re not good enough, not working hard enough etc).

        some of my coworkers have resorted to clocking out and returning to work

        1. Cj*

          It is not an option for them to have it both ways.

          First I would ask them what you are supposed to do if you are in the middle of a task when your shift is up. Do this as a group, so it’s not just coming from you, and so that everybody gets the same answer.

          Since you are in patient care and can’t walk out in the middle of changing their IV bag or whatever, I would continue to work overtime if they don’t have a good answer regarding solving this issue. But insist on being paid for it. Bring it up to HR, to their legal department if they have one, or report them to the State Labor Board if necessary.

          If you think you will be retaliated against for bring it to HR or legal, and can do so anonymously to the State Labor Board, I would go directly to them. Because this is happening to multiple employees, they probably won’t be able to figure out exactly who reported them.

          Health Care is so understaffed right now as it is, I don’t see how companies think they can continue to treat employees this and not have them jump ship.

    4. Anon in NY*

      If you are forbidden to work overtime as you say, they must still pay you but you can be disciplined for not following the rule. Why is anyone working overtime with this rule in place?

      1. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

        we’re in patient and community care so we can’t just up and leave once the clock strikes 5. we’re expected to be in at a certain time but occasionally things will pop up at the end of the day (or we’re dealing with a particular patient/community member) that just take us a bit longer.

        1. Dr. Prepper*

          You have been told “absolutely no overtime.” As already stated, if you still work over anyway, you may be disciplined or fired. Under US labor laws, it is the duration of the WORK that is the issue, so clocking out and coming back to chart, etc. still falls under overtime rules (as is reading/responding to emails and the like for the WFH crowd.)

          I’d go to the manager(s) and pointedly demand to know their policies for what you should do if you hit 8 hours and give specific scenarios – “…and I’m still with a patient,” “if I’m not done with charting” – a written policy would be even better.

          Reminds me of my New York City gigs where folks would just get up during afternoon meetings in mid-sentence with a “Sorry, got to catch my train…” and no one would even blink.

        2. Jean*

          In that case, what they’re doing is wage theft and can get them in very hot water with the DOL. Bring it to your manager’s attention, and if it continues, report it.

    5. Haha Lala*

      Have you asked your manager about it? If they really want you to only work 40hours, then either you need to be able to ‘drop dead’ right at stop time, or be able to leave early or take a longer break to make up for it later that week.
      If they don’t give you a clear answer, then start the malicious compliance–make it clear when something will put you into overtime, and make them ‘approve’ it. And if they don’t approve it, then don’t do it and leave. And document everything. Start taking screenshots of your timesheet, and make sure to save them somewhere besides your work computer/server.

      Also, in all my jobs, we’ve logged time in 30minute increments– meaning if I tried to log an 8hr 10 min day, it’d be rounded down to 8 hrs. If you’re noticing differences of 20 minutes or so over the course of the week, that could be it as well– But that’s a company policy that I’ve has explained to me at each company, so the boss should be able to give you a clear policy on that as well.

      1. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

        We’ve been told “this isn’t a job you can only do Monday through Friday.” And basically we’re called to do bits of work here and there no matter what, even if we’re off the clock.

        I was actually written up in the past because i didn’t answer my emails, Teams messages, text messages, or phone calls from work (on my personal cell phone) fast enough while i was on PTO and dealing with a family crisis (family is luckily okay now).

        Our time card does not round up or down on its own, it counts every minute. Sometimes I’m at 40.01 hours (we get crap for that too, believe it or not) or whatever. We have the ability to clock in or out from our work computers or our cell phones, but management says we’re only allowed to use one of two stations. In the morning/ evening rush where there’s like 20 people crowding the stations, it’s easy to end up clocking in or out a few minutes late, especially on a Friday.

        Plus, we also work community events, so we do come in late/ leave early some days to allow time for the event but if we’re stuck working it even a few minutes later, the extra time gets removed. But if say the event is canceled or ends early, we’re just left with a shortage of hours.

        Our time cards literally count and pay you for every minute, the adjustments are 100% made by management.

        1. Speaks to Dragonflies*

          Wow, your managers are sounding more and more shady. Hard stop,no overtime to the point of adjusting time cards, yet saying this isn’t a “9 to 5” kind of job? Red flags seem to be a sprouting. My advice would be document, screenshoot, gather any proof of this shadyness and stash it where management can’t get to it. Do your job they way you are supposed to taking care of folks, and if/when they try to give you trouble, or you decide to move on, drop a dime to the DOL with all that evidence. And see if your coworkers will do the same. When ya drop that bomb, make it a BIIIIIIIIG bomb.

    6. Anima*

      Wow, not I’m the US and that wouldn’t fly here for a day. (That’s why unions are important, folks.) If you are in patient care you can not be expected to drop all work at 40 h on the dot. I would push back as a group like, yesterday. (And then unionize if possible.)

    7. LGC*

      Pretty much what everyone said. That said…your organization 1) can implement a rounding policy – although I think it has to be equitable, in that it can’t just round down – and 2) can explicitly forbid you from working more than 40 hours per week. Which is what they probably should be doing if they’re going to be that penny-pinching about an hour of OT per week.

      (IME, it’s likely that upper management got whiny about the fact that there was OT how dare they misappropriate funds and then the managers took it upon themselves to make ~*~adjustments~*~ instead of – y’know – doing their jobs. So if your direct boss is giving you a bad response, you can go over their heads.)

      So, yeah, point out that this is ~*~kinda illegal~*~ (they might say that employees punching in early is the real wage theft, but that – IMO – is BS). If it’s that big of a deal, possibly report it to the state labor board, but that’s a huge escalation.

      I’ll also speak to your comment about your coworkers working off the clock: this is something I would yell loudly at an employee for. (In fact, this is something I’ve yelled loudly at people for.)

  22. Neon Dreams*

    I’m having trouble retaining focus on my newer job. I went from a fast paced back to back calls all the time in customer service to being on my own. It’s a welcome change and I don’t think I could’ve carried on any longer in the old place. Yet because I don’t have someone dictating to me anymore, my focus isn’t fully there. I understand how to do this job’s work, but it’s pretty boring. So, I procrastinate quite a bit. I have reasons to suspect I have adult ADHD (been doing some research and my symptoms are a 90%-95% match). That evaluation isn’t until May. How do I keep up in the meantime? I haven’t missed any deadlines in the new gig. But I don’t want to slip up and lose this.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Can you make yourself a daily schedule? 8:00-8:30: check email, 8:30-9:30: Task X. Then use timers and alarms and calendar alerts to make sure you stick to it.

    2. AdequateArchaeologist*

      The Pomodoro method helps me a lot. It’s 25 min work/ 5 min break. Repeat 4 times then you earn a long 15 minute break. There are various online timers and apps you can use.

      Also, if you know you’re more productive ta a certain time of day, try to get all your work done then so when you’re kind of phoning it in later, the bulk of your tasks are already done.

    3. LC*

      There was a post about two weeks ago (search the site for “can you really ever get past being a procrastinator?”) that had some really awesome suggestions in the comments.

      ADHDer here, and there were a ton of us in that comment section too, we’re basically experts, lol.

      I think one of the biggest game changers for me (and it’s a work in progress, it’ll always be a struggle) was realizing and actually accepting that what works for many people may not work for me, and that’s okay. So if you get 10 people telling you “This worked perfectly, I’m cured!” and you try it and it’s absolutely horrible, that is okay and now you know and you can use that knowledge to try something else and you don’t need to force yourself to do it that way. Take all the tips you see and try different things out and hold on to the things that work and let go of the things that don’t.

      (Pomodoro method is actually a great example. I hated it until I allowed myself to use a different number of minutes that you normally see suggested, sometimes with the working period shorter than the break. It doesn’t always work for me, but when it does, it only does when I do it my way.)

      1. LC*

        Oh, also, when I had a similar transition, at my new company, I’d get a lot of “hey can do you this whenever you get a chance?” without a deadline attached. That was awful and I hated it. So I started asking when they’d like it by and if they kept with the “oh, whenever” then I’d suggest something (“does end of day Thursday sound okay?” or something), forcing the expectation onto myself. A self-imposed deadline doesn’t work if I just set it for myself, but if someone else is expecting it now, even if I’m the one that actually came up with the deadline, that helps.

        Obvs a fairly specific situation, but wanted to share in case it’s relevant.

    4. Procrastinator professional*

      I am horrible about procrastinating things I don’t want to do and one thing that is probably most effective for me is accountability. For example, if there is a task that I am dreading and know that I will procrastinate on, I’ll make sure to mention that task in my check-ins with my boss. That way I will work on that thing knowing my boss will ask about it later and the discomfort of saying I haven’t done it outweighs whatever is causing me to procrastinate it.

      To be candid, I suspect I have ADHD and I wish this wasn’t the way to motivate myself to get things done, but it has worked so I’ll keep doing it. Timers, calendar reminders, etc. are too easy for me ignore!

    5. Former Gremlin Herder*

      I went through a similar change this year (teaching to office job that’s largely self directed) and it is a tough transition! I did wind up getting diagnosed with ADHD earlier this year, and just knowing that has helped me reframe things so that I’m not so hard on myself. I second what others have said about finding what truly works for you-I personally need external structure and novelty, so while Pomodoro worked well for a few weeks, it’s much less effective now. The things that help me right now are very visible calendars with deadlines, having a set playlist for working that has pump up music or even podcasts my brain likes for extra stimulation, trying something for “just five minutes” to see if I can get in the flow, a tactile to do list that I enjoy checking and updating, and taking breaks when I feel I’m becoming less effective. One thing I do when I do start to slip on long term assignments is ask a colleague or supervisor if I can set myself a due date and then check in with them when something is complete-it tricks my brain into thinking it’s a “real” deadline. Obviously, this depends on your boss-mine have been great and haven’t batted an eye when I ask for accountability help, but YMMV. Good luck!!

      1. J.B.*

        I think one thing about ADHD that I’ve seen with my kids is the method by which I hold them accountable is less helpful once it’s less novel, so having several different options you can switch between is a great idea.

    6. Cold Fish*

      I have an app on my phone called Forest. I set the time (10 min – 2 hours), hit the “Plant” button and do my best to work until the app lets me know times up. At the end of the time a plant or tree is planted in the “forest” on my app. When I’m really struggling and need to get something out I use it. If I’m really struggling I’ll assign my own prize for finishing (Ex. if I plant two trees today I’ll stay up and watch an extra episode on the show I’m binging)

    7. anonymous73*

      I make lists. Physical, in a notebook with check boxes, lists. I’m always early and have never missed a major deadline, but I tend to procrastinate more when I have less to do. So seeing what I need to get done with due dates helps me stay on track and focused.

    8. Neurodivergentsaurus Rex*

      I have severe inattentive ADHD. I started working with an ADHD coach in January who has been super helpful. One of the strategies that has helped me a lot is a website called focusmate dot com – you sign up for a 25 or 50 minute session with a random accountability partner. It’s a video call, but there’s very little interaction involved. At the beginning of the session you just say what you want to get done, e.g. “I want to get at least 2 sections of this report done.” and the other person says what their goal for the session is. Then you go on mute and do your work until the timer goes off, at which point you go back to your call and report to your partner on how successful you were.

      Also, because ADHD coaching isn’t covered by insurance, most coaches don’t require any sort of proof of diagnosis. So that might be worth looking into if you’ve got the symptoms.

      1. Mouse*

        I was going to suggest FocusMate. *Such* a huge difference in the last few weeks since I found it. My struggles tend to be with task initiation and transitions, so scheduling sessions when I know that’s likely to be an issue (beginning of the day, after lunch, after a meeting-heavy stretch) makes it a lot easier to get in a rhythm.

        You could do also a similar “co-working” call (check in with goals, mute and set a timer for working time, check in and report results) with a coworker, friend, etc.

  23. Polka Dot Sweater*

    I need to take a quick poll and garner some advice, please.

    Context: Toxic workplace, but I’m unhappy in my actual role. The workplace itself may be on the upswing.

    Potential paths forward:
    1. Do I apply for a leadership job in my current workplace that is an excellent resume builder, a job that I’ll likely enjoy more than my current one, and is a chance to help tune down the toxicity. But also stay in a terribly toxic workplace?

    2. My dream job will likely open up at a different business in 6 months. Do I wait it out in my misery and apply for that one? (I know it’s a “dream” job and not all dreams are actually dreamy, but just trust me on this one and roll with the question, please).

    3. Do I jump ship and just go find a new job anywhere else where I can succeed and me happy.

    If I do 1 or 3, can I reasonably apply for the dream job in 6 months and not be seen as “jumping ship” and damaging my reputation? Any thoughts, opinions, or otherwise?

    1. Nalgene*

      Start looking now. Why not? You might find something dreamy you can have right now instead of in six months, which seems the best of all the options you’ve listed. Good luck.

    2. irene adler*

      Golden opportunities don’t ever show up on your schedule. If the golden opportunity comes along 6 months after you’ve done #1 or #3, so be it. Pursue it.

      See, only you have your best interests at heart. So only you can take the steps to serve your best interests.

      You can buffer this by explaining to your current employer that this golden opportunity came along out of nowhere and you just could not pass it up. I’m sure they’ve had somewhat similar experiences in their past.

      Look at it this way: suppose you do #1 or #3 and 6 months after you start the new position, you are laid off (via a business downturn- not because of any issue on your part). Do you think the employer will ponder the 6 months question (“we hired Polka Dot Sweater only 6 months ago, maybe we should lay off someone else?”).

    3. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      Don’t delude yourself into thinking that you can “change” a toxic workplace. You can’t. Just get out. Don’t wait for the “dream” job, just start applying now. Don’t fall victim to the Sunk Cost Fallacy.

      1. irene adler*

        Yeah- it may seem like being a member of management can give one an avenue to change things. But company culture runs deep. Especially if those higher up do not appreciate changes. Even changes to improve things like the bottom line, morale.

    4. Kes*

      I mean you can apply to the leadership position and also keep looking for other jobs. a) you don’t know if you’ll get the leadership position, b) it could give your resume a boost that you could leverage in your search if you do get it, c) you don’t know what else is out there, that could be even better than the other ‘dream’ job, and d) if your workplace is toxic you need to get out of there and sooner is better. I don’t see the benefit of pinning your hopes on one approach when you can pursue them all and see what materializes. Really the only risk in doing this is that you find something else after a few months and have to decide whether to take it or hold out for dream job, but you’d still be the better for having options

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Apply to #1. Do you think the leadership job would give you a better chance at getting #2?
      There seems to be a bit of an assumption that you’d get #2 (?) – I wouldn’t put everything on hold for something 6 months out that isn’t definite.

    6. Cold Fish*

      All 3. If anything the forward momentum could help keep the toxicity at bay long enough to get out.

      Just because you get 1 doesn’t mean something might not come of 3. If you do find something in 3, doesn’t mean you can’t apply for 2 when that comes available.

      One caveat, I’d be wouldn’t turn something down in 3 to do 1. A toxic workplace isn’t likely to change and it’s probably best to just get out if the situation presents itself.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, I agree.
        Why limit yourself to 1 of the 3 options? Work it! Find out what these jobs are and what YOU actually want. Don’t just go for the easy-reach, check them all out.
        I also agree that a toxic workplace probably won’t change. If you can move on do so when opportunity strikes.

