open thread – October 14-15, 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.

{ 1,078 comments… read them below }

  1. LLC title*

    Freelancers and/or contractors with an LLC, how did you choose its name? Everyone in my life has an opinion on this: some say to go for something quirky/memorable, others think it should be staid/serious.

    I don’t want to use my name or initials, but other than that I’m undecided where I want to fall on the line between “terrible pun” and “forgettable genericism”.

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Husband’s LLC is a mashup of synonyms for our high school nicknames.

      The DBA is an inside reference but it doesn’t sound like one at all to anyone outside of us.

    2. CharlieBrown*

      I know a few things about what not to do:

      1) Never use your initials. It’s not creative.
      2) Never use the word “Enterprises”. Everybody uses this. (What does this even mean?)
      3) Don’t use a joke that most people won’t get.

      My favorite one was an Australian company called “Stiff Nipples Air Conditioning Service.” It got the point across quite well. Would probably not fly in the US. (You can do a google image search for their van, btw.)

      As you can guess, I would probably vote for the pun.

        1. Sharpie*

          There is a hair salon in my hometown called Crops and Bobbers. And there’s a cafe in Bath called Yak Yeti Yak, which is my favourite name of all time.

          Punny names are pretty common for small businesses in the UK; there are entire YouTube videos dedicated to them

          1. londonedit*

            There’s the famous Jason Donervan in Bristol too! And surely every British town has a hairdresser’s called Curl Up and Dye.

            1. ScruffyInternHerder*

              ::snort:: That’s the name of the Evil Stepmother’s hair shop on the Isle of the Lost in Descendants.

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            My favorite moving company name is Deathwish Piano Movers. They do all kinds of large furniture and “impossible situation” moving, rather than general house moving.

        2. Hasha Fashasha*

          My husband and I owned a very small lawn care and drainage company and called it Kickin’ Grass & Makin’ Drains. It cracked us up and a lot of customers seemed to love it. Several mentioned that they hired us just because of the name.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          On Cape Cod there is (was?) a garden and memorial stone company called Better Stones and Gardens.

      1. Generic+Name*

        I want to second avoiding “enterprises”. I work with a contractor that has enterprises and uses the initials for “toilet paper”, and it is SO HARD to say their name without giggling.

      2. Coach Beard*

        There is a plumbing company in my neighborhood. I have no idea what their name is. But on the back of their service vans they have their slogan: “We’re #1 in the #2 business.” Way more memorable than a company name.

      3. WheresMyPen*

        I saw a tree surgeon’s van today that said Tree Wise Men. I appreciated the pun while sitting in traffic :D

    3. BubbleTea*

      Things I think are important:

      How easy is it to spell and to say, without any possible alternatives?
      Does it imply anything different from what your company is about?
      Are there other companies doing similar things with similar names?
      What do the initials spell out, and is it appropriate?
      Are the relevant social media handles and domain names available?

      I did use my name, and I made a mistake with the first two (several places where people could misspell it, sounds like a different field).

      1. JustaTech*

        Yes very much to being sure that it sounds like what your company is actually about.

        My father in law is retiring from his very niche distributor company this year, and he wants to start a consulting business inside that niche industry. OK, sure, but the first name he chose was “Bob Can Help” (names changed to protect the guilty).

        He was *so* proud of it, and I had to tell him straight out “it sounds like you’re a handyman”.
        (Contextually, my dad has been a consultant for years and years, and both his personal company and every firm he’s worked for has had those “doesn’t really mean anything” names.)

        That said, initials need not sink you! The successful business my in-laws just sold has the same initials as a common and unpleasant medical condition, and no one seems to care.

    4. Lady_Lessa*

      One company that I liked the name of is/was “Fairweather Roofing”. Not sure if they still exist, because the building where I saw the name is now someone else.

    5. crookedglasses*

      I put an emphasis on making sure it’s easy to spell and easy to remember. It’s also worth doing some googling to make sure there aren’t other businesses with a similar name that will bury you in the search results.

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

        Second doing a lot of market research on any potential names; both to make sure it isn’t already in use or used by a very similar business, but also to look at what types of businesses are using similar names to give you an indication of what experience customers might be expecting. “Frank and Sons” does not convey spa-like boutique catering to white middle class women, “Spring Lotus Bloom” does not sound like a gym that caters to hard core athletes, etc.

    6. CTT*

      I’m a corporate attorney so I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum and everything between, so I think it’s down to whatever you really want (and won’t make you cringe when you hand out business cards). Two suggestions before you settle on it: look at your state’s LLC act to make sure you’re not using any prohibited words – for example, we were forming an LLC for a client that was going to use “Trust” in the name, but that state didn’t allow an entity that was not a trust to use that in its name. And then do a search of the state records to make sure the name isn’t already taken or there is nothing that would be confusingly similar.

    7. JSPA*

      After a pet with an unusual name. It was short, easy to say, and (at least in English) a googlewhack (at the time, which dates…both him and me, I guess)*.

      You generally don’t want to be doubled up with two car washes, an OnlyFans page, a law firm and a bunch of other LLC’s that nobody’s quite sure what they do. Whether pet = LLC is cause for confusion will vary.**

      *Yes he’s old, and yes, it will be bittersweet when he’s gone.

      **In this case, there has not been much confusion over which one of them needs flea treatment and sheds, vs which one has a bank account.

    8. Karen*

      As someone in accounts payable, please don’t use a quirky, fun, alternate spelling. If you call inquiring on a payment for Kwik Klips LLC. I’ll be searching Quick Clips LLC and tell you I don’t have you set up as a vendor.
      I do enjoy a pun or funny name.

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        Former accounts payable, and yes. If you are Kwik Anything, be prepared to spell it up front every time you call, to avoid tedious diversions.

        Also, please do not add numbers or non-alphanumeric characters to, or play with upper/ lower case conventions in, the legal name that will have to be put on your cheques. By which I mean, Chuck’s Towing is fine. Top 5 Realty is okay, although some people will render it as Five despite your best efforts. But if you call yourself “k*W G’3 Designs”, you are setting yourself up for some cash flow headaches. There are just too many probable errors in there for the average person to record, transcribe, or recall it 100% correctly every time. I mean, even if your legal name is k*W G’3 (and your designs are stunning and award-winning) it’s inefficient to throw up roadblocks for people who genuinely want to pay you promptly!

        (Some jurisdictions won’t allow this sort of thing, but where they do, I would still advise people to resist the temptation. Innovation can be great in many fields; but I feel like company names should err on the side of simplicity.)

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I bought my house from an exotic dancer who incorporated. Two weeks after I moved in, I went to the mailbox. Flipping through the mail in my driveway, I came across a letter from the state revenue department addressed to My Tits, LLC, and hand to god stood there with my mouth hanging open for a solid minute and a half before going inside and handing it to my housemate going “What is even my life.” We got all kinds of mail (from the IRS to Uline catalogs) to My Tits for the next few years, and still do occasionally even seven years later, though it’s mostly trailed off now. :P

    10. Database Developer Dude*

      The LLC I’m in the middle of establishing is for my notary signing agent business…You’ve heard of Walker, Texas Ranger? Now meet Walker, Virginia Notary, LLC. I’m still trying to figure out how to include the martial arts stuff in my advertising….

      1. Erin*

        LOL! This is awesome. I love an awful pun, and will punny named businesses the majority of the time that I’m looking for something!

      2. Database Developer Dude*

        Almost forgot to tell y’all. When I first started taekwondo at age 40, I got called “Walker, Texas Ranger” by people who were making fun of me. I called them all idiots, because Chuck Norris does karate. Found out he actually started out as a taekwondo champion when he was in the Air Force. I’m now a 3rd degree black belt.

    11. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Not the most important consideration, but probably a major one: is there a web domain available for the name that you want? Or do you have to start getting into variations of the name, to the point where people will have a hard time finding you online? People will probably remember, but may struggle with if your first choice is unavailable.

      1. Lady Knittington*

        Also make sure it looks not dodgy as a URL. therapist finder. com and pen are two examples I’ve seen of how *not* to do it.

    12. Swedish Fish*

      When we turned our brother owned partnership in the US into an LLC we used a Swedish word for a family relationship. The name makes sense to the business. It has a strong sound to the name and our attorney, accountant and the bank liked the idea behind the name. We have since sold the physical part of the business, but have kept the “business” open for any other shared property that we might decide to do together.

      Like others here have mentioned, check your state name availability. You could be surprised how many businesses either have the name you want, or a similar variation that you might decide that you don’t want to compete with. Another post mentioned to not use locations. I agree. Example of “Maple Tree Park Business”, can limit you to only that location. What if you outgrow that area or decide to move your business? A meaningful name can help you grow without having to rename/rebrand in your business.

      Whatever you decide on, enjoy your business!

      1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        Limit you to that location? You probably didn’t know that Nokia is named after a small Finnish town…

        1. Weird Name from Location*

          That doesn’t seem quite as limiting as what I was imagining–I thought of “Maple Tree Park” as being as limiting as the name of one Baptist church in town. Said church was originally located on a street in town, known as [Original] Street Baptist Church. Due to growth, they moved and are now [Original] Street Baptist Church on [New Street].

          1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

            There’s a Cherry Street Coffee in Seattle, with at least a few locations that are not on Cherry Street.

            Going the other way, I’ve seen a few Somebody’sName FoodType #5 restaurants around, sequentially numbered as the business expanded.

    13. Echo*

      My mom’s LLC name is a brief, memorable phrase that highlights her unique value proposition, the thing she does that her competitors don’t do. I love this idea and think it would be great if you can find something similar!

      It is not a pun, although many of her competitors have puns as their names. I think the catchy name is appropriate for her field, which is very laid-back, but might not be appropriate for a field that takes on a more sober or serious topic.

    14. Somehow_I_Manage*

      Consider whether you’ll be listed on official directories (e.g., approved small businesses, etc.). It sounds silly, and it IS silly, but there’s a reason why “AA Landscaping” is a thing. I have a friend who owns a minority landscaping business, and she is regularly contacted just because she is near the top of the directory.

      I wouldn’t overthink it. But if you’re name is Aaron- why not take advantage?

    15. Texan In Exile*

      If it’s a medical equipment company and your surname means “death” in Latin, don’t name it after yourself looking at you Mortara Instruments.

    16. RagingADHD*

      Very important question: if the business really took off, would you ever want to sell it? If so, don’t use your own name or initials because you will want to differentiate your brand. If not, then just use your own name. Lastname + Generally what you do.

      You are not launching a national brand, you are going to get most of your recurring business from direct pitches and word of mouth. When you’re freelancing, the absolute most important thing is to make sure the checks are made out correctly. Don’t get cute, keep it simple and clear.

      I have a client who has gotten themselves in a never-ending spiral of wanting to change their business name because the original name contained one very specific service that later became only part of their offerings. But all the super-catchy names they can think of are either taken, or have weird unintended implications. They are pitching to business owners, who don’t give a flying flip about how catchy the name is. They just want the job done, and they want this person to do it because they trust them.

      Meanwhile, this client is wasting enormous time, energy, and money paying consultants and designing logos that they are going to have to waste even more money to roll out, because their clients or referrals aren’t going to know who they are. They’ve been dithering for a year and a half, and when they finally pull the trigger it’s going to take at least another 18 months for their client base to remember the new name and start using it.

      If they just went with their own name, they could have spent that time on activities that would make money and get more clients.

      1. Lime green Pacer*

        Seconding the idea that you may regret putting your name as part of the business name. A very successful local business, called John Doe Productname, found itself overextended in the Great Recession and ended up in receivership. When it all settled out, the business came out of receivership but John Doe was no longer part of it. He has lost the rights to his own name, which has to be pretty mortifying.

    17. Not So NewReader*

      I am among the serious crowd.

      How long do you plan to stay in business? What sounds great this year may not be so great in 20 years. I’d aim for something enduring.

      While “Smith’s Construction” feels uncreative it covers your name and what you do. It’s very practical and will not get dated like a pun or a reference from media culture.

      “Reliable Construction” can convey what you do and convey how you do business. It can also be a private motivator when the chips are down, as you remind yourself, “i pride myself on being reliable.” You can use other descriptors that might feel motivational.

      You can reference your service area in some way. Let’s say you live in a town where there are many orchards. “Orchard Town Construction”. Or maybe your state directly, “Southern Massachusetts’ Construction.” This works well if you live in a smaller state, but you could reference your county if that is your service area.

      You can reference your product. “Dog Kennel Construction”.

      So yes, serious names, especially if you think you might be using it for a while.

    18. HBJ*

      Go serious. We cringe when we have to put the name of the company we lease from on paperwork for our business. It’s not bad, just not something that says “serious business you should entrust your expensive equipment to.”

      Geographical locations/features are an option.

    19. SimonTheGreyWarden*

      We named ours for my partner’s dad, who gave us a lot of the stuff we used when we got started (small unique niche genre art and jewelry-making). It’s his name, and then the rest sounded like a fantastical name from a mid-nineteenth century novel since that fits our aesthetic.

    20. Auntie Matter*

      When my husband and I were starting our travel company, every single travel-related thing we could come up with was either already in use or was very similar to something already on use.

      We ended up going with Leaping Hound Travel, because we are obsessed with our retired racing greyhounds. Do the dogs themselves have much to do with travel? Definitely not, but at least it wasn’t the millionth travel company with Wanderlust in the name. People remember our name (or they think it’s Leaping Dog, which, close enough for google), and I think it conveys “a little quirky and offbeat,” which is the style of tours we run.

      Had we come up with an amazing pun, I would have gone for it. But my obsession with my dogs is eternal, and it won’t get mixed up with any other travel companies.

    21. Smaller potatoes*

      I sat down with a creative friend and we brainstormed company names over beers. By the end of the night I had a simple 2 word company name that I love to this day.
      I’m female in a male dominated consulting business where most are named for the founder so the last thing I wanted was to draw attention to my business being woman owned. 15 years years later I’m pretty sure at least 25% of our clients still assume my first employee (male) owns the company.

    22. Yikes*

      Oh, if we’re taking bad ones there was a company that shreds documents. Plastered on their trucks in giant letters was:

      They have a tamer tagline now.

    23. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      We once hired a moving company because we saw their truck with “Intelligent Labor and Moving” drive past our building. That’s partly about being memorable — it if had been something like Commonwealth Moving, we might not have remembered the name when we were looking for a mover. (We liked them enough to hire them again three years later.)

      “Nice Jewish Boy with Truck” was also memorable — I still remember it decades later, even though we never used them.

    24. Atleastmycatlovesme*

      Depending on your area, don’t discount the benefit of being first alphabetically in the phone book under your business type. We still have a lot of customers that say they chose us from the phone book though I haven’t touched one in years.

    25. Flash Packet*

      I had a dream where the name of the company lit up in cursive neon in front of me. It’s a made-up word that could maybe be someone’s name or the name of town somewhere. Kind of bland, really. But we also operate under a dba, so the name of the LLC is actually irrelevant in terms of marketing and gaining customers.

      In my full-time job, I was auditing our vendor master file and came across “Big Ass Holding” and, weeks later, I’m still giggling over it.

      1. wonderl@nd*

        There’s a company out there called “Big Ass Fans” and I had to do a double take when I saw it on a resume for the first time.

  2. olusatrum*

    Curious to hear what others think of this: I was recently invited to participate in a leadership program put on by our corporate office. As part of this program, participants were asked to ask 6 people (5 coworkers and the 6th being our managers) to complete a feedback form evaluating our skills and “savvy behaviors.” Skills are things like “understanding systems” and “managing change,” and savvy behaviors are things like “accepting feedback non-defensively” and “learning from successes/failures.” Each bullet point can be marked Polished, Continuous Improvement or Rough Edges.

    It was recommended we send these out to other managers we work with, peers, teammates, anyone whose feedback we’d value. It was even recommended we send one to someone we didn’t get along with or work well with, to get their perspective. The goal is to go over the responses in meetings with our managers and the leadership program facilitator in an ongoing process to isolate the “rough edges” areas and work on them until they’re considered “polished.”

    I really didn’t want to do this!! The whole thing made me so uncomfortable. The feedback is not anonymous – we were told to have responses sent back directly to us. Honestly, I would never want to evaluate a peer like this and potentially cause friction in our working relationship unless we were already close and mutually supportive. I can’t imagine feeling comfortable basically telling a coworker to their face their “integrating new information” skill has “rough edges.” I ended up sending only 2 forms out to managers I’ve worked with, but I still felt it wasn’t really any of their business as people who don’t manage me, and I don’t expect the feedback will actually end up being helpful to me.

    Was I overreacting or this kind of weird?

    1. Purple Cat*

      Oof, I think that’s a poorly designed program.
      One company I worked at did these, but the managers sent out the invitations on behalf of the employee and then a neutral 3rd party pulled together the information and anonyzed it – mostly, obviously specific anecdotes you’d know who it was.

      1. PinkCandyfloss*

        Yes, this is how I received the same training. We were given a summation of the feedback but it was all handled not by us personally.

    2. Anna Badger*

      not a major fan of how the response options are labelled but honestly, asking people you don’t get on with for feedback can be a game changer – they are more likely to give you answers that will help you actually develop, and signaling that you care about their feedback (and making it clear that you have personally made the decision to ask them in particular) sometimes just, like, heals a bunch of stuff in the relationship, *including stuff on their side.*

    3. Important Moi*

      It’s a leadership program. I don’t think it is weird to ask people who you interact with “how you interact.” Is this particular method weird? I don’t honestly know as I have no training on doing this type of evaluation.

      As far as not wanting to cause friction? I don’t think you’re wrong. I also don’t have a problem telling co-workers how I feel, tactfully and appropriately, about work issues. That being said, I know there are those who will take the most uncharitable view of that position.

    4. PinkCandyfloss*

      It’s weird that the feedback goes directly to you. It should go to the organizers and be anonymized as much as possible. This is bad design.

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        One of my managers did something like this for our small team of 6 people, none of whom were in any type of leadership role. We were all presented with a packet of each team member’s “anonymous” feedback (we were a close enough team that we could recognize each other’s handwriting) to review on our own time. I threw mine away without ever looking at any of them, and made my own feedback as vague as humanly possible. I don’t have an issue talking feedback in general, but they way it was set up seemed like it would just cause resentment on what was already a well-functioning, collegial team.

    5. Someguy*

      A 360 review can be helpful – but as Purple Cat notes: having it pulled together by someone neutral is important. And if poorly facilitated can make little issues into big ones.

      So yeah, it’s a weird way to go about doing it.

      1. Quinalla*

        Agreed, 360 feedback is great, but should be anonymous for sure so people can give more honest feedback which is more useful. I too would feel weird about this, if you have to get some peers, try to get people you know well I guess and you can have a feedback pact? When we’ve done this, your coach/manager gathered feedback for you and compiled it to anonymize it.

    6. soontoberetired*

      This is kind of weird.

      I’ve done 360 degree feedback type things for managers and that’s suppposedly anonymous but I have never really believed it – answers can give away who is answering. I haven’t met anyone who likes to give feedback like that identifies themselves to the reviewed person.

