open thread – June 3-4, 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.

{ 984 comments… read them below }

  1. Xoxoxox Gossip Girl*

    What types of questions should you ask the recruiter or HR person during the first interview screen? I work in the tech/marketing space so a lot of the technical job questions are better for the potential supervisor and over the recruiter’s head. The main things I would want to know from the recruiter are about benefits, stock options, vacation policy, etc but that’s probably not the best to immediately ask during the first screen lol

    1. Fabulous*

      Those would be questions the recruiter would likely have answers to, though! I’d probably ask any questions you have about the job description, and logistical questions (i.e. what’s the hiring process look like, timeline, etc.)

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Phones screens area good time to ask about higher-level things:

      – overall company culture
      – size of the team you’ll be on
      – general salary range

      Depending on how the conversation goes, there may be a time to ask a broad question about benefits but I would expect the answer to be along the lines of “yes, we offer benefits and have a vacation policy.” Details on benefits, stock options, etc. generally come later in the interview process.

      1. Sunflower*

        Yes I usually like to ask about team structure, where everyone is based out of etc. I don’t usually ask more than 1-3 questions

    3. A Penguin!*

      Pay, if it’s not in the posting. Remote vs. in office vs. hybrid. I think vacation allotment is reasonable this early (I wouldn’t consider going back to entry-level vacation amounts, and some companies start everyone there regardless of position), but probably not more nuanced examination of benefits. You can ask why the position is open; you may get a more nuanced answer from the hiring manager, but the 1st rep should be able to give *an* answer. (I don’t ask this last one at this stage, but if it’s important to you, it’s a reasonable one)

      Really, anything where there exists a reasonable answer that would make you decide to withdraw.

    4. irene adler*

      Actually, it is okay to ask about the compensation offered. This is something the recruiter will know something about. Most first interview screens I have done, the recruiter brings up the topic of benefits. They also go into them a bit.
      Recruiters can talk about company culture. And you might ask about avenues for advancement, enrichment opportunities and what the company plans are for the future.

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

      I would ask more about the interview/hiring process at the first stage…hiring timelines, interview requirements, any insight about what the hiring committee’s goals are, if they are willing to share, etc.

    6. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I will sometimes ask questions about what big initiatives the company is planning and what its goals are for its business, culture, and community presence.

    7. anonymous73*

      I ask any deal breaker questions. I always ask for salary range, verify specific location, if it’s a contract position or FTE, if it’s hybrid and if so how many days required in the office. I only ask high level clarification questions specific to the job duties because they usually won’t know any detailed information about the job itself. There’s nothing wrong with asking about benefits in the first phone screen, especially if they’re super important to you and will lead to your final decision.

    8. Not VERY disorganized*

      I absolutely asked all of those things during my phone screen for my current job. It may be different to your situation since they reached out to me with a job description. I phrased it as ‘I appreciate you reaching out! As I mentioned, I’m not actively looking, and I don’t want to waste either of our time. The job looks interesting – but before we proceed I want to make sure we’re on the same page in terms of compensation and benefits.” No problem at all. I felt kind of like a badass, but I live the AAM way. I’m so much happier, confident, and have a very clear understanding of what I’m willing/able to do and for what remuneration. Bliss! YOU GOT THIS.

  2. Communication with boss in a remote workplace*

    I’m covering work items for a colleague Mary, on secondment. As part of this work, a contract that enabled an expansion to receive mint teabags (in addition to chamomile) was signed. In a presentation to the company on this, I had slotted this under “Project A update”.

    When my boss (who had worked with Mary on these items) was reviewing the presentation slide, she sent a MS Teams message on should this even be considered a Project A update or fall under another project?

    My immediate response was, “Would this be Project B instead of Project A then? As it is not clear from Mary’s lack of notes on this matter. Shall we have a quick call on this later?”

    She replied she had no time for a call, and just state this as a teabag expansion on the presentation slide without naming which project it is tied to. And I accepted that and made the change. After a few minutes, I perused some older files, I added in the chat that the ancillary legal documents related to the signed agreement do in fact list this as an expansion of Project A. The chat ends there.

    Flash forward to my monthly check-in. We’re going through some work updates and land on the teabag expansion. She mentions it was confusing that I mentioned Project B and then Project A right after and a general comment is that I need to think of all the pieces of information and my role is to integrate them together beforehand to improve my communication.

    I was caught off guard and replied I’ll digest this a bit on my end. But looking at the chat, I do ask if we can have a call on the matter, I’m a bit confused as to what else I could have done. Also, in the past, my boss made another comment on my communication with a partner. We were trying to get a hold of a partner. She had indicated that what I should’ve done was just to have a call with the partner rather than email them, but in fact I was emailing them to finalize a time for a phone call. I mentioned I’d take her advice and left it at that.

    Now it is as of she’s making a list of these instances…..when I feel that I haven’t had a chance to respond. How can I respond? I am getting frustrated as the boss and company always mention to ask questions whenever needed but then when you do ask a question, it is met with questions on why you’re even asking.

    1. Jean*

      Well for starters, next time someone pushes back on why you’re asking about something, the response needs to be that you’re trying to improve your communication. Also it seems like your boss is attempting (maybe consciously, maybe not) to scapegoat you for her own shortcomings in the communication department. Keep having conversations in a written medium, and keep copies on file in a searchable form. That way you can refer back to them if this keeps happening. Lastly – stay calm. I’m a catastrophizer too so I get it, but maybe this really is just an isolated f-up on your boss’s part.

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      It sounds like your boss wants you to do more self-sleuthing before coming to her with questions. I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong, but it sounds like there’s a mismatch between your expectations about how you should communicate with your boss (asking lots of questions) vs what she wants (mostly come to her with answers and only come to her with questions you absolutely need her input on). I’ve had bosses like this and I had to really adjust my expectations about oversight and work communication style. It might be worth it to have a bigger picture conversation with her about how much communication and oversight she wants on projects, and to think about the people who have great relationships with your boss and ask them how they communicate with her.

      1. Original Poster*

        Thanks! You’re making a lot of sense with the mismatch aspect. The offer from them to receive any questions might in reality be to receive more filtered questions that absolutely need their input.

    3. Fabulous*

      So it sounds like the issue may be not with the fact that you’re asking questions, but it’s the type of questions you may be asking, and whether there is opportunity to answer your own question via available resources without needing to ask.

      The confusion in the situation with Mary’s work likely stemmed from you bringing up Project B seemingly out of nowhere when the boss was just asking about whether it applied to another project in general. My takeaway is that instead of naming Project B as a possibility, you could have simply said, “I’ll see if I can find any additional information on the matter and let you know.”

      As for the phone call thing, I feel like it was just a miscommunication there. Yes, you were trying to schedule a call, but your boss was saying that sometimes just picking up the phone may have been the easier option since you weren’t getting responses via email.

    4. Riding a Bike on Fire*

      I’m in project management and most days I come away feeling like I either can’t play politics well at all, or doing so drains me faster than all the spoons in a Costco can sustain me. So I absolutely empathize with all of this. I’ve faced situations like this before and they suck and I hate them.

      One observation, though – “Would this be Project B instead of Project A then? As it is not clear from Mary’s lack of notes on this matter. Shall we have a quick call on this later?” – if this is exactly what you said, it reads to me like you’re trying to shift blame onto Mary. I wonder if maybe boss is trying to defend Mary by attacking you? Still not great, but that might be where she’s coming from. I also don’t understand what value you get from saying “Mary missed this” vs. “Hey, here’s a problem with project scope we need to clarify, let’s work this out.” Sometimes you have to blame a person for something going wrong, but in my experience, 1. it’s rare, and 2. it always pisses someone off, warranted or no. Wherever you can center a problem rather than a person in project communications, it tends to make things go a lot better.

      1. As per Elaine*

        I would definitely avoid looking like you’re trying to throw Mary under the bus, but given that Boss doesn’t think you’re doing enough research/integration/something, I do think it’s worthwhile to mention research that you have done on the question, when it flows naturally in a conversation.

        As a general comment, it’s possible that your boss is frustrated because you, unsurprisingly, aren’t as good/experienced at this stuff as Mary is. I’m not sure what to do about this, but if this seems to be a theme going forward, it may be worthwhile to have a conversation like, “I understand that you want me to figure things out on my own, but sometimes I’ve looked at all the resources I can think of and still can’t come up with a solution I’m confident on — what would you like me to do then?”

      2. Original Poster*

        Hi, it’s good to know that I’m not the only one who feels that the PM world can be a minefield at times. I totally wasn’t trying to throw Mary under the bus. Mentioning the lack of notes was moreso me justifying why I’m raising this in the first place. But you raised a good point.

    5. Flash Packet*

      Your situation sounds similar to one I had with a junior co-worker. Yes, I had told him to come to me with any questions. And, yes, it was my fault for not also telling him that I expect him to try to find the answer on his own first.

      He immediately defaulted to wanting to have “a quick call to clarify” on everything, and it wore me out. I did, eventually, start pushing back on his requests for phone calls with, “Have you looked at what we did last year on this?” (or similar redirection). And then straight up telling him that he needed to do some basic digging / research before asking anyone in the company anything. [Which I only said long after I was sure that he knew all the systems and locations to look for basic information.]

      I guess maybe the way to think of it is this: What were you anticipating would happen on the phone call with your boss about Project A vs Project B? Walk through it like a decision tree.

      Would your boss have said, “I have intimate, detailed knowledge of both projects so I can state with certainty that this is not Project B”? In which case, she would have already said in Teams, “This isn’t Project B.” So, no phone call in that case.

      Or would she have said, “What other information do we have on Project A? Can we confirm that the mint teabags are, indeed, an expansion of it?” In which case, you could have already looked into that on your own (like you ended up doing), and saved your boss the time of a phone call.

      As for the email-to-ask-for-a-phone-call issue: If you know that the partner prefers scheduled calls instead of unannounced ones, you could have said that to your manager when she brought it up. But if you don’t know that for sure, you could have said, “Ah, OK. I wasn’t sure about the protocol on that. I’ll definitely just pick up the phone and call them in the future.”

      I’ll also note that there’s a difference between “We were trying to get ahold of a partner,” and “My manager just asked me a question that I don’t immediately know the answer to.” In the former, a phone call is appropriate; in the latter, a phone call isn’t.

  3. Lazy Bones*

    I’m 1 month into my new job and I’m averaging maybe 4 hours of work a day- is this normal at this point? My boss seems really busy and I do appreciate that she’s easing me into things but I’m starting to feel lazy/guilty and I don’t know if I should be pushing her to give me more work (I’m coming from a really overworked last job so I am trying to enjoy the slow period as much as I can). She said this job will be challenging and my counterpart in Asia is slammed so I have to imagine I’ll either get more work or I’m missing something I’m supposed to be doing.

    I’m planning to have a one month, how’s it going/what else would you like to see me do more of, etc? check in next week and she is planning to loop me into a project that should give me more work. I am mostly concerned there are other things I’m supposed to be doing with this free time that I’m not aware of.

    Just wondering if I should stop feeling guilty about this or need to be concerned?

    1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      That’s pretty normal. I didn’t have a lot of work my first few months as I ramped up at my current job, about a year ago. It took a while for the work to come my way. Some of it was organic, some of it was me saying “Hey, I have a lot of open time, what do you want me to fill it with?”

      1. As per Elaine*

        Agreed. This is very normal. Be vocal that you aren’t busy and are looking for tasks, but if your boss/other colleagues are too busy to assign you work/teach you how to do the work, there’s not much you can do, and you don’t want to push so hard that people get annoyed at you.

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      It doesn’t sound like you’re doing anything wrong! I’d use the extra time to go through all the documentation you can get your hands on, go through whatever self education materials you can find inside and outside your organisation, and brush up on the software you know you’ll be using. It’s very normal not to have tons of real “work” the first month at a new job, but you should have lots of things to read and learn to fill a 40 hour week.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        This! Now is the time to do as much reading/learning as possible, because you probably won’t have time once you’re fully in the swing of things. If it makes sense for your role/team, maybe ask your boss if you can help coworkers document some of their processes/procedures or at least review examples of the final work product that you’re expected to produce.

        1. Lazy Bones*

          Thanks for this! I’m a tad frustrated as there isn’t a main drive with info stored – at my last job it was a central drive for ‘Lazy Bones Team’ and then each project had it’s own folder within so it was a lot easier to just jump around and check out documents.

          Everyone saves their docs in their individual drives so I need to ask people for the info directly and there’s not really an opportunity to explore around. I think I’ll start compiling a running document with files/folders that would be helpful to me and share with the broader to team to see what they can give me access to.

          1. NotAMermaid*

            Getting yourself organised is a good idea and while one presumes you were hired to do a job you can already do (or else you would be busy with training), there is always more to learn. I would be wary of being vocal about a light workload and making offers to take on tasks which are not intended to be on your task list long term because once you put something willingly on your plate you might find it stays there for ever and at some point the tasks you ARE responsible for are going to be a full workload.

    3. Scoffrio*

      I’m four months into my new job and just started feeling like I have a full load of work! I was really grateful for my manager’s insistence that I take things slow, because while I didn’t know what I didn’t know the first month, the subsequent months were filled with moments where I was like “actually I should have more background on that, let me spend a day figuring that out.” I think the check in is definitely the right call, and maybe that meeting you can also be like, “is there background information/knowledge you recommend I get myself up to speed on so I can be most effective down the line?”

      1. Lazy Bones*

        This is extremely re-assuring! At my last job, we were much more call heavy so I even though I wasn’t working on projects, I was on calls for half the day from get go at least absorbing information. Also all of my new coworkers at my last job were slammed from the get go so while I expected to be slow to start, I wasn’t sure at what point to expect a full workload feeling! This is also the first job I’ve started remotely so I think that contributes to the guilt because instead of wandering around the office or taking extended lunch breaks, I’m just chillin at home!

        1. GlazedDonut*

          Yes–I started my new (remote) job last summer and had many of the same feelings. We have a new team member starting soon and I have been planning on letting her know that the first few weeks will be slow and that’s okay.
          It probably took me about 2-3 months to get into my actual work. And even now, there are slow days where I use the time to vacuum the house/fold laundry, and that’s okay, too.

    4. Gracely*

      Stop feeling guilty, especially since you’re about to be looped into a project with more work. For now, maybe use the extra time to get to know coworkers/the building/etc. a bit better? Or to read up on industry news/something else relevant to work?

    5. calvin blick*

      I’m three months into my new job, and while I’m still not slammed I’m much busier than I was one month in. I think that’s pretty normal. At my previous job I trained newer employees and they never had much to do one month in either.

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

      Not knowing what you do…but the counterpart in Asia maybe has ongoing projects that started before you were hired and therefore can’t really hand them off mid-stream, or has soft knowledge about the work that you haven’t been fully brought up to speed on yet — client preferences, or office politics involved, etc. I would spend time getting a feel for things like that, if you can, review project notes or shadow your counterpart unobtrusively, if you can.

    7. MuseumNerd*

      That sounds normal to me! For the first month after I got promoted I was doing the new job and also still the old job and everything felt chaotic and stressful and then my replacement started and I only had the new job to worry about it felt like everything had just ground to a halt and it was alarming at first. Now I’m 6 months in and plenty busy. I’d spend this time making sure all your tech is set up and reading whatever process documents you can find.

    8. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I try to say something, like “I have some bandwidth if there’s anything I can take off someone’s plate.” But I also try to only say it once.

    9. Midwest Manager*

      I’m currently working with a new employee in a similar situation. My org takes 3 months to get into the swing of the work and 18 months to be fully trained. At one month, I wouldn’t be concerned just yet. If it continues to be a problem at 6 months, that’s a red flag. In the meantime, do the best you can to make your availability known to others on your team or in your work area and offer to help with whatever they can delegate. As people get more comfortable with your presence, and begin to trust your knowledge and abilities more, the work will naturally come to you. If you’re truly worried about the lack of work, talk to your manager and ask for clarification on timeline for the work to come.

    10. BlueDijon*

      Wow this is me. I’m about 2.5 months in and t’s started slowly ramping up more than in the first few weeks, but hoo boy is it a culture shift, especially when coming from really toxic, overworked places. Have been really feeling down about this as well. Thank you to you for raising this, and the commenters for their experiences!!

    11. Green Goose*

      When a manager is slammed and not really good at delegating this can happen. I think it’ll get better after you have been there longer.

    12. sb51*

      People vary a lot in terms of how much new stuff they can absorb/implement at a time (and it’s not necessarily that closely related to what their productivity will be once they’re ramped up) — it’s generally better to give people time to absorb and learn how to do things correctly even if more slowly up-front, so if you are ramping up more quickly than the “average” you just might not need all that absorption time that’s in your schedule.

      If there’s anything additional you can do to try to understand the whys/history/context of the things you’re being asked to do, that might be valuable right now. And if there’s any gaps in the training material, take notes/compile suggestions to help the next person.

    13. Esmeralda*

      Can be normal. You should be using the free time to go over training materials, learn about the employer, dig thru employer website, meet others on your team, ask others on your team questions, ask if you can shadow others on your team…

      And discuss with your boss at the one month meeting. Sounds like you will be getting more work at that point.

    14. anonymous73*

      I don’t think you can categorize anything as “normal” because it depends on a lot of factors. Honestly one month in I’d expect you to be busier. I’ve been with my job since August and have about 4 hours of work to do per WEEK. Which is why I’m looking for a new job.

      I’d definitely meet with your boss and have a conversation about your workload. See if there’s something you can do on your own when you have bandwidth and if there’s any training or anything steps you can take to ramp up to what she said will be challenging, because you don’t want to go from 0 to 60 overnight or you’ll be running for the hills.

    15. Mr. Cajun2core*

      Thanks for posting this. I am 6 months into my job and there are only about 4 days out of the month when I am busy most of the day. The rest of the day I usually only have an hour or 2 of work. I am glad to see it is not just me.
      I really hate it. My boss and my other co-workers are very reluctant to give up work for some reason. My boss admits she is a control freak (but not a micro-manager). She just likes to do things herself rather than delegate. I have spoken to her about this and she just states that there isn’t really anything to give me! We would have been busier at this time but we lost a major project and I think that is part of the problem.

      It is not just you. You are not alone.

    16. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I say that this is fairly normal 1 month in. Generally, you’re still in learning mode. I know at my company, people have tons of corporate training video modules to get through and that takes approximately a month! For technical roles, sometimes longer!
      If you feel you’re ready to take on more, talk to your boss to see if there is something on the minor side (researching something, typing up something, data entry, etc.) you could help with or help your counterpart in Asia with.

    17. Stoppin' by to chat*

      I would enjoy the quiet for now since it sounds like you will be busy soon!

  4. NonimousRex*

    TL;DR: Is the way I look undermining my professional opportunities? I’ve been working exclusively from home for over 2 years now, since the pandemic started. Recently I met a coworker (Petunia) for the first time when we traveled together to another city for a conference. The conference was great, we had fun, made some good contacts, etc. But on the way back and a couple of times since then Petunia has made several comments about how she can’t believe how young I am and how I’m so good at what I do “despite my youth”. This all feels very patronising – Petunia never cared about my age before she knew what I look like and I like to think I’m good at my job in general, not in spite of my youth. Is this worth pushing back on, and if so, how?

    For context, I’m not especially young (32) but I favour a style of grooming/dressing that does make me look a little younger – think long hair and business dresses vs the helmet hair and pantsuits I saw on the older executives at the conference. I like the way I look, but my career is important to me and I will change my style if it’s undermining my professional opportunities. I’m also single and childless and Petunia is in her 70s and a grandmother with grandchildren my age. We have the same job title, but Petunia has been around a long time and knows almost everyone in our small industry. Do I need to change anything about my style to be taken more seriously? And should I say anything to Petunia, or hope this goes away with time?

    1. Adereterial*

      Oh goodness, no. I’m older than you, but I dress similarly when I need to be smart, have long coloured hair that ranges from platinum blonde to green depending on where I am in my hairdressers schedule, and no one has ever said anything about my ‘youth’ or otherwise.

      This is a Petunia problem, not a you problem. Personally I’d ask her to stop making discriminatory comments about my age (which they are!) if I were in your shoes but you might prefer to just ignore her.

    2. DrSalty*

      This is almost definitely on Petunia being weird and having a skewed perspective because of her own age, your appearance sounds totally fine and normal.

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        Yeah, it’s a “her” issue, not a “you” issue, and I don’t think dressing “older” would fix it.

        I looked younger than my age for a good while (plus, going back and getting a doctorate/new career in my 40s means many in my peer group are closer to half my age), but I’m also not girlish or cute. But when someone made a remark re: “despite your young age” I’d say, deadpan, “I’m older than I look … [friendly smile] … and it shouldn’t really matter, should it?” In my case that was enough.

        Now of course *I* often feel vaguely inferior to a brilliant and capable youngster (~ 30s) and have to catch myself to avoid making remarks that *will* come across as patronizing but that are borne out of imposterish feelings.

    3. Mockingjay*

      No. Petunia is a coworker, not your boss, so I would simply ignore her personal opinions. And that’s all these are – personal opinions which have nothing to do with work. Bring it up once: “Petunia, please don’t comment on my appearance or age.” Alison has plenty of scripts in the archives if you need to reinforce boundaries.

      Re-read what you yourself wrote: The conference was great, we had fun, made some good contacts…” You are doing your work successfully. You don’t need to adopt helmet hair to succeed.

    4. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

      That is a very dated comment and I think can be chalked up to generational differences. It was inappropriate to make on her end, but unsurprising. Up to you whether you want to broach the topic with her – she might dig in and make you more frustrated, or she might be open to hearing your side and telling you about how it “used to be” or somesuch. You shouldn’t have to change anything.

      1. Observer*

        It was inappropriate to make on her end, but unsurprising.

        I would have said that about the first time she said that. But *multiple* comments? No, that’s odd enough that I don’t think you can chalk it up to generational differences.

        Also, I don’t think that the OP should discuss her clothing with Petunia. In fact, I don’t think she should discuss any of this with. Although I do think that she could ask her to stop talking about how YOUNG she is, and maybe even ask her to stop implying that she expects OP to mess up because of her “youth”.

      2. Generic Name*

        Yeah, she’s of the generation where women at a certain age (no idea if it was 35 or 40 maybe??) cut their hair short because it was “inappropriate” and “girlish” to have hair longer than chin-length I guess. I remember when my mom got her hair cut and permed. It was a huge change, and she has barely changed her hairstyle in the remaining 30+ years. This is a her perception issue and not a you issue.

        1. kicking_k*

          Yep. My mum has been telling me for about 25 years that I won’t always be able to have long hair down my back etc. I originally told her I would think about cutting it at 30. Then I turned 40 and still didn’t feel like cutting it. I don’t think it has held me back; I keep it neat and out of my face, and if I want to look extra smart for an interview or something, I wear it up.

        2. the cat's pajamas*

          Interesting, I always assumed it was because of the hairstyle trends at the time for older age groups, easier to maintain short hair, and maybe the earlier waves of feminism like you don’t “have” to look girlish but it’s not especially bad.

        3. Autumn*

          I was in my late 30’s with nearly waist length hair and my “greatest Generation mom asked me if I was maybe too old to have such long hair, my jaw dropped and I said “I can’t believe you asked me that!” She immediately back peddled, but it blew my away!

          I think there was a time when shorter hair was seen as a freedom since women of a certain age were expected to always wear long hair pinned up. Mine was down as much as up, but I still have tender patches on my scalp. I can see where women born in the first half of the 20th century would have thought short hair was the greatest thing! Mine is currently half way down my shoulder blades.

      3. starfox*

        I may be off-base here, but I wonder if her grandchildren are struggling or not as successful as OP? Still makes the comments 100% inappropriate, though.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      I think the context that you are 32 and Petunia is in her 70s with grandchildren your age explains her comments. If more people make comments about about your “youth,” then it might be worth a closer look at your wardrobe and grooming choices but for now I don’t think you need to change. And if you want a second opinion to put your mind at rest, I would ask a trusted friend or two to look at some of your work/conference outfits.

      1. 8 1/2 in dog years*

        speaking as someone who is closer to 70 than 32, it does get super weird when you find yourself old enough to have co-workers who are young enough to be your children, much less your grandchildren. Some of us have the presence of mind not to comment on it, but I don’t think the intent is usually patronizing or unkind, and I definitely don’t think you should change your style based on what she or I think of it.

        1. SnappinTerrapin*

          Yeah, I’ve got a gut feeling that Petunia meant to be complimentary, rather than to mess with Nonimous’s head. I see why it makes Nonimous uncomfortable, but as others have noted, this is a peer rather than a leader, and the other interactions at the conference went well.

          I’m almost as old as Petunia. I do have colleagues close to the age of some of my grandchildren. Some things that seemed polite when we were younger are less acceptable now, and in many ways, that’s an improvement. And I do remember the complicated feelings about attaining a degree of success at a young age. It would be better if Petunia resisted the temptation to make this comment.

          I don’t know the personal dynamics well enough to advise whether she should say anything to Petunia. Some people appreciate knowing where not to step, and adjust to accommodate their colleagues, and some double down.

          In any event, Nonimous doesn’t need to adjust her own style. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

          1. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

            Yes, SnappinTerrapin, this! Most of my coworkers are young enough to be my children, but we laugh about it, because literally nobody knew until it came up organically because we do birthdays, and everyone thought I was turning 30. When I said, no, I’m 46 now, there was a WTF moment, because I seemingly act nothing like how their moms act. And I have this creepily young face. So every now and then, we kid about it. But it’s funny, because I don’t mind being “the old lady” of the group. I thi k there’s only 2 people there who are older than me, everyone else is 35ish or younger. It doesn’t matter to anyone, because I am very, very good about not making it A Thing. I respect skill levels, and am never upset to have a young supervisor, because they earned the position. And they know they can lean on my experience and skills where they don’t have them, and will happily give them my skills to have for themselves.

    6. Observer*

      It’s hard to tell whether you really do look younger than your age, and if your clothing style feeds into that. It’s also hard to tell if you’re looking at things with a reasonably objective eye or not. The way you describe yourself and your dress vs the “older executives” at the conference really sounds like you’re painting with a very broad and reductive brush, with a hint of disdain or something like that for those executives.

      Dresses per se usually don’t make a woman look very young, so if your clothing is having an effect, I’d look at the particular style / cut, patterns, fit etc. Same for your hair – it’s long, but is it long and all over the place or long and reasonably controlled? Are you shedding?

      Of course, it could also be that Petunia is just being weird. Because even if you were dressing in oversized jeans and grungy graphics T’s, her comments about your age really are really odd. Once is one thing – a bit rude and she should have kept it to herself but not egregious. But multiple comments on your competence? Really not ok. So, before you start making yourself crazy about changing your style, talk to someone who you respect and knows both how you dress and the norms in your industry about this. Ask them if your style is making you look really young and non-serious.