    7. anonymous73*

      I’d start looking for a new job. Life is too short to be unhappy with your job, especially when the environment is toxic. Never “wait it out and see” when you can find something else. I’ve stayed in several places for too long because I was comfortable, and either ended up losing my job or becoming so negative it was affecting my mental health.

    8. A Feast of Fools*

      D) All of the above.

      Apply for the leadership position in your current org while simultaneously looking for a new job.

      If Dream Job makes you an offer before you find a better job elsewhere, take Dream Job.

      If you find a better job elsewhere before Dream Job makes you an offer, take Better Job.

      If Dream Job is similar to how I got my current job, where an old manager at a past company moved to a new company and called me to say, “We have a spot opening up in 4 months and the role is yours if you want it,” then maybe stick out the six months in your current position.

      But if Dream Job involves interviews and any competition for the role whatsoever, start immediately on #1 and #3.

    9. Jonquil*

      I would do 1 and 2 – apply for the leadership role AND for whatever else is out there that looks interesting (not just “dream” roles). And if the “dream” role comes up in 6 months, well, Alison has lots of language around “it fell into my lap” and “too good to pass up” but honestly, I wouldn’t worry about disappointing them by leaving 6 months after a promotion (especially if the company is, as you say, toxic). It’s business, not personal.

  24. BetterPanda*

    Hello all!
    Just wanted to thank you for your support. I had posted late last year about a supervisor who was targeting me. According to her my performance, which was considered exceeds expectations prior to her, was suddenly substandard and she questioned my professional judgment and ability. I found a new position which is not only a promotion, but actually will allow me to specialize on the parts of my job I enjoy more. Thanks for helping me realize I wasn’t just a turd of an employee.

    1. Elle Woods*

      Congrats on the new role! I’m glad you were able to get away from your toxic supervisor.

    2. A Feast of Fools*

      This is great news!

      This site is one of the only — if not THE only — places on the internet where I read the comments. The vast majority is supportive and grounded in reality. I love when communities like this help one another.

  25. Lemon*

    A large startup in my country recently introduced period leave, and while I think it’s much needed, I worry that it will negatively impact the very people it’s supposed to help.

    My concerns are:
    1. People who don’t menstruate (and thus will not be entitled to this leave) may be resentful, resulting in overt or subconscious discrimination – e.g. not hiring/promoting women due to a concern that they’ll take many days off
    2. On those lines, the perception of misuse, as this is supposed to operate on a honor system. What if I genuinely need 3 days off but my colleagues think it’s overkill or that I’m lying? (I think the chance of actual misuse is rare, so not bringing that up)
    3. Personally, I am very private and can’t imagine having to inform my manager I’m taking leave because of my period (I would say the same for a dentist appointment btw! I just don’t like sharing any medical details, but maybe this is not a popular opinion/concern)

    Curious to know how you would combat these if you were a manager at a place that offered period leave, please share your thoughts!

    1. CatCat*

      Do not like.

      I do not think requiring people to talk about their very personal body situation by labeling it as something like “period leave” is comfortable for anyone. (Like I wouldn’t want to have to say I need “vomit leave” or “diarrhea leave” or “I can’t stop crying today leave” either.)

      Why not just give everyone more sick leave?

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Agree with increasing sick leave across the board. I brought this up last week or the week before with regard to leave specifically for miscarriages.

      2. Loulou*

        Yes, more sick leave/flexibility on sick leave seems like the obvious solution. There could also be sick leave policies that need changing to accommodate “period leave” (like if you need a doctor’s note after X consecutive days of absence) but there are ways to do that besides “period leave.”

    2. Xena*

      Not a fan.

      I think your concerns are spot on. This is definitely going to cause resentment – see comments anywhere about working parents. It is almost certainly going to cause discrimination of the kind you describe. And it feels really weird to tell your manager that you’re going to be off in so many words – I personally avoid saying anything beyond “I’m not feeling well” or “i have an appointment” unless it’s something pretty big that more actively impacts my work – “I broke my foot and will need a desk that can fit a wheelchair”.

      If i were a manager I’d probably go to bat for getting everyone another 2 weeks of sick leave and leave it at that.

    3. Kes*

      Yeah not a fan, can’t imagine having to tell my manager that I need to take this leave/why I need time off in this case, beyond being unwell in general. Much better to just give employees generous sick leave and leave (pun unintended) it at that

    4. Have you tried sparkling at it?*

      It’s a nice idea in theory, I guess, but I think they missed a far more obvious solution- giving people more unspecified sick leave. That way they can use it for lots of stuff- periods, frequent doctors appointments, therapy, mental health days, migraines, caretaking duties, covid scares, daycare closures, and any one of the zillion things that workplaces don’t seem to account for.

      1. Lily*

        Exactly. It’s absurd to single out periods for special sick days where there are so many other intermittent illnesses or life hiccups that people can have. I’m on birth control so I don’t have a period very often, but I have migraines. Why should I be able to take sick leave for the former but not the latter?

    5. Generic Name*

      Oh man, I super do not want my boss/company to know details of my monthly cycle. If they want to support folks who menstruate, they can increase everyone’s sick time across the board and update their employee manual to specifically state that taking time off due to needing to deal with period stuff counts is a permitted use of sick leave.

    6. MacGillicuddy*

      Yeah, just increase the sick time. Nobody should have to give details about why they’re taking sick leave.

      I think the same way about mental health days. Mental health is health just as physical health is health. You shouldn’t have to say “I’m taking a mental health day”. Saying you’re out sick is enough.

    7. Cj*

      This is one of the most bizarre and horrible policies I have ever heard of. It will definitely increase discrimination against women in the age bracket you’re talking about. Which is already an issue because some employers don’t want them to be taking maternity leave.

      I am all for increased sick leave across the board, I am not for sick leave based on a specific condition, no matter what it is. ( Covid being the exception to that, as it is both deadly and very contagious, and we need people to stay home when sick.)

      1. Erin*

        HIPAA does not apply here unless the employer is a medical clinic or health insurance business, etc and the staff are also patients.

      2. Clisby*

        Nothing to do with HIPAA. HIPAA restricts what information your medical providers can release about you. Generally speaking, it doesn’t restrict your employer at all. (As Erin says, it might restrict your employer if you happen to work for a health care provider and also are a patient of that health care provider.)

    8. AcademiaNut*

      I don’t like it.

      It’s not just the resentment part, but also the assumption that women are frail, gentle flowers who can’t possibly be expected to work while (gasp) menstruating. There certainly are women who have periods that cause significant impairment, but that should be treated the same way something like intermittent migraines or IBS flareups would, under regular sick leave.

    9. Sparkles McFadden*

      This is ridiculous. It’s like sending someone out of the village because they’re unclean. Want to help make work better for people with periods? Provide free period products.

      Yes, some people have period-related issues, but those are specific health problems. As someone else has already said, you take a sick day. You don’t take a diarrhea day. If someone has endometriosis, that person should get to take sick days as needed, just as someone with IBS or UC or any condition that flares up should be able to do.

    10. PollyQ*

      Hate it. Absolutely hate it. There are some people who menstruate who have very severe symptoms, and those should be dealt with the same as any other medical complaint, e.g. backaches or migraines. (Although I recognize that in some places, medical leave/sick days can be pretty scarce.) For the rest of us, who have mild to moderate symptoms, there’s no advantage at all to singling out periods for special treatment. I agree with your 3rd point, which is that making people specify the nature of their complaint to their bosses shouldn’t be necessary, and to your 2nd point, it absolutely shouldn’t be shared with colleagues. This 1000000% none of their business.

      And at least in the US, what is needed on a far wider basis is enough leave for parents who have sick children (which is pretty much all of them on a fairly frequent basis).

    11. Miel*

      Y’all get sick leave?

      I’m only half joking. My employer lumps sick leave in with PTO. As a person who rarely gets sick, it works out pretty well for me: extra vacation time!

      But it can really screw up people’s lives! If you get seriously sick or injured, you potentially can’t, say, visit your family for the holidays that year. (Obviously depends on the details, but I did have a coworker who hadn’t been able to take a vacation in three years because he had had a series of unfortunate health events.)

    12. Jonquil*

      I wonder the same about domestic violence leave (which we have at my job). Lots of people aren’t going to want to disclose that to their boss if they can avoid it. And there are other types of leave (personal, caring, moving house) that would cover a lot of situations.

      I can see a lot of issues around menstrual leave too. There are too many cases where someone might menstruate when they aren’t expected to (trans, non-binary or intersex people), or not menstruate when they are expected to (anyone who is pregnant, going through menopause, has had a hysterectomy, is on long-acting birth control, who is trans but not out at work), and the potential for discrimination is so high.

    13. Mameshiba*

      This is a common policy in Japan and Korea (perhaps other nearby countries, I’m not sure), you might look at the effects there. I believe it’s like 1 or a couple days allowed per month, not always paid.

      My personal experience is that in the last decade at any of my companies I have never heard of it being used, likely for reason #3, as menstruation is very taboo still here. If people never use it because they’re afraid of backlash/uncomfortable sharing medical details, then it’s not actually helping anyone. I think a key aspect of making this policy effective is having a large number of women in management–they can lead the way in openly taking leave, and lower level female workers may be more comfortable talking to a female manager about it.

      As far as trans workers and menstruation leave, I think your company would need very very robust D&I policies and a strong culture of acceptance to see adoption there. Based on the reluctance I have seen from workers who read female, I can’t imagine a worker who is perceived as male using this leave without incredible support and bravery.

  26. IDidIt*

    Well, I did the (previously) unthinkable and resigned from my job with nothing else lined up. I have an active job search going and about 6+ months of savings, plus the option for freelance or contract work in the interim. The goal is to find a new full-time gig that doesn’t suck and recover from the mental battering from the past year. My question is: what is the most efficient use of my time after my last day? Has anyone else been in this situation?

    1. Exhausted*

      I was in the same situation as you, and traditional job hunting didn’t yield satisfactory results (no bites for several months, and only a bad job at the end). I would say, start networking, having a friend be your reference would help get a foot in the door at least.

      1. Eether, Either*

        Volunteer someplace that aligns with your job skills, if possible. Depending on where you volunteer, you can also make great networking connections. And, you can add that experience to your resume. Good luck!!

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      I did this last summer.
      I spent the first few days just getting extra sleep and self-care. I also enjoyed the outdoors a lot – everything from long walks in nature to reading in a lawn chair to cocktails on the deck/around a fire pit.
      Then I tackled a few of the simpler things on my to do list (organize recipes, take the load of donations to the drop off site, clean out refrigerator, etc… Just one or two a day to feel like I accomplished something.
      Then after a week or two I split my day into 3 parts: Part 1 was job hunting for 2 hours. Part 2 was tackle a project on my list. Part 3 was to do something I enjoyed.
      Ended up getting a job quicker than I’d hoped so I pushed out my start date to give me a full 2 months off.
      Went back to work with a great outlook, pants that weren’t tight anymore, and a clean, organized house.

    3. Dr. Prepper*

      Take a few days/one week off and totally check out. Rest, recharge and recover.

      Then, treat your job hunt as your new full time job. Get on LinkedIn, network, see to getting references and referrals. Make at least one concrete contact a day to assist you in your job hunt. Ask for opinions on your resume – style, content and readability.

      Good luck.

    4. A Feast of Fools*

      I have involuntarily found myself in this situation and did the worst thing I could possibly do for myself (YMMV): Not have a rigid daily plan.

      Without the structure of a job, I just kind of free-floated into depression, losing track of time (and my savings). I almost lost my house.

      Everyone is different but, if I could go back in time and do it over again, I would follow CupcakeCounter’s advice and have a timed, daily schedule of productive activities. That, alone, would have kept my brain cells firing at an appropriate rate and I would have performed better in interviews (and done better in finding those interviews).

    5. AcademiaNut*

      Give yourself a vacation first! One or two weeks off with either nothing scheduled, or some enjoyable, low stress activities. I would, after the first couple days of sleep and comfort food, make sure to get some sort of physical exercise, even just a daily walk, and some time out in natural light, for general mental/physical health. I’d probably start off with a day of vigorous housecleaning to have a nice clean place to relax in.

      After that, a daily schedule is a good idea – have a time to work on job applications, or for contract work, and for doing some volunteering or practical projects around the house, but also regular exercise, regular sleep and healthy food, and blocks of free time.

      1. WhenIsRetirement?*

        For people who have done this, if anyone sees this, can I ask what your age is? I am burned out and want to do this but am in my mid50s and am scared it won’t work out well.

  27. Leilah*

    Anyone have advice for grad school applications? My biggest concern is letters of reference. I graduated college 12 years ago. I will be applying to the same school a graduated from in animal science. I have my own farm and a full time job in animal science as well.

    My ideas:
    My former boss (just was transferred a month ago)
    My main farm veterinarian (has written letters for many vet school applicants – but would this be weird since I pay him to provide a service to my business currently?)
    My former farm nutritionist (she has many years of experience in academia and was recently promoted so I am no longer her customer)
    The assistant research scientist who I worked with for a few years at my current company (she supervised the work I did daily but I did not report to her) – she can be a bit flaky and is not a great writer (but a wonderful person!), but I also worked with her partner who is an academic and would definitely be helping her write the letter if I know her.

    1. Paris Geller*

      I applied to grad school 3 years after I graduated college and I already felt that letters of reference from former professors was tough, so I sympathize. I definitely suggest having at least one who can speak to your more academic work, so I think the assistant research scientist you worked with is definitely a good idea, and probably the farm nutritionist as well.

      1. After 33 years ...*

        Yes, you’ll need at least one letter from someone in an academic or research position, or who has academic experience. As a grad student, you’d generally be expected to do research, so someone who could address your ability or potential for that would be helpful, to complement comments on your practical farming skills.

        Best of luck!

        1. Leilah*

          Yes, I plan to do a research project using my company’s research facility where I used to work (I now WFH) — this type of collaboration between my company and grad students in this department before. My nutritionist has her PhD and spent about 10 years in academic research in this field before moving into private industry, and the assistant research scientist has been in this research unit for about 7 years now even though she only has a Bachelors’. I rarely worked with the actual PhDs who designed the studies because they are based on another continent whereas I worked with her almost every day and she was the one supervising the studies and the facility.

    2. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      Reach out to your undergrad professors! They won’t mind that it’s been a while, this is part of their job. Honestly it would be very weird to apply to the same university and not have at least one letter from one of your undergrad professors. If you still live in the same place, offer to get them a coffee and catch them up on what you’ve been up to professionally in the last 12 years.

      1. Leilah*

        Really, after 12 years? When I was one of 100 students per class? I don’t think they knew who I was when I was in school, let alone now after over a decade! I never even spoke to them (to be frank, I aced almost everything and never needed to talk to them about anything, my in-major GPA was 4.0).

        1. After 33 years ...*

          It depends! I I get a request like that, I’d look at the GPA and start from there. It’s not uncommon for me to get requests from students from 5-10 years ago. A short e-mail starting with “I don’t know if you remember me … and going on to say what’s happened in recent years” can work, especially if you were a strong student.
          My now-retired colleague seemed to know everyone she ever taught by sight- “Leilah, I haven’t seen you in 20 years since you took X from me! How’s it going?” I’m not that good, but I’d look at your transcript and be able to say something.