      And geesh, your managers should already have a good idea on what you need to work on.

      Aslo, companies need to stop asking you to get feedback from people who don’t work well with you unless they are asking both of you what the issues are. Generally, it comes down to one person being unreasonable – at least it has for me . You can work well with people you don’t like, or at least, you should be able to do so.

    7. Cookies for Breakfast*

      I’ve been on the receiving end of something like that, and nope, don’t think you’re overreacting.

      In my case, it came from someone I crossed paths with in meetings regularly (say, two or three times a month or so) but didn’t work closely with day to day. My only insight on their management style was that I appreciated seeing them back their team in difficult situations. The reason I saw that behaviour was that this person often came in with requests to change my team’s priorities to suit their team’s clients, coming across as pushy and lacking understanding of how my department worked.

      So…I wrote the appreciation part, because it fit well into one of the questions, but left the rest of it aside. I couldn’t work out a way of wording it constructively, because in that workplace’s culture, being the one who shouts the loudest to was encouraged. As you said, the risk of causing friction in our working relationship really wasn’t worth it. I doubt the external trainer, who most likely didn’t have the full context on our departments interacted, would have been able to use that feedback for positive change.

      I can’t imagine that management training was productive, and even imagining less conflict-averse people than me might have filled surveys, I can see lots of opportunities for written feedback interpreted by an external trainer being taken badly by the recipient.

    8. elizabeth*

      My boss asked me to do this. My answers were skewed because she was going to see them, and I was essentially unwilling to say anything vaguely negative about her.

    9. FORMERHigherEdPerson*

      Yup, like others have said, a 360 Leadership Review is very common and incredibly useful. However, it should NOT be sent directly back to the leader, as that skews the answers and you won’t get truthful feedback.
      That’s the actual feedback I would give to the people coordinating the leadership program. I’d tell them that your concern is with the flow of the 360 and how it will impact people’s honesty if they know you are going to see their specific answers. Ask for an alternative neutral third party who can receive the feedback.
      And as hard as it can be to hear feedback, it’s important to us as colleagues/leaders/employees. If they can structure it in a better way, this will be incredibly valuable to you.
      (I’m a org development specialist and do this kind of thing all the time)

      1. olusatrum*

        Yeah, after reading yours and others’ responses, I think the lack of anonymity was the main problem for me. I also wasn’t wildly comfortable with soliciting feedback at all, largely because I’ve been pretty frustrated with the culture of this company and the attitudes of the people I work with, and wasn’t really interested in hearing their opinions. It probably still would have been helpful to have that info though, even if it just helped me get along here until I can move on to better things.

        Thanks to you and all for weighing in :)

    10. RagingADHD*

      I don’t think getting this feedback *for the program leaders* was the point, or indeed that the content of the feedback was the main point at all. I think this was an excellent exercise to practice the mindset and skills you would need to develop as a leader:

      1) having awkward conversations, particularly with people you aren’t naturally compatible with;
      2) developing relationships with people whose judgment you trust,
      3) asking for advice, and
      4) taking feedback in a non-defensive way to see whether/how it might be useful.

      It seems to me that your discomfort and avoidance of the exercise is something you should discuss in the program as things to work on in order to grow your leadership ability.

      1. elizabeth*

        I disagree, both because I saw my boss’s experience in a leadership program (where they actually did analyze and use the results and said nothing about how they were collected) and because OP’s discomfort and avoidance stems from the fact that this is an inappropriate way conduct this exercise. Having the mindset and skills of a leader means knowing when you’re asking too much of other people and overstepping.

      2. Amusing Antelope*

        Completely agree with all these points. Being your peer doesn’t mean their feedback is not useful! And the belief that only your own manager has any business giving you feedback is career limiting.
        One thing you can get from the exercise is to learn to receive feedback without causing friction in the relationship, which will be at least as useful as the feedback itself.
        Someone once told me once, “Feedback is a gift. That doesn’t mean you’re going to like it. Sometimes you get socks and underwear. It’s still a useful gift.”

        1. Michelle Smith*

          This potential benefit won’t happen if the people who you’re expecting to get the feedback from aren’t honest. That’s why anonymous feedback is more useful. OP is not the issue here, it’s the fact that most people aren’t going to readily criticize someone if they *think* it will come back to bite them, regardless of whether OP in reality would be super gracious about it.

    11. Madeleine Matilda*

      I did a 360 review some years ago but the responses from my staff and peers were anonymized. My direct supervisor’s response was not. I think asking people to send their responses to you is a poor practice as they will do exactly what you wrote and soften their feedback.

      The whole thing made me stressed, but I decided to lean into it and asked all of the people I supervised to complete it and they did. Most was good. Some was critical such as a perceived lack of fairness about leave which was helpful because it made me work on those areas.

    12. snarkfox*

      No this is weird. And I would never give coworkers anything but “polished,” in this system, because it’s not anonymous and that’s just too awkward and uncomfortable!

    13. Michelle Smith*

      Not overreacting. There’s not a chance in hell I’d be comfortable rating a coworker honestly given those parameters. If you gave me the form, I’d rate you polished, regardless of what I actually thought, and send it back to you. Definitely not worth the risk of ruining my work environment over being frank.

    14. Rosyglasses*

      For a leadership program, it is completely appropriate to do these types of things – otherwise, you will have a tough time coming to a closer objective view of your strengths and weaknesses as it pertains to being in a leadership position. Those strengths/weaknesses are often different than what you bring to an individual contributor role.

    15. frustrated trainee*

      I dislike this greatly! For one thing, some people are simply not that good at assessing others and giving feedback. But the point you call out, that it’s not anonymous, renders this completely worthless in addition to uncomfortable – candid feedback is necessary here and you’re very unlikely to get it from someone who has to come in to work with you the next day, who might have their quality of life at work severely impacted by saying something another person won’t like, or by having their judgement questioned later “Sansa brought up a personal issue with Cersei, but six months ago on the feedback she mentioned that Cersei isn’t a strong teammate…do you think she just has it out for her?”

  3. CharlieBrown*

    I wrote a couple of weeks ago that I was getting pushed into doing work for the client nobody wants to do work for. I spent most of this week doing the training, and it turns out that the materials I was given were not correct, so I’ve basically spent three days learning nothing.

    In the meantime, we have another client that I have done a lot of work for. I’m good at it, I like it, and the new team lead asked to have me on that team. (I’m the final auditor before work goes out to the client.) Instead, I am being kept where I am to do work for evil client, and a new person has been assigned to audit the other client’s work. And because they are new and have absolutely zero familiarity with it, the new team lead will have to spend the next couple of months doing overtime to audit their work until the new person is up to speed.

    Why do companies do this? When you’re good at something and enjoy doing it, why do they put you doing something else? Now we have two people doing something new to them, I am doing something that everybody else already hates, and the new team lead is going to be putting in a lot of overtime. (Team leads here typically work 50 hours a week; so they are looking at 60 hours a week for the next two months.)

    This has happened to me before at other organizations. Once you find something you like and are actually good at, they basically do everything they can to ensure that you will never do that again. How in the world does this even make sense? I would seriously like to know how this makes sense from a management perspective.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’m sorry you’ve gotten the short end of the stick. But there are a bunch of valid reasons for a company do this.

      1. What if the non-evil client drops their contract? Now your employer is stuck with a bunch of employees who are only good at one thing – and so they’d have to lay you all off.

      2. How can your company get new business if they don’t cross-train employees to be able to handle different processes? Maybe the processes for the evil client are actually better and could be transferred to other clients.

      3. Maybe they have past experience of people doing the same thing over and over again getting into a rut and then resigning. Or they have the experience that those people start to slack off, or cut corners, or get too comfortable, and therefore start making more mistakes.

      4. Maybe this isn’t about you at all, but rather about getting the manager of the non-evil client better at training and supervising newbies.

      1. Somehow_I_Manage*

        This is such an interesting discussion, I’m more used to the opposite of what OP is expressing. Staff that live in fear of getting too good at making widgets, and forever being assigned “widget Tsar.” It’s a great reminder that everyone is different- some people just want to find their thing and become really good at it.

    2. JSPA*

      It’s only required in a certain small set of financial jobs, for one person to have 2 weeks or more off, to allow any oddities to surface…but it’s good practice more generally, to have two sets of eyes on something, and also cross-training / flexibility in your coverage.

      It’s also sometimes what they do to make people promotable–they want you to know more than your one niche.

      If they keep you on the gross job forever, and if the gross job is really gross rather than just new, and badly taught…that’s different. (Though even then, who knows, the client may want or require two sets of eyes, or a shifting set of people working on the account.)

      In that case, you might well choose to look elsewhere.

      I suppose one can’t know that you being happy on the account = the account being happy to have you on it; sometimes they’ll prioritize something other than competence and efficiency (usually to their detriment, but its their prerogative).

      You do have some bargaining chips, if you’re willing to leave if they don’t let you switch to the old project / new team lead. Not sure of the wording, but,

      “I appreciate the occasional chance to cross-train. But I’d like to know your thinking of putting me on the ill-defined, one could even say floundering, ZYZYGY project, when my specific expertise is being enthusiastically sought by Jan on the Unicorns Unlimited account.”

      Then shut up and let them speak; if they say you’re excellent, and they’re counting on you to turn it around so it can be handed off to someone else who’s not as good at turning things around…that’s different from, “welp, we all know it’s crap, but someone has to do it.” Your bargaining position is likewise different in the two scenarios.

      I think you can tell the new lead on the old project that there is nothing you want more than to be on that project again, and little keeping you at the company, if they are going to start dumping the crap projects on you.

      But be careful you’re not projecting! This job isn’t your previous jobs; this manager isn’t your previous managers; this is one project-to-project shift, not a pattern. Going in at high intensity because jobs “always” do this, isn’t helpful.

    3. Gnome*

      it sounds to me like they don’t want to have the evil client go elsewhere, you have had a happy client, so “obviously” you can handle the evil client.

      It can make sense to cross train people, have more than one person familiar with a client, etc. That being said if the client is that bad… why do they keep them? And depending on where you are market wise, they risk having good people leave because they are being kept on projects they don’t like.

    4. Starshine*

      I’ve been in your shoes lots of times. I use it as time to shine. I’ve been given many accounts that are extremely difficult and annoying. I answer all of their questions as quickly as possible, begin any emails with a greeting, keep all comments positive and have a “can do” attitude. I currently have 3 accounts that 2 separate mangers told me are their most difficult…and just received my second bonus for the year.

    5. Kes*

      I mean it’s probably because they have confidence you can handle the evil client, whereas the other client is easier to staff so they can more easily put new people on it. I’ve seen (and been in) similar situations before. It makes sense for your company, but it’s also a bit shortsighted because you’re essentially making your best people unhappy because you know they’re capable and can handle the work, but then that raises the risk they’ll leave because they’re unhappy.

      I got pigeonholed into working on a specific client (because I had, and knew their stuff) and eventually left in large part because of that, and of course they did not see that coming even though I told them every year I wanted a chance to work on something different. Funny how that always works.

    6. Michelle Smith*

      Sounds like you’re being “rewarded” for being good at your job by being given the tough assignments no one else can handle. I’m sorry.

    7. linger*

      Were you simply given the wrong training materials for this client’s needs?
      Or is it possible that the “evil client” has been found consistently difficult to work with at least partly because the procedures applied to that client were incorrect (and/or incorrectly documented, so that each new person faced the same problems)?

    8. CatMintCat*

      Schools do this all the time – “You love teaching Kindergarten and are really good at it? Here, have 6th grade for next year”. “You want to teach 6th? Here, have special ed.”

      It makes no sense to me, and never has.

  4. epiphany*

    This might be marketing specific, but if you work at a company that includes several brands (similar to how Darden owns the Longhorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden brands), do you only mention ‘Darden’ or do you also call out ‘Longhorn Steakhouse’ in your resume?

    I work in marketing and I just had a realization that I don’t specifically list the brands I manage on my resume. Talk about bad marketing (dun dun DUN!)

    The past several companies I’ve worked at are multi-brand under a parent company, so they have several products and websites. Using the above example, I currently have Darden as where I work, but I don’t list the specific brands I manage the marketing programs for, e.g. Longhorn Steakhouse.

    Should I actually be saying on my resume: “managed Longhorn Steakhouse brand marketing programs by meeting goals, etc.” or is “”managed marketing programs by meeting goals, etc.” sufficient enough?

    This occurred to me because I want to apply for a job at a competitor of where I work, however my resume only lists the parent company that employs me, so I’m not sure the competitor would know offhand that I work for their competitor, but they would absolutely know the sub-brand I work on. It’s a niche product so I want to stand out because I have experience marketing that product. This would be like if I wanted to apply for a job at Texas Roadhouse restaurant. They might not know Darden, but they would know of Longhorn Steakhouse and it would show I have experience in that area.

    1. Purple Cat*

      Absolutely list the brands as part of your bullet-points under the position. I did that where I had the same “title” but switched product portfolios in my marketing roles. So even if it’s not a separate role, I would definitely include “Longhorn” in the bullet point.

      1. Somehow_I_Manage*

        Good feedback! To OP, remember that as you climb the consulting ladder, they are hiring you for both your skill and your relationships! Let’s say you work for a marketing firm that services several brands. Your future employer may either also serve those clients, or would like to win work with them someday. That would add value to you compared to other candidates.

    2. OtterB*

      I agree with Purple Cat. List Darden as your employer and then the brands you manage with the bullet points about what you’ve accomplished in that role.

    3. EMP*

      I think it’s better to be specific in something like this. Especially when the brands are so separate and have (I assume) different marketing needs, it will allow you to show employers that you have the specific skills they need and that you can work in ways that are tailored to a specific product.

      1. Llama Llama*

        Ugh. Accidentally hit send.
        I work for a company that does consulting for other companies. My work has only been for one company. I have absolutely put that company name in my resumes. However there are other companies we have done work for that we would not be able to mention because of NDAs. I honestly would struggle if I couldn’t mention it.

        1. JSPA*

          Depends how specific your circumlocutions can be, without being identifying, no? Can you get away with,

          Our clients include,
          “a cell phone company with >20% of the US market,”
          “an auditing firm with over 30 fortune 500 clients,”
          “a bicoastal entertainment company that has existed in some form since the 1920s”

          1. Filosofickle*

            I was just doing competitive research on consulting firms (Accenture etc) and many of their case stories say “Fortune 50 health insurance company” when they can’t say the name and insiders generally what who that likely is. Right now I’m looking at one that says “multinational pharmaceutical, consumer health and crop sciences company” and that has such specific details it’s easily identifiable.

    4. Harried HR*

      You could list it as

      Darden (accounts include Longhorn Steakhouse and Olive Garden)

      This would show the accounts you have worked on which would be helpful if an employer was looking for Longhorn and not Del Frisco’s

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        This is how I have a company listed that was a huge, nationally known org when I was hired but was sold off and became a name no one outside of the unique industry would know. Something like this:

        New Clean (bar soap division of Proctor & Gamble)

    5. Former marketing mgr*

      In marketing, there is definitely value in listening different brands because each brand requires a different marketing perspective. By listening them along with achievements, it shows that you have broader knowledge than just one brand.

  5. Getting started at a new job advice sought!*

    I’m starting a new job in a few weeks. It’s been many years since I started a new job and this is first one where I will be starting in a primarily remote environment.

    I’d love to hear any advice or suggestions for setting oneself up for success and making connections/getting to know people when starting a new job, particularly in a remote environment where the “running into each other in the breakroom” or “popping your head in someone’s office when you’re in the area” type of spontaneous human interactions don’t occur.

    1. Former Recruiter, Current HR Generalist*

      Set up 1:1 meetings with your direct teammates (15-30 minutes) and ask them about their backgrounds, the work they do now, any advice they could give you, if there is anyone else they recommend you reach out to, etc. and take notes! Hopefully your team also has a group chat of sorts so you can collaborate and ask questions.

      1. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

        I second this. And ask direct questions of your teammates and your manager about who is the go-to person for a few sample scenarios. You’ll have what you think of as stupid questions, the virtual equivalent of “where’s the photocopier again?” that will arise and if you don’t want to bug your boss, it will help to have ideas about who else might know.

    2. Wants Green Things*

      If possible, keep your work computer and home computer separate. You probably can’t have 2 desk set ups, but it’s been vital for me to have my work laptop be a whole different physical machine – keeps me better focused.

      It’s definitely harder to connect remotely, but keep your ears open for any virtual meet & greets, happy hours, etc. Maybe throw in a question about their weekend to someone you email regularly or have Teams calls with. It’s not the same, but it helps.

    3. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I recently started a job that’s almost 100% remote. My manager had me set up 15-minute one-on-one calls with people during my first month and it was helpful although a bit awkward. The best thing I found was actually participating in the non-work Teams channels. We have one in our department that people use to post work memes, talk about TV shows/films, discuss their weekend plans etc. I read every message and responded to people where relevant, and that’s how I’ve made good work relationships.

      That and really indulging in small talk at the beginning of meetings. I used to hate small talk but as it turns out, I only hated it because at my previous jobs, small talk happened at inconvenient times and interrupted my flow. Actually viewing the first five minutes of every meeting as being *for* small talk and getting to know my colleagues has been a game-changer.

      1. BlueDijon*

        This is exactly what I found most helpful. As someone who has never loved fully remote but wanted to just get used to it now rather than later, being extra small talky really helped, sharing mundane details I normally wouldn’t because that’s the only way that we really had to do the getting to know you stuff that would usually come from just sheer time spent around one another. It felt really awkward to me for a really long time, but it’s slowly getting more normal feeling.

        Also if there’s any time differences, also know that it’ll feel awkward for a bit too! I personally set my own boundaries not necessarily associated with time as much as with job content – so I’ll stay on late sometimes or keep checking later if I want to know, but also will not stop myself from going about my life otherwise as needed and not moving my pre-existing commitments pre-emptively due to time zones.

    4. ecnaseener*

      Ask your trainer to help! What’s worked well on my team is for the person training the new hire to invite other team members to join a training call when they have time, it’s much less awkward IMO than a 1-on-1.

    5. PinkCandyfloss*

      Our remote team has a half hour voluntary drop in set up weekly where anyone who’s free can get together for virtual coffee. Only rule is no work talk allowed.

    6. Glazed Donut*

      Hi! Congrats on the new position. One thing that I think has helped me has been to take advantage of the fact that others can’t see my work space by leaving myself reminders. When I started a new role, I ended up keeping a sticky note of people’s names and their roles so that I could keep track of people (especially without having those hallway chats to help). This is helpful so that when someone says “Send that to Susan” I know which Susan they’re referring to, or when they say “Send that to the operations team coordinator,” I know who that person is too.
      Otherwise–yes, set up short meetings to get to know people, ask about them and the work, all that good stuff. It should happen eventually but getting the ball rolling sooner is a good idea.

    7. Medium Sized Manager*

      Congrats on the new job! As somebody who manages people who started remote:

      * regular 1:1s. When we were in office, I let people choose the cadence with monthly being the least frequent, but I keep my newest at weekly. Sometimes, it’s our only face to face interaction, so it’s a good time to build in those “coffee connections.” I am up front that this is social time we would have gotten in the hallway in addition to regular concerns.

