open thread – May 6-7, 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.

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

{ 1,252 comments… read them below }

  1. BigSigh*

    Corporate announced that my home office was one of two dozen they’re permanently closing.

    On one hand, I’m grateful I work for a company that took our feedback about returning to the office to heart. I didn’t want to go in more than once a blue moon, if necessary, and I’d heard the overwhelming feedback was along the same lines. Corporate is going to use we-work or something for those few who do want an office.

    On the other hand, I’m surprisingly sad. My location had a tight knit, wonderful office culture. My personal commute was a scenic walk through paved greenery, and the campus itself was fully decked out with shopping on one side and a riverside lawn on the other.

    On the third, mutant hand, I recognize that nothing corporate did would have made me happy because everything is weird now and change is hard.

    1. Wine Not Whine*

      Those are all valid feelings. We spend so much of our lives at work – whether that’s in a specific location, or virtually – that any imposed change, even for the better, has uncomfortable resonances.

      A thought: can you stop by your previous location and get some nice photos of your walk? Mementos can help get you past the feeling of dislocation.

    2. Love to WFH*

      Same! I absolutely do not want to commute or work in an office again — and I miss chatting with my neighbors at the bus stop in the morning, potlucks in the office, and the like.

    3. BlueWolf*

      I can understand the mixed feelings. My office is not closing, but my department doesn’t have to go back in person. I definitely don’t miss the commute or the cubicle in a windowless room, but I used to be able to go for walks on the National Mall at lunchtime, which was pretty cool.

      1. SixTigers*

        That would be enormously cool!

        And I’d want to work half-days on a regular basis so I could go to the museums and see all the new exhibits.

    4. Malarkey01*

      I think this too- sort of the grieving that takes place with big change. Overall it’s great, but I’ll miss the small things. I tried to find other things that could substitute for the things I’ll miss-I’m taking 3 short walks a day through a park that’s close to my house and my team set up a monthly team happy hour for anyone that wants to join as CoVid numbers went down here and it warmed up for outdoor drinks (it’s zero pressure, the leadership isn’t local and happy hours were already low key standard before). I’m also using it as an opportunity to think about maybe spending summers in a different site and getting ready to maybe move when the kids are out of school. That possibility is sort of blowing my mind right now since I also equated moving with retirement.

    5. Hannah Lee*

      Agree that all the of the things you are feeling are valid, and not really contradictory!

      A lovely work environment is something special, even if it is still work.

      My current job is in a generic industrial park, right off the highway with a 25-30 minute commute on a heavily traveled stretch of I-95 that hosts a chaotic combination of through-traffic of tractor-trailers, tankers, logs, vehicle transport. vacation travelers, aggressive, erratic speeding drivers, and people who I swear last drove on a multilane highway during the Carter administration.

      A couple of years ago, the owners were looking at moving to a building in the small city where I live, located next to a river, walking distance to restaurants and coffee shops, a < 10 minute drive to other stuff, all ~ 1 mile from my home. I was SO psyched … that location change would have been lifechanging for me, in a good way. A short commute if I drove, or a pleasant 20 minute walk otherwise. For 2 weeks I was walking on air imagining what it would be like … but it didn't work out for a variety of reasons, and we never moved.

      I was so disappointed, but consoled myself with the knowledge that I have a pretty good job, and come home every day to a place I really enjoy living. So, I'm happy, but there was a mini-grieving period for the workplace that wasn't.

      Also, we were a combination of shut down/WFH remote for all of 6 weeks during the pandemic so far, so I didn't never really experienced the stressful but also nice in many ways extended WFH time that lots of other people did. I think I would have really loved that and a am bit wistful about what might have been. Then again, I'm also glad I'm still alive and healthy, so there's that.

    6. Frideag Dachaigh*

      I get this- my office is optionally open again but my department has elected as of now we’re not mandating any sort of return. I’m high risk so glad to not be forced to risk my health, but I really, really miss the office sometimes. Both the culture and the people, but also just… the office itself. My work is sort of the equivalent of payroll at a museum- none of my work has anything to do with the actual building and goings on of the place, but a big part of why I took the job was because of it. It’s an organization I dearly love to be a part of, and working from home has me feeling very disconnected from the overall mission of our organization.

    7. I-Away 8*

      One of the highlights of my day is my lunchtime walk in the green spaces around my workplace.

      I don’t get that when I work from home. I love my urban neighborhood, but it’s not as well suited for relaxed strolling.

    8. Invisible today*

      Yes. Change is hard, even when it is welcome. It is normal to mourn the losses that come with it, even as new good things come up.

    9. anonymous73*

      I get it. 2 jobs ago I worked in a large office of abut 1000 people in an awesome department of around 100. I had a lot of close friends and fun colleagues. But after a few years they brought in new management and all the fun people were either laid off, forced out or quit. When I finally left after sticking it out for 4 more years, I went to an office of 4 with the other part of my team scattered around the US. That dwindled to 2, and then when they ended our contract, I got put on another project and was full time WFH. I now have a different job and am still full time WFH. I do miss being around people, but the pros of being at home far outweigh the cons (at least for me). I wouldn’t be opposed to a job that was back in an office, but it’s definitely a huge change to only have my cats as co-workers now.

    10. Lizzo*

      Change is indeed hard. I have been remote for a while but do miss in-office interactions.
      It’s taken a while (because pandemic), but I’ve found other ways to create daily routines that offer colleague interaction, but also interaction with the people in my local community. It’s not the same, but it does manage to scratch the itch for socialization.

  2. Confusion*

    Three times in the last month, some interaction I’ve had with colleagues has circled back to me, but not directly, and I see that I was misquoted. Some of these interactions are in email and purely false statements, some are in-person interactions summarized in email. What I struggle with is that there is no space for me to clear the air or resolve it. I’m forwarded an email and told people will discuss it and what can I share ahead of time. But I don’t get the option to be there and clarify, and in some cases, clear my name. My supervisor supports me, and I’m thankful for that. But I never get resolution on what happened. Any advice?

    1. BigSigh*

      It’s always different people? It’s tough because it sounds as though you’re already doing everything you can. Documenting is key and you’re already doing what you can. Unfortunate though, and I’m glad your manager is on your side.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Can you get out ahead of it? If you normally talk to Susan and then Susan summarizes that conversation in email to others can you start sending Susan a quick email “hey just wanted to make sure we’re on the same page, per our meeting today you’ve got the midterm numbers on ABC and I’ll be sending you DEFG numbers in a week”. Then if it isn’t malicious (ie if Susan just misremembers the conversation) she has a convenient & accurate version she can refer to and if it was malicious you’ve got a paper trail.

      I also make a point to always end my meetings summarizing actions items, like “I am going to do XYZ and once you send me the numbers I will also do ABC”. It gives you one more shot to make sure everyone’s on same page with priorities and what they need.

      1. Confusion*

        It’s always different people, as BigSigh says. And it’s such a large game of telephone. So in your example, someone 3 levels above Susan is upset, goes poking around and someone asks Susan, who says something and then bigboss quotes or misquotes what Susan said about our conversation.

        It’s a mess of telephone but once there is a mess, it’s like Susan and I aren’t included in getting to clarify. Seems inefficient.

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

      When you’re asked to “share ahead of time” or you are CC’d on an email that misquoted you, are you able to use that space to clear your name or clarify. It would seem to be the ideal time/place, but office politics might make that tricky — you’re calling someone out for misrepresenting you or getting the info wrong. You probably won’t hear a resolution if it’s a serious breach of conduct, but you should get an apology if it was an honest mistake. If there is a particular person or department that does it, be sure to follow up a conversation in an email.

      1. Confusion*

        It’s always my supervisor just sending it to me as an FYI. I’m not on the larger email to respond to.

        1. River Otter*

          Have you asked your supervisor whether there is any way to pass on corrected information?

        2. Roscoe da Cat*

          I would respond to your manager saying that what is in the body of the message is not familiar to you “but Susan and I did discuss X”
          That way, you are hopefully clarifying what you said and not throwing anyone under the bus. Then it is up to your manager to clear it up in a meeting.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            There’s a saying in the birding world, when someone says they see bird A, but someone with them sees something that’s clearly bird B, and knows that there are things about bird species B that makes it easy to mistake it for bird species A. Instead of calling out the misidentification, which might be rude or awkward, you say “Oh, I think we must have been on different birds” That allows for the *possibility* that they saw what they saw, but makes it clear that’s not what *you* saw. ( I have been on both sides of that conversation … unless someone is in an established teaching, mentoring role, or close friends/peers, where talking directly about the likely misidentifications is clearly on the table and expected, it usually is the most gracious way to handle it … and sometimes it’s completely true … one of the birds moves and suddenly both come into view for both people)

            You might be able to use a variation of this “That’s not what we talked about when we met last week … I said XYZ (receipts for this if you’ve got them … even if it’s your own meeting notes). Maybe they’re referring to some other conversation they had?” So you’re not completely/directly saying they are lying or wrong, you’re just clarifying the conversation you CAN confirm. (and the “maybe some other conversation” part can turn out to be true if they took something you said out of context, or it was something said at one time, before additional info came up, and they’re just referencing the old information)

    4. cubone*

      if it’s happening this often with this many people, is it possible that the workplace overall has not so great communication practices? It sounds sort of like your words are being discussed frequently when you’re not present, which could be normal or could be a sign of a silo’d, hierarchical culture that creates conditions for these things to happen.

      1. Confusion*

        “could be a sign of a silo’d, hierarchical culture”

        Yes, I work in higher education. :)

        1. cubone*

          Hahahaha, yeaaaaaaah this is making more sense to me. I’m obviously bringing all my own experiences/assumptions (a brief stint in higher ed and a close friend with a lifelong career as a faculty admin) and tbh I would sort of chalk it up to that culture.

          I think a lot of the other commenters advice of how to step in and correct when possible, asking your supervisor how to handle it, etc. is probably the extent of what you can do. I kind of think a culture with communication channels and silos like that is ALWAYS going to be ripe for misinterpretation and I don’t know how much you can do (unless this is like a completely new problem when you’ve worked with the same people for years??). You probably are communicating just fine, but in the vein of accepting and not stressing about it too much, you could also just try to be extra conscientious about being clear and direct and to not raise an idea or challenge without making it clear you’re not asking for XYZ to be done immediately, you know? (I’m imagining those “I wish X database was a bit more user friendly” comments to become “they said they want to get a new database!” as an example)

          Also, I do really feel for you! I worked with a very unpleasant colleague years ago who also would claim people said things that were absolutely false and invented, and it feels really awful to be misrepresented and lied about like that.

  3. I don't know what to do*

    I work for a tech company that is great in giving everyone experience in a variety of areas. We’re small enough to know everyone, but big enough earn promotions.

    To explain the hierarchy there is an upper management team each appointed to oversee a number of departments, each department has 3-6 people. As each department goes through projects, the department switches positions. For simplicity and anonymity lets say each department has their own version of a president/ project organizer (this is the “highest” position on the team even albeit it’s temporary for everyone), web designer, bookkeeping, troubleshooting, etc. There are certain internal guidelines to how you serve each position with upper management’s approval to make sure everyone is cross trained. The structure sounds weird typing it out, but it actually works very well, especially when looking to get a promotion in other areas in the company.

    I just came off a 1.5 year project where I was President. Our department has 4 people and we will be figuring out the new positions. We have two newer teammates (the 1.5 year project was their first project) looking to go for the Presidency, Rachel and Kate. Given other non relevant concerns, myself and the remaining team member (Meg) are quite all right with this. Both Rachel and Kate are terrific.

    The thing is I think Kate would make an amazing President. She hits a lot of check marks, networked, easy to work with, met every goal, took improvement suggestions to heart, etc.

    Rachel is fantastic as well. I’d say merit wise a half step below if not equal to Kate. The thing is Rachel can be very…. intense and micro managing to a point of suffocation. I actually had to go to upper management at some point because I was out of my league on how to work with Rachel’s personality. To give you a simple example a department teammate was responsible to design a website gave everyone a preview. The client wanted “bold colors”. Even though Rachel was not incharge of this aspect she felt we needed to discuss the direction and colors, take a vote, conference in the client and have an alternative website made. She took it upon herself to reach out the the client. Multiply that situation by numerous times per month. To answer your question, yes the situation was dealt with.

    Rachel was so upset when Kate mentioned wanting to try for President as well. Seniority wise Rachel has maybe 3 more months experience than Kate. Rachel claims she is the only one who worked hard and contributed anything with substance… not true! We all contributed equally and are a great team. My job was to keep records of everyone’s contribution! Rachel is devouring the company handbook to find a loophole. Meg has even come to me privately to say she’s transferring if Rachel becomes President at this point in time. Meg said we work long hours and she refuses to be micro managed to Rachel’s style of leadership. Until Rachel can “reel it in” Meg would rather be friends who work in different departments.

    We’ve all become friends (technically we are all the same level), so I am trying to keep the personal feelings out of this situation. I’m also trying not to have the department appear to be “ganging up” on Rachel. My opinion Rachel will make a great President… one day. However she could use a little more of a realistic outlook since by company standards our projects are a team effort, round table work style, designed to give us an overview as an employee. As required with any new project, we’ve all had private discussions for upper management on our thoughts for all positions. I know Rachel is going to be ticked off, upset and take this personally if she is not chosen as President. How do I navigate this as current President?

    1. College Career Counselor*

      It sounds to me that it’s not necessarily your job to select Rachel as the next Project President (correct me if I’m wrong). That said, I think these sentences:

      “Rachel is fantastic as well. I’d say merit wise a half step below if not equal to Kate.”
      are not strictly accurate. Rachel may well be an effective and knowledgeable SME or individual contributor as part of a team, but the behaviors you describe (micromanaging, credit-hogging, revisionist-history-ing her sole importance, attempting to rules-lawyer exceptions to benefit her at the expense of others) would indicate otherwise. Coupled with people saying they’ll transfer if Rachel is chosen AND your having to go to upper management to figure out how to address Rachel’s behavior while you were Project President does not exactly bode well for a smooth stint at project leadership under Rachel’s rule.

      I would say that you don’t actually have anything to manage as current Project President if Rachel is not chosen. It’s on upper management to say what they want to see from Rachel in the future if she’s going to be put in that role. And it’s on Rachel to learn to accept setbacks gracefully and work hard to implement the changes needed by the organization for people in that role.

    2. Artemesia*

      Since you don’t choose the president you don’t have to justify anything do you? If no one is giving Rachel feedback about things she is doing that undermine the work, maybe they should — like whoever is in charge of overseeing this team. A bland ‘well leadership tends to get around to everyone eventually’ might be all you need to say — but SOMEONE in CHARGE should be giving Rachel feedback.

      1. I don't know what to do*

        Hi! I don’t choose president, but upper management takes into account my opinion and that of the team

    3. ferrina*

      You don’t say how the President is chosen. Is it a vote or appointed? If it’s a vote, is it a secret vote?
      From there, depends on how much capital you’re willing to spend and who will back you.

      Option 1: Stay out of it. Speak on the merits and room for improvement on both Kate and Rachel and don’t pick one over the other (unless explicitly asked by your boss, then yes, give the full feedback). Just say that you see strengths in both of them. If President is chosen by vote, then only show your decision when it’s voting time. Be prepared for blowback from Rachel, and I’d even loop in your boss/leadership if you’re concerned.

      Option 2: Share your concerns. Don’t make a public show or anything, but go to your boss and share your concerns with Rachel’s working style. Be clear that you think that the team and the work would suffer due to XYZ. Don’t mention that Meg would leave, but say that you don’t think that working under Rachel (given her current performance) would be tenable for the length of the project, but that you hope that these are skills that she can work on for the future.

      Really though, someone should be managing Rachel in this. Collaborating with coworkers is part of her job, and it sounds like she’s not doing this.

      1. I don't know what to do*

        Our department meets with upper management individually to discuss how the project, how it went, our thoughts, and what we position we would like to do going forward. At that point we give an unofficial vote to how we would like the next project’s positions. Upper management relies on this, but has final say

        1. Observer*

          Well, you should NOT get into what other people say to management. If it gets back to her and she’s upset, there is nothing you can or should do. Each person saying the same thing to management is NOT “ganging up” on her. And if management is wise, they will recognize the issues.

          In this case, your loyalty has to be to the company. Especially since Kate is as deserving of the position as Rachel is and it’s not reasonable to favor someone merely because they will pitch a fit. To the contrary – that is NOT who you want in a leadership position.

          I hope that your leadership is sensible enough to not divulge who said exactly what. But you really should lay out your concerns clearly and factually. Yes, she’s a really good SME (subject matter expert) and is clearly willing to work hard and get things done. But she did these things that are extremely problematic.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            and it’s not reasonable to favor someone merely because they will pitch a fit

            I have worked places where that was the approach to decision making. It was … not good. It is clearly rewarding bad behavior, which, unsurprisingly, leads to more bad behavior sometimes from people who were previously professional and reasonable. And it is also a clear indicator of weak leadership, because “I went with this option so that I didn’t have to deal with a toddler tantrum from LoudMouth” while ignoring the impact on everyone else and the ability of the work group to effectively do their jobs well is not leadership, it’s avoidance.

        2. ferrina*

          Say exactly what your experience has been! “Kate has been great to work with because XYZ. Rachel has been great at X, but it’s been a struggle at points because she reached out to a client on an aspect that was not her role and without consulting with the person in charge of that, which was confusing and undermined the other person. She’s also been saying that she’s the only one that worked hard, which is certainly not true and I’m not sure why she’s saying that. Overall, I’d love to see Kate as President and I think she’d do a great job.”

          Do not sugarcoat anything. The boss needs to hear the events exactly as they occurred.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            Yeah, in the work environment OP describes, where roles and responsibilities are fixed for a project, but fluid over time AND a collaborative culture, someone repeatedly hijacking other people’s areas of responsibilities is guaranteed to create chaos and resentment, while likely also confusing the client, wasting time and negatively impacting the final project quality (IME talented, passionate contributed will sometimes downshift or go on autopilot when faced with a micromanager/overstepper … why should they give it their all if a Rachel is just going to come in next week and redo it herself anyway?) Right now Rachel is coming across as a strong individual contributor who doesn’t work well with others.

            Rachel is failing in an area of core competency to *work* in this environment. Without some changes, she would not be a good candidate to lead in this environment. And since you’ve got another candidate without those drawbacks, why wouldn’t you reward THAT person? (if the only answer is “Rachel will pitch a fit and rules-lawyer us into oblivion” the door leading to managing Rachel OUT should be a lot closer on your path than the door to managing her UP)

            1. I don't know what to do*

              Hi ! Thanks for your comment. I can assure you no one is doing anything because of Rachel’s behavior (ie favoring her). Apparently upper management asked my opinion due to others on the team mentioning different scenarios. I kept to the facts, not my opinion.

              1. Observer*

                Keeping to the facts is the right way to go. I’m assuming that you included all of the facts you included here.

    4. BigSigh*

      You need to lay that all out for Rachel. Transparency is key. “You’re going to be a great President … one day. At this time, based on xyz behaviors and work style, there is still needed room for growth. I can offer assistance on this and this. Take some time to think things over and let me know if there are any other mentoring opportunities you’d be interested in to assist in your goal of President.”

      1. I don't know what to do*

        I hate to sound like avoiding this conversation, but lucky for me upper management announces who will have what position. While my opinion will be heavily counted on confidentially, the final decision is upper management.

    5. Miel*

      It sounds clear that Kate should be the next president. Can upper management be the one to make the final decision and deliver the message? Seems like it shouldn’t be your job, unless I’m misunderstanding something.

      1. I don't know what to do*

        I replied above. Yes upper managment has final decision, but they meet with us individually and rely heavily on our recommendations

    6. Person from the Resume*

      Here’s the thing: you don’t actually think that Rachel would make a good President. You’ve actually listed a bunch of reasons why she would not.

      I’m not sure how long you have to navigate this as current President after Rachel finds out she’s not chosen (if she’s not chosen). I think what you perhaps could do now is to provide feedback and mentor her so understands she has room for improvement. But not being her actual manager places you in an odd spot. Perhaps her actual manager/supervisor should be telling her where she needs to improve before she is selected as President.

      OTOH you can push back now on anytime Rachel claims she is the only one who worked hard and contributed anything with substance. Keep telling her you disagree and that’s not true.

    7. I don't know what to do*

      Hey all, since it keeps coming up in comments

      Our department meets with upper management individually to discuss the project, how it went, our thoughts, and what we position we would like to do going forward. At that point we give an unofficial vote to how we would like the next project’s positions. Upper management relies on this heavily, but has final say

    8. Observer*

      This “Rachel is fantastic as well. I’d say merit wise a half step below if not equal to Kate.

      And

      This “Rachel can be very…. intense and micro managing to a point of suffocation

      Are mutually exclusive, when talking about leadership and management roles. When you add in all of the other stuff?

      What are you looking to accomplish? If it’s to keep Rachel happy, you probably can’t but you can keep her from dumping on you by not sharing your thoughts with leadership and not doing anything regarding choosing the next President. If your goal is to help get the best President and to help create the best environment for the group, you need to share your thoughts clearly and unambiguously with leadership. And to the extent that you have a role in picking the next President, throw your weight behind Kate.

      To be honest, I don’t think that it’s necessarily the case that Rachel will ever become a good leader. Because her problem is not just a matter of a “a little more of a realistic outlook”. You mention multiple problems, although you only name one. And none of them are about being realistic. She micromanages, oversteps her authority, takes credit for other people’s work and will rules lawyer her way into whatever she can grab. And she’s managed to alienate a good coworker to the point that that coworker will transfer away rather than be managed by her. That’s a TERRIBLE sign.

      1. Mannequin*

        I agree. And while none of what she does is ok, I found “Rachel is devouring the company handbook to find a loophole” alarming.

        Whatever “loophole” it is that she thinks would benefit her here (I can’t even imagine), it shows that rather than get the position on her own merit, she’d rather find a way to manipulate herself into it. People like that make LOUSY leaders.

        1. I don't know what to do*

          Hi Observer and Mannequin! thank you for replying. At this point in setting up our new project, I am just looking to make sure that I personally am treating everyone fairly. Upper management has been a great mentor to me in dealing with Rachel’s personality.

          1. Observer*

            I think that you have real leadership potential. Treating people fairly is always a good way to operate. The main thing to keep in mind here is that sticking to the facts, as long as you included everything, *is* fair. Even if someone is not going to be happy about it.

            I’m glad your management is going to keep things confidential, though.

    9. Bagpuss*

      Like others, I’m not sure that this issue of the next president is yours to manage, but it sounds as though in your role as *current* president there may be some room for you to feed back to Rachel about how some of her behaviors are counter-productive – you mention the example of the bold colors and of her claiming to have played a bigger role than she did, is there scope for you to offer feedback and let her know that those things are negatives ? Maybe explain that as president it’s part of your role to track contributions and that her perception that she was the only one working hard or making substantive contributions was not accurate . If you can, maybe give her specific example of things she did which were strong contributions, maybe some things others did which were equally valuable, and possible an example of something she spent time on which was not actually her remit and wasn’t helpful – especially if you or other team members had to do extra work to fix it!

      I think if the president is appointed by upper management then it would be helpful for you to seek to your manager (especially if you have confidence in their discretion) to say that you have personally found her micro-managing difficult to deal with, that you are aware that it is rubbing others up the wrong way, and that you feel that she would struggle to give others space to carry out their parts of the task and that she has a tendency to over-estimate her own contributions.

      You can also give details of this things she is doing well and what her strengths are – make clear that she is terrific at x, y and z .

      If you can o do without outing Meg I would be inclined to mention that at last one other team member has said that they would look to switch teams rather than have to work with her as president as things stand

    10. Niblet*

      “Rachel is fantastic as well …”

      Definitely not. And ditto to the management — they are a big part of the problem. The management needs to up their game and handle tough decisions and feedback. That is not happening, and problems like Rachel are ignored to the point where others are looking to leave the team if she is given additional responsibility.

      BTW, if providing feedback is part of your job as current president, I’d encourage you to step up and do your job. Part of management is having difficult conversations about performance and potential.

      1. I don't know what to do*

        I have spoken to upper management about all of my team as part of a rquired review. I truly think as a team we work great together. I have spoken (as is required) about the strengths and areas of improvement (including my own) for each department mate.

        1. Bethie*

          I am not sure if this is helpful, but I kind of have a Rachel in my office who may be taking over supversion of positions forthcoming in the new fiscal year. I have said to my boss that several of my staff would not consider moving to the new team due to My Rache;’s leadership style. I kind of felt it had to be put out there, ya know? Like you may lose staff if you do this bc of X feedback. But like you, I am not over any decsion making in the end.

          1. I don't know what to do*

            I can totally relate! Thank you for sharing your story. It’s nice to know I am not the only one.

        2. Niblet*

          I’m going to disagree with you again about “we work great together.” That is not true. One member of the team is willing to quit if Rachel is given more authority. That’s not great. Not even close. Please take a closer and more honest look at the team dynamics, maybe looping in a mentor that can provide you with needed feedback.

          Part of leadership is being honest about the people you are leading. It’s not wrong to believe that some employers are “not great,” or should not be given additional responsibilities.

    11. DEJ*

      I find your example really interesting. I work in a creative field and have a number of examples where people have said something like ‘bold colors’ or ‘modern looking’ or something else vague and then you put together something that you think fits those guidelines, show it to the client, and they hate it or realize that’s not really what they’re looking for so you’re back at square one. I agree that if it wasn’t her responsibility on the last project she absolutely overstepped in that specific instance, but if it had been her role, I admit I don’t disagree with how she approached the task. Her looking for a loophole in the company handbook is showing a pretty big red flag though. For your question though, I don’t think you have to navigate anything if the company at large makes the decisions.

    12. Banana*

      You said Rachel’s “situation was dealt with”, but it sounds like there’s a pattern of behavior here that has not been dealt with at all. Rachel is not a team player, she’s downplaying the contribution of other team members, she’s hugely overreacting to unsurprising news about someone else being interested in a promotion. I would transfer if I had to work under her leadership as well. If it’s your role to give her feedback, you should do that, and if it is not, you should be making sure your upper leadership is aware. She is not ready to lead people.

      The best way to avoid the appearance of teaming up on Rachel is to give concise, unemotional, factual feedback to your upper leadership.

  4. Yaz*

    Friends… what a week. I had to fire someone from my project. Not my company. Just my project. My mentor said I was too curt about it. Noted. Then an executive asked me to schedule a call between him and a separate executive, so I did. And then the separate executive got mad at me for not checking in with him first. Politics! This week has been political. Does it get easier? I feel like I can’t do anything right

    1. Oof*

      Gosh have I been there. Some weeks are rough and the feelings about it dull after a weekend off.

      What reasoning did the executive give for needing to check with him first?

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      It’s that kind of week. I had one manager tell me I was being too soft on someone and a second manager saying I was being too hard…regarding the exact same issue! I suppose if nobody’s happy, then I probably got it just about right.

    3. Yoga Sloth*

      I feel this. I’m about 9 months into my first management position, and lately it feels like nothing I’m doing is good enough. I misunderstand the instructions, I misunderstand the context, I misunderstand the request…etc etc etc. And I’ve had so many people not understand the directions I was giving to them, even when I felt like I was being really clear.

      Some weeks are better than others. This month is not going to be one of those. But it should get better this summer. I hope the same for you!

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I feel this too.

        I’m not in management (thank heavens!) but I’m on a really difficult project right now. Rather, the project is easy, the project team is driving me bonkers. I don’t know how, but we seem to be failing to communicate at every level. I’m also not invited to the meetings that I requested, so we end up playing the world’s stupidest game of telephone, and I have reached BEC stage with the project lead.

        This one project takes up 5% of my time and generates 95% of my stress.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Sympathies; agree it has been quite a week. There’s a new person on our multiagency program and she completely gummed up the work I normally handle by demanding that I drop everything and work on this Late Thing. (She is not anywhere near my reporting chain.) I have spent the entire week trying to explain to her How Things Are Done (we have SOPs all must follow to validate data before submitting), correct the impression of my incompetence she fostered with the senior engineer (who I’ve worked with directly before and we got many things done, well and on time), and got behind in my other work because I had to respond (diplomatically) to her endless emails demanding changes and statuses. (Yesterday she was sending them at 10-minute intervals. I kid you not.)

      As a result, I have a meeting next week in which I will have to soothe ruffled feathers of leadership, yet somehow get this new person out of my way.

      Fortunately this isn’t my main project; this is a small side effort that I work on occasionally. I’ve posted about the problems in main project; Main Leader has started holding everyone accountable (maybe he reads AAM now? lol) and things are running extremely smoothly on that one. So there’s hope.

    5. Katie*

      In the the sense that you learn the ‘needs’ of others? Yes. I’m that people have needs (realistic or unrealistic)? No. I have also gotten better at decifering real criticism that I should take to heart and some that I roll my eyes at internally.

      I say that then there are days like last month where an unrealistic criticism had me bawling my eyes out.

    6. JelloStapler*

      Ugh I hate weeks like that. Sometimes people cannot play well in the sandbox and you’re the one that gets the sand in your eye.

    7. Quinalla*

      Ugh, sometimes you can’t win, I feel you!

      My “favorite” recently was getting feedback from a leader in a coaching session that I needed to be more confident and aggressive and then when I was attempting to be more confident getting a sarcastic, “Well, that was aggressive!” comment said in that tone of comtempt. Ooof, was not happy about that one Just one of the many double binds as a woman I get to deal with :/

  5. Person with a hidden disability*

    Summary: I need some “script” advice for a job-interview as a person with a (hidden) disability.

    I am a person with a hidden disability, 38yo and haven’t worked a day in my life except volunteering jobs. I do have a disability income, but sadly it is just above the poverty line (and my family helps tremendously so that I can live alone independently but close to parents, siblings and other family members).