        2. MsM*

          Include a little bit in your request message about what you’ve been doing since graduation and how their lessons have been helpful to you in that, or if they’re in an area of specialization you’re also hoping to pursue, or whatever else is prompting you to reach out to them over your other former professors. Also probably good to offer to send along a resume/CV if they’re amenable, although odds are they’ll ask you for one anyway if they say yes.

          Personally, though, I think your nutritionist sounds like a good pick given her academic background, along with your boss. Grad programs tend to be more flexible with applicants who’ve been in the workforce a while, especially if it’s not a program where your only real direct career path afterward is academia.

      2. VA Professor*

        I’ve been a professor for 22 years and am able to write references for students from long ago. I keep all my old gradebook spreadsheets so I can say things like they excelled in a particular topic, solid student who grasped such-and-such a topic well, reliable (if they were in class everyday), worked well with others (if their group work was good), hard-working, etc . Feel free to reach out a professor where you got an A or who was generally nice. If I don’t think I can write a good reference for a former student, I’ll just apologize and suggest that they try others.

    3. ArtK*

      I applied to grad school 35 years after getting my BS. I didn’t bother trying to get letters from professors because they’d never remember me, and quite a few of them are no longer living in any case! I went with a couple of my former managers. I did end up covering the “academic” part because one of those managers is now the dean of a well-regarded department in my field.

      1. Leilah*

        Awesome. Yes, I worked in research for a couple years so I am hoping the assistant research scientist covers this portion.

    4. alc*

      Grad school in sciences is more of an apprenticeship than “extra college,” so there’s not much to worry about. Yes, you need to prove you can hack academic work at a much higher level than undergrad, but the classes are only going to be about 1/3 of your time in a funded research Ph.D. program. What committees are most interested in is your ability to function as a research assistant, and ultimately, an independent researcher, because that’s the value you’re bringing to the program.

      Use your former boss (can speak to your work ethic) and your former nutritionist (speaks the language; knows what it takes to earn a Ph.D. and can speak to your capabilities in that realm). The research scientist would also be good so long as you’re able to ensure she doesn’t flake out on the letter!

      Even if they were recent, letters of reference from professors that only know you in a classroom context are very weak for graduate research programs. So you’re not missing out on much. You have 12 years of industry experience and multiple references to attest to your abilities. You can put together a very strong application with that.

      Make sure, in your materials, to show you researched the school, the program, and individual research groups. Talk about what programs interest you and (if possible) how that research may influence your own work environment, either now or in the future. Basically, like any other job application, answer the question of “You can apply anywhere, why apply here?”

      1. Leilah*

        Thank you! This is very helpful.

        Yes, the area I’m applying in, it is pretty common not to go to grad school until well into your career, and to go direct from grad school back into industry (or as in my case, never leaving my job). I will have to do a little digging into the work of the area I am hoping to study in this particular school. I had an emphasis in a different species in my undergrad than I am hoping to specialize in this time around (although a lot of my industry experience has been with that species) so I’m not nearly as familiar with the researchers for that species at that school as I am for my original species of interest.

      2. Anon scientist*

        Agree with this. I went to grad school only 5 years after graduating, but my job involved Doing Science and I was a much better scientist at 40+ hours a week than after taking undergrad classes. Most grad schools were fine with all professional recommendations or maybe 1 undergrad recommendations. There were a couple that only cared about undergrad experience, but they actually weren’t that prestigious for my type of science and I ended up getting a really good compensation package of TA/RAs for the school I landed at, which was more focused on my post college experience AND has the best reputation for my subfield.

  28. Oh No She Di'int*

    Question regarding circumstances of a manager accepting a gift.

    I manage a 6-person WFH team. I work in the physical office. Normally I adhere religiously to the “no gifts for bosses” policy.

    I recently had an employee offer a gift, and now I am wondering if this could be considered a special circumstance. This employee’s wife works for a bakery, which means she is allowed her pick of treats at the end of the day. The employee offered to bring me something next time he is in the office to pick up some equipment.

    Out of reflex I politely declined. But then I got to thinking: (1) the treat would cost them nothing, as it’s a perk of the wife’s job; (2) although I don’t know for sure, it seems likely that anything the wife doesn’t take home would end up in the trash; (3) he is not offering to make a special trip to bring it; he would be doing so in the course of his customary work schedule; and (4) nobody else would be here to witness it, so there would be no question of other team members feeling pressured to do the same.

    All of that made me think, is this an exception? I realize this might be a fairly trivial situation, but I’m looking for a rule of thumb for the future.

    1. Paris Geller*

      I’d think that be fine. When I think of gifts, I think of things that either cost people time or money. It sounds like this employee offered to bring something in that his wife gets for free and he’s already coming into the office anyway. To me that’s more like someone bringing in cookies they baked for the entire team, it’s just that this time the rest of your team WFH and you’re the boss.

    2. Kes*

      Yeah to me this is casual enough that it reads to me as potentially just ‘easy nice thing for coworker’ vs ‘gift for boss’. The facts that he’s not going out of his way or even spending any money, and isn’t doing this for you but not for others in the same position, make a difference. It seems like he might offer the same to another coworker in the same situation, he’s not just doing it for you to curry favour with you as his boss

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Where I work gifts of food can be accepted, but it’s expected that they will be shared – they aren’t kept by the boss for personal use. As this is a bakery, ask for something that can be shared with anyone else who is in that day. If no one else is in that day, bring the rest home.

    4. A Feast of Fools*

      I think that would be fine.

      And I would probably use language to signal that I saw it as a low-stakes, super casual thing, “Sure, if you’ve already got leftover goodies in your car/at home, I’ll take a few off your hands and share them with other people in the building. Can’t let sugary goodness go to waste!”

    5. Not So NewReader*

      The employee himself will witness it.

      What we do when no one is looking are sometimes our biggest tests.

      So this employee will learn that free cupcakes on the sly are okay. So what else is okay?
      And there is no way to know what growing expectations he will have. Does he think you will toss him a special project? Or time off on a particular day? Does he think this makes him a better employee in your eyes?

      Yeah, I get it. It’s cupcake. But I also get that you are religious about no gifts for bosses. Once you accept that cupcake, then you are no longer religious.

      What I would do is tell him to bring in enough for everyone and then you will have one. A meeting day might be a good time to do this. Then send him home with any leftovers.

      In short, accept the cupcake and decide you are not so religious OR decline the cupcake and remain firm.
      There is no correct answer because this is about consistency. It’s not about the cupcake. It’s just a cupcake.

      Going forward these firm/rigid stances don’t usually pan out. The problem is that drawing such a hard line becomes impossible after a while. People will long remember how you took the cupcake after saying NO gifts EVER.

      My wise friend said to avoid absolutes, this means statements that sound like “I always….” or “I never….”. For one thing people get hawk eyed, watching for this person to “mess up”. And for another thing cupcakes become a quandary. Did I mention… it’s a cupcake.

    6. PollyQ*

      To me, the question isn’t what the cost is to the employee, it’s what the benefit is to you. And you’d still be getting something of value from one employee. I say stick to your principles and decline the offer.

  29. Eldritch Office Worker*

    @Alison re the new rule – I’m kind of eh about it personally. I like hearing people’s stories and people having a place to vent! Maybe it would be better to have dedicated threads though. I see you closed the “things I wish I’d said” thread for this week, but that’s pretty easy to collapse. Maybe an anecdote thread each week would solve for the problem?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      (Wasn’t sure where to put this since replies are off on the pinned comment, hope this is okay)

      1. the cat's ass*

        I enjoy all of the open threads and watching where they go, but can imagine they are the very dickens for Alison to moderate! I’ll abide by the rules.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        That was my feedback actually — I’m mostly indifferent to the rule, but asking for feedback in a comment with no reply option was kind of funny :)

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ha, sorry, I assumed someone would start a thread about it but I should have been clearer or started it myself! (I just didn’t want a big thread on it right at the top.)

          1. MacGillicuddy*

            I always love the “things I wish I’d said” threads – they’re a hoot!

            BTW the “petty people on power trips” thread was funny, sad, astounding, gobsmacking, and confirming that I haven’t been the only person who’s worked for or with out-of-control people. It generated more instances of me reading posts out loud to my spouse, usually starting with “Listen to THIS one!” than almost any other AAM threads.

            1. Pocket Mouse*

              I like the “Things I almost said” thread. To me, it’s in alignment with posts that ask questions: people other than the original poster contribute from their own ideas and experiences, for the benefit of OP and others. Generally, I think this is a good rubric—it doesn’t allow blog-style posts, but does allow for some things that aren’t strictly questions or seeking discussion.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            I’m sort of torn. There have been some pretty hilarious stories over the years, and I liked those. But the “no advice, just venting” ones I do not miss at all. I think I probably land at “it’s ok to lose the occasional hilarious gem in order to avoid rants/vaguebooking style comments”.
            That said it also wasn’t clear to me if the new rule includes updates on past questions, or if “an update or two is ok” thing carried over from the similar weekend rule. I’d appreciate clarification on that front.

    2. Popinki*

      Personally, I like the work stories best of all. It helps to know I don’t have the craziest workplace on the planet, and once in a while you get a gem like “we got new phones with fewer speed dial slots and everyone is freaking out”. Plus, I do have a rather crazy workplace and I like to bore people with my own stories ;)

      If you want to make the change permanent, maybe you can do an occasional “craziest work stories” post, or have a dedicated thread for stories within the open thread comments.

    3. CatCat*

      Agreed. I also like hearing the follow up of someone’s situation where they got advice in an earlier open thread and how it’s going. There’s something to learn from that even if there isn’t a question or advice being sought at that point. (“I posted about X thing at work, and got advice to talk to manager in Y way, and this was the outcome.” Good or bad outcome, really valuable.)

    4. DataGirl*

      I can see it both ways. Right now, if you have a question you want answered, you need to get it in pretty close to the posting of the open thread because people tend not to respond to posts further down the page. I’ve found even getting in 30 minutes after the post goes up means you won’t get much of a response, if any. Perhaps two different Friday posts- one for questions and one for stories?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, that’s my concern — that a lot of people don’t get as much advice because you have to post so early to be seen in the chaos. Maybe a “hold off on non-questions until X hours in” rule or something.

        1. Have you tried sparkling at it?*

          Would making 2 threads be an option, or does that double the moderation for you?One for stories, one for advice

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            It shouldn’t double the moderation unless each thread gets the same number of comments this one now gets on its own … although if that happens, more engagement isn’t a bad thing! Maybe work questions on Thursday and work venting/stories on Friday. On the other hand, that’s three open threads a week plus the Thursday “ask the readers” post and it feels like that’s getting to be a lot of posts that are outside my core mission with the site. I think of those two options I’d probably prefer to leave things unchanged, but I’ll have to ponder.

            All this feedback is helpful though — feel free to keep it coming.

            1. Willis*

              I’m not a frequent reader of either open threads, but am of the site overall. My general thoughts are that if the options are between expanding open threads/ask-the-reader type stuff that are geared toward generating comments (and thereby increase the moderation workload) vs spending less time moderating and more time on relevant workplace/career topics (like the interview with the DEI expert, for example) – the second option is definitely preferable. Seems more in keeping with the intent of the site and of interest to a much wider audience.

              I’d assume that people giving feedback in the open thread are going to be much more pro-open thread then the total universe of readers. So probably not the best place to get feedback on the site overall (although I get that your initial intent was just for feedback about the new rule).

            2. Yeet Davidson*

              I tend to lean toward questions-only, but if people really want and enjoy the stories, what if you simply created two top-level comments, one for “post your stories here” and one for “post your questions here” and people could reply to both with the appropriate topic? Then they’re sorted into the same respective areas and people can collapse the stories thread if they just want to focus on questions and vice versa.

              I’ve seen you do with on certain 5Q/5A posts where you put a top-level comment that says “Let’s put suggestions for LWX here so they don’t overtake the rest of the comments” and I think that could apply nicely to Friday open threads, too.

            3. fhqwhgads*

              Or it could be Friday Work Open Thread is the new rule. Saturday Work Open Thread is stories.
              And Sat/Sun stays FFA. If the concern is no one’s getting advice after Friday anyway, then the current Fri/Sat nature of the Work Open is sort of moot anyway, right?

        2. Lurker*

          Could you alternate? One Friday is for questions the next for stories? Or pick one Friday a month, like the first or last, that is for stories? And the rest are questions only. I know I really enjoy reading the stories.

          1. No name yet*

            Heh, this is what I was just thinking – alternating weeks, or 1/month or so for stories.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I think it’s better to alternate the stories, in that case. People with questions may really need some help that week. Sometimes waiting to ask something for a week is hard enough.

          3. ecnaseener*

            I don’t love alternating, just because most questions are fairly time-sensitive and 2 weeks is a long time in between question threads.

        3. Spearmint*

          What if you sorted the comments on open threads so that the newest posts are at the top? That would give later later question askers more exposure.

          (I’m glad you’re thinking about this issue, I’ve found it frustrating to post a question just an hour or two after the open thread goes up and then get 0-2 responses, while the first 10 or so threads all have dozens)

          1. Kay*

            This is a good idea too. I’m personally on the make it questions only side – but I’m more of a taking care of business kind of person too.

        4. Aphrodite*

          I like the stories (and vents) too so I will miss those horribly if they go away. Like someone said, above it also helps with realizing that mine is not the craziest office on the planet even if some days it feels like that.

          What about allowing stories and vents to go to Sundays and keeping advice and questions for Saturdays? Or, like you said above, maybe those stories and vents can begin later on Saturdays, maybe 5:00 pm (EST).

        5. Lore*

          What about asking that anyone who wants to tell a story does it as a second level comment? So, comment to say, this is Lore with a story and then reply to myself to write it. That should make all the stories collapsible so you could flip through more quickly. (I like the two threads idea too but then it’s harder to see what’s new if you want to read both because you can only get the new comment blue line on one.)

      2. GigglyPuff*

        If you miss that initial like 15 min rush, if you actually wait a couple hours you’ll have better luck. Commenters, me included, have said before we actually start from the bottom sometimes when it’s already full. So if you wait until mid-afternoon EST you might have better luck.

    5. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      Yeah, I don’t like this new rule. These threads get huge no matter what, there’s no way to better organize them without changing commenting systems entirely. Also, stories often spur discussions.

    6. Anne of Green Gables*

      I like the new rule. I can see where others like the more general chit-chatty stuff that isn’t questions asking for input. Would separating them into two separate threads/posts be a possibility? I like seeing the questions and admit I wasn’t reading the open threads much because it got overwhelming with general talk.

    7. Kes*

      Yeah I’m a little torn – I do think some of it can be a bit chatty and honestly I tend to skip the ongoing sagas, but on the other hand I do think it can be interesting when people ask a question and then come back with the update on their situation as a result, similar to updates from questions in main posts

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I would assume there’s also a division on whether chatty is good or bad

    8. PH*

      Put me in the “for” camp for the rule – the Friday open threads have started to have the clique-y feel that the weekend threads before Alison instituted that rule there. I knw I can scroll past them, but I was feeling less and less engaged.

    9. Be kind, rewind*

      I’ve been reading the entire weekend thread for years, and my experience didn’t seem to change with the new rule. So I’m neutral either way. (I do have collapse comments turned on as default, so other readers’ experiences may vary.)

