open thread – September 30, 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.

{ 1,069 comments… read them below }

  1. Time for cocoa*

    This week I got a job I didn’t apply for.

    Years ago my family was trying to pressure me into following in their footsteps into education, despite my dislike of the field. I got an emergency certification and substitute taught for three years, then put my foot down and quit in favor of finding a job in UXD. Because it was so much aggravation to get certified, I renew the certificate yearly, which only requires a five-dollar registration fee. (This actually ended up being a boon when I started applying to jobs in edtech, interestingly enough.)

    The teacher shortage is apparently so bad now that school districts are requesting the emergency certification list for their county, approving all the names automatically at board meetings, and then e-mailing everyone to say they’ve been hired.

    I’m not complaining; I understand it’s strange that I maintain a certificate despite leaving the field. But it was quite a surprise to open my e-mail and be told to report to the principal’s office at my age.

          1. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

            As a Pennsylvanian, I was going to guess that, actually!

            Our teacher shortage is acute, and real, and terrifying.

            1. urban teacher*

              Except if you quit the Philly schools thinking other districts will hire you and not even interviews. I had to go back and get rehired in Philly. I’m in special education.

              1. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

                I am in Central PA and we have special ed openings all over the place. It’s probably too far for you if you live/work in Philly, though.

        1. Lilo*

          My MIL is a Florida teacher’s assistant and she’s been defacto teaching for years now (she doesn’t have a college degree so isn’t eligible to be a full teacher) but of course at $11/hour.

          1. Agile Phalanges*

            THAT should be criminal. (Not your MIL, she sounds like a saint, but babysitters should be paid more than that, and educators should be paid WAY more than that!)

    1. PsychNurse*

      I got a job as a school nurse that same way, about a year ago. School nurses tend to be older and nearer retirement anyway, so when Covid hit, a lot of them retired. I was on a district’s HR site just looking around– I entered my info but didn’t even submit an application. The next day I got a phone call begging me to interview.

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          I’m not sure why it’s scary? They entered their info into the system.

          Its not like they have some kind of surveillance program that hunts you down if you so much as look at an opening.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            But don’t you have to “send it” by hitting apply?
            If I just partially fill out a form and then change my mind I assume the form cannot be read on the other end. I am missing something here….

            1. Generic+Name*

              I think they entered AND submitted their contact info but did not submit a job application. If you really want to get freaked out, fill out an online form at lending tree. I just wanted an idea of mortgage rates I could get and literally within seconds of hitting the submit button, I got a phone call from a mortgage company. I was inundated with texts, emails, and phone calls for weeks.

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                and Jesus wept, does that even WORK??? I was legitimately in the process of refinancing my mortgage and once they pulled credit, like eight calls a day from total strangers wanting to talk to me about refi. Yes, I totally want to enter into this several hundreds of thousands of dollars transaction with a total stranger who cold-called me that I’ve never heard of before, that sounds like a wonderful idea! Let me just give you all my personal information right now without doing any research whatsoever!

                1. Flash Packet*

                  That’s me with the roofing / window replacement / sprinkler system / tree trimming / pest control / alarm system people who knock on my door.

                  Even if / when I *was* in the market for one of those services, I sure as heck wouldn’t hire the random door-to-door solicitor who just shows up on my porch.

                  “You know, right up until you rang my doorbell, I was content with my windows. But now that *you’re* here, I agree that I should write you a check for $10,000 to change them all out,” said hopefully no one ever.

            2. Time for cocoa*

              Lots of sites can and do scrape info as you enter it, even if you never hit submit. If you’re text chatting with a customer service rep, always assume they can read what you’re writing in real time.

              1. Philosophia*

                “Lots of sites can and do scrape info as you enter it, even if you never hit submit.” I found that out the hard way when I aborted a few online orders within the last couple of months. At least they were legitimate companies and the follow-up emails were politely worded. But it’s creepy.

            3. Librarian of SHIELD*

              A lot of job application websites have you make a profile before you can apply to anything, and I can see a school district that’s particularly hard up for staff being like “SOMEONE MADE A NEW PROFILE ON THE HR SITE CALL THEM RIGHT NOW.”

            4. Been There*

              I work in tech, specific with forms and websites, and I hate to break it to you, but we CAN see if you filled out a form and then abandoned it. If it’s a multi-step form and you completed the ANY of the steps before you abandon the form, that information is still captured by the system, even if you don’t submit the form. And in some cases, the information is captured even if you don’t complete the first step – it depends on the form.

              So yea, don’t fill out any part of a form without expecting that information to go into a database somewhere.

            5. Not So NewReader*

              Thanks, all. I knew I could count on you folks to give interesting and informative answers. I am now a bit wiser.

    2. Bagpuss*

      So.. are they expecting you to chow up without even knowing whether you got the email, let alone whether you want the job?

    3. Voodoo Priestess*

      That’s funny.

      There are some real things wrong with education. I teach through a university at a high school and the students get dual credits. So I’m qualified to teach college-level courses to high schoolers, but if I wanted to teach high school full-time, I’m not qualified. I love teaching and thought about a career change, but between the low pay and additional cost/effort to become qualified, it wasn’t worth it. So I teach as a side gig. *Shrug*

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        I’ve read about something almost equally weird from a CA teacher’s blog. Dual credit HS and community college math.

        1. Anna*

          This is actually really common at my school. Instead of doing AP tests to prove up for college credit, the students take a class that is dual credit in its design, which means that the high school agrees to give credit for college classes. It allows students at my small high school to take challenging college-level classes that we would not be able to offer for just our students while in high school, which is a wonderful opportunity for the kids who choose it.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            This has been a thing for decades. I finished high school in 2001 and started college as a sophomore because I was able to get all my freshman year courses completed through dual enrollment with the local community college.

            1. seeeeeps*

              The high school I graduated from is now doing a program where you can earn an associates and graduate at 18 with both a high school diploma and an AA.

              1. Curmudgeon in California*

                I graduated early from high school by using credit from college courses for an elective – in the 70s. It was a really nice way to get out of the hell pit that was my high school.

            2. KoiFeeder*

              Yeah, I really wanted to do that when I was in high school, but it was only available for the allistic students. Which sucked, because there were some really cool options.

      2. Esmeralda*

        That’s because you’re teaching a college class, not a high school class. Although the students are in high school, the class is not (even if you’re teaching on the h.s. campus).

        I imagine you are teaching this class mostly the way you would at the college. You’re covering college-level material, have college-level expectations for amount of work, kind of work, quality of work.

        1. Katy*

          Yes, exactly. I taught college for years; now I teach high school. You need way more skills and qualifications to teach a good high school class than you need to teach a good college class, even if you’re covering a lot of the same material and using some of the same lesson plans. I had to essentially learn my career all over again when I switched to secondary ed.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            Qualifications for teaching at a university level are basically having done a PhD. There’s no teaching training, no pedagogy or education theory, no classroom management skills or child psychology, no student teaching with an experienced teacher. You spend ten years doing increasingly advanced academic work, culminating in a four year research project on an esoteric topic, then get tossed in front of a classroom with a text book and, if you’re lucky, a syllabus. And your job evaluations depend mostly on your research publications.

      3. Chilipepper Attitude*

        My husband teaches at a university in the US. No requirements for vaccines. We wanted to audit a uni language class together. He could not bc we don’t have his foreign immunization records and he did not want to go get a bunch of them. So he can teach, he just cannot take a class.

        1. Slartibartfast*

          Can your husband get titer tests for immunity in lieu of revaccination? I did that when I took a job in healthcare. My immunizations predate computer records.

    4. Not Working Out*

      My sister applied to be a sub in Virginia and was offered her choice of at least 3 different classes as a full-time teacher. She taught university but doesn’t have a teaching license.

    5. Irish Teacher.*

      Woah! Looking from Ireland, where I once went to an interview where the principal told me he’d had nearly 100 applicants, for what was a six week sick leave cover…just woah.

    6. The Prettiest Curse*

      This is the opposite of those people who claim to have been hired somewhere by calling to confirm their interview time when they didn’t have an interview scheduled.

    7. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Similarly have received an email from the company our district outsources to for subs. I applied years ago when I knew I’d be between jobs. Never completed the application because it was ridiculously complex, and I was not doing that for $11 an hour.

      Title of email I received this morning “Please complete your certification materials with EduCompany!”

      Not in Pennsylvania, but I am in the Midwest.

    8. Just Me*

      Well since I was an emergency sub for PA for 10 years, I wanted to chime in. I did it all that time since I was raising my daughter and it easily worked around her schedule. THAT said, I have NO sympathy for school districts that are having trouble getting subs. They literally paid me $75/day for 10 years and never thought anything of it. There was never any thanks or appreciation from the many school districts I worked for. The teacher’s or student’s word was always taken over mine even when it was a bold face lie. You have no real supervisor – you have no real support. It was a thankless job all around. Now 10 years later they are having so much trouble getting subs up here in Erie that they are paying over $200/day. I still wouldn’t go back. Them calling you to sub when you haven’t even applied is just another sign that they think you are at their beck and call. It amazes me that subs are treated like second-class citizens (yes, I sub in over 10 school districts), yet they are essential to run a school. The day I found out the lunch lady made $5/hr more than me and got benefits was the day I quit. (oh that was the day also I was asked to clean up after a teacher’s appreciation breakfast that I was NOT invited to since I had to watch the kids at the bus stop)

      1. Daisy*

        I was a sub in the midwest for about 10 years. We made about $100/day but yes, a thankless job at many schools. I had teachers tell their class they could act out because a sub would be there (and I couldn’t count the number of parents who would tell their kids right in front of me they could act up and not get in trouble). The principal who let kids play video games in his office if they were sent in by a sub was really helpful (not).
        I had a frequent job in a special ed classroom until the teacher wanted me to sub for a para for 6 weeks at 2/3 my regular pay. He was offended when I politely told him I couldn’t afford it (apparently working for money isn’t the done thing). Then there was the class I never taught again because I canceled 3 days before the scheduled day to make it to my parent’s funeral.

        1. Daisy*

          There were a lot of good teachers and some excellent classes also. I’m still in touch with some of the teachers on Facebook, and occasionally students (now all grown) recognize me in the grocery store which is really fun. I did enjoy the good ones, but hoo boy – those tough classes were miserable.

      2. Jackers*

        For the record, lunch ladies are hard working employees and should be entitled to benefits too.

        *signed, daughter of a lunch lady (who received benefits, but barely a paycheck because the premiums sucked up the majority of her pay).

        1. Just Me*

          Yes, I did not mean to disparage our lunch ladies who diligently fed me for 10 years. They definitely are worth every penny they earned. My point was that as a substitute I was responsible for the lives of 25-30 kids for 8 hrs for less than $10/hr. That included but not limited to field trips where I took kids out in public (once get this to a public race track to walk among all the cars – ugh). So thank your mom for me ’cause I swear her lunches were sometimes the highlight of my day.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      This is so wild! Not just that you were “surprise hired” but it was a specific role? You’d think they would at least do something like “You’ve been approved for hire, please choose from the available positions” or something to like… engage you with the process somewhat. Seems like they’ll have a very low success rate here lol

      1. Time for cocoa*

        It’s for on-call substituting, so you would report every day, but not know exactly what your coverage consists of until you get there. The way emergency certs work (at least in PA) is that you can only be in the same classroom for a limited number of days before it becomes a long-term substitute role, which requires a full professional certification. So they get around it by hiring a handful of people and rotating them through different subjects every few days.

  2. Cartoonbear*

    Question for all: since when is Thursday “Friday junior”? This is the worlds dumbest phrase and it’s going around like COVID.

      1. Bexy Bexerson*

        I haaaaaaaate “Friday Eve”. I’ve also heard “Pre-Friday”, and I hate that too.

        Don’t say the word Friday until it’s actually Friday!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      … that doesn’t QUITE annoy me as much as “hump day” (ugh UGH) but really close.

      On the other hand, when I log into work on Tuesday morning and all our systems are lagging, and then Wednesday morning the reporting system barfed and all our daily reports are in Swahili, then I will totally tell people on Thursday morning that hopefully today is not the fourth Monday this week.

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

        Hump day used to really bug me too, until the GEICO commercial with the camel and now I find it hilarious. This is the first I’ve heard Friday Junior. Definitely not a fan.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I haven’t seen the commercial — I think what bugs me the most is when people capslock “hump” and it becomes “HUMP Day”. Like, can you put away your inner 12 year old boy at work please.

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

            I think the two interpretations for hump is why it stopped bothering me. With the camel commercial, it was His Day — he’s so excited he’s walking through the office HUMP DAY — and his coworkers are over it. Whereas, before it was an old dumb childish reference to sex. Do any of the “youths” call sex humping anymore? That feels so…archaic, and makes me feel old.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Wednesday has been hump day for a long time – it’s the “hump” to get over in the middle of the week.

              As for the sex reference, it makes me think of that Bobby Brown song, which definitely ages me…

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

                Right. I was addressing the “inner 12-year-old” is the one who thinks hump refers to sex. Hump day is the middle of the week for adults.

                1. Curmudgeon in California*

                  This. It’s like the camel’s hump – the middle of the week.

                  I do have to stop myself from posting “S.H.I.T.” on Thursdays, though. (So Happy It’s Thursday)

            2. Free Meerkats*

              To me, it refers to the way rail cars are sorted. It’s called “humping”; the cars are pushed to the top of a small hill (the hump) and as they roll down the other side the switches are set to sort them into groups going the same place. So ‘Hump Day’ means it’s all downhill from here.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Oh, see, the GEICO commercial is why I hate it so much! People would quote the commercial ALL. THE. TIME. and it got so annoying.

        3. Elle Woods*

          Fun fact about the GEICO ads with the camel excited about hump day: Chris Sullivan, who played Toby on “This is Us,” was the voice of the camel.

          Totally with you on the Friday Junior thing. Annoying.

    2. Svennerson*

      I’ve heard a variant of it – “Office Friday” – a lot specifically in my hybrid office, where people never take Friday as a day in office. I wonder if there was a development from there?

    3. Lucky*

      We’ve been calling it “Little Friday” since the early 2000s, which is probably back when I had the energy to go out mid-week.

    4. Corrigan*

      That one hasn’t reached my office yet, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time…

      I generally hate constant reminders about what day it is and how close we are to Friday. (Not that I don’t appreciate the weekend!)

    5. seeeeeps*

      A few years ago, I was looking at bitmoji (a friend made me download it against my will; I am really not that trendy or fun of a person) and one said “It’s Friday JR!” And I read it as, “It’s Friday, JR” and I wondered who the hell JR was and why we were talking to them.

    6. londonedit*

      Even pre-Covid, Thursday was always one of the busiest nights for after-work drinks, because a lot of people would work from home on a Friday, or leave early, and at any rate people want their whole weekend for themselves, so if you’re going to do drinks with colleagues it makes more sense to do it on a Thursday so that people can just head home on a Friday after work. The whole ‘Thursday is the new Friday’ thing has been a sentiment for years. Even now people are going back to working in offices, city centre pubs are seeing a huge drop-off in business because more people are working from home on Thursdays and Fridays and so they aren’t going out for post-work drinks as often (though we seem to be making a decent effort at turning Tuesday into the new Thursday…)

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        In Ireland, it’s the college night out, as college students usually head home on Fridays (This may be different in colleges that have a lot of commuter students).

        1. Cj*

          Thursday was and is party night at the college I attended also. They even scheduled four credit classes Monday through Thursday, and three credit classes on days that did not include Friday because they knew none of the students would be in any shape for class on Friday.

      2. Jlynn*

        Thursday is dump day. It’s the day where all the higher ups dump a weeks worth of work off on the juniors so the higher ups can have a clean desk/inbox as they head into the weekend (many dint work a full day on Friday).
        Of course everything they dump is “urgent” and must be done ASAP, even though they’ve sat on it for days/weeks.

    7. Dinwar*

      I’ve heard similar terms on a site where folks work 4 ten-hour days every other week. They get a three-day weekend every other week, but the site doesn’t quite entirely shut down.

      Outside of that, I haven’t heard it. Then again, we frequently do ten-day shifts, so terms like “weekend” have lost a lot of meaning, and “Friday” is used to denote the last day of a shift rather than a specific day of the week among us.

    8. Generic Name*

      I’ve never heard this phrase, but I feel like I’m generally behind the curve on these things. I learned maybe 5 years ago that Thursday nights are basically a big party night, and I also similarly learned that the day before Thanksgiving is a huge “go to the bar and drink excessively” event in circles where folks get Thanksgiving off.

      1. BatManDan*

        some reports say that the night before Thanksgiving is the BIGGEST (dollar-wise) night of drinking in bars of the whole year. probably combo of 5- day weekend and “I have to deal with THESE people again?”

    9. Snorlax*

      Oh my god one of my coworkers says this every Thursday and everyone else thinks it’s so cute but it’s like nails on a chalkboard for me. HATE IT.

    10. ScruffyInternHerder*

      One of my non-scruffy interns used to use the phrase. That would have been about four years ago.

    11. De Minimis*

      We didn’t call it that, but Thursday night was the big party night when I was in college a few decades ago, so I think the idea has always been around.

    12. Maggie*

      Never heard this before, but I LOVE Thursday energy. Gearing up for my weekend plans and the work week is ending. I usually clean Thursday night too so I come home to a clean house after work Friday. I just call it Thursday though. I think people just really love Thursdays?! I know I do haha

    13. slashgirl*

      Have never heard Friday, jr and hope it doesn’t catch on up here (in my part of Canada)–I work in a school so when we have Friday off OR it’s an inservice for the kids on Friday (which is almost as good as a day off for us, depending on what we have to do for inservicing) we call then call Thursday “Fake Friday” as in “Happy Fake Friday” everyone. At least at my schools not sure about other ones. I don’t mind it. Don’t mind hump day either.

  3. NICS*

    Supervisors, managers, and business owners:

    What employment law or program would you rather not have to deal with, and why?

      1. Generic Name*

        Ouch. I’m sorry that part of your job is hard, but I’m really glad my job was protected when I had to take time off work to care for my son who had to have required major surgery.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          Yeah I’d advocate an FMLA overhaul to make it easier to understand and administer but the actual program is important

        2. Up and Away*

          I’ve used it too, several times. I’m 100% behind it; it’s just very difficult to administer. My comment wasn’t an opinion on the law itself. It should be longer, and it should be PAID.

      2. Sister Spider*

        It’s a nightmare for some of us to take advantage of, too. I had to get on the phone with our benefits administrator hours after having a baby to discuss the details of how it went down. Not great!!

      3. JustSewYouKnow*

        I’m curious if it would be less of a nightmare if organizations weren’t looking for absolutely every possible way to only follow it to the absolute letter of the law and no more. I have used it twice for having children at two different organizations and the petty ways they have interpreted what it did/did not entitle me to were wild. The payroll/accounting that they have to do to NOT pay me/pay me some weird fraction based on the PTO I had to burn concurrent to using it alone seems not worth it(which, as an aside, means folks like me had to go back to work with zero banked sick leave while an extremely young child is first getting introduced to the petri dish of daycare, WHEEEE) . I just found out my current org (technically part of a US state government agency) is counting my length of service in two different ways with a random two-month-and-two-day discrepancy because for some benefits my FMLA is considered as time in my position, and for some benefits it isn’t. If TPTB weren’t being so dang petty about it, I bet it wouldn’t be so hard to administer. I know that’s not on you, but UGH I can’t seem to not step on a soapbox when FMLA comes up.

        1. Lana Kane*

          It’s possible, but when I was managing people, when they went on FMLA I’d get conflicting information from the program quite often. It’s just not set up well for administrators or employees. I have been on both sides and it was a nightmare either way. Grateful for it for myself and anyone who needed it, and I tried really hard to help my staff navigate it, but there were times that the labyrinthine rules caused real issues.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I would really like the laws to be updated to catch up with remote work.

      It’s really frustrating for small businesses to not be able to allow or recruit for ubiquitous remote work because they don’t have the resources to register in every state people want to work from.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I’m just a pleb in the trenches, but I feel this so much. Especially I’d like to see the tax law catch up to remote work across state lines.

        1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          The problem is that such a thing is literally impossible. Tax law is a matter for each state to decide, and of the three easily commutable states near where I live, each has chosen to configure their business tax laws in a sufficiently distinct manner that, according to accountants I know, it triples the time and complexity of the returns for each state a business needs to file in.

          The only work around would be abolishing states’ ability to set their own tax code in favor of one overarching tax code – and as the person living in the most progressive tax schema state, surrounded with a bunch of other states that will scream bloody murder about maintaining their more regressive schemas, and have the population to render my own state’s votes a virtual rounding error… Nope, I don’t want to see that.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Congress has the authority; as many times as interstate commerce has been invoked, this would certainly fall under that domain.

            I don’t think the Federal Government has to completely supplant the state tax laws, just formalize and standardize the interactions between what are nominally peers. Even something as simple as: all taxes paid to one state are 100% deductible in every other state, calculated for the state of residence first and descending by percentage of time worked from there or taxes paid to one state generate a 100% tax credit in other states, states with the lowest tax liability get paid first would gut the complexity, inconsistency, and random incoherence of the current chimera.

            Allowing the states to double-tax remote workers isn’t right.

        2. higheredrefugee*

          It isn’t just tax laws (at all levels, including down to the school district and township in some places), it is labor laws, safety regs, and liability considerations, amongst others, all of which have federal and state law implications. All of which state and local legislative bodies have a stake in, so absent national compacts and allowing for waivers of liability, which are not small feats of themselves, there’s just limits to what can be done, or what legislators would be willing to do. If they even have the appropriate agency arrangements to manage whatever compacts are agreed to.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Yeah taxes are such a small part of it. I don’t know what the answer would be. Probably some federal program that applies to businesses with spread out employees but that would be a whole can of worms. I know it’s next to impossible but we’ve lost good candidates because we can’t let them work out of state (or in a particular state). And they could absolutely do the work from there, it’s just not something we can afford for every employee.

            1. AcademiaNut*

              You’d need federal employment laws, rather than state ones. And *that* ain’t gonna happen.

              If you said that the laws of the state in which the company was based applied, for simplicity, you’d have a whole lot of businesses suddenly being based in the place with the worst worker protections.

        3. An Australian In London (currently in Australia)*

          The idea of state, city, county, etc. income taxes is very strange to me as someone who has only lived in countries that have none of those things.

          The same issue exists for national jurisdictions though. One of my clients has told me they will terminate my contract if I work more than 15 days a year outside my country of contract. Another says it’s forbidden to do it at all.

          Both are scared that a remote worker will create a “permanent establishment” in that country, which is like an involuntary company registration. The company would then have to file tax returns and pay taxes.

          And the worst thing is they aren’t even overreacting, because some court cases have found that a single individual contributor working remotely was enough to create a permanent establishment. This is terrible law, and it isn’t even consistent: if location is so vital then why isn’t cloud computing creating permanent establishments? Such rubbish.

    2. Llama Llama*

      Haha. As someone in Payroll accounting…. all of it. I have declared many times that we needed to alleviate PTO. Not because I care about coverage and paying people but the accounting behind it is a nightmare.

      1. Cj*

        It surprises me to hear this. I’m in public accounting, so I’ve done payroll for many clients with many different ways that they handle PTO. Depending on how they accrue IT, who gets how much (like if it’s based on years of service, and if so do they get the new accrual rate at the beginning of the year or on their anniversary date, etc.), it can be a real pain to set up a new client initially. But once that part is done, I’ve never found the rest to be difficult.

        I’ve always used software that can handle all those things automatically once it is set up. If you need to manually go in and make those types of changes, I can see where it could be a real PITA.

      2. Flash Packet*

        I love the way my department handles it: You’re paid your full salary all the time unless you’re on official short-term or long-term leave. We work on a project basis and book our time in our own private department spreadsheet to track budgeted hours per project, and we record our PTO there, too.

        If you’re hired mid-year and only accrue, say, one week of PTO instead of two that first year, our managers don’t really care if you take 7 days instead of 5. Whatever.

        Pretty sure it’s the only place I’ve ever worked at where we value quality of work over butts-in-seats and clock-watching.

        But I’ve also worked my share of hourly-wage jobs, too, and I can see where tracking the accrual and payout of PTO in that environment would be a massive headache. At least without excellent computer systems that calculate everything automatically based on clocked hours and recorded time off.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      This year? Anything remotely related to Covid funding. A huge amount of tiny private healthcare places for government grants for the first and only time in their existence (since for-profit enterprises are usually automatically excluded from grants) and we’re having to do financial AND compliance audits for them from scratch, for funding and records that are almost two years old, for a time period when the administrative body handing out the funds changed the rules approximately one a week. It’s been hell for everyone. Auditors don’t normally have a September busy season but this year we have had one!

    4. NoNameforPoliticalComment*

      Having managed hiring contracts internationally, I just have to say–the United States has so few protections for workers compared to other places I hired. We need to be grateful for every protection our workers do have and work to expand them. For example, FMLA may be challenging to administer, but it is also just 12 weeks! 12 weeks! Hope your illness does not take longer than that to be cured, or you will be fired and loose your insurance. Many of my company’s US workers were laid off at the start of the pandemic because we could do that with no notice, but we had to keep on overseas staff members at the same level because their laws protected them. We need more humane worker protections in this country.

    5. Alternative Person*

      The working hours laws.

      The country I live in has tied itself in knots regarding the differences between full-time, part-time, qualifies for benefits/supplements or not, permanent staff, temp staff, free-lancing, overtime, salaries vs wages and more. As a result companies, including mine, tie themselves in knots to deal with it all. It makes sorting out staffing/payroll a nightmare, not to mention the inequities its created with staff.

      The company is guilty of some less than stellar hiring/remuneration practices, certainly, but the way the law has accumulated verbiage while creating more issues that allow/push companies to do these things is not helpful. The whole system needs a full bonfire and rebuild.

  4. VLookupsAreMyLife*

    TL/DR: What percentage of job duties should have formal process documentation & how much should folks be expected to just remember / take personal notes on?

    Context: As I am creating process documentation for our department, I am trying to determine what’s normal & reasonable to expect folks to remember vs have an SOP for every single possible scenario. I recognize this is extremely dependent on the type of work performed, industry, and level of experience. For example, I work in Accounting supervising folks that are heavy in data entry (the username is a dead giveaway). I’d say about 60-70% of their job duties have (or should have) formal process documentation and I expect them to just remember the rest of it and/or take their own notes based on verbal instruction.

    Would you share your expectations of norms along with the type of role?