    My volunteering job (and reading this blog for the past couple of years) has given me more confidence to see if I can contribute more to society while earning money at the same time. I have applied for a (half-time) job that should be doable for me without causing more harm to my health. I even have a job-interview planned next week (working for a city/government communication department).

    Obviously I lack work-experience (except from an internship 10y ago to get my bachelor communications degree) and my volunteering job (2 half days a week as a front desk member at a medical house (GP/house doctor). At the same time, besides my volunteer job, I have done extra- educational courses for Photography, followed Digital courses (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro…) and I participate in the local music school.

    Every site I visit on getting a job (in my country, that is) advises to mention in the interview that I have a hidden disability (while also stressing to not mention it in a motivational letter and CV – advise I think is pretty solid: you should be selected on your merits, not your health status). But you should mention it in such a way that it isn’t a big deal, having the disability. The job I’m going for is obviously something that should be physical possible for me.

    So the best way to refer the lack of work-experience, is to refer to my disability without making it a big deal at the same time.

    I have been thinking about scripts for this, the past couple of days. However, my creativity is lacking probably because of the mental pressure I’m putting myself under to give the best interview I can in the hopes to get this – (definitely) for me – perfect job!

    How do you tell someone I have a hidden disability without revealing too many medical information, convincing them that I can do the job, but at the same time balancing information that I sometimes might need more medical leave?
    (EU-country here: so medical leave, healthcare and the likes are all things that I don’t really have to worry about).

    1. hmmm*

      I don’t want to give the incorrect advice, but I do want to say “Way to Go!” on working towards your dreams.

    2. Artemesia*

      I have no expertise here so take it for what it is worth but I think it is a real mistake to mention a ‘hidden disability’ until you have a job offer. It is virtually impossible to prove discrimination but discrimination is common and likely. Find a way to talk about your lack of work that doesn’t reference your disability. e.g. Family responsibilities — which left me time for volunteer work but not for a full time commitment.

    3. whalewhalewhale*

      As someone who recently developed a disability while employed and is very nervous about when I have to go job hunting next… I wouldn’t overthink it. If you’re worried about it, it will come out as you talk about it. I would just offhandedly mention that you’ve got a disability that you’ve got pretty well managed and are excited about the prospect of employment. Emphasizing the work experience from your volunteer position should show that you understand your limits and how to function in a professional capacity, and you don’t need to go into any details about your condition if it isn’t something that you need accommodation for (to use USA ADA jargon).

    4. Miel*

      I think I’ve heard that with a gap in your resume, it can be helpful to frame it as a positive (I had the opportunity to do X, and I also learned Y).

      So you could frame it as caring for family, or as dealing with a health issue that is now resolved [they don’t need to know details – you’d be able to do the job and that’s what matters]. And then say that you’ve spent the last years learning and volunteering, and now you’re ready to jump into paid work.

      Best of luck!

    5. Bexy Bexerson*

      I have a mostly hidden disability. I say “mostly” because I occasionally use a cane. When I’m not using my cane, nobody has a clue that I am disabled.

      As someone in the US, I’m a bit hesitant to give advice to someone in an EU country; I know things are different there. But anyway…here’s what I think I would say in your position.

      “I have an invisible physical disability, and in the past, the best choice for me was to stick to volunteer work. Now, I am excited to enter the workforce. I don’t expect my condition to hinder my ability to perform the duties of the job. However, I may occasionally need a bit more more medical leave than the average employee.”

      Basically, just tell them what you told us!

    6. Chapeau*

      One thing to keep in mind may be if hiring you as a disabled person will result in tax breaks for your potential employer. In the US, small businesses that hire people who are on disability or have a referral from a vocational rehabilitation counselor are eligible for some tax credits. I have seen questions on some job applications or onboarding paperwork that allude to this. These credits encourage employers to take a chance on someone who might not have a great (or any) work history due to their disability. But if you have a hidden disability and the employer doesn’t ask, they won’t know and might not be willing to take a chance on someone who could turn out to be a great employee.
      Of course, this is for U.S. small businesses, but it might be worth looking into.

    7. Minimal Pear*

      I’m in the US and invisibly disabled, with a somewhat iffy work history because of it. I would strongly recommend not disclosing until after you have the job offer. It’s much too likely that they will discriminate, and if you only disclose after the job offer, you have a better chance of proving that it was discrimination.

  6. Friday 4PM Meetings*

    It may be just that I’ve mostly checked out from my job, but does anyone else get really angry about 4pm Friday meetings? That aren’t a last-minute emergency?
    WHY do people do this? Give people a break after a long week of work.

    1. Lorelai*

      Part of my job is to schedule a lot of client meetings and depositions with super busy professionals. Do you know when their free time is? Friday afternoons. It makes me nuts, and I’m not even the one taking the meetings. Thank goodness my bosses are good sports about that stuff.

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      It annoys me since I hate wasting time. Worse if they make it in person and they give me covid before I enjoy my weekend lol

    3. cat socks*

      I live in an EST time zone, but work with people in MST. Unfortunately I end up having some 4PM meetings because it is only 2 PM for them. The MST people oftentimes have to show up for 7AM meetings. However if I’m scheduling a meeting for all people in EST I try to avoid 4PM meetings on Fridays. I know we are all checked out by the end of the week.

    4. Hiring Mgr*

      If it’s an internal meeting, I agree.. If it’s a client/customer meeting, sometimes you’ve got to just do those whenever they’re avail

    5. londonedit*

      I think meetings on Fridays should be outlawed, full stop! Especially Friday afternoons. That’s just cruel. Where I work there are no internal meetings on Fridays as a matter of policy, but with external meetings (I have a fair amount of meetings/calls with authors at various stages of their book’s creation) sometimes a Friday is the only time they’re available, and it does really annoy me! I feel like Fridays should be sacrosanct.

      1. Ashkela*

        I average about 1.5 meetings a day (since my morning check in with my supervisor is technically a meeting, but almost always is only 10-15 minutes, I call it a half) and somehow today I have 6. Given that I’m fully remote (I live in a different state than my entire team), I actually don’t mind having an afternoon one on a Friday, but six is killing me.

        Thankfully the last one ends at 3 and knowing my supervisor, he’ll let me drop off immediately following that one.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        Agree!

        The things that always baffles me is that sales people, or those servicing accounts often call or worse pop by without an appointment (during a pandemic? really?) on Fridays, especially Friday afternoons.

        On Friday, I’m working to finish out everything that needed to get done this week, and ideally organize and prep stuff so reentry on Monday goes smoothly. Maybe if I can get everything wrapped, I might be able to duck out a few minutes early and avoid the traffic.

        I don’t need a random person parachuting in to chat, touch base, catch up, get a feel for how our business runs so they can figure out how to shoehorn their product/service into it, just because THEY’ve got an opening in their calendar or they keep Fridays open for prospecting. I always calmly just say “I’m in the middle of something and don’t have time to talk” and go about my day. But it baffles me that people do it in the first place. Do they drum up a lot of new clients like this? Are there somewhere a bunch of people at work on Friday with their feet up just hoping a document handling equipment or HR/financial management software salesperson pops up so they can shoot the breeze about hypothetical process improvements?

      3. -ing!*

        I’ll take Friday afternoon meetings if I can trade them for the 8am Monday morning meetings my ex-boss liked to schedule. Let me read my emails before you ask me about them!

    6. DisneyChannelThis*

      This drives me nuts too! And then usually I have to spend 20-30min after the meeting setting up notes and some stuff from it for my Monday so I’m not left trying to remember what on Earth we agreed on Friday. I have a little bit of distracted focus issues at work tho, I always need to spend my last 30min of the day writing up status of projects and making to do lists for the next day, then checking my emails one last time.

    7. CheesePlease*

      I mean it’s annoying but have you ever tried scheduling meeting between multiple high-level managers? it’s sometimes “Next Friday at 4pm” or “6 weeks from now on Tuesday morning”. At least that’s the case in my role.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I think that high-level managers know that they’re expected to have meetings at inconvenient (read: crappy) times. And they often either can leave right away after a meeting or were probably going to be in the office another hour or more

        For the rest of us, though, it’s a terrible time. Many people (if they even work past 4:30, a common end time for many offices) use their late Friday afternoon time to get any end-of-week tasks done & plan for the next week. If I had a 4-5 meeting on a Friday, I would end up working at least another 30 minutes after the meeting was over.

    8. CTT*

      I never schedule them, but I actually don’t really mind them. I’m a lawyer and some Friday afternoons it’s nice to be like “there’s one easy billable hour” instead of forcing myself to turn to a hard project before I leave.

      1. Lei*

        Not a lawyer but same – Friday afternoon can be a nice time for a “don’t really need to contribute the whole time” meeting when I’m already tired from the week.

      2. Generic Name*

        I’m in consulting, and I agree. Sometimes meetings are the easiest part of my job (depending on the meeting, of course). Funny you mention you’re a lawyer, as my lawyer just asked me if I’m free for a call at 4 today, wheeee…..

    9. Environmental Compliance*

      Someone a couple levels above me once scheduled a 5PM Friday meeting, and that office was an hour ahead of me – so 6PM for them.

      Oddly enough it got cancelled because “too many people were busy”.

      I don’t know if “angry” is the word I’d use, but I do get irritated. If it was a legit meeting, then I would be less so, but it does seem that every time (at least for me) whatever the meeting is for is not important. It could be scheduled for the next Monday, where, if you go check, there is availability. Or it’s some last minute crap that *should* have been scheduled 2 months ago and now we’re panicking because *whoops it’s due*.

    10. Lilith*

      I had a 4pm meeting today, with my next meeting being 9am on Monday.

      The worst thing is that I’m the organiser of both, as those were the only times that worked!

    11. NeonFireworks*

      I had to do this for a weekly meeting over a full six months. It was an awful time-slot and I was apologetic, but it was the only slot that worked for everyone on the team.

    12. Meow*

      My husband’s boss used to set up meetings with him almost every Friday afternoon to ask him for help on minor things that could clearly wait till Monday. They would always run an hour or more late, and it was infuriating for me trying to make plans for a Friday night or even just plan dinner.

      I kind of suspect his boss was looking for excuses not to go home.

    13. Storm in a teacup*

      I think it depends. Currently we have a no Friday afternoon zoom rule at work but if you work with global colleagues this tends to get broken / vent some weeks, especially when the only free time for a lot of people at short notice js Friday afternoon!
      In my old hospital role the best time for me to have meetings was Friday afternoon as we didn’t have clinics then so our patient facing workload was quiet and much more preferable than having to schlep in for an 8am earlier in the week

    14. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

      Agree, because I like to take the last portion of Friday to do a final pass through email/to-do and prep for Monday so that I can come in with a clear picture of the priorities for the new week and to make sure any fires are put out before the weekend

    15. theletter*

      My department has set up some rotating training/ happy hour meetings to acknowledge that Friday afternoons are pretty much churn out/burn out/recharge time. I think it helps to prevent any agenda-style meetings showing on the calendar.

    16. Katie*

      I am meets 75% of the day. Friday meetings in general don’t bother me, but I have people who feel it is no issue over scheduling at lunch hours (to the point I have blocked that time but that doesn’t stop them) or double/triple booking me when I am one of the key participants in the meeting! People don’t look and just book when it’s convenient for them.

    17. Ness*

      I’m a project manager and regularly have to schedule meetings that include multiple managers. I try to avoid Friday afternoons when possible, but sometimes the choices are Friday at 4 or wait two more weeks (which might not be an option).

      What really frustrates me though is when I schedule a meeting at an inconvenient time to accommodate someone’s schedule and then they don’t show up. I know that my project can’t always be everyone’s top priority, but still.

    18. StellaBella*

      I had a meeting from 5pm to 7pm, today and also two others same time last week on 2 days. These were not scheduled but have to work in the boss’s free time. Yes I am annoyed.

    19. Rex Libris*

      Yep. 4:00 pm Friday is for wrapping up the various loose ends that need to be handled before the weekend, so I don’t get phone calls on Saturday or Sunday

    20. anonymous73*

      I hate all meetings anytime after noon on Friday, but I work with a lot people who are in meetings all day every day, so I suck it up and deal because I know they don’t have a lot of wiggle room.

    21. Unkempt Flatware*

      I had a colleague do this because she was resentful that people coast on Fridays then got upset that she didn’t get any interaction from us during these meetings. We’re humans, not robots. Brain fry is real.

    22. Anon for this*

      Haha I never schedule these because I know other people hate them. I actually love Friday afternoon meetings though. Meetings are the easiest part of my job. The rest of my job requires extreme attention to detail and is really hard to do at the end of the week when I’m exhausted, plus I never get to end off early anyway (coverage issues). I work until 6:30 or 7 pm even on Fridays. And, since I work remote, the social interaction can be energizing as long as I’m not in meetings all day.

    23. the cat's ass*

      Seriously, I HATE this. I negotiated an end time of 12 noon of fridays so of course clinic-wide meetings are ALWAYS after lunch on Fridays. And they don’t even provide lunch! None since COVID but i fear they will be resuming soon.

    24. Coffee Bean*

      I admit to blocking time on my calendar frequently to prevent a late in the day Friday meeting.

  7. Oolong Way Down*

    When is the appropriate time to remove myself from consideration from a job, assuming that I’d like to keep the door open for future?

    I’m in the later stage of interviews and increasingly feeling like the job is a “maybe in the future, but not right now”. The interview process has been very useful to help me figure that out. Does it make any difference to the hiring manager if I withdraw before or after the offer is made?

    This is a job at a university but not faculty, so some but not all of the various weirdnesses of academia exist.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Unless you think there will be something compelling in the offer that might make you change your mind, withdraw now. Saying “I appreciate the time you’ve taken to speak with me, and I’ve come to realize this isn’t the right move for me right now” shouldn’t burn any bridges and it allows them to move forward with a candidate that they might otherwise miss out on.

    2. BigSigh*

      University rules always seem to be different. It it was non-university, I’d say you could say something right now and it may be better than waiting until an offer is made.

    3. Purple Cat*

      I would ask yourself, WHY do you think it’s a “future job” and not a “right now” job? Make sure you’re not short-changing yourself and your skills/ability to do this job. Otherwise, I think you should withdraw when you think that’s the right decision and not hold on to it longer. It takes time to put together an offer and you don’t want to waste their time if you’re really sure.

      1. Oolong Way Down*

        Thanks for being aware of the “shortchanging yourself” element, I know I could do the job well. There are personal reasons why making the switch isn’t so good for me right now.

        I think the consensus is not to wait until the offer, so I won’t.

    4. Former academic*

      Withdrawing before an offer avoids making the hiring manager go through all the university bureaucratic hoop jumping around making offers, and maybe means that if they have a fixed number of “finalist” slots one goes to someone else who really would be enthusiastic about it. I don’t see any harm in withdrawing warmly and cordially now. [I was a faculty member and involved in hiring a couple non-faculty VP-level hires as a faculty member, but not in other staff hiring.]

      1. Oolong Way Down*

        Ah good point, and I certainly know roles (faculty and staff) that have ended up failed searches because the first choice said no and then the second choice had already accepted something else, etc. Thanks!

    5. RagingADHD*

      Generally, if you have done several interviews and have a good rapport with the hiring manager, it’s a courtesy to let them know as soon as you are sure. That way they aren’t counting on you and can proceed with another candidate. If the offer wouldn’t change anything, as Persephone said, then there is no point waiting for it.

      If you’d only had 1 round, might as well leave it alone because they might not move you forward anyway. But if you seem to be a finalist, let them know.

      One caveat would be, if you are concerned that the position is too much of a stretch, you could just make that a point of discussion with the hiring manager the next time they get in touch. They might be willing to modify the position or train you into it. Of course, if you think it’s “not now” for personal reasons like location or career trajectory, that isn’t relevant.

      1. Oolong Way Down*

        There are personal reasons for the position to be a “not now”, I know I could do the job well. Before the offer seems like the consensus. Thanks!

    6. Lizzo*

      If you are 100% certain that it’s not the right move right now, please help out the hiring manager by withdrawing promptly so that they can move forward with other candidates.
      Also, I would be transparent about the reasons you’re not moving forward (not all the specific details, but the “right job, wrong timing” part). If you’re a strong candidate, they may come back to you in the future if the position–or another one that you might be suited for–opens up!

  8. cat socks*

    I have a question about applying to internal job postings.

    I currently work as a system analyst for the Chocolate Teapots department and saw a posting for the same role in the Coffee Maker department. I know someone in the other group who I worked with for a bit in Teapots. Would it be okay to contact her to see if she has any information about the other department?

    I want to leave Teapots because things have become very disorganized. The executives have dreamed up this automated system that is going to save the company lots of money, but the requirements for the system seem to change daily and the whole thing is very disorganized. I’ve been assigned to this project that I know very little about and have been given little to no guidance. I want to avoid that type of situation in the new role.

    I also have to notify my manager before I apply to this role. He’s another reason I want to move. He is incredibly hands off. As per HR we’re supposed to meet with our managers to define our goals for the year and then quarterly to review them. He never set up those meetings and just sent email reminders for us to update our goals in the system.

    I don’t mind working independently, but this is a bit of an extreme. I really miss my old manager. He provided a great balance of letting us work, but at the same time had our back if we needed help with something.

    My worry about notifying my current manager is that I feel like it could be awkward if I don’t get the other role. But I guess that’s just one of the risks of trying for an internal position.

    1. windsofwinter*

      I just applied for an internal position, and I did exactly this. I asked someone I know on the other team what it might be like. It was good insight. If you have a good relationship with them, go for it.

      I also told my current manager, and he took it well. While he is lobbying hard for me to stay, I know he won’t hold me back if I decide to take it.

    2. Hanani*

      Casual conversation with the person you know in Coffee Makers is a great idea, assuming you know them to be reasonably professional (unlike Mr. Reply-All from the earlier letter this week). I’d probably have that convo in person rather than by email. It’s not a full-blown interview-style conversation, just “I saw you had an opening and I’m intrigued, would love to hear more about the work in Coffee Makers”

    3. P*

      Where I work, it’s absolutely expected to have informal ‘chats’ with people in your network, people in their network, and even the hiring manager before officially ‘applying’ and notifying your current manager. Because of this, they ended up changing the process so the notification came a bit later, but that was in place for many years.

      It depends a lot on your workplace culture, but I’d set up a ‘catch up’ either in person or on zoom with my ex-colleague, keeping all talk of moving teams out of written form. When talking to them, I’d note I’m still just researching and not ready to apply right now but hoped they could tell me more about… (the culture in the team, what the differences are in what they do, etc.)

    4. TeaGirl*

      I am a manager and I have signed a fair number of those manager notification forms in my time. Generally, I sign it, wish people luck and that’s it. They may or may not get the job and that’s fine. No awkwardness, maybe a little sympathy and resetting some goals around making themselves a stronger candidate next time, if that’s what they want to do.

      Based on how you describe this manager, they may not even remember signing a form for you. It’s one more piece of paper.

    5. Aww, coffee, no*

      Absolutely contact your ex-coworker in Coffee Makers. I was recently considering an internal move and I spoke to everyone I knew that might have insight on the new role and team. This is pretty much the definition of using your network, just it’s internal.

    6. Meow*

      I was in this exact position like a year ago. About telling your manager – it sucks that you have to inform him (our organization keeps interviews for internal positions as confidential as possible for this reason), but you don’t have to give any indication that it’s because you don’t like his management style. When I was interviewed by the other department, my story was that I was relatively happy with the position I was in (ha), but was really excited about some of the projects the Coffee Maker department was working on, and felt like I had a good working relationship with the team that I wanted to be a bigger part of. You can always spin that story to your current boss if he presses you for a reason or asks if you’re looking at other positions too.

      …Of course I didn’t get the job, so take my advice a grain of salt, but I didn’t seem to set off any “she has her foot halfway out the door” alarms with management either.

  9. Sunflower*

    I started a new job this week and still don’t really understand what my job is or my duties/roles and responsibilities. My boss has given me a list of projects I’ll be working on but I still don’t know what exactly I’m responsible for/doing in those projects. There aren’t really documents outlining things like this for projects (this company is established but still functions a bit like a start up) and I’m getting vague answers when I ask like ‘you manage the client experience, you manage the thought leaders’ but no description of what that looks like or actual tasks. My boss has been so nice and amazing but I’m terrified to tell her I still don’t really understand what my role is or what I’m supposed to be doing!

    Any ways to approach this? My boss has been very slowly easing me into things so it’s not as if I’m running around clueless. I accepted this job without knowing exactly what the role comprised of because of a lot of other great things and don’t want my boss to think I didn’t think it through- but maybe this is normal and I’m overthinking!

    1. Candle Knight*

      Oof, been there!! Startups can be so bad about this.

      This sounds like a perfect situation to apply the whole “Hey, I just want to make sure we’re on the same page!” technique. Since you’re worried about not looking like you understand things (totally understandable and been there), you could approach your boss with something along the lines of “Hey, now that I’ve been doing this for a week, I have a couple questions I’ve been collecting! In your mind, what does it actually look like to ‘manage the client experience’? What sorts of tasks should I be doing routinely, is there anything so far that I’m missing?” etc etc, tweak as needed. This framing makes it much more about you wanting to do a good job and much less “hey I don’t get it.” From there, you have a stronger base to press for specifics.

      You could also try chatting with your coworkers to see if they have a sense of what you’re supposed to be doing—that saved me at my last startup job where my role was super nebulously-defined.

    2. LK*

      The longer you go without getting clear instructions, the worse it will be for you. You’re going to have to approach your boss right away with your concerns, even if you fear it’ll make you look bad. You’re early enough in the job where asking specific questions is normal. Good luck!

    3. Wine Not Whine*

      It’s totally normal to be clueless at first! A week is no time at all at a new job. When I took my current position, it was months before I felt as if I was pulling my full weight on the department’s workload.

      Ask your manager for a weekly check in. Then keep a list of the questions you come across, and use your meeting to go over them. Your list should slowly start to get shorter each week – and if it doesn’t, you should be able to spot specific areas where you need help. (“I get a lot of teapot-item-code tasks, but I don’t know where the code lists are kept or which design lines keep their own lists. Is there a central source? Should I be reaching out and introducing myself to the lead designers?”)

      Best of luck!

      1. CTT*

        Seconding this! I feel like I would give it another few weeks before I started to worry.

      2. TechWorker*

        Also agree with this – I think if you knew totally what you were doing and responsible for one week in that would be an anomaly (or indicate a very structured set of job responsibilities – which is the case sometimes but definitely not ubiquitous across all industries!). Honestly I think that’s overall a positive – workplaces that have some fluidity in responsibilities (Eg – good people in role x take on more naturally over time than ineffective people in role x) can offer more development. Yes it’s stressful in the short term, but one week is nowhere near enough to concluded either way! Hang on in there.

    4. Minimal Pear*

      …………..Sunflower I find myself genuinely wondering if you are my new coworker who started this week because this is what my company is like sometimes, and I had this problem when I started. Anyway I agree that being clueless the first week is pretty normal. I definitely recommend being upfront, because as long as your workplace has a semi-functional culture they’re gonna know that you’re not coming in knowing everything, and they’re gonna be willing to explain.

    5. Doctors Whom*

      If I may – try thinking about this in terms of goals & desired outcomes rather than tasks.

      What does success look like? Get an understanding of that, and you can build the tasks. If you are managing “client experience” then think about what it means to have happy clients in their interactions with your business. You are going to need to understand what makes clients happy, and how you can measure/monitor/observe their happiness. Then you can figure out what the tasks are that you think you need to accomplish, and can pull that together in a plan or set of plans to validated with the boss. Designing the “how” of getting there should be up to you.

      So instead of “what things do I need to do?” the questions are something like “what are our goals for this? and “How will we know when it is successful?”

      1. Product Person*

        I came here to say exactly rhat.

        My job could be well done in a variety of ways. It’s my job to structure my tasks the way I see fit — my manager doesn’t care as long as the desired outcomes are achieved!

    6. anonymous73*

      Be more clear and precise with your questions. If you’re given an answer that is vague and open to interpretation, speak up. If they want you to figure out the how they need to tell you that but at least give you some direction.

    7. Kayem*

      Oooh, I’ve been there. This is fairly normal in my experience. Usually it’s how I prefer doing it because I’m better at hands on training, but sometimes it can be excessive.

      For example, when I started my current position earlier this year. I was called in to replace another person who left and because it was the middle of the project, I missed the kick-off meeting on top of it being my first time in this role. Since it’s all remote, it just made things more disconnected. My first day, everyone was so busy they didn’t have time to manage me, so I spent the day going through optional training material, none of which helped. It was a mix of high concept work quality and ethics training with a smattering of “here’s a thousand videos on how to use MS Teams.” Even the handbook for my role is filled with vague info. Nowhere is a description of what the job looks like day-to-day, just overviews of project phases.

      The only way I learned what I was supposed to do was asking my coworkers in the same role on related projects and saving the bigger questions for my supervisor. But the problem was, I’ve never done this level before, so I had a hard time even finding the questions to ask. It’s a case of if you don’t know there’s a question to ask, how will you know to ask the question? I made a lot of mistakes that I had to correct, but given I had two weeks to do what everyone else had two months to do, I did pretty ok. I got more confident as it went on, but even on the final day of the project, I was still asking them if there was something else I was supposed to be doing for cleanup because the handbook was a bit vague on that part.

      We’re starting a new project next week and again, I’m left not knowing what I’m supposed to do since I missed the first half of my first project. I know it involves meeting with clients and conferences and some vague description of consulting, but that’s about it. I’m hoping I’ll learn this in the kick-off meeting, but it’s only half an hour, so I’m expecting I’ll have to bug my coworkers again.

  10. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m on vacation this week! But I still have work problems. My mental health is terrible and nothing fixes it. My Dr is thinking of trying something new but it would require time off from work and I’m quite sure work would not go for that. Another issue is my physical health is already declining too mysteriously.

    What would yall do job wise if both your mental and physical health crapped out? ( I live in the US so if I don’t have a full time job I don’t have health insurance!)

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Two thoughts:

      1) Can you take FMLA while you work on the new treatment with your doctor?

      I know FMLA is unpaid, so this only works if you can afford it, but work would be required to give you the time off.

      2) This is just based on your username, so it might not apply but: can you look for a less crazy job (or industry if your entire industry is crazy)?

      Sometimes health things just happen and there’s no stopping them. But I have heard from a lot of people (including on AAM), that they had physical symptoms that vanished when they switched to a less stressful job.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        The whole industry is crazy. I do have a lot of job search trauma so I’m loath to do something so depressing when my health is so bad.

        1. ThatGirl*

          The problem, of course, is that your health may not easily improve without a new/better/less stressful job.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Yes it’s true that under our economic system I won’t survive, but I was hoping to make it into my 50s at least

    2. lobsterbot*

      ugh, that sucks. but if you think your choice is between quitting your job or getting so sick you have to leave, you might as well ask work about taking a leave of absence. If they say no, you’re back where you started, but they might (and should) say yes. Read up on the FMLA and related leaves you might be eligible for.

    3. whalewhalewhale*

      That happened to me last year. I had a very sympathetic boss and has been communicating about my deteriorating physical health for some time, so I had that on my side. I worked out to use FMLA to work part-time for a couple weeks, then work my way back to full time over the next couple weeks. My health would probably have been more negatively effected by a being cut off work for a bit and then having to just jump back in, but taking a big step back allowed me to get some breathing room to take more care of myself, and rolling back in slowly let me see warning signs early and have the wiggle room to figure out how to address things as they came up.
      It was a much easier sell on my boss as a “I don’t want to take a lot of time off work, but this is unsustainable and we both want to get the best work we can.”

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        That would be a good solution. With the treatment I’d probably just need 2 or 3 hours off daily but of course the expectations would not be reduced so I’m a lil worried

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I really do recommend pursuing the FMLA route. Your doctor can be really specific about what your work restrictions are (one day off per week, six hour days for x number of weeks, etc) and it’s a violation of federal law for your employer to penalize you for not completing duties because of your FMLA restrictions.

          Last year I had a sudden injury and had to be away from work for several weeks to recover, which happened to overlap with a project my PMG goals required me to complete. But because my leave was covered by FMLA, my bosses weren’t allowed to give me a “not met” on that project goal. They removed it and replaced it with something else instead. At another job, I had a coworker who was on FMLA while she was in treatment for cancer, and she had to work shorter days than normal which meant she wasn’t completing as many tasks per week. But because of FMLA there was no penalty for her reduced workload.

          Talk to your doctor. They’ll know how to file the paperwork to get you what you need.

        2. Loredena*

          That would make you a candidate for intermittent FMLA. It would reduce your income but make everything more manageable inasmuch as if your company is covered they can’t refuse

    4. Purple Cat*

      As long as your company is large enough to require FMLA, they’re not allowed to “not go” for you taking the time off. It’s legally required.

    5. Sunflower*

      I would strongly suggest asking to a take a leave of absence or FMLA if you have to. I believe both of those options allow you to stay on benefits. What about short-term disability? I haven’t looking into any of these things but people on Fishbowl often talk about utilizing these options. In the case you do need to quit, you would be able to utilize cobra or the Marketplace but of course you’d be paying more than you’re probably paying now. Unfortunately it’s going to be extremely difficult to do this and get paid a full time wage so as long as you can manage with a smaller amount of income coming in then there are definitely options that will protect you from losing your job! Good luck and I’ve been in your shoes. You may have to consider changing industries in the long-term though if you think work is contributing to your declining health

    6. Hedgehog*

      Obviously, a lot depends on your work/HR/boss/etc., but I had a good experience about 6 months ago when I had to take time off to deal with mental health issues (that did have some physical side effects as well). I got a doctor’s note that explained when my treatment would be (basically I needed to go from full time to working half days three days/week) and did some research into possible accommodations in the meantime. My boss was willing to work with me to move my time-sensitive/pressing duties to another coworker and give me longer-term projects with more flexible deadlines until I finished treatment. I went down to 30 hrs/wk (so I could keep my health insurance) and supplemented any missed hours with sick/vacation time. It worked out well for me and I just started back at full time on May 1! I also will add that the initial conversations were really hard and uncomfortably vulnerable, but my boss was fantastic and consistently reiterated that my wellbeing should be my priority and they were willing to work with me. My wish would definitely be that everyone be met with the same level of grace and understanding as I was.