    10. JP in the heartland*

      I like the work stories as well and have vented my own in those strings. Maybe vents/stories could be a whole different thread/day.

    11. CheeryO*

      I’m for it. I used to be a frequent reader but have mostly dipped out due to the sheer volume of the weekly threads, and I was never crazy about the multi-installment sagas (and general venting always gets me, especially when it’s from the same handful of frequent flyers who never seem to take any of the advice that people take time to give them).

      Why not just make the rule similar to the weekend thread? Instead of dinner party-appropriate topics, it could be topics that you’d discuss with a mentor at work. As in, light venting is fine, but the goal would be to keep it productive.

      1. Tali*

        “Instead of dinner party-appropriate topics, it could be topics that you’d discuss with a mentor at work. As in, light venting is fine, but the goal would be to keep it productive.”
        I think this is a great guideline.

        I also am not a fan of the multi-installment sagas. I don’t mind things that are not phrased as a question but are designed to elicit responses from others (like the “things you wished you said to coworkers” thread). But I don’t like when people use this site as a diary for ongoing problems they don’t try to solve.

    12. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m cool with whatever she decides, although I really like the thread about what you really wanted to say to folks and work and didn’t! lol

    13. Spalva*

      I like the stories, I hope they can stay. Asking people to wait 2-3 hours with the stories does seem reasonable.

      1. GigglyPuff*

        I like the idea of waiting until later in the day, maybe like a “happy hour” work thread. I don’t mind the stories or venting, or good news (I wanted to post about how excited I was about something related to work but since it’s not a question, I didn’t), it’s usually the “Reddit” type question someone usually asks, “tell me about x that happened this week” or something. That generally annoys me because then the thread gets huge. But I know other people probably like those.

        1. acmx*

          Yes, like maybe from 3pm – 5pm (whatever time zone she picks) and then close the thread?

          1. allathian*

            Please not that, otherwise it would be hard for those in different timezones to contribute.

    14. Delta Delta*

      Sometimes stories are great. Without the open thread nobody would have known about Hellmouth, which was really quite the saga over many weeks. I like a separate anecdote thread or asking people to wait a little before posting stories.

    15. BRR*

      I like what she’s trying to do and personally like not having to sift through stories or venting. But there are still a ton of comments/questions so I’m not sure if this one rule will make enough of an impact. I’d be fine trying it out a little more to get more data though.

    16. anon24*

      I enjoy the stories. I’m not an office worker, so can’t really relate or engage to a lot here and am mostly a lurker although I do love the site. I mostly skim the questions to see if there’s anything relevant that I can learn from, but I do love the stories!

    17. Purple Cat*

      I’m not sure how much the new rule is cutting down on comments.
      I was sad that the “what didn’t you say to coworkers” got flagged under the new rule. It was still seeking engagement from the community. So I guess what’s really the objective? Less “grandstanding” and “me, me, me” type posts? Or clearing space for more people to ask questions and get advice.

      I like when readers are able to provide updates from other weekly open threads.
      Like some others, I keep collapse all as the default so I scroll right past some of the topics.

    18. Sunshine*

      I prefer reading the stories to the endless questions – they feel so repetitive and I mostly scroll past them looking for something. These threads used to be much more engaging and interesting to read through. I miss the fun, chatty threads we used to have.

    19. PX*

      I’m a fan of stories, less so venting but I can scroll past those fairly easily.

      I personally think topic threads (eg like how the weekend posts have book threads, crafting threads, gardening, gaming etc) are a good way to keep things contained but still have the option for those who want them to engage with them.

      1. Nihil Scio*

        Personally, I like this ‘Open Thread, Questions Only’ if it’s coupled with a regular thread like yesterday’s ‘What’s the Smallest Amount of Power You’ve Seen Someone Abuse?’ that lets everyone share stories. I really loved that one and read ALL the posts. It was fabulous!

        1. Nihil Scio*

          Earlier, Rusty Shackleford suggested “Things you wanted to say to your coworkers today but didn’t “. As someone with an extremely sarcastic inner voice, this might be a good story thread.

    20. Person from the Resume*

      “make [the thread] more useful and easier to navigate for people.”

      I wasn’t around last week. When I saw the new rule today I actually wondered what the purpose of this thread is if it’s not for funny, crazy stories. I rarely ask a question and I read this thread for entertainment.

      I do know that the first top level comments/ questions always to seem to get the most responses and later arrivals don’t get much. If make it more useful means get more responses to more posted top-level questions, I guess this works. But if this ends up less entertaining do you eventually get less readers and responses. I could all be entirely dependent on folks’ work situations too.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        But my work reading of AAM has changed. In addition to that I remember when this blog was less popular and you could read the all the comments (because there weren’t 1000s a day).

        I miss the smaller community but more readers are what’s paying Alison’s bills so it’s a trade off.

    21. Princess B*

      On one hand, I like having questions only for the work thread. But then I remember the Hellmouth saga that I liked for updates on every week. So maybe questions+ a topic/theme people can answer?

  30. Cat Mouse*

    Rule feedback: maybe once a month relax it for office/school stories? Sometimes those are fun!

    1. Paris Geller*

      I agree! I kind of like having most of these threads for questions & advice, but I also like the free-for-all stories. The themed stories are great too (like when we have threads of “office potlucks gone wrong”) but I would miss if there were never office/school stories. Isn’t that how we got the great saga of the new phone system that caused chaos??? That was a gem. I feel like once a month would be a great compromise.

    2. Kes*

      I do think having separate periodic posts for stories/vents might help vs just having them end up here because this is the general free for all post

      1. Reb*

        Yeah, I like the idea of a separate thread once a month for stories. Maybe the last day of the month?

  31. Reality Biting*

    Any labor lawyer types out there who would know the answer to this question:

    I recently had a freelancer deliver extremely subpar work. It ended up costing the company days worth of time to fix it. However, ultimately, everything got taken care of. The freelancer is now declining to invoice us due to the trouble caused. (It’s ultimately a rather small amount of money.) However, I think that potentially puts us out on a limb legally. For example, they could always come back later, stating that they delivered work that we never paid for.

    Should we let the freelancer opt out of charging us? I feel they should charge something just because… well, that’s the way business works.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Does the contract with your freelancer include any kind of signing off on the work? Payment upon delivery of *approved* work? If so, it seems they didn’t meet the terms of the contract. If not, strongly consider adding that in the future. (IANAL but I have worked with freelancers *and* slept in a Holiday Inn.)

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        Yes, the contract does include that stipulation. But we did eventually approve it. After 3 days of back-and-forth and a lot of heavy lifting on our end. But it did get approved in the end. That’s why I feel like it should be paid for.

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          Whoops, that’s embarrassing. In case anyone is wondering, I had two separate questions here and wanted to keep them separate with two different names but replied here with the wrong name. But the details above are accurate.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            I think you should pay, then. But if you have a paper trail of emails saying “please invoice us,” and the freelancer refuses to, and if you traditionally don’t pay without being invoiced, I wouldn’t worry about future legal issues. (Again, IANAL and I actually know nothing.)

            Another thing to consider is a “kill fee” clause that kicks in if the project is canceled or the work doesn’t meet your standards and can’t be used.

    2. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      No, you need to pay them. Press for an invoice, tell them nonpayment is not optional for legal reasons.

    3. Xena*

      Ask for an invoice. They can add “100% discount for poor work” or something similar if they need to but I would push for the paper trail.

    4. Luz d'Bris*

      I was once the freelancer who did the extremely subpar work. So embarrassing! Like your freelancer, I declined to invoice. I can’t respond to the legality of not paying, but I can assure you that it’s very unlikely that they’ll come back and want to be paid later. It’s humiliating to make a huge mistake, and they won’t want to revisit it.

    5. Just my 4 cents*

      I’d ask them to send an invoice with a “discount” or no charge written on it just to CYA.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      I would think if you have it in writing from them that they’re comping the work due to xyz, then you’re probably covered. However, if it would make you more comfortable, you could request a $0 invoice.

  32. Doug Judy*

    I had posted the last few weeks about needing to find a much higher paying job because of my husband’s health. I made it to then final round but it was such a bad time to try and do a test analysis and interview days before his surgery. I didn’t get the job, which is fine. Leaving is never good timing but my boss just got called to a potential month long jury duty and my other colleague has two weeks off starting next week to move. So it wasn’t the right time. It did open my eyes that I need to consider leaving, so that is my goal by the end of the year or find a different position internally. I have a target salary I want to be at in 5 years.

    But the best news is my husband’s surgery went very well, he won’t end up paralyzed and with PT/OT we are very hopeful he can continue to work. We’re realistic that doesn’t mean 25 years but if I reach my goal salary in 5, we’ll be in good shape.

    1. Not A Manager*

      If this is the post I remember, at the time you were very concerned about the inconvenience to your colleagues if you would leave now. I see you mentioning that again in this post.

      I really urge you to move away from that kind of thinking. Maybe “it wasn’t the right time” for you to apply for a new job due to your own family emergency, but it will NEVER be the right time for your colleagues to deal with you leaving. Unless your job is going to take on the burdens of your husband’s health challenges and your retirement plans, you really can’t risk those things based on your employer’s convenience.

      1. Stoppin' by to chat*

        Completely agree. You ultimately have to do what is best for your spouse and personal situation. I know we can all get close to coworkers and it can feel bad to put people we like in a lurch, but ultimately you should look for a take a new job when it makes the most sense for YOU. So glad the surgery went well, and good luck on your job search.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Thanks for letting us know about your hubby’s progress. I am so happy to hear that he is not paralyzed.

  33. MktMgrNoMore*

    I recently decided to break out of my current field as I no longer find enjoyment in it, and begin job searching. The issue I have is, I am a very strong “jack of all trades” and would be happy having a job that utilizes a multitude of strengths, and I have NO IDEA what types of jobs to search for. What titles am I looking for? My skills are very transferable to a variety of industries but I feel a little “lost” because I fit in so many boxes that I actually don’t know what boxes I should fit into, if that makes sense. Any advice from anyone on here?

    1. ABK*

      Can you provide more details? What is your current job title? Can you look for the same job title but in a different industry? If you list some of your skills or strengths, it will be easier to answer your question.

      1. MktMgrNoMore*

        I’m currently in Marketing but have never enjoyed it. I ended up here accidentally, in a way. My strengths are project management, interpersonal/relationship building, very strong verbal and written communication, organization, as well as of course marketing skills.

        1. ABK*

          I’d look for Project Manager job titles, although those vary quite a lot from industry to industry. Also, maybe something in public relations would be a good fit for your skills.

    2. VV*

      Can you look based on the organization’s mission? If you are open to a variety of responsibilities you might have luck by searching based on what the organizations does, who it serves, or its impact and then seeing what roles feel right based on how the market looks now. That might help whittle it down and give some personal direction to the search.

    3. Ali + Nino*

      Project manager is a good suggestion (depending on the industry) and my first thought was actually Operations Manager. in my experience, small business tend to put everything that doesn’t really have another place to go onto the Ops team, which could keep things interesting for you and play up many of your strengths. This could include HR-related tasks, following up with clients for payment/squaring away payment of vendors, helping the C-suite introduce new best practices or technology to the rest of the team, and some of the planning for “social”/team-building activities, to name a few examples. A good Ops manager is worth their weight in gold in these cases because they keep everything running smoothly behind the scenes. Best of luck!

  34. Oat Milk Market*

    Library Staff!

    How do you deal with feeling burnt out? I’m at a public library and I find myself feeling more and more frustrated with disrespectful patrons, controlling management, etc.

    I’m pretty low in the hierarchy so there’s not much I can do to change rules/culture.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I wish I had a miracle cure to offer you. I wish I had a miracle cure to offer *me*. The only thing I’ve come up with is to start training in some back-office skills in the hopes that I’ll be able to switch to a non-public role someday.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      Can you take a some time off? Getting away from the job for a week or two can been very therapeutic.

      Otherwise, my best advice, is to look for other things in your life (hobbies or something) where you can get validation and joy. You may be surprised how much less you can care about work when you have other things to focus on.

  35. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I brought this up on the weekend post and figured I could ask here.

    Any instacart workers here? What’s it like working as a shopper?

    I realize that’s a super vague question but I haven’t begun shopping yet so I don’t know what I don’t know. I’ve never actually used their service as a customer as I enjoy doing the shopping and driving. I signed up a few months ago to be a shopper; it seemed like an appealing way to make a little money.

    I’ve been on the app, and read through the FAQs but I guess I want perspective from people who have actually done it? I prefer to ask here than look on TikTok/Reels etc.

    1. Neon Dreams*

      I’ve been doing it a couple months as a side hustle, so I can only attest to that. Here’s a few things I’ve learned:

      -It’s hit or miss as far as order flow goes. Some days you get a lot of orders, others not. It also depends on the market you live in. My town is on the smaller side, so it’s probably not as much as a big city. It also depends on the time of day you’re online.
      -Have a phone charger in your car and have plenty of charge. I’ve had mine go out several times because I don’t charge it before I leave.
      -Keep up the communication with your customers. I usually text when I get there and if a specific item is out of stock. Some will be more responsive than others.

      Hope this is helpful!

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Thanks that’s helpful! My immediate neighborhood is a little small but if I go about 15-20 minutes out, I guess there’d be more orders. If I do that, I’m guessing I’d just go to one store and go online and…just wait for an order there/nearby? I suppose this would differ with each store but I wonder if there are different rules/lines for Instacart shoppers.
        (I’ve shopped at Whole Foods a few times and always notice their shoppers but I haven’t noticed any shoppers in other stores).

    2. violetfizz*

      I’ve done some DoorDash gigs and got good advice from the DoorDash subreddit. I’m sure there’s an instacart subreddit where you can get advice and tips from current Instacart shoppers.

  36. The Original K.*

    Has anyone had luck reaching out to recruiters on LinkedIn? If so, how did you search for them (by geographic area, practice area, etc.)?

    1. Lemon*

      I was able to reach out and get a reply from a few, but it didn’t translate into any interviews, so take my experience with a grain of salt :/ I searched for ‘(field) recruiters’ and filtered by my country. I then dropped them a message introducing myself in 2-3 sentences.

      1. The Original K.*

        Yeah, I have “open to work” on so that it’s visible for recruiters only. I’m trying to pivot though so I want to reach recruiters who recruit for what I want to do, not what I currently do.

    2. Sally’s Alley*

      Keep in mind that recruiters don’t work for you. If they’re internal recruiters, they work for one company. Independent recruiters work for themselves or for recruitment firms that collect resumes.

      The worst seem to be subcontractors for recruitment firms who troll listings for openings, then try to get you to sign on with them.

      I’ve worked a few very good, reputable recruiters, but have been contacted by many sleazy ones.

  37. Ace in the Hole*

    Applying for a job and I’m stuck on references. I’ve been working at the same place for 10 years, and it’s a pretty small organization with low turnover…. there are only 1 or 2 coworkers I can safely ask without worry about them gossiping.

    I’m thinking of asking a contact at another organization. I’ve taken a few training classes she taught and do some work at her facility a few days per year. Is that a close enough relationship or would it be weird to ask her?