    1. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      For me, the rules are about the required level of accuracy/importance and difficulty of the process.

      So for example, I used to work for a large asset manager. The laws around these companies are VERY strict when it comes to disclosing profits, etc. If that task wasn’t done with perfect accuracy, and posted within a pre-determined 10 minute window, there would be serious consequences. SOP.

      Similarly, we had to send our quarterly earnings through compliance. It was a complicated and multi-step process without a lot of negative feedback–ie, if you did it wrong, you didn’t always know it because there was no obvious indicator. SOP.

      If someone’s job is entirely made up of these tasks, I think it’s to your benefit to have SOPs for everything. If none of these apply, no SOPs. There’s really no set percentage–it depends on the job.

    2. Super Duper Anon*

      As someone who did a large revamp of our groups internal procedures, the main thing to document and keep current is setup instructions for department software and tools that is not done by your internal IT team, including how you get software licenses. You need them when you onboard someone, and then you need them again when your computer completely dies another two times, and then you need them again when you get a new laptop a couple of years later.

      I am a technical writer.

    3. Ann Ominous*

      I’ve always found that the more documentation, the better – AS LONG AS people read it and it’s provided as part of on-boarding and is routinely used/relied on/updated.

      I always tag the newest employees with updating SOPs as they learn their jobs, because there are going to be things we miss, or assumptions we no longer realize we are making, that new folks will be best positioned to notice.

      However, if a bunch of great SOPs are created then stored and forgotten, or are not user friendly (which means they’ll be stored and forgotten), then that’s a waste of time.

    4. Glazed Donut*

      Interested in others’ takes on this! I was recently talking to my supervisor about one of my direct reports, who seems to VERY MUCH like one pagers. I made him a one pager out of frustration (after I had verbally reviewed the procedure multiple times and he still wasn’t getting it). My thought: Not every task can or should come with a one pager. At what point is it on the employee to take notes, refer back to them, and ask questions when something isn’t covered by those notes?
      I’ll also note that for the half a dozen people I’ve hired recently, this is the only one who seems to need ~someone else~ to write it down for him. Also the only guy and by far the youngest & newest to this field.

      1. Observer*

        At what point is it on the employee to take notes, refer back to them, and ask questions when something isn’t covered by those notes?

        If this is something that affects others, has legal ramifications, or can cause serious problems if not done right it’s on the employer to make sure that the information is explicitly provided both orally and in writing.

        Those instructions may not be a one pager, but they ARE important. And it should not be on the employee to take notes as the primary way that they can access that information.

      2. Cj*

        you might not be able to take notes during your training. I recently had a week’s training on zoom for a new job. I took it along with three other new hires. there are three additional new people taking the same training this week. there is no way we would have had time to take individual notes. there is really, really good documentation for everything, including screenshots, and I am so glad for that.

      3. Peonies*

        I think there is some risk inherent to having people rely primarily on their own notes. They may misunderstand something and then memorialize that misunderstanding. Also if it is a job that multiple people do and uniformity is important, relying on each individual to document the proceedures introduces more undesirable variation.

        Also people learn and remember differently. I tend to remember the written word much better. So I guess I would say that an employee that does better with more documentation isn’t necessarily a worse employee at the end of the day.

        1. Mimmy*

          A big Amen to this! I panic when given verbal instructions (both in work and personal contexts) because I’m afraid I’ll forget the minute I walk out the door.

          Bonus points if you let me type, rather than handwrite, my notes because I process it faster that way and it’s way neater.

          For context: I work in a voc rehab training program and proper documentation of student contact is strongly emphasized.

    5. Diatryma*

      My guidelines include ‘is there a clear Best Practice vs personal preferences?’ ‘if someone sues us over this, would they win?’ and ‘am I personally going to get annoyed if someone does it another way, so I want it in the legal SOP and they just have to do it my way so there?’

      I think the first is the most important. I’m in a healthcare lab, for context.

    6. Hello Dahlia*

      I include all scenarios in my SOPs. I exclude job skills though. Example: SQL query xyz.sql, execute, copy/paste from SQL into spreadsheet with headers, remove duplicates, copy/paste into an email; documentation would be: Use query xyz.sql, email results to accountinggroup@teapots.com

    7. CheesePlease*

      It REALLY depends on the industry and task. For example, if you have ISO or similar requirements that will look very different.

      In my experience, the process documentation should be standardized (so that all the documentations look roughly the same and have the same level of detail) and are different from training documents. For example, an SOP can be the process flow of issuing a sales order, but the training document actually shows where to type what fields in the software etc. I don’t have experience with accounting, but think that if people SHOULD be following a standard process or are missing steps, then the SOP should be updated.

      1. Diatryma*

        Yeah, the difference between ‘training document’ and ‘procedure document’ is pretty huge. I am heavily invested in better training documents for my role, and some of that overlaps with better SOPs, but not all.

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

      If the job is client focused, there should be some documentation about their preferences or maybe historical context for why you do things a certain way so the new person doesn’t learn by making a big mistake or trying to reinvent the wheel — ie. this client always wants their product delivered UPS on their account, never send it FedEx or on our org account; or this client hates red — never use red in communications or product mock ups; or we’ve already tried XYZ and offered ABC solution and they don’t want it.

    9. just another queer reader*

      Honestly, in my job there are almost no SOPs.

      We have a few SOPs for a specific software we use sometimes, but training is basically just mentorship from more experienced people.

      It would probably be helpful to have a little more more written/ formal training. At the very least it would probably be good to have a new hire training/orientation checklist. Alas.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        My job is heavily project based. Documentation covers things like the process for filing bug reports/fixes and standards for coding and documentation, and that is project based, rather than employer based (the projects are generally multi-institute, and not necessarily led by my employer). There’s also admin stuff, like time sheets and expense reports, and things like how to access computer resources.

        But the work I spend most of my day doing changes so much from day to day that any documentation is generally being done by me, in the form of Jira tickets, project meetings and internal code documentation.

    10. Marvel*

      For me it’s not about nature of the job duty per se, it’s more about what level of detail is needed, which can be heavily based on what qualifies as “standard practice” in your field. The things people Just Know if they work in that field don’t typically need documentation, though the specifics of how your company does them might. Let me see if I can explain this adequately without getting too into the weeds of what I do…

      I’m a new department head at my job, where I inherited some very outdated process documents (so outdated that they were basically obsolete). In terms of full-time staff, I’m a department of one, but we have a variable number of folks coming in and out on short-term and long-term contracts throughout the year. So I needed to write new versions.

      A detailed guide on how to do the various jobs my department does could fill multiple textbooks (and has). My aim wasn’t to teach people how to do the job, it was to teach people how to do the job in the department I run, at the specific company I work for. So as I was making the guide documents, I focused on laying down broad strokes and not getting into the weeds except where necessary. Standard industry practice? Maybe a sentence or two clarifying which version of the standard practice we do (there’s never just one). Things where policies differ from company to company? That could be anywhere from a paragraph to a page or two (depending on the complexity) explaining the basic outline of how we do things, plus a little bit of context for why we do them that way. Basically, I let the documentation lay down the broad context of how we do what we do, and then I can focus on coaching them through the more nitty-gritty aspects without needing to reinvent the wheel every time I talk to someone.

      Others have already said this, but I do think the most important thing when it comes to documenting processes is that the documentation absolutely HAS to be consistently updated at the start of each year/fiscal year/whatever division of time makes sense. Otherwise it becomes useless or even counterproductive.

    11. Jaydee*

      Depends on how important it is that the process be done consistently and accurately.

      It also depends on how much independent judgment goes into the work. Some things it’s hard to set a detailed process for because there might be a lot of variables that go into it.

    12. WantonSeedStitch*

      Hmm. Is this a question of whether documentation on a task should cover every conceivable situation that could arise while doing the task, or just most of them? Or whether every task should have documentation? I feel a bit differently about both. For the former, I feel like you should try to cover MOST of the situations that show up, and should acknowledge that some situations don’t fit this documentation and should be handled on a case-by-case basis using your best judgment or your manager’s guidance. For the latter, I feel like any task that is supposed to be handled in the same way by everyone doing it every time should absolutely have documentation. For one thing, it makes training MUCH easier. For another, it makes performance management easier, as you can hold people accountable for following the process as documented and it leaves them with less room to say “well, no one told me to do that!”

      1. Peonies*

        I think you hit a really important point. If there is a task that multiple people do and they should all be doing it the same way, it should be in writing and kept up to date.

    13. Jackers*

      I don’t know about a percentage, but we have SOPs for any process that must be done the same way, every time, by multiple people. Think order entry, quote generation, credit creation, etc. We are also FDA and ISO regulated, so SOPs exist for anything that may cause us to violate those rules/regulations.

    14. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      I’ve had a pretty varied work history & my number one pet peeve about worst-ever job experiences was lack of adequate documentation. I think that training someone by show-and-tell is never as effective as allowing them to try it themself, but for a newbie, taking good notes from scratch simultaneous with hands-on training is pretty difficult/disruptive to actually do. I think having at minimum a basic list of steps for someone to follow & add notes/clarifications to as they go along is immensely helpful, even just as a kind of roadmap for how many steps there are & what details they should be paying attention to.

      A place I’ve noticed is also often lacking in documentation is any time there are variable procedures, where the procedures themselves aren’t difficult, but knowing **which one to use when** takes longer to learn. This is a big problem because it’s easy as a newbie to say “Yeah, cool, no problem, I’ve got it”– because you know HOW to do the various procedures, but then get into trouble making correct choices about when to use what procedure. Examples where this happened to me were:

      -a lab tech job where I was shown 3 different ways to mix & plate agar (easy! no problem!), but wasn’t ever given an explanation/list for why/when it was important to use which kind;

      -a teaching job where there were multiple procedures for recording student progress, but nowhere was it written down when it was better to do a benchmark test vs report a goal achieved, or when it was sufficient to just email the department head about progress vs when it was important to find & fill out the obscure paper form for the auditable files. And every time I asked, I would be given an answer for the specific student I was asking about, but nobody could give me a coherent explanation of the general guidelines they were basing that decision on, so I couldn’t really create my own notes to help me.

      1. Diatryma*

        One bit of training I insisted on for myself in a previous and much worse role was, “Can I sort these tasks into ‘I can do it’ and ‘this has something more complicated going on’?” Just being able to separate the straightforward business-as-usual from weird stuff is a skill. And a good SOP should include some room for judgement when necessary, along with reminders of what the actual criteria are.

      2. Mimmy*

        I see this in my job too and it is super frustrating. Although I’m finding that when working with individuals, e.g., students, there are a million variables, hence the lack of clear guidelines. I’m not saying it’s right, but the higher ups probably feel it makes it too difficult to write such explicit procedures. (I’m an instructor in a voc rehab training program, so not quite the same as a teacher).

        I can’t speak to the lab tech job, but that sounds more cut and dry.

        1. Diatryma*

          One thing I have stolen from my pharmacy-tech spouse is saying what the most important thing is. Most important: patient gets the meds. Next: done cheaply. Next: done easily.

          So I explain why we don’t care whether you use the plastic or metal loops, or a new one each time, or a stick, or a combination: Most Important Thing is getting colonies isolated. Here are options people use.

    15. Flash Packet*

      As in internal auditor, my standard is, “If I can’t reperform your work with your existing documented procedures, then they’re not good enough.”

      But that comes with the caveat that I (and the rest of my team) are “expert” Excel users, know our way around our ERP, financial, and analysis systems, and understand why the process we’re looking at exists and how it fits into our organization.

      Which is to say that I wouldn’t expect documentation to the level that we could grab anyone off the street and have them perform the procedure. But someone from a different department in accounting, finance, compliance, etc., should be able to do the Thing That Is Documented.

    16. Peonies*

      In addition to some great points made by others about how important it is that a task be done in a particular way and the number of people doing that same task, I would also say that I would factor in how many people are being trained. If the job has a seasonal component, a lot of turn over, or a lot growth such that there is a need to frequently train people, documentation becomes more important and more efficient. If you hire one new person every decade, then the effort of providing written documentation may not make as much sense as if you are training 20 new people each year.

    17. Basement-Dwelling Data Queen*

      I‘m surprised anyone would think of this in terms of job responsibilities, rather than what’s useful for your actual team.

      I work in data integrity for the fundraising department of a university. We haven’t had much staff turnover, but we’ve had a fair amount of process change and reorganizations happening around us for the last 5 years. We have pretty thorough documentation for most of our tasks, ranging from address changes to complex projects. Our internal wiki doesn’t include basic software training stuff—that’s on our IT folks— but it does break down everything else in some detail. This is a big help in several ways (apart from its usefulness in training/onboarding):

      – We have all kinds of idiosyncratic rules and procedures based on higher-up’s preferences and reporting needs, and it would be hard to keep them all straight, all the time.
      – We can include screenshots for visual reference for people who remember things best that way (me, I’m a verbal learner, but it can be nice to confirm visually that the details look right).
      – Some tasks come along infrequently but are high profile and/or time sensitive so I wouldn’t want to have to scramble to find old notes. I don’t refer to our wiki every day, but when I need it, so glad it’s easy to find.
      – Coverage and work-life balance! I never want to feel like I can’t take time away because I’m the only one who knows how to do X.

      Plus since it’s a wiki we can update it whenever
      something substantial changes.

      Of course, we’re going through a database conversion in the next 3 years, so we’ll be starting from scratch, but at least we’ll know what we need to cover? Eep

  5. LinkedIn on the Quiet?*

    Hello, I’m looking for advice about using LinkedIn on the quiet! In my industry it’s not required to use LinkedIn, and I never have. Now, I’m researching the big, confusing, expensive option of doing a bootcamp, and I get the impression that LinkedIn would be a good way to get in touch with ex-graduates of various bootcamps and ask them about their experience. But…if I appear on LinkedIn and if my boss hears of it, he will absolutely, certainly think I’m job hunting – and that would not be good. I’m not job hunting, but my work situation is very vulnerable and in flux, and I can’t afford to attract any doubt about my commitment to the job.
    So….is there a way around this situation on LinkedIn?
    I guess the chance of my boss hearing about me having a profile is not a big chance (?), but I suppose there is a chance.
    I did hear that your LinkedIn doesn’t say *when* you joined, and that sounds promising…because if I could make a fairly neutral profile (that does not speak about my current aspirations for change), it might simply look as if I’ve been there for a while.
    Any advice? Thank you!

    1. Anonywhale*

      Could you not be transparent about it if asked? You have a perfectly good explanation as to why you’re joining that isn’t job searching.

      1. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        I don’t think the boss knows about the bootcamp, or that in itself might be taken as a sign that she’s going to be looking…

    2. Hiring Mgr*

      LinkedIn does have a bunch of privacy settings but I don’t know if you can go full incognito…

      On the other hand maybe you *should* be job hunting if this is the environment you’re in..

    3. Fluffy Fish*

      Can you simply not use your real name?

      If you’re not using it to job hunt, then there’s no need for it to be a “real” account.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        That was going to be my recommendation. Use a middle name or a maiden name if you have one, or a grandparent’s last name, something that people who work with you would have no reason to search for. Also, I’ve never had a profile picture on LinkedIn and it’s been totally fine, so you don’t have to worry about that part.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      If your boss sees that you have a LinkedIn profile, knows that you did not have one before, and decides to question you about it, the best course of action is to go with a simple and breezy explanation. You can judge which of these will go over the best with your boss:

      “Oh, I’ve been meaning to set one up eventually and I just finally got around to it.”

      “I wanted to get in touch with an old colleague so I set up a profile to contact them.”

      “My friend/brother/parent has been hassling about setting up an account so I did to appease them.”

    5. Temperance*

      So I have some adjacent advice, if you’re up for it. Are you looking to do a coding bootcamp? If so, I recommend talking to actual devs over people who do bootcamps. There is some mixed feedback on them by people in the industry.

      1. former bootcamp grad*

        I mean, there are plenty of ‘actual devs’ who are bootcamp graduates, and it was bootcamp graduates LinkedIn on the Quiet?* was aiming to talk to.
        I’m sure there are also bootcamp graduates who never got a job in the industry, or who found that the bootcamp wasn’t enough and eventually got more education or certifications, and they’d probably also be worth talking to. But also it’d be harder to find them on LinkedIn.

        1. Temperance*

          That’s incredibly fair.

          My spouse works in tech. His feedback has been that many people do a bootcamp thinking that they can become a coder, when they only learn a language or two and don’t know how to think like a dev. And anyone who does have those qualities truthfully doesn’t need to waste thousands on a bootcamp.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            Do you have an alternative recommendation for people instead of taking a bootcamp? What does “thinking like a dev” look like, and how would one know whether or not they have that quality? And if you can “think like a dev” but don’t know any programming languages yet, a bootcamp could still be helpful, couldn’t it?

            1. Temperance*

              Do you know how to utilize resources to look up the solutions to coding problems? Can you learn other programming languages pretty easily? Do you know how to code generally? Those are the big things.

            2. Anons*

              I’m not an expert, but here’s my two cents: The main benefit of a bootcamp is the networking. You can teach yourself everything the bootcamp teaches you (and I’m not the sort of person who thinks bootcamp folks are less than in anyway!) with materials online. But having a program people have heard of that says “this person did this” and the connections within the program (lots of programs have working relationships with companies) is the main deal. If it were me, my biggest priority would be finding a bootcamp that has a relationship with a company I want to work for.

    6. Vague LI*

      My LinkedIn is a dummy profile I use strictly for job searching. Nothing on it is untrue, but it’s also not set up in a way that anyone I work with would find me, unless they were really obsessive about it. It uses my maiden name (oops, forgot to update that), the college listed is one I transferred credits from instead of graduating from (oops, forgot to update that too), and the job history only shows my freelancing.

      1. Vague LI*

        Forgot to add: you can pre-emptively block people. So once you set it up, immediately start blocking your boss and colleagues. Also, if his connections are set to be visible, you can peruse the 2nd and 3rd levels to choose adjacent people to block as well.

    7. Voodoo Priestess*

      You’re assuming your boss will 1) hear you have a LinkedIn profile and 2) do the work necessary to see that you’re active. You can set privacy setting so connections don’t get notified about changes. It would take a serious amount of effort for a manager to find all of this out. And, like others have said, you have a valid reason to be on there. I think you’re probably more worried than need be, but I also don’t know your boss or situation.

    8. LadyByTheLake*

      My view is that LinkedIn is not a job search site so much as a keeping-in-touch-with-former-colleagues site. Just having a LinkedIn site doesn’t indicate you are looking.

    9. LinkedIn on the Quiet*

      Question-asker here. Thanks for replies! In answer to questions:
      – my situation is really unusual and also hard (lengthy) to explain, but basically take it from me that if my boss or co-workers see I’m on LinkedIn it would give the wrong signals in these particular circumstances, and that that would affect my relationship with my boss, which could affect my reference when I eventually go.
      – my employers would not ask me about it, so I wouldn’t have that window for giving them a fictitious explanation.
      – I’m not job hunting now but I’m seeking a career-change bootcamp and I need to keep that private.
      – Yes, it would be a coding bootcamp. I’m keen to chat to devs (post bootcamp and not). Thanks for the pointer on that.

      A couple of people suggest a dummy profile. Am I right in thinking you have to put your work history up? All my work history (employed and as a contractor) is identifiable – there’s nothing generic or vague about the titles of the places I’ve worked in the past. I think I’d actually have to put a properly fake profile up in order for that to work. Humm.

      Thanks for the food for thought.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Am I right in thinking you have to put your work history up?

        No, there’s no requirement that you have work history on your profile. Your profile could just be your name (and that could be first + middle or middle + last etc. as some commenters have suggested to keep it off the radar).

        Your profile would look very sparse without any work history, but that’s not necessarily a problem. If you want it to look a little more full, you can put where you went to school and a little blurb about yourself (“looking to learn more about coding bootcamps”).

        1. LinkedIn on the Quiet?*

          That’s very useful, thank you. If you’ve never used LinkedIn and it’s not part of your world, there’s just so much you don’t know about it!

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        No, you don’t have to put your entire work history up, and you can mark your profile as private. Also, unless you put the “Open to Work” badge up, at least in my field it is not assumed that you are looking for work.

        I suppose you could ask your boss whether you should follow the advice of a relative who claims you have to have a linked in profile even if you aren’t looking.

        But you also can use a variant name and do it that way.

      3. Nancy*

        Set up an account, choose the ‘don’t show last name’ option or just use an initial for the last name, don’t allow coworkers to connect, and block your boss (if they have an account). You can include as little or as much info as you want.

      4. Two Chairs, One to Go*

        LinkedIn is taking off as a social media site in its own right. But I totally get that not everyone will view it that way.

        Have you looked into joining a Slack or Discord channel for the tech community? That would offer more privacy (you can use a fun name like on here) and you can chat with people to do your research. Good luck!

    10. learnedthehardway*

      You can set your security settings to not announce changes to your profile:

      In the top row of the screen, click the ME arrow that points down.
      Click Settings & Privacy
      Click Visibility

      Review the visibility settings.
      If you look at the Visibility of Your LinkedIn Activity section, you can turn off the “Share profile updates with your network” status. This will prevent any updates or changes you make to your profile from being shared with anyone.

    11. OtterB*

      I have a LinkedIn profile that I set up maybe 10 years ago because there was something – an article, maybe? – that I wanted to read that was there & required a profile. I’ve been ignoring it ever since, except if somebody I have a professional connection requests I add them, I do. But I’ve been thinking about being more active because there are a few associations/ colleagues/ work contacts who are active on LinkedIn that I want to keep up with. So maybe you could tell your boss you’re finding people are posting things on LinkedIn that you want to read? Unless he’s going to ask for specifics.

    12. MJ*

      Don’t set it up using your work email! Or your personal one if your colleagues know it.

      I would suggest setting up a new email address not linked to your name, and make sure you DON’T let LinkedIn have access to your contacts.

    13. LinkedIn on the Quiet?*

      I’m grateful for the advice here (on LinkedIn, and bonus advice on bootcamps). Thanks y’all.

  6. Deja Vu all over again*

    How do you handle a boss that needs to be told the same thing repeatedly? Staff are being asked the same questions over and over and updates they provide are forgotten. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s an email or a conversation. It’s creating more work for an already stressed staff. Any ideas before I start getting snippy?

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      I’d tell your staff to send all information to the boss, even things that were conversations, in e-mail form. Then when they’re asked for the info again tell them to resend the same email – not copying-pasting, just literally hitting send again. After a few times of this, hopefully the boss will get the message, and your employees won’t have to think about how to convey the same info multiple times.

      1. Ama*

        This — thankfully it’s not my boss who does this (and on the rare occasions when she does forget something she always prefaces her message with “sorry, I know you told me this before but…”) but I have several colleagues who I have told things multiple times. Forwarding the previous email is absolutely the most efficient response and gets your point across without actually having to say “I told you this exact thing two weeks ago.”

        I suspect boss is one of those people who doesn’t bother to look in his email before asking a question — I have a direct report like this, and it has been a struggle to train her to develop the habit of checking to see if she already has the information she’s asking me first and ask questions only if she can’t find it, but at least since she’s my report I can say things to her like “all of that info is in the email I sent yesterday, have you reviewed that?”

        1. Esmeralda*

          Or if it keeps happening, a version of what I say to students who don’t read their email:

          “I replied to your email. Read my reply and then let me know if you have more questions.” “Can’t you just answer me now?” “Nope! [said cheerfully] Read my response to your email”

      2. The Real Fran Fine*

        This is exactly what I tell my direct reports to do to people who keep asking them the same questions we’ve already explained. I don’t know if it’s working yet, but hopefully, these people will learn to take the hint that they need to be taking their own notes going forward.

    2. Weekender*

      I had coworkers and a boss like this and it drove me crazy.
      I created a cheat-sheet kind of document for our team with all those questions and answers that came up. Some situations were not common, so it made sense that they were forgotten.
      The next step I took was when someone asked me a question for the billionth time, I asked “did you check the cheat-sheet?” And sometimes I would get answers like “yeah but I wasn’t sure”. So then, after I re-explained it, I would ask them to update the document so it made sense to them. Chances are if they didn’t understand the way it was written, someone else may have felt the same. It stopped a lot of nonsense questions because people knew I was going to ask if they checked the document and that I would make them update it if they didn’t understand it.

    3. Tochol*

      I had a co-worker senior to me that did this all the time. He couldn’t remember even basic things. So I started following up the conversations with an email. Then when he asked for the same information I would say “I’ll resend you the email.” If the request was by email. I would just keep forwarding the original and the subsequent forwards. Didn’t stop it but reduced my stress. I kept a special folder in my email just for him.

    4. Time for cocoa*

      My team lead who did this was forced into retirement, when it become clear that it was a dementia issue. Figuring out whether it’s disorganization, poor listening skills, or an actual medical problem would be my first step.

      1. Gyne*

        I was going to suggest the same thing – might be worth alerting HR and boss’ boss there might be some cognitive decline starting, and having someone privately suggest he get evaluated.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Nope, but watching this space. My new boss repeats himself to the point of annoyance. He claims he’s just soooooo busy but that’s a reason to be more organized, not less.

      1. Deja Vu all over again*

        I appreciate that some have flagged cognitive decline, but I think disorganization is the primary issue combined with failing to listen.

        1. Sandy*

          It could also be overwhelm. I get to a point of mental load where my brain starts just not retaining things.

  7. my cat is prettier than me*

    This isn’t a question, but I’m just lamenting about my company’s vacation policy. We get 10 days accrued over the course of the year (.5 hours per week). Just the 10 days part is bad, but the fact that it’s accrued makes it worse.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Are you allowed to carry any of it over? It does sound horrible (and unless they run the holiday year from when you are first taken on, rather than by calendar year, doesn’t it mean that eveyone is trying to book time off in that later part of the year and no-one in the earlier part? )

      I assume it’s legal where you are?

      1. my cat is prettier than me*

        I’m in a fairly conservative state in the US, so it’s definitely legal. I think some of it carries over, and it’s based on your start date rather than calendar year.

    2. Miette*

      The rate is definitely lamentable, but I think it is pretty common. I haven’t worked anywhere that didn’t have an accrual scheme for PTO in like 20 years.

    3. Voodoo Priestess*

      I think that’s pretty common in the US, at least that’s the way it is in my industry (engineering). That reduces the risk to the employer of you using vacation time you don’t have and then leaving. I think the fact you only have 10 days is far worse than the accrual.