      1. Not a cat*

        This is very industry-dependent. In my vertical, I’m an SME, in my mid-50s, so I do a fair amount of speaking engagements, workshops, panels, etc. The “uniform” I settled on is a band tee, under a skirt suit w/ boots or flats. My hair is slightly below my chin and the color changes. My industry isn’t terribly traditional, so I wear what I like. Your look sounds fine to me, I wouldn’t worry.

      2. Ali + Nino*

        “The way you describe yourself and your dress vs the “older executives” at the conference really sounds like you’re painting with a very broad and reductive brush, with a hint of disdain or something like that for those executives.”

        Thank you – this stood out to me as well. Two wrongs don’t make a right. FWIW, I’m also in my early 30s. Long hair and business dresses? I know plenty of female colleagues in their 50s and beyond who rock that.

      3. NonimousRex*

        It was not my intention to be disdainful, but rather to contrast my appearance with the appearance of my colleagues who are closer to Petunia in age. I’m aware that many women of all ages dress the way I do, but I do look young and I don’t make any attempt to dress in a way that would make me look older, although I do try to dress professionally. My question was about trying to gauge whether looking young will create problems for me- I’m grateful for all the responses, and it seems like the consensus is that as long as I appear professional I should be okay.

    7. As per Elaine*

      I wouldn’t change your style based on Petunia’s feedback. If there are people a little ahead of you in your career whose judgement you respect, you could check in to see if they think you should change, but what you describe sounds normal to me.

      As far as Petunia’s comments, you can either decide to ignore them or go with cheerful, “Petunia, you’ve been harping on my age ever since we met at the conference. Please stop.” And if she ignores that you could progress to a firmer and less friendly “Please stop talking about my age” or escalate to your boss.

      1. NonimousRex*

        Petunia’s comments particularly bother me because I heard similar comments from my advisor when I was in graduate school – she was also in her 70s and of the helmet hair generation. I brushed it off then because that professor was notorious around campus for making personal remarks, but hearing this again a few years later is making me insecure. Thanks everyone for the reassurance.

        1. Observer*

          It sounds like Petunia is another person who makes too many personal comments. Don’t worry about her.

        2. Just Another Cog*

          The term helmet hair just cracks me up! I am of that generation and had said hair back in the 80’s and 90’s. I don’t know about other women (and men!!) of that era, but I always liked it hairsprayed to the max because you could fix it in the AM and then it didn’t move all day. But, the hairspray buildup all over the bathroom was gross.

          Anyhoo, I honestly think Petunia doesn’t mean to be condescending with her out of touch comments. I wonder if she truly thinks she is being complimentary. I’ll bet this doesn’t make it less annoying.

          1. NonimousRex*

            Petunia is generally a kind person, so I think you’re right that she isn’t ill-intentioned. I think I’ll wait and see if these comments go away if I don’t engage with her about them, otherwise I’ll try some of the suggested scripts for telling her to stop. Thanks everyone, this is very helpful.

    8. Generic Name*

      Well obviously you must get your hair cut and style it into a mature-looking helmet paired with Hilary Clinton power suits. ;) I’m sure you can tell I’m joking. Honestly, I thought you were going to say you wear your hair in pigtails and wear cartoon character t-shirts or something, but the way you describe your look sounds perfectly appropriate and professional. I’m 42 and have a “mom-bod”, and I’m sure Petunia would think I look exceptionally young too. If you REALLY want to look more serious, you might wear a blazer with your business dress, but a business dress sounds absolutely fine.

    9. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      It is a thing that happens sometimes. Whether Petunia is a symptom of everyone in your company/industry behaving that way is hard to say. Does she actually know that you’re 32? Or is it that from her perspective, everyone under 45 is a youngun?

      I (male) went through it in my 20s. I actually stopped wearing contacts and went back to glasses because they made me look older. And there wasn’t really anything I could do with clothes – we were an all suits, all the time company, and I dressed exactly the same as my 40- and 50-year-old colleagues.

      1. NonimousRex*

        She knows how old I am because I told her, but Petunias is definitely one of the oldest people in our office (most of my colleagues are late 30s to early 50s), so perhaps for her everyone is “young” – although I haven’t heard anything to either affect.

    10. Excel-sior*

      I don’t think you need to do anything big. Next time she says how young you are, just say something like “Thanks, but I’m not that young, I’m 32 and I’ve been doing this for x years”.

    11. mandatory anon*

      “Wow Petunia, you seem to have a problem being professional with younger colleagues. Or is it just me in particular?”

    12. Just another queer reader*

      A person I met once said “I know I have great skin, but I’ve been in this field for a long time!” I thought it was a great line, and delivered cheerfully, helped establish credibility.

      1. arachnophilia*

        I’m a young-looking 48 (though I have a short, stereotypically lesbian haircut, which suits my identity), and it’s typical when introducing ourselves to say how long we’ve been at our institution (I’ve been here 18 years) – occasionally, I’ve gotten comments along the lines of, “wow, you must have been a baby when you started,” and I just say, “Yup! I was a llama-grooming prodigy!” and move along. It always seems to work and takes the emphasis off of how I look/present myself.

    13. Disappearing Emails*

      You absolutely shouldn’t, because the point might go right over her head (making you look like an ageist yourself), but I’d be sooo tempted to respond to her stereotypes about young people with some stereotype about elderly people, like, “wow, your memory is super good for your age!”

      Anyway, it’s definitely not you, it’s her. If you started dressing like the older ladies, Petunia would probably tell you to enjoy your youth and wear fun clothes while you can.

    14. JSPA*

      Take it as praise; she imagined you a decade older, in her mind’s eye, to have reached your stage of excellence. She’s essentially reminding herself of your maturity and polish and skills, each time she feels that disconnect.

    15. Anon for this*

      I think it unlikely your hair/dress are undermining your opportunities, provided you look professional. Look at what you are wearing, and consider whether you would take you seriously in a meeting. If you would, you are fine. If you give off a less-than-professional vibe it could affect your opportunities. (I have seen more than one young woman harm her career by wearing something trendy, rather than professional, to meetings with higher-ups. The boss won’t give plum assignments to someone who doesn’t look like they work in an office. Maybe not fair, but I’ve seen it happen.)

      Note: Your colleague’s comment on age is likely due to her age, not yours.

    16. Maggie*

      You don’t need to change anything, she’s in her 70s so she thinks of you as super young just like a 15 year old thinks your positively ancient :)

    17. Chief Petty Officer Tabby*

      Most people don’t care. I’m 46, and regularly get mistaken for 30, slightly over the average age of my coworkers (the youngest is 19, the oldest is going to be 29 tomorrow!). I typically run around with pink ombre locs, and have a plethora of tattoos and piercings, to add to my genetic inheritance of an extreme baby face *(it took ubtil my mid 30’s to look over 21!) It will be annoying with people like Petunia, but the trick is to never let it get under your skin; most will care more about your skill than your looks.

    18. Stoppin' by to chat*

      You all are 40 years apart, so this sounds like a petunia thing. She probably views you as newer in your career than her, and she’s equating that with “youth.” Keep wearing and doing what you’re doing!

  5. Lana Kane*

    Does anyone have any advice on scripts to use when your supervisor is an oversharer who constantly talks about how she dislikes her appearance and also just….talks a lot? Like, I know more about her sex life than I do my best friend’s. I’ve tried wearing headphones, she just keeps talking. I’ve tried not engaging, particularly when she talks about appearance things (because that is REALLY not my jam, I’m all “am I healthy? Do I feel physically good? Excellent, who cares if I gained weight” and I just am not someone who thinks about physical appearance much in general) but she just keeps going. It is really distracting, I’ve told her it’s distracting, and I’m honestly afraid to say anything because she’s my supervisor, is fairly new to being in a supervisory role (and doesn’t quite seem to understand what that role means in terms of interactions with underlings), and does my yearly review.

    1. Jean*

      At least with the sex stuff, you’re pretty safe to say “I’d rather not discuss that, it makes me uncomfortable. Thanks for understanding.” And if she brings it up again, go to HR. I know you’re worried about the power imbalance, but that’s what puts her solidly in the wrong here. She should not be dumping on you at all, but especially about her sex life. Hard no.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yes, even if you are both the same gender, sexualized comments in the workplace that makes you feel uncomfortable is sexual harassment.

      2. Lana Kane*

        Ok, that’s a concise way to put it that should make it difficult for her to re-engage, thank you!

        It’s just hard. The power imbalance is really screwing up my ability to react properly in the moment when she starts talking about stuff that’s inappropriate for work. Plus, I’m a total introvert who would rather just go all day at work without talking, rather than talking about work inappropriate topics (she is, clearly, an extrovert with no filter).

      3. Esmeralda*

        correct. I had a male supervisor do that once, when I was considerably younger and a lot lower in the heirarchy …so it was more obvious, but he was genuinely oblivious. I used the “it makes me uncomfortable” script first. The second time I said, “Dr. NoFilter, I said that makes me uncomfortable. I would rather not have to go to the EEO office about this, but I will if I have to.”

        And that was the end of that problem.

    2. Meep*

      My former manager is a chronic oversharer (I too know way too much about her sex life!) and I am horrible at getting people off the phone or back on task. I found two techniques work.

      1. Redirect, redirect, redirect. Whenever she gets off course, ask her questions about the work-related problem at hand. Don’t let up.

      2. Ask her if you can talk about this later and keep doing that.

      1. All The Words*

        I like this approach. I’ve been much more direct (though polite and respectful) in the past, which sadly, has come back to bite me in the arse. Retaliation can be impossible to prove, even when obvious. If you can get a subject change with a redirect that’d be perfect. She may even eventually put two and two together and correct her oversharing habits.

        1. Meep*

          In my case, at the very least, she will find someone else to gripe to. Not ideal as she will gain a reputation around the office, so to speak, but if OP already tried it is the best thing that can happen.

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

      I’m not sure you can say much unless she’s making comments on YOUR appearance. At that point you can say, “Please don’t make comments about my body” or “Unless you have a concern about a hygiene issue that is impacting work, I’m not going to discuss my appearance.” Is there anyway to steer the conversation to a different topic instead? If she just likes to talk to fill the void, maybe you can at least give her a new subject that you find interesting. TV book movie plants anything?

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        I think discussing one’s sex life must come with consent no matter the power imbalance. Continuing would be sexual harassment.

      2. pancakes*

        I’m not sure I agree with that. It’s tricky here because of the power imbalance, of course, but I think it’s fair for anyone to ask an officemate to lay off body or diet talk, if either are persistent. Those aren’t good topics of conversation for the office if they bother anyone present, even if it’s not directly about them. There are enough people affected by eating disorders themselves, or with friends or loved ones are, or people with a family history of weight being a fraught issue, that at this point I think the polite thing to do is just lay off those topics if asked.

        Certainly asking this woman to stop talking about her sex life is appropriate too; I agree with what others have said about that. My language for that might be along the lines of interrupting her with, “Can we please not talk about our sex lives at work? That’s a real boundary for me. Thanks for understanding.”

    4. JSPA*

      “I’m not a great audience for X,” said without rancor or drama, is my super neutral “go to” line.

      “Body image stuff just doesn’t seem to have a place in my brain, so I can’t really respond to any of this, unless you’re looking for a string of neutral noises and confused expressions.”

      “I never know what to say on this topic–what are you hoping to hear from me?”

      But the sex stuff, you can absolutely shut down!!!

      1. Lana Kane*

        So what I’m taking away from this is to not be afraid to feel awkward by saying things to shut her down, but do it politely. Thank you!

        1. Generic Name*

          Captain Awkward calls this “returning awkward to sender”. SHE is the one being awkward by talking about her sex life (!!) at work.

        2. Esmeralda*

          Return awkward to sender. YOU didn’t make this weird, your boss did.

          (Captain Awkward’s blog is a great resource for scripts on dealing with boundary crushers.)

    5. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I might make a generic comment like “I really try not to think too much about food and weight and diet, because I think those are artificial standards that are intended to distract women from important stuff like our work and our communities.” Because that IS what I think, and one of my many joys of working from home is not having to listen to the dieters at lunchtime. Obsess about that stuff if you want, but don’t do it on my time.

    6. anonymous73*

      I would set boundaries. Set up a quick chat with her and explain that her continuous oversharing of personal stuff makes you uncomfortable and you really need her to stop. Provide examples. And then if it happens again, in the moment say “This is the type of conversation that makes me uncomfortable. I really need you to stop.” Make sure to say you NEED her to stop, not that you’d LIKE her to stop. If she continues to brings things up, go to HR. I realize this may be difficult, but if you don’t set boundaries, she’s never going to stop, and hints don’t work with these type of people.

    7. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      Does your Company have employees take periodic mandatory trainings in office decorum and sexual harassment etc.? if so, the next time your boss starts “oversharing”, you can say “Uh Uh, we had training about this” or something to that effect.

  6. Sunflower*

    I’m trying to decide if it’s reasonable to ask for comp time in my new role.
    I work in corporate business development events. I just started a new job and there are 3 weekends in the next 6 months (that are confirmed so far) that I have to work including 2 over the summer (one of these weekends is optional but someone else would have to do it solo and I think it’s a good/easy opp to build up goodwill). This is new to me as in my other corporate jobs, I worked 5 weekends total over the last 7 years. I usually travel over the summer weekends so it’s not ideal but totally understandable and I will do it.

    Since it’s events, I know weekend work is expected sometimes (and I’m fine with that!) but I would like to ask for 1 day off the following week for working the 2 days over the weekend. My other coworker (started during COVID so has only worked 2 live events) said she never thought to ask for comp time so I’m not sure if this is reasonable or normal? Since it was so rare in my last jobs, I never asked but I want to make sure I am setting good precedent from the start and not getting walked over (a difficulty of mine at past roles is being scared of asking for too much so I always feel on eggshells about this stuff)

    1. EngGirl*

      Is there someone on your level you can ask about how this kind of stuff is usually handled? In some offices it’s just considered expected work and part of what you signed on for, in some there’s flexibility that comes with having to work those weekends in the days leading up to or following the event (like so one’s going to give you shit if you leave early the day before, or come in late the day after.). Some places I’m sure do give comp time :)

      I’d start with someone not in your direct chain of command to get a feel.

    2. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

      Do you get paid overtime for the weekend hours? If so, then no comp time. But if not, then yes, totally reasonable to ask for comp time when working over a weekend.

    3. darlingpants*

      Did you know about weekend work when you negotiated salary/is your salary sort of high? There’s a possibility that weekend work is compensated that way.

      But I think it’s very reasonable to go to your boss and ask something like “I know that everyone’s a little out of practice with in person events since COVID. When we work weekend events is there any flexibility the week before or after to make up for the extra hours?” If you would have to take PTO to get out of weekend hours then I think they should count towards your total hours per week.

    4. Texan In Exile*

      Be careful about this. I totally agree with your point – if you work a weekend, you should get comp time. But be careful who you ask about it. You might have a boss like my old boss.

      I have worked in two different environments where working on weekends was part of the job – one F100 trade shows, other nonprofit international travel. In each case, there was no comp time.

      The nonprofit was the worst: I had to go to Dubai twice and each time, when I had to spend the weekends working there (because their work week starts with Sunday? Saturday? Can’t remember), I not only did not get comp time (including working Thanksgiving weekend one time), I was also expected to be in the office the day after a 16-hour flight home and a ten-hour time change. My boss was very very clear in his expectations.

      1. Green Goose*

        I’m trying to wrap my head around this, so you would work 12 days in a row with no break? Oh man! If I had to work an entire weekend I would definitely not want to work the entire week afterwards, but I’ve been at my company a while and have enough sway to ask for that.

    5. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      I think that’s completely reasonable. If you’re properly classified as exempt, you should be able to flex which days are your weekend. Especially in events, I would think this is common, reasonable, and normal.

    6. Purple Penguin*

      Absolutely talk to coworkers at your level in preparation for checking in with your manager. Maybe this is the way things always are in which case there’s either no comp time or of course tehre is and they haven’t communicated it clearly. Maybe this is unusual and they would be flexible about handling it since there’s not a strong precedent. Maybe there’s a highly informal “comp time” in which you leave at 3/4pm as soon as your work is done if you just worked a weekend, basically just self-regulating but flexing your hours in ways that would otherwise not be the norm in your office. If that last is the way things are handled, it’s kind of a pain because 1.5 hours early does not make up for an extra day of work; but if the office is balanced between official “no comp time” policy and unofficial flex hours complaining about it could easily do more harm than good. So start with coworkers, then move to the official request.

    7. Snow Globe*

      One important note to this: if you are in the US and non-exempt it is illegal to offer comp time in lieu of overtime pay. I’m not sure if that is what you are suggesting, but that is one reason you might not see other people taking comp time.

    8. Gnome*

      At least in my industry it’s totally normal to flex days. Think of it as floating your weekend and try asking, “When we work weekends, do we normally take Monday and Tuesday off, or do we do it some other way?”

  7. Toodie*

    Question for the nurse and lab folks of the world! Yesterday I had to have blood drawn in preparation for a CT next week. I’ve had to do this several times over the past year. The woman who took my blood yesterday had that magical touch so I hardly felt anything. I said, “Wow! You’re really good at that!”–which I realize, in hindsight, might be a little condescending. What I meant to convey is that I appreciate how skillful she is at the task, not that I am amazed by her skill. What would be phrasing that you would appreciate in that circumstance? (I have more blood draws in my future.)

    1. Janet Fleming*

      Former lab person here. I don’t think she would have been offended by what you said, but if you want, an alternate statement could be: wow, I hardly felt that!

      1. Lab Boss*

        Seconded- I don’t think most people would be offended by being told they’re good at their job, but if I’m giving a compliment I try to highlight a specific thing they did that I noticed and enjoyed.

    2. Jean*

      That phlebotomist has probably heard soooo much worse than that perfectly innocuous comment. Don’t worry about it. Just a plain old “thanks” is always appreciated though.

    3. mreasy*

      I always tell the phlebotomist when they have a painless draw, as it makes things so much easier for me as a patient. I don’t think your statement was condescending at all!

      1. pancakes*

        I do too. I really appreciate it because I have terrible, annoying little veins (sometimes called “rolling” veins I think?) and I know I’m a difficult draw. Last week a phlebotomist I’ve always been impressed with went through one and left a big bruise, and I know it isn’t lack of skills because she’s been my favorite for, like, 10 years. She’s like a hummingbird.

        I try to drink a lot of water beforehand and that seems to help, but my veins are just not cooperative.

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        One of my parental units used to say “when someone gives me a compliment I immediately scrutinize the qualifications of the complimenter”. Now that’s harsh and reflects more their insecurities than anything else, but it’s absolutely true that people can use compliments to condescend. Especially people from groups that are the object of stereotyping have to deal with it – imagine some white parent gushing how a kid is *so* well behaved and *so* diligent and hardworking if the kid is from a minority ethnic group that is being negatively stereotyped as unlikely to finish school and overrepresented in kids that get in trouble with the police.

        Genuine compliments, offered with respect of the other human and understanding of the skills involved are a lovely thing that we should practice. We just sometimes have to work a little bit to ensure we’re believable to the person receiving the compliment. That’s what I think the question is about.

        (Usually it helps to personalize it. “Wow, I really like how evenly you hung the wallpaper. I can hardly see the seams, and let me tell you, I’ve seen a lot less attractive outcomes from some of your colleagues.” Or here, the OP has experience with needle sticks and is therefore quite qualified to commend the phlebotomist.)

    4. rkz*

      I just said to a phlebotomist the other day “you’re good, I didn’t even feel that!” I don’t think it was inappropriate because they know that it does sometimes hurt a little (I had to get four different blood draws and every time they said “this will pinch a little” and then also checked to make sure it didn’t keep hurting once the needle was in). So in this case, I think you were fine and you’re probably overthinking it a little :)

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I got an injection last week. I told her, don’t count me down, just stab, and she goes “Ok!” and then she said “All done!” and I said “Wait, what? Seriously? I have never NOT felt an injection the way I just didn’t feel that one. You’re amazing.” and she grinned.

      Blood-wise, I’m a terrible stick, and I tell them that up front. Sometimes they even listen, but they all realize eventually that I know what I’m talking about. I have encountered one, literally, exactly one person EVER to get my vein on the first attempt (and she’s done it multiple times now), and you bet your tail feathers I tell her every time that she’s amazing at what she does and I appreciate her for it.

      1. ShysterB*

        Fellow terrible stick here. I’ve had multiple occasions (giving blood, needing infusions, standard blood draws) where they’ve gone back and forth from one arm to another, or the back of the hand, or the side of the wrist multiple times. The worst ended up with something from the needle perfusing under the surface of my skin and leaving my inner left arm black and blue from mid-upper arm to near the wrist. (Akin to a horrible bruise when the arm-guard slipped during a college archery class.) Also, after multiple attempts, I’ve flunked out of platelet donations.

        A good phlebotomist is worth their weight in gold.

      2. calonkat*

        When they ask me what arm, I now just say “either is fine, but if you might get frustrated after 3 or 4 tries, I’d rather you just used the veins in the back of my hand”

        95% of the time they just go for the back of my hand, which is fine with me. I’ve passed out when people have gotten frustrated and started wriggling the needle. I’ve even had IVs through my hand. Donating blood is the only thing I can’t do, and with my low iron and lack of good arm veins, they just told me not to bother trying anymore :(

      3. MEH Squared*

        I have awful veins myself and I always tell the phlebotomist to use the back of my hand with a butterfly needle. Recently, I was in the hospital and had to have my blood drawn every six hours. I still have the scars from all the sticks (I’m keloid and scar twice as badly as most people.).

        They couldn’t do the back of the hand for all the blood draws in the hospital, unfortunately. I had one really bad stick that was agonizing, but in general, most of them were at least decent. I’ve only had the ‘I didn’t feel a thing!’ once, and it was amazing. I’m afraid I gushed at that phlebotomist.

    6. Nameless in Customer Service*

      I think you’re fine. When I worked in a hospital I made friends with a couple of the phlebotomists and was always delighted when they delightedly told me that a patient told them they were really good at it, whatever the phrasing. Also as a patient with small buried blood vessels I’ve said precisely this and gotten pleased smiles and thanks back.

    7. Nursey Nurse*

      RN here. It makes my day when people tell me I’ve done something well. We get so used to only hearing patients complain that it’s really nice to be complimented. Please don’t worry, I think it’s very unlikely that your comment will be taken as condescending,

    8. Kat Maps*

      I had two wisdom teeth extracted earlier this week — both teeth were out in less than 10 minutes. When the surgeon said I was done I said “Wow! You’re good!” through a very frozen mouth. I felt super dorky for commenting on it, but I genuinely appreciated how good of a surgeon he was! I don’t think there’s anything wrong with complimenting people who help make otherwise unpleasant experiences as smooth as possible.

    9. Sprint*

      As someone who’s worked with the public in a healthcare context, it’s 100% about the intention behind the comment rather than the phrasing. Having a patient express appreciation, whatever the wording, is always lovely! If someone said “You’re good!” with surprise I might give an “I’m glad you think so!” or “Well, I’ve had a lot of practice!” type response but it wouldn’t occur to me to be offended.

    10. tessa*

      I appreciate that you want to be as accurate as possible with your kindness, but in my opinion, you’re overthinking things. It was a lovely compliment, and lovely of you to share it. :)

    11. the cat's ass*

      HCW here. I usually will compliment my fellow HCWs-say, the painless blood draw “Hey that was awesomely painless, thank you! ” Believe me, they appreciate it. Someone complimented me yesterday on explaining their MRI results in a way that was clear and understandable and i felt really good about it! So carry on. You most likely were a bright spot in someone’s day.

  8. Scoffrio*

    Long covid/disability question – I am starting the process of getting ADA accommodations for my long covid symptoms. The problem is, I have no idea what is reasonable to ask for!

    I experience brain fog, fatigue, and chronic coughing regularly. The symptoms are made worse after my body experiences stress (travel, sickness, etc). Right now we’re going in to the office three times a week and get to work from home two times a week on a schedule that is chosen by us but formally approved. Ideally, I would like to not have to adhere to a strict schedule of coming into the office or a number of days that is required, but on the days I’m in the office, it would be helpful to have an office instead of the cubicle I currently have. I’m considering offering that as an either/or ask.

    But are there other things that are within the realm of possibility that I could be asking for?

    1. Adereterial*

      I’m not in the US but I’ve dealt with a large number of what UK law would describe as ‘reasonable adjustments.’ Sometimes employees aren’t sure what they need – sometimes they are very sure what they need (or want).

      I always tell those who aren’t sure to think about what they do at home and out of work to help overcome the same sort of issues, and how that might translate into a work context – a desk bound employee with back problems got regular, scheduled extra breaks to stand and stretch, and a standing desk. Someone struggling with fatigue got some flexibility with start and end times, plus an extended trigger point for sickness absence (essential more days off without triggering a warning for attendance), and I took away some physical elements of the job that weren’t essential too. Someone with dyslexia was given slightly different productivity metrics to meet as they needed longer to read and write information – same for someone with visual impairments who used assistive technologies for screen work.

      If you’re really not sure, is an occupational health referral an option? This is what they’re for!

      1. RagingADHD*

        Seconded. If you look on their website under “A to Z lists” you can search by specific limitations to see suggestions for accommodations that might be helpful.

        For example, if you search “fatigue” you get “Decreased Stamina/Fatigue” as a category, and under that you get suggestions and explanations for everything from equipment (anti-fatigue matting, scooters, ergonomic chairs) to ideas for job restructuring or how to incorporate rest breaks.

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

      For ADA it’s a discussion…you and your employer go back and forth on what you need/want and what they can provide. You can ask for anything and they get to counter offer until you both come to an agreement.

      If they don’t have an office to give you, which is possible, you could see if there is a space you could regularly schedule for lie-down breaks while you are in the office — like a conference room with a couch or wellness room — or add one extra WFH day, or split your day (morning in the office and afternoon at home), or if you find that you are better in the morning and just can’t after 3:00, can they reduce your hours so you work 8-3 all the time? Just having the documentation, without a hard solution, might also help protect you on performance evaluations. If there are things that would help the brain fog, like extra rest breaks, or reduced work assignments, organization software, you could certainly ask for those.

    3. Minimal Pear*

      I think you can definitely ask for both flexibility on when you come in, and an office for the days you do come in. There might be some logistical things you have to work out during the accommodation process, but that’s supposed to a very collaborative back-and-forth kind of thing so there’ll be room for you to figure out the details if they do it right.
      I haven’t really needed accommodations in the workplace so I’m trying to think back to school… I know flexible attendance and deadline flexibility were both huge helps with brain fog and fatigue back then. Not sure exactly how well that would translate to the workforce but worth thinking about. Oh, and being given info in alternate formats (written down so I could refer back) and being able to present in different formats (oral presentation instead of written report).

