open thread – September 2-3, 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.

{ 1,050 comments… read them below }

  1. Miette*

    I’m a freelancer, speaking with a potential employer (also a current client). Their salary offer is below my floor, but they sent me a benefits value statement to illustrate the full compensation on the table. In addition to the value of things like health insurance and shoir/long term disability, they’ve included the value of holidays and PTO.

    My question: How much should I weigh the valuation of benefits like PTO/holidays in evaluating a job offer?

    1. EngGirl*

      That’s a question that’s going to be really personal to you! I think you have to look at the job and package as a whole.

      Is it work you’re going to enjoy? Will the amount of PTO they’re offering you be sufficient for how you want to live your life? At this point do you value additional money or additional time off more?

      1. Miette*

        Your last point is a good one. I’m at a place (and age) where banking more salary in preparation for retirement is preferable. TYSM

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          In that case, you might want to ask about retirement benefits if they haven’t already shared those.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Bingo. And how do the benefits play out in real life?

        My husband could get long term care for his parent…. at a cost of $2k per month. If that’s not bad enough, the policy ended at age 95. Parent was 97.

        Dental insurance, yea! No, it was capped at $1500 per year. We were better off just putting the premiums in a bank account.

        Stock option plan. Option to buy at $40. Stock never went UP to even $30.

        PTO. After working 12-14 hours per day, vacation looked more like a coma than a vacation.

        I will avoid talking about the medical insurance.

        My punchline: I will never, ever take a job with mediocre pay but “Great” benefits. Ever. He felt like he had been conned. Honest adults don’t do this to each other.

    2. ThatGirl*

      That’s really up to you, honestly, but I have a floor for that sort of thing too – I would expect at least 3 weeks of PTO and 8-10 paid holidays (New Year’s, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving/Black Friday, Christmas Eve/Christmas, either 1-2 more on the calendar or floating holidays). I would only consider it a major perk if I got *more* than that; much less would probably be a dealbreaker.

      1. Miette*

        Thank you–applying this logic to it makes sense. Is it truly a perk worth going for vs. something rote or standard. Thank you.

    3. Xavier Desmond*

      Well I would say that entirely depends on how much you value your holiday and vacation time. I’m not sure you can put an objective monetary value on it.

      1. Miette*

        Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking–ascribing a monetary value to time off they’re going to be paying me for isn’t really as additive as they seem to want me to think.

    4. InTheLibrary*

      The thing about valuating benefits is that is a very personal and subjective decision. It depends on how much *you* value what they’re offering. For me, lots of PTO is very important. I’m OK with a lower salary in order to get the PTO I want. For you, a standard two weeks might be fine, and you’d rather have more cash to use as you want.

      For other things, like health insurance, I would do a dollar comparison. What are you currently paying for health insurance? Will their package (considering co-pays and deductibles, etc.) save you money on that front?

    5. Brainstorming*

      I personally wouldn’t weigh it in the sense they’re presenting it to you. The way I think about it, I’m making the salary they offer whether I take PTO during the year or not. The value of that PTO ends up mentally lumped into my salary. It isn’t like they’re going to pay me extra when I’m on vacation, so valuing PTO as a monetary benefit (to excuse a lower salary) just doesn’t make sense to me.

      Now, is PTO a benefit to keep in mind when looking at job offers? Absolutely! If a company was offering me next to no PTO when another offered a more generous system, that would weigh into my consideration. But they way they are presenting it is a no for me.

      1. Miette*

        This is my thinking as well, so thank you for validating a concern. I’m a non-exempt employee so they’re paying me whether PTO is taken or not, so what’s the relevance of including its monetary value?

        Assessing the value of health benefits is straightforward, and so is what I already pay for my own disability insurance, but I don’t think ascribing a literal monetary value to PTO is part of my equation.

        1. Another JD*

          It counts as a benefit because you can choose not to work for 3 weeks and still get paid for it. Companies budget staffing needs to accommodate PTO, so it does have a cost. If you’d rather have more money and less PTO, you can try negotiating it.

          1. WellRed*

            This. I get paid to take days off. However if what you make now in salary is high enough that may not matter to you.

        2. Snow Globe*

          PTO could have a monetary value if they allow you to roll it over and will pay out unused PTO when you leave the company.

      2. Cj*

        Right. Time off has a lot of intangible value to many employees, but you can’t put a dollar value on it. It’s already included in your salary.

    6. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I would do math something like this:
      (New Salary + difference in insurance premiums) – (Old Salary – (number of days off * new salary). Once you have those numbers, think about the more subjective stuff–what’s it worth to you not to have do quarterly taxes, not drum up business, etc., add a little for chance you’ll need the disability insurance, etc.

      1. No fun name yet*

        Just Your Everyday Crone raises a good point–as a freelancer, you spend Time (and therefore $$–if not actual $$ in fact) on stuff that as an employee you won’t have to do. It was worth it to me to move to an employee basis and NOT have to deal with billing (and requisite nudging to get paid), marketing, and solicitation.

        I also realized that I hated the record-keeping I had to do as a freelancer for taxes: marketing costs–as well as the costs of doing business (computers, ink, paper, printers, cell phone plan, internet use and electricity use, etc.).

        On the other hand, I’ve friends who have remained in the freelance world specifically because it was worth it to them to do so and write off the costs of all those things (I will note that I bought my last set of tech when I was a freelancer precisely so that I could write it off). Another reason why I went from freelance to FTE basis.

        So–like with amount of worth of PTO time, the value/stress of these other-duties-as-needed-as-a-freelancer is totally subjective and personal :)
        But they should be factored into your decision process.

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

      One thing I would do for the health insurance is compare the plan you have now and cost you have now to the plan and cost you would have at the new job. If the plans are very similar (i.e out of pocket costs, deductible, same network) I would look at the Monthly costs. If the employers insurance costs less per month than what you pay now you can add that savings.

      1. WestSideStory*

        I would also suggest looking closely at the health insurance package. What percentage do you contribute, vs. what they pay for premiums? For many of my colleagues, a company’s ability to pay for health insurance (in the U.S. where health care can bankrupt you quickly) is a good incentive to get hired as an employee.

        Also, do they offer a 401K, and if so, do they match your contribution? As someone who has worked variously as contract and as an employee, the years when I was actually employed by a company were years I used to bolster retirement funds. If you are already contributing to a SEP-IRA (what self-employed typically use) perhaps run the numbers on whether employment would increase your ability to save.

    8. Rapid Roy (the stock car boy)*

      The “Total Compensation” gambit really annoys me. Its a way of sidestepping the low base salary to distract you with a higher number. What they are really saying is “this is how much it will cost US to employ you for a year.” While that is a real number, it has no value to me in the negotiation. What I want them to tell me is “This how much money will be in your paycheck every two weeks”

      For me, those ancillary benefits are part of my decision process, but only after I understand the potential real dollars in my pocket. I can’t pay off my mortgage or put gas in my car with PTO or LTD, no matter the actual value of those benefits.

      1. Generic Name*

        I agree. It’s like they are trying to justify low pay. There are some instances where the math of compensation does play out in a way that employers are suggesting. My company pays 100% of the employee premium for health insurance. When I was going through a divorce, I all of a sudden had to pay for my own health insurance. I talked to HR and she reminded me that there is no cost for the employee to be on company health insurance. Based on what the company pays per employee, I effectively got a $3,000 raise that year. For other companies, I’m sure the math works out in the opposite direction. Meaning you pay higher insurance premiums, which could cancel out a pay increase, or even make your take home pay less.

        So I wouldn’t put too much stock in the “value” of paid time off, but definitely look at insurance premium costs and even 401k matching.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        I think this is actually one case where the “total compensation” could be useful. I’ve never been a freelancer, but my understanding is that they are responsible for their own taxes, health insurance, etc. So Miette can look at how much money they currently earn/try to earn in a given year to cover their expenses, savings, taxes, health insurance, etc. and compare that number to the “total compensation” the company is offering. (Not a direct 1-to-1 comparison as they will still need to pay health insurance premiums and may not use all of the benefits the company offers, but more useful here than when changing from one salaried job to another.)

    9. Slightly Above Average Bear*

      Benefits are nice and something to consider, but an employer is more likely to change those than the salary they are offering.
      If you have lots of PTO, but the company makes it difficult to use, it isn’t much of a benefit. My husband had 10 weeks of PTO when he left his last job and we’re in a state that doesn’t require employers to pay out.
      If they have great insurance benefits and change insurers during the next enrollment period, you may end up with higher premiums, co-pays, and deductible or your preferred providers may no longer be in network.

      1. Squeakrad*

        Also agree about the PTO and – I would see if you could talk to other employees to see if people can really use the PTO. One of the companies I worked with offered unlimited PTO with the attitude that employees knew when to take it and would take enough to replenish themselves. What actually worked out is that nobody ever took vacations.

    10. Squeakrad*

      I’m wondering if they would include the value Holidays and PTO if you weren’t coming from a freelance position? PTO maybe, but any full-time professional job includes some holidays. So I wouldn’t have that as an added value.
      How many different position I took a job with pretty low pay because the benefits are truly spectacular in moving toward retirement. My and my spouses health insurance Apple we paid, and when I retire either the end of this year or next, my health insurance will also be fully paid For the rest of my life. Given the state of health insurance in this country that means a lot to me.

    11. Nancy*

      Only you know what is best for you.

      I have always accepted a lower salary for better vacation and flexibility because that’s what is more important to me. Others feel differently.

  2. EngGirl*

    Why why why can’t hiring managers/HR be upfront about salary for a position?

    I recently had an interview for a job. Prior to the interview we did a phone screen where we discussed salary and I provided my salary range. We then had a separate email conversation where we discussed that the bottom of my range was about the top of theirs. I said I was willing to entertain the bottom of my range depending on things like benefits/PTO. They said cool.

    I went in for an interview which I felt went really really well. My feelings were confirmed by the hiring manager who started talking next steps with me, and said he’d have HR reach out for a second interview with his higher ups.

    I just got an email this week telling me that based on my years of experience (which is pretty obvious on my resume and was discussed during the phone screen) and their corporate salary structure, the max they can offer me is 11% less than the bottom of my range, which means I would potentially be looking at a paycut for this role. I declined to continue.

    What was the point of this? We wasted everyone’s time! It wouldn’t bother me if we hadn’t had two discussions about salary prior to the interview, but this feels like something that could have been brought up. I based my range on my current salary, experience, and info I’ve been pulling about salaries in our area, so while the high end of my range is a stretch the bottom end really should not be.

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Had a similar thing happen to me recently and it was pretty frustrating. I got recruited for a role similar to what I do now but closer to home, and was very up-front in our first phone conversation about my salary target for making a move. The recruiter indicated that she understood and that my target was well within their range.

      I went through 3 interviews, met the whole group, and was getting excited, and then my offer came in… $5k short of my target. Asked if they would consider going up to my target, that again, we had discussed explicitly from the very beginning, and was told that they were firm. So, a massive waste of everyone’s time and energy. It’s baffling and I have no insight on why companies do this. Recruiters, STOP DOING THIS PLEASE. IT’S WACK.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Recruiters typically have little say in what offers look like. Just FYI. Ultimately, the decision on what an offer looks like almost always originates from the hiring manager. Point your scorn towards them.

        1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

          In this case, it was an internal recruiter, so I feel somewhat justified in being annoyed with her. But point taken.

          1. T. Boone Pickens*

            It still doesn’t matter. Internal recruiter versus external recruiter. Everyone is at the mercy of the hiring manager.

            1. Me ... Just Me*

              Hiring managers, in my experience have virtually zero input into salary. We can advocate for a higher salary to HR — but really, it’s up to HR and executives to determine the pay.

      2. Parenthesis Dude*

        This is very different than the case above.

        In her case, they based their proposed salary off of a formula. They could have known exactly what they were going to offer before the second interview.

        In your case, they decided you weren’t worth the amount you wanted. The options were you give you an offer below you wanted, or just reject you outright. It makes sense to let you reject their offer in this case.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      They were probably hoping if you sunk enough time and effort into interviewing, they could convince you to take the lower salary. Or there was a miscommunication along the way. Or they’re convinced that the job is so good of course you’d take a pay cut! Or maybe their benefits are really good, and thought they would make up for the lower salary – you did say you’d be willing to entertain a lower offer based off of benefits/PTO. Though you said bottom of your range, not a big chunk below even the lowest number, so I’m reaching a bit with that one, definitely not blaming you.

      Whatever the reason, it’s super frustrating! You’re not wrong to feel like it was all an unnecessary waste of time.

      1. EngGirl*

        Yeah, if I hadn’t given a range it probably wouldn’t have bothered me so much, and I do think they probably have pretty good benefits.

        The position has been posted for over 6 months and is located in a not super desirable area. I took a look at the amount of work there would be for the person in this position to do, and I just don’t see them being able to hire someone in the range they’re looking for with the capability to do the job. It’s also a new role for this company so they don’t have anyone there to train someone new so they’d be starting from scratch.

        1. New Mom*

          The fact that they wouldn’t go up $5k makes me think you dodged quite a bullet there. Especially curios what their yearly increases look like. I’m sorry this happened. I’ll probably be actively job hunting within the next year and will be so frustrated if this happens to me and it seems like it likely will.

      2. Saraquill*

        I’ve been getting similar runarounds when I ask about salary and benefits. The one place which gave me a job offer after being quiet during the interview offered me low pay and skimpy benefits. I didn’t feel bad saying no.

    3. CatCat*

      I feel your frustration. I have been having similar conversations (turned down two jobs over it). The one I’m working on right now with Large Employer, the hiring manager seems to be extremely frustrated with the HR department, who apparently led her to believe she could hire at $X+$12k, but are now only approving at $X because I am like three months shy of some internal years of experience threshold. So she’s firing off a memo about why it needs to be $X+$12k. (I know all this because she told me lol; I’m frustrated but I appreciate the transparency.)

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        This gets really crazy if you leave stuff off your resume to avoid age bias. I have 23 years in my field, but I trim off the first five or so.

    4. JelloStapler*

      Sometimes I still think companies think their position/team/company/food truck Fridays is SO amazing that salary is not as important.

      1. That’s bonkers*

        Had an HR person explain that the competition might offer $3/hour more, but that HIS company holds two all staff cookouts a year – so obviously his company is better. Does make one wonder.

    5. ferrina*

      I really appreciate the hiring manager who called me, told me the salary range up front, then asked if it made sense to continue talking. It was 10k lower than I was looking for so I declined to continue. One of the few times that I felt my time was respected in the job search!

      1. EngGirl*

        Lol that was my biggest problem with this! We had that exact conversation! If they had said “well the range for this position is X-Y and we understand that you’re looking for something at the top of our range, but we don’t think it’s likely that we’ll be able to offer that since at that range we’d be looking for a candidate with 10-15 years of experience, based on your resume we’re looking at the middle of our range, does it make sense to continue?” I would have saved myself an afternoon and I wouldn’t have been left with such a bad taste in my mouth. Especially because the conversation wasn’t “oh my god I need a job!” It was “I’m gainfully employed but looking to maybe make a change in my life”

    6. Voodoo Priestess*

      Good for you for walking away, but yeah, what a waste. I think a lot of employers are still struggling with the fact employees have more options, salaries are increasing, and they no longer are in a position of power.

      Even internally, I’ve been asking for a promotion (and raise). My Director keeps complaining that his hiring budget is out of whack because new candidates want more and that’s part of the excuse for no raise. But if I leave, they can’t replace me at my current salary, so not only will they lose money but they will also be short staffed while trying to find a replacement. But guess who’s looking at other opportunities? Their budget problems are not mine to fix.

    7. Ann Cognito*

      Super frustrating! They probably think once you’ve had a couple of interviews with them, you’re going to be so in love with the job and the people, that you won’t care any more that the range is actually lower than what they told you. Absolute BS of course, and it just leaves a bad taste in your mouth about them, which isn’t good for them either, since if anyone asks, you’ll tell them the truth about what happened. As you say, a complete waste of everyone’s time.

    8. shruggie*

      On this topic……. any thoughts about this as an email response to their explicit ask for my salary requirements? (I hate that it’s over email, on top of the fact that I hate the question…)

      Hi Hiring Manager,
      With limited information about the position responsibilities and no information about the full benefits package, it’s hard for me to name an exact number. I certainly don’t have a firm number to stick to, and am more than willing to negotiate. Can I ask what range you have in mind, and perhaps for an overview of the benefits?


      1. Churpies*

        I did this when asked to name a salary expectation and got ghosted. I thank them for ghosting me, because I’m pretty sure I dodged a bullet.

    9. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Well, that isn’t your question.

      Your question is “why did they interview me knowing they can’t meet my expectations.”

      That, I don’t know, and is pointless and wrong. From their perspective, maybe you were good but didn’t know them out of the water, but in that case, I would just not offer you the job

    10. PassThePeasPlease*

      THIS! This could not be more timely, I’m currently very casually looking for a new role and was a reached out to by a recruiter, liked what I heard then did FIVE 30 minute interviews with the team I’d be joining for them to offer me 9% lower than the very bottom of my range (that I had double confirmed was in their range for the position with the recruiter via text before starting interviews). So I just countered 10% higher than the top of my range. I have a specific number in mind that I would need to make a switch and if they don’t meet it I’m fine turning this offer down and continuing to look for something.

  3. ThatGirl*

    Last week I asked about experiences with newly-merged companies with new benefits, so a quick update. We had an overview of the new insurance options yesterday, and the major shift there is that instead of two PPOs and a HDHP/HSA plan, there will be two HDHP plans. The HSA contributions are changing a little too, but in a way that makes sense to me. 

    But the kicker is that the premiums are going WAY down. So I’m sure the company is saving money on this, but the insurance itself will also be very inexpensive — I currently have the HDHP plan, and it runs me ~$120 a month for just me, which I thought was pretty good. Next year the same plan will be $20 a month. Plus whatever I contribute to the HSA, of course, but that’s money I’m keeping – and I was contributing to mine anyway. The cost of our dental and vision plans is going down a fair bit too.

    There are some other changes coming I’m a little less thrilled about (like the bro-ey “winning” culture of the larger company) but I’m actually fairly pleased with this.

    1. DashDash*

      As someone who tends to really, uh, get the most out of their health insurance, I really hope your company is still offering a plan that is NOT an HDHP plan!

      1. ThatGirl*

        Nope. They presented it as wanting to put more back in your paycheck. I know not everyone will be happy about it, but honestly, the math works out OK for most people. It’s just a matter of whether you pay up front in premiums or after the fact for the visit/medical care. (And preventive care and preventive prescriptions are free.)

        1. Amari*

          Man I know this works for “most people” but god forbid you have a chronic illness of any kind. I had a coworker with diabetes and of course she hit the deductible immediately every year. She was unable to take any potential job with a high deductible plan because it would mean she had to pay like 10k upfront every single January! As opposed to a smaller amount, taken out of your paycheck in installments over a year via premiums. So this would mean she probably would have to quit! Not great in terms of disability awareness from this company.

          1. ThatGirl*

            To be fair, the deductibles on these are $2k and 3k. That’s still a solid chunk of change, but it’s not $10,000.

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

              wow! wish mine was that way. Its like 5000 and I almost make it but not quite. It was really nice (kinda) that January 2020 I had an unexpected surgery so I met my deductible and all of my medications and regular appointments were covered with no out of pocket cost.

              1. ThatGirl*

                Heck my husband has a PPO and his deductible is $1500. It’s not a massive difference, though his is structured differently.

            2. Amari*

              Huh, I wouldn’t even consider that a high deductible plan. I had a regular PPO with a deductible of 2500 once. No wonder that seems fine, then! When you said high deductible I assumed at least 6k and up.

      2. Doctors Whom*

        Depending on the deductible and the OOP max, an HDHP can be a *great* deal for someone who gets the most out of their insurance. The “High” part can be as low as $1400 for an individual and $2800 for a family plan.

        We have my spouse and the kids on an HDHP that’s 80-ish a month for them a family and even if we hit the max OOP, it’s just slightly more than what we can contribute annually to an HSA. The premiums + maxing HSA together come to less than it would cost in premiums alone (before deductibles or coinsurance or copays) to cover them on a PPO plan where I work. (I’m covered separately for other reasons.)

        If we max out the OOP under the HDHP and under my PPO insurance – we still come out ahead by $3K a year in healthcare expenses than if we had them covered under the comparable plan at my work. (I’m doing the math as a family, with all our coverage included, to assess that.) In any other scenario, the HDHP then easily wins.

        Some HDHPs have higher premiums or have the higher OOP maxes allowed by law. If our OOP max were 14K the math would be different. You really have to do the math, even if you are a heavy user of your health insurance.

        1. ThatGirl*

          The deductible is only $2k or $3k depending on the plan, it’s not outrageous. But it definitely involves math to do comparisons.

          1. Doctors Whom*

            I make a spreadsheet every year and model a “best case,” “moderate,” and “catastrophic” option:)

            When we got access to the HDHP 2 years ago (we are in our late 40s now) I was OVER THE MOON. Spousal unit was… confused about why I was so excited about a new insurance plan option.

            I can see why they would be unappealing in general to someone with chronic needs and not a large cash cushion if you hit the deductible earlier in the year than you can build up the HSA to pay it. But in the last two years it’s put easily 12K directly back in our pockets (thanks to two years of low health expenses for us).

            We’ve cash flowed our moderate expenses (we’ve only spent about $1800 this year among the 4 of us) the last two years and treat the HSA as a retirement vehicle. But it’s nice to know I can just keep the records and tap it at any time for reimbursements if I needed emergency cash.

        2. Government worker*

          My HDHP works out to be less expensive annually than the copay plan my employer offers even if you hit the out of pocket max. The out of pocket is the same as the deductible and is $2,800. Seems like a lot of insurance providers are offering HDHPs that meet the requirements to be able to have HSAs but are not that high. The real problem I see is not cost but it discourages getting care that you should get when you haven’t hit the deductible since each doctor visit is pretty expensive.

      3. Generic Name*

        Yeah, I’m the same. I prefer the predictability of the PPO/HMO option. A friend of mine explained the HDHP/HSA really well. He said it’s basically a long game that in order for it to work out in your favor, you start out on that plan when you are young (and presumably healthy) and not using healthcare a ton. Premiums are low, so you put more money into the HSA. Then when you need a surgery or develop a chronic condition, you pay for the larger deductible out of the money you stocked away (and grew with interest!) years ago. Employers who feature these plans typically also pay a certain amount into the HSAs, which can increase their appeal.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      HDHP plans are great, until they’re not and then they really suck. Combined with the “winning” culture, I’m guessing they may kinda suck for people who aren’t young and healthy.

    3. higheredrefugee*

      As someone who has used HDHP/HSAs for nearly 15 years, I think that the keys to them working well is having employers contribute (or at least match) the employee HSA contributions, keeping the deductible AND out of pocket amounts low (I think $3K/$5K on individual is doable), and educating people on when they should also use a TSA along with their HSA. The finances of this works best for larger entities though, and makes me become a bigger believer in allowing for smaller employers to pool their risks together cooperatively since we’re not likely to adopt UHC anytime soon.

      1. WestSideStory*

        I once worked with an author who wrote several expert books on HSAs, her wisdom was that it was most helpful for either folks who had few medical costs, and for those who always had heavy yearly costs – because of the tax benefits.

        With regard to the upfront required for an HSA to be helpful, you don’t have to put the money in all at once – you can deduct it from paycheck or make periodic transfers.

        As to the amount, here is a rule of thumb for those who consider themselves relatively healthy: what amount would you allot each year for a vacation? $1500? $5000? Then it’s quite possible you can bank up to that amount each year without feeling a pinch.

        And unlike the vacation funds, that $$ is deductible from your gross income, and not taxed on withdrawal when the funds are used for health care.

        1. Me ... Just Me*

          So, you don’t go on vacation and instead bank the money for healthcare? — I’m probably entirely missing your point …

          1. ThatGirl*

            I think it’s more a rule of thumb that you can afford to also set that aside for healthcare costs. For me, I’m basically going to contribute the difference in premium to my hsa, and I’ll also get the company match. One of several good things about hsa accounts is that you can change your contribution any time and you never lose it.

          2. ThatGirl*

            I think the idea is more just that it’s an amount you can spare? And with an hsa it’s really just another savings account, you’re not losing the money.

    4. Gnome*

      I’m seeing a lot of discussion on the insurance. I’d like to remind folks that there are other cost factors beyond the deductible and premium. One is the “allowed change” and another is the network. Let me tell you that even in major cities you’ll be hard pressed to find certain specialties in ANY network, which can make a PPO much more affordable because they “allowed charge” for out of network can be much higher. If I could change one thing about insurance it would be that they have to list allowed charge for every single procedure code. Then we could actually compare. I’ve switched insurance to a better -on-paper one only to find that the allowed charge for something is like $2.40 so the other $120 doesn’t even count towards the deductible.

      That said, have a kid with a chronic condition I really miss my $250 deductible plan. Sure, we paid through the nose for it, but we got the deductible by something like Jan 6 and the out of network coverage was great (by the way, lots of doctors in hospitals are not in network even if the hospital itself is…

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I was really, really glad that surprise billing is no longer allowed when my gallbladder decided to try to kill me. Nobody in that ER on night shift was in-network, but it was a “holy hell I didn’t know a gallbladder could get this inflamed without rupture” situation where it probably would have gone if I’d waited even another hour.

  4. Struggling New Coworker*

    I have a new co-worker, Diane. She is in a completely new role for her career and has only been here two months. Despite this, she is very frustrated that she is not further along. I’ve told her multiple times that the learning curve for this job is at least six months and really a full year to feel confident but she is almost constantly frustrated and upset. One thing that she really struggles with is that our supervisor, Sam, gives direction orally and often pretty quickly (although they will slow down or repeat something if you just ask) and Diane can only process instructions she receives in writing. Sam has asked me to take a leadership role on our team (which I want too) so I am helping train Diane. As a result, I often find myself writing out five paragraph emails to explain a task Sam has already explained and that only takes two minutes to demonstrate or explain out loud.

    In addition to the challenges in training, I think I am frustrated because Diane is a complainer. She is constantly complaining about our organization’s benefits (not the best but not the worst) and lack of flexibility. The flexibility seems particularly surprising to me since she was allowed to move her start date back a week at the last minute, she comes in as late as she likes every day, and she has been given three paid days off without using her PTO bank (which she’s not even supposed to be able to access until her 90 day probation is up). I especially don’t mind that she has gotten that flexiblity though, especially because my supervisors have worked with me when I needed some, too. The constant complaining doesn’t really interfere with my work but it does make the work environment less pleasant. (The one other staff person in our space has taken to wearing headphones at all times and listening to podcasts loudly enough to drown Diane out.)

    I guess my question is, my grandboss has asked me a couple of times about how Diane is doing. Early on, there weren’t so many issues and I said she was coming along and that she seems smart and capable (which she does) but now I am at a point where I am wondering if Diane is really a good fit for the job. I believe she can do it, if she gives herself time and space to learn it, but I am not sure she’s every going to be happy doing it. So, what do I tell grandboss next time he asks about Diane? Is there anything else I can or should do to improve this situation?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Be honest with your grandboss about the things that affect you and the training issues you’ve noticed. Her PTO and complaining is probably less relevant, but you have some legitimate training issues that seem worth addressing.

      1. hamsterpants*

        Yes, and one step further is to coach her to take notes while Sam demonstrates. If needed, coach her to ask Sam to slow down so she can take notes. Or she can use the Teams voice transcription feature if it helps her.

        We all learn differently and she needs to learn to advocate for herself and learn to succeed in different environments, not just expect you to be her translator. Or if she needs an ADA accommodation, that request has to come from her.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          This is probably not Dianne’s issue (you would know by now, likely- I’ve been told it’s very obvious in me!), I’m just hopping on because it’s a genuine question I have. My verbal language processor sucks! I cannot process verbal language and perform a task, which makes it flat-out impossible to take notes from what someone’s saying. I picked a data entry job where I do not typically get spoken instruction and stay in my closet and do not interact with people (which makes me very happy). But if that wasn’t the case, would the proper course of action be to ask for an ADA accommodation, or would there be steps I could take prior to that?

          1. hamsterpants*

            You can definitely ask for an accommodation if you think it will help you without invoking the ADA. The ADA is just a legal framework to compel the employer to work with you. If you decide to take the ADA route for whatever reason, there are some conditions that need to be met, so you might prepare that collateral first. For example, you might be asked to provide medical documentation that you have a disability that needs an accommodation, and the accommodation you request must be “reasonable.” The expectation is that the accommodation will allow you to fulfill the key aspects of your job.