      * video calls/slack calls/whatever. You’re not tethered to email so don’t be afraid to ask somebody to talk something through. I’m a huge fan of Slacks huddle feature because you can talk without camera but still share screens as needed.

      *engage in the team channel when possible. Sharing interesting work tidbits (ex an interesting claim in my world), asking for help, sharing a funny whatever. It helps you connect on a shallow level to help you offset any weirdness of “I don’t really know these people.” Again, all stuff you would be doing in office!

    8. Getting started at a new job advice sought!*

      Thank you all, these are great tips!

      We don’t have a group chat/”virtual water cooler” where I am now (also remote), but I see how something like that could really help so I hope they have it where I am going.

    9. Michelle Smith*

      I’m going through this right now!

      1. Our department has something called Coffee Chats. They are organized by a couple of people who pair us up with someone else new in the department every month and it’s always someone we don’t otherwise work closely with. I’m going to my first one on Wednesday, so I can’t say for sure that they’re effective, but certainly it’s the only way I’d ever meet any of these people!

      2. My boss set up a lunch time Zoom for my team (5 person subgroup in the department) to get to know me. We all brought our lunch or a little snack. She was part of the conversation for the first 15 minutes or so and then left to allow us to hang out and speak freely. I wish we did them more often. It’s something you can suggest for sure.

      3. One of the people who I did an informational interview with before I applied for this job has turned into a mentor of sorts. We do occasional check-ins on the phone.

      4. I have weekly one-on-ones with my boss where I set the agenda. I can ask questions about anything, not just my projects, and that has been valuable time to get to know her as well as have her get to know me (management style, ideal work environment, times of day when I’m at my best, etc.).

      5. I show up to as much as possible. If there’s an internal training, I go if it fits my schedule. If there’s an on-sight activity, I work from the office that day. So far there hasn’t been too much offered, but I’ve gotten to know at least a couple of people by being a regular presence at optional events.

      That’s all I’ve got so far!

    10. IrishEm*

      Find out what Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) there are and see if any of them match up with your interests (e.g. I’d look for gender diversity/queer groups, Wakeen might want the diversity as in diverse ethnicities/nationalities group, Fergus might want the wellbeing/fitness group, etc.). You can usually network/make friends with people from all across the organisation with these groups, depending on how big they are.

  6. Elle*

    Shout out to all the supervisors who gave performance evals this week! During our evaluation meeting my employee asked me to stop pointing out when she makes mistakes because it makes her feel bad.

      1. Elle*

        Well, it’s kind of my job as her supervisor. But I also asked her how I could do better at giving feedback. She acknowledged that she takes feedback poorly and it is something she needs to work on internally. She didn’t have feedback for me but I’m wondering if I can be better at that.

        1. Dr. Doll*

          You both might enjoy the book and TEDx talk “Thanks for the Feedback.” (Sheila Heen & Doug Stone, IIRC). It’s about *taking* feedback, which is an unusual spin on the concept.

          1. Kes*

            Agreed, this book is great. But it sounds like it’s really the employee who needs to read it most.

        2. Dr. Doll*

          Also, I haaaaate having mistakes pointed out when the chance to fix it is already gone and there’s no next time. Or when all that I hear from someone is how I should have done it better. Or, and this is important, if I have not mentally given the person *authority* to give me feedback (big issue when my husband does it!!). Your employee must give you that mental authority if she has not.

          I have some sympathy for her, but much more for you! It is a hard job, giving critical and constructive feedback.

          1. Elle*

            It’s so hard! I try not to point out every mistake. But if the same things happens more then once I mention it and we work on how to prevent it from happening again. I don’t think I’m overly critical and it’s not a daily thing.

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

          I think as a supervisor you could point HER to some resources about how to be more comfortable with feedback and corrections. Is there an online course or group (like Toastmasters) you can refer her to and maybe have the company pay for if necessary? Is her reaction beyond the normal range and she might need to access EAP resources? There is no way for you (or any manager) to stop giving her feedback and she needs to understand that.

          As long as your feedback is clear, prompt and actionable, you shouldn’t change a thing.

        4. Ann Ominous*

          There’s a really good (of course) ‘how to be better about accepting feedback’ article on this site somewhere.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      Is there something about the way or timeframe you are pointing out her mistakes? That is the only way I could possibly justify her statement.

      Wow, just wow. What kind of employee is she generally?

      1. Elle*

        She has stuff to work on. Her accuracy needs to improve and she rushes through things leading to errors. She has acknowledged this. She has some anxiety and takes things hard.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I have a tendency to rush. That means I have to check everything over before passing it on. I encourage my crew to do the same. I am also a big fan of using memory triggers. This can be rhymes or counting steps or other things. It’s up to her to develop systems that work for her- it’s okay to say that most people have to do this because it lessens the worry and increases the accuracy. It’s not unusual to have to do these types of things at work.

          People make mistakes. It’s more concerning when they make the same mistake over and over. I like the question, “Think about what you can do to prevent this particular mistake again.” I used myself as an example and I would show one or two ideas of what I would do to nail something down so it would be right each time. I never made them come up with an idea on the spot. I told them to think about it.

          Make sure she is aware of her actual deadlines and is not mixed up on when things are due. She may be rushing because her worry convinced her that something was due before the actual due date.

        2. Michelle Smith*

          That’s hard. It could be a fit issue. A person I really admire has blogged about his experience as a lawyer and how he just didn’t get the small details right because (1) he didn’t see them and (2) he didn’t care about them. He did not do well in that role, but he does really super well thinking about big picture concepts, creating engaging content, and selling things to lawyers. I hope she is either able to improve accuracy or find a role where her natural talents are better suited.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Alison has a letter about that! Search “My employee asked me not to give him any feedback”, it might be in there twice but the one I found first was from April 2015.

    3. JSPA*

      “here are some ways that feedback can be delivered. Let’s role play a few of them, so we can get a sense of what things are derailing, and what things work for you.”

      There have been threads here about what needs to be fixed in the moment (e.g. a mistake that they’ll be doing repeatedly in the next hour, thus cementing the wrong pattern…vs, “it’s except, not accept, here” which can be flagged later).

      They may do better with a couple of hours of intentional shadowing, followed by a more hands-off style for a week.

      People carry stress from bad management in past jobs. There may be some phrase they need to hear, to know that they are a) valued b) not in trouble and c) nobody will be yelling.

      If they ask, “Please speak warmly, remind me that you’re not Davei, say you want to flag something, tell me whether it’s one-time or repeated, and how big a deal…and then flag the mistake”– can you do that, for corrections that can’t be delayed?

      Do they like to play, “spot my own mistake when you mention there is one,” or does that make them feel terrible? (I hate it, had a coworker who loved it.)

      Do they work better with (virtual) red ink in the margin, just like school? Or hate it?

    4. Curmudgeon in California*

      So, I’m someone who has an issue with performance evaluations. Most times they seem to me to be a farce, and when I’m feeling burned out they feel like abuse. Also, because of some very abusive work environments in the past, I sometimes have a problem accepting feedback, especially in performance evaluations.

      The problems I have with feedback are all mine, but due to bad history with toxic jobs. I know this, and I try to let my managers know that I have the problem.

      I am still (re)learning how to accept feedback and decide what I will work on and what is a “no, not my problem”. I realize that makes me kind of prickly to give feedback to, and I try to keep it as my problem, but what works best for me is:
      a) If I make a mistake, let me know immediately, and help me to fix it or figure out how not to do it again. If you wait six months until a formal review to tell me about a serious misspelling in the TPS report, I’m going to think it wasn’t all that important, since you waited so long to tell me.
      b) Do not try to fix my “attitude”. No, seriously, that’s not your wheelhouse IMO. You can correct my communication or conduct (eg “Please don’t complain in front of other departments” or “Please don’t roll your eyes in a meeting”), but don’t try to tell me I “have a negative attitude”, “need to be more cheerful”, “need to develop a ‘more positive professional’ attitude” or worst “need to smile more”. I will actually think less of you for it.
      c) Do tell me about patterns that you spot in how I do things that need improvement. Often I can’t spot if any of my work habits make things harder for others. Your eyes from the outside are invaluable to me for that.
      d) Don’t criticize me in front of others. This is something I’ve only ever had bad managers do, and not just to me. If I see you tearing people apart in even group meetings, I may well update my resume and start looking elsewhere before it happens again.
      e) Do tell me if my apparel is out of step with the organization, but don’t give me gendered feedback. I may have secondary sexual characteristics associated with “female”, but I’m enby, and hate being pushed to be fem. If you suggest that I should wear dresses, we won’t work together very well. If I dress too casual, tell me, but don’t advise skirts and heels.

      I’ve been in the workforce for over 40 years, and I’ve had some really bad experiences that have left their mark on my soul. It’s not your fault, but it can be a minefield for the two of us to navigate. I’m doing my part to address my reactions, but it takes a while to undo old tape. Certain bad management things can trigger outsized reactions, and sometimes I think I’m farther past the bad stuff than I am.

      1. Leandra*

        Adding to Curmudgeon’s list above, don’t wait until my review to tell me you want me to do something differently.

        I had a boss say on my review that I should give progress reports on a project, because I tended to stop communicating while I focused on getting the project done. She was a good person who was also accustomed to her assistant catering to her, and I’d subtly made it clear I wasn’t a pseudo-personal assistant.

        I’m sure she didn’t tell me this herself because I would’ve said that asking me how’s it going, was also an option.

    5. The Other Dawn*

      So, I’m guessing the answer here is if we find a mistake, we fix it behind their back and never mention it to them, thus ensuring they never know where they went wrong so they can make improvements. Got it! ;)

      I’m a manager, too, and I’ve also heard this from time to time. I currently have one person who feels like his writing is “nit picked.” Well, we’re in a very writing-heavy job and how we say things is important, which I explained. I also explained that it’s my job to give feedback and while I’ll make every effort to be constructive about it and offer praise where I can, mistakes still need to be pointed out and fixed so he can improve his writing over time. I also said that writing is part of the job (not the only part of his job, but still required) and he will continue to get constructive feedback. If that’s not for him then he should consider finding a position, either within the company or elsewhere, that doesn’t require writing.

  7. Myrin*

    Is there a way for a regular employee to show appreciation for an outstanding HR person they‘ve never met personally?

    In the last two months, I needed a lot of documents from my employer for government and insurance reasons. The responsible HR person (Flower) has been phenomenal throughout all of this – incredibly fast, accurate, responsive, and always willing to explain how and why something is happening.

    During my last phone call with Flower, I expressed how thankful I am for having her as the relevant contact and she was clearly very happy to hear that. I know complicated situations like mine are part of her job but: 1. it‘s become clear to me that they aren‘t actually particularly common, either, and 2. one part of the whole thing is actually my own fault; I made a mistake earlier this year and if I had caught it in time, Flower would‘ve had to do only about half of what she‘s had to do now and I feel a bit guilty about that (even though, again, I know it‘s her job).

    I‘ll be leaving this company at the end of this month (exciting news I will be talking about later!) and I would like to do something to thank Flower for going above and beyond.

    So my question is twofold: 1. Would this be an okay thing to do at all or was my earnestly expressed gratitude over the phone enough/should I just leave it be? 2. If yes, what can I do that would be appropriate in such a situation?
    She‘s in a different part of the country and I‘ve never met her personally although we‘ve talked on the phone and communicated via email quite a bit.

    1. Purple Cat*

      I would send her an email and copy her manager. Or send an email directly to her manager and copy Flower so she knows what you’ve sent.
      Praise too often goes unsaid.

      1. bones*

        Yep, this! I also like to send warm cookies to the office, if you know their location and they have someone that delivers that type of thing.

      2. WantonSeedStitch*

        This! I will say that as a manager, whenever someone does this for one of my employees, I’m thrilled to see it!

      3. Quinalla*

        Yes put it in writing and CC her manager. And if you want to really go above and beyond, hand written note. I treasure every hand written note I’ve gotten like this as they are so few and far between, but try and put specific praise in it, not just Thanks so much! It means a lot more :)

      1. CG*

        Yes!! Also, if peers can nominate each other for awards where you work, put one in for Flower for outstanding customer service!

    2. Xyz*

      Send her a note via email and CC her manager. Thank her for the hard work, and talk about what specifically she has done to make the process go well. If she has gone above and beyond in any way acknowledge that.

    3. Svennerson*

      Does your company do exit interviews, and are they at all with HR? If so, I think the best gift you can give her is accurate but effusive praise in the exit interview.

    4. T. Boone Pickens*

      I think the phone call is sufficient, however if you wanted to go above and beyond, you could send a handwritten note to Flower. Other thoughts would be if your company has an employee ‘kudos’ program this seems like a perfect avenue. Lastly, you could also email Flower’s boss what you outlined above so that Flower could have a ‘atta Flower’ potentially in their file.

    5. Emby*

      I’ve emailed commendations to her supervisor and cc’d the person on it for this exact type of thing

    6. Roo Roo*

      As an HR person myself, hearing positive feedback really makes my day/week/month. I’ve had people share their positive feedback about me with my manager, and when my manager mentions it to me, just doubles that good feeling. Something like that may be a good option.

      1. Aitch Arr*


        I admit, I then keep those emails in a specific Outlook folder that I go look in on day’s when I’m feeling down.

    7. JSPA*

      An email or letter for her files, in a professional tone, without self-flagellation for the screwup, but with lots and lots of gratitude for going over and above.

    8. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

      Agree with all the people saying to email. Be specific in why and how she helped as well, not just ‘Flower was so wonderful!’ so that it’s constructive and useful for the manager. Which I apologise is a really obvious thing to say, but I see so much feedback that says I was ‘great!’ but it’s hard to do much with it without the why!

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

        Yes! I’ve received those in the past. I used to exchange it for a gift card at the local Carrefour to buy myself a treat, but sadly that perk has gone =(

    9. Clawdeen Wolf*

      Definitely kick the feedback upstairs. “She was fast, accurate, and responsive. She truly went above and beyond.” Maybe add in that it was a stressful situation and you appreciated having someone so (knowledgeable, capable, compassionate, whatever adjective is most accurate) to help you.

      I’d also send one last “thanks for everything” email directly to her.

    10. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Send her boss an email stating how much she’s help you in this time.

      If you work for a large company they may have a formal accolades program where you nominate people. My company has this. They get a big graphic on the internal website home page. I think they also get a small prize of some type if they get enough points accumulating from the kudos.

  8. Ashley Armbruster*

    Let’s say you’ve been a Teapot Maker for a few years. Over that time, you’ve gained more responsibility and autonomy but your title has stayed the same. How do you show this growth on your resume?

    For instance, I started my current position with assisting another Teapot Maker on the teapot accounts, then after 6 months I got put on the top teapot account and owned that account, and 1 year later I became the lead for the “kettle” teapot category and became the owner of the 2nd top teapot account, adding an addition $500K (let’s say) to the budget.

    It’s tricky because it’s hard to quantify and I don’t know how to word it in my resume.

        1. londonedit*

          I think there is, though?

          – Took ownership of lead Teapot account in 2019 after 6 months assisting [and if there’s any info on budgets or things you were particularly in charge of, mention those]
          – Given lead role on Kettle category in 2020, overseeing [x number] of Kettle accounts
          – Took ownership of 2nd highest performing Kettle account, adding $500k to the budget over [however many months]

          Or whatever specific language works for your situation – but those are all things that show progression and excellence in what you’re doing.

            1. JSPA*

              It’s your own words!

              Easy to get caught in the idea that “specifics and quantifiables” are, say, some numerical formula that’s strict cost-benefit (of your product, of your value to the company) or number of requests handled.

              Just step back, and you’ll realize you know how your role has changed, and you can absolutely put it into a bullet format, and then there’s your specifics.

        2. talos*

          You don’t *have* to use only quantified bullet points. Like, the fact that you’re leading the category does not need a numerical weight (though a date may help). You can just say that you are leading the category.

    1. Ulli*

      Ashley, take a look at the October 3 letter on “how to put outcomes on your resume when you don’t have easy measures” — Alison’s advice will help you and there were loads of good tips in the comments as well.

      See also “how should your resume list a bunch of different jobs at the same place?” from October 7, 2016. Alison recommends:

      Teapots Inc.
      Senior Teapot Painter, May 2015 – present
      Teapot Painter, August 2013 – May 2015
      Teapot Coordinator, January 2011 – July 2013
      * accomplishment
      * accomplishment
      * accomplishment

      Also, the increase in budget and job responsibilities is worth mentioning!

      1. Ashley Armbruster*

        I’ll take a look at the letter. However, my title didn’t change so I can’t use the different jobs at the same place advice.

        I’m not sure how to word the increase in budget and responsibilities, which is what I’m asking.

        1. JSPA*

          A job isn’t just a title; it’s also a set of duties. You don’t need to have a, ‘level I” “level II” “level III” after the title, for the job to have changed over time.

          You don’t want to say you’re a “senior llama groomer” if you’re not, or if there’s no such job in the company.

          But I’ve seen something like this work:

          Llama groomer: senior groomer in a staff of 12, coordinating all Llama activities as well as research and vicuna outreach

          Llama groomer: second most senior groomer in a staff of 8, with oversight of fragile llamas and subject matter specialist involved in hiring outreach to grow the department

          Llama groomer: new to the field, started with guidance on grooming llama backs and tails; rose to independent whole-animal groomer.

    2. thelettermegan*

      you could probably do like:

      TEAPOT MAKER (creates teapots for clients):
      – independantly manage top accounts
      – within first year, became kettle category lead
      – increased client budget an additional $500K
      – gained certification in tea brewing

    3. Purple Cat*

      Since you worked on different accounts you *can* almost list them as different jobs in the same company, depending how long you were handling each.
      Teapot Maker – x account DATES
      Teapot Maker – Y Accounts DATES
      Teapot Maker – Z Accounts DATES
      And show the size of each accounts so the hiring team can see how your responsibilities have grown.
      Or just keep each account as separate bullet points under the same job heading.

  9. this is petty but I don't care*

    I left my job in early summer, and the new HR manager for my branch gave me attitude during my exit interview, saying “I’m sure I don’t have to remind you about your non-compete.” He has been constantly checking up on me using LinkedIn ever since. So, not only am I not updating my role, but I’ve started liking a bunch of competitor’s posts, just for him. (I actually got a new job in a completely different field, switching from industrial tech to finance tech.)

    Yes, I am a child.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      You are not a child.

      Your old HR person is being ridiculous and is being treated in accordance with his behavior.

      As an HR person, he should know that most non-competes are not really enforceable anyway.

    2. Anastatia Beaverhousen*

      I might even go one step further and list a job at a competing agency that I don’t have to send him on a hunt (maybe even wasting resources with an attorney) only to find out that they CAN’T try to sue you. Imagine showing up in court where they try to sue you and stating that you do NOT work at that location. No rules say your linked in has to be correct.

        1. irene adler*

          Me too!
          Anastatia Beaverhousen: The LinkedIn rules do state that users must be truthful in the information they put in their profiles. But unless it’s reported, nothing happens. Users are on their honor to abide by this.