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      I hired someone who had been at the same place for 10 years. She provided a lot of references that were pretty old, but I guess she tried to compensate by providing a great number of them. My boss wasn’t initially very happy not to have a more recent reference, but he was also pleased to be hiring someone with a track record of staying in one job for a long time, so in the end he overcame his scruples. Her old references were really glowing, so that helped.

      I think it would be okay to include your contact at another organization, but ideally in addition to multiple references who worked closely with you even if they’re old.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        That’s the problem though… I don’t have any old references. Everyone I’ve worked with here who might make a good reference either still works with me, died, or is unreachable.

        Do you think 2 good references I work closely with now plus one or two contacts from outside the org would be enough? If it makes a difference, I do have a working relationship with the hiring manager already and she seems pretty keen for me to apply.

        1. LC*

          I think that sounds like plenty, especially if you mention it ahead of time to the hiring manager. Depending on how they ask (this wouldn’t work as well if you had to fill it out in the application software when applying, for example), I might only start with the two coworkers and let them know the situation and that you can get additional contacts that you have a professional relationship with outside your organization.

          A reasonable one should understand and be fine with it (or ask for some alternative if they really feel the need to). And an unreasonable one will give you some information about what you’d potentially be getting into.

          So I think you’re all good. :-)

    2. Anne of Green Gables*

      Yes, it sounds to me like your contact that you have taken training with and done some work with would be fine as a reference, especially combined with the one or two people you trust at your current job. I would not blink an eye at that.

  38. Alexis Rosay*

    Does your company have ‘core hours’, and if so, what does that mean?

    I’m in school and myself and other students are doing industry internships. A lot of companies have mentioned that their ‘core hours’ are 10-4. Some of my classmates have interpreted this as being a 6-hour workday. My interpretation was that I have to be working during these hours and the other two hours of the workday I can do whenever I want–not that I don’t have to work those other hours.

    1. fueled by coffee*

      You’re intuition is right – it usually means they expect 8 (or whatever) hours of work from you, 6 of which must be between 10 and 4 (excepting lunch, I assume). This means that everyone is expected be available for meetings and so on during those hours, but you can flex whether you work 7:30-4:00 or 10:00-6:30 or 10-4 (break) 8-10pm, depending on your own schedule.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Yes, but I wouldn’t assume it’s “any other 2 hours.” I interpret it was any 8 hour period that fully covers 10-4.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I believe it means that no matter what your work hours are, they have to include 10-4. Not that you can have a 6-hour workday, but that your 8-hour work day can be (for example) 10-6 or 8-4.

    3. OyHiOh*

      Our core hours are 10 to 3. During that timeframe, everyone is expected to be actively working. If you want to begin your workday at 10 am and keep working till 6, you can do that. If you want to start your work day at 7 am, and be done at 3 pm, you can do that too. The expectation (for the salaried employees) is that you’ll work 8 hrs/day, and be available between 10 and 3. How you get the rest of your hours for the day/week, is up to you.

      Some of our staff need to regularly attend public meetings held in the evenings (town councils and such) so core hours and flexibility allow everyone to meet their obligations without working 50+ hours a week.

    4. ThatGirl*

      I’ve had this at past jobs, where the core hours were 10-3, basically — that did NOT mean a 5-hour workday! It meant that you could choose to work any 8 hours as long as they included the time period from 10-3. So you could start at 6:30 and end at 3, or start at 10 and end at 6:30 or somewhere in between.

    5. londonedit*

      You’re right – where I work (which is in the UK) my contracted hours are 37.5 per week. Our core hours are 10-3, which means everyone has to be working during those hours. Either side of that you can flex your hours, but you need to work 7.5 hours a day and there are rules around it – you can do anything from 7am-3.30pm to 10am-6.30pm, and you can start and finish at different times on different days, but it has to be agreed with your line manager and it has to be a regular pattern (so you can’t just decide one day to work 7-3.30 without telling anyone), you have to be working between 10 and 3, and you have to be doing your 7.5 hours a day (you can’t work 10-3 one day and make up the rest another day).

    6. DataGirl*

      When I’ve worked places with core hours it meant that you designed your 8 hour day so that you were for sure there during those hours, but they didn’t care of you came in earlier or stayed later. You couldn’t just do the extra hours whenever either. So if core hours were 10-4, you could work 8-4, 9-5, 10-6, etc. Also, if your lunch isn’t included in the 8 hours your day would be an extra 30-60 minutes longer depending on how long you are ‘off’ for lunch.

    7. Toodie*

      Our core hours are 9-4, so … not really too flexible at all. Your internship company sounds much more flexible!

    8. Sunny*

      You are right! It means they are flexible on start and end time but that you need to be working from 10-4.

    9. Anonymous Koala*

      At my work, core hours are 10am-3pm, which means your *continuous* 8 hour work day must include those hours. So you could start at 7am and leave at 3pm, but you could not work 5-7am and then work 9am-3pm. I think your interpretation is correct for most companies.

    10. Non commenting lurker who also WFH*

      It would be best to ask the company what they mean by that in an interview or when starting but your interpretation is closer to how I’ve seen it used.

    11. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Agreed with everyone and adding:

      Your students are conflating “core hours” with “work day.” If the company only expected 6 hours per day, they wouldn’t call them core hours.

      And they would advertise the heck about that as “great work-life balance.”

    12. Nopity Nope*

      A few key things to highlight, especially for interns:
      – You will probably need your manager’s approval for the schedule you’d like to work.
      – The role requirements will likely trump your personal preferences. For example, if you would prefer to work 10:00-7:00, but the rest of your team is on an 8:00-5:00, you may be asked to align to the team norm.
      – “Core hours” doesn’t necessarily equate to flex time. You may be expected to stick to your designated hours. In other words, you can pick 7:00-4:00, but you have to do that schedule every day. You can’t do 7:00-4:00 one day and 10:00-7:00 the next day.

      But for sure, “core hours” NEVER means “a five hour day.” It just means that you must work the designated hours, with additional time elsewhere in the day to add up to the total weekly hours you’re expected to put in.

    13. Jonquil*

      We have those. It means you must be available during those hours but you still need to work a full 8 hour day. It just means there is a little flexibility around start and finish times (in most cases, with manager agreement, and definitely dependent on culture: in my team it’s not the norm to work 10-6, but 8-4 would hardly raise an eyebrow).

    14. Clisby*

      At least when I worked at a place with core hours, they were 9-3. But the other 2 hours weren’t whenever I felt like it. I was supposed to arrive at work between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., take anywhere from a half-hour to 90 minutes for lunch, and work 8 hours (not counting whatever I took for lunch.) So if I came to work at 7, the earliest I could leave was 3:30. If I came in at 9, the earliest I could leave was 5:30.

  39. Shiny*

    I’ve got a new job and it is taking quite a lot of adjustment. I’m used to being stretched super thin, working crazy hours, and needing to be super reactive. I’m now on the donor side of my industry, and to say it is more relaxed would be the understatement of the century. I was hired for senior level expertise in my niche area, and I’m currently formatting slides. At a robust salary. I’m hoping it will pick up soon, but I have been told that this is just how the donor side is.

    So my question is, what are some strategies to adjust and not get bored? I took the job in large part for better work life balance, but right now it’s feeling so far over the line that it’s hard to focus at all.

    1. Whynot*

      Can you set up some “get to know you” meetings with others on staff? You can use them to get to know more colleagues, find out about their roles in the organization, and find out more about how your position interacts with/can support them. That’s the sort of relationship-building that can benefit you long-term and help you get around any institutional tendencies toward “silos”. It could also lead to some joint projects for the future that could keep you engaged and use your expertise.

      It is a real psychological shift to go from always needing to put out fires and react to emergencies, to a more pro-active approach and the ability to shift between front- and back-burner priorities and think about short-term vs long-term priorities. So cut yourself some slack as you readjust your office norms, and enjoy having your nights and weekends back!

    2. Spearmint*

      Maybe this is a chance to take initiative and start projects that would be “nice to have” rather than necessary. I feel like every department had that list of things they would like to have but don’t know how to do, or don’t have the time to do. Perhaps you could talk with colleagues and see if there’s anything like that?

    3. Anonymous Koala*

      I’m in this place too. Since your a specialist, could you put together some documentation or set up some trainings about your field for non-specialists? For example in my job, I work with a lot of chemists and they sometimes do seminars about niche chemistry topics related to our field. Even though I don’t need to do any chemistry for my job, it’s helpful to listen to these seminars sometimes and get an idea about what I can ask a chemist for help with.

  40. ghostlight*

    Hi all. I work in at a large performance art/entertainment venue, and I just found out we’re lifting our mask requirement for audiences effective next week. The venue lifted the vaccination/negative test requirement for audiences a couple weeks ago (which I disagree with), and there was talk of lifting the mask requirement sometime in the future but I thought that would be months from now. All of our staff/volunteers have to be vaccinated, and masks are required for our stagehands and people who come in contact with all the tours… but the audiences don’t have to be? This just doesn’t sit right with me, and I don’t know what to do. I’m very new and I like my job a lot… except for this. Any advice?

    1. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      You can continue to wear your own mask, or quit. There really aren’t any other options.

    2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Unless you’re the ED, I don’t see you having any impact on this decision (which I also don’t agree with – I work in an office with a public counter. Staff have to be vaccinated [or masked, if they got an exemption] but as of this week our public customers have free access regardless of vaccination status or masked. I think this is where US society is right now.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I am also conflicted on lifting the masking requirements. On one hand, I am very tired of this whole pandemic. On the other hand, the virus doesn’t care that I’m tired of it. Regardless, you can’t control the decisions that your management/board is making. All you can do is control yourself.

    4. A. Ham*

      I hear you. fellow performing arts employee here. we recently learned that we are lifting our various covid polices at the end of the month. It seems like just yesterday we were debating adding a booster requirement… and now it will all be gone. it seems super fast. :-/ (the vaccine requirement for staff/artists/volunteers will stay in place).
      It seems a huge majority of our patrons (like… 97%) are vaccinated. for the past 6 months we have required either proof of vaccination or a negative test, and the number of people showing negative test results at the door have been minuscule compared to the one’s showing vaccine cards. So… I guess that makes me feel a little better? I don’t know. like I said before it all seems really fast. but I also know that the decision was not made lightly. it was in consult with multiple doctors and what the vaccination rates in our geographic area look like, as well as the infection rate. And that is all well and good, but what happens when the next variant comes along? we go back to the old policies? talk about whiplash for our patrons…
      I don’t have any advice, just a lot of empathy.

    5. TJ*

      I don’t have any advice, just commiseration. Yesterday I discovered that the mask requirements were lifted for vaccinated employees at my job, but since my company doesn’t verify vaccination status, all the loudly antivax employees weren’t wearing them. One of them was even smirking at me when I came in (I’ve asked people to wear their masks around me even though the supervisors don’t really enforce them, and this guy really resented it).

      Honestly, I just feel defeated. As hard as people have resisted all safety precautions, it’s pretty obvious that the majority has ruled that Covid doesn’t matter anymore. Those of us with chronic health issues or fragile relatives are just going to have to suffer.

    6. Kay*

      Oh NO – I’m hoping you are not the venue I have tickets with!! Sorry, that isn’t much help, but I have the same concerns as a patron.

      How do your co-workers feel about this? Maybe you can push back as a group? I would say to raise it with your manager once, with the realization that this doesn’t seem to be going your direction. Wear your N95 and hope for the best it seems. Sigh…

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      This timing sounds like my area. I was okay with some places lifting it but hoped the children-centric places that have been a little stricter than required would keep their mask rules longer since their main clientele is kids under 5. Nope, we’re all just leaping into it now!

    8. BuildMeUp*

      That sucks, I’m sorry you’re dealing with that. I know at least one theatre I receive e-newsletters from is holding off on lifting any requirements for shows that people have already purchased tickets for, because those people bought tickets while the mask rule was in place and may be expecting it to be in place for their show. Is that something you could bring up to anyone? It could at least push back the change for a little while.

  41. Exhausted*

    Work has been hell in the run up to my first half month leave in 2 years. It’s like I have task 1, 2, 3. Simple enough right? Well:
    Task 1: keeps coming back with sub-steps, reviews and meetings, so Task 1 never ends.
    Task 2: awaiting replies that never comes despite the clock ticking
    Task 3: There is only so many hours in the day and I can barely handle 1 and 2.

    On the one hand, I know it’s not like my boss will cancel my leave. Likely things that could wait will wait till I come back. Things that couldn’t would be handled by somebody else.
    On the other, I don’t want to the THAT coworker who lumps all my coworker with all my BLEEP, let them slave away over my work while I sip my sidecars in the hotel bar.

    1. Whynot*

      Write an email to your boss before you leave for vacation with an update as to where all three tasks stands, who to contact/delegate to in your absence, and where you plan to pick up when you’re back from leave. Then go drink your sidecars in peace and definitely don’t check your work email!

      1. What's in a name*

        Agreed. Also, if don’t you don’t already have co-workers in the loop, have a conversation with whoever will pick this up while you’re going and start including them in meetings/email threads/whatever now. That way, (a) they can see you held up your end of the bargain, and (b) they’re actually able to pick up.

        1. Exhausted*

          Woah! Thanks both, that’s a good idea. That way they don’t have to dig through all my past correspondence to see what happened. Thank! I’ll do that

  42. Bertha*

    A friend of mine recently told me that she received an offer from a federal agency for a job, but the salary offered was less than she was expecting, so she tried to counter. They said “Okay, send us your paystubs and we’ll see what we can do to increase it.”

    But.. we live in Illinois, and the state recently-ish passed a law that said you can’t ask for salary history.. right? Are federal agencies exempt from this? Or is there another detail I’m missing?

    1. Policy Wonk*

      The Federal Government is usually exempt from state laws, but even if that weren’t the case I don’t think it applies here (though I admit I am not in Illinois and don’t know the law there). In this case the pay has already been established – the General Schedule pay grade – they aren’t trying to low-ball applicants. A new hire will generally start at Step 1, so the job and pay have been offered – e.g., GS-13 Step 1.

      Your friend is seeking to negotiate higher pay – a higher step. There are two ways to do this: 1. match your prior pay, or 2. because of superior qualifications. Matching prior pay is easiest. They provide prior pay stubs, HR looks at the pay chart to see which step matches or exceeds that pay and determines the person starts at e.g., GS-13 Step 4. To get a higher step based on superior qualifications you friend would need to demonstrate that their skills exceed those listed in the job announcement. this kicks off another HR process that requires documentation and takes a while.

      Hope this helps.

      1. Bertha*

        Thank you, that is very interesting! I guess if the purpose of the law is to avoid people being low-balled.. and the purpose of showing paystubs is to support higher pay.. then at least asking for the paystubs in this case wasn’t a violation of the spirit of the law. I suppose this doesn’t completely answer the question of whether or not the federal government is “exempt,” but seeing how difficult higher salary would be to obtain without the paystubs, it at least feels less.. icky to me. Thanks again for the insights, I really appreciate it.

    2. Dino*

      Government =/= competent and well run. Should they be aware of laws and regulations? Yes. But if the head of that branch never reads her emails or if he doesn’t do his online compliance training, stuff like this can happen.

    3. Haha Lala*

      Not a lawyer, but my understanding of the IL law is that it prevents employers from requiring applicants to disclose salary history/ provide paystubs. It doesn’t prohibit individuals from voluntarily sharing their previous salary/paystubs. But the employer is prohibited from making any employment/compensation decisions based on the paystubs. So this is sort of a gray area with the Fed Agency asking for paystubs now, but didn’t require them during the application process, but is essentially saying that they’d increase the salary based on the paystub….