      1. Academic fibro warrior*

        Fibro warrior here! Really what you need is flexibility about where to be when and for how long. Realistically things with hard deadlines and scheduled things that can’t be gotten out of may not give, but flexibility is absolutely key to managing the fatigue which helps ameliorate the brain fog.
        You need permission for intermittent absences at your discretion. You also need time to get everything super organized so you don’t have to spend limited bandwidth on finding or figuring things.
        A relaxation room to be used as needed for a quick nap or just to get out of the flourescent lights? A desk air purifier because you may be more sensitive to dust and mold and perfume than before? A super ergonomic chair with a footstool? Extremely convenient parking (big problem on campus. Most classes I missed were because I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it through class once I got to class)? Tech for speech to text? Paid Grammarly to carry the bulk of editing if you write a lot?

        Any and all small everyday things that were eh but okay before are now energy vampires. List those out and see what can be changed there. Flexibility for doctors appointments, because likely they’ll be higher in number (can you take work with you while you wait in doctor lobbies ?) Do you have meds that you need to take at work and need refrigeration?

        And you’ll get better buy in if you have an explanation of how these things make you a better employee or how you plan to do your work around it . They’ll do the accommodations because they have to but you want them to support you while you adjust to the new you. Or it’s not going to work well if at all.

        Make ABSOLUTELY sure that your doctor is SPECIFIC on his documentation. One charged me $30 for ‘patient needs consideration on parking’ and the ADA office said nope. So I had to walk half a mile from parking to class for grad school. I missed a lot of classes.

    4. Esmeralda*

      Not your question, but:

      Whatever you ask for, remember that you can change it if it’s not working. ADA accommodations are not graven in stone. You’ll have to update paperwork, but that is absolutely your right.

    5. OnetoFindTheGiraffe*

      How much feedback is it reasonable to expect from one’s manager?

      For the first year or so at my job, I had an absentee manager (she was struggling with health issues and so never onboarded me, was never in the office/never checked in on me) who later died. Then there was a period of time while they were looking to fill that role, so I had someone above me to sign my timesheet but that was about it: no guidance, no training, no one who knew my projects I could turn to for support. Now I finally have a manager, and have had her in that role for about six months or so now. She is excellent and a really great manager (and role model!)

      The catch: unfortunately those 6 months she’s been my manager happen to overlap with six months in which I’ve really struggled at work. The first two years at my job I was by all accounts a really strong performer and got lots of good feedback from other execs with whom I worked. The last six months I’ve had two overlapping serious health conditions and some family challenges in my personal life, while also dealing with significant understaffing and new high-priority projects in my professional life. I’ve managed to keep most of the balls in the air and have pulled off the really important things, but the team I manage is in really dire shape, due partially to structural reasons (eternally slow hiring) and partially to choices I made while trying to juggle all this (I should have asked for help sooner).

      Now I’m in a situation where my program is struggling, but I’m working really hard to dig myself out of the hole I’m in. My manager has taken on a lot of the things on my plate, and I’m trying my best to see this as “she’s supporting me” rather than “she’s decided I’m bad at my job and can’t do things!!!” To her credit, she’s been excellent at trying to balance the needs of the organization while trying to support me in my ongoing health challenges.

      But I haven’t gotten any real feedback from her. I hear a lot about how “your program is in trouble and the execs are mad,” and “you should have done x,y,z so you didn’t end up in this state.” But none of that is very… actionable.

      So: okay, message heard & received! I need to fix my program, so I’m working really hard and doing my best to juggle all the balls. (I worked nearly 11 hours yesterday). But how much feedback from her is it reasonable to expect? Should I be expecting “here’s what you specifically need to differently in future”? Should I be expecting “hey, I see how hard you’re working”?

      (Not gonna lie, I could really stand to hear that last one. I’ve been working so damn hard to keep all the balls in the air that it’s really demoralizing to hear only “the execs are really mad” even if that’s true (and reasonable).

      1. OnetoFindTheGiraffe*

        (Sorry, meant to post this on the main thread but managed to post it in reply instead!)

  9. EngGirl*

    I work with a director, not in my chain of command, who has a tendency to put same day meetings at the end of the day. These are rarely emergencies, and if they are urgent they frequently could or should have been dealt with earlier, but we’re left until the last second. These meetings are sometimes in groups but often one in one and when it’s just the two of us they have a tendency to be running late. Frequently, whether due to a late start, the time booked being insufficient to discuss the issue, or lack of an immediate resolution, this person wants to keep pushing beyond our official end time. We are both salaried exempt employees, so it’s not breaking any rules, however my company doesn’t allow any kind of flex time so I try to avoid staying late for anything less than a moderate emergency (we can “pre plan” an hour here and there and make it up but I can’t say “oh hey I stayed an hour late Tuesday, so I’m gonna take a long lunch Or leave early Friday”).

    A couple of times I’ve made up fictitious appointments I need to leave for, but I can’t do that every time. There’s also no real way to gauge how long the meeting or conversation will go over, sometimes it’s 5 minutes which isn’t a big deal, but on more than one occasion it’s been more than an hour. I’ve also tried reminding him of our end time on a couple of occasions when he books late meetings but I’ve basically gotten a response along the lines of “oh I don’t mind staying late” with the implication that I shouldn’t either.

    Any tips, tricks, or thoughts?

    1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      Go in to every meeting with “I have a hard stop at [end of day time]” and give him a five minute warning. “Hey Bruce, I have a hard stop in 5 minutes. Will we be wrapped up by then, or do we need to schedule more time tomorrow?”

      He doesn’t need to know why you have a hard stop, just that you do.

      1. anonymous73*

        I was going to suggest this as well, but know that being a director, his time to meet is probably very limited and you may need to suck it up sometimes and stay late.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Two thoughts – either have a big-picture conversation about trying to maintain a better work-life balance, so you have a hard stop at X time unless it’s a real emergency OR … just state that each time, “oh, I can’t stay past 5:30, can we talk about this tomorrow?” kind of stuff.

      It might also be worth collaborating with your actual manager if they have any ideas on how to push back or whether you can take comp time.

      1. EngGirl*

        My actual manager would not see a problem with this. It’s (very unfortunately) an attitude that is shared by the majority of management at my company. The whole “well why would it be an issue? Your life should basically be about work!”

    3. Massive Dynamic*

      Sounds like that’s his norm and you’ll either have to work around it or address it head-on and see how that goes. I see three options for you based on your risk tolerance:

      1. Tell him you are working on work/life balance and will be leaving the office at X time every day, even go so far as to note that on your work calendar. Risky, but also the most direct method. And if your company is a stickler on start times and lunch times (to the point where you taking a long lunch to balance a long previous day would read as out-of-touch), then why not be your own stickler about the established end time.

      2. Have a fictitious daily recurring gym class that means you need to leave at X time every day. Make sure it’s an out-of-town gym, don’t give much detail in case anyone wants to get nosy about it. Risky as well.

      3. Any chance you can start later on each day so your total hours worked still averages 40? If you can switch a few things you usually do after work to the AM before work, this preserves your w/l balance.

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        Amending #1 since he’s not your direct boss. Per earlier comments, just tell him you have a hard stop each day at X time. He doesn’t need a why.

        1. Artemesia*

          And suggest a meeting time you would prefer. INcluding scheduling this requested meeting the next morning.

      2. Esmeralda*

        I’d have a fictitious appointment rather than the gym class. People like this don’t care because “it’s just a gym class.” They also don’t care about catching public transportation, getting out early enough to avoid traffic, etc.

        If he asks what the appt is for, just wave your hands and say, vaguely, oh, just some health stuff, nothing to worry about but the appt is firm, so I definitely have to leave at 5 sharp. Maybe it’s better to reschedule til tomorrow morning? I’m free at 7:30 am….

        AFter all, it is about your health

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Could you schedule a “daily planning/wrap up” meeting at the end of each day, so that you aren’t available? I have a 30 minute “meeting” with myself from 5-5:30 every day to ensure I have some time to wrap up the day and plan the next, which also means I rarely get other meetings scheduled at that time.

      1. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

        This is what I do. I have standing appointments with myself first-thing and last-thing every day. On Mondays, the morning one is longer, and on Fridays, the afternoon one is longer; on Monday I prep my week, and on Friday I review it. This is how I manage my time and also my direct report’s schedule, so I can see what’s coming down the pike and what we need to adjust for.

    5. cactus lady*

      A couple of things:

      1. Block out the last half hour on your calendar every day (mark it “unavailable” or “wrap up” or something).
      2. Give them a heads up ahead of time – hey, I can’t stay past 5 (no need to give a reason), will this be sufficient time or should we plan time for tomorrow?
      3. If it goes long and they say “can you stay a few extra minutes?” just say sorry, I can’t, can we put some time on the calendar tomorrow morning?

      I feel like what’s going on is that this is one of those people who always works outside of business hours and they’re just not thinking. It doesn’t have to be A Thing, you can just say no – just make sure to offer alternative time for the discussion.

      1. cactus lady*

        I would like to reiterate that YOU DON’T NEED TO MAKE UP AN EXCUSE. If they press, say it’s a personal matter. They don’t have to know that the personal matter is your work/life boundary.

    6. LadyAmalthea*

      For the one-on-one type meetings, would you be able to suggest meeting times that worm better for you/take initiative to schedule meetings a bit early in the day?

    7. Jean*

      “A couple of times I’ve made up fictitious appointments I need to leave for, but I can’t do that every time.” Yes you can. Standing appointments are a thing. I also like the “hard stop” verbiage suggested in other comments.

    8. Workerbee*

      Echoing the “hard stop” without explanation suggestions, as well as blocking off your time at the end of the day.

      I will add, once you say you have a hard stop, ENFORCE IT – with yourself! Gather up materials, say something gracious about seeing them tomorrow or whatever, and get up and go. Yes, even if the person just drew breath for another stream-of-consciousness barrage. If you don’t follow your own edict, that just trains the other person to think it’s flexible, and they will merrily roll on eating up your time and sanity.

  10. Murfle*

    I need some advice about how to expand my skillset.

    I work for a bank in a tech-like role – I’m not a software developer or product manager, but I work with these roles
    regularly, and my responsibility is to ensure that the content on the bank website/apps is clear and easy to understand. I’ve been working in online content for 10+ years and I know that part of the business well, but I also want to develop other tech-adjacent skills that would make me more attractive in the long term.

    I’m currently in talks with one of the directors on my team about cross-training opportunities, and I’m not sure what I want to do. My concern isn’t *how* to learn how to do something new, but *what* I want to learn. I’m not a programmer or coder – can I still learn about data privacy or cyber security? I’m not a finance professional – can I still learn about interest rates and insurance?

    What new field of knowledge would both make me more recession-proof and cater to my strengths like attention to detail, good writing skills, and a desire for externally imposed structure?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I assume you’re using a content management system – are you just entering information, or are you also doing configuration and management of the CMS? If you aren’t doing that stuff, that’s an excellent area to expand into. Lots of companies use a CMS for things besides publishing to a website.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Maybe user experience? I’m not in the field, I’ve just worked with some great people who do, and it was the first thing that came to mind after your description of what you do.

      1. Baeolophus bicolor*

        Agreed, it sounds like you’re doing user experience work. Not sure what your title is or what your tools are, but expanding into technical writing and the visual side of UX could be a good move. For both of those, learning DITA, HTML, and CSS are very transferable technical skills and while they are technically coding, they’re relatively easy and there are lots of great resources to learn from.

      2. ErgoBun*

        Absolutely! I’m in User Experience and that would be a great bridge skill. Learning some HTML and CSS won’t go wrong, as it will help you understand how best to present and lay out your web content. UX will help you learn how to make that content usable, findable, and delightful for your users. And, there are lots and lots of great courses and opportunities to learn because UX is a growing field.

        If you have LinkedIn Learning available, start there with some intro to User Experience courses. My favorite organization/source for learning is UIE, formerly known as User Interface Engineering, which is helmed by Jared Spool, a genuinely nice person and one of the earliest pioneers of this field.

        I’ll try to check in later if there are additional questions about UX!

    3. blue orange planet*

      Information security (GLBA, Appendix B to Part 364 of FDIC Rules and Regs) would be what I’d suggest. It’s data privacy with a focus on regulatory requirements. You don’t need to be a coder/programmer. If you have basic IT understanding, you’ll be able to pick it up. Look at the FFIEC IT Handbook for Infosec for more info.

      – works in regulatory banking field

    4. Jigsaw*

      Someone just wrote into Alison saying that the role of privacy specialist is in great demand right now. Maybe your company would even pay for the certificate that was mentioned in that post a few days ago?

      My company has a director of compliance and privacy who started as a technical writer and now only works on the privacy portions of legal and technical documents. The need for privacy people is certainly there!

    5. Parenthesis Dude*

      There’s a difference between being a programmer and knowing how to program, and the latter does have value. Just like learning about interest rates and stuff will help you with the finance people. Find the group you’re most interested in learning about, and train with them. It’s not that you’ll replace them, it just will help you talk with them because you’ll see where they’re coming from.

    6. Eleanor Shellstrop*

      I work for a bank as well. If you are interested in data privacy or cybersecurity then I highly recommend pursuing learning in this space, even better if you can get a certificate relevant for your jurisdiction. These skills are not only crucial in banking, but areas I see asked for in many different sectors, so it would highly increase your skill set. Risk and compliance adjacent roles have a low chance of automation as well, most regulators require banks at least to have a specific level of oversight, so there’s fairly good job security there.

  11. Potential employer asking for candidate feedback*

    Hi! I completed a second interview with a potential employer (which was the third video call I had with them).

    The day after, I emailed a “Thank you” note. They responded by sending me a “Candidate Experience form” with a survey on the hiring process. They noted it would not impact any applications in progress.

    I had a feeling after the interview it wasn’t my best performance (it was also at 6AM for me due to a time zone difference).

    Is the form/survey they provided basically letting me know I didn’t get the role?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      No I don’t think so. I think they’re just collecting feedback and not giving much thought to when in the process they’re doing it (or giving that a lot of thought, and not thinking about how it might be read on the other side).

      If you didn’t get the role they probably aren’t going to play passive games about it.

    2. Doctors Whom*

      No it is not. You should not read anything into getting this survey at all.

      They are trying to gather data on candidate experience with different aspects of their hiring process so they can learn from the candidate’s perspective what went well and what did not. We take in this kind of feedback too, though I don’t know what mechanisms we use.

    3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Hard to say, I’ve only gotten those after I was officially rejected. Which, maybe sending them prior to any decision would be more accurate. I can’t imagine people giving favorable or honest ratings after being rejected. I do, but I know a lot of people take rejections very hard and personally.

    4. Voluptuousfire*

      Depends. If the ATS the company uses is Greenhouse, there is a box you can check in the rejection status function that a candidate survey goes out to them in a few days. If they’re a Greenhouse ATS user, then yeah, I’d say you’ve likely been rejected and should receive an email about it.

    5. iliketoknit*

      Nope. If they want to let you know you didn’t get the role, they will just tell you that you didn’t get the role. Or they may (regrettably) ghost you, but that has nothing to do with asking for feedback on the hiring process. Presumably they want feedback on the hiring process from everyone who goes through it, whether hired or not.

    6. Sunflower*

      I just interviewed/accepted a new job and I think I got a survey after literally every interview. Don’t read too much into it!

  12. ThatGirl*

    For the last 11 years, my husband has been a counselor at a small urban university, working in their counseling center. It’s a small team, the staff across the university almost never got raises, and he was definitely underpaid – but, he liked the work, he liked his coworkers, and the benefits were solid. So he stayed. But over the last few years, things have gotten more frustrating and they’ve gotten less support from the administration.

    Over the course of the last academic year, things really got miserable – they were down a counselor, the wait list was long, the new director is not a good manager, and so on and so forth. My husband had already applied somewhere new but wasn’t hearing back; then his coworker put in her notice (about two months’ worth, normal for academia) and got walked out the same week. He was starting to despair a bit.

    And then, over the course of the past three weeks, he got interviews from both places he’d applied and an offer from one (and the other is currently checking his references! but he already took the first offer). It’s closer to home, a much more supportive atmosphere, a fully staffed department AND…. a 57% raise. He’ll start in mid-July most likely.

    Jobs like his aren’t super common, even in big metro areas, but there is hope!

    1. SnappinTerrapin*

      Congratulations. I hope he waits to give minimal notice. The director doesn’t deserve extra time to plan for filling the vacancies.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Oh yes I forgot to mention that if he leaves before the end of June (fiscal year) he gets 5 weeks of vacation paid out. After July 1 it would only be one week.

    2. Leonineleopard*

      Congrats to your husband, thank you for taking the time to share this very inspiring story!

  13. Disappearing Emails*

    Yesterday I submitted a grant proposal to a local foundation via email. Recently I learned that an email I sent went into someone’s spam folder, though, so I’m a little concerned that the same might happen to my grant proposal. Should I try to find a phone number and call them? Our director is a member of the foundation, but I think she’s pretty out of touch with their goings on—should I see if she can ask around anyway?

    I don’t want to be clingy, but I don’t want to miss out on a grant because my email went to spam.

    1. TPS reporter*

      I think it’s worth calling the foundation to make sure they got your proposal. They are in the business of giving grants and will want to know that they’re getting all potential applicants. I wouldn’t go through your director, contacting the administration directly is appropriate.

      1. Artemesia*

        A grant proposal should ALWAYS get an acknowledgement for just this reason — any professional operation will send you an email noting it is received. So if you don’t get this, follow up to make sure they have it.

        1. Ama*

          Yes, as someone who runs a grant application — we actually put in our application materials that all applicants will receive an acknowledgment email from our submission system and note that they should check their spam filter if they don’t receive it. However, I’ve never had a problem double checking for an applicant if they call/email us to confirm we received it.

          1. Dragon*

            This was an extreme situation, but a musician didn’t find out for ages he’d been offered a prestigious opportunity. By the time he did, it was long gone.

            His then-girlfriend saw the message in their shared email account first, and deleted it because she didn’t want him to leave her for the opportunity.

    2. Disappearing Emails*

      Update: They don’t have a phone number. Can I send an email via my personal email address to follow up instead? Would mentioning spam just get it marked as spam?

      1. Nesprin*

        Look up the grant officer and try to find a phone number. They want to get your application, and if lost in span is a detriment to getting good proposals they want to know.

  14. hmmm*

    My friend posted this last week when on the long weekend for Memorial day. It was late in the afternoon and she was hoping to get some additional advice. Her work heavily monitors her computer so she asked me to post.

    Special shout out to “VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*” for answering.

    How do you turn down a counter offer? I work for an amazing company, amazing mentors, amazing coworkers… I can’t say enough about them. Now I’ll admit that no company is perfect, but overall I love where I am. I feel like the little things that annoy me aren’t earthshattering, but anytime they have come up naturally in conversation nothing is ever done. I have a few things going on personally as well that make things working at this company becoming more and more challenging – said nuances, a long commute, a family situation. A few weeks ago after a tough professional and personal day, on a whim I applied to a job I literally found that day online. Imagine my surprise 5 weeks later they made me an offer I can’t turn down. I never thought I would ever get such compensation. DOn’t get me wrong there were some compromises, step downs in some areas, major step ups in others and negotiations but overall it’s an out of this world offer. My current employer is going to be shocked. I think they might come back to me with a counteroffer given some upcomeing projects. How do I say it’s not you, it’s just time for me to move on. On top of all this I have to give notice while my boss is on vacation. Help!

    1. Lemon*

      I did this a few months back, except the boss being on vacation part. I told my managers that this is a new direction that I’m excited to take my career in and I’m excited for the opportunities that it would provide. I kept repeating this like a broken record every time they asked so they didn’t get the chance to prepare a counteroffer :) but yeah, I would say just be firm and steadfast in your reason for leaving, if you’re not interested in a counter. Congratulations on the new job!

      1. Not VERY disorganized*

        Happened to me! I got contacted by my current employer and an offer the day before my annual review! I accepted it. During my review, I started it off saying: I am very interested in your feedback, but I also have to let you know that I just accepted an offer and am giving my 3 week notice. Jaws dropped! But I was paid massively under market. They asked me where I was going, what compensation and benefits were on offer, then finally if there was anything they could offer that would make me reconsider. Because of Alison’s cautions on this very topic I said there was not, as I believed accepting a counter offer made everything awkward. Also that i hoped that I would be eligible for rehire some day because I really loved the firm. There was much enthusiasm, and because I do love that firm, I did everything I possibly could to help my replacement ease in. Her starting salary was almost what I left for, and someone else in the dept got a massive raise and more vacation time shortly after I left. I felt empowered to be able to say ‘thank you, but no, and I wish you all success in the future!’

    2. DeeDee*

      “I wasn’t expecting this, but I’ve had a great offer come through and after a lot of careful deliberation I’ve decided to accept it. I really value the experience and relationships I’ve built here, but I’m ready for a new challenge.”

    3. ABK*

      You just say “No, thank you.” It’s as simple as that. Your mind is made up, you are giving notice, and your last day will be X. You enjoyed working there, learned a lot, etc.

    4. anonymous73*

      “I appreciate the offer, but this is an opportunity I can’t pass up.” People leave and if the ones you work for are reasonable they’ll understand. If they’re unreasonable, then there’s nothing else you could say that would make it better for them or for you.

    5. Leandra*

      Hmmm, congratulations to your friend!

      If she’s able and willing to share, I’d be interested in hearing some of the compromises and step-downs of her new job. I may make a late-career job change, and if I do I’ll have to live with my choice until retirement.

      So I’ll have to choose my compromises carefully. For instance, someone commented in another post that they regretted taking a job with less PTO, and were looking again for that reason.

      1. Hmmm*

        My friend is taking less vacation time, but gets more federal holidays, flexibility with hours, hybrid working, less commute, better benefits (medical dental vision retirement). She feels if it’s “horrible “ she will switch after a year

  15. Lemon*

    Thought of this question after reading today’s post about the LW whose company doesn’t do performance reviews or raises. What does a raise for a top performer look like at your company, in terms of the percentage? Does it vary as per region or industry?

    1. Alex*

      A yearly raise for an excellent worker at my workplace is 3%. MAYBE in extenuating circumstances, they might be able to give you 3.5% if you were incredible and did something extraordinary.

      A yearly raise for a mediocre worker at my workplace is 3%. If you really and truly dropped the ball and had severe performance issues maybe you’d get 2.5%

      There’s a big to-do about how your raise is tied to performance, but it is all for show and at the end of the day pretty much everyone gets 3% no matter how good or bad they were.

    2. mlem*

      I’m in software in New England. My company reviews annually, I’m considered a top performer, and going back to 2013, my annual raises have ranged from 1.35% to one year with a whopping 3.16%. My company is … not great on salary, though, and every 5-7 years they have to scramble to try to fix hiring salaries and then deal with the resulting discrepancies. They just did a catch-up sequence for me that works out to about 7% total … relative to two years ago, because they skipped a year.

      I sincerely hope my company is not typical, because that would be too depressing.

      1. anon for this one*

        Oof. I am also in software in New England, and there is definitely better out there in the same market!

      2. darlingpants*

        My husband got almost a 10% merit raise (and then got a promotion with another raise) in software in New England so while I think his performance cycle was atypically high, I think yours is also atypically low.

    3. Purple Penguin*

      Annual COL raise is set at full-corporate level (5000+ employees), usually 3% or so. At annual appraisal time, manager level sorts employees into bell curve: bottom 2% PIP, low 20% , center 55%, 20% “very good”, 2% “truly top performers”, and that might span 2.5 to 3.5%. So you get very very little for being a top performer – 0.5% more than being “average” which is really not much incentive at all. BUT they do have recognition outside of the appraisals cycle, there are bonuses (structured events – get a patent, win an industry award, etc) and award (annual excellence awards) presumably incentivize top performers. And I have heard of a one-time “congratulations on an excellent project” $5k, and of a “congratulations on truly excellent performance” $4k annual bump, and of a “we’d give you a promotion but there’s not a suitable job title, here’s an extra 5%”, I think it’s a different bucket of money from COL and I don’t know how managers get regional bonus money onto their teams, presumably involves managerial jello wrestling.

      That overall structure is true of the two places I’ve worked and of comparable places I’ve discussed with friends (think corporate R&D) though the exact numbers vary of course

    4. Susie Q*

      So my average merit increases at my company range from 3-5%. We do them every year after performance reviews. I’m pretty sure managers get hire percentages because my merit this year was 10% and it was my first year as a manager.

    5. Anon for This*

      I am considered a top performer in my role and overall in the business.
      Last year I got an 8% raise, the business was allocating 3% per person(so some get more than 3%, some get less than 3% and then there’s an additional pool of money to distribute for higher performers and for equity balancing)
      This year we’re hearing the allocation will be about 4.5-5% per person and I would expect to get a 7-8% raise.

      I don’t think this is typical? I would say that as a top performer I do expect to receive at least 1% above the allocation because that 5% allocation is the percentage 80% of the business would expect to receive(so the top 10% gets more and the bottom 10% gets less than the allocation %)

      Note that we don’t have open salary info but we are told what the overall allocation is

    6. Flash Packet*

      In my company, unless you get promoted your merit raise is a COLA, which this year was 4%. The only reason to kill yourself here trying to outshine your peers is if you want to get promoted sooner rather than later.

      I did not know this until this year’s performance review (I started in 2020, so this is only my 2nd annual review). So, since a real merit raise was off the table, I negotiated for an additional week of PTO.

    7. Irish Teacher*

      I am a teacher, so our raises are automatic based on number of years (in Ireland; other countries may be different). How we perform is not relevant. We basically go up a point each year. The rates are available here:

      We do not get performance reviews and indeed do not really have anybody who evaluates our performance in the way I see described here. Inspectors visit schools every so often and give recommendations, but they don’t get a say on what teachers are paid and their advice is more to a department or school as a whole than to individual teachers, though they do speak to any teacher whose class is inspected. So far, mine has never been.

    8. Generic Name*

      From what I can tell, your raise tracks to your performance evaluation rating. So if you get a 3, which is “meets expectations” at my company, you get a 3 percent raise. 5 is the highest rating, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some super top-performers get more.

    9. MPH Researcher*

      At my company, the annual merit/COL raise is 2% for competent performers, 3.5% for above average performers. I can request up to a 5% raise for top performers as part of this process as well (can be on top of the 3.5% depending on budget allowances). Anything more the 5% needs extra-special approval and justification and is rarely granted.

      As another data point, people being promoted have the raise capped at 13%, as long as that puts them at or above the minimum of the range for the new position. Again, we can go above 13% with extra-special approval/justification, but that is rare.

      While better than some places I’ve been, this definitely isn’t keeping up with inflation/the current market. I’m trying to request an off-cycle raise for a top performer right now, as they are definitely underpaid for the market even though they’ve only been here ~8 months. We’ll see how it goes!

    10. Bexx*

      Our salary increases are based on performance and where a person falls in their salarty range. The highest raise someone could get (without a promotion) would be 9%. This would be for a truly exceptional performer (5 on a 1-5 scale where a 3 is meets expectations/doing a great job) who is at the bottom of their salary range. An average performer (at a company of overachievers) who is near the midpoint of their salary range would get 3%. It’s all very transparent and the chart is laid out in our compensation strategy, available to all employees and sent out at least once a year.