          Nonetheless, I am all for your plan!

      1. sometimeswhy*

        Or a job at a fictional place that sounds like it would be a competitor. You might not get to see him short circuit while he tries to find the new place but you could be fairly certain he would twist himself around an axel at least for a little while.

        Present – Vinegar Lead at Startup Gherkin Associates
        2017-2022 -Pickling Specialist at Old Job Jarring Co

    3. Lana Kane*

      In your About headline, add “John Smith from Old Job, I know you’re checking up on me”.

      Or maybe just daydream about it.

    4. Gnome*

      This is A Thing. I am in a very hot field. It is common for people interviewing to ask candidates if they know folks who might be good for similar positions (typically at a different level, but sometimes they have multiple positions open). This happened to a coworker, who said, “actually Other Coworker would be interested” They reached out to Other Coworker. Coworker left for their new job a few weeks later… and about a month later, Other Coworker left. In the exit interview, with Other Coworker, they said something like, “Did coworker recruit you? that’s again the non-compete.”. Other Coworker was pissed and told them off, but Coworker had passed the name along well before leaving… and then the new company simply contacted Other Coworker via LinkedIn… a long with several other connections of the first Coworker.

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

      When I left my OldJob I made sure to update my LinkedIn profile and like some posts praising my current employer so that my salker-ish previous boss knows I’m at much better place.

  10. MorelloLimoncello*

    I’m in my feelings about this and would appreciate some AAM input as I try to make a decision. I’ve worked with my company for a few years and in industry terms we pay above average for all our positions. I was hired into a specialized role that following a massive expansion has grown in terms of workload and also level of responsibility, and where I now sit at tables and contribute at a much higher level than where I was recruited. It was sold to me (as it so often is) that this would be addressed in a reclassification of my job, and a raise, but over a year later my boss has finally come back to me stating the best they can do is bring forward a cost of living raise we’re all due to receive anyway (so I get mine early) but that the job won’t be reclassified or an actual raise attached to it because comparing it to similar roles in our industry competitors what I’m being paid is adequate. My colleagues at my ‘new’ level were hired directly into that level and so are paid, and will continue to be paid, more than me (as my role is specialized it’s hard to draw exact comparisons but everyone where I work is paid above market). It’s true that if I were operating at this level elsewhere I probably would be paid the same amount as I am now, but that doesn’t take into account that we pay well above average for all our positions and when compared to what I was hired to do there is a significant gulf in duties and responsibilities. I feel there’s no incentive for me to keep going with the extra work and pressure when I’m only being compensated at the level I was when I was hired for the less-responsible job. Burnout rates are high in my field and my job has changed beyond all recognition.

    They have offered me a better title (which will look good on my resume when job hunting) and I guess the options I have are to take the new title, job description and token gesture on the pay front or explain that I wish to go back to my old duties and remain where I am in terms of pay. After deductions the pay change offered is really small, less than 500 dollars a year, for a much more stressful and demanding position where so many more things land on my desk and are my problem to fix. I’ve worked really hard for my employer and consistently perform beyond requirements at annual reviews, and honestly it’s like a kick in the teeth to be led on about this for so long by my boss and then told ‘erm…no’. Negotiations are closed as far as my company is concerned and won’t be revisited. If you were me what would you do? My heart says one thing but my head is being stubborn!

    1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      I would accept the better title (and ask if the title can be retroactive), then begin job-hunting while taking as much PTO as possible during the job-hunting. The better title would help with the job-hunt, and the PTO would (hopefully) protect you while you continue to work harder than you’re being compensated for.

      1. Venus*

        Except that if ML gets a new job elsewhere then it will pay the same amount as now, so there’s no strong benefit to leaving.

        I would ask to return to the previous job, and wait for them to be able to pay you at the higher level to take on the new responsibilities. But I also tend to prioritize my mental health and am at a good place with my level of experience, so I completely understand if ML wants to get the experience in the more difficult job. If that happens, I would strongly push ML to discuss with their boss to find out how they would eventually get compensated for doing the extra work and not become bitter in 4 years when no financial compensation materialized.

        1. WellRed*

          The benefit of leaving is the company kind of screwed her over so she should be looking at them in the rear view mirror.

    2. Not A Manager*

      If you did ask to revert back to your old duties, is there a chance they would fire you or make your life very difficult? That would be a worst-case scenario, because you wouldn’t have the new title if you needed to job-search.

      Otherwise, it sounds like you’re going to be stuck with this salary no matter what you do. If you take the title and change jobs, you’ll be paid at market rate, and if you decline the title and keep your old job, you’ll be paid the “above market” rate for the old job, but not more.

      My personal vote would be to try to change jobs with the new title. You’re going to be paid the same at this company or at another one, and you’ll be doing the same work, so why not look for a place that keeps its promises and treats you properly?

      1. MorelloLimoncello*

        They could possibly make my life difficult in terms of fabricating a reason to revoke my remote working status but other than that there isn’t a whole lot they can do. Firing is extremely unlikely. My gut is telling me not to take the offer because I would be miserable and also mad at myself for taking it.

    3. Somehow_I_Manage*

      Acknowledging that you are paid less than your direct colleagues with the same position IS a slap in the face, and begs real questions about your long term future.

      Leaving and taking a half step backwards may put you on the fast track to career advancement later, whereas it sounds like you may have reached your ceiling here.

      There’s no right or wrong answer. But you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished regardless!

      1. MorelloLimoncello*

        It has definitely sent me a clear message about their standards on how they treat staff. Either way, whether I take it or I don’t, I have reached the top of the ladder for my particular specialisation in this company so would inevitably leave at some point. My ego has taken a pretty significant battering in this process and it’ll take a little bit for me to be ready to put my best foot forward with a competitor.

        1. Tex*

          Your ego should absolutely not take a hit: you have proven yourself capable of working at a much higher level. They want you to stay at this level; they are just too cheap to pay you to do so.

          So, time to play hardball and look for a company that will give you the title and the pay. Things always change – there may be a time in the future when you come back to this company at 2 levels higher, HR could turnover and they decide they need to keep specialists at all costs. I am in the same boat as you (more responsibility at the same pay rate, I just have not broached the salary topic yet so I don’t know how the company will react) and at the moment former employers are reaching out to me unsolicited.

          Even if you take the title and start interviewing elsewhere, the worse you can come away with is evaluating the options, making networking connections, and seeing if other places are better or worse than your current position and pay.

      2. Coach Beard*

        Definitely this! Don’t fear the half step back if it puts you on a path forward. I was at a public agency in Southern California. There was no upward mobility. The pay was good for public sector work. But the only way to take on a new role was for my boss to either retire or die. My boss was a terrible leader, I wasn’t happy either, and I was drinking way too much for my own health.

        I took a 34% pay cut to take a job in Northern California with a state agency. That state agency had an open path to promotion, better training, and better variety. I’ve now been managing for over 12 years and it’s the job I always wanted to do. I’m truly happy with my career. I have no idea what would have happened to me had I stayed. And I stayed way too long for my own health and sanity.

        When I took the 34% pay cut, I felt like I was being stupid and rash. Now I look at the money and say it’s the best investment I’ve ever made in my life because it was an investment in me.

    4. Kes*

      Have you brought up to your boss that other people at the same level are getting paid more?
      I would at least look for/apply to other jobs, then you can decide whether to stay or go. Also is there a chance if you give notice they might give you a better offer, or that you could leave and come back later (giving you a chance to negotiate a better level if they hire people in at the higher pay level)

      1. MorelloLimoncello*

        Yes, and my boss has said their roles are different to mine and were always intended to be at a high level, whereas in my case their industry review has proven that my enhanced role would be at the level I was hired to. It’s a selective way to look at it and I think they’ve found details to support their narrative, as opposed to trying to go to bat for me.

  11. Ulli*

    Looking for a recent post here about raising prices and losing customers/clients — was it in the comments? open thread? The set up was similar to “my friend is afraid to raise her prices” and included calculations showing how, for example, if she lost 25% of clients at X rate, she’d have the same or more money. A friend of mine is facing this same situation, and I’d love to share the information with her.

    I’ve done all the searching I can think of on this site and am coming up blank. Please let me know if this rings a bell or if you bookmarked it! Hoping someone has the link.

    1. Minimal Pear*

      Lol very surreal seeing this question, at that was me and my friend. Update for anyone curious, she raised her prices (not as much as she’s worth but not the bare minimum) and it went well!

  12. Emby*

    What do you do when your out-of-touch boss accidentally says things that alternate sexual meanings that many might get, but you are certain your boss does not. Do you just chuckle and let it go? Do you somehow tell them? Hope someone else does?

    In order improve moral, my boss wants people to show our pets on our weekly zoom. He has called in “Furry Fridays” and encourages us to send in photos of us with our furry friends. I know this is mild and not actually a big deal, but I could see this also being adopted higher and higher up until someone finally says something.

    For an example of something similar getting a bit more out-of-hand, at a previous job they created a mentoring program called “Meals for Mentoring”, which lead to the head sending an email to about 5,000 people with the subject “M4M”

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I used to work in government contracting. The Pentagon loves acronyms. Every half-way useful acronym has been used a dozen different times in different contexts, and some of them are sexually suggestive. The way to not be bothered is to recognize that there are only so many letters and words in the English language, and just be an adult about it. Who cares if your boss knows all the other implications?

      1. Exiled in TX*

        Ah yes, with review committees like the BRP (pronounced Burp until a certain general said they didn’t like it). Or the DAWG. Good times.

        1. curly sue*

          My mother has stories about the time her bosses at IBM tried to get everyone to pronounce SCSI as “sexy” instead of “scuzzy” because they thought “a sexy drive” sounded more appealing to customers.

          1. Tired*

            I get frequent emails inviting me to a Faculty Approval Panel (as the initials, not spelt out)… and we’ve just been through a multi year TP process (Transforming Programme)…

    2. EMP*

      don’t say anything, you’ll just make it weird. Unless it’s a term like “S&M” that’s so mainstream it’s in pop songs, just pretend you have no idea anything is weird. And even then, if it’s obvious in context that the meaning is innocuous (there are only so many letters things can start with), I’d usually let it go.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        Symphony and Metallica? (Yes, S&M was actually the title of an album, and they did it deliberately.)

    3. Wants Green Things*

      You bite your tongue and laugh once you get offline. Furry Friday really only just toes the line of inappropriate dual meaning anyway.

      Besides, it can’t be worse than what ine of my regional directors once said. “Our subs have getting a little too comfortable with asking for more than they’re scoped for, so we need to take a firm hand and bend them barrel if necessary.”

      1. Poofy Tail of Justice*

        This is slightly more niche, but I had a hard time not giggling when my boss was raving about a new business leadership book called “Impact Players.”

        1. Maggie*

          Literally have no idea how this is sexual, not even after googling. I finally googled “impact players sexual meaning” and got results but I don’t think this is something 99% or more of people would get.

          1. peasblossom*

            I believe that’s why they said it’s slightly more niche! I don’t think Poofy Tail is suggesting explaining impact play to their boss.

            Speaking of, OP, don’t mention this to your boss. Try to picture how you would start the conversation; how would you keep it from being uncomfortable? And while the M4M one would give me a chuckle, as others have pointed out Furry Fridays is borderline innocuous. This is just a fun quirk your boss has! Enjoy the laugh.

    4. Maggie*

      Honestly I think acronyms and words can mean more than one thing. People use POS all the time to mean point of sale and it’s accepted. “Furry” is just a word and “furries” aren’t even something a lot of people know about. Idk I kind of think it’s fine to just let things be the PG version of the word instead of thinking someone might think of it sexually. Are furries even something that’s solely sexual? I thought a lot of people just dressed up as animals for fun at the conventions.

      1. Myrin*

        “Are furries even something that’s solely sexual? I thought a lot of people just dressed up as animals for fun at the conventions.”
        I’ve been wondering that for years! I was of the same impression as you but then I asked my sister and she said “I… think it’s always sexual? I don’t know?!?” and until this day, neither of us knows for sure.

        1. Maggie*

          Idk according to google and CNN the majority of furries are not actually sexual so guess I’ll go with that?

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          So… it depends.

          Furry conventions are mostly people dressing up in costumes, and is good innocent fun. The technical aspects of fursuit construction and wearing can be fascinating, and the roleplay aspect can be amusing.

          But when they start talking about “yiffing”? That’s sexual.

        3. Minimal Pear*

          A few of my friends are furries and it’s mostly not sexual. They just like having a fun animal persona! As someone else said, “yiffing” is the sexual part of it.
          Fursuits are expensive and hard to make (and hard to clean!), very few people want to deal with the bodily fluids, etc.

      2. londonedit*

        This is what I was thinking. Maybe I’m naive but ‘furry’ wouldn’t automatically have sexual connotations to me, and there are tons of words that could be construed as meaning something else if you really squint. There’s also a huge difference between countries – ‘POS’ isn’t used to mean something rude particularly widely in the UK so people’s minds wouldn’t go there in the same way as they would in the US. We’d be more likely to snigger at ‘STD’ or ‘BUM’ or something.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          It absolutely kills me that people use STD to mean “save the date” in wedding forums (as in “SO excited to get my STDs today!!!”). You’re old enough to get married but you don’t know the more common meaning of STD?

      3. Irish Teacher*

        Actually, one that non-Irish people have occasionally assumed is some kind of joke. The country code for Ireland is IRL and our president has President IRL on his…twitter, I think, but of course, on the internet that means “in real life,” so people from outside Ireland have sometimes thought he is saying he’s a president in real life (which he is). Not an offensive one or anything but just a point that yeah, a lot of acronyms have more than one meaning.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I love this!

          I remember going to an all-employee meeting at a new job in 1999 where we were told there was going to be a list of high achievers called the Star Report. It was too soon after the notorious Starr Report for me not to roll my eyes and wonder what I had gotten myself into.

      4. Svennerson*

        Furries are not always sexual. The overall amount of sexual content in the adult furry community is definitely slightly higher than across adult humanity writ large, but there is a plethora of both minor and asexual furries who interact with the identity/lifestyle in a completely non-sexual way, and plenty of spaces in the furry community that bar sexual content.

    5. Llellayena*

      I’m an architect (female). The number of times I’ve had conversations about shafts (stairs/elevators), penetrations (holes through walls/ceilings) and erection (the actual construction)…

      You really just let it glaze past you and try to ignore the second meaning.

      1. Angstrom*

        Yup. Male and female electrical connectors and threads, pipe nipples, butt joints, master and slave controllers…

          1. ScruffyInternHerder*

            Strap on (temperature sensors)
            Gas cocks
            Jacking of pipe

            ….I could go on….

            Let’s just say it explains my sense of humor very well.

    6. Punk*

      Honestly the bigger issue is that pet people assume everyone is a pet person and nothing annoys the pet-neutral more than listening to other people talk about their dogs, or wasting 5 minutes while a coworker gives baby-voiced commands to a dog that isn’t behaving. It’s hardly a matter of oppression but it’s an activity that guarantees that some people will never get face time in the weekly zoom meeting.

    7. LawLady*

      On a recent call, the guy leading the call was describing our two options: either craft our own proposal or co-sign another team’s proposal. He started calling the lagger the “me too” approach. Apparently he doesn’t read the news…

    8. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      I think of acronyms that are used every day and mean a bunch of different things.

      I work in marketing. We plan events. Do you know how many emails I have that say ‘STD’ for ‘Save the Date’?

      At first, it jarred me, and now I just glaze over the letters and look to the name of whichever event we’re discussing: STD Book Night, STD Fall Tour, etc.

    9. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Shake my head, roll my eyes, and mutter “you’re supposed to send all proposed titles, committee names, and anything else through the interns to see what THEY can DO with the information first”.

      Because college aged, or just beyond college aged, junior level employees en masse were the best source of “you know what, maybe we shouldn’t call it that” intel.

    10. FashionablyEvil*

      I did politely tell a manager who reports to me that the eggplant emoji has some specific connotations and that I would suggest he avoid it. (He was talking about gardening and had no idea of its other meaning, but I really didn’t want him to embarrass himself in our staff all-hands meeting.)

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        I wonder why it ended up being the eggplant and not the cucumber. Especially when cukes are the precursor to pickles.

    11. RagingADHD*

      First, you step away from the internet and get some perspective. Ninety-nine percent of the people in real life don’t know or care what furries are, nor do they attach any sexual meaning to them.

      And then, unless you are specifically asked about branding initiatives or acronyms, or it’s already part of your job to deal with communications, you leave it alone. Telling people at work that you see sexual innuendoes everywhere that nobody else sees is not going to do you any favors or make your boss trust your judgment.

    12. Student*

      The short answer is that you roll with it because it’s either an accident, or it’s on purpose but it’s so entrenched that you’re not going to do anything about it. Fake it for a bit and eventually you’ll get used to the jargon, non-sexual meaning.

      I am in a niche field. We had a piece of equipment that someone had named after a woman famous for her appearance. We will call it Marilyn for this story. The Marilyn device was designed to do some physics tests, with a narrow metal tube where you’re supposed to insert samples for testing. This type of tube is commonly called a glory hole in the field (for reasons that are probably not pure as the driven snow in the first place, but other fields also use this term under similar conditions).

      On my first conference call to discuss my experiment, I definitely had to mute myself and stifle an outburst or two when I found this out the hard way. After a few detailed negotiations about exactly what kind and size of sample I could safely have inserted in Marilyn’s glory hole for my research, the novelty eventually wore off. Within a week or so I was able to hold these conversations with a straight face. I still think it’s a deeply unfortunate part of this work, and I hope that one day they may rename things. It does make for some interesting work stories, though.

    13. LittleMarshmallow*

      As most have said, I’d just let it go. You can hardly make an acronym or silly alliteration these days without it also meaning something NSFW.

      I work in manufacturing and there are all kinds of things with sketch names. My favorite is nipple. It’s a type of pipe fitting… if you say it they know what you mean (hey do you have a 3×1/4” nipple would be a phrase I would say to someone at work with a straight face and be answered seriously), and if it’s the right audience you are also free to say it and then giggle a little. I have to talk to mill wrights and pipe fitters about pipes all the time so I say nipples to grown ass men nearly daily (I’m 38F).

      I also used to get a lot of enjoyment out of getting to ask guys if they found their balls yet because a piece of equipment we used had these sorta bouncy balls in it and if a screen ripped sometimes they’d get out and they had to find them.

      I get that office environments are a little more polished, but the examples you have wouldn’t even blip my radar as inappropriate and I giggle about nipples every day.

  13. Please get a kleenex*

    I work in cubicle land, and the employee next to me will. not. stop. sniffing. I kept track once and they sniffed aggressively 12 times in a minute. I would think it would be bothersome to them as well, but they have never once gotten a kleenex to blow their nose. I can understand if they have a runny nose and try to take care of it, but they do absolutely nothing. I don’t want to have to tell a grown adult to blow their nose. It’s just awkward.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      It could be allergies. When my allergies are acting up, my nose runs constantly and no amount of blowing my nose is going to stop that.

      I do take allergy meds, but most OTC allergy meds are expensive. Thank the gods I was able to find inexpensive ones at Costco.