      2. Still don’t have a name*

        This makes a lot of sense to me. I also process things much better when they’re written down, which means I take a lot of notes and sometimes need to slow down the conversation to do so. But that’s my responsibility, and the act of writing helps me to process what I’m learning anyway. Put that back on her.

      3. Hannah Lee*

        ^ this!

        A) it shifts the ownership of capturing the task details to her, instead of you trying to capture things in just the right way for her to get it.
        B) just the act of paying enough attention to take notes can be a valuable part of the learning process. Plus, as you go through it, she can ask questions if something isn’t clear.

        If she asks about it again, you can refer her back to her own notes, and ask her to point out what part isn’t clear, so it’s not like you’re starting from ground zero repeating yourself.

      4. Quinalla*

        Yes, came to say this. She needs to take her own notes during instruction and potentially write her own little reminders, etc.. It’s fine to give her things in writing a little more than normal if it makes sense, like maybe sending her an email for a quick request instead of stopping by her desk, and of course point her to any written documentation you have, but you shouldn’t need to write 5 paragraphs for her on something that takes a minute or two to demonstrate.

        I get it, I’m one of the few that will actually read directions/documentation and learn how to do the thing that way, but most people honestly don’t work like this and she needs to make adjustment on her side too!

      5. Seeking Second Childhood*

        ^^This. Psych101 told us of studies (plural) showing that people who took notes tested better on basic recall than people who did not — even if the note takers never looked at their notes again.
        (Admittedly I took Psych 101 a long time ago, so I defer to anyone with new, 21st century research.

      6. Jaydee*

        Visual processer with ADHD here, and yes…she should absolutely taking notes when she receives assignments or instructions orally.

        That said, is there a benefit to having written instructions and procedures? Could you take some of these emails you’re writing and turn them into an official procedures manual? That might make them a better use of your time because they would be available for any trainer and any new hire in the role rather than just for you and Diane.

        1. hamsterpants*

          I hear this recommendation from time to time. I find it really surprising! Are there workplaces where people really do the exact same thing over and over again? Everywhere I’ve worked, the majority of work was new or at least different enough that writing down every possible case would be a huge endeavor — a full time job of its own. Systems were constantly being updated so notes from a year ago would be hard to apply to today.

          1. slashgirl*

            Libraries. And while the programs can be updated, they’re not often drastic changes, so yes, they have manuals (online, though one could print them off). We used to use Alexandria and LTs in our board have limited time–so if there was a procedure–like getting ready for the new school year (updating/importing student info)? I’d write up the step by step instructions with pics of the screen. In 20 years I only had to really do major changes to it ONCE–and that’s when it went from client to web based about 3 years ago. Before that–I sent the same document out every year. Then I updated it and sent the same one for the next 3 years….

            I’m sure there are other jobs/industries where this is true as well.

          2. Curmudgeon in California*

            No written process is no process. Yes, people do the same thing over and over. Moreso, several different people need to do the same process repeatably.

            Example: Monthly patching of operating systems. There are certain steps that need to be taken, including filing change requests, and they are mostly the same each month, but change in the systems that it applies to, so it can’t be totally automated.

            Every time stuff changes, you update your written process. When you get audited by someone like the FDA, you had better have written procedures for everything you do that isn’t troubleshooting. Bring up a system? Procedure. Patch a system? Procedure. Decommission a system? Procedure.

        2. Peonies*

          I feel like I might be Diane, except that I have definitely not complained to anyone about a lack of flexibility.

          I have a new job with a lot to learn. My new office wants things done in very particular ways (for good reason) and there’s just a lot to learn.

          And I am very much someone who learns from written materials where my boss is someone who very much trains by example and does not build in time for note taking though she does pause briefly if I reach for my paper and pen. (She is not visibly impatient when I do this, but I get the sense that she doesn’t see much value in it so I try to just make a few notes quickly and fill in more later, relying on my memory.)

          They do have a manual, but parts of it are outdated and it’s not obvious to me as a new person which parts are current and which are outdated so it’s not all that useful. Also some daily tasks are not really covered in the manual—some not at all and most not in enough detail to complete the task based on the information in the manual.

          I am doing my best to take notes and to go back and flesh them out for myself whenever I have time. One disadvantage of this is that if I misunderstand something, it’s getting enshrined in my notes. And another is that because they are my personal notes, they won’t benefit any future trainees where up-to-date instructions with more detail straight from management would.

          I figure it is their choice on how to use their (and my) time and how to train people so I am just doing my best to adapt, but I do sympathize with Diane.

    2. JumpAround*

      I had a Dianne once.

      I would talk to Dianne first. If she’s complaining about a lack of flexibility ask her what specifically she’s referring to. Be frank with her if she says something that’s not likely to change. I would also tell her to take any issues she has with the benefits up with your supervisor.

      As for your grad boss it depends on the relationship. If you know them well you could send a bit of a message in a bottle “I think she has the capability to do this job well, but I’m concerned that she’s not going to be happy here in the long term because of X.” I would also talk to your supervisor about it first so they don’t get blindsided

    3. Melanie Cavill*

      If she requires written instruction, perhaps suggest to her that she’d be better served taking notes?

    4. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      Are there not written procedures? If you’re writing up tasks for her, maybe collect those as the foundation of an office procedures manual. I see other people saying require that she take notes, but I don’t see the sense of that. If it’s going to take 5 paragraphs for you to write it down, it’s going to take 5 paragraphs for her to write it down, so it’s not going to save time. It may help her remember better if that is an issue. Screen shots are helpful for that kind of stuff, too.

      I do think that for the training period, people need to accommodate those kinds of processing differences (and as I said, it seems like they should be written down somewhere anyway, though obvsly there may be factors there that make that less true). I’d look at some of Alison’s script for dealing with soft skill issues to address the complaining.

      1. English Rose*

        Yes, this! It’s become glaringly obvious to me in the last few weeks while we induct a new team member without written processes. That’s down to me, I’ve just not done it.
        But concise written processes (not War and Peace!) would have really helped supplement the new team member’s own written notes and given her something to refer back to.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Exactly. There are a lot of people who need written processes. A bulleted list of steps is usually all that’s needed, not a novel. IMO, if some thing that is done regularly only lives in people’s heads it’s guaranteed not to be consistent, and may be problematic if too many of the wrong people leave (or get sick with Covid.) Write. It. Down.

      2. Despachito*

        I’d see the sense in her taking the notes in that it is HER who does the effort, instead of expecting other people to do it for her.

    5. Data Nerd*

      If she’s still in her probation period, it’s best for all of you if you don’t drag this out, no?

      1. WellRed*

        I agree here. Complaining about all that stuff in your first couple of months is a bad sign of what’s to come.

    6. OhGee*

      I actually don’t think it’s a problem that she needs detailed, written instructions rather than quick, verbal ones, especially a few months into a new job. Some people do better with written requests (I am one of them, and I’m an associate director with 20 years experience in my field). But the complaining needs to be addressed right away.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Part of the problem is that detailed, written instructions for a new job or process can take a *lot* of time to do well. I’ve written software manuals. Writing the manual, for code I had written, with all the instructions and illustrative diagrams, took as long as writing and debugging the software did in the first place. Verbal instructions are a back and forth, while written instructions have to be complete on their own, and because you can’t point at what you’re doing as you do it, you need diagrams too.

        If this is what’s needed, the OP needs to go to their own manager and make sure that it’s okay for them to pause training Diane for a while, write up a manual for the job duties, and then restart the training.

        If it is true that the effort of a written manual would be worth it in the long run, it’s probably better to write it slowly over a period of months, with time for revisions and input from other people.

        1. hamsterpants*

          I want to add (or maybe emphasize) that written instructions put the onus for completeness on the people doing the writing, while verbal instructions make it more collaborative. Readers are passive; listeners have the opportunity to ask questions if something is unclear. Verbal instructions, to me, feel like a handoff or at least a partnership, whereas writing feels more like the writer doing a lot of mental labor and the reader doing very little.

          If your dedicated job is manuals and documentation, then there is no problem. But at my old toxic workplace, writing up manuals was b*tchwork that was dumped on the lowest-ranking members of the team. It was non-promotable work that we were expected to do on top of all our other duties. Higher-ranking members of the team would refer to the manuals and then, if any issue occurred, point fingers, even if the higher-ranking member had the background to know that there was an accidental omission in the manual. (Or even more likely, they’d fail to read the manual and ask questions that it already covered. You became an on-call assistant for people who should have known better.)

    7. Observer*

      Be honest with your boss – in both directions. Don’t specify that you are questioning her fitness, but just that you see x, y, and z problems.

      Ask her to cut back on the complaining. The issue is not whether she is right or wrong (although I get what you are saying about it seeming to be overly negative for the circumstances). The issue is that the complaints are not productive and they make things unpleasant in the office.

      Start putting together a set of instructions and explanations for her and have her refer back to them as needed. This is still a lot of work, but at least it will mean that you don’t have to re-do stuff as much.

      Also, this is probably the most important issue you need to tell both your boss and your GrandBoss. Because it may not be practical to have a situation where someone only ever gets instructions in writing. On the other hand, there may be a way to make it more practical – eg if Sam gets speech to text on his computer and he dictates his instructions and sends her an email or something, that might work. But whatever happens this is a significant work issue that needs to be addressed.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        The instruction thing indicates that a procedure manual is probably in order.

        The complaining thing needs some shutting down or redirecting. “Yup, I hear you, but that’s not something I have control over. You can ask HR about that.” “Yup, I hear you again, did you talk to HR? No? Ok, then let’s move on.” “Yup, heard that already, not gonna talk about it again.”

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Tell the grandboss what you see, NOT what you believe will happen sometime, if ever.

      People can be smart and capable then chose not to use those assets. It’s nothing you can control nor fix.

      Early on I went by people’s potential. This meant I got stuck with some poor workers. The real gauge to use is how they are actually doing.

    9. orchivist*

      there’s also a chance that this is a disability thing. If I am taking notes I literally can’t think about questions I might have to ask because all of my “brain space” is taken up with note taking. Could Sam, the person who’s giving directions, do some of the instruction-writing?

      Also, have you talked to Diane about your concerns? if you’re functioning as a supervisor/trainer, it would probably make sense for you to talk to her about these issues before your grandboss. Make sure she knows that the grandboss asks you for status updates and be honest with what they would be, and what might help improve them.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        This. I do have a hard time listening form comprehension and taking notes at the same time. I ask for lots of repeats, and then I share out my cleaned up notes as a procedure for the next victim … er … trainee.

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

      Is there a manual or some material that is written for trainees or are they all supposed to just watch and listen? There should be something that new folx can refer back to.

      Is everything that Diane needs to be written down? For example, if Sam says “Files that have to do with teapots need to be in the hot drinks file with Year, Month, Day format instead of month, day, year format.” That shouldn’t need to be written down, and if it does she should be able to write it down in the moment. However if its something more complex, like how to create a file and link it to a customer account in your sale system, that should be written down someplace for people to reference,

      When it comes to Diane feeling frustrated she isn’t coming along further explain your own training and how long it took you. If you’ve already done this maybe just ignore it? You are not responsible for managing her feelings and she can feel frustrated. If it takes away from work or from you training her, or if she keeps mentioning it I would say “You’ve mentioned that you wish you were further along. This type of work might be different than your past jobs and it takes longer to be at full speed. I don’t know if you realize how much you are complaining about this, but it is detracting from our work/training. Is there anything myself or Sam can do? if not I need you to focus on this.” This type of wording might help with the complaining too. Also maybe add in that it is unproductive and is distracting for others. I think as you being her trainer you have some authority to speak with her.

      however I do think you need to be truthful with your grandboss. I hate to say it but if she is complaining as much as you say she is, and about things like benefits and flexibility when she has been at the company less than 3 months, how much worse is she going to be later on?

    11. Ann Ominous*

      I’d address each complaint as if she meant it on purpose (instead of treating it like background whining to be ignored).

      Her: the company sucks, such a lack of flexibility.

      You (in a light and even tone): I am surprised to hear that, can you say more about what you mean? I ask because I’ve seen them be really flexible for me, you, and others. Is there something in particular you’re thinking about when you say that?

      Basically call her on each comment. Some scripts that occur to me:

      “Is there something specific you’re looking for that you’re not getting?”

      “You bring up multiple comments every day about concerns you have with the company, but when I address them, you continue bringing them up. Is there something you’re else hoping I will do with that information?”

      “I’m not sure if you realize but you make negative comments many times a day, every day. You’re bringing me down, bitch. (Ok don’t say that last part)”

    12. Curmudgeon in California*

      I’m one of those people who literally can’t remember oral instructions reliably. TBI, ADHD, and stroke can cause that. It is a know issue, and you guys need to work out how to accommodate it. But I have no compunctions about asking for instructions in writing – either in slack or in email.

      I also take notes – but I miss stuff if the person I’m talking to talks too fast. Again, I have enough chutzpah to ask repeatedly for repeats.

      The upside to all this is that once I have it in writing, I can do it, repeatably, and add to the notes any gotchas or issues I find. Then I take that and format it for the team Wiki, so thjat the next person learning the job doesn’t have to start from noting, and the trainers can say “If you need a written guide, it’s at …”

      If a person needs stuff written down, and knows it, then you are best done to write it down, because otherwise you are setting them up to fail.

      If I had a boss that refused to write down complex processes and expected me to learn them from a fast explanation and fast demo, I would be very salty very quickly. Because due to my memory issues I can’t absorb enough data in a quick presentation without notes and repeats.

      Even RCGs can have this issue. TBI and MTBI are very, very common, and not enough attention to the problems they can cause sets a lot of sufferers up to fail. TBI and MTBI can happen due to sports, car accidents, falls, or any other incident where a person can be concussed. Concussions are often underdiagnosed, and a person can have one in childhood that they don’t even remember. (See for more.)

    13. Dragonfly7*

      I am also someone who learns best by taking notes as I go, even if I never refer to them again, and even if written job aids already exist. New Job explicitly forbids taking notes, and the pace of training is too fast to take them and still keep up anyway, but that’s my own problem to figure out.

      Would it be at all helpful to Diane if Sam or you filmed or did a screen recording of the task for her to refer back to? My absolute favorite vendor at my last job had a set of short captioned videos, ranging from 30-90 seconds long, demonstrating different tasks for their product.

    14. Peonies*

      I feel like I might be Diane, except that I have definitely not complained to anyone about a lack of flexibility.

      I have a new job with a lot to learn. My new office wants things done in very particular ways (for good reason) and there’s just a lot to learn.

      And I am very much someone who learns from written materials where my boss is someone who very much trains by example and does not build in time for note taking though she does pause briefly if I reach for my paper and pen. (She is not visibly impatient when I do this, but I get the sense that she doesn’t see much value in it so I try to just make a few notes quickly and fill in more later, relying on my memory.)

      They do have a manual, but parts of it are outdated and it’s not obvious to me as a new person which parts are current and which are outdated so it’s not all that useful. Also some daily tasks are not really covered in the manual—some not at all and most not in enough detail to complete the task based on the information in the manual.

      I am doing my best to take notes and to go back and flesh them out for myself whenever I have time. One disadvantage of this is that if I misunderstand something, it’s getting enshrined in my notes. And another is that because they are my personal notes, they won’t benefit any future trainees where up-to-date instructions with more detail straight from management would.

      I figure it is their choice on how to use their (and my) time and how to train people so I am just doing my best to adapt, but I do sympathize with Diane.

    15. starfox*

      Look, I have poor auditory processing due to my ADHD, so I get it… but it’s also on ME to manage, not on someone else to write out detailed instructions for me. That means I carry around my planner and write things down immediately… Maybe she could even ask to record meetings (with permission from all parties).

  5. hamsterpants*

    How can I give constructive feedback to peers that their attitudes make me want avoid working with them? My company does annual anonymous feedback and I’ve been asked to give feedback on around ten people, which is typical within my team. I’m a woman in a male dominated workplace and am hyper aware to how women especially get policed over being “nice,” so I want to apply the same standard to my make and female colleagues. Of the two people to whom I want to give attitude-is-bad type of feedback, one is male and one is female. The guy talks down to me and the woman calls people stupid behind their backs.

    1. Volunteer Enforcer*

      Since they are peers, I’m afraid you don’t have the scope to ask them to improve their attitudes. You can only speak up if any approach(es) affects your ability to do your work. This applies whether you are all managers or individual contributors. I’m sorry.

      1. hamsterpants*

        I was literally asked to give them feedback. It’s part of my company’s standard annual evaluation procedure.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          I’ve been asked to do that RE colleagues as well. It’s a typical part of any evaluation that uses 360 feedback.

        2. Lydia*

          I think if you stick to factual representation for both of them, you’ll be all right. “John Boy frequently comes off as condescending when asked a work-related question. This has led to his peers avoiding him when a question comes up. It would be helpful if John Boy approached answering questions as part of the collaborative process of the work we do.” And then something similar for Jane. Keeping it focused on what you observe and the problems it’s causing can mean your manager can give the feedback without it being misinterpreted as an interpersonal thing.

    2. TKZK*

      I have an ethical problem with anonymous negative reviews of anything, even when it’s solicited by management. I suggest you find a way to communicate your feelings directly to these two people. Maybe after the anonymous complaint window so that you don’t prompt them to write nasty things about you!

      1. Lydia*

        Because they’re peers, making it anonymous protects the OP from being singled out. It’s actually a good thing.

      2. Observer*

        And I have an ethical problem with making people give their names in this kind of situation. Because people very often CANNOT (not just WILL not) give completely honest information if they have to provide their names.

        1. Generic Name*

          I’m guessing the social rule of not gossiping or talking about other people behind their back mixed with a side of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

          1. Me ... Just Me*

            It actually could be the hard-knocks rule of “if you don’t have the stones to say it to their face, you don’t deserve to say it at all.” — which, obviously is why the anonymous 360 feedback was created.

    3. Hannah Lee*

      I wouldn’t worry about keeping the feedback same-same, because the behaviors are different:
      The name-calling behind people’s backs is one kind of behavior – disrespectful, but presumably out of earshot of whoever she’s talking about. And it doesn’t sound like she’s insulting you to you. Do you get a sense of her just venting under her breath in response to a frustrating situation? If you’re in a high-stress environment, that might be one to let go. But if she actively trash talking others, then can you say something like “April often speaks in derogatory terms about co-workers, creating an environment of disrespect and distrust” (or whatever the negative impact is)
      With the guy, it’s a “Robert is dismissive and disrespectful to other employees, talking down to them and disregarding their input, even when they are SME’s. As a result …team members avoid sharing info with him, he talks over others’ input, ignores important info, and the team has made xyz missteps as a result, it creates unnecessary tension and hampers collaboration” (or whatever the specifics are)

    4. EngGirl*

      For the guy who talks down “sometimes frank can come across as condescending towards others, which is really off putting”

      For the woman who calls people names “Jane doesn’t always foster a sense of goodwill and community in the office, and I’ve observed her calling coworkers names behind their backs”

      I will say for the one I named Jane, I’d take about of a look at how she’s doing it. Is she mouthing off that coworkers are stupid and lagging about it? Or is she very frustrated and muttering to herself that a coworker is dumb as a cathartic release quietly at her desk?

    5. Observer*

      The guy talks down to me and the woman calls people stupid behind their backs.

      If that’s your main issue then I can’t see how calling either of them out could be considered “policing over being nice”. Both a flat out rude and I would hope that ANYONE would be called out for that.

      If men get away with calling people names behind their backs, or women are allowed to talk down to people, you’ve got a toxic culture anyway.

    6. RagingADHD*

      The constructive feedback for both would be about cultivating and displaying respect for coworkers.

      The core issue here is the same for both – disrespect. One is disrespectful to people’s faces, with tone and a condescending attitude. The other is disrespectful behind people’s backs, but involving other people, by insulting her coworkers.

      Two different manifestations of the same problem.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        And both lead co-workers to avoid them. Robert because none of us want to be talked down to. Jane because she talks about everyone behind their backs, so anything I say to her could be her next snark.

    7. Curmudgeon in California*

      “Joe has a problem where some of his comments come across as condescending.”
      “Jane has a habit of making derogatory comments about people who are not present.”

      None of that is gendered. It names the problem and why it’s a problem. You could switch the genders and they still would make sense.

  6. Shearshucker*

    (Thinking a bit more about what Alison said yesterday about a whole lot of things, mostly about dealbreakers, and how things have changed once you see greener grass.)

    My question for you guys: Should I find a new job, or am I whinging about something that’s not too bad?

    I’ve been working for the same company for about twenty-five years (with three job transfers/promotions). I’ve been in the same position of llama shearing tool sharpening and maintenance for the past ten years and there’s nowhere else for me to ascend here, nor any desire to. For me, this is Just a Job. It is not my career. (My career involves making beautiful sweaters out of angora rabbit fur I’ve harvested ethically and sustainably. Yes, I will be sharpening my own tools.)

    I think I am sick of where I am at. It’s not so much the place I’m at, but that I am so totally over sharpening llama-shearing tools for other people. If I was ten years younger, I’d probably jump ship for another job that didn’t involve sharpening llama-shearing tools.

    But here’s the thing. If I stay and sharpen tools for the next five years, financially, I’ll be able to retire early. (When I say “retire”, I can officially quit from the workforce, go get a PhD in angora fibre techniques and spend the next fifty years making sweaters without having to worry if my Etsy shop is turning a profit (a difficult thing).

    Five years. Then I can retire.

    Where I work, in and of itself, is not a bad place. I make a competitive wage. I work with an excellent team and my managers manage well. I enjoy a good reputation. I’d be hard-pressed to find another job with such good team dynamics. This team is why I haven’t left yet.

    But I am at BEC stage with sharpening llama shears. It drives me nuts. I’m totally over sharpening shears. I will never work another shear-sharpening job ever again. I’d love to jump ship to another field or career.

    However… that means I’d either have to take a salary cut, thus prolonging my working life another few years, upskill for a career I don’t intend to keep for long, or… I dunno. Angora sweaters aren’t a profitable option at this stage or I would have abandoned the day job for them three years ago.

    I hate sharpening shears.

    So, should I suck it up for another five years, loathing what I do every day, or do I try to find another job in another field, risking a lower salary and no promise of a functional toxic-free team, just to get away from shears?

    1. Overeducated*

      Neither of the above? Stay at your job while you keep looking for opportunities to do something else that at least don’t require a salary cut? If you went into something adjacent rather than completely new, you might be able to make a lateral or even upward move rather than downward. I find it hard to believe those are definitely your only two options, but you have a safe place to search from while looking for that unicorn.

      But if they are your only two options, it’s ultimately an emotional decision – would you trade fewer years of work you loath for more years of work that’s so-so? This is about what makes you happiest, or least unhappy. It’s not really a pros-and-cons choice.

      1. snowyowl*

        I’m definitely with Overeducated.

        I would look at job opportunities and get a feel for what’s out there — I think that will help you decide how to proceed. Maybe you’ll find something that seems exciting and then just consider how you feel mentally and emotionally about that versus where you are. It’s also possible you’ll take a look around and everything else will also fill you with dread when you consider actually doing it day to day.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This… you are tired of sharpening those shears but could you summon interest enough to train new hires in the sharpening department? To recruit those new hires? Write manuals about shearing? Would you be interested in selling shears or shear sharpening systems or shear-sharpening services?
        (Phew I just generated a new tongue twister)

    2. JumpAround*

      While there may not be upward mobility at your job, is there lateral mobility? Like can you talk to your supervisor and see if it would be possible for you to trade some shear sharpening work for something else in the organization to keep you engaged?

      It sounds like you’re more bored and kind of restless than anything.

      1. Me ... Just Me*

        Great answer! This is something my husband and I have discussed for him. He’s 7 years out from early retirement as a Llama Manure Spreading Manager. He works for a very large company in our state and is so very “over” his position. He’s looked for a lateral move to become a Llama Manure Spreading Manager in a different part of the state for a change of scenery, but no openings are available. We’ve recently been looking at openings in other departments that he might be able to pivot into, even if they are a reduction in pay/job level — just so he can maintain employment with this same company and retire in 7 years, as planned. He’s had offers for more money outside of his company, but that would mean leaving the dream of retiring early behind, and it’s just not worth it.

    3. ASW*

      Oh boy. I don’t have any advice, but I could have written this, right down to the Etsy shop that doesn’t yet (and may never) make enough to live on. I’m in exactly this situation, but with more years to go. Been in the same job, same position for almost 10 years, no desire to move up, completely tired of dealing with everything, contemplating changing careers, but not sure I can manage the big pay decrease that would require. My options are to stay and retire early (which could still be 15-20 years away) or leave and have to work another 25-30 years while potentially ending up even more unhappy than I already am and still without enough time to do what I really want (the Etsy shop side business). Looking forward to seeing what advice you get!

    4. Two Dog Night*

      What Overeducated said. It might take you longer to find a job with the same (or higher!) pay doing something different, but it’s definitely possible. Five years is a long time to do something you hate. Think about what parts of your job you enjoy and see how you can leverage those skills into something that doesn’t involve shear-sharpening.

    5. Gyne*

      This is such a personal question, with no actual answer.

      What if you get hit by a bus two years from now? Do you want your last few years to be spent on a soul-sucking activity?
      Or, what if you DON’T get hit by a bus, but you find slightly more interesting job with an ok-not-great team that you’re still doing ten years from now? What if you then get hit by a bus in 10 years and realize you could have had 5 years of angora fun, but missed out?

      Five years at a mediocre job is not a very long time if you have 50+ years of relative freedom afterwards. You just don’t know what the future holds. I’m also in a place where if I get really minimal joy from the work I am doing, but do have a strong connection with my colleagues and a fairly comfortable salary that I would not be able to easily find someplace else. For me, right now, the connection with my colleagues is what sustains my lack of joy in my work. That said, I’m always perusing job boards and keeping my eyes and ears open for other opportunities. You never know what will fall into your lap. Start getting your ducks in a row and looking for what else might be out there. As you get closer to your target end date, you may ultimately decide you can keep shear-sharpening for 18 more months. You may find a sweet part time gig that gives you “fun money” to increase your lifestyle while getting your PhD in angora. Or you may find something amazing tomorrow!

    6. ThatGirl*

      I’m actually curious about the math here, you’ve worked there for 25 years, need to work another 5 and then you’re good for 50? Are you….25? (You don’t have to answer that, it just struck me.)

      1. Shearshucker*

        OP here. For timeline clarification: I’m currently 50 years in age. My family is notoriously long-lived. The youngest death age of all my near ancestors was 92. I honestly expect to live for another forty years, at least. I’m making my financial plans for that range, as it sucks to run out of money at 85.

        I’ve done some hard calculations and projections. At my current salary, if I save X amount over the next five years, I’ll have sufficient to live off until I reach 60, and can access my retirement funds penalty-free.

    7. lunchtime caller*

      this is a personal decision of course but if it were me? five years of work I know how to do in my sleep and then I can retire forever? Absolutely I would stick it out, while trying to find ways to give less to the shearing job (meaning take all the time off you’re allowed to, don’t break your back to meet extreme deadlines, clock out right on time, take full lunches, etc). Try to find ways to mitigate the parts of the job you hate, give more time and energy to your actual angora passion, and make your countdown widget nice and big. Again–that’s if it were me.

      1. Twisted Lion*

        I agree. 5 years till retirement makes it so I would stay and do what Lunchtime Caller says. Are you at BEC stage because you are burnt out or feeling stressing about stuff outside of work? Can you take some leave to reset? Are you doing enough non-work things (aka fun)? I mean it doesnt hurt to look but being so so close to retirement, I would just try to find ways to make things more tolerable.

      2. Quinalla*

        Same, I would stick it out, in fact I did in a similar situation.

        I don’t think it is a bad idea to poke your head out there and see what other things you can find, even laterally in your company, but that’s be plan B for me, plan A would be just sticking it out.

      3. StudentA*

        There’s a lot more risk in leaving than in staying. You have a great manager and team? That in itself is nothing to take for granted.

        I’d caution you on making an emotional decision, is what’s at the root of wanting to leave.