    7. Pool Lounger*

      Not sure what treatment your doc wants to try, but I once had a doc recommend a mental health treatment he said would take a few hours after each session to recover. Turned out that for me it actually took over 24 hours to recover and even then I wasn’t fit to work. If you think this might be the case with your treatment I’d try for fmla or a leave of absence.

    8. By Golly*

      I’m a manager and I just helped an employee take FMLA for mental health treatment. It is totally doable, and did not require her to disclose anything about her health to anyone (theoretically, she wouldn’t have had to disclose to me, either, but I was the one who suggested the FMLA for her after a lot of conversation about mental health). She did have to get a doctor’s certification, but again, it just says that she needs X time off. It can be hard to see it in the thick of organizational disfunction, and a culture of overwork, but still, generally, people really do want to help in these situations. Don’t let yourself believe that there is no way out.

  11. Jane ‘I can speak for myself…’*

    I have a colleague who is relatively new. I’ll call him Fergus. He has been with the company around 6 months. I’ve been here for nearly 3 years and have been successful in my job. I have more than 20 years of experience. He has slightly more experience but we are peers. We have similar roles in sales. We both report to the same person. Fergus seems like a nice enough guy, but lately he has developed a habit of speaking for me. I politely asked him not to do that, and while he got kind of defensive (e.g. ‘well I just didn’t want to sound like my opinion was the only one that mattered…’ etc.), he stopped for a couple of weeks. However, on a call with our senior leadership this week, he did it again. Our head of marketing mentioned that this year there won’t be much emphasis on conferences due to the continued pandemic and the fact that they won’t be consistently well-attended. It wouldn’t be the best investment of the company’s time and money at this time. I was happy to hear that because I am not yet comfortable traveling or attending large events like conferences since most people end up disregarding COVID safety measures at these things. But then Fergus chimed in ‘but we can still go, Jane and I.’ Fergus knows that I’m not comfortable traveling or attending large events right now. I have been successful this whole time without the need for conferences anyway. Our boss and senior leadership respect my stance on that. Yet Fergus keeps bringing up conferences and in-person meetings that would require travel. I didn’t say anything on this latest call because I didn’t want to make it ‘A Thing’ in front of everyone. But I’m not sure what to do about Fergus. I’ve already asked Fergus to not speak for me. He backed off but then started again. He seems to panic when he feels like he isn’t making enough sales and then tries to do extra things to make himself look good, like attending a conference (even though he has said he isn’t entirely comfortable going) or volunteering for something. That would be fine if he didn’t drag my name into it whenever he did this. I really wish he would stay in his own lane and respect my boundaries. Has anyone else dealt with a colleague like this? What did you do?

    1. kbeers0su*

      I wouldn’t be too concerned about “making it a thing” because it’s actually Fergus who is making it a thing. You’ve told him to stop, he heard you and did, and now he’s doing it again. The next time it happens, I would just speak up in the moment- “How weird for you to speak for me Fergus. You and I have discussed that I’m not comfortable going to conferences yet. Did I say something recently that made you think I changed my mind?” Maybe calling him out in front of people (politely, acting somewhat concerned/confused when doing so) will get the point across to him.

      1. TangerineRose*

        Or maybe “Actually, Fergus, I’m not comfortable going to conferences yet.”

        1. TangerineRose*

          But yeah, if he speaks for you, and he’s not accurate, correct it. In front of everyone there if needed.

      2. Yikes*

        That response is harsh. Think about the person on the receiving end of your words. Making someone look like a fool in front of their coworkers isn’t just cruel, it also makes you look like a fool as well. No one is going to end that call and say “Wow, look at Jane, she really stood up for herself there. How cool of her!” They going to say “Wow, Jane really embarrassed Fergus in front of everyone for no reason. How unprofessional and uncalled for.”

    2. Artemesia*

      That comment was time to say ‘speak for yourself Fergus, I am not comfortable with traveling to meetings at this point in the pandemic yet and so I support (big boss’s) policy here.’ You asked him privately; he ignored you; so the next time he does this publicly make it a little thing right then.

    3. Josephine*

      I’d suggest asking him, very clearly, one more time not to speak for you, and point out the recent examples where he did. Then, if he does it again, go ahead and make it “a thing” in front of everyone. His behaviour is what’s making things awkward, not yours. You have a right to speak for yourself and to stand up for yourself, especially after you’ve given him two opportunities to stop.

      1. Annie Moose*

        This is my advice. Talk to him again, maybe a little more sternly than last time, citing specific examples like the comment about in-person conferences. He shouldn’t be doing this at all, obviously, but sometimes folks who overstep boundaries will test them to see if you’re serious about them or not. A second blunt conversation may be enough.

        But whether or not you talk to him again directly, I would definitely start correcting the record in meetings and on calls and such. You don’t need to make it this big argument where you start screaming at Fergus or something of course :P but just going “actually, I won’t be able to X” or “actually, I haven’t decided about Y yet” or whatever else fits the situation can be a good way to correct the record and set a boundary with him. If he reacts badly in the moment and tries to argue in the middle of a meeting, well, that’s going to reflect much worse on him than on you!

    4. Observer*

      <i.I didn’t say anything on this latest call because I didn’t want to make it ‘A Thing’ in front of everyone. But I’m not sure what to do about Fergus.

      Start calling it out in the moment. For instance “Jane and I can go” gets “Actually, I don’t think I can.” If necessary, depending on the circumstances you might also explicitly add “Please don’t make assumptions about what I can / will do, or speak for me without checking first.”

      That’s not making your stance on travel, for example, “a thing”. Nor is it making the fact that he’s talking for you “a thing”. But it’s making what he’s doing clear. Keep in mind that if you don’t call it out you could easily get boxed in to stuff that you didn’t agree to. Which may be his intention. But, even if it’s not, there is no reason to allow that to happen and it could easily happen.

    5. Midwestern Scientist*

      Enforcing your boundaries isn’t “making it A Thing”. You’ve spoken to him privately, which imo is more than courteous on your end. Speak up in the moment! It may still feel rude/awkward but that’s on him not you

    6. Bagpuss*

      I think that all you can do is speak up in the moment.

      The first time you can, if you wish, frame it as a misunderstanding / him being forgetful (e.g. “Oh, I think Fergus has misunderstood -he and I spoke and I made clear that I am not yet comfortable with attending that kind of large event and I share [manager]’s view that due to the numbers likely to have similar reservations, so I’m not convinced that it would be a good use of our resources to attend ”

      However, you don’t have to soften it, and it would be fine to say “I just need to jump in – Fergus, please don’t speak for me. As you know, because we spoke about it, that’s not my view, and I’ve asked you before not to put words into my mouth”

      I don’t know how you worded it when you spoke to him before but you could, if you anted, have another, and very blunt, conversation with them. “Fergus, I’ve spoken to you before about not speaking for me or putting words into my mouth. You did it again when you suggested that you and I go to [event] ,even though I had discussed that with you and you know that I am not conformable with , or willing to, travel or attend large events. This time I chose not to embarrass you by calling you out in front of Management, but you need to stop misleading people by suggesting that you are speaking for me, or implying that I agree with your position when you know that’s not the case, or where e haven’t discussed it and you don’t know my position.. I am quite capable to putting forward my views myself. I spoke to you before nd told you to stop, I don’t understand why you are ignoring that request” .

      If he pushes back and says ‘I just didn’t want to sound like my opinion was the only one that matters’ maybe call that out – “Fergus, how is you putting words into my mouth and implying that I share your views, when I made clear to you that I don’t, NOT making it all about your views? “

    7. Everything Bagel*

      You’re not making it a thing by calmly saying that you actually disagree and are glad conferences are being put off, or whatever the subject of discussion is. Maybe if you speak up for yourself in the more often your boundaries will be more clear to him. And if he keeps doing it, just keep contradicting him.

    8. Scott*

      “Hey, Fergus! Remember when I asked you not to speak for me? Yeah, you’re doing it again. Please stop.”

    9. ArtK*

      Fergus is depending on you being afraid of making it “A Thing.” He will continue to walk over you as long as you let him. I agree that he’s the one making the “Thing” here. I agree, too, with the advice to call him out, publicly, every time he does this.

    10. Librarian of SHIELD*

      You don’t actually have to “make it a thing” if you don’t want to. You can be calm and friendly and polite but still hold your ground. The next time he tries to speak for you in front of other people, try something like this:

      Fergus: Jane and I (insert thing he thinks here).
      Jane: Oh, actually, I was thinking something more along the lines of (insert thing you actually think).

      When you do this, you’re not talking to Fergus, you’re talking to the other people in the meeting. You’re not confronting him or calling him out, you’re just clarifying your position on the topic. Unless Fergus is a completely oblivious jerk, he’ll eventually realize that speaking on your behalf only makes him look silly and if he keeps pushing, he’s going to be the one with a reputation for making a scene in meetings, not you.

    11. MdmeAlbertine*

      Alison’s wording comes to mind: “Fergus, we’ve talked about you not speaking for me before, and in this latest meeting, you volunteered me for a conference. This is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about, what is up with you doing it again?”

    12. Storm in a teacup*

      I think by rebutting him in the moment and jumping in with your view, you’re not making it a thing but continuing the conversation. For example ‘actually I’m not comfortable travelling to a conference and agree with XX about their lower value in the current climate’
      But by leaving it to address separately later and getting irritated, it does become a thing.
      I would make a point of reinforcing your view in the moment. It probably feels a bigger deal to you because it is! But remember another person’s perception will be different because they won’t have been privy to the internal monologue you’ve got going on about this. Also the more you do this, the easier it is to do again the next time

    13. Dark Macadamia*

      Speaking up in the moment wouldn’t make it A Thing unless you decided to have the whole conversation with him right there. Just “oh, I’m actually not comfortable traveling right now” is a completely reasonable thing to say (and beneficial, let’s please normalize the idea that the pandemic isn’t over and some precautions are still a good idea!) and doesn’t require an additional “Fergus we talked about this” confrontation. Depending on how he reacted in the moment, you could then follow up with the big picture but it’s really not needed in this example.

    14. MaryLoo*

      Speak up in the moment as others have suggested- “actually I disagree, I would rather do blabla because of xyz”.

      Then, also, afterwards, approach Fergus privately and be extremely blunt: “Fergus, we had this discussion before about you speaking for me. It is very inappropriate for you to be telling people what MY thoughts or ideas are. You agreed you wouldn’t do so, but in today’s meeting you did exactly that. What’s going on?”

      If he gives you his usual line, tell him “Fergus, this is completely unacceptable. The next time we’re in a meeting and you speak for me or you tell people what I think, I’m going to call you out on it on the spot, in front of everybody. Do you understand?”

    15. noface*

      I would totally call it out then and there:
      Fergus chimed in ‘but we can still go, Jane and I.’
      you: Fergus, don’t speak for me. I’d prefer not to go, if that’s possible.
      That’s not making a thing about it, it’s correcting misinformation then and there. No different than if Fergus said: “we sold 50 red llamas”, and you immediately corrected with “No, we sold 25 red llamas and 25 red alpacas”. There’s no emotional weight, just correcting facts.

    16. Dinwar*

      You’re a lot more polite about this than I would be. I loath people speaking for me, unless they have a right to do so (like my boss saying “Dinwar can do X next week”–it’s his job to tell me what to do, after all).

      Something I read once that bears on this: Every time you walk by a mistake you set a new, lower standard. In this context, every time you allow your coworker to speak for you you are telling him that it’s okay. Call him out, publicly, every time. Doesn’t have to be aggressive, at least not at first–a quick “As I’ve made clear before, I’m not comfortable with in-person meetings yet.” Professional, make it about you, but make it clear that this isn’t open for discussion. If he still doesn’t get it, be more aggressive. Off the meeting tell him that he is NOT to speak for you without consulting you before the meeting.

      You should also send him an email, copying your supervisor, stating that he is not to speak for you unless you have previously agreed to it. Put it in writing, and make sure the boss is aware of it. And every time he does it send the email again.

    17. Workerbee*

      It’s worth it to remember that the jackholes and wilfully obtuse among us have made it their mission to stay that way, which is where we get the “But I don’t want to make it into A Thing” feeling when in fact we should very much be speaking up for ourselves, and just as much if not more than those types who are invested in doing it for you!

      You’ve tried all the societally-approved (and fostered by the above) methods of politeness, speaking privately, etc. It is now time to be your own best advocate, not theirs.

    18. Esprit de l'escalier*

      Another in-the-moment reply that is blunt, but that’s what is needed now: “If anyone is taking minutes of this meeting, please correct what Fergus just said. He said ‘Jane and I are willing to go.’ That is not true. The correct wording would be ‘Fergus is willing to go to conferences, but Jane is not. She agrees with X that this isn’t a good use of our resources….’ “

  12. Anonymous for this*

    Hi!
    I applied to a job in early April – honestly forgot about it in the interim before getting an email from the recruiter wanted to set up a call with the hiring manager. I got the email Monday and replied Monday night.

    The dates and times listed for me to choose from are this Monday and Tuesday of next week. I haven’t heard back – do I email the recruiter? Hold tight?

    It wouldn’t be that big of a deal except for needing to make sure I’ve got childcare for a time I typically don’t need it. Thanks!

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I don’t think it would be out of line to email the recruiter today, since it’s possible they have you scheduled for Monday. Good luck!

    2. Purple Cat*

      Definitely email the recruiter! Call if you have their number since it’s closing in on the deadline.

    3. MacGillicuddy*

      That’s a long time to not get a confirmation. I’d email again, state the times you chose, and add something like “I haven’t heard back from you. Please confirm which of these times the call will take place, so I can make sure everything is cleared on my end, as my schedule tends to fill up fast”

    4. anonymous73*

      If you have the recruiter’s number call them. If not, email them back and explain that you need confirmation of the interview to setup childcare and if you don’t receive it by X time, you won’t be able to make the time you confirmed on your end.

  13. Edges of burnout*

    All: What mental health resources have your workplace implemented that WORK? We are looking for regular grief counselors, meditation, PTO, any helpful ways to relieve burnout. We work in a nonprofit space that unfortunately deals with gun violence and many of our staff deal with traumatic stress. We have set PTO that includes sick/vacation/holidays and a pretty old-school environment, so I want to make suggestions that could actually be implemented — plus a few radical thoughts as well. Help!

    1. Elle*

      Have you asked the staff what they need to feel better supported? In the non profit I’m at we just had a company wide survey that asked some of those questions. A month later management followed up with results and next steps. Increased salary and more management training so staff feel supported came up a lot.

      1. Elle*

        I should add that we also work in a field where staff experience trauma. The survey showed staff feels the supervisors are not equipped to help their teams process the trauma, which is leading to high turnover and burnout.

      2. OP here*

        Thank you! I have less hope for a survey because we are pretty small, and we have a top-down issue where even surveys of this kind are overseen by leadership. (Ex, leadership thinks that the best way to reward people is through in-person meals or gifts, even when a day off has been requested, and the surveys turn into “We want to thank you for your hard work! Would you rather have a lunch at X or Y location?”)

        HOWEVER, your suggestion makes me think that we could do a more informal survey of thoughts and suggestions and then propose that to leadership to try to pry open the door.

        1. Elle*

          It took a change in leadership and a lot of turnover for the survey to come about. In exit interviews staff have been vocal about what is causing burnout. I’m not sure what your insurance situation is but our leadership send a lot of reminders about the mental health resources offered by our insurance. They also schedule optional workshops to review these benefits.

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      This will never be implemented but I’d look at workload as well. Any ” wellness day” bandaid may reduce morale as it is an insult.

    3. Miel*

      Take it with a grain of salt, but I’ve heard of making mental health days available, and also some sort of in-the-moment/ onsite space/ time/ resource to decompress after a tough interaction.

        1. Nesprin*

          Weird suggestion but there was a planet money podcast about how a company (spot heros maybe) reduced their call center burnout and turnover- they had a decompression room+ permission to use it, time off+ enough coverage that people could actually take time off, and built a culture of celebrating their burnout prone positions.

    4. Good Luck*

      Have not used this for staff, but for myself — EMDR. I have PTSD and have experienced trauma, and it worked for me where other things had not. The Veterans’ Administration uses EMDR for PTSD and considers it effective (they have a sub-site about it). Psychology Today’s website has a list of practitioners though you may find one by asking around. And many thanks to you and your organization for doing important work.

      1. Good Luck*

        p.s. Since you are a nonprofit you may find someone who is willing to help for free.

        1. OP here*

          That’s a good thought. I’ve done EMDR myself and it has been excellent. I will definitely consider local practitioners.

          1. Peachtree*

            This is overreach for a workplace (IMO) as someone who has also done EMDR … it’s an intense process and it may be several weeks/ couple of months.

    5. DisneyChannelThis*

      Do you have a calm down room? A place where people can go meditate and just relax during the day? Our building has one and its bookable in the calendar by 15min intervals. It has a projector with a nature landscape and a comfy couch and dim lights. It’s really helpful, and I think it just helps knowing there’s a place to retreat to if you need it.

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

      Do you already have an EEP company that you contract with? Whatever your org offers as far as counselors or programs, really should be administered through a separate company IMO because people don’t want their employer to be involved (or even the possibility of being involved) in their mental or physical health. I think that’s why a lot of in-house wellness programs fail.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah, a good EAP and also I’ve never worked for a company that had good insurance coverage for mental health. It’s always super hard to find counselors who take your insurance that have any availability and it’s difficult to find someone you click with. If there was any kind of rider you could buy or FSA type program that would let folks access therapy easier, that would be great!

    7. Midwestern Scientist*

      Make sure you are staffed well enough that people can take their PTO without feeling guilty. If your culture (as is common in these spaces) lays down a guilt trip for people taking time off, work top-down to change that

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        This is my suggestion as well. If you really want people to take the time they need to recover from stressful situations, make sure they know there are enough people on staff to cover the workload and they’re not leaving anyone in the lurch by taking time off.

    8. Sleepy cat*

      Ditch the meditation which is NOT suitable for trauma. Get external trauma experts in to do regular supervision.

  14. Moving Up*

    I am currently a teacher and I have been interviewing to move up to administration.
    My question is, how do you know when you are ready to become a manager? I have done formal mentoring and had student teachers, but I have never truly done any of the admin stuff (people or paperwork) and I don’t know how to know if I am ready or have the skills to be successful.

    1. Rara+Avis*

      Your mileage may vary, but I am a teacher and did a minor admin job (at a summer camp) and HATED it. All of the headaches (discipline, angry parents, bus problems, etc.) and none of the joys of teaching. On the other hand, I have a colleague who loved teaching but always knew she wanted to do the admin end, and moved up 3 or 4 years ago and loves it.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Have you ever “acted up”? I don’t know if you would use that term? It basically means covering for a principal or deputy principal. We’ve had a LOT of people do it over the last year as our principal was out sick and then decided to retire and there was a bit of a break between the time she left and our new principal took over. The deputy acted as principal and a number of people took turns acting as deputy principal for a couple of weeks.

      I know I would HATE to be a principal or deputy principal. Not my thing at all. I feel like Rara + Avis, that is seems like all the worst parts of teaching without any of those I love. But other people feel differently. A friend and colleague of mine left because she got a job as a deputy principal and she loves it.

      1. Moving Up*

        I have loved the mentoring and planning portion. I haven’t had much of the other experience, things like budgeting and fundraising…that scares me more than parents and discipline!

    3. Current Admin*

      I’m an admin (Vice Principal), and I’ve run a leadership series for folks looking to move from teaching to admin for the past few years. In the first session, I always recommend folks deeply explore the types of admin roles out there and the key functions of the job (coaching, assessment administration, school operations, supervision, etc.) and then reflect on when they’ve demonstrated those skills in their current position. It helps if you have familiarity with the school or district structure; for example, my school has an operations manager so I spend most of my time in classrooms and on instruction/culture–I don’t touch budget, facilities, breakfast/lunch, etc.

      If you have mentoring and student teaching experience you can probably speak to coaching and instructional leadership, and you might want to think about how you’d sell (or develop) your skills in organization, delivering feedback, and strategic decision making.

      This is my (somewhat) abbreviated answer–hope it helps!

  15. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

    I struck a blow for wage transparency this week, and I’m super-proud of it!

    I work in an education-adjacent field, where our salaries are stepped based on education and years of experience. We’re hiring for a bunch of positions in one field, and the department head asked me (I head up our graphic design and marketing team) to design a job advert. She didn’t initially include the salary, and was resistant because ‘it depends on experience and education.’

    That did not fly with me.

    I pushed back and said, ‘What’s our absolute bare-minimum salary?’ I got that number, and it’s in the job ad on our website and the graphic we’re posting to advertise the position elsewhere.

    I report to the Assistant Executive Director, so I filled him in on this, and his response was, ‘Good for you! That has to be mandatory going forward. If you get pushback from department heads or HR, tell them the ED and I require it, and if they want to further discuss it, they can call us.’

    It’s one job advert in one industry, but I oversee advertising for my whole organization (600+ employees), so I feel better knowing that going forward, we will only be posting jobs with salaries and benefits clearly outlined.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Well done! I’m seeing some salary transparency in listing salary ranges, especially from Colorado these days which just made it mandatory in the job listing. And for remote jobs, I’m seeing what they would pay someone who lived in Colorado. So, every little bit helps for salary transparency!

      1. Purple Cat*

        And Fist Rage at the companies who say the job specifically excludes people from CO so they don’t have to include the salary.

  16. Goose*

    Any advise for writing your own performance review when you haven’t been at the job 6 months? All of the HR instructions were encouraging problem-action-result based review, but for 90% of my work I’m still on the action step. I haven’t completed any projects because my projects are all long term. I also didn’t get any goals when I started because my manager started a month after I did.

    1. Hanani*

      Perhaps problem-action-anticipated result? Emphasize what you’re doing and where it’s likely leading, with something (best practices, previous experience, etc) to back up the idea that your actions would lead there?

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Use the results section to highlight what you have completed so far. Example:

      Problem: need a new assembly line to make 100 widgets/week
      Action: identify machines and operators needed, get design approved by TPTB, order machines, hire operators, source widget materials, etc.
      Results: identified we need X, Y, and Z machines, and 5 operators. Design has been approved by TPTB. X machine has been installed, Y machine has been ordered. Drafted the job description for one of the operator positions.

      It doesn’t feel as good as being able to say “the new widget assembly line is up and running, producing 100 widgets every week” for Results, but it does show that you are making progress. You can also add “expected completion date [Month Year]” to the Results section.

    3. Yup*

      Do you have to do a full one? Most (bigger corporate) new positions that I’ve had where there’s no flexibility to not submit something, if you’ve been in the role fewer than six months, the language is something like “Not enough time in role to assess, progressing towards X targets/goals”. Reiterates your newness, but also highlights what you’re working towards.

    4. PeanutButter*

      When I’ve had to do that for things that are too early to have actual results, I’ve put what metrics I will measure results by, and what measurements will indicate success, etc in that section.

  17. Admin/Student*

    I need some help/advice on how to handle a potentially awkward situation at work. I work in higher ed in the US as a departmental admin. My duties include scheduling classes and rooms, which means I work will all our faculty. I also provide an admin support needed for difficult situations with graduate students. One of the benefits of my job is that I can take classes and earn a degree for free. I started a master’s degree in my current department in Advanced Llama Grooming when I was working in another department on campus. After I had been in my master’s program for a couple of years, I took a job in the department that offers my program. Overall, it’s been very smooth and no issues, until yesterday.
    I’m in Llama Grooming Analysis and the class has been very rough, to say the least. It got so bad that our Advance Llama Grooming director and the department head had to have an emergency teaching intervention, assign a new teaching mentor to the faculty member, and hire tutors on the department’s dime for the class. I have never seen anything like this happen in academia. Well, we had our final list night and long story short, I believe the faculty member retaliated against us for complaining. I feel like I’m stuck between a rock and hard place. If I fail this course, I want to file a grade appeal because I truly believe he used the final to retaliate. However, I know that by doing that, I’m afraid I’ll be inviting professional repercussions because I will still have to work with the faculty member.
    Has anyone been in a similar situation? How should I handle this? I won’t know my final grade for about a week and half. I will, of course, be professional with this faculty member at all times, regardless of how everything goes.

    1. kbeers0su*

      Interesting. You actually have dual protections here, because you’re both a student and a staff member. So as a student you university likely has a formal complaint process for academic issues like this. It’s important you look into it ASAP because it’s usually a short time window to file the complaint after it occurs, and they usually have to be resolved within a certain number of days of the end of a semester so grades can be final. You also have the other students in the class to help support this, so it doesn’t have to be you front and center on the complaint. You could email your fellow students something like “I heard others discussing this concern, and I want you to know there’s a process to file a formal complaint- here’s how you do it. It’s best if multiple/all students go in together on the complaint.” See if you can get someone else to take lead, which will deflect some attention from you. But you also have protections, obviously, as an employee. You may even want to proactively raise the possibility of professional retaliation by this faculty member to someone (supervisor, HR, ombuds) so that it’s document that you have the concern BEFORE anything can happen.

      1. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

        I didn’t think about protecting as both a staff member and a student. The way our rules are laid out, we can only appeal final, end of course grades. So we have to wait until grades are in before we can start the process. I shared the info on how to do the appeals with my classmates last night. I used to work with this appeal in my other job. Grade appeals are an ugly business.

        I did take your advice and spoke with my supervisor, the Advanced Llama Grooming Director, a just a little bit ago. I feel so much better after doing that.

    2. Hanani*

      How’s your relationship with the dept chair, Dean, or other senior faculty members? They’re your most likely allies, particularly since HR’s ability to actually enforce any on faculty members is often lacking. After that level of intervention needed by the dept, they shouldn’t be surprised that things didn’t go well and should be more receptive to the idea that maybe the faculty member can’t be trusted to be the kickass professional you are.

      1. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

        Yeah, I would start by bringing your concerns of retaliation to the program director and department head.

        1. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

          Thanks! I reported my concerns to my supervisor, the program director.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      Well, you have a couple of factors in your favor. First, administration already knows there are problems with this faculty member. The fact that they’ve intervened is pretty big. Second, you’re not the only one affected, so it wouldn’t be just you filing an appeal, it would likely be several of your fellow classmates.

      1. Aggresuko*

        Does your campus have an ombuds department? That’s someone you could try asking for consequence-free confidential advice before you proceed.

    4. Notfunny.*

      Does your institution have an ombuds office? I would talk with them about your options.

      I would also suggest working with your peers in the class to take action together.

      1. MdmeAlbertine*

        This is exactly a situation your ombuds office is well-equipped to handle. Seconding this suggestion.

        1. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

          Unfortunately, our ombuds’ office is completely useless. I have never heard anything positive come out of that office. I did speak with our program director. He’s now aware of the situation and is monitoring. That’s all we can do until end of course grades are posted.

      2. Camelid coordinator*

        This was my idea also. I’d talk with your department chair as well if you have a collegial relationship, framing it as being concerned for all of the students in the course, not just yourself.

  18. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    Asking any supervisors out there…

    What do you do with an employee just can’t do the job the way you want it done? Assume perfect results, 100% reliable, 100% efficient, 100% accurate, but it’s just not the preferred method?

    1. Oof*

      I don’t say anything if their work is meeting the needs and just not how I would do it. That seems a quick way to nitpick and demoralize an employee.

      1. Decidedly Me*

        Same! If the end result is all the same and nothing bad is happening by doing it differently, then I don’t see a reason to bring it up.

        Actually, I would probably ask why they do it way B rather than way A – I may learn something :)

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Give them a raise/promotion for finding a new way to get better results?

        I’m using older techniques, not new ones. I suspect this is going to arise on my performance review and I’m trying to get out in front of it, at least mentally.

        I’m having a really hard time finding analogies that work without delving into programming minutiae…
        The best I have so far are:
        An employee that can’t wrap their mind around contractions and so does not use them.
        A volleyball player (volleyballer?) who can score aces serving underhanded but doesn’t overhand serve effectively.
        An employee who mangles the Quadratic Formula but completes the square trivially.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          I guess my question is why is it a problem in the first place, in a way that would come up negatively on a performance review?

          I can’t think of an example from my own work where using a different method but producing equal or better results would be frowned upon.

          1. LDN Layabout*

            If it’s programming, you need to be producing work with an eye to it being worked on by multiple people down the line.

            This is essential for a variety of different reasons and if something works but isn’t done the way it should be? It can cause massive issues down the road.

            1. sapphires and snark*

              I thought of this, too, but OP phrased it such that it was their preference, not that failing to follow procedures could lead to Big Problems.

              1. LDN Layabout*

                OP’s clarification and P’s comment below pretty much lay out the issue and it is one that can’t just be brushed off. If the boss wants the code in a particular format/style and wants to keep coding consistent, they’re allowed to ask for that.

                1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  Yea.

                  I know option #1 is for the supervisor to value the good over the discretionary bad, but that’s out of my hands and suggesting it will end poorly.
                  I know option #2 is for the supervisor to just relegate the employee to unimportant work–it should be to manage the employee out, but I think he’ll get overruled if he tries that (and I’d even argue he should be able to manage me out).

                  I was hoping in asking that there’s a 3rd option I’m not seeing to suggest.

                  It’s not about legibility of code. Yes, I have that reputation from the 8086/80286 days when I wrote for the processor, but I’ve long learned my lesson that processor cycles are cheaper than straight jackets and padded walls. Until joining this team, legibility of my code was the one thing my peers would uniformly praise.

                2. LDN Layabout*

                  I think this is one of those things that will differ from manager to manager in terms of how important they find it but I can’t argue that either view is wrong, if that makes sense? Which really does suck for you and I appreciate that, but some people really are sticklers for consistency and it’s difficult to argue against it.

