open thread – July 22-23, 2022

It’s the Friday open thread!

The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on any work-related questions that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to take your questions to other readers.

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

{ 1,084 comments… read them below }

  1. Alexis Carrington Colby*

    How to proceed after initially asking the “with my role expanding, is there a plan to review my title and compensation that better reflect these responsibilities?” question? This would be after telling your boss you want to be promoted to the next level and where you want your career to grow. In my case, I told my boss I want to be promoted and where I want my career to grow, so he said he’s going to let me work more on the areas I want to grow, with the junior team members taking some of my smaller tasks. Additionally, there is no defined measurable achievements our company has to promote people.

    My actual question is, how do I basically say I only want these extra responsibilities if I get promoted? How much should I try to get a conversation around getting promoted with these new responsibilities before just taking it and taking those current responsibilities at my current level, and THEN bringing it up within 6 months (annual review) to make a case for a promotion?

    Which also begs the question of should you be promoted immediately with new responsibilities or given new responsibilities and ensuring you can perform them before making a case for a promotion?

    So after I ask “with my role expanding, is there a plan to review my title and compensation that better reflect these responsibilities?”, should I wait to actually do these new responsibilities once I’m promoted or given a promotion plan? How should I relay that? Maybe: “I’m a little wary of taking on the work of a higher role without having that title and pay. I don’t mind getting trained and helping out, but I want to make sure that if I’m doing more of the work of that position, or doing it for more than a short time, my title and pay reflects that.”

    1. hamsterpants*

      Define timelines and success criteria for each step. As you discuss with your boss, write it down. I like to share my screen for this kind of discussion to avoid any plausible deniability. Then share your notes and schedule the follow up meetings.

      Decide now what you will do if your responsibilities increase but the date for your raise comes and goes.

      1. New Mom*

        This is really good advice. I’ve seen it at my company where people just get more and more work dumped on them with no compensation. I was forced to take on an entire new department, and it is not a department that can help with my actual work, its completely different and not taking any work off my plate, just adding and my boss was offended when I asked for compensation for it. Pretty demoralizing. But unfortunately my company still pays way better than competitors and gives much, much more generous PTO so I had to just accept it and now I’m in my really busy season and unfortunately have a new direct report who needs my support for a whole new set of issues.

    2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      If you don’t get a promotion within X time, I assume you’ll look for a different job? If that’s the case, then I think having the lower title + the additional responsibilities will position you better than having the lower title without those responsibilities. IOW, is having the responsibilities a resume-builder that you can leverage into a new position if this company fails you? If so, I’d take the responsibilities, do well, and ask for the promotion at the review time.

    3. Fabulous*

      Something a boss told me recently is that you generally won’t get a promotion until you are up-to-speed on the tasks and proving that you can do the work.

      When you want a promotion, follow the 70/20/10 rule – “individuals obtain 70% of their knowledge from job-related experiences, 20% from interactions with others, and 10% from formal educational events.” So you’re already working on the related experiences, but you’ll likely have to exhibit the interactions and training aspects as well to fully be considered for the official promotion. Chances are you’re going to have to do the duties for a while before the change will be effective.

      But regarding your question specifically, I like the script you have in your last paragraph. Maybe add something about developing a specific timeline so you have deadlines and specific dates to shoot for to align everyone’s expectations when when things should start happening.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Ugh I hate this framework (no fault to you, I’ve heard it too) – and it leaves employees very vulnerable if you’ve already been doing the job for a certain amount of time at the lower rate of pay, without the official title or the pay. Companies used to invest in training workers, now they expect workers to invest in training themselves :(

        1. Fabulous*

          Yeah, totally agree with this. Shortly after my boss gave me this insight into this management method, our org changed its promotions process and now employees can’t even be promoted in-role anymore. You have to apply for a totally separate role. So unless someone on your team in a higher version of the same role as you leaves, you’re SOL unless you want to move somewhere else in the org.

        2. Fran Fine*

          Yeah, I’ve never seen this play out in any company I’ve worked for, thankfully, because I get promoted a lot and would not be doing the job without securing the additional pay increase and title change first, lol. That just seems like a surefire way to get used these days.

      2. Ginger Pet Lady*

        I also absolutely HATE that mentality that “you won’t get promoted until you’re already doing the job” – for a couple reasons:
        1. Company gets higher level work out of employees without compensating them properly.
        2. Company expects employees to somehow train themselves and learn new tasks and responsibilities – and do it perfectly to avoid ruining their chances of being promoted! – without the company taking any responsibility for training employees.
        3. There is absolutely no guarantee that once you start doing the higher level work the promotion and pay will EVER come through. The company has zero motivation to pay you more when they can get more from you at a lower pay.
        Not sure where you got that “rule” you’re talking about. Seems completely made up. But just for funsies, let’s pretend it’s real and the percentages are accurate. If it is real, do you think the order matters? Do you think, for example, that people should learn to drive a car by spending 70% of the training time first driving without supervision, then 30% driving with someone alongside them interacting with them, and then finally 10% of the training time in a classroom learning the rules of the road? Seems silly, doesn’t it? That’s why *before* we let new drivers on the road, they need the formal learning and the training support of having an instructor (or parent) with them. Sequencing and training matter, even if you accept the premise that it’s a small percentage.
        With a promotion, should be the same. Someone gets promoted, gets training in how to do their job, peer or mentor support for a bit, and **then** can do the new role effectively.
        So again, not realistic to expect people to do the job BEFORE they have the job.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          Great points GPL!

          I’ll also add #4 (or 3b), which I’ve been bit by before.
          Even if they do come through with the promotion because you’ve been in a more junior position, and because though you’re performing the responsibilities of the new position but likely without the normal training, plus of some nonsense about pay grades and arbitrary raise caps some employers not offer you the same compensation as someone coming into the position as a new hire.

          So, you, the employee, may be striving to pick up lots of new responsibilities and doing them well enough for the company to want to hire you for the role. But instead of getting a salary of say, $100,000 which is the norm for that higher role, they only will offer you $80,000. Which may be more than what you’re making now, but is not the going rate for that higher responsibility position. You may not have even wanted that expanded, harder role for that lower rate and wouldn’t have bothered striving for it. And if you do accept it, reasoning something is better than nothing and heck you’re already doing that job, then every. single. raise, bonus, compensation-based perk is going to be calculated based on a compensation rate that’s 20% less than what the pay for that position should have been.

          You’ll never make up the difference in that role with that company.

          1. Hannah Lee*

            And when I was bit by that … getting offered less than what I should have been offered with the “official” promotion, I took it. But mentally I shifted gears.

            I figured a) the company, my manager were okay with stringing me along, implying if I picked up XYZ and did it successfully, I’d get promoted to Sr Position without telling me that I wouldn’t be getting the current Sr Position pay and b) if they thought that I was only worth 80% of the pay of that position, I was only going to give them 80% of my effort for that position, instead of the 110% I’d been giving … fair’s fair, right? 80% for 80% (and my 80% was equal to 100% of the other Sr Position people in terms of quality and output, so it’s not like I was slacking by normal standards; I was just no longer going to kill myself, or my team, for the heck of it)

            And then I started focusing on what I needed to do to find a new position out of that company, and within a year I had. One that was much less stressful, and paid me what I was worth.

            Also, I filed away in my “how to be a good manager” toolkit the knowledge that a great way to DEmotivate a previously very highly motivated conscientious employee is to “promote” them in title and responsibilities, but then make it clear you don’t value them enough to compensate them the same as all the other people doing the same job. (and bonus demotivating points if the newly promoted employee is a different, less privileged demographic than all the other higher paid people)

        2. River Otter*

          What you are arguing is that people should be hired into a role that they have never done before and don’t know how to do. That’s not how it works when applying to a new job at a new organization and that is not how it works when applying to a higher level role in the same organization. If you don’t have the experience to demonstrate that you can do the job, you don’t get the job.
          As with applying for new jobs at new organizations, you should have at least some percentage of the skills listed for the role which can be either because you have directly done those responsibilities or because you have done different responsibilities with applicable skills.
          Jobs are not like college classes. In college, once you have demonstrated that you have mastered the material in calculus one, you go onto calculus two. That is not how jobs work. You don’t get promoted into teapot painter 2 just because you have mastered all the material in teapot painter 1. You have to be performing in an exemplary fashion as a teapot painter 1 and be performing some of the skills in teapot painter 2 BEFORE you get promoted into teapot painter 2.

        3. New Mom*

          oh I can add one:
          4. IF and when you do finally get the promotion, you are then required to take on MORE responsibilities to make the pay increase “worth it” to the employer.

        4. Books and Cooks*

          I mean…all rules are “made up,” aren’t they?

          It sounds to me like what Fabulous is referring to is one of those general guidelines often given in business- or life-advice books or seminars. They’re just meant to be helpful things to keep in mind to help you make decisions or organize your life or plan your time, and are generally more philosophical than they are actual set rules. (Like “the 80/20 Rules,” that says 80% of outcomes come from 20% of causes, or “the Rule of 72,” which is a way to calculate how long it will take to double an investment.) Personally, I think it sounds rather interesting, and I’d certainly agree that for me, in my previous jobs and in my career, it’s fair to say that 70% of it I learned by just doing, 20% being coached, and 10% through reading books (or advice columns) or other materials designed specifically to help people improve at whatever task.

    4. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      At OldJob my boss and I had to come up with a professional development plan and new title and job description for said title (since one did not exist). She had me write up the description, and promotion plan. Once I had that and she agreed, it was sent to HR to approve.

      To get to the point for you, I’d definitely have written down a new job description, and if you’re doing those things, then ask the boss when the title change and new salary will go into effect.

    5. MicroManagered*

      I really like the way you phrased it except I’d change “is there a plan” to “what is the plan”? I think it’s perfectly fine to say “I only want these extra responsibilities if there is a concrete plan to have this reflected in my job title and of course, my compensation, within a reasonable timeframe.”

    6. River Otter*

      Realistically speaking, you have to be performing at the higher level before you can get the promotion. That doesn’t mean you have to be performing 100% at the higher level, but you do have to be performing more than 0% at the higher level.
      Think of trying to get a promotion as though you were applying for a new job. If you can meet 60% of the description/higher level duties, you should apply/ask for a promotion.
      I would separate that conversation from asking for a raise. You should be better compensated as you take on higher level duties.

    7. Not that kind of doctor*

      Naturally, this will depend on how your workplace will react to you holding the line, but the script you have at the end is exactly how I’d handle it with my boss, and in fact I’m navigating something similar right now. My boss and her boss are amazing and supportive, but the head of our group has a long history of trying to make any change of duties or promotion-like thing contingent on tacking on WAY more work than is justified, and I’m just not going to let that happen. I’m taking the rhetorical approach that me shifting duties solves a problem that they need solved, and I’m interested in doing the new work, but it has to be a change for the better for me. Dangle the carrot of you being able to do these things they need done. If you’re pretty confident they won’t fire you or just give the work to someone else without further conversation if you decline, you have leverage: if you don’t take on the new responsibilities, they’ll feel the pain of having to find someone else to do it. Make it the easier choice to sweeten the pot for you.

      1. Alexis Carrington Colby*

        “you have leverage: if you don’t take on the new responsibilities, they’ll feel the pain of having to find someone else to do it. ”

        How do I say “no” though?

        1. River Otter*

          You don’t. Not if you actually want the promotion. Instead, you talk about is how your compensation is going to be changed since you will be performing at a higher level in the role that you have.

  2. Working abroad!*

    There was discussion a few weeks ago that no one cares about your experiences working abroad when you move back home. I care! Tell me your stories!

    What was the workplace culture like? Did you have funny or embarrassing culture shocks? How was it for your partner? What do you wish you had known?

    1. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I’m from the US and lived in France for a few years, as did my partner. It was… extremely challenging. The work culture is just so different. Without getting into all the details and turning this into the rant, things that would have literally gotten you fired in the US are commonplace in France. It was very sexist and racist (and by that I mean that both individuals displayed problematic behavior but also that the systems were set up against women and minorities). You also do not get any vacation days the first year you are employed and you don’t get paid for sick days unless you have a doctor’s note (both of these are laws to my knowledge). I was really shocked at that last part – I had never worked somewhere where your boss doesn’t believe that you are actually just too sick to come in and you need a doctor’s signature to prove that. My place of employment in particular also did not allow any work from home until I arrived. My boss allowed this, and whenever I’d come back from a work from home day, my coworkers would not believe that I was actually working. I ended up sending a million emails for silly reasons every time I had to work from home just to prove to everyone that I was working. HR was also a mess – over half the months that I was there, I got paid incorrectly (same thing for my partner). They also don’t have to pay you within a reasonable timeframe of working, so I got paid 2-3 months after I had actually worked.

      In terms of living there, well, it was also challenging. It’s a very hard culture to integrate into. The other expats I knew were either stay-at-home spouses, were in school, or had their own businesses, so it was hard to find a community dealing with the things we dealt with. Because of the widespread sexism and racism, things that shouldn’t happen to you happen all the time. For example, when we first arrived, we went into a store that had a sale on. It was a clear 2 for 1 kind of deal. They wouldn’t give us the deal even though the people ahead of us got it. They just refused. Stores would refuse to give me a loyalty card. That sort of thing happened a lot.

      A lot of people have great experiences in France, but some don’t, and I was definitely in the latter group.

      I’ve also lived in Ireland for a few years and the experience is so much more positive. It’s all the good things of working in the US plus more vacation and better healthcare options.

      1. not a doctor*

        Wow, I NEVER would have guessed the French work culture was like that. No vacation days for a year?? No sick days without a note?? OMG.

        1. Been There*

          I think it might be because your vacation days are calculated based on how much you’ve worked the year before? That’s the system we have in Belgium, but with special systems in place for people just entering the workforce.

      2. j'ai eu de la chance*

        Hmm, I work in France and have 10 weeks holiday, also in the first year, so I don’t think this is universal.

        I also work with an almost entirely female team and our workplace is anything but sexist.

        And the work cantine serves cheese plates, as you might expect.

        1. Expat in FR*

          Not having vacation in the first year of a job in France is NOT the norm. It’s actually illegal. Also we get a minimum of 5 weeks of paid vacation here. You may need a doctor’s note to get sick leave, but there is unlimited sick leave. I have worked here for 13 years and wouldn’t trade it for the US for anything. Amazing work-life balance, fully subsidized healthcare, and guaranteed paid maternity leave.

          1. GreatMindsThinkALot*

            Was just about to say that, I also worked in France (though about 15 years ago now!) and that was the case for me, got my annual leave straight away and also could take a few hours here or there for personal errands without using my annual leave.

            Sick leave for me did require a doctors note, which was a bit annoying but I had a doctor surgery nearby who would always just write me a note for 5 euro without needing an appointment.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, there used to be someone from Paris in my chat room and she had tons of annual leave. I remember a conversation we had regarding employer PTO where she called the US “barbaric” in this regard.

      3. Linda*

        My sister and her husband have been living in Paris for 3 years and their experience with racism and sexism is pretty similar to yours. They are both POCs and the racism is so much more blatant and acceptable in France than the US that it’s hard for them to live with. They are in the process of moving back to the US, not just because of the racism, the other big reason is financial. They both took pay cuts moving from NYC to Paris but the cost of living is higher and there are fewer career opportunities for both of them, so it’s just not worth it for them to live there.

      4. Kate*

        I have worked abroad in both Belgium and France (amongst other places) and I would echo a lot of this (although not the days off)

        I speak French like a native, so I was not expecting the level of culture shock that I had. I would say that after three years in each, I never quite adjusted to it.

        The racism is shockingly real, the ableism too. In general, I would say both countries have a very rigid idea of what it means to “be” Belgian or French, and minorities of any kind do not fit that norm.

        On the sick days thing— I found it more nuanced than portrayed here. At least in Belgium, a doctor’s note is required because your company legally HAS to give you the time off required by the doctor. I wound up off two weeks because of a sprained knee, which is wayyyyy more than I would ever have in North America, but it was wonderful to have that time to heal and not be expected to haul myself into the office— by law.

      5. Books and Cooks*

        “…things that would have literally gotten you fired in the US are commonplace in France. It was very sexist and racist (and by that I mean that both individuals displayed problematic behavior but also that the systems were set up against women and minorities).”

        My husband and I found this was the case in England, as well. He had a coworker at one place who was married to an African woman, and when the company’s owner found out, he and his second-in-command started actively trying to get the man to quit (and looking for reasons to fire him in case he didn’t). A female employee and a friend had tried on swimsuits during their lunch hour one day and taken pictures of each other to help make decisions, and another male employee took the phone off her desk, copied the pictures, and emailed them around–he set one as his screen background, too. No consequences at *all.* At another workplace, management reacted with laughter at the idea of hiring a non-white person, and basically told my husband to forget it when he tried to do just that. Several employees there thought it was “hilarious” to use the N-word around my husband because it was so silly and stupid of him to be offended by it (he is white, but no decent person wants to hear that word, obviously, at least not in the office [I’m thinking specifically of rap concerts or something here, not saying it’s cool to hear it as long as it’s not in the workplace]). They didn’t just use it to describe people, either, but an actual color, which they delighted in calling “plain old n-word brown.” Female employees were regularly hit on by clients and coworkers alike; one Director had a reputation for being handsy with female employees (and the wives of employees, cough cough). There was nothing anyone could do about any of this.

        And this is all just off the top of my head, and only workplace-related incidents and not things I saw/heard socially or just out-and-about (and especially not things I saw/heard/heard about happening at our daughters’s schools, which, omg); I could remember and list a lot more if I had a few minutes. It always irritates me and makes me want to laugh when I hear people talk like the US workplace is a hotbed of open racism and sexism, and that other countries are so much more enlightened and those things don’t exist there. Yes, I’m sure a few of them are, but many more definitely are NOT.

        (And btw, I loved England, I still do, I spent a decade of my life there and would move back in a heartbeat. It’s not like *everyone* there is this way, at all. Just that it did happen fairly often, and it was shocking how few protections there are in the workplace and how much went on that would never, ever fly in the US.)

        1. Cordelia*

          I wonder if this whole thread is going to be “but that’s not universal, I think that’s just where you worked”. Because I am in England, and absolutely this would not fly in my workplace or anywhere I have ever worked, and there are protections and laws against it. We most certainly do have horrendous racism, but overt racism at work in the way that you describe is definitely not the norm everywhere, and neither legal nor accepted.

      6. Anon for this*

        My company was purchased by a large french company and while I can’t speak to their HR policies, man, were they all racist and sexist! Our CEO literally had to have conversations with their senior management about how you can’t say xyz about abc types of people. I was really appalled

    2. AnonSinceThisIsIdentifiable*

      I worked in Zambia for a year. It’s not a straight-up “I got a normal job in Zambia,” because I was working with an international NGO, but I was placed in a local partner organization, had a boss there, lived in company housing (not super common there, but this org had some), etc. (Mind you, something like 80% of Zambians don’t have formal employment, so there aren’t that many jobs around, and just moving there and getting a job might be weird/challenging/difficult, though maybe foreign education and skills would ease the process.)

      It was… kind of a hot mess, frankly? I’m not saying it wasn’t a good experience, because it was, but that way mostly despite my local partner org, rather than because of it. Zambians are, by and large, incredibly friendly people, and I was welcomed and taken care of and taught to do basic things like how to wash my laundry by hand.

      I was supposed to be teaching digital literacy and doing computer project work, reporting to two different… departments, I guess. Only the teaching one really panned out, and I spent a good six months showing up to the “office” (mud-brick building with a bunch of desks and computers — I was next door to the server room, which had open windows all the time. No cooling, nothing to keep the dust or bugs out. Computer equipment does not last terribly long in Zambia). My project work boss had literally no work for me to do, and the Dutch guy visionary who’d created the whole partner org had some ideas, most of which didn’t actually turn into concrete work to do. I did wind up setting up a Moodle instance for a local vocational school, but there wasn’t anyone there who had the technical know-how to help me make it accessible (and also the Dutch guy had this idea that it should be web-accessible rather than on the intranet and the students would all pay for it, and maybe I was 23, but I was pretty sure that people who’d never done online learning or teaching were not going to pay to adopt some new tool they had no idea how it worked, and tldr no one did ever use it).

      The teaching was much more rewarding. I had adult students who were smart and motivated, but there were a lot of challenges, too. Most of my students had never touched a computer, so I had to start with skills like “how to use a mouse,” and figure out how to explain concepts that I’d understood for as long as I could remember. I had to learn to change my accent so the students could understand me, even though we were all native or near-native English speakers (mind you, the students didn’t necessarily have the vocabulary, for example, color words). The goal was for the students to get the International Computer Driver’s License, which IMO is a badly-designed exam, particularly for an INTERNATIONAL test where the students may not know English as a first language. The language and format of the questions was horribly dense and complex, and not set up in a way to accommodate things like not remembering what color is red. Also the program wasn’t organized enough to get me certified or even have me see the test questions, so all I knew about the test was from people who’d tried to take it in the past.

      And then the local partner org went bankrupt halfway through my time there, which made my housing/social/everything situation kind of unstable, but the school kept operating (even though my boss wasn’t getting paid), so I kept up with the teaching part. It was honestly pretty liberating, because it meant I no longer felt obligated to show up and not do anything useful at the project work part of my job. I picked up a bunch of random stuff that people needed done, which was in some ways much more fulfilling.

      1. AnonSinceThisIsIdentifiable*

        You asked about culture shock.

        The pace of life is very different in Zambia. Everything happens more slowly, and generally does not start “on time.” The minibus driver will tell you that he’ll pick you up at 7am, and might wander in by 9am. People showed up when they felt like it, and wandered off to do errands or whatever when they needed to. I needed to get used to a lot of uncertainty, and events were generally not really planned.

        Many people are extraordinarily poor, and even people who are “rich” live without many of the luxuries Americans take for granted. I saw one washing machine my entire time there. Most people I knew cooked over charcoal braziers.

        1. AnonSinceThisIsIdentifiable*

          One should expect to pay to use a public toilet (usually 20-40 cents) and still may need to provide your own toilet paper.

          Very few spices are used in cooking; the difference is usually made up with massive amounts of salt. I would sometimes eat with boarding students at a nearby school, and they would liberally dump salt on a dish I already found plenty salty.

          Zambia very much has a culture of “might as well ask!” This can range from anything to “Can I borrow your bicycle?” to “Will you marry me?” I got a lot of marriage proposals from random strangers.

          Zambians have a very different relationship to bodyweight than US/Americans do (although this is changing somewhat, with exposure to western media). “You look so fat!” is a compliment, intended as an indicator that one is looking in good health. That one is pretty rough to take for a woman socialized in the US. (Tangentially, “Have you eaten?” was one of the greetings I learned in the local language.)

          The age demographics in Zambia are bizarre. While HIV/AIDS is now well-controlled via medication (and foreign aid! That money is literally saving lives every day!), in the 70’s/80’s/90’s it ran rampant throughout the country, and as a result there is almost no one over the age of 40 (would be 50 now). This leads to a leads to a near-total lack of middle management and people with significant life/workplace experience, and, I suspect, is part of why my partner org went bankrupt.

          1. AnonSinceThisIsIdentifiable*

            My male American colleagues found themselves pursued romantically in a way they were completely unaccustomed to. Our NGO bosses warned us initially to never give out our phone numbers, and my female colleague and I were like, “Don’t give anyone our phone number. Gotcha.” and the male colleagues… did not take that advice to heart. Three months later the guys came complaining to us about the legion of women blowing up their phones all the time (it’s very common in Zambia to call and then immediately hang up as a way to request a call-back; the person initiating the call pays for it, and it’s free if no one picks up), and she and I went, “Well, they told us not to give our numbers out…”

      2. Hlao-roo*

        Thanks for sharing this experience! I have never thought about changing my accent so I could be more easily understood (I’ve also never lived outside the US). Good for you for figuring out that change would make teaching (a little bit) easier.

        1. AnonSinceThisIsIdentifiable*

          Well, it was that or literally write EVERYTHING I wanted to say on the chalkboard, because the first week I might have been speaking French for how well the students understood me. (And I did, even at the end of my time there, rely heavily on writing as well.)

      3. Heather*

        I also worked for an NGO in Africa and it was also a hot mess. The NGO, not the country I was in. I felt like they were taking a lot of money from donations, both within their country and from overseas, and just squandering it. Not on purpose or out of corruption, just out of disorganization.

    3. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      It took me a long time to realise that while in NZ bring eager to work to the point of workaholism is seen as good, in London at least while expectations were the same you weren’t meant to look like you were working hard; things were meant to just happen with little effort. If course people work hard, but it’s performed differently, if that makes sense. (Also of course just my experience! )

      1. Heather*

        That is interesting and funny! I worked in Japan and felt like it was the way I think you’re describing NZ. People were constantly “busy! busy! in a hurry! busy!” They were performing normal amounts of work, but with a fair bit of showmanship.

        1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

          A Japanese-New Zealander I know said something similar to me about both cultures having a reluctance to take holidays from work! NZ has this reputation for being “laid back” but not necessarily in all areas. And I still struggle with a tendency to do that performative busyness malarkey.

    4. no arigato*

      I’m from the US and taught English in Japan for three years. The tl;dr version is that the stereotypical salaryman life you always see in the media is… actually completely realistic, for once. If anything, it’s actually downplayed compared to reality.

      Living there was amazing (other than the inevitable culture clashes and the casual racism), and I know there are plenty of people who can hack the working culture, but you couldn’t pay me enough to work for a Japanese organization again.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        I have a Japanese friend who lives here in the US, and she doesn’t want to work for a Japanese company even here.

    5. Well...*

      I worked in Spain for a few years and now I’m in the UK.

      The workplace culture in Spain was amazing. People were super friendly, I was often pushed to take more time off and go on trips to see things. Nobody cared about when you showed up or went home (except for one of my coworkers from Germany who was the only one weirdly tracking it). The institute was insanely productive given the emphasis on taking time to relax and recharge, far more productive than where I’d been working at in the US. My own productivity bumped up as well.

      Outside work I did feel isolated. It was hard to get to know people because I was constantly travelling and working, and the language barrier made it hard. I was older than most expats I met and had a more intense job, so that didn’t help. Once my partner joined me it got a lot better and we really soaked up the city life.

      Then COVID took out my last six months. The lockdowns were very hard, Spanish apartments in major cities aren’t meant to be where you spend all your free time.

      During COVID I moved to the UK, and that was also very hard at first. Difficult to meet people when you can’t leave the house, plus my partner and I were separated by a closed border (ah, the two body problem of international postdoc life). Now I’m really liking living in the UK. No language barrier means it’s way easier to socialize and I feel less isolated for sure. I also have another great working environment with great people. I can get more involved with EDI work here without the language barrier, and the EDI issues are closer to what I’m used to in the US. That’s a part of my job I missed a lot while I was in Spain.

      Anyways, overall I love living abroad. It’s not easy, but patience and acceptance of chaos goes a long way towards making the experience enjoyable. Also the stronger the support system you can cobble together, the better.

    6. Working abroad!*

      There’s a lot I like about Norway, like the excellent worker protection (employees have the right to take 3 consecutive weeks off in summer!) and how digitally integrated all the government services are.

      Culture shock: CVs generally include family status (marriage, kids) and a photo.

      Workaholism does not seem to be a thing in my field. It’s technically 37.5 hours a week, but people roll in late and leave early all the time. Maybe not surprisingly, customer service can be terrible! Talk to 3 people, get 3 different, totally made up answers. But sometimes you can keep trying until you get the fake answer you want.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Haha – this is so true! The biggest faux pas is scheduling a recurring meeting of some sort after, say, 13:00 on a Friday! Many an ex-pat leader has fallen into that trap – “looks like everyone’s calendar is free!”.

        I will note though that our productivity numbers are high; we just don’t care too much at what time things get done (need to complete in the evening after the kids are in bed? That’s totally fine), or where from…

    7. Antilla the Hon*

      I LOVED reading the comments. I live in the US (born and raised here). I am originally from a more populous state but had to move to a vastly rural state in a small rural town for my spouse’s niche job. It feels very much like a foreign country here! I am used to amenities like medical care, good grocery stores, good schools, a gym, restaurants, etc. We generally have to travel between 1 to 3 hours for these things. Everything here is subpar and I still can’t get over the trash strewn roadsides and how casual people are about throwing trash out their car windows (and even dumping piles of trash on other people’s property).

      People are generally nice but VERY clique-y. I have one friend here and then some hobby acquaintances. And it’s a very (VERY) weird job market here. I’ve never seen anything like it. The only large employer here seems to only hire family members and friends. And older experienced workers need not apply. I’ve been rejected from the company dozens of times. It seems like mediocrity is celebrated and there are a lot of meh-subpar employees and it’s pretty much impossible to get fired. But people like me (professional, skilled, adaptive, quality driven) cannot get a foot in the door. It is the most bizarre, hopeless place. That might explain why our town’s suicide rate is double (!!) the national average.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        You just described why I’d chew my own leg off rather than move back to my hometown.

        1. Antilla the Hon*

          Elizabeth West: Ha! That is the EXACT phrasing that I use! I say I’m like an animal caught in a trap and willing to chew my own leg off to escape.

    8. onyxzinnia*

      I lived in a small town in England for grad school and started my very first job at the town’s largest corporate employer after I graduated. So combine cultural adjustment with regular learning how to be a working professional adjustment.

      When I first started, I realized that every time someone got up for a tea, they asked everyone in the vicinity if they wanted a cuppa. I was too polite to say no, so I was drinking 8-10 cups of tea a day and wondering why my heart was racing at night until I made the connection. I also misheard our team “huddle” as “cuddle”, was rather disappointed the meeting was only a daily stand up that did not end in a group hug haha. I also remember being rather horrified by a company marketing campaign where you could nominate a peer to have cheerleaders pay them a visit to celebrate their health achievements. I don’t think this would fly in US work cultures.