      1. ...*

        Literally one pack of allergy meds has enough savings to make warehouse membership worth it for my family!

      2. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

        While its probably not ideal, I find that amazon pharmacy has really good deals on some allergy meds – I can get cetirizine for SOOO much cheaper than drugstores.

      3. ScruffyInternHerder*

        Or the ones that actually work physically mandate a nap in the middle of the day. ::shrugs::

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I had a miserable day last week with A) an allergy-induced runny nose and B) an ear infection that sent stabbing pain through my head every time I blew said nose. I’m sure I was annoying to all of my cats in my home office.

      Also, does your office provide Kleenex? For some reason ours does but there’s only about 2 boxes in the whole office and I’ve had to go on epic quests to find where they are before.

    3. Please get a kleenex*

      I should note the person has worked next to me for close to a year. I asked once if they have allergies and they said no.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      I’ve had sniffles that weren’t associated with a runny nose. Sniffing almost feels like scratching an itch, and it’s mostly involuntary

      1. LittleMarshmallow*

        I agree with this. I sniffle unconsciously all the time even without a runny nose. It is like an itch. Blowing your nose doesn’t help. I also do have terrible allergies but I sniffle even when my nose isn’t really runny. I don’t think I’d be able to just stop.

        I tried it as I was writing this and couldn’t.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband does that when he has a cold and it makes me want to throw the whole box of tissue at him. No suggestions, just commiseration.

    6. WellRed*

      Sometimes a sniff is just a sniff. My friend started a new job and sits next to her passive aggressive micromanager. She sniffed. Said mgr s brought over the communal tissues. Friend used then put them back. She sniffed a second time. The mgr brought the box back. Manager said they are gonna have problems if friend is a sniffer. Friend wonders if mgr expects her not to breathe?

    7. matcha123*

      I sniffle a lot. And I can’t blow my nose. When I blow, the only thing that comes out is air.
      Aside from really bubbly snorts, I don’t really get why people find it annoying. But I want to offer that perspective.
      I also need to clear my throat a lot after I eat, which I try to do as quietly as possible. I don’t have any allergies that I am aware of.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        For many of use sniffles, cough, throat clearing, all these body noises are incredibly distracting and annoying.
        You may not get why it’s annoying because it’s you doing it, but it’s a real thing.
        I had a coworker who had to clear his throat multiple times a day, and while he was few cubicles away, I had to stuff my fingers in to my ears not to hear it.

        1. matcha123*

          To be fair, it’s not like I enjoy having the feeling of phlegm in my throat after I eat or feeling like my nose is kind of stuffed, but not totally.
          I try to be very quiet and have adapted a silent technique that I won’t go into detail about here. When I use the restroom, I go full on snort.

          I also am someone who needs to pee quite often, and that apparently annoys people, too.

          I find people that touch their faces, pick their noses, and sneeze into their hands to be incredibly disgusting. It happens that all of the people that I’ve met that do that don’t sniffle.
          I also notice people who have specific quirks to their speech and so on. I get that there are things humans do that tick others off. But, if the person isn’t doing a full-on 20 minute snort session, maybe think it’s possible they are dealing with something that can’t easily be taken care of by blowing into a tissue? Especially if they seem like they are trying to be quiet about it?

      2. Joielle*

        I also used to do the throat clearing thing, and so do a lot of people in my immediate family, so I always assumed it was some kind of genetic weirdness and ignored it. It turns out that it IS an allergy/inflammation issue and using Flonase daily has almost entirely fixed it.

        My dad does both the sniffling and the throat clearing but insists it’s not an allergy and won’t do anything about it, so he just irritates the heck out of everyone around him all the time. It’s awful.

        1. matcha123*

          Interesting to know about!
          One more thing to try to check out when I have the time.
          Were you told if it was an allergy to something? (house dust, seasonal, etc)

          My case has been like this since at least middle school and ongoing throughout all seasons; different continents; different cities; masked and unmasked.

      3. Just a name*

        My nose does not run. However, a lot of gunk drains down the back of my throat. If I blow my nose nothing comes out. It’s too thick. My ENT calls it tenacious secretions. If I sniffle, it can go down the back of my throat. Believe me, I’ve tried everything. 3 allergists, 3 ENTs, sinus surgery (I had a ton of polyps in every sinus cavity). I’ve seen specialists in unsolved sinus issues. Still, 20 years later I sniffle. And sometimes snort. And sometimes cough. Hey, at least when I called in sick, people believed me. I suspect now that it is related to reflux, but 10+ years of PPIs haven’t solved it. I’m just defective that way. Sorry.

        1. matcha123*

          Never heard of that, but I will try to check this out for myself.
          If all I had to do was blow my nose and be done, I would have done that decades ago. Wish people would be more open to understanding that not everyone, who isn’t sick, can just blow and be done.

    8. Stop all the body noises*

      I feel your pain! I have the opposite but equally terrible problem. My manager blows his nose CONSTANTLY. Nothing usually comes out, but it’s incredibly loud and disgusting. I have no suggestions, only commiserations.

    9. Joielle*

      My dad does that. Like, every ten seconds of every waking minute of the day. It’s unbelievably irritating and he won’t consult a doctor about it. Honestly, it’s one of the reasons we don’t see my parents as much as they would like. So I have no suggestions but I commiserate so much!

    10. Amusing Antelope*

      Oh, I’m sorry. I would go bonkers. There is a guy who just moved to a desk near mine whose breathing sounds like snoring. No joke, I had to go check on whether he was awake, and he was. I don’t know if one can even tell another adult to breathe more quietly.

    11. A Non A Mouse*

      It could also be like me… my nasal tissue gets inflammed due to allergies, the act of sniffing kind of temporarily opens things up…sometimes it’s so inflammed that it traps stuff further up and it literally can’t come out and it feels like my nose is running all at the same time.

  14. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

    I am probably going to be leaving my job in the next 6-8 weeks, whether I have a new position lined up or not. I’m seriously overthinking what to say when I resign.
    The primary reason I’m leaving is complete and utter burnout. Side reasons are long commute, unpleasant schedule, mental & physical health issues related to all of these. The team I manage vaguely knows that I have some physical health issues so I’m thinking of leaning on that. But can I put “health issues” when asked why I left on a job application? Will my current job be suspicious if I say I’m leaving to attend to health issues but then they get a call from a prospective employer a month later? Like I said, overthinking.
    (I realize I am not obligated to give a reason, but I have warm relationships with those above and below me and would like to do so. Also, if I don’t, I know all sorts of assumptions will be made.)

      1. BlueDijon*

        I put “personal reasons” as the reason for leaving a prior job on a hiring form once, and HR at the place I was being hired at gave me some shit for it, insinuating that by putting that they were interpreting that as me having issues with my former company in a negative way. YMMV, but mentioning as a heads up in case you also run across an HR that reads WAY into everything like I did.

    1. OneTwoThree*

      I think it would be possible to switch jobs for health reasons. You take a month or two off to get your “health issue” under control. That could mean a month of self-care from being burnt out. It could be seeing specialists if you happened to have a gut/ heart/ muscle problem. It would also be reasonable to assume that a different position would fit your “health issues” better. If you are burnt out from a drive, one closer to home. If you are burnt out from stress, the position could be a less stressful position. If you are seeing specialists related to the examples above that could be a job that has a schedule for you to go to appointments.

    2. TPS Reporter*

      I would probably not mention health issues for fear of even non conscious discrimination. I think leaning on commute and schedule is very valid, plus saying things about your career and wanting to find more challenging/interesting opportunities in whatever your goals are.

    3. Silverose*

      You don’t actually have to give a reason when you resign; the idea that a person is required to give a reason is false and outdated. “I am resigning. My last day will be DATE.” Anything more than that is a courtesy, not a requirement. To maintain a positive bridge, it’s helpful to add a nice line about having learned a lot or enjoying your time or enjoying working with your colleagues. Reason for leaving? Not required, even to maintain a positive bridge. If anyone asks, just say personal reasons, ad nauseum.

  15. Alex*

    I recently left a job at a very large corporation, giving 2 weeks’ notice. When I received my last paycheck, I saw that I wasn’t paid out my accrued vacation. I live in a state where it is the law to pay out accrued vacation with the last paycheck. When I contacted HR, they said they hadn’t received any notice that I was leaving.

    Is it reasonable to ask me to wait until the next pay period? According to the law I was owed this money a week ago and I guess I’m just irked at being asked to give grace to a very large corporation with many thousands of employees. I feel they should have known better and worked more quickly to correct their mistake. Am I being unreasonable? I was counting on that money this month.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Did HR say you’d get it at the next paycheck? I’d be tempted to remind them of the law – there’s no reason they can’t issue payment right away.

      1. Alex*

        They didn’t actually say I would–they just said “Oh we didn’t know you were leaving.” I asked them this but they haven’t responded yet. I anticipate them saying it will be paid out in the next pay period because it hasn’t appeared yet and they haven’t responded to me.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I would probably reply again, cc your old manager, and say you expect it to be paid out asap according to state law -and to contact manager with questions on paperwork.

    2. DRHelp*

      are you right to be annoyed? Sure!

      is it worth pursuing legally? I’d say no. They have already committed to paying out your PTO the next pay cycle and I’m not sure you have much to gain from going legal and plenty to lose.

      IME bigger buercratic orgs are more likely to make these sorta of errors but ymmv

    3. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

      You’re not being unreasonable, and they’re not being reasonable asking you to wait. I don’t know how you address this, so I don’t have any actionable advice, just validation.

    4. Anon for This*

      I’m rather concerned that HR didn’t know you were leaving, as where I work we have an elaborate check-out process. Are you continuing your health insurance, do you need info on rolling over your 401(k), turning in company cell phones/laptops, etc. Did you do all the normal check out paperwork? If so, this is a BS excuse – someone screwed up. If not, you need to get on it pronto, because they may continue to pay you. That happened to someone I knew who had a heck of a time getting someone to accept back the overpayments. (Until months later when they tried to accuse her of malfeasance. Since she had copies of all her messages and had been putting the payments into a separate account and promptly paid it all back so it ended in her favor, but clawing back insurance payments, etc. took a very long time.)

      1. Alex*

        This was an hourly part time job, I didn’t have health insurance from them or any company property, and I won’t get paid since I didn’t work/clock in. Pretty much the only benefit was PTO. I gave my 2 weeks notice and my boss pretty much refused to discuss it. He was really weird about it, and I guess he was in denial and just….didn’t do anything except stop putting me on the schedule? I really don’t know. I didn’t fill out any paperwork or anything, but I’m not sure that they have any for me since I’m just an hourly part time worker.

        I asked HR if I had to do anything to confirm that I don’t work there anymore and haven’t heard back.

    5. CatCat*

      You’re not being unreasonable at all. You also may be owed “waiting time penalties.” Check your state’s labor board/department/commission to see if that’s the law in your state. If you are owed waiting time penalties, I would raise that as well and not accept a penny less than you are owed. It should be the company’s problem that someone dropped the ball, not your problem.

    6. Part timer*

      You’re not unreasonable, but here’s how it would probably go: if HR/payroll didn’t know you were leaving, then the system wasn’t updated with your termination date and you were still an active employee when the check you just got was issued. Now, you will show as a terminated employee. Therefore, they are paying out your PTO on the last paycheck.

    7. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      It’s absolutely annoying but if they pay you next cycle, it is what it is for the most part depending on the state.

      Once I left a job and they didn’t pay me my last two weeks at all. I contacted them and was ignored. I contacted my state DOL and they contacted them and about a month later I got my final pay. I did not get any extra because they did pay me what my state considered a “reasonable time”. It’s BS.

    8. Pisces*

      It may not be impossible that HR didn’t know you were leaving. A PastEmployer of mine was a middle-sized firm with only a 3-person HR department. When I gave notice, I emailed only the Director who was at another of our offices absorbed in a big project.

      His staff didn’t know I was leaving until I told them on my next-to-last day. But they pushed through my PTO payout before I left.

    9. christy*

      Happened to me as well, I contacted the payroll person and she hadn’t been told. She let me know she would get to it within a few days, and I know she is overworked but she always gets it done. So I got it a week later, which was fine for me — but I was set to complain.

  16. DRHelp*

    I have an employee “Xavier” whose worked for me a few years. Year 1 he was great, if overeager. I had to load him up on administrative support tasks just to get through the day without him asking for more training or work. Eventually I told him patience was going to be part of his review and he got the hint and backed off. 

    Year 2 we were able to train him more, but honestly our chaotic project list kept me and my sr staff busy again. In the fall the errors started. One of my Sr staff “Lashonda” brought to my attention that Xavier was frequently messing up daily reports. I started paying more attention, and yeah 4 times in one month he did something like send a report with the subject line titled “December” when it was actually January. That sort of thing. I brought it up at his review and he confessed he was struggling with a personal health issue that is now resolved, and let me know what steps he had already put in place to prevent those errors. Frankly, I was impressed with his attitude towards corrections and I saw a huge improvement. He asked to be put on a project to have more tasks aligned with put team so I went ahead and made him the lead on a low priority back burner project.

    Well this year things seemed fine, he wasn’t making any errors this spring or summer, and even covered a Sr coworkers work for 8 weeks while they were out unexpectedly for an injury. I and Lashonda were worried Xavier couldn’t handle this, but if anything his work improved during that time. Lashonda kept a watchful eye on Xavier, and confessed that even though she didn’t trust his work yet, even she had to admit that Xavier was impressive in a pinch. Things started declining almost immediately when the other Sr team member returned though. Xavier missed a lot of work shortly after (Covid and a planned surgery) and the careless mistakes started creeping back right after. During the mid year review Xavier tactfully let me know that he wasn’t enjoying the project I assigned (I don’t blame him no one wants this project and he’s the only one in our department involved). He gave me a list of departmental projects he would be interested in joining and why he would be an asset, but I told him no and reminded him that those mindless mistakes were creeping up again (hinting that good projects require demonstrating attention to details). He asked how I felt about the coverage work, and I told him I had no complaints there. I also let him know he was going to be the lead for our department on a similar project to the one he currently has and to please understand the other two are busy with our priority projects so these projects will fall to him.

    Sadly since then I haven’t seen any improvement. In fact this fall the careless mistakes have been nearly constant. He’s making a mistake at least every three weeks. But last week alone he forgot to attach a report, misspelled the title of another report, forgot to save a file in the legacy system meaning he had to redo some work, and even forgot to clock in yesterday!

    I’m frustrated because Xavier knows this has been an issue in the past and I saw he was capable of performing practically error free for 9 months. Lashonda has also been vocal that she doesn’t feel Xavier is reliable. An executive leader in another department agrees with her.

    While Xavier’s mistakes aren’t disruptive they are noticable and I want to help him improve. He has a lot of experience, nearly as much as Lashonda, but if he wants to move up on my team he’s got to show he’s reliable and I don’t know how to help him get there.

    1. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      Have you spelled it out for him like that?

      ‘Xavier, when you covered for Senior Person, your work was practically flawless, which shows me you can do higher-level work and do it well. But when the work doesn’t interest you or you don’t see it as valuable, your work is riddled with mistakes and careless errors. In order for you to move up on my team, I need to see that you can do all levels of work well, not just the work that interests you.’

      I think you need to just straight-up tell him that he can’t move up until he can do the less-interesting work as well as the interesting work. At least then the cards are on the table.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      It sounds like you consistently didn’t train him when he requested and when he did request additional challenges and projects gave him the ones that no one else wants: “I can’t blame him, no one else wants this project and he’s the only one in our department involved”. And when he’s asked for work he finds more engaging, you keep pushing him back into unpleasant work.

      Additionally, every single mistake you’ve mentioned has been hair-splittingly minor, except maybe forgetting to clock in. He’s misspelling words? Forgetting to put attachments on emails? Is that seriously all?

      I imagine that Xavier is checking out a little because he’s feeling a total lack of support from you and your Sr Staff (and btw, has she ever stepped in to try and help him instead of just criticizing him?). I also expect he’s job hunting, as he well should. I would consider strongly reassessing how important those details he’s messing up in are, whether he actually got trained to do them the right way first, and if there’s any way you could give him the support he needs to be a good fit instead of constantly penalizing him for minor mistakes and being untrained.

      1. nope*

        Agreed. He sounds bored. If he has almost enough experience as Lashonda why hasn’t he been put on more important/interesting projects by now?

      2. Less Bread More Taxes*

        100%. You are not doing good by this employee. Essentially you are saying that ability to not make typos is more important than ability to do actual work tasks.

        When you started going into mistakes, I thought they were like… work mistakes. Not typos. I think you really need to rethink your priorities.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          So very much agree. This is an employee who does not feel valued by his company and spends the day saying, “what about me???”.
          I’d bet that he thinks the company (and you) see him as having little to no value. Instead of being big picture focused, he is worried that if he misspells one word then any forward movement in this company is lost to him. Because that is what you have told him.

          Any time I have seen this between a boss and employee it only ended when the employee left the company. If you want to drum him out of there, you’ll probably get that result.

      3. Me ... Just Me*

        I agree. These “mistakes” are vanishingly small. Forgot to update a report with the correct month? Mis-spelled something? None of what the OP mentioned makes this employee untrustworthy. And punishing him by giving him tasks that nobody else wants. Yeah. I’d be job hunting if I were him. He’s definitely not going to get respect or support at this current job.

        1. darlingpants*

          And he’s making these incredibly minor mistakes like, once a month. When I reread my sent emails I find typos about once a day.

        2. LittleMarshmallow*

          I am very detail oriented and get that feedback all the time in the positive… on things that matter… buuuut… I too make these types of “careless mistakes” all the time. I forget to attach files or misspell a word because my brain is faster than my little fingers, or, heaven forbid, forget to change a subject line on a monthly email once every 3 weeks…

          You are calling them careless mistakes. I think that is a misnomer. These aren’t careless mistakes they are unimportant administrative/ typographical errors. Examples of the type of carelessness that might matter would be like sending confidential information to the wrong audience or double charging a customer for something or bypassing safety policies. Simple typos on internal email are not anywhere near that.

          I don’t personally see value in wasting time triple checking every email I send for typos. I have real work to do. If it’s super important, I might give it a quick scan before hitting send for any major mistakes, but most professional adults know that “teh” means I typed “the” too fast and if it’s January and the email says December report but I got a December report in December it’s probably January’s report. It doesn’t make what I wrote unintelligible or even lower quality work, and people that would look down on me for it (unless I was maybe in like an editing job) probably need something else to worry about. Id strongly recommend giving this poor kid real work to do and stop wasting everyone’s time and energy worrying about a few email typos.

          Side note: it also sounds like you and L are getting to BEC stage with this person and may possibly be watching for mistakes from them more enthusiastically than you might with other employees. You may want to reflect on that and what’s really important.

          1. Ginger Baker*

            ^Re editing job: My mom did once (as an editor) receive a resume for a proofreader position with the *absolutely unfortunate* typo “poofreader”. Everyone felt a bit bad about it because they recognized it was not at all an error that would keep anyone from being interviewed…EXCEPT for this ONE job. (They also laughed though, because poofreader is pretty memorable and great and twenty years later it’s still a popular story; I think someone flagged it to the person so they could fix it in their job search.)