                  I think option 3 might be to take some (more, because I’m sure you already have) time to look at where you’re hitting the wall with lambdas. It can be harder, especially if you’re very good at something, to force your brain into working another way especially if your subconscious is going ‘but x way would be quicker and I know how’

                3. Willis*

                  Seems like the obvious Option #3 is doing it using the preferred method. I can’t really tell if you’re not doing that because you can’t, or cause you don’t want to, or cause it takes longer. If it’s the first scenario, maybe there’s some opportunity for training if it’s the first scenario. If it’s the second or third, you may just need to comply if you don’t want to be managed out.

        2. P*

          I think unfortunately the exact minutiae may be relevant.
          E.g. if it’s that they want you to use Lambdas, then their issue is that your code would be less readable / not match the style of the rest of the codebase written by your colleagues. They could argue it’s harder to upgrade and debug for example.
          If they’d rather you did TDD but you write tests after, then as long as all test cases are covered by the time you submit your code drop (i.e. 100% same result as doing TDD) there shouldn’t be a problem.

          1. LDN Layabout*

            +1

            The end product working is never the be all and end of programming/coding, not following the process could be minor or it could be a major pain in the ass for people working with you.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              If my peers have a problem with my modus operandi, they’re doing a National-Security grade job of hiding it. All I get is praise in our code reviews and joint sessions, and they’re not shy about criticizing each other’s code.

              1. pancakes*

                Your question was about a supervisor rather than peers, though, yes? If your supervisor wants a certain process, I don’t think it’s going to be helpful to point to other, less senior people who don’t mind not seeing that process.

                1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  True, but the concern claimed is how it impacts my peers, who it’s not negatively impacting.

                2. pancakes*

                  Do you plan to tell your supervisor that he’s misunderstood your peers’ needs? That seems like a risky approach to a performance review to me, but you’re going to know your own workplace better than people here.

                3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  If there’s no evidence of it, and there is to the contrary, why would I assume it’s true?

                  Again, my peers aren’t shy about picking code apart; if I were composing hard to read code, I’d be hearing about it already.

          2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            E.g. if it’s that they want you to use Lambdas,

            Holy Underwear; how in the world did you make that connection? I mean, you’re 125% right that I can’t wrap my head around composing Lambdas and that’s the cross I expect to be nailed to, but how did you get there from what I’ve written?!

            Yea. Anything they’re doing with a Lambda, I can do with ~6 lines of 6th grade code (and I can even throw a useful exception when the data fails to live up to expectations, which the Lambdas aren’t/can’t). I can read them well enough to get the gist of it. But composing one is like trying to compose in Greek and my supervisor is enamored with them because they result in shorter code.

            1. Observer*

              my supervisor is enamored with them because they result in shorter code.

              And why does that matter? I’m not being snarky here. Is this just his preference, or does it actually matter? There are still situations where the compactness of code really matters, so in that case I would side with the director. But if that’s not the case and you’re code is readable and properly formatted and commented, I’d leave it alone.

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                I can’t speak to why. Truth be told, part of my journey as a programmer has been to accept that code length and legibility are usually at odds with each other, and to embrace that my code can be easier to read when I use simpler statements in sequence.

                But he’s entitled to his opinion, and he’s been in his role for 8+ years. He’s earned some benefit of the doubt on this.

                1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  code length and legibility are usually at odds with each other

                  That’s kind of ambiguous. I’ve come to accept that shorter, denser code is often harder to read and understand.

                  E.g.
                  String Output = Input;
                  if (!Output.Length.isEven) {
                  Output = Output & ” “;
                  }
                  return Output;

                  is easier to read than

                  return (Input & ” “).left(Roundup(Input.Length/2),0));

                  And trust the optimizer & compiler to take care of the resulting assembly code.

            2. grey anatomy*

              I spent a large part of my early career working at a company with very old coding standards, and lambdas were a complete shock to me when I moved jobs too. So I can fully sympathize. But ultimately I think you need to take the time to learn how they work properly in this case. It’s our job as software engineers to keep up with the skills required of us, taking time to learn if need be.

              Your supervisor is likely concerned that if you can’t write them, you also can’t properly read them. If I were in their shoes I would be worried about an employee who couldn’t grasp the current codebase, and had to refactor every time they made a change so the code conforms to their outdated “style”. Displaying unwillingness to learn is also not a great look.

              I promise they are actually somewhat easier than they seem on the surface though! It took me a while to get my mind to work with a slightly shifted paradigm, but once they click they will be as natural as any other programming you do.

        3. A Frayed Knot*

          If I understand this comment, you are a programmer using different (older) languages or tools and are concerned about your supervisors including this as a negative comment on your performance eval. I listen to my spouse talk about different programming styles all the time. It is a little more difficult than “It works, so let it go.” A variety of people may need to be able to read/understand/interpret what the code is doing in case others get involved in fixing bugs, making changes, etc. He takes great pride in “commenting” his code to ensure that others know what the code does (or at least, is supposed to do). Would that type of documentation help? Being able to demonstrate that you can read/understand/interpret code written by others should be helpful; it shows that you are being intentional in choosing your methods, not just taking the easy way out. So maybe serve overhand at the next volleyball game? It keeps people guessing, at least.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            If I understand this comment, you are a programmer using different (older) languages or tools and are concerned about your supervisors including this as a negative comment on your performance eval.

            That’s more or less the situation at hand. It’s more that I write C-like code in C# than it is that I eschew the C# CLR for a real C executable.

            He takes great pride in “commenting” his code to ensure that others know what the code does (or at least, is supposed to do). Would that type of documentation help?

            I’ve adopted that modus operandi over the years–as much as it’s nice to help others, I find mine is the tuchus it pulls from the fire.

            Being able to demonstrate that you can read/understand/interpret code written by others should be helpful; it shows that you are being intentional in choosing your methods, not just taking the easy way out.

            We’ll see if being able to read and replace them passes the muster.

            So maybe serve overhand at the next volleyball game? It keeps people guessing, at least.

            I have tried updated existing Lambdas and porting them from one project to another. I invariably abandon them because I can’t troubleshoot them as efficiently or specifically as I can the alternatives (e.g. with a Lambda, I can tell you that “Phil” is not a number, but with a traditional while/for loop(s), I can tell you it’s field 1463 on line 18,762 that’s incorrect.

            The whole experience has actually convinced me that Lambdas are a fad, the Atkins Diet of Programming if you will, but that opinion is pure trivia; it does’t change anyone else’s mind or my evaluation.

            1. Lynn Whitehat*

              I’m sorry, but if you were on my team, replacing perfectly good working lambdas with for loops because you just don’t like working with lambdas actually would not be good enough. Every change takes some time and introduces some risk. While I appreciate the value of code clean-up, we’re not spending time and introducing risk to make style-compliant code non-compliant because one dev doesn’t like the aesthetics and doesn’t totally understand the code as written. That is the opposite of code clean-up.

              1. Techie*

                I agree with this. If the only way you can complete your tickets is to alter otherwise working code (that would not need to be touched if you used the preferred approach), that’s a problem. And chiming in from the QA perspective, this likely increases the scope of their work – as Lynn said, every change is a risk. They need to test that. It is distinctly possible that along with making the code itself less maintainable, all this is adding to QA’s workload.

                1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  No, I only replace a Lambda when it’s no longer filling the need it was designed for. If it still works, why replace it–or any other line of code?

        4. linger*

          What are the strengths and weaknesses of your method vs the recommended method?
          It may well be possible to show that your method is optimal under the most commonly-occurring conditions, even if the recommended method works better under other conditions.

          A real-life example:
          Suppose you want to predict the likely learning outcome from a course when your students are already most of the way through it — you have their first 5 test scores and want to predict the last one.
          One proposed new general-purpose prediction algorithm uses a neural network model, which makes minimal assumptions about the typical learning trajectory, so, though somewhat complicated to set up initially, it’s fairly robust over a range of different timeframes.
          But over the short timeframe of a single course (which is the practical problem you want to solve), it turns out that the much simpler algorithm of linear regression, performed in Excel, makes slightly more accurate predictions.

    2. Internist*

      Unless you have specific compliance standards you have to meet in how things are done, I’d let it go.

      1. kbeers0su*

        Agreed. If the work is done, and done well, and they like how they’re doing it, why should I care?

    3. sapphires and snark*

      Let him or her keep doing their thing. I’m wondering why it’s important for you to impose your preferences when your employee is producing perfect work.

    4. rosyglasses*

      This is generally when I take a step back to identify why I want it done a certain way. If it’s just because of preference, or maybe it flows a little better between tasks, or the spreadsheet/document doesn’t look *quite* the way I would like it — then I try to back off. Everyone needs a certain level of autonomy in their work to feel truly engaged at work – so finding those spaces where they can take their own design of their work is ideal.

      However, if there are legitimate reasons that things need to be completed a certain way (e.g. other teams have notification requirements along the ways, in order to get all the work done that needs to be done you have to be extremely process oriented) then it makes sense to address.

      I think overall – we all think and process information in different ways. Things that make sense to you and are *obvious* are not always obvious to others, nor does it feel like the right flow to them. I’ve had to let quite a few of things go in order to delegate appropriately and not have all that on my plate.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      Honestly, unless the process is more important than the result, I’d let it go.

    6. AnonAnon*

      Depends: Were you able to find out what was the employee’s rationale for not using the preferred method? Can you say what is the impact of the employee not using the preferred method? i.e. does it affect the workflow, does it affect other employee’s work, does it affect morale, incur additional financial costs, etc?

    7. Lana Kane*

      I learned to question whether preferred method actually means “this is the method, period”, or if it’s truly in the spirit of “preferred” (This is the best way but not the only way). And then, if my first thought is “this is the only way”, questioning if that’s actually true or just the way things have always been done.

      It’s possible that the method it really is The Way, because it’s proven to reduce errors and other methods have a higher risk (evcen if small). If this is The Way, then I’d be having that conversation for sure. Acknowledging the good results so far but discussing how the other method leaves them open for X errors. Or their way varies significantly that others wouldn’t be able to cover their work if needed. I’d also ask for their perspective on why they prefer to do this another way – there could be something to learn from that.

      Ultimately, if The Way is the only option, that has to be communicated. 100% results so far is awesome, but if the person is having trouble following the standard process and can’t/won’t budge, that can point towards a lack of adaptability. You’d need to be prepared though, to go down the discipline path with someone who seems to be a good staff member. How important is it to you that they do things in a specific way?

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        It was shown to me when I joined this team as “this is good” code, with (admittedly extremely poorly designed) examples of older syntax being contrasted as “this is bad.” Roughly on par with saying a well-maintained 10 year old Toyota being good and a run down 10 year old Honda being bad, completely glossing over what a well-maintained Honda and a run-down Toyota would look like.

        Other differences in my style and the code base (e.g. KNF or Allman, hungarianCamelCase or Snake_Case, etc) were presenting to me as “thou shalt conform or thou shalt fail,” but this one hasn’t yet–and those adjustments I been able to enact.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          To me, this bit differences in my style and the code base (e.g. KNF or Allman, hungarianCamelCase or Snake_Case, etc) were presenting to me as “thou shalt conform or thou shalt fail,” is reasonable on their part.
          Not sure I have enough info to have an opinion on the rest.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I didn’t even object; my supervisor just really doesn’t like Linux code and isn’t shy about it.

    8. Observer*

      hat do you do with an employee just can’t do the job the way you want it done? Assume perfect results, 100% reliable, 100% efficient, 100% accurate, but it’s just not the preferred method?

      I don’t get the issue here. If it’s right, why does it matter that you would do it differently?

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

      Depends on why they “can’t” — personal preference? disability that needs to be accommodated? they revert back to their established habits because they are in a time crunch? they don’t have the skills necessary for one or all of the steps or keep forgetting? I’m assuming you have already given them ample training and documentation to follow and there’s no disability…in that case you could either let it go as not important, or put them on a formal PIP.

    10. Dust Bunny*

      If the issue is that their methods will create problems down the road as the (code?) evolves, then the results aren’t 100% efficient, or maybe aren’t 100% accurate, right? Would this mean they’re creating a coding dead-end, or at least a lot more work for the next round of people who work on it.

      I don’t know enough about this to suggest a solution, but if it genuinely is a problem then maybe reframing it as *not* a 100% workable outcome will make it easier to address.

    11. radio radio*

      How important is the method? Like, if there’s regulatory reasons for the method, then the regulation wins out of course. But if it’s just Not The Way It’s Normally Done, then I don’t see a problem.

    12. Bagpuss*

      I think it depends on why it’s not the preferred method – both why you mind, and why they are not doing it that way .
      f it’s purely a precedence on your part and the result are fine, then I’d be inclined to leave them to do it their way.
      It it needs to be done a different way, for instance for consistency in something that has to be worked on by multiple people, or where it creates problems further down the line, the I think you need to talk to them, explain why you need them to do it the different way and ask for their reasoning for using their own method – it may be that there i a workable compromise, or that it is worth looking at changing the preferred method, or that they need to do it differently due to a disability – equally, it may be that they just have a preference and were not aware that it was causing problems.

      but I think you need to be clear about whether it is actually causing problems

    13. River Otter*

      In this scenario, it sounds like you are the employee?
      In spite of all the reasons that your supervisor should not care, they do care. It really sounds like your option is to learn lambdas, suck at them for a while, and eventually get better.
      What about the other people on your team? Are they people who you can collaborate with? if they are, what forms of collaboration would they be willing to do? Are they willing to give you a hand with lambdas to help you get better at them? Are they willing to tell your supervisor that they are being unreasonable?
      I have no idea what a lambda is. I have my own ideas about what makes good code, and I tend to rewrite other peoples code to make it more efficient according to my standards for good code. I also tend to take too long creating good code when mediocre code would get the job done just as well. So, I have a little bit of sympathy for your supervisor. OTOH, sometimes if the code works, I just say eff it and move along even if it’s not good code. So, I also think your supervisor needs to learn when to unclench. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to deliver that message to your supervisor.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I am the employee. I expect I’d get plenty of support from peers that getting the right result trumps the style points, but what would help more is understanding the (generalized) supervisor’s PoV better.

        I have no idea what a lambda is.

        It kind of looks like someone tried to graft SQL queries into C# IMWO.

        1. Annie Moose*

          Have you asked your supervisor to explain it? If you’re at the point where you believe your supervisor genuinely may give you a poor review due to not conforming to your team’s programming standards, then you’ve got to do something, not just hope your supervisor will do something! Talk to your supervisor, openly acknowledge that you’re struggling with lambdas, ask about their importance. (keeping in mind that in programming, “so all of the code uses the same approach” is a totally valid reason to insist on a particular format)

          And then practice it. Lambdas sure are weird, I agree with you on that, but they’re not totally incomprehensible. My advice would be to look through examples of where they’re used in the code and really try to grok what they’re doing as opposed to just letting your eyes skim over them. Then, when you need to write one yourself, go back to those examples and find something similar that you can use as a sample. You can learn to use them! Don’t give up on yourself!

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Have you asked your supervisor to explain it? If you’re at the point where you believe your supervisor genuinely may give you a poor review due to not conforming to your team’s programming standards, then you’ve got to do something, not just hope your supervisor will do something! Talk to your supervisor, openly acknowledge that you’re struggling with lambdas, ask about their importance. (keeping in mind that in programming, “so all of the code uses the same approach” is a totally valid reason to insist on a particular format)

            I’m still trying to bounce back from a different instance of using an older solution to a problem. I can reliably get a thumbs up or thumbs down for a given block of code, but when I try to dig into the why’s, the reaction I get is akin to it being taken personally.

            I don’t think the rules are hard, fast, or objective. I’m pretty sure there’s some gut reaction involved.

            And then practice it. Lambdas sure are weird, I agree with you on that, but they’re not totally incomprehensible. My advice would be to look through examples of where they’re used in the code and really try to grok what they’re doing as opposed to just letting your eyes skim over them. Then, when you need to write one yourself, go back to those examples and find something similar that you can use as a sample. You can learn to use them! Don’t give up on yourself!

            As time allows, I have tried studying and tinkering with the examples in our code base. They’re temperamental, easy to break, and since I’m usually under SLA, I generally need a solution that works reliably now, even if I find myself in hot water when answering for it later.

            1. Techie*

              I think you’ve hit on it by referencing the SLA. Using non-confirming code to get the job done usually works out that one time. The problem is that it’s harder to maintain moving forward. The next person who has to touch that code will need to spend more time figuring it out. And that challenge gets bigger and bigger each time, until somebody bites the bullet and re-writes the whole thing to bring it back in line. Which may well also require more intensive testing. It’s ok if you didn’t initially know this particular approach is not negotiable, but now you do. It won’t help to dig your heels in on this.

            2. IT manager (no devs)*

              I think one option is to be more upfront with your supervisor (this may depend on your relationship). You could say something along the lines of “I understand I need to use lambdas and I am doing X, Y, and Z to make that my default but it will take time for me to adjust. However, when I’m under SLA constraints, I can’t do that yet in the time allotted. Right now, I’ve been using my current method in order to fix the issue; would you like me to keep what I’ve been doing OR should I break SLA?” And then offer to revisit how far you’ve progressed in a month or so?

        2. Lynn Whitehat*

          The style matters because people need to be able to read it later for debugging and improvements.

    14. Generic Name*

      Whyyyy does this matter? Unless they need to use your PREFERRED method because of safety or a regulatory requirement (in that if your PREFERRED method isn’t used, your company would be breaking the law), I don’t see why your preference should take precedence over their superior results.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        You’re writing things that other people will need to read later. Imagine you’re contributing to a cookbook. Everyone else’s recipes have the ingredients at the top. Yours put them in bold in the middle of the instructions, like “mix in ONE CUP OF MILK”.

        The recipe will work, and it’s not an objectively wrong style. Joy of Cooking does it this way. But it’s confusing for readers if you put things in a fundamentally different order than they’re used to.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          That’s actually backwards from the situation at hand, but in the land of the mad, the sane fill the asylums.

    15. anonymous73*

      Why does the method matter? I can see some instances where it may, but if the method is irrelevant (outside of you wanting it done your way) then you need to let it go. My mom was the type that she didn’t care how something was done, as long as it got done. I think you need to adopt that mantra and focus on the results, which according to you are “perfect, reliable, efficient and accurate.”

    16. Princess Xena*

      I’m going to assume for the sake of this response that there is a good reason for the preference. If that is true, then I would reframe your thinking. He’s not doing 100%, because the formatting/style/method is part of that 100%, and it is a job expectation he is failing at. You need to frame it to him that way rather than “you’re doing great but maybe tweak this one tiny thing”.

    17. Rex Libris*

      I try not to get hung up on process wherever possible. The result’s the thing.

    18. Marvin the paranoid iphone*

      Take a step backwards: what are the jobs to be done?

      On the one hand, I’m with you. Lambdas don’t actually introduce any new functionality that can’t be done other ways. Who cares how many lines the code takes up in a compiled language? It might make a difference in an interpreted language like Python but nobody uses Python for anything seriously low latency anyway.

      On another hand, I’m still with you. There’s an argument that code that’s easier to maintain is one of our most important jobs since 80% of all coding work is maintaining existing code rather than writing new code.

      But on a third hand, I’m with your supervisor. This sounds like it’s part of an in-house style manual. I know you said up-thread that some things have been presented to you as style manual and this was not quite… but pick your battles. This is in many ways exactly like a boss who hates email and prefers phone calls – why antagonise them by making it an issue? They can legitimately ask you to work to their preference.

      And on the fourth hand, I’m still with your supervisor. If you can’t use them, you can’t debug them or maintain them, and if everyone else on the team is using them, then the 80% of your work that is rework starts to be impaired. This is a lesser version of them telling you the team’s preferred stack – you gotta work with what’s there. It takes serious political and social capital to try to change the stack and is best done with a business case that it’s in the organisation’s interests… how is it in their interests to have a person on the team who isn’t using their full tech stack?

      Sorry, I feel for you, I don’t like lambdas either, they feel to me like a way for cool kids to show off, but then I’m one for godawful sed and awk command lines so who am I to talk? This isn’t the answer I want to say or you want to hear but I think this is a time to invest your weekends in lambda videos and workshops.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I think you get me, though I can demonstrably, reliably read them.

        I am acutely aware of my options. If my supervisor is willing to make a stand over them, my choices are too figure them out as if my life depended on it or send up the white flag and resign.

        I probably have enough cache and political capital to just state “sum qui sum” (I am who I am, and I’d sure as rain use the Latin), call his bluff and ignore it, and there would probably be enough backslash from any consequences imposed that he’d end up backing down. But that’s not the relationship I want with my supervisor, and I’ll sure as sin learn nothing new from him going forward in that scenario.

        I’m really going to have to chew on your answer because there is a lot there to consider.

        I’m also pretty sure the third option I was hoping I was just missing isn’t there. Someone would have pointed it out already.

        1. Marvin the paranoid iphone*

          If you have zero issues debugging or rewriting lambdas from others then issue #4 doesn’t apply and the balance tips back to you in terms of the merits.

          Unfortunately we can be in the right but still have to conform to a managerial preference. Does it help to view it like that transposed to something you aren’t invested in, say, time of day for meetings?

        2. pancakes*

          It sounds like you have built this up to be a conflict between your identity and your supervisor’s “willingness to make a stand,” and that seems like overly personal and melodramatic framing. Quoting Latin during a grand showdown might make sense if someone is making a very stylized movie about your employer’s performance review process, but that’s not happening, correct? You are framing this as if not using the process your supervisor wants you to use is central to your sense of identity, and it seems extremely unlikely to me that your supervisor is framing it the same way in terms of their expectations.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            It’s not quite an identity issue. The last time I just didn’t get a feature like this–albeit on a different platform–it took close to a decade for things to click and finally compose in it. That timeline isn’t there on a team where “long” SLA are 48 clock hours.

            I “quote” Latin all the time. It’s only a dead language if you treat it that way.

            It’s possible he could just shrug and say “If prefer a lambda here, but that works well enough” and move on. I don’t need advice for *that* scenario.

            1. pancakes*

              If your supervisor doesn’t also speak in Latin aphorisms it’s going to come off as a bit pompous, which I would think would be one of the last characteristics you’d want to give even a slight appearance of during a performance review, let alone what seems to be a fairly high-stakes performance review. If you are going to be in a position where you need to ask for more time to get comfortable with this, it will likely not be helpful to simultaneously frame this as an occasion where you will “call [supervisor’s] bluff.” It seems like a more accurate description of the power balance to think of it as him calling yours, if you must think of it that way. Your employer seems to want you to do something, and you don’t seem to want to do it. Your last sentence suggests a degree of uncertainty about whether this will be a requirement or a request, and from your other comments it sounded more certain that this is indeed something your supervisor wants.

    19. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’m in a situation like this with one of my current staff. They’ve been in this field for decades and learning new ways of doing old tasks takes a lot of time and work. They don’t understand why they should have to when the way they’ve been doing it all this time is fine. They would say, as you have here, that their work is 100% reliable, efficient, and accurate.

      But it’s not.

      Every week, we come up against at least one scenario where this employee’s commitment to doing things the old way ends up making things a lot more time consuming and frustrating for this person’s coworkers and customers. We’re doing a sort of one step forward, one step back dance about it, and they’re doing just enough right now to stay off a PIP. But at some point, either they’re going to have to commit to learning the new techniques or we’re going to have to let them go.

      Sometimes it can be easy to convince yourself that your way is fine without realizing the impact it has on the people you work with. But managing that impact is a supervisor’s job, and when an employee’s refusal to update their methods makes it harder on their teammates, supervisors really do have to act.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I think your employee is clouding your view here. You can take me at face value.

        Ownership is citing my productivity and lack of repeat tickets in calling out the new hires on the team. My grandboss (who is ecstatic to have me in the role) is having to run interference to buy them time to grow. Iny six-plus months on this team, not a single commit has been rolled back or refactored because my logic was wrong–just once for style. Our internal customers love me because I understand the rest of the business and the consequences of half-assery in this codebase and their urgencies.

        I’m not just being tolerated; I’m moving the needle noticably, and it’s insulting you’d insinuate that on no grounds.

        1. Lilli*

          I don’t think you need to be so defensive. Librarian presented a valid perspective from a supervisor exactly as you asked and it’s worth considering even if you decide it doesn’t apply to you.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Well, if everyone is wrong and I’ve actually been doing a shoddy job the whole time, this whole conversation is moot and I’ll get on to my life’s work sooner than later.

            1. Annie Moose*

              I’m confused. If your work is so good that you’ve only had to change your code one time, then what’s your concern? Your earlier comments make it sound like this is something that has come up multiple times, more seriously, where you’ve been told you need to use lambdas but you find them difficult so you don’t want to/are not able to use them. Your response to Librarian paints the situation in an entirely different light.

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                This hasn’t come up yet, but I do expect it to at some point. I’m on eggshells when I have to refactor a lambda away because I need something more functional in the meantime.

                I’m still getting the hang of having automated garbage collection. The one change was from concatenating a string in a while loop–apparently I was taxing the garbage collector. The code worked; it could just objectively work better.

                95% has been a failing grade for me before; I won’t know if it is again until that review happens. I won’t be judged by my internal customers or peers.

            2. pancakes*

              You don’t think it’s more likely that the truth is somewhere in between “moving the needle” for the whole workplace and “doing a shoddy job this whole time”? It sounds like your work is generally very good but there’s a point of contention between you and your supervisor. Framing that as a battle between triumph and failure seems like a misunderstanding of what the stakes are.

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                I’m sure an objective observation would fall somewhere in the middle. If I were Librarian’s employee, I’d already be gone–in fact, Is never have been invited to join this team. When the competitor made me an offer, our leadership team would have fallen over each other to provide glowing references for me instead of countering.

                1. Lilli*

                  I’m finding your responses very confusing – the basic issue is that your supervisor wants you to use a method you aren’t comfortable using, correct? No one here can tell you whether they will accept your alternative. You need to talk to your supervisor or wait until a performance review to figure it out.

                  All this other Latin and fancy wordage about options a b and c, about how great your performance is, and how much everyone else loves you is beside the point.

                2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  All this other Latin and fancy wordage about options a b and c, about how great your performance is, and how much everyone else loves you is beside the point.

                  It was beside the point, until Librarian wanted to take the angle that I’m Dunning Kruger and actually a poor employee. Everything else, including the premise of the question that Alison asks us to respect, is that I’m a mostly-good employee who’s just can’t wrap their head effectively around one preference.

                  I’m finding your responses very confusing – the basic issue is that your supervisor wants you to use a method you aren’t comfortable using, correct? No one here can tell you whether they will accept your alternative. You need to talk to your supervisor or wait until a performance review to figure it out.

                  In the scenario where this preference is near and dear to my supervisor’s heart, to the point where they’re willing to forsake otherwise good work for it, I would like to have an option to suggest that doesn’t take us down the road of escalating ultimata, leverage, and eventually confrontations and impasse.

                  I’m convinced at this point there is no other option to suggest if that’s how it plays out, and I’m content to just enjoy the ride as long as it lasts.

                3. linus bk*

                  I agree with Lilli — no one here can tell you what your supervisor wants. Librarian gave you exactly the input you asked for. If how you’re responding to her is how you respond to your supervisor, then you need to rethink your approach, because you are escalating this in a way that isn’t going to work to your advantage.

                4. Regular Lurker*

                  @Sola – I’m not trying to be rude and I truly hope you find a good resolution here, but the way you’re reacting to Librarian’s suggestion that your self-perception could be inaccurate is really something I think you should reflect on. I don’t think Librarian was suggesting that your performance is *as* poor as her employee, just providing an illustrative example from a supervisory POV of someone who would say their work is 100% fine when it’s not. If your goal is to avoid escalation, I think it would help to rein in the impulse to react to suggestions that you may not be aware of the full impact of your way of working with this level of defensiveness.

                5. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                  the way you’re reacting to Librarian’s suggestion that your self-perception could be inaccurate is really something I think you should reflect on. I don’t think Librarian was suggesting that your performance is *as* poor as her employee, just providing an illustrative example from a supervisory POV of someone who would say their work is 100% fine when it’s not. If your goal is to avoid escalation, I think it would help to rein in the impulse to react to suggestions that you may not be aware of the full impact of your way of working with this level of defensiveness.

                  Agreed. That definitely hit a nerve, and I do think it’s well worth the time for me to reflect on it.

                  I phrased it as I did because I really wanted to exclude the “you’re not as accurate/productive/reliable as you think you are” angle. I already know how to process those.

        2. Regular Lurker*

          It’s not insulting, it’s a realistic alternative perspective, something that you presumably came here to seek out.

          You described your way of doing things as “Assume perfect results, 100% reliable, 100% efficient, 100% accurate”. That’s a very big assumption. I would never describe my own work or anyone else’s work as 100% perfect, and I think that doing so is itself a bit of a warning sign in terms of the speaker’s ability to accurately self-evaluate. I think that someone who describes their work in such terms is probably more in need of an alternate perspective than someone who just said their method was good and got the right results.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Because the method is. As Marvin the Paranoid iPhone notes, the preferred feature adds no functionality that didn’t exist beforehand, and both the preferred and older methods can be performed or misperformed, accurately or inaccurately, precisely or imprecisely, etc.

            It’s not an assumption; the older method is demonstrably more proven than the flavor of the month is. I didn’t invent it.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        I agree, Librarian of Shield.

        I’m in a highly regulated industry. I file regulatory reports and also supervise those who do the same. We might be reliable, efficient, and accurate; however, there’s absolutely a right way to do these reports and create the supporting documentation for them, the support probably being more important that the report itself. We can’t just decide we want to do it a different way. So, someone on my team insisting on doing these reports and creating the support their own way is a problem and would eventually land them on a PIP.

    20. Middle School Teacher*

      Based on the additional context you provided, I think you need to follow your supervisor’s directions.