      They take the divide between work and personal life seriously. Work is not such a core part of your identity. I was shocked as an entry level employee that I had 30 days of PTO, never seen again since returning to the US. You rarely saw anyone starting early or staying late at the office. There was however, a lot more pressure to go to happy hour with younger colleagues after work. I have memories of cider and badly singing UK pop songs

      One thing that I found interesting, higher education was kind of looked down upon despite living in a university town. Many of my colleagues had gone straight from school aged 16-18 to work at my employer. I refused to tell them I had a masters degree based on all the snide comments about university. I don’t know if this sentiment holds true or not across the UK because I ended up returning home a year later. I actually had a harder time trying to enter the US work culture after living abroad than I did working in the UK.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I’m from the UK but lived in the US for many years, but I’m back in the UK now.
        One of my colleagues recently asked me how the work culture was different in the US and I told her that people define themselves by their jobs much more in the US. And I like the more relaxed work culture here – if you’re in a big city in the US, you can get the impression that Americans like to look very busy just to seem important!
        Hustle culture us a lot stronger in the US than here – which can be both good and bad. There is definitely a lot more drinking with colleagues in the UK!
        The anti-education sentiment differs a lot depending where you are in the UK. Education was less valued where I grew up, but now I’m in a smallish and famous university city and you feel under-educated if you only have a BA, which I do.
        And the thing which fascinated me most about working with Americans is their willingness to make incredibly radical changes to their work and personal lives – to just pack up and move to the other side of the country to do something completely different. People in the UK don’t do this nearly as much, either because we are less adventurous or we live in a smaller country with fewer places to go – probably a bit of both!

    9. Parakeet*

      I’m from the US. I did a summer internship in a lab in Switzerland when I was an undergrad. It was…rather lonely, to start with. I read French fluently (even took a grad class in French lit at the local university while I was in high school!), but my speaking skills have always been mediocre at best, and combined with my social anxiety disorder, I tended to forget even the absolute most BASIC French on the spot when I had to say something. I did get very good at saying the sentence “Je voudrais un panini avec jambon et fromage, s’il vous plait!” (“I’d like a ham and cheese panini, please!”) at the panini shop near where I was staying. I went on a lot of walks through the city and various beautiful surrounding areas, by myself. The working environment was pleasant (and English was the primary language used at the lab, since people were from a number of countries with a number of first languages). My supervisor was a sweetheart and I used him as a job reference/grad school recommender for several years afterwards.

      I had arranged this internship all by myself, which I was very proud of, rather than through any kind of university-based study-abroad or work-abroad program. I almost ended up in a rather sticky situation because I didn’t realize until a few days ahead of time that they weren’t just going to set me up with dorm housing for the summer or something (like I said, I was an undergrad! I didn’t know how a lot of things worked!).

      Men were way more upfront about hitting on me on the street than at home, but also less aggressive when I turned them down. I was coming back into the city from a hike one weekend and had a very affable guy approach me and ask, in French, whether I would come back to his place for, uh, intimate relations with himself and his friend (he also offered to pay me, and asked, in different terms, if I was reluctant because of having not been intimate with someone of his race before). Interesting situation to navigate in a language you hardly speak lol. I also had a strange guy strike up a conversation while I was on one of my walks by the lake, hike with me for something like 8 miles talking with me in my halting French, and then try to get me to come back to his hotel room. Both of those guys did ask me a few times, but didn’t get mean or frightening or physical after I repeatedly told them no.

      It was a World Cup year. It was the summer. The building I was staying in had no air conditioning, and was right in the middle of a densely-populated working-class area. My choices at night were to either open the windows and deal with the full blast of post-game noise every time there was a game, or shut them and swelter and only get, say, 70% of the blast of post-game noise. I was ready to ban soccer by the time the Cup finished.

      I noticed more antisemitism there than at home (this was some years ago and I’m not sure this would be the case anymore for various reasons).

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Dang, I don’t know how I would have navigated that in English, let along French. I think my brain would have experienced a 404 error.

    10. Chilipepper Attitude*

      30 years ago my husband, 6-month old, and I (cis female) moved to the UK for his post-doc. At first, I was told I could not work because I did not have permission before I arrived, only my husband did. But then we learned that I had the same permissions he had by default. So I applied for part-time jobs.

      My rejections all started with “Further to your request …” and my reaction was, further, further to where? At first I thought this was some poorly worded English. Then I realized it was just different wording to me.

      But the really different stuff happened when I finally got an interview for a part-time receptionist job at a doctor’s practice. I think I had a phone screen with the office manager first, but soon I came in for a “meeting with the doctor.” It was in a very large conference room with the largest single table I had ever seen; I think there were at least 15 doctors there, with me sat at the head of the table. I’m really comfortable in interviews but still, looking down this huge table at 15 men in white coats was pretty intimidating. They spent what felt like 2 hours, but must have been under 1 hour, asking me every question under the sun about how medical care was managed in the US from payments to the use of stirrups in GYN exams (they don’t use them in the UK for routine visits)! They were apparently fascinated; I felt like I was on display.

      Eventually, they drifted closer to the actual job. I must have missed all their cues because they finally and awkwardly said, “well, we would have to pay you less than minimum wage because you did not take the 6-week post-secondary receptionist course so you probably don’t want the job.” I had a master’s degree! I did some quick mental math and realized after paying for the mandatory uniform and paying for the bus, I’d barely make any money – but my real goal was to do something other than SAHM so I said enthusiastically that that would work for me! So then they looked really unhappy and hesitatingly explained to me that they just could not hire me. I’d be the lowest member of staff but my education and nationality? put me socially above most of the staff and it would just cause all kinds of chaos as the staff would try to defer to me because of my social status. But they needed the staff to direct me, not defer to me. They just could not figure out how to navigate this so they could not hire me.

      Sadly, I never got a job while I was there.

      1. isigfethera*

        Reminds me of when my parents (both Drs) went to the UK to work in the 90s, they had to go through the accreditation(?) process. My dad got a formal letter notifying him that he had been approved, and apparently, scrawled on it in pencil, “P.S. The wife can work”

    11. New Mom*

      Thanks for asking!
      I’m American and I worked in South Korea for three years and in England for one year. I loved living in South Korea in my mid-twenties, it was a lot of fun. The work culture there is brutal though, employers expect work to come first before anything else. Sick days were not really a thing, and employers would make a really big deal if you had to be out even once. So for three years I took one morning off because I had to get a biopsy and it was the only time the English hospital would offer and my horrid manager called me over and over again demanding to know when I’d be back (even though I told her when I would be back before I left and returned within that same time frame). I was required to go teach with laryngitis, with head colds, with allergic reactions…
      A big workplace difference too is, from the American standpoint, you are usually rewarded if you find a way to do something more efficient that could save time and money for the company. In South Korea, it was considered disrespectful to make suggestions to a manager even if we were doing a process that was taking three times the amount of time and a SIMPLE change could solve it. Almost every expat worker I knew there had an experience of doing something in a weird, convoluted way and respectfully providing an efficient alternative only to be either reprimanded, have a manager react with anger or told to just keep doing it in the “makes no sense way and shut up”. There was also a strong culture around butt-in-seat, so even if your work was done you were not allowed to leave until close of business.

      But, minus managers, I found Korean people to be really polite, patience, and friendly. I’ve been gone ten years and I’m still friends with and in contact with people from my time there. They were patient with my fumbling Korean speaking skills, unlike how Americans are to English language learners. It was the safest place I’ve lived in my life, I was a woman alone there and I could walk home at night at 10pm and feel totally safe. It was such a freeing feeling that I cannot replicate in the states. And I was able to save enough money, due to low cost of living, that I went on TWO extensive multi-continent trips and paid for grad school out of pocket with no loans. And the food was amazing.

      In England, I found my job to be more similar to American student jobs. I found the English people I worked with and met to be very reserved even in the liberal city I was in compared to the US and Korea. In the US and in Korea I was able to make friends or at least have friendly acquaintances with people I worked with and in England it always felt like an impenetrable wall with people, which was hard for me.

      1. Despachito*

        Thank you all, that is extremely interesting.

        I have never worked abroad but there is much food for thought.

  3. PX*

    Suggestions for “get to know your colleagues preferred working style” activities/questions that I can do with a new team at our first in person meetup next week?

    My manager has given me free reign to come up with an activity that should take up about 1-2 hours. While I know many people here arent the biggest fans of strengthsfinder/personality type assessments, I’ve found them useful not so much for the output they actually generate, but the discussion that often comes with it (in the past some of those types of workshops have been great to help me understand why certain colleagues were the way they were, and how best to work with them vs. getting frustrated!). Current team was only formed about 10 months ago (I only joined last month), and the function area as a whole (business/process improvement) is also new to the company. The people so far seem fairly informal, friendly and sensible, so it doesnt have to be super rigid/formal.

    Unfortunately no budget, so needs to be free. Activities, questions that can go round the team, website quizzes etc – hit me with them all!

    1. metadata minion*

      How big of a team are we talking about? I think this would affect my recommendations slightly.

    2. metadata minion*

      Also, would it be possible to survey your group beforehand to see how they fall in the spectrum of “I hate all artificial icebreaker activities” to “I think it would be hilarious to build marshmallow and toothpick towers with my colleagues”?

      1. AnotherOne*

        and maybe make it voluntary for some things.

        pre-pandemic, my employer did a gingerbread contest for the holiday party. a couple of people opted to be involved from our office. i mean the result was terrible- but it was hilarious making it and seeing our solutions to the fact that none of us had a clue what the f- we were going.

    3. MGR*

      One activity I’ve done with new teams is to have the group craft a vision/mission statement for the team, or team values. For example, do you have a common understanding of how you prioritize work? Is it more important to do everything in the order it comes in, or are certain things more time sensitive? What is the value your team is adding to the larger company?

      For example, I took over managing a team where the previous manager was a terrible communicator. So as the manager, I decided that a key value of the team was going to be transparency so that information flowed better. I then had the team come up with two or three other values that they all agreed on.

      After that, you can talk about ways to put your mission or values into practice. What does that look like in the common scenarios your team faces?

      1. Gracely*

        No offense meant, but oh god how I hate crafting vision/mission statements with a team.

        Team values is a good idea, though.

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          sweet little baby Jesus do I as well! It is very committee-creating-a-camel to me and I’ve never seen it done right.

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

        Crafting a vision/mission statement should take some time and thought. When my grand boss started a few years ago, she did ask us to come up with values and a mission statement, but it wasn’t while sitting at a conference table for 2-3 hours. We had about a week to submit our thoughts and then she sifted through our responses to put a statement together.

    4. AnotherOne*

      I ditto that you need to have the temperature of the room. My group is really casual- I mean as group activity we often play bingo, which serves no purpose beyond determining that our entire group is terrible at understanding how you play bingo. (But it works well actually for fun way for people to relax. You can’t take yourself seriously playing bingo.)

      But we’ve done stuff like “NASA Exercise: Survival on the Moon” in groups. You really get to see how people think- and think/work in groups. (Sorta like an escape room but without the cost.)

      I know there are others like this but this one stayed in my head. (Probably cuz of intense arguing after about how X was wrong or Y was right.)

      Plus it works no many how many people you have, this would work.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        If you want the abstract knowledge of how the individuals in the team work on projects together etc as part of a get-to-know-the-players strategy, then I’d do a short abstract (and preferably fun) “project” — like surviving on the moon — to get things flowing.
        Or parallel play sorts of activities (e.g., I was on a team where we made magic wands with random craft supplies we brought in. It was something to do with our hands, it unlocked some creativity, and then we all had magic wands stuck in our cubes to wave when something was impossible, which was often.)

        I think the crucial thing to plan is having flexible time options, flexible intensity requirements to account for different people types, and giving yourself room to pivot if it doesn’t go well — or goes fabulously and you want to keep going.

        And is everyone new to each other? Is this a brand new team being onboarded? A mix of new and old people to the organization? Are YOU new to the organization? There could be existing culture or personalities that you may need some guidance on when deciding what to do.

        I’d save team missions and values discussions to another setting … or at least after the icebreaking time. Especially if there’s old dogs in the room, because then the whole thing could backfire and cement disfunction if they’re the loudest and the newbies are afraid to speak.

    5. Academic Fibro Warrior*

      I’m in higher ed so take my suggestions with a grain or six of salt. But one thing i like to do with my classes on the first day is ask them not just what their goals are but how do they think I can support them to succeed in terms of the class (i invite them to have more personal conversations privately and try to make clear that they don’t need to justify their needs because I trust them to know what they need.) It’s helpful because we start out with open communication, they start advocating for themselves in a situation where it’s easy to feel powerless, they start planning what to do before they get overwhelmed, and I can make adjustments in advance to activities and lesson plans. It also has reduced the number of students scrambling to get things done last minute when none of us have much time or bandwidth. Could this be adapted to find out what kind of peer support systems and checkins and the like your colleagues need or want to function effectively? Im thinking as well of my friend in tech who was consistently denied this opportunity and was left to mind read, but he needs clearly defined goals, processes, and structure to be productive (it also made his anxiety skyrocket to where he had trouble functioning sometimes). If he’d been able to have conversations about his job he would have likely been fine. Or at least better!

      I applaud your desire to do this! Just be aware that some ground rules up front to establish a culture of trust and collaboration or people may feel they have to overshare the why to be taken seriously. Some may anyway if they still have some trauma from prior positions that dismissed needs.

    6. Gracely*

      I mean…you could just literally ask people what their preferred working style is, and what that means for them in their day-to-day.

      As far as icebreakers go, I’m a fan of the question “If you could turn into any animal you wanted–but just one–what would it be?” because it leads to lots of discussion, and it’s non-political, non-ablest, etc.

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

        This is what I’d recommend. Just ask about working styles and work-related goals and stuff — brainstorm workflow and have an open honest conversation; if you want to get all official, whiteboard it out to so that everyone can see the big picture of how their style works (or doesn’t) within the business goals and group dynamic. It doesn’t really matter from a business perspective if someone’s personality is that they really hate telephone calls and video meetings if their job requires it, unless the manager is going to have a conversation there in front of the group about that person possibly “transitioning” out of their job.

        My biggest complaint about those strengthsfinder/personality type assessments is they aren’t really relevant to my employer or coworkers for the most part.

      2. The answer is Kombucha*

        I despise the animal question. I always answer “Kombucha.” Invariably someone will manager-splain that kombucha isn’t an animal and that gives ME information. I usually say that I enjoy irony. Of course, this probably labels me as difficult from the gecko (and yes, I know it’s “get go” but I enjoy the irony). Also these types of games can be torture for neurodivergent people. Please stick with non gimmick straightforward questions.

        1. Gracely*

          I think kombucha would be a fun answer.

          Also it’s not a game or gimmick to figure anything out about personalities or anything else from the question–it literally is just “what animal would you want to be if you could be?” You can just answer “human” if you don’t want to be anything else . Neurodivergent people are perfectly capable of answering the question, and plenty of us do enjoy this kind of question. The important thing is to not force anyone to discuss/provide their reason for their answer if they don’t want to.

      3. Workerbee*

        I’d name an extinct one so I wouldn’t have to answer any more of those types of questions,

      4. BookMom*

        I’d have to tread lightly on this. I want to be a house cat, but a new boss probably doesn’t want to hear my life priorities are napping in sunbeams, frequent snacks, and selectively interacting with other people. Ha!

    7. WomEngineer*

      If this is the team’s first time meeting up, I’d suggest saving time at the beginning for introductions (name, experience, education, hobbies, etc.).

      As for the activity itself, I’d reflect on what you want from working styles. I like the idea of making it a discussion. Just avoid singling people/personalities out and focus on modes of work that would be helpful to everyone.

    8. Irish Teacher*

      Would the VARK work? It’s a learning styles quiz rather than a working styles one, but the two things do have overlap. And it’s easily available online for free. My students enjoy doing the “younger learners” one and while it is utterly meaningless for some of them, others REALLY identify it. “Oh, THAT’S why I find Geography so difficult, because our Geography teacher keeps showing diagrams to explain everything and I got lowest on visual learning!”

      Actually, here is the adult version, so you can look at it (if you want to) and see if it might be any use: https://vark-learn.com/the-vark-questionnaire/

    9. Ginger Pet Lady*

      You could do something as simple as “move to this side of the room if you prefer slack to email, go to the other side if you prefer email” “Do you prefer meetings in the morning or the evening?” or “if that side of the room is a zero and that side of the room is a 10, how much do you love work phone calls? Go stand at that spot.”
      This doesn’t need to be the exercise itself, but you could use it to divide into teams or groups, form a line for lunch, etc. But it also gives people an idea of what their coworkers think about how things can be done.
      I would think these activities would work best in a group of 15-25 people.

    10. Anon for This*

      Please don’t do the personality/strengthsfinder assessments. Many are racially biased and I remember an incident where a POC colleague objected to participation in the ensuing discussion on the results on those grounds . While that discussion was fascinating, I don’t think that is what you want for a first meeting.

      Keep it light and fun.

      1. j*

        I know a lot of people object to these because they’re taken too seriously/used to make decisions when they’re psuedo science, but I don’t think I’d ever heard that they were racially biased or insensitive. Most of these tests seem to go out of their way to make every potential result into a positive. Would you feel comfortable sharing any of the specific concerns your colleague brought?

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          Oh they very much are. Racially and socioeconomically and probably otherwise biased on top of it. Very. Just the same way that standardized tests are biased against the same groups.

          1. j*

            Okay but how exactly? Standardized tests are purporting to measure aptitude which feels very different than a personality quiz where by definition there are no ‘wrong answers’.

            1. Irish Teacher*

              I don’t know the specifics and wasn’t aware of this, but…it’s hard to create anything that ISN’T culturally biased. Even the words used or how questions are phrased. And if a quiz say uses the “definitely agree, partly agree” typed wording, then somebody from a culture that values confidence is more likely to say “definitely agree” where somebody who is from a culture that values seeing both sides and listening to others and always accepting you might be wrong, even if both really do the thing to the same extent. Not sure which answer would give a “better” outcome, but it certainly wouldn’t be accurate for both people.

              Then there are cultures where positivity is strongly encouraged and people feel less comfortable admiting to negative emotions.

              I’m just looking at a quiz now where it says “I have excellent ideas.” Agreeing with that seems kind of…arrogant and I can definitely see people feeling they have to disagree regardless of what they truly believe. I don’t know if there are cultures where agreeing with that would be encouraged and would be seen as confidence rather than a “self-praise is no praise” sort of thing but if there is, then culture would have an impact there too.

              I could certainly see culture influencing outcome and making the results inaccurate.

    11. Hiring Mgr*

      Are you the manager of this team or another team member? Also, you mention they’re an informal, friendly and sensible group, so they may find it odd to spend two hours doing a personality test around their preferred working styles.. (what does that mean exactly anyway?). I’d just stick to something more fun/light..

    12. rosyglasses*

      I’m not sure exactly how this would work in a group setting because my recommendations would largely depend on the personalities of your team, but I love using 15Five (dot) com “Best Self Kickoff”. We do this with our teams when they are hired and it’s meant to help your manager and you get to know each other, strengths, ways to be managed or recognized, what work energizes you etc. I think those are really good questions that they have and they tend to not slide into the “why do I have to talk about all this personal stuff” and focus more specifically with how you bring yourself into the workplace.

  4. Goose*

    T minus 11 days until I get to go home from my summer long work trip! No more inconstant wifi! No more time zone issues! No more living out of suitcase! TGIF everyone!!

    1. House built by Jack*

      Congratulations!
      I am on a 2 month trip at the moment, also living out of suitcases, and I am yearning for my home. Next week for me:)

  5. ED in a small neighborhood of a big town*

    I have a staff member I may need to let go for performance/fit related issues. She will have plenty of warning and I hope to make this a mutual decision. However, this person is quite sensitive so regardless of how it happens I expect her to be somewhat upset. The problem? Her kids go to school with mine! I will have to continue to see her regularly and don’t want to create a situation where it is awkward anytime we see each other or where there are repercussions for the kids (hers or mine). I am sure she will see the situation as wholly my fault and generally I would be totally fine with her coming away with that impression despite the fact that much of the problem is get approach to the work but in this case I’m really worried about the dynamics going forward.

    1. hamsterpants*

      If you’re sure she’s going to be bad about it, then that’s liberating!

      Keep things very cool and professional, document everything. When you see her at school pickup or whatever, be cordial but not chummy, give her space to be upset and don’t give her power by expecting reconciliation (that she can deny you).

      1. ED in a small neighborhood of a big town*

        I’ll try to think about it as liberating! This staff person is one who thinks she is really good at everything and is not willing to ask questions or ever look like she doesn’t know everything, which has created obvious problems. She thinks I don’t give enough positive feedback and that I shut down all her ideas and she wants more encouragement but her work doesn’t warrant that so I just know she won’t own get failures here.

        1. hamsterpants*

          Someone like this probably has lots of enemies (real and imagined) and perhaps self-generated drama as well. If you can be very procedural and boring then she will have less to latch on to and will move on more quickly to her next victim. It’s the “gray rock” approach.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      You can only control your own behavior unfortunately. Interact with her the same way you would any other parents at the school. From there, it’s on her to do (or not do) the same. If she doesn’t, she’ll be making the situation awkward, not you. While I understand you’d rather it not be awkward at all, you’ll be doing what you can to make that happen.

      I suspect that she’ll be upset (folks almost always are), but most people will get through that initial feeling of being upset, so in all likelihood, things will be fine :)

    3. ABCYaBye*

      I’ve reminded a couple of people this past week that people’s poor reactions to you doing your job correctly should not be viewed as a mirror reflecting you, but a window showing you them. If you’re in the right, and they’re doing wrong and then reacting poorly, it is a “them” problem, not a “you” problem. If she reacts poorly, treat her respectfully when you see her and if she acts foolishly, especially in public at the school, she’ll just look foolish to others too.

    4. anonymous73*

      I understand your concerns but you can’t manage someone else’s feelings. Be honest and direct with the issues and the consequences with a time line if things don’t improve. As long as you treat her with respect and make sure she understands everything, there’s not much more for you to do.

    5. Chestnut Mare*

      This happened to me a couple of years ago, and it turned out that being let go enabled her to find a position that was a much better fit. So, it was awkward for a bit but ultimately it faded and we’re able to have a pleasant conversation.

      1. ED in a small neighborhood of a big town*

        Glad to hear I’m not alone and very much hoping to end up in the same position!

      2. Migraine Month*

        I was pretty devastated when I was fired from my first job and hated my manager for it… for about 3 months. Then I got another job. Looking back, getting fired is the best career move I ever made, and it made me realize how unprofessional my behavior had become.

        I’m not saying it’s okay to be cavalier when firing someone, or to think you’re doing it “for their own good”, but getting fired is something most people can put behind them with a bit of time.

    6. I should really pick a name*

      There’s probably no way to avoid awkwardness.
      That being said, try to interact with her the same way you did before to signal that you’re trying not to be weird about it.
      If you avoid her, the awkwardness will probably last longer.

      That being said, if you approach her and she tries to avoid you, give her the space she wants.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have no kids, so grain of salt here, but you might plan ahead how to handle it if this somehow results in her kids not wanting to talk to your kids anymore or whatnot in a manner that is upsetting to your kids. You say they go to school together which isn’t the same as “they’re friends” so it may not matter, but if the kids are currently friends and suddenly your little Sam comes home upset because Chris’s mom says Chris can’t play with Sam anymore because Sam’s parent is a meaniepants jerkface, you might want to have a plan in place ahead of time as to how to address that at a kid appropriate level.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yup. My kid had a friend whose mom vowed eternal enmity towards me for doing something objectively correct and necessary that she did not like.

        Eventually it leaked over, and my kid came home from school to tell me in shocked times that “so-and-so’s mom *hates* you!”

        I told her, “Yes, I know, and I wish she didn’t feel that way, but I understand why. If I were in her shoes I might feel the same way. I just hope someday she can understand things from my point of view, too.”

        The main thing to reassure your child is that 1) this isn’t a feud because you aren’t mad at the other person, and 2) You can live with them being mad at you. It isn’t scary or upsetting, just kind of sad.

        It can be a great opportunity to model healthy emotional boundaries for your kids, as well as how to have empathy for people when they are wrong.

        1. Antilla the Hon*

          I love this. It’s very neutral and non-judgmental and models a healthy response for your kid. Good job!

    8. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

      You’ve gotten some good advice from other commenters and I just want to reiterate that your objective you be to deliver this news with professionalism and treat the employee with the appropriate level of dignity. Don’t sugar coat things, but if possible avoid using really loaded language and talk primarily about the quality of her work product and objective measures of her performance rather than her shortcomings as a person. She may hear it that way regardless and look for ways to blame you or others, but you really can’t control for that beyond giving her good information to start with. As for the school setting, give her space but be polite and warm when you have the chance. She may come around eventually, but don’t push it–worrying too much about preserving that relationship can undermine the steps you need to take to be effective in your role, like giving her a frank assessment of her performance. Something you might consider if you pick up on any changes in the kids’ interactions is fill in the teachers about this thing happening in the background (only necessary detail, that this woman left your organization and she may be feeling some resentment toward you that could trickle into the kids’ interactions). They’ll likely appreciate knowing that there’s a rift between these families and can pair up students for group work or seating charts with this in mind. They can also keep an eye out for any conflicts that would require parent intervention to nip in the bud.

    9. Yeah summer!*

      If you are worried about the impact on your kids I’d have an age appropriate conversation with them. Kids have a way of repeating/relaying things their parents say. I wouldn’t tell your kid the details but something general “if someone says something upsetting or confusing you can come talk to me.” You could also talk to school and ask them eye out for any concerns with your kid.
      Ultimately, if there is weirdness, it will eventually move on.

    10. mreasy*

      I think it is going to be awkward, at least for awhile, but as long as you are fair and kind, it won’t be on your account.

    11. SofiaDeo*

      I had a staff person who resisted all mandatory regulatory changes (healthcare), and took a painfully 9 month (document, document, document) long time to ultimately let go. My HR person was correct in having me take the time to document, document, document, because she responded by suing us for age discrimination and my documentation proved it wasn’t; she lost.

      Some months later she stopped by (still had friends there) and *thanked* me. Her new job was much better suited to her personality. Hopefully you will have this experience.

  6. KateDee*

    How worried are we all about keeping our jobs in a recession? Are you making career moves about it?

    I’m pregnant, work in marketing, and I’m nervous. I’m contemplating applying for a transfer to a merchandising role that is savings focused instead of cost based. I just don’t know.

    1. Firm Believer*

      I’m very interested to see how it plays out. I’m a small business owner in marketing and I’ve seen the work start to slow down. After being in a hiring frenzy for the past two years I’m not hiring anyone else right now and hoping to avoid laying anyone off. I wish more people were talking about it in the media.

      1. Migraine Month*

        Since one of the biggest risk factors of going into a recession is people’s *belief* that there is going to be a recession, I’m okay with the media not focusing on it yet. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, because if people think there is going to be a recession they spend less, so businesses make less money, so they have to cut wages or lay people off, so fewer people have money to spend…

        Same with inflation, though that ship has clearly sailed.

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Eh if they haven’t fired me already they’ll keep me on. There’s too much work to be like ” Well we’re going to fire everyone”

    3. Decidedly Me*

      I’m in a good position (personally and business wise) that I don’t fear layoffs (recession related or otherwise). We continue to hire and will continue to do so.

    4. AnotherOne*

      I’m a little panicky because after almost a decade at my current employer, I decided to finally change fields and it feels like the worst possible time. But it looks like the field I’m moving to should be relatively strong.

      But I admit I’m anxious. I have a lot of job security at the moment.

      1. Emily Dickinson*

        I’m with you! I’m not even entirely sure what field I’m moving into (I’m more role focused than industry). I feel safe in my current role, but would need to change companies and industries to have more career development.

    5. Sloanicota*

      I’ve seen a lot of articles lately that workers are regretting the “great resignation” (?) and that unemployment is going to be spiked deliberately to bring down inflation – I assume because inflation upsets rich people more. I’m a bit skeptical of the coverage because I assume newspaper companies are also big employers and moguls. I am hoping the gains workers made will be preserved.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I don’t know about that, but I do know that we are actively (I hope) seeking another chemist. The reason I say I hope is that we are now a division of a larger company and my trust of them looking after our/my interests is San Andreas fault shaky.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I personally am not concerned. My job is secure, my field is secure, my clients are legally required to buy my company’s services. Even as a newbie during 2008, I was absolutely fine. My immediate family are also ok.

      I’m really hoping that it doesn’t get bad, because even if I’m going to be ok, I do care about everyone else.

      As for the “Great Resignation”, I think that there was some long term changes kicked off by Covid. A lot of people left the workforce for various reasons (death, disability, care taking, etc) and combined with the normal and expected retirements of Baby Boomers, that has long term impacts on the workforce. A recession isn’t going to change that significantly I don’t think.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        I don’t think the “great resignation” was a real thing as I heard it described. People leaving low paying job for higher paying jobs, people leaving toxic jobs and bad environments for ones they hoped are better are not new things.

    7. fueled by coffee*

      As someone who will be finishing up graduate school this time around, ack.

      But at least I’ll be out *before* everyone else decides to do more school in a tough job market (oh hey, 2008). So hopefully I can snatch up the “advanced degree required, minimum wage, no benefits” jobs before they get to it.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s interesting how there’s all this talk of a recession with no actual signs of a recession. (To be clear, I expect that after economic expansion there will be contraction, and vice versa, no matter how many times I read that the latest stock market trend shall last forever because Reasons.)

      Inflation is being driven by supply chain issues, not cheap credit, and the Fed raising interest rates is unlikely to fix the supply chain issues.