      4. snarkfox*

        Yes… if I’ve learned anything in my work life, it’s that if you become too good at the menial tasks no one else wants to do, they’re yours forever and you don’t get the chance to advance. He’s the only one in the whole department working on a project that no one else wants to do…. He’s bored out of his mind and probably halfway checked out. He knows that no matter how good of a job he does, it isn’t going to matter. And I suspect it isn’t because of these mistakes–it’s because no one else wants to do the work, and they’re using small mistakes to justify not giving him more to work on.

        Also… these tasks he’s doing… are they what he was originally hired for? Because OP says repeatedly that they didn’t have time to train him, and for the first year, he was doing mostly “administrative support tasks.” I may be off-base, but is that still what he’s doing? The busy-work he was given his first year because no one wanted to take the time to train him?

    3. JelloStapler*

      It almost seems like if he is not interested in the project he slacks on it and makes mistakes. I see you have tried to do this, but have you expressed that his approach and mistakes are keeping him from being able to take on other work due to reliability and performance? I don’t know if that would help him make the connection that in order to get to the fun stuff he wants to do, he has to demonstrate the basic skills in other things.

    4. Jaydee*

      I think you need to very clearly tell Xavier that when you consider future assignments/promotions, you are looking at his history of performance across *all* of his past assignments. It sounds like he does well on assignments he personally enjoys and values but gets sloppier on projects he doesn’t enjoy or feels less invested in. That’s natural, but it’s also a problem. You should be able to expect a certain level of quality work from him across all tasks – not just those he enjoys. He does not need to enjoy Project Backburner. But he needs to do quality work on Project Backburner or else you’re not going to feel confident in his ability to consistently do good work and you’re not going to assign him Project Superstar.

    5. V. Anon*

      You have a super-enthusiastic person doing the most boring projects. It probably isn’t going to get better unless you can offer him something worthwhile (from his perspective, the boring project are worthwhile, too). He did great on the coverage because it was a challenge. Without challenge, he’s having trouble focusing, is what it looks like from here. So: risk giving him something better to do, or figure he’ll be job hunting (or fired eventually for too many mistakes)

    6. Wants Green Things*

      Stop hinting. Say what you mean. And realize he’s likely grown disillusioned with his role, since he proved he could handle the higher work and was then given a crap project.

    7. Ms. Carter*

      None of the mistakes you’re describing feel like they would have a substantive impact on his work. And he’s been there two years, getting told, by your own admission, that you don’t have time to invest in his training and are unwilling to offer him the opportunity to work on projects he enjoys, even though he has a clear track record of responding well to both feedback and challenge. At that point, I wouldn’t be interested in offering you my best either.

      1. Ginger Baker*

        ^this, especially the last line. This man is bored out of his mind, successfully showed he can handle (and thrive with!) more challenging work, only to be booted back to the file room to shred documents for hours on end. I’d be struggling to stay awake, nevermind tiny errors creeping in.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Nod, maybe instead of worrying about these unimportant issues he’s putting his energy into things that benefit him. Months without mistakes sounds exhausting. (

      3. Cyndi*

        “At least one mistake every three weeks” sounds superlative to me actually? Especially when they’re this minor and fixable.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Unless everyone else in the role makes mistakes once every three months (or more)…then by comparison he looks bad. I’m not 100% the mistakes are/aren’t minor, but if how acceptable they are is by comparison to everyone else in the same role, then I can see how relatively speaking this could be “a lot” of mistakes.

      4. Anon for now*

        This. I recognized a lot of myself in Xavier.

        At a certain point, I just stopped asking for help or for projects I was interested in because… why bother? I coasted along in boredom. Just put in my notice.

    8. Baeolophus bicolor*

      You say these problems originally started as health problems, stopped, then started again after a period of stress (covering for senior coworker), COVID, and a surgery? It may well be that Xavier has long COVID or some other health complications impacting his performance. Can you take him aside to chat frankly about it? “I’ve noticed you asking for xyz, but right now, your attention to detail isn’t where it would need to be for that. I noticed you’ve been making mistakes again after your bout with COVID and your surgery. What can I do to help you return to the performance we saw when you were covering for Employee?”

      If Xavier has long COVID or something, maybe some minor accommodations (WFH, flexible schedule, frequent breaks, etc) may help him. It sounds like he’s proven he can be a good performer, which to me means there’s something else going on to stop him from doing that. Also you may want to explicitly state that getting the good projects requires not making these mistakes- he may have missed the hint.

    9. Parenthesis Dude*

      Xavier may not be the best fit for your team. He clearly does his best work when he’s fully engaged in something he likes, and that’s not something you can provide. But you guys also put a large amount of importance on minor things. Like, my bosses wouldn’t fill out time sheets for months at a time. They were busy doing work.

      If you want to make him better, have Lashonda look over his reports for a month or so for minor issues. That’ll teach him a lesson.

      “He’s making a mistake at least every three weeks. But last week alone he forgot to attach a report, misspelled the title of another report, forgot to save a file in the legacy system meaning he had to redo some work, and even forgot to clock in yesterday! ”

      I mean, I get it. You’re sending stuff to clients and it shouldn’t have a mistake. But, on the other hand, so what.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I agree with everything except putting Lashonda in any sort of supervisory capacity. She sounds like a deeply unpleasant person and should not be supervising the poor guy.

        1. snarkfox*

          I think Lashonda might actually be part of the problem. If I know people are just sitting there waiting to correct me (loudly and in front of everyone, as OP’s comment below states), I’m going to be a nervous wreck and make even more mistakes.

          The first time she noted his mistakes was fine. Shouting across the office about his mistakes is NOT okay!

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            The way I read it, she has raised these mistakes privately first and nothing has been done. Now she’s getting increasingly frustrated.

      2. LittleMarshmallow*

        I disagree with having Lashonda do that for two reasons: 1) it seems like she may already be out to get him so it’s not really fair, 2) if she has time to do that and discuss all of his mistakes with LW – then they both probably have time to devote to some proper training and development with him instead of a grammar and email attachment witch hunt.

    10. WellRed*

      Omg. Give the guy a break. Give him more interesting work, quit nitpicking the small stuff and quit having lashonda scrutinize him.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, really. These are some key ingredients for a toxic workplace. I am not saying the workplace is toxic right now, I am saying that these are some key features that cause workplaces to go toxic.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        The trouble with errors in the “small stuff” is they lead the recipient to think ‘can I trust the content of this, if he doesn’t even know what month it is?!’ These emails/reports are presumably sent to an audience, they don’t just go into a black hole, so it does become an issue of perception of his (and by extension the team’s) competence.

    11. DRHelp*

      Thanks for everyone’s responses. I’ll have to think about my approach. I agree with the folks saying that Xavier is more focused when he is challenged, but I also agree with the folks saying he needs to demonstrate the ability to focus on boring work before he can be trusted with critical work long term.

      It’s tough because we only just came into the office this Summer and, fairly or not, Xavier’s lack of attention to details mistakes are under a microscope. He doesn’t have the rapport and years of trust of my other Sr staff so when he forgets to attach a report and Lashonda calls out across the pod “I think you forgot you forgot to attach the report again” that’s a lot of people hearing about those exchanges as their introduction to his work. He’s definitely getting a reputation as someone who lacks attention to details and I would have a difficult time justifying his presence on departmental projects where these leaders have heard the reminders he needs.

      I also don’t want to lose him and am not at all interested in firing him! He literally took over all the regulatory reporting for the other Sr lead for the past two months, during the most busy time for those reports, just because he knows how busy he was on a project. He’s a hard worker, if a bit absent minded, and I want to help him get on track.

      1. CatCat*

        so when he forgets to attach a report and Lashonda calls out across the pod “I think you forgot you forgot to attach the report again”

        She needs to stop doing that!! I can’t think of a time when it’s appropriate to publicly call out a minor error like that.

        Xavier is likely very demoralized and it will only get worse if people are publicly piling on.

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          Agreed! Lashonda needs to knock it off. Nothing helpful is coming out of calling him out except for shaming him.

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          Lashonda needs to learn a primary rule in leadership: Criticize in private, praise in public. Currently she’s doing the opposite, and is kind of nasty for doing it.

          If you are assigning him shit projects because of minor typos or forgetting attachments, I think you need to rethink your criteria. I don’t go a day without a typo, and I forget attachments about 30% of the time. I make six figures. I also check my own work, but when I’m in a hurry sometimes I overlook things. I just go back and fix them, and not much gets said, because everyone else is the same. (That’s what code review is for, that’s why QA exists.)

          1. Princess Xena*

            Definitely depends on what Xavier’s actual job is. If it’s copy editor or marketing directory or something that’s one thing, but coder or actuary or anything else that requires non-grammar skills? Yeah, way too picky. I agree that’s what QA is for. Heck, our company has a dedicated word processing group whose job is to keep typos off final client docs.

        3. Clawdeen Wolf*

          Yeah, she’s being wildly inappropriate. The only time it’s appropriate to yell out about someone’s mistakes vs privately contacting them is when it’s extremely urgent or dangerous, like “don’t touch that, it’s a live wire, you didn’t cut the power!” Even then you wouldn’t add “you forgot AGAIN”, you’d just remind them right then and then tell their manager if the mistake was egregious enough and/or there was a pattern of frequent dangerous mistakes.

          Nobody’s going to be electrocuted by an email with December in the subject line vs January.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        I may be way off here, but is it possible Lashonda is part of the problem? Calling out like that in addition to what she said to you sounds almost like she is deliberately drawing attention to his mistakes (which sound pretty minor). I think it would be more appropriate for her to have e-mailed him or walked over to him to mention that rather than calling across. And it sounds like you didn’t notice anything particularly amiss until she drew your attention to it in the first place. Could there be a personality clash between Lashonda and Xavier or could she be just somebody who puts more store than most on things like accurate spelling? And therefore the issue is more one of a conflict between them or their methods than it is really an issue of Xavier’s work not being up to scratch?

        1. WellRed*

          Lashonda is likely a big part of the problem. She seems to have taken a dislike to Xavier and OP isn’t discouraging it.

          1. Irish Teacher*

            I hope I’m wrong but this is reminding me a little of the Laura and Miranda story a year ago, where the LW thought Miranda was going a good job until Laura came along and started suggesting Miranda was useless.

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

          Yelling someone’s errors across the open office… Oy.

          Let me tell you: people are not just thinking “Xavier has poor attention to detail!” They are definitely thinking “This is why I hate working with Lashonda.” Tell her to knock it off. She can send a message/email!

          1. Cyndi*

            And if the rest of the office ISN’T thinking that, and thinks that’s an acceptable way to error-check someone, this team might really be in trouble.

        3. snarkfox*

          Yes, this would make me a nervous wreck and I would be so caught up in making sure I never make mistakes that I’d make even more mistakes.

      3. Ginger Baker*

        I think given what you added here, if you approach this as a “shared team effort” to fix this, *with* Xavier, it will help. I would specifically call a few things out to him: a) that rightly or wrongly, he now has this “absent-minded” reputation and it’s keeping you from being able to staff him on more complicated projects (note, I would be VERY CLEAR on what the timeline is for him to “refurbish” that image before graduating on to better projects, because if you just say “you need to fix this” + no timeline, he will be gone for sure, and likewise if you say “I need to see a solid 2 months of improvement before I can move you off Boring Task and into Exciting Fun Project” *and then three months later it’s crickets* you will for SURE lose him then also, and that’s on you).
        b) I would ask what ideas he has for catching these small (tiny! but frequent) mistakes, and *after* he has offered up his thoughts (and definitely sincerely listen, he may have some solid solutions) I would suggest adding the folowing tools:
        Checklists. I keep a few, often as “category-grouped” items in my Outlook task bar that I just never check off permanently. Anything that reminds you to pause and do a final review is key.
        Outlook sending delay. You could also suggest setting a rule for ALL sent emails to have a one-minute sending delay (this gives you a minute to pause and go “wait, I forgot the attachment!” and grab it from the outbox, I have used this to great effect at one job). I can break down how to do this if you need.
        Outlook “this email says attachment” pop-up reminder. (I can google up ways to set this up, but I know it’s possible.)
        Learning to not add email addresses until the end – pause (maybe walk away and return) and then do a final review before added them in to send.
        Keeping a list of these tiny errors to see what patterns arise (and therefore what stumbles to be extra watchful for).

        The commitment to the piece in A where you truly commit to giving him expanded opportunities is KEY though. The rest won’t work without it.

      4. nope*

        Lashonda sounds like an ass. You need to shut this down. Where do you work that forgetting to attach something in an email is even an issue??

        1. Me ... Just Me*

          Exactly! Someone just needs to let him know in a kind manner and he can re-send with the attachment. It’s not a big deal.

          I think that Lashonda is bullying this guy and you are becoming a bit of a bully, as well. Have any of your higher ups mentioned anything to you or is this information coming from Lashonda?

          The way that you speak of him is of utmost importance — do you communicate to others that he is a rising star? Competent? Trusted?

      5. Not So NewReader*

        If someone screamed your mistakes across the work area how long would you feel great about yourself?

        Lashonda sounds like she is working on becoming the office bully.

        The real way to talk to people about their mistake is IN PRIVATE.

        As I read through your comments, I am not sure if *I* would make out well working for you. You place a high value on minor things and place a low value on major things. I would def leave because of Lashonda type person and the boss’ inability to manage Lashonda.

        Your desire to put him on track is so strong that you are probably making him into a nervous wreck. So he has a totally boring job where the slightest error causes a huge mess. I hope he finds another job soon. It’s this type of thing that drives people into counseling. It will be a while before he can come back from the damage going on here.

        1. snarkfox*

          Yeah… I would’ve been out the door so long ago…. I might’ve let it slide the first time Lashonda screamed my mistake across the office… but not if it kept happening. I don’t allow myself to be treated like that, and neither should Xavier.

        2. Shirley Keeldar*

          “You place a high value on minor things and place a low value on major things.” This, really this.

          All the positive things you mention about Xavier are really substantial. He’s a hard, enthusiastic worker. He takes feedback on board and makes changes. He helped out his colleagues when they are busy—for two months! He stepped in when there was an emergency and performed well.

          All the negative things are extremely small and easily correctable—a misdated report, a forgotten attachment. And he makes maybe four of these mistakes a month?

          I mean, you know your business better than we do, and if a forgotten attachment or a typo is actually your highest priority, then, yeah, Xavier isn’t a good match for your team. But maybe take a look at what you really value in an employee (um, is it nitpicking coworkers and shouting their mistakes across the office?) and decide what behavior you want to reward and what you want to penalize.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            And – by the sounds of it his training was minimal and haphazard, his supervision has been minimal, he’s worked through multiple health issues with fairly minor impact, he’s being screamed at publicly for rare, very minor mistakes while his competent high level work, good work ethic, willingness to step in, and the fact that he’s taking on a lot of difficult work are ignored. Oh, and he’s being held to a different standard than the rest of the employees because he come onboard during the pandemic and hasn’t had face time with the bosses.

            For you – I’d start praising Xavier’s accomplishments and strengths to the management and other teams, and acknowledging that Lashonda cares more about the occasional minor typo/missed attachment than she does about good performance in more substantive areas.

            If *Xavier* were reading this, I’d tell him to get another job where his talents and work were appreciated.

          2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            I got the impression he stepped in and worked hard on the “cover” work because he thought this was finally an opportunity to be seen and do more? rather than out of consideration for the co-worker… then when they returned and he was relegated back to the old work, now he’s even more demoralised. I would be too, but I’m not sure OP of the thread has a good grasp of his motivations at the moment.

      6. Alice*

        “he got the hint”
        “hinting that good projects require demonstrating attention to details”
        Why are you hinting instead of just saying outright? I mean, that’s a side issue, other people have pointed out the issues with Lashonda criticizing in public and begrudgingly admitting, presumably in private, when he does a good job. But, when you decide to tell Lashonda to knock it off, please tell her instead of hinting about it.

      7. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        I think he’s not a fit good for your company, and vice-versa.

        To be honest, the way you describe your work environment sounds like a nightmare to me. I had a job like this once, where minor errors were nit-picked to death and no one trusted anyone who hadn’t worked there forever. Like Xavier, I thrived in roles where my work is meaningful and challenging, with a rapid scaling of responsibility. It was a great company with many happy employees, but I was miserable and bored to death.

        I started job searching after a couple of years and landed a job that was a much better fit for my personality and work style. I became an absolute rock star there and loved coming in every day to a job that was unpredictable and dynamic. Xavier sounds like he’s a bit of a square peg trying to fit in a round hole at your company; I know I did. There was no way anyone was going to coach me into giving a crap about what I felt was dumb minutia, or being okay with “being under a microscope” as part of my daily routine.

      8. snarkfox*

        Yikes! Wow… please do not let Lashonda treat him like that! You seem to note that it’s “not fair” that his attention to detail is “under a microscope,” but then you allow Lashonda to hurt his reputation. If you really don’t want to lose him, there need to be a LOT of changes. It may already be too late. I certainly would never let anyone treat me the way Lashonda is treating him, and I would’ve left a long time ago.

      9. Kes*

        Yeah, I think both of these things are fair (that he does better when it’s more interesting challenging work, and that seeing him make mistakes undermines the trust to give him more complex projects). But it also sounds like he did do well on covering the coworker, and his reward was… being given the shitty projects nobody wants or likes. If he pulls it together, are you actually going to be able to give him better work, or is he just stuck with the boring projects indefinitely with no path to getting interesting work? Because it kind of sounds like the latter, in which case it’s not really surprising that he’s checking out (and he may end check out of this job entirely for a new one if this continues). I get that you’re busy, but part of the path to not being so busy is to actually be willing to invest the time to train and onboard newer people into the work, even if that makes things even busier for a time, so that they can learn and longer term take on some of this work and ease the burden on everyone else.

      10. Ez*

        It’s been two years. If he hasn’t earned your trust in that time, it’s clearly a two-way street. And just because Lashonda is senior to him clearly does not mean she isn’t a part of the problem here. Maybe the whole culture needs to shift.

      11. 22five*

        Completely identify with Xavier! In my case, I have ADHD and when something is new and shiny, and I’m figuring it out – I can engage laser focus. Once I’ve developed a process and the shiny has worn off, I’m stuck essentially doing the regular administrative maintenance for the process and frankly am totally bored and disengaged. My brain does not light up when booking Journal Entries – but step up to put out a last minute fire? ALL OVER IT!

        Granted, I don’t know much more about Xavier – but IF is high functioning ADHD AND then had to deal with a Covid infection, he’ll be doing double duty to recover – since many of the Covid symptoms resemble those of ADHD (brain fog, memory, concentration).

        Xavier needs to be challenged and engaged (IMHO) and he’ll continue to excel.

        1. 22five*

          and Lashonda? What a piece of work! Calling out that he forgot to attach something to an email – in front of the entire staff? Just how perfect is she? Or you, for that matter?

          Agree with other posters above – Xavier is just trying to stay afloat dealing with bullying. Not cool.