    21. SunsetBlvd*

      If there’s a reason your supervisor wasn’t something done a certain way, often it means that your method isn’t “perfect results, 100% reliable, 100% efficient, 100% accurate” otherwise it would be the preferred method. Or your supervisor is a complete micromanager. It could be both, but it can’t be neither.

  19. Puzzled!*

    I supervise a small team and am having issues with a new hire. They’ve been in this field for just a couple years and have a fair amount to learn, which is totally expected. They’re learning at a good pace and making the expected amount of errors for someone new. This issue I’m having is with their communication.

    Every second or third time we talk, their communication style comes across as bordering on or actually oppositional, judgmental, or almost belittling to me. I welcome their asking questions, our work is complicated. But when they disagree with something I’m saying, they respond with a more argumentative or brusque air than I think is appropriate, to the point where I feel wary of giving them responsibilities that would involve communication with external partners. They haven’t totally refused to complete any tasks so far, but have questioned or negated my (much more experienced) perspective in ways that have felt jarring and unpleasant/disrespectful. If I witnessed them communicate in this way with sometime on their same level in the team I would intervene. I think the way they communicate would probably result in a negative impression at most workplaces in our industry (though I doubt they would believe me if I told them that, they expressed once when I brought up a specific instance that they thought they were being direct and clear, not rude). So far I think they’re only acting this way with me. I don’t want to do them a disservice by letting them think this is acceptable behavior in a professional setting. Plus I find it unpleasant and stressful, and am not looking forward to potentially years of this behavior. I’ve brought up later or reacted in real-time to a few specific instances with varying results (in about equal measures: acceptance; defensiveness followed by acceptance; or it just going totally over their head and having to move on because we were mid-meeting with others).

    Now I plan to have a more general, big picture conversation with them about it. But I’m struggling to find language that will get through to them, given that they seem unaware of how they’re coming across, and may think that it’s only me who would perceive them this way and I’m being overly sensitive or enforcing a culture of toxic positivity or unnecessary deferentialness (I _really_ don’t think that is true).

    Does anyone have ideas for how I might approach this, or for where I can look for advice on similar situations? Thank you so much, I appreciate any insight.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Alison answered a letter a few years ago that may have some helpful advice for you (I’ll put the link in a reply comment): “I yelled at our intern” from January 23, 2017.

      The most relevant part of the reply (for your situation) is:

      simply call the email out as unacceptable and hold him accountable for it. As in: “Your email this morning was rude and sarcastic, and out of sync with the way I expect people here to speak with each other. What’s going on?” … followed by, at some point in the conversation, “I want to be clear that while you’re working here, you need to be respectful of all of your colleagues. Emails like the one you sent this morning will hurt your reputation, make people less inclined to work with you, impact the kind of reference I’m able to give you, and jeopardize your job with us.”

      This letter also has some good scripts:
      “my intern has a terrible attitude” from October 17, 2017

    2. Marie*

      Have you witnessed/received feedback about this person having communication issues with others? The conversation you have would need to be tweaked depending on if this is just happening with you vs happening with others.

      Additionally, have you sat down and really thought about your reactions to the way this person is communicating? You said they speak “in ways that have felt jarring and unpleasant/disrespectful.” Do they just FEEL that way to you, or are they objectively disrespectful? Could this just be a personality clash between you both, where you think that communication should be done one way, and this person thinks it’s fine to do it a different way? I am asking this because I was tone policed so hard in my earlier career and it took a long time to realize that some managers were just trying to knock my rough edges off and others were on a total power trip.

      That being said, you are this person’s manager and you can and should have a conversation with them about improving their communication. Ultimately, communicating with someone else is half about crafting the communication and half about making sure that the communication is landing with the intent that you want. So for your direct report, you could start with a conversation about how their communication isn’t landing with the intention that they meant it to- even if they don’t MEAN to come across like XYZ, the fact is that they ARE coming across like that and that’s a problem. That’s how I’d start the conversation with them- pointing out that when they say ABC at the meeting this morning it came across like they were defensive/whatever/whatever, and ask if that was their intent when they spoke up. Then you can guide the convo from there- let’s say they were skeptical of something that was said, and wanted to speak up in the moment. You can then guide them through how they might have crafted their message differently to land the way they wanted. Keep the focus on the intent of their communication. I think this might deescalate any hard feelings on their part about how they’re coming across, and it will be a much more objective conversation about concrete ways they can improve.

    3. Fabulous*

      Speaking as someone who once was on the receiving end of this difficult conversation, that’s just what it needs to be – a direct conversation with the employee about their tone. They may not realize how their tone comes across (as I didn’t) so bringing it to their attention would be the first step.

      It was essentially framed to me like this, “I’ve had a couple of your coworkers come to me with the same thing about the way you communicate, and I’ve seen it as well, so I wanted to bring it to your attention. When you say things, sometimes it can come across in a condescending or oppositional tone. I’m sure you don’t mean it like that, but others are starting to find it difficult to work with you because of it. When we provide consultations, we need to be aware of how we sound. You need to build trust and credibility amongst your coworkers before you can effectively consult, and you do it by presenting ideas in such a way that you don’t undercut the other person’s opinion or expertise.” My manager also referred me to training documents on emotional intelligence, effective communications, building trust, and other similar professional development courses.

    4. Purple Cat*

      Have any of your peers see your interactions that could validate what you’re seeing?
      I don’t want to discount though that as this person’s manager, your feelings and viewpoints really are enough. (I’m a woman and I know how much society tells us our feelings don’t matter, but don’t want to assume anything about you).

      Otherwise, you just need to be clear and straightforward with examples and impact. And emphasize that this is a “serious concern” of yours.

    5. anonymous73*

      Just be direct. Note examples of their communication style and how it’s coming across and why it’s problematic, and that because of this you’re hesitant to have them communicate with external partners. Their reaction will determine how you proceed because it doesn’t matter how good their work product is if they can’t communicate professionally without being a jerk.

  20. LookingKindaUnFeminist*

    Here’s a sticky situation I’m facing –
    I’m pregnant and expecting, and my doctor says that one of the best options I have to help manage a chronic condition I have is that I should exclusively breastfeed up to when baby starts eating solid foods. (No pumping allowed, no bottles, just breastfed) How on earth is one supposed to manage that and a career? Is it even possible? I work as a software developer, so work from home is an option, though my workplace really likes getting in a lot of face time.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I think you’re lucky that you’re a developer; you should be able to work longer days (maybe 12 hours instead of 8) with breaks on (baby’s) demand. If you start early, the rest of the company/group/team would be catching up to you as you take those breaks. Especially if you’re in a position that’s more individual effort than group-work.

      I have no idea how to make that case persuasively to a supervisor that doesn’t begin in a sympathetic mindset, though.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Of course, I probably should have articulated outright that this is all in the context of working remotely from home…

    2. croissant*

      wow. I’m fascinated. Would you mind sharing what your condition is? and why would exclusively breastfeeding help your health specifically (vs. the baby’s)? I’m expecting too and have barely learned anything about breastfeeding, but I have multiple friends with kids and I’ve never heard of this recommendation before.

    3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I’m curious why your doctor feels pumping isn’t an option. Sure, actually breastfeeding may be the best way, but would pumping be an acceptable option B? Because no, I have no idea how a working parent could exclusively breastfeed long term.

      Some really push the idea that you shouldn’t pump until breastfed is established, and some women don’t do well with a pump. But some do, every person is different.

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        +1 here IF this is your first kid and you/your doctor therefore have no solid data yet on how your body will respond to the pump. I also have no idea how you’d make exclusive feeding vs. feeding+pumping work with a FT job. Any chance you can get a 2nd doc’s opinion on your potential medical needs, to at least expand your data points now as you make a decision on what to do?

        With both my kids I worked FT and pumped, and pumping can be planned into jobs since it should be a set, daily schedule. When I was at home with my kids, it was a nursing free-for-all, baby-led, especially before solid foods took hold.

      2. Malarkey01*

        Feel free not to answer but when they say up until baby starts solids what do they mean? Babies start to play around with solids at different times but it’s just “for fun” as the pediatricians say for a year while they continue to get their nutrition almost exclusively from milk/formula. Are they expecting that you’ll never be separated from baby for that whole first year (or in very short increments?)

        This could be very hard to manage and work. Remote gives you a lot of flexibility but without being able to supplement with a bottle if a meeting runs long or you’re stuck on a call is going to be hard especially the younger they are or if you have a slowwwww eating which one of my was (it’s also going to be really hard personally since supplementing with a pumped bottle is a lifesaving for going out for dinner, running to the store alone, all those little things you do after you get some sleep and life is semi-normal). You may want to speak with another doctor and/or lactation support services at your local hospitals or community since I’ve found a really really wide range of how doctors handle breastfeeding issues.
        Good luck and congratulations on your little one!!

    4. Artemesia*

      Work from home and hire a nanny to care for the baby during work hours except when you are nursing and then try to get the baby on a schedule which is generally possible by 6 weeks or so. BUT I am wondering exactly why the doctor thinks nursing but not pumping is somehow different in terms of managing your condition. What difference can it make if you are regularly emptying the breast one way or the other. I’d push back a little on that. Maybe there is a reason but it seems dubious.

      1. Alexis Rosay*

        This. I think it would be worth getting a second medical opinion. There is a long history of people greatly exaggerating the benefits of breastfeeding while not taking into account any possible toll on the person doing it. I mean, all power to those who enjoy breastfeeding and want to do it, but it is not the only approach.

    5. Ari*

      I think you’ll need to negotiate remote work and be able to show that you have childcare for the parts of the day where the baby is not actively nursing. I work with someone right now exactly in this situation – she has a small baby and works from home and sometimes has her camera off in meetings to feed the baby. It’s not a big deal, but our industry is pretty family-focused and I know she has in home childcare.

    6. Doctor is In*

      Biologically there should not be a difference between pumping and breast feeding. I would ask your doctor to explain.

      1. Observer*

        As someone who nursed and pumped – with little problem, fortunately, I’m going to say that this is just not the case. Pumping IS different for a lot of women.

        Sure, it’s a good idea to get a second opinion, and definitely make sure you understand the rationale, but I’m really taken aback by everyone who is SO sure that the doctor must be wrong because they’ve never heard of this.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Yeah, that’s a head scratcher. Maybe it’s the statistical impact that folks who pump at work might not maintain it as long, while demand-feeding tends to be easier to maintain long term? The doctor wants you to BF as long as possible and the “don’t pump” is practical advice to try to keep it up?

        I mean, lots of people are able to pump at work, maintain supply, and keep the baby exclusively on breastmilk for 6 months. But there are obstacles, and there is a steeper drop-off in EBF rates accordingly.

        That’s the only thing I can think of.

      3. HBJ*

        Yup. I’ve exclusively breastfed two, exclusively pumped for one. I never had supply issues with the breastfed ones. My supply dropped twice with the pump, and only once was I able to get it back up (and that was with a LOT of hard work. Pumping literally every hour). It’s not the same, at all.

        Also, I can absolutely see at least one scenario where a doctor might recommend this. Look up lactational amenorrhea method. It only works with exclusively breastfed babies. I could see a doctor recommending this for someone who is not able to use most other forms of contraceptive or to keep bad periods/ovulation at bay “naturally” for longer.

        1. RagingADHD*

          yikes, if they are hoping to rely on LAM for anything that is really a shot in the dark.

          Particularly since you can’t actually know when you are NOT in amenorrhea until 2 weeks after you already ovulated…unless you’re already pregnant, in which case you might not figure it out for quite a while.

          I bf’ed around the clock and got my period back early anyway.

          Best of luck, op! Hope everything works out well for you all

    7. The Ginger Ginger*

      This is going to sound facetious, but I mean this seriously. Does your breast know the difference between a pump and an infant? I mean, I’m just not clear on how pumping is a problem if done on a similar schedule to actually feeding the baby. What’s the actual difference to your body?

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        There’s some very lose data to suggest that your body responds better to actual breastfeeding since your baby is there and biology and all that and that pimps can’t exactly replicate the sucking. Which while true, and some people do better breastfeeding than pumping in terms of production, this is not a hard and fast rule. And some providers can be a bit overzealous as others mention on pushing exclusively breastfeeding. As a lot of things that happen with being a working parent, the “best way” isn’t always practical and the next best thing works perfectly fine.

        I only ever pumped, for a variety of reasons breastfeeding was not for me, and I could have fed triplets, I donated a ton of milk. I really can’t fathom if pumping is working what medical condition would care it was from a pump vs breastfeeding.

      2. RagingADHD*

        Sometimes people have trouble with the letdown reflex on a pump, because it’s related to the sympathetic nervous system. It’s not that “the breast” can tell the difference, but your whole mind and body are in a different state of tension/relaxation when you’re with your baby or not. Some moms keep a picture of the baby with their pump to help with letdown.

        Other people just don’t produce as much on the pump. Or they get into various situations where they wind up needing to supplement the baby with formula for logistical reasons, (fridge failure, spillage, late getting home because of traffic, you name it) and it gradually starts becoming harder and harder to maintain the pumping/feeding routine overall.

        Either way, as Keeley says, if it’s working it shouldn’t matter biologically for mom’s health. So more clarification is in order.

      3. EllieMay*

        Yes, pumping is different. A baby is much more efficient at not only getting milk out of the breast, but “emptying” the breast, which is critical for keeping up your supply.

        This is especially true for women who took a bit longer for nursing to be well-established.

      4. Macaroni Penguin*

        Yes, a breast can know the difference between a pump and a baby. Essentially, babies are a lot better at removing milk than a pump is. Some bodies just don’t respond particularly well to pumping.*

        This is all a bit perplexing for the OP. In their place, I’d get a second medical opinion. It would be very hard to exclusively breast feed and work full time simultaneously. I’m guessing they don’t work in a country with a year long parental leave.

        * Based on my personal experiences

    8. Purple Cat*

      I think you need to get a second opinion. I’m not asking you to divulge your medical condition, but I can’t imagine anything where fed at breast is going to have such a dramatic difference vs. pumping. That approach is just not sustainable with a full-time job. You’d have to WFH exclusively with an in-home nanny/babysitter. Not impossible, but pretty expensive.

    9. River Otter*

      Regarding pumping versus nursing and asking for more details about why it matters, if there is something about the act of holding the baby during nursing that is beneficial to your condition, could you get the same benefit from holding the baby while you are not nursing? What I am thinking is that nursing involves both releasing milk and baby time, and perhaps you could get more flexibility in arranging your work schedule by getting the milk release from pumping and getting the baby time from wearing the infant while they sleep or what have you.
      I really do think you should get a second opinion on this.

    10. Cedrus Libani*

      Second opinion time? Biology is a weird and wonderful place, but I’ve never heard of a condition that’s improved via breastfeeding that also knows the difference between an actual baby and a fake one [a pump].

      Sometimes you will find a doctor with a pet theory. Be aware of this, particularly if there’s something about you that people have a tendency to be weird about. “Broken arm? You should lose weight / stop being trans / quit your job and stay home with your baby / etc.” If you’re not comfortable fact-checking a medical opinion yourself, find someone who can. (As a medical-adjacent PhD, I’m the one my family calls…most of the time I back the doctor up, but not always, and I’m pretty sure I saved one relative’s life in the process.)

    11. Observer*

      There is nothing unfeminist about your question. A couple of additional thoughts.

      When you talk to your boss about this, don’t be overly apologetic and don’t explain too much. What Sola outlines, along with in home care sounds like a viable plan, so if you have someone who is reasonable about this stuff, you should be able to present this.

      Do make sure you solidly understand your doctor’s rationale, and it’s a good idea to get a second opinion. There are two reasons. One is that it is true that what your doctor is saying is unusual enough that it’s reasonable to make sure that it does actually make sense rather than being their pet “hobbyhorse.” And secondly, it’s a fair bet that your boss and possibly HR are going to have a lot of questions and “suggestions”. It shouldn’t happen, but it’s still likely. Having gotten a second opinion is going to make it much easier to say something like “I know that this is unusual, but I’m confident in my medical advice, and I’ve gotten a second opinion as well.”

      1. Claire*

        I second the suggestion not to overexplain/apologize! Baby feeding is something people can have a lot of opinions about and be convinced that you could make it work the way they think it should work if only you followed their advice. I’m in a similar situation, though for baby’s health rather than my own, and I’ve found that erring on the side of less information keeps some of that “help” at bay.

    12. Bagpuss*

      I’m not in the US so am not sure whether this would work, but if this is something which your doctor is recommending as best for a chronic condition *you* have , would it be possible to request that you WFH as a medical accommodation?

      You might then be able to take breaks to nurse and start early / finish later so you are covering the right number of hours over all, although I guess you would need to have child care at home, rather than being able to use a nursery.

      I would however also ask your doctor for clarification – I am sure that there are differences between pumping and breastfeeding but equally it may be worth having the conversation about what the likely problems are if you don’t or can’t exclusively nurse, and how significant the difference would be if you were to pump for the times you can’t nurse.

      Also, while of course I hope that you will be able to do what you decide is right for you and your baby, bear in mind that not everyone is able to breastfeed or to exclusively breast feed, and if you do if up having to pump, supplement with formula, or even use formula primarily, keep in mind that ultimately, fed is best for your baby, and for you, too.

    13. No Name Yet*

      I’m with the others that I think getting a second opinion makes sense, before trying to figure out the work logistics. But actually, I’d consider trying to get two second opinions – one from a physician/provider who specializes in the chronic condition that you have, and another from a lactation consultant. My thought about talking to an LC is that they have so much experience in helping people figure out breastfeeding, that they may also have experience in people with your specific condition breastfeeding.

    14. Justin*

      My wife exclusively breastfed until solids. The answer was “she worked from home and we juggled things until he went to daycare.” But that was when almost all offices were closed in 2020.

    15. Claire*

      Two ways I could see this being manageable are 1) a WFH arrangement with a nanny who can bring you the baby when it’s time to nurse or 2) a daycare spot that’s in your workplace if you happen to have one of those.
      Do you have any maternity leave? Babies usually start solids around 6 months so if you have leave that would shorten the time you needed to WFH. It could also depend on whether doc means breastfeed until starting solids and then adding in bottles along with solids or continuing to exclusively breastfeed alongside solids until weaning. Since this is your medical condition and not baby’s ADA protections may also come into play if they’d offer an employee a WFH accommodation for other types of medical conditions.
      Best of luck!

      1. JustaTech*

        Agreeing with the on-site daycare. When my friend worked at a day care that was across the street from the hospital it supported there were (a few) mothers who would come over once or twice a day to breastfeed (but the rest of the time their babies got bottles).

    16. LookingKindaUnFeminist*

      I appreciate all of you requesting I get a second opinion, but I have had various opinions on my condition before and have been Very Disappointed (well having a baby should just cure it! and if it doesn’t your only option is to get an oophorectomy which also doesn’t always work! or maybe we can just try every birth control under the sun and see what happens! oh no, you’re allergic to them! maybe we should just to remove your thyroid! after that it was almost refreshing when I found a doctor that said there was simply nothing to be done and I’d have to buck up and deal with it. almost, but I still looked around and found my current doctor). As such, I’ve got a complicated medical history and a poorly understood condition. This does mean you get a lot of pet theories (refer to previous bad advice I’ve gotten), but that’s just because there isn’t any available data to guide treatment. The recommendation is based off my responses to previous hormone treatments and surgeries. As for the “exclusively breastfeeding” part, it was perhaps hyperbole on my part, but not by much. If you look up the chemical reactions involved in LAM birth control, you’ll get an idea of what we’re hoping to achieve.

      So it sounds like my only option is to get my work to let me work from home FT while taking many feeding breaks and get FT in-home childcare while I’m working… Or just give up if that turns out not to be an option. I’m tired just thinking about it…

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        I’m sorry about that. But yeah, unfortunately if exclusively breastfeeding is the only way this can be achieved, you’ll need WFH with child care or on-site childcare you can regular access whenever you need is about the only way. Mastitis is no joke, I never felt sicker, so not going too long between feedings is so critical.

      2. honey cowl*

        I haven’t breastfed yet (currently 38 weeks pregnant) but this sounds like a whole-ass scam to me. Maybe it’s worth it to you to give it a shot, but completely taking formula and pumping off the table seems like it has a real chance to compromise your mental health. (I know it works for some people, but many people need sleep and their job in order to continue functioning as an adult human.)

        1. ThatGirl*

          With the caveat that I am not a mom myself, but I know a lot of them … there’s also the factor of what if OP can’t breastfeed? Or can’t breastfeed enough? Not every birthing parent can, no matter how good their intentions or plans.

          1. honey cowl*

            Totally agree! I’m clearly not thrilled by the breast is best propaganda as an about-to-be-new mom, so I’m probably going to have a different opinion on this than some, but this just seems like impossible pressure solely on this parent’s shoulders. I don’t know anyone who has been able to exclusively breastfeed, even people who really wanted to and absolutely killed themselves trying everything.

          2. Observer*

            If the OP can’t nurse, then that’s going to be that. But it’s just ridiculous to claim that the idea is inherently problematic because it MIGHT not be possible.

            Keep in mind that this is not a situation where someone has ridiculous ideas of what Mother is supposed to do for her baby. It’s an attempt to ameliorate a condition that Mom has that has not responded well to other forms of treatment.

            And while it is definitely unusual, it is actually grounded in what we know about nursing. Will it work? Who knows. But it’s worth seeing if she can make it happen.

            1. FeelingKindaUnFeminist*

              Thanks for the support. I really have been feeling like I’m completely off my rocker (because it is a pretty unusual medical treatment) and that I’m going to need to sacrifice either my health or my career. As it stands, I still think that the most problematic medical advice I ever received was that having a baby could cure my condition, so just about anything else seems pretty reasonable after that.

              1. Observer*

                As it stands, I still think that the most problematic medical advice I ever received was that having a baby could cure my condition

                GAG! I can’t believe that any doctor was still saying that in the last decade! Because even when that does happen (and yes, having a baby can have some interesting effects) that is an INSANE reason to have a child!

              2. Claire*

                It is unusual but you are not off your rocker (or unfeminist)! I am doing it now. It is hard but not impossible and it has helped me to remind myself that its a comparatively short period of time in the grand scheme of things.
                (I did have to reduce my hours but that was actually due to pandemic-related daycare unreliability for my older child, not the baby)

            2. ThatGirl*

              Of course! I’m just saying, I’ve heard of so many birthing people beat themselves up over not being able to breastfeed. I hope it works out for OP.

        2. Pumped Up Bits*

          This exactly. The early newborn time is so much and there is a lot of pressure to do the right thing, but breastfeeding is difficult and can be impossible. I found out I had the wrong shaped breasts with wrong nipples. Latch just wasn’t happening. I cried so much and gave my baby formula, then my partner bought me a pump and I was able to give my baby my milk, which I was happy about. But I was on the verge of depression regarding the situation, it was some of the hardest moments of my life.

          I hope OP can have the wonderful breastfeeding journey that helps with her condition but I worry for the bumps on that road that can happen.

        3. Observer*

          I haven’t breastfed yet (currently 38 weeks pregnant) but this sounds like a whole-ass scam to me.

          Nope. Now that she’s explained, yes it actually makes sense. Whether it’s going to work is an open question, but that’s a different issue.

          1. LookingKindaUnFeminist*

            Thanks for your validating comment. I definitely know that this whole thing may be a moot point if it turns out I have a lot of difficulty nursing, but I’m at that “try anything” stage of mysterious chronic illness but am trying to be conscious of the many scams that prey on folks like me that fall through the cracks of modern medicine.

      3. HBJ*

        Yea, I guessed it was something like this.

        Fwiw, I’ve heard of babies refusing bottles and adapting to nursing tons during the evenings and night and morning and not much during the day. I wouldn’t push this on a baby, but I’ve heard of it happening. But, I don’t think that would work for you anyway. The thing with LAM is that you’re supposed to nurse on demand, not on a schedule. So I think you really will need in home care and a work from home job to get the effects.

      4. Purple Cat*

        So a quick look at LAM only emphasizes that the “baby gets no other liquid or food, not even water” and not necessarily that it has to come directly from the breast.
        I hope you find a system that works for you. Much support because it feels like you are putting an incredible amount of pressure on yourself. I exclusively fed breastmilk (partially pumping) and that’s what I encourage, but, please give yourself and baby some grace. *best laid plans* and all that.

      5. Massive Dynamic*

        I’m sorry; it really sounds like you have been through a lot! FT WFH with childcare seems like a reasonable solution. I’d also encourage you to get a really good pump and see how that works as well, once your baby starts sleeping for longer stretches. Which could be a few months in anyway, and at that point you’ll already know for yourself if the exclusive breastfeeding has been managing your condition and can then see if feeding + pumping maintains that at a level you need.

        Best of luck to you!

        1. FeelingKindaUnFeminist*

          Thanks for the kind and validating suggestion. :) Now that you mention it, that’s often a good way to get started with other lifestyle-based health stuff – start out following it more strictly and see if it works and then if it does you test how much leeway you have before the effects aren’t where you want. And while I would prefer to have an actual maternity leave (my work just provides short-term disability), I’ll still have some time to figure out what works for me before I have to get back to the grind.

      6. Quidge*

        Coming very late to this, but here’s some anecdata that might help:

        1) In the UK, and my understanding was always that “exclusively breastfeeding” meant that baby was drinking only breast milk/was not supplemented by formula at all. Whether that milk was nursed or pumped out, you still have to produce a baby’s worth, and the associated hormones are still produced. (You just have to make sure you really are pumping about as much as baby would be drinking to maintain supply.)

        2) Everyone’s different, obviously, and LAM is never, ever even CLOSE to a conception-prevention method, but my cycle was lighter, more regular and less painful until I dropped to less than 2 nursing sessions a day (that’s after completely dropping pumping and not nursing during office or sleeping hours for a year with no menstrual cycle changes). You might find you see a benefit from EBF or whilst pumping at work anyway, i.e. you don’t know what your therapeutic dose of lactation hormones is until you try it.

    17. New Mom*

      Can your doctor write you a note so that you can work remotely until your baby is eating solids?

    18. Georgiana*

      It is possible to work full time and exclusively breastfeed – you just have to have the right kind of job where you can WFH with flexible breaks or join meetings with the camera off. It’s easiest if you have a nanny who provides care at home, but I’m sure you could also work it out with a nearby daycare. My child is almost 2 and has never had a bottle because they were born early in the pandemic and nursing was way less stress than pumping (for me). Everyone has different experiences with BF and newborns in general – but it’s not an impossible task if you’re in the right job. I’m a lawyer fwiw.

    19. CupcakeCounter*

      My child couldn’t latch – we spent weeks and tried every trick under the sun and it was a no go – and another friend couldn’t produce an adequate supply. Breastfeeding is ideal but not always possible.
      I second everyone telling you to get a second opinion as well as ask your Dr about the What if’s regarding supply and latch.
      As for the work aspect…figure that out when you figure out the feeding situation.

    20. Koala dreams*

      Sometimes doctors suggest things that aren’t possible in your specific situation.

      As for work, I read an article about this situation a few years ago. In the article, the baby’s father took the baby to the mother’s work a couple of times a day for feeding. It seemed quite a hassle to me, but I guess they had their reasons. Perhaps it would be easier if you worked from home.

    21. By Golly*

      I wasn’t planning to do this, but essentially did end up exclusively breastfeeding and not pumping with my first child while working. I had reasonable leave, so for the first three months I was off. Then we tried to get her to take a bottle of pumped milk for a couple of weeks and it was a total failure. So she was in day care and it was about 10/15 minutes from my office. I would feed her just before leaving for work at 7:30, then head in. My partner took baby to day care so I didn’t have to sacrifice work minutes for that, and around 11 am I’d go over for a feed. with driving and all, it was usually just under an hour. Then, go back to office and work like a maniac until my boobs were going to explode around 3. Most days at that point I’d pick her up from daycare and head home to WFH for the afternoon hours while she slept on my lap or nursed alternately. If I had a meeting that required me to be there, she could be at daycare while I went back, but 2 rounds of driving back and forth were plenty and she took a reliable afternoon nap when we got home, so that worked for me. I know I was lucky to have a very supportive supervisor, but I do think it’s possible. The part that is so far out I hardly believe it myself: I also traveled a lot for work in that year, and she came with me everywhere. I believe that I did a whole round of interviews with a baby on my lap, and a lot of stuff with a baby in a carrier. Every baby and parent are different, but I honestly found it easier to just discreetly nurse my baby while a meeting continued than to need to step away to pump. She was rarely a distraction, except to those who wanted to be distracted by a baby and were happy to see her.

    22. fhqwhgads*

      This doctor sounds very optimistic, before you even get to the part about your career. Exclusive bf was our plan, no pumping til later, no bottles, but the baby wouldn’t do it. They wouldn’t let us leave the hospital without giving her a bottle, regardless of what we wanted. So 3 days in, pumping happened and bottles happened. I know everyone is different, but given how common we found out this was…that’s a bucketful of ifs already.
      How much leave will you be taking? Assuming your baby takes to nursing right away, and you can WFH, and you start on solids as early as possible (I’ve seen some doctors say as starting the transition early as 4 mo is fine, even if the target is really 6mo), and assuming you’re taking 12 weeks of leave…you could probably make this work for a month. If you’re in the US they’d have to let you take pumping breaks if you were in office and pumping, so the nursing breaks you’d take instead are probably equivalent. Although, again, depends on the kid.

      1. Accountant*

        The majority of an infant’s nutrition should come from breast milk or formula until age one, even if you start introducing solids early.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Sure but I thought we were addressing the question of “how do you deal with career+ must nurse and only nurse no pumping allowed until baby starts solids“.
          That said I’m also confused if the scenario in question is something like “if you pump even once, you’ve not done the thing the doc was recommending so it doesn’t matter anyway” – in which case the plan the OP described probably has a 50/50 chance of happening regardless of when the kid starts solids or what. In the question it seemed to be framed as an all or nothing thing.