      1. Lora*

        Yeah, the fixes for the current issues (onshoring critical supply chains and inputs, building up infrastructure, health care investments so people disabled by Long Covid can continue to work instead of going on disability, childcare investments) are far outside the scope of the Fed to fix, and most of what the Fed does in any case is like slapping some Flex Tape on – and what we need is investments that look more like building a cathedral. Maybe you won’t see the results but your kids will, type of thing. Since that’s far FAR outside the timelines of either government election cycles or quarterly investor reports, it’s basically not gonna happen.

        In the sense of, the overall economy is going to shrink – yes, sure, that is kind of inevitable when a huge chunk of your workforce is either disabled or partially disabled by Long Covid, unable to get childcare, and companies cannot consistently get inputs they need to function short of vertical integration (which takes a long time, sometimes decades). Technically after the Black Plague, economies shrank – but it was still a time of worker empowerment, because there were so few of them around.

      2. All The Words*

        Considering the Fed & other talking heads keep saying one way to curb inflation is to have lower wages and a higher unemployment rate, it’s not unrealistic for people to expect lower wages and higher unemployment in the next couple years.

        1. Lora*

          Inflation in Giffen goods is different from regular inflation though. I’m not saying many managers won’t lay people off in the hopes that it’s a regular recession, but when you see double digit inflation in Giffen goods there’s something very different going on, for which the Fed has no real recourse.

      3. ladyme*

        If people can’t afford to buy things, the supply chain issues won’t be as intense because it’ll be easier to meet demand. That wouldn’t be a good thing though.

    9. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I’m concerned as my industry tends to be a loser in economies like this. Where I’m at today, I don’t really like my job very much but my position feels strong — I have capital and I’m likely to keep my job but it doesn’t feel super stable on a team or org level. I’d love to find something closer to my style/values, but nowhere is likely to be MORE stable, and in switching I’d be the last one in and I wouldn’t even have built-up capital on my side. I was planning to job search this year but maybe not? I don’t know.

    10. Irish Teacher*

      I’m incredibly lucky as a teacher. “Jobs for life” and all that. Even if my school closed, I would still have to be transferred to another school. Though when people complain about how lucky we are, they ignore how many years it can take to get to that point. It was 17 years in my case.

    11. firestarter11*

      I work in healthcare (mental health) and am crossing my fingers that my job is mostly recession proof? I’ve also worked here the longest, and generate the most revenue, so I think I’d be the last to go if my boss had to simplify, but maybe that’s wishful thinking?

      I’m more worried about rising costs and a not-so-rising salary…. My boss is great with giving raises and bonuses, but we have teensy profit margins as it is because insurance sucks. I’m single and have no kids, but I have three pets, and my newest pet addition (puppy) has been a lot more expensive than I’d hoped.

      1. Zak*

        I would still be concerned even in healthcare unless you’re working in emergency services because when people lose their jobs during a recession they lose their insurance. When people lose their insurance, they can’t access elective healthcare. It’s appalling what is considered “elective” in this context.

        1. Gyne*

          The problem with Healthcare is that while there will always be a need for it, you might not always get paid to work. I personally had to forgo collecting a paycheck so I could pay my staff for two months during the early days of the shutdown. After we started easing some restrictions, I reduced my salary by about 40%. Even in the EDs, many doctors had their pay cut or lost their jobs entirely. The other problem is once you leave, the barriers to re-entry are so steep as to be essentially insurmountable, so you can’t really try other roles and then come back if it doesn’t work out. That said, I’ve been aggressively saving for the last few years to build my “emergency fund” so if we EVER get to a place where I need to work for free again, I’m out. Why work 80 hours a week in a high stress, high PERSONAL liability field for no pay? Especially when a large percentage of the people I encounter on a daily basis won’t even do me the basic human courtesy of wearing a mask correctly during the 15-20 minutes they’re in a room with me?

    12. West Coaster*

      Same – I am debating leaving a very secure job for a job that might be less secure. It’s a little nervewracking.

      I am also planning on putting off an expensive home project until things feel more stable (and the price of materials hopefully comes down).

    13. kiki*

      I’ve been really anxious about it! I’m a software developer, so my career path feels somewhat stable, but so many tech companies have been laying folks off. I was hoping to look for a new job (been at my current role for about a year and it’s just not a good fit for me)– I’m kicking myself for not leveling up my skills more in the last year (I had a rough year in my personal life, but I do wish I had been more diligent about this). People are still hiring developers, but it’s definitely become a lot more competitive in the past few months. I have ~3 years of experience but no college degree in computer science, so I have enough experience to not be junior, but I’m not the most competitive candidate either.

      I also know I’m an anxious person, so I’m trying not to pay so much mind to things that are out of my control, but it’s hard not to feel concerned when every time I log into linked in I see a lot of post announcing layoffs.

      1. kiki*

        I’m also regretting not saving more in the last year. Some things were unavoidable due to the afore mentioned rough year– I broke up with my boyfriend, so my living expenses increased, etc.– but I could have been more scrupulous about saving.

    14. Anyfizz*

      Not very? But I also don’t love my job, and I have a very good support system (financial and emotional), so that changes my calculation.
      I work in consumer-packaged-goods, and my section of the company handles both merchandising and product development. Basically, we’re there to execute the projects for all the products. While it’s true that the company would be completely screwed if they cut any of us experienced members, my company also has a strong marketing bias. In fact, because my group is constantly underappreciated, all the more senior people have one toe out at all times. My boss is constantly trying to vouch for us with middling success.
      This is all to say that I’m not deeply convinced that upper management would try harder to preserve our jobs over the marketing team’s. You know your company’s approach to org structure the best, but I don’t think it’s strictly a matter of who is doing the savings focused work. Especially because you’re looking at maintaining benefits through pregnancy, I would take a closer look as to how your company handled org changes, layoffs, etc. in the past (esp. during lower revenue years). Because the reality is that not all companies look at the cost vs savings metrics. Sometimes it really is just about who likes who, and maintaining the bare minimum on execution.

    15. TradeMark*

      I’m not at all worried in my current position but I did not take another position I was offered partly because I was worried about the organization’s financial stability if/when there is a downturn. There were other factors, including health insurance affordability – this organizations was already expensive and I don’t think a recession would make that better!

    16. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      My employer is counter-cyclical to the economy (when times are bad, our business booms), so very little.

      In previous roles, Savings were my hedge against a recession impacting my job (and it did happen).

      While there won’t be as many opportunities in a recession, there will be some openings out there. The silver lining is that those are going to be stronger companies.

    17. Lebkin*

      I am not currently concerned. I work in building materials, and construction is highly dependent on the economy. We are also a small company, which has some dangerous.

      But I am one of two people who do my primary tasks, and I outperform my coworker by 50-75% each year. I also do several tasks that he isn’t capable of doing. So as long as he’s still employed here, I don’t foresee them firing me. He’s basically the canary in my coal-mine.

    18. Cheezmouser*

      I know that it’s still a hot job market, but the prospect of a potential recession coming our way has made me decide to play it safe and not consider looking for a new job. I have job security where I’m at, so my strategy now is to pursue a promotion and raise here instead of elsewhere. Luckily management knows my value and are keen to keep me, so I’m confident that I will be successful in getting that promotion. If that weren’t the case, then I might still consider jumping ship despite my worries of “last one in, first one out.”

    19. Flower necklace*

      I’m a teacher. I’m more concerned about avoiding the pressure to take on an extra class – not from admin (who are awesome) but from my own desire to help out my department during a staffing shortage.

    20. voluptuousfire*

      For my job, I feel pretty secure. We’re growing and also shoring up our ramparts in case things may have to pivot, so it’s comforting.

      I work in tech, so at least from what I’m seeing from all the hubbub on LinkedIn, the lion’s share of companies laying off are tech start-ups that got absurd funding during the pandemic or their business boomed since it was the right fit for being at home (looking at you, Peloton). When the funding opportunities came more conservative or dried up or the demand for the product waned, the first thing they did was lay off people. I had many companies reach out to me on LinkedIn in 2020/2021 who were like “we’re in hypergrowth” or “we got our series C funding of 200 million valuing us at 7 billion!” and I turned down their requests to chat about a role and I’m glad I did. Companies in hypergrowth scare me. The layoffs are pretty much companies retracting from the overhiring they did. They got too big for their britches too quickly. This is all my opinion anyway.

    21. TeenieBopper*

      I’m not worried about my current job. I am, however, worried about my own personal leverage as well as workers’ leverage in general.

      I recently requested a 10%ish raise because the CoL raises I’ve been given over the past 2 years haven’t, you know, covered the increased cost of living in addition to the fact that my salary is in the bottom 15th percentile for my job title and skills. It was mostly denied (I got 4% instead of my usual 2-3%). I believe them when they say they value what I bring to the company, but they can’t do that kind of money – it’s a non profit, after all. As frustrating and upsetting as this was, I’m still not ready to actively job search because I qualify for PSLF here (roughly equivalent to 20k a year and rising) and my PTO package is, quite frankly, absurd (think 40ish days total between holidays, sick time, and vacation). I worry with a recession, if I do decide to actively search, it will be much harder for me to demand a PTO package that I’m comfortable with along with a WFH/hybrid schedule that I want.

    22. Heather*

      I am a licensed clinical social worker and people are leaving the field so I am not worried. More worried I might not like the job or responsibilities but not worried about finding a job at all. I have 2 now- full time and prn. Full time is telework 4 days a week! Prn in a hospital.

  7. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

    A minor, but still annoying, and not at all reassuring complaint from today, in Toxic Dysfunctional Disorganized Jobland: the scheduler called to ask me if I’d be willing to pick up an extra shift this weekend; I already work one weekend shift. The one she named to me as needing to be covered…was my own weekend shift. The one I’ve been working since time began. The one that is supposed to be permanently allotted to me. Insert facepalm.

    This has happened…far too often.

    I need out of this f***ing mess of a place.

    1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

      And yes, I’m very curious as to whether or not they asked someone else to work my own shift before coming to me. (I won’t get a satisfactory answer to this, but I can still wonder.)

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I guess you can be the hero if you volunteer to do the shift that you already thought you were doing.

      Or can you get double paid if you do your shift AND your shift simultaneously?

      So many options.

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        Or can you get double paid if you do your shift AND your shift simultaneously?

        I LIKE this idea. :) The sad part is, if it were possible for me to sign in twice, they probably wouldn’t even notice, and just…pay me twice.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      The one job that I didn’t give 2 weeks’ notice to kept screwing up my schedule. (They literally scheduled me time I couldn’t work, because I would be at my FT career-focused job. There was no point in giving notice, as I couldn’t work the times I was scheduled anyway.)

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        Oh god, I had a job that did this as well. Like scheduling me to work days when I was in high school and would be in class, and they also got no notice from me! But that was a restaurant environment where I expected high disorganization and dysfunction. My current job is a corporate office where everyone works pretty much the same set of shift hours into eternity, so the lack of being able to keep track of the regular schedules is especially egregious.

      2. My Useless 2 Cents*

        I got a second job about 10 years ago because I wanted to take a trip to Italy. That was the reason I gave for wanting a second job, I was very open about the trip. The trip itself was scheduled when I took the job and I informed owner/manager about dates(about 8 months out). I reminded the owner/manager a month before the trip that I wouldn’t be available on those days. I reminded again three weeks out. I wasn’t schedule for the next two weeks or I would have reminded her again. Went on my one-week trip. Came back and called to see if I was scheduled and was informed that I was unreliable and no-showed my shift the previous week…. the week of my trip. I quit on the spot and haven’t set foot in the store since.

        OP, so sorry, your situation sounds very frustrating.

        1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

          ARGH I am raging on your behalf! When they screw up but take it out on you…I understand the destructive motivations behind arson a bit better.

      3. firestarter11*

        I had this happen in college when I worked at McDonald’s! They kept scheduling me during class, and I found a better job tutoring adults getting their GEDs, which aligned much more with my interests.

        My roommate’s boyfriend lectured me about how awful and irresponsible I was for not giving a 2-week notice. He was my age (21) and had never worked a day in his life, so I don’t know why he was so worked up about it. Like, okay, cool, let me just quit school for two weeks at the beginning of the semester so I can work my shift at McDonald’s.

        1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

          He was my age (21) and had never worked a day in his life, so I don’t know why he was so worked up about it.

          Sadly, I have met far too many men who think it’s their mission in life to put other people in their place (usually women) and keep them there. If you didn’t actually do anything wrong, they’ll manufacture something. And the less they know about a subject, the harder they’ll try to push themselves as the Prime Authority on the matter over you.

    4. Heather*

      You’re a nurse, right?? No, probably not, but that just sounds SO MUCH like my own job at an FQHC. That exact thing has happened before.

      1. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

        Haha, not even remotely med-adjacent (unless you count the number of times I’ve had to call an ambulance for people here due to unsafe working conditions). But I have family working in medical, so I’m not at all surprised by your comment!

  8. Somewhere out west*

    I have been anxiously awaiting all of my background checks/tests to clear for a new job. My current position doesn’t know I am leaving, so it’s been a weird headspace of pushing forward projects with the almost-certainty that I won’t be there to guide them.

    Has anyone else been in this position? If so, how do you handle the anxiousness attached to it?

    1. Fig*

      Me! Very recently, in fact. Just look forward to it as something exciting – because it is! As soon as I got my offer, I almost totally mentally checked out of my previous job, but I didn’t feel bad because it is the most toxic place on the planet.

    2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Yes a few months ago! There was absolutely nothing in my background that would come up but I was still anxious because New Job wouldn’t give an official start date until that cleared. So it was an awkward week where I couldn’t give notice, yet I knew I would be.

      I felt like I was lying, but really I just had to pretend it wasn’t happening. What I did start doing was making a list of projects and whom I could hand off to, looking at and updating procedures if needed. So when it did clear and J gave notice I already had a plan.

    3. Moths*

      Whenever I’ve been in that position, I tried to think of it as helping to get those projects into the best possible place before I leave. It’s still a little awkward, since you have to accept projects with the knowledge that you might only be there a couple more weeks, but what can you do in the meantime that will help whoever takes them over for you? Can you get all of the tasks outlined and assigned to the persons responsible? Can you ensure you’ve got good documentation on how to do those projects and the background on them? It’s hard not to get a bit of “senioritis” near the end, but if you can think of this time as a way to double down on proactively getting these projects to the best spot for handoff, it may help you not feel so anxious about taking them on.

    4. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Very loud and aggressive music through my headphones and more checklists and notating than usual.

  9. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

    Hi! Can anyone give me cover letter feedback? (I am posting an outline I use, not any actively cover letters.)

    Obviously I have used this site as a huge resource with both resume and cover letter help, but I am also the type of person who sometimes needs more concrete feedback, if that makes any sense? Just for some background, I am looking for jobs that are in document control and quality assurance at the moment, and I am applying to more entry-level poisons. But honestly, I’ll take anything that’s full-time with generally regular hours at this point. This job hunt is emotionally draining….

    So, anyway, the format I generally follow for cover letters is:

    Paragraph 1: Say how excited I am to be applying for this position. I also note that I know my applying for this position might be a little odd given my experience (that’s in mostly libraries but also restaurants and hospital volunteering, and I don’t have a lot of concrete numerical experience to talk about), but that I am specifically looking for jobs that have more regular hours. Note: I don’t say this, but I also want jobs that are better paying than libraries and that aren’t as much pressure because I am not a social worker. If anyone can give specific wording on how to better say this, I’d include it. I don’t want to tell them my life story or to bash the library profession, but I do want to give context as to why I am applying.

    P2-3: I look at the qualifications listed in the description and then I pick a couple to talk about how I match them (this is right, right? Or should I be looking at what I’d be doing in the job?). So like if a job asks for attention to detail, I talk about how I catalog audiovisual materials at my library job, because that means I have to follow a specific process: make sure each item is correct in the library system and has all the appropriate and necessary stickers on it before I even think about putting it on the shelf. This might mean I have to re-create an item’s call number sticker or something like that. Or if a position talks about needing customer service experience, I talk about how libraries are high with customer service interactions, and give a couple examples of that. I try to talk about what attracted me to apply for this position and what skills I have that match.

    P4, if this applies: Possibly talk about how I am organized in my personal life, mention that my phone apps are color-coded into folders, etc.

    Then I thank them for their consideration and that I hope to hear from them soon!

    I try to keep them between 250-300 words and I do customize them as much as I can, but they generally do talk about the same things as I apply for generally similar positions. But I either don’t hear back or get rejections without even getting interviews, so. I’d love any feedback I can get! I also know that I can do everything “right” but at some point it’s out of my hands.

    Regardless, thank you to this community. You have all, at the very least, provided me with reading entertainment, and at best have helped me with this job hunt and also have given advice on how to navigate tricky situations at work.

    1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I think paragraph 1 should be that you want to transition into the Whatever industry because your XYZ skills are a good fit. The other stuff maybe for an interview (And not being a social worker is more like, I want to focus on these kinds of skills or activities and this type of job allows me to do that). Generally, translate it all into positives about the job you’re looking for and your fit there and not the negatives of your current work

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        Thank you! I definitely don’t want to bash the library field or anything like that, and I’ll work on incorporating this advice in my next cover letters.

      2. Trina*

        Yeah, I would jump straight into what draws you toward the specific job (or at least industry) that you’re apply for and what parts of your experience would apply to the job responsibilities. When I switched industries, I actually made a bullet pointed list that consisted of each major requirement for the position and gave a relevant example from my past experience for each. (The actual bullet-pointed format is probably hit or miss, though.)

        1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

          No, I like the bullet point idea, at least as a way for me to visually see how my experience translates! I can then put it in a non bullet point format, because I don’t think that would work to actually submit haha. Thank you!

    2. WellRed*

      Eek. Please don’t include the paragraph about your organized personal life and color coded folders.

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        I don’t include it a lot, but I read on Alison’s cover letter post that mentioning things like that would help. But maybe I misunderstood.

        Anyway, again, thankfully I don’t do it a lot and focus more on my professional skills, but now I’m inwardly cringing.

        1. londonedit*

          If it’s appropriate then it’s good to talk about being organised, but definitely don’t relate it to your personal life or your phone. If you’re generally that organised then you must be the same way at work, so find something work-related to mention, like ‘I have developed extremely effective organisational skills in my current role and implemented a system of [blah], which has helped me to increase my own productivity and that of my department by ensuring that files are correctly labelled and instantly identifiable’ or whatever.

          1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

            Oh okay, that makes sense! So at one of my library jobs, I ordered materials for specific areas of the collection. I had a giant Google spreadsheet for the ordering, but each area had its own tab (that was then color coded). Would that be more applicable?

            1. introverted af*

              Yeah, that’s a good example. And if you’re able to relate that to an outcome (e.g. “we ordered all materials required, and because of the system we caught something we missed,” or “this allowed us to avoid additional shipping costs needed for extra orders” or “we met our goal for having everything in place by XYZ”) that’s even better. You don’t need to get into the specifics of how you organized, but you need to show that you can do it, and that your doing it in the past had a positive impact.

              Double bonus if you’re able to relate the outcome you achieved to another value/principle the job description is looking for – timeliness, cost efficiency, attention to detail, etc.

        2. Mac*

          Don’t cringe! I also feel like I have a tendency to be overly personal in cover letters, and seeing this concrete example was really useful. Thanks for being brave and putting your stuff out there for feedback so that us shyer folks will also benefit!

          1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

            :’) omg I’m glad I could help!

            And I’m still glad I posed this, because then I know what I need to work on, but others might too!

        3. aubrey*

          This paragraph could be totally appropriate depending on the job! e.g. in my very casual startup, we really like a conversational tone in cover letters, and we’d like something like this for a job requiring organizational skills. Our job postings are very conversational and super formal cover letters and resumes are actually an indicator of poor fit for us. If the job posting is written in a formal tone though, I’d agree don’t include it.

          1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

            This is good to keep in mind, formal v not formal job postings and making your cover letter match to that.

            1. Cordelia*

              And maybe the same for the interview. Some are more formal than others. I wouldn’t put the colour coding on a cover letter, but think you could absolutely mention it in an interview “I even colour code my phone apps!” But as an aside, an extra, rather than holding it up seriously as a work skill. I’d warm to this, as an interviewer (but then I am very impressed by your colour coding and thinking of doing this myself now…)

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      I agree with Everyday Crone — paragraph 1 should be about how to you are looking to transition to New Field as you will be able to do more of the x, y, z skills that you learned and enjoyed being a professional librarian and you think you are a good match for the skills they need. Then go into more detail on specific skills that match the position in paragraph 2 as you are doing. Don’t even hint at it being an unusual match or why you want to leave the library. Just approach it as of course you are qualified. I am fine mentioning the phone apps being color coordinated (as Alison as mentioned previously) but more as a personal aside to bolster work experience, not as a specific qualification.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I actually disagree re “don’t even hint at it being unusual” – it IS unusual, and they’re not going to magically not notice that if you ignore it, so I think it’s smarter to lean into it. If you don’t acknowledge the field change at all, you risk them thinking you’re just looking for any old job to pay the bills while you try to get back into library work.

        1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

          This is exactly why I acknowledge it – briefly, maybe a sentence or two, but I don’t want them to think in applying for any and everything.

    4. I should be working right now*

      1) It sounds like you’re doing a great job linking your existing skills to the job descriptions. Do you have any way to quantify your examples? (EG “managed library budget of $X,” or “averaged 50 user interactions daily”?) Numbers tend to make people take soft skill examples more seriously.
      2) I think it’s likely that you’re coming across as a bit defensive about your switch away from libraries, and making this too central to your cover letter. The employer probably is less focused on this than you’re imagining. I’d switch this part out for a brief positive statement focused on why you’re excited about entering this particular field. EG “I’m looking to transition into document control and quality assurance work because I really enjoy XYZ.” If you can add specifics related to why you might be excited about this particular company even better. A particular way to stand out can be to cite aspects of this job that you would particularly enjoy that many people wouldn’t, e.g. “While I know that not everyone is passionate about quality assurance, I genuinely enjoy doing XYZ, and would like it to be a big part of my next role.”
      3) Having been on the other side of the hiring table, there are often dozens or hundreds of fairly similar cover letters, and there can be a lot of randomness in who gets an interview, no matter how hard you try to find the right fit resumes and cover letters. If you can get a personal intro via someone who works there, this will very often get your resume given a much more thorough look. Weirdly, the intro often doesn’t need to come from someone who knows you or your work well. If you think your cover letter is pretty good and you still aren’t getting to the interview stage, I suggest looking through your 2nd degree LinkedIn connections and focusing on applying to openings where you can get one of them to flag your resume as a referral.

      1. Hopeful Ex Librarian*

        1. Thank you! :) I have experience maintaining a library budget, although I don’t remember the specifics. I just know I was given a budget of $x and then had to maintain or meet that number as much as I could. Should I try to find specific numbers or make up a ballpark?
        2. Ooo I love all this wording, thank you!!! I definitely don’t want to talk about why I’m leaving libraries too much, but I also don’t want them to think I’m applying for anything just because it’s full-time.
        3. I’ll keep this in mind!

        1. WellRed*

          I think you could just say “managed $6 million annual budget” or whatever applies.

  10. Fabulous*

    When you start a new job, how long should it take to feel comfortable in it?

    I know it’ll be different for most roles, but I started at the end of March, and I feel like I’m still behind. I’m definitely the lowest on the totem pole in the group–pretty sure everyone else is a “consultant” while my role is a “specialist–and it definitely shows in the work I’m taking on. I’m not really a lead on any projects (though I don’t feel like I should be at this point regardless), but I’m trying to volunteer to shadow the others and get involved, but there’s still not much for me to be doing at this point 4 months in. I still haven’t gotten up to speed on the programs I wanted to learn because I don’t have any work in those areas. I’m finding I still don’t have access to certain programs because I haven’t had cause to use them, etc.

    This isn’t a new-new job, it was an internal transfer, so maybe my expectations were a little off-kilter, but I feel like I should be doing more… am I off base?

    1. Xaraja*

      Depending on the level of the work, I would say it takes 6 months to learn the culture and systems and a year to really really get your feet. I usually feel like I know what’s what at 6 months and then look back at a year and think “wow I really didn’t know as much as I thought”. I tend to stay at jobs 5-7 years, so I might have a longer term view on things.

      I’m concerned they aren’t letting you into bigger projects and areas you are interested in. You will have trouble growing with that exclusion. It’s something to watch and think about. Hopefully they’re just busy and as you prove yourself you will get more access and interesting work.

      1. Lives in a Shoe*

        I generally agree with the timeline, but if you’re fully/mostly remote, add about 50% time.

        1. Fabulous*

          Oooh I never took remote into consideration! That would explain soooo much because I’ve worked remotely for the last 2.5-3 years and have only ever experienced this feeling in the last 2 positions I’ve held (remotely). Mind BLOWN.

    2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I moved roles internally this year and thus week was my 6th month in the role, and while I’m much more confident I’m still getting my feet under me. I get good feedback internally so I know it’s just a me thing, but give yourself a bit of time I’d say.

    3. SansaStark*

      I think different jobs/people/teams/organizations are all going to feel kinda different. I’ve been at my new job about 8 months and there are moments where I feel really at-home, seen, and appreciated. There are other moments where I feel like it’s taking me forever to catch up to where everyone else is. One thing that’s really helped me in those “down” moments is by just asking my boss where I am compared to her expectations. Also that’s great that you’re volunteering to shadow and get involved! It’s a great way to learn and to work on becoming a great team member.

    4. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I’ve only felt comfortable after some accomplishments, so usually the feeling increases slowing, between month 3-9. The first ~2 months you sort of feel like a liability, and just have to deal with it and know it will be over soon

    5. AnnonAnthro*

      FYI, “lowest on the totem poll” isn’t really 100% accurate. Some Native American/ First Nations groups have the most important figure on the bottom, some have them on the top, and others in the middle.

    6. Little Miss Sunshine*

      Hopefully you are meeting regularly with your manager, a supportive and reasonable person, and you can discuss your concerns with them.

      I regularly speak to each of my direct reports about job-related goals and expectations, and ask for their concerns. This is a standing agenda item that I expect them to be proactive about, but I also ask them to be sure that they have opportunities to bring up their concerns or to discuss mine.

      If not your manager, perhaps a colleague that you have developed a rapport with could be approached for feedback. In a healthy workplace, such conversations should be happening regularly. I hope that you feel comfortable soliciting feedback to find your groove!

    7. Sandy*

      I’m nearing seven months in a new job that was a stretch role, and finally on some days feel like I know what I’m doing but still frequently run across situations where I feel like I’m floundering a little (or a lot). I’ve been getting good feedback, but am definitely not completely comfortable yet.

  11. Fed-Job-Or-Bust*

    Happy Friday everyone!

    Unfortunately I am job searching after being laid off again. The first was directly pandemic related, the second was inflation related as the company I was working for saw their business drop 70% with the doubling of interest rates (mortgage bank). I survived the first round, but not the second, and I was told during my layoff that they’re betting that there will be a third round later this year.

    Needless to say I’m pretty bummed, but I know I’m not alone (not that it helps knowing that). I’m all about maximizing stability for my next job search, and with that, I am focusing on federal government jobs. The applications ask if they can contact former employers. I’ve have a couple of former bosses that I would rather they not contact because while they offered to provide a reference, I don’t know if I can trust them on it after witnessing separate but equally shady business practices.

    That said, if I put no on the federal applications (or any application), is that an immediate strike out? Or should I put the contact info and then hope they don’t contact? I’ve got some good achievements at both jobs.

    Thank you everyone, and for the tens of thousands who are also looking due to recently announced layoffs, good luck and I hope it’s a short hiatus!

    1. anonymous73*

      I can’t answer your question, but personally I feel like the risk of saying no is lower than the risk of saying yes and having a former manager say something that may jeopardize your chances (or at least it will hurt less.. if they put your application aside because you said no, you wouldn’t be contacted whereas if they’re contacting references you’re further along in the hiring process). Good luck! I’ve been laid off 3 times in my career and it sucks big time.

    2. oh geez*

      I put “please ask first” or whatever that option was, and didn’t give my current supervisor once I reached interview phase. I was directly asked why and explained I didn’t want to alert that I was job searching since my employer was actively conducting layoffs. The hiring manager understood and I was offered the job.

      That being said, the frustrating truth is that it totally depends on the individual hiring manger’s views on the matter and their background, so the practicality of advice in general is limited.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Fed employee here – I also had “ask me first” as an option, which I chose for my most recent couple of managers. (One would have been great, one would have been extremely iffy, I just chose it so I would be notified first.) No one asked about it or ever followed up with me on any references at all. However, due to the niche-field nature of the job I’d met or had worked with 4 of 6 of the interview panel in the past, so they might have felt that any additional reference wasn’t needed.

        If you have the option, definitely use it and have a solid explanation if you’re asked. Good luck!

        1. CG*

          Fed too, and same here. I will also note that I’ve interviewed for and held jobs at several different agencies, and managers that wanted to talk to my references always asked me explicitly for a list of updated references when they actually planned to call them. Hiring from USAJobs sometimes takes ages, so it’d be an odd move for a federal manager to call someone without first checking with the candidate that info was still up-to-date (and that the manager could actually helpfully speak to someone’s work on the job – not all of my managers have even known much about my day-to-day work).

      2. Fed-Job-Or-Bust*

        What concerns me about that is that you have to put the contact information in, or it doesn’t allow you to continue on with the application, so they could just reach out without asking.

        My wife and I have been discussing this. She got a federal job and hit no because she has a former job and manager she would rather forget. But I know every personnel person is different. I was hoping one of them reads this and could give me the SOP on it so we know.