          1. Clawdeen Wolf*

            I feel so bad for him, he’s been trying so hard and actually showing he can do it! He must be so demoralized by now. I don’t know how to fix that at this point, it’s been going on so long.

      12. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        You have a Lashonda problem, and possibly a You problem, more than a Xavier problem.

      13. Not So NewReader*

        ” He doesn’t have the rapport and years of trust” that others have?

        This sounds like a company that loves to hate the new hire. They bond over it.
        Maybe that is not your company, maybe you were aiming for a different point and it just came out wrong.

        I have been in those companies where every one has been there for three life times and I am the newbie. Others made as many mistakes if not more than I did. I heard about every single mistake I made from everyone I worked with. Meanwhile, I was quietly correcting all their mistakes before passing their work on to the next step. The boss was a huge gossip and made sure she shared every single thing I did wrong with EVERYONE. People listened to her and started hating on me because of her constant complaints. If I let someone else’s mistake pass through it suddenly became my mistake. If I corrected it, my resentment for the company and the boss deepened. Either way I lost.

        But this one sentence I have above here did me in. He doesn’t have years worth of rapport to draw on. So your company has two sets of rules, one for newbies and one for old timers. So you’d let the same mistake go by if a long term person had made that same mistake????

        This guy is done. He hosed.

        1. Ginger Baker*

          Yeah I could be wrong but it sounds like it’s his third year in…that’s….not a short tenure at this point.

      14. Clawdeen Wolf*

        It sounds like Lashonda just doesn’t like this guy and is trying to get everyone else to agree with her, starting with you and continuing on to some other totally unrelated executive. Why is Lashonda discussing his typos with other people, and is she even accurately describing his work when she does? Does the other executive even know him that well, or do they only know him as That Dude Lashonda Says Sucks?

        If Xavier were writing in, he’d say he’s received inconsistent training, repeatedly asked for more challenging work, responded well to feedback, took on a role waaaaay bigger than his and did a fantastic job in it, had multiple health issues, got bumped down to the crappy project literally no one else wants, and is now being bullied by his coworker over small mistakes.

        The advice to him would likely be to leave, because he’s already tried being clear about what he needs. If you want him to stay and keep working on the crappy project, you’re going to have to at least try to make his job easier by not having Lashonda watching him like a hawk and routinely humiliating him. Why is she his babysitter? If someone *has* to watch him for mistakes, can you pick someone else to do it?

      15. TiredCatMom*

        I agree with everyone else here. You have a Lashonda problem, not an Xavier problem.

        Now, you might like Lashonda…but imagine being shouted at over minor mistakes. If I were Xavier work would be hell, and I would be coasting while job hunting. I did that for 6 months.

        Xavier may check out less if he isn’t being bullied. I recognize my behavior in his. I used to dissociate through my toxic job. Mistakes didn’t matter. I just had to endure the harassment. Correct the bullying first and he might try harder. But it sounds like you might think he deserves it. Idk if you mean it like that but both your comments here sound very much like Xavier is a screwup in your head, yet he’s excelled with little training.

        I don’t understand your priorities at all, and I would be reevaluating my behavior in your shoes.

      16. Some Bunny Once Told Me*

        It’s absolutely blowing my mind here that you’re asking for help in managing Xavier and not Lashonda. I’m sorry, but publicly humiliating a coworker and poisoning other people’s perception of his work before they ever interact with him on on a project is toxic as hell, and is very clearly damaging his prospects of advancement at work in a way that is neither earned nor deserved. If he truly does needs reminders to pay attention to detail, this is absolutely the worst way to go about doing that, and it makes me question both your judgement and your skill as a manager that you’ve allowed that behavior to continue and didn’t nip it in the bud the first time you became aware of it. I also find your justification of nitpicking is “he lacks rapport and years of trust” concerning – if one of your other employees was making similar mistakes, would you be allowing Lashonda to bully them about it and supporting her in that, or is this treatment reserved just for Xavier?

        In my opinion, it sounds like you’re allowing a toxic culture to grow on your watch and I would recommend that you take Lashonda aside and speak with her about her unprofessional behavior and council her that it will reflect badly on her if she continues. Even if she does course correct, it’s likely too late to keep Xavier. I wish him well in finding a better job where he can be valued for his skill set and not punished for absent minded mistakes that don’t actually appear to impact the overall quality of his work, particularly on important or challenging projects.

    12. Chilipepper Attitude*

      “forgot to save a file in the legacy system meaning he had to redo some work”

      That is the only thing you mentioned that even sounded like an error worth noticing and as we are humans and not robots, why are you so focused on such unimportant things?

      Maybe your job involves some level of perfection bc people will die if the report has the wrong month on it or for insurance purposes not clocking in is a huge deal, but if not, your ideas about perfection seem pretty intense!

      If I were the employee, your level of attention to detail over things that don’t matter coupled with being given low value work, I’d be job hunting.

  17. Cheerios*

    Question for people who work in schools.

    I interviewed for a non-teaching job at a small private school, and someone mentioned needing to monitor studyhall sometimes. I’m a shy introvert who has no experience working with kids, so my first thought is that doing studyhall would be horrible for me. Is it not actually that bad? The job otherwise sounds pretty great so far.

    1. NeedToSnack*

      Monitoring study hall really is just that – monitoring teenagers doing homework. I’d just check that the school has reasonable expectations for what you should do if someone decides to skip/leave early. In my experience, study hall is very chill because the kids who take it who don’t want to study don’t actually come to class, and the rest have a specific reason to take study hall and are actually trying to do well in school.

    2. Matcha*

      it’s hard to say without knowing more about the school itself and the student body as a whole.
      We don’t really have study hall in the US public school system anymore. but, generally, if you are in a situation where you are monitoring students you will have to be ready to ask them to do things like put away their phone, stop talking, etc. How calm/chaotic it is, and whether they listen to you, it’s quite variable and you might want to ask the school more about the expectations during study Hall and what it looks like for monitors.

      if they start talking to you about their progressive discipline policies and consequence for misbehavior etc you can expect that you will be doing those things out on a regular basis which might not be for you.

      1. Cheerios*

        I don’t know much about the school/students either. I’m in the US. The school itself is an all girls Catholic school (middle to high school) with about 550 students.

        Is it weird to wait to ask about the expectations for the study hall monitor only if I get an offer? They’re finishing interviews for finalists next week, then checking references, and then there’s one more interview. I’m worried that asking about something that probably isn’t a big deal to other people might look bad.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I think you should certainly ask about it in the last interview. Supervising teens and preteens would be a big deal to pretty much everybody. I have never met a teacher who wasn’t nervous about having to exert control over a class of teens when they were starting out.

          I also think that if I were a principal, I would be more concerned about somebody who DIDN’T ask about the expectations before going in (either in the interview or when they first got the job). It is a role that means a lot of responsibility. You are the adult authority figure in the room and I would expect you to have given thought to what that means. It is perfectly reasonable to ask “what discipline strategies are used in the school?” “how should I respond if students are not doing what they are supposed to be?” “what are my responsibilities with regard to child protection?” (for example, if you view an incident of bullying or if a kid discloses something concerning),”who should I report any serious breaches to the discipline policy to?” “are students allowed phones during study hall?” “are they allowed to use the bathroom?”

          In my experience, discipline is a big deal for everybody who starts working in a school, to the point that this is a reason why SNAs (who can work in either primary or secondary and are not specifically qualified for one or the other) often say they originally planned to limit themselves to applying only to primary because, even though SNAs are never left in charge of a group, the way you will be, many still find the idea of dealing with teens intimidating.

        2. Qwerty*

          I think it’s worth bringing up at the final interview, but phrase it as asking for more information about the setup/frequency/etc just as you would for any other job responsibility that is listed as a “sometimes”.

          It might be that non-teaching staff sometimes fill in sometimes so that teachers can have meetings / administer a make up test / etc. Or it could mean that you’ll have a dedicated study hall class but they only meet every two weeks or something.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      We don’t have study halls in Ireland, but I am guessing it’s basically supervised study? I don’t think being shy or an introvert would necessarily make it difficult. If you would be interacting with the kids, it would be as an authority figure, not in a social way.

      While not shy, I am very much an introvert and pretty socially awkward (wouldn’t be entirely surprised if I were on the autistic spectrum) and I LOVE teaching. I don’t like supervising classes (when teachers are absent) much, but just ’cause it’s boring, not due to being an introvert. The kids usually don’t want me interacting with them anyway.

      As a socially awkward introvert, talking about specific topics as an expert suits me down to the ground.

      I don’t think one needs to be extroverted or even socially confident to supervise kids. I do think it could be a difficult job for somebody who has little experience with kids and who is not a trained teacher or otherwise qualified to work with kids, at least at first, but it sounds like that would be true for whoever gets the job. Being an extrovert doesn’t give additional discipline techniques.

      1. Imtheone*

        Study hall is supervised study. Sometimes there is a teacher-type person a available to answer questions about school work, but often the adult is just to keep an eye on everyone.

    4. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’d give it a shot. Studyhall is usually silent working on homework. If students act up can just send them to office. Your interaction wouldn’t be tutoring or such it’d be more fielding the “Can I go to the bathroom?”, “Can i sit with Suzie”, type questions.

    5. Educator*

      Honestly, I would ask if you could be paired with a teaching staff member for a study hall or two while you learn the ropes. Small private schools are really tight knit, so if the students see you with a teacher and that teacher can tell you a little bit about the students, that will really help build credibility. Also, if you make an effort to get to know students in other contexts, that will really help too.

      Classroom management is the easiest thing if it goes well, and the hardest thing if it goes poorly. Students are great at figuring out which staff members they need to respect, and when they can get away with things. Pairing with a teaching staff member will help get you off on the right foot.

      1. Cheerios*

        So I’ll need to know all the student’s names and will have to get to know them? My job involves record keeping, so I’ll be in an office all day, except for studyhall (I’m not even sure how often I’ll have to do it). I’m confused at why they would have non-teachers monitor studyhall at all.

        1. Educator*

          This is a really good topic to ask other non-teaching staff about. I would encourage them to clarify the expectations for interacting with other members of the community (students, teachers, board, etc.) and the expectations for participating in the life of the community beyond your official role. These are very normal questions to ask at any stage.

          I have been a student and faculty member at small private schools, and it was always an expectation that all adults were part of the community–chatting with students in passing, coming to events, etc. Even as a student, I knew everyone in the business office and registrar’s office by name. I’m sure that is not the culture everywhere, but it has definitely been my experience.

          But the flip side is–pre-teens and teenagers are the best people in the world to interact with. No matter how introverted you are, they are likely 100x more self-conscious just by virtue of their developmental phase. But they really appreciate adults who make an effort, and love talking about their passions. Honestly, they are much less scary than adults!

          1. Irish Teacher*

            I very much agree with the last part. As I said above, I am a pretty socially awkward introvert. I express it as I haven’t been programmed with the set answers other people have. I think I often cover more work in a class than other people might because…I don’t really “chat”. I noticed this very much when we had primary school kids in to give them a taste of various classes and went to view what one or two other people were doing when I had a break and saw another teacher, who was demonstrating history, starting with “Hi, I’m Mr X and you might be unlucky enough to have me teaching you for History if you decide to come here. You will have to do History for your first three years. You get no choice about that. Who likes history? Hands up now” and so on, whereas my demonstration began, “OK, this is X subject and the first thing we are going to do is…”*starts handing around the handouts*

            But you know what? I am students I had last year calling in to my classes to say hi to me and tell me stuff they’ve done or learnt related to what I was teaching them. I have students asking other teachers if I’ll be teaching them again the next year. I get on particularly well with the ASD kids and the shy kids and we’ve had a complete of kids I was told were selectively mute but who spoke to me, possibly because I didn’t push them or do the whole “ah, there’s no need to be frightened of me, love. I don’t bite. You can talk to me. Come on, just tell me…” I just taught and didn’t put pressure on them.

            Cheerios, you don’t need to be an extrovert.

            1. Retired to Morning Room to Write My Letters*

              This is lovely! You sound like you have a great, authentic approach and are one of those quietly inspirational teachers

              I still remember those teachers and appreciate how they were.

              And I agree wholeheartedly with the other comment about teenagers often being easier to get on with than adults. I have worked a lot with teens, and I do agree.

    6. Rara Avis*

      It depends how aggressively they want you to monitor study hall. My study hall responsibilities require me to monitor computer use and make sure they are doing school work and not gaming/web surfing/etc. (These are middle schools students so we have to help them make good choices instead of using natural consequences.) Our students (who are overall good kids and mostly academically oriented) can be resistant to respecting the authority of non-teacher people. So it could be okay, or it could be really stressful for you.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I think it also depends on how much authority the non-teaching people are seen to have. In Ireland, in some schools, SNAs are called by their first names while teachers are “Sir” and “Miss” or “Miss X” and “Mr. Y” whereas in other schools, SNAs are also “Sir”/”Miss”/”Mr. or Miss Surname,” which puts them more on a par. They also have authority to write referrals (which are basically reports that go to the Year Head on students who misbehave). Some prefer not to, as I know at least one of them feels that the student she is supporting could face backlash (“I got in trouble because you need extra help. If you didn’t, she wouldn’t have been there to catch me misbehaving!”) but the fact that they have the same disciplinary procedures available to them as teachers and are addressed in the same way means they tend to get equal or more respect (I think they often get more as they are with a class all day, so if they are mad at a student, the student still has to interact with them for the rest of the day).

        If Cheerios is expected to exert authority over a group (SNAs are technically never supposed to be left alone with a class, because that is not their role; they are trained to support students with additional needs, not to run a classroom and they are not paid the same salary as a teacher, so are not expected to do the duties of a teacher), then they should be given the tools to exert that authority, but at least in Ireland, schools really do differ on this point and kids very much do take cues from the adults around them. If they feel Cheerios isn’t being treated as “a real teacher” by the teaching staff, they won’t feel they have to respect Cheerios in the same way they do the teaching staff. If she has the same authority and is treated as an equal by the staff, they are more likely to do so.

        1. Cheerios*

          The position I’m a candidate for doesn’t involve being in a classroom with children at all. (Except apparently studyhall, though I don’t know what room that will be held in. The cafeteria? The library?) I’m not a teacher’s assistant or someone who is supposed to be working with children.

          I was really thrown off when studyhall was mentioned in the interview since the long list of job responsibilities in the job description didn’t include it at all, so I didn’t get to ask about it much then, unfortunately.

    7. Hello sunshine*

      If possible can you tour the facility and ask to pop into study hall. Also ask what’s expected in that (warm body, academic help etc).

    8. meow*

      My sister’s small private high school (similar size) hired a study hall monitor a couple years ago. The monitor maintains the “silent” study hall, and also proctors makeup tests and quizzes. At my school, the study hall monitor also has to use a web program to monitor what sites the students are on as well. Luckily the program has the ability to shut down sites on the students’ device remotely, so not much intervention is needed.

    9. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Definitely ask if these are in school study halls or after school study halls. Are you going to have to stay after work to do this, and how often?

      I think I would be concerned about hiring someone to work in a school who was not comfortable with or interested in working with kids. So think about how you will phrase your questions, will you sound reluctant to be around kids or just curious about how it works? And do you really want to work around kids?

      For those outside the US, I know of two kinds of study halls. One is just a period where students don’t have a class and they don’t want them hanging around in the hallways. So their class for that period is “study hall.”

      The other kind of study hall is a punishment. It might be during school or after school and you are required to go as punishment for some minor behavior during school. You are supposed to sit and do schoolwork, no phones, no talking, etc.

  18. Toodaloo*

    I’m very frustrated with my company right now. When I first went full time the payroll department apparently didn’t realize I was going to be paid a higher rate than when I was just seasonal. So for 2.5 months I was getting paid at the lower rate. It took me bugging them 3 times over 2 weeks to get it fixed. Now we’ve swapped to a new payroll software and they’ve kicked me back down to the lower rate again, when I actually just received a raise. The new software hasn’t set it up for us to be able to access pay stubs yet, so I can’t even officially confirm. I know they’ll give me the back pay (and accounting has likely been overwhelmed) but I’m just really frustrated that my employer can’t get my pay right.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      File a complaint with the Department of Labor or equivalent governing body in your area. You’ve given them months. They’re still underpaying you. You’ve been more than patient. Time to escalate.

      1. Toodaloo*

        They corrected my pay in the old system, but after two pay periods getting the correct pay they swapped to a different program that for some reason undid the correction. I don’t think I’ve quite hit contacting the Labor Board quite yet, but if it happens a third time I will. But I’m glad other people see this as unreasonable!

    2. MJ*

      Is your boss aware of the situation? If not, I’d explain that you were being underpaid for months, the steps you took to finally get things corrected, and that the move to the new system messed it up again. Your boss might be able to kick this up to a more senior HR person to get your payroll sorted out for you.

  19. kiki*

    Tips for finding balance and boundaries when working across timezones

    I recently switched from a job where nearly everyone was working in the same timezone. Those who weren’t in the same timezone were all just one hour ahead, so it was easy to keep track of and didn’t make a tremendous difference in anyone’s day-to-day work.

    I recently started a new job where everyone is pretty scattered. My immediate teammates span 4 timezones. My larger department is global, so there’s a tremendous range for meeting times. My job in particular requires me to be accessible– especially to my teammates, but realistically to a lot of folks in my department. I’m working in the earliest timezone of my immediate teammates and I’m a night owl anyway, so I’m happy to start my days a bit later and stay online longer to be available to my team. But then I get pinged at 8:30am by people in my own timezone and also pinged at 10pm by folks on the other side of the globe. I feel pretty comfortable waiting to respond to the 10pm pingers because I think it’s fairly obvious to everyone involved that this is outside my working hours and they’re not necessarily expecting an immediate response. It’s the 8:30am pingers that give me pause. 8:30am isn’t wildly early and I feel like they’ll judge me for not starting until 10/10:30, or I feel guilty that I’m cutting down on the hours I am accessible to those people.

    How do other folks handle this? The company is rapidly growing and hasn’t really figured this whole multiple timezone thing out.

    1. EMP*

      Usually everyone needs to agree on some core hours – which may be different for different sides of the globe – when people know they can get in touch with you. Can you ask around to your colleagues about when they’re “online” in their time zone, and get a sense of what they expect in return?

    2. Irish girl*

      is there a way to show your working hours in a calander or other format? I know teams has a status feature that allows you to free form and it also allows it to show up when people message you.

      If not, are their messages ones that you need to immediately respond to? Or if you had recieved at 10am, would you respond right away? Is there a way to range your hours say 2 days a week have 9am starts?

      Has anyone complained that you arent avaliable?

    3. Less Bread More Taxes*

      Without knowing what kind of feedback you’re getting, I think you are stressing for no reason. Half of my team is 7 hours behind me and a couple members are 7 hours ahead. People message at all hours because that’s when they work. When I need to contact someone, I’m not going to waste my time to figure out if they’re online or not. They’ll see my message when they see it. Likewise, I’m not offended when someone sends me a message when I’m not online.