  21. Anon456*

    Unfortunately, we recently had layoffs in my company as part of a M&A. While our team did not lose many people, those remaining are spooked. I don’t anticipate further layoffs anytime soon, but of course I can’t promise anything (I am not executive level). However, the people who were laid off had documented performance issues. I would like to be able to reassure people that the names of the people laid off were not drawn out of a hat, without making the people who are gone look bad. Would it be appropriate to say, “We need to respect the privacy of those who are no longer on this team, but I can assure you that the layoffs were not random.” Is that too vague to be helpful (there are criticisms that leadership is not transparent enough) or does it still paint the people who are gone in a bad light? I would hate to say the wrong thing either way, as things are a bit fragile right now. I’m leaning towards not addressing it (the choice of people laid off, not the fact that there was a layoff).

    1. Miel*

      The words you suggested sound unhelpful, to me.

      In my department, there were a couple of layoffs, supposedly due to COVID, but we all knew that those were the people who were struggling with performance. I don’t think anyone said it out loud, but we all knew it.

      1. Anon456*

        I agree… I’ve been thinking about it, and if anyone asked me directly, which I don’t think they will, I can let them know that there were a variety of factors considered by HR and we don’t have all of the information.

    2. Bagpuss*

      If you are asked or if you fell people are waiting for the other show to drop, I think you could say something like “I wasn’t involved with the final decisions but I am aware that HR looked at a range of factors such as performance, length of service, skills, disciplinary records, etc. in making the choice”

      (I live in a country where it’s normal to have a consultation process before making lay-offs, and to have fairly open information about what factors are being considered, so I don’ see talking about it as odd or invading people’s privacy, unless you say “Well of course Bob already have a written warning and the lowest performance scores in his appraisal” – where it isn’t usual to be open then it may land differently)

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Is it possible for your company to lay out the process it undertakes when layoffs are necessary?

      At my recession era job, leadership held meetings to discuss what would happen if we eventually needed to lay people off (which did end up happening). We were given all the steps that HR and management would follow, how performance would be taken into account, when and if seniority would come into play, all of it. It really did help to assuage a lot of people’s fears.

    4. anonymous73*

      TBH there’s nothing you can say to your team to alleviate their panic. A few jobs ago they brought in new management and he “cleaned house”. They laid off and forced out most of the managers while others quit. They also laid off other groups of people in stages. It got to the point where every time someone saw the HR lady walking down the hall we were thinking “oh shit, who’s next.” I had already been through 2 layoffs in my career and I was a nervous wreck for a good period of time. I eventually found a new job (and then got laid off again). People are laid off for a number of reasons and it isn’t always due to their performance. And while you say you don’t expect anymore layoffs, nothing is ever guaranteed. If they come to you and ask you can be honest and say that you aren’t aware of any further layoffs, but fully reassuring them is basically impossible.

    5. Foley*

      Some friends and I were just talking about this. COVID provided many managers a great opportunity to *finally* get rid of underperformers under the guise (or truth) about cost savings.

      I feel like most knew that in addition to cost-saving measures, that underperformers were let go first or exclusively. But I feel like there’s really no way to address that. I would say, though, that probably more folks than not can put that together. The rest who can’t…I don’t know.

  22. admin for now*

    Any ideas of where to go next in my career from an office admin role? I am not looking to move on from my position as an admin assistant/office manager at a nonprofit anytime soon, but eventually it would be great to have a more senior title and make more money. I like being able to do things in a lot of different areas in my current position (working here and there with our programs, some HR functions, facilitating meetings, managing the office space, a little IT stuff, etc.). My work/life balance is also important to me. I’m just not sure what kind of career path would make the most sense from here. Also, how would I cross over into a different/more senior role?

      1. admin for now*

        Yes, I think that kind of thing would make a lot of sense for me, thanks! Do you know anything about how to break into that field?

    1. Notfunny.*

      It’s so hard to say without more information about what you like and dislike about your role, what kind of non profit you work for, and what your interests are. Are there tasks or projects that you enjoy and want to do more of? Is there a cause or issue that you feel passionately about? What kinds of things do you want to think about all the time?I would explore some of those things, and than either look for roles that have those kinds of tasks or projects, or look at organizations that work on issues that you care about and look at coordinator roles or roles a bit beyond entry level.

      1. Notfunny.*

        Or, if you like your current organization, take the opportunity to talk with your manager about what kinds of growth opportunities may be available. This is a great time to explore within your organization if there are opportunities for advancement. It’s also a good time to think about gaining some additional skills that might be helpful in the next phase of your career, whatever that ends up looking like.

        1. admin for now*

          Thanks for your reply! I have mentioned in performance reviews that I’d be interested in growth opportunities within my organization, but the ED didn’t seem to have any ideas about how that would happen. I’m working in an environmental nonprofit with mostly scientists and educators, but I have a degree in English. I like the variety that comes with an admin role, and I’m good at staying organized, paying attention to details, and not letting things get dropped. So I’m great at what I do, but I don’t have a lot of specialized knowledge/education and am still trying to figure out what kinds of skills to look at training in.

            1. admin for now*

              I’ve often thought I’d be good at that, though our PMs tend to have extensive science experience. Do you know if there are certifications or other training that would be helpful in trying to break into a project management role? I guess you already have to be a project manager to get a PMP, but it’s unclear to me what entry-level training would make me a more marketable candidate.

              1. Generic Name*

                You could get LEED or ENVISION certified. They are ways to track sustainable development (LEED is buildings ENVISION is horizontal development). They don’t require a science background per se, but are useful in environmental-adjacent stuff. My environmental consulting firm has folks certified in this stuff.

              2. OtterB*

                If you’re coming from a science organization, then perhaps something like a lab administrator? I’m not sure it would be different enough from what you’re currently doing, but often research groups can really use an admin who keeps everything running while they do the research part.

  23. Susan Saranwrap*

    I’ve been at my job for a little over two years and have recently found myself overworked with outreach activities. I’m the go-to person for these activities in our very small team and it’s taken its toll on me. It’s not a part of my job description (just yet..more on that later) and when I brought up that we need to more consideately distribute the events, I was met with defense from my team members (including a newbie who has only done two events in the past month and a half)! The whole conversation left me feeling crazy, underappreciated and insulted.

    Anyway, my supervisor —who has been on FMLA—mentioned she would like to update my job title and job description when she’s back. I’m now worried this will negatively impact me as she could update it to include more outreach activities as part of my duties. If that happens, I may have to look for another job because I’m already so overwhelmed with weekly outreach—and that’s ignoring the fact that I’ll be starting grad school in August!

    What should I do? Also, any tips on holding down a full time job and going to grad school (in-person!) full time? I can’t opt out of the grad school because going full time is a part of my scholarship and I’m currently the only income provider.

    1. ferrina*

      For the job- does your boss know how overworked you are? If you haven’t explicitly told her, she probably doesn’t know. Since she’s looking at your job description anyways, prep a document that has all of your (official and unofficial) responsibilities written down and how much time they take in a given week (or month if more applicable to your work). Then go through this with your supervisor- share which of your tasks you enjoy the most and which you’d like to offload. The supervisor may not go with what you recommend, but it’s really useful information for a manager to have (again, if you don’t tell them what you want to do, they won’t know).

      Then take your job back down to 40 hours and hold to it. Practice saying “I’d love to help with that, but I can’t due to bandwidth.” Or “Okay, if you want me to do that, I won’t be able to finish Y until [new deadline].” These will help you protect your time (since overtime will quickly cut into your grad school time)

    2. Artemesia*

      Have you indicated to your boss that you are not happy being saddled with most of the outreach? (or is there leave blocking all that?). If not, I would get in there right away when she returns with your need to back off on outreach — make sure the new job description does not dump this on you by being proactive.

      And perhaps start being unavailable for more than X number of outreaches and push the rest back on the team. People get taken advantage of because the cooperate with it. Your co-workers have learned how to exploit your good nature.

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        Don’t phrase it as “not being happy” . Phrase it as how much time it takes and how that affects your other duties. Alison has scripts for this.

  24. Wendy*

    I have a problem at work that has been bothering me, and I would appreciate some advice.

    I currently work at a fuel center for a *major grocery store chain*.

    The fuel center I work at has a total of 4 employees.

    Our employer lets you determine you availability.

    3 of us get 2 weeks of vacation.

    The 4th one gets 3 weeks because she has been with our employer for the longest.

    Last year when I took my first week of vacation, I was asked to work 2 days because two employees were not available to cover for me while on vacation. I chose to work the Saturday before I returned to work, which was the following Sunday. Yeah, it was a mistake.

    I mentioned that to the lead fuel center clerk after returning to work, and he asked me why I chose to do that since I earned my vacation time. For my second vacation, I wrote down on the schedule that I would be away for my entire vacation. That was the only way I could think of to not have to work on my vacation.

    Currently there is only 1 employee who chose to have limited availability. He works another job Monday through Friday. He chose to work the closing shift Monday through Friday, and the opening or mid shift on Saturday’s. He does not want to work on Sunday’s.

    I am currently on vacation. I go back to work on Sunday.

    Last Friday, the employee who chose to have limited availability told me the following “I was asked to close on the Saturday you are on vacation. I did not want to do that, but I guess I have to since you are on vacation that week.”

    Yesterday, I received 2 phone calls from work. I did not answer either call.

    From talking to everyone else who works at the fuel center, I am the only one who is asked to work on their vacation.

    What is the best way to approach this with store management and the fuel center employees, especially this particular employee?

    1. ferrina*

      It sounds like you’re doing the right thing. You’re taking your vacation and not working. It may help if you announce that you will be “unavailable” for the duration of your vacation (you don’t have to say why you’re unavailable, just that you won’t be able to work).

      If someone asks why you didn’t work while you were on vacation, just say “I was on vacation and unavailable to work.” If they push it, you can add “Sorry I missed your call.” Hopefully this won’t be a big deal- maybe they forgot you were on vacation.

      For the passive-aggressive employee who sent you the snarky text, no reason to address it. Hopefully they got it out of their system. If they try to bring it up, don’t explain or justify. Just “I was unavailable during my vacation.” If applicable, tell them to take their coverage concerns to the manager (assuming you aren’t in charge of scheduling or coverage)

    2. Artemesia*

      You don’t have to explain — ‘yeah, vacations mean everyone else picks up the slack, just as we do when you are on vacation.’ You are doing great. Take the time, don’t answer the phone — put it out of your mind.

    3. Tex*

      First of all, if you have good relations with all your other co workers, you could get the group together to discuss flexibility at vacations and (if) you ever cover extra shifts for people on vacations or are otherwise accommodating schedule fluctuations. If you trust everyone can have a civil conversation that will be productive, this is the way to go.

      If you don’t think that would work, you could bring up to your supervisor that the fuel center might need another person cross trained as a floater for the very occasional times no one is available. Maybe that person gets a guaranteed shift or two a month just to keep current on the operations.

      1. Wendy*

        Considering the employee who chose to have limited availability also mentions “I have more seniority that you as well as the fuel center lead I helped train” whenever I am asked to mention to him anything work related for him to do by the lead or by store management I would rather suggest a floater instead.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Okay, that guy sounds insufferable and you have my blessing to completely ignore him when he decides to hassle you during your vacation.

    4. Observer*

      What is the best way to approach this with store management and the fuel center employees, especially this particular employee?

      Maybe don’t. You’re giving your company and your team sufficient lead time, and it’s on management to deal with scheduling issues. You shouldn’t have to give up your vacations. What if you wanted to take a vacation elsewhere? You shouldn’t have to give up that possibility because your company didn’t staff correctly.

      Sure, you can suggest to your manager that there be a floater. And be willing to cover when it’s not your vacation. But you can safely ignore snarky texts, and it’s not your problem to manage coverage.

      1. Bagpuss*

        I would agree that this isn’t really on you to solve.
        You’re doing the right thing by not responding while you are on vacation,

        for comments like the “I was asked to close on the Saturday you are on vacation. I did not want to do that, but I guess I have to since you are on vacation that week” maybe a response like
        “Yeah, I know when you or [other co-worker] are on vacation I get scheduled for shifts I’d rather not do, too. I guess that’s just part of the job – But neither of us is in charge of the scheduling. Maybe you should suggest to [name of manager] that we could do with an extra staff member to help with holiday cover”

        in other words, you aren’t sounding unsympathetic, but you are flagging up that their holidays impact you just as much (or more) and that it’s not your responsibility.

        Or just carry on ignoring it – if they have an issue they can speak to whoever is responsible for scheduling

        1. Wendy*

          Bagpuss…

          Do you live in Australia?

          Because my husband has an on-line buddy who lives in Australia who refers to vacation time as holidy.

          I like your idea of what to tell my co-worker if needed.

          1. Bagpuss*

            No, I’m in the UK, but I think English and Australian English probably have more in common with each other than with American English!

    5. RagingADHD*

      I don’t think you need to approach it at all. Leave it alone. The other employee is allowed to have feelings about being asked to work. Those feelings are not your problem and you don’t need to address them.

      If they say something to you again, just reply “I’m not the one who asked you to come in. I was on vacation. If you want to discuss your schedule, that’s between you and the manager.”

      It’s the manager’s job to determine coverage and figure out that they probably need to hire more people. Sit tight and let them do their job.

      1. Wendy*

        What I mean by what is the best way to approach the issue is the following…

        What should I do or say if the fuel center employee, who complained about closing on Saturday, continues to complain to me?

        I am also looking for advice regarding what to tell management if they ask me why I did not answer my phone.

        I do not intend to approach that employee myself and tell him something.

        Nor do I intend to approach management.

        1. Office Gumby*

          What to say to that employee who continues to complain to you about covering while you’re gone? “Why are you complaining to me? I don’t set the schedule.”

          Sounds like he’s taking his frustration out on you as a manipulation tactic. Sounds like he’s trying to guilt you into covering for those times he doesn’t feel like working. Clearly he can’t get the scheduling management to change, so he’s trying to make you change.”

          What to say to management when they ask why you didn’t answer the phone: “I was on vacation. Why would I come in to work when I’m on vacation?” You say it in a way that sounds like it’s obvious that normal people don’t ask vacationers to come to work.

          Out of curiosity, has management in the past questioned why you didn’t answer your phone on vacation? Or are you trying to pre-empt a possible question from a potentially toxic workplace? Unless the situation happens, don’t spend time or energy worrying about it. Management should already understand that people on vacation are naturally unavailable.

    6. Lunch Ghost*

      Can you discuss with the fuel lead that people keep calling you to come in while you’re on vacation? It sounds like he was supportive around you getting to take your vacation last time. I’m torn on whether to say you should mention the coworker also- it was inappropriate of him to complain to you but he does have a right to be annoyed (again, not with you but with management) about being called in to work during his “unavailable” hours. Unless there’s actually a policy that vacation supercedes regular availability.

  25. korangeen*

    I could use some advice on how to handle a minor workplace annoyance. I’m usually of the mind of “you do your job and I’ll do mine,” but for the past few months I’ve been working on a small team that’s much more collaborative. There’s one co-worker who on occasion changes something I did without asking, sometimes introducing factual errors while doing so that I don’t discover until later. Personally I would only change someone else’s work without asking if it were an unusual emergency situation, and otherwise I would make a suggested edit or comment, or perhaps ask someone why they did something a certain way. I find her changing my work without asking frustrating. In particular for an instance where it’s not an error, just different personal preferences in doing things, what’s a good way to react without coming across as passive aggressive? Or is there no good way really, and since it’s a relatively minor thing, the best thing for me to do is take a deep breath and let it go?

    1. Jay*

      How about being direct? “I noticed you changed ABC to XYZ. I’m curious why” in a very calm and inquisitive tone of voice – not challenging, You genuinely want to know. Listen to answer. “I appreciate how thoughtful you are about the work. I’m not comfortable having my reports changed without my input, though. In the future, I’d appreciate it if you’d check with me first.” If that doesn’t solve the problem and she continues to introduce errors, you may need to take it up the food chain. I don’t tolerate having my writing edited without the opportunity to review, so I would go to the mat about this. It might not be worth it for you *except* for the errors. That’s not OK.

    2. Lana Kane*

      It’s not a minor thing to edit someone else’s work without their permission, period – and even worse when the edits are wrong. It’s also not passive aggressive to talk about it with that person. “Hey, I’ve noticed you have made edits on my work – how come?” Unless the reason is, “Boss told me to”, then it’s ok to ask them not to do that anymore and to come to you if they feel something should be edited so you can make that call.

    3. DarthVelma*

      I think you have to address it head on if their changes introduce factual errors. And if they don’t stop, turn on track changes on your documents and use Lock Tracking so they can’t turn track changes off without a password that you just don’t give them.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      Hey, Jane, the last time you changed my TPS report, you actually added a mistake. In the future, please don’t change anything without talking to me first.

    5. Bagpuss*

      I think address it directly – mention that they’ve made changes which have introduced errors, and ask that in future, the don’t make changes to your work without speaking to you first. You can say that you’re always happy to hear suggestions, and that you’re also happy to explain why you have done things in a certain way, but that you’d prefer that they not actually change things without speaking to you first.

    6. korangeen*

      Thanks for the suggestions. In this small group, everything is so collaborative that I don’t feel like I can say/imply “that’s mine, back off.” And yes, when she introduces an error, that seems more obvious to address, but when it’s just different personal preferences, I’m not really sure how to approach that. And most of this is remote through slack and google docs, so tone of voice is harder to control (though to be honest, I’m probably not great at coming off cheerful and pleasant in person either, ha.)

      1. retired4*

        Doesn’t collaborative mean you respect each other? If this matters to you, that should be a thing others respect. I don’t think collaborative means you can’t be appropriately assertive about your needs (or even your preferences).

    7. Free Meerkats*

      Assuming they are computer documents, I’d just turn on “Track Changes” and “Lock Tracking” password protect my final document. They can then change it all they want, but they can’t hide that they were the one who did the change.

  26. matcha123*

    First part is that I’ve found a new job. My contract was not renewed at my old job. My former boss was surprised. My supervisor was surprised. I was surprised and panicked. I did look through some of the sample cover letters on this site and used some to help create cover letters that spoke to my abilities. Speaking with other coworkers helped me to focus on positives about myself that I’d never noticed before.
    Very happy to have secured employment.

    A portion of this new job may involve data analytics. Which is great because it is something I’m interested in becoming more proficient in. After I learned that I wouldn’t have a job from April, I spent my days studying Google Analytics and now have their individual qualification certificate. It’s only a small step.

    My big worry is about math. I have studied Python and now I’m trying to learn more about JavaScript and R. But vids I’ve seen on YouTube say that a good math foundation is necessary for programming and data analysis.
    What do you all recommend? I have math anxiety. I spent elementary through college crying through math classes. When I see formulas, I think “why does this matter? How did they come up with this? Isn’t there an easier way?” and “Why am I so dumb?”

    Are there any sites you’d recommend to check out? or should I focus on JavaScript and things I feel more comfortable with first?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      I really like Khan Academy. They have some nice higher level math courses, as well as programming and computer science ones.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Seconding this! They draw on the whiteboard while narrating and it makes things click somehow.

        Think of math formulas like cheat codes in a video game. Someone else did all the nitty gritty, you just have to use it, doesn’t matter how it works. You know the formula for statistical significance just use it, don’t worry about the denominator being able to be reduced more. Reframe it from “I need to learn math” to “I need to lookup the best cheats and shortcuts for this video game then implement them”. Most people go from learning math formulas to learning coding formulas – you’re just doing the reverse. It will still work.

        1. matcha123*

          Thank you both! I just opened up two Khan Academy math classes in my tabs.

          I’ve found the writing part of programming, especially for Python, to be fine. But when I’ve done problems that needed some kind of math formula, however simple, everything breaks down. The same when a presenter for a Python or CS online course says something like, “Just a simple algebraic function that you used in school.”
          I really like the idea of programming, but whenever math comes up, I nope out. Now, I have to push myself to understand the concepts better ><

        2. Marvin the paranoid iphone*

          +1 Khan Academy

          A dear friend used this in almost exactly your circumstances. They had not taken math very far in high school and wanted to break into data science. Enrolled in a BSc Data Science but was hurting for lack of maths and stats.

          They had said later high school maths never made sense to them because something hadn’t clicked earlier than that. Math is very foundational, each layer does need to be fully grasped for the best chance of fully grasping what comes later.

          I recommended they do the entire Khan Academy high school curriculum, even for materials they were sure they already knew, because that was the best way to have solid foundations. Also if it became slightly boring I couldn’t think of any better way to defuse math anxiety – I don’t think we can be anxious about anything we find boring! (I use the same principle for rehearsing major presentations: do it until it’s boring to do it again, and then do it a couple more times anyway.)

          They did exactly as I suggested, they took Khan Academy through all high school and a lot of college math, graduated top of their class, got their dream data science job which sponsored an international move. I was so inspired in turn that I also started Khan Academy in a complete reset – and I have a degree in Pure Maths. :)

      2. Observer*

        That’s what I was coming to say.

        Also, now that you are actually doing data analytics, you’ll have more answers to the “why does this matter?” question.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I don’t have a lot of experience with programming, but I have written and edited a few small programs (in Excel VBA and Matlab). A friend broke programming down into two parts for me: (1) logic and (2) syntax.

      (1) Logic: what do you want the program to do? It helps me to start with drawing flow diagrams on a piece of paper. If you think of it as logic, and not as math, that may help your anxiety. “I have this number, where does it need to go? To the +3 box or to the ‘divide by 4’ box?”

      (2) Syntax: This step is translating your diagram from paper into the language of whatever program you are using. For me, this is a lot of googling: “how to use if statement excel,” “how to use if statement matlab,” etc. So if there is something you know you can do in Python that you think you should be able to do in JavaScript or R, you can search “[Python term] JavaScript equivalent.”

      1. matcha123*

        Drawing things out will probably help me a lot.
        And wow, I did not know Excel could be used to write programs!

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I didn’t either until my boss asked me to do it! He had a giant spreadsheet with a LOT of formulas and he wanted me to put the data processing in VBA to speed it up. All of the logic was already there, so most of my time was spent googling “[Excel formula] in VBA” and then typing that into the VBA window.

      2. -ing!*

        I’d second this! Especially because one thing I’d note about maths at work is that you don’t need to memorise anything, and googling the right formula is appropriate and professional – there’s no value in reinventing other people’s wheels.
        A foundation in maths is useful for knowing what’s possible, but at least in the analytics I’ve done, being able to approach problems logically is central.

    3. Alex*

      Honestly I didn’t really understand math until I studied programming, so the first thing I’d do is relax. You have a programming foundation! You’ll be fine.

      That said, I found the courses available on edx to be good (and free!). I did college algebra, precalculus, and calculus there.

    4. anonymath*

      Professional mathematician here!

      1) “why does this matter? How did they come up with this? Isn’t there an easier way?” GREAT QUESTIONS! in fact the questions that true mathematicians ask! For real! The first question I always ask is “why do I care?” Not in a snarky way, but for real. Why? What is important to me here? In a business context, that’s really important. Do we just need a directionally correct answer? Do we need this many decimals? In a data analytics context, do we care about outliers? do we care about averages? are we answering the wrong question with this data?

      2) Formulas: honestly when I read math papers (which you will almost certainly not need to do for your work) I skip the formulas at first. Instead I try to ask why we care first (why *I* care). Then when I know what I care about, I go to the formulas and see what they can tell me.

      3) Baby cases/toy problems. Almost always, try a simple example first. “Ok, my boss said she wants an understanding of the average number of days to process this type of order. I can just slap on an average, but I could also look at the median. Let’s look at a histogram of number of days…”

      1. anonymath*

        Had to leave to do stuff, so back. I think for data analytics the things you’d want to know would be your means/medians/variance/standard deviation/percent error/etc. If you are a person for whom context (that “why”) makes a big difference, try to find some stats or math books/tutorials/videos that work starting from the applications and ending with the formulas.

        The other way to get over some of your math feels and build your coding skills at the same time is to take classes like the Coursera courses “An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python”, as you build some video games and have to do a little math along the way.

        1. matcha123*

          It’s reassuring to hear from someone in your position! It sounds like I need to re-frame my tendency to think of questions as “ignorance” and think of them as “gaining insight”.
          I’ve written down everyone’s suggestions and will make myself a schedule for this month.

    5. Software Dev (she/her)*

      For data analytics you don’t really need to be good at math imo, you need to be good at logical reasoning. The code should do the math! Computers are a million times better at math than you. Also to be honest and maybe a bit controversial you don’t need to understand the math behind the formulas, many people have already verified they work, you just need to know when to use each formula and what the gotchas are. No one should be doing logistic regressions by hand or whatever.

      I have a backgrounds in stats and now do full time web dev and I am terrible at math, a combination of just finding it confusing conceptual space and dycalculia.

    6. Cedrus Libani*

      I’m a professional data wrangler, and honestly I think math is overrated. The one thing you really do need to know is basic statistics. Consider finding a “stats for pre-meds” or similar course / book. I earned my ramen back in grad school as a TA for the pharmacy school’s stats class; there’s a lot of educational material geared towards that population. They’re not math people, they’re not in a math class of their own free will, but if you’re going to do evidence-based medicine then you need at least a hand-wavy understanding of how that evidence works.

      1. matcha123*

        I have seen statistics come up in a number of videos as being necessary for data analytics. I never took a course in it, so I am nervous. Your recommendation is a very helpful starting place.

    7. Cat*

      Honestly from my perspective as a developer who uses Python+occasional R, you don’t need to know much math at all. I think statistics would be a better investment of time and even then I would focus on when you would use each test/type of analysis+ how to run them in a script rather than the math behind how it works. I don’t have any specific recommendations there but I’m sure there are some “stats for data analysts” courses out there. You may also want to check and see if your local community college has any stats offerings. All the college level stats classes I took just used R as part of the course so that could be a good way to brush up on both at the same time and a lot of times ccs have online classes you can take by themselves.

      On the topic of languages themselves I would recommend learning about the numpy+ pandas packages for python as you will probably be using them a lot if you are doing data analysis. Python is great because it’s super flexible and can do a lot of different things. However if you specifically want to take a dataframe/csv, do some statistical analysis, and then make a visualization, I’d probably recommend just using R because it is pretty well tuned for that. For R I’d recommend learning about ggplot and also Rmarkdown if you want to produce some impressive reports. I also highly recommend just googling “python/r *whatever issue you are having/test you want to run/etc” at any point.

      1. matcha123*

        Someone I know has been in love with R since forever and they keep trying to get me to learn it! I does sound like it can do a lot. Thank you for your recommendations!
        It looks like my next step is to find some courses on statistics and start getting up to speed there!

        1. linger*

          Back in the late 80s/early 90s, there was a program called SYSTAT, which was originally developed as a stats package for teaching purposes (a free student version called MYSTAT had equivalent functionality but limits on size of dataset). SYSTAT 5.2.2 (1990) ran on MacOS6 – OS9. It shipped with a set of toy datasets, the whole package fitting onto two floppy disks, and Leland Wilkinson’s manual for the program was, in effect, a teach-yourself statistics coursebook with worked examples that you could then try out and play around with. Much of what I learned about statistics and data presentation came from that manual, and even today I’d recommend it for someone approaching stats from a programming background.
          Alas, SYSTAT was purchased by SPSS (which stopped developing it for Mac), and redesigned first as a science package, and then for business analytics, and sold on to Crane. Recent versions bear no relationship to the original.

  27. KayDeeAye*

    I am hoping to retire in a couple of years, but for both financial and keeping-myself-active reasons, I would like to get a part-time job, one that is either really close so the commute is minimal or almost entirely remote.

    I’ve thought about tutoring in English/writing (I am a writer) and I’ve thought about freelancing (ditto), but I’ve also thought about finding some sort of part-time position with the state historical society or with a local historic park.

    I realize this is a really open-ended question, but…any ideas or suggestions? Regarding tutoring, are there any red flags I need to look for when considering tutoring companies? I don’t know much about them, but I suspect some are much, much better than others.

    For either of the historical ones, should I try volunteering first and seeing if I could work my way into something? Or once I’m a volunteer, will I be considered volunteer-only material for ever?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      The city I live in (~250,000 people, decent immigrant population) has a volunteer writer tutor program at the library. I think it is geared toward helping English language-learners improve their English writing. If a similar program exists in your area, it may be a good way to try out tutoring on a very part-time basis and give you an idea of what to look for when you apply to tutoring companies.

    2. Wordnerd*

      I don’t know a lot about tutoring companies, but if you have any community colleges in your area, they may be able to hire you in their writing center, depending on your qualifications. (4-year universities may be able to hire you, but many have peer tutors.)
      As Hlao-roo said (omg best user name ever, hey Pipkin), volunteering with a tutoring program would definitely help you get a feel for if you enjoy the work.

    3. Camelid coordinator*

      I’d use the next couple of years to try out different organizations and activities and see what you like. I suggest having informational interviews and conversations fairly early on with people in those organizations. You could highlight your skills and what you’d like to do next so that people consider what you’d add as an employee. You’d learn what might be possible down the road.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        Also, in case it helps, this is what I did. I was aware of a new organization being set up to do things I really believed in. It seemed to me that if it was successful it was going to need staff with my skills and that our timelines might align, which they (mostly ) did.

    4. CubeFarmInmate#644*

      I tutored for a year as a volunteer, then professionally for another three. Most use a model where your hours are limited to less than 20/week and some have clauses where you can’t work for a competitor concurrently. Some assign you to specific students on a regular schedule, others use a floating pool based on sho is available. Almost all operate as franchises, so the scheduling, pay, and duties depend on the franchise owner. Freelancing is a better beg for more regular pay, volunteering on your own for flexible hours. Most tutoring focuses on evening (afterschool) and weekend hours. Places like C2 Education focus more on standardized test prep (older crowd) and structured curricula (doing things Their Way). Huntington Learning and its academics focused competitors like Kumon focus on skill building (teach how to infer things from a reading, vocab building, etc.). Some, like Varsity tutoring, charge a large hourly rate which you receive a portion of, and you travel to the student’s home to work, with parents present. Others do block rates ($X for 500 hrs for Y students in a household), like C2 and Huntington, with a fixed rate for employees (you get $W/hr regardless). Online tutoring tends more to the % model, so read the fine print. You also have to worry about business drying up from bad reviews (ex. student wanted answers without doing the work, you refused, bad review leads to less interest from those not in the know) and not having colleagues to help (steel sharpens steel).