    8. T. Boone Pickens*

      Hmm this is a tough call and the trade offs are real. Plus, nobody knows how much time we all have left on this blue marble. I agree with Overeducated’s advice on constantly keeping your feelers out there. My other advice would be to ask if there are some things you can do to help make these next 5 years more tolerable? Extra PTO? Professional development opportunities that can help you both in your current job and after you retire? Would having the ability to mentor less experienced sharpening folks do anything for you?

    9. to varying degrees*

      Truthfully, if it was me, I’d stick it out. Sure, keep an eye out to maybe do a lateral move in the company, but five years and then retire? That would be enough inventive to push through. It’s a hard decision, but maybe ask yourself what you’ll regret in five years. Say you switch jobs, take the hit, and in October 2027 are you going to be able to wake up one Monday to get ready and go to work and be happy or are you going to say “Damn, I could be sleeping in right now if only…”? It’s hard to know, but if you do decide to stay would you be able to maybe do other things in your free time that would help you decompress form work life?

    10. My Useless 2 Cents*

      Sometimes if you make definitive plans for leaving those BEC feeling lessen because you see an out and just don’t care as much. Five years is not so long if you can just keep your head down (I find a count down clock to be very therapeutic). On the other hand, five years can feel really long if you dread going into work every day and that attitude is bleeding into non-work life. I’d spend some time and try to figure out if having that out will improve your mood enough to deal with it or if the dread is just bleeding into non-work life too much. Not saying you can’t keep an eye out for opportunities and jump at them if they seem great.

      **One caveat before listening to my advise – I tend to stay in situations way too long hoping they will improve and hate job searching with the passion of a thousand stars

    11. Doctors Whom*

      I am in a similar situation, but the timescale is a little longer. I make a good salary, with some really good benefits, and right now one of them is extremely valuable. I have topped out my technical growth. Lateraling into another part of the organization is potentially possible, but not without some retirements or attrition in key positions. Keeping my current standard of living and going elsewhere would require a minimum 50% raise, and I’m not interested in the level of demand that kind of money would come with. I’m going to spend the last 7-8 years of my job with it, for me, being a means to an end, and I’m getting more comfortable with that.

      I do have the ability to shift some of my scope to take on special projects, advisory committees, etc, in the organization. Things like working with HR to improve the career paths for llama shear sharpeners. Speaking at conferences about how to excel in llama shear sharpening. Partnering with the DEI office to improve our outreach to minority serving institutions that have programs in all aspects of llama grooming.

      And I’m trying to make sure my life OUTSIDE of work is richer, I’m taking care of myself better, and exploring new things to do in all of that time. (In my case that means more involvement in political action, seeking a nonprofit board position, taking on different volunteer duties at my kid’s school, doing some professional mentoring, and making up my mind that I probably have one more marathon left in the tank.) My job gives me the ability to do all those things and to have a really big shovel to put money into nonprofits and programs that advance causes important to me and create opportunities for people in communities I care about. When I frame it that way, I can suck up the bad days because they let me do some really meaningful stuff. I’ve found I can tolerate a lot if I put work in the right box (for me).

      Good luck with your decision!

      1. Alternative Person*

        The part about making life outside work richer is so important. It’s easy to let your interests fall by the wayside when you’re so focused on work stuff, but for me, doing them makes it easier to get through those tough work days.

    12. Five more years*

      Yep this is me.
      The way I have been dealing with the “how can I keep doing this day in and day out” is to just meet expectations.
      Take ALL of my vacation time.
      Work zero overtime.
      Volunteer for nothing.
      Work from home whenever possible.
      Remember that the money and health insurance is good and that my rainy day fund is growing.
      Appreciate my colleagues who I love, ignore the ones I don’t.
      I don’t actually loath my work just feel meh.

    13. darlingpants*

      You have such a long tenure at this company, would it be at all possible to negotiate some kind of “sabbatical” and take 3-6 months off unpaid? 5.5 years until retirement with a 6 month break NOW seems way easier to handle and you’ll learn really quickly when you come back to work if you were just burnt out and needed a break or if you really really need to do something different than sharpening things.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Stay put. The number one thing that is wrong is that you are bored and hate the work.

      If you go and get a new job you will suddenly realize all you have been taking for granted:

      New jobs come with a learning curve. This can be surprisingly tiring.
      Newbies are not always treated well.
      You will go from “good rep” to a “nobody” in a heart beat.
      You may take a pay cut.
      This may impact your retirement plans.
      You may learn to miss not being good at something, not being in control of your arena and the knowledge gaps that come up can get exhausting.
      Make peace with the shears. You do not have to like the shears, just guide yourself down from the ceiling and make a list of what is right in this picture.

      There. Were you screaming NOOO at your screen the whole time you read my post? If yes, then you have your answer.

    15. Cindy*

      I was in a very similar situation. I have been working in my job for 20-ish years for the same big company and the city I transferred to 7 years ago just doesn’t have any other companies with this job specialty. I have tried for promotion in this job and finally asked boss what was needed to get promoted, and his response was for me to do a specific task for the organization that I have absolutely no interest in, and I don’t think is needed. I had finally decided to keep my head down and stick it out for the 38 months until I turn 65.

      Then corporate office decided my role was not as important and asked (close to an order) all in this role who had degrees in the similar (tech) field to take temporary assignment (3-12 months) in the tech field.

      As I was in a phone screening for this new role I realized that since I had 10 years in this field when I first got my degree, oh so many years ago, I should apply for a promotion into the new job instead of just taking the temporary assignment or a lateral transfer.

      At the in-person interview with 3 managers, I expressed this and they were agreeable that I should apply for the higher position. And they were asking me if I would consider growing into team lead and/or manager in the future, which would be the next level promotion. Of course I gave them an enthusiastic “yes”. (I’m not sharing that my plan is to retire in 38 months.)

      So, I started working with the new team three weeks ago. It’s not perfect, and it’s still stressful, but in a different fashion. In fact I was so stressed last week that I started investigation on whether I could actually retire in 2 months at 62. But today I have faith that I can work the new position for a year and then decide where my life leads me. (Unless the retirement numbers come back significantly higher than expected and you’ll find me in competition with you in selling those Angora sweaters on Etsy.)

    16. All Het Up About It*

      Ooooh man! So personal.

      I would lean toward sticking it out, but agree with some other commenters that I might do a low key job hunt. Because if you COULD find something similar pay wise you don’t hate, that still let’s you retire in 5 years and live your dream… Yeah, that’s perfect right? But if not…. That life you’ll have in five years sounds amazeballs.

      Something to think about is how much is the hate you have for your job affecting your life as a whole? Like are you generally happy and healthy and enjoying life, just hating your job, or is being miserable at your job seeping over into your overall life satisfaction? The first seems like something that many of us have to deal with until there’s a magic utopia or we win the big one at the Powerball. But the later…. the later makes five years feel like five decades.

    17. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I think you sorta answered your own question here:

      “Five years. Then I can retire.
      Where I work, in and of itself, is not a bad place. I make a competitive wage. I work with an excellent team and my managers manage well. I enjoy a good reputation. I’d be hard-pressed to find another job with such good team dynamics. This team is why I haven’t left yet.”

      If you truly only have 5 more years to go at a job you don’t LOVE, but don’t HATE either (and it sounds like you’re treated fairly well) I’d probably say stick it out and save as much as money as you can until you can retire and go do what you really want. Basically, can you treat it as a means to an end and be ok with that a little longer? If you can’t, and it’s like making you sick, then find other opportunities now.

    18. Curmudgeon in California*

      At one job I worked with a person who literally came in, did her job very well, and went home at 5 pm. They did not want advancement, promotion, new duties or anything. They worked to live, and was counting down to retirement in probably ten years. Their manager was at their wits end trying to figure out a career progression for them when they called me. (I had left the company, but had known the worker at two employers.) I pointed out that the person’s reliability and consistency were an asset. They weren’t likely to run off chasing a promotion or “new experiences”. This person’s greatest asset was that they always showed up and did a good job.

      If you can view your job as sharpening llama shears consistently for N years, and countdown to retirement, it might help. Figure how many shears you sharpen in a day, and then calculate how many you need to do until you retire. Then count down.

      The real problem is that you’ve let the sameness eat into your brain and become a problem. If you can fix that, then you have a smooth path to retirement without any job-change anxiety in the mix.

  7. Melanie Cavill*

    Does anyone have experience developing an IDP? I’ve been tapped as a prime candidate for upward mobility by the director of HR. They want to meet with me and put together a development plan in service of that. I’m somewhat fuzzy on what this will actually look like!

    1. MsMarketer*

      We did this at work although I’m not sure how thorough they were. Essentially it was identifying a long term goal, e.g. be promoted to X then working out what the areas are you need to develop in order to get there. For example, learn Y skill – and then ideally the steps you’ll take to learn said skill. I found it useful, even if only to articulate to myself what I want to be/go/do.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      From your end – what do your goals look like and what do you think you could do, or they could do for you, that would help you attain those goals? “I would like to move into a management role with the llama dancing team. In order to facilitate that, I would like to apply for the Emerging Leaders six-month management training program, which requires a nomination from my direct manager as part of the application process. I would also like to be considered for short-term leadership opportunities with my current team, such as assisting with training for new llama groomers or directing special projects.”

      From their end, they should be working on similar suggestions, only with more concrete knowledge (maybe) of what opportunities might be available.

    3. ...*

      In my experience / organization, an IDP is collaborative. We’ll have a meeting and I can say “I would like to gain more understanding labor laws before stepping into a higher role” and they can say “That’s a good idea. I’d also suggest you learn more about compensation policies because you’ll be working with them more than you probably realize.” Both side work to identify ways to develop these skills (Classes? Shadowing? Training? etc.) and meet quarterly to discuss how the progress is coming along, if you feel like you need more support, etc.

      (forgive my made up HR-ish sounding examples, it’s not my field!)

  8. Maggie*

    I need help or advice on how to navigate my new boss. I’ve been with the company 2.5 years, last year we had a merger and most of the people in my legacy organization left between them and now. The CMO is…questionable and doesn’t understand the business. My new boss started 3.5 months ago. I feel like he’s getting really controlling but also doesn’t understand the business. I work in digital marketing in-house and we have 5 total brands we manage under our company. I manage Brands A and B.

    Some examples – (I can’t think of a teapot or llama equivalent. “Budget” is what the paid media activities cost and a “conversion” is if someone has bought our product)

    Our team has a budget document that gets updated daily and finance uses those numbers for the total budget. It’s eventually going to be automated but for now it’s manual. Yesterday he straight up told me he doesn’t even look at that document. I’m just like, what?? We have very strict budget goals so it’s a very important document because it shows the daily numbers. It’s also concerning because he’s getting more in the weeds on the brands I manage and I’m not even sure if he’s looking at the correct numbers because:

    Each brand has different conversions and looking at the wrong conversions skews the data and aren’t the correct numbers sent to finance. His first week I walked him through the correct conversions he should be using. However there have been multiple ongoing situations where he’s looking at the wrong conversions and I have to correct him. In one situation even after I corrected him and told him how finance uses those specific conversions, he blew it off and said how those conversions he was looking at were good to take into account. And then lo and behold, he reached out to finance and I was right. His response was “good call on looking at those conversions”. Another time he said the Teapot X and Teapot Y campaigns were too high spending and named what the cost per conversion was (a common metric) was, then I looked myself and had to tell him, “no those numbers aren’t correct, Z conversions are the ones we need to use”

    This week a brand Director (Adam) chatted me privately asking for a list of something for one of the campaigns, which is a very normal thing he would reach out to me for. I emailed him and cc’d my boss with the list, “hey Adam, attached is the list for the Teapot X campaign”. My boss immediately replied: “what is this for?”, then he replied to Adam, “please make sure I’m in the loop on all things Brand A. P.S. Maggie, thanks for looping me in”. Jeez lol. It left a bad taste in my mouth

    We use a tech platform to manage the campaigns, I told him that sometimes it can take at least a week to see the effects of something being implemented, to which he said, “well in Brand C, the change is impactful after only a few days”. Last month he made so many changes to the campaigns I’m worried we’re going to see a negative impact this month. 

    He’s telling me what changes to make. Everyday I get an email from him telling me something to update on the tech platform. He’s making these decisions super fast, not taking into account any past performance or why things were set up the way they were, or even what I recommend. I’m supposed to be the one managing them! In the past we always took a methodical approach to testing and he’s just rushing through it and making so many changes. I’m not sure how he’s measuring the success of everything he’s doing. Last month I asked him how a current ad copy test he was running in another brand was going and if he had any learnings from that. He replied he didn’t yet. So he wasn’t monitoring that test, but is in a rush to implement the same things in the other brands? Again, usually not the norm with digital marketing testing.- He frequently confuses the brands. I manage Brands A and B, so I’ll be talking about something for Brand B, but in his response he’ll answer if I was talking about Brand A, so I have to redirect back to the brand I was referring to

    He was telling me how for one of the smaller brands who my coworker, Celeste, manages, it’s meeting one of the cost metric goals, but it’s behind on conversion and spend goals. He said how he should have pushed more on spend and conversions. And I’m thinking, “huh? That’s Celeste’s job!”. But he’s doing the same with my brands so I’m not sure he knows her and I have ownership for our brands and what we should be managing

    To make it more confusing, Celeste also manages a small campaign in one of my brands. Our boss has been told this but has reached out to me several times regarding that piece; everytime I have to say, “Celeste manages that”. Recently this happened again, and in an email chain with our boss and Celeste, I told our him how this new structure (ie. Celeste managing a small campaign in my brand) was too confusing and I thought we should go back to every brand managed only by 1 person (it changed about a month before he was hired) instead of overlap. Celeste agreed with me saying how it was less confusing day-to-day if we know what exactly we are responsible for, but he ignored us and said how he wants an overlapping approach

    He’s getting super into the weeds on the campaigns. This is very technical so I’ll do my best: each campaign is shown by search phrases in the search engine. It’s my job to monitor these queries and exclude or add in these search phrases. But he’s been going in, daily, into all the campaigns and doing this. He’s at the director level, it seems way too into the weeds for him to go into, and too frequently. He hasn’t asked me what I’ve done (or a best practice as a team) in the past, he’s just assuming he knows best. 3 months in!

    Obviously, I think there is something else going on here. I wonder what exactly was told to him when he was interviewing or when he got hired. But how should I act? Should I stop correcting him, step back and let him do what he wants without questioning it? I’m not sure how to keep my head down and do my job when he’s so involved in everything

    1. Volunteer Enforcer*

      I would say to leave him to get on with it. His perspective as a new boss is going to be very different to yours as an established individual contributor. Just trust that if he proves incompetent his boss will notice. Maybe your frustration comes from him being confused over things that are obvious to you? Cut him some slack unless he proves otherwise. Good luck!

    2. TKZK*

      I work in a completely different industry but when the people supervising you don’t understand the work you do and micromanage it in ways that create errors / inconsistencies / lost time etc., I think it’s time to move on. We had a transition at my office where I lost my great manager about 3 months ago, and at this point I’m just desperate to get out. I’m not sure managing up is possible when a manager is confidently making one business mistake after another with no reflection–and then being kind of a jerk to boot. Would you even want a reference from this guy at any point in the future? Get out!

      1. Maggie*


        This: “micromanage it in ways that create errors / inconsistencies / lost time etc.”

        And to your point he’s not reflecting or even connecting the dots

    3. MsMarketer*

      I work in a similar space. Agree this sounds nuts. On the plus side, you’ve got his instructions detailing this and if the campaign does begin tanking you have data to back that up. Keep it all documented! At least you work in a space where the negative impact of this meddling is crystal clear to see.

    4. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      All I can say is document everything so the poor performance does not reflect on you, or that it’s documented it was not your idea to implement the changes. And them let him get on with whatever he’s doing.

    5. Foley*

      OMG I do this job every day (self-employed artist – but brand and campaign management is how I bring in the money).

      I’m so sorry. This is a mess that could really tank your measurables/profits/results.

      Can you scale him back to weekly or even better bi-weekly intervention? Take all of his ideas down in OneNote or whatever, then go about your business, and discuss (not implement) his plans during a regular 1:1?

      On a spectacular day you can see test results in 72 hours – maybe. But methodical testing (in my years of experience) is the only way to accurately measure results. Plus, these budgets really are finicky because mismanagement can see the whole thing spent without results (incremental increases or product launch plans).

      I just worry with him monkeying around, he could easily make it difficult for you to reach your goals thereby impacting your performance, and making it hard for you to advance or leave.

      Or maybe have a bigger meeting with your CMO to try to get some procedures down about campaign testing/changes?

      1. Maggie*

        “On a spectacular day you can see test results in 72 hours – maybe. But methodical testing (in my years of experience) is the only way to accurately measure results. Plus, these budgets really are finicky because mismanagement can see the whole thing spent without results (incremental increases or product launch plans).”

        Exactly!! lol. It’s just so strange there is no really methodology to his testing.

        It’s a mess. We’re significantly cutting budgets for the rest of this year. Every other year we’ve had growth YoY, but it’s concerning they are cutting back. It makes no sense. Everything is falling because the CMO doesn’t listen to people and if something doesn’t work immediately, the response is to pause it.

        When he first started I thought it was odd how he had no interest in asking our team what our campaign management and testing processes were. He’s made no effort to adapt to us. 3 months into a new job is nothing! And I can’t get over his obsession with going through the search query report. He’s acting like he created the keyword mining process and like it’s such a huge deal, when it’s a basic task the rest of us did weekly! He sucks lol

    6. asteramella*

      For the things he’s getting involved with that you normally have ownership over, it might be good to have a conversation with him and frame it as making sure you’re both on the same page.

      “Hey boss, I noticed you have been monitoring queries and excluding or adding in search phrases for my campaigns. It was my understanding that I should have ownership over this task—which is reflected in my metric goals for the year—to free you up for more strategic/big-picture stuff. Is this something you want to handle on your own instead? How should we change my metric goals if I no longer have ownership over this task?”

  9. Amy*

    Any tips for how to respond when a manager ‘mansplains’ to you? My director joined our team about 5 months ago, and he continues to mansplain to me, when I’ve been there for a few years. He doesn’t listen when I give him background or context, then ends up repeating stuff I already know.

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      “Is there something about my work that makes you believe I need further explanation on this?”

      “That’s kind of an odd thing to say, considering my level of experience with [X] and the conversation we just had yesterday about this very topic.”

      Keep your tone and expression neutral and don’t break eye contact. Make him say out loud his justification for behaving this way.

        1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

          You can still ask him about it in person, even if he does it over email. It’s not combative to ask someone to clarify / provide more insight on their reasoning for feedback, especially if you frame it as wanting to know if there’s something specific about your work that needs improvement.

          1. TKZK*

            Just seconding this. I often will pick up the phone if I need clarification on an email. I think next time you get an email like this, call him right away to clarify his intent.

    2. Lizcase*

      Nod and smile. Or make acknowledgement noises on a call while you ignore him and do the work you already know how to do and don’t need explained again and again.
      And then sigh that yet again, your time has been wasted by someone who should know by now you can do your job.

      Sorry, this is more cynical than helpful. Sometimes I just write someone off as ‘will continue behaviour regardless of what I do’, so I stop trying. Sometimes the message that yes I know what I’m doing and in fact am very good at my job sinks in after several months (or years).

    3. Purple Cat*

      I would attempt to reframe it in your head (And this will be hard), that he’s explaining it to HIMSELF for his own knowledge and not mansplaining at YOU. (Even though that’s unlikely to be the case, it’s a generous assumption that will help you to not get so stressed about it.
      And then you can have a conversation about it with that assumption – “Hey Boss, I know you like to explain a lot of things in detail in your emails, is that to help you remember things and get up to speed? They’re usually things I’m up to speed on already” Or something like that.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        This is also a good point regardless of gender dynamics, that took me years to learn. Sometimes people talk to talk and and talk through stuff becuase they are working it out in their heads or trying to make sure they got it right.

      2. GingerNP*

        Up to and including, “yeah, it seems like you have a handle on it!” very cheerfully. “Yep, you got it buddy, good job!” in undertone.

    4. Binky*

      That would drive me nuts. could you act like you think he’s looking for confirmation? So when he finishes up a long-winded explanation of something you know you can say, “yes, that’s my understanding as well.” or “In my years here that’s been my experience, but I do try to keep X in mind as well.”

      1. hamsterpants*

        “That’s correct” is my favorite response to mansplainers. “Yup, that’s right!” or “indeed” or “yep, you got it!” are also good if you think the person really is a verbal-repetition learner.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          My spouse is one of those. They talk to themselves, too.

          I will just acknowledge stuff with “Correct. Plus X and Y” or “No, it’s actually that minus Z.”

          Some people are taught to repeat back information to A) Verify it, and B) Make sure it sinks into their own head. Yes, he could be mansplaining, but it can be less aggravating if you frame it to yourself as him looking for confirmation. A bonus may be that he stops mansplaining, but don’t count on it.

    5. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      I once worked for someone a bit like this. Some of it was probably about them being insecure (which you can’t fix but at least remembering that can help calm you down when you want to smack him in the face) and some of it was honestly … their personality. They were all about ideas and teasing things out in the moment, or going ahead with something before slowing down to see if it fits the available data, which didn’t match the way I think about things at ALL. They made me crazy at times but in others when I felt stuck because I couldn’t think outside the box I was grateful for their thoughts.

      One thing that might help depending on your circumstance: people like this tend not to be that bothered if their great ideas turn out to be wrong later, as long as they aren’t called out publicly like in a big meeting. So even though it is a waste of time for them to ignore your advice and try the way that won’t work, they will usually figure out it doesn’t work and decide to try again. Very frustrating but you often get where you need to get in the end if you can try to detach yourself emotionally and go along with their idea rather than trying to change their mind when they are already decided. Good luck!

      If the mansplaining is just them being an arsehole, then it’s about deciding for yourself what you’re willing to put up with and for how long.

  10. Cruciatus*

    I had some questions a few weeks ago about Commonwealth of PA jobs and I had another question maybe someone can answer–how long must you work for the state before you can bid on another job?

    I’ve found only 1 answer, but it’s from someone on Indeed and I can’t find anything else that corroborates the information (the answer given was 2 years, BTW). There are some jobs that I don’t love but would be willing to do for a year, but if I had to do it for 2 years before bidding on something else I’m not sure I’d want to do that.

    1. Chapeau*

      I work for the Commonwealth, but for a niche agency (one of the caucuses), and at least here it depends on the job you’re in now (or job you start with). Generally, however, it depends on the agency.
      I know with Labor and Industry you have to be a call screener for a year before you can apply to be an examiner, because I heard that a billion times last year when there was a massive shortage of examiners. Not sure about other agencies, but it’s definitely one of the questions I’d ask in an interview.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      In NYS, the job postings will define length of service for transfers.
      Are you union? There might be some clarification in the contract.

  11. hmmm*

    I’m looking to start a business. Before anyone asks I’ve done all the prep work, research, spoken with accountants and lawyers. Before I take the plunge I want to run this as a hobby business for a year or so. Before paying to create the website I am envisioning… while I’m in the hobby stage, can anyone recommend a DIY website with templates and examples. Most of theDIY sites I’m looking at want you to sign up before seeing any of this.

    1. Liz in the Midwest*

      Not sure if this is helpful, but I use Weebly for my business that I started. It’s a travel business, currently my side business but picking up steam and my goal is to at some point be able to switch to part time at my main job. If you want to look at my website as an example of what can be done with Weebly, it’s at leapinghound dot com. And to be clear, I’m comfortable with computers but am in no way, shape, or form a web designer or anything. This was built using Weebly’s templates and a few other apps/add-ons.

    2. TKZK*

      Shopify is perfect for this sort of thing, in my experience. It’s very easy to use, and looks nice and professional.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      Squarespace has a ton of templates. Shopify as TKZK mentioned is also great. You could also check out Wix and GoDaddy.

      1. Al*

        Echoing what others are saying: I’ve used Squarespace and found it very flexible and easy to use. I also know a lot of folks who have used Shopify and had good things to say.

    4. NewJobNewGal*

      It sounds like you want to build something yourself, but you may want to look for help on Fivver. I used a website developer on there to get the website set up and framework so I could customize it. They used wordpress so there were no ongoing fees. It was $200, but it was well worth it knowing that all the background stuff was set up correctly.

    5. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I’ve used Wix successfully. While I bristle at the ongoing maintenance fee — vs. WordPress, where once you buy the template it’s yours forever — it was easy to use and the templates were quite nice. I was happy with how my site looked and functioned. I think there is a free (or nearly free?) Wix level that allows them to advertise in your footer but I paid the $200-ish fee to get rid of that.

    6. RagingADHD*

      You can browse the themes on for free. Once you get your domain name, it is free to install.

      You can purchase custom themes, but there are thousands of free ones that work great.

      It can seem a bit intimidating, but the instructions are very clear and easy to follow, and it’s nearly impossible to permanently break anything because you can always undo or re-install.

    7. CPA in Canada*

      I looked at a lot of options and I ended up with Squarespace in part because it is easy to use and its easy to integrate payments if you need too.

      There are several solutions that are decent – I know people who use some of the others listed here but it’s about how much time, effort and detail you need and want.

    8. Grogu's Mom*

      I use Weebly for a personal/travel blog (not selling anything) and wish I had something else. Part of that is because it used to be more blogger-friendly and now is more targeted towards businesses (which sounds like what you are looking for). But the other part of it is that the mobile app is pretty terrible, to the point that I sometimes have to wait until I’m home from a trip to post a blog. It has gotten better over the past year or two, but for example just a couple days ago I was riding in a car and wanted to make a note to myself on a particular section while I was thinking about it. There was a sudden bump in the road and I accidentally hit delete on this section that I’d been working on for weeks, and since I was on the road and not able to just drop everything and call Weebly support, I had to click off of that page. And that was it…my work was just gone and I now have to recreate it from memory. When it was at its worst point, I actually quit blogging for a couple of years (halfway through a trip to Switzerland lol) because I was losing so much content on accident. The mobile app is also not great at things like resizing photos, so I pretty much have to give up on aesthetics and stick with the defaults when I’m on the go.

      Every time I look into it, it’s too much work to transfer everything over, so I’m about to renew with Weebly for another couple of years, I guess. But once my kid is a bit older and I have more free time, I think I’ll look into Squarespace. It seems like lots of people are really happy with it.

  12. anon for this*

    I had a second round interview this week and it went well. They told me to be patient. It helps to be busy, just need some good vibes.

  13. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Right now I’m feeling transitional. But what’s something that you feel good about on your job? My job has given me 2k extra for no apparent reason so I’m glad about that.

    1. blargh*

      Right now we’re in very transitional phase in our department, and I’m going to be moved up a level and have to manage people, which is new to me. I’m glad that my manager is standing firm on the fact that I am not going to work at my new level until I am being paid for my new level. It’s so tempting to be all “let’s just start doing new job now so I can get a better grip on it before I have to hire my supervisees” but I just need the reminder that I do not need to go above and beyond for this university. They don’t go above and beyond for me.

      1. Volunteer Enforcer*

        Remember if you died on the job, your job ad would go up before your obit. There is more to life than just work.

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Lots I don’t love about my job, but I feel good about how appreciative everyone is of me and my work – lots of positive feedback. They also just gave me a raise.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      My job gives me a guaranteed benefit pension as well as a 401k match. And my VP has said the whole department can leave at 1 today to start the long weekend early.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      So far, I have pretty nice classes (my timetable isn’t finalised yet, plus I haven’t met my 1st years and don’t know much about them as they are new to the school).

    5. OtterB*

      New Top Boss started recently (the old one retired a year ago and one of my colleagues has been Acting). It’s a steep learning curve but I think she’s going to be great.

      Also, I think I’m finally crawling out of a pandemic hole. I have been procrastinating really badly but am getting my act together, I think.

    6. Jane of All Trades*

      Feeling transitional too! And this is a great prompt. Two things that are great about my job:
      – I have been dealing with some health issues and people have been very supportive, and have made the process very easy. I just call out when I’m not well, no further info or doctors note needed, and unlimited sick days.
      – I’ve been doing work with a group of people who are very good to work with. They’re nice on a personal level and strike a good balance between giving me substantive work and support.

  14. PTO negotiation*

    I’m in my 40s, at my fifth corporate job, and not once have I been able to negotiate PTO as part of my hiring package. Every single time, my request to do so was firmly stomped down, and I was told that PTO is lock-step based on time at the company.