      I have 15 days currently, but I also have 15 years of experience. My company’s PTO policy is based on years with the company, not years of experience. So there are a lot of people with less experience than I have that have an extra 5 days of PTO. Dumb policy, if you ask me.

      1. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

        I’ve never worked anywhere (or heard of anywhere) that based your PTO on years of experience in total, only years with X Specific Company! That’s definitely interesting.

        1. Queen Ruby*

          My company bases it on total years of experience. Which means my almost 20 years of experience got me 4 weeks a vacation days to start, plus 5 sick/family days, and 12 paid holidays (inc 2 floating). It’s a pretty sweet deal.

      2. KRM*

        Wait, why is it dumb to get more vacation the longer you’ve been with a company? That makes sense to me. Part of your reward package for staying is more vacation.

        1. Lizzie*

          Yeah. I would NOT be happy if I got less vacation than someone who had been here half the time I had, simply because they had more experience than me.

          Thankfully my company has very generous PTO, and its not accrued we get it ALL on Jan 1 every year. And everyone (aside from the higher ups who get more than everyone) is on the same PTO schedule, x weeks from years 1-5, etc. .

          1. mungojulia*

            I worked somewhere that had a great matrix for vacation time, so you started with a certain amount depending on the job level and you got more based on years of service.
            For example –
            Entry level: start with 2 weeks, increase to 3 weeks after 3 years, increase to 4 weeks after 7 years, 5 weeks after 10 years etc.
            Senior level: start with 4 weeks, but no increase until 10 years of service.

        2. Flash Packet*

          When I got hired at my current company, I came pre-trained with a ton of experience across several industries. Giving me the same 10 days of PTO as a 20-something fresh out of college who needs to be taught what an Out of Office message is would be a slap in the face.

          If a company can’t give more PTO to more experienced hires, then why would anyone change jobs? How could a company hope to hire any outside Directors, VPs, or seasoned managers?

          1. Unrepentant Heathen*

            Right – to me this is where negotiating your offer is supposed to come into play. Someone with more industry experience is going to be more valuable – so if the company doesn’t have an attractive enough vacation package for you, negotiate!

            1. The Real Fran Fine*

              This. My current company gives all new hires, regardless of years of professional work experience, 10 days of vacation that rolls over (with 10 days of sick time that also rolls over and isn’t capped, as well as 10 paid holidays). I had come from prior companies that had given me more time than that, so I asked for an additional five days of vacation as well as a starting salary increase during negotiations. The company was happy to give me exactly what I asked for, and the HR rep cheerfully said that vacation day increases were so common there she didn’t even need to run it by the hiring manager first for approval.

              Because of when I started three years ago and the rollover policy, this year, I will have taken four weeks of paid vacation by the end of the year with four days remaining in 2023. So yes, companies can still give blanket 10 day policies for all new hires, but it’s up to more senior people to remember to negotiate! The company will be more likely to give it to you based on your individual experience level than not from what I’ve seen.

    4. CheesePlease*

      lol this was my old job and I hated it (but it’s not 0.5hrs/wk – that would be 26 hrs?) I was allowed to take unpaid time off as vacation. And we were expected to use PTO in 1/2hr increments for appointments as well. I left and this was a big factor.

    5. Sloanicota*

      Can you go “in the hole” to take it sooner, or do you have to wait until you have it in the bank? That’s a dumb policy if you have to wait, especially at jobs like I’ve had where they care about coverage so they won’t let everybody use their leave in the second half of the year. Also, vacation that accrues slowly and doesn’t roll over is the worst. My current leave doesn’t roll over (they don’t want to have to pay anybody out when they quit). I think that stinks when the total leave is already low.

    6. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’ve never worked a place that started with more than 2 weeks, and most of them are accruals. (Ok, there was one that started with 3 weeks, but that was combined vacation/sick. That also front-loaded instead of accrued, but you couldn’t carry over to the next year.)

    7. Meep*

      I wonder if my former boss worked for your company. I had it in my contract that I would get my two weeks starting Jan 1st because I had negotiated with her boss about it. She on the other hand set up this policy for everyone else as no one else had thought to get it in writing that they got their two weeks upfront. (Not that they should have to!)

      She, of course, got 6 weeks of vacation and loved to lament how she ~never~ used all her vacation time anytime someone tried to cash in their hours.

      Now we get 4 weeks of vacation from the jump. This is a little annoying since I had just negotiated 3 weeks (again with her boss), but hey, it is still 5 more days!

    8. snarkfox*

      Wow that’s awful! We only get 10 days as well (sick and vacation combined, and they don’t roll over to the next year), but geez, at least they’re not accrued.

      What’s the rationale? It seems like that just leads to everyone scheduling a vacation at the same time because everyone finally has enough time to make it worth a trip….

      1. my cat is prettier than me*

        The company is a start up, so they don’t have a lot of money. My direct supervisor is our HR manager, and she thinks it’s a terrible policy. She tried to negotiate more time when she was hired, but no dice.

    9. Contracts Killer*

      This isn’t helpful advice, just a thank you for the late day giggle. I’ve been staring at a screen WAY too long today and I mixed up your comment and your user name to read, “This isn’t a question, I’m just lamenting that my cat is prettier than me.” And I thought – what an odd thing to say. And I wonder just how pretty that cat is. LOL.

    10. Chauncy Gardener*

      It’s legal everywhere in the US, as far as I know.
      Just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s good. Accruing vacation is the WORST. And only 10 days is terrible.

      1. WheresMyPen*

        I find it wild that I work for a US company in the U.K. and we get 25 days holiday, but employees for the same company in the US only get 14.

  8. Kacihall*

    any suggestions for commuting to work in a field while I oppose to the basics of it?

    I work for a company that processes background checks. I thought my distaste for it would go down once I got the the Client Services department instead of processing (and seeing multiple failures of the legal system daily) but I still just feel like this market shouldn’t exist to the extent it does. I decided long ago that I would work for the paycheck because I would rather save my passions for my life instead of work, but it’s getting harder and harder to convince myself to go to work every day.

    1. Kacihall*

      *Continuing, not commuting. If I had more than a 3 minute commute I would have been out of here paycheck or no!

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I agree that many jobs don’t really need background checks, but my agency works with vulnerable populations. They are essential to our work supporting these people! (I get where you’re coming from, but sometimes it helps to know these things.)

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        Second this.

        Try to frame it as there are jobs where background checks really matter. My BIL works with national security – someone who has significant debt is at risk of being tempted to sell things they shouldn’t. Is that fair to flag people with debt? Perhaps not, but it’s a reality.

        People who work with vulnerable people really can’t have a background of abuse. People who work with money really can’t have a background of fraud.

        There was just a story about a nearby school district that hired an individual with child sex abuse convictions to be a school counselor, because something slipped through the cracks.

        Know too that many many places do not automatically rule out people due to their background check, rather they ask questions to seek to understand if there’s a potential issue or not.

        Is it a perfect situation? No. But it’s the best we have at the moment.

        Issues related to the criminal justice system are varied and complex – they aren’t your fault. They’re things we have to change together as a society.

      2. Green Goose*

        Great call out, Charlotte! I also work with vulnerable populations and I’m about to have my second child so I definitely see the merit in background checks. We read so many awful, predatory stories of people who were never looked into and then able to “support” really vulnerable people when they should not be allowed to. There can be financial fraud, and then much more nefarious stuff.
        For the young students that I work with, no one is allowed on the premises who does not pass a background check because our students have been through a lot and we need to ensure we are working hard to protect them.

    3. Temperance*

      Background checks are actually pretty important to a lot of people! In my state, you need them to volunteer or work with kids in any capacity, and you need to do them to change your name, too. They are used for a lot of good things.

      I do some volunteer work that helps people to clear up criminal records, so they pass employment and licensing background checks. I don’t think background checks themselves are an evil thing; they are and can be a barrier to some folks, but that doesn’t make them inherently evil.

    4. The One Who Burned the Popcorn*

      If this helps: The youth-focused organization I formerly worked for does extensive background checks on all adult volunteers to ensure child safety. Because we use background checks to weed out volunteers, we do not have the track record that other youth organizations do w/r/t child safety.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I have had background checks twice – once for work since I would be handling sensitive client data, once for volunteering at our church’s summer youth program. Our youth program is similarly beefed up because we got an accusation about a decade back (which I am very happy to say was unfounded, no children were hurt/traumatized) but it got upgraded substantially because that wasn’t a risk we wanted to take.

    5. just another queer reader*

      Would you consider switching fields to something you find more morally neutral?

      I’m totally with you on the “working for a paycheck, not for passion.” But if you’re feeling a deep sense of moral opposition to the work you’re doing, I think that will wear you down over time, understandably so. (I think this might be called “moral injury.”)

      Best wishes to you.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I like that “moral injury”, I’ve never seen that before. But so appropriate.

        OP, I stayed in a place that was questionable. In a short bit I no longer had questions, I knew what I heard/saw were actual facts.
        The problem with staying in these places is that our give-a-damn dies. And we can feel our own values and ethics sliding away from us. Worse yet, the same things are happening with cohorts so that makes our own sliding go a bit faster. Sometimes this can also erode our own health. Is it worth it?

        Unless you can find inroads to fix it, call it out, whatever, then your best bet is to move on. If you feel this way now, then one year from now will not be better and it’s likely that you could feel worse. Don’t wait for the headaches, stomach aches and such to start to say, “I think I have a problem here.” BTDT.

    6. Tangential Tangerine*

      I’d look for something else, long term, because this feels icky to you and there’s no real fix for that. But there can be good reasons to stick things out for now. I’m in a job that isn’t egregiously problematic but in doesn’t align well with my values — for the time being, I choose to stay for Life Reasons. This pays me while I manage other things that matter more. I keep a written reminder up on the wall of what this helps me do in the meantime to look at when I get frustrated. Write up what’s not so bad, what the paycheck is getting you, or steps you’re taking to change your situation.

    7. Jaydee*

      Oof…I feel you on this. I work in a field where I’m not 100% opposed to the underlying thing I do, but I’m strongly opposed to a lot of the history and practices surrounding it. I have to constantly remind myself that for the people who need this service, it can be life-altering in a good way. For those who don’t need it, or who get bad services, it can be life-destroying. So who better to be leading this program than someone who wants to get as close to abolishing it as possible?

      So for some situations, reminding yourself that background checks can be really important might help. As others have mentioned, background checks help protect children, disabled adults, and older adults from people who have no business being their teachers or caregivers. They help companies and government agencies that deal with financial or sensitive information ensure the security of that information. But they’re also used for a lot of more questionable purposes – and maybe you can help change the system even in small ways.

      Can you use your current role to advocate for reforms? One issue a lot of my former clients had with background checks and credit checks was that their rental histories or criminal histories weren’t updated. Like their landlord filed an eviction against them and that filing showed up, but no one from the background check company went back in to update their records to show that the case got dismissed. Or they were charged with a felony but convicted of or pled to a misdemeanor – again, the report showed the original felony charge, and it took time to get that corrected.

      You can’t fix the court system. You can’t make landlords stop looking at a prospective tenant’s criminal records from 10+ years ago and denying someone housing for some nonsense they did when they were young and stupid. But maybe you can help your employer develop better methods of correcting and updating incomplete or erroneous information in your records so those issues are slightly less burdensome to people. It seems small, but that correction or update could be the difference between someone getting a job or apartment or being unemployed or homeless. Multiply it out and you could make some small changes to how your employer updates its records that would end up changing thousands of lives for the better.

    8. Curmudgeon in California*

      I work in a field that requires a background check for every job, because people like me have access to intellectual property and our fingers on the literal pulse of the company, its production systems. People in my position do sometimes go rogue, and it can cause massive problems. I often have access to PII, PHI, or financial data as well.

      I think it hilarious when people apologize for doing a background check, because I’ve had to go through one for nearly every job for the last 25 years.

      Now a clearance I don’t qualify for – they want waaay too much data about your relatives even if you don’t see them but maybe once every few years, and the feds want to police your off-work lifestyle as well.

      Don’t feel too bad about doing background checks for employment – most people in those fields know to expect them. Yes, some of the criteria are bogus, and the farce that is our criminal justice system doesn’t help. The invasion of privacy and trolling for past indiscretions is pretty noxious, although most decent companies don’t care if it’s over ten years ago. But YMMV.

    9. learnedthehardway*

      Hmmm…. background checks are important. I’m assuming you’re talking about employment checks?

      I can’t tell you how many times doing a proper background check has saved my clients from hiring someone who would have been a disaster, for various reasons. One found out that the candidate had faked their education – that was for a senior level finance position. Another found that a candidate didn’t have permission to work in the country. Sometimes it’s an undisclosed criminal conviction – some of those can be overlooked, if they were non-violent or not related to the job the person is doing – but in other cases, it’s protecting the company and its employees to not have a person with multiple DUIs (for example) driving heavy equipment, etc.

    10. RagingADHD*

      Why do you want to continue?

      Working to live instead of living to work means the job isn’t super exciting and you don’t feel like it’s your One True Vocation, or your life’s deep purpose, or anything like that.

      It doesn’t mean sticking with a job that you feel compromises your personal integrity. I’m very big on “passion is for your personal life” but there are a number of jobs / industries I wouldn’t go into.

      If you feel icky about your job, look for a new one. Knowing the situation is temporary will help get you through.

  9. Anonywhale*

    Experiences with and advice on leadership transitions, please!

    I am currently in a senior management role at a nonprofit org (not C-suite, but just below). Our CEO just announced that she intends to step down in about 6 months and the board is starting a search for her replacement. I have no idea what to think or what to start preparing myself for right now. The number 2 is intending to go up for the position but no guarantee they will get it. If they do, most likely I’ll be in line to take over the number 2 slot. But if they don’t get it, I have no idea what that means for my role. I’m also terrified the other C-suite person right now may get the role (that person is a horrible communicator and micromanager and I’m sure will lead to a mass exodus should they become CEO).

    I feel a little stuck as I’d be thrilled to continue on under the current number 2 but am very unsure if it goes a different direction. Do I start job searching now? Wait to see how it goes? I don’t think it will be easy for me to find a job (I’ve passively looked on and off for the past year or two but I am in a fairly specialized field and senior enough that the positions I’m finding pay somewhere around $50K less than I make now).

    Any advice or past experience going through leadership transitions appreciated!

    1. OP*

      I’m in a comparable situation, and everyone has to make their own calls of course, but I’m riding it out for now, and reminding myself that every time I’ve decided to seriously job hunt before, I’ve moved on within 6 months – a year. So if it goes south, it’s not like I’m stuck south forever.

    2. Miette*

      Since a job search at the compensation you will need could take some time, I’d definitely at least polish up my resume and put some feelers out now. You don’t have to act on anything, but you might as well get all the prep out of the way.

    3. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Acknowledge to yourself that this is a time of change and it’s okay to feel apprehensive, but don’t go through the next six months braced for the worst. I wouldn’t spend energy on a serious job hunt now since you don’t know which way the CEO post will go. It’s very possible that as part of the recruitment, the recruiter will interview staff on what they would like to see in a new CEO, and you can mention characteristics associated with your preferred candidate and try to subtly sway things!

    4. Strict Extension*

      Be prepared that you might end up with someone in the position on an interim basis before you have a new permanent CEO. My organization’s ED gave six months notice, left in July, and the third-party-administered replacement search is currently in the “seeing if we can widen the candidate pool after the first finalists didn’t include anyone who blew us away” stage. It’s a big responsibility, and if it’s being handled correctly–especially at a non-profit with lots of stakeholders–it will probably take a while.

    5. Green Goose*

      I would recommend really ramping up your networking, our nonprofit went through a leadership transition and as of now we only have one C-suite member who was from the before times. Some of the leadership left on their own and quite a few were laid off. I was really shocked when that happened since I’ve been at my organization for so long, but from talking to others who went through a leadership transition it sounds pretty normal.
      That way if the internal candidate that you don’t like, or an external one who might want their own people and own team, you can reach out to your networks when you start looking. One of our long-time C-suite members ended up getting an amazing CEO position at a different company and some lower level employees from my organization have followed them there, so you never know!

  10. Junior Dev*

    There were a couple letters related to fatphobia in the workplace this week and I saw people recommend the podcast Maintenance Phase in response.

    I’m not gonna tell anyone that you can’t listen to this podcast, can’t enjoy it, or can’t learn anything from it. But I have had the experience of hearing thin people say some really ignorant things because the podcast taught them it was the “right” way to be an ally to fat people.

    Please don’t do this in the workplace. Maintenance Phase openly has a bias against weight loss and against any evidence that weight is related to health problems; I’m not gonna debate the science of that here, just say that listening to them is really invalidating as someone who has disabling chronic health problems and is managing them (at my doctor’s recommendation) with weight loss and other lifestyle changes, alongside medical interventions. They’re also pretty dismissive of various people who don’t fit their particular image of who gets to be oppressed or who gets to have body image issues. Again, I’ve heard people express opinions IRL after listening to the podcast that I found really hurtful.

    Again—not here to tell you not to listen to it, not to enjoy it, or whatever. But it is not something I’d recommend to people trying to learn to be more sensitive in the workplace. They don’t speak for all fat people.

    My ideal world would be one where 1) people recognize weight loss and related topics as sensitive and don’t bring them up for casual workplace small talk and 2) institutions that need to provide clothing or equipment do so in a range of sizes/with options for different weight tolerances in things that need to support a person’s weight, and discuss getting the right equipment in as neutral a way as possible.

    How people want to talk about the fact that we aren’t there yet has a lot of room for disagreement. But I really hope no one read those comments and took away the message that Maintenance Phase is going to teach you to be better at addressing those issues, because in my experience it just introduces new problems.

    1. Mayor of Llamatown*

      I just listened to their episodes on the Master Cleanse and Weight Watchers last night, and one of the big conversational pieces from it that definitely needs to be brought out more is that it’s really, really not okay to bring up someone’s weight or eating to them, unless it is someone you are extremely close to (Aubrey mentioned she could think of less than five people in her whole life). This is just a good guideline for all things around appearance, but especially concerning weight – you never know what someone is going through, no matter how they appear.

      Just don’t discuss weight or appearance at work. It is absolutely not the venue, ever.

      1. Up and Away*

        Yes! Or “what” they’re eating. I have a history of disordered eating, so really HATE when someone makes any kind of comment other than “that looks good” to me while I am trying to eat. There’s this one woman at work that whenever she sees me eating lunch, she gets very excited, and says in a baby voice, “OOOOHHHH!!! What are we eating TODAY???” Sets my teeth on edge. I just respond in the dullest, most bored voice I can muster, “chicken and green beans.”

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Agreed. I am an incredibly picky eater and actually have no problem talking about it with my current colleagues because they are either just casually interested or genuinely asking to be sure there is something I can eat at a staff party or something, but I’ve worked in other places where people keep trying to pressure me to eat stuff or ask WHY I don’t eat certain things or otherwise make me feel self-conscious.

          1. Despachito*

            “where people keep trying to pressure me to eat stuff or ask WHY I don’t eat certain things ”

            I think this could boil down to a more universal rule – if a person does not want to do something (work-unrelated, not like Bartleby the Scrivener, although he managed to avoid the answers quite admirably), it is wrong to push them or play the Spanish Inquisition with them.

        2. Warrior Princess Xena*

          Discussion of what one is eating should only come in 3 forms.

          1. “Hey, I’m going to PLACE for lunch, want to come?”
          2. “That looks amazing, what is it?”
          3. “I’m organizing the client lunch – do you have any food restrictions or needs I should know about when picking the restaurant?”

          No further commentary should be made.

          1. Some Bunny Once Told Me*

            I will also allow for a 4th point, which is asking for recommendations for restaurants from someone who knows the area you’re in or going to.

            Oh, and maybe point 5, which would be asking someone whose lunch always looks amazing for recipe suggestions.

            But that’s really it.

            1. Some Bunny Once Told Me*

              Oop, sorry! I misread this as a general “food discussion at work” thing and not a specific what are you eating thing!

        3. Workerbee*

          What would happen if you exclaimed loudly, “Are you okay? Do you want me to get someone to help you?”
          Because gosh, it sure seems like she has something wrong with her eyesight AND cognitive abilities. Which would be a lovely response to her inevitable “What do you mean?”

          I am only half-snarking here.

      2. Junior Dev*

        Yes, exactly! It’s not an appropriate topic for work conversation (unless it’s relevant to some practical thing, which is very different from having a casual conversation about it). Our society overall is still very anti-fat in pretty appalling ways, and I can see even the more extreme parts of MF as a reaction to that.

      3. Curmudgeon in California*

        Just don’t discuss weight or appearance at work. It is absolutely not the venue, ever.

        This.

        I have been fat since puberty, and I hate my genetics for this. No diet or program has touched it, and most have, in fact, made it worse.

        I still cringe at how many people have “helpfully” suggested any number of different “diets”, “plans”, “programs”, etc to lose weight. I have to fight against my psychological urge to go buy a bag of candy and eat it in front of them just to demonstrate how little I value their “advice”.

        I’ve lost count of how many concern trolls seem to get all worked up about how I’m supposedly going to “die young from diabetes”. (Yes, my family has a history of adult onset diabetes – the weight gain at puberty is part of it.) My grandmother, who was diabetic later in life, died at 90. My mother, also adult onset diabetic, is still alive at 81. My mom went diabetic at 56. I’m 61 and have not been Dxed yet. I’m not worried.

        A person’s weight and “health” is between them and their physician. Workplaces and coworkers need to butt out.

    2. Lilo*

      It’s hard because you can both be someone who is against fatphobia and also recognize that the food industry, sedentary lifestyle, and anti-pedestrian way cities are constructed are unhealthy and killing people.

      1. jellybean*

        I mean…. of course you can recognize both those things because the former is a stigmatization of individuals, the latter is a systematic failure of health promotion and public policy urban planning.

        Are you hearing people say “fat people deserve to be treated like humans” AND “parks aren’t valuable for a healthy society”? If not, this is just an odd thing to feel the need to put side by side. I don’t think it’s hard to be against mistreatment of fat people and want cities to be built to be pedestrian friendly and to acknowledge the way our current work culture impacts our lives and stress levels so much that physical activity is difficult, if not impossible, for many people.

        If you see the second as somehow contradicting the first, are… you sure you’re “against fatphobia”?

        1. Lilo*

          I mean I’m talking about how Michelle Obama got accused of being fatphobic because she tried to improve school nutrition and exercise. Fighting the things that cause obesity in kids isn’t fatphobia.

          1. Parakeet*

            If she hadn’t framed improvement of school nutrition and exercise in terms of making kids thinner, she wouldn’t have gotten that level of criticism for being fatphobic! Exercise and good school nutrition are good things in their own right and they don’t need an anti-fat rhetorical justification. Being sedentary and eating unhealthily is bad for thin kids too, and fat kids are not necessarily sedentary or eating unheathily.

        2. Plumbum*

          People are discriminated against unfairly for not being a “socially acceptable” weight, and that shouldn’t happen, but there’s a worrying amount of discourse going to the opposite extreme by insisting that weight loss is impossible and immoral to even try. Weight loss or gain is morally neutral, and really should be seen as such.

          Body size does have an effect on health, denying that is disingenuous at best, but having a health condition is also morally neutral.

          1. Lilo*

            I’ve even seen this blow up in a kids sport where a parent asked for non candy/cookie group snacks after for practice. Like, yeah, apple slices and candy aren’t the same thing. Acknowledging that isn’t fatphobic.

        3. Junior Dev*

          I am criticizing a specific podcast for the way its hosts talk about health, nutrition, and weight, and one of my criticisms is that they absolutely do imply that weight doesn’t impact health, and that it’s fatphobic for people in the public health field to discuss the effect that obesity has on people’s health. This isn’t a leap that Lilo had to make on their own—it’s one that the creators of Maintenance Phase have already made. The podcast hosts are the ones saying that there’s some tension between recognizing the humanity of fat people and recognizing the health risks of obesity.

          1. Despachito*

            “recognizing the humanity of fat people and recognizing the health risks of obesity”

            I think it is absolutely possible to have both, and that it is a mistake to deny either part of it.

            It is a bit like smoking – no one would argue that smoking is not healthy but we usually do not think less of smokers, and don’t mind their smoking if it does not directly impact us.

            And other people’s weight at work does not impact us at all (there are some exceptions but mostly it doesn’t) and therefore should be and remain their own business. Yes, there are risks related to it and it would be silly to pretend there aren’t, but they are THEIR risks, and everyone should be free to decide what risks they are willing to take, without strangers interfering.

          2. Betty*

            Sedentary lifestyles aren’t health regardless of body size. People of all body sizes benefit from pedestrian-centered urban planning. Conflating those with “the health risks of obesity” is, in fact, fat-phopic and also makes the benefits of systematic change seem like something that benefits a specific group versus everyone.

            1. Lilo*

              Obesity has specific health consequences and denying that does a disservice to people. My brother just got his Type 2 diabetes under control specifically by following his doctor’s instructions to lose weight. There’s a clear specifically scientifically studied mechanism for why additional weight causes insulin resistance.

                1. Kara Danvers*

                  Insulin resistance does cause weight gain – it makes your body much more efficient at storing glucose, and it drives up hunger. It’s an awful positive feedback loop that is very hard to break.

                  But it is breakable. Eating foods with a high glycemic load (sugars, starches, “fast carbs”) promotes high insulin levels. Shifting one’s diet to more protein/fat over carbs, intermittent fasting, and exercise can all be tools to lower insulin.

              1. NICS*

                That’s still no reason for you to yell “cow” at a woman walking down the street, or to say, “We shouldn’t hire the best qualified candidate, what will she do to our insurance premiums because she’s fat?”

                1. Despachito*

                  Of course it is not a reason to call anyone names! This should be never done by anyone, and there is no excuse to that.

          3. pieces_of_flair*

            Having listened to every episode of Maintenance Phase, I think this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the show’s message. Mike and Aubrey absolutely do not imply that weight doesn’t impact health. What they say is that it is a much more complex and nuanced relationship than is represented by the media. It’s simply not true that the higher your BMI the more unhealthy you are, which is the narrative we’ve been sold.

            They are also not saying it’s fatphobic to discuss the impacts of weight on health. It is fatphobic to focus on weight as the ONLY measure of health when there are, you know, actual health measures such as blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, etc. that we could focus on directly instead of using weight as a moral proxy for health. (This is also why Michelle Obama’s approach was fatphobic. Instead of “let’s help kids get more exercise and vegetables,” it was “all these fat kids need to lose weight.” This just served to further stigmatize fat kids without improving health outcomes.)