        1. oh geez*

          Again, can’t speak for everyone, but we always ask the candidate for their references when they interview rather than using those provided. It’s usually the same set, but we always ask the candidate to resend them AND to notify their references to expect a call.

    3. Shutdown Veteran*

      There’s a place to mark “contact me first” or something like that. Beware! I’ve been an intern and then fed since 2008. Shutdowns are no fun. On the bright side, we’re guaranteed backpay now. Not that helps when the tent is due *now,* but it’s something.

  12. Back to work*

    Are there (legit!) coaches (or therapists?!) that help you work through professional options/transitions when you’re mid-career? I’m 36 discerning next steps after taking some time out of full time work for kids…and I just don’t know where to start! I think maybe there are jobs I would be good at but I don’t even know they exist. I feel so overwhelmed by the idea of all that could be possible but don’t know how to start. I feel like I’m graduating from college all over again

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      My local community college has a nice career center with aptitude testing and reviews of results. It was free because I am a member of the local area.

      They also have a decent networking for adults group.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I have definitely heard of people being helped by this as a legit thing: word of mouth is so important to finding someone with legit skills who is well suited to help you. (Since everyone in the thread could hang out our life coach shingle tomorrow.)

    3. CatCat*

      There definitely are legit career coaches, and I am sure there are also a lot of crappy ones.

      I found mine by googling for something like “alternative careers for [profession].” That led me to articles on the topic, including one by the career coach I ended up using, who focuses on people working to move out of a specific profession. That led me to listening to the coach’s podcast (very, very good and thought provoking) and signing up for a free webinar, which was sort of like a one hour nutshell version of her program (and I think on its own would have been super helpful for someone not looking for more hands-on help). I joined a group coaching program (she also offers 1:1) and that has been a good fit for me.

      So I think there are several steps to finding a coach that is a good coach and knows what they’re doing. But working with the coach and others in the program has been eye opening and extremely helpful.

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      If this is anything like finding a therapist (which I have had to do several times), my hunch is word of mouth is the best way to approach it.

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Doing this is my favorite thing — I do it as an Employment Counselor at my local Dept of Labor office. No cost to my customers.

      Check out careeronestop.org for some free career assessments … and links to descriptions of the jobs that the assessments suggest. There are SO MANY jobs that you have never heard of. I particularly like the fact that there’s videos connected to the job descriptions so you can see someone actually doing that job and talking about it. Somehow that makes it click for me.

    6. Books and Cooks*

      You’ve gotten great advice & suggestions already, but just in case, I wanted to mention temp or employment agencies. Often, the people who work there are very experienced and have pretty strong knowledge of the local labor and job markets, and can suggest options you haven’t thought of. And if nothing else, trying out a few temp positions can be a good transition back into the workforce. My husband went to an agency when we first arrived back in the US, and within days had a job in a new-to-him industry that was and is still pretty booming; a bit of time there plus his previous decades of management gave him the industry-specific knowledge and experience to get back into management at a different company in that industry (which generally requires that specific knowledge & experience from managers, and Husband doesn’t have a degree so the industry-specific stuff was especially important for him).

      Best of luck to you!

    7. Little Miss Sunshine*

      There a both legit coaches and scam artists. I suggest you look for referrals from your personal and professional network to find legitimate options. Think carefully about what you want to accomplish, and interview the potential coaches. Every coach I have ever worked with offered a reasonable consultation to see if you are the right fit for each other. Check for online resources from women’s networking groups like Ellevate and Lean In, which often address women changing gears after having kids. You should be able to find some local resources pretty quickly to start vetting options.

    8. SofiaDeo*

      I agree with those who think aptitude testing is a good place to start. Find out what seems to match with your abilities/personality, that makes the challenge of a new job more like “fun stress” than “unpleasant stress.”

  13. Internist*

    I (female) am an intern in a male-dominated field. I’ve received a job offer to continue full-time with my internship company after my internship ends. I’ve requested to stay on the same team, but that’s not guaranteed. My current team is 40% women, but there are several adjacent teams with no women.

    Is there any professional way to state my preference for being placed on a team where I would not be the only woman? I don’t want to appear whiny or difficult, or imply that men would not be supportive of my career. Ultimately, I’ll do my best wherever I’m placed and accept the job offer regardless.

    1. Should I Apply? needs a new name*

      I’m a women in engineering, have often been the only women on a team and totally get where you are coming from. However, I probably wouldn’t frame the request as not being put on a team where I’m the only women, because based on my experience most men in the industry just don’t get it.
      If there are other reasons that you have for requesting that specific team I would highlight them, like you’re really interested in the work they are doing or X person is a really great mentor and you want to continue to work with them.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        Seconded, as a fellow woman in STEM. Also many of the companies I’ve worked for have had professional groups for women at the company, like local chapters of SWE that they support. Maybe you could join one of them, even if you don’t get the team you want?

    2. Bread Addict*

      I would probably wait and see. I can’t think of a professional way to ask for that and it might come across weird. Especially if they already planned to keep you on the same team.

    3. Spearmint*

      I wouldn’t, it puts the employer in a bad position. I imagine they would worry that if they put you on a team with other women because it has other women that that could violate anti-discrimination law in some way.

      1. ecnaseener*

        This. Even if it’s your preference, they aren’t allowed to assign work based on gender.

    4. Purple Penguin*

      As a woman in tech, I find that (male) bosses tend to pair me up with female interns whether or not their actual specialty is a good match, as if they’re assuming there’s some sort of secret girl handshake. So it seems likely to me that you’d end up on a team with women on it, unless there’s a strong technical reason that they think your skills would be a great fit on another team. Probably.

      The most professional way I can think to to stack the deck would be to include an offhand remark about how great it’s been working on a team with Jane and Anne and how their example (and Claudia on the other team) really give you confidence in XYZCorp’s support of women in tech (be more specific than that if possible). You’re not asking explicitly but you’re saying you’re aware of the gender imbalance and implicitly reminding them to take that into account.

    5. Zak*

      Unless you are willing to list specific teams that you work well with, I think your request is going to come across as highly unprofessional and almost childish. I don’t think this request can legally even be entertained. I don’t know why you picked a male dominated profession when you don’t like working with men. It would be like a male nurse that doesn’t want to work with women. That’s how much sense this is making.

      1. Rara Avis*

        She didn’t say she didn’t want to work with men — she said she’d prefer not to be the only woman. That’s very different.

          1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

            Her current team is 60% men and she’s fine with it. So no, “don’t like working with men” is neither what she said nor a claim for which there’s any evidence.

            But you’re doing a good job of illustrating how badly some people would take that request and the kind of wrong conclusion they might jump to!

      2. Just One of the Guys*

        Zak, you’re arguing a straw man– a completely different and more extreme position than the one originally brought up.

        Internist didn’t say she doesn’t like working with men, only that she prefers not to be the *only* woman on an *all-male* team. Reading “not wanting to be the only women” as if it were “not wanting any men” reminds me of the study that showed people perceive women as dominating a conversation when actually they spoke less than men. In either case, women didn’t even approach *equal* representation before being perceived as asking too much.
        What’s the saying? If you’re used to privilege, approaching equality feels like oppression.

        1. Zak*

          There is no straw man here. No one goes through the trouble of requesting to be placed on a team of women when they want to work with men. She obviously doesn’t and is willing to settle for 40% women. Again, it doesn’t make sense for her to join a male dominated field and have a problem with working with men or possibly being the only women on the team because it doesn’t matter. What if the male nurse didn’t want to be the only male in a group full of women? It would reflect very poorly and that’s what I’m trying to say.

          1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

            That may be what you think you’re trying to say, but it’s not. What you’re doing is the equivalent of hearing person A ask person B what they’d like for lunch, and the person answers, “Oh, I think I’d prefer fish.” Then you start screaming “OMG, B hates everything except fish, why are they even going to a restaurant that serves other food?!?!”

      3. Just stoppin' by to chat*

        Wow Zak…that was a very in appropriate tone in that statement, and not inline with this welcoming and supportive AMA community. As a female-identifying techie, I understand why the OP is hoping to be on a team that has at least some female coworkers. You clearly do not understand that mentality, so fine…just scroll on by. I hope you will reconsider, and likely your general mentality.

  14. Is anybody else ordering fries?*

    How do I get my coworker to quit immediately because I’m not sure I can work with them any longer? J/k, but also kind of not.

    I temporarily reported to my coworker, Jane, after our mutual manager left for a new job. Before our manager left I told him I was concerned about Jane’s management style (because she has control issues and is incredibly smug), but my former manager told me there was not another option and assured me that he would let Jane know that this was temporary and her job was to just approve time off in the system and do similar administrative functions. Jane has confirmed this as well.

    Wellllll, I’m now writing in because everything I was worried would happen did happen. I finally reached my breaking point this week when i was being lectured yet again that I was wrong and told Jane that she needed to treat to me like a colleague and not speak to me like I’m a child (I am painfully aware this was my error and I feel terrible about it).

    The next day I approached my new manager and asked him if he could let Jane know sooner rather than later that she’s not my manager. I also disclosed that we had a tense meeting but didn’t go into details (from what I gather Jane went into more detail with him but I’m not sure about the details). I apologized to Jane because I should have handled it better but held my ground that she needed to be more respectful. Whereas I thought she might have also apologized and accepted some blame, she told me that her tone was fine and proceeded to talk to me like she was my manager handling a performance issue.

    I’m livid at her and mortified at what my new manager might think of me. Is my only option to be the bigger person and let it go while our boss comes to his own conclusions about Jane?

    Other possibly relevant information: 1) Jane and I worked extremely well together before this. 2) our work is heavily tied together so I can’t keep my distance from her 3) It’s not clear if Jane is higher up than me or if we’re equal as I recently received a promotion (I’m union and Jane isn’t so our positions have different, non-comparable classification structures).

    1. JumpAround*

      If you’re comfortable I’d advocate for you, Jane, and your manager to have a conversation together so that you can both be in the same room and hear the same thing from them. It gets rid of “well to me they said…” arguments later

      1. Pass the Just For Men*

        That’s a good idea. It’s amazing what some choose to hear in private conversations, and if Jane has a tendency to dominate a conversation, she’ll find that easy to do with a new manager getting their footing.

        I don’t know if you need to call a meeting for that though, but in a usual meeting you all might have together to just add as a quick question to clear the air.

      2. Is anybody else ordering fries?*

        I would love for that to happen. While I don’t want to do this for what’s already happened, because I’m worried about being perceived as causing more drama, I will definitely be advocating for group discussions should anything change in the future. Thank you for your reply!

        1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

          You can frame it as trying to get everyone on the same page so you can move forward.

          I had a Jane for a while and the only thing that every improved things was when Jane, myself, and our boss all sat together, hashed it out and came up with how to move forward. We were never friends, but things did go better from there on out.

      1. Is anybody else ordering fries?*

        That’s reassuring to hear. I did not scream at Jane. I wanted to make sure my message was delivered in a calm tone so that it would come across clearly (although I wish I used less pointed language).

      2. Janet*

        Plenty of people like to use the word yelling when what they meant was sternly corrected. I think this is what I’m seeing here.

    2. mreasy*

      I mean, if you didn’t swear or yell at Jane, it seems like you handled it pretty well? If you hadn’t said that, she may not have understood what you were dealing with. Sometimes it feels like not “creating more drama” is the most important thing, while in reality, it’s alerting your manager of issues detrimental to your work & your workplace. This is one of those!

    3. pancakes*

      “Whereas I thought she might have also apologized and accepted some blame, she told me that her tone was fine and proceeded to talk to me like she was my manager handling a performance issue.”

      I’m not sure why you expected her to accept some blame while also expecting her to be problematic in this role. You thought she would be problematic, and she was, apparently in the same specific ways you expected her to be. Abandon the idea that she’s going to wake up one day and realize on her own that’s problematic and make a big thing of turning over a new leaf.

      “Is my only option to be the bigger person and let it go while our boss comes to his own conclusions about Jane?” Of course not, no. Why is communicating with your boss about the conclusions you want him to reach not a more prominent option? It seems you have an impulse to not share the details with boss, but if you want them to share your point of view about what happened you’re going to have to.

      1. Is anybody else ordering fries?*

        I expected her to fake a partial apology to try and move forward (that’s what I did). I know I won’t convince her she was wrong. That’s trying to get a square peg into a round hole.

        I think I view it as just trash talking another employee or that I would come off as gossipy because this feels a lot more like a personality conflict.

        Thank you for you insights! You’ve given me a lot to think about.

        1. pancakes*

          I think I see what you mean — the problem is that it seems to be part of her personality to try to undermine you, or undermine the way reporting works in this office, in terms of who reports to who, and what her limited scope of authority is. It isn’t gossipy to speak to your boss about her trying to do that, though, if you stick to the facts about how it unfolded and don’t speculate about why she behaves this way.

    4. My Useless 2 Cents*

      Any way you could take a day or two off? Some breathing room from the situation could help cool things down a bit and get things back on an even keel.

      Other than that, I’d try having a more detailed chat with new manager about the situation. That you discussed with leaving manager that you had concerns when Jane was put in the interim position because she can be a little controlling and that does not work well with you. You may understand that Jane believes she is being helpful. But Jane doesn’t understand that you see it as condescending and lacking in respect. Ask new manager for advice. (Asking for advice can be very flattering and smooth over a lot of ruffled feathers.)

  15. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I made a horrible irreparable mistake at work. I was going to quit my job, change my name and move to Madagascar, but my boss noted that would not in fact be necessary. Do you guys have any good stories of coping with a terrible mess up?

    1. ABCYaBye*

      Not specifically a terrible mess up, but I did make a pretty serious mistake by sending an email to an external partner instead of my boss (damn you, Outlook autofill). I went to my boss, admitting the mistake, and immediately tried to recall the email. My boss was concerned of course, but was appreciative that I admitted the mistake and then moved on. I’m not sure if the recipient ever received or read the email. It appears as though they didn’t. But owning up to the mistake was the best thing I could have done. Then don’t make the mistake again.

      I felt comfortable enough that I was even able to joke a few weeks later when I sent something to my boss that I didn’t copy the external partner … and my boss got a good laugh.

    2. Greenhouse Lackey*

      We order Easter lilies for churches every year. Last year I got the count way wrong (we have to order them since we don’t grow them ourselves). We were short 50 Easter lilies and our supplier was sold out. So I told my boss immediately and said I will search for other lilies so we can complete the church orders. I got them at Lowes (it cost the business over $100!!). My boss was fine since I owned my mistake and fixed it. This year I used Excel to keep up with the numbers and the count was fine.

      But still. I wanted to cry when I realized we were short.

    3. sparrow*

      Yes! One time, early in my current job, I introduced an error to a product that went to print – and when it got found out, it had to get reprinted, which was expensive for the company. I was absolutely mortified, and I’m pretty sure I cried in front of my boss (unprofessional), but she was very understanding. Luckily, my department takes the view that mistakes usually mean that the process needs to be built differently to guard against these types of errors, and I learned never to manually rekey anything that could be copy/pasted to ensure its accuracy. I still remember the exact error that made it in, but I don’t think anyone else could tell you what the error was. I kept my job and have even survived a couple rounds of layoffs at this job. If it wasn’t a fireable offense, your job now is to show you’ve learned from your mistake. Best of luck!

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Well the situation was so rare that I’ll probably work years and not see it again.

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      Years ago I committed a horrible, non-recoverable, horrific mistake at work. I was sure I would be fired — I mean a “threw the entire department into chaos, made an already bad situation much worse, took a bad relationship with another critical department and turned it into open warfare” mistake. I was shocked when I wasn’t fired. I recovered by apologizing to everyone I had wronged, and most importantly, by being scrupulously careful in the future to not make a similar mistake and going out of my way to try to repair the damage.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      At my old hospital, I used to be in charge of handling bundled ambulance bills. (Short version: If you’re inpatient at Hospital A, Medicare won’t pay claims submitted by anyone else during that inpatient stay, they have to get sent to Hospital A who is responsible for paying them and then bundling them into your bill for that stay. It’s more complex than that, but that will do for this story.) We had a lot of patients who needed to be ambulanced over to our sister hospital for treatments we didn’t perform in-house, so we had a contract with a local ambulance company to provide these bundled services at a contract rate. They were in the middle of renegotiating the contract, and I was told to hold all ambulance bills until that was completed. So I just chucked ’em all into a box until someone told me it was done.

      Well, they forgot to tell me, and I forgot to follow up. Until one day when I got an email from my five-greats grand-boss, the CFO, cc’ing every boss in between us, asking me why the ambulance company was pitching tantrums that they hadn’t been paid in nine months and by their records we owed them almost a million dollars. When my boss came to find me, I was literally huddled on the floor under my desk in absolute tears, convinced she was on her way to frog-march me out the door. (She talked me down off the ledge very nicely, I explained what went wrong and copped to my contribution to the issues, she goes “How fast can we get this fixed?” and I had all the invoices processed and submitted for payment by EOB that day. So it worked out okay in the end, but lord, I was a wreck.)

    6. West Coaster*

      I have done this. Own that you made the mistake, that you know it was serious, tell your boss the steps you are taking to correct it and ensure it doesn’t happen again, make sure it doesn’t happen again, and don’t fall on your sword about it. You don’t want to come off as sniveling or unconfident, but you also don’t want to be nonchalant about it.

      I’ve also found that some of the most egregious mistakes I’ve made have also been made by others in my role at different organizations.

      And that some of those mistakes taught me valuable lessons.

      I also still choose to wake up at 3am freaked out about mistakes I made five years ago, so there’s that.

    7. Bagpuss*

      I lost a client file – as in, left the office with it for an external meeting, got back without it. (I had a lot of heavy stuff and it was a lever arch file, I am nearly sure that what hapened was that I put it ontop of my car while I unlocked the car, and then drove off , and that it presumably fell off at some point during the drive back.
      I drove striaght back to check the car park, and to check with the local police station in case it havd been handed in, then had a sleepless night as it was well after the office awas closed when I discovered it was gone.
      It had a bunch pof personal finacial information about a client’s personal finances so a confidentiality / date loss nightmare.

      I was pretty junior, had only been in my then job for about 3 months, and had come from a VERY dysfuntional officewhere my boss was a backstabbing liar, so I was fully expecting to be fired on the spot.
      In fact, the person I told as soon as I got in was great – he immediately told me that the things I had already done were exactly the right first steps and said “lets sit down and work out what we need to do next so we can fix this” his making it a ‘we’ problem rather than a ‘me’ problem was hugely helpful , and he also encouraged me to make suggestions about the next steps (which made me feel I was also part of the solution) and was also very flexible about which awkward phone calls I made and which he dealt with.

      He had a lot of faults as a manager but that particular situation couldn’t have been handled better . IIRC we also kept the client happy – they got a preemptive apology, and I think a discount for any hassle they had if they felt they needed to change account details or sign up for extra credit reports etc.

      In a different job, when I was panicking becasue of a problem which was not actually my fault, but which caused a lot of hassle (I got taken ill at court and while the court staff called an ambulance, the ,essage didn’t get through to the Judge in my hearing that I was busy collapsing in the waiting room, so was treated as a no show, which meant we had to then get some orders amended) my then collegues cheered e up when I was back in the office with tales of their own Horrible Disasters – whcih included one person who tried to apply for probate for someone who wasn’t yet dead (very awkward conversations with them and their executors!) and one who had got very stressed due to getting held up on the way to court, panicked, got into the Judge’s chambers for her applicantion and couldn’t speak at all and burst into tears. (The Judge was very kind, took her file from her,. read it, wrote out an order in longhand and passed it to her saying “I think this is the order you were sent here to get, Ms Name” !)

      Which all left me feeling that I wasn’t the only one who made mistakes.

    8. NeonFireworks*

      I made an error like this during my second year in my line of work, only a few months after I joined my current workplace. It looked fine on the surface, but underneath it was an absolute mess. I went back and forth and decided to report it to my boss. She chewed me out about it for more than an hour, and when I was on the verge of tears, she also gave me a lecture about not appearing “overly emotional” at work. I was about to quit on the spot when she paused and admitted that at the beginning of her career at our workplace, about 20 years ago, she made the exact same error.

      1. Juneybug*

        Well that was an emotional roller-coaster ride! I hope you no longer work for that person (who handled the situation terribly).

    9. Fabulous*

      I’ve had quite a few working as a temp throughout the years. Here are some highlights that I can remember off the top of my head:

      – Working reception for a financial firm, client calls in to get some info on her account. Normally I’d just transfer to customer service, but I was new and knew I had access to answer her questions, so I did. Well, I was not trained on security measures and she called me on not performing any prior to releasing info on her account. I don’t kn0w the official outcome, but she said she would be closing her account. Never answered any other questions for callers again, regardless of type.

      – Same place. Guy comes in for an appointment, signs the log book, has his appointment and needs to bring a check back to complete a transaction. He supposedly comes back and drops off the check, but doesn’t sign the log book, and the check is MIA. I don’t recall him coming back in, and there were no checks at the front desk, so we surmise that he must have come while I was at lunch and the other (more flighty/disorganized) admin was covering the front desk, which the security cameras confirmed. This guy… holy crappola… called and harrassed/berated/degraded me no less than 30 times when he discovered that his transaction never went through. I hung up on him more than once and ended up not even answering his calls after a while since I don’t/no one deserves to be talked to like that. I think his actions outshadowed anything I did, but wow. I was literally scared for my life from that one.

      – Was working at a warehouse, first job out of college, and a project came in that my department was involved in (my department = just me) where I had to make like 30 large teapot covers – and by large I mean like 5′ tall. Because I was a newbie, most project meetings were held without me, but also no one ever communicated when they were, what action items I needed to do based on the meetings, or deadlines. So there I was just minding my own business only making 1 or 2 a day because they were so unwieldly and frustrating to work on, and lo and behold the supposed delivery date flies past without my knowledge. So I ended up scrambling to finish them all, my boss even joined in, and they were pretty crappy quality. No idea how much money they lost on that deal… I didn’t stay around for that much longer after this fiasco, but I have no clue how they didn’t walk me out the door that day.

    10. Nesprin*

      Sure- when I was a callow young engineer, boss handed me the widget, reminded me that widget was expensive and delicate, and if the widget broke, our schedule for work using the widget would be completely borked.

      I (of course) broke the widget. I went and fessed up to boss, apologized profusely, and considered moving to Antarctica.

      A day later, I made an off hand comment on how maybe we could build a thingamambob instead of always relying on the widget to a coworker, who dragged me back to meet with boss (to my compounded mortification). Boss said good idea, gave me the money to build the thingamambob, and without the widget, I sure had the time to build it. It worked, and I finished the project faster than I would have been able to with the widget.

    11. Everything Bagel*

      I was reviewing a report that I prepared and had filed with a state agency when I found an error that I had made. I immediately jumped to the conclusion that this error was going to cause us to lose this project with a value of $13 million in cold hard cash. I completely lost my mind, could barely breathe and was trying to silently cry at my desk, I may have been having a panic attack. My boss was out for an appointment. Instead of calling him immediately, I thought I would bring him a solution along with the problem and so I called the state agency involved in the project to discuss the error. I had to leave a message for someone. Then I called my boss and told him about the error and that I had gone ahead and called the agency about it. He was very calm and kind in telling me that was the wrong move, I should have talked to him before calling the agency, and I probably wasn’t going to lose us 13 million dollars. I was so inconsolable and panicked he actually called me on the following Sunday to make sure I was okay because he knew how upset I was.
      I was mortified over the error and my impulsive attempt at resolving it, and was positive I would lose my job over all of it.
      We didn’t lose the money and I didn’t lose my job. I probably have a dozen other stories of times I made mistakes that cost us something, but that time was the worst of the worst as far as how I felt about it at the time. That time also taught me a lesson and now I try to be very careful in how I approach finding my mistakes and correcting them.

    12. Fiona*

      Is anyone dead because of your mistake? No? Then you have to take a deep breath, remember you’re human, and it’s just work. Your boss only wants to hear the following:
      – This was my responsibility
      – I know how the mistake happened
      – These are the steps that I’ve taken to ensure it won’t happen again.

      I think 99% of what people remember is not the error, but how someone handled it. I also would make sure you’re not putting it on your boss to absolve you/forgive you/make you feel better. If you were super, genuinely remorseful (which it sounds like you were), that’s enough. Just go back to work and do your job well and everyone will forget about this. And if you need to feel better, just google search “worst mistake I made at work” or whatever. You’ll find you’re not alone!!!!

    13. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

      Working a job just out of high school (a big insurance company with some guy named Jonathan making it famous) a co-worker sent a file box with hundreds of un-cashed checks and undocumented payments to storage.

      Although I had nothing to do with it, I was chosen to fix the problem. I was responsible for contacting every client (all were over 65) and explaining to them that their insurance was not cancelled and they were having their checks returned and giving 3 free months of insurance.

      It was horrible, but I persevered and it made me a more valuable employee as I learned many customer service lessons, some that I still use today.

  16. Amber Rose*

    I don’t know if its Covid or flu but both the husband and I are very, very sick. I can’t get his fever down, and I also can’t hardly move or breathe.

    But, well, I have responsibilities. I’m trying to balance my needs with work needs and I’m struggling. Everyone at work needs something from me, I am still a choke point for way too many tasks despite my efforts to cross train other people… and I desperately need sleep. It’s been three years since I had so much as a cold and I forgot how friggin miserable it is to be sick. I’m in pain, I’m fatigued, the medicine makes me dizzy.

    WFH is a double edged sword, in this case. In previous years or jobs I’d call in sick and then that’d be it. But I have my work phone and my work dedicated laptop and almost everything can be done from my couch.

    To what extent can I reasonably ask people if it can wait until Monday when I’m less busy suffering? Should I just set my out of office and ignore it all?

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I’d tell people I’m sick, and let the cards fall where they may. I get sick often abd I notice that if I don’t rest it just drags the unproductivity out .

    2. Former Recruiter, Current HR Generalist*

      You can still call in sick from WFH jobs. Not sure why you wouldn’t?

      1. Attractive Nuisance*

        +1. Especially if you are a manager, I’m very disturbed by the message you’re sending! Do you expect your staff to WFH while sick?

      2. ABCYaBye*

        Absolutely! While you make be a choke point, that doesn’t mean that you cannot advocate for yourself. If you need to call in sick, do it. If you can log in and take care of some things when you have energy to do so, feel free, even if it is 2 am and even if it is for an hour. But you need to be a model for your team, too. They’re going to follow your lead. Show them that it is better to get better and not press through. If you’re not able to be fully present, you shouldn’t feel that you must be partially present.

    3. Oxford Comma*

      WFH doesn’t mean you can’t call in sick. You are literally ill. You are talking about being in pain and being dizzy. You said you are having trouble breathing and moving. Call in. Don’t look at your email. Don’t answer your phone. Ignore the laptop.

      Also, if you’re having trouble breathing maybe you ought to call your doctor’s office. Feel better soon.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      the husband and I are very, very sick. I can’t get his fever down, and I also can’t hardly move or breathe

      Take a sick day! Or several!

      This is not “I’ll work from home because I have a cold (runny nose, sneezing, mild headache).” This is “I can hardly breathe and I desperately need to sleep.” Listen to your body and take the time off you need to recover. I vote for tell your manager you’re taking a sick day, set your out-of-office, and power down your work devices for the weekend.

      Hope you feel better soon!

    5. eBench*

      If you have sick leave, take it. It’s for you to rest and heal, not carry everyone else’s problems from your couch.

    6. DisneyChannelThis*

      Take a sick day!!!!!!!!!

      Set an auto-reply and if you have chat your chat status. Then turn off the phone and laptop until Monday. People will have to deal.

    7. LadyByTheLake*

      You are sick. Take a sick day (or several). I’ve worked from home for over a decade and it is fine to take sick days when you are sick.

    8. Alex*

      Set your out of office and ignore it all, definitely.

      The world won’t end if stuff has to wait. Even if it is “urgent”. Tell people you are too sick to work and get back to bed!

    9. Asenath*

      If I were that sick, I’d just shut everything down, take my sick leave, and do no work. I’ve never really understood why it’s OK to be sick, but still have to work if I were working from home. I can see borderline cases – if I weren’t really very sick, and the break from the commute was all I needed. And I can understand cases where there is no paid sick leave, and the worker can’t afford to take the time off. But if you’re so sick that you can hardly move or breathe, you need to rest and care for yourself, and NOT work. That’s what sick leave is for! It’s not just to prevent you from spreading your illness; it’s to help you recover.

    10. Cat Lady*

      I work from home and have (presumptive, haven’t tested positive yet) covid and took several days off. I could barely lift my head off the pillow. You can’t sacrifice your body for your job, the only way you will get better is with rest so you need to take it. Be kind to yourself. Work will be there on Monday or next Wednesday, whenever you are feeling better. Log off and take a nap.

    11. Ashloo*

      Seriously eff work. Do you have a pulse oximeter? Can’t reduce fever and trouble breathing are severe enough to think about going to the hospital, and that’s plenty good enough for your workplace to wait on whatever they need from you.

      1. Amber Rose*

        It’s the congestion. Every time I get sick it sinks into my lungs. :/
        I’ve dealt with so many lung infections that I can confidently say i’m not at hospital level yet.

        1. Nesprin*

          Be careful. Am old hat with lung crud, but when I had ccovid I didn’t feel it when my spO2 was dropping.

    12. Bagpuss*

      Yes, absolutely, set your OOO, do wahever needs to be done to record that you are taking time off sick and then turn eveything off and take care of yourself.
      If need be, set your internal OOO to say you are unwell and won’t be able to check mail / answer calls, and direct people to your manager for anything urgent. (that way, you have done what you can to ensure that if there is anything genuinely urgent, it can be flagged up with someone who has the seniority to deal with it, and if they don’t, you have covered your back)

      I hope you and your husband feel better soon.