    Yet, later on, I hear from other employees that they were able to negotiate extra PTO. Are they just lying? Do I give off a “I’m a PTO wimp” vibe? I’m not a shrinking violet, nor am I a terrible negotiator. I’m a senior SME making a comfortable six figures. I just can’t figure out the PTO thing! Any ideas for the next time?

    1. A question*

      Same age as you. I’m In The same situation as you. I came from a so so company that overworked you but gave 6 weeks ( in the US) as compensation. My next few jobs everything was negotiated except PTO. While overall I’m in a job that’s a much better fit, I can even take time off without pay, I’ve not been able to get extra PTO and I’ve seen the same things at you. I’m friendly enough with my boss that at some point I want to have an informal discussion about this. But I am truly baffled.

    2. snowyowl*

      I recently had to negotiate PTO and what I was told was that it’s based on step — so I had to have a reason that would take me outside of that. My current job gives more PTO, so I wrote HR and emphasized the amount of time I currently get and what I would like to get from them> I was able to get another week of time off.

      For you I would argue more about your experience — yes, you’d be entering their workplace at a lower step, but you have X years of experience and you would like the PTO that matches that. Emphasize that PTO is important to your job satisfaction.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      Hmm that does seem a bit odd especially if there is no other explanation like, “Hey PTO here’s what your offer is looking like and we’re bringing you in at the absolute top end of our range. Because of that, we don’t have any wiggle room on anything.”

    4. Everything Bagel*

      I haven’t negotiated PTO or vacation, but I plan to at my next move. I’m a little nervous about it! I guess we have to be prepared to walk away from an offer if the employer isn’t willing to compromise on that. Or at least we have to seem like we would do that.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      Were these coworkers all hired before/after you? Perhaps the policy changed in between their hire dates and yours.

      That is a frustrating situation to be in, no matter what the cause.

    6. Chapeau*

      I’ve tried to negotiate PTO with two jobs in the past, and both were no. However, in both jobs the offer and negotiation were through the hiring manager, not HR. The last time I tried, the hiring manager said absolutely not, mentioning that due to being shorthanded and some unexpected projects with hard deadlines, she had taken exactly 2 days of PTO the previous year. There was no way to negotiate with her after that.
      And then on day 1, while filling out stuff with HR, I mentioned to the HR person that I was losing 52 days off per year (I worked 32 hours a week, but was considered full time), plus the actual 2 weeks of PTO that I had. She was shocked that I was willing to settle for the 2 weeks that I got at that job. She told me that they negotiated PTO all the time, and my boss was wrong.
      That was not the only thing my boss was wrong about, and that particular job is a short entry in my work history.

      1. Chapeau*

        So maybe bring it up with HR if you were hard noped by the hiring manger, or vice versa. If the no comes as part of the interview process, then it’s probably worth a shot to ask again when an offer is made.
        Also, if you’re in senior roles, it’s ludicrous for an employer to expect you to be happy with the same PTO as a brand new college graduate.

    7. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      I don’t think you’re a PTO wimp. I think many companies have pulled PTO from job and salary negotiations in recent years. Previously, it was very much the norm to negotiate for extra PTO in lieu of higher salary range. But starting around 2017/18, I began to run into several companies that only offered 2 weeks PTO to start — no negotiating and HR’s hands were tied. This was the case at my current job, and because I actually LOST a week, I was able to negotiate a slightly higher salary roughly equal to the week I’d lost coming over from my previous job.

      I don’t know why this is? I guess HR is trying to keep the PTO equal and same for all new hires so they no longer allow negotiations for time.

      1. Cindy*

        I have worked for several BIG MEGA GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING COMPANIES, and for all of them the PTO is related to years of service. When you start you have a specific amount and at 5 years you get another week; 10 years another beyond that; 20 years another week; until you max out.
        At one company the HR giving the in-brief tried to make us all feel better by saying that it had even been non-negotiable to the recently hired new president of the company.

    8. Flash Packet*

      When I found out that our “merit” raises each year were really just a [bad] COLA, I told my manager that the one thing he *could* do was give me another week of PTO.

      It’s outside of policy so he wrote an email formalizing it in case I switch positions before I hit the step on the ladder where I would have automatically gotten that additional week.

      I approached it as, “I’m a seasoned professional, not a newbie straight out of school. I realize I haven’t been with *this* company for a lot of years but I have worked for several decades and this company is benefitting from all that experience which happened on someone else’s payroll.”

  15. Weird interview format UPDATE*

    I have an update! A reminder I was provided this brief:

    “As part of the interview, candidates lead a 10-minute conversation with the panel on the role’s priorities, key contacts, areas of focus, summarising the main areas of discussion back to the panel.”

    So I prepared and the interview started and this was actually the first item! So I started going through my priorities (had 5 in total) and at the third one they interjected and asked if there would be discussion, to which I responded I would open the floor after identifying the five priorities. So no lie, that interruption threw me for a loop but I was able to lead the discussion and get back on track.
    I think I was able to recover from that and made it through the rest of the interview.

    Honestly it’s getting tiring with all these new interview formats…I mean I get workplaces are changing (HR processes evolve too). But each interview nowadays needs so much preparation and time investment due to each organization’s unique interview/hiring format. Pouring over the job description, looking at the company’s Strategic Plan, devising suitable questions. There are some many hurdles now. It’s tiring!

    1. Sandy*

      Oof, that sounds rough! They asked you to lead a conversation and then they had to ASK if you were going to let them discuss the topics? Sounds
      like you missed the mark there! That must be really disappointing. Hopefully the rest of the interview was stronger and you could overcome that impression.

      1. Original Poster*

        Thanks Sandy! Yeah it was a bit awkward for a sec there but I had to get things back on track…

        1. tessa*

          Sounds to me like you handled as best as anyone could. Even if you don’t get the job, you can hold your head high.

  16. King Friday XIII*

    Any advice on timing for accomodations? My office keeps saying they’re going to bring us back at least part time in the office once the new office is built, but I’ve found being home is much, much easier on my digestive issues for multiple reasons. I’m not sure if I should bring it up way in advance or wait until we have an actual date to return to the office or what. Suggestions?

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I would bring it up now. It will give you and your bosses more time to discuss and if necessary get it documented.

    2. Educator*

      The ADA requires your employer to engage in an interactive process with you to determine reasonable accommodations, and in my experience, it often is a bit of a process!

      I would immediately begin gathering written documentation, especially from medical providers, since that can take time. Once you are looking at a 2-3 month time horizon for needing the accommodation, I would talk to your manager about your request, and then loop in HR as needed. (Much more than that, and your employer might want to restart the process to see if the accommodation is still needed.) Sometimes an awesome manager can sort this stuff out in a quick conversation and that’s it, other times it requires several conversations with your manager and HR, with compromises on both sides.

      Good on you for advocating for yourself! I hope it goes well.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Get the ADA paperwork going now — it will require medical input comma and that can be time consuming.
      (And thanks for the reminder, because I need to do that at my annual physical in a couple of weeks…so very few migraines when I can exclude artificial scents!)

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Yeah, I had my first migraine in several months today. Being remote has made the incidence of migraines much, much less, plus enables me to manage my IBS-D better, even if I end up dashing to the bathroom in the middle of a meeting.

        If they ever wanted me to come in to the office regularly I would have to say no, between migraines, fragrance sensitivity and IBS-D it’s just too damaging, plus my household has several high-risk for Covid people in it.

  17. Yikes*

    I posted very late last week without much response. Over the past few years I’ve been wanting to start my own company. I have a few ideas I’ve researched. I know this is insane to ask….. has anyone here run multiple businesses at once? How does that work? What are your experiences like? Were you a silent owner? Hands on?

    I know realistically this requires a lot of planning; it’s not happening all at one (years even); good well compensated teams will be required. I get the logistics. I’m hoping to create the “Smith company” with a few sub companies/ divisions over the years. I just was wondering if anyone has ever done this.

    1. irene adler*

      I know someone who has done this.
      The bottom fell out when some of the employees at each company she started left via the Great Resignation and she was forced to work every waking hour to keep these businesses going AND try and hire replacements. It is not going well.

      So get the plan together early on for worst case situations for each of these businesses you plan to start. And know that worst case for these businesses may very well occur at the same point in time.

    2. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I think people usually do multiple business ideas serially, rather than all at once. A lot of entrepreneurs have a lot of ideas, but they do one thing for a few years, either sell or shut it down, then start a new one. I suppose it depends on if they’re related or totally different categories.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Are you talking about offering vertically or horizontally integrated services?

      The folks I’ve seen build multiple successful businesses as divisions either started in a single specialty and then added on, or they started as generalists / Jack of all trades and then developed each service offering into its own division / entity over time.

      So I’ve seen it done, but only in stages where one stable, profitable enterprise could fuel the next.

  18. bubbabean*

    I’m desperate for a new job but can’t seem to find traction on anything that isn’t the exact same thing I’m already doing. I do “program work” (project and event management mostly) for a nonprofit in education. I feel like every job I find is more specialized than the experience I have and I don’t know how to translate things. I need to do something different but I am so stuck!!

    1. ecnaseener*

      Without knowing what you’ve already tried — do your cover letters make a strong case for how your skills will translate? Or are you stuck even figuring out how to make that case? (Idk what jobs you’re trying to get into, but project and event management require a ton of transferable skills!)

    2. AnonyMouse*

      It’s hard to answer without knowing which direction you are looking to move. Are you trying to get out of the nonprofit sector? Why do you want to do something different and what interests you?

    3. Another JD*

      Have you sat down and listed out the skills each area of your job requires? You don’t always need direct experience for skills to translate to a new role. In my law firm, our current intake specialist/front desk person had zero legal experience. Her background is in hospitality, and she’s smart. She learned the legal part, but really she’s the most brilliant person we’ve had to date because of her people management skills she honed in hospitality.

  19. Bunny Girl*

    How do I explain a 9 month stay at a job without badmouthing an employer?

    I started at a job administrative job in November of 2021 with the intention of staying there until I graduated in March of 2023. I liked my job and team. I left in August of 2022 because my supervisor was extremely mentally ill and refused treatment and unfortunately her behavior made her impossible to work for. She was paranoid, abusive, manipulative, and extremely overbearing. 5 people in our tiny team quit because of her. I found another job (and really didn’t like leaving with such a short time left to go, but I couldn’t deal with her anymore). But I am keeping my eyes peeled for jobs in my field with the intent of really committing to my job search after the first of the year.

    How can I explain my sudden departure? I don’t think I can leave off a 9 month job, and I don’t want to. But I also don’t want to bad mouth my employer. I think I stayed too long to say it was a bad fit….

    1. Mystik Spiral*

      9 months is not too long to say it’s a bad fit! I think anything under a year that would be a fine excuse. But there are myriad “white lies” that you could make fit your situation. The job wasn’t what you expected, the commute is too long, there’s no room for advancement, etc. Also, I don’t think employers in this climate are necessarily going to see red flags for someone leaving a job after any length of time.

    2. Same Boat*

      Bad fit is fine! Use vague language, like the company was going in a direction that didn’t match your goals, or your position evolved into something entirely different that didn’t match your first JD. I’m in the same boat. Most hiring managers will probably see through it and know what you mean.

    3. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I think these questions are generally best addressed by saying what was better about the new place. So, instead of “overbearing,” your second job offered more independence, e.g. I also think it’s not going to be a huge issue in hiring managers’ minds. They kind of want to know if you were fired, and other than that, unless you have a history of job hopping, it’s not going to be a big deal. I think you can probably be fine with one or two, “New job gave me more independence and better flexibility around my studies” type factors. Even better if you can frame it as something that would be valuable to the new employer.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I do have a little bit of a job hoppy resume. In my defense, I went back to school in my late 20s and so most of my jobs have been just entry level administrative jobs that I don’t think many people expect you to stay huge amounts of time at. Plus I moved a lot.

    4. Esprit de l'escalier*

      Could you say “A few months in, my role changed in ways that were a bad fit for me, and after giving it a good try I accepted that it was not going to go back to the parameters under which I had accepted the position.” That is true in a sense, since you went in thinking your supervisor was someone you could surely work with and then you realized or reluctantly accepted that she was not.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        That wouldn’t really make sense. We did move offices midway through right when gas prices really started to sore and it doubled my commute. I kind of wanted to go with that except if anyone looked they’d notice my new job is the same commute. LoL

    5. RagingADHD*

      Well, don’t say anything unless you’re asked. I wouldn’t think many people would question a short stay while someone was still in school.

      If they did, I think you can be honest without badmouthing. I would say that the team dynamics were so difficult that 5 out of however many other people left in the first few months, and you eventually became the sixth. If they follow up, you could say that there was a lack of professionalism, and the environment was not positive or constructive.

      Talking about the supervisor being mentally ill would be badmouthing. Talking about numbers and culture are giving facts and stating your priorities.

      1. Moths*

        I agree with this (and Granger Chase below). I was in a similar situation of having to explain a job change at an interview. When asked, I said something along the lines of, “I really loved the work I was doing there and tried to stay as long as possible because of that. But the company had some challenges and 8 people on my team quit in the time I was there. I ended up deciding the best option was going to be for me to find a new position as well.”

        If you say it matter of factly, people will read between the lines and recognize there were major issues there, but see that you’re staying professional and only stating facts. By stating the amount of turnover, it wards off them thinking that *you* were the issue and shows that there were systemic problems.

        All that said, I also agree that no one is probably going to question a 9 month job if you’re in school still. I would be surprised if you get a question about the duration of your employment.

    6. Granger Chase*

      Could you focus on the fact that there was suddenly a high turnover (X% of your team), which made the workload quickly become unsustainable? I get the sense you don’t want to be “misleading” in the interviews by saying it was a bad culture fit, but it’s common for interviewees to give more vague/professionalized answers than the full truth when they left their last job because it was a complete nightmare.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      First, if your current company offers tuition reimbursement and the previous didn’t, that’s all you need to mention…roll right into a question about new-opportunity.
      But if not….I think you were working full-time and going to college full-time, and you changed jobs just before the start of your last school year right?
      It is completely logical for a student to change jobs to one that is more flexible and supportive of her studies. Or to need a predictable work environment to concentrate on college coursework. Praise the one you started this month, and you don’t have to say much about the one you left last month.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        PS give a long hard look at transfer options within your current company when you are looking for your after college job. That kind of internal promotion would do a lot to counter the short stints you say you have in the past.

    8. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Say “5 people out of 10 quit because the environment in short order” and leave it at that!

    9. Curmudgeon in California*

      “There were issues that made it increasingly obvious it was a poor fit for me.”

      IMO, this implies that you tried to make it work, but couldn’t. If they ask what kind of issues, you can cite excessive turnover and management style.

  20. Formulas are cool*

    I had an unsettling conversation with a coworker this week. We’re remote and don’t work together much, but occasionally I’ve needed to ask his advice. In this case, we had a work-related phone conversation that turned to chatting about our kids, and he casually made some racist and homophobic comments, apparently assuming I’d agree, but didn’t backtrack when I diplomatically pushed back and mentioned a LGBT family member. He doesn’t manage anyone, though he’s fairly senior and has been with the company a long time, and while I’ve always gotten good ol’ boy vibes, he knows better than to be open with the bigotry. Except in a private conversation with someone white/cis/het-presenting I guess? Should I just keep in mind what I know about him and avoid private conversations? Being direct about what he said to me feels dangerous and he might have enough pull to undermine me if I got on his bad side. I don’t see how I could do anything about how he might treat others unless he does it publicly. In the big picture I’m minimally impacted but my skin is crawling.

    1. Justin*

      That sort of language is worth tracking and sending to HR. Probably nothing happens for now but make that paper trail.

    2. Pascall*

      If this was a work-related conversation, I would absolutely say something to HR or your supervisor. Just because he’s saying it in private with someone who he assumes is “on his side” doesn’t mean that it will/will not effect someone with whom he may have a conversation with later who he will directly offend or alienate. If he’s said it to you, the chances that he said it to someone else is extremely high.

      1. Formulas are cool*

        I was offended and I wasn’t even the target. We were talking about our kids’ schools when he made the comments. He’ll probably know it was me reporting him if HR talks to him, but he doesn’t have direct power over me and I don’t think our boss would be ok with those comments. I’m only worried about it starting a war at work.

        1. Pascall*

          I feel like it might be worth starting a war to make sure that that kind of behavior doesn’t become the norm at your workplace. I’d rather deal with some internal fighting leading to the squashing of racism/bigotry than having to deal with the actual racism and bigotry.

          But it’s up to you! Do what you think is right. The bystander effect is real, even in these situations where the assumption is being made that maybe someone else will do something about it instead. If you’re okay with the prospect that no one will do anything about it and he’ll keep having the license to espouse these views, then you can let it lie. But if you’re not okay with that, definitely say something.

        2. LadyByTheLake*

          This is totally something you should report. You aren’t “starting a war” — you are appropriately reporting inappropriate (and disgusting) workplace behavior that could open up the company to liability.

        3. Hen in a Windstorm*

          So I understand why, but you’re reacting emotionally here. You’re imagining all sorts of negative outcomes when you haven’t even said anything yet. 1. That HR will say something to him. 2. That he will then “know” it was you. 3. That this will start a “war” (wow, over the top language there).

          Setting aside the feels, realistically what might happen? When you talk to HR, you can tell them your concerns as well as what he said. Maybe you aren’t the first to report him. Maybe you are. Maybe they won’t say anything to him. Maybe they will. Maybe he can guess it was you, but maybe he’s said so many shitty things that it could be any of 5 people.

          What would a “war” at work look like? Why do you think that’s the likely outcome? Why does reporting him “feel dangerous”? Does your company have a crappy culture? Do the people in charge regularly attack their employees or do they let employees attack each other? If you really believe you reporting a racist to HR would lead to a war at work instead of him being shut down, sounds like you need to leave.

          1. Formulas are cool*

            It feels dangerous because I almost got pushed out of a previous job because I spoke up there. But that place was seriously toxic and my current workplace is pretty progressive (if not without bad apples here and there). I’m probably reacting to flashbacks more than what’s actually likely to happen here.

            1. WantonSeedStitch*

              I would make a point when you talk to HR or management (and I’m optimistically saying “when” instead of “if” because I really hope you will) of saying “I’ve experienced retaliation in a previous job after reporting something that I felt needed reporting, and I’m worried about that happening here, especially since Fergus is likely to know that I’m the one who reported this. Can you give me any reassurance that I’m not going to experience retaliation for this?”

            2. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

              You say your manager likely would find it problematic too. Why not bring the situation to her? You can say you would like to go to HR but have some concerns about it. The reaction will tell you a lot that will be useful for your own context too.

              (This all assumes you feel safe doing this with your manager)

        4. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I think it’s important to remember that it wouldn’t be you who was starting the war. You told this coworker his comments weren’t welcome and he continued to push anyway. If reporting this to HR causes drama, he caused the drama, not you. If he wants to spend his one wild and precious life being a raging bigot, that’s his choice, but you get to decide that you’d rather spend yours protecting people from that bigotry.

    3. Observer*

      I think that a lot depends on his position. You say he doesn’t manage anyone. But does he have input into hiring / firing / promotion decisions? Does he have input into things like the vendors you choose?

      If the answer is yes, I would flag it for your boss. Something like “Joe made some comments to me and I’m a bit concerned that these attitudes might affect his judgement and recommendations.”

      Does he work with others in ways that could materially affect their job / environment?

      If yes, I would flag it, but a bit differently. Because if he behaves himself, that’s fine. But if there seems to be a pattern where people of a certain demographic seem to be having a bit more trouble in dealing with him, this is an important piece of context for your boss to have.

      1. Formulas are cool*

        Not really, he’s a senior number cruncher. I do worry he might want to become a manager though, he’d likely be a shoo-in if he applied.

        1. Observer*

          How has he been getting along with the people who give him the numbers he crunches and the people who need those reports?

          But also, I think you need to flag it for HR. In a similar vein of “I thought this would be important to take into consideration if he’d ever be managing people.”

          1. Formulas are cool*

            That’s a good point, and I’m not sure. However, he’s very much a schmoozer and at our holiday party, I felt a bit unwelcome because he kept aggressively steering the conversation to sports and away from other topics, especially ones I brought up or showed interest in. That part is hard to describe, but it was like he was trying to be the gatekeeper of “what we talk about here”. Luckily our boss and other coworker didn’t go along with it. Transphobic coworker has also been slightly patronizing to me at times, once even treating me like a child when I raised a concern (he put his hands on my shoulders, said “Did you know it’s going to be fine?”, and ignored anything else I said on the topic). Nothing actionable, and I’m not sure I can even explain it, but I would never want him to have power over me.

    4. Formulas are cool*

      I emailed the ethics department, which handles discrimination, and described what happened, so it’s out of my hands now. Thanks to everyone who commented, I felt like I was overreacting at first.

      1. Formulas are cool*

        I’ll spare you the exact details but he talked about his kid’s nonbinary teacher forcing their gender on his kids and “programming” them by reminding them which pronouns to use and he had to deprogram them every day when they came home from school. He also made a comment about how at least the school wasn’t programming his kids with Critical Race Theory and made a dog-whistly comment about the kids his oldest went to school with at his suburban private school.

          1. tessa*

            Cis middle-aged woman here and I so second this. We all must speak up, in some way or other, as often as possible to defeat bigotry.

            Proud of you, OP, and thanks for your efforts to effect change.

  21. irene adler*

    How does a company with very little turnover in the advanced positions, work to retain workers who have next to no chance of moving up in the organization?

    An acquaintance told me about his company and asked this question.

    They have people who stay for decades and have been advanced as far as there have been open positions. As a consequence, people hired at entry level cannot advance. But the company wants to keep these now trained entry level workers. For years they’ve given large annual bonuses (15%-20% of annual pay), wages at the top of the market, loads of benefits, created a hierarchy of titles to indicate a more experienced level worker, improved conditions when employees identify a problem, including them in process improvement projects, etc.

    Right now, about half of the entry level people leave right after they receive that annual bonus. Company hires replacements and the cycle repeats the next year. Company wants to stem the annual exodus. Suggestions?

    1. Bunny Girl*

      Ugh this is hard. This was the problem in our last job. There was no upward movement and since it was a state office, the salaries were stagnant. I think being honest in interviews and hiring is the best way to go. Honestly plenty of people are happy to not move up in their jobs and would probably be thrilled to have a job with great pay and benefits where they might not be clambering to move up.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m not sure much can be done there. When you say “wages at the top of the market,” do you mean that they’re getting paid what they’d be paid if there was actual room for promotion? If not, I would say pay them what they would pay if there was a possibility to move up.

      That said, I worked in a company like that before. It was small, and all the senior people had been there 15-20 years and were never going to leave. Lots of turnover for junior staff, and that turnover never ended.

    3. Star Struck*

      Growth is multidimensional. If you can’t move forward in role / title, does that mean your projects/ work are limited in scope, or can you do more interesting projects with larger scope ? Similarly, are wages capped ?

      I would be happy as a senior thingamabob polishers indefinitely, if I knew that over time I would get to polish increasingly more complex thingamabobs, that my wages would grow beyond cost of living increases, that the org recognized my experience and valued my input (I can have a say in the next new polishing machine we buy).

      Many places have a management track and a individual contributor track to avoid such problems.

    4. Part timer*

      Does the work have to be done full time? If they can get part time people (at good wages, and offer benefits for part timers), then people like parents with kids in school might be willing to stay at an entry level job. If I found a well paid job that with an expectation of work 5ish hours a day, around my kid’s schooling? I’d definitely be there through their elementary years (so 7 years total, between the number of kids I have) and if I did want to find full time work that allowed for more official advancement after that, I’d tell everyone I know about this awesome job.

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      If they aren’t growing the business, then this is going to happen.

      All the owners need to do is try. Additional products, new customers, additional locations. Even an attempt to grow the business that fails will keep some people on. But to some extent this is just math.

    6. RagingADHD*

      You don’t have a quitting problem. You have a hiring problem.

      People leave jobs where they can’t get what they want.

      If the company offers security but no advancement, and they are hiring people who value advancement over security, they are hiring the wrong people.

      They need to change their hiring criteria to find people who will be happy with the situation they are offering. The question is, will the impact of that change be worse than the impact of high turnover?

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Vary those job responsibilities as much as you can. I have stayed a very long time with one organization largely because my “portfolio” of specific things I am working on has been changing every year or two. Before I got bored writing documents about teapot assembly, I was reassigned to teapot polishing white papers, from there marketing materials on teapot style choices, even given a chance to work on the manufacturing floor streamlining the process of transferring art onto blank porcelain teapots. Suddenly I’m one of the more senior people in my group because every time I’ve thought about leaving something new & interesting hit my desk.
      Give your accountants a chance to work with the IT department automating a process. Give your engineers a chance to manage small product releases or work with marketing on new product design. Make an executive assistant the official interim when vacations happen, or give them formal project management training because believe me, a highly involved exec assistant knows a lot more about the product line than companies give them credit for.
      And keep us posted, because this has the chance to be really interesting to read more about later!

    8. EJ*

      Any other opportunities for training and education to keep their brains engaged?

      I also fully agree that flexible schedule part time work will gain a very loyal base.

    9. Alternative Person*

      Like others have said, not much. If all the conditions are good, high level people are going to stay and entry-level are going to move on, if only for the sake of upward mobility. The only other thing I could suggest would be looking at the overall market and similar companies in the area, examining how they’re being able to attract away the entry-level staff, their hierarchies and how their higher level staff are treated and seeing if the company can be making changes.

      My company has a similar issue. Promotions rarely become available, are always competitive and after the position is filled there’s always an exodus of staff because the people who didn’t get the promotion know (in all probability) one won’t be available for a good five years, if they’re lucky. The company recently lost several experienced staff because they decided not to back-fill a lower-management position that is arguably key for the running of that particular department. I’m planning to leave as soon as I get the worst of my MA locked down unless something comes up.

      Granted, part of the issue at my company is the things that used to be true for the job/salary aren’t true anymore and the wider market is in a bit of a downward spiral which means the company does have some retention power for people at and just about the entry level, but they’re playing a very short sighted game with their high-level credentialed staff.

  22. snowyowl*

    I’ve accepted a job offer elsewhere, which is a relief for me, since my workplace is toxic, but now I’m worried about the people I’m leaving behind. I’m dealing with that as best I can, but I have a question about a specific individual.

    She’s a very good worker, but when she sees things that she thinks are unfair she is incapable of not bringing them up. And in a kind of negative “well obviously”, sarcastic way. I actually understand the urge here, because of the toxicity, but I think she’s been doing this for her whole career (it would explain the bad parting she had with a previous company), and I’m not sure if there is some way I can explain how this will negatively effect her moving forward?

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. TKZK*

      Nothing for you to do here. Don’t mention anything, she will find it condescending. I have a friend and former colleague who cannot resist calling people out at work for every perceived error. She’s smart and a good worker, but she is especially awful with authority figures. She actually got into a wresting match with a boss when she wouldn’t let him take something off of her desk. Let your colleague be herself! She will find her way.

      1. snowyowl*

        I now kind of wonder if we’re talking about the same person — I fully believe she’d get into a wrestling match with a boss about a desk item.

        I now have one vote for saying and one against. But thank you for answering!

    2. Sherm*

      Perhaps: “Jane, I notice that you make many negative comments. I realize that it may be a way to cope with everything going on here, but I worry that in future jobs it might be distracting and cause coworkers to dismiss your concerns, even when they are truly significant. I am just flagging this, as I know that you do great work and would hate to see this hold you back.”

    3. Isben Takes Tea*

      Honestly, unless you are in a supervisory position or she has explicitly asked you for feedback, I’d let it go, especially as you expect this is not a new behavior. (If it were new, you could go the “I’ve noticed this change — is everything okay?” route, but it’s not.) Even well-meaning advice from a good friend can be really hard to take if it’s not asked for, or there’s not a really solid base of trust already established.

      1. Isben Takes Tea*

        The other barometer I would use is asking yourself why you have the urge to bring this up now that you’re leaving, instead of earlier. If you wouldn’t bring it up if you weren’t leaving, I wouldn’t bring it up now–it feels a little condescending to say it as you walk out the door, as it were, and not part of an equal back-and-forth in an ongoing relationship.

    4. RagingADHD*

      If she asks, or is complaining about her career and why she can’t find something better, you have an opportunity to say that you think her default sarcasm mode is hurting her standing / relationships with the team, and she’d do better if she could pick her battles and frame her feedback constructively instead of sarcasticly.