            The thing is, we don’t need another podcast about the health risks of obesity. We have a million media outlets doing that already. What I need to hear as a fat person in our society – and never do, outside of Maintenance Phase – is that being fat is not a moral failing. It is biologically extremely difficult to lose weight and keep it off, and “willpower” is not the solution. This is backed up by research, but it’s not the research we hear about because it doesn’t support our cultural assumptions.

            I know that’s not encouraging for people who want to lose weight, but it is validating for people who have struggled their entire lives with yo-yo dieting, blaming and hating themselves for their failures, and want to rethink their approach to health.

    3. anona-ope*

      I have to agree, I have a nuanced opinion of that podcast at best. I do find the hosts to have good chemistry, and pretty funny takedowns of obviously out of left field diet books (Angela Lansbury promoted a diet plan??) but their ability to interpret science is flawed at best, and they clearly present it in a biased way arguing that it’s not biased. I find many of their “scientific” takes to be really invalidating of the experience of some of my loved ones as well, and I worry about the impact some of what they say as “science journalists” will have on vulnerable listeners.

    4. Person with a body*

      It’s not just you. I listened to a few episodes of the Maintenance Phase because I had heard about it somewhere (maybe this site), but I was not particularly enthused by it. Fitness and nutrition are very loaded topics because of the structures that exists around food, and work, and leisure time, and how all of that overlaps with capitalism, especially in the US.
      I’m a recreational, competitive strength athlete in a weightclass sport. I look like a fit person. I also train about 10 hours a week, and plan and cook all of my meals (except for generally 1, maybe 2 a week). I can do this because I have a fully remote job (flexible hours), that pays well (tech), and I have no responsibilities other than to myself (no spouse, kids, or even pets). If someone isn’t in the same position, of course their ability to be fit/healthy/in shape/whatever is going to be more difficult. They have more constraints on their resources!
      And you know what, I don’t talk about this at work. No one wants to hear about my macros or my training or that I keep running out of fat calories and that’s really annoying because fat is delicious. It’s a boring topic of conversation to anyone who isn’t also super into it. And it makes it sound like I’m somehow superior to other people because I can structure my life this way. When in reality, I’m just lucky.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Nod. I enjoy doing yoga but am not able to eat healthy because it requires brain stuff that I’m not good at. I do not talk about this at work because flaring peoples body issues sounds stressful when all they wanted to know is how to keep the files from being on fire.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        It’s depressing how much exercise/sports equipment isn’t usable by heavier people. Treadmills, bicycles, skis, etc all have much lower weight thresholds than I expected, and versions for higher weights are so expensive. Sports equipment for rental has limited sizes. It’s hard to be healthy at any size when we’re priced out of a lot of enjoyable activities.

    5. cubone*

      “a bias against any evidence that weight is related to health problems” is pretty reductive tbh. I’ve never heard them say weight is NOT related to health problems on that podcast, but I have heard them say a lot of health problems are attributed to weight that could also have other sources/issues compounding them and being fat should not preclude your doctor from investigating those possible issues too.

      I’m not here to debate the science either. Just that I’m not sure that’s something the podcast has said, even though it does seem like something you heard.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, I’m honestly not getting the criticism that the podcast says there is no evidence of weight-related health problems.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        Yeah, sometimes fat is a symptom, not a cause, of various problems, so generic advice to “lose weight” is pretty dismissive, IMO. Lots of people in the medical field always assume that excess weight is the cause of any problems, and that is very problematic.

    6. Despachito*

      Do fat people really need allies? Or is it sufficient just not to pester them?

      When I was fat, I was happy if people just let me alone, and was very grateful they did. I eventually lost some weight but I had to be mentally prepared to do it. I cannot imagine how anyone mentioning it to me could help me.

      Other people’s weight is no one’s business be it at work or in private. The only exception are the doctors, but if they say just “you are fat, you should lose some weight” it is not helpful either because the problem is often HOW, and if they recognize you have a problem they should give you an advice how to solve it, and this is what they rarely do. (I had a doctor once tell me that I was very fat… two days before my child was born. I was like … yeah, you are right, but what do you think I can do about it right now….?)

      1. Junior Dev*

        Whether we do or not is another topic; I think that a lot of people assume that’s a desirable thing based on taking an SJ-based viewpoint of fatphobia that conceptualizes all marginalized groups as analogous and wanting similar things. That’s a pretty abstract discussion that I didn’t want to get into, but for the purposes of this discussion, it is something I see happening. For that reason, I want to warn people against recommending this podcast without a giant grain of salt.

      2. Ness*

        I think being a “fat ally” would include things like:

        – If you order clothing for a team, pick size-inclusive options
        – If you create marketing materials, include people with a variety of body sizes/shapes.
        – Speak up if you hear someone else making fatphobic comments

        etc.

        1. Shirley Keeldar*

          Advocate for promotions and work advancement based on skills, not body size, would be another good one.

      3. snarkfox*

        I think there are some ways in which fat people need allies. I work in a client-facing position, and I have two chairs in my office–one with arm rests and one without. My reason is because I have had clients before that don’t fit into the chairs with arm rests.

        I’m not over here proclaiming myself to be a fat ally or anything, but there are some practical considerations that thin people probably never think about.

      4. Some Bunny Once Told Me*

        Consider the following:

        1) fat people are less likely to be hired, are more likely to be fired, are promoted less frequently, and earn less overall than thin people with the same qualifications. We are perceived as being lazier, less intelligent, and less qualified than thin people, regardless of actual performance metrics.

        2) it’s perfectly legal to refuse to rent to fat people. I have a very good friend with an excellent rental history who was turned down for an apartment that she was more than able to afford – the leasing agent told her than they were concerned about her ability to manage the single flight of stairs and that there might be “problems if emergency services were ever needed.”

        3) Weight bias is rampant in the medical field and people die because their doctors don’t run tests or suggest treatments that they would for thin people. Additionally, fat people are less likely to go to the doctor *because* of said weight biases and being treated badly by doctors, which leads to a ripple effect on health.

        4) Fat children and teens are bullied at significantly higher rates and it’s less likely to be caught and stopped by adults. That’s probably linked to fat children performing worse in school, going on to college, and earning fewer advanced degrees.

        Yeah, I’d say we need allies.

        1. Despachito*

          It is perhaps just word nitpicking but cannot all of the above be covered just by common decency?

          I think that it does not require any special allyship to treat all people – thin, fat and average, men and women, young and old, white and non-white – with due respect, if possible defend them if they are bullied, and of course do not bully them or otherwise slight them ourselves. I know we (both as society and as individuals) are lacking in many senses but this should be the overall goal for any decent person, not just for fat people but for everyone.

          1. Kara Danvers*

            Allyship is a *response* to bigotry. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need it. In a perfect world, we would all be thoughtful, inclusive, kind as a default. But that’s not the world we live in.

          2. Eyes Kiwami*

            Common decency can also cover sexism and racism, but it still happens, that’s why we discuss things like fatphobia and allyship. This comment is hilariously #allweightsmatter

            1. Despachito*

              What is hilarious about the concept “all weights (genders, colours, ages) matter”?

              I think again that common decency should cover all of these. Of course no fat person deserves being mocked or otherwise slighted because of their weight but the same holds for thin people and average-weighted people. It may be less frequent but it does not make it OK, and some thin people complain of being the target of insensitive remarks as well (and find it offensive as well, first, it is no other people’s business either way, and second, if they did want to gain weight, they report that this is even more difficult than lose weight).

              I do not see anything hilarious on the idea that we should not discriminate against anyone for their weight, whatever this may be.

    7. My+Useless+2+Cents*

      OK, some points I’d like to bring up and then I’ll leave this thread because I have *strong* feelings around this topic….
      1) Maintenance Phase does have a very strong point of view that I think if often misjudged and summarized incorrectly by a fatphobic society at large, even by those who truly wish to be an “ally” to fat people. But the goal of everyone should be to see X as coworker, not fat person who happens to be a coworker; and that the health of X cannot be determined just by looking at them.
      2) The medical establishment is incredibly fatphobic and part of the intent of the podcast is to bring attention to that. Because of this, at times the podcast does tend to swing a little far from center when presenting things. But I think the goal is try and get people to really think and examine where some of this information is coming from because we(society)’ve been conditioned to just accept health claims for the past 50 years when the data is more nuanced, biased, and misleading than we’ve been led to believe.
      It has been a 30+ year journey for me to even recognized some of the internal biases I’ve been holding onto to even start addressing them. Maintenance Phase does a good job at highlighting those biases if you really want to do the self-reflection. But it is not for everybody.

      1. Me ... Just Me*

        I tried listening to the podcast but it just wasn’t that good. As a medical provider, I really don’t think “the medical establishment” is incredibly fatphobic. Any journal/resource that we use doesn’t have any sort of “moral judgement” to make about those who are overweight/obese. Universities/Medical Schools don’t teach some sort of course about how being overweight/obese somehow makes someone unworthy of care. Nope. Of course, the literature and research does show that those who are overweight/obese and who live a sedentary lifestyle are at higher risk for a whole slew of medical issues. Because of this, it’s only responsible for a medical provider to counsel weight loss when someone comes in with a condition that can be negatively impacted by weight. Believe me — we hate doing it. We know it will likely be taken wrong and has the capacity to hurt feelings, but it’s absolutely our responsibility to bring it up. Just like advising someone to get vaccinated or a smoker to quit. We also talk about safe sex. Mammograms, Cholesterol, Colonoscopy (or the whole poop in a box thing). Next to giving someone the bad news about a potential cancer diagnosis, talking about weight is my least favorite thing.

        1. Junior Dev*

          Thank you for sharing your perspective on this! There’s this narrative that healthcare providers are somehow all biased against fat people, and there are certainly really egregious examples out there where people do act like huge bigots, but I think that gets wrongly lumped in with situations where a doctor (or whoever else is in that role) is trying to have a hard conversation and it’s just inherently kind of painful for patients to hear.

        2. Nightengale*

          Medical school doesn’t “teach some sort of course” about overweight people being unworthy of care but it is definitely in the hidden curriculum, along with ableism and racism and sexism and all the other isms. It’s in the little comments professors make in lecture hall and residents and attendings make on rotations. And there are definitely studies showing weight bias and stigma among health care providers. We aren’t exposed to those studies in medical school or CME.

          One of my special interests is ableism in health care. There was TONS of ableism in medical school lectures and clinical rotations. No one came into lecture and said “Ok we’re going to learn ableism today.” It was just baked in, so ingrained that I kept pointing it out but was generally told I was being too sensitive. Later I found all the studies about rampant ableism in health care.

          I’m an (if you ask my doctor – underweight) doctor and I found medical school fat phobic. Perhaps because I was going into pediatrics, I noticed it most on pediatrics. For months I was told that there was an obesity/overweight epidemic in kids. Obesity in children is defined as above the 95 percentile. We kept being told that 10 or 15% of children were obese. How can 10% of children be above the 95%ile? By definition only 5% of people are above the 95%ile – that is how mathematics words. I asked this question to multiple professors over months. The answer was some script about “obesity epidemic.” Finally after months someone actually explained to me the growth charts were from the 1970s and that is how more than 5% of people are considered above the 95%ile. It took months because no one was hearing the math in my question because they were too busy saying “epidemic.”

          1. NICS*

            Thank you so much. To see people spout the narrative that Fatphobia doesn’t exist, fat people just caused all our problems, is both enraging and terrifying. Thank you for pushing back against that.

        3. NICS*

          All the people who report being only told “lose weight”and not given any other treatment for everything from migraines to broken arms must be lying, then.

        4. pieces_of_flair*

          Ok, well, the actual scientific research shows that medical providers are overwhelmingly biased against their fat patients, considering them lazy, unintelligent, and noncompliant. I would post links, but I suspect you don’t actually care or you would already know this.

          What do you think you are accomplishing by pointing out to your fat patients that they are fat and this is unhealthy? Do you think they don’t know? Do you think they’ve never tried to lose weight before? Also how are they supposed to lose the weight? The whole diet and exercise thing that fails for 95% of people? It’s not about hurting people’s feelings. It’s about practicing medicine responsibly.

        5. Bob-White of the Glen*

          If you don’t think the medical community is fat-phobic, you have never been an obese person going to a doctor. It is, and the fact that you cannot see it tells you how ingrained it is.

          How about you ask some overweight patients in the future about their worst medical experience? It might be very eye-opening.

          But people are literally dying because some doctors can’t see past their BMI. Not all doctors of course, but a lot more than there should be.

    8. calvin blick*

      I think a lot of the discourse around “fatphobia” goes way too far the other way and ignores the evidence that being fat is terrible for your health. But I can’t imagine any scenario where discussing people’s weight is remotely acceptable in 99% of workplaces, and some of the cruelest comments I’ve heard have been about fat people.

      It’s weird that we, as a society, can’t figure the obesity epidemic out. Although given that most people don’t have much choice but to live car-centric lives, and eat very processed food, maybe it’s not.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        A good part of the problem is that we know that being fat is associated with poorer heath and shorter lifespans, but we don’t, as a society and medical system, actually know how to cure fatness.

        Yes, the chorus says “eat less and exercise more”. And yes, if you stop eating and expend a lot of calories you will lose weight. But for most people, it’s a temporary situation, and all the willpower in the world doesn’t keep the weight from coming back and bringing friends.

      2. NICS*

        In our society “health” has a moral aspect, especially for women, because it’s tied to appearance and there’s a moral aspect for women to not look as attractive as possible all the time.

  11. meow*

    Looking for advice… I work as an admin assistant now, but I was taking classes to become a math teacher. I recently found out I can graduate a year early with a BA in mathematics! Does anyone out there have a Bachelor’s in Math? If so, what career path did you pursue?

    1. EL*

      I don’t have experience with this in particular, but generally would say the focus of the BA doesn’t matter all that much in the work world, in my experience both job searching and hiring. I bet it could give you an edge in some entry-level finance-type positions. but I’d hire a BA in math for all sorts of things if they had interest and the right qualities.

      1. AnonForThis*

        I’m going to disagree slightly with this. Many BA degrees are pretty interchangeable, but I have seen a lot of computer programming jobs that require a degree in either math or computer science.

        (The reason for this probably has more to do with the ability to prove a need for H-B1 visas than actual job requirements, but that’s a whole other can of worms.)

    2. Math Pub*

      My bachelor’s is in math, but by the end of undergrad, I knew I didn’t want to do anything “mathy” with it. I ended up getting a job at a math-related non-profit in the publishing department. The math degree definitely got my foot in the door, but it was certainly not a requirement for my publishing assistant job. I’ve bounced around in marketing and communications some, but now I’m back in publishing working at a university press.

    3. seeeeeps*

      My SIL has a bachelors in math, and she has worked as a financial aid counselor in higher ed and patient finance counselor in healthcare.

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

      I don’t, but my brother-in-law got his bachelors in math and teaches math at a secondary ed level. He’s also had jobs in IT over the years too. If secondary ed (junior high, middle school, high school) is your goal, you will probably need a bachelors in the subject matter you want to teach, and then possibly another year of some sort of courses in Education or pass a teaching/certification exam. On the higher ed side, you will likely need a masters degree in order to teach. If you want to teach elementary ed, your bachelors degree should be in Education. But the nation is so desperate for teachers right now, all of this is probably moot.

    5. JR*

      I have a BS in Math. I went on to get a Masters in Math. I now work as a statistician for a government agency. I could have been hired at a lower starting salary with just a BS though.

    6. Anon for This*

      My sister has a BS in Math and an MA in education. She teaches Math at a community college. A friend from college has a BS in Math and went on to do graduate work in Operations Research. (Lost touch with her after college, so I can’t tell you what she is doing now.) And another friend that went from Math to Cryptoanalysis. Lots you can do with a Math degree!

      Congrats on the early graduation!

    7. Nesprin*

      Yep, I have a BA in math… ended up as a bench scientist.

      One option you may find interesting is getting a BA+ MS in math (which sounds like you could manage in a year)- which’d allow you to teach at a community college in addition to at the high school level. You may also find BA math+ teaching credential to be worth the time.

    8. Betty*

      My brother had a BA in Math and worked as an actuary for a major insurance company and then doing signal processing at a national defense lab before going back to graduate school.

    9. TechieWhale*

      One of my coworkers is a database programmer, and he has a bachelor’s degree in Math. If you got some coding experience, you could very easily get into back-end programming work, or just a computer gig with a more technical company (think making lasers and sensors over facebook)

    10. Llellayena*

      I have a BA in math (Theoretical Mathematics). The problem with that degree all on its own is that it doesn’t really let you do anything math-specific. I found the math degree to be essentially setting you up to go on to grad school in a more specialized math field. I ended up going back to school for architecture and now I love my architecture job because it combines my math degree and my minor in art/design (technically Metal and Jewelry Arts but….). The math degree isn’t bad overall. Just take some time to figure out what you actually want to have a job as before deciding if you’re done with all school, want to stay in one more year and specialize/pivot or possibly go back for a separate grad program.

    11. irianamistifi*

      My partner has a BA in Math and is an actuary at a large firm. He started right out of college and has been at the same company for 15+ years, moving up from entry level analyst. The company pays for you to study and take actuarial exams that will help you move up within the org structure and their bonus structure is based on both the work you complete during the year, plus passing actuarial exams.

    12. chocolate chip cookies*

      MSc in math, here. I, personally, am in engineering research. I’d say the most common path for mathematicians now is data science. Most unusual math path: someone studying geometry for their PhD, dropped out and went to work for a clothing-pattern company. It takes some thought to go from 2D sewing patterns to 3D pieces of clothing!

      In my engineering company we’d pretty much hire anyone with a BA in math who could understand some stats and do some programming. (like, math programming. We code our own PDE solvers, for example).

    13. AnonForThis*

      My BA was in computer science, which is often treated as interchangeable with a BA in math. I’m a software developer, which is a very in-demand and lucrative career.

      I’d recommend squeezing in an intro to programming course to see if that’s something your brain enjoys, if you have the time.

    14. just me*

      I started as a computer programmer after I completed my Bachelors in Math – I focused on applied math (as compared with theoretical math).

      Later, I decided that I wanted to be a nurse, so I earned a nursing degree.

  12. Sydney*

    So my job has been understaffed for 4 months after one of my coworkers quit and we haven’t been able to replace her. Me and one other person “Kelly” have been covering the role. We are supposed to be splitting this extra work but lately I’ve been feeling like I’m stuck with more than usual because she’s always busy. We have a weekly task where we would both do 1/3 of the work, and our manager takes on 1/3 also. Yet every week my boss asks me to split it 50/50 with him because Kelly is too busy. I’m busy too but usually agree to help… most of the time when my boss asks me to do this task it’s once I’ve completed most of my work for the week. So I do it, but it’s getting to be a lot. Sometimes I just want to ask what is she doing exactly? Why does she always get to offload her part to me and our boss? But is asking this going to make me seem like a busybody? Maybe I’m just burnt out but I’m pretty sick of taking on this task all the time

    Also this is not the only task of hers that I have taken on… in the last year I was given 3 of her tasks that she doesn’t have time for. So I really don’t understand how she is so much busier than me or our boss at this point.

    1. ICompletelyUnderstand*

      Squeaky wheel gets less assignment?

      You could voice out your work load without complaining about Kelly. Kelly really might be busy with stuff or her productivity is suffering but you can only do what you can do without feeling burnt out. Converse with your manager when its overwhelming. People are more understanding than we think they are.

      Good luck to you!

    2. Mockingjay*

      Start saying No.

      It sounds like you are a victim of your own efficiency and Kelly’s corresponding lack of efficiency. You get your tasks done on time or early; sounds like she needs or takes more time to do the same type of things, hence “busy” and never finished. Boss sees this; rather than addressing it with Kelly, he uses you as the default fixer. You’re reliable, you get it done – of course Boss is going to lean on you first.

      Recommend you meet with Boss and discuss your workload. Point out all the tasks you’ve picked up – in addition to your own tasks: first for the departed coworker, and second, the stuff Kelly doesn’t get to. Tell Boss you need to prioritize work: your tasks will get completed first, then the stuff for departed coworker. If he asks about completing Kelly’s tasks, “sorry, can’t, I have finish my stuff.”

      Right now you are getting everything done, so there is no incentive for Boss to replace former coworker quickly or get Kelly to pick her slack. Make Boss feel the pain of incomplete work. Slow down your own stuff, don’t cover for Kelly, and keep asking when coworker will be replaced.

      1. Esmeralda*

        We (the OP and the rest of us) do not know that Kelly is inefficient. All we know is that the extra work is not being assigned to her. For all we know, Kelly is is doing a lot of something else that the OP is not aware of. Or maybe Kelly has some other issue (illness, whatever) and has made an arrangement with the boss about kind and amount of work. I would leave Kelly completely out of any of these discussions with your boss.

        If doing the extra work is taking away from your ability to do your assigned/usual work, discuss that. If you can get your usual work done, but you don’t have time to work ahead or plan or similar, discuss that. If you can get your usual work done but you are starting to feel burned out, discuss that.

        Leave Kelly out of it.

    3. Dinwar*

      I second the recommendation to talk to the boss about workload. Even if the other person has a reasonable excuse (say, they’re working on a huge, critical project), it doesn’t mean you magically have the capacity to do more. The route you’re going will inevitably lead to burnout; the fat that it’s already creating resentment is proof of that.

      The thing is, the boss is probably overworked as well. Without talking to them, they likely don’t realize how bad it is. They’re too deep in the weeds themselves to see the bigger picture. Plus, they can leverage your complaints/discussions to get action. Until someone speaks up the higher-ups are unlikely to move to fix anything.

      For my part, I would avoid hostility at this stage. Come in with an attitude of “We can’t keep doing this, let’s work out a solution as a team.” If the boss pushes back or gets hostile, that’s a different story, but as long as they remain reasonable it will be MUCH easier for them to enact changes if the team is standing together. Ideally the boss should be a part of the team, not apart from it.

    4. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’d ask your boss about how to handle being overloaded with tasks. Don’t frame it as “kelly is slacking” that’s not the issue here. (Maybe she has work you don’t know about, maybe she’s on part time medical leave, who cares). The issue is you’ve got too much tasks, and are feeling overwhelmed. Things for talking to boss – is there a time frame for new hire/how long is this extra coverage needed, how should you prioritize your tasks when too many, the fact that you’re feeling overwhelmed. Boss should hopefully be able to help you get less overwhelmed.

      when my boss asks me to do this task it’s once I’ve completed most of my work for the week
      Is your overwhelmed feeling coming from rushing through to have time in case of task? What would you be working on if not task?

      1. My+Useless+2+Cents*

        Try really hard not to rush or push yourself to accomplish your typical work load just because you know the department is short staffed. Put up those boundaries early even though you want to be helpful.
        I blew beyond burnout and nothing changed. It is objectively horrible and makes for really long days that I now do not rush AT ALL or feel bad about things not getting done. I let things fall on the manager’s shoulders to deal with. Things could have been fixed years ago if management really wanted it fixed.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I usually have to give these things a little test. If there were no Kelly in this story and it was just you and the boss, how would you think about this situation?

      This helps me to get to the core issue. Do I have too much work? Do I just want to know when someone will be hired? Would I like more pay or hours? Can the boss toss some extra PTO my way for helping out?
      Your answer could be as simple as you want recognition. “Boss, I have been dong some heavy lifting here, can I see some recognition for it on my eval/at raise time/at promotion time? [Whatever makes sense for your setting.]
      The idea is to focus on what YOU are doing now vs what you were doing before. It doesn’t involve Kelly. This makes you look like you are taking the high road and it might be a feather in your cap somehow.
      I know I have taken on excessive work and been rewarded for it in some way. But my busy cohort did not get those same advantages. It’s important to pay attention to what the boss says they need and push our own thoughts to the back burner. You have an opportunity to leverage this if you want.

      1. AnonForThis*

        Exactly. Kelly is a red herring. The issue is that your manager is assigning you too much work and you’re burning out.

    6. just me*

      1. If it is too much work (how many hours a week are you putting in?), push back. AAM has many useful posts on how to do this.

      2. But, if you are taking on more, ask for a raise.

      3. Also, so many places are hiring. I recommend seeing what is out there and whether working somewhere else would make you happier.

  13. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    I’m having trouble adapting to my new job. It’s hybrid so the commute is tough. I also don’t have any benefits since I’m a temp. (That’s also the good news since it’s not forever.) I’m working for someone who didn’t interview me. He isn’t a micromanager but he wants things done a specific way that don’t matter (he tells you to use your mouse to click when you’re using keyboard shortcuts). Any advice on how to make the most of it?

    1. Fluffy Fish*

      “He isn’t a micromanager but he wants things done a specific way that don’t matter (he tells you to use your mouse to click when you’re using keyboard shortcuts). ”

      The best thing I have ever taught myself to do is realize, that kind of little stuff, just doesnt matter.

      I have a choice to be annoyed (because it is annoying) orrrrrr accept that it doesn’t matter. And because it doesn’t actually matter, I don’t have to care at all. I get paid the same if I’m clicking the mouse or using a keyboard short cut.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yeah, I think for these kinds of things it helps to frame it as “my job is to click this button with the mouse” instead of “my job is to complete the TPS reports (as efficiently as possible).”

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          Not really the point of my comment which eas about re-framing using the OPs example, not specifically about keyboard/vs mouse.

          I mean sure if you really want to die on that hill. Can’t say its something I would recommend most people make a fuss over.

          However,
          1) there are ergonomic solutions for both
          2) most people who work at computers do use both so I highly doubt clicking a mouse instead of using a keyboard shortcut for a handful of things, in a temporary job no less, is going to suddenly give you carpel tunnel

        2. WheresMyPen*

          This! Maybe it does the same job but my wrist would prefer me to use keyboard shortcuts instead of a mouse!

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      Sorry, but “he tells you to use your mouse to click when you’re using keyboard shortcuts” is the quintessential micromanager. It’s like nano or pico management, it’s so micromanager-y.

      You’re gonna have to figure out if you can put up with that long term, or whether you need to move on.

      1. Two Chairs, One to Go*

        It is! But big picture stuff I’m left on my own so it’s weird what he chooses to care about.

        1. AnonForThis*

          I had to go to PT for several months for a repetitive stress injury from mouse overuse, so that would actually be a deal breaker for me unless the company also gets me a fancy ergo keyboard-with-trackpad.