    13. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

      Take real sick days. This “but you can still work from home” crap must die. I worked from home with COVID because we were short-staffed, and I regret it. I’m pretty sure it extended my illness. Write something like “My fever is too high for me to be reliable today.” Then log off and turn off your phone.

    14. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, if you’re sick, you’re sick. That’s that. You shouldn’t be working if you aren’t well enough to.

      There ARE situations when one could be sick and able to work from home, like if you hurt your ankle and couldn’t walk far or drive but you otherwise felt fine or something, but that’s not your situation. You are ill and unable to work so take the time off.

    15. Ginger Pet Lady*

      Call in sick and then ignore until you are well. Let them feel the pain of the choke points they’re failing to address. You need to rest and recover, you can ABSOLUTELY tell them you are too sick to work. It’s 100% reasonable *no matter where you work*

    16. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      You can absolutely call in sick while WFH. If you are feeling bad, you really can’t concentrate on work and your body and mind need rest–you don’t need the stress of work when you are not feeling 100%

    17. danmei kid*

      Oh my god. SET YOUR OUT OF OFFICE AND IGNORE IT ALL. Designate a backup/delegate for time-critical stuff. WHY ARE WE STILL HAVING THESE CONVERSATIONS TWO YEARS INTO A GLOBAL PANDEMIC? You’re no good to anyone dead but more to the point, your office will literally carry on long after you are mouldering in the grave. They will neither appreciate nor remember your noble sacrifice. TAKE TIME TO BE SICK.

    18. The Person from the Resume*

      I work from home full time. I have been off sick all week.

      You should be off sick resting, not trying to work, no matter if you can do your job from the sofa.

      1. The Person from the Resume*

        Also the only message I got back from my boss was “get well soon and don’t try to come back until you are healthy/ready.” That’s the kind of message a boss should send.

    19. Jenna Webster*

      Please call in sick and put your work computer and phone away until you are better!!! Working from home does NOT mean working while you’re sick. The company will benefit from you taking the time you need to get back on the top of your game.

    20. Observer*

      To what extent can I reasonably ask people if it can wait until Monday when I’m less busy suffering? Should I just set my out of office and ignore it all?

      Set your phone and email as “OOO” and have done. If you are that sick, it’s totally reasonable for you to not be available.

      So sad, too bad that you are the choke point. But that’s the risk a company takes with this kind of structure.

    21. Little Miss Sunshine*

      Call in sick, set your out of office to auto reply with the next best contact and assume that people will figure it out or find the gaps that need to be filled for next time. NO ONE IS INDISDENSIBLE. You may be very valuable and knowledgeable, and you may well be appreciated, but it is still just a job. I assume you are American as this is a very American attitude about sick time, but set some healthy boundaries. You are most likely employed at will, and if you think working yourself to severe illness will build you job security, you need to wake up. Ever since the 2008 crash in the US, we have seen staff let go in the middle of big projects, people with stellar work histories and incredible knowledge. If you were hit by a bus, would you be working from your hospital bed? What is the consequence of a day or two delay in you responding to an email? If you are truly that critical, you are not being paid enough. Take a few days to get better, ignore your email entirely, and return to work fully recovered, rested and ready to go.

    22. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      I don’t know if this is formally proven yet, but there’s anecdotal evidence that pushing yourself instead of fully resting when you’re ill with covid makes it more likely you’ll get “long covid”. The short-term inconvenience to them of your absence for a day or a couple of weeks would still be less than the inconvenience to them of having to recruit for your post and teach a new person what you know. So if it is covid, you wouldn’t be doing anyone any favours by taking that risk.

    23. SofiaDeo*

      You can’t take care of anyone else, until your needs are met. If this is the US where “work above all” can dominate, please take care of yourself first. Neither your boss nor coworkers are likely to come take care of you, if you collapse. Unless someone is going to die if you don’t do your work, or there will be major repercussions lasting 10+ years out (bridge failure, international incident, post weather event cleanup affecting residents) I can’t imagine it being worth it.

  17. Free Meerkats*

    Yesterday, the Assistant Director left their office and didn’t lock the computer.

    Someone went in and sent an email to the entire department that essentially said, “I left my office and my computer isn’t locked. Please come tell me about the policy.”

    Drama has ensued…

    1. smeep248*

      when my employees would do this in a former life I would change their desktop backgrounds to a picture of Justin Bieber. I still giggle about it.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I worked somewhere that people would flip your screen upside down. We were a government contractor dealing with HIPAA information, so we always locked our screens.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      That’s not going to end well. And here I thought it was bad the time my old workplace used to change the desktop background of unlocked computers to say they need to be locked.

    3. Bread Addict*

      At my old work they used to invert our screens if we left them unlocked. Until it messed up a woman clocking back in after lunch because she couldnt flip it round.

      To be fair though, we worked with bank accounts so walking away especially with a customers account open was a huge liability issue.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same at Exjob (tech services for banks and credit unions). You HAD to lock your screen or you’d be in big trouble. I don’t do it at home unless I go out, but it’s now a habit everywhere else.

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

      Too bad he wasn’t forced to bring donuts or pasties for the office, which is the normal “punishment”

      1. firestarter11*

        I’m sure that’s a typo, but the 12-year-old boy in me is giggling at the boss bringing pasties to the office.

        1. PollyQ*

          Cornish pasties are a thing, though, and I sure wouldn’t mind if someone brought them into the office!

          1. All Het Up About It*

            Yes this is another case of UK English and US English having VERY different meanings. So not a typo – just a type of pastry!

    5. anonymous73*

      Wow. It’s one thing to do that to a colleague – our IT guys used to mess with our computers all the time when we did this, but to the Asst Director. Very bad idea.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Unless it was the director who did it, or a peer from another department. Still drama, but more impunity.

      2. Everything Bagel*

        I assume the assistant director is extremely embarrassed about being caught not following their policies. It’s kind of hard for him to be too angry about this, isn’t it?

        1. anonymous73*

          No it’s really not that hard to be angry. If they aren’t following the policies than they need to be spoken to, not have their computer tampered with by someone who think they’re “teaching a lesson”.

    6. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

      Oooh! I have no issue with the person sending the message because the policy is there for a reason and something much worse could have happened, and I see it as a safe way of making the point. But I imagine people will disagree. However, we had an incident where a trainee left their computer unlocked against policy; the trainer sent an email from it to make a point… and the trainer ended up on a disciplinary for using someone else’s computer…

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I can kind of see that. The trainer should have, you know, trained the new hire. The trainer was the one who is supposed to know better. I don’t see disciplinary action but I think the trainer’s boss could have set guidelines for the training so the trainer knew not to get creative.

    7. Admin of Sys*

      Yeah, so when I was a young IT professional, I absolutely used to be the person that would do that, or change the background, or whatever. But now – nope. 100000 times nope. Lock the machine, leave a post it not saying it had not been locked, and if it happens again, put a ticket into IT about setting up an autolock policy. Do /not/ access the unsecured machine. If the security requirement is legit, then don’t violate security by using someone’s unlocked machine. If the security requirement is bs, then let it slide. If your job is to enforce security, then don’t treat a violation like a fun party gag to tease someone about.

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

      Unless that someone was the Director …um wow. I hope it’s a fairly small department and everyone gets a good chuckle out of it. Like others, we usually just mess with the person’s desktop — hide all their icons or change the volume on their alerts. It makes the point without involving everyone else.

      1. SyFyGeek*

        I always lock my PC, it’s habit. A colleague was always looking for a chance to change my background (standard practice on an unlocked computer) and she never could. One afternoon when I came back from lunch, she was hanging around, and kept giggling. I typed in my password and got back to work and her face just fell.

        Turns out she had popped some of the letters off my keyboard and moved them around. She thought I would type the letters in their new places and cause my PC to lock me out. Never occurred to her that I didn’t look at the keyboard when I typed…

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

          lol. I would notice the letters were mis-arranged but it wouldn’t stop me from knowing which keys they were supposed to be. Back in the good old days before Apple changed their OS and ruined all the fun, we’d add custom sound effects to the system alerts. My boss was particularly fond of Homer Simpson’s voice going “DOH!” for error alerts.

        2. Agile Phalanges*

          I had to pop some keys off to clean my keyboard once, and put most of them back correctly but couldn’t remember which order the M and N go in, so put them in alphabetical order. I’ve been touch-typing since high school, so didn’t bother me a bit, but anytime anyone else sat at my computer, it drove them nuts. Ha!

    9. fhqwhgads*

      …or IT could have a group policy that auto-locks it after 5 min idle. Or maybe that’s already in play and this happened before the auto-lock could kick in?

  18. tegdirb*

    Should I reach out about an internal position that may have been filled? There was a job opening in my company that I just learned about. It looks like it has been filled (there is an offer letter out) and given how vaguely the position was written, I’m not sure if I would have had the qualifications for it anyway – I doubt it as my experience in that role would probably be at the junior level and they would be looking for associate level.

    Would it make sense to reach out to the hiring manager or internal recruiter just to inquire about it and tell them I just want to make sure I am ready the next time there is an opening?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I think it’s a good idea to reach out to the hiring manager and say something along the lines of “I just noticed this posting and it looks like the position is filled, but I wanted to let you know I’d be interested if a similar role were open in the future.”

    2. Box of Kittens*

      Seconding the yes, reach out. I don’t know how it is everywhere, but at my company we are seeing a trend of candidates ghosting/backing out after offers have been accepted. Not saying that will happen here obviously, but it’s definitely not going to hurt to express interest for this or future positions like it.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      Yes!!!
      Once upon a time when I was a manager, I had just extended an offer to someone else when an employee from another department said exactly that- they realized it was late, but they would be interested next time. Well, next time ended up being about 60 days later, as the new hire didn’t work out. The “almost missed” person was perfect for the role and held it for a few years before being promoted on. Had he not said anything to me I wouldn’t have guessed he was interested.

  19. Self-censoring my references*

    I’m a woman in my early 50’s who looks about 10 years younger (flashback to being carded for lottery tickets at 28 when friends told me someday I’d appreciate looking younger than I actually am). I’ve noticed that I censor myself when talking about pop culture and historical references with others. An example – someone asked me about the Celtics recently being in the NBA championship and I stopped myself from talking about how different the reaction in Boston was this year to back in the 80’s when it seemed like they were in it every year. I didn’t want them to know I was in high school during the 80’s. Or I don’t mention I watched LiveAid.

    I work with a lot of people who are at least 20 years younger than me. As a woman in a technology related field I’ve dealt with a lot of sexism, mostly early in my career but it still happens now and then. And now I’m trying to avoid ageism I guess. Does anyone else do this? How do you deal with being a lot older than colleagues?

    1. Heather*

      I’m only 40 but I’m a nurse and I work with a lot of 22 year olds. I definitely censor myself (they don’t need to hear my “Friends” references) and I also studiously try to avoid references to anything current. IE, I’m not going to mention “TikTok trends” or anything. I don’t know that it’s a bad thing to try to get age out of the equation. I stick to neutral topics– and there are a ton of those, so you can definitely be friendly and have a lot of chit-chat without bringing up LiveAid.

      1. Pass the Just For Men*

        I’m shocked by how popular Friends are with the early-20’s folks. I’ve heard my staff reference “PIVOT” and they all laugh. It’s a total crapshoot. :)

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Just need to point out that when the series started, the characters were all older than me. By the time it ended, they were all younger than me. So, I guess they were promoting an ageist philosophy.

            1. Charlotte Lucas*

              Except he’s a cartoon character & therefore ageless. Having actual actors not age at a rate based on the passage of time (the show was supposed to be taking place in the years it was being filmed, not like Downton Abbey) means that the only way you can have internal continuity is if the characters were in some sort of time warp. In which case, I guess it was SF. Or the writers were ageist & not that good.

        2. AGD*

          This. I am mid-thirties and work with undergrads. Many of my older colleagues AND my twentyish students get the Friends references; I do not.

          1. Shhhh*

            Right? I was a bit too young for Friends the first time around and a bit too old for whatever renaissance it’s had with the current undergrad-aged folks (31 here). It’s not like I don’t know anything about it but I don’t always recognize references.

        3. Never Nicky*

          I’m 53 and look a lot younger. In lockdown I grew out my hair and it’s now a steely grey with white streaks and still people don’t think I’m the age I am.
          For the last 25 years, I’ve been at least a decade older than my managers and it’s never been a problem.
          I use the element of surprise. And I own my age. And my experiences. I don’t do the whole “oh it was different in my day” thing, though. I focus on the positive and progress, and that helps. And being older, I do tend to see the bigger picture, and I have less figs to give and people respect and appreciate that.

      2. JayRi*

        I am 44 and often d0 the same thing, especially around younger colleagues. And other times it’s something to joke/tease about.

    2. Pass the Just For Men*

      Hello. If it matters, I’m a man, and as I hit my mid-40’s, I’ve become a lot more aware of ageism for both genders. At my last role, I colored my hair regularly and only after a year, did I lessen the frequency somewhat to slowly-but-surely go to my natural 50/50 gray/brown.

      The pop culture stuff is my achilles heel though. I know 90’s stuff (when I was a teen) is a giveaway despite a lot of that coming back a little bit, but I made a reference to a very popular movie from the late 2000’s (Mean Girls) while we were making Candy Grams, and literally none of my early-mid 20’s staffers got the reference. Just blank stares and crickets.

    3. londonedit*

      I’m 40 and I don’t worry too much about ageism/sexism in my industry (there are plenty of 40+ women in senior positions where I work) but I do self-censor with younger colleagues just so I don’t become that annoying woman going ‘Oh my GAAAAAWD you’re all so YOUNG, I was LEAVING SCHOOL when you were BORN, how is that even POSSIBLE’. Because that’s got to be really irritating when you’re in your twenties and trying to be a professional person in a professional job. Of course I do joke sometimes about being old enough to remember ’90s fashion the first time round but I try to limit that and not make a big deal of any age differences.

    4. WellRed*

      I did it when I was about 35, mistaken for 25. I’d catch myself editing my pop culture references.

    5. Asenath*

      Always avoid references to pop culture and any event which is likely to get a blank look and “I wasn’t born then” in response. Keep all conversations on work or current trivia. I would make a special effort to listen to their advice on work issues because I know I tend to want to offer them mine, which can come across as me being kind of stuck-in-the-mud. And if I do, because of my long years on the job, have knowledge they don’t, I try to provide it tactfully.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I was once surprised that two of my younger co-workers had never heard of the song, “if I had a hammer”

      2. pancakes*

        I don’t think such strictness is necessary. It isn’t that shameful for people to not know about pop culture from the years before they were born, or to not know about current culture for that matter. It also isn’t that shameful for older people to know about things the younger ones don’t. Knowing tidbits about Top of the Pops or having seen an 80s blockbuster in a theater or whatnot isn’t a mark of superiority, it’s just a marker of living in a slightly different time frame.

    6. anonymous73*

      I honestly just don’t worry about it. I’m close to 50 and have worked with people much younger than me in the past and now the present. And the older I get, the less I care what other people think. If someone treats me poorly because of my age, I’ll speak up. I don’t know that there’s a magic formula to stop caring, but it’s better than having to edit your self every time you speak because you’ll worry everyone will think you’re a dinosaur.

    7. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Man, I wish I could censor myself better! I think you’re right to do that, frankly. Not lie, but also not volunteer things that directly age you. I also look younger than I am, my field is very young, I am older than damn near everyone around me, and ageism is a problem. It would benefit me not to draw attention to my age, and yet I do not know how to shut up and stop stepping in it.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Don’t you automatically curate your conversation to the other people involved, just for the sake of good communication? References are supposed to add nuance to the conversation or create a bond. If the other person doesn’t get it, there’s no point to making a reference anyway.

      It’s enough work trying to explain things to my kids. I don’t have the energy to bog down work conversations with opaque references that I then have to explain. It’s not worth the trouble.

      I guess if other people were already talking about something like LiveAid or the Challenger explosion, I might say I remember it. They know I’m older than them, even if they don’t know exactly.

      But I’m an individual contributor in a field where long-term experience is valued and there really isn’t much trendy or fast-changing standards to keep up with. I spend more time dealing with clients than coworkers, and the clients are often closer to my age. So I don’t worry about actively trying to conceal my age.

      1. Anyfizz*

        Yeah, this is where I land. I look super young, but I’m also not well-versed in general pop-culture from any generation. If I’m making a reference, it’s usually to industry-gossip or about a shared hobby.

    9. Fig*

      I’m 43 and like literally everyone who guesses my age says 32. My vanity loves it lol. But anyway, I totally talk about things that date me. I’ve lived a crazy life and have the stories to show for it, which I freely share as a bit of fun one-upsmanship with younger coworkers and friends. Obviously, I try not to cross any boundaries, but I’ve never had an issue with it. I wouldn’t overthink it, just trust your gut about how it whatever you say will be received.

      1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        Ditto! Have fun with it. LOL. There was a younger guy in my office who didn’t know who Captain James T Kirk was. Imagine that

    10. Elizabeth West*

      Older Gen X and I do it, yeah. I keep my hair colored because ageism in hiring is a real thing.

      AFA working with younger people, I don’t care as long as they can do their work so I don’t have to. Younger bosses are fine too; I’m used to skating coaches who could be my kids telling me what to do. My interests tend to align with current pop culture, particularly geek stuff, so I understand most references [insert Cap gif here, lol]. If I just be myself, it’s usually fine since we can find common ground on most things.

    11. Anon for This*

      I censor myself with people I don’t know, or don’t know well. But when I am with people who know me/my work it’s less of an issue. Just try to keep current so you know what your younger peers are talking about. My kids have kept me up on current slang, TikToks, etc., (which helps!) and I keep an eye out for news articles or summaries of popular tweets so I often have an idea of what they are talking about.

    12. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

      Oh how I get this. I watched the moon landing on a black-and-white TV. I was 4. I let my hair go gray but I’m fit and have a lot of energy. I get a weird split of people thinking I’m 10-15 years younger than I am, and people thinking I’m 10-15 years older. I’ve hit some indeterminate place, which I’m trying to make work for me. But yeah, there’s a real bias and it comes in unexpected ways. I steer very clear of any maternal advice and pop culture refs. I had an sports injury a few months ago and made the mistake of complaining about the pain. I got “aging ain’t for sissies” from one colleague who thought she was being kind. OUch.

    13. Curmudgeon in California*

      I’m 61, but I look like I’m 40, just starting to go grey. I work in tech, which has racism, sexism and ageism all rolled into one. I avoid both current and past pop-culture references, because I wasn’t plugged in to it then (I never watched Friends or other sitcoms like it, not did I watch reality TV) and certainly am not now. OTOH, where I work now is ripe with SF&F and related movie references – so Star Wars, Dr Strange, etc are very common references. This fills my geek heart with joy. Sure, some of them are sports fans too, but nobody’s perfect ;-)

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Totally this. Pushing 60, keep my hair colored, plus I look younger than I am. I’ve been the oldest or one of the oldest in my company for the past three or four jobs now. I just keep the topics on things that are current and leave it at that. Or just ask whomever I’m speaking with questions about what they’re doing/what they think about something/etc.
        On the plus side, it FINALLY seems that in finance, at least, having a 25 year old senior finance executive is now considered not the best idea anymore. lol

    14. Living That Teacher Life*

      I’m in my fifties, and I love being the older, more experienced teacher that I looked up to for so many years! I try to mentor and encourage younger teachers. Many people are surprised to find out my age, or that I have grandchildren, but I don’t try to hide it! I did have one experience with an ageist principal who always favored the young, new teachers. Once he found out I was the same age as him, he had no more respect for me (even though he should have had more). He later lost his job for inappropriate interactions with young teachers, so . . .

    15. Despachito*

      I do not see anything wrong about references in general.

      Don’t we frequently talk about important milestones from the past irrespective of our age – you do not need to presonally remember the landing on the Moon to be able to talk about it, and I can perfectly see a 70-years-old and a 15-years old doing so (with the older person being able to offer an interesting point of view if they remember it personally). And there are whole generations of Beatles lovers, for example.

      I think the problem lies somewhere else – in reading the room and adjusting accordingly. We all (ideally) adjust what we are saying to our listeners. And if we don’t, we will bore them stiff, or even offend them. But this is not just a matter of age, but of country, location, interests… References are a sort of “wink-wink, we have this in common and we both know what this is about”, but if one of us doesn’t, they lose the point and become just annoying empty blabber.

      I’d also avoid praising “goode olde times” and posing like a person who is much wiser because of their age, because this is annoying like hell. I am over 50 and absolutely do not feel like a wise person who understands everything, and there is always something interesting to be learned even from people much younger than me..

      I also do not see why I should not mention things from the current culture I like – actually, there are many new songs by young singers I love and prefer them to the old classics.

      I think the issue is not WHAT you say but HOW you say it

    16. Rara Avis*

      I accidentally revealed my age while talking to a (much) younger colleague about booster shots. I said I had just gotten my second and she said she should see about getting hers — I reminded her that you have to be 50, which I am, barely. I had mr kid pretty late so she didn’t realize I was that old. I work with a wide range of ages (and my incoming students were born on 2011) so age isn’t a huge deal — we’ve had student vs. teacher trivia contests where they were asked questions about the old times and we were asked questions about current pop culture. (They won, but we still took credit — for teaching them history well.)

    17. Product Person*

      Are you me? :-) I’m almost in the same situation (except that past 55 already), and know that people think I’m much younger because some colleagues have asked if I want to have kids some day (they know I’m married and child-free).

      I totally avoid giving away my age for fear they’ll think I’m obsolete!

      Which is kind of silly since almost every week a colleague reaches out to get my advice or ask for mentoring because one day they want to be able to do what I do. I think I still have trauma from a decade ago when some colleagues were joking about our CEO being too old after he used Madonna as an example of artist 20-somethings listen to (he was 45, as was I, only my peers didn’t know). :-/

    18. allathian*

      Now that I’ve let myself go gray I look my age (50). If I dyed my hair, I’d probably look younger, because I have very youthful-looking skin, but I’m not particularly interested in that. I’m happy in my current job, and because I work for the government, the job security, as long as I don’t do anything criminal, is good (without cause, they can’t lay me off unless they eliminate my position completely). I still got carded when I went out for drinks when I was 26 (drinking age 18). Now it’s no big deal because they’re supposed to card everyone who looks younger than 30.

      My team has people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s (our jobs require a Master’s degree, which is why only our interns are likely to be younger than 24). We celebrate people’s birthdays, and I don’t think anyone’s opted out of that, but it also follows that we know our coworkers’ ages. Because we respect each other professionally regardless of age in a way that’s obvious to everyone, we can joke about generational differences and cultural references without anyone taking offence.

    19. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Wow, reading the replies here makes me glad I never worked in whatever fields all of you are in. Everywhere I worked, we had a wide range of ages and we enjoyed swapping cultural reference stories across the generations. Maybe working in the humanities really is more humane.

    20. Class of ‘82*

      I try to keep my age a secret at work, since I’m closer to my co-workers’ parents’ ages than theirs! My worry these days is that my 40th high school reunion is coming up, and there are a bunch of postings on Facebook and I am Facebook friends with a few of my coworkers, and I just hope they don’t notice that I graduated HS before they were even born!

  20. Is it just me?*

    Anyone else feel like the job-hunt trends change with the seasons? For example, just about 2 years ago when I was laid off last time, I used to get a surprising amount of responses to LinkedIn easy applies, but I am not seeing the same kind of response, and was wondering if anyone else is noticing the same. It’s odd, because now it seems virtually every job posting on LinkedIn is an easy apply.

    Actually, I’m not seeing the same level of response I was seeing last time in general and was curious if anyone else is noticing that. Not sure if there is an influx of candidates from the “Great Resignation”, more layoffs are happening in other sectors than tech and financial services, or if it’s because I’m going for manager level roles that I wasn’t going for before because my last job was leading a department.

    I’m also noticing employers sitting longer on applications. Just two years ago, I typically heard within the week (if I applied Mon-Wed), but most of my applications haven’t been reviewed at all after 2+ weeks and I’m noticing that Indeed reports that many of the companies I’ve applied to take weeks to review. What’s up with that?

    I’m already tailoring my coverletter to the job and using my “achievement bank” to highlight stuff that is relevant to the role. I’m not yet customizing my resume for every application (just the ones I REALLY want) as that would be incredibly time consuming and since easy applies seem to be the nature of the beast now, it doesn’t seem relevant to tailor my resume since most of the time, one is not easily given the choice.

    1. Emily Dickinson*

      I’ve been going to the company websites and applying there instead. Would you recommend Easy Apply over that for any particular reason?

    2. eBench*

      LinkedIn easy apps are the WORST. Forget them and apply directly through the employer’s website. I just did some screening for a position and the quality of the LI candidates was pure shite. 90% unqualified – 50% of those in entirely different fields just applying because of a single shared job title keyword. The interface also sucks. Don’t get lost in a pool of a couple hundred crappy easy apps!

      1. eBench*

        For clarification – The interface also sucks so I’m going to minimize the amount of time I spend there.

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

      I think HR departments have been hit by the Great Resignation and it’s just taking forever to hire these days due to a lack of HR personnel. At least that’s my observation at my org. Our HR department melted down (lost 6 people), so the HR department is first onboarding their own new people and then triaging hiring for the most important positions first.

    4. Emily Dickinson*

      Also, I am not in a rush with my job search AT ALL, so I’m not minding if people take awhile to get back to me.

  21. JumpAround*

    How do I take a step back from management in my next job? And do I even want to?

    I started work with my company about 5 years ago in an entry level professional position. We had a large team but we lost more than half of it within my first year. Then my manager left when I’d been there a little more than a year, leaving the most senior person on my team someone who had been there only about 3 months more than me. In hind sight this should have been taken as a heaping pile of red flags, but at the time each person who left seemed to have a logical and not concerning reason for leaving (closer to family, switched departments, got an offer in their dream industry, etc.). Those of us remaining were all encouraged to apply for the manager job, and I ended up getting it.

    I now have about 4 years of management experience under my belt and I’m looking at moving on from my current company, but I don’t know if I want to continue in management, and how to execute what feels like a step backwards. On the one hand there are aspects of management I really like, mentoring new people in my field and getting a certain amount of input into higher level decisions. On the other hand there are aspects I hate, a certain lack of work life balance and missing out on some of the work socializing because I don’t want to crowd my direct reports, etc. I’m pretty young to have my position and sometimes I feel like I’m treated like a kid at the adults table. I also don’t know if I’m actually a good manager because the way my company operates seems to be outside the norm in a lot of ways so some of the autonomy that other mangers might have I don’t.

    How hard is it to transition from management to individual contributor? Is it harder to get an interview for a lower level position? If anyone has made the switch have they had difficulty with it in terms of taking a step back and giving up control?

    1. RoseMai*

      This is likely industry specific, but where I am we have plenty of manager level people who don’t actually have direct reports! Manager refers more to your level of knowledge than whether or not you have anyone reporting in to you (though often the two coincide).

      Regardless though, if you want an individual contributor role, go get one. Make sure that it’s a role that you’ll find interesting, and then tell them why you find it interesting. Maybe something like- I’ve enjoyed learning the ins and outs of managing a team, but now I’m looking to get more depth of knowledge in x, y, z areas. Or whatever reasoning applies for you!

      It helps if you can leverage your network to get a referral for a job you’re interested in. But use your cover letter to explain what interests you about the position, why you’re looking to make this change, and hopefully that’ll quell any doubts they might have.

    2. PinkCandyfloss*

      I hated managing and love being an individual contributor. I had an open conversation with my boss about it when discussing my short and long term development plans. I *can* manage people. I just don’t *like* managing people. I got praise and high marks and bonuses as a people manager yet I hated every minute of it, and I told my manager that I just am not cut out for management in the long term.

      Individual contributors are the heartbeat of any company. They get things done! They move business forward! I am proud to be a high level IC and have no qualms about continuing this way until I retire. Am I taking a cut in pay? Yes. Am I sacrificing that pay for peace of mind and much better quality of life? ALSO YES

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I did not mind supervising people. I thought they were interesting and they did great work.

      I did mind being the “kick me” person for all that went wrong. And it bothered me that I had to solve the “world’s” problems. I ended up fixing what others couldn’t or more realistically wouldn’t bother fixing.

      I think it matters where you manage and how managers are treated.

      I changed arenas so starting near the bottom was just part of changing arenas. I actually make more per hour than before. I had no problem stepping back because I was no longer in my element.

      I think that kid-at-the-adults’-table feeling wears many different costumes. It can look like feeling stupid one day. Or it can look like discovering your boss is gaslighting you. Be careful of attributing poor behavior on their part to your age. An incorrect attribution can lead us to the wrong conclusions such as “I can’t manage people” or “I can’t do the work in this arena.” , when the real answer is “I have a toxic workplace.”

      This doesn’t fix the work-life balance and socialization aspects of your concerns here.

      I think you could think about your goals in life. Where do you want to be in five years? Let’s say you blurt right out, “I want to buy a house.” Good, that’s a decent sized goal. Working backwards from 5 years out to present time, what will it take for you to get there?
      I believe that the bottom line with most jobs is to have personal goals and keep working toward your personal goals or else there is just no point to working hard at work.
      Probably not the answer you wanted to hear? Without personal goals jobs are nothing but a hamster wheel that we jump on every morning and crawl off of every night. Getting closer to my personal goals has helped me to stay on track with my work.
      It sounds like your place could be toxic. It might be that just getting into a healthy environment is all you need. That, and a pool of friends who are not related to your job, maybe.

      1. JumpAround*

        It’s stunning how well you’ve summed it up! I’m sick of feeling like everything is on me because I have the word “manager” in my title, and I’ve definitely been feeling a little (extremely) ambivalent and I hate it. I don’t like not caring.