      But I wouldn’t advise bringing it up yourself, because people aren’t usually open to hearing personal feedback out of the blue. They need to be in a receptive frame of mind for it to be helpful.

    5. Mockingjay*

      Quite simply, you are not responsible for her career.

      Figuring out most of life’s challenges – at least in the workplace – can be summed up by Glinda the Good Witch: “She had to learn it for herself.”

  23. Now With Extra Macaroni*

    I have been at my job for almost 8 years. I am underpaid for my qualifications and industry, and in my heart I’m ready to move on. However, I found out that I am being promoted in November (my company only does promotions once a year).

    Now I’m afraid to move on. This job is okay. At least I am employed. Maybe this promotion will finally pay me what I’m worth? Maybe it’ll be better to have one title higher while job searching? Leaving will also make my boss very upset (we’ve had high attrition in the past year or so, and he has no idea I’m even thinking of leaving). I am in knots about all of this (I’m a very anxious person in general). Does anyone have advice or personal experience? Thanks.

    1. ecnaseener*

      So, it definitely does help in the job search to have that promotion on your resume. But I don’t think you need to put your job search on hold until then, and definitely not for any longer!

      Job-searching is just looking, if you don’t find anything that beats “okay” and your new salary, then you’ll stay.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Seconding the “job-searching is just looking” point! Extra Macaroni, think of sending off a job application as “I am interested to learn a little bit more about this position. Maybe it will be a good step in my career, maybe it won’t be.” That’s all a job application is.

        A job application is NOT a betrayal of your current company, or an obligation to leave your current job.

        1. Observer*

          A job application is NOT a betrayal of your current company,

          Not only that. Even LEAVING is not a betrayal.

      2. Office plant lady*

        I agree with ecnaseener. Personally, I would stick around until November for the title bump and pay bump (and negotiate the pay increase as if you were planning on staying, just in case), and use it as a new baseline in the job search if you still feel like you want to move on. Nothing to stop you from looking at the lay of the land, polishing up your resume, and reaching out to any contacts now, though! And if a job posting that is really interesting to you comes up, you might as well apply.

    2. irene adler*

      What is the company policy (or track record) regarding the size of the salary increase for a promotion? Is that enough to equal your worth?

      It cannot hurt to apply and interview at other companies. You may find way better positions than what you have now.

      And: only YOU have your best interests at heart. Only YOU can take the steps to serve your best interests. No company is going to act in your best interest. It may SEEM like they are; such as when a job is offered to you that exceeds what you have now in every way. And it’s okay to accept such a job offer if it is in your best interests. So take the time to know what you want- and don’t want. Job hunting can help to crystalize which things matter most to you.
      OTOH, a company will not hesitate to lay you off if that is in their best interest. So why are you giving them your best (and your loyalty) when they are not reciprocating?

    3. orchivist*

      I’m also extremely anxious in general. For me, a lot of what helps with that is 1 gaining information and 2 reducing pressure.

      re 1: could you ask your boss what kind of raise would the promotion come with? is it possible to get back pay? how certain is the promotion/where did you hear about it from?

      re 2: Personally I would start looking at other jobs but be really selective about it, only applying to ones I actually think would be an improvement. If nothing happens before november, then you get promoted, and great, maybe you don’t want another job after all. if you do get a new job, great, you have a new job where you’re paid more and you like it better. Either way you end up in a probably-better place. Having a higher title might help you get hired but that’s not a guarantee so it doesn’t seem like something worth being miserable for three months for a Just In Case. If you’re applying for jobs, you’re in the same state as you currently are (at least you have a job, etc…) but you can feel like you’re doing some work towards changing the situation, which might help you feel more in control/less anxious.

      I also think that it’s important to remember that the maybe’s that apply to your promotion also apply to new jobs — maybe it’ll pay you what you’re worth, maybe it’ll give you the chance to get an “external promotion”, maybe you’ll get a boss who won’t take their stress out on you because your team is fleeing.

      I have been in this position and I applied for a job that felt like a huge reach but would be really exciting to me to do. I got it, and the other person at my level who was being promised a promotion “some time soon” didn’t get it for another 8 months. I’m glad I didn’t wait/that I had my eyes out for better jobs. Ultimately it’s a question of “which makes me more miserable: my current job, or the work it takes to find a new one?”

    4. Esprit de l'escalier*

      November is not that far away, so if it would ease your mind a bit to wait and see how the promotion pans out, that is a reasonable choice to make. BUT your boss’s possible reaction is absolutely not your concern. They pay you to do your job well, not to worry about your boss’s feelings. It’s normal for people to leave jobs, especially if they are being underpaid (surely you aren’t the only one). If attrition has been high, maybe there’s a wakeup call in there for your management.

    5. Observer*

      (I’m a very anxious person in general).

      If that’s really playing into this decision enough to keep you from moving on, please look into therapy.

      Leaving will also make my boss very upset

      Not your problem! Even if he were a great boss and did all the right things, such as making sure you are being paid an appropriate rate, it wouldn’t be your problem. Given that you are actually being underpaid, it’s even LESS your problem. If he’s a decent human being he’ll be ok with you moving on even though it makes his life more difficult.

      Take the promotion and then start *actively* looking. In the meantime, start be redoing your resume, and start researching the opportunities in your area. It’s already September, so you are only talking a couple of months, which is a pretty good amount of time to get your stuff in order for a serious job search.

  24. The Knight Yvain*

    In a comment thread a while back, someone mentioned an business/institute in Chicago that measured a person’s strengths & aptitudes. Does anyone know or remember its name?

    1. No fun name yet*

      Third suggestion for Johnson O’Connor–they’ve offices in a number of cities (full transparency I’ve been through their process in NYC (and highly recommend them to friends and family).

    2. OtterB*

      I recommend Career Vision in Glen Ellyn, IL. They use aptitude tests similar to Johnson O’Connor and other assessments to help with career decisions. (full disclosure, I used to work for them but left 15+ years ago for a relocation and have no ongoing involvement).

  25. Jimmy*

    I’ve always heard that some people think internally and some think out loud. I’ve discovered I’m definitely a person who thinks out loud and that my best ideas come when I’m giving direction on something and I suddenly hear myself making suggestions that haven’t been already in my head.

    I would love to find ways to control this – particularly as I’m a new manager and think my team is getting frustrated by changing / new directions as I’m often properly thinking things through when I’m explaining things to them.

    Anyone else deal with this and have strategies to think through major issues / strategies / directions BEFORE I start talking?

    1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      Is there another manager, or another person not on your team, you can talk things through with before you bring them to the team?
      If not, I’ve also found that I get similar results to talking aloud by writing an email about what we are going to do. Just make sure not to put anyone in the “to” line, or put yourself, in case you accidentally hit send!

    2. Justin*

      I am like this (it’s tied to my ADHD) and I do two things:
      I set up an occasional informal meeting just for ideas.
      I block off “focus time” on my calendar to brainstorm.

    3. orchivist*

      can you talk through stuff either by yourself (“practicing” giving instructions) or with a colleague who you aren’t giving the instructions to? A voice recorder might be helpful so that as you talk and change your mind you can go back and streamline it into one thing. You could also frame it as a conversation with your team and actually listen to their input as well as your own — basically bringing them in earlier on in the process.

      as an internal processor I do find it frustrating when people do this (it’s hard for me to keep track of frequent changes) but my partner thinks this way and we’ve developed ways of clarifying “I’m thinking out loud at you” vs “I want to have a conversation with you”

      programmers have a thing called “rubber ducking” or “rubber duck debugging” where they explain what’s going wrong with their program by talking conversationally to a rubber duck, and it often helps unstick them. I think finding a “rubber duck” (literal or figurative) might be the best way to do this.

      1. Svennerson*

        I was just coming to suggest the rubber duck. I’m somewhere in between, where half of my ideas come from internal thinking and half from external dialogue. It only took two weeks of my new job (where we’re all still fully remote, and since a lot of these tasks are solving small coding issues, discussing with others would be time consuming and not worth it) for me to designate a small crochet project from my partner as my sounding board. It’s helped immensely.

        Find a stand-in “rubber duck” you can give your direction to at first, maybe take notes down of new ideas that come up in that discussion, and iterate a couple of times until the new ideas are hashed out.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        my partner thinks this way and we’ve developed ways of clarifying “I’m thinking out loud at you” vs “I want to have a conversation with you”

        I appreciate it when I ask a question to an auditory processor and they respond with “I’m going to think out loud for a minute” and then ramble. I don’t interrupt their out-loud thinking, and I know I don’t have to pay close attention to all of it either.

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes – my husband straight up has a literal rubber duck on his desk that he talks to, and I talk to my dogs.

    4. Admin of Sys*

      If there’s not a chance to specifically schedule some before-time to talk through the ideas to yourself (or a rubber duck, as programmers often do) then I find a useful trick is to frame the interaction clearly. When you realize you want to brainstorm, say that outloud, to warn your team that it may be a bit random for the next bit while you talk through ideas. So – if someone comes up and asks about teapot painting ideas for the next quarter, and you haven’t prepared anything, respond with something like ‘That’s a good question, let’s brainstorm about it for a minute’ or something similar. That way the team knows you might be swapping direction halfway through.
      Theoretically, as you become more aware of topics that will come up, you can prepare outlines to work from, which will keep you from entirely switching ideas halfway through a conversation.

    5. hi hello*

      Does talking out loud to yourself help? I find that practicing helps me get the more meandering thoughts ironed out before I talk to other people.

    6. The New Wanderer*

      In addition to trying to get ahead of the brainstorming, is there a way to build in time between what you realize you want during a meeting, and when someone has to act on it? If the team is feeling whiplash from perceived direction changes, give them the time to process that change.

  26. ecnaseener*

    Today on “No Stakes Just Curious Is This a Thing?”

    I got a resume from a recent graduate with a “professional shadowing” section that included informational interviews. Like with a date and the name of a person whom I guess they had an hour-long informational interview with.
    I’m so curious whether this is a thing! Is there a second meaning to “informational interview” that is resume-worthy, or did someone just give this person weird bad advice to list every professional they sat down for coffee with?

    1. Pascall*

      It really just seems like they thought it might be worth mentioning in lieu of actual experience. I don’t think I’ve seen it super often though. Recent graduates are gonna be the ones that tend to try to highlight things that they hope will substitute for actual work experience, I would imagine.

    2. aubrey*

      Seems really weird to me! They didn’t actually do anything but talk to the people? Are they just trying to show they’re really keen? I definitely don’t think it’s resume-worthy.

    3. Educator*

      Professional shadowing is becoming more of a thing in some degree programs, and it seems resume-worthy for a new grad if the shadowing happened over a sustained period, like every Friday for a semester, and required meaningful engagement, like the person being shadowed explaining their work and helping the shadower connect it to their coursework. Not as awesome as a true internship, but still potentially useful to a future employer. The shadower at least will have a better understanding of some professional norms and daily life in the industry.

      But I don’t think a 30 minute coffee date belongs on anyone’s resume, even if it was with Warren Buffett. My guess is that a career center or advisor told this person to include more sustained and meaningful shadowing experiences, and they overestimated the importance of passing encounters.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        I agree that this sounds like someone who misinterpreted a career center’s advice – something like, “you can include brief or unpaid work/internship experience on a resume, especially as a recent grad with little work history” and “informational interviews can be a great way to learn about an industry” as separate pieces of advice getting collapsed into “you can put informational interviews on a resume.”

    4. Anoynmous*

      This would not be weird in the niche industry I’m in (Genetic Counseling) but again it’s a niche sector of healthcare especially and this would be mainly for applying to grad school

      1. ecnaseener*

        That’s interesting that it’s a thing in at least one field! This candidate did seem to be looking to go into healthcare based on the rest of their resume so maybe they did get that advice for grad school applications and just didn’t tailor their resume at all for a non-healthcare job application. (That’s why I said this was a no-stakes question, they had zero relevant experience on their resume so we’re not moving forward with them regardless.) Thank you for satisfying my curiosity!

  27. Esprit de l'escalier*

    My sympathies, it’s really a dilemma. Is there any possibility of getting a different job within the company that doesn’t involve sharpening shears, or at least not All.The.Time?

  28. Anonyplatypus*

    I have a kind of follow-up question to last Monday’s “When Should I Let My New Boss Fail?” letter. I’m in a similar situation, in that I have a boss who is hands-off to the point that I feel that I’m doing all the work while they sit back and collect a paycheck. They delegate just about everything to other people (mostly me) to the point that I honestly don’t even know what they are contributing. They have been here for a little over a year now and still defer basic questions about our department to me because they don’t know the answers.

    I gave them a pass for a while because they are a first-time manager and I knew the learning curve for them would be steeper than it was for my previous bosses. And then I kind of fell into a rut of just trying to get the work done. About a month ago, something finally snapped in my brain and I asked for a one-on-one with Grandboss, where I told them a little of what I was seeing. Grandboss does very little direct supervision of our department (our department has always been that way, and became even more so after a corporate restructuring), but they told me that they had been hearing similar complaints from other people and that he was scheduling a talk with Boss.

    It’s been a couple of weeks since Grandboss/Boss Talk happened, and there have been a few minor changes. I think Grandboss is trying to force Boss to step up. I really don’t think things are going to change much though. In hindsight I realize that I didn’t really give Grandboss a good overview of how much I feel that Boss is actually undermining our department through their lack of action, I think the impression I gave was more that I was concerned they were shirking their duties (I had some really serious life events going on at the same time so was not in the most organized place, so that’s on me). So my question is, how much longer should I give my boss a second chance? At what point do I go to Grandboss again and tell them that this isn’t working, that even after I’ve directly told everyone that they have to speak with Boss about Issue, people are still secretly coming to me for help?

    1. Esprit de l'escalier*

      Tell these people, sorry, I can’t help you with this, it’s up to Boss. Then if they come back to you saying they can’t get anywhere with Boss, tell them you’re the wrong person to complain to, they need to go directly to Grandboss and be very specific with Grandboss about the problem. Grandboss needs to hear that things haven’t changed and the more people who convey that message, the better.

      1. All Het Up About It*

        Yep! They are “secretly” coming to you because you are still helping them.

        You really have two issues here. Letting your boss fail or telling your Grandboss that you aren’t letting your boss fail. Also nothing wrong with documentation that you can show Grandboss in a few weeks/months. When they come to you “secretly” tell them “as I said, you will have to speak with Boss about Issue, but I can email them that it is still unresolved.” Then email Boss and say, “Hi Boss – just to let you know Linda in Finance still needs an answer about how much red clay to order for next month’s teapot production. It’s important that she has this by the 15th or the vendor won’t be able to assure guarantee delivery. I let her know this decision requires your input.”

        If you do this, you likely won’t have to worry about how long to wait before you talk to Grandboss.

  29. Ms. Carter*

    I’m wondering if anyone has advice about a work situation that’s given me a lot of stress.
    I was hired about a year ago as a teapot strategist for a large organization. There is one other teapot strategist whose role is exactly the same as mine, although that strategist came in with a couple years more experience and a title one step up from the one I came in with. There is also a teacup strategist on our team, who has a role that’s analogous to ours, but covers a different product. We were all hired at the same time, about a year ago.

    Our boss recently sent an OOO email that listed my fellow strategist as the contact for teapot questions and the teacup strategist as a contact for teacup questions. My name was not on the email at all. It made me feel incredibly insecure and unimportant.

    I have had two jobs in a row where I really never felt like I got a foothold because of overt organizational toxicity. This role is not like that. Everyone is great, so if I’m not able to succeed in this role, it’s on me, not the role. I can’t tell if this email is an indicator that I’m regarded as an afterthought or incapable, or if I’m being paranoid because of past experience. I have had nothing from good feedback from my boss since arriving in my role, but I feel sidelined and I don’t know why. I feel terrible about it.

    Does anyone have reframing or professional experience perspective thaf might be helpful for me?

    1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      My gut is to ask your boss about it when they return! So often managers do things with innocuous intent (or for no real reason, it just happens that way) but they are perceived as indicative of something stressful. I always appreciate when staff ask me about things like this, because almost always they’ve been really worried and I was just trying to do whatever was simplest/fastest/made the most sense.

      1. Ms. Carter*

        Thank you for the reply! Would it make sense to ask him even though I asked a similar question (about five months ago) about a similar scenario? He definitely didn’t seem bothered by my asking, and it turned to not be any kind of slight or reflection on my skills, but I don’t want to build a reputation as insecure or high maintenance.

        1. Everything Bagel*

          I think you might be taking this harder than he intended it. He’s probably trying to avoid a super lengthy out of office response to begin with, so it only makes sense to name the next senior person in the department for each area as a contact. He’s delegating to the next person reporting to him, that’s all.

          1. All Het Up About It*

            These two are the senior individuals on the team. It doesn’t matter that the seniority is in title not really time.

            Also as a boss who has to have OOO replies directing people to certain individuals, it is SOO helpful no to have to figure out who a person reached out to when I was gone. It’s hard enough trying to figure out if I DO need to respond or if it was handled without asking multiple people if they handled things.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      You acknowledge that the other teapot strategist is more senior (both in terms of experience and in terms of title). It is 100% normal to leave the (one) name of the most senior person who can answer questions on an OOO message — in fact, many wouldn’t have bothered listing the separate teacup strategist. The OOO message isn’t a department directory, it is just the name of usually one contact who can traffic cop. It would be strange indeed to list two different contacts for the same topic in an OOO message. You should read nothing into this other than totally common professional norms.

    3. Anna Badger*

      if it helps reframe, everywhere I’ve ever worked it has been the norm to list a single point of contact for each area in an OOO. when I’m off I tend to rotate who I list as the point of contact within each of the two teams I look after, so that my absence doesn’t always mean the same person having to pick up questions – it’s definitely not hierarchical, it’s mostly about sharing out the triaging.

    4. bb*

      I definitely think you could be overthinking this. I currently manage 5 people, who do 2 distinctly different functions. When I’m out of office, I rarely even give 2 names (1 from each function). I typically put 1 person in charge of covering for me (and have them in the OOO email) with the expectation that they filter it to anyone from there. I think it would be confusing to expect someone who has worked with alone me to evaluate who on the list of 5 people is the right person for their specific request. I also like to have 1 person to come back to when I get back from time off in order to understand how it went and any issues or concerns. You say that you’ve gotten good feedback. Do you feel included in other ways? Is your opinion listened to? Are you given ownership of decisions or projects that you should within your role? Are you getting clear actionable feedback on your performance? If so, then I’d consider this as your past experience coloring this job.

      1. Ms. Carter*

        I just want to say thank you to everyone who took the time to reply. I’m tearing up a little! I dealt with a relatively large amount of abuse and rejection in my past and I struggle often to not let it make me act in reactive, self-destructive ways. That email was really getting to me for some reason. It’s such a relief to get a group consensus that I’m overthinking it and be able to let it go without worrying it’s a sign that there’s something going on that I’m missing.

        1. Retired to Morning Room to Write My Letters*

          Best of luck! These old experiences can really do a number on us, so I sympathise!

  30. Anonymous Educator*

    For those who have been part of a mass layoff at work, is there anything your former employer did that softened the blow a bit that you appreciated. Anything you wish they’d done (I mean, apart from letting you keep your job)?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’ve been through two big layoffs, the second one was during covid (Nov 2020) and the best thing they did was keep paying everyone’s health insurance for three months. I didn’t end up needing it, but it was nice to know I had it. That may have been a function of the time though.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      My company did a 60 day “working notice” period, which meant they announced the layoffs and then we had to work the next 60 days to wrap up projects, train our already overworked colleagues who would be inheriting our work, and suffer through the range of odd behavior from soon to be former coworkers who couldn’t think of anything sensible to say. It would have been better if they had made it quicker. It was the most difficult 2 months of my entire career. Unfortunately, the severance package (which was actually pretty generous) was contingent on working a full schedule, complete with metrics to evaluate whether we were just phoning it in, otherwise it might have been almost tolerable! At least we were permitted to send resumes and accept phone calls from potential new jobs while on the clock. (In person interviews had to be off hours or use PTO if you had any left. The layoffs were announced in November, so a lot of people didn’t have many days left.)
      I’m sorry you’re going through this, and wish you great success in whatever your next adventure turns out to be!

    3. Hen in a Windstorm*

      We were laid off right after Memorial Day 2020, but they made our official layoff date 6/1 so that we would get an extra 30 days of insurance. And then they covered the cost of COBRA for another 6 months for the exact same coverage. And then everyone got severance based on seniority, so I got 6 months.

      The HR reps weren’t all on the same page. Mine told me different things than my coworker’s rep that I wouldn’t have known if he and I didn’t talk.

    4. Russian in Texas*

      6 months of medical insurance at current premiums, meaning the company continued to pay their part.

    5. Despachito*

      They gave us a pretty generous severance package, plenty of time as notice period, and, as our work was being outsourced to an agency, contacted us with the agency so that we could continue providing them our services as freelancers.

    6. aubrey*

      A chunk of severance money and a good reference, and offered to connect us with people in associated companies that might be hiring.

    7. Anonjustthisonce*

      I wish they had managed their own emotions and not expected me to help them with that emotional labor. My company laid off all but a few employees to ride out the pandemic, and I felt like I spent a disproportionate amount of time in my final weeks consoling the tiny minority who felt bad about staying as I handed work off. Just be professional and normal!

    8. Mockingjay*

      Helpful: We got 60 days notice. (Contract lost funding.) Company rules stated you weren’t allowed to use leave during the notice period. Our manager completely ignored that rule and had no problem with us taking off time to interview, and let us take planned vacations. People were completely open about job searching. One of us would come in, work a few hours, then change outfits and leave for the interview. Then they’d come back and change back into work clothes (we were on the shop floor) and everyone, including Manager, would ask how it went.

      What I wish they would have done: The company HR was supposed to help you look for internal openings. It was a large company with multiple offices, so there were a number of promising openings for most of us. When we contacted HR, they were extremely unhelpful in connecting us to these other managers and assisting the internal application process. I found a job with a different company prior to the layoff date and gave notice. My last day, my manager came to me about an opening and asked me to stay on with company. I was not happy; I had inquired numerous times about the internal position and heard nothing. I chose to leave.

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      In addition to severance, my company lets outgoing employees keep their (company paid for) laptops and cell phones. I think that’s pretty nice.

  31. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

    I’m currently a Director, applying for an internal promotion to VP. I have a long commute, so I recently applied for a (lateral move) Director position in an equivalent organization much closer to my home. I was ultimately not selected for that position, and then the VP role opened here. On the encouragement of my boss, I decided to apply for that and was selected for an interview next week. The COO who interviewed me for the other Director position is on my interview panel. (I think that is unusual in many contexts, but it is standard in my industry to have panelists from other organizations once you get to the VP or higher level.) Is there anything I should take into account about this as I do my interview prep? The other interview was just in mid-July, plus COO and I have collaborated at industry events in the past, so I don’t think she’s going to forget that she has only just interviewed me, and for a lower role than this one.

    1. snowyowl*

      I’ve had this happen to me before — it always feels really awkward and I hate it but honestly I wouldn’t worry about that. And I recognize that I always worry about it, but honestly if they’re doing interviews they’re not going to be surprised by this.

      Make a point to emphasize what you’re bringing to the table to this VP position and what your strengths are. My only note would be if you had been very enthusiastic about a specific aspect of the Director job, other then the location, don’t be unenthusiastic about that now. It might help to also just practice what you would say if she did ask about it — unlikely, but I like to be overly prepared. And I think “I wasn’t aware this position would be opening up, wanted to see what was out there and was potentially looking for a shorter commute” is an easy answer. You wouldn’t want to spend too much time on this. (And realistically I think it’s unlikely to come up, but for your own peace of mind).

  32. A Nonny Nonny*

    So I am up for internal transfer to a better job, but my current boss is pushing a counteroffer with a pay raise that might be higher than the new job. I do not have an offer on the new job yet and told my boss that I can’t decide until I have one. How can I handle this gracefully while keeping my options open? Part of the move is to get away from my boss and I am worried about retaliation.

    1. BellyButton*

      You can say “I am really looking forward to a new opportunity in a new team. I think the knowledge and experience in a different area/position will really help with my growth and company knowledge. I have learned so much working with you and this team, I want to be able to use it to benefit other areas.”

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I think you were smart to say you can’t consider your boss’s counteroffer until you get the offer on the other position. When you do get that offer, try and zero in on the non-monetary aspects of this new position. If your current boss tries to beat the salary on your new offer, be ready with those non-monetary things you’re looking forward to in the new job. It’s not about the money, it’s about the experience this new job would offer you.

      And even though the boss is part of the reason you’re moving, you’re allowed to fib a little here and say you’re grateful for all the things you’ve learned in this position, but you’re ready to try new things as a part of a different team.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      Was your boss understanding about “I can’t decide unless I get an offer?” Or are they pushing?

    4. WellRed*

      If you want to get away from your boss and you’re worried about retaliation to boot, why would you accept his counter offer.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I read it as wanting to appear to consider the counteroffer to reduce the risk of retaliation but that Nonny isn’t actually considering it.

        I like the suggestions to really lean into the “learn new things and experience new challenges” aspects.

  33. Anon for this*

    Struggling with a covid policy. Boss thinks that with the CDC policies changing, we need to let unvaccinated workers return to the office. A couple of employees have young children at home and are against it. Unvaxxed wants to come back. I don’t know the right direction to push – from a business/professional perspective, I have my personal biases.

    1. ferrina*

      I’m against it. If you can work from home, then unvaxxed folks can do that. It’s similar to not coming to work with norovirus- it’s so contagious that even if your symptoms are mild, why on earth would you expose your coworkers to it? And since Covid likes to hide and is usually contagious before symptoms appear, minimizing risk to workers seems like the smart thing to do, both on a human level and on a business level (one of our offices had an outbreak after a team get together- half the team was out for a week and it was hell trying to get the deliverables out on time)

    2. Anon for this*

      Some additional information: our unvaxxed have had covid and are open to being asked to mask. We have some immunocompromised people in the office but they aren’t the ones objecting to the return.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        If the unvaxxed had covid recently, that should be providing some protection. I’m vaxxed and boosted, but also just had covid, and the recommendation is that I don’t get an additional booster now, but wait for at least 6 months: the disease itself gave me the booster.

    3. calvin blick*

      I don’t necessarily think whatever the CDC says is automatically right or a good idea, but if the ostensible experts say it is okay, it is hard to argue against.

      However, the young children people can get their kids vaccinated and it is undeniable that young kids are (unless they have other health issues) extremely unlikely to have any bad effects from covid besides being sick for a week or so. I’d be pretty sympathetic if the immunocompromised folks objected, but the kids should be fine.

      1. Anon for this*

        I think that’s the biggest issue I’m grappling with. I know COVID isn’t over and the people who don’t want the policy to change have excellent points (even if the kids will be fine – the parents aren’t wrong to be worried about getting it themselves or spreading it). But when schools are changing rules and mask mandates are going away…I feel stuck.

        1. Minimal Pear*

          I think in this kind of situation being overcautious is better than the alternative. I would definitely err on the side of not returning to the office, only having certain people come in, a staggered schedule, etc etc.

      2. AnonyMouse*

        Yeah – the fact is that having young children at home is not a very good science-based reason to push back, because young children can now get vaccinated.

        Do the unvaccinated workers want to come back? Is it because the vaccinated people in the office are taking on tasks that can’t be done from home? Could the people pushing back be allowed to WFH? I think the business reasons matter in the conversation.

        1. Anon for This*

          We’re hybrid. No one wants to WFH full time, but we’ve forced it for people who are unvaccinated.

          1. AnonyMouse*

            If you’re all hybrid, could the people objecting have the option to not come on days where unvaccinated people come in? Like bring back unvaccinated people only on Tue and Thurs.

      3. ferrina*

        Kids can get vaxxed, but the youngest aren’t fully vaxxed yet. Especially if there is vaccine shortage in your area. My little one won’t be fully protected for another month, even though I got her vaxxed as soon as possible based on vaccine availability in my area (even cutting short a vacation so she could get to the clinic during their availability window- otherwise it would have been another month +).

        Parents need more time to reasonably be able to get their little kids vaccinated. Maybe another month or two (again, depending on availability in your area)

        1. Double A*

          I think this only a fair point only if it’s true in OP’s area. I got my under-5 kids their first shots as soon as possible with moderna so they’ve both been fully vaxxed for over a month. I know the Pfizer course takes longer but that’s also a choice people are making and I don’t really think other people need to someone’s choice for a slower timeline (again, this is different if moderna or the vaccines in general weren’t actually available in a timely manner. In my state in the US, there were appointments available literally 2 days after the vaccine approval).