    3. Rocks are neat*

      I’ve run into that. My phrase is ‘this is what is wanted’. Doesn’t matter if there is a better way/I can do it faster a different way. If he wants you to click the mouse button then gosh darn it, be the best damn click-button-mouser… whatever! And repeat not my circus , not my tigers over and over until your contract is up.

    4. 3lla*

      Are you a temp through an agency? If you’ve already given in 30-60 days, the glory of temping is calling your agency and saying “this isn’t the one, find me something else.”

  14. Ames*

    Starting a new remote role in a couple of weeks. I get to order my own devices (laptop, monitor, keyboard, etc) … but have no idea where to start. I’m a CPA and need a machine powerful enough to handle multiple large Excel files with formulas and pivot tables. Suggestions on what to get?

      1. Ames*

        I was under the impression that the Excel version available for Apple devices won’t run PowerPivot. Any experience there?

          1. Picard*

            agreed. Do not get a MAC. (Im a CPA and CFO and use Excel with pivot tables daily – that said, I didnt buy my gear – the company provided it)

      2. Warrior Princess Xena*

        No, bad idea, bad idea. Excel and other financial software are very limited on macs and many major data processing/visualization softwares just don’t have Mac functionality at all. Macs are great for graphics but not for big data

    1. Brownie*

      My org rolled out new laptops for everyone when we went to WFH and overwhelmingly the tech support folks absolutely hate the laptops with Intel Xeon processors. They run so hot under heavy computing loads that they actually damage the internal components and have to be returned to Dell for full laptop replacement. I’d heavily suggest using tech websites like Newegg and looking at the reviews of any laptop you’re interested in for overheating issues. If you can message your new manager, ask for the specs of their computer, and if it works for them, that would give you a good place to start in terms of requirements for CPU speed and RAM.

      Apart from that, make sure your laptop has an SSD drive for storage (it makes such a speed difference) and have a good nightly backup solution for any work files that aren’t saved to a work backed-up network location. That last is absolutely crucial, if something happens to the laptop you’ll still have the files that way.

      1. Ames*

        TY for the specifics, esp the suggestion on SSD and backup. I’ve had more than one laptop hard drive fail on me. This is a great reminder

      2. ThinkPads*

        My company uses Lenovo ThinkPads, and we are also having a ton of problem with fans running constantly and the machine overheating. I use Creative Cloud all day, but my colleagues in other departments who use different software are also having problems.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I like Lenovo. HP’s got some solid laptops with decent processing speed too. Without a budget there’s really infinite answers to give here…

      1. irianamistifi*

        Try to find out if device support is going to come from your company or if you’ll be left to fend for yourself. I’ve had absolutely horrendous experience with Lenovo customer support. I love my Lenovo computer but I would like to throw their entire CS team into the ocean.

    3. Parenthesis Dude*

      Work is paying for it? Go to Dell or HP or wherever, and get the laptop that they say is high-performance. Focus on getting a great processor and 16 or 32 GBs of RAM.

      There aren’t really suggestions about “what to get”. There are certain types of computers, but even computers in the same type can differ significantly.

    4. Anon for This*

      Get a large additional screen – I hate it when I can’t see the whole Excel sheet which is usually the case on standard screens.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Assuming work is paying for it, I would ask to talk to someone in IT and get their input — they may have a list of preferred devices that they’re more familiar with in terms of being able to support the hardware.

    6. Observer*

      A few thoughts, agreeing with a lot of what’s been written.

      * I like HP and Lenovo, but don’t bother with their “gaming” and consumer lines. Get their business lines. Preferably, the ones with a 3 year warranty.

      * Either get a 17″ laptop, or a smaller one with at least one nice sized external monitor. Your eyes will thank you. And the overall ergonomics of the separate screen are good for your neck and back.

      * Get an SSD – and make sure it’s big enough. If all of your actual data and files are going to be living in the cloud and / or your company’s servers, you might be able to get away with 256GB, but it might be tight. If you have data on your drive, then you need at least 512GB.

      * Get a decent external mouse – wireless makes sense.

      * If you are having data on your drive, get an external drive and backup to both that drive and a cloud account. Set it up to be automated.

      * Get at least 16GB RAM. If you are doing monster sized spreadsheets, not just “big”, get 32 gb if you can.

    7. Observer*

      On a separate note, if you have the space and your workflow does not require mobility, consider getting a desktop with one or even 2 monitors. The ergonomics are better and you generally get more bang for your buck with a desktop – yes, still.

      And I can’t tell you how shocked people are when they go to two monitors, especially when doing heavy spreadsheet type work where you need to see lots of columns at the same time as you are working with multiple files or other types of documents or inputs.
      eg Bug spreadsheet + plus an email with a bunch of questions you are trying to answer with the data in your spreadsheet.

    8. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Dev, not a CPA. You will want at least one external monitor. If you go with an ultra wide, you’ll probably want one with some curve to it. I had a 32” monitor that had no curve, and as nice as the monitor was, it just wasn’t ideal. Dell has some nice 24” monitors that are affordable. If you go with a single monitor though, I’d recommend something bigger than 24 inches.

      For USB hubs, converters, etc., Anker makes really good products.

    9. Contracts Killer*

      I can’t speak to the best laptop, but I love my ergonomic wireless keyboard. It has a separate keypad which is nice to be able to move above, below, or next to my keyboard depending on what I’m doing.

      For the best mouse, it depends on your hand size. I’m a woman with tiny (seriously, like kid-size gloves for me) hands, so I didn’t get an ergo mouse because it was too big. For larger hands, an upright ergo mouse is supposed to be great.

      I echo everyone suggesting a second monitor. There are also portable monitors that are lightweight and roughly the size of a laptop screen. You can get them for about $150, so potentially worth it to even pay out of pocket if your job won’t cover it.

      I’m not sure if your office will pay for furniture, but I highly suggest an expandable desk so you can stand if/when you want, an anti-fatigue mat for standing, and a footrest if your feet don’t touch the floor (tiny hands, tiny everything, I’m basically Edith Ann at my desk…and that’s the truth!)

      There are tons of ergonomic videos on YouTube that give great advice for setting up a home office to help avoid shoulder, neck, and back issues. Good luck!

    10. Cj*

      Also a CPA, although I only work with midsize Excel spreadsheets, not huge ones.

      My personal computers have always had HP laptops and love them. I got a new one a couple years ago for use when I’ve been self employed, and the main reason I purchased that one, even though it was a couple hundred dollars more than the other brand I was looking at, was because it boots up and launches programs extremely quickly, including ones that launch automatically on startup. I don’t recall what feature it has that allows this, but you can certainly ask when you are looking at them, or if more tech inclined people are still reading this, maybe they can provide an answer.

      I haven’t worked for a firm and over the decade that doesn’t have all of the software and data storage in the cloud. If that’s the case for you, you’d still want a decent size hard drive, but it wouldn’t need to be huge. Spend the money on processing speed instead.

      HPs, and particularly the one I have now, are the only laptops I found that has the keyboard keys spaced far enough apart that I can comfortably use it with out having an external keyboard.

      If you don’t need an ergonomic keyboard, I really like one of the Logitech wireless keyboard boards. There is one that comes without a mouse, but the one I like the best comes with a full size wireless mouse. I prefer a compact mouse, so I did need to buy a separate wireless mouse, but they are pretty inexpensive. there is a wireless HP keyboard/compact mouse combination that is probably my favorite, but I’ve had two of them and each one only lasted a couple years.

      Since you are remote, I am assuming you are working in a paperless environment. In that case you will need at least two monitors, one with the client info on it and one with the software you were working in on it. I also have a third monitor where I usually have my email open, and also have our practice management software showing there for when I need it. If your laptop screen is large enough, you might be able to use that instead of having a third external monitor. I currently have two 22-in monitors, and. one 24-in monitor. That extra 2 in is hugely beneficial. I might even go bigger if I was working with spreadsheets with lots of columns.

      If you are ever going to use your laptop other than at your normal workstation (like if you are attending a webinar, aren’t feeling well but still want to be able to check emails, etc.) docking stations are awesome so you don’t have to disconnect and reconnect your monitors and other peripherals. If not a docking station, you’ll want to at least get a hub that has multiple types of inputs. Even if the laptop itself has quite a few, there are just so many things that a person needs to plug into them now that I don’t know how you would get by without one.

      On a related note, when you are purchasing monitors, pay attention to what type of port they use to connect to the computer. If it’s something that isn’t on the laptop, docking station, or hub, make sure to get adapters for them.

    11. ArtK*

      Lenovo laptops are quite reliable. I’ve had 6-7 over the years. Get one with *lots* of memory (makes processing large files a bit faster.) After that, get one with the fastest processor that fits in your budget.

  15. Free Meerkats*

    Let’s hear your stories of office supplies gone wrong.

    Two from here:

    We had about 150 survey forms coming in and needed small binder clips for them, so I asked our admin person to order 12 boxes of 12. She ordered them with a quantity of 12; unfortunately, that was 12 boxes of 12 boxes of 12 clips. That was in the mid 90s and we’re still working through all those clips.

    The other, more recent one. I have a new report and when she received her business cards, they said “Pubic Works”… Luckily, it was noticed before she handed any out.
    https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipMQPoJOhN-WlBx7jt43G-aoKcN0Xp8cbpiXcd50FFGeLw-89Z7hzUc-7NjgaUUT9Q?key=MnFVT1JIbWJfQl9PbG5RbzdIWUFzOEs2UDVleXVn

    1. desk platypus*

      The person in charge of our department supplies would do bulk orders of pretty much anything you can imagine. Our workspace was hard to navigate with all the inventory. New people were put in charge of inventory and immediately set to work figuring out the excess. I saw carts full of nothing but post its notes get thrown out because they were so old the adhesive wasn’t good anymore. We had to beg other departments to take supplies that were still good but would take us years to get through, like paper clips, printer paper, staples, etc.

      The next fiscal year our department saved literally over tens of thousands of dollars because now we only ordered what we needed. (And we’re an under 15 person department!) But because our usual money was budgeted we got to order some much fancier than usual equipment so that was an unexpected plus.

      1. Generic Name*

        That is so insane. I’m not a fan of requiring approval from higher ups to do basic things like order office supplies, but I can see that this kind of scenario is what leads to that type of micromanagement. Tens of thousands of dollars for office supplies is outrageous! I can’t believe that nobody thought to question that line item in the budget, either!

        1. desk platypus*

          Oh yeah, I’m baffled endlessly by it. Luckily the new people did so well in cut backs and order counts the higher ups were mostly appeased (but I hear they were VERY upset when they heard.)

          The real kicker is the old inventory person now believes the new people waste time doing inventory counts that takes them away from “real” work. The counts are quarterly, last only two days or so, takes place in-between main tasks, all while keeping us informed of what we need and within a reasonable budget.

      2. Pam Adams*

        Once upon a time when I worked at McDonald’s, I moved to a store that had never tried to adjust their Happy Meal toy orders. We had a storeroom full of outdated toys. Right-sizing the order took one phone call, which I made. It took me over a year of running ‘Dollar Happy Meal” nights to get rid of the extras.

    2. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      Someone in my office ordered a gross of lint brushes–that was about 5 years ago. The person who ordered them is no longer with the company. But the lint brushes are still with us.

        1. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

          LOL. I think the person thought they were ordering 5 lint brushes but in actuality, order 5 BOXES.

          1. Diatryma*

            That is how I had 4800 baby wipes delivered right to my door.

            Joke’s on everyone! That’s the right number of wipes to order if you have room! Wipes for every room and then some!

    3. Ama*

      I once worked at a relatively new graduate program (it was in year three of having its own building when I arrived). Apparently when the building opened, the person they hired to run the admin placed a big supply order just based on what he thought they would need, rather than actually waiting to see what we would need.

      For some reason he ordered:
      an entire case of ledger size paper — which we used once a year to print the four pages of our budget for review;
      enough boxes of rubberbands to fill two large cabinets — I have no idea what he thought we’d need those for, we had enough rubberbands from our daily mail delivery for me to make a rubberband ball that was larger than a softball by the time I left, and I maybe took a rubberband off it twice);
      two MORE cabinets full of 1 liter bottles of hand sanitizer — these at least we used, very slowly, although it occurred to me when the pandemic started (I had long since left that job) that that supply would finally get used up

      It’s been nearly a decade since I left that job, and I bet if I returned there would still be an entire bookshelf full of ledger size paper and two cabinets of rubber bands, unless someone finally insisted on getting rid of them to make use of the storage space.

    4. Generic Name*

      I worked in environmental and safety department of a factory, and I guess they resented that we were required to exist, because I definitely go the “red-headed stepchild” vibe. We were not allowed to order office supplies as a cost-cutting measure, but people were still allowed to travel. So the folks who traveled would take the crappy pens and teeny notepads from their hotel rooms, and that’s what we were supposed to use. All the post-it notes were swag from conferences. It was really silly.

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

      Our marketing manager ordered branded pens to hand out at events, but she didn’t pay attention to the size, so she wound up with…IDK 1-2 thousand…1/2 inch barrel, 6 inch long, GIANT novelty pens with our org logo on them. They were very popular as freebees but ridiculous.

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

        I miss guessed just now… they were 9 inches long. Six inches is close to a standard pen size. These things were HUGE.

    6. Amorphous Eldritch Horror*

      As a young admin I learned the hard way that:

      A4 paper, legal paper, and standard size 8.5″ paper are all different
      People are particular about pens, especially the blue vs black ink debate
      People are particular about sticky notes
      Printer toner is a scam, literally (I almost signed us up for a scam supplier but my supervisor got us out of that. She tore strips off me but in that case I deserved it.)
      Getting rid of binders is harder than one would think
      Binder clips go so faast.

      1. Dragon*

        I work in legal, and myself use blue pens to sign paper documents so that the original is easily identifiable.

    7. Librarian of SHIELD*

      We had the same thing, but with pencils. We wanted 12 dozen, but ended up with 12 boxes of 12 dozen each. Still working our way through them.

    8. Sister Spider*

      When moving into my freshman dorm in college in the year 2000, my dad bought me 12 boxes of small paperclips (100 per box) – I moved those bad boys between 5 dorm rooms, 8 different apartments/homes, and even brought them to several different jobs with me just to get rid of them. I finally used up the last box sometime in 2018.

    9. Cherry Ames*

      I recently ordered (what I thought was) a case of paper. I was surprised when just one package (ream) of paper arrived!!!!

      Note to self, be sure to check the unit description when ordering!!!

      (fortunately I was ordering paper in advance so we had plenty on hand already)

      1. UpstateDownstate*

        Oh man, in my past job many moons ago the fun task of ordering office supplies fell on me (until someone more suitable could be volunteered). During an office move no one could find printer paper and people were screaming for more orders so I placed a few. But so did others who had access to our Staples account. We also didnt know what we were doing and multiple pellets of printer paper started showing up. We had to hire movers to stack them out of sight around the office space. What a nightmare! I still shudder whenever I walk past a printer or huge stacks of printer paper.

    10. Joielle*

      Haha omg the business card! I used to work for an agency that edited language for laws and rules, and we set up our drafting software to flag the word “pubic” because 95% of the time it was a typo and nobody wanted that typo to accidentally end up in a law. All my sympathy on that one, glad someone noticed!

    11. Quinalla*

      My tiny regional office of about 10 people for months kept getting the same amount of toilet paper as the main office of over 100 people. We had SO MUCH toilet paper, we finally told them to stop bringing toilet paper. I was comforted during COVID that I knew where to get toilet paper if I ever ran out though :P

      The person who was in charge of ordering supplies, we also told him toilet paper every month just to annoy him LOLOL, poor guy. But that’s what he gets for not actually ordering the pens I wanted and instead bringing back the subpar pens from the main office. “But they are the same color!” he says, and I’m like, “I gave you the empty box and told you to order these specific pens, dude, it’s pens, they aren’t pricey!”

    12. Foley*

      well…if it’s any consolation to her, I once submitted a report in history class on the desegregation of pubic schools… which with my lovely dot matrix printer did those big combo letters…

      Also, some things I swear can’t be ordered in small quantities. I looked in my supply drawer and concluded that staples and mechanical pencil refills will outlive me.

  16. Dr. Doll*

    My day would get 1000% better immediately if I could get two emails telling me that requisitions for two services were approved. One of them has been wandering around the systems for three months, something that would make our work 150% easier and costs less than $800 and somehow I could not seem to get it completed, could not find the path.

    The other wandered around our systems for several weeks because it had contact information from someone who left six months ago, before hitting my desk three weeks before we lose the service, and I had to call an emergency meeting with a bunch of people who are way more important than I am to help figure out what to do — and then we lost the thread again for three days. Today is the very last day. If it doesn’t get signed, the service gets turned off. I am….stressed.

    Tell me your tales of bureaucratic woe, so at least I know I am not alone.

    1. NotReallyAnEventMngr*

      Oh man, have experienced this working for a government agency. For a bit I was in charge of planning a very large, high-visibility event. If it didn’t happen, it would have been a Big Deal and many people would have noticed.
      Apparently, no one who was on the team at the agency was involved the last time the event happened. It took so long to get the venue contract signed, we could have lost the space and had to start over with our plans (day! time! location!). Similarly, manyyyy invoices were WAY past due because–similar to you–the person who originally was in charge of the accounts left, and the auto email message (“I am no longer at this agency, contact XXX”) expired after a few weeks. Not only was that bad for the people on the other end of the invoice, but for any future relationship…yikes. Building a reputation for not paying/not signing is NOT fun.
      All of these pieces were completely appropriate, the funds were there, yadda yadda…it just took forever for the right people to review and sign and process. Was VERY frustrating, and I’m glad that’s no longer my responsibility.

    2. Academic Fibro Warrior*

      higher ed woe! a student in an adjacent program received a substantial scholarship from a government adjacent organization. business office mistyped the student’s bank account number and sent lots of money to the wrong place. student showed up to ask where the money was. business office refused to recall the money or take responsibility for their data entry error. told the student to contact the bank it did go to (but refused to provide that information because privacy) to get it back. told student to have the granting organization find out and recall it. told student to have parents send the money…but the reason student had scholarship was because family could not pay. refused to help in any way that was actually helpful. this went on for months. I think it was eventually sorted out after the granting organization threatened to pull their money for all the students in that program, which was about 50 or 60 students a year for five or six years. this was not the only problem we had with them. largely because they published their policies and had a separate set of much narrower policies they actually followed but did not make available to anyone. it was stressful and I’m so glad I moved on.

    3. MsnotMrs.*

      I recently had to forfeit the better part of an ARPA grant because of basically what you’re describing–the first person the paperwork was submitted to retired suddenly, then the paperwork just…. poofed away. Never was found again. Tried to read the riot act with some higher-ups a couple of days before expiration and got my ass handed to me (“why didn’t you bring this to our attention sooner” etc. but I kinda feel like I’m bringing it to your attention right now!?) and no help, so the whole thing just wandered off into the sunset. I honestly get upset when I think about it too much.

    4. Ness*

      Last year, I was trying to get a grant awarded before the end of the fiscal year. The grant package was submitted 6 months before the end of the fiscal year, and there’s supposed to be a 3-4 month processing time, so it should have been no problem, but the grants office was severely understaffed.

      The last day that grants could be awarded fell on a Saturday. The grants officer realized last-minute that a form was missing, so I and a few other people had to scramble, on our day off, to get the form completed and signed.

      The grants officer apparently got two mouse clicks away from awarding the grant before the system locked. And once the system locks out for end of the fiscal year, it doesn’t reopen for almost a month.

      Once the system reopens, you can’t just go back and finish the process – you have to cancel the old grant and do a new one, which involves redoing a bunch of paperwork and getting new signatures. The grant ended up being delayed several weeks into the new fiscal year. The recipient was, naturally, pretty ticked about this.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      I had to take emergency medical leave this past spring. Six months later I am still trying to get documentation affirming that my resulting pay issues have been cleared up. To put it in perspective, I was diagnosed, treated, and recovered from major surgery in a shorter timeframe than getting a response from any of the multiple payroll people I have contacted. I’ve now spent more time chasing this down than the amount of money I think I’m still owed.

    6. Jay*

      Mine: six employees of my group had their paychecks bounce because someone had checks printed as a demo of a new bank (back in the days of paper checks) and they somehow found their way to payroll and were printed and sent out despite having made-up account and routing numbers.

      My husband’s: He was PI of a grant that included a good deal of money for supplies and office furniture. Purchasing told him which catalog to use and he proceeded to order the largest desk he could find (he likes big desks and he cannot lie). Purchasing called and said he couldn’t have that desk because it was too expensive. He pointed out that the University wasn’t paying for it and the money couldn’t be used for anything *except* furniture and supplies. She said the real reason was that only people who met with the public could have those desks. He explained that he did, indeed, meet with the public. She then said no, only VPs could have those desks. After six weeks – SIX WEEKS – of this he finally had to get a letter from the Dean to authorize him to buy a desk that the University wasn’t paying for. This took place in 1995 and he left the University in 2002 and he still has the letter.

  17. Dark nails?*

    Thoughts on dark nails at work? The weather is starting to turn a little cooler, and I really want to paint my nails a dark color–oxblood, navy, or maybe even just black. For reference, I work at a law school — usually academia is more relaxed, but I have coworkers who wear blazers every day to work. I usually wear dresses, tights, and cardigans. I’ve only been working here for about three months, and have stuck to light pink so far when I get manicures. Also, if it makes a difference, I keep my nails very very short and won’t get any nail art or anything, just a dark color painted on. Do you think I can go dark? Or will people think it seems unprofessional/childish/inappropriate? TIA!

    1. my cat is prettier than me*

      I don’t think dark will read as childish/unprofessional. Glitter would be a different story.

      1. anona-ope*

        Offices vary. I’m a supervisor and wear dark glittery polish regularly. I guess that’s the perk of being the one who gets to set the tone for your dept!

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          Yeah, I don’t think glitter polish reads childish, especially if it’s in a dark color.

    2. Ames*

      I’m a CPA and see dark colors (navy, deep purple, etc) in the workplace often. I say go for it and if you get negative feedback it’s easy to swap it out.

    3. Wordnerd*

      I’ve always thought dark nails were sort of extra super professional, as long as they’re well maintained/not chipped, etc. I really can’t imagine it reflecting on you in any negative unless you have a particularly weird coworker who thinks black nails are “goth” or something.

    4. Bagpuss*

      I do’t think dark would read as unprofessional althouhg possibly black might be seen as a little less professional than an oxblood type shade.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’d probably avoid the stark black personally, but I love a nice super dark red, purple, green or blue with a matte topcoat. I don’t know why, but I feel like the matte topcoat makes any color seem just a little more … I dunno. Feels a little more formal, maybe? Also, and maybe this is just me, but I find that my polish chips a lot less with a matte topcoat than a regular shiny one, even when they’re the same brand.

    6. KayDeeAye*

      I don’t see any problem with a dark nail color, with the POSSIBLE exception of black. I don’t really see why that would be a problem either, but it’s possible that other people might disagree. Honestly, you’d probably have more problems with, like, fluorescent green or something.

      1. snarkfox*

        I was trying to figure out my knee-jerk reaction to dislike black nails, and I figured it out. It’s from the goth trend going around my high school back in the day where all the kids colored their nails with sharpie!

        But I don’t think it’s inherently unprofessional… I just have an unfortunate association with it.

        1. KayDeeAye*

          LOL – oh, I know what you mean. But there’s a lot more to the goth look than black nails, so unless Dark nails? starts wearing, oh, I don’t know, all black with a choker decorated with plastic bones or something, they shouldn’t give off much of a goth vibe. :-)

    7. Lucky*

      I think dark nails are quite elegant and read as more formal than pastels, so I say go for it. I’m going to get mine done in a nice deep gray in solidarity.

    8. Just Want A Nap*

      I think you should be fine if you keep up with the color so it doesn’t chip away! part of why I like pale pinks is because it’s that much harder to see when it chips off, and dark colors just show the nail bed sooner.

    9. Anon (and on and on)*

      These days, I think dark nails reads more high fashion than goth or childish, but it depends on the environment. You mentioned that some coworkers wear blazers. What do people wear on the more casual end of the spectrum? That may be a more useful point of reference. Alternately, if you were concerned you could pop on a blazer the first time you wore the oxblood nail polish and that would look really fantastic!

      1. Dark nails?*

        The more casual end of the spectrum would be on the casual side of business casual–like nice (dark wash, hole-free) jeans with a blouse or sweater. I have coworkers who would wear open toe shoes in the summer but I never saw anyone in sleeveless shirts or dresses, if that helps explain! I previously worked in an office where the dress code was business professional, so the murky business casual dress code here is really throwing me for a loop.

        1. Anon (and on and on)*

          With this added context I think the dark nail polish would be more than okay, as long as you kept it fresh and unchipped as others have said.

    10. to varying degrees*

      I’ve worked in municipal government in a pretty conservative area (and at a high level) and I wore black, oxblood, dark brown, dark green, grey, everything under the sun. I’ve had velvet nails, glitter nails and nails with charms. No one has ever batted an eye, although when I did the velvet I got a lot of compliments on them.

    11. Melanie Cavill*

      I regularly do dark polish on my nails with a different colour on each hand. No one has ever said anything. (Although I do go slightly more conservative for interviews.) Personally, I say live your best and most manicured life.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I tend to do the ring finger on my right hand and the middle finger on my left in a different color than the rest :) Though for me, it’s because somehow those are always the ones I mess up, and if I mess up a nail bad enough that I have to start over I do it with a different color because weird personal superstition. :)

    12. jellybean*

      I’ve worked in non profits and tech sectors and I have seen so many colleagues with super long fake nails painted in glitter, with little gems or like.. I don’t know what to call them, but like little plastic donuts or toys or whatever stuck on.

      The idea that short dark nails would be too much is blowing my mind.

    13. Another JD*

      Dark polish is fine so long as your nails aren’t chipped. I’m a lawyer and our intake specialist currently has black nails that are squared off. They look great.

    14. Eether, Either*

      I have dark red–oxblood–nails almost all of the time. I’ve also had black nails. I work in the legal dept. of a VERY large company. I don’t think anyone will care. Go for it!

    15. Policy Wonk*

      To me the only issue is keeping it neat. Dark nail polish shows chips, etc. more clearly, whereas the light pink does not.

      1. Westsidestory*

        This is true, you have to keep it up so it looks “polished” (pardon the pun). Dark brown with a top glaze is very on trend now, as is dark green and grey. Choose what looks good with your skin tone. Essie Raisin Nuts (dark brownish red) is my go/to for autumn and I always hope they won’t discontinue!