        I think for right now my main goal is to get to a mental place where I feel healthier and then let other goals follow. It feels weird to say but I’m definitely entering the phase of my life where my goals are morphing and some of what I wanted 5 years ago just isn’t appealing anymore.

        1. Cordelia*

          I felt exactly the same and made the move (it was sideways, not up or down in my case) away from management back to being an individual contributor, but in a more specialist part of the organisation. Absolutely the right decision for me, and what you say about your goals in life changing was my reason too. I am still learning and developing, as I am becoming increasingly specialist and skilled in my new area. I am lucky to work in a team where everyone’s voice is heard, so I still get a say on decisions and changes in the team. I get to support junior members of staff and help them develop, without being responsible for the less pleasant parts of people management. And I get to do the work I came into the field to do.
          Maybe think about how you feel about the work you are actually doing, aside from the management responsibilities – do you enjoy that? is there something adjacent you can do, or a part of the role you can develop? It doesn’t have to be “Stepping down” to a lower level, can you go sideways?

    4. SofiaDeo*

      I moved more into “consultant type” work when I realized this. Some of the jobs required extensive travel which I enjoyed at the time. My final job had me traveling in-state only, which I enjoyed. I often filled in for sick leave, pregnancy coverage, vacation coverage so got to do some “individual contributor” stuff while conferring with regional management how a particular facility was operating, following P&P, etc.

  22. Environmental Compliance*

    On a scale of 1-10, how annoyed should I be that somehow someone dropped my title down a couple levels in the email system and it hasn’t been fixed for 3 weeks+?

    I know it’s incorrect, and I’ve let both HR & IT know, but HR tells me it’s an IT glitch, and IT is saying they need an HR ticket to fix it. I’m just annoyed because I already have enough (older male) engineers try to give me crap because they have “senior” in their title (I don’t care – you need to follow the approval process regardless of how high up you are).

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Be annoyed at level 6 for HR/IT incompetence. Be annoyed at level 10 for your sexist coworkers.

    2. WellRed*

      If you haven’t already, I’m a fan of emailing all guilty parties outlining the pushback from both sides and asking how to get it resolved immediately. Feel free to include relevant supervisors in both their depts and possibly yours.

      1. Mints*

        I would do this too. I would outline what was asked then ask who can do it “IT said HR needs to submit a ticket. Are you the right person to submit the ticket? If not, can you let me know who can?”

        Then follow up every other day, very nicely. “Checking in on this – is it still in the queue? Thanks so much!”

        1. WellRed*

          To be clear I think HR and IT need to be included on one email. Let them figure it out or explain what needs to happen.

    3. WomEngineer*

      I’d be super annoyed and would escalate it (give 4-5 work days for a response before going to a higher level).

      Make sure your paycheck is what it should be!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I had a boss introduce me to the concept of “being a nice nuisance”. This is where a person is pleasant, conversational and very relatable. BUT. They never stop asking. They ask every day or every other day.

        I use it a lot because I don’t like confrontational anger or even stern talk. But there is also that part of me that says, “If something is wrong let’s fix it.” Being a nice nuisance seems to appease both parts of me. I don’t think I have angered too many people because most times they will say, “You’re right. This should be fixed. Let me see what I can try today.”

        It’s helpful to have a rep for being a person to jump right on things when asked. When my turn comes that I am the asker, people may stop and think, “Gee, NSNR gets right on stuff when I ask.”

    4. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      Do you have the name of an IT Manager and an HR Manager? Send an email to both (maybe cc your manager). Outline the situation and tell them you need it corrected ASAP and ask how does this get done. (you may want to throw in that this error is causing issues)

    5. River Otter*

      I’d be at about a +1,000,000.

      Time to call a meeting with both HR and IT and don’t let it end until they have agreed what each of them is going to do. Might take some time to figure out who exactly in HR and IT to invite.

    6. Environmental Compliance*

      Okay, glad my annoyance wasn’t supremely off base. I looped in my boss – he’s escalating to a couple levels up as it seems someone touched things they weren’t supposed to… and he’s not happy. At all.

      And yes, the two people who would make this a I’m More Senior Than You are jerks and are already on HR notice. IT guy was correct – he cannot just fix. But HR was out of line.

      I just felt stupid escalating it and wanted a sanity check.

  23. Emily Dickinson*

    I’m applying for a job at a company a friend works at. We have no professional connection, but my spouse says I should ask them to refer me. I disagree. Who is correct?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Ask you friend if they’d feel comfortable referring you.

      I’ve referred personal contacts before, you just make sure to mention you don’t know them in a professional setting but you know they work in that field and are a reliable etc person. Sometimes a nudge is all it takes to get your resume in a better light. Also a lot of places are offering referral bonuses right now could benefit both of you!

      1. Should I Apply? needs a new name*

        Second this advice, I have definitely asked friends if they would be willing to refer me before.

      2. Bread Addict*

        This.

        I recently referred someone I have never worked with. She has good experience. And a good attitude. My work likes to hire people for the fit personality wise and doesnt mind investing in new people. I think she would get along great so I referred her. I did make it clear I hadnt worked with her. Ask if your friend is comfortable referring you. No pressure.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yep. Offer them an easy out. “I know you are not really familiar with my work, so I understand if you say no. I am not sure how I would answer people myself. So it’s whatever you feel you can do here.”

          This gives them the opportunity to say, that it’s a different department or that they don’t feel they would be heard or maybe even blurt out, “Oh that boss is so toxic!!”.
          Offer an easy out in your request and see what they say.

    2. mreasy*

      I have had folks ask me for this before, and generally I say, “my good friend X applied for Y position. We’ve never worked together professionally, but I will say she is a super positive and hard-working person from what I know” (or whatever good thing about your friend you’d like to add). Depending on the role, that might be enough to get them on the top of the pile.

    3. Purple Penguin*

      “Who’s correct” depends on context – ideally you’re not asking them for a referral, you’re asking them what the context is and whether a referral would make sense.
      You should tell your friend that you’re applying and ask what the company is like to work for and if there’s anything they know about the group that’s hiring – that’s helpful to you regardless! And in that conversation I’d also say “I don’t know if they do referral bonuses, but if so I’d be happy for you to refer me” – that opens the door framing it as a mutual favor, and you can then have the conversation evolve from there, acknowledge you’ve never worked together, see if they know the hiring manager, etc. Or if in conversation it comes out that they don’t know anybody in that division and wouldn’t have a particular person to go to and don’t know the HR referral policy, then don’t push it. If spouse was saying you should get a referral any time you know someone who works there, they’re not right. If you’re saying you shouldn’t mention to your friend about your application, you’re not right. It’s a conversation worth starting, but not expecting how it’ll end up.

    4. Bagpuss*

      I would ask your friend whether she would feel comfortbale referring you. I think whether or not it is appropriate is very dependent on context – if you say to her that you understand that it may not be appropraite as you haven’t worked together but obviously don’t know their internal policies then you leve her an easy out of she doesn’t want to or feels it woon’t work in that company, and also lets her dsay yes if it is appropriate / could result in a referral bonus if you are hired.

    5. danmei kid*

      Your friend may qualify for a referral bonus if you are hired. I have referred acquaintances in the past and am happy to profit from their interest in using me as a connection lol

    6. kat*

      Does your friend get a referral bonus if you are hired and stay at least 6 months?
      It’s about $2000 at the health system where I work.
      Your friend don’t even have to say anything positive/negative about you. You just put it on your application that they referred you. Depending on your actual relationship- some people split go halvsies on the money.

    7. rosyglasses*

      I usually recommend it. At our company, if you are referred by a current team member you automatically get a phone screening because we know that folks are more likely to refer people they would want to work with and think would do a good job. We don’t ask folks to tell us how they know them; so it does work in an applicant’s benefit.

  24. Puffle*

    Happy Friday!

    Job hunting question for you all, in your experience how long do you normally have to wait between receiving an offer and actually getting the written contract for private sector jobs?

    (For reference I am in the UK, where just about all jobs including retail etc come with employment contracts and the norm is you don’t hand in your notice until new contract is signed)

    1. londonedit*

      Not very long in my experience, usually within a week. The way it works in my industry is usually that the hiring manager will offer you the job and you’ll agree terms with them, then when you accept you’ll get an email from HR with all the joining details, confirmation of your first day and all the stuff you’ll need to print and sign to bring with you on your first day (or send back beforehand if that’s how they do it). But I’ve never worked for anywhere hugely corporate with loads of bureaucracy – this has all been in small/medium-sized publishing companies, and publishing tends to be quite old-school about everything, rather than a huge finance company or something.

    2. Bagpuss*

      Not long, but it can depend on referncing. My experience is that the offer will normally be subject to references, the referneces checked once you accept, then the contract issued once the references are available, so if your referees are slow to respond that could hold up the contract.

  25. Heather*

    I’ve been doing a summer internship/clinical rotation at a medical clinic that has been a complete organizational nightmare. The only beacons of hope have been the front desk staff. There are somewhere between 3 and 5 (the number is nebulous because they don’t all work every day; there area a couple of different front desks and they rotate; and people sometimes get pulled from other areas to work there). They’ve been so helpful and patient when I have to keep asking them whether Doctor So and So is actually at work today and whether he’s with a patient right now. At the end of the summer I want to give them something. I know people often bring in food. I don’t love the idea of donuts/chocolate because we’re a medical clinic, and something healthier may not actually be wanted. Do you have any non-food ideas that can be shared among a small group of people?

      1. mreasy*

        I love to do a local roasted coffee and some craft chocolate (remember how dark chocolate is good for you??) for these types of things and usually get great responses.

    1. Sandwiches*

      A small basket of mini hand cream tubes/lip balms/hand sanitizer bottles/mints? Or if there’s an office supply that the clinic doesn’t pay for but they really like, like funky post-its or good pens?

    2. Radical Edward*

      What about a selection of quirky/humorous sticky notes? Those have always gone over well with my colleagues, no matter the work setting. (My current favorite notepad is from ShanaLogic and has an angry possum at the top, with the text ‘DO NOT WANT to do list’ – but there are so many to choose from!)

    3. Golden*

      Magnets were randomly popular at my workplace (we all have small metal cabinets below the desks though, not sure if your coworkers have their own places to put them).

      I also like Neosmom’s tea suggestion, it’s like a sweet spot of consumable/not clutter that they could enjoy at work or bring home for later, or easily give to someone else if it’s not their thing.

    4. Bagpuss*

      Maybe also a note or card saying how much you have appreciated their help and patience – I suspect that specifc thanks to the front desk staff are a lot rarer than ones to the Doctors ,(although obviously send one to whoever whoever you were working with on that side ofthings as well) and will probably be very much appreciated.

    5. SofiaDeo*

      I brought in a lunch catered by Whole Foods, with the Buffalo Mozzarella Caprese Salad being the biggest hit. Instead of pizza or premade sandwiches. Salads, a soup, and only a small amount of sandwich fixin’s for those who wanted a sandwich instead of putting meat/cheeses on a salad.

  26. Sandwiches*

    Welcoming any general and specific advice you have about training new hires. I don’t have a lot of experience training, and I’m sharing training duties with my colleagues who haven’t really put together a set plan. We’re even more understaffed than expected, so I’ll be training on top of having a higher workload than usual. Our new hire doesn’t really have relevant experience (I don’t think he’s ever worked in an office before) so I feel like he’ll have a bit of an adjustment period getting used to using Outlook, Excel, and all our other software efficiently. I also don’t know for sure but think he might be neurodivergent, so I want to make sure I can train him in a way that works for his learning style.
    This is all a little more overwhelming than I expected, so any advice you have would probably help me a lot.

    1. Xaraja*

      I’ve trained a lot of new hires, usually ad hoc, and the biggest thing I’ve learned is that 100% of everyone I’ve ever worked with learns by doing the thing. There’s so many debates about learning styles and stuff and at least for OTJ training, I’ve never run across anyone who learned without doing it for themselves. You do want to show them at first so they can see the overall idea, but then you want to put them at the computer or work station or whatever the job is and have them do it. You also want to let them try to remember the steps on their own. At first you walk them through it and then you gradually prompt them less, and go ahead and let them struggle a little to remember. If they ask for the answer, that’s fine, but don’t be too quick to just tell them the next step in the process they are trying to remember. Something about having to try to remember the next step (or look it up in notes) solidifies it in the mind.

      Specifically for Excel, I would model looking up how to do something online because that’s a wonderful resource that too many people don’t realize is available.

      And regarding neurodiversity, I would say just ask (without mentioning anything about neurodiversity) how they learn best, and maybe all some probing questions like “do you tend to take a lot of notes? Would it help if we printed out some of things we talk about? Are you comfortable sitting with me at my desk and watching me work, and then switching places and trying it yourself?” Whatever questions are appropriate or needed to get the conversation flowing.

    2. Elle*

      I would talk to him about how he learns best. You’ll also want to share a training checklist with him so everyone is clear on what tasks he needs to be trained on and mark when training was complete.

    3. Parakeet*

      Most popular software has a bunch of basic-skills tutorials online. It might be helpful to find a few good tutorials for Outlook, Excel, etc, and have him work through them.

      If it’s a job that lends itself to this, shadowing can be really useful. And even if you’re all working remotely, it’s possible – a trainee can shadow you through Zoom/Teams or a conference call while you make calls, or through screenshare as you write emails or other documents. After he’s shadowed a few times, you could potentially switch it to you shadowing him while he does the tasks (or even doing a few roleplays).

      I’m autistic + ADHD – there are several kinds of neurodivergence so I think specificity is useful here – and my first thought about that is to make sure that your instructions and feedback are clear and not leaving him to have to read between the lines too much. But even within various neurodivergent communities people have a lot of different needs (there’s one particular common stereotype about autistic communication that REALLY doesn’t work well for me, even though I am autistic).

    4. Gracely*

      If you’re teaching any kinds of processes/procedures that you do on a computer, taking screenshots of every single step and putting them together can be really helpful (and double as a how-to guide for anyone who might do the job later). My first boss did that with me, and it was so, so helpful. I do that when I train new people now, and while the front end work is a bit more than I like, it cuts back on the time I have to put in afterwards.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Have him put his hands into the work as soon as possible. Don’t do the work and make him watch. I have trained a lot of people with and without disabilities. Consistently the folks who put their hands into the work early on were the ones who made out the best.
      It’s fine to do one example, then let him do several examples.

      If you write out directions for people, either actually do the thing according to what you wrote OR pretend to do it using your instructions. It’s so easy to skip steps or little details.

      The number one thing that concerned me with any job is where are the limits of my authority? What decisions come under my watch and what decisions need to be referred up or over. These limits helped me to understand my job better.

      Be very clear about what is forbidden. It’s sooo much easier to tell people the rules BEFORE they make that mistake, rather than after. And people appreciate being told. “You don’t let me embarrass myself.”, I was told.

      If you give him the wrong guidance, apologize and shoulder it. “I am sorry, I told you to do x when I should I have told you to do y. It’s my fault not yours.”

      In short be fair. There are so many different ways of showing fairness that it would be too long here and still not be comprehensive. Look at everything through the lens of “what is fair here?”. If most people can do task ABC by the end of their first week, then it sounds reasonably fair to expect him to learn Task ABC in a similar time frame. If he hasn’t gotten it down pat, then sit down and find out what pieces he is missing. Usually this meant I forgot to mention something or they were having a problem I had never seen before. We’d figure it out and things got better fast.

    6. Mac*

      As much as possible, let something sink in and then go back to reinforce it multiple times within the same day. So for example, if you start with teaching how to use email, then go on to excel, the next thing to do would be to get him to open that email again and figure out how to send the excel file as an attachment.

      I also employ a strategy where if it’s computer-based, I, the trainer, literally NEVER put my hands on the mouse or keyboard. The person getting trained should be getting that muscle memory right from the start, and if they’re controlling the pace of each step, they are less likely to miss something because you, the trainer, having done the thing a million times, just go click-clickety-click, and bam, suddenly something happened. Just be patient and verbally describe what you want them to click or type. It can be hard sometimes, but grit your teeth and sit on your hands.

      1. Nightengale*

        And this is how I barely learned to use an EHR, because they sat there and coached me through doing it, so I couldn’t stop and take notes, and I won’t remember what I am doing while I am busy doing it. Of course I don’t learn well by watching either, what I really need are written step by step notes. If the trainer isn’t going to provide me a user manual, which they never do anymore, second best is their doing something and narrate it verbally, while I type detailed notes to myself. I’ve got an unusual version of neurodivergence where I learn best by the written word, and hardly at all from pictures, diagrams, screen shots, demonstrations or videos. I miss user manuals. . .

    7. SofiaDeo*

      There was a big movement in my profession a few decades ago, to teach/train people how to *logically find out where to research answers*, instead of rote memorization. So if he needs some basic software skills, a review course (or at least a test/discussion of skillset) might be in order. Thus, if he needed to figure out an Excel manipulation, he needs to learn how to search where “how to do this” for Excel is located. Instead of rote memorization. And FWIW, if you have a need for step by step work training, having that person write a “training manual” can help. I had one boss do this with me while I was in college work-study; the job was fairly new, and my writing down what I thought the correct steps were, made it easy for my also overworked boss to just have someone review/review himself, then correct/adjust it.

  27. WellRed*

    My boss recently reached out to ask my current salary ( we are hiring my equivalent on another treat). I got 4% raise in February. I told her I thought it was about 44k to which she replied, “oof.” I later confirmed it was closer to 42.5k and made a mental note to ask for a salary adjustment. Before that happened she said she’d put in for 3k to bring it to $45k. Which I said I appreciated (won’t scratch the surface). Afterwards I realized if she thought $44k sucked, she should have advocated for a larger raise instead of only bringing me to 45k. Any way I can approach this at this point?

    1. Bread Addict*

      I am not sure. That is a 6% pay increase of my math is right, so its possible that she can’t make it a bigger raise.

      But depending on your relationship with your boss you could ask something about how the new number was selected? And if there is room for negotiation. I am not sure how to broach the off as thats just something she shouldnt have said. But any way you could find out the new hires wage band? Its possible the oof was related in that way. Like they are bringing in new hire at 43k or something and want to make sure yours is higher?

      1. WellRed*

        I suspect it’s a round number but this is good to ask about. I’m wondering if the new hire is being paid a little more but I have nothing to base that on except her initial reaction to my salary.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      If she said it would bring you to 45k then she found you were at 42.5k, in spite of what you told her.

      I think you do have an inroad here. This is a person who is interested in your happiness as an employee. Find out what the pay rates for your job in your area are. You know she seems to be in your corner. Show her your findings and ask her what else can be done to bring you up to par.

      “Ya know, you asked me what I was paid. I thought it was 44k, and it turned out to be 42.5k. I got to thinking about this and I started look at rates of pay for my work in our geographic area. Here’s what I found: [state findings]. I was wondering what could be done to get me up to within range of these numbers.”

  28. mental health work question*

    Does anybody have any tips or stories to share about working through mental health issues? Specifically when changing medications? Did anyone talk to management about it? Would you advise for or against bringing it up?

    I’ve been working through anxiety and depression with my doctor. I was on a medication that was somewhat helpful, but a few months ago my doctor and I thought it would be best to try something a new medication due to some side effects and the old medication not being as effective as maybe it could be. The transition was really rough on me. I was wildly anxious (not able to sleep, not eating, not able to enjoy anything in my free time) for a whole month. I work in a role I find challenging even in the best of times, so trying to perform while my mental health was out of whack was really hard and my performance was sub-par. Retrospectively, I can recognize I wasn’t hiding my anxiety as well as I should have to be considered professional. Nobody has talked to me about it and I didn’t do anything majorly out of line (just seemed very anxious in meetings) but I have to imagine it impacted folks’ impression of me. Is there something I should do (besides committing to being my best self going forward)?

    1. JanetM*

      Maybe “Thanks for your patience over the last month; I’d been dealing with a health issue and it’s now resolved”?

      1. asking for more feedback when it's likely negative*

        I guess part of the issue I’ve been having with that sort of framing is that I’m currently doing *better*, but I’m not at my best and there’s some chance I never will be again. I’m also not fully through the transition period– I think I’m through the worst of it, but there’s some change I could experience more side effects. This medication could also not be right and I’ll have to transition back. There’s just so much unknown and I’m still learning how to manage myself through this.

        1. asking for more feedback when it's likely negative*

          sorry, wrong name/title- this is the OP of mental health work question

        2. RagingADHD*

          Then instead of saying “resolved” you can say you are actively working with your medical team and seeing improvement.

          The point is just to let them know that you are self-aware that it affected you at work, and it is being addressed.

    2. Yeah summer!*

      You can work with HR for Ada accommodations. Google workplace accommodations for anxiety for ideas of what might help you. Also fmla could be a consideration during peak periods. Thy could be shifting to shorter days , shorter weeks or some time off if recommended by your doctor.
      I supervised someone who took some time related to mh needs. In my opinion it leads to better performance.

    3. Gipsy Danger*

      I have been through this a couple of times. What I did was tell my boss and/or HR, depending on the employer, that I had a chronic health condition, and that my doctor and I were trying some new medication, that might cause some temporary side affects like fatigue, insomnia, mood issues, and that I might not be at my best for (a week, a month, whatever). I would advise not to disclose that is it mental health related – Alison gives the same advice, due to the fact that it can harm you with some employers. I’ve had employers who were great when they found out I was mentally ill, and some that were super not great, so I don’t take the chance any more.

      Re: your coworkers, I would guess they didn’t notice as much as you assume. We are always so much more aware of our own weirdness than other people. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. If they did notice anything, they’ll think it was just a temporary blip in your behaviour at work.

      Finally, let me just say this: be gentle with yourself. None of what you’re dealing with is easy, try not to be too hard on yourself for being ill and going through treatment while also working.

    4. Curmudgeon in California*

      How about a quiet note that “Hey, I’ve been changing up some of my medications and am dealing with some sub-optimal side effects while my doctor and I work on it. Since medication side effects are weird, I may not be at my best until we get it straightened out.”

      Note that this does not say what type of meds they are. Even meds for “purely physical” stuff can have mental as well as physical side effects. Psych meds can have physical side effects, and body meds can have psych side effects, and sometimes both have both.

  29. Floris*

    I started a new job about 3 months ago and it has become pretty clear that it’s not a good fit. There’s a lot of politics here, a lot of gossip and a lot of passive aggressive back talk. It’s so weird! I’ve never been in a work environment where leadership consistently insults other departments. Anyway, I’ve been applying for other jobs and getting interviews pretty consistently. I’ve been keeping the current job off my resume but at a certain point in the interview process, should I let folks know I’m currently employed? My concern is if they want someone to start immediately and I need to give notice at the current job. I don’t plan on ever putting this job on my resume. Any thoughts on navigating this?

    1. anonymous73*

      I think if you’re at a job for a few months that’s irrelevant to your career it’s okay to leave it off your resume, but not when you’re currently working. I started my current job almost a year ago but I started looking for a new one about 6 months in. When asked why I was looking to leave I was honest – I barely had enough work to keep me busy and there was no potential to advance. Your reason for wanting to leave is a perfectly acceptable one.

    2. Moths*

      If you get an offer, I think it’s not unreasonable to ask for your start date to be in two weeks, even if they think you’re not employed. You don’t need to give them major reasons for why. Most places won’t expect people to start for at least two weeks, so I don’t think they would even bat an eye if you ask for a start date in two weeks, “so that you can take care of a few things before starting” (or some other random vague wording). If they push back and really need you to start sooner, you could ask for at least a week or so and just know that you might be burning a bridge with your current employer. But do you care? Is it the end of the world if you turn in your resignation and say that your last day will be tomorrow (or whenever)?

  30. Meg*

    I posted in the open thread a couple weeks ago about waiting to hear back on a job and feeling nervous about resigning in a burnt out and overworked position – well, the good news came! I did get the new position, negotiated for a higher salary and a three week break before starting the new job, and today is my last day at my current workplace!

    My manager and team didn’t react super well to the news and have been giving me even more to accomplish before leaving, but I’m nearly done with the list and am counting down the hours until I head off to mail my laptop back. I’ve sent my keep in touch emails and have transferred my files over. Of course there’s no exit interview or opportunity to share what I think would keep someone much happier in the position, but I guess that’s to be expected.

    Thank you to everyone who commented on my post last time, and to this community for being such a great space to think and expand my views of the workplace! I hope everyone gets some good news today

  31. Should I Apply? needs a new name*

    Favorite productivity advice or books, that are more relevant to people who’s job activities are always changing and are dependent on working with a lot of other people? I’ve been struggling getting stuff done with a new job, partially because I have difficulty figuring out what I am supposed to be doing and partially procrastination and lack of motivation. I have high level goals, but as this is an experienced role my manager pretty much expects me to figure out how to make those things happen.
    I just read ‘the 12 week year’, and I appreciate the framework it provides, but I’m hitting a mental roadblock in actually applying it. All the examples seem very geared towards sales and business owners. So any recommendations? I seem to be stuck in the translating goals to actions phase.

    1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      The single best advice I’ve put into use is “eat the boiled frog first” – prioritise the thing you dread most.

      Also really rate the essay (now a book) Laziness Does Not Exist.

      1. Should I apply? needs a new name*

        Thanks, at least for this morning that comment was enough to get me to check off a few items I had been avoiding.

    2. Gracely*

      I’m a big fan of lists and marking things off. I have a dry erase board that sits in front of my monitor, and I keep a list on one side of stuff I need to do in the near future, and important dates/things that need to be done but I can’t yet on the other side. It helps so much, because if I haven’t marked most of the stuff on the near future side off by Thursday, I know what I need to focus on. And because I don’t like repeatedly seeing something on there that I’m dreading, I will often try to get whatever that is out of the way first so it’s off the board.

      Just search for “dry erase desktop whiteboard” and you should be able to find what I’m talking about. It has really been a game changer for me since I got it a couple years ago. There are newer models that even lift up to store your eraser/dry erase pens.

    3. RagingADHD*

      It’s a very lateral leap, but I got a lot of help from “Work Clean” by Dan Charnas. It’s all about developing an intentional practice of observing your own work patterns and making continuous adjustments to simplify, improve efficiency and effectiveness, or adapt to changing demands.

    4. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      One of my faves these days is “Start Finishing”, by Charlie Gilkey.

      I’ve occasionally blogged about bits & pieces from that kind of book – I’ll put a couple of links in another comment.

  32. Overeducated*

    I have one full-time direct report, who gave notice this week for what sounds like a truly exciting new opportunity. My managers are talking about the possibility of restructuring that position when we rehire in an overall positive and necessary way.

    However, I am a little nervous that they may restructure it to make this person my peer rather than report to mirror the way another office in our org did it, hiring a mid-career person like me instead of someone entry level like the last person. This means I would no longer be a supervisor (a major reason I took this job, I need that experience to eventually move up) and could also lose oversight of one of my program’s two major areas. This would make this job WAY less attractive to me, frankly. The only way I can see it being a problem for the organization is that it would increase the number of my manager’s direct reports, which is already large and growing and he seems a bit stretched thin, but he’d have to be the one to object to that, not me. Is there any way at all to address this concern with my management if they want to go that direction? Or is this just an “accept it and start searching” kind of issue if it happens?

    Just two weeks ago I turned down a pretty attractive supervisory job offer because I ultimately decided it wasn’t a significant upgrade from this job. Sigh.

    1. WellRed*

      You may have to wait and see. It depends on what benefits the company best and the reasons you list are all about the loss to you ( I understand your concerns, believe me). If your fears come true I think you need to take a hard look at next career steps. You turned down an attractive supervisory job because it wasn’t enough of a step up but I’m curious what that means to you. In your current role you supervise one person. That’s not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things.

      1. overeducated*

        Yes, of course I mentioned that the drawbacks are more to me! Honestly, I don’t think it makes sense from a workload perspective to make my manager essentially the manager of multiple teams with no team leads/first level supervisors, but that seems to be the direction the org has been going in other situations.

        Problem is I’m at a bottleneck/catch-22 – I’ve been advised that I’m topped out as an individual contributor but can’t move into management without management experience. (There’s supervising interns, and I do that too, but it’s not the same.) So I took this job for the supervision and program management experience, without a pay raise.

        What “step up” means to me is an actual promotion that pays more than my current job, not just looks important on paper. I turned down the other job, supervising two people, because I did the math on compensation vs costs and realized I actually would have lost money taking it. But if my job becomes non-supervisory, that will make it hard to move up.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Advocate for yourself. This is your direct report. Tell them you believe that as the position reports to you, you should be the hiring manager, and you think it important to replace this person by a comparable employee – here is the position description, this is why the position is important to the organization. Remind them of the need to build a bench for the organization – if you don’t bring in entry level people you won’t have people to do the work.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. Leverage the angle of this is your employee. You need to interview them yourself and they need to meet you.

      2. linger*

        Presumably one reason the company has shown a preference to bring in mid-career (peer-level) rather than trainee (entry-level) hires is to minimise on-boarding/training necessary for new hires in contributor roles.
        So there’s a stronger argument that OP should manage/supervise new hires linked to their own role if some of the knowledge required is specific to the organization and unlikely to be held by the new hire; but the argument is weaker if the knowledge required is general to the field and the new hire is intended to be someone already with some industry experience.

  33. DisneyChannelThis*

    Any advice for how to be supportive of coworkers going on maternity/paternity leave? Our workplace is doing a poor job with handling their leave, there’s some drama happening that I can’t fix (Their cool task A has been permanently given to a different coworker, another coworker made a comment to them about are they even going to come back to work after anyway, things like that).

    1. WellRed*

      My immediate suggestion is to shut down sexist gendered comments like that. No one says “you won’t come back” to men.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Coworker didn’t want to go to HR or our boss about it. I didn’t hear it personally. I’m enraged on their behalf though.