      If your friend wants to share her paystubs, she would be free to do so and she wouldn’t be in violation of the law. The Fed Agency might be, but your friend wouldn’t take them to court for raising her salary…

      1. urguncle*

        This seems to be the accepted and correct interpretation. They can’t say that you must provide a salary history (leading someone who earned $60k at their last job to be offered less than the person who earned $80k at their last job). This is going above the budgeted salary and seems to be asking for evidence of market change to make the case for a budget increase.

  43. Cici*

    I’ve been at my job for a little over a year. The position is exactly what I want to be doing and I have great benefits and a great working environment but I have no passion for the mission of the nonprofit I work for. This is nonprofit A.
    I volunteer for another nonprofit organization (nonprofit B) and I have a huge passion for the mission. I applied for a development associate job there 4 years ago and did not get the job (I had no development experience). I am a highly sought-after volunteer and have a great relationship with the CEO and several directors.
    Over the past 4 years, I’ve expanded my operations and logistics skill set and that type of job is what I would like to be doing for the foreseeable future.
    Today, Nonprofit B is quickly expanding with a goal to open a second location in Fall 2024. They reached out last week asking if I was still interested in supporting their development and membership team (I’m not). I told them that if they needed me, I would love to join them as an operations manager and stated my desired base salary. They were honest and said they probably could not afford me and would keep me in mind.
    2 days later, I received an email from the CEO of Nonprofit B asking for a call with him and the CFO to “have a conversation about the positions we are trying to fill”. I’m confident that these positions they refer to will not be immediately available, but there is a high chance that they will hold a position for me if/when it opens down the road.
    I have no reason to leave my job at Nonprofit A, but if Nonprofit B makes an offer meeting my salary requirements and gives me an opportunity to grow in my operations skillset, it would be difficult for me to say no.
    OF COURSE: all this is hypothetical until the call with the CEO and CFO happens.
    I’m having extreme guilt about even exploring the possibility of leaving my job at Nonprofit A. From 2017-2021 it was a staff of 2. I am the third staff person and with my addition, the program offering has expanded tremendously. I’m worried that if I leave, they will be left in dire straits.
    I guess I’m asking: if you were in my position, and an offer from Nonprofit B comes in meeting my requirements, what would you do?
    Any insight is valuable and much appreciated. Thank you in advance!

    1. ABK*

      People leave jobs all the time and the world doesn’t end! If I were in your position, I would pursue it and if things worked out, I would give as much notice as possible and move on.

    2. JP in the heartland*

      Especially in nonprofits, nobody is going to look out for you except you. If the job at Nonprofit B is everything you want, it’s not wrong or selfish to take it. Nonprofit A will manage.

    3. MsM*

      Honestly, I think you’re getting a little ahead of yourself with the “if it meets my requirements” part. They want to talk about the positions that are currently open, not your proposal to do something else entirely. And while they might be able to piece together a development role with some operations components, I think you’re going to find that’s either going to result in you doing multiple people’s jobs and put you at serious risk of burnout, or you’re going to spend a lot more time on the development side than you want, and will face at least low-key pressure to continue in that direction because it’s typically harder to bring someone new who understands their donor/member base than to plug a new person in on the operations side if and when they get to the point of needing a full-time person there.

      Assuming you do love whatever description they come up with, and are confident they’ll do right by you, though? If Job A’s expanding, then they need to have an eye toward bringing in new people and building sustainable processes anyway. Either they’ll find a way to navigate that without you, or you sticking around is not going to save them from some kind of existential crisis.

    4. Leela*

      A company, even a profit, being left in dire straits from your departure is about them, not you. They need to be able to absorb a loss and they’re not operating properly if they can’t. And you definitely shouldn’t factor their needs into what is a massive decision that’s about you! Your future is at stake here, and I’d say do what’s right for your future, only. Unless you are the owner/operator of nonprofit A, it’s not your responsibility to make sure they stay afloat from your presence only!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I’d look at B in respect to my life goals, financial goals, etc. Then I’d say to myself, “If I could have any job anywhere would I chose B?”
      The reason I say this is that it seems like such a drawn out process here. There’s reasons, I see that and you love their mission.
      Decisions based on emotions can sometimes go sideways. And this same reminder holds for Company A also- you can’t stay there just because you are concerned about the two staff people. These emotional reasons can be detrimental to your life goals and also make situations weightier than they should be.

      I’d look at each job and find logical reasons for stay/going.

  44. Nails*

    Women in STEM or other male-dominated fields: is your company doing any events for International Women’s Day on March 8th? How do you feel about them? I’ll put my company’s events and my thoughts in a response to this comment.

    1. DataGirl*

      Mine posted on our social media that they are encouraging employees to wear purple on the 8th with a photo of a white man holding a sign saying ‘I will challenge gender stereotypes’. I mean I get what they were trying to go for but really? Of all the possible ways to honor/acknowledge women this is what you choose?

    2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Mine is doing an “Awareness session” and the invites were sent…by a man. Sure, there will be women spekers, but they could at least send the invitations through the Equality and Diversity comitee, and not through the Head of Corporate HR… * rolls eyes *

    3. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Truly hoping that the answer is “NOT”. Because my field tends to fumble these things like a WR wearing pot holders while trying to catch the ball.

      Example: One particular award (Woman of the Year in *field generic name*), which I actually was nominated for, there was significant snark and joking about the fact that I’d been awarded said award, with absolutely ZERO FOCUS on what I actually did to be nominated.

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          I did get a cool award (paperweight), and I did get to go to the awards dinner (very high end thing), and did get written up in a magazine article about it. Let them be obnoxious, they got to do none of it, I figure.

          Context – I’m the only woman in my role in my company. This applies across my previous three jobs, varying sized companies and departments. No matter what, I’m the only woman.

      1. Should I apply?*

        My company has been making announcements about it and free cookies in the cafeteria on the 8th. There will be a couple virtual sessions, that I haven’t paid much attention to. To be honest it mostly feels like lip service. My company isn’t horrible but it also isn’t great. A woman asked in a town hall about how the company supports women, and the leader, also a woman, talked about all these programs that we have and I’m thinking, I’ve worked here for 7 years. Why have I never heard of these before?

    4. Nails*

      Context: I’m a mechanical engineer at a decent size international company. I’m the only woman in my group of 8 and one of 2 in my larger department of about 50. I am on the younger side in the department.

      We’ve had a few events announced so far. One is a lecture/panel about the history of one of our important products, with a focus on the women who worked on it. I think this will be interesting and plan to attend.

      There’ll also be some kind of in-person coffee meetup to “celebrate.” I find these events really awkward but might try to go? I don’t know, especially because of covid.

      The other is I guess less of an event and more of a social media initiative? They are asking people to take a picture of themselves in a pose, and post it on social media or intranet with a hashtag about fighting sexism. And man, I hate this. I want to eyeroll every time I see it. To me, stuff like this doesn’t do anything tangible to fight sexism, and just drives home the fact that I stick out like a sore thumb while making it clear how little support I get. I understand why they do this, and if it starts a conversation then maybe it’s a net good, but I wish they wouldn’t.

      I feel there’s an interesting dynamic here, where yes we are all in a tech company and there’s a huge gender imbalance at every level, but other departments seem to have enough women for them to form relationships with each other. I’m really in the weeds at the bottom of the engineering ladder here. I’ve never even spoken to the other woman in my department. At a previous IWD event, company leaders (women and men) kept waxing poetic about the power of “women helping women” and I kept thinking – what f***ing women? Where? Every person in a position to give me mentorship or support is a man, and they have by & large been fine, but “women helping women” isn’t going to cut it, because there aren’t any women around to help me.

      My previous company didn’t have IWD events. I can feel myself getting increasingly bitter about them every year. When people talk about sexism in tech–at least at big company events like this–they tend to avoid the slightest implication that any work of solving it might ever fall on men. I find that incredibly frustrating, and it’s driving me toward this stance that is kind of humorous but also serious: fighting sexism in STEM has nothing to do with women. I don’t want to hear about it. Read a book. Fix it without me.

      1. Should I apply?*

        Totally feel you. While my company does have a woman at the head of R&D, there still a lot of “you need to drive your own career” and “find someone to sponsor you”. Um… okay, we’ve had rapid turnover in the last 2 years, there isn’t much of career path above my level, and the only manager I’ve had more than a 5 min talk with is my own and I supposed to magically find a sponsor willing to help with my career?

        Well guess what I’m going to drive my career by going to another company.

    5. No Tribble At All*

      We’re doing a lunch for all the women in the office (~ 30 or so). It’s… fine I guess? I haven’t met most of them. Though there’s fewer women overall because it’s a small company, a greater % of the women are in technical roles, which is what’s important to me. Looking at my old company that was basically segregated Engineering/Technology 90% men, Finance, Legal & HR 70% women.

    6. Brett*

      I know there are several different events planned by our various professional affinity groups (think groups like “Women in Science”, “Women in IT”, “Women in Division X”, “Women at Our Company”, “Women in Our Company Europe”, “Women in Our Company North America”). I think one of the coolest ones is the launch of a new leadership training program specifically for early career women led by women in leadership roles in the company and oriented around 1:1 coaching plus cohort-based courses. (I’ll add that men are expected to provide significant support to these training and events, especially in providing networking opportunities, but central roles belong to women.)
      I asked a question elsewhere in the open thread about what I should specifically do, since we have a wide range of events already being conduct and organized by women in our company. (I’m thinking my role is just to connect the women in our team to these events and opportunities.)

    7. Sunny*

      They didn’t do anything at my company. Personally I don’t really care… they did a pay equity analysis and I see women regularly being promoted into supervisor roles so that more than makes up for it. I’ve had companies push gender equality sessions before and it always rings very hollow because it completely ignores actual issues and is more of a pat on the back for the company.

      1. Sunny*

        Also the worst things I’ve had companies do in relation to this was when we had a Women in Animation day and we went out for lunch. It was very disorganized and the person running the event essentially said women need to be more assertive at work and it isn’t men’s fault that women don’t speak up more.

        Another company asked all of us to say our career goals in front of everyone attending, which I guess isn’t bad but it was very patronizing once people did. “Of course you can one day work up to become an Art Director! You can do it if you try.” like yeah… I know lmao I don’t really need the validation

    8. Generic Name*

      I work for a STEM consulting firm. We’re women-owned, and at least half of our employees (including management) are women. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a social media post or something.

    9. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Not a male-dominated field necessarily, but our campus Women’s Center is partnering with our Sustainability Office to promote sustainable period products all month. Free giveaways, speakers, Q&A sessions where students can learn more about the products, and a period product drive (any and all types of products). I think it’s a good way to actually “do” something and address some issues around period poverty, and nothing is forced participation.

  45. TotesMaGoats*

    Question: Do I tell my bosses ahead of time that I have an interview?

    Setting: I really respect and trust my bosses. They feel the same. Things are unstable and I was not looking for a new role but saw an opportunity for a next level role at a sister institution. Figured what would it hurt to apply. Well, 3 weeks later I have a final in person interview scheduled.

    Complication: Skip level boss asked my opinions on replacing my boss who is retiring and what I wanted to do. So I decided to shoot my shot and suggested a promotion for me to essentially the job I’ve been invited to interview for. Other job is MUCH larger, like crazy larger.

    Trusted colleagues say to give the heads up a couple days before the interview. Parents say don’t tell. With the exception of my first job, I have not trusted any of my bosses to tell them ahead of time. I’m leaning towards not saying anything because 1) I could not get the job. It’s not a reach position but I could see other more qualified people applying 2)I don’t want them to think I’m not engaged. I am. 3) I could get the job but the benefits and such may not meet my needs and I turn it down or I find out things that make me pull my candidacy.

    So, what do you think?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Do not say anything.

      Sole exception is when you trust your boss AND they have directly invited you to search elsewhere and promised to be a glowing reference. (e.g. There was an old letter where OP could not get his direct report a promotion or raise and eventually did this.)

      You feel things are unstable; that seems a far cry from “Boss and grandboss also see the company as unstable AND want you to save yourself.” You might not get the other job; you might then get this promotion; ideally you only alert them that you are seriously thinking of leaving when you have a route in hand. Otherwise, as you say, it signals that you could be disengaged and maybe aren’t long for the role and they should start planning without you.

      (This is different from giving long notice for things like leaving for school or moving to follow your spouse or retiring–then everything with the job is implicitly fine and it’s just that this life transition thing has come up. Leaving to go somewhere that you think will treat you better is not those things.)

      1. Leela*

        Okay taking back what I said before, this is a hypothetical I would break the rule for. Or in the case of something like a Teacher Advisor where you want them to be good but are both hoping and expecting that they’ll go on to get a job in the field

    2. Raboot*

      What are the benefits of telling your bosses about this external interview? I don’t see any upsides to you and honestly I don’t see upsides on your bosses’ side either.

    3. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

      Do NOT tell your boss about this interview, or any other external interview, ever.

    4. Joielle*

      I’m in a similar situation and I initially thought I would tell my boss if I was invited to interview, but I’ve decided not to. I, too, really respect and trust my bosses and it would cause some problems in our department if I left. I’ve said to them before that because of a lack of opportunity for promotion, I would probably leave at some point, and they made some noises about looking into it because they want me to stay, but nothing ever came of it.

      I applied for a job recently that would be a big step up in responsibility, and I initially said to myself that I would let my bosses know if I got an interview… but then I did get an interview and decided not to. I guess I thought they would want the opportunity to restructure things if possible to promote me (in which case I would stay) but thinking more about it, I just don’t think it’s likely. For various reasons it would probably involve restructuring the whole department, and it would be a lot easier to replace me than go through all that. I just don’t see any real benefit to me of disclosing that I’m looking to leave, especially since I’ve already said I was likely to leave in the future.

      So here’s a vote for “don’t tell” from someone who understands the conflicted feelings about it!

    5. Leela*

      I wouldn’t tell them! An interview is nothing, you’ll be in a rough spot if the interview doesn’t materialize into an offer and your current bosses know you’re looking, especially if things are unstable. I wouldn’t say a word about an interview to a current boss, basically ever, even accounting for every hypothetical I can conjure.

      I’ve liked some bosses very much and definitely understand the urge to tell them based on your working relationship, but an interview is such a non-guarantee of anything I wouldn’t come forward! And I’ve been surprised by bosses I liked and respected a lot getting very..strange, cold, hostile, or something else, once they’ve found out I was looking or leaving.

    6. DinosaurWrangler*

      No, do NOT tell them.

      All it will do is put the thought in your bosses’ minds that you’re looking to leave. They’ll be thinking about this when it comes to raises, or promotions. Or worse, if the company needs to have a “reduction in force”(layoffs), you might be st the top of the list, because you were on the way out anyway.

      Going on interviews doesn’t mean you’ll take the new job. You’re finding out if the prospective new job is a good fit, just as the new company is looking to see if you are a good fit.

      Never tell your current bosses (or anyone in management, even) until you have received and accepted the written offer, and after the background check has been successfully completed.

      You can just continue with discussions about internal promotions, because it gives you comparisons. But watch out for statement like “perhaps in the future” or other ways to string you along.