          1. Grogu's Mom*

            Hm, I don’t know that Pfizer was “a choice” for the majority of under-5s. (I know you say “only if true in OP’s area” but just want to point out that it isn’t an unusual situation.) My under-5 got Pfizer for three big reasons. First, it was the first appointment available and we had been waiting so long we jumped on it as soon as we could. Second, we went through the county, where the shot was free with no insurance required, and they only offered Pfizer. We were in the midst of switching insurance/pediatricians due to a new job, so it would have been a lot more complicated to seek out a pediatrician offering Moderna, and most of them weren’t offering a choice anyway – it was just whatever they had in stock that day. Third, the research I saw at the time implied that three doses of Pfizer provided stronger immunity than Moderna, and Moderna would probably be requiring a third booster at some point anyway. So, we got Pfizer, we’re two weeks away from her final shot, and a month away from full immunity. And we were one of the earliest to get it, within a week or so after it was first available. I think we’re at least a couple months away from saying anyone who wanted it has had time to get it and be fully vaccinated.

    4. Observer*

      Why are people objecting? I think that that’s the key question. If they don’t want to vaccinate their kids, that’s a non-starter. If it’s “I don’t trust the CDC” I have a lot of sympathy, but it’s not really helpful. The CDC is the best we have and ultimately employers who have followed the CDC, with all of its bungling, have by and large done better for their employees than the ones who didn’t follow the CDC.

      If there is something else specific to your workplace, then that needs to be evaluated.

      A key piece of this is that your un-vaccinated folks are open to masking. I’d also suggest making sure that ventilation / HVAC systems are all really up to par, with good air turnover.

      1. Anon for This*

        I think it’s a mixture of “I don’t trust the CDC”, bias against antivaxxers, and some irrational fear. This is a helpful perspective thank you.

    5. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      Any private company is permitted to have stricter guidelines surrounding COVID safety. That’s why the CDC offers “guidelines.” However, if the boss is the one wanting the unvaxxed to come back, I think you would have to have other policies in place, such as masking when not at your desk, restrict number of people in the office (or conference room, or kitchen), have hand sanitizer and anti-bac wipes everywhere (which don’t really affect the spread of COVID, but make people feel better). Are you able to provide a draft policy covering these types of things? Would your boss listen? Aside from your personal biases, COVID is still deadly to some people. I think the young children would be fine, but there’s no guarantees! I would be more concerned about co-workers who have older or high-risk people at home.

      1. Hen in a Windstorm*

        Oh holy crap are you misinformed. Vaccination very much *does* prevent you from getting COVID and spreading it. It is not 100% and was never expected to be, but your statement is a gross exaggeration of that fact. Please educate yourself. Your Local Epidemiologist is a great resource for someone who can talk to lay people about the science.

        1. This Old House*

          I’m sorry if I said something technically incorrect. The intention of my comment was that enough fully vaccinated and boosted people will be able to get and spread COVID (Omicron specifically – though maybe the new boosters will change this calculation) that keeping unvaccinated people out of your office does not seem like a particularly effective method of avoiding COVID, keeping your kids safe, etc. As such, it seems like this is a move that does more to punish people for their decisions than to keep employees’ families safe. (And I say this as someone fully vaccinated and looking forward to a bivalent booster soon – but also as someone’s whose whole vaccinated family got omicron this year. And I was glad we acted like our vaccines wouldn’t prevent us from getting it, because we were able to confine it primarily to our household by quarantining anyway.)

    6. Anita, Darling*

      A fair solution will balance the productivity, health, and quality-of-life concerns without making it about resentment or punishing wrong behavior (in this case the unvaccinated).

      My vote would be to let them return. The easiest is just use the CDC policies. They are a fallible human organization and honestly the biggest use is to use their recs as a schelling point that you can blame policies on.

      Most people with children under 5 are still sending them to group childcare, taking them to playgrounds, etc. so they are getting plenty of exposure. It would be a courtesy to create a timeline for returning staff to let them vaccinate their kids if there are timing issues.

    7. Kotow*

      I think to make a decision, there are a few things to keep in mind: at this point in the pandemic, we’re at a level where those who wish to be vaccinated or have their families vaccinated have the ability to do so. If they haven’t been able to be fully vaccinated due to the spacing, they’ve had the ability to get the process started for the youngest children. I realize not every community has had the same level of access, but even if the access isn’t available *now* it will be. Mask, vaccination, and testing requirements have fallen away in most public venues and everyone who ventures out into the world is ultimately in a situation where they are surrounded by people unmasking whose vaccination status is unknown. While vaccinations do assist in preventing transmission, their primary purpose is to prevent severe disease (at which they’re extremely successful!) and unfortunately it is not a guarantee at preventing infection; as proven by the numerous vaccinated and boosted people who have caught Covid at “Show Your Vax Card” events. People who are unvaccinated have their reasons for doing so and at this point have heard all of the information and made their own choices. An unvaccinated employee is just as likely to become sick from a vaccinated employee who had such minor symptoms they wouldn’t have even considered Covid a possibility. So that’s a risk assessment on the unvaccinated employee’s part and they appear willing to assume it.

      With that being the reality, I think if you’re going to push back on allowing unvaccinated employees return to the office, it’s necessary to consider the purpose of excluding them in the first place. With the transmissibility being so high, excluding unvaccinated employees simply will not prevent someone from coming down with Covid and bringing it to the office because they believed it to be “just allergies.”

  34. OyHiOh*

    An intern recently started at my org. The intern is a woman, of traditional college age. It can be safely assumed that her path from high school to college to work has been thoroughly derailed by COVID. She’s in a different department from me, although she sits across the aisle from me, and has an entirely different (and entirely male) reporting chain. Should I say something to her about clothing norms?

    She is not here full time (part time internship coupled with campaign work and classes) and I’m not sure how much she’s really been able to observe how the rest of the women here dress. We’re a business casual office that hits sorta in the middle of the “business casual” spectrum. The intern comes in, in shorts. To be fair, nice shorts of good quality fabric, not denim cut offs or otherwise wildly out of touch but also shorter than any of the skirts that come into the office.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Who is in charge of supervising her? Interns are there to learn, so the feedback is fine, but all things being equal I’d suggest a comment about appearance come from the person designated to oversee her.

    2. Pascall*

      Are you female presenting or male presenting? I think it may be a little awkward if coming from a traditionally male presenting person, but someone female presenting may have a little bit of standing to mention something like: “I really like your outfit! You may want to check with your supervisor about the shorts- I’ve heard some people be asked to wear pants/longer skirts instead, but they’ll be able to tell you for sure.”

      If you’re male presenting or a cis guy, it may come across differently though (not to say that it SHOULD come across different or weirdly; that’s just the typical assumption given our current societal norms) – so you’ll just want to be a little careful if that’s the case to not make it seem as though you were “distracted” by the length of her shorts and that it’s not really YOU who cares what she wears; it’s the office culture.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I am female presenting.

        The person directly supervising is male (and LGBTQ+), his supervisor is also male.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      You’d be doing her a huge favor if you talk to her. Something along the lines of, “Hey, just so you know, this isn’t really a shorts-to-the-office kind of office, even though it looks pretty casual here.” If you’ve noticed, other people have noticed, and maybe some of them are judging her professionalism rather than chalking it up to this being her first time in an office.

      I would also send her this from Corporette about business casual: corporette-dot-com slash business-casual-for-women .

        1. londonedit*

          Would also suggest not doing it on a day when she’s actually wearing shorts, as she’ll then feel embarrassed all day about wearing the wrong thing – maybe pick a day when she’s wearing something more office-appropriate and then do the ‘Hey, I love your dress today! Just so you know, that totally fits our business-casual look, but we’re not really a shorts kind of office…’ thing.

      1. Observer*

        This is very on point.

        Also, I’d be willing to bet that her supervisor doesn’t know what to say to her, or if it’s even ok to say something.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Yeah, I’d check in with her supervisor about it. Not to get her in trouble, but to say you’ve noticed it and you’d be willing to help her learn more about workplace clothing norms.

          1. All Het Up About It*

            Yep. I like this idea too, just in case he 1) was feeling awkward about it and is happy to have a woman mentor his female intern about business clothing or 2) to confirm that for some crazy reason he didn’t tell her that it was acceptable to wear shorts.

      2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        I completely agree. In my first job out of college I took to wearing shorts in the summer (business casual office) and eventually the company owner noticed and asked my boss to talk to me about it. It was so awkward! It felt like it was made out to be a bigger deal than it was because it was a directive of the owner, whereas if she’d just pulled me aside to say “hey the shorts you’re choosing are too short for this office, they need to be at least mid-thigh” or whatever we both would have been a lot more comfortable.

  35. Summer Hot Chocolate*

    I entered “my boss hates me” in the AAM blog search bar and found a reader’s post about “set up to fail syndrome” in the archives. I feel like it fits my situation!

    My first six months at my current job were great and I got along really well with my boss. I looked forward to going to work. After that, my boss started treating me differently, and things have only gotten worse. Over the past several months, I’ve become miserable. I’m having health issues because I dread going to work so much.

    If I find a new job, what do I say if my boss wants to know why I’m leaving? Especially if my new job is the same as my current entry-level job? With the way she treats me, I’d think she’s trying to get me to quit and would be happy, but she might actually be angry because there’s a hiring freeze for the foreseeable future and our office is quite busy for most of the year. (It seems like she’s unhappy with me no matter what I do, so I guess what explainstion I give might be “wrong” anyway!)

    1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      “Oh, the hours/commute/benefits/whatever are going to work better for personal reasons. I couldn’t pass it up!”

      1. Pascall*

        I always go for the benefits excuse- they can be sneaky and try to verify the other stuff, but normally, someone outside of the company shouldn’t be able to figure out what your benefits will be to argue about them.

    2. Esprit de l'escalier*

      If your boss is actually the reason you’re leaving, you don’t owe her a truthful or even a halfway believable explanation. It’s fine to say “It’s a really good opportunity for me, too good to pass up.” If she pushes for specifics, you don’t have to give them. Do the broken-record thing: “Like I said, it’s just such a great opportunity for me.” “They have incredible benefits.” The hiring freeze is not your concern.

    3. OrdinaryJoe*

      Second and third’ing the recommendations to keep it very high level, casual, ‘just too good of an opportunity’ sort of thing.

      One thing I’d add is … I personally wouldn’t tell her or anyone who might tell her where you’re going. I wouldn’t trust her with that information, especially if there’s a chance she’ll be angry. If asked, remind yourself … she really doesn’t care because she likes you and is happy, she’s just being nosy. “I prefer not to say, thanks!” is just as valid as “blah blah blah, Inc.!” as an answer.

    4. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      Who the eff cares what a bullying toxic boss says or thinks when you find another job and quit. If she was a decent person she wouldn’t be tearing you badly. So don’t worry about what to say, just some version of “I’ve had another job offer and decided to take it. My last day will be on ___.” That’s it. Bad bosses don’t deserve more than the bare minimum.

  36. Gosling*

    What is a professional, gentle way to decline answering a question regarding personal feelings about an employee? I have a supervisee that has had a number of performance issues that we haven’t been able to resolve, and everyone is getting frustrated. He told another supervisor that the issues were because I don’t like him. That supervisor believes anything he says.

    I don’t dislike him, but whether I do or don’t also has zero to do with what we are discussing. We are set for a meeting later today, and I worry it is going to pop up again and that declining to answer is going to validate that belief .

    1. Pascall*

      Bring the examples of the performance issues to back up your point about what’s going on. Information that clearly says “they are/aren’t doing X, Y, and Z, and it’s effecting A, B, C outcomes on the following projects”. Something like that. Keep feelings and personal bias out of it completely and focus on the facts of what the person is failing to do and who that is affecting besides you. (You can keep it general to something like “it’s affecting the front-office team” vs naming names).

      1. Pascall*

        If they ask whether or not it’s “because you don’t like me”, you can just say, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but this is about the outcomes of these projects, not my feelings.”

        It doesn’t give them a yes or no to go on (and you’re free to still not like them if that’s the case… lol)

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          I agree with your first comment, but really dislike “I’m sorry you feel that way” – it comes off as if a person’s experience is unimportant in any way, which is pretty unhelpful. I’d prefer to keep the focus and framing on what the conversation IS about. If asked directly, Gosling can say “We’ve been working together on the performance issues I just talked about, which need to be addressed no matter how anybody feels about you/him.” (It’s unclear to me whether Gosling is meeting with the employee or the other supervisor.)

      2. Unum Hoc*

        Retired teacher here and too late to help. When I was teaching middle school art, students (and their parents) often took grades as a matter of ‘liking’ the student/their product versus when it was really a matter of how much they were able to represent the techniques I was teaching and that we had worked together on. I had rubrics. The students had many opportunities to improve the work, even through the next term.

        Showing the parent/student what they did right before expanding on what was expected and how they needed to improve the mark/product to attain a more favourable mark was important. Whether or not they wanted to put the extra work in was up to them.

        It was a matter of balancing the positives, what they were doing right, with the negatives, what was needed to improve/succeed, to take the “Teacher doesn’t like me” part out of the equation.

        Business, I gather, is much the same way.

        Balance “What you are doing right” with “Here’s how you need to improve “.

    2. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      “I don’t want to get sidelined with personal feelings – whether or not I like Joe on a personal level isn’t relevant.” And then segue into talking about objective, documented performance issues.

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      I can’t provide a shining example here, but am happy to share a cautionary tale… I was accused of doing something because the person thought I hated them (which I actually had a neutral to positive opinion prior to the fuss) and my mouth engaged without my brain and I said, “that’s nuts, they don’t pay me enough to bother hating anyone!” While that happens to be true, it was also taken poorly.

        1. Alternative Person*

          I totally get it. I once dug half moons into my palms to keep my mouth from saying what I really thought during a rather heated conversation.

    4. Observer*

      We are set for a meeting later today, and I worry it is going to pop up again and that declining to answer is going to validate that belief .

      Why would you decline to answer? You are completely correct that your like or dislike has nothing to do with the issue, but declining to answer turns it into a big deal.

      Do keep the focus on the specific, concrete and (hopefully) measurable issues you are seeing, though.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        I agree with this. “My personal feelings aren’t relevant here. The issues are that Barnaby is not checking his work and is sending it out with lots of errors; he’s coming in late every Monday and leaving early every Friday; and he’s hoarding information on Project X so that no one else can get any work done on it.”

    5. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I tend to agree that skirting it will validate the belief. If I heard “my feelings aren’t relevant” or “this isn’t about my feelings” I would definitely infer that you don’t like me! But it’s pretty likely that nothing you say will change their belief, unfortunately. I probably wouldn’t preemptively talk about it because that sounds defensive but if he brought it up I might say: “Joe, I don’t dislike you. This is about how you’re doing your job. I need you to work on XYZ.”

  37. MJ*

    My amazing boss is dealing with a terrible family emergency. I feel so sorry for him and I want to somehow demonstrate support for him. Besides picking up work he doesn’t have the spoons for and I can do, is there an appropriate way to show said support? We’re a tiny department where my boss and I are the only two FTEs and some of our work overlaps just on the basis of “someone has to do it.” We also work with emotionally difficult things which causes some blurring of professional boundaries on my part in that “we know what a thing is like that others don’t experience” way and I am trying my best to not let that get blurrier.

    1. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

      When a coworker was dealing with a health issue, I would randomly go and drop a couple of chocolates that I knew she liked on her desk before she came in. Just a little, “somebody is thinking of you” sort of thing.

  38. Selina Luna*

    Because of allergies, I always look like I’m crying at work. This sucks, and I’m trying to get it under control with medication. But I teach, and I have students ask about my well-being every day.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Can you do a preemptive announcement at the beginning of the school year/semester? (If you don’t already.)

      “I have allergies that make my eyes red and teary. I’m fine, so there’s no need to ask me if I’m OK or if I’ve been crying.”

      Won’t stop all of the questions, but it may cut down on them quite a bit.

    2. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      Maybe you could get a cheerful little button badge which says “I’m not crying, I have allergies!”, maybe with a little pic of a flower or something.

      Probably wouldn’t completely stop it happening, because of people who are shortsighted or don’t come close enough or just don’t notice the badge. But might reduce the percentage a bit more.

    3. Double A*

      What age kids? It could be kind of funny to make a big button that says, “Not crying, just allergies” or something and point to it when folks ask. Unfortunately it’s just a conversation you’ll have to have frequently!

  39. Liz in the Midwest*

    Low stakes question: I am in academia, and my dept has a new chair! She’s been teaching at our institution for several years already, and I suspected I’d like having her as chair, but I didn’t anticipate how immediately much more happy it would make me. She’s thoughtful, considerate, proactive, kind… Just great.

    Being chair is generally something people do because it’s kind of their turn, not because they actively want to. It’s a lot of work. Any advice on how I can tell her I’m appreciating her without making it sound like I’m complaining about the last chair?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Can you pick one or two things she’s done/situations she’s handled that you especially appreciate, and compliment her on those? If you stick to one or two specific things it will feel like “you were so great the way you handled XYZ” and less like “wow, you’re so thoughtful [and the old chair was a clod].”

      1. Liz in the Midwest*

        That is a good call! I like the idea of being specific rather than just like “I’m so glad we have YOU!”

    2. WiscoKate*

      We just got a new chair too, it’s always an interesting time. I would just find a time when you are perhaps speaking more casually (if you are routinely in this position) and mention how much you’ve enjoyed a, b, c. Don’t even mention the previous chair.

    3. Pascall*

      I have no advice but I’m gonna be honest, I thought you were talking about like an actual physical chair. Like furniture. Lol.

    4. Justin*

      Just say it like that. (Also are you my friend Liz who is a professor in the midwest?)

      “I really appreciate the (details details) you’ve brought to the role.”

      1. Liz in the Midwest*

        I don’t think so, but maybe? Is your Liz in a STEM field and is known for her obsession with a specific breed of dog?

    5. Dust Bunny*

      Has anything changed since the last chair, that wasn’t directly related to the chair?

      When I started my current job, my boss was a woman who had built the department pretty much from the ground up (starting in the 1970s). As time went on, she lost touch with the kind of technology we needed and things really started to get out of sync with the outside world. When she retired, her successor was not a tech person himself but understood that we needed it and looked for someone who was strong in it.

      So . . . they both did really important things for the department. Very, very different things, but nevertheless still important. When our new executive director interviewed everyone and asked for our views on how the departments seemed to be working, I told her that I appreciated how much work Previous Boss had done but was also grateful that they had hired Successor Boss, who had a more-recent background in our discipline, to update our methods.

    6. Four of ten*

      I used to work in academia. You’ve almost got it with the words you wrote here. Focus on the present: I appreciate what you’re doing as chair. I know it’s a lot of work. Good to have you in this position. (Or something like that).

  40. Saraquill*

    Sharing an odd interview experience from two weeks ago. The position was Office Administrator, and the job description included “tasks needed for traveling.” Trade shows in the field happen, but this could mean anything from making travel arrangements to working at the trade shows myself.

    Three people interviewed me at once, all cheerful and happy to talk. They couldn’t say what my salary and benefits would be. They were happy to say, with bright faces and laughing voices that “we’re like a work family,” “can’t take anything personally,” and “the boss is the biggest challenge.” They also emphasized multitasking is a must here, and I’d be spending plenty of time on my feet going up and down the floors of the building and to other parts of the city.

    While I had my handy list of questions in front of me and a pen, this interview quickly turned into “say you need disability accommodations without saying you’re disabled.” When I said I have limited stamina and running around would be challenging, the air went out of the room and the interview ended.

    All in all, I’m happy I haven’t heard back from them.

  41. Kesnit*

    A little humor…

    I have the same first name as one of my co-workers. (Spelled differently, but said the same.) For clarity, we are both called by our last names. (Even our folders on the shared office drive are our last names.)

    This week, my same-name co-worker announced he is leaving at the end of September. I was chatting with our boss, the office manager, and another co-worker about his departure and jokingly asked “will I get to go by my first name now?” Without missing a beat, they all looked at me and gave a variation of “no!”

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      At one of my previous jobs we had Lindsey and Lindsay. We called them E and A. Even after E transferred to another location, A was still A because it was what we were used to calling her.

    2. NOT Little Laura*

      At a previous job I had the same first name & last initial as my direct boss. She was kind a Terrifying Woman. In a large team meeting (I was there, my boss was not) one of the founders suggested we call her “Big Laura,” and me, “Little Laura.” I hated this idea for both of us and quickly asked the founder who was going to break it to her that her name was now BIG Laura? The idea was shelved.

    3. slashgirl*

      The now retired tech guy at my smaller school is named (changed for privacy) Terry Smith. One day I was talking to a teacher at my larger school and she said she was getting a new student teacher….named Terry Smith. I gaped at her like a goldfish, I’d never been quite so floored when receiving new info–I said, “Terry Smith?” and was thinking Terry hadn’t said he was going back to school for teaching (being an IT guy was his second career after the Armed Forces)…and honestly didn’t think it would be something he would chose to do.

      The teacher replied, “Oh, yeah, she used to be a Teaching Assistant.” I was like, oh, okay, it’s a WOMAN…and explained to the teacher and we had a good laugh. Tech Terry thought it was funny when I told him, too.

      The student teacher became a teacher in our board and for a short time was known as “Teacher Terry”. I was talking to her once and she and Tech Terry both lived in the same phone exchange. She’d get phone calls for him, but said she couldn’t find him the phone book to let folks know the right number. I let her know that he was in there under his first name as Terrance was his middle name….

  42. WiscoKate*

    I am currently job searching. I’ve applied for a lot of position but am not getting ANYTHING back. (probably 250+ applications in the last 9 months). I’ve had one interview and made it to the final round, but wasn’t selected. I am following all the job advice and while I don’t tailor my resume for everything, I do for the positions I am most interested in and my general resume has specific measurables and I’m mostly sticking to similar type positions.

    I’m currently in Higher Ed – academic affairs but have worked in student affairs, banking, and government. I’m wondering if I seem like too much of a job pivoter? Or possible my masters in Higher Ed is making corporate employers less interested? I am only applying for fully remote jobs, so I’m hoping it’s just competitive but as someone who has always been a really strong candidate and employee, it’s really discouraging.

    Does it seem likely that hiring managers would be rejecting me for 1. having too many industries? (Nothing shorter than 1.5 years) 2. Could my masters in educational leadership be an issue?

    1. calvin blick*

      I think a lot of it is just finding the right hiring manager. I was in a position where I was trying to make the jump from Tea Cup Handle Supplier to Tea Cup Maker, and a ton of managers just wanted someone with direct tea cup making experience instead of just doing part of the work. Then I found the manager who was fine with that experience, and finally got the new job.

    2. ferrina*

      For me, I’m looking for the story that the resume tells. If the transitions tell a clear progression- for example, being a cyber security specialist at a financial institute, then cyber security for a hospital, then a software engineer at a tech company that specializes in hospitals- then I see how their career has progressed and get a sense of what they might be looking for in their next move. If I’m not seeing the story, then I wonder if this person really knows what they’re looking for.

      It also depends on why these are on your resume. How does your banking/government work make your candidacy stronger? Are there skills that you’re brining over? Or is it irrelevant? With what you describe, I’d be worrying that employers are having a hard time sorting out what skills and accomplishments you’d be bringing. Have someone who has never seen your resume look at it for 15 seconds (about how long a hiring manager might spend at a first glance) and see if they can pick out the key skills you are trying to highlight.

      Caveat: I’ve never worked in Higher Ed, and I know the rules can be different there

    3. Pivotttt!*

      Hi! I just left higher ed three months ago after 10 years of directing a student-support service and nearly 17 teaching. I’m now in digital about a pivot!

      Like you, I was worried that my obvious commitment to higher ed was an issue, so I used the cover letter to my full advantage to explain why I was pivoting and how exactly my skills prepared me for the position. I also gutted my resume from anything too specific to higher Ed and focused more on skills.

      You can do it!

    4. RagingADHD*

      With those numbers, I suspect there is something on there (or not on there when wanted) that’s getting your resume kicked out before a human sees it.

      Have you tried using an ATS scanner to see how well your keywords match the descriptions?

      Jobscan is one, and ResumeWorded is another. I’m sure you’ll find more if you search for them.

    5. PollyQ*

      If your master’s isn’t related to the job you’re applying for, you could try leaving it off your resume and see if that helps.

  43. Little Owl*

    For the past year, I was a team lead with one team member under me. This structure was not formal, since in the org chart we were equal and reported to the same manager. But this is how our department works, and our manager said so in recent performance review. My team member was moved into another department after reorganization last month.

    My questions:
    1. Can I ask her to give reference? The company has had several layoffs in the past year, so I’m looking to jump ship. We had a good working relationship, and she’s the person most capable to speak about my work aside from my manager. And can I ask her to be discreet?

    2. What’s the best way to explain the informal structure in my resume? If someone reaches out to HR, HR will tell them I have no direct report. I’d prefer my manager not to know about my plan to leave, obviously.

    1. ferrina*

      1. Yes, if you trust her to be discreet. Being a team lead is different than being a manager in that way. You should also offer to be a reference for her if she needs it.

      2. “Supervised junior staff and provided training in seal taming and otter grooming.”

  44. Rogelio*

    I’m likely going to get a job offer in the next week (and checking in with another place who will likely be giving one too). But I’m at the point where I’m just not sure if I’ll like the job. The company’s growing a lot, there’s a team I’d be a part of, so that’s all attractive, as is the collaborative nature of the fully remote organization. But it’s “just” a tech firm and the mission means nothing to me.

    But it’s so hard to know if it’ll feel like a good fit. I quit my last job because it was a pretty unfriendly workplace and I still feel a little shell shocked from that since it’s only been about 3 months. I’m thinking I should take it if it seems at all okay, but I just don’t know. I set the goal of finding a job I’d want to stay in, but the thought of turning down an offer to keep looking is just so hard to wrap my head around.

    1. ferrina*

      How did you vibe with the manager and the team? Are you excited about the responsibilities? Does the day-to-day feel good?

      For me, I can be ambivalent about the mission and still love a job. It’s the day-to-day that really determines the quality of life (well, and compensation). If you’re feeling good about the team, great! But is the team is giving you pause, then I’d ask myself what I’d do if it’s not a great fit. Is it worth getting out of your current place and staying here for a year of mediocrity? Or would that year be absolute hell? Will you be up for job searching in another year, or would you rather do it more now and find a place you’d stay for several years? (I find job searching exhausting, so that’s one I consider). How are your finances?
      These are the things I’d consider

      1. Rogelio*

        Thanks for this. I think the tricky part is that I didn’t get the best feel for the team. Everyone is new since the company is rapidly expanding (even the senior leaders who’d be over me joined a month ago) and I just don’t entirely know what I’m getting into. It feels like it might be a little more volatile than I want, and I think that’s what’s giving me pause. Coming off of a bad job, that idea of being stuck in a job I hate, and not wanting to leave it for a year since I left this last one after less than a year, has me a little skittish. I think I’m leaning towards passing on this one and I should go with my gut feeling.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Is it honest work that does something useful or desirable enough for people to pay for? Are the people congenial, and the conditions good? Do they pay well?

      Personally, I think “mission” and “passion” at work are for nonprofits, and if those things are extremely important to you, that’s where you should be looking. Businesses exist to make money by providing goods and services.

      I have a whole rant on this that I won’t get fully into, but it’s my belief that the current systemic problems with work and wages are inextricably linked with, and enabled by, the promulgation of the idea that your job can or should be a matter of mission and passion.

      That idea induces people to tolerate low pay and terrible conditions, because they are persuaded it is in service to a higher cause. It rarely is.

      Better to spend the money you make at your for-profit job on your personal mission and passion.

  45. Are online certifications/programs worth it?*

    I’m looking to switch jobs within the next year, currently Senior Manager level in healthcare compliance. I’d love to go into tech related compliance or financial compliance, and see there are some programs online where I could learn the ins and outs.

    Would those be worth it to do? I see a lot of our director level compliance folks coming from different fields, so perhaps it’s not so much the knowledge of a specific industry but your compliance expertise. I’d be looking at senior manager or higher type roles, so not starting in a lower position.