  16. anon e mouse*

    So I think I’m going to take an offer for 40% above my current salary. Which rules. Dreading working out the details with my current job, but I know I can’t make the decision on that basis.

    1. irene adler*

      Good for you!!! Keep your eye on the long-term i.e. the new position. Remember that the current job will be in the rear view mirror soon enough.

    2. Midwest Manager*

      Congrats on the job offer! Remember not to get overly swayed by dollar signs though. Make sure that the other aspects of the offer are worth your consideration (benefits, culture, commute, etc.). Good luck!

      1. anon e mouse*

        25-30% shorter commute, slightly worse but still way above average benefits (some current benefits are god-tier), culture is hard to assess from outside but no major red flags. But yeah, I do appreciate the advice.

        1. Midwest Manager*

          Glad that it seems like a good fit! As far as working out details with your current employer, repeat this to yourself x100: “Not my problem anymore.”

    3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I just gave my boss my notice Wednesday, and it was hard but I just had to rip off the bandaid and so it. I do like my job, it really is great and I am sad about leaving. But some personal family stuff and adding in an acquisition where my job could drastically change, moving one was necessary. She was very happy for me and totally understood. But it still sucked. But a huge weight was lifted once I did it. Congratulations and good luck!

  17. HatBeing*

    My entire team is out with Covid and I am isolating at home due to exposure. Luckily I can work from home, but stay safe out there folks. We aren’t done with this yet. <3

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, a coworker of ours just tested positive and another, who spends more time with him than the rest of us do and also rides public transport, has a sore throat and cough. I’m doing a home test this evening, but I guess I’m staying off the bus again for awhile despite gas prices.

    2. Cookie*

      So sorry to hear that, and I hope you’re feeling better soon!

      Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one still being cautious. I’m doing it to avoid scenarios like this one, for me/my team and for people in general.

      1. Jess*

        Not to derail the conversation, and I’m genuinely curious, but do you all think it would be better for non immune-compromised people to just get it and beat it at this point? From what I’m hearing the new variants are less and less severe, and we can’t isolate forever. Do you all think that would help the country get healthier more quickly? I know I had it twice even though I’m vaccinated, and the second time was much much better than the first. Just curious!

        1. Just another queer reader*

          What I’m hearing from the experts is: COVID is likely to be circulating for a very long time; we’ll all probably get it multiple times throughout our life.

          Each time a person gets COVID, they’re at risk for getting long COVID, severe illness, or other bad outcomes.

          And, the more virus circulating, the more likely our vulnerable friends and family and neighbors will get sick.

          So, while COVID is going to be with us for a long time, risk reduction still matters!

          (I highly recommend Your Local Epidemiologist – newsletter on Substack- for great info on COVID.)

          1. Flash Packet*

            YLE’s newsletter is also posted to her FB page and you can sign up to get it in your email. And, yes, she has great COVID (and other public health) info.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          No, since that doesn’t guarantee they won’t get it again, anyway.

          Also, I live with my elderly, immunocompromised parents and one of my coworkers has a baby and a toddler. We really, really, do not want to bring it home.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Yes, I also get flu shots, but I still wear a mask and wash my hands, etc., to try to avoid getting the flu.

            1. Cookie*

              Right – I always did wash my hands, avoid sick people and crowded spaces etc. but now I have a mask too. I don’t want to get sick, I don’t want to spread it to people who are vulnerable. Any kind o sick.

        3. HatBeing*

          It’s not that the variants are less severe, it’s that folks are vaccinated, which leads to greater immune response. I work for a lab that has done significant research for Covid over the past 2 years so we get regular updates (although I am admin not a scientist!).
          I also don’t isolate (except for the next few days to see if I test negative!), but I do wear a KN-95 at work. I have underlying medical conditions that would probably increase my symptoms, one of my team members is immunocompromised, and I have any number of co-workers with little kids under 5 who can’t be vaccinated yet. Isolation is not the answer, but taking actions to protect folks who may have a more severe reaction may be.
          Everyone’s response to the variants is different, viruses are weird! Glad you didn’t have any major issues.

        4. Internist*

          Not sure there’s such a thing as ‘get it and beat it’–seems like the evidence is that an infection only protects you for about 3 months. Not everyone is comfortable with potentially being re-infected so frequently, and not everyone’s second case is milder.

          However, if people are comfortable taking on that risk for themselves, that’s up to them. What really drives me crazy is coworkers who knowingly expose others when they’re sick or have symptoms–that happened in my workplace a few weeks ago. (We get plenty of sick leave, and are 100% set up for hybrid work with no expectation of coming into the office, so there was really no reason for this individual to come in.)

        5. Irish Teacher*

          I definitely don’t think that. Getting it does not prevent one from getting it again, so I see absolutely no benefit to doing so. Definitely wouldn’t help the country get healthier. It would mean more people sick with long covid.

          Sorry to hear you had it twice. Thankfully, I have not had it yet and hope to avoid it for as long as possible. I am guessing the more often one gets it, the higher the risk of getting long covid at some point, though I don’t know for sure whether that is true or whether everybody who will get long covid gets it the first time?

          I can see no benefit at all to just getting covid any more than I can see a benefit to everybody just getting the flu. It won’t reduce the need for restrictions in the future. No, we can’t isolate forever and at least in my country, isolation has been really over since February. But I think the answer to this is continuing to wear masks in what seem like risky situations, keeping up to date with our vaccinations and maintaining good hygiene and social distancing where possible – by which I mean not crowding into small spaces – and of course, ensuring good ventilation/keeping windows open where possible, etc, rather than just getting sick.

          I also don’t think it’s possible for all non immune-compromised people to get it without all immune-compromised people also getting it, unless we lock everybody with any kind of health risk away permanently. And immune-compromised people are a bigger group than many people seem to suggest. It includes those who are over 70, those considered obese, those with asthma, diabetes, possibly those who are pregnant, those on certain medications, etc. If everybody around them has it, they will almost certainly get it too.

        6. mlem*

          As everyone else has said, no, it doesn’t work that way.

          Also, long Covid rates seem to range from 10%-30% per bout, and vaccination only seems to lower your risk of that by about 15%.

          Also, I know someone who just caught it despite being boosted, and he already has pneumonia from it. He’s not hospitalized, so he counts as a “mild case”, but he’s on antibiotics for the pneumonia, and some of us are allergic to the antibiotics used for that. It’s not risk-free to just catch Covid to try to get it over with, in numerous ways that don’t tend to get talked about.

        7. Alice*

          No one is asking us to isolate forever. (Well, you could say that by allowing unrestrained community transmission, we are implicitly asking high-risk folks to isolate forever, but that’s not what most people mean;))
          But we could do some things – forever – that would reduce COVID impacts. Paid sick leave and improved ventilation — we should start those policies now and keep doing them forever, yes. Wearing high-quality masks in indoor public spaces *when we know that there are many COVID cases in our communities *– yes, we should keep doing that forever too. In a workplace context, since this is a workplace blog, think about the benefits of controlling COVID transmission. Reduced absenteeism, fewer employees dealing with Long COVID, fewer situations where a department faces a staff shortage because some people get sick and the others get exposed.

        8. bunniferous*

          My husband and I both just got over Covid.

          I think if you can avoid getting it you should. I am happy to have natural immunity now but it was not fun. And there is always some risk of complications. But in my mind I feel the same way about the flu.

        9. tessa*

          Not everyone is compatible with isolation, but as an introvert without social anxiety, I am happy to isolate, especially since more Americans than not have decided that mass shootings are par for the course and we should all get over it.

          But to your point, I disagree that it would be best to contract covid as a means of getting back to normal.

        10. Jora Malli*

          The problem is that your immune system is strong enough to build a good number of antibodies that provide a measure of protection from reinfection (at least for a time), and an immunocompromised or immunosuppressed person’s immune system is not. Even if covid were a one-and-done illness for people with healthy immune systems, it would still be different for immunocompromised people because their bodies can’t respond to illness in the way that yours does.

          Also, “get it and beat it” isn’t what’s going to happen for a lot of immunocompromised people. They’re going to get it and they’re not going to beat it, and I’m not willing to risk my family’s lives that way.

        11. Jean*

          I remain on the side of “keep doing what you can to avoid catching it.” Lower rates of spread are still better for everyone. I made it 2 years into the pandemic before I had it, and I was lucky enough to have been vaxed by then, and I had mild symptoms and haven’t noticed any lingering effects. But I’m still masking in crowded public spaces, handwashing frequently, and plan to get a 4th shot when I can. To me it’s just part of being sensible and taking decent care of my overall health.

        12. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          No, because getting it now doesn’t mean you won’t get it again later, where “later” may be within a few months. In particular, a prior infection with earlier variants isn’t good protection against omicron, and antibodies against omicron may not protect you from the eventual pi, rho, or sigma variant.

          Also, even the milder variants seem to lead to long covid in a significant number of cases. You may not be able to avoid the increased risk of diabetes, or the brain fog, or [long list of other things] forever, but that doesn’t seem like a good reason to run out and get them now.

        13. Maggie*

          I’ve had it and I’d definitely recommend trying not to get it, but here’s the thing, I got it from someone at a small gathering of all vaccinated people many who were boosted. Went to a concert with thousands of people the week before and was fine. So unless you truly isolate like it’s March 2020, you may just end up with it.

        14. Cookie*

          One of my close friends is a triple organ transplant recipient. What if I “just get it” and in the period before I show symptoms, I take him out for coffee (he’s also legally blind, so I always drive when we do this)? And then I infect him? How many strangers are there who are in just as bad a predicament as his, and I could infect them too…no, I don’t think it’s best for everyone to just get it. We can recover and just get it again and again and again, and each time infect more vulnerable fellow humans…or we could just not, you know?

    3. Temperance*

      Fingers crossed that you don’t catch it! I was exposed at the -first- in-person large meeting I attended since March 2020.

    4. Flash Packet*

      I wear a dorky-looking N95 all day long on the days I go into the office. I end up with a dehydration and pressure headache by early afternoon but I’d rather have that than COVID.

      I’ve seen maaaaaybe two other people at my corporate office campus wearing a mask. And theirs were just the pleated “surgical” masks. Everybody is just breathing on each other for hours on end. Waves of COVID wash through departments but, since no one has died (because of vaccines), everybody is still good going maskless.

      My elderly, immunocompromised mother and my disabled brother live with me. They’re vaccinated, but we won’t know how well the vaccines work in their bodies until/unless they get infected. And that’s not an experiment I’m comfortable facilitating. So I wear an American-made, NIOSH-approved N95 whenever I go inside a building that isn’t my own house.

      I’ve gone to two team lunches since we returned to the office part-time, and each time I’ve sat at the end of the table with my mask on the entire time and ordered my food to-go.

      We’re traveling to Europe for work in September and I’m dreading having a mask on continuously for the 9-hour flight plus, at minimum, one hour on each end in airport terminals. I’m going to end up being very hungry and very thirsty.

  18. Elle*

    How do you get your teams to check their email and Teams messages on a regular basis? It drives me crazy that my staff regularly miss company announcements, meeting registrations etc because they forget to look at their email and Teams. It’s an annoying part of being a supervisor. Our jobs don’t get flooded with messages so that’s not the issue.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Have you addressed it as a performance expectation? My team understands that “I didn’t check the announcements” is not an excuse for delivering incorrect information, missing an important meeting, etc.

    2. Annie Nonimus*

      My first thought is how much of their jobs is at their computer? For example, I am at my computer with my email and teams open literally my entire work day, but someone who works as say a Teapot Creator might be spending most of their work day at the pottery wheel. In that case, I might suggest carving out time for checking on email/messages as part of their work day. That could be true too of someone who’s doing computer work all day but isn’t dedicating time to checking their messages. I think you’ll have better luck if you sit down with your people individually and address the issue. “You’ve missed several important meetings because you didn’t see the email. Let’s work out a better flow to your work day so that this doesn’t happen again”.

      1. Elle*

        We are on the computer all day and I’ve addressed it with my employees. They haven’t missed meetings but it’s the constant reminders to be sure they’ve seen the meeting invite or the important HR announcement. The message is sitting in their in boxes and they’ve completely ignored it/missed it. We have annual evals coming up. I’d like to come up with a plan so I don’t need to micromanage them.

        1. Annie Nonimus*

          Stop reminding them. If they miss a meeting or don’t follow up on something because they’re ignoring their email, they need to feel the consequences of that.

          1. cat socks*

            Agree. Also my manager goes over announcements like this in our weekly staff meetings.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Yup. My previous manager kept coddling and hand-holding and reminding everyone the whole five years I was with that team, and because the manager reminded everyone of everything rather than enforce the “check your email three times a day” policy, nobody had any reason to change what they were doing.

          3. Dragonfly7*

            Agreed. Currently frustrated with a coworker who is technically on a cross-department committee with me but doesn’t attend the meetings or respond to messages about the projects. I’m over trying to save them from themself.

    3. Megan*

      Can you set your expectations that they check X times per day, and then hold people to it as a requirement of their job?

      You could also ask them what the barriers are to checking their emails. Maybe they will raise some issues you weren’t aware of.

    4. TPS reporter*

      For the staff that are forgetting, ask them to set set aside a specific time every day for emails/chats and institute a rule that all emails/chats have to be reviewed and/or answered (if they need answering) within 48 hours. Just be clear with your expectations.

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

      Carrot and stick. Are there metrics you have the ability to track on this and set goals? Carrot: The person who responds to messages/email within X hours, or the most consistently, gets some sort of weekly/monthly reward. The person who doesn’t ever respond, or is consistently missing things, has to complete an online training course on Teams.

      Some of this might indicate a need for training for everyone…do people consistently @ a person they want to message…I will eventually see a message that doesn’t @ my name or a specific Team I belong to, but probably not for several hours. My team idly chats at various times of the day, but I @ someone when I need their attention. Do they have Teams/Email set to allow notifications in both the app and their computer preferences? Make that a requirement.

    6. Purple Penguin*

      At a large company with a lot of announcements, it can be hard to weed out relevant things from irrelevant. If an employee is getting multiple emails/day from similar sources (HR, C-suite admin, events team) about semi-interesting non-critical things (congratulations to Maryland office on team award, training course on software X available, weekly IT bulletin, parking lot paving expect delays) and sometimes one of those is an essential piece of information (facilities power shut down this weekend will result in loss of data if you do not power off computers on Friday!) that can be difficult to parse. You’re not just asking them to pay attention to the important email (1/week) you’re asking them to pay attention to 25 emails/week and judge the relevance of each one.
      My manager does highlight those events either verbally in our weekly meetings or by re-forwarding the email to the team with the one-sentence expectation (“remember to shut down computers this afternoon!”). Yes it’s hand-holding, but it’s effective. You could also build a culture of team leads distributing information; maybe it’s not a performance expectation for every employee (especially junior employees might not know what’s important or how to deal with it!) but it’s part of having seniority on a project that they’d make sure their team sees the critical deadlines. Or maybe what you want is a casual network where people actually talk about the updates they get, which helps junior employees learn to parse official language into relevant tasks. But I don’t think it’s necessarily the right perspective to think of it as “my employees don’t check their email regularly” (maybe it is, I don’t know your company culture… but the situation I describe is the one I live with!)

    7. Anonaly*

      Any chance it’s email fatigue/information overload (like sending something through both email and Teams and likely with multiple reminders), or the organization sends so many non-important emails that the important ones are outright dismissed? It strikes me as possibly more of an organizational issue since it appears to be your entire staff having the issue vs one or two folks.

      FWIW, I once worked adjacent to an administrator who sent out a brief email newsletter each Friday that had all the important stuff listed in very plain font and formatting, which worked really well with a staff of 50…1/3 of whom once missed 15+ emails/campus announcements/departmental announcements preparing for an emergency situation simulation that left them locked-in on campus for 3 hours. No one was surprised about this, because the staff was notorious for never reading their emails.

    8. Jean*

      I can’t even imagine how this would work in my job. I’m picturing my manager’s face if I told her I missed something because I didn’t check my email or Teams all day yesterday and it’s just… I’m stifling a laugh.

      Anyway. If they aren’t facing any consequences, and you’re still accepting “I didn’t do an important part of my job because I forgot/didn’t feel like it/whatever” as an excuse, then it’s going to continue. Have a meeting where it’s made very clear that keeping up with communications is a vital and required part of their work, and that you will no longer be accepting that excuse. Name the specific consequence for each infraction – formal write up, forfeiture of a perk, whatever – and then start enforcing them.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        This. Warn them – really warn them, formally and specifically – once more, then start giving consequences.

    9. anonymous73*

      Set expectations and let them deal with the consequences of ignoring important things. We get reminders from every direction at my job to do everything and it’s annoying AF. Let people be adults and pay the price for ignoring something that they’re expected to do.

    10. beach read*

      Are your teams under severe deadlines or production number expectations?
      I can tell you that sometimes I don’t take the time to read company announcements, etc. because I haven’t reached my goal for the day. Of course, I understand the importance of all of these emails but frankly, those things are pushed to a day when I have more time to read them. Nature of the business is that some days are easier than others to meet my goal, so I prioritize in that way.

    11. Cascadia*

      Any chance your team is billable and has to account for all of their time, and email/teams messaging does not count towards billable hours? A friend of mine has to account for her time in 15 minute chunks and is expected to be billable to clients 90-95% of her time. Oh, and email, all-staff meetings (of which they have daily meetings!) and messages don’t count towards that utilization rate. When she brought this up with her grandboss he just said “checking your email is part of being a professional”. Basically she’s being forced to work more than 40 hours just to keep up with general admin tasks, including emails. Anyways, I find it absurd that her company is so stringent on this – it’s not like she’s reading emails for fun! That’s work too! Make sure that your employees actually have time in their day to check their email/messages and respond to things, that won’t detract from their main job duties.

  19. DeeDee*

    I have an interview for an internal role this afternoon. It feels a bit weird: the hiring manager, who is interviewing me, is someone I work with closely and quite frequently. We had a couple of meetings yesterday (including with my current manager) and it was kind of weird having regular, business-as-usual conversations knowing the interview was coming. And now I’m thinking–do I need to dress like I would for an external interview? Do I need to be more formal?

    The job itself is a lateral move but I’d no longer have a team to manage. That’s kind of appealing to me. I love my team, but I don’t like the admin work. I’m hopeful this will shake things up for me a bit and give me a chance to learn some new stuff. I’ve been on the same team for 5+ years (with progressive advancement). Change is scary but I think I need to shake myself up a bit.

    1. TheOtherJennifer*

      Good luck! If it were me, I would do a Friday dressy business casual – maybe a blouse/blazer with jeans (if it’s in person) if it’s virtual – same on the top – no sweatshirts or tshirts.

    2. Jellyfish*

      Yes, dress up and treat like any other interview. It will be a bit weird and awkward, but most interviews are weird and awkward in some capacity.

      I’ve been on the hiring committee side of internal interviews, and we all acted more formally during the “hiring” process than we did in day-to-day interactions. It let us document everything just like we did with outside candidates, which is helpful if any questions about qualifications or favoritism come up later.
      Assuming your organization is also interviewing other candidates or has some kind of standardized rubric, you want to make sure to get full marks in every category.

      1. DeeDee*

        Thanks! My plan was to err on the side of formality—I figured that’s less risky no matter what. But yeah, I know they are evaluating other (external) candidates and would expect to be considered against the same criteria so this all makes sense.

      2. Esmeralda*

        I did this just a couple months ago (got the job, Yay me!)

        I dressed for an interview (= way more formal than wfh and more formal than in-office). I prepared as for any interview, and while I did not pretend to not-know anyone (we all first-named for instance), I did not presume prior knowledge about me or them. My presentation was the same level of formality as if I were an outside candidate.

        What being an insider gave me was exceptionally good knowledge of the program I wanted to move into (constituents, partners, opportunities, challenges). So I could ask really good quetions and had very good “tell me about a time when” examples prepped. I didn’t assume I knew everything, but having inside knowledge and experience gave me a lot of confidence and made for a really excellent interview.

    3. Jenna Webster*

      Yes, dress like you would for a regular external interview and go in really prepared, having thought about what questions they might ask and having information about things you’ve done, projects you’ve completed, reasons that you’re a great fit for this job. It’s great that they will know about you and the work you’ve done, but they will also appreciate you making the effort to show that you want this job and that you’ll be great for it.

    4. Jora Malli*

      My recommendation for internal interviews is always to mention the same skills and experiences that you would in an external interview. There’s a temptation to think “we work together closely, they know my experience level, it’s fine,” but human memories are fallible and they may not be thinking of the things you think they know. Also, at some places I’ve worked, interviewers aren’t allowed to consider things that aren’t said in the interview, so make sure you’re as thorough as you would be if you were interviewing somewhere else.

  20. Audiophile*

    Recently, I’ve been encountering something I think is a bit odd. I’d love to know if anyone else is running into this too.

    A recruiter will reach out requesting a phone interview as a first round. After confirming availability, they’ll follow up with a Zoom link, and when the day comes, we’re having a video chat rather than a phone interview.

    At no point are they saying they want to pivot to a video interview rather than a phone interview. And, many times the meeting subject includes the words phone interview.

    While I don’t have a problem with video interviews, with first rounds they feel unnecessary? Especially with conversations where more general questions are being asked and you’re not diving in too deeply on the role and a candidate’s experience.

    Is this just A Thing now because everyone is remote?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think people are starting to use “phone screen” and “zoom (video) screen” interchangeably because the former is in their language and the latter is a newer norm. I don’t necessarily agree that video is unnecessary, but the lack of clarity is certainly annoying.

    2. ABK*

      I automatically think of a zoom link as meaning a video call. They may be referring to it as a phone interview just so you know that you’re not expected to physically be on site.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Video calls are so ubiquitous now that the normal thing to do is ask and specify – “Just checking, will we be doing video or audio-only?”

    4. Esmeralda*

      If you get a zoom link, that’s a video chat. So they did “tell” you. If you won’t have video for the zoom, let them know ahead of time. Otherwise, yeah, they did give you advance notice.

      1. iliketoknit*

        I agree that the Zoom link is notice (and I don’t think Audiophile meant to say they were actually surprised that a Zoom link means video or that the interview took place on video), but I do think it’s weird to arrange for a “phone interview” and then send a Zoom link. If I wanted to arrange for an interview on Zoom, I’d specifically say that. Or I might just say “are you free to talk further about the position,” and then send a video link, but I wouldn’t use the words “phone interview.” I think Eldritch Officer Worker is right that people may be using “phone” as a generic synonym for “not in-person.”

        I can see the point in doing the first round by video, though. Neither phone nor video are great substitutes for in-person conversation, but I think video is a little better, if all goes smoothly, because it’s a bit easier (at least for me) to get a sense of a person when you can see them. Phone is fine, too, but I don’t think there’s any need for phone to be the default.

        I guess video imposes a bit more burden on the applicant if they aren’t already set up to do it – I mean that more in terms of tech/finding an appropriate space than just having to be presentable on screen – but it’s just become so common in so many jobs that I’m not sure how often that’s an issue.

        It’s also true that in a phone interview, the interviewers can’t get distracted by appearance/race/ethnicity and make judgments they shouldn’t (it’s a little more like orchestra musicians auditioning behind aa screen), but I think if that’s genuinely going to be a problem, I’d rather get eliminated in the first round than do a phone screen, then meet in person, and then get dinged because the interviewers are terrible people. (Though easy for me to say that b/c I’m not looking for a job right now.)

        TBC, I’ve only worked in fields where the default was that you would do an in-person first-round screen, then you’d get a callback to a second, more in-depth, in-person interview. The phone interview got introduced as a less burdensome alternative to the first in-person round, but was always seen as a less informative method. So I can see moving to video as a way to get closer to the original in-person first-round screen, without reimposing the burden of making someone show up in-person for the first round (these are industries where hiring takes place nationally though).

        1. Audiophile*

          Sure, a Zoom link counts as notice, but it’s still weird to continue to call it a phone interview in that instance.

          For first-round screenings, which is what these are, anything more than the phone can be a bit of an inconvenience. It means blocking out time away from work, etc. Yes, many of us are still working remotely, but adding video into the mix at such an early stage complicates it further.

          These are typical phone screening interviews – this isn’t with the hiring manager or team – it’s with the recruiter or HR person, and they’re asking the usual screening questions.

          Obviously, I’d expect video or in-person for later rounds, like when speaking with the hiring manager or teams I’d be working with or managing.

    5. anonymous73*

      I’ve had that a few times recently and I had to ask beforehand. I work from home and generally look like I rolled out of bed unless I have an important video meeting that day. For one, she confirmed it was video, the other was on Teams, but we were only using audio. But I find anything more than a typical phone screen unnecessary.

    6. Garden Pigeons*

      I think terminology just hasn’t changed at a lot of places – I’ve seen “onsite” be used to mean “the bit of the interview process that would have been physically on-site in 2019 but is now four one-hour video calls”, and “phone screen” is presumably also being used in its pre-Zoom meaning.

  21. Excel-sior*

    A few years ago (5 perhaps?) a colleague was kind enough to provide a little bit of training for a programming language (specifically SQL). Unfortunately, the jobs I’ve had since have not offered a chance to use SQL, so I’ve never used it in anger or had a chance to really build on it.

    As I’m looking for jobs at the moment, I wouldn’t dare apply for jobs which require experience with this, a few of them say that experience of SQL would be ideal but not necessary.

    I feel that although i don’t have a great deal of experience, I’m in a better place than somebody entirely new to this.

    Is it worth mentioning my limited experience with this on my resume, and if so, how best to phrase it? Or is it best to just leave it off entirely?

    For what it’s worth, i have generally used Crystal, Business Objects and (obviously) Excel, and have used VBA quite extensively in previous roles, but have no other experience with programming languages.

    1. kiki*

      I would definitely mention it! Especially since SQL’s principles and primary uses stay constant, even if there are some new features. I would put it on your resume as “Basic SQL.” In your cover letter, I would mention having received training for it in a past job.

      If possible, and if you think it would be worthwhile, you could take a short, free refresher course on SQL (like something from freeCodeCamp) and mention that in cover letters and interviews as well.

    2. Tourniquette*

      As someone who is a pretty new to the world of work software developer, I think noting “exposure to” something is worthwhile. (I’ve always advertised my tech skills as either expert, experienced, or exposed to) People recognize that it means you’re not an expert, but it’ll improve your learning curve if you end up needing to develop those skills, or at least you’ll be able to better follow a conversation where SQL is an element. It certainly helped me get internships and my current job, but it’s possible that for higher-level roles it won’t matter.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I think there are two ways to put it on your resume (you can use one or both or neither):

      (1) If you have a “skills” or “technology” section on your resume you can put:
      Knowledgeable in: Crystal, Business Objects, Excel
      Exposure to: SQL

      (2) If you did anything in SQL beyond training, put a line on your resume under the relevant job:
      – wrote query to find teapots in SQL

    4. Artemesia*

      If they mention it of course you mention that you have had some training in it and while you. haven’t been using it recently, you would be able to brush up on it if necessary. That is better than no experience at all.