    7. Nopity Nope*

      No no no! Don’t tell them! You have to look out for your own interest. There is absolutely no benefit to telling your manager and so, so many ways it could backfire. In fact, re-read your post. You have not mentioned a single reason TO tell them, but THREE REASONS NOT TO TELL THEM. You cannot be more invested in the success of the organization than you are in your OWN success. Plus, what, exactly, could they do with the information?

      Wait until you get an offer, then give them notice. That is perfectly professional behavior, and is NOT a betrayal of anyone.

    8. J.B.*

      If you leave their feelings will be hurt. If you don’t leave they’ll know you interviewed. What does it benefit you to tell?

  46. No Longer Fencer*

    How does one stay focused teleworking/working when one is 3rd trimester pregnant dealing with pelvic pain and maternity leave just around the corner?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      LOL you don’t! Most people/managers are understanding of the physcial/medical issues associated with late pregnancy. I wouldn’t go around shouting TMI but just take sick leave or slow down as appropriate.

    2. Ann Perkins*

      Solidary – I’m 35 weeks pregnant and so ready to be done. Do the best you can but give yourself grace. Try to make sure things are as squared away as possible in case you just don’t show up the next day because baby arrives.

    3. TotesMaGoats*

      You don’t. Do the best you can but do not stress yourself out trying to keep productivity where you were pre-pregnancy.

    4. MaryLoo*

      Good luck with everything, and the time will pass. Really it will!

      I found that working while pregnant made the time go more quickly. It provided a distraction. That’s not to say that I was super engaged – I just plodded on. But leaving before my due date would have shortened my leave on the other end.

      Although clearly there were days when I was sick of working. I used to make jokes like “well, elephants carry for a year, so it could be worse”.

      1. allathian*

        OT, elephant gestation lasts beween 640 and 660 days, an average of about 95 weeks. So yeah, it could be a lot worse!

        By law, maternity leave here starts 30 days before your due date. I also went nearly 2 weeks overtime, so I had 6 weeks off before giving birth. Those last weeks were miserable, sitting at a computer was really uncomfortable for me, at the time we didn’t have standing desks, and WFH wasn’t an option, so I guess I’m glad I didn’t have to try to work through it…

  47. Student Affairs Sally*

    Feedback for Alison about the changes to open thread – My first thought was “oh darn!” I missed the open thread last week and came here to tell a story. But having posted several questions here before, I think ultimately this will probably be a positive change. Would you be open to possibly having TWO open threads – one for questions and one for stories? Just a thought!

  48. Old Admin*

    Reading this blog helped my husband who immigrated to the US some years ago to adjust and find a job at a very large company. Let’s say they do national and international logistics (close enough).
    He worked his way within two years up to supervisor of a crew that loaded/unloaded the trucks, did safety checks, dealt with suppliers etc.
    Recently, an anonymous complaint (at least that’s what HR said) was filed that he had threatened a coworker, and hubby was fired without a hearing for unbecoming behavior.

    He *thinks* the complaint may have come from a female coworker who was struggling with the job – but he doesn’t know, as HR refused any and all details. If it came from that coworker, then he made a big mistake – they once argued, and he (coming from a very direct culture), called her incompetent.
    We can’t afford a lawyer to extract details from this large company…

    I have two questions:
    1. Does hubby have any hope at all to get unemployment? I don’t think so because he was fired with cause.

    2. Going forward, how can he explain what led to his firing when asked about it in an interview? When he doesn’t know for sure?
    We know he can’t lie about the fact of having been fired. But how can he own it, and show he will be even more careful in the future? It’s hard to talk about a mistake or lesson learned when the circumstances are so murky. Hubby is not trying to deny anything, but needs to find the right way to talk about this.

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I think he can still own it even if he doesn’t know the exact specifics of the complaint that was made about him. Even if it wasn’t this specific coworker who complained, your husband knows that he was fired because the way he was interacting with his coworkers wasn’t appropriate for the workplace, and has come up with at least one example.

      What he needs to do now is a lot of self reflection. Are there times other than this example when he’s been rude or dismissive of coworkers? Why did he previously feel that it was okay to say hurtful and insulting things to coworkers with no regard for how it would affect them? What can he do to make sure he’s being more respectful and civil to coworkers in the future?

      Once he’s got answers to those questions, he can answer the question about why he was fired in a way that won’t disqualify him for future jobs. The key is going to have to be accepting that his previous workplace behavior was wrong and that he will need to behave differently in the future.

    2. The teapots are on fire*

      He should file. If they fired him because of a complaint that they can’t substantiate he may still be eligible even if they claim it’s for cause. I’m sorry you’re both going through this.

  49. WomEngineer*

    Is it appropriate to ask people to endorse your skills on LinkedIn? (this includes specific technical and/or leadership skills) If so, what is a good script to do that?

    I’m a recent grad, and while I’m not planning to leave my job any time soon, I like to keep my LinkedIn profile up-to-date. When I last applied to jobs, I had endorsements from a senior design teammate and a former SO, both of whom were in the same discipline as me and who could objectively speak on my skills if someone asked. When I started working and we broke up, I saw that my ex removed his endorsement (which is fair).

    Some of my friends thought it was petty (maybe? But I don’t blame him) and added 2 or 3 endorsements on my page. I know these few lines of my profile are less significant than actual job references or how I present in future resumes/interviews. But I worry about if it affects my credibility, even if I’m not job searching.

    1. Not Your Mother's Principal*

      In my experience, endorsements on LinkedIn are meaningless. Friends and family have endorsed me for classroom teaching skills when they have never seen me work. When I am hiring, I don’t look at LinkedIn to assess work skills (although I might look at Facebook, etc. to see who you are as a person). I wouldn’t worry about it.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        This. I’ve had endorsements written for me by people I’ve met one time at an industry event about me being awesome at something I know less than the square root of jack all about. More than one. Its bizarre.

      2. tab*

        It’s fine to do this, but in my experience, it doesn’t lead to much. I sent the following to several of my contacts that I worked with for years, “I hope you are well and enjoying the cooler weather. I’m writing to ask a favor. I’ve been getting good consulting work doing trade studies, system architecture, and design work. But, I haven’t gotten any work doing troubleshooting, and I think I have lots to offer clients in that area. You may remember that I was assigned to troubleshoot many problem projects during my time at ???. If you agree, I’d appreciate your going to my LinkedIn profile and endorsing me for troubleshooting in the “Skills & Expertise” section by clicking on the plus sign next to troubleshooting under “Tab also knows about…” You might need to click on the “See 13+>” link to see the troubleshooting option. Thanks in advance for your help.” The good news is that many people were happy to endorse me, and it was fun to reconnect. The bad news is that it never led to any troubleshooting consulting. Still, I’m glad I did it just because it was nice to hear from so many of my colleagues. YMMV…

      3. mreasy*

        I have never looked at any endorsements on LinkedIn for any reasons. 100% do not worry about this.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Fwiw, on past questions re LinkedIn endorsements consensus has been that they do not matter at all (it’s not like the truth or objectivity of the assessment is apparent), and in fact a number of people seem to endorse other people for random things. Sometimes this is job adjacent but not really accurate, and sometimes your brother endorses you for cake decorating when you are an ax throwing coach.

    3. Mrs Peaches*

      It’s appropriate to ask as long as you’re asking people who are actually familiar with your skills. Generally folks in the professional world don’t give too much credence to LinkedIn endorsements, but it certainly doesn’t hurt have them, especially for a recent grad. As for a script, start with some pleasantries followed by a simple ask like “I also wanted to ask if you’d be willing to endorse my skills for llama grooming, cat herding or Excel. I really enjoyed working with you and would be grateful for an endorsement as I’m building my online presence” or whatever phrasing feels authentic for you. Good luck with your job search!

    4. SnowyRose*

      I wouldn’t worry about it. LinkedIn endorsements very rarely mean anything. I’ve had connections endorse me for areas that were tangentially related to my actual area of expertise but had no actual experience in.

    5. Lady Danbury*

      Endorsements are meaningless. I’ve had contacts endorse me for skills that I don’t even have. Don’t waste your time.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      It’s not inappropriate to ask people for endorsements, but it is pointless. I doubt any prospective employer puts any thought into the presence or absence of endorsements on LI.

  50. Fabulous*

    Update: I got the internal job I interviewed for! Found out on Monday from the manager and have been waiting with bated breath all week to hear from HR with the actual offer number. They lowballed the F out of this offer!!! I obviously countered, because hell no am I taking a 13% increase for a lateral move where I’ve already been in this pay bracket (at the bare minimum) for 2 years. I need AT LEAST the market average. I’ll settle for market average, but realistically I need above market average because I’m that good.

    Question: If they come back with another slap-in-the-face counter offer, what do I do?

    I prepared for negotiation, but I didn’t prepare for having to fight tooth and nail to be paid fairly. I *thought* they’d at least come to the table with a semi-reasonable offer, and they failed HARD on that front. This is like worst case scenario here and I’m basically panicking now…

    1. Another person again*

      That’s tough – since they already know what you’re making, they may think they can lowball you since it’s more than what you make now.

      You could try putting together a document for them that shows market average for the position that shows why they should offer you more. And of course any performance reviews or recognition you’ve received could be used to make the case for going above that.

      But if they are not willing to budge – you might want to consider applying externally somewhere that will pay market rate.

      1. Fabulous*

        you might want to consider applying externally somewhere that will pay market rate.

        That’s what part of my fear is. Because of the way my current role has evolved, I’m not set up to be fully qualified for external jobs of the same title. Externally, “Teapot Designers” are supposed to have skills analyzing teapot needs and planning the design, actually building the teapots, as well as delivering them to the customer. Internally, these are all separate jobs. I can do the analysis and deliver them, but the actual build part is what I’m missing, and that’s what this internal job is for – so I can strengthen those building skills.

        Regardless, though, the “market rate” is really the minimum. I’ve done this work for 5+ years and have exceeded all expectations of my managers and peers. I’ve been consistently working at a level 2x higher than my pay and it needs to be reflected.

    2. I was told there would be llamas*

      If you’re not fully qualified for the external jobs, then how do you justify that those external jobs are the ones that should be looked at to determine “market?” You’re not comparing apples to apples IMO. If all you are missing is the “build” knowledge, you could accept the internal job and in a year (or so) you’ll be qualified for the external jobs and can look then.

      1. Fabulous*

        I’m beyond qualified for the internal job. I understand that it’s not an apples to apples comparison, however,
        when you search the specialized job (for each of the internal roles we have) the market average is actually much higher – because they have specialized skills rather than being a jack of all trades. I’m basing my market research on the lowest common denominator and at the lowest experience level, which this new role is neither. Plus, I have 5 years experience in this field, where the job only required 1-2. I would be learning a specialized skill to improve my “jack of all trades” marketability.

        1. Cj*

          I mean little confused. This is a lateral move, not a promotion, correct? Why is a 13% increase bad? That actually sounds pretty good to me for a lateral move. It sounds like your company might underpay across the board, that’s something you are only going to solve by getting an external job.

          As far as you having 5 years of experience when the job only requires one or two, you need to look at this from the companies perspective. Yes, I am sure they would be thrilled to have the additional experience if you will accept the job for what they are willing to pay. But they may not be willing to pay you what you want for that experience. They might prefer to hire somebody with one or two years of experience, since that is all the job requires, and pay what they originally have budgeted rather than to pay you significantly more.

  51. DarthVelma*

    I’m not a fan of the new rule. With this rule in place we likely never would have experienced the saga of working on the Hellmouth.

    1. Rochelle*

      Respectfully disagree, I was not a fan of the Hellmouth saga and I’m glad others are being discouraged from writing similar sagas.

      1. Jettingthepens*

        It also seemed to spawn A LOT of copy cats who didn’t seem to realize that WordPress still has a free version.

      2. WellRed*

        I got really tired if the Hellmouth saga but I realize I’m in the minority. However I do like crazy work stories in general.

    2. Princess B*

      I liked the Hellmouth saga. And it was easy to collapse and ignore if you didn’t.

    3. BBB the cabinet builder*

      Totally agree. I came and searched for Hellmouth every Friday as soon as I got home from work.

  52. Raboot*

    I’m starting a new job soon after a break of a few months. Any tips for adjusting back to the 9-5 (remote) office life? (My sleep schedule is actually fine thanks to volunteer commitments so at least that doesn’t need fixing.)

    1. Saraquill*

      I’ve made a Notepad file for myself, with an hour by hour schedule to help me stay on track. I can be as distracted as I want, as long as I reach my hourly goals.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Very similar to what I was going to suggest! I do one in excel or google sheets. I do 50 min focused, 10 min break, and list out both goals by the hour. Like Task A steps 1-4 for the hour, and check buzzfeed for the 10min. Other good ten min breaks often are things that involve moving, empty the trash, get the mail etc.

    2. ferrina*

      Be ready to be exhausted for a few months. Every time I start a new role, even if it’s not physically tough, the mental adjustment zaps my energy. I usually clear my social calendar for about a month after my start date, maybe seeing my very best friends on the weekend.

  53. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

    I tried to post earlier but it seems it got lost in the ether…

    I work in an [increasingly toxic] NPO (about 70 staff). We’re not allowed to go over our 40 hours. Occasionally, a few of us go over by 15-30 minutes, no more than that while wrapping up some last- minute things.

    Recently, my coworkers have started noticing that if they go over their 40 hours, their manager will “adjust” their electronic timecards so they don’t get overtime.

    Like if i worked 40.5 hours when i clocked out at the end of my week on Friday, I’ll come back on Monday and see that my time card was “adjusted” saying i clocked in 30 minutes late or clocked out 30 minutes early one random day (even though i was there and working), leaving me with only 40 hours and thus not getting paid for my half hour of overtime.

    Is this legal? What can we do?

    1. Attractive Nuisance*

      I’m not a lawyer but my understanding is (in the US):
      1. Your employer must pay you for all the time you have worked.
      2. It’s legal for them to tell you not to work overtime – which it sounds like they’ve done already. It’s legal for them to take disciplinary action, including firing, for working overtime after being told not to.

      So, yes, what they are doing is illegal. But I think your best option is to start being more strict with yourself about not working overtime. Or tell your boss that you cannot complete your work in 40 hours and need permission to work overtime – which may or may not be a good idea. If you’re only going over by 15-30 minutes, your manager will probably tell you this is a problem with your time management, not with the job being too demanding for a 40-hour week.

      1. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

        we try as much as we can, but sometimes it really can’t be helped. we deal with the community and patient care and if patients/members are still there being taken care of, we must be there as well. it’s happened more than once that we’re about to clock out and SOMETHING comes up and we’re there another twenty minutes handling it.

        the workload is untenable though. some of my coworkers have been known to clock out and continue working.

        1. Attractive Nuisance*

          Ah, yikes. I would ask your boss for specific guidance – “what if I’ve worked exactly 40 hours this week and I’m about to clock out and something comes up?” – and then start being more direct about how We the Team need to follow the law.

          1. ferrina*

            And document the conversation. Ask this question in email if possible (or in person and follow up in email to clarify).

    2. Anon for This*

      Not a lawyer, but I think what they are doing is illegal – they have to pay you for hours worked. I caution, however, that given that they have told you you are not allowed to go over 40 hours, you need to clock out at 40. Yes, you can demand they pay you for the hours you worked, but they can write you up/fire you for not following the requirement to limit your hours to 40.