    16. Joielle*

      I do black nail polish always and I’m a senior leader in a fairly culturally conservative state agency (leadership level generally in dark suits, etc). TBH I’ve sort of leaned in to my role as the office goth. I do stand out a bit but nobody seems to mind and it has not hindered my career progression in any way that I can tell! In fact, I think being a bit memorable has helped – in a sea of Tims and Daves wearing identical grey suits, people seem to remember me.

    17. RagingADHD*

      This is a completely irrational gut feeling, but to me navy or oxblood seem perfectly fine for the office, but black seems kind of “Emo teenager.”

  18. Anonywhale*

    Most standard laptops these days can handle excel data and files like you’re describing with ease, so I wouldn’t worry too much about getting the specs wrong. I’d just look for something that has a good processor (so avoid chromebooks) and you’ll be all set

  19. Lizabeth is retiring next year*

    I’ve decided to retire as of January 1, 2024.

    My question is this: how much notice should I give the idiots that run my division? It will happened just after the winter product is done and out to the reps so it will be a slower time.
    I was going to give them the standard two weeks along with a list of “what I do” so they can figure out how to hire my replacement(s).

    I plan to document what I do over the coming year so that’s covered.

    Also NONE of the software or hardware I use is owned by the company (I know…I know…) Only the files that were created belong to them. Is it unreasonable to expect them to ship me an external hard drive to load them on along with shipping labels? I know if I ship my external hard drive I’ll never see it again.

    1. KayDeeAye*

      I can’t speak for your workplace, but at mine, the traditional notice period for retirement is a LOT longer than for ordinary resignation – like at least a couple of months, and sometimes even 6 months. I guess there’s nothing they can do if you elect to give them only a couple of weeks, but that short of a notice wouldn’t be customary around here.

      But yes, you can absolutely tell them to ship you an external hard drive. You own your current one, so why should you have to “loan” it to them?

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      Not unreasonable at all! I’d clearly spell out the requirement for external hard drives and shipping labels as part of your transition packet.

      For retirement I’ve seen key stakeholders give up to a year’s notice, and as little as 3 months. One of our managers gave 3 years notice back in 2018 – he got delayed by the pandemic and finally ended up retiring a few weeks ago. I’ve never seen anyone give 2 weeks notice, but that might just be my industry. If you don’t think it’ll hurt you, I would lean towards giving more notice. But you have to do what’s right for you.

    3. soontoberetired*

      if you have files they need, there’s ways to get that to them without shipping hard drives. That’s why things like One Drive, google drive, dropbox exist. There’s also other ways to ftp people files.

      but as you know, there’s issues with you using your own drive for work.

    4. Nicki Name*

      Retirement is a more complicated process than just leaving a job. When my dad retired, the process started *months* before his last day. You probably need to give them more than two weeks. (There is probably a website for your state or local government giving a suggested timeline.)

      As for transferring the files, is Box.com or something similar not an option?

    5. CatCat*

      Long retirement notice periods are normal where I work, but no one is forced out early here either. If that’s not a norm (or you don’t know if it is) where you are or if you’re just flat out uncomfortable with a long notice period, two weeks is totally fine. Two weeks is a professional, customary amount of notice. I don’t know why it should make a difference what you’re doing after you leave.

      Seems reasonable to me also that if they want their files, they need to provide the equipment and shipping needed for you to transmit them.

    6. the cat's ass*

      congrats on your impending retirement! I’m wondering this myself. I’m also trying to announce it well after the holidays so i don’t get screwed out of the annual bonus, as has happened to other folks who announce leaving after the holidays before the holidays.

    7. Fluffy Fish*

      Unlike some other comments, I don’t think retirement requires any more notice than if you were changing jobs. The end result is the same – you are ceasing employment on such and such date.

      That said, you may want to critically assess how long you think it will take to transfer your tasks and provide any training/documentation.

      You may choose to start developing some of that stuff over the course of the next year so you (1) don’t have to try to cram it all in at the end and (2) fell good about the amount of heads up you decide to give them.

      Also, your HR department might have requirements about paperwork and such that will make it public knowledge anyway, so that’s something else to consider in timing.

      1. Jay*

        Depends on whether you are due a pension or any other retirement benefits from that employer. I retired last December with no pension or other retirement benefits (I was 61 at the time) and it was no different from a standard resignation – same notice period. I ended up giving a much longer notice for a variety of reasons, including the certainty that they wouldn’t force me out sooner than I wanted to go.

    8. Another JD*

      Retirement is typically a longer notice period than resignation. So long as all your retirement benefits are vested, there’s not much risk of being let go earlier since you weren’t planning on the long-term income anyway.

    9. Kiwiapple*

      are you still working full time? everyone I’ve ever known who has retired has gone from f/t to p/t to get used to not working. it’s not like moving jobs, it’s a whole different ballgame (mentally and physically).
      if your company has any training or workshops on retirement, would recommend in doing those too.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        My dad retired a few years ago and promptly became a volunteer treasurer for half a dozen different groups, which he doesn’t seem to enjoy at all. He has more hours of zoom calls in a single day than I do in a week at my full-time, remote, for-pay job.

        If he logs onto one more 4-hour meeting after I travel halfway across the country to see my parents, I’m staging an intervention.

    10. introverted af*

      My husband had his former boss retire after many years of service with 2 weeks notice. It was a headache, to say the least.

      My understanding is that if you’re only going to give 2 weeks, it would be courteous to offer reaaaally good documentation of your work. If you move somewhere else, they kinda expect you’ll be able to answer a question or 2 if it’s important. If you retire, they expect you to disappear into the ether. So part of the notice period for retirees is documenting all that knowledge that only lives in your head and transitioning your stuff to other people.

      All that said, you’re entitled to give as much or as little notice as you want, and I’m hesitant to go too strongly against the “only give notice when you’re prepared for them to immediately show you the door,” advice.

    11. OtterB*

      I’m planning to retire in mid-2024, or perhaps earlier in 2024. Haven’t decided yet about when I will announce it. Factors in play: I am the only person who does my task within the organization; there are others who know a little about it, but it would be really good to have my replacement on board with some overlap. There’s also a clear annual cycle to my task, so bringing someone in at the low point of the cycle would be easier all the way around. We are a nonprofit that is higher-ed adjacent, so retiring more or less on an academic year schedule with plenty of advance notice would not be unusual. One of the things I need to do is get files transferred to the organization Dropbox from my laptop, even though the laptop belongs to them.

    12. Quinalla*

      Retirement people generally do give a little more notice, but you don’t have to especially if you are documenting everything prior. If you are a more higher up position, I would say it is pretty common to give 3-6 months or even years notice of retirement for succession planning.

      You should 100% ask for them to send you something to load files onto, don’t feel bad about that! I’d present it as, “Please order X/send X to my address (list address here) and email me a shipping label so I can get you all the files, thanks!” Do they not have an ftp or something you can drop files into or way too large of files?

      Good luck!

  20. Helping Customers*

    Trying to build out an account management/customer success management team at my company. It’s a SaaS product, SMB size accounts, customers can do a lot of things on their own, so they don’t need hand holding just to use it. This would be a strategy role – helping customers to grow (and of course, retain them). There is an existing support team so they will not be responsible for day to day support on the accounts – just the strategy side.

    What I’m curious to hear from people in similar roles (or with similar teams) is what is your account load or MRR load? I see resumes from people mentioning only having 40 accounts in prior roles (though I suspect that’s much more enterprise) and some initial research shows something around 100-250 accounts being about right. There is one person in the role now with more accounts than this and they aren’t very busy… I suspect the wrong person was hired since they aren’t having success getting people booked for QBRs and honestly just don’t seem to have the strategic mindset, but also want to be reasonable with account load as we grow this out.

    Would love to hear thoughts! What is your account/MRR load, product type, customer type, and what is the make up of your day (% time spent on demos, calls, emails, notes/presentation prep, etc)?

    Thanks!

    1. AJPS*

      I’ve been a CSM or Acct mgr most of my 15 year career in software. I have had a range of 3-150 customers to my name, all depends on the segmentation and company maturity. I’ve done roles that are combo implementation + long term support (150 customers, low ARR, low complexity); as an added layer to account exec on enterprise (12 customers >$2mm ARR portfolio); startup doing support + qbr + strategy; 3 customers doing more technical account management.

      what are the csms measured by – are they responsible for GRR and NRR and renewals #s and contracts + negotiations? More of a product or industry expert? And, what’s the maturity of the company? Still ‘many hats’ or more mature?

      Check out successhacker if you haven’t already! Lots of good resources.

  21. Anon (and on and on)*

    I’m in HR focusing in culture and engagement and work a 75% part-time schedule. I’d be interested in doing some casual job hunting, seeing what else is out there. I’d like to stay HR-adjacent, but need to keep my part-time schedule for the sake of my mental health and for caregiving purposes. Fully remote is fine, so this could be a country-wide search.

    Everything I see is full-time. Am I just screwed? It’s like a pair of golden handcuffs. Is this schedule so good I’ll never recreate it anywhere else, so I’ll just have to stay in this role forever?

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      Very possible. Many employers don’t want .75FTE positions because that may come with the same level of benefits, which are incredibly expensive, as for a full-time employee. So they don’t feel they’re paying 75% salary for 75% work, it’s more like they’re paying 90% the cost of a full-time employee for 75% the work. (Of course, there are plenty employers out there who don’t provide benefits for less than 40 hours per week and they’re *more* interested in part-time employees, but I’m guessing that’s not what you’re looking for.)

      I sympathize–I worked a .6FTE position for a long time, way longer than I should have, because it was just such a great schedule while I was running a side business.

    2. Savvy*

      How the heck did you get a part time HR gig in the first place? That would be my ideal (as long as it was enough to have insurance).

      1. Anon (and on and on)*

        Mostly because I work in higher ed. The job started as 50% and worked up from there as I was interested in working more hours. We increased my hours temporarily and then found the budget to make those changes permanent over time. We went to 62.5%, then 75%, which I decided was the sweet spot. Interestingly, I got full benefits when I was hired in at 50% so there wasn’t a difference there as I increased my hours. Of course, since it’s higher ed the salary is pretty low and merits/promotions small as well, but that’s the trade-off.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      Without knowing your level of expertise, could you consider looking at fractional leadership opportunities?

      1. Anon (and on and on)*

        I had to look this up as I hadn’t heard of this! I’m probably 3-5 years away from a director-level position, but this is something I could think about for the future. Thanks for putting it on my radar!

    4. TiredSickAndYoung*

      I don’t have a solution to your problem, but I do think it’s so funny that businesses aren’t more open to less than full time positions. I know that I get 60% of my work done in the first 3 hours of my day, and the remaining 40% is distributed more or less evenly throughout that block, meaning that if I worked .75FTE, they’d be getting something along the lines of 80-85% of the work I do when full time while only paying me a .75FTA salary. I might even be able to get more work done because I’ll be more refreshed at work. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person like this – isn’t that the whole premise behind the 4-day workweek movement? Honestly, if someone wanted to hire me at .75FTE, it’d be a steal for them.

      1. Tech Talk*

        With you here.

        I managed to get a half time position in tech, which is tough to find. And the feedback I get is that I’m doing as much or more than some FT folks. The thing is, if you cut all the crud out of a job (excess meetings, random silly projects, etc.) that you wouldn’t be expected to handle as part of PT work, all the is left is, well, the work. And I just spend my time doing that. A win-win.

  22. Miette*

    I’ve noticed this odd thing lately with a couple of my clients. Meeting requests are coming through at 45 minutes in length instead of an hour. Is this a new trend or expectation? It’s odd because they wind up being 60 minutes anyway.

      1. Just Want A Nap*

        outlook just introduced a thing that autoprompts to make meetings 45 minutes instead of an hour so they may just be following the prompt…

      2. Contracts Killer*

        Same. 45 minutes or 25 minutes. It’s great. I get to snack, go to the bathroom, not completely lose my mind. Who knew?

    1. londonedit*

      I’ve heard of this as a policy that some companies are trying to implement – the idea is that if people have a lot of meetings, an hour for each never works because it’s impossible to get out of your 10-11am meeting at 11 on the dot, which means you’re late for your 12pm meeting, and so on. Whereas if you make them all 45 or 50 minutes, people are more likely to think ‘OK we need to get everything done in good time’, and you also have 10 minutes between meetings to check your email or get sorted for the next meeting or go to the loo or whatever.

    2. lost academic*

      It is probably a new company setting as a result of a trend. At my husband’s company the default is 50 minutes to allow for an automatic 10 minute break at a minimum between meetings, both virtual and in person. This is very healthy – you have to go to the bathroom, check for urgent emails, physically walk to your next meeting. What you need to do to make it relevant is for people to respect meeting times. The most senior people in your meetings need to start enforcing the timing and work in the meeting so that if it needs to be scheduled for an extra 30 min or whatever that it is, but otherwise meetings end when scheduled.

    3. A Girl Named Fred*

      We tried something like this in a previous workplace. Meetings were supposed to be set for 10 minutes less than intended (20 minutes if it was originally 30, 50 if originally an hour) so attendees could have a break, use the bathroom, etc. in between back to back meetings on their schedules. But you have to be VERY firm about enforcing it, because like you said 90% of the time the meeting ran for the full hour anyway.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      There is an idea floating around that 45 minute meetings are good for people who are in back-to-back meetings all day, because it gives them 15 min to make their own notes, send off a few emails, go to the bathroom, prep materials for the next meeting, etc. In practice, it’s hit-or-miss because (as you’ve seen) it’s easy for the meetings to take up the full hour.

      Default meeting time is a setting in Outlook (probably other calendar programs too) so it could be that certain organizations have their calendars default to 45 min meetings and the organizers don’t realize and they intend for the meetings to be a full hour.

    5. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      My company has been doing this, too, and the rationale is that it’s supposed to make us more efficient with our time.

      Thus far, that has not proven to be accurate.

    6. Dr. Anonymous*

      There’s a big culture in my workplace of organizers saying, “Well, I want to respect your time,” about 5-10 minutes before the scheduled end of the meeting and WRAPPING IT RIGHT UP. It’s beautiful. I think it’s partly because many meeting participants are physicians with clinical practices so many of us have a hard stop to go see patients, but the culture carries over into evening meetings (yes, we have evening meetings. Many of us prefer it.)

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I’m scrupulous about ending every meeting on time. Part of it is respect, part of it was open revolt against my manager who in my first week managed to run 45 minutes over for a 30 minute meeting.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      For me it’s the opposite of what others are reporting. A lot of people were scheduling 30 min. meetings and they always ran long. So now I ask for 45 mins. or an hour to give me a bit of flexibility.

  23. Curious*

    What types of jobs are out there and how does one find out? I have a computer science degree and want to see where I could use those skills/background. I know there’s software engineering, but what *else* is there? In any field, not just tech.

    Bonus points for fields/jobs that are NOT fully remote.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      IT comes to mind–not the same as CS but you’d be well-prepared to learn on the job, and IT folks often need to be on-site to troubleshoot. My partner works in a small IT unit at a non-tech company and his team does a mix of software-adjacent tasks (scripting, server management, web development), hardware management, customer service (basically helping employees with their tech problems), building internal company tools (using some coding and some low/no-code systems), and just generally coming up with tech improvements or solutions for challenges the company is facing.

      1. Alexis Rosay*

        Adding: I am a software engineer at a large company, so I can provide a direct comparison. My partner’s IT job involves a bigger variety of tasks and is much more collaborative and customer-focused, because his ‘customers’ are the internal company employees (company is small, less than 100 people). That provides a level of accountability and immediate satisfaction that he loves–when he solves something, he’s working directly with the people who use it and see that they are happy with it. (I’m guessing this is very different from an IT unit at a massive company.)

        By comparison, my work is more solitary and focused on solving weird technical issues that are hard to even describe to other people, much less be appreciated for. But I love that! And my partner loves his job. Definitely all depends on your orientation.

    2. Ness*

      Some things that are related to computer science but not software engineering: cybersecurity, IT project management, UI/UX design, software testing, database administration, data analysis

    3. OtterB*

      Data science is in demand now and has a substantial overlap with CS, though you might have to get a certificate of some kind.

  24. yala*

    Because of the discussion last week about someone using slime/putty, I caved and finally got some Thinking Putty.

    Y’all were right. This stuff is SO GOOD. It’s very soothing to squoosh while reading long/tedious things, and the scarab color is so nice.

    1. Thistle Pie*

      I just ordered some too! I’ve tried tons of other fidget toys but its hard to find ones that I can keep in one hand while I move my mouse with the other. I’m hoping this works!

    2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Oh i LIVE for Thinking Putty. I have two small tubs, but I want to get a mega tub next. It helps me to think and stay focused in discussions. Hey, its either that or doodling.

      Otherwise I have a big gob of Blu Tack I roll into shapes and make tiny sculptures. I should just get some silly putty next.

      1. yala*

        I was planning on getting one of the mini tubs, but they looked so small, and I REALLY wanted the scarab one, and BN only had that in the regular-sized tub so I definitely splurged more than I should have (especially considering how much yarn I’ve bought lately…), but definitely worth it!

    1. AnonNewHire*

      When are the classes and what changes will you need for work schedule? Is the class related to your role so that it will benefit the company?
      To the extent you have time to track how the demands on your time may impact things, that’d be great info to have for the conversation – e.g., “I propose leaving at 4 pm every T/Th… over the last few weeks, I have gotten only X requests for immediate assistance during that time, and all such situations could be addressed first thing the following morning.”

      1. Boggle*

        It’s not related to the company’s focus at all. The ultimate goal is to pivot fully away from corporate admin work and this is the first step. So even though I have significant capital built up, it wouldn’t be in the company’s overall best interest. That’s what I’m working with right now. No idea as per scheduling yet. I like your idea of monitoring my metrics! Hopefully that will go in my favour.

    2. just another queer reader*

      Agreed with the other commenter! It depends on how it would affect your work.

      Exactly how you approach this would depend on how much of a hassle this will be for your boss, how valued you are at your workplace (how much capital you have), and whether the degree will benefit your employer.

      I assume that you’d be able to get all your work done without too much trouble, just at different times? If so, I’d go to the boss with a semi detailed proposal. “Hey boss, as you know I’m working towards a degree in X and I’m starting part time classes. Could I switch my schedule from 8-4 to 10-6 on Mondays and Wednesdays? I’ll need to reschedule X and Y meetings but otherwise I will be getting the same work done.”

      Good luck and congratulations!

  25. AnonNewHire*

    Hi! I left a comfortable job I had outgrown this past spring to start a new job that seemed like a great growth opportunity. Now, about 4 months in, I’m pretty burnt out and trying to figure out if I should look for a new opportunity. Can I get opinions on whether the following are normal/standard complaints or reasons to move on?

    – When I was hired, my manager was aware of a pending merger that is likely to require downsizing. The messaging I’ve gotten is that they “think our function is safe” but it’s hard not to be bitter that they were aware of a risk to the long-term existence of this job that they didn’t share when I left a comfortable role I could have stayed in indefinitely.
    – Role was presented as being a split between my boss and myself – e.g., I’d handle all llama grooming issues while they would handle the alpaca maintenance. In actuality, because of the reporting structure and their reporting relationship with the Executive in Charge of Llamas & Alpacas, I end up being instructed by manager to complete one-off llama projects and do not have opportunities to get involved in project definition, planning, etc.
    – The llama hair stylists (a closely related but separate function from my llama grooming expertise) who I work with with appear to be woefully undertrained, and the llama hair stylist leader doesn’t seem interested in holding their team accountable to higher standards. The solution seems to be for me/my team to train the llama hair stylists, which I can do, but it’s not my area of expertise and doesn’t replace the real life experience that most companies would expect from stylists at this level. Even the senior stylists don’t have the experience you would think someone at their level would have, and they continue to hire junior stylists who know even less. [I think I may have jumped the llama grooming shark with that extended metaphor.]
    – The entire company, across all functions, seems to have minimal accountability. Responses to inquiries are very slow or absent, and things don’t get done unless you follow up repeatedly. These are not complicated or time consuming issues, but requests like “hi intranet person, can you please update this document (attached)” – followed by radio silence until multiple followups. This doesn’t seem to be an issue of asking the wrong people – and even if it was, I would expect a response or direction towards the right person (also not happening) rather than no response at all.
    Any thoughts welcome!

    1. NaoNao*

      One thing I wish I had done in what sounds like a similar role and situation is spend much more time building relationships. Is it too late to schedule introduction and meet and greet calls, kickoff calls for these projects, and try to get them to a) attend and b) agree to action items.
      I also would consider “marketing”–this sounds so much like my old role where we had instructors who were just fine and my boss was absent and “so busy” (a pet peeve) all the time doing god knows what, and NO ONE ever reached out to help or offered any kind of assistance and there was constant crickets. One objective I had on my radar was more regular communications, a single source of truth, and some sort of “landing page” that was better than the existing one. Any room or time for something like that, it sounds like you and your department need a higher profile and more proof of the value of the work.

      I will say “please update this document” if that’s an accurate email feels a bit skimpy like “update how? what’s the deadline? who’s asking?” so you might want to consider expanding it if you’re not already doing it. “Per Big Wig, can you please upload this attached document by Friday” or “Per Big Wig Scary, could you please implement the following changes by Thursday”

      1. AnonNewHire*

        Thanks and appreciate the input!

        For the update document example, it was asked in a longer message than I wrote here with appropriate niceties. It was actually just the swap out of one posted document for a new version (and I’m the subject matter expert on the document) – so not a matter of asking up the chain for someone to review with detail and provide feedback. More asking someone to do something basic & technical that they have the technical permissions to do, and which is part of the core responsibilities of their job.

    2. PollyQ*

      The first one alone is good enough. Risk of being let go is an EXCELLENT and easily understandable reason to job hunt. I’d say #2, the bait-and-switch, is nearly as good. #3 & 4 are also things that many people would find annoying, but I’d say they’re more of a personal preference as to whether they’d be reasons to leave.

    3. seeeeeps*

      The last point would be enough to make me leave. I just came from a job where no one wanted to do *their* job. They had other things they’d rather be doing, so they’d just – not do the things they didn’t want to do. No accountability. The director was very conflict avoidant and had enough to distract themself outside of administrating the unit, so it just.. didn’t happen. Everyone was frustrated with everyone else but could not see or acknowledge they were doing the same thing to other people.

      I stayed for two years (but I definitely knew by four months that it was untenable). It never got better and it impacted my self confidence and work ethic.

      Maybe if the company does merge, and your job is safe, the culture will change under new leadership, but there are a LOT of “maybes” in that situation.

  26. Jaded*

    Looking for insight from people who work in registrar offices in schools.

    I got an MLIS degree about 10 years ago, and have had only lowlevel jobs involving data/records since then. I’ve applied to a lot of jobs at colleges/schools over the years (including registrar jobs), and have interviewed for some of them, but never been hired.

    I applied to a registrar job at a private school over the weekend that had only been posted a few days prior, and on Monday they contacted me to set up a 45 minute interview for this upcoming Monday. I’ve been thinking about it, and it seems suspicious that they would jump to schedule an interview with me when I’m not a competitive candidate (the job post even says someone with school experience is strongly preferred). Since they’re not waiting to see if they get a good pool of candidates, is it likely that they already have an internal candidate picked and are doing interviews only because they have to?

    The hiring manager actually looks very familiar. It’s possible I’ve actually already interviewed for this position with them in the past. If I can find out for sure that I did already interview from old e-mails, should I withdraw? I haven’t gained any experience that would make me a better candidate (the only thing that might be different is the last time I was job hunting I was long term unemployed after being laid off).

    1. Temperance*

      I would take the interview, even as practice, if your schedule allows for that.

      That said, I abhor the practice of fake job postings.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      I’d go for it and feel them out! Lots can change in schools (ex: a change in leadership can completely shift a school’s hiring methods), and they could be eager to fill this role given how difficult other roles have been to fill. Also, they may need to have this filled by a certain date, so they’re being extra-fast to get the interview done. Does not read as a red flag to me.
      In my experience with private schools, if they have an internal they like, they won’t even open up to others (and it may never be posted).

    3. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I wouldn’t immediately jump to any of those conclusions! I would be thinking, hiring is hard right now, here’s a moderately qualified person, let’s bring them in. Definitely take the interview, even if this position doesn’t work out there’s lots of job opportunities in and adjacent to a school.

    4. Ama*

      This is very off cycle for school hiring (if you are in the US, usually schools don’t hire mid-semester), so it’s entirely possible there aren’t very many candidates with school experience in their pool because they aren’t looking to move now. It’s also very likely, because it’s off cycle, that they had an emergency vacancy and are prioritizing getting someone in quickly rather than with experience — if you did interview for this position before, that might actually be an assest, they could have recognized your name and thought “you know they weren’t a bad candidate last time, just [person we hired] had more school experience, let’s talk to them again.”

    5. fun and games*

      I work in a registrar’s office. Your degree would DEFINITELY interest us as we would perceive that as someone who likes details and someone who likes to research. Also, not for nothing, but when we’ve hired in the last year, we haven’t gotten a lot of applicants, so we largely interview…well…anyone vaguely interesting.

  27. E*

    Giving notice on Monday. I need help/courage/perspective! I am a mid career person but this one is hard for me. I started current job 10months ago and am happy there and love my boss. Was not looking, but a much more lucrative opportunity came around that I couldn’t say no to. I read Alison’s advice on giving notice when you’ve recently started, which was helpful. But those were LWs who had started very recently, like two weeks earlier. How apologetic should I be for leaving within less than a year? I will set them up well with a transition plan but it’s a hard labor market. Also, it’s best to do this in-person, right? I just know it’s going to blindside my boss and wondering if better to give her a heads up of what’s coming via email ? Or at least an ominously worded message before our meeting? (I’ll be telling her at a standing weekly checkin). Thanks in advance for your support!

    1. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

      I wouldn’t be very apologetic. This is a business decision not a personal one. I doubt your company would be that apologetic if they had to lay you (or anyone else) off. I’d use Alison’s script about how you weren’t looking and this feel into your lap.

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      I would phrase it exactly the way you’ve said it here – that you’ve loved working for him but this new opportunity fell in your lap and it’s too good to turn down. And don’t feel bad! Ten months is short but it’s still enough time to make a decent contribution in most jobs, and you’re setting his team up for success with that transition plan.