    5. Excel-sior*

      Thanks everyone :) great advice and I’m tweaking my resume now. I knew the Open Thread on AAM would come through.

    6. SoloKid*

      I use a LOT of SQL in my day to day and anyone with even a bit of exposure would be off to a decent start.

      If you’re enthusiastic about learning more, mention that at the interview stage. Teaching someone with no preconceptions of certain applications can actually be easier since there’s no anti-patterns to unlearn.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        My current role had SQL as a requirement. I had zero SQL knowledge (and was very upfront about that) and still got the job. If it’s necessary, it’s easy enough to pick up the skills needed.

        1. SoloKid*

          Agreed. The difficult part is always knowing what results you/your boss wants! Anyone can google how to partition.

    7. ThursdaysGeek*

      If you design any reports in Crystal, if they are getting any data from a database, there needs to be some SQL involved (I think). Crystal SQL isn’t SQL Server SQL nor Oracle SQL – they are all slightly different, but the concepts and general syntax is mostly the same. Put the what you have on the resume, and I’d expect you to know or pick up the SQL pretty quickly.

    8. Dino*

      Off topic but a work related question for me: how do you pronounce SQL in speech?

      “S-Q-L” or “sequel” or something else?

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Both. Either. Anecdotally, “sequel” is more common in the past 10-15 years. Before then “Ess Cue Ell” was more common. But either is correct.

    9. ildrummer*

      Tangential to your question: Google Sheets has built in SQL functionality if you want to practice with that spreadsheet software instead of Excel.

  22. Audogs*

    Small office pension plan question. I started part time (20 hours per week) in late October at a solo attorney law practice. I’m 65 and this is to supplement my SS. The attorney has a pension plan that I’m not eligible for and not interested in. The admin at his plan holder is “requiring” all my personal info (Social, DOB, etc). I’m pushing back. Thoughts?

    1. Texan In Exile*

      Your employer still has to withhold taxes or send you a 1099 (is that the one for consultants?), so they do need your information.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        OH WAIT I JUST RE-READ YOUR QUESTION. No – why would the pension administrator need your information? Unless there are reporting requirements about documenting participation and ineligibility?

    2. Beth*

      If you aren’t enrolled in the plan, I see no reason for the plan admin to have any information on you at all.

    3. QKA*

      Pension plans and other Qualified Retirement Plans all have to complete extensive non discrimination testing which requires your demographic information. Even if you aren’t eligible for the plan, you still have to be included in the test.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Does the plan holder handle any other personnel matters for the lawyer? If so, might need the info for e.g., taxes. If they keep asking, ask for an explanation of why they need it, in writing.

      1. Audogs*

        Thanks everyone. I’m getting the “just because” answer from the Plan Admin. My stance is that I don’t trust any entity with my personal info, let alone something I’m not involved in.

    5. Purple Cat*

      DH is a pension plan administer. “They 100% need DOB and Date of Hire. Most pension software use SS# as unique identifier, but if company is only 2 people they may be able to use a dummy SS#”.

      My comments – it’s literally no different than providing the info to your payroll company. They have fiduciary responsibility to maintain your privacy.

      1. acmx*

        But Audogs is not enrolled nor even eligible for the pension. It would be like Audogs giving your husband their SS# – zero reason to. Just increases the chance their information could be exposed due to a hack.

  23. Leaving and Scared*

    I’m looking for a new job after 10+ years at my current place b/c of internal dysfunction. I love this place and don’t really WANT to leave, but I’m always anxious about work and crying often…this is no way to live and I’m an accomplished professional who isn’t being treated as such. However, I am…terrified. I’ve redone my resume and I’ve scoped out some jobs to apply to, talked to my network, etc. but I am so scared to move to the next stage despite the anxiety and frustration in my current position. Is this normal to feel like this? Any advice? Thank you!

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’m saying this because it sounds a little like where my husband was: this sounds like the anxiety talking. Do you have any sort of mental health support outside of work?

      It’s normal to feel apprehensive about the unknown — but if your current job is causing you anxiety and making you cry regularly, it’s not a healthy environment, and you deserve better.

      1. Leaving and Scared*

        Working with an online service now, just switched a new therapist who I will meet next week. This is helpful though – I need reminders, sadly, that my anxiety is freaking JERK. Thank you.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Good luck. Remember that it’s just a job, you can do better, and that yes, anxiety is a big ole jerkface that lies to you.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Take it one step at a time, and at each step remind yourself “don’t borrow trouble from the future.”

      (1) scope out jobs to apply to and talk to your network –congrats, you’ve already done the first step!
      (2) write cover letters and submit applications — change is scary, but remember that clicking the “submit” button will not immediately bring about change
      (3) phone screens and interviews — remember that you are interviewing the companies just as much as they are interviewing you; you have agency and get to decide what is and isn’t a good fit for you
      (4) accepting an offer and changing jobs — this is the big change and the most important time to lean on friends/family/a therapist to get yourself over the anxiety hump and into a better work environment

      Best of luck on your search!

    3. Invisible fish*

      Oh, yes, that’s anxiety. But if you’re crying, it’s time to pick up your purse and GO. (If you carry a purse, that is – this is just a family saying that indicates you’re done with a situation and aren’t waiting around.) Make YOUR choices on what’s best for YOU, and it will all work out.

      1. Leaving and Scared*

        I’m picturing it like the Viola Davis gif “this could have been an email,” taking her bag and going. Which is perfect – thank you!

    4. Purple Cat*

      Yup, with you 100% Anxiety is a *)*^.
      Just remind yourself that you KNOW how bad everything is now. It is unlikely that the unknown will be worse.

    5. Midwest Manager*

      If you find yourself obsessing over your resume and letter and not sending it because you’re second-guessing the tiniest things, I would guess it’s because of fear or anxiety. Fear of rejection, anxiety over the unknown, and you know what they say about “the devil you know.” These are normal things, especially if you haven’t job searched in over a decade.

      Even if you are feeling anxious about sending in your materials, do it anyway. The first one is always the hardest, and it might do you some good to submit materials to jobs you *might* want to do, in addition to the ones that seem like a perfect fit for you. Once you’ve sent off a few, it’ll become easier to make the edits and complete other submissions. Then move on to the next and see what pans out.

      Good luck! I wish you success in your search!

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oh geez, I’m so sorry you’re feeling this way! It sounds like your current job has taken a lot out of you and beaten you down.
      Just remember that replying to job postings isn’t actually changing jobs. It’s just replying to a job posting. Maybe try to chunk things into teeny bits like that and maybe it won’t seem so overwhelming and trigger your anxiety (because I do agree with everyone that this sounds like anxiety)?
      Also, can you take some time off to focus on self care? Even just a day here and there where you can just rest and do what you need to do to start to heal? Exercise? Yoga maybe?
      Someone here posted a cord cutting guided meditation on YouTube a while back that was GREAT. If you search this “Cord-Cutting Meditation: Release Unhealthy Attachments & Call Back Your Power” on YouTube, it should come right up.
      Hang in there and hope you land on Good News Friday soon!

        1. tessa*

          Just want to add, no matter how tempting, don’t give your notice until your new work place has every i dotted and t crossed that it must have on you.

          I recently started a new job. The hiring manager assured me that once I signed the offer I could give notice to now former workplace, but I made sure my background check, which took a couple of weeks longer to come forward than did my offer acceptance, had no errors.

          I am sorry you are in such a bad place. I was, too, but once I decided to go elsewhere, I took stock: I had an income source while looking, I had a horizon full of opportunities, and a life to live. Stay strong, my friend.

    7. MoMac*

      I’m going to go a different route with this reply. One of the things that happen with anxiety is that your thoughts drive your emotions and this ends up with physical symptoms. It is hard to stop your thoughts from swirling around the same fears and your body responds to that with extra cortisol. So something that helps is mindfulness. Unfortunately, it is hard to practice mindfulness with a very busy brain. The following link will do the work for you. There are 6 breathing practices covered. I would recommend trying #4 first with Atman Smith on stress breathing. These guys are wonderful. I came across them at a conference and they changed my life. Good luck to you.

    8. Leandra*

      Leaving and Scared, your post is perfect timing for me. I’m in a similar situation, and have decided to try making a move.

      Because this is coming late in my career, I’ll have to choose carefully. The decision I make, I’ll have to live with until retirement.

      But I have concluded that looking is the right thing to do, and feel better already just having taken that step. A recruiter I’ve spoken to before recently reached out to me again, and he has a position now that I’m going to try for.

      If I get that far, I’ve already thought of a new question for the prospective bosses. If any of them were hired from outside vs. joining with the firm straight out of school, we can discuss differences in how firms operate. When a person has been with only one employer, they may not be aware that there’s more than one way to do things.

  24. Eldritch Office Worker*

    How do YOU schedule difficult conversations?

    So two scenarios:
    A) I have a to have a meeting with Sam to talk about something corrective
    B) I have to have a meeting with the teapots group to deliver some bad news

    In both cases I have to schedule at least a week in advance and I’m in a culture that’s heavy on meeting agendas.

    In scenario A, I might say the general topic (we’re meeting to check in on project management) but not make it clear that it’s a TALK because I don’t want the person sweating for a week and I don’t want to spend a week getting badgered for specifics. But then when it becomes that they feel deceived.

    In scenario B, maybe I’ll put “seasonal group check-in” – fine once, but then anytime there’s a group meeting on the calendar people aren’t expecting in the future I’ve set a tone.


    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      For A) I wouldn’t schedule it a week in advance. I would look at Sam’s calendar once I have my notes ready to go, and then call him that morning and say, looks like you and I are both free at 2. Please stop by my office then.
      For B), you should be having regular team meetings with the teapots group, so cover it at that standing meeting. Where on the agenda it goes depends on what other items there are.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        What if that’s not possible for A? It’s really not possible to get time with someone same-day here.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          (B isn’t really possible either and would be an enormous waste of time but I feel like that one is slightly less tricky)

        2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

          I suppose it depends on how urgent is the need for a discussion with Sam. As Eldritch notes below, there is such a thing as bumping meetings when necessary. Otherwise, save it for the regular 1:1.

    2. A Penguin!*

      Scenario A I just put into our regular 1:1 if it’s something that doesn’t need an immediate special meeting. My reports are used to getting the good and the bad at these.

      Scenario B I do anything I can to pull it in to much less than a week notice. Same day ideally. Including bumping existing meetings to make space for it. The more significant the news, the more ruthlessly I bump existing commitments. The meeting title would be something like ‘group/team/company update’. Mostly because I don’t want rumors from other sources delivering (potentially twisted versions of) the bad news before I can. I wouldn’t worry about the anxiety leading up to the effectively ‘surprise’ meeting because I’m not leaving a ton of time to stew on it, and anyway you can only sugarcoat bad news so far. Bad news is inherently anxiety-provoking; you can’t really prevent that.

      Both of the above assume I’m managing the individual/group. If I’m not and I for some reason still need to hold the meeting, I would want to do essentially the same, but would talk with their manager first.

      1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

        I like this for A if it’s not urgent. For B, if you don’t have standing meetings, I would just email the bad news to the group as it would be very difficult in my workplace to schedule a same-day meeting with more than 3 or 4 people, if that.

        1. A Penguin!*

          I wrote my original reply with the assumption that even if my team is fully booked, I have the ability to pull them out of those obligations (true everywhere I’ve been). If I really couldn’t do that (client service of some sort, I guess? Like I said, not something I have experience with), I’d have to go with an email even if I had an upcoming standing meeting, with a note that I’m available to discuss it if people have questions/concerns. I wouldn’t put off bad news more than a day or two, because it will get out in the rumor mill and it’s much easier to head off concerns if I’m the first person they’re hearing the news from.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        HR in a matrixed organization with no direct manager :\ I’m figuring out from the responses the difficulty might be specific to my org structure.

    3. Jenna Webster*

      Having to schedule a week in advance is definitely problematic, especially for scenario A. Best to have those conversations right away (at the time the action that needs to be corrected happens), both so it is fresh in their mind and so they don’t have to agonize over it. Is there any way to make it an end of the day conversation? If it needs to wait because one or the other of you will be out of the office, can you wait to schedule until you’re both back?

    4. Not A Manager*

      For Scenario A, if you were to signal that the meeting is important/disciplinary, and if the person got uncomfortable and started pestering you, would it then be possible to say, “I need to discuss this in a scheduled meeting, but I can make time sooner if you have any availability”? That way, you haven’t “deceived” them about the nature of the meeting, and you are providing a way to address it sooner if they want to.

      I’ve always been puzzled by the emphasis on this site about not making people uncomfortable with anticipation/unhappy to be surprised. Of course you don’t want to do either one unnecessarily, but sometimes people just have to live with not knowing what a meeting will entail, or accept that a vague agenda actually represents some kind of unanticipated bad news. If you’re delivering bad news, then the person isn’t going to like it regardless of whether you gave them a heads up and let them stew, or you didn’t give them a heads up and then they were surprised.

    5. Purple Penguin*

      In case A, Sam presumably knows things aren’t great, so having a mini-agenda isn’t bad and will only keep them from imagining worse things. Topic “project checkin”, body of message “I heard project is slipping schedule on X because of your Y. Let’s set aside some time to talk it over and discuss what went wrong and how I can help”

      Note that “how I can help” might be code for “so I’ve created a plan for you, and regular monitoring” but it’s way less for Sam to stew over than “how to prevent this in future”

  25. Amber Rose*

    For a little over a year, I’ve been working on a project to completely revamp and standardize our parts numbering and description system. We have around 3000 parts and systems of varying complexity so this has been an endeavor.

    I’m now basically done, and all I have to do is send it out for review, and I’m friggin’ terrified. That I wasn’t thorough enough or good enough or correct enough. I’m worried about all the garbage data that still needs to be cleaned. I’m worried about the changes to the ERP that nobody will talk about and how this will affect how we want to do things. I’m worried about everything.

    That worry has bled into everything else and now I feel paralyzed and unable to do anything. June/July are always my busiest months and I’m just frozen with fear.

    1. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

      You got this! Totally normal to feel like this and you should expect a few errors, which is totally normal. Do some self-care, activities to keep your brain busy, and also repeat to yourself that you are an awesome professional and you got this. Feelings aren’t facts! We are all cheering for you!

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I’m definitely here cheering! Part numbering systems are HUGE. There will always be garbage data that needs to be cleaned up but the bulk of the work is done and I’m sure your new system is a big improvement on the old one.

    2. SoloKid*

      I’ve been in this boat.
      Re: garbage data- Do you have someone that can prioritize what data should be cleaned up first? It helped being able to go to someone and say “Projects A and B had this data mushed up, and Project C didn’t migrate this at all. What should I tackle first?”

      Re: “nobody will talk about” – do you have “trusted” users you could directly reach out to to see how their process /searches might change? Like hopefully you have an idea of the most requested part #s and who needs that info.

      re: ” That I wasn’t thorough enough or good enough or correct enough.” That’s what the review is for, right? If there are egregious mistakes, find a way to fix them for next time.

      At the end of the day, users find a way to use systems. If people are there to answer questions, most people can handle turbulence as long as they know they’re supported. And whoever launched the initiative to do this sort of change should be handling most of the PR.

      1. calonkat*

        “And whoever launched the initiative to do this sort of change should be handling most of the PR.”
        Does this happen? I work in state government, and the legislature never has to justify or even explain what they want with legislation, and my previous work was mostly in non-profits. I’ve always seen the full implementation, including PR, having to be done by the people who end up doing the development, not the people who wanted the change. So it’s a real question, is that the way it works in business?

        1. Amber Rose*

          Late reply, but nope. It was something that came up in a meeting as necessary, I got saddled with the work, and it’s my job to get buy-in from everyone. -_-

          I’m not doing this alone, mind you. That’s not giving enough credit to the three or four people who have been giving me advice and assisting with the logistics of it all. But ultimately it became my project and my responsibility.

    3. Invisible today*

      Totally normal – letting your brain child out into the world is terrifying. In addition to what others say, remember that no one else is as close to the project as you are – others are less likely to see issues than you will. And if they do, you’ll be well equipped to handle them.

  26. Alumnus*

    It’s my 15th college reunion this year, and I’m getting bombarded with outreach from my school (presumably for fundraising). The most recent case has been a personalized video message from someone in alumni relations congratulating me on my recent promotion. I’ve established already with enough people that it’s creepy – I did change my title on LinkedIn, but I made sure there wasn’t a post about it because it was a somewhat sensitive situation, so they literally had to be on my profile and actively reviewing it to get that information. My school was small, but not so small that it makes sense to literally go profile by profile for all alumni from major graduation milestones.

    My question is – do I a) just ignore and roll my eyes, b) use the “unsubscribe” link from the video service as a quiet way to express “ugh” or c) write back and say “I’m sure you didn’t mean it this way, but this is super creepy, please stop”?

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I would do B or C depending on whether you wish to know what’s going on with the school from the alumni relations office in the future. If you want to be engaged, but don’t like this particular bit of engagement, I think the feedback via option C is helpful to the office. I’ve worked in student affairs and alumni relations and the pressure to “stay hip” with technology and social media is strong, but the staff often don’t get it quite right. This feedback is helpful! If you just don’t want to hear from them at all and have no plans to stay engaged or help fundraise, then I think option B is fine, too. If they get enough people unsubscribing, they’ll likely get the hint on their own.

    2. After 33 years ...*

      The only way to break this chain is b). The person who recorded the last message may not be assigned to do it next time, and they won’t necessarily see your feedback or have any control on how the messages are delivered (or how many). Most alumni affairs offices cannot take “no, thank you” as an answer.
      a) works for e-mails, but not videos.

    3. irene adler*

      b or c.
      Gotta take action for this to stop.

      FYI: there is option d. Worked beautifully for me. A decade ago, when the alumni people called soliciting funds, I told them I’d died. Yes, irene adler passed away. Very tragic.
      No more donation requests.

      1. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

        I got my college to stop calling by telling them I wouldn’t donate until they changed a specific admissions policy (women’s college, won’t admit non-binary students but will admit trans women).

        1. AnonyMouse*

          I’m hoping you said that because admitting non-women to a women’s college is ridiculous, not because you think trans women should be excluded.

        2. Hillary*

          I told mine I’d consider donating after I paid off my student loans. They haven’t called since.

        3. Chapeau*

          Just as an FYI, when I worked in alumni relations, we actually kept a list of alumni who said they wouldn’t donate until X happened. When X finally happened, they were the first group we reached out to. So it’s a good idea, but it’s not entirely foolproof.

    4. ecnaseener*

      FWIW, if I were keeping track of hundreds or thousands of alumni’s LinkedIn profiles, I would do it via an automated process that checks their profiles for changes rather than by scrolling through a news feed. So I don’t think you need to be concerned that anyone was creeping on you personally. Still fair to point out how creepy it comes off, though!

    5. anonymous73*

      I’d just unsubscribe. I wouldn’t say the video message was creepy, but it is over the top. No satisfaction will come from sending a message to the video-er.

    6. HR Girl*

      I worked briefly at a university development (donor) office. They have electronic programs that scrape the net for this sort of information and then it is included in reports for outreach. Marriages, births, deaths, careers, promotions, job loss, etc. they keep all of the information about people in databases and then use the information in marketing and when reaching out to possible big donors. It is incredibly creepy snd invasive. You can be added to do not contact lists but they keep gathering the info.

  27. Mental health question anon*

    Wanted to post an update, I posted about a month ago asking for advice on whether to go on medical leave.

    I asked for medical leave on that Friday and ended up quitting the following Tuesday. I quit the medication that was making me anxious and had an appointment with my doctor to discuss what I should do next with meds.

    I’m getting my sleep apnea appliance next week and hopefully I can start to feel better then. I’ve also put in a proposal for a freelance project that an acquaintance told me about. I don’t know if I’ll get it, but it forced me to work on my portfolio and I feel like I have a better path forward to getting a job in my old field from before I get sick, which I plan to start working ok once I’ve begun sleep apnea treatment.

    I’m sad it didn’t work out at the old job—I’d wanted to work there for a long time—but I am glad I did what I did. It was causing an absurd amount of stress and I needed to take the time for my health.

    I want to thank everyone who commented to tell me why it was a bad idea to try and power through a mental health episode like I wanted to do. It made me feel like it was ok to do what I needed for my health even if it involved not working for a little while longer.

    There was also one person who mentioned it was concerning I was having a sleep disorder treated as a psychiatric issue, which, while it’s outside the scope of the work question, was a very important point I’m glad someone brought up. I did some more research and apparently one of the proposed reasons for women being diagnosed with sleep apnea at a lower rate is our fatigue gets attributed to depression. Which is just…hmm. I don’t like it! But that’s a topic for another conversation.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I’m so glad that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel from here! Best wishes.

    2. Midwest Manager*

      Once you get your CPAP, the first few weeks you will feel like a new person! That euphoria will wear off after a time, but take advantage of it while you can! I hope that in the end it helps you with a better quality of life.

      Good luck with the freelance project!

  28. KSharp*

    How do you tell a client, in business terms, “I’ve taken over this work order that an unqualified previous coworker started, messed up, and then hid and lied about until it’s over a year late. I need more information to complete this in under 24 hours.”?
    My boss only found out that it was hidden after we got a nasty-gram asking where it was… because it’s scheduled to be built starting 5/31/22.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Oh my. This is a conversation for your boss. He needs to fall on his sword about this.

      1. Beth*

        Yes yes yes. Boss contacts client, issues apology and refers the client to you for follow-up.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        Right, because the boss should have known that co-worker wasn’t doing the work: work that isn’t being done should be visible, and the boss should have been following up when it was not getting done.

        1. KSharp*

          We went through a massive re-org and the ex-coworker spent a year saying “I’m working on it but I just got this massive scope change.” (Not that massive. He’s just wrong.) But the new boss is taking the heat for what the old manager did.

    2. Annie Nonimus*

      Oh Lord.

      “Owing to internal structural changes, we currently have incomplete information on file. Be assured that this project is being given our top priority. In order to expedite this to you, please provide us with the following information as soon as possible.”

    3. TheOtherJennifer*

      Unfortunately, Previous Coworker who handled this item has left/moved on/transitioned out of the role and did not communicate the timeline for this order. I am taking over this project as of now, have escalated the issue and urgency to my leadership and will followup with you on X day with a timeline for next steps.

    4. Fabulous*

      Thanks so much for your continued patience on Project X. We just discovered that the person formerly leading the project was unfortunately quite behind on progress, but we are now on top of it and should be able to have a finalized version to you by [date] with the help of some additional information from you. Could you please provide us the following:

      – Bulleted list of everything you need

    5. Filosofickle*

      Are you the one that needs to say it, or should it be your boss? I’m a senior client-facing consulting person, but I’d expect news like this to be delivered by my top client service or account person. Or at least my boss. Because this is an engagement-level problem that needs to be addressed honestly and head on – someone has to come clean and say this didn’t get done and we’ll make it right and here’s how. And it’s often better if that doesn’t come from the person who’s hands on with the work so it doesn’t affect or undermine that ongoing relationship.

      1. KSharp*

        My boss said it to our main contact… who then left for an appointment. So now I’m trying to track down individuals to get all the information so I can act like a snowplow and do this all over the weekend.

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

      “Previous Coworker is no longer with the company and I’m following up on all of his projects. I do have his notes and I am aware that this project has fallen behind schedule, but I hope you have the time to bring me up to speed and allow me to deliver on this project.” It helps if you have 1-2 specific questions that show you have looked into the project and you can get started ASAP. I’ve had to do that with clients, it’s never fun. Some clients will immediately take their business elsewhere when it’s acknowledged that your company dropped the ball, and some will be understanding and help you get the project back on track.

      1. KSharp*

        The only good news is that the client LOVES working with the rest of the team, it was just this one repeat offender.
        We nearly lost them due to his antics while he was hired, and I’m NOT going to let his legacy of BS ruin this.

    7. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Oh no. I was the person in this position back this year. My condolences. Had to built from scratch a feature that someone sold as done and it wasn’t done. I had to work overtime for days, ate badly and slept worse. If you need to do overtime, please insist on being properly compensated!

  29. TheAraucana*

    Looking for resources for report writing! Long story short, I work in marketing and supervise a young employee who I am trying to teach how to write plans and reports that people will read. She is a great writer, but tends to write long paragraphs and multiple sentences for bullet points. So all the words read as a big, intimidating block of text. I’m looking for resources online that help explain in a really simple way how you create text hierarchy, incorporate charts/graphs, and that sort of thing for documents. Any recommendations??

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Dude, that sounds awful. You just need to tell her that you can’t accept deliverables as big, intimidating blocks of text.. in marketing no less! Surely you have examples from your own organization? I don’t think it’s on you to teach her to write readable documents per se, but rather to show her what an example of a satisfactory deliverable for your organization looks like.

      1. TheAraucana*

        That is a good point, thank you! We are not a great report-writing organization… As an industry, we’re very… high context and research-heavy, so we generally write reports like research articles. You’re right that it’s better to share good examples–I’ll dig into my past projects and find some examples. She’s a great worker, though, she just needs instruction and I’m sure she’ll pick it right up!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Can you find or create some examples for her? I’m picturing two pages side-by-side with the same information. One with long paragraphs, multiple sentences for each bullet point, no pictures, etc. The other the way you want the page to look: short paragraphs, graphs and charts, one line bullet points, etc. Then have a meeting with her where you two can talk about which page looks more appealing, is easier to read, and how she can format her reports like that.

      1. TheAraucana*

        Yes, I like this! A side-by-side would probably be really helpful. I’ve done this for so long that I do everything almost by instinct that this point, so I’ll have to be really thoughtful about how to explain the hows and whys. I do think sitting down with her and talking it through will be productive. Thank you!!

      2. GlazedDonut*

        Yes, and even just examples of good reports (not necessarily side by side if that’s a lot of work on your part). Find a well-done report, show it to her, and point out what you think makes it good. “This bullet point has all the words on one line with one bolded for emphasis.” Be very very clear. It helps to have something to point back to, if reports aren’t improving, to say “remember how this did X?”

    3. Jigsaw*

      plainlanguage dot gov

      Maybe not the exact way you want to write for marketing, but a great guide for making dense writing more readable. My team and I spent last year doing a weekly training using their guidelines as a resource and it really improved our writing!

      1. eeeek*

        This is a great idea. But also, if the whole organization could benefit, why not encourage others to do it, too? My upper admin unit at a major US university is enthusiastic about the plain language training. We found it helped improve everyone’s writing, and also helped create a positive culture. We have a better culture for seeking and giving feedback about communication, and in a highly stratified organization, the focus on communication is more egalitarian. I don’t get side-eye about “well, eeeek has a PhD so she must know what she’s doing even though this is a garbled ramble” and our undergrad student support staff doesn’t get derisive sniffs about only being a student “who can’t write yet.” Instead, we focus on whether the work says what it needs to say, clearly and efficiently, and if the audience reading can understand it. AND we know mistakes happen, writing well is a process of continual improvement, etc.
        I should add though that this idea bubbled up from a few enthusiastic folks – it wasn’t a top-down mandate. But it was noticed on performance reviews and counted as professional development, too.