    3. Thursday Next*

      I’m not a lawyer, but that appears to be fraud to me. Employers are required to pay you all hours worked if you are non-exempt/hourly. They can’t not pay you overtime if you worked it. I’d check out your state’s labor board for information.

    4. actual hr person*

      If you are classified as full-time and non-exempt and you’re in the US, you must be paid for all hours worked. *However* the practice is that any overtime is pre-approved by management before actually working it. Also check your org’s employee handbook too for how they typically handle working hours and overtime (this would be good to reference outside of the legal requirements mentioned earlier in my comment).

    5. MacGillicuddy*

      If you go over 8 hours on a given day, like if you were working with a client and couldn’t just leave, would you be able to work that many minutes fewer the next day?

      Have you investigated this with management? If they’re that picky about 40 hours exactly, maybe that would be acceptable.

      This might depend on where you work. I know California has overtime rules by the day for some jobs – that is, 9 hours on one day gives you one hour of overtime, even if you only work 7 hours the next day.

  54. Laney Boggs*

    My job has pushed me to the limit the last week, and I’ve finally decided, after 2 years of job searching, to take myself in a different direction – I’m gonna move 45 minutes away!

    It’s a different state (MD) and one of the biggest cities, so my gut tells me my resume will start looking better to DMV employers. Also one friend already lives there, another friend is thinking seriously of moving there since he travels for work, a 3rd friend is going back to college near-ish… you get the point

    So, 2 questions. 1) any advice for a long commute? The hardest part will getting up even earlier 3 days a week, but I’m open to other problems to consider.
    2) how soon would you change your resume? Even if I get a place tomorrow (fingers crossed!) I pay for this one until May 1 (and would probably live here as long as possible)

    1. Anonymous Graduate*

      (1) Especially in DMV, if it’s at all possible to avoid driving, do it. Find a place close to the MARC. Live directly in the city. Honestly, even if it makes your commute longer (and MARC tends to be not-too-reliable, so it probably will), an hour 45 on a train or bus is much, much different than an hour sitting in a car in rush hour/Beltway traffic. Not to mention the parking situation if you’re working in the city itself.

      (2) Eh, if you’re really 45 minutes away and therefore would be able to travel to an interview on relatively short notice, you can put something like “DC Area” or “Baltimore Area” right this second and no one would bat an eye. Literally no one. It’s a running joke that if you meet someone out-of-state who says they’re from DC, they’re really from a suburb an hour away from the city.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        MARC for sure. I once commuted by car from Baltimore County to Northern VA and it was awful. I only did it for six weeks or so while I was looking for an apartment, but it broke me. I would sit on a MARC train for hours before I would do that drive again.

        There are a lot of DMV jobs that are in the suburbs. Be really thoughtful about location; Herndon is “DC area” but the commute from Baltimore would be pretty awful. And from Annapolis it would be pretty bad. But Columbia to Silver Spring isn’t terrible, nor is Annapolis to Capitol Hill. YMMV.

    2. Silvercat*

      Commenting from Southern California, where a 45 minute commute is blessedly short
      1) podcasts or audiobooks are a lifesaver
      2) If you’re driving, the evening commute is likely to be longer than the morning, and Friday evenings will be worst of all (I don’t know about on other transit
      3) A few minutes starting earlier or later can make way more of a difference than you’d think
      4) Laying out your clothes and getting everything ready for the morning during the night before is a huge help

    3. Policy Wonk*

      Agree with the commenters about the MARC or other forms of public transportation. Consider an alternate schedule. For a while I worked 7:00 – 4:00 because the traffic was so much lighter earlier in the morning. (Afternoons are still a gamble no matter what time!) But I work in DC, so depending on your route you may not find the same thing. Check with others who live in the area, and find out if there is a reliable traffic report. (For DC area WTOP radio reports every 10 mins.) It can be incredibly helpful in avoiding accidents and other traffic issues.

  55. Inigo Montoya*

    This isn’t technically a work-related question; it’s a retirement question. (Hope that’s ok!)
    I’ll be retiring in 3 months. I have lots of ideas of things I want to do – classes to take, volunteering opportunities, projects around the house, travel, etc. I wonder if it’s better to not schedule anything for a while so I can just decompress and then see what is truly drawing me in the next stage of life. OR maybe I should just go for it and do all the things.
    Are there any retirees who have advice or personal experiences to share?

    1. Ozzie*

      This is adjacent to what you’re asking, but my dad retired a couple of years ago. He’s taken a lot of time to relax, but he did invest time and money into something that he’d talked about doing most of my adult life up to that point. (He’d always talked about buying another of the car he had when he lived abroad, and restoring it, as he’s always been a car person) So he retired, and hunted one down, and now that’s leisure passion project (aside hobbies he’s always had). He’s extremely proud of it, loves talking about it, etc. So while he’s definitely used to time to decompress, he also invested in something that he’d always wanted to do – because that WAS decompressing. I’m sure there’s more he’d like to do but that was where he started, at least.

    2. theletter*

      I can also speak to my father’s experience – I think he sortof imagined himself getting into teaching or coaching, but he took a new job after taking his retirement package and then bolted after 3 months. He never sought work again nor look into a regular teaching/coaching position. He focused solely on what he wanted and what his family needed.

      His wife still works and there’s been plenty of family events to keep him busy and active.

      My father-in-law had a different experience as he retired from a government job and then volunteered at a food shelf for more than a decade. Since the pandemic he’s been more focused on his and his wife’s healthcare needs.

    3. Cj*

      Maybe try your question again tomorrow? I think it would be appropriate there also, and it’s usually a much shorter threat so you made it more responses.

  56. OTGW*

    What would you do in this situation?

    I work in libraries, currently 2 PT jobs. I know what direction I want to go re: libraries (not reference) but the only open positions are still PT—or requires years of experience/a MA (I have neither the correct experience nor the MA). But I’m tired of balancing two jobs and not getting complete benefits and not getting days off. But I’m pretty sure I want to do libraries as a career

    Would you push through and try for those PT jobs to maybe eventually get a FT job? Or pass it aside and apply for FT jobs outside of your preferred field?

    1. Hawk*

      Are you committed to living in your geographic location, or can you move? I’m in libraries as well and I know some folks who had better luck by moving to another library system to get to a full time position.

      1. OTGW*

        Yeah, unfortunately moving isn’t an option. Me and my husband both have family here, and also I really like the area.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      What is it that you love about libraries? Think hard and make a list. Is it helping the public? Is it fondling books? Is it a quiet environment? Is it managing information and finding things?

      Many of these things can also be done in other occupations.

      Libraries rarely have FT positions for non-librarians. And even the MA Librarians can have real difficulties getting hired. It’s fabulous work, but if there’s anything else that would still scratch those perfect-job itches, open yourself up to more options.

      1. OTGW*

        The main thing is probably managing info and helping patrons. And tbh I don’t know what else I could do. I’m looking at admin and court jobs—but I’m not quite qualified for those either.

        Yeah, the lack of open jobs and pay is >:/ and I’m just not in the position to get a MA right now so I feel like I’m pigeon-holing myself to work PT forever.

        1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

          There are lots of environments where you could be providing information and helping people full time.

          For example, I work in a Dept of Labor Career Center. Most of my colleagues have random bachelor’s degrees and their main qualification to do the job of a career services pro is to listen, to hold lots of random info (or “tags”) in their heads, have great Google bookmarks skills, and be able to work with a database effectively. There’s career centers all over the US (go to for your local one). We work with anyone who is interested in finding a job, whether they’re unemployed or not, and it’s a community resource that’s free to the users. (A heck of a lot like libraries, quite frankly.)

          So maybe take a moment to contact your career center, set up an appointment (we do virtual ones right now), and chat with someone about your ideas about where you could go next. And while you’re at it, find out how that office does their hiring.

          If I were sitting with you, I might also recommend having a very open mind about other civil service positions — what about working for the City or County records departments … looking up titles or whatever? The courts? Paralegal or legal aid? There’s a lot of surprisingly interesting options buried in government buildings.

          1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

            In between library gigs, I had a brief job in the assessor’s office checking property titles. It wasn’t the worst job, and involved some interesting research.

      2. Loulou*

        “Libraries rarely have FT positions for non-librarians” really does not match what I’ve seen. If anything I think the trend is hiring lower-paid paraprofessional staff to do jobs that would have been done by librarians a generation ago. I certainly see a lot more FT staff jobs than librarian jobs.

        Are you by any chance writing from a country outside the US? (I noticed you mentioned MAs and in the US most librarians have an MS). If so, and if you’re comfortable sharing, I’d love to know a little more about the landscape in your country.

    3. NeedRain47*

      This may sound stupid/obvious, but do you need to make a living wage? You will absolutely have a better chance of getting a FT job w/ benefits in a library, the more library experience you already have. But it’s not going to pay very well. And you’re eventually going to have to get an MLS (degrees may vary) unless you’re okay with low pay forever.

      I’m curious as to what area of libraries you’re interested in, as I’m a “not reference” librarian myself. (I do cataloging/metadata)

      1. OTGW*

        No I getcha. I’ve been working circulation for almost a decade (I’m in my mid-20s) and I’d like to do that or technical services.

        I am starting to feel the struggle of staying afloat. My husband makes a little more than me with 2 PT jobs as well but he’s stuck there for another year or 2 while we get some stuff taken care of. So I need to make more money so we can bear on for a while longer. I know I need the MA but I can’t do that right now either. Idk, writing this I feel like I need to suck it up and look elsewhere.

        This does not make sense lmfao sorry!!

        1. Anne of Green Gables*

          I don’t know your area, so I can’t speak for specifics. In my area, competition for library jobs, especially non-MLIS jobs, is very fierce. That said, with the experience you’re describing, you’d be a top candidate. Apply for the full time openings you do see, and don’t be afraid to look at areas of librarianship that aren’t public libraries–it’s often easier to switch than people think. I’m at a community college after 10+ years in public libraries and I know that applicants coming from public libraries are really like to have customer service skills and can think on their feet based on the nature of those jobs.

          Also, be sure that the jobs you want long-term really do require an MLIS before you start the degree. Especially if the area you love is circulation, a lot of places don’t have their MLISs in the circ department, even if they are a circ manager.

        2. NeedRain47*

          Nah it makes sense, it’s a struggle to make decisions that won’t leave you unhappy in your job or unhappy ’cause you’re broke! With a decade of experience you might be a good candidate for a supervisory position in circ, and those roles usually pay a bit more too. So keep looking in libraries and don’t confine yourself to one type. (I worked in an academic library for many years but am now in a public. People say it’s hard to switch, but if you’re not trying to be a tenured faculty member, you really can.) But maybe keep an eye out for other things that would come with insurance at the same time.

        3. Sleeping Late Every Day*

          I had two library jobs, one for four years until they had lay-offs, then another for about twenty years. Neither were public libraries; the first was a private membership library that was very old, where I ran the circulation desk and then got special events added on. They eventually ran out of money, but it was a cool place. After that, I worked in the library of a large historical society, actually in a lower level job in one of the special collections. Not only do I not have an MA or MS or MLS, I don’t even have a bachelor’s degree. My major skill, that took years to hone, is that I interview REALLY well, and I write pretty persuasive cover letters. The second library had about half the staff with just general bachelor’s degrees, and a few with library certificates from junior colleges (but those programs are really hard to find now), plus the MLS positions doing management and cataloguing and other specialty work. That place didn’t have a circulation desk, but was all reference and research assistance. There are also corporate libraries that might have assistant jobs besides the MLS pros.

    4. Kes*

      Caveat that I’m not from this field but how far off are you in experience? I’d be careful that you’re not shutting yourself out of jobs by assuming they won’t consider you if you don’t meet all the requirements, since that’s often not the case in general. What do you have to lose by applying to the FT jobs you want?
      Otherwise, it sounds like you may just have to make the choice on what is more important to you at this point – staying in the field or working one full time job. Also I would think about what the future looks like if you do stay in the field – how long until you have the experience for a full time job? Would you plan to get an MA at some point? If not, will you continue to be limited by that? And on the other hand, what other fields leverage similar skills that you could move into if you did switch?

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      I fear I am about to be sort of negative here. If you seriously want to be in libraries, then getting the MLIS is going to be a thing you likely need long term. You don’t need to justify to me why it isn’t possible (I believe you), but I think you have to realistic about your options are being pretty limited here- you say you can’t move and you can’t get the MLIS. Other than widening your search for FT work outside of libraries, there may not be a lot of options.

      I firmly believe that the only way to have a successful career in librarianship is to be super flexible about what you do OR be willing to move to wherever there is work. And by super-flexible I don’t just mean public services vs cataloging. I mean- corporate, community college, academic, schools, records management, or medical info gigs. And all of that is massively assisted by having the basic qualification for professional librarianship, which is the MLIS (or a variant there of). You have to decide how important working in a library is to you vs how important your location is. There’s nothing wrong with deciding location matters more, but as long as location matters more, you may find there’s not a lot of options. I wish you so much luck.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        There are way more people who have a MLIS than there are jobs that require it, so if you’re pursing that, you have to be very qualified, and willing to move wherever the jobs are, even if it’s not where you want to be. A friend of mine got a good librarian job with a MLIS, but it involved moving across the country, *and* prior to the MLIS he had a STEM degree and ten years of experience working with archiving data (with lots of metadata), public outreach, coding and technical work. The job he got needed both.

        I would say – keep applying for full time jobs at libraries, but also widen your job search to other employers and other work that uses similar skills. Don’t wait for a FT library job unless you’re happy to continue your current situation indefinitely.

    6. Former Library Staff (non MLIS)*

      100% apply to full time jobs outside the library. I worked full time with low pay for the public library in my medium sized city for 5 years. While I enjoyed the work, I couldn’t justify going for my MLIS. During the pandemic, some of us were sent out to help other departments and many of those people ended up applying for and getting jobs with those other departments for better pay. I got a 35% raise by jumping to a different department. I use all of my reference and info organization skills, it is less stressful because its not as heavily public facing *and* I can afford to live.

      Good luck!

      1. Former Library Staff (non MLIS)*

        I wanted to add, some of the other gov departments myself and my former colleagues pivoted into were Health Department, Community Development, Transportation, and Natural Resources.

  57. Hawk*

    Anyone who is in a union: has a vote of no confidence in management ever actually resulted in a change of management for you? How did it work?

    For context, I work for a county government. My union has put forth a vote of no confidence in our department director, but to imply our whole department administration.

    While I agree that the complaints are justified, I have other personal issues with the document, so I will not be signing.

    But have any of you gone through this process? It happened in another department and nothing happened, and in another it did.

  58. Saraquill*

    I had an in-person job interview on Wednesday, a follow up from a phone interview last week. During this time, the interviewer reiterated that one of the big challenges in this position is being part of a small family business. He also said several times that having a strong backbone is a must for this industry. I’ve spent over eight years in this field and this is the first I’ve heard this emphasized.

    Should I take these as red flags? Pink ones?

    1. Another person again*

      In my opinion, being told something counter to your eight years of experience in the field + just the fact it is a small family business = yes these flags are red. The fact that your interviewer sees the small family business part as being a “challenge” is another, larger red flag. I would probe more into that if you move forward.