  46. Sheik Yurbooti*

    How many direct reports are too many? I’m a manager of project managers for a large company. We’re growing, which is great, but I have to manage 19 people, and along with other work and meetings and administrative things, my days are crazy. I don’t feel like I can make a connection with my team, no time for much guidance or anything more than surface-level conversations, there’s too much going on, we have to focus on the work and the daily issues. My boss won’t/can’t hire someone else to take the employee load off and I hate not being able to focus on my team’s career growth and development. Plus we continue to hire so there’s no real end in sight for number of people on my team. Any advice? Should I stay and just accept it? Or do I need to find a similar role with a smaller team at another company?

    1. Dust Bunny*

      So he can hire more people but not another person to split your load?

      I don’t know that you need a smaller company so much as you need one that delegates better. A company the same size or even bigger that had more managers and more reasonable expectations of them would be a good change, too. I don’t know why you wouldn’t at least look around.

    2. 867-5309*

      Do they are all report to you directly or are some indirects (e.g., you manage managers)?

      If not, can you make the case for some hierarchy?

    3. No fun name yet*

      I was always taught to follow this rule-of-thumb:
      Managers spend 10% of their time supervising each direct report–and more (upfront) for new ones. If you have 19 direct reports, that means 190% of your time is spent supervising staff(!!!). Of course, if you have only 7 direct reports, and the remaining 12 report up to those 7, then those 7 take 70% of your time–leaving you only 30% free for your own work.

      Is there some way you can internally restructure your team so that folks report up to 2-3 people already ON your team? Then the boss would only have to pony up for a new title/some raises, rather than a whole new FTE person (and their assorted benefits).

      1. Sheik Yurbooti*

        All good points. Yes they all report to me directly. My boss does not delegate well at all. We have talked about delegation in the past but it doesn’t go anywhere as my company is big on pushing more “responsibility” to people but not changing job title or giving more money, so you can see how this would go. All for the sake of having a “flat” structure (why that’s important more so than the practical need I don’t know). I would really like to hire a team lead to take the burden off and maybe I can push that more. It’s worth asking again and making the case that it’s necessary. Burnout is real!

        1. linger*

          You can still do the same thing, and delegate some of your management tasks, even without an official hierarchy: develop staff skills in project management / communication by making some staff team leads for particular projects. (Start with more senior or experienced members of your team, and assign them more recent hires to train — but then rotate those duties as much as you can to preserve the official “flat” structure.)

        2. linger*

          To clarify a little: rather than managing 20 or so individuals, you should be managing 4-5 teams of 4-5 individuals. You’d start by training and mentoring the initial team leads; once those have some experience of project management, they work with you on training up another member of their team to take on their role; then the second incumbents do it with supervision; then the second incumbents work with you to train a third incumbent; and so on. As new hires are added, you should have a pool of existing staff (the earlier team leads) who can train them and manage their work. The overall aim is to make collegiality and mutual training part of the job for all members of your team.

    4. OyHiOh*

      If you close your eyes and visualize a ball in your hand, how many balls can you add before you loose track? For most people, this number is somewhere between 0 and 6 balls. Old school management training used to recommend that you not have more direct reports than the number of balls you can easily visual.

      Nineteen is unimaginably unreasonable by almost any measure! You need a layer of supervision between your lowest level staff and you.

    5. RosyGlasses*

      10 is the limit – and even that is beyond if you are responsible for other items. 6-8 is usually the sweet spot for direct reports. Right now I have 9, plus I am ultimately responsible for a division of 35 EEs, plus HR responsibilities – and it’s ALOT. If you have more than the 8-10 spread you really are going to be dropping some balls (not on purpose, just lack of time/resources) in developing your team, focusing on the big picture, plus the regular fires that usually crop up.

  47. Justin*

    I wanted to share an exception. We’ve all heard how the “like a family” thing is usually toxic. My current job says that sort of stuff in their branding and company-wide emails (but no one says that out loud). And we’re actually treated well and given grace and good salaries.

    I wonder if the issue is that many use “family” to avoid actually treating people well. For us it seems to just be “We’re a good workplace,” but the many horror stories do ensure that I know why it’s such a red flag.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t know. I’ve been in those “we’re a family” workplaces where they don’t actively abuse me, but it’s still squicky. They can expect you to be “loyal” if underpaid (even though they’re drop you in a heartbeat) and to do all sorts of weird team bonding activities that sometimes stretch the bounds of professionalism.

      Glad you’re having a good experience, but I’d still view it a red flag, even if there’s no obvious abuse.

      1. Justin*

        But we’re NOT underpaid. At all. And we’re undergoing a salary assessment to see if anyone needs to have even higher salaries. Unlike every other nonprofit I’ve worked for, we’re not treated as though we have an extra millon dollars and unlimited time in reserve.

        I think it’s just cliche language that I wish we’d find a new version of.

        1. Esprit de l'escalier*

          Yeah, it’s a workplace cliche that tells you very little about the company except that they’re not allergic to using cliches.

    2. snowyowl*

      I have heard people use it not knowing the connotations and thinking that it’s legitimately a positive. Honestly it sounds like your company needs to consider rebranding.

      I have been told at my current workplace that we’re like a family multiple times, and have used the phrase when asked by interviewees to make sure they’re aware. I am, in those cases, using it as a red flag to let them know.

      1. Justin*

        Yeah. What’s best than family? I mean, “we pay well and don’t exploit our workers*” is probably better.

        *ethical consumption capitalism, I know

    3. ThatGirl*

      My company, when I was hired, was owned by a family (same one for 100 years, big company, you’ve inevitably seen our products). They were very big on the “Company Family”. Kinda touchy-feely, big on recognizing anniversaries and retirements and babies and weddings and being friendly and warm in general. It didn’t bother me but it did get a little eye-rolly at points.

      Now, we’ve been merged with a public company. They are very *not* touchy-feely. Very data driven. Not that the people are rude or mean, but it’s a whole different vibe.

      I dunno, I feel like there has to be a happy medium!

    4. OyHiOh*

      I think that, much like genetically related families, “like a family” work places can be a spectrum from highly functional and supportive through to the most horrid boundary stompers and abusers. The phrase should definitely key job searchers to look for flags and clues to level of function/dysfunction that may also be present.

      My current org is non profit. Occasionally busts out the like a family phrase. They use it to mean 1) we understand there will be times when you need to prioritize your genetic family, 2) we’re going to keep an eye on market rates for your roles and adjust salaries as need to keep you competitive, 3) same for benefits, 4) sometimes you’ll have to work weird hours, but we want you to be able to flex your hours otherwise, 5) dear gods, please don’t take your laptop home and work until late into the evening every single damn night! (sometimes we have to, it’s the nature of the type of work we do, but late WFH evenings are pretty rare)

    5. RagingADHD*

      I agree with you. The phrase is often used to justify exploitive practices.

      And people who expect family to be supportive, respectful, fair, and empowering don’t realize how often it is misused.

    6. Prospect Gone Bad*

      The “family” think always makes me laugh. You don’t want me to act like I do around my family. My family is loud and talks over each other and sometimes we are critical and abrasive of each other. I am much better behaved and have better boundaries at work!

  48. jef*

    We hired a new person not quite 2 months ago that reports directly to me. She’s been super enthusiastic and is visibly excited to learn our quite-intricate business (the job takes about a year to get solidly competent at). It’s clear that in the past she’s had some real challenges with bad supervisors based on things she says (and doesn’t say).
    I’m looking for advice on how/whether to address some specific things she says. She over-apologizes when I let her know about an error (things like “I so sorry about that” and apologizing on teams as well as again verbally whenever we next speak). I expect errors at this point. It’s a finicky complicated business and she’s learning. She also thanks me profusely (and multiple times) for explaining the why of an error, or why we do a process a certain way. To me that’s just good training! How can you learn if you don’t have context? Anyway, any thoughts on how to curb some of this? I am fine with politeness, but this seems like way too much remorse or gratitude for routine corrections/training/interactions.

    1. Justin*

      Not sure if remote/hybrid whatever but maybe take her to coffee one morning and reassure her about these things.

      If you’d like to be less over the top about it, just be direct and say, hey, we’re all learning, you don’t have to apologize.

      1. jef*

        I’ve tried! I have, since day 1, reiterated that the learning curve is long and steep, and I don’t expect perfection at any point. I know I’ve told her several times that I will always explain the why of things because it’s important she understand it, not just do what I say. And that she should always be able to ask why because we work in the financial arena and if I can’t tell her why, that’s super shady.
        Maybe I will try to have a sit-down, hey, it’s okay conversation. Thanks for the suggestion!

        1. Reba*

          Yeah, this is all good stuff but it’s too indirect. I mean, it’s clear about your intentions and expectation, but it’s apparently too indirect with regard to her reactions.

          You can sit down with her and say something like “I’ve noticed a pattern where you apologize profusely and also thank me excessively for things like X, Y, Z. I would like you to try to stop apologizing so much. It will be better for your collaborations at work in the long run if you’re able to learn and grow from mistakes without getting overly emotional. I’m happy with your progress and not upset when people make normal errors.”

          It will probably be awkward for her, but that’s ok! You could also say that you understand it takes time to adjust to a work environment and change habits, but you’ll appreciate her trying.

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      It’s just going to take time and consistently telling and showing her that it’s okay to make mistakes when you’re new and she doesn’t have to over apologise. She’ll unlearn this behaviour eventually but it takes a lot of self awareness and a new mindset.

    3. Flowers*

      Wow! I literally just had a similar conversation with my boss. There was a small thing I forgot to do, and I think I misunderstood an assignment; he was chill about it. To the small detail, he said he doesn’t expect me to master it at this point and it’s OK. To the other thing, he said he’ll look at it; maybe it is what he needed.

      In this case, tone is very very important.

      At my last job, I was doing work from my first day and it was very fast paced. And yes, thanks to past jobs + my own upbringing + bad relationships, I was made to feel like a failure for not knowing a small/basic thing.

      1. jef*

        I think my tone is okay, because I’m not pretending it’s okay, it really is fine. And expected. It would frankly freak me out if she wasn’t still making a ton of mistakes this early into the training. I usually aim for polite, matter of fact, and kind.
        Is there something else that would help you in these situations? More praise when things go right? More frequent progress report type things (Not like a performance review, more of a, ‘hey look at what you’ve mastered and here’s what’s next’)?

    4. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      In my experience, it takes people who have been in bad work environments a really long time to accept that they aren’t in one now – long enough that it can be really frustrating to the managers. I try to focus on anything that actually impacts the work or how the person is perceived. If the work isn’t being affected, and if people aren’t perceiving her badly, then I think the best solution is to accept this as an annoyance but trust that her brain needs time to learn that errors aren’t going to be a problem here the way they were in her previous workplace.

  49. BlushingCrow*

    I am wondering if anyone has any good suggestions for work management software? Not something to replace things like MS Project (those aspects are fine, but not the main focus), but something that could be used for one part of the company to request work from another? It would also allow a team to view and manage their work statment. Some sort of task management thing. I feel like there must be something good off the shelf out there, but I am having a hard time finding it.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think generally ticketing software would work well for this. Think of “help desk” software, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be for tech support. Could be any request.

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      It’s low tech, but have you explored Trello? It’s got a lot of integration with Google docs so you could theoretically have someone submit a request and then track its progress all the way through the end. And it’s super user friendly.

      1. BlushingCrow*

        Thanks for that feedback, we can’t work with google docs, but I’d guess if it can interface with that it can interface with other programs.

    3. Pivotttt!*

      I love Air table, and the automated functions may be what you’re looking for. People can approve docs, etc. and everything is tracked.

        1. Generalist*

          Seconding the Airtable recommendation. It’s got more of a learning curve than some of the others named, and you will really need at least one person who is quite good at database logic to set up the process at the start. But my org has found it really excellent, and I know the purpose you’re describing is what the Airtable developers really had/have in mind as they created it and add features. You can find videos showing use cases that may help you assess whether it would be good for your situation.

      1. ferrina*

        Ditto- also worked with Trello, Asana and Monday (and Basecamp), and Monday was also my fav.

        It makes a difference if you work under hard deadlines or not. Monday and Basecamp are great for deadlines (Asana is okay, but depending on your needs, it may need some custom set up). If you don’t have hard deadines, Trello is great. Product Dev and software engineering teams I’ve worked with loved it, because they could move different tickets from one team to another for different work elements.

      2. mreasy*

        I have used them all and liked Monday the least – Trello is my favorite. You can add checklists, require approvals, etc. But I know folks who swear by Monday.

  50. Anonymous Koala*

    How do you make sure all the work you’re doing “counts”? I’ve noticed that a lot of the projects I create or the work I volunteer for tends to be in the “nice to have” category instead of the “super meaningful impact” category. How do I get out of that mindset and drive more meaningful innovation at work?

    1. ferrina*

      Well…that depends on whether your passions line up with the business strategies and goals. Just because something is important and meaningful doesn’t mean that the business is going to do anything with it.

      Start by looking at a Venn diagram where your circles are 1. your business/departments goals, strategies and priorities and 2. what you think is important. Focus on where that overlap is. Learn what the pain points are for the stakeholders, and make adoption as easy as possible. Treat your projects as products- make sure that what you are building addresses market need, is attractive to adopt, and has low barrier to entry. And if that sounds hard, it’s because it often is. You need to be able to understand a lot of different stakeholders, their desires (both reasonable and unreasonable), be a logistics ninja, and be a great salesperson/advocate to get the right people to buy-in (oh, and know the power structure well enough to ID the right people you need buy-in from).

      But you don’t need to have a big project to make a big impact. By being your best at work, you model a certain standard. Do amazing work, treat people with respect and be genuinely thoughtful about how your work impacts others. Those traits alone will make you stand out and inspire others*. People will see that people like you exist, and that makes a difference. It makes others hold themselves to new standards, have the courage to try new things, and be less likely to tolerate bad behavior. Think about Alison’s scripts- how often do we read that and say “Wow, I didn’t know I could say that! Now I know what to do if I run into this situation.” You can be that role model in what you do.

      *Obviously not all people will be inspired. Some will try to undermine you, some will attack anyone with success, some will be oblivious and some will just not click with you (but may click with someone you inspire, so, residual effects, I guess). But some will, and that will ripple outward. Trust me.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        Thank you! The specific strategies you’ve offered here, like the thought venn diagram and the list of traits to keep trying to cultivate, are super helpful for my specific goals. You’re also right that I shouldn’t underplay having a positive attitude and doing excellent work.

    2. Anna Badger*

      goals! if your goals are set up right, you can weigh up every potential thing you might do by asking “which of these will bring me closest to meeting one of my goals?”

      you can also have private goals as well as your official ones, it’s just important to know what they are and to make sure that everything that needs to be done to meet them is in place before you move on to the nice to haves.

    3. Hillary*

      Picture the most mediocre, bro-iest dude you work with or went to school with. Would he do it? Good luck!

  51. Seal*

    This week I withdrew an application for a job I thought I was a good fit for because they required that I list my current supervisor as a reference. When I pushed back on this, they said that while I could ask them not to contact my supervisor during the interview process, a reference from them was required before a final offer was made. This was a dealbreaker for me.

    I’m frantically job hunting to get out of a very toxic work environment that led to my current supervisor getting hired. In the few short months they’ve been here, I’ve been threatened, manipulated, lied to and about, shunned, excluded, and otherwise bullied on a daily basis. There is no way on earth I’d ever list this person as a reference, especially when I otherwise have very good references who know my work and are more than happy to say good things about me.

    Why do organizations do this?!

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I’m so sorry that happened. It doesn’t stand up to any logical sniff test, I can’t imagine requiring this.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      I’ve actually had it come back to bite me a few times when we didn’t talk to a person’s current supervisor. We still don’t require it, but I can see why some org’s would choose to.

      I’m sorry to hear about your current role and I hope you find something new soon!

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Did you check references at all or were there specific issues the supervisor would have uncovered? I just wouldn’t give a current employer this kind of input over someone’s career, personally. It can make it hard for people to leave bad situations, or it can backfire and get someone fired if you don’t end up hiring them.

        1. Decidedly Me*

          We still checked references, but in all the cases, the current role was the most applicable to the role with us, so it would have been the most valuable one. Giving an example below.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I know you probably don’t want to give too many details or become too identifiable IRL here, but do you have any examples of things you could have learned from a person’s current supervisor that would be a dealbreaker that you couldn’t also have learned from a former supervisor or a coworker? Why would having a current supervisor as a reference have helped?

        1. Decidedly Me*

          In a recent example, their current role was the most applicable to the role they were applying to with us, so a former supervisor couldn’t have spoken to it. During the interview process, they mentioned having issues with their current supervisor and they didn’t want to provide them as a reference. Supervisor gave feedback of X, Y, Z, but Applicant said there was a personal bias going on that resulted in the feedback (this was why they were looking to leave that environment). We hired them and the feedback they said wasn’t true from Supervisor were the issues we saw with them at our company. Despite lots of coaching and support, it ended up not working out.

          This may sound like they were badmouthing Supervisor in the interview, but that’s not how the info came about.

    3. Sherm*

      You don’t have to answer, but I wonder whether your field is academia. There’s a weird attitude of ownership of an employee, like you’re a child and your boss is your parent, so the new “parent” will want to talk to the old one before custody is transferred.

      Regardless, this reflects the fact that employers have had the power — or used to. They can do what they want (talk to the applicant’s supervisor in your case, or ghost applicants in many cases), and still they will get candidates wanting to work for them. Hopefully indeed the times are changing. Good for you for not moving forward the job. It must have been tough, but I certainly wouldn’t want to work for people who want me to jeopardize my current employment for their sake.

      1. Seal*

        I’m an academic librarian, so twice the potential for toxicity in my chosen field! Don’t get me wrong; there are lots of good things about academic librarianship. But when things go sideways, they REALLY go sideways.

        During my current job hunt, I’ve noticed that far more institutions are going out of their way to ask for permission to contact references. The few that have contacted off list references have told me in advance they’re planning to do so; only one did not tell me who they were planning to contact. For that matter, although most of my staff is also job hunting, no one has ever contacted me as an off list reference, either (I do agree to serve as a listed reference for anyone who asks). Knowing how toxic librarianship can be, I’ve never been concerned by candidates who don’t list their current supervisors and have pushed back on search committees I’ve served on when others insisted we need to hear from a current supervisor. I hope this means that things are changing.

    4. Mimmy*

      I always thought it was normal to contact a current supervisor at the references stage, or at least right before a job offer.

      That said, it shouldn’t be required up front when providing reference lists. I’ve seen applications that asks you to list the current supervisor but also asks if it’s okay to contact.

      1. Seal*

        I’ve seen applications like that as well. The problem in this case was that they required a reference from a current supervisor before they would hire you. Imagine getting an offer only to have it pulled at the last minute because the supervisor you were trying to get away from slandered you!

        The other concern (which I didn’t ask) is what if a candidate is unemployed when they apply and can’t get in touch with their last supervisor for whatever reason. Does that automatically disqualify them? There are other perfectly legitimate reasons for not being able to list a current supervisor; it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for the hiring manager.

      2. WellRed*

        Why? So you can alert your manager you’re looking to leave and therefore put your job at risk if the offer doesn’t come through?

    5. Everything Bagel*

      I’m in the same awkward situation. Job hunting and my only available reference is my current manager. It’s just been him and me for many years. His predecessor has long since retired and died. My current manager doesn’t know I’m looking and I worry that he would hold back on a good reference to try to keep me around a bit longer.

      I have copies of all of my annual reviews, hoping that will serve as a form of reference.

      1. Angry socialist*

        I hate this for you, just like I hate this for me. I tend to work one-on-one with managers for many years, and then they retire and/or die. There’s nobody left to give me references except my current manager. While I trust her to be honest, I’m not sure she’d be actively helping. My job is literally only working with one person, except for a few part-time low-level people that I supervise for a year before they leave for a less temporary job.

        I’m so screwed.

        I hate reference checks anyway, because as a manager I’ve gotten glowing references for new hires who turn out to be terrible. (My boss decided the questions we’d ask during the reference check and I couldn’t change them.)

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      That’s really so bizarre. I can’t imagine EVER doing that.
      Good luck getting out of your current situation ASAP!

  52. Flowers*

    I’m really struggling to figure out how much of this is my own issue- bad work ethic, horrible time mgmt skills, lack of focus, or just a tough situation all around? I’m 6 weeks in at this job and I’ve had several “emergencies”/issues that I needed to take care of during work hours. Twice my boss has mentioned it casually and despite a really great working relationship so far, it’s giving me major anxiety. 

    Some background:

    We have (or had rather) summer hours where we WFH one day and have Fridays off. 10-hours a day in the office. After today, it’s back to 5-days a week in office unless you need a special exception. and extra hours during the busy season. 

    I have a 2 year old. She’s in daycare full time (4-5 days a week). Her father/my husband gets her ready and drops her off and picks her up and watches her until I come home. She also has some delays. We have done weekly speech therapy for a few months now, and she now has feeding therapy and weekly occupational therapy starting soon. My elderly mother also lives with us and is dependent on us for many things. 

    My daughter has been sick with a cold this week; my husband has been watching her while I went to work. The other day she got worse and he asked me to come home early. My boss was out of the office but working, so I emailed him that I’d have to leave early but I’d work from home and be accessible. When I had my daily check-in with him, he said that I’m not in office enough, that of course I have to go take care of my child, that’s not optional etc. He had a friendly tone but was hemming and hawing it. He was quick to assure me that he loves the work I do and yesterday he had given me feedback that I’m doing great. 

    Other than that conversation I thought things were going well. We check in daily in person and chat about our families. He knows about my daughter and her issues/needs; he has grandchildren and is familiar with those things. I’ve always felt good about our conversations – he doesn’t overstep or pry and hes generally positive. But there is this issue of – optics of me not being here often enough? 

    1. In my second week, I had to go to my Dr’s office to pick up an emergency supply of medication while I waited for insurance issues to be sorted. I had already been out of it for a week and I didn’t know it would take that long – it was my responsibility to call in for my medicine before I ran out. I took an extra hour for personal non/emergency things. 

    2. My daughter wasn’t feeling well and didn’t sleep the entire night; I needed to sleep a few hours and I went into work late. 

    3. Another day, my daughter had an appointment and that time off was preplanned. I was supposed to go in later but I ended up not going at all due to a (mental) health emergency. I took PTO for that. 

    4. Generally, I put in a 8-9 hour day instead of 10 hours; it’s difficult for me to put in a full 10 hours and hard on my husband as well.  

    In all situations, I notified who I was supposed to notify, and made up my hours. I know it’s gotten super long so TY if you’ve made it this far. If possible I’d like to avoid getting into the personal aspect of it (i.e, my family issues) and just focus on the work part. 

    1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      Of the options you laid out at the top, I would choose tough situation all around – but I’m not sure “tough” is a strong enough word! It sounds untenable. It sounds like you need a job with shorter and much more flexible hours. I realize you probably already know this, so maybe this isn’t helpful. But I would like to say emphatically that I do not think this is poor work ethic or poor time management. This is the poor childcare, poor healthcare, and poor value for life outside of work that we have in America (I am assuming).

    2. ferrina*

      I really hate saying this, but I recommend you low-key job search. Because I think you have very, very reasonable expectations and needs, and I don’t think this job can/will accommodate them. I think you can find a more reasonable job somewhere else and that you deserve lower stress than this.

      Here’s what’s worrying me:
      -Your boss said that he understands these things happen, but also that you’re supposed to be at work? Um, that’s inherently contradictory. Just because he has grandkids doesn’t mean that he understands or is reasonable- I’ve worked for bosses that would tell me how important family is and in the next breath berate me for not being available 24/7. This is the tone your boss is striking for me.

      -You can only work 8 or 9 hours per day, and your job wants you to work 10 hours. To be clear, 8-9 hours is really, really reasonable at most jobs. But if this job wants 10 hours and was clear about that in the interview process, that might just be what this job needs. And that makes it not the right fit for you. You deserve a job that fits with what you need, especially when your needs are so reasonable.

      -You clearly need a bit of flexibility in your job. It’s not much- just basic flex time. I regularly run short errands in the middle of my work day, and I regularly work weird evening hours. It’s a great part of my office’s culture that I can do that, and plenty of places offer that now. Unfortunately, it sounds like your office may not be that type of place. If they aren’t going to offer that type of flexibility, that’s within their rights, but it may make them the wrong place for you.

      Maybe I’m misreading this and it’s not like this at all. It’s possible that it’s all okay. But I’d listen to your instincts here. If your instincts are telling you that you should be concerned, I’d start gently putting a back-up plan in place. Talk to your husband, tell him why you want to job search (including the elements you’d be looking for, like a 40-hour week most weeks and flexibility to run the occasional errand- I’m betting he’d love for you to get those things, too), and try to apply to just a couple jobs a week. I have some tips on how to make job searching easier on yourself when you have no free hours- let me know if that would help.
      Good luck!

      1. Flowers*

        10 hours was for the summer…fit 40 hours into 4 days so that we can take Fridays off. In theory it’s nice and before I had a kid I wouldn’t have had any problem with it. I did use a few Fridays to make up some hours but not a full work day.

        as of next week it goes back to 5 days/40 hours. So hopefully my attendance will be more consistent.

        Aside from this I really do like working here so I’m not thrilled with looking again. But i guess it wouldn’t hurt to fix up my resume.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          The hours thing is the one that stood out most to me. If they hired you for 40 hours a week, and you’ve only been working 32-36 hours a week for the six weeks you’ve currently been on the job, that’s actually a pretty major thing. It also sounds like you’ve been having unpredictable absences (leaving early, coming late, etc.) at the rate of at least once a week, with some of those absences being for things like sleeping in. So from your employer’s perspective, I’d be worried about how much I could rely on you to consistently show up and work the hours you’ve been hired for.

          If your attendance becomes perfect now that you’ve back to 8 hour days, and stays that way, you can likely correct that impression. If the pattern continues, you probably need to keep looking for a job that’s more suited to your need – no 4/10 work in the summer, and more hours.

      2. Flowers*

        And the issue with looking for a new job is –

        I actually thrive being in an office and I really don’t like working from home. As an emergency day or a few times a week in a hybrid schedule, I wouldn’t mind it. But definitely not 100% remote.

        The thing is that it was really slow in the beginning. There were lots of days I had nothing to do despite asking everyone I could. 6 weeks in things are picking up so I have enough work now but the first few weeks were really slow.

        In a perfect situation, I would be working 100% in office for a few months until I got the hang of everything and then switch to hybrid. Which I’m not sure is too feasible…..

    3. AnonyMouse*

      I do not think this is lack of work ethic at all, but perhaps the job is not a great fit for you. I am also a mom, and I truly empathize with your situation. I think there are a few factors at play here. The first is that you are new to this job and still at the “first impressions” stage. This means any absence is noticed more because your boss is trying to get a feel for how you work. If one of my team members who’s been with us for years did the things that you did, I feel like it would ring differently than someone who’s been there for a month (not that it should – but I think it might be making a difference).

      The other big factor is that you aren’t able to do the schedule, at least in the summer with the 10-hour days. Am I understanding correctly that now you will work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day? If you stay at the job, I wonder if you could just decline summer hours next year. I also wonder if things will get easier for you going back to the 5-day a week schedule (I hope so!).

      The last thing is something I hate to say, and it’s not right, but it is based on my experience. I have tried to be more conscious about how much I’m talking about my kids and pull back a bit with my boss and coworkers. I try to make sure every time we chit chat I’m not mentioning my kids. If I’m going to be late, I will say something like “Running half an hour late, see you at 8:30” instead of “(Child) had a rough night, so I slept a little late and won’t be in until 8:30.” As long as I make up the time, my boss does not ask for justifications, and I think mentioning my kids has never really helped – and in fact could have the opposite effect, due to the sad state of the culture around working parents. Also, I hope my non-parent coworkers get the same flexibility, so my kid needing me is not a “better” reason than any other. That said, this works because my workplace is accepting of flexibility, and I think yours just might not be flexible enough for you – it’s so hard to be a working parent and especially mother.

      1. Flowers*

        Yes correct-5 days a week/8 hours a day. I believe they do allow us to decline it. From what I’ve seen and heard, he general idea seems to be that yea you can WFH in case of an emergency.

        As for the kid talk, I hear what you’re saying. That was so my fear too! Esp because I suspect I lost one job because of being pregnant. This is my first job after having a kid (technically 3rd-the first two were very short lived so I don’t count those). A lot of the ppl I talk to are parents with older children so they seem to enjoy the kid talk and talk about their kids as well. I don’t (or wouldn’t rather) talk about her with anyone who didn’t bring it up. And When I began looking to work, I made it clear to recruiters and interviewers (including this one) that I have a young child and flexibility, understanding etc is important for me.