    3. AnonNewHire*

      Leaving at 10 mos barely feels like an early leave at this point, with so much movement/mobility in the job market.
      I’ve always done an email to schedule and then delivered the news live – if you’ve already got a meeting on the books, it’s likely not necessary. Ultimately it is not about the company or boss – rather this great opportunity for you! – so acknowledging how you appreciate the boss is likely appreciated, and then put your energy into helping the transition.
      P.S. since it is about money, would you accept a counter offer? Might be worth thinking through in case boss asks in notice meeting.

      1. OP*

        Thanks, great points and I really appreciate the reassurance. I forgot to mention I work in workforce strategy so have been trying to help reduce the org’s attrition, so while I both know it’s the reality of the current market, it also feels weird to now be on the side of the problem I was trying to solve! Boss has been trying to get me a substantial raise, but not what the new offer is, and it’s a very bureaucratic org so unlikely they could counter high enough

    4. Decidedly Me*

      I was given notice under these circumstances recently! The timing was terrible to be honest and I hated to lose that person, but I’m really happy for him. Sad for me, happy for them. You don’t need to be sorry – you haven’t done anything wrong! The standing weekly check-in is a fine time. Congrats!

    5. londonedit*

      No need to be apologetic! You can frame it as ‘I’ve really enjoyed my time here but this was too good an opportunity to pass up’, if you like. Any reasonable boss will understand.

      If you already have a meeting booked in with her, I wouldn’t send an email beforehand, but I would definitely open the meeting with your news – just something like ‘Before we start, I wanted to let you know that I’ve accepted a new job [you can add in where if you like, but no obligation at that point if you don’t want to]. I’ve really enjoyed my time here and I’d like to thank you for all your help, but this was too good an opportunity to pass up’. That’s all you really need to say, no need to apologise or go into too much detail! With any luck your boss will be gracious about it and then you’ll just carry on discussing the nuts and bolts of your notice period and the things you’ll need to hand over.

      1. OP*

        Thanks for this. The wording in the other examples Alison gave was pretty apologetic for the even more recent hires, so I like this script a lot

    6. Qwerty*

      Telling her at your standard check in meeting works fine! It would be weirder to alert her beforehand – these are best done either in person or a video/phone call.

      Apologetic is a bit much and might come off strangely or make your boss think there’s a hidden reason that you are leaving. The usual script of you love it there but couldn’t pass up this opportunity works fine here. Your boss might be confused, but she can handle it.

      Congrats on the job!

  28. Anonymous Koala*

    I got a new boss this week after my (wonderful, amazing) boss retired last month. My new boss is great – warm, interested in my development, etc. He had a bunch of interesting projects for my team, which is great! But I also got this weird vibe that he wasn’t being completely transparent with me. My company has had a lot of problems with retention lately (and I am low-key looking, which my last boss definitely suspected) so maybe new boss is just trying to ensure his department’s retention? But I can’t shake the feeling that I’m missing something. Has anyone else has this problem?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’m not sure what you expect. I never know 100% of what my boss has going on, just stuff relevant to me.

      1. Anonymous Koala*

        I guess I’m comparing new boss to old boss, who always told me all of their plans for me – stuff like “I’m nominating you for the llama hairstyling project, you probably won’t get it because Walden wants Lucinda to do it, but you’d be a better fit because you already have grooming experience so I’m going to try and talk him into it”.

        New boss is more like “It’s great that you want to work on the llama hairstyling project! I see you have the experience for it. I’ll talk to Walden and get back to you.”

        1. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          For what it’s worth, the new boss wording is much more like most of what I hear in the workplace, it’s the old boss’s wording that strikes me as unusual!

          Old boss’s remarks if they are more of a pattern seem to be undermining the management structure of the company somewhat…

            1. linger*

              Extrapolating from your example, OldBoss presumably still knew which toes not to tread on, and which wheels to grease, in order to further their own employees’ interests. NewBoss still lacks that institutional knowledge so (i) may not be as immediately effective, and also (ii) likely can’t be as transparent, concerning necessary political manoeuvrings as OldBoss was. So some grace should be extended for now, though with a careful eye to whether actions match words, as per NotSoNewReader’s comment below.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Being new and unfamiliar can come off as lack of transparency. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

      When I get nervous about things like this I make myself collect up facts. This means deliberately watch what he says and see if it matches what he actually does. He promises donuts on Friday, look to see if donuts materialize. He tells you that you need a new [something you use often] and he will get you one, follow along see what he does.

      Watches how he talks about other people. Watch how he handles a mistake someone has made. See how he progresses through the learning curve of the job, is he working at it or does he ask you the same questions he asked three weeks ago? Does he advocate for your group/department?

      No one thing is the tell-tale. But when you start stacking up one failure after another then you are going to have confirmation that something is indeed wrong.

      Meanwhile, for yourself, play a clean game. Do a good job, be transparent and all that. Keep at the forefront of your thinking that both of you want the other one to have a good opinion of each other. You both have that in common.

      If the old boss was a good boss that can make this road harder for the new boss. Each boss has something to offer that the former boss didn’t offer. So as you go you can be on the look out for what this new boss does differently that is good.

    3. Polopoly*

      My grandboss is like that – somewhere between “very transparent” and “no filters”. My boss (who is new in his role) is not. Partly I think he doesn’t fully have his footing in his role yet, and doesn’t yet know what he can/can’t make happen. If I talk to him about something, it feels like it goes into a black hole – where I don’t know if it’ll be acted upon or when, unless / until something shakes out.

  29. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

    I’d love to hear thoughts on putting a master’s degree in an email signature. Is it pretentious or actually useful?

    Here’s the scenario: I’m graduating with my MPA in December (fingers crossed). I work in student services in higher ed, and I work in the department where I’m earning my degree. It’s taken me a while and lot of work to get this silly piece of paper, but I’m pretty proud of it. I’m debating if I should add MPA after my name in my email signature. I can see how it may signal to potential applicants that I earned my degree here and can talk more about the program, and I’m ok with that since it’s part of my job. Most of our students know I’m currently in the program and will know that I’m an alum after December. However, I have seen other degrees in people’s signatures and it does sometimes make me roll my eyes.

    *I have an MS I earned before my career change, but I don’t list that in my signature because it’s not relevant to what I do now.

    1. Glazed Donut*

      Personally, I wouldn’t put the degree after your name (Jane Smith, MPA) but it may be nice to have the school + degree + year in your signature, like this:
      Jane Smith
      Cool College MPA ’22
      I’d also look around at what other people have in their signatures to see if there’s a norm you may be overlooking.

    2. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      Everyone I work with lists any degrees beyond a BA/BS, as well as any certifications, in their email signatures.

      I work in an education-adjacent field, so there’s definitely the licensing component to it, but I think it’s totally normal and to be expected.

      My boss has two terminal degrees, one of which has nothing to do with what we do, but she lists it because it’s impressive.

    3. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Got mine a year ago – still don’t put it at the end of my name. I think if I were working in a position where it was relevant, or if I were trying to establish myself in a new workplace, I might – but also I think a lot of times know one knows what the initials mean, and almost no one is going to go looking.

    4. seeeeeps*

      I never had it in my sig until I switched to a field where everyone else did it. I honestly hated having it there. When I switched departments again (also in higher ed, this was all at the same institution), I took it back out.

      In your case though, it’s not just a general MA or MS, it’s a pretty specific degree. I wouldn’t roll my eyes at that.

    5. Paris Geller*

      I have mine in my email signature for my work email, but I think that’s a little different. It sounds like you’re talking about putting it in your email when applying for jobs? Personally, I wouldn’t. They’ll see you have the degree when they look at your application/resume. It’s not a big deal if you do decide to do it, though.

      I don’t even love having mine in my work signature, but it’s convention at my current workplace, so I conform to the standard.

      1. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

        I should have been more specific above. It would be my work email signature. If I’m applying for a job, hopefully my degree being on my resume will be enough. :)

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have three professional and two academic (graduate-level) credentials. I list all three professional ones and one of the academic ones, so I’m

      Red Reader, MBA, RHIA, CPC, CRC

      The other people in my department list graduate level academic credentials along with their professional ones and any applicable clinical ones (one of my team leads is a RN) as well.

    7. NotARacoonKeeper*

      I work in a large research uni’s medicine faculty, and because of the nature of medicine (so many letters after everyone’s names!), it’s the norm for us staff to list a degree if it’s relevant too. We just do Name Surname, DEG.

      I’m also finishing up a more relevant Masters this month, and excited to update my signature to reflect what a flipping pain in my butt the last two years has been!

    8. AdequateArchaeologist*

      it seems like a common thing in my field, but I don’t list it even in my work signature. Part of it just feels weird and part of it is because my experience getting my masters was not pleasant, so I just like to not think about it. If it makes a difference in title (Dr. Warbleworth vs Ms. Warbleworth) I can see value in including it.

    9. OyHiOh*

      It probably depends on the local conventions, and culture within your organization.

      In previous job (small-ish community, something like 30% of population has a BS or higher), there was ONE person I communicated with regularly in a partner organization who had their MBA on their signature (in larger font than anything else on their signature, to make things worse).

      It read as horribly pretentious in a community environment and work culture where that simply wasn’t done.

      I’m in a bigger job market now. The education attainment percentage is roughly double that of previous market. I work with education, non profit, and for profit organizations and the only time I see graduate degrees in signatures is when the degree directly relates to what they do (so most frequently with higher ed partners), and then generally either in same size or smaller font than the rest of their signature.

    10. Texan In Exile*

      I worked for an engineering company full of PhDs but didn’t see the degrees noted in the signatures. It was so common that it wasn’t a differentiator.

      I also worked at a member association with really accomplished members and rolled my eyes when I saw a co-worker adding “MBA” to her email signature. It looked like she was bragging about graduating from high school.

      1. linger*

        PhDs are generally not noted in higher ed, for much the same reason: adjunct teachers need at least a master’s-level degree, so among tenured instructors, the degree is taken as a given and doesn’t reliably differentiate job status.
        In fields where the degree isn’t ubiquitous, degree level also interacts with generation: newer hires tend to need higher-level degrees than those held by longer-tenured staff, which may lead to the degree being, in practice, inversely correlated with status in the workplace — so that’s another thing to take into account when trying to read the norms at your own workplace.

    11. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Where I worked, many people had Masters and some had PhDs. Nobody put theirs on their signature except the head honcho, and he was an egotistical ass. There were people I worked with who had PhDs and I didn’t find out for years, because they didn’t flaunt it. I think it only came up when they had books or articles published, or were on conference panels.

    12. Two Chairs, One to Go*

      I don’t think it’s pretentious at all. You want to signal to the students (prospective or current) that you got the degree they’re interested in. It sounds relevant so go for it!

  30. CTT*

    I’ve always considered myself very chill about changes to software/technology at my office to the point that I’m smugly chill about it to contrast with the people who always act like any change is an outrage – like, imagine the Gone Girl “Cool Girl” speech but make it about not minding that we’ve moved to a new document management system). And now I am paying for that smugness, because we have moved to Microsoft Teams and I hate Teams with every fiber of my being and I just want to go back to the way things used to be!!!!!! (aka WebEx)

    Also, if someone at Teams can hear my cry, please make it an option to connect by phone through a call from Teams instead of having to dial in (or make it a universal option? When I connect by phone, it will say “we’ll give you a dial-in number, or we can call you,” and then there is no “call you” option and our IT people said that wasn’t a thing on Teams).

    1. Brownie*

      I always have Teams call me, it’s a popup when the actual meeting loads and people’s icons start popping up. If it’s not there then your company’s IT folks have a custom Teams setup that’s got that option manually turned off. (Side rant, it wouldn’t remember my phone number to call me with at all until I went through a convoluted process of logging into a Microsoft-hosted website for my company and set my phone number up there as there was nowhere in the Teams app software to set a phone number.)

      I hate Teams for instant messaging so much. I hate that it doesn’t save the conversation history anywhere I can easily search it, that every time someone reacts with an emoticon Teams has to flash like I’ve received an actual message, that they took away any option using the mouse to paste text without formatting (they hid this as a keyboard shortcut, Shift+Ctrl+V), that I can’t have separate contact groups up where I can see peoples’ status at a glance and have to search for their names now so I have to remember 50+ names instead of just team groups, that they decided to make * and _ into actual formatting commands for text that can’t be turned off… I miss Skype’s simplicity badly right now.

      1. CTT*

        Okay this is interesting, because I specifically asked about it in training and they said it wasn’t an option!! I’ll have to follow up. I really, really miss that because I’m at a law firm and calls I make are billed back to the client, and so having Teams call me instead of vice versa saves so much administrative hassle (you can’t bill the call instantaneously, it takes a week to show up in the system for some reason).

        I didn’t use our pre-Teams chat feature much, and this doesn’t make me excited to use it going forward

        1. Brownie*

          I did a little poking around and it seems there’s there’s a couple possibilities that could have turned that option off for you. #1 is Audio Conferencing must be turned on (this should be on since you can dial in manually) in Teams for the organization/installation and #2 is that the meeting organizer has to have “dial-out from meetings” enabled (also called “Call-Me Feature” in Microsoft’s documentation). There’s some Microsoft tutorials online for turning on #2 that you could try, then see if a meeting you create then lets Teams call out. Worth a shot, dialing in manually all the time is a pain!

    2. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      having a “phone number” in Teams is a different license from the basic license. And if someone adds your cell phone number to their contacts, they should be able to call you into a meeting from the Participants panel.

  31. HeldAccountable*

    Held accountable for male coworkers mistakes

    Anyone got advice for approaching this in a way that doesn’t come across as if I’m downplaying mistakes or blaming others?

    I got feedback that I make too many careless mistakes and need to improve – for example sending an email with a report and forgetting to attach the report so I reply all and apologize and attach it.

    I’m an analyst and very numbers driven, so I started tracking my mistakes. I also kept a mental note of how many mistakes my trainer, Kevin, and another guy I alternate my tasks with Kyle were making. It’s weird but my company is really big on rotating tasks and I rotate almost all my tasks with these two.

    I was surprised to realize that Kyle was making around 8 times the mistakes I was and my trainer Kevin wasn’t much better at about 6 times more mistakes. Not only that, but Kyle was making major mistakes that impacted regulatory compliance and Kevin even made a few of those. My boss specifically suggested I get advice on keeping my mistakes low from these two!

    At first I chalked it up to keeping an eye on the new gal meant my boss was just more aware of my mistakes, but in my mid year review she again brought up my mistakes. I let her know some processes I had put in place to keep these down, and then said I was pretty pleased with how few mistakes I was making and that they were limited to non business disruptive ones. She got visibly irritated and then talked about how disruptive one of Kevins mistakes was!

    I said “I agree, when Kevin missed X it disrupted Y pretty severely, but thankfully I found it during my week on the task and fixed it before we missed the compliance date.”  My boss went quite and then said rather brusquely  ‘just focus on keeping your own mistakes in check. I need to go to another meeting.” and ended the meeting.

    A few months later, a major mistake that Kyle made which resulted in missing a compliance deadline was uncovered by Sr. Leadership and executive leadership was copied. It happened while I was on vacation and Kyle was covering the task for me. My boss asked me what happened, and I showed her what I found. Because it was so high visibility, I worked with her to write up the finding for the Sr. And executive leadership. In my write up I said “my backup had missed this report because it was requested during a weekend, and I’ve reviewed with him that when you cover for someone who is out on Monday that means you have to do any reports that come in the weekend before as well.” My boss had me change that part of the write up to “I am sorry this was missed and from now one I’ll be sure to double check any reports that come in while I’m on vacation to insure they are covered”. I really didn’t like that write up, and I mentioned to her that I thought the latter version made it sound like I failed to do a step when in reality Kyle had missed a step not me but she said the other version was “Blamey” and there was no need to specify it was my backup who missed it since that was obvious.

    Since this major mistake the group I do that work for has been saying things like “It’s really important you get this report on time”. I’m very frustrated by this since I’ve never made an error or missed one of these reports in the years I’ve been assigned to them.

    Any advice for addressing this is greatly appreciated! I’m struggling because there is plausible deniability that they are reacting to those mistakes, and it’s tough because I’m the newest team member. Kevin is also universally adored and even on a report we worked on together where he made a mistake and I made a mistake of the same vein and impact, his mistake was excused and downplayed whereas I was raked over the coals about mine in the team meeting.

    1. Oofandouch*

      Next time your boss says something like “focus on your own mistakes” respond with something like “of course I’m more than happy to do that, but you seemed to think that this was an error on my part so I’m just clarifying when the issue occurred”

      The vacation thing is BS. It probably would have been better if at the time you asked for clarification on PTO in your office “my understanding is that it is acceptable in this role to be removed from work, and that checking in is not part of the job, are you asking that I take ownership of tasks done while on my PTO?” In fairness I can see it coming off a little blamey, so maybe the phrasing could have been changed to “there was a lack of understanding about when the handoff of coverage takes effect in our department, this has since been discussed and resolved”

      1. HeldAccountable*

        I’m hourly so not allowed to “check-in” while on PTO without clocking in.

        It’s absolutely expected here that when you are off you are off.

        1. linger*

          I think Oof’s point about “seeking clarification” was to make Boss acknowledge the obvious disconnect. But I’m not sure how much that would help, since Boss seems about as unwilling to own her errors as she is to correctly attribute Kevin’s!

    2. Mockingjay*

      This is not a healthy workplace. There are systemic problems with employee performance and rather than do the hard work of correcting the problems, they are using you as a scapegoat.

      Rather than focus on Kevin, analyze your own problems. I wouldn’t “own” minor things like forgetting email attachments: “Oh, did the attachment get stripped off again? Darn Outlook/antivirus…”

      Try using process to resolve or reduce the technical errors. “Regarding the Peterson report, how about adding a QC step to look over these reports before submitting? Someone with fresh eyes.” If your boss is receptive, great. If she isn’t, that tells you a lot about her management skills. She’s reactive, not a planner, and isn’t interested in doing the hard work to set up a framework so each employee can work consistently and errors are minimized.

      Sometimes you just don’t click with a team or your boss. This might not be the best place for you.

      1. HeldAccountable*

        Yeah I’ve definitely put systems in place to reduce errors.

        However I have only made 2 or 3 errors (out of 1000+ reports over several years) that were actual substance errors. And never the same mistake twice.

        My boss seems focused on those minor errors such as sending an email without attachments, but even those errors are few and way less then others on the team do it.

    3. Parenthesis Dude*

      Normally, I’d suggest talking to your teammates and see if they’re getting the same message. But you clearly have contempt for your teammates, so I don’t know how that would go.

      1. HeldAccountable*

        Wow why do you think I have contempt for my teammates?

        I don’t think it’s particularly contemptuous to not want to take the fall for others mistakes.

        I did call catch up with Kevin about the minor errors and he said not to worry about them cause he makes them too. He also thought it was BS that I ended up taking all the fall for Kyle’s big mistake. I don’t blame Kyle for that though, in my opinion it was more on my boss for her insisting that I frame the response that way.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        I didn’t read it as contempt but as providing context for why it seems unreasonable to call out an unreasonable number of mistakes made by OP, to blame OP but excuse a coworker for making the same mistake, or to hold OP to blame for mistakes OP didn’t even make.

        While it’s true that OP might be better off only discussing her own mistakes in meetings with the manager and it could be that the manager is separately shredding Kevin and Kyle for mistakes too, the manager doesn’t appear to understand when those mistakes are OP’s or not and does not sound open to discussing. Saying something is “blamey” when OP tries to clarify where the mistake happened and changing the story to effectively blame the OP is problematic.

        OP – sounds like your manager sucks and doesn’t know how to properly manage work that is rotated between employees. At the very least, she sees *you* as a mistake-maker and the severity or actual frequency of mistakes doesn’t seem to matter. That’s not likely to change even if you perform perfectly, she’ll just be looking for your next mistake or continue blaming you for others’ mistakes.

        The best thing I could suggest is a change in the current process. Either stop rotating the work such that each person owns their own work start to finish, or get together as a group to review all output and catch errors before the manager sees any of it.

    4. Tuesday*

      You don’t know that your teammates’ mistakes aren’t also being tracked and addressed privately. Coworkers aren’t usually privvy to those kinds of discussions about their other coworkers. In general, your boss would probably not be pleased to find out you’ve been dedicating your time and energy to tracking your coworkers’ performances in this way. I think you need to take them out of the equation and address the real problem with your boss, which is that you’re being held to impossible standards and an unwarranted level of scrutiny. I feel like Alison has had plenty of scripts for situations like that on this site in the past – it might be worth looking into “micromanager” letters for similar issues.

      1. HeldAccountable*

        Thanks for the advice. I didn’t think of this being a micromanager issue but I’ll try approaching it that way.

        I guess I should also clarify I havn’t been tracking Kevin’s and Kyle’s mistakes on a sheet or anything like that or making extra effort to track them. It’s weird I know but we rotate tasks weeky on this team so that’s why I have a lot of insight into roughly how many errors Kevin and Kyle make on those tasks. Every other week I cover the task they were doing and vice versa. It’s something that is obvious as part of my weekly job if one made a mistake last week and the times I’ve made an error Kyle or Kevin has come to me during their week too. We all make very few mistakes so it’s pretty obvious if they are making 15-20 errors to my 2-4 what the general error rate is.

        Same with the women I rotate tasks with but there mistakes aren’t falling back on me for whatever reason.

        1. Rocks are neat*

          What I’m hearing is that you are wondering if there is a gendered component to the blame. Do Kevin and Kyle rotate tasks with other female coworkers? And are these other female coworkers also shouldering mis assigned blame? Are females in other departments or teams shouldering blame for their male counterparts? If it only seems to be happening to you it could be because you are under closer scrutiny (fairly or not) by your boss. If it’s part of a wider pattern that’s a whole different discussion.

    5. Librarian of SHIELD*

      This feels like a “your boss sucks and isn’t going to change” scenario. For whatever reason, your boss has decided that Kevin and Kyle need to be protected and you don’t, and it doesn’t seem like she’s willing to change that opinion. The only recommendation I have is changing jobs, whether that’s asking for a transfer to another department in your current company or looking for jobs elsewhere.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      To me this boss is all about covering her own butt. She can’t get the 2 K’s to nail down their own problems so she is frustrated and just lashing out. That example you gave with how angry she got about Kevin’s disruptive mistakes was a big tell-tale to me.

      I’d dust off my resume if it were me. This doesn’t usually get better. She either can’t do the job or she thinks she can’t do the job and her mindset is in a bad place.

    7. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Kyle and Kevin are pulling the wool over your boss’s eyes and she doesn’t have the critical thinking skills to realise it. I don’t think you can fix this situation (because even if the “amount of mistakes” issue specifically gets flushed out, you will see this manifest in some other area.)

    8. ThursdaysGeek*

      It sounds like you need to be twice as good to be considered half as competent. How long have you been there? It doesn’t sound like you are that new.

      1. HeldAccountable*

        3 years. There was a newer employee but they were fired for making mistakes and having a negative attitude about being corrected.

        1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

          3 years? I thought you were going to say a few months, or certainly less than a year.

          As someone who prides themselves on being extremely committed to deadlines and deliverables, I would be job searching. This type of micromanagement and integrity-questioning grinds my gears in the worst way, and having it be applied to some people and not others is really the cherry on a sh*t sundae.

          It sounds like your boss doesn’t trust you, and after 3 years if it hasn’t happened it’s not going to. Polish up your resume and prepare to put on your boogie shoes as soon as you get a good offer.

          1. HeldAccountable*

            This team is by far the most unwilling to let new people take on work I have ever been on. In every other place I’ve worked about 6 months in I more or less have all the routine work transferred over.

            I literally just got traineen on a core part of my job last month. I do think being remote during the pandemic also threw an almost 2 years wrench in my training. Things are much better now that we are in the office 3 days a week.

            But yeah. I wouldn’t call myself “new” but I’m definitely considered the new person.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          At three years, this is not a “keep tabs on the newbie in case she misses something” scenario. If you’ve been there this long and your boss is still acting like your minor mistakes are worse than you coworkers’ major mistakes, this is not about you being new anymore.

        3. Curmudgeon in California*

          Wow.

          With that level of gendered correction of mistakes (the women get corrected more for the same of fewer mistakes) it’s small wonder that the departed coworker had a “negative attitude about being corrected.”

    9. AnonToday*

      Wow, that sucks. I have been in a very similar position. Unfortunately, I just had to leave. (And at my next job, I was able to thrive.) Things started getting better at that job when they implemented QA & metrics systems which *shockingly* showed all the women on the team were performing as well or better than the men on the team! But the stress was hard on me and I knew I would never make it there long-term because of it. Plus, the QA/metrics tracking wasn’t really something I could have suggested to my boss, it was just lucky for me that he started doing that.

      However, if I had wanted to stay, my cynical advice is: I think it might have helped to try to be more like the members of the “insider” group whose mistakes were always brushed off. They were always going to conferences/extra training related to our work and working on side projects related to our work. Then they would talk that up a lot at the water cooler and at happy hours with people in the “insider” group. My non-cynical advice is: I think building closer relationships in general with coworkers who might be allies (by owning their own mistakes and correcting people who attribute them to you) might have also helped.

    10. Nonprofit Admin*

      I think you need to leave this job. This manager has clearly decided that you are a problem and does not accept clarifying information. This honestly sounds like sexism to me and I might casually talk to other female coworkers if they’re facing the same scrutiny from your boss or it’s just you.

      Of course, it might also be that you are setting your boss’s back up in a way you don’t realize with how you address the issue. Maybe see if you. An run some scripts past a friend for the next time you get blamed for a mistake that isn’t yours? Something like “ I want to problem solve this issue as well. Kevin was actually the one who did x but I was thinking maybe we can do y across the whole team to prevent it so it won’t happen again with anyone?” That way the conversation shifts to problem solving rather than on who did what.

      I can also say as someone who managed a difficult person, I found it incredibly challenging and irritating when the employee didn’t make the same mistake twice but instead did something not okay in a way I couldn’t have predicted but was in line with other issues ( ie failure to communicate, not practicing discretion, etc.) it might be worth it to see if there is a pattern to your errors such as lack of attention to detail where your boss is frustrated because they can’t predict or solve where the next mistake will happen.

      Those are my two cents. It really might be that your boss is making you the scapegoat but it’s worth it for you to look at other possibilities first, even if she is an unskilled manager.

  32. KTinDC*

    I’d love to get some advice about managing someone who has performance issues who is also managing someone with performance issues. My direct report is generally disorganized and drops a lot of balls, and she’s managing someone who is frankly incompetent. Both of them need to be on a PIP, and I’m documenting to that end for my direct report but we’re in government so there are a lot of hoops. In the meantime, I need her to be documenting for her direct report, but…she’s disorganized and drops a lot of balls. I’m worried that even if we manage to get her direct report on a PIP, she’s not going to be able to document sufficiently to get the results that we need. And, I manage a bunch of other people who also have needs, so I am not always around to directly witness what’s going on.