      Good luck and enjoy it

    5. Hen in a Windstorm*

      My MIL retired from an accounting job and tried several different paid and volunteer PT jobs until she found one she really liked. Try them all! It’s totally low stakes. You’ll have all the power to walk away if they don’t work for you for whatever reason.

      She did a Christmas season ice park thing 2 years where most of the others were high school kids, she volunteered at a museum transferring handwritten index cards to a database, she was a docent at an open air museum/historic house. She ended up liking the docent thing the most and dropped the others. She works Tues, Thurs and every 3rd weekend and she’s been there like 3 years now.

  28. Teacher to Nonprofits*

    I am a very jinx-averse person, but I’m going to ask anyway. I’ve been job-hunting for months, with a full-time exhausting job. After a lot of resume reworking, I’m finally seeing positive results. Currently I’m interviewing with about 6 different places, but in the final top 3 candidates for two jobs.

    Here comes the jinx issue: Company A is prepared to make a decision next week. My final interview went really well and I think I might get it. However, I am much more interested in Company B. My final interview with them is in 10 days (there’s a reasonable and paid project to complete before). I want this job SO BAD. I love everything about their vibe, work, and the job itself. It pays much better and is in the city I want to move to. It would be more of a transition so I’m not as confident I’ll get hired, but I have made it to top 3 so that’s something.

    What should I do if offered Job A? What are the ethical implications of accepting, knowing I’d still do my final interview with Company B? Can I accept and then say “never mind” after a week? How honest should I be with both?

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      I had this exact situation around ten years ago.. I accepted job with a start date a few weeks out, then of course in the interim B came in with the offer.

      I felt awful but rescinded my acceptance with A since B was the one I really wanted. In the end that was the right decision for me, but it was certainly a burned bridge with A (which of course I knew would be the case and was ok with)

    2. 404_FoxNotFound*

      I’ve seen folks try to stretch the period during which they consider job offer A in order to be able to receive (or not) a job offer B.
      That said, based on what you said I’d probably recommend you reach back out to Company B to let them know once you’ve received an actual offer from Company A to get a sense for what their timeline is, letting them know you’ve loved interviewing etc. with them and are curious if they’re able to shift it. Who knows, the timing could end up very convenient for you!

      I believe AAM has covered situations like this one in the past if you’re curious for actual scripts.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is exactly what I did. While waiting to hear from Exjob, another company offered me a job, but it was temporary, covering for someone else’s mat leave. I asked them if I could let them know by the end of the week and then emailed ExBoss.

        I said something like, “Hey, just checking in. I’ve received an offer and I was wondering about your timeline for a decision. Based on our conversations, I would really like to work with your team, so if you could let me know, I’d appreciate it.” I did NOT tell her the offered job was temporary.

        She emailed me back well before the deadline with an offer. Thanks to my editing test, I was the top contender, and the possibility of losing me lit a fire under their butts. If you get an offer from Company A, it’s worth a try. Good luck!

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      I agree with 404, if/when you receive the offer from Company A, I’d reach out to Company B to get their input and then I’d go back to Company A and ask for 5-7 days to think it over. Most reasonable companies will give you a pretty wide timeframe to decide on whether you’d like to accept the job (and if they push you for a decision it’s a red flag) so in all honesty, I think you’ll be ok with Company A and waiting it out.

      If push comes to shove you can accept the role with Company A and ditch them for Company B but it’s a pretty unethical thing to do in my opinion, especially since you know you’re accepting the offer in potentially bad faith.

      To me, your scenario is different from one where say, you interviewed at Company B first, didn’t hear anything for a month or so, interviewed with A, accepted an offer and then all of a sudden B came back out of nowhere with an offer that you couldn’t turn down. In your situation, your interviewing with both places simultaneously and using Company A as a stalking horse.

      Here’s hoping Company B comes a calling and everything works out!

  29. Hopeful Ex-Librarian*

    Hi! On this episode of Anxiety is Fun: Job Hunting Edition….

    At some point, I applied for a quality assurance position and last night (around 5pm) got a call wanting to talk to me about my experience and about the job, after getting my resume from Indeed.

    Which is great! Problem is, the person calling didn’t give a company name, and the job (“quality assurance” was all I got) could be several options. I have a Trello board full of job descriptions and my application materials, but without knowing the specifics of the job, I feel like I wasn’t able to prepare as well (like if they ask me for specifics of why I applied). I took basic notes that could fit for a few of the different jobs I applied for, and I’m hoping that’s fine. I know a quick “find out about the job” won’t be anything super in-depth, but I like to be as prepared as I can. I tried googling the number and name and no luck.

    Anyway, I called this person back first thing this morning (once I had food and a little coffee, trying to put my best foot forward), but got her voicemail. I left a message, but I’m wondering if this constant phone tag will be a detriment to me as a candidate. I’m commuting to work later today, and I take public transit so talking on the phone during my commute is not an option. I don’t know what this person has going on today, if they’re even in the office…. But I’m worried this phone tag won’t make me look good.

    Also if it’s not said by the person, is there a nice way to ask what company the job is for?

    On my applications (or even resume and cover letters), I have that email is preferred, and now I have that on my voicemail as well. Emails are generally easier for me to respond to (I work two jobs but can sometimes check email throughout the day), and usually people just email. Plus, partially due to my anxiety, I like a paper trail. I’m also wondering, if I had answered last night, would I have been expected to talk right there and then?

    And a shoutout to a letter earlier this week about whitelisting calls – I have unknown numbers go straight to voicemail, but I added this person as a contact.

    Thanks for reading this. I’m happy I even got called for an interview, that makes me hopeful cause job hunting suuuuuucks.

    1. ferrina*

      I love that you have a Trello board for job hunting! That’s brilliant!

      It sounds like they’ve called you and you’ve called back, which isn’t quite phone tag yet. If you can pick up, I would (even if you’re on the bus). You can say “I’m actually on the bus right now- when would be a good time for me to call you back?” That way you can quickly schedule a good time that both of you can talk.

      For the mystery job- yes, I’ve been in that boat! Usually I can fake it until they mention what the company is (and sometime you can even prompt it by saying “I’d love to know a little more about the company”), but it’s also okay to say “I’m so sorry, but where are you calling from again?” A reasonable recruiter won’t be annoyed by this (and an unreasonable one would have found some reason to get annoyed anyways).

      Good luck!

      1. Hopeful Ex-Librarian*

        Thank you! Using Trello is way easier than a spreadsheet for me, because I can copy/paste the job description and any application materials to a card. I have lists for possible job options, jobs I’ve applied to, jobs I’ve heard back from. Each card has a different colored label, like what type of job it is, if I’ve gotten an interview, etc. I love it.

        Anyway, if I get a call back, I’ll answer if I can. Bur I’ve been on the other end of calls where the person I’m talking to is clearly driving or not in a good location, and it’s hard to hear them. My hearing also isn’t the greatest even normally, and adding in Transit and Street Sounds makes it worse. I’m really hoping if I can’t answer, they’ll email me but IDK.

        And good to know about asking which company they’re from! I don’t want to sound like I’m an idiot or not prepared, but you’re right that a reasonable person won’t hold that against me.

        Thanks for this response! :D

        1. Ashkela*

          I use Trello for work and fell in love with it lol.

          You can always go with the old adage of ‘Help me spell it correctly?’ to help get the name maybe?

          1. Hopeful Ex-Librarian*

            Right? It’s so nice to use! I mostly just use it for job hunting right now, but in a previous job I used it to keep track of projects and stuff I needed to do and it was fantastic.

            Ooo I like this question, thank you!

    2. RagingADHD*

      The phone tag isn’t on you, there’s no reason it would make you look bad.

      For finding out the company, just ask. “Sorry, I didn’t catch the company name, and I have a couple of applications out. Who are you with?”

    3. Free Meerkats*

      You could try a reverse search on the phone number. May or may not return useful information, but it can be free.

  30. Kesnit*

    This happened yesterday and I wanted some outside take on this…

    My wife and I are both pagan. My employer knows this and it has never been an issue. We both have FB accounts. I do not post anything that is not behind a friend filter, and anything pagan-related uses an even more limited filter than standard posts. My wife mostly filters her posts, but a review of her publicly-accessible posts does show a few about tarot cards and crystals and a few shared pictures with pentacles.

    Unbeknownst to me, a client looked me up on FB, then went to my wife’s FB. (My FB info says I am married to her. Clicking on that links to her FB.) My client apparently freaked out and sent a letter to my boss, asking for me to be replaced because I “lied to her” by telling her I “don’t believe in black magic.” (She brought up issue of magic as part of our professional discussions. I do not recall ever telling her anything about my own beliefs or practices.)

    My boss is fully supportive of me and agrees neither my wife nor I did anything wrong. (He went so far as to joke about dressing a female colleague in a black dress and black hat, painting her face green, and sending her to meet with the client by saying “I’m here to work with you, my pretty.”)

    I live and work in a conservative area, so obviously do not want my personal religious beliefs and practices to become common knowledge. Does anyone know of anything I can do that I haven’t already done to keep something like this from happening again? (Although I don’t like the idea, I know I will probably have to remove reference to my marriage from the About Me part of FB.)

    1. ferrina*

      Is it normal in your industry for clients to look at your FB page? That would be really odd in my industry, and reflect a lot more on the client than on me.

      I’d encourage you not to change a thing. What you are doing is really reasonable, you aren’t foisting religion on anyone, and you shouldn’t have to pretend that your religion doesn’t exist just because someone’s uncomfortable (see also: yesterday’s update on the LW who’s coworker listed all the things wrong with her religion). Your boss has your back and this is clearly an issue with the client, not with you.
      That said, if you want to lock down your FB more or share less information, you can do that. But you definitely don’t have to.

      1. A Difficult Woman*

        I agree. This all feels weird. Who does that? Don’t change anything. You’re not the weird one here.

      2. Kesnit*

        In 5 years, this is the first time I’ve had a client tell me they looked me up on FB. Of course, the only reason I know this one did is because she complained about it. For all I know, all of my clients have FB-ed me and not said anything.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          It’s much more likely the complainer is weird and intrusive and either the only one who bothered looking for you on FB or the only one who bothered to do so looking for something to complain about.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      This sounds like an edge case to me. It seems unlikely that another client is going to:

      1. Look at your FB account
      2. Follow it to your wife’s account
      3. See something they don’t like
      4. Bring it up to your boss

      I think if clients are doing any of this, they stop after #1. I wouldn’t change anything.

    3. Miel*

      Your client sounds out of line, but I’m a big fan of keeping my public fb profile extremely locked down anyway.

    4. RagingADHD*

      This person is a stalkery weirdo who makes things up to complain about. The only way to prevent stalker weirdos from being stalkery is to go on a total digital lockdown. There is no reason for you to do that, particularly since your boss has your back.

      There is no way to avoid people making things up to complain about. The less they find the more they will make up, anyway.

    5. Observer*

      I’ve always been a fan of not posting anything on FB that I don’t want my mother, my boss, the NYT and the local new paper to know.

      The bottom line is that you need to decide if keeping this really underground is important to you or not. It’s totally up to you – you are allowed to decide that you don’t want to give anything for even the most unreasonable client to complain about or that you don’t really care if unreasonable people get on their high horse if they go looking and find something they don’t like.

      If it’s the latter, you’re fine. If it’s the former, you need to lock things down more, including being careful about who you allow to post on your wall and who tags you.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      How easy is it to find your facebook account? Do you have a photo of yourself up? What is accessible publicly? I know you said your posts aren’t, but I mean, what of your userinfo and so on is. What else is in the About Me that could make you recognisable? Location? Job? As a teacher, I do not use a photo of me or any people on my facebook account.I think I currently have a waterfall and my name is common enough that it would be VERY difficult, if not impossible, to know which of the numerous facebook accounts with my name was mine. Other colleagues use the Irish-language version of their name, for example a David might go under Daithí or a John use Seán.

    7. Llellayena*

      Don’t change a thing. If someone else is offended because they snooped, found something they don’t understand and misinterpreted it, that’s not on you. This is your religion and therefore a protected class, so she doesn’t have a leg to stand on here. It’s sad that you even have to hide it at much as you do. My take is that if they’re going to be offended by you living your life then you don’t want them as a client anyway (though obviously that’s not entirely your call).

      1. Despachito*

        This.

        Moreover (and not that it matters even if it were you), the snooper found YOUR WIFE’s page and infers things about YOU from that? What if you were of a different religion than your wife? Also, does being pagan mean that you automatically believe in black magic?

        Even if all the above was true it would still not be that person’s business, but this is just to point out the several layers of stupid this person was demonstrating. That’s on them, not on you. Don’t change anything.

    8. allathian*

      Ouch, I’m sorry that happened to you. Your boss has your back, so you’re lucky in that regard. He clearly understands that the client’s an outlier.

    9. Foley*

      I had something similar happen to me last year. I had a similar impulse as you and the first thing I did was take my accounts private. But it was pointed out by almost everyone that it said way more about the person ‘investigating’ me than it did about me. So after a hiatus (because I really did feel violated), I made them public again and kept on living.

  31. Middle Manager*

    Folks who work in a different time zone than you live in, any advice or tip+tricks to adjusting the flow of your day?

    I live on the east coast in ET, but recently started working for a west coast org in PT hours — which means their 8-5 is my 11-8. I’m enjoying the slower mornings, but having a harder time planning my meals and post-work activities. Yesterday, I was in meetings from 12-4:30 straight and had a very belated lunch, which then also meant a late dinner (9).

    I try to eat at my desk during ET lunch hours and take my full break later in my work day to break it up, but it’s been a tougher adjustment than I thought.

    I’d love to hear any pro tips or obvious tricks I might be overlooking from other people who’ve lived this life! :)

    1. ferrina*

      Eat lunch at your regular time, just turn the camera off in meetings. You can also block off half an hour for lunch on your calendar if that makes things easier.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I work on the East Coast, my manger and teammates are on the West, and other colleagues are in APAC or Europe, so my schedule can be challenging. I have started doing meal prep and other errands/light housework in the morning before I get started. I might do some at lunch too, or get out and take walk before eating lunch at my desk (I don’t mind). I don’t have a lot of last minute meetings, so I can often block off time on my calendar for dinner when I notice that a day is getting particularly busy and I otherwise wouldn’t eat until late. It helps to have understanding colleagues and leadership, which I do, and we all try to accommodate each other’s schedules when we can. I don’t regularly schedule meetings for 8am there time, and they don’t schedule them at for 6pm for me. Sure it happens some times, but rarely more than once or twice a week, which I basically just live with.

    3. Princess Xena*

      Is there any way you could flex your schedule by an hour? Start at pdt 8, end at pdt 4?

    4. Marvin the paranoid iphone*

      I had a year where I kept UK hours from Australia, which depending on the season is 12 or 14 hours’ difference.

      There’s not really a lot to be done with that level of difference. I accepted that my work day was 6pm – 4am. It was during COVID lockdowns so I wasn’t leaving the home anyway, and there are no children. I slept maybe 6am – 2pm so I overlapped about 2pm – 10pm with my partner.

      For same-continent time zone differences I echo all the advice you’ve already been given: flex your work schedule slightly if permitted; flex your home schedule only slightly (eat when it’s local eating time); block out calendar time for meals.

      The hardest part for me of stopping work at 4am was that I can’t go straight from work mode to sleep. I need time to decompress, especially as with any normal schedule we usually have at least a few and usually several hours between end of work and start of sleep. Some time planning to ensure I had no queued tasks for that period helped, likewise moving away from my screen and work table for a mental separation.

  32. Amber Rose*

    Let’s talk dress codes please!

    We work in a low-risk manufacturing warehouse. The most severe injury we’ve had in the 7 years I’ve been here was poor Wakeen who dropped something heavy on his finger. That said, we have the usual range of dangerous things like grinders, cutters, forklifts and newly a plasma cutter than I keep a tight leash on.

    The dress code which has existed since the dawn of time says legs must be covered. I’m getting push back on that now because of the few women who wear dresses/skirts. The guys get hot in summer and wanna wear shorts. I personally have no issue with it from a professionalism standpoint. We’re 100% casual wear anyway. What I can’t figure out, and Google is not helping, is if I should have an issue with it from a safety standpoint. Is it really any more risky to have your legs bare than your arms?

    I want to have my response well thought out before I approach management, especially because now that I’m looking at it, our dress code sucks and would benefit from a complete rewrite.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I think you hit the nail on the head with your question: Is it really any more risky to have your legs bare than your arms?

      Unless there’s some tool / situation in particular that might target the legs, I don’t think this is a safety issue.

      OTOH, ye gads, I think shorts introduce a policing issue of what’s too short / unprofessional. Do you want to open that can of worms?

      1. Amber Rose*

        My plan is to say knee length is a guidelines and then say managers get final decision. Then it’s not my can of worms. xD

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      There is a concern with dropped items that there isn’t as much a concern for arms, especially ricocheting metal off the floor. Also it’s a hell of a lot easier to rinse your arms off than it is your legs at work. Can you introduce more fans or other cooling options in summer rather than reduce the pants?

      1. Amber Rose*

        There’s not much to rinse off, fortunately. We use exactly two chemicals, and one of them is vinegar. The other is barely more harmful than that. The ricochet is a slight concern, but I can’t imagine what we have that would hit the ground at speeds high enough to be a risk.

        I feel like fans would be a higher risk, since they’d be blowing debris around.

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      Would the skirts/dresses be more likely to get caught in some piece of equipment? Other than that I don’t know what the safety issues might be

      1. Mannequin*

        It sounds like women are already wearing skirts/dresses, and men want the option to have bare legs too.

    4. Miel*

      At my manufacturing workplace (which is decidedly higher risk than yours!) – people can wear shorts for most jobs. Shorts need to be close to knee length.

      Steel toe shoes and other PPE is required, as needed by position.

      If you’re rewriting your dress code, I’d also encourage you to make it a gender-neutral dress code! (Don’t spell out what men can wear and what women can wear; instead, spell out acceptable and unacceptable clothing.)

      1. Amber Rose*

        Thank you for your response!

        The gender neutrality thing is part of why I want to re-write it. I’ve already completely revamped our parental leave policy to be gender neutral earlier this year. Sneaky-like, I’m slowly making our company documentation extremely inclusive. :)

    5. Becky*

      I don’t know if maybe OSHA has any particular safety guidelines for your industry, but maybe check there?

      If there *is* an issue with bare legs from a safety standpoint, then it does need to be enforced equally–so those women wearing skirts and dresses will need to be informed of the proper dress code.

    6. Anonymous healthcare person*

      I would assume that there is a state/provincial set of rules for safety in work environments like yours. As far as I know, those rules HAVE to be followed or there are legal/liability issues. It should be easy to find online and that will tell you if the clothing options you are looking at are allowed or not. I would assume it is not up to you or to your company as to whether shorts/dresses etc are allowed. HR should know this stuff, and if the company has a legal department, so should they. I would be surprised if dresses are allowed, for example, because of the possibility of tangling in equipment, but this will completely depend on the rules in your jurisdiction.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Believe it or not, no. The Code merely states that if clothing is liable to get caught in machinery, I must require my workers to wear close-fitting clothing, and if there’s a flash fire hazard, I must require them to wear flame-resistant fabrics. Aside from that and specific PPE requirements, it’s left to individual company decision as to what “safe clothing” is.

        We don’t have HR or legal, we are a small company. But the OH&S Code, Act and Regulation sits on my desk and I am well-versed in it.

    7. Purple Cat*

      The dress code should definitely be gender-neutral. If legs must be covered, they must be covered for everybody.
      We’re not allowed bare legs in the plant, and arms are covered by lab coats. Chemical spills are the concern here. So think about what is used for cleanup in your plant. Flowiness is also an issue. What can get caught in machinery? And then think about roles. Is it really gender that’s driving the difference in apparel, or that people are doing different things and it happens to be split across gender lines.

      1. Amber Rose*

        People are just doing different things because our dress code is so poorly written, it’s way too ambiguous about what’s allowed. The dress code itself isn’t split across genders exactly, although the way it’s written allows for that to happen, which is why I want a re-write.

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

      Is there any guidance from OSHA (assuming US) on proper or required clothing? I would think dresses/skirts/shorts are a no go for anyone WORKING on a shop floor with machinery, but OK for office staff who are only on the floor for a short time. Is there a reason the dress code can’t be specific on when/where certain clothing is required or banned? i.e. If they are operating the grinder or plasma cutter, they have to wear a coverall or leather apron…if they are driving the forklift, shorts are allowed.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Canada, and the answer is sort of. The Code requires that I ensure employees who are at risk of catching in something wear close-fitting clothing. But aside from a variety of rules on PPE, it doesn’t specify how much skin has to be covered by clothes. That’s left up to employer discretion.

        I want to add a section into the dress code which says: “Employees who work in safety sensitive positions are required to dress appropriately for their role, taking into consideration of the following:”

        And then add stuff like if you work with the plasma cutter or grinder, wear pants.

        1. Eff Walsingham*

          Ah, Canada! Yes, until recently I was working in a warehouse with a metal roof. And can confirm that, at least in one province, you can legally be practically nekkid at work if you’re wearing PPE. When I arrived, my employer was grappling (not literally) with men who were working with no shirts on, just a harness of reflective straps. Having established a policy that shirts must be worn, we then had to get into how-short-is-too-short regarding (women’s) shorts. There were at least two young women – good workers – whose shorts did not show below their safety vests. I left before the matter was fully adjudicated. But, having spent a year on the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee, I can confirm that the law may not necessarily help you.

          I’m not a prude, I swear! But personally I wouldn’t feel secure doing physical work in such insubstantial clothes.

          1. OtterB*

            “When I arrived, my employer was grappling (not literally) with men who were working with no shirts on”

            Just wanted to thank you for the needed laugh from this

          2. Dragon*

            OT, but watch the episode “K-Town” from the CBS TV series S.W.A.T. (S1 E11).

            In the opening sequence, women workers in an illegal drug operation pack dangerous illegal drugs while wearing transparent full PPE over bikinis.

            1. Eff Walsingham*

              That reminds me of the time I had occasion to change in the back room of a dry cleaner’s (longish story). I passed through the area where the big presses were. It was roughly 40 degrees (the hot way) and the men who ran the presses were wearing only underwear.

    9. Lady_Lessa*

      Is there any chance of flying sparks or metal pieces? If so, then please keep the legs covered, because the cloth might prevent skin damage.

      For chemical safety, I frankly think that bare skin is safer because there is no cloth to hold the acid (for example) on the skin during the rinse/washing process.

      As far as lengths, I feel that knee level is reasonable, and for women, moderately wide skirts (not pencil because I think that they make moving harder.

      I would also stress no jewelry that can get caught in moving equipment.

      FYI, my background is chemistry and I frequently work around machinery.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Thank you for your input! We really only have two chemicals here, vinegar and isopropyl. So I’m not too concerned about spills. Sparks and metal pieces sort of (the plasma cutter sprays sparks like a firework) but they’re more of a hazard to arms than legs I think. The leather aprons are quite long.

        We do have rules about jewellery and hoodie strings and other dangling bits already, though I plan to make them clearer along with the rules for footwear.

    10. Redhaired runner*

      OSHA provides some guidance for this if you are US based. I will post a link to an article discussing this below.

    11. Observer*

      It strikes me that the bigger question is whether you should require sleeves rather than allow shorts.

      But I think that ultimately, I think that your idea about being less prescriptive, except for the safety related stuff is a good approach. So some positions are going to need long pants and sleeves, and others can go with shorts / skirts and short sleeves.

    12. Hotdog not dog*

      When my dad ran a warehouse, their dress code went by the tasks. Welders needed to have arms and legs covered, anyone working around machinery with moving parts needed to wear fitted clothing, no loose hair or jewelry; and people who didn’t interact with machinery (office, shipping, inventory, etc) could dress for their day. Undergarments, areas that would ordinarily be covered by undergarments, and offensive tattoos could not be exposed. Shop coveralls were available in case anyone needed or wanted them, but weren’t required. Closed toe shoes at all times for everyone. (The only way to access the office or restroom was from the shop floor, so even office people had to have safe shoes.) Same dress code applied to all genders.

    13. Tex*

      What about heavy knee or ankle length protective aprons, requiring pants/overalls if they are working on/or in the vicinity of X and Y machine? That way they are not 100% in pants during the summer. I am assuming that the place is not air conditioned, so the push back by all.

    14. Siege*

      What are the skirts like? If they’re knee-length skirts, you probably can’t argue against shorts, but if they’re full-length skirts (the only people I ever saw wear skirts/dresses at my warehouse job were the East African women on the cleaning crew and their skirts are full length and may have been over pants) shorts aren’t really the same thing. But we had the close-fitting requirement because of the machinery.

  33. Internist*

    I’m an intern in a technical field. I have a mentor who is supposed to be my go-to for all questions. However, he has only a year of experience and I’m realizing there are some issues he actually doesn’t know much more than me about. He makes a monumental effort to help me, but this week his ‘solutions’ have just lead me in circles and I’ve fallen behind on my deliverables.

    He is my main advocate at the company, so I’m very afraid of doing anything to alienate him, but I’m also very frustrated. Is there a way to ask to for someone else more senior to work with me at times? I don’t want to get him in trouble because he is putting in a ton of hours trying to help and I do appreciate his efforts.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Is your mentor honest about what he doesn’t know? In other words, is more like “Geez. I don’t know. I think this solution may work,” or is it more like “This is definitely the solution”?

      If your mentor is honest about the fact he doesn’t know that much more than you, you two can work together to isolate what you can actually gain from working with him and what you might want to gain from a more senior person.

      If you’re worried, however, about your mentor having a fragile ego, you may have to frame the looking for a second mentor in a more delicate way.

      1. Internist*

        Yeah, I think he has a bit of a fragile ego around this. We come from similar backgrounds and are alums of the same school, so I think he identifies closely with me and really prides himself on his work as my mentor. It makes it hard to push back against anything.

        His knowledge level has been totally fine for introducing me to the basics of our work, but as I move beyond the basics and encounter trickier problems, he doesn’t seem to realize he’s pushing up against the limits of his knowledge.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Maybe you can reach out to someone else with questions your official mentor can’t answer, but not necessarily look for a second “mentor” relationship? Hopefully, you’re allowed to talk to other people, too. It just doesn’t have to be an ongoing relationship.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      Could you frame it as wanting a second opinion or a different perspective? As in, “I’m really interested in learning more about teapot glaze, and I’d love to get some extra background on that…who else can I speak with so I don’t monopolize your time?”

      1. A Feast of Fools*

        Yep, I was going to suggest this. And you can frame it as wanting to network, get to know more people in the company, and/or putting the things you’re learning from him into a bigger context so you gain a better understanding of how the company operates.

  34. Obviously Not the Favorite*

    This feels really stupid and petty to care about but it’s really bothering me. I’m a manager and have an assistant manager that is part of the leadership team with me and my boss (the director). Lately I’ve been feeling like my boss is playing favorites with my assistant manager in a really personal way – normally I don’t take things personally at work, but this is really bothering me.

    My assistant manager has been here about a year longer than I have, and directly reported to my boss for 2 months before I was hired (they have directly reported to me since I came onboard). They have been here 4 years, and I have been here 3 years, and our work anniversaries are relatively close together (theirs is right before mine). On my assistant manager’s work anniversary, my director sent her a not insubstantial gift card from both of us as an anniversary gift. Mine came and went a few weeks later, and all I got was a “thank you for the hard work you do” message on slack.

    Fast forward to the recent past. One of my parents has a progressive illness and recently took a turn for the worse. I had to take some time off to help care for them, and while I am not their primary caregiver, I spend a fair amount of my off time caring for this parent and helping my family. My boss knew all about this, was supportive of me taking time off, and I felt really supported by them at the time. A week later, my assistant manager had a family member hospitalized and is staying with assistant manager while they recuperate. I told them to please take all the time they need and just keep me informed of when they would be available and not available as best they could (trying to emulate how my boss treated me, which I thought was very fair and kind). Then I get a message from my boss that they have sent my assistant manager flowers because they are “having such a hard time right now” and boss has been making a big deal out of it at all our leadership meetings. They have not asked about my parent at all.

    All of the feedback I have received from my boss has been really positive and I’m not sure where this inequity of treatment is coming from. I don’t actually need gift cards or flowers or to talk about my ill parent at work, but it bothers me that my boss goes above and beyond for one of us and not the other – and the one she does it for does not directly report to her. I also don’t feel like I can say anything to my boss without coming off as petulant. But should I address it somehow? Is there a tactful way to do that?

      1. pancakes*

        I agree, and will think about it. In the meantime I don’t think it’s stupid or petty to have noticed any of this or to care about it.

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      How old is your boss and what are the genders involved? If you are male and the assistant manager is female, I could see the boss potentially behaving in a more concerned way about the ill family member of the female as compared to a male. Fair? Not really, but I can totally see that. Or perhaps the manager is assuming that you don’t want to talk about your ill parent or want to be celebrated with much fanfare if you’re male. It seems to be a viewpoint that a lot of older folks have, at least in my part of the US. Women are fawned over in certain instances much more than men. Sorry about this….it sucks to feel less appreciated and have someone not show a serious situation much empathy or concern.

      1. Obviously Not the Favorite*

        We’re all female, I’m in my late 30s, my boss is in her 40s, and my assistant manager is in her 50s.