        My first day they had a womens luncheon (which I was invited to, so that was a plus from me!) and making this company working parent friendly was the core topic of discussion. They said they welcome ideas and suggestions on making this a more supportive environment. They just created the organization a few weeks ago. So I do think their intentions are genuine. As far as non parents I don’t really know anyone well enough to gauge.

    4. EMP*

      I saw something similar happen in my office. In that case, and I think it applies to you too, is as a new hire, you don’t have a backlog of goodwill built up to weight against your sudden (if justified) absences.

      Whether or not it’s justified, work wants you in the office more often and more consistently. If you can’t find some temporary extra family coverage so you don’t need to drop everything for emergencies so often, then I agree with the commenters who are suggesting looking for a more flexible job. It sucks! I don’t think it’s your fault – these things happen, it sounds like you’re doing good work – but it does sound like as things stand with your family situation, you aren’t living up to what your office expects of you in terms of butts in seats time.

    5. Katiekins*

      It can be really disruptive to work 10 hour days, so I’m hoping that the recent switch back to 8 hr. days (I’m assuming) will help. When is the busy season? I wonder if you want to see how you do (and how your boss responds to you) with the new, more regular week before you make any decisions.

      But I will reiterate what’s already been said, that it’s not a poor work ethic.

      1. Flowers*

        Two deadlines coming up then January-April. We got an email from the top saying that there’s no scheduled WFH days but if special accommodations are needed to see them.

        I was planning to be diligent about my attendance and work for the next few months and then bring up having a regular remote day.

        1. Forgotten username*

          Why do you want a regular remote day when you have already said above that you thrive in an office and don’t like working from home? If I were your employer, which doesn’t typically approve remote work even for the best employee, I would be very hesitant to grant a permanent work from home day for someone who started out with so many difficulties in showing up for work and following the agreed-upon schedule, even if they had 3 perfect months of attendance after that. If the workplace was one that allowed everyone to regularly work from home and had flexible schedules where they didn’t care when you worked as long as all your work was done, maybe that would work out. But I’m wondering if you need to spend a little more time thinking about what you need from a workplace if you are thinking a remote day a week is going to make things better – from what you’ve written in this thread about how you work, seems like a remote day would be more difficult for you to complete your work well.

    6. Anonymous Koala*

      I echo the advice about low key job searching. Not all jobs are for everyone, and it sounds like you need more flexibility than you have right now. But it also sounds like you’ve had a lot of “one offs”. Instead of continuing that, could you try and get your boss to accommodate more flexibility in your schedule as a routine? He may not allow it, but it could be worth a shot, especially if you are going to job search anyway. A flex schedule with would improve the optics of this a lot more than a series of emergencies. Some things I would suggest asking for:
      WFH more than 1 day a week
      Work 5 x 8-hour days or 6 x 6.67-days instead of 4 x 10-hour days
      Committing to 4-5 “core hours” a day when you are always available, but allowing for some flexibility at the beginning/ending of the day when you might take an hour or so to respond to emails because you’ve got kid/life things
      You may be able to get some of this by applying for intermittent FMLA due to dependent care needs.

    7. WellRed*

      In some jobs this all would be fine and I see no reason they can’t be flexible. However, this is a lot in six weeks. We’d understand stuff comes up but I am wondering if the Medication pickup and the personal errands couldn’t have been done on a Friday ( they very well may not have). I’m sympathetic. I’d hate 10 hour days too.

      1. Flowers*

        I know I feel terrible. Oh yeah another day I was late because I spilled something on my shirt and was in decision paralysis between buying something new or just going in like that. I spent more time agonizing than actually doing anything.
        And That was my first idea but The dr office was closed on Friday. :-/ And I had already been a week + without the medication (insulin). I didn’t specify the medication, but I did feel really irresponsible that I waited so long to call in a refill.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I mean this as gently as I can, but if you are serious that decision paralysis over a spill on your shirt caused you to miss a significant amount of work, and you missed a week’s worth of *insulin,* this is not a matter of work ethic or time management. Insulin keeps people alive and out of the hospital. It isn’t optional.

          You need to speak to a health provider about your overall level of functioning. You urgently need a better care plan. This is not an “Oh I feel bad about it” situation.

          You are in trouble. This is bad trouble.

          I hope you can get appropriate care quickly.

          1. Flowers*

            That’s true….I think maybe my ADHD meds aren’t working anymore. I speak to my Dr in a few weeks so I’ll think of some more examples and bring it up and take it from there.

    8. Velociraptor Attack*

      I think if your boss is flat out saying you need to be in the office more, you need to listen to that and be in the office more, whether it’s reasonable or not. I don’t disagree that some of these things are unavoidable but as others have mentioned, it’s really hard when you’re new and have minimal goodwill.

      I know you’ve mentioned before that you had been late a few times shortly after you started as well so I’d really think about if your boss is looking at just these recent things or if he’s got an eye out and looking to see if he’s spotting a pattern.

      I say this kindly but also if you’re supposed to put in 10 hours, that probably means you’re there for 11 hours, so you get your 10 hours on the clock and then 1 hour for a lunch. So if you’re putting in 8-9 hours a day, then you’re in the office 2 or 3 hours short of what the expectation is EACH day and that’s a lot.

      I agree with others that I think those 4 10s are just not conducive to your lifestyle, do you see things getting better or do you see missing more time because you don’t have a day off each week to try to get those things done during? I think that’s kind of a deciding factor about if you look to move on.

      1. Flowers*

        Oh definitely to the goodwill. Like someone said above, a longtime employee doing something is very different than me the newbie doing it. And I totally get that! These were definitely things I considered.

        Re the 10 hours – I did ask about lunch early on. From what I saw around me, and what was explained to me, ppl usually take 15-20 minutes and eat at their desk. So that’s included in th 10 hours. I imagine if it was a traditional hour long lunch, that wouldn’t count towards the daily hours.

    9. Hanna S.*

      That sounds really tough. I’m sorry you’re dealing with so much. It does seem like an awful lot of emergency/unplanned situations for such a short period, especially when you had Fridays off in that time. As others have said, it seems like this job might just not be a good fit for you. The ten hour days when you have a kid with additional needs, other caring responsibilities, and (it sounds like) your own health needs, might just be too much for you to handle. It’s possible that the shift back to more standard hours now that summer hours are over might help you find a better balance and give you a break. If you still struggle, you would probably be better off looking for something with more flexible hours, possible WFH, and taking that added pressure off your day.

      1. Flowers*

        Yes in theory I could have saved some things to Friday. But my daughters appts were so difficult to get that we took the first ones available. And the nights she doesn’t sleep….

        (I’m not trying to blame my kid but it’s a given I think thst there’s so much unpredictability – that’s been the hardest thing for me to get used to being someone who craves routine).

        And then? I actually hate WFH myself. I love that it’s an option and support it 10000% for those who want it. I’ve WFH over the last 2 years and i hated it. I found I thrive being in person. So I wouldn’t want something 100% remote. I love working in the office but the office doesn’t love me back :-/

    10. Pocket Mouse*

      A few things to consider: I agree with Anonymous Koala that this sounds like a lot of one-offs; do you think this frequency is representative of what pops up in your life given your situation, or was it a bit more than usual? Do you anticipate potentially having *more* frequent one-offs in the future as caretaking needs shift? Is there more your husband can pitch in with (e.g. staying up with your daughter, picking up meds) especially if he has more flexibility or goodwill banked at his workplace? Do you think your manager does actually understand, in that he picked up his fair share of one-offs when he was parenting young children, and do you trust you can have an honest, open conversation about what this role requires and the flexibility it allows?

      I think this would all be helpful in sussing out how likely it is you can stay in and succeed in this role. However, you’re already picking up on a conflict between your responsibilities at home and responsibilities at work (real or perceived) and, especially if things aren’t likely to ease up for you on the home responsibility side, it may be worth keeping an eye out for jobs that have more guaranteed flexibility and thus won’t make you feel anxious like you are now.

      1. Flowers*

        Honestly idk. This was/is my first FTE after having a child. I need to really sit down and list everything and figure it out. Because half of it is REAL stuff (therapiy sessions, dr appts etc) and the other half is just me….being flighty or unfocused (the meds etc).

        On the home front, My husband is already maxed out on his capacity. He also works albeit from home but he works at night so i couldn’t have him do that. He also does way more house chores. The few hours she’s in daycare he’s either catching up on work, doing something for my mom or anything else that needs to be done.

        With my manager I DO get the sense he understands. He’s never said or asked “why can’t your husband do it?” Which is a plus in my book?

        I do like this job otherwise. And I do prefer working in an office. But I’m just Finding it so hard to balance. Now that the hours are changing to something more manageable I plan to be more focused on my attendance (he has said he is happy with my performance so far).

      1. legalchef*

        I mean, the thing here is that you don’t really *have* goodwill, just by virtue of being new and not having had an opportunity to prove yourself. You are still in the period of your job where you should be on your “best behavior,” so to speak, and from how you are describing this… you aren’t. Forgetting about the emergencies etc, you just haven’t even been working the hours you were supposed to, and you admit that. Whether or not the job should allow for more flexibility or you should get more flexibility, you haven’t built up the standing to push for either of those things.

        And honestly, and I mean this constructively, this isn’t your first job since having the baby, it’s your third. And I know you said above that you don’t count the other two (and maybe you shouldn’t, for resume purposes), but they existed, and *do* count when looking at workplace issues that seem to be recurring, since if I recall these problems you described above are not all that dissimilar from the issues you’ve talked about in the past.

        1. Flowers*

          Yes, true, goodwill was the wrong word to use here. Maybe…..expectations? idk

          and yes I do agree with you on all of those points about being on the best behavior. For the hours I did have a talk with a higher up and they said if for any reason we can’t do 10 hours in a day then you can always make up the time on Fridays. Which I did a few times, so that’s why I thought it was flexible?

          1. Any Name At All*

            I don’t think they meant you could miss work and make up for it so frequently. An emergency is a once in a blue moon thing, not an everyday thing.

            I agree with those that said that this seems to be a pattern, not just with this job. For your job’s sake, you’ve got to nip this in the bud.

    11. Flowers*

      Honestly, as much as I love this job, if I do get fired 6-8 months from now, I’d collect unemployment for a bit and just relax.

      1. RosyGlasses*

        I think you *may* be being too hard on yourself. Reading through the comments, it sounds like this is your first full time job after the kiddo, and adjustments at any level are hard (heck, even every 6 months kids seems to change tactics and need different things!). So firstly, I would cut yourself some slack.

        If I were in your shoes, I would work diligently at being consistent at work when I can be, being communicative, positive — essentially doing what I can to show up when I can and be honest (and as guilt free as possible) when I can’t. Kids are an unknown quantity — sometimes you will just be hit with ALL the things — and it is futile at times to try and plan and control for all the variables.

        Maybe see how the 8 hr days go since you mentioned that schedules are flipping back, and if you find that life flows better around that, when the 4/10 schedule is about to gear up, talk to your manager about sticking with 5/8 or go into it with the understanding that you’ll need more flexibility around your hours during that time period but you will be working just as hard as you normally do.

        Sending you good vibes – being a mama is hard work!

        1. Flowers*

          If I were in your shoes, I would work diligently at being consistent at work when I can be, being communicative, positive — essentially doing what I can to show up when I can and be honest (and as guilt free as possible) when I can’t.

          This is what I’ve been doing – at least if my attendance isn’t up to par, there’s other things I can do – good quality work, ask questions, communicate, have a good attitude and disposition, face time etc.

          1. RosyGlasses*

            I think that’s great and I don’t know that as a manager I would expect more than that. I’ve learned in managing people that everyone is going to have limits to what they can or are willing to do, and as long as the job is getting done and they are helpful and collaborative with their teammates, the rest is gravy.

    12. Pop*

      Going back to work after having a kiddo is a huge adjustment, regardless of when it happens. I am also a mom of a toddler, and I work full time! Other people have great advice too, but I think you would benefit from spending some time prioritizing things and working with your spouse on who can do what.
      – You needed to sleep bc you were up all night. Can you figure out a better system for night wakings, so you and your spouse both get enough sleep to function?
      – Your spouse needed you to come home early. Why? What if you literally could not have come home early (let’s say you were on a boat, or a two hour flight away)?
      – does your spouse have more flexible hours? Can he pick up your medicine?
      – What other support systems can you build up? Get a regular babysitter for a few hours a week so you can take care of some life admin things?

      You have had a lot of things come up in the last six weeks. And as a parent to a little, my guess is that you will continue to have things come up at this rate. But it seems that your work doesn’t have this level of flexibility on an ongoing basis. Good luck! This is a big transition for you and your family and it’s okay to not have it all figured out on day one.

      1. Pop*

        I didn’t see your note about not talking about family issues until after I posted. My apologies if this got too close – you can feel free to ignore.

  53. Avery*

    Not a question, just an update, as I know I’ve posted about my situation before and the commentariat may be interested.
    I’ve mentioned before various problems with my current job, how my boss alternates between absentee and micromanager, doesn’t give me credit for what I do, etc.
    Well, good news: I’ve found another job! Fully remote, in my field, a bit of a pay bump, and most importantly, my boss-to-be seems reasonable! Admittedly that’s not a guarantee that he WILL be reasonable, but it’s a good sign so far!

  54. What's her face*

    I’m new to my company, yet experienced in my role. The other person at my level is new to the role, new to the company. She’s been making mistakes, yet not taking feedback or training offerings and throwing blame at others. She also likes playing the social game.
    My fear is that she will fail at this position and that I will end up having to pick up her workload. How do I stay detached and not get roped in her errors? Our projects are separate, bit we do share the same customers and I don’t want to be guilty by association.

    1. Observer*

      I would assume that if she fails at this position she would be replaced. Why would you expect otherwise?

      Document your work so your bosses know what’s up. If your projects really are separate and you communicate directly with clients, there is no reason why they would look badly at you because of her mistakes – as long as you don’t defend or bad mouth her.

      If someone does complain to you about her mistakes, tell them who to talk to and also that you will pass their complaint along. Something like “I don’t deal with the teapots, but I’ll pass your issue along to BigBoss. But it would be a really good idea for you to talk to her directly. Here is how you can reach her.”

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      You’re not giving many details here so I will give a vague answer. Find a balance between not helping and babying.

      Don’t let it be a self-fulfilling prophecy where you think she will fail so you don’t offer support or tips that you would have given if you thought she would have succeeded.

      But don’t dive in and do her work or respond to every email you both on or try to rescue her the second she starts floundering either, or else she won’t learn.

  55. Newbie #2*

    I just started a new job, and I’m feeling like I made a mistake. Let’s say I have a background in coffee pot design. This new job is basically ensuring teapot integrity, in a large organization whose goal is keeping the public from getting burned by tea. So more than a little different than hat I’m used to, but I should have translatable skills. I’m having second thoughts about leaving coffee pot design – my old job was burning me out so I ran as far away as I could, but I’m not sure that it was the design work itself rather than the office environment I was in.

    At the new place, I’m having a hard time getting over the near-complete lack of organized training in how to do my job. My boss set up a meeting for me with a team member to try to get her to answer my new-person questions, and her main advice to get onboard was to search for resources using keywords on the main organization’s website, and wait for the twice-a-year synchronous trainings on the software. I think it’s apparent that the organization as a whole is a little lacking in the onboarding department, but this is also the kind of place people will stay their whole careers. What signs should I be looking for of total dysfunction? Has anyone who’s made a similar career move been happy with it? Regretted it? Want to share your story?

    1. Tired of Working*

      A recruiter discussed with me a job at a stock brokerage firm. I had no such experience. He told me that such experience wasn’t required, that they would train me if I were hired. During interviews, the branch manager, the office manager, my potential supervisor, and a potential co-worker all said that experience working at a stock brokerage firm was not required, as I would be trained. There was no training provided. The supervisor kept complaining about me to the branch manager and the office manager, and they kept criticizing me and telling me that I was in danger of being fired. (I eventually found out that they had originally wanted someone with experience, but the salary they offered wasn’t high enough for someone with experience, although it was high enough for me, so they decided to say that experience wasn’t required.)

      I had started looking for another job after I was there for one month (although they did not know it), and I found a new job after I had been there for four months and promptly gave two weeks notice. To my surprise, they were upset, because since I had worked there for more than three months, they owed the recruiter a full commission. Too bad. I told them that I had told my new company how terribly they treated me, and I said that my new company wanted to know if I could start there immediately, instead of two weeks later. For some reason, the stock brokerage firm wanted me to stay there another two weeks, so I did.

      It was a horrible, horrible experience, considering how excited I had been to get a job there.

  56. calvin blick*

    So, my boss invited me to play golf today, which I declined because I a) suck at golf, b) don’t really have time to learn given my other hobbies and family obligations, and c) don’t have any equipment anyway. I am currently a mid-level employee who will being applying to director level positions at some point in the medium term. How much is not playing golf going to hurt me? It sounds like golf is a big thing at this company, and I know it is at many other places as well.

    On the one hand, I would like to move up career-wise; on the other, golf has never seemed the least bit fun or interesting to me. (A summer in college working at a country club also confirmed all the negative stereotypes of country club people). Anyone have any ideas about this?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      How much declining golf will hurt is very dependent on company culture. How many of the director-level people at your organization play golf? How often do they play? And what’s your sense of the correlation between golf-playing and promotions (or in-group/out-group dynamics)?

      I will say that I have played a few games of golf with coworkers and mostly had a good time. Importantly, there was a wide range of skill levels so it didn’t matter that I have no skill at golf, and I did not get the sense that there was a strong correlation between people who played golf and any clique dynamics in the office. So golf is something I feel OK about playing once or twice a year for any sort of marginal “networking” benefits.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This depends a lot on your industry, your company, and your boss. It sounds from your comments like this may be a big deal where you are. Do you have a trusted coworker you can talk to about this?

      I think the whole “golf as business bonding” thing is just weird and inefficient, but I’m not emperor of the world and can’t do anything about it…

    3. RagingADHD*

      I think your experience working at the country club has given you some unnecessary baggage about “country club people.”

      Do you have similar feelings about swimming, tennis, and eating in restaurants? Those are also central features of a country club. And all of them, including golf, are also enjoyed by “regular people” in other places. Public golf courses are very popular.

      Golf is a pretty good pastime for a business outing, as sports go, because you have plenty of time to chat, you keep all your clothes on, and you don’t get out of breath or sweaty (unless it’s awfully hot).

      Your boss invited you to hang out. That’s a good sign. If moving up in your industry is a major goal, taking a few lessons or picking up some secondhand clubs seems like a worthwhile investment. You don’t need to be highly skilled, just be familiar with how to play in general.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      If golf is a Thing in your industry (which it sounds like it is), it might be worth investing in a few lessons to make it tolerable if the tradeoff is more visibility with the bosses and better promotion opportunities. You can always rent clubs and/or suggest the driving range rather than a full game – shorter time commitment, no consequences for a bad shot.

      That said, I’d find this objectionable because it’s such a throwback to old-school ways of promoting “guys like us” and highly exclusionary in many ways. If it hurts your career to not participate in a non-work-relevant activity, that aspect of the industry needs to disappear. And the best way for that to happen is for people to stop playing along.

    5. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I worked at a not-for-profit cultural institution. One of the divisions hired a new director from out of state, and once he got his feet under him, he started asking who played golf – probably extra tempting for him since we were across from a large city park with a golf course. He asked, and asked, and finally found someone who golfed – an older security guard who was a retired police officer. It was one of those places where people just weren’t into that kind of thing (nor could most of them afford it). It was humorously eye-opening, but the general group self-assessment was that it was under “Things nerds don’t do.”

  57. Am I Being Screwed?*

    I recently got a promotion which is essentially a title change reflecting the higher level of work I am producing (but my job is the same now as it was before). This was exciting, but after I had already accepted the promotion I was told that I would be switched to exempt, with a 10% raise over my base salary. This seemed good on paper, but I have always been required to work a certain amount of overtime every week and am still required to work those extra hours now, but without the extra pay. We have several busy periods every year where daily overtime and occasional weekends are required which didn’t bother me back when I was getting time-and-a-half for those hours, but now I get nothing extra.

    I did the math and my paychecks during normal periods are only very slightly higher than before, and during our busy times they’re a couple hundred dollars less. When I come in on a weekend, I am essentially losing money because I’m not getting paid any extra and I have a long commute and have to eat the gas cost.

    If I had known in advance that I would be switched to exempt I would have declined the promotion (which I didn’t even ask for in the first place), but the ship has sailed. A coworker who went through the same thing about six months before me lobbied really hard to get a bigger increase or some kind of additional benefits (extra vacation, etc.) to make up for the lack of overtime pay, but was shut down at every turn. Apparently they were told that they would get a bigger bonus at the end of the year but that didn’t actually happen.

    I’m already job searching but could use some external validation that this is ridiculous and I’m not just being petty!

    1. ecnaseener*

      You’re not being petty. A promotion and a raise shouldn’t result in a net loss or anything close to it. I would be pissed off in your shoes too.

    2. Blarg*

      It’s also potentially illegal. The functions of your job didn’t change. Being exempt requires you meet certain criteria, and if you didn’t meet them before your “promotion” — which didn’t involve additional responsibility — it’s hard to see how you do now. Look up the rules on the fed dept of labor site and then talk to HR. And document all your hours — if you’re improperly classified, they’ll owe you back wages, incl OT, and DOL could assess fines.

      1. Observer*

        That’s not really an issue. It’s perfectly legal to treat someone as hourly even if they could be exempt. And it can make a lot of sense from an organizational perspective to treat someone as non-exempt until we formalize that condition X (generally ability to operate with minimal supervision) exists.

        But still a ridiculous situation.

      2. PollyQ*

        Not necessarily. It’s a two-part test: both job duties and salary are taken into account, so the 10% base salary raise may have made the difference in this case, even if the work didn’t change.

        I do think it’s worth checking the definition of exempt vs. non-exempt job roles though, because it’s entirely possible that the role shouldn’t be exempt at any salary.

    3. CatCat*

      You’re not being petty. It’s ridiculous that a promotion would come with a pay cut. Seems like a feature and not a bug given how your co-worker was treated. Makes sense that you are job searching in this situation!

      1. Observer*

        Yeah, I was thinking the same thing about the “feature not a bug”.

        I’m glad you’re job searching.

    4. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Pretty sure this drove my dad to look for a new job at one point in his career. On paper, it looked good: promotion to an exempt supervisory role with a raise that would bring his salary higher than it would be if he worked 40 hours a week as a non-exempt hourly employee.

      Except during the busy season he always worked more than 40 hours a week. And he’d be supervising people in his previous role, so he’d still be working the same amount of hours, but now without the overtime pay.

      He turned down the promotion, and I think it was not long after that when he found a new job.

    5. PollyQ*

      If it weren’t for your co-worker’s experience, I’d recommend that you make the case to your manager that you’re actually losing money due to the promotion, but given what you already know about your employer, job-hunting seems like a really good choice.

    6. Ann Ominous*

      That is ridiculous indeed and no one would ever say otherwise unless they were trying to play mind games with you.

      If it were me (I have a good relationship with my boss) I would just say,
      “Hey boss, I am sure you’ll be surprised as I was to discover that this promotion is netting me $200 less a month. Can we discuss other options?” And then based on his response, transition to something like “I’d prefer to stay here but I was really counting on that money, that’s [almost my whole car payment][my family’s grocery bill][something else that puts it into context so your boss doesn’t just dismiss it]”

  58. Cady*

    What would you do in this situation?

    I’m a web developer. At my employer, we use a ticketing system to handle any requests for website updates. One day, I received a request that didn’t make sense to me and I followed up with the person who submitted it (let’s call her Miranda). I explained why the request sounded odd, I provided screenshots of what the website looks like now (because her request would create repeated text on the site and wouldn’t look right), and I asked Miranda if she was sure about this. She said it was correct and other companies do the same thing she was requesting. I still had my reservations, but I completed the request and submitted it for review.

    The person reviewing my work was my grand boss, who we’ll call George. George sent Miranda a screenshot of the completed work and asked her if this was correct because it looked weird. Miranda then writes back “My apologies, I thought Cady was questioning the request.” Miranda then writes that I changed the wrong thing. The “wrong change” is actually something that I never touched. George writes back that the website always looked that way and instructs Miranda to look at the screenshot he sent (it sounds like Miranda was looking at my screenshot that didn’t include the changes). All of the above events took place through online messaging and none of this was in person or over video.

    My boss, who we’ll call Bob, was on vacation. When he came back, I decided to show him this correspondence because I felt Miranda had been unprofessional with the whole “questioning the request” comment. I wanted make him aware of what happened because I’ve been having problems with Miranda, which I did tell Bob about (and addressed with Miranda), and I felt it was escalating. I also told Bob that I didn’t know if George said anything to Miranda offline. Bob agreed that Miranda was unprofessional and he’d talk to George. Bob said this wasn’t anything to escalate to HR and I agreed with that. I wasn’t out to get Miranda written up. I just wanted someone to tell her that her words weren’t ok.

    A few days later, I speak to George over video call. His talk doesn’t make me feel better. He says Miranda is a good employee, this is our busy time, and she’s just making sure deadlines are met etc. I understand we’re all stressed and trying to make WFH work, but that’s no excuse for her to make unprofessional comments to me when I was doing my job. My employer has strict review guidelines for the website. If I had not asked my follow up question before completing the request, then the people reviewing my work would.

    For additional background, I’ve been looking for a new job before this happened. The culture at my employer has definitely shifted and it’s becoming toxic. Miranda is part of that shifting and toxic culture. I feel Miranda treats me like dirt because me and the other web developers are slated to be laid off in a few months. I also feel she’s extra coarse with me because I’m a woman and I suspect she thinks she can get away with being rude to another woman; I don’t think she does this to the other developers who are all men.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Unless I missed something, the only things Miranda said that you took issue with was “My apologies, I thought Cady was questioning the request” and that you changed the wrong thing?

      I’m honestly not sure this is something she needs to be talked to about. A little brusque maybe, but clearly trying to phrase it in a polite way. In your situation I would let it go.

      1. Cady*

        It was not polite. If Miranda was polite, she would write “My apologies, I misunderstood.” She thought I was was stepping out of line with my follow up questions. I have no regrets about telling my boss I thought she was unprofessional.

    2. RagingADHD*

      From here, you seem to be overly fixated on the exact wording you think Miranda should have used, and escalating a conflict because she used slightly different wording that means exactly the same thing.

      Nothing in this story reflects Miranda being toxic or treating you like dirt. It just sounds like Miranda made a dumb mistake and backtracked in a nonsensical way. There may be other things that made this the last straw, but I’m not seeing it in this particular instance.

      Your boss and grand boss have both told you this is not an issue you should pursue, and they don’t believe Miranda was as far out of line as you think. You need to let this go before your boss and grand boss start to see you as the problem.

  59. They Don’t Make Sunday*

    Those of you who work in alumni relations or fundraising for a school, camp, or a program for kids: what do you use to create and send your e-newsletters?

    This is for my child’s school (where I have a volunteer role). We send out two newsletters
    a year that have several articles and are photo heavy. These are the requirements we have:

    • We need our newsletter to be mobile responsive (a PDF looks great on a computer but is annoying to read on phone).

    • We want the newsletter to have internal links so people can jump between articles.

    • We use a lot of photos of the kids, so we only want our current and alumni families to view it. Having readers create an account or enter a password to view it on a website will be too onerous and cost us most of our audience.

    • The newsletter is too long and too large photo-wise to have the entire thing in an email. Even if our email service (we use Constant Contact) supported a large message size, Gmail would just truncate the message on the recipient end.

    • I looked at Substack, but emails I get via Substack tend to be text heavy, not so many photos. Same email truncation problem as above if we tried to use lots of big photos.

    I’m looking at Adobe Express or maybe Canva. Is that the way to go? If we get a template set up there, is it intuitive enough for a non-designer to manage changing the photos and text?

    Any other options to consider? Many thanks!

    1. Pivotttt!*

      Canva is super user friendly, ime. I use it extensively for a volunteer role I have.

      Does Constant Contact have the option to view the email in the browser like MailChimp? I’ve used MC for two orgs I’ve worked with and liked that viewing it like a website was an option. Might help with your length issues.

      1. They Don’t Make Sunday*