    Any tips?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      The post “how to coach an irritated manager to stop yelling” from December 10, 2014 might be a good read for you. It’s also about a person managing a manager who is struggling with a difficult direct report. I’ll put a link in a follow-up comment.

      1. Parakeet*

        Tangentially, it’s interesting to me how many people commenting on both that post and the follow-up were sympathetic to the yelling manager, even to the point of thinking she was “bullied” by the report that she, by definition as the report’s manager, had significant power over. And who didn’t seem to think the update that the manager was now in a non-management role that was a better fit for her skills, and the report was doing a good job under a new manager, was a happy update, even though reading it, it seems like a win-win to me.

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      Also in Govt….I understand your issue. If you have the ability, I think the best case scenario would be to move the lowest level employee, who is managed by your direct report, to another manager that can competently execute a PIP. At my agency, a poorly executed PIP that doesn’t have every “i” dotted and “t” crossed is worse than no PIP at all and strengthens the employee’s position if they try to fight the PIP (my agency is union). I don’t really see any other way around this. And to be honest, if I were managing someone while I myself were on a PIP, I’d see the writing on the wall and likely spend all my time job searching. I think most managers know enough to know that PIP’s rarely end well and are merely a formality.

      Also, is there any possibility that the lowest level employee’s performance issues could be attributable to your direct report in any way. For example, low level employee messes up the weekly TPS reports, but has never been told how to properly prepare them or has never been told by the manager that they’re wrong? if the manager is disorganized and dropping balls, it seems possible that they may have failed to provide or facilitate proper training & feedback for the lowest level employee. Just a thought….

      1. KTinDC*

        Thanks for this insight! Unfortunately there’s no one else to move her to; the manager in question manages the entire location and the staff member would almost certainly fight it if we tried to move her to another location.

        The manager hasn’t been managing this employee for that long, so I don’t think the issues can be attributed to the manager. The issues with both of these employees are well known and longstanding, and the low level employee has gotten a lot of support in the past with minimal or no improvement. I’m just lucky that I get to deal with both of them in tandem! (I also haven’t been managing them for very long, but they both have reputations that preceded them, and have more or less bourne out.)

        1. SomebodyElse*

          I think in this case you deal with the manager first with a PIP and then when that is concluded you focus on the employee. Personally I don’t think any manager on a PIP is someone who should be managing one for someone else.

          You could also oversee the employee’s PIP yourself or along side the manager while they are on their PIP… If the disorganization and other things could be included in the managers PIP related to the employees PIP .. ok that just got confusing… let’s try this :)

          MGR PIP: Effectively manage employee performance improvement plan; successful outcome 1. Document areas of improvement needed 2. establish current deficiencies, success markers, and timeline 3. track and document employee progress, conclude employee PIP

          Then as you are documenting and tracking the MGR PIP you’ll be able to track the employee PIP. You’ll also be able to intervene if they aren’t getting the job done.

          Or if all else fails, talk to your HR business partner and see what they recommend. Honestly this is a situation they probably want to know about and help plan.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      So she is disorganized and drops a lot of things.
      And she has to document a person who does the same.

      Wow.

      Okay- can her failure to document and follow along be an example of how she is failing at her own job? Can you make that a part of her PIP?

      In a different approach, can her subordinate’s failure to complete her work become YOUR subordinate’s failure to get work completed? This is slightly different that the first question. This question looks more like, “Your group needed to get xyz report done by Friday and it was not completed. [Where xyz report was her subordinate’s failure.] It’s part of your job to make sure this report is done and in on each Friday without fail.” [No mention of her subordinate.]

      You may have to just focus on her and let the next new supervisor focus on the subordinate.

    4. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Do you have the option (I am not sure how it works in government, you could in a private company) to put your direct on a PIP and as part of that, temporarily take on / be more involved in the PIP of her report yourself?

      Are you sure (answer may be yes!) that the two sets of performance issues aren’t linked, e.g. the “incompetence” of the skip level report is exacerbated in some way by your direct being scattered, disorganised, unclear in expectations (?) etc?

      HR or your own boss might be asking why this “tree” of performance problems seems to be developing.

    5. PollyQ*

      You may have to take a 2-phased approach. Phase 1 is for the manager, then once she’s gone, you, or the new manager, can focus on the report. Or is it possible for you to transfer the report from the manager to you now?

    6. HeldAccountable*

      Are you sure the direct report is a problem if their boss is so disorganized? Couldn’t it be that the direct report isn’t getting support and direction they need anday improve under another manager?

      1. KTinDC*

        Without going into a ton of detail – yes. She’s worked for our organization for a very long time, and has had really great managers in the past. She’s basically still with us because of a technicality that put us back to square one.

  33. Oofandouch*

    How do I encourage confidence and leadership while reminding a new hire that they’re still learning?

    I recently had a new team of new hires start. They’re in their training period and one of them, Chelsea, has taken to trying to help the other new hires with some of their training assignments. I’m torn here because so far Chelsea’s help has taken the form of collaboration, which I want to encourage, however she started on the same day or later than the other new hires and is presenting her help as if it is fact and (in my opinion) a bit like she’s an authority on the matter (she definitely is not at this point, and she frequently hasn’t received any training on the subject at hand). This far her information hasn’t been wrong but it has been incomplete.

    I don’t want to discourage the collaboration and at this point I don’t need to see what they can do on their own just yet, but I do kind of feel the need to pull Chelsea aside and remind her that she’s also still new and that she shouldn’t be training the others. I don’t want to trample the spirit, but I do need her to be more aware.

    1. NewMngr*

      I have a similar situation, only one of my new hires technically has a higher authority due to role title, but is definitely lacking in knowing the pieces to lead anyone. My wording has been “I’m looking forward to your contributions once everyone has had time to settle in. For now, though, because you are still working on both the knowledge and the skills for this role, I’m going to be taking over the tasks of training X, Y, and Z. I’d love you to set up meetings to get to know Newbies but it’s not yet time to be leading them in Our Knowledge Area.”

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Omg, please just tell her to stop. I am saying this as the new hire sitting next to the Know-it-all and got totally confused on what was needed. She is unraveling their training. Seriously.

      You’re not trampling on her spirit. You are setting boundaries. If you do not nip this now she will become the office Know-it-all and you will have a hot mess on your hands with all her erroneous or incomplete information. You are the boss, it’s okay for you to squelch this crap.

    3. snarkfox*

      Is she putting herself in that position, or are other people asking for her help?

      I’m asking because I started in my current role 4 months before my team… two years ago… but people still ask me questions and look at me as an authority even though, in the grand scheme of two years, I don’t feel like I actually have that much more experience than anyone else.

  34. ThatGirl*

    My pet peeve for the week:

    I work a hybrid schedule at an office in west suburban Chicago, very close to my house.
    My company merged this year with another company HQed in Milwaukee.
    I am an individual contributor in marketing.
    My manager told me yesterday that our presence (just her and I) is requested in Milwaukee on Tuesday for some sort of kick-off/brainstorm meeting.
    FOUR HOURS of meeting to work out strategy and storytelling.

    I am annoyed that we have to drive to Milwaukee (90-120 minute drive depending on traffic) and then sit in 4 hours of meetings. Which I am quite sure could have been remote. Also I did get my booster but covid is still a thing.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I guess it’s worth a talk with your manager (who apparently you’ll be stuck in a car with for 4 hours?) about how frequently these are going to come up, who makes the decision about in person versus remote and what criteria, and appropriate notice for you. But ultimately it sounds like an 8 hour workday so I don’t see a ton of wiggle room for a complaint – more like for you to understand if this is going to come up frequently from now on, and if so does this job still work for you.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Oh, no, I’m not going to make a big fuss out of it. This is just me complaining here. Occasional travel and occasional after-hours things aren’t out of the question, though I would say something if this happened more than say, 2x a year.

    2. just another queer reader*

      Would you consider switching fields to something you find more morally neutral?

      I’m totally with you on the “working for a paycheck, not for passion.” But if you’re feeling a deep sense of moral opposition to the work you’re doing, I think that will wear you down over time, understandably so. (I think this might be called “moral injury.”)

      Best wishes to you.

      1. just another queer reader*

        The website glitched and my thumb slipped! Sorry about that!

        What I wanted to say was, that is a very long drive on very short notice! I’m sorry.

    3. Anon for This*

      The drive from Chicago to Milwaukee isn’t bad if there is no road construction (and you will likely be going against traffic) but the train used to be a pretty good option – might want to look at that. Beats the frustration of driving!

      1. ThatGirl*

        a) there’s always roadwork
        b) we’ll be driving during rush hour, and 294 south past O’Hare is not fun in the afternoon
        c) we’re coming from DuPage County, the train is not a good option

        1. Anon for This*

          Sadly, you are right, there is almost always roadwork. And I agree from DuPage the train doesn’t work. I’m sorry. Good luck with the drive.

        2. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

          I live in Milwaukee and the planning that goes into how I try to avoid rush hour when traveling through Chicago is quite a daunting task, so I feel for you. I agree that if they wanted this on a regular basis I would push back big time.

        3. Spicy Tuna*

          Hey, I live in Milwaukee and often drive to DuPage County. Just a suggestion if it’s an option for you: to avoid 294S past O’Hare, I frequently take 53N to Lake Cook Rd and cut over to 94N from there. You still have my sympathies doing the round-trip in one day, but this route usually has friendlier traffic and completely avoids the airport!

          1. ThatGirl*

            Yeah, I used to go that way to work, but it can be a tossup. 53 can get backed up too and Lake Cook is stop and go.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I was told my worksite was going to be 1 hour north of my then current worksite.
      Additionally, I would transporting people there and it would be an 8 hour work day.

      I said I wanted to be paid for the additional two hours of drive time each day. And I requested a few other things. End of problem.

      In your case, I would request gas money at the current reimbursement rate and of course the 90-120 minute of drive time each way would be paid time. Therefore on days when you have a four hour meeting you will not be available that day. (It’s an 8 hour day for you.)

      If you really want to ramp things up tell them that you must report this to your car insurance company and you will be charged more for using your car for business. You would like reimbursement for that also.

      Since you are going to be out of the office all day, you were also wondering if you can get your lunch reimbursed.

      And finally, are they reporting to THEIR insurance company that they have employees driving up to four hours a day in order to do their jobs? No? Well they should report it.

      I am getting a little miffed on your behalf. Four hours a driving would mean the job is over for me. I would not be able to do it.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Probably my manager will drive us. I’m sure we’ll be fed at the other office, or worst case my manager will charge our lunch to her company card.

        I can do this once. I can even do it 1-2x a year. But I do NOT want it to become a regular expected thing, and I will definitely push back if that starts to happen.

    5. anona-ope*

      I hope you at least get to grab lunch somewhere good like the Third Ward / Old World Third / Lower East Side!

      1. ThatGirl*

        The office is near downtown, I’m not sure of the neighborhood (across the river from the Third Ward). But if I had to guess they’ll order lunch in?

  35. NaoNao*

    Help request: how do I figure out when/if I’m being a princess and when I’m protecting my health and WLB?

    I seem to keep getting into jobs where the boss is a bit of a martyr…and passive-aggressively judges those who aren’t or who protect their health and needs and speak up/push back/make it more comfortable.

    Like going without lunch, not having breakfast “on the road”, waking up exceptionally early to be in a classroom 90 minutes prior to class, punishing workouts during lunch or before work, stories about not using the restroom during 3+ hour long meetings despite having to, working all hours of the day and night, never upgrading a plane seat with miles or their own money, taking red eyes, taking flights where a mad dash to the airport after work is needed, exceptionally long commutes, wearing full PPE to come into an office when it’s not required (meaning WFH was an option) during 2020-2021, and things like that.

    My current boss hasn’t shown any of that but it’s been only one week and I’ve been unpleasantly surprised by this before.

    My question is what is the line? I have struggled in the past to figure out what’s reasonable to say “I’m sorry, that won’t work for me” and my previous boss I had to interrupt him more than once when a meeting ran over by an additional 90+ minutes to make a bio break run, and it always felt awkward like I was being judged or he was inconvenienced.

    If you feel comfortable, can you share what metrics or measuring stick you use to determine “I’m being a bit bougie right now” vs. “This is something almost any reasonable person would determine is fine/needed”

    1. Ginger Baker*

      Tbh, my guess from reading your post is that you are dealing with a highly warped sense of norms based on a previous toxic work environment. I think all your examples sound way over the top and any “reasonable” person has AMPLE standing to push back on them. So honestly my advice to you would be: presume for now that every single request you have IS SUPER REASONABLE, 0% bougie, and 100% should be non-issues. If *and only if* you get pushback on these *super reasonable stances*, I would then come back here and ask “how do you deal with an overly zealous Guacamole Bob boss, while job searching?”

      1. NaoNao*

        Thank you, that honestly means a LOT to me. I have had more than one boss who seems to thrive on this Naked and Afraid model! As one example, in a previous job we were on floor 37. We had a fire drill the required the entire floor to exit via staircase, with two staircases per floor. Most of us were wobbly and exhausted by the end of it, even just going “down” stairs as most people don’t descend 74 flights of stairs in one day.
        A couple of us milled around and then got a quick cup of coffee post-fire-drill as the lobby elevators were jammed due to 40+ floors evacuating. Then we took the elevator back up like normal people!

        My boss showed up almost an hour later post fire drill and said to a coworker “oh, did you take the stairs [back up] as well? That’s great!” (which she answered in the affirmative, eyeroll)

        I’ve wondered for years since if he was lying or if he meant he galloped up the last 10 sets or something but this was just the tip of the Iron Man iceberg with this person!

        1. Ginger Baker*

          Ah yes, because it’s just GREAT for the company to pay Guacamole Bob Boss for an hour-long stair climb workout versus, say, his actual job. This man is a role model…of everything NOT to aspire to/do. :-)

    2. Hlao-roo*

      On the 100% reasonable side of the line:

      – meeting all of your biological needs: eating meals, bathroom breaks, adequate sleep (even when traveling!)
      – not working through the day and night

      On the to-each-their-own side of the line (if it floats your boss’s boat that’s fine but they shouldn’t expect it of you):

      – being exceptionally early
      – punishing workouts before/during/after work
      – not upgrading travel
      – booking inconvenient travel for themselves (not for others!)
      – choosing to have a long commute
      – choosing to work from the office when WFH is an option

    3. Dinwar*

      It is 100% not reasonable for your job to require you to not eat, not take restroom breaks, be over an hour early (unless there’s a compelling reason), or…..well, any of that!!! I’d wager that some of them are probably illegal in some places, in fact. I cannot imagine a situation where the boss won’t allow you to pay for your own upgrades, for example; unless there’s an issue with projecting the wrong image (think, a non-profit helping homeless people probably shouldn’t let their staff travel first class), it’s simply not their business.

      I’d say, push back with confidence. If there’s a 90 minute meeting for example, ask at the start if there can be stopping point half way through or so. You’re definitely not the only one to need a bio break, and those who don’t always have other tasks they need to do.

      “…wearing full PPE to come into an office when it’s not required…”

      I’m curious about this one. For us “full PPE” means Level A–the space suit looking thing with the SCBA/forced air system. I would find it funny to show up in the office in one, but can’t imagine actually doing it!

      1. NaoNao*

        In August 2020 I pushed back HARD on an in-office request from my then-boss because I had to take public transpo to get to work and she explained that she was “just wearing shoe cover booties” and a mask, gloves, and safety glasses and I was like “O…kay well that’s not going to work for me…”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think you can change your question.

      The question should be (IMO), “Is this something that is reasonable for ME to do?”

      I mentioned up above that I am unwilling to drive 4 hours for work. I am also unwilling to climb on ladders. Of your list here, I am unwilling to climb up many flights of stairs, skip breakfast, and on and on.
      This person is ruining their health. I foresee a nursing home by age 50 for them.

      Look, these type of comments are designed to make you feel less than and make you question yourself. That’s why the comments- that’s the whole point to make the listener feel put down.

      You are free to chose. You are free to say, (not out loud), “No, I am not going to do that dumb a$$ thing.” Because everything you show here is dumba$$ on her part.

      Get your own thinking squared away and the rest will fall into place behind that. Once you decide you are not going to run up million flights of stairs EVER or whatever, it will not matter to you what the other person does. You’ll be able to say to yourself, “Gosh, that was a stupid move.” and let it go.

    5. Curmudgeon in California*

      Your previous boss was a masochist.

      * Delaying bio breaks as a workplace standard? Oh hell no. That would cause a spreading stain with me.
      * Delaying meals? Not unless you want me passed out on the floor.
      * Coming in to the office when you don’t have to? No, I don’t want to risk others’ lives for appearances.

      In general, I believe in doing what I need to do for my health with little or no apology. Taking bio breaks and meals when needed, traveling on a rational, non-abusive schedule, refusing long commutes, etc is what I consider normal. Yes, you sacrifice some of your hours for a paycheck. But even salaried people don’t sacrifice everything that makes their life worth living for their job. That way lies burnout and madness.

      Stick up for your needs.

    6. Maggie*

      I would just generally not engage in most of that and I would consider that their problem. I will never not go to the bathroom when I need to. I don’t shoot out of my seat the second I feel a slight urge but if I need to use the bathroom urgently, I’m going. I’m also going to eat when I need to. I’ll take an inconvenient flight once and a while or whatever but most of that stuff seems insane? I don’t even see what doing an arduous workout over lunch has to do with work. And I need to eat so that means getting food – I’m not picky and I’m perfectly happy stopping for fast food or even eating from the gas station on the road, but I’ll be eating. My old boss was a self proclaimed workaholic but she never even got anything done, she was just incredibly miserable in front of her computer for 16 hours a day. I considered that her problem and not mine.

  36. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

    Husband (retired for a few years, late 50s) is interested in some sort of casual, not too brain-heavy, not in his former field, part time work – 10-15 hours per week. Maybe seasonal in winter, although we don’t live in a snowy area so (no ski resorts). He really has no customer service experience so I don’t see Starbucks, for example, being a great fit. He could do something with some physical component but obviously given his age he’s not going into construction or some other physically intense field. Any thoughts for him?

    1. YoungAtHeart*

      Do you have a performing arts center near you where they do plays or concerts or anything like that? I think being an usher part-time would be a fabulous job and may pursue that when I retire.

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      What about retail, maybe in a store affiliated with one of his interests where a lot of physical work isn’t the normal expectation? A friend’s father, who is a big outdoorsy hunting-fishing sort of person works part time at Cabela’s (admittedly that one has some physical work but he doesn’t seem to mind), and another friend’s parent works at Color Me Mine.

      Another option might be a part time receptionist positions, particularly at places that see increased business in winter like skating rinks, etc.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Ooh or dog walker / pet care / work at a doggy daycare ? One caveat, it generally means you have to be staying in town over the major holidays.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yes, lots of school-related positions. He could also look into being a crossing guard for a school or an occasional/on-call substitute teacher. There’s a wide range in terms of time commitment and interaction with students to choose from.

    3. Elle Woods*

      A few come to mind: performing arts centers (usher or box-office position), museum/historical site (tour guide), and schools (tutoring).

      1. blood orange*

        +1 on this! My husband was just saying a few weeks ago that he wants to work in the Lawn and Garden at Lowe’s when he’s retired :)

        1. Choggy*

          When I retire, I want to work at a nice garden center just watering the flowers, or at a botanical garden doing maintenance, I’ve had more than enough of people.

          1. blood orange*

            In hilarious contrast to your comment, my husband’s other option is to pick up trash at Disney World!

    4. Bagpuss*

      Waht skills does he have? And is he looking primary for somethingb to top up income, or is it as much about haing something productive to do?

      Starbucks might not suit him but are there other service or retail things that might be a better fit? Things like a picker for kerbside pick up / delivery for groceries for example, or (depending on his interests) looking for retail work somewhere like a garden centre where things might be a bit less intense than starbucks!

      Security / night watchman – (maybe the kind of place that needs someone present rather than being very high risk!)

      How is he with kids? Would some sort of learning support role be a possibility? I m not sure what qualifications are required – where I am teachers need degrees but there are roles for support assistants who typically work with individual children and who don’t generally need the same level of qualification. (My mother had a role like this, after my youngesr siblings were in school , she started as a parent volunteer, going in to listen to kids read etc, and then got offered a paid post to provide additional support for a specifcic child, which then became a more permanent role within the special needs department) If he is good with kids and can get the appropriate police checks then afterschool care might be a possibility as well (I know some people are weird about men as child carers, but not everyone is!

      How about driving? Options such as uber, but maybe also look into whether local public or school transport need drivers, and how flexible the hours etc can be.

      Good luck to him

    5. Pie Fight*

      Does he like to drive and have a good driving record?

      My dad drives for an auto parts store, making deliveries to repair shops and picking up parts from other stores in the county. (In their vehicle, not his personal car.) Regular hours but definitely part time. He’s been doing it for 5 years now so he must like it well enough! When there’s not a lot of deliveries that day he stocks shelves. He can look up parts on the computer for a walk-in customer but he’s not trained on the cash register.

      Car dealerships often need porters to move vehicles around or drive to the other X brand dealership across town.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        or some dealerships have shuttles — mine does, and every time I’ve used it, the driver has been a gent of some age who’s flat out told me that he drives the shuttle after retirement to keep himself occupied and to have people to chat with.

      2. VLookupsAreMyLife*

        Yep, both my dad & my FIL became shuttle drivers for a local car dealership when they retired. They love it!

    6. Chapeau*

      Cleaning for a library or something similar? It’s usually off hours, a couple of hours a day in the evening or early morning.

    7. HeldAccountable*

      If it doesn’t have to be paid I would look into tutoring programs in the local school districts. For better or worse a lot of places are bringing in outside help to get the kids back on track after the learning loss experienced during Covid. My school is happy to have someone who reads chapter books kids for example.

    8. Panicked*

      My grandfather retired from electrical work and got a part-time job delivering flowers for a local florist. It was a great fit; the florists loved him, he knew the local area roads like the back of his hand, and it got him out of the house. He got to deliver flowers and see people get all excited and happy day after day. He loved it!

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Small towns and villages look for reliable employees for a few hours a week. The work can be clerking or bookkeeping or other such tasks. They are not fussy because it’s hard to find people who are interested and will stay. Around here they have relaxed their standards to “must be a county resident”. This means you do not have to work for your tiny town or village, you can go to the next entity near by.
      There is a learning curve, so when he starts he may have way too many hours in order to get through the curve but after that it settles down.

  37. What's her face*

    For a project management position where you are offered little feedback on performance, and no performance reviews, how do you manage your own performance? Not a debate of right or wrong in here, but this is my situation. I’m not going to change my manager on this topic, but am looking for suggestions as to how to monitor my own performance.

    1. Betty (the other betty)*

      One part of project management is doing a post-project review. It would be valid to hold a meeting (if needed) or at least send out a survey to get everyone’s feedback on what went well and what could have gone better. That info would give you a lot of perspective on how effective you were for the project and team.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      Set your own goals/milestones as you would for a subordinate, and keep track of how you are meeting them. Note – we are often harder on ourselves than our managers are, so be reasonable – just set the expectations a good boss would set.

    3. blood orange*

      +1 on Betty (the other betty)’s advice. I used to do that when I was in project management. The feedback might be more focused on the project outcome, but you’ll likely make natural connections between project pros/cons and the areas where you are doing well or need to improve.

      Also, developing a network of peers and/or finding a mentor will increase your ability to self-reflect, identify areas of growth, and develop your skills. Even if you’re not getting feedback from your manager, you can find your own areas of interest, and set development goals. One of the best experiences for me was joining our optional company book club. We’d select a book as a group, and discuss over lunch. It was enjoyable, but I also grew a ton from both the reading and the discussion.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      What were you proud of and what would you handle in a similar manner again?

      Where where the rough spots, what would you do differently the next time?

  38. YoungAtHeart*

    Happy Friday! Does anyone have any advice for preparing for an interview when I will be sent the competencies and their definitions the day before the interview? I’ve been told “this will be a behavioral interview style based on competencies.” I’m in my 50s and of course I have a lot of experiences but recalling them on the spot under a stressful situation is really challenging and I’ve struggled in the past.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Prepare between 5-10 situations you can talk based on common/likely behavioral interview questions. You can look up “behavioral interview questions” and/or you can use the company’s competencies to think about what they will likely ask for.

      I like using STAR format (Situation, Task, Action, Result) because it helps me think about (1) which situations would be good to answer the question and (2) how to explain the situation in a way that makes sense for the interviewer.

      The good news is that most situations can be used (with some tweaking) to answer more than one possible behavioral interview question. So by thinking about situations beforehand, you’ll be a good spot even if the interviewers don’t ask the questions you used to prepare yourself.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I did this and was able to use the same notes for different interviews at different companies, so it was a really good exercise for me. I had my stories written out and then added the ties to various competencies (if provided) or common behavioral questions. I also rehearsed like I do for giving a presentation – enough so that I remembered the salient points in the correct order, but not verbatim.

        I also took notes during each interview and jotted down a reminder of what story I told in response to what question. That helped me afterwards when I was trying to remember what all I had said!

    2. Yay, I’m a Llama Again!*

      There’s no harm in having notes I’d think? I had my STARS as bullet points to glance at so I didn’t forget. I wish I’d known in advance what they’d ask though, I could have given better examples then! We just got the competencies rather than the actual question so some of my examples were very tedious links for the question… but yes, notes!

    3. Policy Wonk*

      BLUF – bottom line up front. Start with the result and work backwards to fill in details so the interviewer can cut you off if you start to ramble. (To me, verbally flailing around in search of the answer is the death knell for an applicant.) So, for example, if the competency is budget development, start with at last job I was responsible for a budget of $X, and successfully integrated requests from y offices to ensure we could meet our mission. If you focus on one pithy statement for the various competencies, you can then fill in the details as the conversation progresses. Good luck!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Not every example has to be a five star, absolutely stunning example.

      When asked about failures do not pick your worst ones. Pick something that you corrected course successfully.

      If you are to talk about regrets, pick something that caused you to permanently change what you are doing in a particular instance.

  39. Alex*

    I was laid off from my first company after 5 years and have been working at my current company for 1 year. A massive reorg is taking place and my company may spread out my substantive work that