      2. Carmen*

        I’m not sure what part of the U.S. that you are in but women are most certainly not fawned over than men when it comes to caregiving. It’s pretty well documented that if anything men are fawned over when they perform the most basic caregiving tasks that women are expected to perform. Your experience or region must be some sort of outlier.

    2. MsM*

      If this genuinely seems out of character for your boss, I think it’d be fine to note what you’ve observed about the differences in how these situations are being handled, and then say something along the lines of, “I’ve been hesitant to raise this because I doubt there’s any bad intent here, but it’s precisely because I’ve always found you to be a caring and conscientious supervisor that I thought we should talk about it before something else comes up.” It’s possible she simply thinks you as a more senior and experienced employee don’t need quite the same level of emotional support and affirmation, and wasn’t considering that it might look like favoritism.

    3. Invisible today*

      Performance review time – I’m worried… I have only been in my job a year and my previous job didn’t have self-reviews… My new boss (who will be doing my review) has only been in his position a few months. Doesn’t help that my job description doesn’t match anything I do, and my boss has neither experience nor knowledge with what I actually do (how can he differentiate between mediocrity and excellence ?).

    4. Be kind, rewind*

      Any chance your boss is doing these things for your direct report because she thinks you should be doing it but aren’t? For example, the gift card she addressed from the both of you- maybe she’s trying to make you look like a supportive manager?

      The reason I thought of this is I once had a boss who would really go out of her way to make sure I was supporting my direct reports for things like these (family emergencies, etc.), and I got the impression it was her way of trying to coach me on this.

      That being said, my boss also did these things for her own direct reports (including me), so it’s not quite the same and doesn’t fully explain why your boss doesn’t do the same for you.

      In any case, I don’t blame you for feeling slighted- I would feel the same way! And I don’t need gift card or flowers, either, but that difference would be hard to ignore.

      1. Obviously Not the Favorite*

        I’m not sure, but my boss is usually pretty direct about stuff like this. To my knowledge, we’ve never sent anyone a gift card on their work anniversary, we didn’t do it for any of the others that I’ve been here for for any of my staff. Again, if that’s what we do now – great! But in that case I don’t know why I’m being excluded. I do have another direct report whose work anniversary is coming up so I thought about asking her to clarify the new protocol of sending gift cards for work anniversaries so I can make sure that my other employee gets one. With that said, what bothers me more is that it feels directly exclusionary to me, and I’m not sure why.

    5. OtterB*

      This does seem “off” on the face of it. Since your boss was kind and helpful when you were off with your parent, and the feedback you’re getting is good, it doesn’t seem like a case of wanting to make you feel unwelcome.

      I had an employee once who really cared a lot about being made a fuss over on special occasions. She didn’t sulk if she didn’t get the attention, but she was obviously delighted when she did. I don’t remember at this point but it wouldn’t surprise me if I’d gotten a card for her for some occasion when I didn’t do it for everyone. I wonder if this is something your boss knows about the assistant manager and therefore provides, but thinks you don’t feel the same way or maybe even thinks you actively dislike fuss?

    6. Strict Extension*

      Could your boss think the assistant manager isn’t as fairly compensated in general and is trying to make up for that as a retention measure? This sounds very similar to how I’ve been treated by employers who acknowledge that I’m undercompensated but for whatever reason can’t raise my pay.

      1. Obviously Not the Favorite*

        No that’s definitely not it. She is very well compensated for her work, both in terms of her role in our company and her position across the field.

  35. Massage therapy and other career options*

    Hello! I’m considering changing careers and becoming a massage therapist. Does anyone know how to judge whether a trade school (for massage therapy or anything else) is worth the investment of time and money, and will actually help you be employable in a new career? The one I’m looking at would be $12,000 and a six-month commitment, plus I’d have to leave my current job and pay out of pocket for health insurance.

    I’d also like to hear if anyone has any ideas on how to choose and transition to a new career in general- I’m a little overwhelmed, lost, and burnt out, and I’ve already tried to leave my current field a few times with things that didn’t pan out. I’d really like more money, more room to grow, and less burnout than my current role, but I feel trapped.

    1. Anonymous healthcare person*

      Massage therapy is typically a regulated health profession, so you can look at the organization that regulates in your area (where I am, it is a College of Massage Therapists, and in Washington State it is under the health department, I think, so you will need to do some googling). That site should tell you what educational requirements are needed to be registered – for example, the course/program is accredited by X regulatory body, you need x months/years of supervised experience, etc.

      Also, ask for information interviews with at least three local registered massage therapists – which local schools are good, what is the job like, salary, pros and cons etc. I have to say, I know that where I am, the good massage therapy programs are 2 years so this seems like a short program to me – but who knows, where you are this might be totally fine. I do know that there are post-secondary schools where I am that are misleading in their advertising – do our program and become a counsellor! – when their program absolutely will not qualify someone for that job. Sigh. The regulatory organization will give you the info you need to screen for this.

      And consider career counseling too – may be offered by local colleges/universities, and/or work finding agencies, as well as privately. Healthcare tends to be associated with burnout, so if this is your problem, maybe a health related profession is not the answer? Or maybe for you it would be great? A therapist could maybe help with that piece, if you have access to this. Good luck!

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      Before you make any investment, you need to figure out what opportunities will exist after you graduate and what will be the return on investment. How much can you realistically expect to make upon graduation and how long will it take you to pay back the money you borrowed to attend school. If you’re not borrowing, great, but that you’ll still “lose” that $12k that you can’t get back.

      Anecdotally, I can say that I’ve known 2 people who attended massage therapist school at a similar cost to what you’ve mentioned. Neither is currently working as a massage therapist because the market in our large metropolitan area is oversaturated and they could not generate enough income to pay their bills consistently. One now only does it “on the side” and the other stopped altogether.

      I would also ask the school for information on graduation rates and how quickly graduates become employed after graduating and their average salaries, but beware that many of these for profit trade type schools have been notorious in the past for lying about their stats to encourage students to enroll. I’d also ask to be put in touch with recent grads from the program within the last year, but this may or may not happen.

    3. Duckles*

      I’d try to talk to as many people working in the field as you can. I only have one acquaintance who was a massage therapist but he left it some years ago because the money just wasn’t good enough.

  36. Other Alice*

    Weird advice from family and friends: someone just told me that taking Thursday off and then calling in sick on Friday looks bad. They say that since I work from home it would have been better to not say anything and pretend I was working. I think it’s bananas but I’d like a sanity check because my fever-addled brain is starting to get confused.

    For context, I took Thursday off to deal with a stressful personal thing. This was scheduled weeks in advance and my team knows why I was away (something along the lines of “I hope you enjoy your time off” / “I’m actually doing this annoying but necessary thing” / “oh good luck with that”). I already felt poorly on Thursday but couldn’t postpone The Thing so I got it done, but then on Friday morning I woke up feeling like utter crap. I immediately called my manager to let him know I was taking sick leave and I’d be back on Monday. My manager is great so he just wished me well and told me to take whatever time I need. This, I think, is how things should go in normal offices.

    However I mentioned to someone outside of work that I’ve taken a sick day and they think the optics of this are terrible. They think my colleagues will think I wanted to take a two day vacation and I’ve cheated by using one vacation day and one sick day. I understand that this could happen but as I said my workplace is good in that regard. Also, even if I worked at a dysfunctional place, I wouldn’t want to cheat and pretend like I was working while I was trying to sleep off an illness. People would notice I’m not online on slack and not answering emails, or they’d call me to ask why regular tasks aren’t getting done. I think the optics of *that* would be much worse. I think it’s a case of someone trying to give advice without knowing the realities of working remotely…

    1. KayDeeAye*

      Assuming a non-toxic workplace and assuming you’re generally reliable and haven’t demonstrated a pattern of calling in sick around a day off or other signs of flakiness, this should be a non-problem. If you’re too sick to work, call in sick. I think pretending that you’re working when you’re not is much more likely to be an issue.

      The people who say “This doesn’t look good!” have probably had toxic workplaces or toxic bosses. But if you don’t have either of those things, I honestly wouldn’t worry about it.

      1. londonedit*

        This is what I was going to say. I definitely think it would be far worse to let everyone assume you were working on the Friday and then just not be available – in my job people would definitely see that I wasn’t on Teams and I wasn’t responding to messages/emails, and that would be much more of a problem than legitimately calling in sick. In dysfunctional jobs where any absence is viewed with suspicion I can imagine a culture arising where people would just pretend to be working rather than ‘admitting’ to being ill after a day off, but assuming you have a half-decent reputation and you’re not somehow renowned for slacking off (and that there isn’t a general culture of people being renowned for slacking off/abusing time off) then I think people will be sympathetic and won’t think anything of the fact that you’re ill. Your manager is fine about it, I think it would be odd if anyone else had a problem!

    2. Littorally*

      If it was part of a pattern, it wouldn’t look great, but as a one-time thing when you’re otherwise a reliable worker, it’s almost certainly fine.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      “[Thanks for your concern, but] My manager is fine with the situation and I’m not worried about it. How about that random sportsball team?”

      (You do not have to include the “thanks for your concern” part of course, YMMV.)

    4. Fiona*

      How long have you been with your current company? If you just started a few months ago, then maybe they don’t know you and they don’t know if this is a pattern, so I understand why someone would think it’s iffy, optics-wise. If you’ve been there for a 6 months or longer, I wouldn’t spend one more moment thinking about this. It’s totally normal and I’m sure you’ve proven yourself to be trustworthy. You’re a human being, you’re allowed to take time off for illness or any other reason.

    5. Purple Cat*

      You nailed it with This is how things should go in normal offices .
      Yes, in a weird place that is restrictive with your time off, this might land differently. But their proposal of taking the day off and lying about it is much, much worse.

    6. Bagpuss*

      I think that it can look bad if it is a regular pattern or if it’s in conjunction with other behaviors – for instance, if you originally asked for both days off, were refused the Friday and then called in sick – but even then, in a normal workplace, only if it were a pattern or there were other reasons to think that you were not genuinely unwell.

    7. Cruciatus*

      The person who thinks that is very, very strange and probably has other bizarre workplace issues they need to work out as well. I’m not even sure it has anything to do with you working remotely. Even in person you could have Annoying Thing on Thursday and then need to call off on Friday as well. I’m in person and when my coworkers are sick I note the absence and never think of it again. I don’t think most people are thinking too hard about their coworkers’ sick days. As people already covered, if it’s a pattern, sure, maybe then! But if it’s just a normal human pattern then don’t worry about it.

      1. Other Alice*

        Thanks (to you & the other commenters) for the reassurance, I feel much better now and I was definitely overthinking things. Lingering stress from Thursday made me worry about a non-issue.

        I mentioned remote working because this person has a job that has to be done in person and I get the impression they think there is no way at all to check if a remote worker is slacking off. Ultimately it’s not something I care to argue with them about, though, so I’ll just refrain from taking workplace advice from them.

    8. A Feast of Fools*

      Agree with the other commenters: Your friend/family member is projecting from a place of toxic work dynamics.

      In my sane, normal company, not only would the managers not have a problem with it but neither would any of the staff.

      And we wouldn’t have a problem with it *even if* you used a sick day to take a 4-day weekend vacation, assuming anyone actually gave it any thought.

      Our conversations when someone is still out after planned PTO (even if it’s just a day of PTO) look like this:

      Coworker1: “Other Alice is offline. I had a question I wanted to run by her and I thought she’d be back today. Do you know if she’ll be in/online later?”

      Coworker2: “She’s out sick today.”

      Coworker1: “Aw, man, I hate being sick. Hope she’s OK.”

    9. Dinwar*

      I’m from one of those “toxic” work places where this would be really questionable optics. The reason is that it is a trend–laborers, driller’s assistants, and basically all the workers low on the hierarchy have a tendency to party pretty hard (it’s often why they can’t get a better job in the first place), and it’s not infrequent to have someone call in sick when they’re either 1) massively hung over, or 2) just not interested in coming in, and it’s an excuse. After you see it a few times you pick up on the pattern. Facebook has made this easier to spot, since most of these people aren’t bright enough to not post pictures of themselves doing things that sick people shouldn’t be doing, like being on jet skis on a lake, or doing keg stands, or the like.

      That said, the world ended two years ago, and a major cause of illness and death for the past two years has been “I went somewhere and caught the plague.” The rules are a little different now. As a manager I don’t want you coming in sick, even if it’s suspect timing. And you really do need to look at the situation on a case-by-case basis. The driller’s assistant who comes in every Monday with bloodshot eyes, pounding energy drinks and spending half an hour passed out behind a stockpile? I’m probably not going to believe that he’s sick. A person with a history of working extra hours and doing stellar work? Not even going to question it. Take care of yourself, get fluids, and I’ll check in on you (for reference, this is protocol started after two people nearly died because they stayed in the hotel sick, no one thought to check on them, and an organ burst).

    10. fhqwhgads*

      The only scenario where I’d agree with your family and friends’ take is if:
      A) you’ve taken at least 3 Thursdays off
      B) took a sick day on all the applicable Fridays

      Or other similar pattern. A one off? No. Unless you’re flakey or have a track record of work avoidance in general, then yeah, it looks bad.

  37. JAL*

    Looking for thoughts from the other AAM lawyers or people who also deal with volunteer professional organizations on this!

    I’ve been on the board of a local org for female lawyers for the past three years and will be transitioning into president later this year. We primarily put on CLEs, but also host happy hours, events in honor of influential local lawyers, etc. It’s entirely volunteer and there’s no staff; the board organizes everything. Some board members rarely attend the monthly meetings (and before anyone asks, we moved to virtual meetings spring 2020). The impact has been that a lot of the work falls on the same few people who do always show up at meetings. Theoretically, any programming chair could take over organizing a CLE once it is in motion, but a lot of our ideas come from our own connections – like, “there is an intellectual property lawyer at my firm who could do a CLE on NFTs” – and so naturally those few people who are there to bring up ideas are the ones who ultimately see it through to the end. Also, I literally have not laid eyes – virtually or in-person – on our treasurer since 2019. I mentioned this to someone recently and their first reaction was “are you sure she’s not embezzling the dues?” Which I am fairly certain she is not, but it is weird to have the person who controls the money be so absent.

    I think part of this is down to our current president, who is lovely but not the best at delegating, but I also think there are board members who like having the role on their bio but don’t consider the responsibilities that come with it and I’m trying to figure out how to address this. We’re all lawyers and I understand that conflicts come up that have to be prioritized over a volunteer meeting. But I also feel like if people aren’t going to participate ever, they need to roll off the board and be replaced with new people, and I’m wondering the best way to get that across.

    SO, all of that is to say, would you be offended by (or feel that’s unbearably eye-roll-y) an attendance goal for board members? Like, we have 12 meetings a year, the expectation is that you should attend at least 6 (with the understanding that work conflicts take priority)? On the one hand, it feels pre-school-y and like I’ve got an attendance chart with stickers. But I also like setting an expectation that there’s an understanding that no can be at every single meeting, but that you do have to stay involved. Or would it just be better to keep an eye on who’s not attending and check in with them after a few months to see if they still want to be on the board?

    1. Jay*

      I have served on a number of non-profit boards (synagogue, community choral group, national professi0nal organizations). Every single one has had an attendance requirement for board meetings. I know for sure that two of the orgs had that built into the bylaws – can’t remember about the others. None required that all members show up for all meetings – the percentage varied depending on the number of meetings and duties of the Board – but each one was at least 50%.

      Sounds like it might be time for a general review of process and procedure and maybe of bylaws as well. For one thing, if your treasurer is the only one handling the money, you might want to look at that. For our very very small synagogue, our part-time employee and treasurer do this together. For the chorale, it’s the treasurer and the president.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        +1 The treasurer should absolutely not be the sole person who has access to the books and bank account(s).

        There are a million very good resources online for non-profit fiscal best practices. Or you can hire a consultant or a lawyer who focuses their practice on non-profits to assist. I’d really recommend that you bring someone in who is an expert in non-profit governance to have a look at what you’re doing.

      2. pancakes*

        Yes, I think it is common for attendance requirements to be incorporated in the by-laws, and I don’t see a good reason not to. It’s important.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Rather than set an attendance goal, you can check or modify your by-laws for an attendance requirement. This would be along the lines of, say, you have to attend n number or percentage of meetings per year in order to stand for re-appointment to the board. You can tie that in, as well, with a limit on the number of consecutive terms that a board member is permitted to serve (preferably staggered, so that the entire board isn’t disqualified from re-appointment at the same time).

      And, yes, checking in with members who haven’t attended recently is a good idea, too. See if you can ask them why they haven’t been attending, if they feel that they haven’t been cultivated enough, or if they’re just too busy and felt embarrassed to say they don’t have the capacity to participate, etc.

      1. Nonprofit Peaches*

        Agree with this – a goal is fine in the interim but it really needs to be codified. And moving forward, any board candidates need to be made aware of the goal/requirement before they move forward in the nomination process.

    3. MsM*

      What’s the current process for board recruitment? Are there conversations with prospective members that lay out what the role will entail, including time commitment? An orientation process reaffirming all of those expectations? Provisions in the bylaws for removing people who really aren’t pulling their weight? Defined and enforced term limits?

      If you’re not doing any or all of these things, you coming on board is a perfect opportunity to make professionalizing the board/board governance one of your commitments as president and do a bit of public education about what that entails. It might require a bigger conversation (especially with the board members you can actually trust to show up at meetings and vote on implementing things), and putting it all into action properly will take time. But the more you can do to establish all these things up front and have clear expectations you can point to if things aren’t going well, the more likely you are to end up with a board that understands and supports following best practices.

    4. OtterB*

      There are a couple of volunteer committees associated with my work. Members are mostly professors. I’m not aware of attendance requirements but they don’t meet as a whole committee very often. But they do emphasize that it is a “working committee.” Everyone is supposed to be affiliated with one of the committee projects and be working on them outside of the full meetings. Some of the activities are really time-consuming and are only taken on as passion projects. Sometimes people assist or shadow for a couple of years before taking on a big project. I don’t know if this would work for you but maybe some of your board members are organizing CLE events and others are organizing other kind of events or working on other projects, and if your work demands don’t let you do that, sorry, maybe later, but we need people on the board who can move us forward.

    5. M.*

      I serve on a board for a nonprofit, and–barring an extreme emergency or circumstance–our rule is that if you miss more than two monthly meetings in the calendar year, you forfeit your position.

    6. Bethie*

      Just wanted to say – not a lwayer – but I serve on a federal board and there is an attendance requirement. Its one meeting a month, so not difficult. But yeah that’s what I agreed to when I was elected to the board. And if I want to continue to be eligible I have to meet those attendance goals as one part of the process.

    7. Foley*

      Nope, not at all. I’m a lawyer but have not served on professional organization type things. However, in all my other volunteer orgs, being on the board requires a certain percentage of attendance. Whenever I’m asked to volunteer, this is the reason I cite for not being able to do it. (I travel extensively).

      I think you impose the rule. Have you also considered term limits? Most orgs I volunteer for have these – for a number of reasons.

  38. pollyrocket*

    I’m having a lot of anxiety over a situation that happened at work yesterday. To make it short: There is a woman who works on a project that I’ve been on for the past six months and she is extremely abrasive, condescending, is always complaining and immediately shuts down new ideas to improve any processes that affect her work. People on the team seem to think she’s a “hard-hitter”/sharp but honestly I think she’s just flat out mean. She sent me an email yesterday that was in an extremely rude tone (as if she were a parent lecturing me) because she didn’t like the way I had done something (I did make one small mistake, but the other thing she didn’t like that I had done was something she specifically asked me to do!). In her email she kept writing the phrase “that’s not how x works” (X is a process I know very well and have worked in during many other projects)

    I’ve been so frustrated for months and sent back a very terse email saying that I do know how X works, it was a misreading of an email of one of our sister governmental partners that I’m close with (and therefore have gotten too casual at reading communications from). And then at the end of the email I wrote a few sentences about how this sister government organization serves very vulnerable people and we need to do our best to help them.

    I immediately regretted my tone in the email and not too long after called my supervisor (who I have a great relationship with) to let him know. Then my supervisor’s supervisor (who was CC’d on the whole email chain between me and the other woman) called me. I think the other woman had called him after my reply to say that I still don’t understand and the main focus of his call was trying to make me understand, but then he realized I do understand and that it’s a personality conflict. He said if I’m having issues with someone next time I should bring it to him and he will speak to them because “I don’t get paid enough to be doing it myself” lol. I wasn’t asked to, but I did end up sending an email apologizing for my tone and said going forward I will always run everything by her. The woman last night sent me back an email accepting my apology and talked about how she gets super stressed Thursday’s/Fridays.

    I don’t think either my supervisor or his supervisor seemed upset with me. They both agree she can be rude and inflexible, but say it’s because she’s under a lot of stress. and I showed the email I sent to my mom and a few friends and they all said my email was really not that rude, especially in comparison to the one the woman sent me. And reading it back I agree, my tone was just short and I was a bit defensive but not something that most outside people would think was horrible.

    I’m so embarrassed over the whole thing. We both sort of apologized to each other (she at least said she is stressed and recognizes she can be curt) but I’m just dreading any meetings or future communications with this woman. Even though my supervisors don’t seem upset, I’m also super embarrassed and dreading interactions. Do any of you have tips on how to interact with a coworker after a spat? Just pretend it didn’t happen and act normal? Im definitely planning to be as pleasant as I can to her but just have such a negative view of our relationship now.

    1. pollyrocket*

      Also I wanted to add that this is the first incident I’ve had like this in my three years of work here. I work with quite a few aggressive personalities but am always able to keep pleasant and act as a peace keeper even when other staff lose tempera with them, which I think is why I’m so embarrassed. She’s a new contractor brought on in the past year who lives across the country so I’ve never met her in person.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Act normal. There have been semi-apologies, so take those at face value unless/until she reoffends, and if she does decide how you’re going to handle this long-term. (I’m not above pushing back a bit on unreasonable people like this but it’s up to you.)

    3. Lana Kane*

      If you have both apologized to each other then I’d consider that particular situation closed and move forward as usual. Be professional and pleasant, but perhaps for your own peace of mind rehearse a few reponses to have in your back pocket next time she goes too far. Ones you feel strike the right tone that you want to convey, but still help you feel like you’re not being steamrolled by her.

    4. River Otter*

      Don’t pretend that it didn’t happen. Act as though it has been resolved, which it has. Do you see the difference?
      Don’t carry forward a negative view of your relationship. Remember that you were also under stress when you responded, and you probably appreciate that you were extended grace for your response. Promote an atmosphere of extending grace by extending your own grace, which specifically means not allowing this interaction to color your entire relationship.
      You have learned that her tone when she is under stress will come across as rude and mean to you. You can only control your own response to her tone, so work on that. If you need help on keeping your own stress reaction out of your responses, ask your supervisor for advice on wording a response. If there is a repeated pattern, you can point out the repeated pattern to your supervisor and lay out the impact that her tone has on you and say that you would like to see a change in how she communicates with you. Be as specific as possible when you ask for changes from her. “Rude“ and “mean“ are subjective and “be less rude and mean“ is not an actionable change that you can ask for.

      1. RagingADHD*

        This is an excellent insight. Moving forward after a resolution is not the same as erasing the incident. Learn the lesson and carry it forward.

    5. Globetrotter*

      Calling this a personality conflict is a cop out on your boss’s part. The woman is rude and abrasive.

      Can you call this out next time? This only works if you’re talking face to face with Ms Abrasive. Give her a look and say Excuse Me in sniffed tone. Or you could say to her that she’s not helpful.

    6. Bethie*

      Personally, when people are terse with me in email (it happened just this morning! A guy applying for our funding was super rude to one of our staff and the mistake was his fault!) I do not feel bad about sending a similarly professional, but terse, email response. You have to set your boundary. And I have found people recognize they cannot treat you that way and back off. So I doubt you did anything wrong at all. And you probably werent rude, either. But I bet she is more careful in how talks with you now – as your boss is now aware you do know your stuff and she is being rude. Even if he didnt come out and say that! Just continue to do your work like normal.

  39. Nathalie*

    *Content Warning: Mental Health/Suicide*

    Apparently multiple employees at my company have recently died by suicide (it’s a big company with lots of locations so most employees don’t know about this). The powers that be decided to send out an email to everybody mentioning that it’s Mental Health Awareness Month and with some info about our EAP. Good idea, right? Well the email they wrote up basically says “Stress can get to the best of us, if you’re stuck in a bad mental place, try taking care of your body, taking time to relax, and connecting with others” and then the phone number for the EAP at the bottom. Because when you’re feeling suicidally depressed, those are all super easy things to do and will solve your problems! /s

    I sent some feedback saying hey, it might help to actually say what specific mental health assistance the EAP offers instead of vague and unhelpful advice, but I don’t really expect anything to come of it.

    1. Miel*

      I agree with you. Good luck. Sometimes companies put out this kind of weird, unhelpful communications. :/

    2. Aggresuko*

      I wouldn’t expect that a company would actually be helpful with regards to suicidal situations.

      1. pancakes*

        Probably not, but there’s nothing to be gained by being coy or vague about precisely which resources are available through the EAP. This email is the perfect place to summarize those in a list or outline.

    3. AdequateArchaeologist*

      Our company either finally got an EAP or just swapped companies and our boss has flat out told us at least three times in person and email that our EAP covers up to 5 therapy sessions and our health insurance also covers therapy. I was thankful for that information because I assumed the mental health assistance available was going to be ultra basic “eat healthy, take a walk” that isn’t really helpful advice.

      Also, a little concerned that this is a pattern within your company.

  40. Does part time mean all the time?*

    I’d appreciate some advice of work schedule and in-office availability when you are one of the few part-time (20 hours) employees.

    I’m about to start a new job that is also a new position at the organization. I’ve had several conversations with my future manager about in-office vs remote work and schedule flexibility, but so far the answers have been vague. I’ve been told that I have the flexibility to decide when I work and the amount of in-office work, but I’m also sensing that they’d like me to be there in person most of the time and available most days.

    Due to the nature of the work, my preference is to work fewer, longer days in person with about 1/4 of the total time remote (like 2 days in-person, 1 half-day remote), but I don’t want to give the impression that I’m never working because I’m not available every day or because all of my work hours aren’t in-person. Thoughts or experiences?

    1. ferrina*

      Work out a schedule with your boss, then be consistent with it. Put your schedule in your out-of-office email when you aren’t working (so your other coworkers can reference that and get familiar with your availability).
      Congrats on the new job!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      List your work schedule in your email signature, possibly in red font. I’m full-time so mine just says “Work hours: M-F 7a-3:30p” but you could put “Work hours: M & W 8a-4p onsite, F 8a-12p remote” or whatever.

    3. Bagpuss*

      I would aim to be consistent, and clear.
      We have a lot of part time staff and for internal use everyone’s hours are shown in their profile along with their email, dd number etc.
      For external use it’s in everyone’s e-mail signature – something like “My normal working hours are 9-3, Tuesday to Friday”

      If you will have more flexibility then something like “My core hours are 10-3, working hours outside those time will vary”
      In both cases, if you deal with things which are very time-sensitive it makes sense to also include details of who to contact if you are not available, and you may wish to add something about expected response times – e.g. “My working hours may be different to standard office hours but I will always aim to respond to e-mails / messages within x hours “

    4. Minimal Pear*

      My current job is similar–I just try to make it really clear what my hours are to everyone. I probably sound a little awkward bringing it up as often as I do, but people tend to forget! I also have my working hours blocked out on my calendar.

  41. Rusty Shackelford*

    No matter what stupid thing you did this week, you can console yourself by remembering it wasn’t as public as that Ulta email about Kate Spade…

    1. London Calling*

      Oh my days. I had to google that to find out what they said and FGS. I wasn’t aware how Kate Spade committed suicide, just that she had, but as Ulta are in the same industry I’d assume that they were aware of the details. It’s one of those – errors doesn’t seem to really cover it – that has the rest of the world screaming ‘DOESN’T ANYONE CHECK THIS STUFF BEFORE IT GOES OUT, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD???’

      The memory of that will be bringing the perp out in a cold sweat YEARS from now…

      1. Observer*

        What I *REALLY* want to know is who wrote that idiotic apology. Because calling it “insensitive” just makes it worse.

    2. Everything Bagel*

      Oh my word, I just Googled this and wow. How did they let that go out? Stupid and insensitive all the way around.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      As someone responsible for sending out promotional emails (to a much smaller list, in a different context), this is absolutely the stuff of nightmares. We once sent out a newsletter that had been reviewed multiple times by my entire team and still contained a paragraph of extraneous text. Sometimes when you’re in a rush you just don’t notice things that you really should notice.

    4. cubone*

      It was absolutely terrible but I did see a LinkedIn post I found kind of interesting. Basically that Ulta stocks something like 100+ brands and how common this kind of language is in marketing. Which is absolutely not to say it wasn’t a big deal or wasn’t horribly offensive, but that in all likelihood it’s some extremely low level marketing coordinator who was writing copy for half the 100 brands and this line would’ve worked for you know, 99 of those 100. And this is the one exception. I know some people will say “how could you not know Kate Spade died?!” But a 20 year old entry level staff member would’ve been 15 when that happened and truly could’ve had no idea/been under pressure to produce so much content and copy there was no bandwidth for thinking. It’s one of those emails/content that is so generally basic and formulaic that it’s not that surprising it went out without thorough review.

      Obviously it goes to show the checks and balances needed, but I heard a lot of criticism that seemed to suggest this was some big campaign that would’ve had so many eyes on it and how could this happen/what an insensitive idiotic thing to do. But while incredibly shitty (and Ulta needs to take responsibility for), I sort of see exactly how it happened and i wonder if it’s one of those things where all the holes in the Swiss cheese unfortunately lined up at the same time.

      (For the record I adore nothing more than mocking bad or thoughtless marketing copy, but I just thought this was an interesting perspective to consider)

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’m a copywriter, and I very much doubt it was intentional — but it was definitely insensitive, and unfortunate, and there should be someone reviewing these things before they go out who caught it.