    4. MaryLoo*

      Does she need to be convinced that what she’s doing is ineffective?

      There’s a difference between being a good writer (narrative, story, correct grammar, etc) and being a good technical writer (organizing and presenting content so your audience doesn’t need to process it further to get the information they need)

      Nobody wants to read flowing prose. I once worked at a company where the “functional specs” (quotes meaningful- as in so-called) were written like this. Pages and pages of paragraphs, with content similar to:

      Wordy paragraph: “There are three important features to take into consideration when designing this product. The first feature is appearance. The product must be pleasing to look at. The users will be happy to work with an attractive product. The next important feature is buttons and switches. These should be colorful and be labeled correctly. That way, the user can easily find the button or switch for the calculation they want to perform. Finally, the display area should show the results in large text that’s easy to read. This will make it easy for the user to find their answer and complete their work.

      Cleaned-up text would have been:
      Required features:
      * Pleasing appearance
      * Colorful buttons and switches, each one with a label
      * Display area that shows results in large, easy-to-read font.

      The engineers complained bitterly, because they had to read and digest pages of paragraphs, fish out the important bits and ignore the other verbiage.

      Sadly, the writers of all that text could not be convinced to break the content into more useable bits. Instead they said “the requirements are all in the spec” and talked amongst themselves about how the engineers were too lazy to read.
      (The company no longer exists, btw)

      Here are some useful articles:
      Bullet point lists vs paragraphs.

      How to write in plain English

      Best practices for bullet points

  30. KareninHR*

    I’m hoping for feedback on if I’m handling a situation professionally or not. I recently had a baby girl and my employer was gracious enough to allow me to switch to salaried part time. I leave work at 2:00 every day, but I make sure to keep up with my emails and (rare) time-sensitive calls from home. For instance, yesterday my manager asked if I she could call me around 3:30 regarding a fairly urgent matter (it could have waited until today, but yesterday was better). I said “Sure! The baby will be down for a nap then, so call any time.” I can’t decide if that is unprofessional or not, though. On one hand, my baby’s nap schedule has nothing to do with my job or my manager, so it does seem unprofessional to volunteer that information. But on the other hand, my manager (a mom herself) has been extremely understanding of my situation and is very careful not to impose too much when I am not technically “on the clock.” By letting her know that the baby is napping, I’m letting her know that I’m flexible then and will have time to talk with no disruptions. Is there a better way I could say that? Or am I overthinking? Any feedback would be much appreciated!! (I would also NEVER volunteer this information to customers. Only internal, and probably only my manager, with whom I have a very good working relationship.)

    1. Megan*

      I think you’re over thinking it! As you said your manager is a mum and has been very understanding. It’s likely if you said “330 wouldn’t work, but I can do 4?” she would likely assume its due to bub anyway. I get why inserting your baby into your work life feels unprofessional so, if it would make you feel better, you could just stop and suggest new times without giving a reason.

    2. Emm*

      From a non-parent, I think that’s fine. Not strictly necessary info, but I wouldn’t think twice about it.

    3. Annie Nonimus*

      I think you’re totally fine. My team is totally remote and many of my coworkers have young kids and babies whose schedules must be worked around. It is very normal for someone to say “hey I can’t meet with you at 3 – I have daycare pickup, can we do 2?”

    4. ecnaseener*

      I’m the type of person who gets annoyed when my coworkers overshare personal stuff, and I wouldn’t think twice about this. It’s not a secret that you’re caring for a baby, it’s the whole reason you have this schedule! No different from my boss wrapping up a meeting because her dog needs to be walked.

      (And, yknow, the context is that you’re doing extra work you’re not scheduled to do.)

    5. NoviceManagerGuy*

      Seems totally fine*.

      *Deranged people can make an issue out of anything.

    6. calonkat*

      My reaction would have been “Oh, maybe you could just call me anytime between 3:15 and 4, after the baby is down. That way my call won’t wake them at a critical moment in going to sleep!” But I’ve been there :)

  31. Jim Halpert*

    I’ve got the age old AAM question – feeling meh about my job and wondering if I should jump ship.

    Its okay, I guess, there are some coworker and management issues but I have my own office and pretty much run my own show and can be left alone a lot of the time. But I just feel meh about it, it doesn’t excite me as a job.

    Probably the only thing holding me back from leaving is if I stay for another 1.5 years I can get this certification which would be REALLY awesome.

    I have another job I do on the side (I work .8 at meh job), and I love it – I am actively excited to go to work and always pick up extra shifts where possible. I also realized I could double my salary leaving meh job and going full time at exciting job. But – I wouldn’t be able to get this certification as the core work between the two jobs are different, although in the same broader field.

    Previously, I never thought about getting this certification but now I’m in a job which qualifies for it, it seems like a good career choice to get it. It will open more doors in the future. I could move to a similar role and still be eligible for this certification but of course I could just enter an even worse job environment so I’m hesitant to do that.

    Currently working .8 at meh job leaves me with capacity to do exciting job, I also sit on a board, and currently doing a short course. I might not be able to do all of those things if I move jobs.

    I guess the benefits of staying outweigh the cons, but I just feel so meh about the whole thing I’m regularly on job websites and thinking about leaving.

    I know 1.5 years is hardly anything (and I get 12 weeks off a year, so its even less…) and this job allows me to do all these other things I value but I’m really struggling not LOVING work and LOVING going to work and feeling passionate about it. I’ve always held jobs I’m passionate about before this one.

    Would welcome any advice!

    1. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

      If you didn’t get the certification, what would mean for your career?

      1. Jim Halpert*

        I mean on the other hand, not that much. I never intended to go down this specific path of my field. But now that I can, it would be sort of good to have it. It would open doors for other roles that I couldn’t take without it (or would be really hard to get, and I probably wouldn’t bother). But then again, I don’t know that I *want* those roles!

        1. Anonaly*

          I’m no help but wanted to commiserate and say I’m in a similar boat. I need 1 more year in a position to be eligible to convert my initial certification to a permanent certification, but this next year is looking like nothing short of absolute hell due to low staffing and high workload, which is generally the case for essentially anywhere I work in this role. And I’ve realized I don’t want to do this role anywhere else, if at all. I’m debating whether it’s worth a year to have a lifetime certification “parachute” in a field where I can literally get a meh mid-five-figures job anywhere I move within a month, or if it’s better to get out and do the recession-vulnerable work that actually excites me and doesn’t drain my cup. I don’t have the answer. But I do understand the lure of a certification and what that can mean in terms of permanent job access (in my case, permanent job access unless the US federal government decides to end or significantly change a fabric-of-society law that has existed for many decades), and I’m erring on staying and getting the parachute. If that helps.

        2. Chauncy Gardener*

          One thing I do when I have a decision like this is to literally weigh the options. I put option A and option B in separate columns and then put all the variables down the side. Then I give each variable a weight, from -10 to +10 and then add them up and see which has more “weight.” If I feel totally outraged when one option comes up with the most weight, I know my brain already has a favorite and I should just listen to it.

          Also, I would really think hard about how much that certification and those potential other jobs REALLY mean. How positive would it truly be? And it sounds like you’re not sure if you really want those roles anyway.
          Good luck!

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’d stick it out. Not LOVING your job is pretty normal, and it sounds like you have a lot of plates in the air that might be disrupted if you move jobs right now. Use your meh job to pay the bills for a little while and get your joy in the other things!

      When you get your certification you can re-examine, I assume your course will be over by then. It sounds like the timing will be better overall and in the meantime you still have exciting job 20% of the time. Being super excited by 20% of one full time job would be a real win in a lot of places!

      It’s ultimately up to you, but that’s the calculus I would do in your situation.

      1. Jim Halpert*

        That is very true, I would really struggle / likely need to give up all my other plates. It’s definitely a benefit of this job that I have heaps of time and brain space to do all these other things.

        I think I do agree with you! I’m just struggling not feeling passionate about it, but you’re right, many people don’t.

    3. CatCat*

      What’s “meh” about the meh job?

      You say the certification would be awesome, but why? Would it open doors to jobs you’re excited about or open doors to more jobs of meh job’s ilk?

      1. Jim Halpert*

        It would open doors that may be meh…. but I would have more control and could pick and choose, like freelancing (sorry trying to be vague not to identify myself!).

        Meh is I’m just not passionate about it. It’s a perfectly fine job, the coworker issue is definitely annoying and I could do without it, the management issues are very frustrating but most of the time I’m left alone and can do whatever I want. I do have heaps of autonomy which I like. I just haven’t been in this situation before where I don’t feel passionately about my role. I guess I’ve been lucky in that way as I know lots of people work jobs they’re not passionate about. As it’s new to me, it’s really bothering me and I think almost daily about job hunting or leaving.

        1. CatCat*

          I mean, what’s the point of working on meh things now just because you could potentially freelance doing more meh things in the future?

          Sounds like you’re really unfulfilled at meh job. It’s irrelevant that other people are working jobs they are not passionate about (that may not be optional for them or feelings about the job are a low priority item for them). Your options and priorities are different. Your exciting job fills your cup!

          I think you have to sit down and map out your priorities and WHY those are your priorities to get a clearer picture of what you should do.

        2. Despachito*

          A difficult question.

          Your current work gives you autonomy and leaves you enough time to do things you are really excited about. This is not bad at all.

          On the other hand, the exciting job seems to be much more satisfactory for you, and the salary is twice as high. This is undoubtedly better.

          Is there anything besides the certificate that is holding you back? Are you going to lose something that is important to you? And how realistically will you need the certificate? Will it lead to just another “meh” job, or will it give you more freedom and a broader range of possibilities in your “love” job?

          If the latter, and if the “love” job is going to be still there after the 1.5 years, I’d consider staying. Otherwise, I’d be inclined to leave.

  32. Vv007*

    How soon can you tell if you are going to like a new job or not? For context: I left a job that I loved due to a supervisor that was a bully and was negatively affecting my mental health. I was able to make a lateral move to a new position with the same pay and benefits. I’m about 1.5 weeks in and am bored… the training isn’t moving quickly at all. Today I am just re-reading process manuals as none of the people that could train me are working on Fridays. I came from a high workload and high stress position and thought a slower pace may be nice but this is killing me.

    1. Tourniquette*

      To answer the direct question, I typically take ~2 months for my opinion of a new job to settle. I’m not usually perfectly comfortable and trained up at that point, I just have a decent idea of the culture and trajectory as well as how I feel about it.

      And here’s some secondary advice: a mantra I have found helpful during non-stressful transitions – “Rest is a skill, don’t rush it.” You just came from a really high stress position, and your mind/body is used to running like that, regardless of whether it’s something you actually prefer. View this as an opportunity to relearn how to slow down and rest a bit.

      1. calonkat*

        Tourniquette has really good advice, especially the second point. Are other people just sitting around also? If not, then you won’t be in another month or so :)

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’d say it has to be at least a month but probably closer to three months before you really have enough information to judge.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      For training moving slowly, see the thread started by commenter Lazy Bones for how long it takes people to ramp up to eight hours of work a day.

      If I were you, I would give the new job at least two months. Most people do not handle boredom well but once the initial training period is over you won’t be as dependent on your coworkers’ schedules and will have more to do. And you might need a longer adjustment period specifically because you’re transitioning out of a high pressure/high workload environment.

      1. Vv007*

        Thanks! I somehow skipped that thread but it was reassuring to see how long it has taken for others to get to a full workload.

    4. Gracely*

      You need to give it more time. At least a month, especially since you’re coming from somewhere with a high workload/stress level; the change from that to something where you need to be trained is going to be jarring.

    5. Policy Wonk*

      I always tell people that the first couple of weeks of a new job are the time to meet all those people for lunch that you haven’t had time for, and to bring a book or something to do, because your new employer doesn’t yet know how you fit into the workflow, so you won’t be busy.

      Give it a couple more weeks to see how things go, but IMO 1.5 weeks isn’t enough time for either of you. You will likely be back up to your high pace soon.

      1. A Penguin!*

        I’m finding it interesting to read all the experiences of people not having full plates until months into a new job. My experience has been the opposite – I have never come into a (post-college) job that didn’t have a backlogged full plate of work from day one.

    6. Anonaly*

      1.5 weeks is too soon to make a judgment on workload. People don’t know you, they’re not emailing you, and you don’t have the training now to have multiple plates spinning (which is a good thing for being new). 1-2 months for workload is usually my expectation, and I’m also someone who flourishes in high stress/high workload environments. But I once knew in one day that a job absolutely sucked due to manager red flags and a high workload with absolutely no training/onboarding and irritability toward me when I asked questions.

    7. Ranon*

      I was bored to tears at 1.5 weeks when I started my current job. I’m about two months in and have nearly full time responsibilities now, and the future looks quite busy!

      It seems odd but in my experience the higher level you are the longer it takes to ramp up as the work is harder to hand off and good start points are less frequent. In the meantime, sounds like summer Fridays are in your future!

  33. Don't Cough On Me*

    A new person started on my team about a month ago, and for the last two weeks they’ve been very obviously sick. I’m talking loud coughing all day long, plus noisy and extended nose-blowing. I had a meeting with my manager last week and very gently mentioned that I’d been hearing a lot of coughing, just hoping to hear that this person had at least tested negative for COVID. My manager proceeded to give me a ton of unsolicited, detailed medical information about them (super inappropriate, I was too shocked to put a stop to it) including that they were negative for COVID but had COVID in the past so their colds are always very intense now. I have a ton of sympathy for this person because the last thing you want when starting a new job is to have to call in sick (our company doesn’t allow any WFH even for medical reasons), but I’m also about to lose my mind. I know there’s nothing I can do about it except try to ignore it and hope they get better soon but every time the coughing starts it feels like nails on a chalkboard and my shoulders are up around my ears all day. I have never felt “TGIF” so hard before.

    1. Just another queer reader*

      Oh no :((

      Not sure if you’re looking for solutions or just empathy, but I wonder if it would be possible to temporarily give this person their own office with a door. It could cut down on the germs and noise.

      Good luck.

      1. Don't Cough On Me*

        Mainly just wanted to vent though suggestions are welcome, with the caveat that my company has adopted a “COVID is over” mindset and is very rigid about the way they do things (never would a new hire be given an office even temporarily; only executives get real offices here).

        I’m trying to remind myself that I’m not getting the worst of it because I sit one row of cubes away from the cougher and I should just suck it up and try to tune it out. The people who have the worst of it are the cougher, since it sounds like they have long COVID which sucks super hard and they’re probably embarrassed about the whole situation, and the person in charge of training the cougher who has to sit side-by-side with them in their cubicle for a big chunk of every day. Then again, the person training the cougher never wears a mask so if they get sick I feel like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    2. mandatory anon*

      Do you have a lot of sick leave? Call in sick due to the anxiety and disruption of this sick coworker.

      1. Don't Cough On Me*

        I wish! I have a series of minor medical procedures happening throughout this year which are eating up my PTO so I’m only calling out if it’s an emergency (and from what my manager told me, this is probably going to be a recurring problem with this employee any time they get any kind of cold).

    3. kicking_k*


      FWIW, the cough may not be anything catching. I’ve had asthmatic bronchitis following colds or chest infections several times and feel awful about continuing to cough for weeks, but it does eventually stop. I’m otherwise not unwell. And I’m sure my colleagues get very tired of hearing me cough through the wall. I’m certainly sick of it by then!

      1. Don't Cough On Me*

        That’s a good point! I think my reaction has a lot to do with how closely coughing is associated to COVID now, so even though I know it’s not COVID I have an immediate stress reaction to hearing anybody cough that I never had before 2020. Hopefully I can break that reflex.

        1. kicking_k*

          Don’t Cough On Me, I feel the same when I hear anyone else cough! It is a reflex by now, that’s exactly right. I feel pretty self-conscious, and suspect my colleagues are almost as tired of hearing me tell them I’m Covid-negative as they are of hearing me cough.

          My last cold was at the beginning of March, and I’m still occasionally coughing. I’m masked, and taking my inhalers, and hopefully it’ll soon stop.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        My sister has been coughing since 2006, more so if she gets just a bit chilled. In these times, it is very awkward.

      3. Maggie*

        Same same, and would give anything not to have this but they aren’t contagious for 2 weeks.

  34. To reply or not!*

    Time sensitive question! I got an email today from an internal client, thanking/praising me for my work on a recent issue, and saying she considers me an honorary member of her workgroup. She copied several people (and a few of those people have chimed in either reply-all or just to me, echoing what she said).

    Question: Do I reply?? Should I acknowledge the email and the praise? I’m thinking something like “Thanks for this, and for the honorary group membership! Just doing my job :)”

    If I reply, do I reply just to her, to the entire group, or to her and also the people who chimed in?

    1. TheOtherJennifer*

      I would reply all with that simple thanks – it’s great to work with you !

    2. TPS reporter*

      I also feel awkward with this type of thing but think it is good to reply to match her energy. Saying something like you put or- “it’s great working with you too, I hope you all have a good weekend.” Something generic that signals friendliness?

    3. Nathalie*

      I am TERRIBLE at receiving praise and compliments, and while I’ve gotten better at just saying “Thanks!” in my personal life, I also have no idea how to respond to praise at work so I’m very interested to see responses to this. (I got a message from a manager on my team the other day thanking me for doing most of the work on a big project we have right now, I replied something like “Happy to help” and then she said that she was going to make sure to mention it in a report to her bosses and I basically had a system malfunction in my brain and replied with a subject change. Super smooth.)

      1. To reply or not!*

        Yes! In person I can feel myself physically trying to shrink when people are praising me. I do not like being in any kind of spotlight!

    4. Doctors Whom*

      In this case I would reply all, “Thank you all so much for your kind words. I greatly enjoy working with your team and look forward to our next collaboration.”

      Don’t say “Just doing my job.” Let her feel grateful to you. Not in a bad way, but she obviously feels you delivered well on something important to her and she is acknowledging that. Don’t downplay your impact on her work.

      1. To reply or not!*

        Ooh, I like the “thank you for your kind words” phrasing! I am going to use that.

      2. Purple Cat*

        ^^ this. No need to downplay your contributions – there are a LOT of people that don’t “do their job”.

    5. anon for this though*

      I would reply directly and say “Thank you so much, that is wonderful to hear!”

      1. calonkat*

        Eh, I’d reply all, because it was stated that others were chiming in as well. One reply all and you’ve said thanks to everyone :)

  35. Resigning via phone?*

    So I’m starting my new job on July 1, and I originally wanted to give my current job one month of notice (so I was planning on giving notice on June 1). However, my supervisor (the person I have to give notice to per my employee handbook) actually went on vacation this week, which I didn’t realize until I came in on Wednesday ready to quit! My supervisor was supposed to be back on Friday (today), but OF COURSE her flight was cancelled and now she’s trapped in an airport.

    My issue is this: I really want to give my notice today. I want to give my employer that long notice period and, on a personal level, I am ready to have the fact that I’m moving to another job out in the open (it’s been incredibly stressful for me feeling like I’m keeping such a big secret from everyone!). Is this a situation where it would be appropriate to call her and give my notice not face-to-face?

    I’d really appreciate any feedback — on one hand, she’s probably already having a crappy day being stuck in an airport, and I’d feel bad adding to her plate. On the other hand, I really don’t want to have to wait until Monday and I’d like to just be done with it.


    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Of course it’s fine to resign by phone. Just document it same day in an emailed letter of resignation.

    2. Emm*

      Does it logistically make any difference to your plans to give notice next week, or is it just an emotional burden that you’re ready to part with (and get the new job out in the open)? My instinct is to wait until Monday. I’m curious to know what other people think.

      1. Resigning via phone?*

        It probably wouldn’t make a logistical difference. I had told my new job not to announce my hiring until June 3 (not that I seriously think that they would announce anything, but I actually accepted the new job back in April and was nervous about somehow my current job finding out and being fired before I was ready to resign), but I suppose if my new job for some reason decides to start sharing publicly that I’m going to be working for them then waiting until Monday might mean coworkers finding out I’m leaving over the weekend.

        In reality, I only need to give two weeks of notice, but I’ve worked here for just under a year and my supervisor has spent a lot of time training me, so I thought giving more time might help alleviate some of my guilt. The main reason I want to give my notice is because I’m just so nervous! It’s a conversation I’ve been dreading for weeks and weeks, and I just want to get it over with.

        1. Emm*

          Ah, that’s a difficult situation. If I put myself in your shoes, I totally understand the urge to get it over with. But from your supervisor’s perspective, that might just be bad news on top of an already bad day.
          You mention feeling guilty, but having an employee resign after you get back from a stressful holiday might be at least a little better than having them do it while you’re stuck at the airport.

          I think I’d still wait until Monday. But if it’d ruin your weekend to be stuck thinking about it, then it might be better to just rip off the band-aid!

    3. Purple Cat*

      Effectively, there’s no difference to the organization if you resign today or Monday, but I totally understand wanting to get it off your chest. If you have a close relationship, I would text her and ask her if she has a few minutes to talk. Or, you can also send her the info in an email, and then set up a meeting for Monday to discuss so she doesn’t feel like you were trying to avoid a conversation about it.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      I don’t know. Your supervisor probably can’t do much to react to your resignation stuck in an airport.

      Use what you know about her to determine if it would help her to be mentally prepared and think about it over the weekend or if she would want to wait to find out when she’s back at work and can immediately begin whatever tasks she needs to take to make your transition out as smooth as possible.

      Also was it a work trip so she’s working or is this a vacation?

    5. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Wait until Monday. Being stuck at the airport sucks and getting this news would just add another thing for them to deal with. I get it. I gave notice Wednesday, even though I had known for a week I got an offer and was just waiting for the background check to clear. So I felt for over a week I was lying and hiding stuff. And it was a huge relief once I gave notice. But really, there is zero benefit of telling your boss today vs Monday. If it helps, think of waiting as saving them from more stress today.

    6. binge eating cereal*

      Agreed, just wait. I have been waiting on clearance for an offer for a job since April 17 (that I interviewed for in March!). I know that my start date will be at the end of summer, so every day that I don’t give notice leaks into that period of time when I hoped I could help them plan for the future (I’m in a leadership role in a fledgling organization that is scaling up majorly this year). I had to have my performance review on Tuesday this week and felt like the worst person ever. I am seriously hoping that they will be able to proceed with the official offer next week before the rest of the leadership team leaves for a work trip next week because they’d have a lot of time to process together, away from me.

      Putting myself in this situation I think I would feel worse knowing that I piled on my boss at a time when they couldn’t do a darn thing about it. Stay strong!

    7. Resigning via phone?*

      Well, I feel bad going against the majority here, but after talking it through with a co-worker, I decided to call and put in my notice today. I apologized for doing it while she was away from the office, but she said she totally understood and was very supportive of me leaving for this (really different and unique!) opportunity. So I feel like a heavy weight was lifted off my shoulders, even though I could have feasibly waited until after the weekend.

  36. Peppa*

    I am in the process of leaving my job and waiting for my background check for my new job to be completed before I am able to provide notice to my current employer. While I certainly have things here and there at my current job that aren’t my favorite, it’s a job I mostly enjoy with people I respect and like. I’ve felt weird having accepted a job (I have an offer letter!) but am waiting until everything clears until I have a start date and can officially provide notice. The new position is in a new industry and seems incredibly interesting and represents a huge salary increase (almost double). It’s a weird sort of limbo and I feel guilty for “lying”. That being said, I am doing my best to not project any change in my work quality, my commitment to future projects, and I haven’t told anyone at work about the new job or even the fact that I was looking.

    I had a weird conversation lately with my direct manager in which he scheduled an unexpected meeting. The meeting was positive, how can I support you, what resources do you need, how are things going – that sort of thing. I’m incredibly suspicious that in the process of clearing my background check, something got back to my current employer. The timing of this conversation is very odd. I explicitly asked that the company doing the background check not contact my current employer and provided alternative means of confirming my dates of employment. But I cannot get over the timing of the conversation. It’s entirely possible that this is all one giant coincidence, but I’m not sure what to think. I tried during the meeting to straddle the line without lying. Even if it is a coincidence, this meeting did nothing to alleviate the guilt I was already feeling about leaving my position that is interesting and engaging work with people I like.

    Has anyone navigated these kinds of conversations before? I’m trying to be as professional as possible and also managing my own complicated feelings about leaving.

    1. Lab Boss*

      All I can offer you is this: If it made sense for your current employer to let you go, they would. Your boss might feel bad about doing it and wish that wasn’t how it had to be, but they’d let you go. That’s not some huge scandal you should be angry about, it’s the nature of a business relationship. If I got wind a valuable employee was job hunting, I would also probably try to retain them- but any halfway competent boss knows that sometimes they just can’t keep someone, for reasons that might be totally out of their control.

      I’ve had employees leave for reasons like yours and I was disappointed to lose them, but happy for them as people. Go ahead and tell your boss and coworkers you enjoyed working there! If there were things you’ll miss, say it! Leaving a job isn’t saying that you hate everything about it, and it’s been very gratifying when people on their way out have told me that they’ll miss working with/for me.

      1. Peppa*

        Thank you for that reminder. I have learned so much from my team and my boss/grand boss/great grand boss and I truly value my relationships with them to the point where I wouldn’t hesitate coming back to work for this company again if the right opportunity arose. I think my fondness for everyone is making everything more emotionally fraught for me.

        1. Lab Boss*

          100% Tell them that. The first person I ever hired left for an amazing opportunity, and before he left he told me that he’d learned lessons from me that he was sure would set him up for a great future. I was riding that high of feeling appreciated for a week.

    2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Having just gone through a background check (and sounds like the background check is being done by a 3rd party) if you checked not to contact your current employer, they won’t. When I got my report back, it was clear they had not, employment verification was by me providing a redacted current paystub. So I doubt it is from that. I guess it’s possible someone from your new job knows your boss or knows someone who does and it got to them another way. But it could be a coincidence.

      I also really like my job but there were a few very valid reasons that made it necessary for me to move on. While my boss and team were sad to lose me, they were all also very happy for me. It will be ok. It did suck but once it was out in the open, I felt much better.

      Hopefully the background check clears soon, and congratulations!!!

      1. Peppa*

        Thank you!

        I think it’s the possibility of a couple of different factors plus my own anxiety brain that are driving me nuts. My division is going through a bit of an upheaval with new hires, higher turnover than typical (like everyone else everywhere), some changes in org structure, etc. So it truly could have been a check-in.

        I also had the sitcom-level worthy experience of running into a colleague when I was at another company for an interview. Thankfully, they are distant enough that I don’t work with them on a regular basis, but they definitely know exactly who I am and the possibility that it might have slipped out to my boss has been weighing on me for awhile.

        Yes, the background check is being done by a 3rd party for a government-adjacent position, so it’s very, very thorough. I think a lot of this is also the stress of knowing without being able to give notice.