    2. Mac*

      (This sounds like in-person drama, which is coloring my reply.)
      Get a card for the person going on leave and take it around for people to sign, and while doing so take it as the opportunity to say that you’re doing it because you feel like it’s important to show support. This will give you a chance to suss out who also thinks the person was treated badly. When you give the card to the person you can tell them they are appreciated, that they deserve to have their rights be upheld, and to please let you know if there’s anything you can do to help advocate for them.

      1. DisneyChannelThis*

        Does this set me up to be card person for all future people leaving? We didn’t do a card for the last person to go on leave but I think they specifically requested no work celebration.

        1. Mac*

          I hadn’t thought about that, but I’m a pretty impulsive person and have mostly worked in fairly loose workplaces where just because someone organized a birthday card/karaoke night or brought cupcakes, that didn’t mean that they (ok, me) were the Card Fairy/Karaoke Queen/Official In-house Baker for the rest of time.

  34. Nevian*

    I started a new job a month ago. After a month I’m feeling…meh. My manager is fine, not great but fine. I’ve had zero training after a month because they’re all too busy to train me. I get paid great salary (seriously great) but the benefits suck. It’s a solid 60% happiness level on my part with hopefully(?) better horizons.

    Yesterday a recruiter called me and wanted me to apply for a position that just opened up. It’s with a company I have some dealings with in the past and it would be a very similar job to what I’m doing now.

    But now I’m wondering how do I answer the inevitable “Why are you looking to leave?” question in the interview. Because I don’t have a great answer, other than boredom. And that’s hardly what a manager wants to hear, for very legitimate reasons. There is no answer that doesn’t lead this interviewing manager to think I won’t bail on them like I’m bailing on my current manager. I’m questioning if I should have taken this interview at all.

    Have any of you experienced this? Am I overthinking it?

    1. Bread Addict*

      Do you need to put this role on your CV? If you have only been there a short time its unlikely to hold much weight. I would leave it off entirely if I were you and sidestep the question.

      1. Nevian*

        Unfortunately I do have to leave it on. The company I’m interviewing with now ended up purchasing the last company I worked with, and I happened to leave right in the middle of the transition (so no bad feelings either way). So they know who I am and that I left. It’s also on my LinkedIn. Otherwise I would have left it off for sure!

    2. irene adler*

      Take the interview. You’ll never find out if the “grass is greener on the other side” if you don’t.

      You can cite some of the job tasks listed in the job description that you especially like and indicate that THESE are the things you want to do- but aren’t getting enough of an opportunity to do them in your current position.

      You don’t need to air the dirty laundry as to what you are finding is “meh” at this current position. You can indicate that you expected to do more of tasks X and Y (i.e. the tasks you especially like) but learned that wasn’t the case. Not sure if you want to go as far as saying the position is a bad fit though. You can say you have concerns that the position is not turning out to be what you expected.

    3. anonymous73*

      I would be honest. “I realize it’s only been a month but I’ve received no training because everyone is too busy, so I have no work to do and I’m not learning anything.” And technically this job came to YOU, so you weren’t looking to leave. The opportunity fell in your lap. And it has only been a month so you may need to give it some time. If this job sounds great then go for it, but if you’re only looking into it to escape your current situation, I think you need to be a bit more realistic and give it some time.

      1. BEC*

        If I was the hiring manager, I wouldn’t love hearing that. It just sounds negative. I would say “I was hired to do x and y and it turns out that I’m doing z, which is why I was excited to learn about your position which does x and y’

        1. anonymous73*

          Except that none of what you said is true. She’s not doing something other than what she was hired for, she’s doing nothing.

    4. londonedit*

      Focus on the things that would pull you towards the new job, rather than the things that are pushing you away from your current job. You could maybe say something like ‘I was excited to start my current role but it hasn’t turned out the way I was hoping it would, in terms of the work I’m doing and in terms of training – I’m really looking to get into a role where I can get stuck in and [fill in the details of whatever you’d be doing], because I [love being part of a collaborative team] [love getting into the details of a project] [whatever makes sense] and I really want to [use my skills from day one] [use everything I’ve learned so far about teapot painting] to [produce some excellent teapots] [develop my career in teapot painting] [etc]’.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I agree with anonymous73. The literal answer is that you aren’t looking to leave. This job is fine. You have no reason to leave unless they really make it worth your while.

      You are there to hear about this opportunity that could be great, especially because your prior history with the interviewing company was a positive experience. Then you talk about why this new opportunity is particularly interesting.

      Having a good job currently and no need to leave makes you more desirable and gives you a better negotiating position. They came to you, you didn’t seek them out.

    6. Mill Miker*

      The recruiter reached out to you, so I’d be inclined to say you’re not sure you are looking to leave, but would be willing to for the right opportunity.

  35. Mimmy*

    Question for readers in higher education, especially student services!

    I was wondering what my chances are in finding positions that offer at least a hybrid option or even almost entirely remote. My husband and I had initially felt that we had flexibility to search for jobs outside of our home state. However, given current economic conditions, we’ve decided that I should focus on jobs within my state or that is hybrid/remote.

    An added caveat is that I don’t drive. A job close to my home would be ideal but I don’t want to limit myself. However, I live in New Jersey and our public transportation system… is less than perfect. I know many people are willing to commute 1-2 hours each way every day in whatever shape or form, but I’m not one of them; it would just aggravate my disability. Thus, although close to home is best, I’d entertain opportunities that are a bit further away if they allowed WFH with some in-person requirements or even fully remote. But a career counselor said I’ll be “hard pressed” to find a lot of these with these options in my field of choice. Is she right?

    As an example: I applied for a job at a school in Philly and had the phone interview yesterday. It went well but after looking at transportation options, it would not be financially feasible; plus, the commute would be very time-consuming. You live and you learn *shrug*.

    This will be my first job search for a professional-level position; I know I have to be realistic and that this is going to be a lot of trial and error.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      My husband works in higher education and almost all positions in his workplace are hybrid, so I’m not sure I agree with the career counselor. However, I also know his workplace isn’t enthusiastic about fully remote work; there’s a strong sense among the leadership that “if the students are here, we need to be here too” (at least part of the time). I’m sure it varies widely from university to university, but maybe look for schools or programs that are still offering a lot of online classes as those will be more likely to have a culture of doing things remotely.

      1. Mimmy*

        It’s interesting that you mention this, because the school I just graduated from is primarily an online school, but they require in-person work at least 3-4 days a week and I think they’re pushing for 100% in-person work by this fall. Many students do live in the state where the school is headquartered, but many others live out of state, myself included.

      2. Gracely*

        I was going to say this. It’s going to depend heavily on the school and its culture. But leadership in a lot of higher ed really hates remote work if there are students on campus. Even for positions that don’t interact with students.

        There are definitely hybrid options out there, but *especially* with student services positions, they do tend to want people physically there if the students are there. I would not count on finding much that’s fully remote in your field, honestly. You might need to resign yourself to at least a couple of days commuting as your best case scenario, or shifting into something that’s not student-focused.

    2. I'm just here for the cats!*

      Maybe look at for-profit professional development companies/schools or other online only schools. I worked for a nation wide real estate professional development school. At the time we were in office with a few remote people but from my friends that still work there they all went remote and are staying remote. For me it was student support services over the phone and via email. Basically helping people choose classes based on what their needs were (licensing requirements for state, etc). It can be much more customer service than perhaps what you are looking for.

      But I think I would start looking at places that have online only programs. Usually this means that the professors etc are all remote so they would probably be more flexible.

      Good luck.

      1. Mimmy*

        My specific area of interest is actually disability services, so maybe not as high-volume as student advising, but the work can be demanding from what I’ve seen (I’m new to the field).

        I am also interested in accessibility (e.g., are learning management systems accessible for students with disabilities? Are faculty employing Universal Design strategies?), so if customer service ends up being too much, I know I have other options, and I imagine some of this could be done remotely, especially online schools.

    3. Bunny Girl*

      I think it depends where you are. Heck it can even depend what department you are in. When I worked in higher ed, the school in general was very against work from home and our department especially was against it until they were literally forced to. But I had a friend who worked in a student services adjacent department and her supervisor was more than happy to let them work from home 3 days a week. I know that’s not helpful but it just kind of depends on the culture! I am currently going to school online through another university and they for the most part seem to be working from home, at least partly.

    4. AcademicAnonymous*

      I work in the academic affairs so slightly different but many of the same issues. It really does just vary from institution to institution and even across departments within the same institution. If you are looking for jobs with direct student contact (like advisor), it will probably be hard to find a fully remote job at a traditional brick-and-mortar institution. If you are looking for a support job that doesn’t necessarily interact with students regularly, you’re more likely to be able to find a remote job, but it will be hard to figure out from the outside who allows remote and who doesn’t (unless it’s explicitly stated in the job ad).
      Did you ask in the interview yesterday if they allow remote/hybrid work? Sometimes that can be negotiated, depending on the circumstances. You would just want to be sure to get it in writing :-)
      If you haven’t already, I would definitely recommend focusing on institutions that are primarily online, like Western Governors or Southern New Hampshire. As other commenters have suggested, many primarily online institutions had a lot of remote positions pre-pandemic and are continuing that.

      1. Mimmy*

        I did ask about remote/hybrid options, and it looks like the best I’d expect is one day a week from home. I ended up withdrawing.

        I have been keeping my eyes open for jobs at online universities. It just so happens that one came up for Western Governors yesterday and I just submitted my application. Their headquarters are almost completely across the country from me, so I’m a little nervous about expected work hours. I’ve seen their jobs come up a few times but have hesitated; they tend to inexplicably disappear, so we’ll see what happens.

    5. Sabrina Spellman*

      I’m going to guess that there are few positions that will grant a fully remote position in student services unless there’s no reason for you to be in a physical office (like if there isn’t one). Remote work for my office was basically unheard of prior to the pandemic; I got some days to complete project work, but even my boss (department head) was only granted a couple of days a month. You could ask about current requirements for employees in those offices, but I’ve noticed that a lot of institutions are trying to move employees back in for the fall semester. I wish you luck!

    6. ThatGirl*

      My husband works in higher ed mental health counseling, which is something that COULD be done mostly remotely, but it isn’t, anymore — both his last job and his new one wanted people back in office as much as possible.

      That said, I do think it depends a lot on the school and the job; I have a friend who works for a big state school in another state and her job is pretty flexible on where she does it.

    7. Shhhh*

      As others have said, it’s going to depend a lot on how much student contact the roles you’re interested in would have.

      I’m a librarian at a large university. Our administration is about to release our new flexible work policy for staff, and it’s expected to heavily encourage if not out right require in person work at least a few days a week, especially for staff that work in student-facing roles. To be honest, I don’t think anyone outside of some research faculty, IT staff, and maybe some other “behind the scenes” jobs are going to be allowed to work remotely more than 2 days a week if they’re even allowed that.

      Unfortunately, I do kind of agree with the career counselor that there’s not going to be a lot out there, but I also agree with other commenters that it’s going to vary widely by institution and even department.

    8. AnonForThis*

      If you want fully remote, I’d only apply to jobs that were listed as fully remote *and* are physically distant from your location. If it’s in commuting distance, even if it’s remote now it might not stay that way.

      But I agree with others that for student services you’ll be looking at jobs that are primarily in office, with hybrid defined as at most a couple of days a week – expect the commute to be a regular part of your life.

  36. Prospect Gone Bad*

    I’m trying to train people in a new software and have problems on both ends. Anytime I ask the provider a question about a setup step, I get a response that boils down to “forget it, we’ll do it ourselves!” Either verbally or via phone. Once they say this, it’s hard to get the task back. It’s almost like they think I am asking questions to find reasons to not have to actually do the work.

    Then on the training side, my coworkers are coming up with 101 reasons why not to do the training or why the training isn’t good. It’s getting so frustrating. It doesn’t need to be 100% perfect. It’s supposed to give you a reason to dive into the software. Then you tell me what features you want or think are missing.

    I don’t get why there has to be so much negativity. It’s been 9 months of testing and requirements gathering and I haven’t heard one positive comment. No “neat it does that.” No “that display looks nice.” Nope. You do 100 things correct and they barely look at it and write it off because they find 1 thing that was done wrong.

    This is always sort of how it works but it’s so bad this time. I may need to give a big picture speech at the next meeting. The jump-the-shark moment this week was someone who’s well into her 40s dropping the ball on a bunch of tasks and blaming “lack of training” on us. All she needed to do was log in and go to one window and download stuff. She didn’t even try (I can see that she didn’t). So now I have proof that they are just complaining without putting in the effort.

    1. anonymous73*

      Everyone hates change. Period. You just need to let them know in no uncertain terms that this change WILL happen, and the sooner they accept it the easier it will be for them. I’ve been there several times. It’s not fun.

      With the provider, can you say to them “I don’t need to you to do it for me, I need you to answer my questions”?

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      The “lack of training” complaint is the one that sticks in my craw because of how much time I spend training people. If we really did lack training, I would have so much free time to do other work.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Agreed. Someone was complaining to me about “best practices” with training. I asked if the person had any questions. Answer was no. So they didn’t even have an agenda of issues to discuss, they just had a vague concept of my training being not up to par. Meanwhile, their coworker has a few tickets in for very specific problems they found in testing, all on their own.

        I’m wondering if people just like to complain, and when they find something that feels easy to understand to grasp to, they complain incessantly about it

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          “Lack of training” so often just means “It was my responsibility to do this and I didn’t, and now someone is mad.”

    3. Mac*

      Maybe your coworkers are just really unreasonable or resistant to change, but I’ve been trained (and given training) in lots of different kinds of software/hardware systems, and there’s usually not this level of bad feedback from trainees unless there’s an actual problem. The fact that you’re having communication difficulties with the developers is also a red flag for me– possibly they are as bad at designing a clear, user-friendly product as they are at giving clear, user-friendly customer service.
      I also feel like it’s at least a yellow flag that someone was completely unaware of multiple crucial tasks because she didn’t (my interpretation of “didn’t even try”) know the tasks even existed or how to find them. That to me says that the new software isn’t at all integrated with what people currently use for task management (email/calendar notifications/etc), or that the way things are prioritized when you log in aren’t useful for alerting users to information that is hidden 2 or 3 layers down.
      I also notice that you say you are frustrated by the negativity, but DO want feedback from people on what features are missing. Do you want them to voice their opinions or don’t you? If your problem is that their feedback is not as constructive or actionable as you need it to be, then maybe you need to hire some professional beta testers who are experienced at testing products and giving specific, helpful feedback about what doesn’t work. Expecting that from people who just want something that works so they can get on with all the other work they have to do… I dunno, that might just be too much to expect, is all.
      Either way, I wish you luck! It certainly sounds frustrating, and it’s clear you’re stuck in the middle, which is not a fun place to be.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        To address your first paragraph – my problems keep being failure to launch type problems. I will discuss a potential feature with the developers/provider and if I have one little follow up such as “where do I fill out the request formally” they take is as “I don’t want to do any work.” I feel like they’re projecting (is that the right word?). Or behaving this way based on their previous clients. I don’t think I am doing anything to cause it, but I want it to stop.

        As per the last one, your question with the “DO” I DO want this but people aren’t giving me this. I have a list of these items from 3 people out of 10. The other 7 are either ignoring the project or wanting to have conversations about “a better way to train would be _______” perhaps we should (comments usually boil down to more of the same type of meeting with a PPT where everyone is half paying attention, and which we did already anyway) then I ask for specifics and they repeat themselves. 2 have referenced the 3 people who already did formal training, some self-learning, and came up with questions, and I had to respond “but they don’t have any issues that aren’t being worked on.”

        I feel like everyone is overcomplicating everything. For example, billing. It’s money in, money out. Same at any job. The “revenue report” shows revenue. The “payment report” shows payment. I can put in some test data but at the end of the day, I don’t really know why you keep complaining. Do you want more reports? Then tell me what they are? Do you see a problem with the existing reports?

        1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

          For the people who aren’t engaging… I don’t know if this would work in your situation, but I’d be thinking maybe I’d fix a time to go and sit with them while they try to do whatever ordinary task they’re supposed to be doing with it. I’d present it to them as seeing for myself what kinds of problems they were running into, and it would indeed be that. At the same time, if they were simply putting off getting to grips with it, my being there would help to create a space for them to focus on it – a sort of gentle pressure not to avoid it.

        2. SofiaDeo*

          For the vendor, consider saying something along the lines of “when I ask a question on how to do something, my perception is that you are interpreting it as me requesting that *you* do it. I need this to stop immediately. I am wanting to *learn a process*, not have you do the work.”

          I have seen stuff like this with consulting firms hired to be a go-between for actual software dev and end client; or between software firms having a contract to manage the database instead of end client doing the managing. IMO they don’t want the end client to become proficient, they want to keep their go-between contract. Any possibility this is going on?

  37. Accommodations newbie*

    After nearly all of my colleagues worked remotely for a full year, and then again for a few months over the initial omicron wave, my workplace is officially back in the office full-time with some unofficial flexibility for occasional remote work. I recently submitted an accommodation request for full-time remote work for a few months, on the grounds of temporary immunosuppression related to pregnancy. Although this had been approved for other pregnant people over the last 2.5 years, my employer is seemingly shifting to be more stringent of late—one colleague with the same request and reason ended up being able to work from home only part-time rather than full-time as requested—and the emailed response I got similarly indicates resistance to my request. In the email, they cited COVID safety measures being taken (although they incorrectly summarized the masking policy in a way that made it seem more protective than it really is) and suggested an alternative option of adjusting my FT in-office schedule to work slightly earlier or later hours “to avoid crowds during busy commuting hours” (the adjustment has been available to me throughout my tenure with this employer, and would still have me commuting on public transit during busy times). Note that I can do literally all of my job perfectly well from home, which I have been for the several weeks since submitting my request, and my supervisor has no concerns about my performance. I honestly cannot think of any ways in which me being remote again for a few months would impose any cost or burden on my employer.

    My questions are:
    1. Does an option already available to me constitute an accommodation?
    2. If my employer denies my request or tries to negotiate something other than the exact accommodation that was requested, do they need to articulate a basis (cost, burden, inability to complete job functions, etc.) for not approving the original request?
    3. Would accommodations negotiations be something it’s appropriate to call in a union representative for? (I’m part of a union, but their website is not very clear about… anything, really.)
    4. For those who have been through accommodations negotiations, any advice or scripts?

    Thanks!

    1. HR Friend*

      Once you say or even imply the magic word “accommodation”, employers are required to engage in a conversation with you about providing a reasonable accommodation. “Reasonable” is up for endless interpretation, but the bottom line is that the accommodation granted has to work for you and the business, ie your accommodation can’t create undue hardship for their operations. If they need you in-office (even if you [rightly] think they don’t), then they can counter with something that addresses your needs and theirs. In my experience, 100% WFH is an extreme end of the workplace accommodations spectrum. Stuff like an adjusted schedule, desk placement, PPE, etc.. those are more common.

      Definitely talk to your union rep. This is exactly what they’re there for! Your rep is probably very well equipped to advocate on your behalf and advise you on your specific workplace.

      1. Accommodations newbie*

        The thing is… well, two things: my doctor explicitly recommended FT WFH until delivery (for the reasons given) so it’s not just me pulling that out of personal preference, though obviously my preference is to follow my doctor’s medical advice, and the flexible scheduling on offer doesn’t actually reduce my chances of exposure to COVID compared to my existing schedule (same office setting and density due to core hours, lengthy rush hour). Even part-time WFH would reduce work-related risk of infection by, ~50% instead of 100% – in the current omicron context, that makes no sense to me given the possible health ramifications. I see it as much more likely to be a burden on my employer if I’m sick and out of commission for a week or more than if I’m doing everything remotely and in stable good health.

        Follow-up questions: how much pull does my need to not put myself at risk more than absolutely necessary carry, in terms of what will ‘work for me’? And would pulling in my supervisor to affirm that there is not a need for me to be in-office, even for interactions with colleagues, help my case?

      2. Pisces*

        HR Friend, would you be willing to elaborate on 100% WFH being an extreme end of the workplace accommodations spectrum?

    2. oh geez*

      HR Friend shares good info, I’ll just add some:

      You can browse askjan dot org by both accommodation and disability to get ideas for what might work for you or what your employer might offer

      Re #2, I’m not sure how it works in the private sector, but in my experience they need to cite essential job functions. “Interaction with onsite colleagues” can be an essential job function. The bar for cost as a burden is really high and almost never a good reason to refuse a request. However, they are under no obligation to offer you the exact accommodation you request (the case you mentioned is a pretty cut and dry example of this: you asked for WFH, they offered flexible scheduling)

      It almost never hurts to at least ask your union rep if they can help, or if they know who you should talk to instead.

      1. Accommodations newbie*

        I’m glad to know that in your setting, essential job functions do need to be cited and that the bar for refusing based on cost is high!

        1. oh geez*

          You can google “EEOC essential functions” to read more about how an employer is likely to determine your essential job functions, because it sounds like you might have disagreements with them about what those are in this case (needing to be onsite or not) – knowing what they’re probably tapping for that information (or should be tapping if they’re not) might help strengthen your understanding of the process

    3. Sabrina Spellman*

      I received an accommodation to work remotely 5 days a week once my office returned to some in person scheduling. I can’t remember when the exact timing was, but probably summer through fall 2020 as I had my daughter in September 2020. I had to explain to my doctor why I wanted them to write an accommodation request to my institution (pregnant & located in a busy hallway, next to a bathroom, no vaccine at the time). Has your doctor been in contact with your company about your needs?

      1. Accommodations newbie*

        I submitted a letter from my doctor that included the immune condition, underlying condition of pregnancy, health concerns around COVID, and advice to work remotely through delivery. I don’t want my employer and doctor to be in direct contact without me (my employer is under pressure to have people in the office as much as possible, so I don’t fully trust them to relay info or conclusions from direct contact with my doctor accurately).

  38. Annosaurus Rex*

    Reducing work hours or taking time off for mental health. Has anyone done it with FMLA without a crisis first?

    I’ve been on a treadmill of work, kids, life for several years now. I’ve been toying with the idea of either taking a month off, or reducing my days and hours (I work FT, salaried)

    I’m covered by FMLA, and live and work in California, so have lots of protections. And can absolutely swing reduced salary financially for a period of time. And I have good mental health support, I like my therapist and they would totally write something if I really needed them to.

    Has anyone done this without a crisis first? How much did you have to share and what kinds of documentation did you need to provide? Will I need to get a letter from a doctor? Very interested in hearing from people in the US on the mechanics of doing this.

    1. smeep248*

      I have and I didn’t share much. Our company FMLA was managed by a third party so I filled out their form, they contacted my doctor, my doctor filled out the form, it went back to the third party and no one at work knew anything except I was approved for FMLA, the dates and duration of that approval, and how they could request additional information.

      1. Little Miss Sunshine*

        Similar experience here. Everything about the leave was handled by the 3rd party so communication of details with my employer was totally controlled by me. I actually used FMLA twice within a few months for different reasons, and in the first case I kept it very private, and the second case I was very open. I found that speaking with my doctor about his recommendations, my concerns, and the FMLA paperwork beforehand allowed me to plan my leave around my needs and my doctor wrote the supporting documentation accordingly.

  39. Rona Necessity*

    I just moved across the country for work. I used to live in the same time zone as Alison and had my workday segmented out by when she would post (arrive at work, read the midnight post; work for a few hours, read the 11 am post; lunch, more work, read the 2:30 ish post). Now I’m three time zones over and my Ask A Manager routine has been shattered!

    1. londonedit*

      I always find it really odd when the UK changes the clocks in the spring/autumn and the US doesn’t do it on the same weekend – there’ll be a week where I’m expecting a 4pm post and it doesn’t come, or it goes up at 3pm or whatever!

      1. Hlao-roo*

        In 1986 and again in 2006, the US extended daylight saving time by a few weeks on either end. I don’t know if US and UK clock changes were synchronized before those extensions, but that may be why they aren’t synchronized now.

        1. londonedit*

          Interesting! Ours always go forward on the last Sunday in March (at 2am so really in the middle of the night between the Saturday and Sunday) and back on the last Sunday in October.

  40. OTGW*

    I got a full time job after only work pt for years. I start on Monday and they’re gonna go over benefits and such. I have no idea what like, to expect. They didn’t exactly teach health insurance and whatever in school, and my dad (mom used dad’s health insurance) doesn’t really know how to explain it either. Also, I think he only got like, one plan where as I guess I’m gonna have a few to choose from.

    I think I want an HSA card (parents have it, it’s been handy) but????? Please help. I have no idea what questions to ask, what to keep in mind when choosing plans. It’s all just ?????????????????

    For what it’s worth, I (and my husband) don’t have any chronic things going on. The biggest immediate thing to worry about is I desperately need to fix my teeth.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      They’ll likely be several plans you can pick from. I usually pick midrange by price and then plan to adjust next year rather than spend a week trying to understand the differences. The exception is if you know you need surgery or haven’t seen a dentist in a decade, then go for the pricier but higher coverage ones.

      Some points to look for:

      Dental – want 2 cleanings a year, 1 set of xrays usually

      Vision – do you need glasses? then spend more to get good vision, if you just need eye checkup dont.

      Do you need referrals to specialists or can you schedule yourself? (Some plans if you need PT you can just make the appointment, other plans your need your regular doctor to see you and confirm you need it then they send you to specific set of PTs physical therapy)

      What is the deductible (amount you have to pay before insurance kicks in to cover)?

      How much is regular appointment copay? I pay 20 bucks each time I see doctor until I max out the deductible, the insurance still covers the rest of the appointment but that 20 copay exists. Old plan didn’t have copays was nice.

      Do they have in network/out of network cost differences and do you care? If you travel a lot you should care more, ER on vacation super $$$$ if out of network. If you have specific doctors you want to keep seeing you should care, and check online if they are in network or not.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      A few basic things just to get you started (I’m no healthcare expert):

      – Dental insurance, vision insurance, and health insurance are usually all separate plans. Be sure to opt in to dental insurance if you want work done on your teeth. (Vision insurance is usually only helpful for people who wear glasses/contacts.)

      – For health insurance, there are three general types of plans: HMO, PPO, and high deductible. The benefits orientation should cover some basic info about different plans (if your work offers a choice of plan, some companies only have one option). The basic info will usually be monthly cost to you, the employee, yearly deductible, and copays.

      – HSAs (health savings accounts) are only offered with high deductible plans. The idea behind them is you can contribute money tax-free to your HSA and use that to pay for healthcare (also tax-free when you spend the money on health care). A high deductible plan + HSA generally works best for people with very low healthcare costs and people with very high healthcare costs.

    3. NeedMyMeds*

      I’ve recently had to switch from my parents’ medical insurance to my workplace’s plans, and so I have learned many things about insurance.

      If you’re generally healthy, don’t have any chronic illnesses, and aren’t planning on any surgeries or pregnancies, then a high-deductible health plan with an HSA is the way to go. You’ll have to pay more before any insurance kicks in for stuff that isn’t fully covered preventative care, but your monthly cost is A Lot less.

      Otherwise, you’d probably want a more “traditional” plan, which has a higher monthly cost, but starts covering things a lot sooner. They don’t get HSA accounts, because you don’t need as much saved up before insurance starts helping out, but you may get an FSA which is more complicated and probably not worth it if you don’t have predictable medical expenses, but is good if you have predictable medical expenses and put just that much on it.

      The things to ask about are “deductible” – how much you have to pay before insurance starts paying for stuff, “monthly cost” – self explanatory, and “max-out-of-pocket” – how much you would pay in a year before insurance covers Everything in case you get in a serious accident or get really sick or something.

    4. No Tribble At All*

      The blog nerdwallet has some advice about choosing health insurance plans! And congrats on the new job.

      – HSA (health savings account) is an account that the company and you put money into tax-free. Then you use it for health things only. If you need a lot of dental work, a HSA is good because you can use that money for dental stuff. You can save this money. The HSA bank account is yours and will go with you if you leave the company.
      – Dental insurance is usually separate from medical insurance.
      – HSAs usually come as part of a “high deductible healthcare plan”. This means that the amount you, the patient, have to pay before insurance kicks in (the deductible) is higher. These kinds of plans are good if you’re OK with potentially higher upfront costs.
      – HMOs are usually bad. I don’t remember what the acronym is, but basically you have only a certain set of doctors you can go to, and if you go outside that network, you have to pay for all of it out-of-pocket. :(

      Some of your decision will be how comfortable you are with risk :) for example, I picked a slightly higher cost insurance that has a lower annual maximum because my concern is always “what if I get hit by a car”. If you’d rather save more money now, you can get options that work the other way.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yes! Some places give more options than others. I actually have a FSA, which is usually with a lower deductible plan.

        Also, check if your primary providers are on the plan you choose.

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      Find out what the HSA covers & whether the money rolls over to the next year. (They’ll probably tell you anyway.)

      When mine is going to end, I often buy contact solution or another covered item I know I’ll use.

    6. Rona Necessity*

      Assuming you’re in America, there will be at least three different insurances: medical, dental, and vision. Can you ask HR or whoever’s responsible for your onboarding to send you the benefits info ahead of time so you can look at it over the weekend?

      Here’s a quick rundown of my thought process…
      (1) Medical:
      (a) Make a list of the medical professionals you see or should see. This will include people like therapists, psychiatrists, physical therapists, but also your standard GP and any other specialists. Include how often you typically see them or how often you expect to see them.
      (b) Make a list of your regular prescriptions and look up how controlled they are. The insurance plans I’ve had in the past have had tiers of prescriptions based on regulation, so my copay for my Adderall is slightly more than my copay for my Zoloft.
      (c) Look at your list from (1a). Are you picky about who you see? Particularly for any therapists or psychiatrists? If so, you may want to select a plan that will reimburse you for out-of-network costs, in case your preferred providers aren’t in-network.
      (d) Do you travel a lot? Do any extreme sports or adventuring like rock climbing or parasailing? Look for the plan that has good emergency coverage.
      (e) You’re going to want to look up the terms “co-pay”, “deductible”, and “coinsurance” beforehand. There are more terms, obviously, but those tend to be the big differentiators between plans.