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          Oh I get the anxiety! Mine wasn’t super through, and I really am the most basic person, so no worries about not passing it, but I still was nervous! It was a massive relief to final help able to give my notice.

    3. tessa*

      Hi Peppa,

      You are exactly me back in January. I, too, wondered if my then-boss knew something was up, as she kept reminding me I could talk with her about anything, and the timing was beyond weird.

      But I don’t think there is much you can do except use Alison’s “Opportunity came along and I couldn’t pass it up.” I understand your guilt, but I’d use that energy to focus on the great things upcoming for you.

  37. Minimal Pear*

    Alright, I just ran into this so now I’m curious–how long should you wait when someone has scheduled a meeting with you and then they don’t show up? Especially if you’re a lot more junior than them? I considered waiting for the full meeting time but I frankly don’t have the patience for that.

    1. TheOtherJennifer*

      6 minutes. if it’s a higher up, or someone unfamiliar you could ping them and ask if this is still a good time.

    2. ThatGirl*

      depends if you’re in the same physical space or not. if it’s an online meeting I’d probably keep the window open a little longer; if it was someone in an office with me, I might ping them online or walk by their desk to check, but not stay in the meeting room the whole time.

    3. ecnaseener*

      In person or on zoom?
      When you’re the junior one I’d probably try to contact them at 5 mins and in total wait 10-15 mins.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      I’d say after half an hour or so, you could justifiably leave.

      Looking at some of the other replies though, this may well be cultural. I would be extremely impressed if everybody was present for a meeting within 6 minutes of its intended starting time. Unless I knew them to be very punctual, I honestly wouldn’t even take them as late at that point.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Yeah, people do tend to run a bit late for meetings at my work–although they would probably all be there by 6 minutes. This was just with one other person so I was just kind of sitting there waiting. I did end up waiting for about half an hour.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Eh, if I have a half hour meeting, I would expect everyone to either be there or ping me within the first 5 minutes. Stuff happens, of course, and I’d probably wait a bit longer than that, especially on zoom.

            1. Irish Teacher*

              Must be cultural. I don’t know if I have ever been at a meeting with more than one or two other people that had everybody there within five minutes of starting time. I will add that I am a person who usually arrives early for everything, so I just take it for granted I will be waiting at least 15-20 minutes for anything to begin.

              1. ThatGirl*

                I’m chronically early too, but again, for a short meeting if you miss 15 minutes that’s half the meeting! Now, if it’s an all-morning sort of thing that’s different.

                1. Irish Teacher*

                  I meant I’m usually there 10 minutes before the meeting and it will usually be at least 5 and probably 10 minutes after the arranged time that it will start. Which yeah, can mean you end up with only 20 minutes instead of the arranged 30. Yeah, I agree with you that it would be better if things started on time, but…they never do. Our national train service, by the way, officially state that “on time” means “arrived with in ten minutes of the time it was due.”

            2. Minimal Pear*

              In this specific instance, it was a very long meeting. (Part of me was glad it ended up not happening, honestly.)

    5. kiki*

      For virtual, I would say 15 minutes. Ping them or send them an email to ask about rescheduling. If the meeting was on the longer side, like an hour or longer, offer to jump back on the call if they’re just running late.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Yeah in this case I waited for quite a while but finally did some other, pretty urgent work–honestly this meeting was scheduled at a terrible time for me, with absolutely no warning/information on what it was on. I did finally hear back about what happened and it definitely wasn’t a situation where the person I was meeting with would be able to hop back on anytime soon.

    6. Beth*

      It depends on the difference between their status and yours. 5-10 minutes is reasonable for someone who’s only a bit above you; 15-20 for someone well above, and half an hour for someone very senior.

      When I was in college and grad school, these standards were applied for professors with different levels of tenure. You were expected to wait the entire period if your professor was a department head.

    7. mreasy*

      I wait 5 minutes, then I ping to say “I’m on the line if this is still a good time! If not, happy to reschedule whenever it works for you.” Then if I’m junior to them or they’re someone I really want to connect with (client), I’ll wait for 6 more minutes (11 total after start time), before sending an email that says “I’m so sorry we couldn’t connect today – let me know when it’s best to reschedule” (or, if you have open time, “I’m free until Xpm if you want to try later on today). If it’s someone I am senior to, I will wait only 3 more minutes after the ping (8 minutes total). You might be like, hey why do you have these specific numbers? I don’t know, I invented them out of thin air but it helps me to have a personal policy. YMMV.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Haha I feel you on the personal policy! I did ping a few times but haven’t managed to reschedule yet.

    8. A Penguin!*

      In person: 5-10 minutes.
      Zoom or equivalent: 10-20 minutes, assuming I can be doing other work and just holding the meeting window open. If waiting on the remote meeting is somehow preventing me from other work, back to the 5-10 minute window.

      In either case, quick email or chat message (depending on culture of the workplace) after said time with the gist of ‘sorry we couldn’t connect about blah topic, let me know if/when you want to reschedule’.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Yeah it was Zoom but I couldn’t really do anything else (and, admittedly, was indulging in a spot of irritation and didn’t WANT to do anything else while waiting anyway).

    9. Esmeralda*

      I’d try getting hold of them at 5 and 15 minutes.

      If you can just leave zoom on and do your other work, that’s what I do. Because it’s easy.

      If it’s an in-person meeting, I might hang around but do other work while waiting. Depends on what’s going on. I always have work with me that can be done on the fly.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Yeah I tried at roughly those intervals but didn’t get a response until much later.

    10. Purple Cat*

      5 minutes. And then you ping them (or their assistant) and “check-in”. If they say a few more minutes, you wait 5 more minutes, unless they specifically said they need 15 minutes (or whatever) and then you send an email rescheduling.

      I cannot fathom working in an organization like these other peeps where people are routinely 20 minutes late for meetings. How does anything get done if people spend half their day sitting around waiting for other people?

      1. Minimal Pear*

        In their defense, a tree fell on their house right when our meeting was supposed to start and that’s why they never showed and didn’t tell me why.

        1. Minimal Pear*

          (I mean, obviously they did eventually tell me why, but it took quite a while. Anyway, I suspected it might be something bad once I hit the 15-minute mark of waiting, because normally people are pretty punctual here.)

  38. Orange Flags?*

    I just started a new job a month ago and things have been feeling a little funky. I’m not sure if this is just new job jitters, a different work culture or some genuine orange flags. The directors on my team have said that nearly every other department is difficult to work with. Same directors have been a little checked out during team meetings (checking their phones, needing things repeated because they weren’t paying attention to the conversation, having side-conversations while the rest of the team is focusing on the meeting).

    My direct manager replies to only about half of my emails, which is tricky when I’m a new hire still figuring things out. Staff members are uncharitable about other employees, including those that left the department (referring to someone being publicly shamed about a work misstep). I left a job that drove me to burn out and definitely had issues but at least folks were collaborative and gave everyone the benefit of the doubt.
    Anyone else experience this?
    Should I talk about this with my manager? Stick it out and see if things change?

    1. Beth*

      It doesn’t sound good to me, but if you’ve only been there a month, it seems a bit early to tell whether the culture is unhealthy or just different from what you’re used to. I would stick it out for at least three months, but continue to pay close attention.

  39. crookedglasses*

    Question for people who have gone to a hybrid work environment with hoteling / desk sharing – what can companies do to make this work as well as possible? Pre-COVID everybody at my company had private offices. Through COVID our headcount has grown too high to allow for that to continue, and we are continuing to grow. Currently we have some people coming in with varying frequency (anywhere from almost full-time to a few hours every week or two), and other people who aren’t coming in at all.

    Long-term, our hybrid plan will likely be to have people targeting being in the office anywhere from 4-12 hours/week. For such a modest amount of time, we’re looking at transitioning the office to be a combination of open shared workspaces, reservable phone booths, and reservable meeting rooms. This will mean phasing out private offices and possibly even private/dedicated desks.

    It seems like a fair number of companies are going to a similar set up, as it’s just too hard to justify paying rent on so many private offices that mostly sit empty. So for people who are already working in this kind of set-up, what can we do to make it work as well as possible for our employees? Is there anything your office did that made the transition especially smooth or especially bumpy? Thank you!

    1. kiki*

      One thing that is obvious but my last company didn’t do is survey how often people planned to come in and then have a system to continue tracking how and when folks actually come in to make sure there are an adequate amount of facilities each day.

      Make sure there are enough desks set up with equipment to actually do the jobs of folks coming into the office. Survey each department and ask what they need to have a productive day. My former company planned for the lowest common denominator, so there were plenty of empty desks, but there weren’t enough with monitors or phone hook-ups. So developers and customer support agents had a hard time doing their jobs from the office, but they were still expected to come in at least once a week.

      Think about potential dates more employees than average will want to come in. Are there all-staff meetings people like to come into the office for? Does a nearby restaurant do a great taco Tuesday special that employees like to go to? Plan for those days. My last company looked at the average amount of folks coming into the office each day, but didn’t realize some Mondays and Fridays were virtually empty while Wednesdays were above capacity.

    2. Peppa*

      Would it be possible to have some sort of lockers/secure storage so people could keep some things at the office instead of moving all of their stuff from home to work everyday?

      Maybe office supplies at every desk, an easy way to report issues (a ticket system that says hey desk 213 is low on tape and the chair is wobbly or whatever)

      1. Sutemi*

        This is key for me, to have some private locked drawer space. For anyone who doesn’t commute by car, it is tremendously more convenient to keep a couple nice pair of shoes and some supplies at work rather than carrying them in every day.
        I also don’t want to have to carry a mouse/keyboard/power cord, I want to have a duplicate set at my workstation that I can dock right into.

    3. Alex*

      My office made this transition, and I think the result is that hardly anyone wants to come in anymore. The space is open and not private and so not really conducive to actually working. People who do come in work in the conference rooms if they can get one.

      I’m unclear from your post if you are planning on moving offices altogether or just renovating your current space. I actually think that most people would prefer to work in a private office, even if they have to share it on other days. Could you, instead of eliminating private offices, assign people to offices as a group so that a group of say, 3-4 people all share one office but at different times? I personally think that is more comfortable–you can keep a small number of personal items there, even if some others also keep some personal items, so it can feel more like your own space.

    4. Purple Cat*

      We don’t have enough seats for the number of employees.
      Each VP had to get data from each of their employees on the # of days they would be in the office. Then each VP got a certain # of desks to accommodate. If you were coming in <3 days/wk you had to share with someone on your team. Each "group" sits together and basically fills in the seats as they see fit. So most people know exactly who they're sharing a desk with and when. There were definitely some bumps in the road where it felt like some department were "claiming seats" for future hires leaving some other departments short-handed for current staff. The other issue is technology. Your IT needs to be aware of how many different laptop/monitor configurations you have going on and is it technically feasible for coworkers to be at the same desk.

    5. Bexx*

      My old company moved to hoteling back around 2012/2013 and I personally loved it! I few things I think they did right:
      – easy online booking system so that you could book a workspace well in advance (I think things were bookable 30 days out)
      – ensured that everyone had laptops compatible with the tech available at each desk (monitor, docking station, and phone at a minimum) and that additional tech was available at some desks (second monitor, adjustable standing desks, etc)
      – provided everyone with a lockable little filing cabinet on wheels so that they could keep files, keyboards, mouses, snacks, etc on site and just tow it over to their desk for the day or leave it there if they booked the same desk for the whole week
      – had designated “quiet zones” for people who preferred fewer distractions
      – had a ton of phone booth and bookable office space of varying sizes
      – had 100% buy-in at the top – CEO happily gave up his lovely corner office and moved to the hot-desk system along with almost everyone else
      – made reasonable exceptions for people who really really needed a static desk (the production marketing folks who had TONS of samples, color books, etc and their own dedicated large scale printer, the paralegal who needed to sit need the actual legal filing cabinets, the person with mobility issues, etc)

    6. Gnome*

      We have some cubes for flexible work stations. The light is on a motion detector, so if you are in a long zoom meeting, they will go off. This is really horrible in some cases (like conducting zoom interviews). I work out of a different building but had to go into HQ one day and I was on a zoom interview for a candidate and ended up just parking my computer in a random person’s office who wasn’t in.

    7. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      We have
      * a booking system, that was set to notify in case of COVID exposure
      * designated space for some select teams, but this is a guideline rather than set in stone
      * lockers
      * a laptop dock and two 27-inch IPS monitors per desk
      * quiet areas for people who want to work with minimum noise
      * sound proofed conference rooms for two (aka “fishbowl”), five and ten people

  40. ecnaseener*

    Is there an expectation that EAP counseling is only for issues of a certain severity (for lack of a better word)?

    I’m noticing some unhealthy thought patterns in myself that aren’t causing me acute distress but just sort of bothering me, the type of thing that might be helped by talking through with a counselor for an hour or so at some point. All else equal I would of course prefer to use the EAP rather than find and pay for a therapist, but I don’t know if that’s what the EAP is there for.

    (FWIW I work for a hospital so I imagine plenty of people are calling them with acute distress/burnout/etc. My job is not patient-facing and not onsite.)

    1. Minimal Pear*

      I was just rereading the interview with the person who worked for an EAP and I remembered they said it was for everything! There were plenty of non-therapy things they offered, and it sounds like they have a triage system and would be able to refer you. I know when I was a kid I used a parent’s EAP therapy appointments meant for family members for something that wasn’t very serious.

    2. RagingADHD*

      No. You use it when you need it, just like you’d go to PT for a stress fracture or sprained ankle. You don’t have to have a limb falling off for PT to be helpful.

      Same thing. Deal with stuff that bothers you BEFORE it gets bad.

    3. Just another queer reader*

      I’ve reached out for some relatively small things, and it’s been very helpful.

      I heard a rumor that the EAP helped someone find tickets to a sports game once. I think they can help with a lot of things beyond a crisis.

      1. ThatGirl*

        oh yeah, ours advertises services like party planning — it’s not JUST for crises.

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oh gosh, no! It’s for all sorts of things. No severity grading required!

    5. Irish Teacher*

      I’m no expert but it seems to be that it would be in everybody’s interest for employees to take advantage of the counselling while the issue is still minor and before it starts to have an impact on their work and life. I know not all issues necessarily escalate, but given that they can, it seems like dealing with minor issues would make more sense than waiting for a person to potentially reach crisis point or to start having difficulties that have an impact on their work.

    6. Lady Danbury*

      Nope, EAP is for everything! My sister works at our local EAP and they get more non-work calls than work calls. No issue is too big or small, but obviously the approach would be different depending on the severity.

  41. mid-level software dev*

    Advice for Avoiding Layoffs in Tech
    There have been a notable amount of layoffs and rescinded offers in tech recently. Does anybody have tips or advice for avoiding companies likely to layoff or rescind offers? Is there a way to negotiate severance or some sort of payout if the offer is rescinded by the company due to a hiring freeze?

    I’m a software engineer with about 4 years experience, so I’ve never really gone through a tech bubble burst (beyond the small one at the beginning of the pandemic). I’m looking for my next role. There are definitely a lot of folks still actively hiring, so that’s good, but I’m really worried I could be hired, put in my notice, then have the rug pulled out from me. I had some big, unexpected expenses last year, so I’m actively trying to replenish my savings now. My current job seems stable in that, yes, the company will exist and continue to pay me, but they’re chaotic and not great to work for.

    Right now, I’m avoiding applying at any start-up (I also don’t think that’s my vibe as a developer), I’m not applying to anything crypto (again, not really my vibe anyway, but seems especially unstable now). Do folks have any other wisdom? I know there’s no way to be certain of stability, but I’d really like to make sure I make a smart move.

    1. Doctors Whom*

      You won’t be able to negotiate any kind of compensation for a rescinded offer.

      you have a few good instincts:
      – stay away from crypto and anything that calls itself nonfungible
      – stay away from early stage startups (late stage is an entirely different ballgame)

      I would add:
      – stay away from anything helmed by Elon Musk or that he is trying to buy, for infinity reasons
      – stay away from anywhere that you don’t understand how the tech solves the problem (obviously, being a dev has a lot of different meanings)
      – i probably wouldn’t jump on anything in a social media company right now
      – watch the news

      It is still largely an employee market in your field – unemployment is basically negative and has been for a long time.

      1. mid-level software dev*

        Lol, would not touch an Elon Musk venture with a ten foot pole.
        Thank you so much for your insight! I figured negotiating compensation for a rescinded offer isn’t a thing, but I just wanted to check.

      2. onyxzinnia*

        “stay away from anywhere that you don’t understand how the tech solves the problem”

        I completely agree with this point, I would be wary of any tech company where you can’t easily identify how their product solves an industry or consumer problem. Also, if there is an actual problem to solve in the first place or is the company someone’s vanity project (more common risk for early start ups).

        Adding to Doctors Whom’s list:
        – Fintech startups (I think it’s a bloated market but YMMV)
        – Mortgage-related startups (volatile housing market)
        – Any start up that has been aggressively hiring in the last year ( I’ve noticed a lot of the layoffs are from companies that grew too quickly and need to scale back)

    2. Brownie*

      If you’re in the US look for federal contractors or the national labs, places with long-term projects or contracts with the government including manufacturing facilities and long-term maintenance. There’s a severe tech deficit in those places and with the latest round of fed-mandated market rate increases to stop the tech drain to private companies the salary is comparable to private with equal or better benefits. Stability is phenomenal compared to most private companies, but management and work chaos is going to be incredibly dependent on the individual team or group you’d be going to.

      After working tech/IT freelance and in tech startups I moved to a fed contractor for the stability and now work with people who’ve had their tech job here for 20+ years. The sheer number of older tech folks is incredible too, they’re not pushed out due to age (see IBM’s shenanigans for example) either. I have no doubt that as long as I continue to work at a “Meets expectations” level at minimum and the gov contracts get renewed I’ll have this job until I decide to leave or retire.

      1. kiki*

        Thank you for the advice! I’ve been considering federal contracting roles, but I’m not sure I want to go through the hassle of security clearance, which seems to be a requirement for a lot of them.

        1. Doctors Whom*

          Security clearances are hella paperwork, but they can open a lot of doors. For most people a Secret is not difficult to obtain at all, and if you stay out of bankruptcy, away from federally controlled substances, don’t have any besties in complicated countries, a TS is straightforward if time consuming. The think that I think gives a lot of people pause is that once you start climbing the security clearance ladder, they ask for contacts of people who knew you at various jobs and addresses. I can see a lot of legit reasons people would not want to expose friends, neighbors, and family to the process. But clearances take awhile so if you go somewhere that will hire you and then sponsor you to obtain it, you have an advantage in walking in the door somewhere else later if you hold an active clearance that can be transferred to a new employer – because new employer now does not need to wait to put you on a project that requires a clearance.

        2. Brownie*

          It’s not that big of a hassle honestly, filling out a 20+ page form every 5 years and promising not to lie or cover up illegal activities or share sensitive data is the basics of it. I’ve seen private tech company agreements (mainly startups to be fair) far more onerous than the security clearance agreements. It does have some lifelong downsides, financial and travel monitoring in the main. If you’re a naturally private person there’s not much of a lifestyle change and chances are you’ll be on a company project team instead of anything actually dealing with sensitive data. On the future side of things an active clearance is a massive salary booster should you decide to leave the position later on. If I wanted to give up my 100% remote position and being a homeowner for an in-person job and renting I could make almost double my current salary just because of the clearance. Going back to the private sector it also opens a lot of doors, financial companies for example love people who’ve learned to not talk about company/insider information.

          It is a factor in a federal job, yes, but at the interviews ask how big of an impact it has had on the daily life of the folks you’d be working with and judge if it’s worth it then. For me the stability totally outweighs any clearance headaches for my mental health alone, the knowledge that I could be here until I retire has cut my anxiety down so far it’s not actively interfering with my life anymore.

        3. darlingpants*

          It’s not that much work *for you,* the investigators have to do a lot of it.

          I did need to find my dad’s immigration paperwork so my husband could get his, but it was a few hours of work and his job is very stable and has great benefits.

    3. Voluptuousfire*

      I work in tech as well on the recruitment side and I fee your pain! My company is small but stable but with all the news, it definitely has me concerned and it puts me right back to my un/underemployment right after the Great Recession. There are still many companies hiring, so it seems to be a good thing.

      A lot of the volatility is due to the “unicorn” VC backed start ups burning though their funding.

      One think I question is if the market-induced layoffs are really about market instability vs. the opportunity to clean house and have a valid excuse. That happened when the pandemic hit. Many companies laid off people due to Covid and were not in Covid-hit industries like hospitality and live events.

      1. kiki*

        It does seem like for a lot of the companies who have done layoffs, it’s more of a correction after bananas hiring streaks rather than a cutback after steady growth, which makes me feel a bit calmer.

        1. voluptuousfire*

          True. I interviewed with quite a few of the tech startups laying off people and I’m glad none of them worked out.

    4. Nicki Name*

      I think the cumulative effect on the tech industry job market is that it will go from unbelievably bananas to just bananas.

      If a company is tied to a specific industry, consider whether it’s one that had a bonanza due to the pandemic and is now deflating as people revert to their old habits, or if it’s something less affected by that.

      If you’re looking at a pre-IPO company, ask if it’s profitable– those are the companies which are being rewarded with more funding right now. Breaking even has suddenly become way more important than market share.

    5. voluptuousfire*

      You could also try software consultancies. They work with companies to build apps and such. I work for one and have recruiting colleagues in other consultancies. They usually work with pair programming, extreme programming, TDD, and so on. Or at least my company does. :)

      Feel free to email me if you’re interested. My email is in my gravatar

    6. Girasol*

      You can’t tell ahead of time if your company is going to be in a merger, either bought or sold, but the risk of layoff rises significantly with either case. So if you find out that a merger is coming, time to look at moving on.

    7. calonkat*

      Pay is always on the low side, (and raises are non-existent) but state government is stable and usually in need of developers.

      1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

        I’d be careful, going for a job with low pay can make them look as someone than can be lowballed. It happened to me at the beginning of my carreer.

  42. BRI*

    I’m suddenly back in the job search, as a job that I recently started a few months has had a lot of red flags (manager is a real character, company doesn’t offer merit, career progression seems very limited) and overall a bad fit culturally to me. I unfortunately didn’t foresee in accepting the job.

    In interviews, how should I address my short time/why I am looking for a new company and role, without sounding like red flag myself? Additionally, any suggestions how I can avoid being in this type of situation?

    1. kiki*

      I say something along the lines of “After starting work, I realized it wasn’t the best fit for me. I’m excited about this role because I think we’ll align more on X,Y,Z. This role seems like it would allow me to do more of A,B,C.” Something like that shifts the focus to what excites you about this new role instead of focusing on what you don’t like about your current one.

    2. VioletClaire*

      I’ve been in this situation. Left a job after a few months because it was the wrong fit with a very difficult manager. In interviews, I focused on why I wanted to join the company I was interviewing for rather than focusing on why I wanted to leave the other role. If there was something specific in the job description that excited me that I wasn’t doing in the current role, I emphasized that too. A few folks didn’t even ask about the short stay, which surprised me a bit. Avoiding a bad fit is tough. For career progression, I’ve looked at LinkedIn profiles of current employees to see if they’ve ever been promoted or just stayed in the same role for years. I would ask about professional development opportunities in the interview and how success is measured and defined in the role you’re interviewing for. Sometimes I look at reviews on Glassdoor but those can sometimes skew negative so take them with a grain of salt. Good luck!

      1. BRI*

        Thank you! A few followup questions: the companies who did ask the “why are you leaving” question, how did you respond? Also, when applying, did you keep your short term role on your resume?

  43. binicornofthesea*

    I’m applying to jobs where a very good friend (like college roommate, was in her wedding party, good friend), is in HR- let’s call her Sam. I’m not sure if the departments I’m applying to are what she covers (and I believe she deals more with faculty than staff, so I’m clear on that front)- I just don’t know how this would be optics-wise. I don’t anticipate there being any like, favoritism or anything but this is something I’ve never had to worry about before! I just want a (for lack of a better term) vibe check.

    I want to stay at this institution because of the benefits and perks offered institution wide (and general commute and area is where I like to be), but my current position/department isn’t able to provide what I need as I grow in my career and skills- and $$$ but that’s a whole different issue. The departments with roles that would be a step up, all just happen to be in this other college that Sam works in.

    For context, this is a University with multiple colleges within- for example, I work in the Civil Engineering Department in the College of Engineering, Sam works in HR for the Nursing School. This hasn’t been an issue before, as the college level HR departments don’t cross streams. Any advice on how to proceed, or how keep everything kosher, would be extremely appreciated!!

    1. Lab Boss*

      Check to see if there’s a referral process and Sam can refer you. That will keep it all aboveboard, and might even get you a little edge in your application being considered. If the position would create a definite conflict of interest for her then you might as well know that in advance. Assuming it doesn’t, it lets them go into it with the knowledge that they may have to keep track of how much her influence overlaps yours, and develop you accordingly.

      1. binicornofthesea*

        Would you believe me if I said I completely forgot referrals were a thing? The brain fog is real, lol. Thanks so much. :)

    2. Midwest Manager*

      Does it make sense to just ask Sam if she is linked to the department where you’re applying? If you’re applying to work as a peer to Sam, and not in the departments served by Sam’s office, that’s still not a conflict unless she’s on the hiring committee. If that’s the case, you ought to let Sam know that you’re applying so she can recuse herself or take appropriate precautions.

      I ran into something similar when I applied for my current job (in a university with a similar structure as you mention). A friend is in the college-level HR, and once I was hired into the department, the college adjusted the unit assignments so that there would be zero conflict of interest due to our friendship.

      Universities, no matter how big, are really small communities. Eventually you’ll know people across the institution. This kind of thing is more common than you might realize, and shouldn’t be an issue.

    3. tamarack and fireweed*

      I think it’s entirely common for university staff to move between units in their career progression. The institution I work for happens to be the only one in a several-hundred-mile radius and also well regarded academically, with a good number of externally funded units, so it’s completely inevitable that people like/know each other, if they aren’t outright related. Sure, in other places people move more between institutions, so it’s rarer to run into friends and family at random work events.

      As long as you aren’t giving any impression that you are hiding things I see no reason for any optics issue. Eg. if you’re a fiscal officer or facilities administrator or laboratory manager or IT person at the College of Engineering and want to step into a one-notch-up position at the School of Nursing, I’d say just apply, and if/when you get an interview, during chit-chat, you can say something like “I want to mention something up-front: Sam Pencilsharpener, who works in your HR department, is an old college friend of mine. This has nothing to do with my application – I just to get this out here so that everyone knows, and in case you prefer my application file to be handled by someone else, if it would be her normally.” (Well, smoother than that. You get the idea.)

      Also, frankly, HR should have little impact on hiring decisions anyway, other than as the destination for background check information. As far as referrals are concerned, if HR qualifies for that (I think sometimes HR is explicitly excluded?) sure, go for it!