      (2) Dental:
      (a) Make a list of any upcoming concerns in the next couple years. You said you need to fix your teeth. Do you know if that will just be braces/orthodontia, or will there be surgeries? Do you have your wisdom teeth out already? Have you gone to your regular checkup in the last couple years? If not, plan for the worst and suppose you might need procedures like crown installation.
      (b) Again, are you picky about your dentist/orthodontist/dental surgeon? Consider a plan with a wider network (so not an HMO, probably) or one with good out-of-network coverage.

      (3) Vision
      (a) When’s the last time you had an eye exam? If it’s been more than a year, plan on getting one and possibly needing some corrective lenses.
      (b) Do you wear glasses? Contacts? Do you want to get LASIK or a similar surgery? My vision plans have usually paid for either glasses or contacts each year, up to $100, with discounts at their preferred outlets.
      (c) To be honest, all the places I’ve ever worked have just had the one vision plan, so this might be the easiest part.

      (4) Other Stuff
      (a) Each month you’ll have a “premium” due on each plan. Your employer may cover some or all of it for certain plans. Your premium will be higher if your spouse is on your plan.
      (b) An HSA is a savings account solely for healthcare related costs. You choose an amount to contribute from your paycheck each month. This money comes out before taxes. Your employer may contribute a certain amount to your HSA, but that’s less common in my experience.
      (c) You probably won’t have to choose right that minute! Ask if you can take the paperwork home to consider on your own time. I think I had a week to file mine.
      (d) Ask when your insurance will start. My last job had a probationary period of 30 days, then my benefits started the first day of the following month. [That sucked, since I started on the 5th of the month.] My current job started my first day.

    7. jane's nemesis*

      Lean on the benefits/hr people for help! They should know how to explain the options to you. Also make sure to read through all the materials you are provided. Google things you don’t understand.

      You are likely to see several options to choose from, ranging in expense. You will need to choose the plan that best balances deductible/coverage/monthly payment for your budget. And HSA account is helpful if the plan you choose has a high deductible.

      As far as dental, that’s likely to be a separate plan – again, you might have a couple options to pick from. If you know you need a lot of work done in the first year, you might want to pick the plan with the lowest deductible, even if the monthly cost is higher.

      1. Princess Xena*

        Yes yes yes! Especially at a bigger company, this is part of their job description. When I started the HR people had a specific meeting just to go through benefits with my starting class in great depth, in both video and live chat formats.

    8. Should I Apply? needs a new name*

      This is based on my personal experience with larger companies, so your individual experience may vary. I have usually had 3-4 healthcare options to pick from, with a 30 day enrollment period that you have to make your decisions. So it is unlikely that you will have to make the decision on the spot. Also usually every year, there is an open enrollment period (for me its usually Nov) where you can change your option for the next year in case you didn’t like the option you picked previously.

      Dental and Optical are usually separate decisions and have fewer options, usually a base option and a “premium” option, with the primary difference being how much you pay up front and the coverage limit.

      Usually the big differences between healthcare plans are the deductible limits, the monthly premiums, who the network covers, and charges for in vs. out of net work. There is a lot of information on-line about different types of plans and what they mean, and an explanation of differences should be provided by the company. I

      If you already have doctors / clinics that you use, I would suggest first checking if they are covered, in-network, as out-of network costs are generally covered at a much lower rate with higher deductible limits.

      HSA – are only available for high deductible health plans, meaning you will have to pay more out of your own pocket for healthcare costs, but they should have lower monthly deductions. You also have to contribute your own money to fund the HSA (the company might provide some).

    9. Gnome*

      HSA is for high deductible plans only. The closest thing for regular plans is an FSA, but that money expires (HSA does not). Worth Googling the difference and basic info about these. HSA accounts can be good for saving for emergencies, especially if you only have high deductible plan options and are generally healthy. Generally, you fund both of these with pre-tax dollars. Some companies contribute to HSAs on your behalf.

      You should have something like 30 days to do the insurance paperwork, so you have time to look it over. Don’t feel like you need to figure it out the first day.

      Dental and vision are usually separate. Since you have dental concerns, look closely at that. Often there are only 1-2 options for dental, so it shouldn’t be too bad. Check to see if your favorite dentist is in-network (usually on the insurance website).

      Pay attention to the costs of the plans. Sometimes they show you the monthly cost, sometimes the “per paycheck” cost. Sometimes dental is shown one way and medical another, so look closely!

      Good luck!

    10. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      Be sure to find out your window of enrollment. If you don’t enroll within the window, you might not have a chance to enroll again until you have a qualifying event (getting married/divorced, having a baby) or until Open enrollment (usually in the Fall) in which case, the coverage would not be in effect until the 1st of the New Year.

    11. Christmas Carol*

      The last time I was faced with a choice of multiple insurance plans, I reached out to my doctor’s billing personnel, they know what will and won’t be paid for, and helped me choose which plans worked best with the care I was likely to need in coming years.

    12. Hillary*

      The other thing to compare is the “out of pocket maximum” – that’s the most* you have to pay yourself for medical (apart from premiums and some uncovered expenses). I work for a large company, with our current options the high deductible plan is almost always more cost effective. I make a spreadsheet and models every open enrollment, but I’m a data geek.

      Dental will be separate. Once your insurance kicks in it’s worth getting quotes – prices can vary wildly across different practices.

    13. 55 and looking at retirement*

      You’ve gotten some great advice here on health insurance plans. I just wanted to chime in about other benefits, in particular 401k. If your company offers a match, make sure you are contributing enough to get it. That’s free money for you! And if possible, contribute as high a percentage as you can. Pay your future self first! You will be happy you did as you have the power of compound interest in your corner.

  41. Anon for this*

    I had a screening interview for a new position yesterday. At the end, the interviewer said she had a few additional questions, and the last one was “Can we discuss compensation?” I said “Oh, that would be great! Can you tell me what the range for this position is?” AND SHE TOLD ME! AND – it was $15k more than I would have said!! Even if I don’t get this job, at least I can consider the interview good practice, because I finally figured out how to say this without shooting myself in the foot.

  42. Greenhouse Lackey*

    I’m in a weird position at work. I’m planning on quitting in the next 4-6 months but I’m wondering how to handle it.

    I work in a small family business. There’s jobs that I’m solely responsible for. My main responsibilities is running the social media pages, coordinating deliveries of products, and making sure invoices are paid. I work in a greenhouse/landscaping company. Theoretically, my coworkers COULD do what I do, but the truth is they are all terrible at it so my boss put me in charge. I keep getting more responsibilities and I can juggle it but the problem is my coworkers make my work life miserable.

    There’s constant problems I have to fix on top of my regular responsibilities and I’m so sick of picking up everyone’s slack. We’re constantly understaffed and over worked especially during the spring season. I really reached the end of my rope during Easter because I was the ONLY one working on Easter Lily orders and 1 employee is notorious for constantly calling out so dealing with that and the onslaught of customers it became too much to handle. I told my boss that something had to change for next year because I was stretched too thin.

    My boss is aware of the problems but the problems never get fixed. After my complaint I got a raise which is great but I’ll still have to deal with the same crap. My boss’s wife says the business will be screwed if I quit and I did originally say I wanted to stay until he retired or sold the business but I think my tolerance for crap has really decreased. I think he has an inkling I’m not happy because of the raise and I’ve gotten more days off but when I return, there’s fires I need to put out.

    I just don’t know how much warning I need to give since I’m the sole person responsible for a lot of the day to day functions and I said I wanted to be there long term. I’ve been at the business 5 years and I worked for my boss previously when I was in college so we know each pretty well.

    He also will not fire anyone. One employee is stealing and the other crashed his work truck into his personal truck (among other things. The antics of my coworkers would be a totally separate post).

    1. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

      Two weeks. The dysfunction of this business is not your problem. You do not own it. You do not run it. Go.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Two weeks. You shouldn’t care more about their company than they do. THEY have problems they need to address, not you.

      1. Greenhouse Lackey*

        I know it’s within my right to quit whenever. I truly like what I do and don’t really want to quit but my sanity is more important. Job searching is a pain too and the whole fighting the devil you know thing.

      2. pcake*

        This – exactly this!

        If they keep problem employees even when they know they’re harming the business, they don’t care enough about their business OR the employees who aren’t a problem. You being the only one who can do these things correctly is just part of their bad management.

        Please take care of yourself and your needs. You’re not their family or a part owner of the business. You’ve brought serious issues to their attention, and it is very much their choice not to do anything about them.

    3. Radical Edward*

      Oof. This sounds so much like one of my previous jobs that I started feeling anxious just reading about it! I quit with no extended notice period – I was very matter of fact and emotionless about it, and constantly reminded myself of their refusal to fire others who were being actively harmful. That helped to staunch my default tendency to feel guilty (hi, serial people pleaser/recovering doormat/perfectionist here). Having to interact with the problem people daily certainly helped – while draining, it kept me from developing rose tinted glasses after management tried to sweet-talk me into reconsidering.

      You truly don’t owe your employer anything beyond the time they pay you for, not even a notice period if you’re worried about how they’re going to behave once you break the news. Of course it depends on whether you can afford to burn that bridge, but if they’re going to react poorly then they’re burning it for you and that’s that. :/ Good luck!

      1. Greenhouse Lackey*

        I don’t think any bridges will be burnt with my boss. It’s possible I’ll make the slack coworkers mad but who cares what they think. I’m sure things will launch into panic mode when I turn in my notice. We typically get a bonus in summer so I was waiting for that before I seriously start looking.

        1. Everything Bagel*

          Good idea! Don’t let them guilt you about the bonus either when you do quit. You earned it.

    4. Caramel & Cheddar*

      “My boss’s wife says the business will be screwed if I quit”

      It’s amazing how they’ll say this and yet do nothing to make sure you want to stay.

      1. Greenhouse Lackey*

        It’s crazy because his wife orders products for the retail portion and gets our checks for payday but that’s it for that part of the business. She’s told my boss that certain people need to go if you want to keep the good staff but my boss is so non-confrontational that it’s sad.

        The worst part was after getting Easter lily orders out this year I didn’t get a thank you, hey good job, nothing. I don’t need constant praise or anything but I was the ONLY one who took the orders, picked up the lilies from the grower, made invoices, and got them ready by putting the pot covers and bows on. I was coming into work early and staying late to get this crap done. On top of handling the regular customers into the shop. It really made me rethink my job. The Easter lilies are a decent money maker every year so it’s an important project.

        1. Everything Bagel*

          Your boss is non-confrontational, but he sure doesn’t mind dumping the work of a team of people on only you. He knows you’re there handling everything he throws at you so why does he need to replace any of the others? And all the work you’re doing really is because it’s him who’s throwing it at you, not your coworkers. He’s the one who should be handling his staffing issues, not you. Your leaving is the only way he’s going to learn the hard lesson about being an effective manager and business owner.

      2. PollyQ*

        Or to fix the issues in the business right now so they wouldn’t be screwed if any employee left. I agree with the two weeks notice and do not feel guilty!

    5. AcademicAnonymous*

      My job experience is in higher ed but I’ve had a very similar experience: a boss who wouldn’t make anyone do their job and just kept asking me to do more and more! In the time between I started looking for a new job and the time I submitted my notice (about 6 months), I worked on creating documentation and paper trails for all of the different things I did. It was extra work since I was still doing all my regular stuff plus writing up manuals/guides for all of it, but, it made me feel much better when it came time to actually leave. I don’t know if anyone actually used the manuals/guides I created, but I had done what I could do to make the transition smooth. In the work setting you describe, text manuals/guides may not the best option; maybe a series of narrated videos might be better. But the more you can document (by whatever media) what you do, the easier it is to leave with a clear conscience when you find a new/better opportunity.

      1. Greenhouse Lackey*

        I’ve thought about that but the pettiness in me just wants to leave them in the dust. I’ve made guides of sorts for when I’m not at work but they aren’t always followed and they’ll call me to ask questions but I don’t answer.

        The two main coworkers who cause so many issues have been there 11 and 17 years respectively so they aren’t new.

        1. AcademicAnonymous*

          Then find yourself a new job and don’t look back! :-) Some people have to be left to suffer the consequences of their own actions. If the boss hasn’t changed yet, they probably won’t and you can’t make them.

    6. Geek5508*

      your first loyalty should be to yourself. Start job hunting, give notice when you land one, and walk away from this trainwreck…

    7. Gracely*

      Give them two weeks. If you want to be kind, write out how you do certain procedures so that you can hand it off to people when you leave–but it’s not on you to do that unless you want to. I would, if only because if they try to call you after you leave to get help, you can tell them “it’s in the procedures guide I left.”

      You said you wanted to stay long term. You’ve been there for five years–that’s long term enough, especially for a job that sounds like it’s turning into a dumpster fire.

      They will either figure it out, or they didn’t need to be running a business in the first place. Either way, it is not your problem once you leave.

    8. RagingADHD*

      To avoid personal guilt, the best you can do for them is thoroughly document how to do everything the right way. You could ask for a plan to cross-train your coworkers “in case anything should happen to you,” but given your description it is unlikely that management or your coworkers will cooperate with that.

      Once you’ve written everything down including workflows, passwords, vendor contacts, etc, make sure your workspace is tidy and organized, and the files are all where they should be, clearly labeled. Take that 4-6 months to ensure you don’t leave an indecipherable mess behind. None of this is absolutely required, but you sound like the kind of person who will feel better knowing you left with clean hands.

      Then give two weeks notice and hand the manual to your boss.

      They want you to compensate for their bad business practices, but you cannot. That is part of their dysfunction. As long as you leave your responsibilities in good shape, your conscience is clear.

    9. Mac*

      Given that everyone seems to get away with whatever they want and that your boss seems generally happy with you taking on more and more responsibilities, I feel like before you give up entirely you should just present your boss with a plan to hire more help, almost as a fait accompli. Like, “here’s the ad, I’m going to place it here and here, and we can start interviews next week.” You have literally nothing to lose, because if the boss kicks up any fuss you are ready to say, “ok, then I’m sorry, I’m out!”

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I worked in a nursery that also did landscaping work for almost a decade.

      What you describe here sounds pretty normal for what I experienced. Employees stole vehicles- the owner would just go get the vehicle- 3/4 of the way across the country. People would hang out behind the buildings and do lotsa dope. I had to beg for a vehicle with brakes and I was laughed at for wanting brakes. They even sent out people out with me to “drive me” so that I would not find out how marginal the brakes were. Of course, I figured it out quickly.

      You are not the owner. I’m gonna repeat this. You are not the owner and it is not up to you to solve All That Is Wrong. It’s not even up to you to figure out how they will cope with out you. The wife sees a problem but she does nothing.

      While owning a business is a right in our country it is also a privilege. It’s not for the faint of heart, that privilege must be re-earned every. single. day. It is not up to you to protect this owner from himself. This works into good life advice too, make it a habit not to protect (adult, fully-functioning) people from their own selves.

      All you owe them is two weeks notice. At most I’d write down my passwords and hand that in. I see other people recommending that you write up procedures. I already know you probably do not have time or bandwidth. It’s not your problem to solve. They will have to figure it out, just like you did.

      The wife might be wrong about one thing. This biz could sink EVEN if you stayed there.

      I worked for an excellent nursery with a great rep. Too late I learned that all I had to do was walk into another nursery and say “I worked for John Doe” and I would be hired on the spot. Former employees were highly sought after. This great nursey had all the craziness you show here. I almost think it’s inherent in the arena because of externals- weather, supply chain, economy and so much else. We had one year where it rained every weekend for 9 weekends in a row. We all prayed the place would not lay us off because of no business due to rain.

      This is a business where you roll with the punches if you want to run a business. I remember another year fire blight (an airborne fungus? not sure now) wiped out all the fruit trees. It takes a certain kind of person to roll this much and this often. The owner in your setting is not that person. But it’s not up to you to turn him into the person he needs to be.

      It’s okay to give two weeks and just move on. Brace yourself that the owner does not even ask you why you are leaving and consider that verification that you made the right choice.

      1. Poffertjies!*

        Thank you for your advice! The randomness and truly not knowing what the day holds can be fun sometimes. But the novelty and humor has quickly worn off.

    11. Kira*

      If he won’t fire anyone, have you tried just outright saying you’ll quit if you don’t get more help? Not a raise or more time off, but an actual additional body? If you’re planning to leave anyway then I wouldn’t bother, but if additional coworkers would make things accepted then there doesn’t seem to be any harm in stating your ultimatum outright. If you think your boss is a reasonable person you could give them more notice, but if there’s any indication that they would retaliate, push you out earlier than you intended, or start acting rude or entitled then there’s no need to give more than 2 weeks.

  43. Please Remove Your Monkeys from My Circus*

    I found out recently that I’m getting my first non-intern direct report. Reviewed resumes/CLs earlier this week, and I conducted my first phone screen this morning. Years of obsessively reading this site helped so much to make me feel prepared. Thank you, Alison!

  44. Mimmy*

    Related to my post above, I am looking for feedback on an email to the woman I interviewed with yesterday withdrawing from the position. Identifying information has been redacted.

    Good morning Jane,

    Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you about the Teapot Coordinator position yesterday afternoon. I appreciate the time you took in discussing my qualifications and in sharing some of the (specific details redacted) conducted by the Office of Teapot Resources.

    While I see the benefits of working with your office, it is after careful consideration of the position and my geographic location that I must respectfully withdraw from further consideration of my candidacy. My husband and I had been considering relocation but have determined that it is not feasible at this time. Thus, I have decided to focus on opportunities closer to home or that have considerable hybrid or remote options.

    Again, I appreciate your time and interest, and wish you the best in your search for candidates.

    Respectfully,

    Mimmy

    Please be gentle! I’ve never withdrawn from candidacy before. Also, I admit that I adapted some of the verbiage from a sample thank you letter.

    1. ABCYaBye*

      Mimmy, if I received this I would reply and thank you for your candor. It would be far better to know that relocation isn’t an option for you now than to get farther into the process and find out later. What you’ve said is great.

    2. Sloanicota*

      To be honest after just one phone interview I would probably be briefer and get to the point faster, but it’s no big deal and this letter is perfectly respectful and professional! I’ve withdrawn from lots of processes. They appreciate not wasting any more time and it doesn’t preclude you from future opportunities.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        Agree — this could be tightened — I assumed that this was after an in-person interview. In addition to tightening the first paragraph as discussed below the “why” could be changed to “Unfortunately, while the position sounds like an interesting opportunity, after careful consideration I have determined that relocation is not feasible at this time. Thus, I have decided to focus on opportunities closer to home or remote options and need to withdraw my candidacy.”

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      I would keep the first paragraph less detailed since that reads more like a “thank you and I’m reiterating my interest” email and if I were busy I might not get to the “I”m withdrawing” part. I would keep the first paragraph to “Thank you for taking the time to speak with me about the Teapot Coordinator position. I appreciated our conversation. Unfortunately, while . . . .”

    4. ecnaseener*

      Without having read your post above, can confirm this reads totally polite and reasonable.

    5. Mimmy*

      Thank you all for your thoughtful feedback and suggestions! I just sent the email now. I’m a little sad but I believe I made the right decision for me.

    6. RC+Rascal*

      I think it’s well done.

      A phrase I have used that you may want to borrow is “conclude my candidacy”.

      Example:

      “After thinking about the Director of Teapots role, I have decided it is not well aligned for my career and wish to conclude my candidacy. It is a terrific opportunity and I am sure you will find a great candidate. If you have any senior level opportunities in Kitchenware, please keep me in mind.”

  45. K*

    Asking on behalf of a friend. She is originally from non-English-speaking and non-French-speaking country. Recently she have moved to France to join her partner who works there. Her English is very good, by her French is somewhere between beginner and intermediate level, like, she can make small talk, go to post office or dentist, etc, but can’t participate in complex conversations. She is experienced engineer with high-demand skills, so when searching for a job, she made sure to be honest during interviews about her French language skills and only apply to places where job postings were in English and which were willing to interview her in English. All well, she went to a few rounds of interviews is three different companies, accepted an offer from one, started a job. On the first day she discovered that no one except the hiring manager is willing to speak English to her, and her knowledge of French is not sufficient to communicate with coworkers. And the hiring manager is planning to leave the company in a few weeks. She is afraid that she will be fired for not being able to do her job because she does not understand what coworkers say at meetings. Do you think she should resign after being there only a few days to avoid being fired? Or is it a hiring manager’s fault for misleading her during interview process, and therefore should she talk to him and demand to accommodate her by running meetings in English? Does anyone have any other advice for her?

    1. I'm just here for the cats!*

      I think she needs to have a conversation with that hiring manager. If it’s company policy or culture to have meetings in french then he misled her if he told her that they speak English. However, maybe there was a miscommunication and he thought that her level of French would have been stronger than it is? Either way, she needs to talk with him and explain that she cannot work in a place that does not speak English.

      Also, how very rude that no one is willing to speak English to her (if they are fluent). Like they can’t even have a conversation with her in English? I’m sorry but doesn’t that reinforce the French stereotype that French people are stuck up and snooty?
      I hope your friend can find a place that will communicate with her.

      1. K*

        Thank you! complicated company structure is also a factor, hiring manager is also is not her direct boss and works in a different office. Maybe he did not know that her immediate coworkers would be so unwilling to speak English? but decent manager would have double checked it before offering a job to a person whose resume has “French: pre-intermediate” in it.
        Yes, the stereotype that people in France are reluctant to speak English is based on facts. They not only don’t want to do it, but also their English is quite bad.

        1. Annie Moose*

          Well, yes, most people are quite bad at speaking languages that are not the language of their country. That’s to be expected.

      2. fueled by coffee*

        Completely agree that it was misleading to say that the company speaks English when that is not, in fact, the case.

        However, I speak two languages in addition to English (one fluently, one at a proficient/conversational level), and I’d be hard pressed to translate work conversations into another language, even one that I’m very comfortable in. Especially for engineers, where I imagine there’s a large amount of technical language involved and, depending on the type of engineering, mistakes can mean, like, a bridge collapsing. If this was a social issue — people were excluding her from water cooler chat and so on — I would agree that this is rude behavior from the coworkers. But in this case, I think the problem is that she was misled about the job.

        1. K*

          For this exact reason speaking French at meetings is quite weird, most of the technical documentation, professional conferences, and other job-related resources are in English (software development field). But apparently it works for this particular company so I can see why they are not willing to switch to English because of one new person.

          1. AnonForThis*

            This is actually pretty normal in my field of STEM science – international conferences and papers are in English, you need to be fluent in English to work at a postdoc level or above but people working in a non English company will use their native language when at work, unless the workplace has been specifically set up to be in English. Reading/writing technical English is very different from speaking, and using English for a few days at a conference is very different than using it 40 hours a week at work. Even in international departments, it’s common for business meetings (ie, involving support staff) to be in the local language, and scientific meetings to be in English, as the faculty and postdocs will be fluent, but the secretaries and engineers much less so.

            So I think the workplace is pretty normal, the problem is that it was misrepresented to the OP as being more English friendly than it really is.

      3. Violetta*

        It’s not stuck up or snooty, jeez.

        I’m an expat in France as well. Yeah, most people speak some English. In an engineering firm in a city they probably speak it decently. But speaking decent English and having to convert your professional, highly technical work conversations into English are two different things. Having everyone do this to accommodate one person is not realistic.

        Maybe this is a bad fit. My experience is you need at least basic french to work here, unless you’re like a highly skilled software engineer (maybe the friend is). But it’s first and foremost a her problem, not a them problem, unfortunately. She should definitely speak to the hiring manager again.

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          It’s not realistic, but in that case you shouldn’t be interviewing people who have ‘pre-intermediate French’ on their resume. The friend was doing her due diligence and the hiring manager dropped the ball.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      There was a similar letter here a few years ago. If you search “I don’t speak French but my job requires it” you should find it (posted on August 18, 2016). Alison’s advice was:

      1) talk to the boss about how to proceed, given that it takes more than a few months to learn French
      2) start job searching

      1. K*

        Thank you! it is comforting to know that my friend is not the only person who struggles with this.

    3. E*

      I’m not sure demanding that the hiring manager accommodate her is the best option, given that he has one foot out the door – is the issue that the coworkers don’t speak English well enough to have a conversation with her, or are they simply refusing out of principle? Are there any other people in the office that are primarily English speakers?

      1. K*

        I think it is both, their English is not great, so it is difficult (but not absolutely impossible) for them to speak it. No, all other 10 or so team members are French native speakers (or have been living in France for decades and speak the language very well).

        1. E*

          In this case, I think the odds of her convincing the remaining coworkers to conduct business primarily in English are slim so I would follow the advice in the previous letter linked above – maybe the company could transfer her to a different team where English is the standard? In any event, I would probably start job searching. What a mess, sorry to hear your friend is in this position.

    4. Kira*

      I don’t know about French labour law but the stereotype is that there’s quite a bit of worker protection. So I wouldn’t jump to quitting to avoid being fired as the first solution before I looked into what accommodations she might be legally entitled to. Here in Quebec there’s lots of government funding for French language training in and out of the workplace (I know Quebec is not France but they’re kind of like France’s wannabe little brother, so maybe they have some of the same language training support?)

      1. Violetta*

        She’s likely still in her trial period (periode d’essai can be 3m to 1y if I recall correctly) so her fear isn’t ungrounded. But I agree, if she has some basic understanding of french she should try improving it first. And I know that’s exhausting and difficult on top of starting a new job, but she’s gonna have this issue at other employers as well, unfortunately.

        1. Books and Cooks*

          Yes, I would think the first thing to do is ask if the company is willing to help her improve her French! Maybe they have some language program or are willing to start one, or pay for a tutor or Rosetta Stone or something, or even send her to one of those immersion courses where she’d spend a week or two and come back much improved. If they won’t do any of that, maybe they would at least give her a couple of hours off per week to study or attend classes on her own.

          It’s (imo) definitely worth asking before she just assumes she’ll be fired. And IME people are much more willing to work with you in your language/English, and be patient and accommodating, if you make clear that you are working on learning their language.

  46. I'm just here for the cats!*

    I don’t know if it’s because it’s summer and there are no students around or because we are not supper busy or what but I just cannot focus this week. I should be doing an online training on Indesign CC but I cannot focus. I read a little bit, do part of an exercise and then I get distracted by looking up gluten-free kinds of pasta!

    Is anyone else like this? Do you have any suggestions? I feel like a bumble bee. Just floating around to different flowers but not really doing anything. Also, this isn’t normal so its not like I have ADHD or anything.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’m with you!

      I keep looking up farm properties that I could turn into artist colonies.

      1. Cookie*

        I keep thinking about the dark, depressing fall/winter and looking at tropical vacations online, as though I had the time, money, or magical covid immunity to make something like that happen. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    2. fueled by coffee*

      This sounds like it might just be a boring training!

      You might look into the pomodoro method –> set a timer for 15 (or so) minutes, during which you work without distractions, until the timer goes off. Then take a 5 minute break for pasta recipes! Then set the timer for another 15 minutes, and so on. This helps schedule your breaks so that you still get to take them, but you also set short bursts of time during which you force yourself to concentrate and get some work done. For me, it’s psychologically much easier than sitting with large blocks of time during which I feel like I have the leeway to procrastinate until suddenly two hours have passed.

    3. RagingADHD*

      That is a great description of what an ADHD day sounds like, actually! I’m stealing it.

      Typical brains act like ADHD brains when they are:
      1) Sleep deprived or underfed
      2) Stressed
      3) Anxious or depressed
      4) Preoccupied with an important life event or waiting for important news
      5) Experiencing big changes to routine or environment, like moving
      6) Frustrated and bored by having to be somewhere or do something they would much rather not.

      So #5 could explain it, or you may have multiple things going on. Pomodoro is a good method. Also, making sure you get up and move around once an hour to give yourself a change of pace.

      1. allathian*

        I’d guess the last two. I absolutely loathe working when everyone else is on vacation, because it’s just so boring that I’d far rather be doing pretty much anything else. Especially if there isn’t enough work to do and I’m just putting in the hours and doing the nonessential stuff that’s rarely urgent but is necessary, like clearing out my email inbox.

        I’m pretty NT, but I’ve definitely had my ADHD days for each of the reasons you mention. I can deal with one at a time without too much trouble, but when I was stressed to the point of burnout, I was also anxious and sleep deprived. No wonder my executive functioning went out the window.

  47. Imaginary Number*

    What are some good options for responding to clueless, older (but not more senior), male colleagues who think it’s okay to tell women to smile when passing them in the hallway? It happened to me yesterday and I just said “no” but I’m trying to think 0f a better response that doesn’t take too much mental energy but gets the point across.

    1. WhimsicalWhale*

      I would recommend a “do you ever tell that to your male colleagues? No? Then don’t do it to your female colleagues either.” Of course, some men would get defensive so you need to play a little nicer, but it shouldn’t take too much more than that if he’s actually clueless but well meaning.

      1. Nesprin*

        Slightly more conciliatory version of this:
        “Oh, I’m not sure if you know this, but a lot of people these days think that asking women to smile is sexist”
        and followup if “but I’m not sexist” rears its ugly head:
        “That’s why I brought it up- I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be thought of as sexist”

        1. Kira*

          You could also head it off by saying “I’m sure you don’t mean it this way, but it’s pretty well-documented that women are disproportionately asked to smile and most people find that sexist.”

    2. Please Mark This Confidential and Leave It Lying Around*

      My standard reply is “I am not decor.”