      1. eeeek*

        Underscoring this point from the comment above: “HR should have little impact on hiring decisions anyway, other than as the destination for background check information.” In my experience at my university (which also has multiple schools and colleges), school/college HR units process job postings, analyze salary bands/offers, sort out issues with cross-unit transfers, ensure compliance with policy and regulations, etc. They train search committee chairs and offer support for the search, but don’t participate in the search itself. Hiring units convene the committees that review applications and organize interviews. HR can advise the chair that a qualified individual who was laid off due to restructuring/budget should be considered for an interview – but there’s no requirement to hire them if the committee doesn’t want to.
        So, at my university, “I have a friend in HR” wouldn’t be likely to influence a hiring decision.

  44. Lab Boss*

    How hard should I push on something as a matter of principle?

    My company has experienced huge growth over the last 10 years, with the staff growing to several times the size it was when I started. My own department has exploded to 6 times its original size and gone from a small staffing backwater to a major player in getting our products on the market. I’ve been dragged along for the ride, getting multiple promotions faster than I would normally have expected just because they kept needing experienced people to take on more work. I’ve occasionally done some minor salary negotiations, but not much (probably less than I should).

    There’s been an ongoing effort to fight our reputation as paying poorly, including recently implementing more consistent job descriptions and salary bands. I knew I was in line for another promotion but was shocked to realize that 1) I had already been doing most of the higher job’s duties for nearly 2 years, and 2) the company “just can’t give raises bigger than 15%” and planned to promote me but make my salary lower than the bottom of the range. Some intense negotiation resulted and I just got offered a 30% raise- slightly less than my very ambitious request, but above my actual target number.

    Here’s the rub: They want to give me half of the raise now and the rest in 6 months, and they won’t put it in writing that they’ll give me that money in 6 months. I’ve seen this from management before and it’s never been a scam- they always do what they say they intend to, they just say “well, we can’t make any absolute guarantees.” I think it’s a holdover from our small-company past, when any financial hiccup really could disrupt plans, but we’re well past that part now. I’ve got assurances all the way up to the VP and HR head levels that they will do this, they want to retain me, I’m part of their vision for the department, etc.

    So what do I do? I specifically said I wanted any delayed raises in writing, but I also got so many other concessions it feels a little petty when I’ve got every reason to believe they’ll hold up their end of the deal. I could take the promotion now, and if they renege on their promises I’ll have that much more experience to put on my resume when I start my job hunt over that deal-breaker. I could tell them that I want the first stage of the raise now but not the title or the added duties until they give me the rest of it- how big a deal should I make this?

    1. kiki*

      I would keep pushing on getting that delayed raise in writing. I might use their fight to better the reputation around pay. I would say something like, “I’ve been here long enough that I do trust you’ll hold up your end of the deal, but I want to point out that splitting raises and not guaranteeing them in writing is a really unusual practice, especially for a company of our size. Stuff like this contributes to our business’s bad reputation for pay. The least the company can do, when they offer raises in this unusual way, is guarantee it in writing.” I would highlight that this practice is really unusual outside of this company. A lot people who’ve worked for the same company for a while start to see their quirks and weird/bad practices as normal when they’re really not. It helps to reframe this as, “No, y’all are being weird, actually. It’s normal to need this in writing.”

      1. Lab Boss*

        I’ll probably try that to some extent, although there’s some details I omitted for length that suggest it’s a firm no at this point. Totally agree with your point though! I’m definitely more inclined to be a “keep your head down and just do the job” person, and totally blame AAM for convincing me to start making noise and throwing my weight around to push back at dumb holdover practices.

        1. kiki*

          I get that mentality and it can be real asset, but unfortunately so many companies take advantage of employees with that mindset. Even if they don’t offer the guarantee in writing, it’s worthwhile to pushback so leadership is made aware it’s an issue and hopefully doesn’t do this again.

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I would keep pushing on getting that delayed raise in writing.

        Having it in writing won’t prevent them from reneging, but it will sure make it harder to blow off and claim “misunderstanding” or the like. I agree with this advice 112½%.

      3. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Fewer words. “This is a lot of money, and 6 months is a long time. Let’s put our big boy pants on and put it in writing so that we’re on the same page today, and we’ll still be on the same page in 6 months’ time.”

        1. AnonyMouse*

          If you try this, just be aware you may go from a 30% raise in six months to a 100% pay cut, effective immediately.

    2. Joielle*

      Are any of those assurances in email? I’d count that as “in writing” if so (and save them in your personal files). If not, I’d write your own email “recapping our discussion about my raise” and send it to your boss, the VP, HR head, and anyone else who was involved in the negotiations. People can respond to the email if they object to your characterization of the discussion. And then at least there will be SOMETHING you can point to in writing, if they do fail to hold up their end of the deal.

      I don’t know that there’s a way to make the agreement legally enforceable (sounds like they aren’t willing to do an employment contract or anything more official) but at least nobody would be able to say they never said they would do that.

      1. Lab Boss*

        That’s a very good point. I can probably get the friendliest VP involved to at least confirm that it’s “the plan” in an e-mail. I genuinely think that this is purely a case of them being skittish about locking themselves into a contract, for no real good reason, rather than any chance they actually plan on yanking the second half of the raise.

    3. Beth*

      If it ain’t in writing, it doesn’t exist. They owed you that higher salary already — why let them have you at a discount rate for another six months?

      1. Lab Boss*

        In my case there’s enough reasons to stay, and they’re so adamant that it’s “impossible” to do it all at once, that it’s a case of picking my battles and letting them do it half and half. Not ideal, I know, but it is what it is.

      2. Lab Boss*

        Also to add: another one of their very “old school” mindsets is that “you should do most of the duties of the higher job for a while to prove you’re good at them, THEN you get the promotion and the raise.” I’ve pushed back on that as hard as I can and been stonewalled. I’m doing an end around and negotiated a salary based on my ~2 years experience with all the duties of the job, rather than the very bottom-end starting salary for the new job they wanted to give me. Sort of a reverse claw-back, in a way.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Can you put it in writing yourself? Send an email accepting the new position with x duties at y (total) rate, but starting at y-15% for the first 6 months. Or, x duties at q rate for 6 months with a raise at that time to q+15%.

  45. BBBB*

    Got myself a job interview for a contracting company (working at the same job site, just switching from a full time employee to a contractor). I pulled up a copy of the contract and wrote down the pertinent details, such as the expectations for what tasks the contractor would accomplish. When I got the interview, they ask me to describe what I thought the position involved. I paraphrased the list of tasks I copied from their own contract. I got the job.

    1. Emm*


      In college, I got the really useful advice to study for a subject like I would be teaching it to someone else, because that requires a more in-depth understanding than just what can be read on the surface. And I’ve found that advice also applies to job searches, especially when they ask this question in an interview! It also helped me to get a better understanding of what the day-to-day of a job might look like.

    2. Purple Cat*

      Solid advice. The more you can show you understand the job, the better.

      I’m curious why being a contractor is better than being a full-time employee? Usually the benefits are better as an FTE.

  46. NoSugar*

    I am currently halfway through my pregnancy and have begun discussing my leave options with my HR rep. There is a very tiny possibility I will not return to work following my leave (which would be dependent on my husband accepting a new position), and so I have scoured company docs to try and find any info about having to repay the company for healthcare or paid leave if you don’t return, but I have found nothing. I want to ask our HR rep if there is any financial penalty to doing so, but my husband thinks it’s a horrible idea to out myself as potentially considering quitting after having a baby. I personally don’t think it’s that big of a deal, but wanted to see if others agree?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I would be really leery of doing so. I know my pregnant coworker is already dealing with people trying to pass over her for projects because “what if she doesn’t come back from leave” which is really nasty after she worked for years to climb the ladder into this role. Even if they all wouldn’t do that deliberately there’s still unconscious bias too. You could try asking for the policies on maternity leave in writing – say your husband wanted to see them too or something. If there’s fine print about repaying it should be in there.

    2. beach read*

      If you haven’t already done so, you might want to print off a copy of all pertinent docs to have on hand just in case. If you wind up not returning, you’ll have the info.

    3. ManicPixieNightmareGirl*

      It’s a terrible idea and could put your job at risk. If you’re in the US, it’s highly unlikely that you can be made to repay leave. Leave is a part of your compensation.

      1. Clisby*

        The only thing I can think of where someone might have to repay leave would be if they were advanced leave they hadn’t actually accrued, and then quit before making up the accrual.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        If you’re in a state that doesn’t require paid family leave, you can be made to pay back paid family leave if you decide not to come back after. It’s a shit policy but it happens. That said, whatever handbook/internal document exists that describes the policy in the first place should say that if that’s the case. Not that it’s binding or anything but it’d be bizarre to have a repayment policy and not put it there – such a policy is usually intended to be a deterrent. Even companies that have this kind of clawback often don’t actually enforce it.

        That said it is absolutely a horrible idea to ask for confirmation.

  47. lost*

    I’m looking for advice on getting my property from a business whose owner has passed away.
    I bought an engine from a private owner. It is currently in a shop (it was going to have a professional examination). I paid the private owner. Now we have discovered that the shop owner has passed away. I sent a letter to the shop address, and his previous home address, trying to find out who is handling the estate, but I haven’t received an answer. The shop is in a different state from me, I can’t just go there a lot and see if anyone ever comes by. Is there any organization/agency that could help recover property?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Have you tried looking up the obituary for the deceased? That might give you additional contact information or some idea of it. I would be really careful not to end up emailing a direct relative about your property though. Aim for the lawyers who handled the will etc, maybe ask the funeral home if they know the law firm handling the estate. DO NOT email a dead person’s kid asking for it. That should be common sense but that one graveyard letter on this site makes me feel like I need to restate it!

    2. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

      This is where a Facebook local marketplace group is useful, at least in my small nosy town. Somebody generally knows someone with information

    3. pancakes*

      Check to see whether the state where they died has an online directory where you can look up who is the executor of the estate.

    4. WellRed*

      When my brother a mechanic with his own small shop passed, we would have been happy to connect people with their property, especially since everything needed to go somewhere. Though it helps if you live in the community and know people all is not lost.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Contact the court in the county where the person lived. They can give you basic instructions on how to file a claim against the estate. If you only try to contact the executor or relatives or other people involved in the business, you may never get an answer. Go to the court to preserve your claim. There may be a deadline, so move quickly.

      If the property is worth more than a few thousand dollars, it may be well worth your while to hire a lawyer to assist. Use search terms: StateName lawyer referral, and call the number. Based on what you’ve written here, this sounds like it should be a straightforward matter for any lawyer.

      1. Clisby*

        Yes, at least in the US these often are probate courts. There could be other names, though.

  48. (Re)New Again*

    I’m a little late to the party today, but I’m just getting back into the professional working world after some time away, and feeling a little insecure. Aside from Ask A Manager (love the site, love Alison), could anyone recommend a source like a book or text that outlines modern workplace norms and etiquette?

    I am afraid that I will be so out of practice that I’ll end up treating my colleagues like friends instead of colleagues. Thank you all.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I don’t have any book recs, but a good rule of thumb is to stick with general small talk with coworkers:

      -books/TV shows/movies
      – general weekend plans

      As you get to know your coworkers better, follow their lead in terms of topics, depth and length of discussion, tone, etc. I think the colleague level of friendliness will come back to you once you’re back in the workplace!

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I don’t have a link but I do have a lot of sympathy! It varies a lot among offices too.

      Friends vs Coworkers:
      -No controversy, No extremes, Minimal personal life
      For controversy, avoid anything that would start a fight or have strong opinions on, ie politics, religion, etc. If it does come up don’t be polarizing (“All people who voted X are demons!” vs “Oh I didn’t agree with that candidate’s policies”). For extremes, avoid anything super sad, workplace is not the best place to bring up that shooting at the hospital last night. People at work don’t want to start crying etc. That can go the other direction too, save the super gushing “I can’t believe how wonderful my new partner is” for your friends. At work its more “I had a nice first date last night and I’m looking forward to seeing them again” and less “OMG IT WAS AMAZING”. Which brings to point 3, minimize personal life. Coworkers do not want to know all the dirty details of your fight with your spouse, your intimate life, your kids bowel movement journey, etc. “George’s potty training has been a struggle” is the max detail you should share, if that. Final thought – also check your language a lot more with coworkers than friends. Swearing is okay in some offices but I’d avoid it if at all possible until you really have the lay of the land.

      1. Lady Danbury*

        I wouldn’t even talk about first dates at work. The last thing you want is for your coworkers to have a front seat to your dating life, especially if most of them are coupled. As someone who had been the only or one of the few singletons in the past, I’ve noticed that people tend to project a lot onto your dating life based on their own situation/preferences/judgments/etc. and you don’t want to open the door for your dating life to become watercooler conversation. If you want to share about an activity, I’d just say I went to dinner at the new restaurant or a gallery opening, without saying it was a date. If/when it becomes a pretty steady thing, then I’d feel more comfortable sharing.

  49. Caro*

    Phone charger was stolen from my work desk at some point overnight. I’m pretty angry and feel violated at the moment because someone stole a bottle of painkillers from my desk drawers a few months ago. I could probably request a new set of drawers with a working lot, but I spent so much time and effort cleaning up my current set that I don’t want to have to do it all over again should the “new” one be as gross as the ones I started out with…. Just wanted to commiserate here I guess :( Has anyone’s HR ever caught a petty thief btw?

    1. Lab Boss*

      Sympathy. We had a petty thief taking headphones and chargers, and HR’s response was to remind us all that the company wasn’t responsible for your personal belongings. It sucks that it falls on you but you can consider getting a small lockbox, they’re not that expensive- if these are just opportunistic thefts nobody’s going to take the time to pick that lock or steal the whole box to break it open somewhere.

    2. Raboot*

      I don’t think there’s anything to be done other than get locking drawers. Certainly nothing that takes less effort than cleaning new drawers. Not sure what HR could do honestly.

    3. Not a cat*

      I had cash stolen from my wallet, which was in my non-lockable desk drawer. I suspected someone in particular. I put a note in my wallet, addressed to the person telling them not to steal. The person left mid-day (without formally quitting) and never came back. I told HR after the note incident and they just shoulder shrugged.

    4. Self Evaluation Anxiety*

      I haven’t had any of my stuff stolen, but my coworkers have had things stolen overnight (over-the-counter medications, snacks, knickknacks, etc.).

      I keep most of my personal things the a lock-able locker that’s next to my desk. Anything I leave out is only cheap/easily replaced stuff.

      HR hasn’t caught anyone.

  50. Art3mis*

    I started a new job six weeks ago and it’s not going well. It’s fully remote, which is fine, my previous job was fully remote too. There’s been very little communication about expectations, goals, company/department organization, bonus structure, and there’s been no training plan at all.
    Part of the problem is that my manager changed almost immediately. My first day I met with my then manager for about 15 minutes after orientation and she told me she was changing roles and the new manager hadn’t yet been identified. The new manager was announced the following week and started as my manager the Monday after (so the Monday of my third week). Other than showing me how to clock in and out in the time card system and assigning me some online training classes, I didn’t have any other interaction with old manager. Not once did she or anyone else check in on me to ask how things were going, how I was liking the job, did I need anything, etc. I got a survey from HR after my first week, but at that point, it’s hard to really say because things are still super new.
    I had my first 1/1 with New Manager last week and told him that I wasn’t sure things were going to work out and why. He apologized and said that I kind of fell through the cracks because of the transition and everything. But, nothing has changed and he didn’t say what he was going to change either.
    I’ve really only had one coworker training me and it’s in addition to his regular work, so he doesn’t always have time. He’s also been on PTO and didn’t leave me anything to do while he was gone. I didn’t know he was going to be out so I didn’t know to ask either.
    I started applying elsewhere about three weeks ago. I’ve only had one response and that was to the very first application I put in and the day after I applied and I’ve heard nothing since. Going back to my old job is not an option, my old boss left herself not long after I did and things are just imploding over there.
    I don’t know what I’m looking for here. Is this normal? With the exception of my last role, which is a whole other post, I’ve mostly been in jobs that had some kind of formalized training. I’m not really used to being flat out ignored as a new hire. Am I wrong to start looking already? From my point of view they have a 90 day probationary period, which they clearly pointed out when I started, and if I was slacking this much, they would cite that to fire me without a second thought, so I don’t see why I should give them any lee way I know I wouldn’t be given.

    1. Lab Boss*

      It sounds like your new boss acknowledged you got overlooked but didn’t do anything about it- maybe he doesn’t care, maybe he’s still just swamped and forgetting you, maybe he assumed that you had gotten off to a rocky start but that you’d managed to get up to speed and no further action was needed. Ideally he’d have followed up more, but have you been specific about what you wish he would do for you/what gaps you think you have in your onboarding? If he’s new to management and in over his head, you might need to spell out what you want to happen rather than just flagging the problem and waiting for him to take action.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes, I second all of this. Some ideas of specifics to ask for:

        – more frequent one-on-ones (weekly might be good because you and your manager are both new, and you don’t want to be forgotten about again)
        – are there other coworkers who can train you in addition to the one coworker, so you can get up-to-speed faster and you aren’t dependent on one person’s availability?

        Because you’re in a probationary period, I think the best course of action is to apply for jobs AND try your best to make this current job work out.

  51. emmers*

    Has anyone every had a come to Jesus meeting with their grand boss and substation changes were made? A coworker of mine finally spilled the beans to our managers manager about how things have been since our manager moved 4 states over to remotely manage our team, a team that is local and onsite 75% of the time because our main work product is coordinating and facilitating in person hands on learning events. And now my grandboss wants to meet with me off campus for a heart to heart and I’m unclear about how straightforward I should be with her. I started this position right as the world was shutting down and I don’t have a great grasp on her other than the fact that she prefers fluff over substance on occasion and that she is very hands off. I feel like it’s a real gamble, but my coworker has already been like yep this is a hot mess and I want to support them, as they are threating to quit if things don’t change.

    1. Lab Boss*

      I’ve had that kind of meeting, but both times it’s been for a job I’d had for a long time and with an upper manager I knew well and knew they really did want the brutal unvarnished truth. You’ve got some red flags about that approach, it sounds like. In your shoes, I would consider focusing on being extremely factual and focusing on provable impacts on your work. “It’s bad that Manager is so hands off and isn’t available late in the day so we’re stuck sitting and doing nothing” might be true but might be TOO real, compared to “Here are a list of times that projects had to wait 2 or more days while we waited on Manager to reply to an e-mail about it.”

    2. Alexis Rosay*

      I had that meeting with a boss (actually as a group with other coworkers who were upset), and things did change for the better, and I stayed at that workplace for several more years. One of my biggest takeaways was that problems that seemed obvious to me–which I assumed the boss was aware of ignoring–she actually was totally oblivious to. She was upset by the conversation, but she also thanked us for speaking up.

      Caveat: I had worked for that boss for a two years already when I had that conversation and I knew that she was not a vindictive person. I went into the conversation with zero concern that she would retaliate in any way. I know that does not apply to all bosses, so I wouldn’t advise anyone to do this without being similarly sure of their relationship and their position.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      It sounds like the grandboss is trying to confirm your coworker’s version of things, possibly to get ready to take action, so to me that’s a big opportunity to be up front about the problems. She may be hands off generally but if she suspects (or has been told) she’ll lose staff over this, she may be willing to do something about it.

      I agree with the advice to keep it simple and direct about the work impacts (e.g. manager can’t observe events or provide feedback, hasn’t been available to answer questions, can’t provide the necessary on-site support because they’re remote). The fluff part can be how much you enjoy the job (if that’s true), which doesn’t soften the message about your manager but does signal that you’re wanting to stay and see things improve.

  52. Goose*

    It’s annual review time! My boss rightly pointed out that I can get too independent and need to work on advocating for myself when I need help and sharing my accomplishments/what I’m doing more regularly. None of this comes naturally to me. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to practice these skills/could point me to a PD opportunity that could help me grow them? Money is available. Thank you!

    1. Garden Pigeons*

      Asking for help and sharing accomplishments are separate skills – different people will find each difficult.

      Some things that might help:

      – for some managers I’ve prepared ‘status notes’ before weekly 1-1s – a single page on the progress of each project, what’s next, where do I need help, etc. This is a chance to both flag where you need help and record successes.
      – if your work is the sort where you can do team talks (either as a separate thing or a short slot in team meetings), that can help to share accomplishments and generally raise your profile?

  53. Echo*

    If you are a person with memory or attention issues (such as ADD/ADHD), what has your manager done that helped improve your experience or success at work? What did they not do but should have?

    1. ADD Mouse*

      I’m still waiting on an official diagnosis, but here goes:
      I’ve asked my manager to stop saying “no hurry, you can do it anytime.” I do realise that sometimes it’s not their job to set a deadline, but my brain needs someone else to have agreed to a “finished” date (even if I set it) or I will never do the thing. Manager is very easygoing in manner so I need to be somewhat proactive about this. (And no, setting internal deadlines that only I know about doesn’t work, because if only I know, my brain won’t take them seriously.)

      I’m best at “please do this right away”, to be honest, but not all tasks are like that.

    2. Emm*

      My manager tends to call me in for a meeting about one thing, and then talk about eight other things for an hour while I sit in a cloud of doom, knowing I’ll forget everything she said as soon as I walk out the door. So I write everything down! When I get back to my desk, I reorganize my notes into an outline or agenda that helps me know what I need to do. It’d be helpful upfront for my manager to send emails with updates or project outlines, but…alas.

    3. Peppa*

      Regular check ins. Like I do better with short check ins on a more frequent basis (better 30 minutes every week than 1 hour every other). I want communication and to make sure we are on the same page. Also, my brain responds to knowing I have a meeting with him like I have an essay due. I kick things into a higher gear when I have to be more accountable.

    4. Minimal Pear*

      -writing down thorough instructions on how to do certain important things–obviously it’s not feasible for every job duty, but for the stuff that’s both vital and complicated it helps a lot
      -giving me instructions and pausing with plenty of time to takes notes, as the physical process of notetaking really helps me remember
      -having me be the one to write SOPs, etc. because writing the instructions for others really helps
      -check-ins every other week and in general lots of back-and-forth communication/keeping up to date
      -consistent deadlines (a number of things I work on are due on certain days every month)

    5. ecnaseener*

      Giving general timeline expectations for tasks with no hard deadlines, so I can treat those as hard deadlines for myself = good.

      Butts in seats mentality = bad. ADHD brains need breaks when they need them, it’s not always predictable.

      Very long meetings = bad.

      1. ADD Mouse*

        Yesss. Presentee-ism is very bad for ADHD. Since we went back to clocking in and out, my focus has gone down because I’m trying not to think about when I need to go for lunch, how long till I need to clock out etc. I don’t think my boss cares so long as I take my breaks as legally required, but the time clock program throws a hissy fit if I don’t take lunch within the period it considers correct, and puts up error messages which I then have to manually adjust or my time worked won’t be correct.

        I have no clue how to raise “I don’t want to clock in and out” as a reasonable adjustment though. Because it doesn’t sound that reasonable even to me. It’s giving me anxiety.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Yeah, that’s tough if you’re hourly so really need to log all your hours.

          I set myself a daily 11:40 reminder to take lunch at 12, that might help take the pressure off to keep thinking about the time?

          1. ADD Mouse*

            I’m actually not hourly in the US sense. I’m in the UK, on a salary and don’t get overtime. But it’s stipulated in my contract that I will work a certain number of hours a week. I actually have no trouble working the hours, but I often get distracted and forget to clock in or out, especially at breaks. I can forget when I’m actually walking towards the terminal with my pass in my hand! And I’d love to be able to take my lunch late if I have a hyperfocus day and I’m in the zone and don’t want to stop (I don’t have to cover for anyone else’s breaks, so it wouldn’t matter in practical terms).

            Heigh ho. I guess I need to talk to my manager.

    6. Junimo the Hutt*

      My manager started giving me metrics to meet each month. I’d been tracking them privately while working under previous manager, who outright asked me “Why would you need that?” But the re-org happened and I moved to my current manager, he asked me to create a tracking document (he was pleased to learn I already had one that just needed a little updating). Now at the end of the month, I send him reports from that document since my work is largely unsupervised. It’s led to some end-of-the-month panic on occasion, but it’s also kept me focused. Also the one-on-one check ins have been a godsend.

    7. Dragonfly7*

      I have been asking for announcements, changes, etc. to be shared in writing for six years because my department has an alarming tendency to only pass along information through word of mouth. This hasn’t improved and is the main reason I am job hunting. If it is in writing, whether in an email, instant message, or my own notes, I can refer back to it later when my memory is faulty.

    8. AnonyMouse*

      ADHDer here. This is unpopular advice but your experience and success will mostly be on what you do for yourself, not what your manager does for you. You can definitely ask your manager to make small changes if they’re doing something that’s really messing you up (ex. asking your manager to email you requests instead of giving verbal instructions as you’re walking out the door for lunch) but for the most part, you’ll need to identify your weak points on your own and just adapt your own workflow to suit you.

  54. Extraordinary Popular Delusions*

    I’ve been WFH since March 2020, and likely will be for some time. My last job was an indescribable nightmare that literally shredded my sanity. I found a new role and was able to get out of the toxic situation, but I’m struggling with having to remain in the same literal environment. The best way I can describe it is if you think about the worst place you ever worked, and you got a new job but are expected to continue to do it at your terrible old office. Obviously, I rearraigned my surroundings and desk setup and have tried to get in the headspace of “new job” but I can’t move past the fact that I’m physically where “old job” happened. Due to the nature of the role, I have to have a secure ethernet cable so I’m literally tied to my current home office. I’m looking for input on recovering from toxic stress and how other people are able to effectively compartmentalize work/home. Thanks!

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Can you redecorate? Hang something on the wall behind your screen. Get a new set of coasters and a new coffee mug. New slippers/footrest. Visually and touch can cue your brain that something has changed. Scent can as well, new scented lotion or air freshener? I find rotating my desk every ~3months helps with the stuck in a rut feeling too, in my WFH office just so I am facing a diff wall lol. Longer ethernet cable might open up other rooms too, we have a 300ft one at my old office. Changing laptop background even can help reset. Sound – do you like any white noise generators or video game music while you work? Maybe mix it up a bit. mynoise dot net is great for that.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Also regarding splitting work from home while working from home, have a routine and stick to it! Wake up time, tea on the porch, then change clothes and log into work. Even WFH, have sweat pants that are now “work” only pants. Make that distinction. Post work I change clothes just like I would post work in normal times, shutdown the computer and then go do activities consistently like gym is 6:30 regardless of the work done. If you keep working past work hours you slide into that rut of always working but never productively.

    2. NewJobNewGal*

      I switched to a new WFH job and I saged my office. I bought a sage bundle and burned that whole thing into every corner of my office. For me, that helped with the emotional baggage.
      Then I did the same as you, I rearranged. But I also invested in some items to really personalize the space and make it less office-ey.

      1. Extraordinary Popular Delusions*

        I like this idea, I can see how it would be emotionally cleansing.

    3. Jora Malli*

      When you rearranged your workspace, how big of a change did you make? If you haven’t already, could you repaint the room or add new curtains or wal