      Recently, I’ve joined a team of people who really do need to meet up to accomplish things (email threads don’t really work for what we’re doing right now). There are four individual hours that we’re all available for each week. Four. As you can imagine, scheduling has been quite tough. But that’s just the nature of working on teams with people based everywhere.

    4. Well That's Fantastic*

      Do you typically deal with the same people, or is there more variety? As more people have gone to non-standard work hours at my current job, I’ve seen more people incorporate a statement into their email signature about their standard working hours and how to handle if something is time-sensitive outside those hours. This doesn’t necessarily help their initial expectation, but it lets them know if they’re someone you deal with routinely.

    5. Medium Sized Manager*

      I’m on the east coast with a lot of coworkers on the west coast. I regularly ping them around 8 (5 AM their time), and they regularly shoot me messages at 5-6 (8-9 PM my time). We all know that it’s “respond when you’re on next, I just need to send this over.” As long as the communication is there, that should be fine. No reasonable person expects you to be available 24/7.

    6. Mr. Shark*

      There are definitely expectations that most people are available from, say, 8-5 during *that person’s* business hours in that timezone. But I have seen people who may have alternate core hours because they may deal with West Coast or East Coast more often.

      I’ve seen people put their core hours in their signature in their emails, or status, so that people know when they are available. That way the people pinging you at 8:30am know that you don’t start your normal hours until 10.

      I would also try and align closer to those who may be more inline with you. So yes, you may have people across the globe, but they aren’t really expecting you to be available at 10pm like you say, but the people in the U.S. would expect you to be available close to their core hours. So maybe pushing your start time to 10am your time isn’t the best idea. Also it misaligns you with anyone in your own time zone that would normally go 8-5.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Decide the hours at which you are available.
      Make sure those hours are listed somewhere, or in an auto-reply that states why you work those hours (to cover multiple timezones).
      Turn off the pings outside those hours.

    8. Curmudgeon in California*

      I once worked with people who were mostly East Coast US, and I’m West Coast US. My best compromise was an 8 am start time, because I’m a night owl. But it used to drive me nuts when they’d set up “9 am” meeting, and then wonder why I didn’t want to log on at 6 am my time. My manager got it – he was in an adjacent time zone, but some of the East Coast folks just didn’t, and would @ me in Slack at 6 am. I actually had to log out of my work slack on my phone and personal laptop just so I didn’t get woken up with @Curmudgeon or @here, @channel and @all messages outside of working hours.

      I’ve also worked with a team in India, almost literally 180 out WRT time of day, and the way we handled joint meetings was to alternate mornings and evenings at the beginning or end of the day (7 am / 7 pm) so neither team got inconvenienced the same way all the time.

      What a lot of national US companies do is figure out a modest set of “core hours” that people on both coasts can manage between 8 am and 5 pm – usually 11 am to 2 pm – for critical meetings. Yes, it steps on lunch, but you are not asking people to get up too early or stay too late.

    9. Clawdeen Wolf*

      Make your hours extremely visible. They’re all working with people in wildly different time zones, too, so it shouldn’t be that strange to them that one more person isn’t available at a specific time.

    10. cncx*

      I worked in a place with east coast, europe but with ppl to support in California and Singapore with the main team in europe. What we did was stagger the europe staff into early and late, one started at 730 and one at 930; the person on the early shift picked up Singapore, the person with the late shift was responsible for handing off to east coast/California. Because Singapore was the outlier they had permission to call the team lead for show stoppers.
      My ex husband had a global team (us,Europe,Australia, se Asia) and they did a rota where once a month one city would have the bad conf call time.

    11. Katherine Vigneras*

      Do you have your city in your email signature, which would remind folks of your time zone? (Jane Doe, Bigbird Industries, 123 Sesame St., New York, NY) Could you add a line in your signature indicating core hours and how to reach you outside of core hours, and what the criteria would be for urgent outreach? (Core hours: 9 AM PT (noon ET) to 6 PM PT (9 PM ET) – for Snuffleupagus support outside of these times, please call me at 212-555-1212) You could then mute email and Slack after hours – if they really need you, they’ll find you. 24/7 availability is a fast track to burnout so I hope you can find a boundary that makes sense for your job and your balance.

  20. Not So Super-visor*

    so I have a bit of a quandry about confidential employee feedback and what to do if an employee leaves feedback that is so specific that they’re the only one that could have left a comment.
    here’s the details:

    A & C are both 21F’s who started in the office less than a year ago. They are work BFFs. While on a break together, an older employee (G — 60+F) made a comment to A about her perfume. We have a no fragrance policy. According to all accounts, G used phrases like “you stink,” and “you’re making me sick.” G does have documented issues with asthma and migraines. C came to me after the break to report that she had witnessed another employee being bullied. We, like a lot of companies, promote a zero tolerance policy on bullying. I told C that I would investigate this. I went to A next and got her side of the story which lined up with C. I then went to G to get her side of the story. Her side is a little different. She admitted that she blew up and used those phrases but said that she was beyond frustrated. She’d asked A several times not to wear perfume and told her about her health issues. A had continued to wear perfume. G had not come to me or to any other supervisors or managers to report this. After taking all sides of the story to HR, we agreed that G cannot talk to her coworkers in that manner. G was issued a warning that if anything like this happened again that she would be terminated. I also told her that she needs to go to a supervisor or manager next time there is an issue rather getting so upset that she explodes. I then had a conversation with A. I told her that I don’t agree with how G handled the situation and that she was talked to about it. I explained that I wanted to know if there was an retaliation following this. I also explained that we have a fragrance policy for a reason and that she needs to refrain from wearing perfume at work.

    Flashforward 2 months to the Employee Survey: I receive a comment that says “I witnessed G bullying another employee 2 months ago. I reported it to my manager, and she did nothing even though we have a zero tolerance policy. Even though I’m not the victim, I believe that G should have been fired. This destroys my trust in my manager and the company.”
    As C could be the only possible person to leave this comment, the survey is supposed to be confidential. I want to address the comment. I want to explain to C that I’m not upset that she left the comment and apologize if she felt that I wasn’t transparent. I want her to feel comfortable bringing issues to me and assure her that this issue was handled with HR. This is the first that I’ve heard from any of the parties involved that people were still upset about this. There have been no other issues between A & C with G or with G and any other employees.

    Do I just drop this since it’s supposed to be confidential, or do I address it?

    1. Tuesday*

      This sucks, but I would drop it unless C comes to you directly. You explained to A that the situation had been addressed and that should be that. G’s behavior was bad, but it’s not bullying, and she was disciplined accordingly.

    2. Littorally*

      Hmm. My knee-jerk reaction is leave it, as the survey anonymity is important and it would take something very serious to override that.

      But on the other hand, that’s clearly the kind of comment that wants some sort of response from leadership. So — what kind of follow-up do you typically do from these surveys? If it’s common to have some kind of “we heard this feedback from you all, and here’s what we’re going to implement in response” communication, that’s a great place to add something like–

      “We received some feedback regarding employee discipline. Professional conduct and respect for colleagues is very important to us, but we want to remind you all that you will not necessarily be privy to results of an HR investigation. Employee discipline is confidential. Just because you haven’t seen something happen does not mean that nothing has happened.”

      1. Gnome*

        I was thinking similarly. although, in the future, it can be good to go back to the person who raised the issue and thank them for bringing it to your attention, and also say something like, “we are/have investigated the incident you reported and are taking actions. all personnel actions and investigations are private, so I can’t share the results with you, but I want you to know that I’m really glad you brought this to my attention.”

        basically, something that says “this was good, we took it seriously “

    3. Dumpster Fire*

      It sounds like you showed quite a bit more anger/impatience with G than with A, even though it was A who ignored the no-fragrance rule (even after G had asked her to stop wearing perfume). I think many people would do what G did; that is, try to handle it without going to management.

      It also sounds like your conversation with A revolved around not liking how G handled it (which really isn’t A’s business) instead of making it clear that A needs to follow the no-fragrance policy and that it was A’s defiance of policy that led to G blowing up.

      1. JelloStapler*

        Right and I agree A needs to understand that she was asked numerous times and ignored it- and that should be the focus, I think addressing that G doesn’t get a pass to treat others that way is still important.

    4. Bernice Clifton*

      It sounds like you and HR know that you handled it appropriately.

      I get why this feels unfair but I don’t think addressing it helps anyone – C deserves the appearance of anonymity here even if she is mistaken, & G deserves privacy.

    5. ursula*

      Don’t talk to her about it – violating the “confidential” expectation of her survey answers will erode her trust even further, and besides, I actually am not sure you owe her an apology on this! You dealt with an HR issue that was ultimately between A and G with appropriate discretion and there have been no subsequent issues. I don’t think it would be appropriate for you to share all of that information with C. And anyway, I’d be very surprised if A didn’t tell C that you had spoken with both her and G. I think she just disagrees with your decision not to fire G, which is certainly her right, but it doesn’t mean you need to do anything further.

    6. Anon for This*

      I don’t know how big your company is, but if it is large enough that there may be other, similar issues revealed by the survey, you might want to do some kind of a general statement about personnel matters being private. The fact that results haven’t been shared with people who may have raised issues or witnessed them does not mean the issues haven’t been addressed.

      Honestly, in reading your message, I think A & C are trying to get G fired. A’s continuing to wear perfume against company policy even after G raised it with her, C reporting that G was bullying another employee, and now raising it again in the employee survey sounds to me like A & C may be the bullies here – or at least there are shades of “Mean Girls”. G did not react well, but as you describe the actions it doesn’t sound like bullying unless there is more to it. G has already been warned, and I am guessing was counseled to take these things to HR rather than lash out. You may wish to talk to other employees in the unit to see if there is more to the dynamic than what has been reported. (I saw a situation like this once as a manager where there was an effort to force an older person out so that a buddy could get her job.)

      1. CatCat*

        Yeah, I was definitely getting an A is wearing perfume *at* G vibe. Like, I can’t imagine working some place with a no fragrance policy and wearing perfume let along continuing to wear it once a co-worker told me it was making her ill. Why would A do that? Feels bullying to me. With the comment from C, I would be keeping a *very* close eye on A and C and how they seem to behave with G.

      2. Leandra*

        Agree with @Anon for This, and with @Qwerty downthread.

        Since G’s blow-up was directed at A, it should’ve been A who reported G. I don’t think C’s being the one to report it entitles her to know the outcome. The possible agenda here notwithstanding, at the least C doesn’t seem experienced enough yet to know that.

        OP should definitely check in with G. While G merited a warning, I think it was premature to threaten her with termination for a second blow-up. Since the firm has a no-fragrance policy, did other employees — with or without sensitivities themselves — also report A?

    7. onyxzinnia*

      If you were to go back in time, I’d recommend closing the loop with C so that she knows the matter was addressed with the appropriate parties and thank her for bringing it to your attention. It might seem out of the blue to bring it up now 2 months later.

      Since the survey is supposed to be confidential, I wouldn’t bring the survey up with her directly. Maybe just underscore with all of your employees that you want to be a resource for any concerns that they may have.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        I agree. C as one of the persons who reported the issue certainly should at least know that it was taken seriously and something was done about it. Otherwise, she has no reason to report anything the next time. She was obviously frustrated.

        I agree with Littorally’s way of dealing with it. As part of the feedback from the survey:
        “We received some feedback regarding employee discipline. Professional conduct and respect for colleagues is very important to us, but we want to remind you all that you will not necessarily be privy to results of an HR investigation. Employee discipline is confidential. Just because you haven’t seen something happen does not mean that nothing has happened.”

        Perfectly stated, Littorally!!

    8. Silly Janet*

      Maybe you could meet with her about and frame it as a check in or follow up about it? She may be suspicious considering she just left the feedback, but at least she would know you are addressing it. Obviously you can’t tell her all the details, but you could say it was addressed.

    9. Workerbee*

      Verbiage question: Was the survey confidential, or anonymous?

      This distinction was pointed out to me as – if anonymous, then you can’t let on that you know, but if confidential, you…can. I don’t know how else to word it other than saying the expectations change subtly.

      1. ...*

        This reads as if OP meant to say anonymous, but just to tap in with some potential help in defining the distinction:

        Anonymous: no one knows who submitted it except for the person who did (A closed loop of one)

        Confidential: The submitter and recipient will know who submitted it, but it is understand that no one else will (A predefined closed loop of 2 [or however many])

    10. Lex*

      My immediate reaction would be to not confront her directly, but mention at the next all-hands meeting something to the effect of “I just want to reiterate that I have an open door policy and am always happy to talk with you about any concerns you may have or anything that might be bothering you about work.”

      Personally, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when reading C’s comment. She and A sound really immature, and clearly don’t care about how their actions affect other people.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        I think she has to emphasize that just because someone doesn’t see the results of the discipline, that does not mean it hasn’t been handled. That is C’s concern. That she brought something up, and then it was ignored.

        You can say that A and C are immature, but C has a point. Why bring up anything to a manager with an “open door policy” if nothing gets done about it?

    11. Qwerty*

      I think you have to drop it with C otherwise you erode trust in being able to respond to surveys. *However* it might be a good idea to check in with HR. It sounds like A&C are trying to get G fired for her medical accomodation and this is part of making a paper trail and putting pressure on the company. HR might want to take over the follow up conversation or be able to guide you.

      There needs to be some clarification of “bullying” in your handbook/policy. One confrontation is not bullying. Violating the no-fragrance policy and knowingly making your coworker sick repeatedly could be. There needs to be a power dynamic or repetition or something – I’m seeing the word bully get thrown around really lightly lately.

      Part of me wonders if A&C made the bullying report to avoid in getting trouble for violating the fragrance policy. At that point they had to know the jig was up and that G would escalate it. So maybe I’d recommend checking with G to see if she’s been experiencing further antagonization from A&C and learning why she didn’t feel comfortable coming to you or HR in the first place when she had to talk to A “several” times about the perfume.

      1. My Cat's Humsn*

        I worry sometimes that we are training a generation that ‘bullying’ is a magic word to get someone in trouble. I was working in a school office last year when a 3rd grader came in, wanting to report bullying…by the principal. So, yes, there are forms and a reporting/tracking process, because it’s bullying. Turned out principal had made him move to a different lunch table because he was throwing plastic forks.

      2. 1LFTW*

        ALL of this.

        It seems that G was treated much, MUCH more harshly than A, who was 1) violating the company’s no-fragrance policy and 2) continuing to do so after G repeatedly explained that her health was suffering as a result and 3) G has documentation of her asthma and migraines.

        I mean, clearly G is the one who’s suffered the greater harm here; her ability to BREATHE was being compromised. Yeah, it’s not fun being told “you stink” and “you’re making me sick”, but A was literally, factually making G sick! The disproportionate response suggests that there’s an organizational culture problem behind G’s hesitation to go to management.

        1. Chilipepper Attitude*

          I don’t think so. A was told to follow policy and stop wearing perfume. This was the first time management knew about it.

          G crossed a line about behavior that is bigger than company policy. And they damaged their chance of being taken seriously by not talking to a manager. Ok, once you talk to the person. But when it is serious like breathing, you talk to your manager!

          Are A and C being childish, yes. And if the managers keep seeing this behavior, they need to address it. But what they have so far is A wore perfume and G was very unprofessional. G gets the bigger stick. Also, G is old enough to know better. This feels like middle school.

          1. 1LFTW*

            G should have gone to management, sure. If she had, she’d have documentation for an EEOC complaint if she needed it. Which is why some employers have a culture of non-responsiveness or even hostility toward disabled employees who try to bring things like this to their attention!

            Or, even if the employer is generally more affirming of people with disabilities, some managers within that system might not be. I’ve been the worker who’s struggling to breathe because someone didn’t follow a basic workplace safety measure for the third time that month, and upon reporting it to my site manager, was told that “I can’t follow everyone around to make sure they do everything they’re supposed to, and it’s not my job to remember every little thing that triggers your asthma”.

            If I were in OP’s position, I – like Qwerty – would want to know whether G had an experience like this with her management chain. And, like other commenters upthread, I’d want to look into whether A and C are actually bullying G.

  21. Irish girl*

    I need some help. In a meeting yesterday i was on mute as for most of the meeting i did not need to speak. At the end after most everything was resolved, everyone started to say goodbye. I tried to take myself off mute to ask a question but everyone was already leaving the meeting. So i started to write a team message to the person i needed to ask the follow up question to.

    She asked me to call her as apparently she noticed i was trying to say something an it showed on my face that i was frustrated. Which i was as it seemed like the meeting was rushed ended and i did make that comment to her. That person asked why i didnt use the raise my hand button instead of coming off mute. Am i wrong that it takes the same amount of time to come off mute as it is to raise my hand? Plus then having to still go off mute? She also said i could have waived my hand since we were on camera but again i still would need to be coming off mute? Am i wrong that maybe there should have been a pause before we all jsut get off the meeting? I would have jsut asked my question and then it could have been taken off line or everyone else could have left. I feel like i am be overly criticized as she recenlty brought some communication issue to my attention. She also said i was being argumentative which i felt was unfair as she asked me why i didnt do something and i gave her an explanation.

    1. secretstoneraccount*

      The benefit of raising your hand or actually waving your hand at the screen is that it alerts people that you want to speak, so then they know to wait for you to unmute yourself. In the Zoom meetings I’ve attended, it has not been typical for anyone to wait a moment before ending the meeting just in case someone wants to say something but hasn’t yet indicated that, so yes I think it was an incorrect expectation on your end. And, for what it’s worth, it does sound like you responded argumentatively when this was brought to your attention.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah – if you click the little ‘raise hand’ thing or you physically put your hand up or wave at the camera, that gives the organiser time to say ‘Oh – hold on a second, I think Irish Girl wants to say something…’ and while they’re saying that, that’s your opportunity to take yourself off mute so you’re ready to say ‘Yes, thank you, I was just going to ask…’.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      If it’s the kind of meeting where new business comes up regularly (as opposed to questions that are asked mid-stream), then the organizer should do a “anything else we need to discuss?” pause at the end of the meeting, which is when you’d ask your question.

      Also, depending on your hardware/software setup, and the telecon system you are using, “raise your hand” can actually be sensed by the camera, or you can set up a thing to hit any key in order to go off mute. It might not hurt to ask about that after everybody has cooled down.

    3. JelloStapler*

      While it would have been good for the organizer to make sure there were not questions or comments before closing the meeting…

      It is very hard to notice that someone came off mute, the raised hand puts you at the top of the screen so people can see you. I am not sure why there is an issue of microseconds of clicking two buttons is the issue versus taking time to type in chat.

    4. LDN Layabout*

      ‘Raising your hand’ on Teams (or similar software) is better than speaking up because it’s a polite interrupt. It always the conversation around you to continue and then the meeting facilitator can address you in turn.

    5. kiki*

      I think well-facilitated meetings generally do have a significant pause at the end to make sure nobody else has something to say before the meeting is ended. That being said, not all meetings are well-facilitated and there’s some expectation of going with the existing meeting flow. Sometimes people are quick to end meetings, assuming anyone who had something to say would have said it already. I do think it’s a little quicker to press the raise hand emoji (there’s a delay between unmuting and speaking that doesn’t exist with raising your hand), but this really isn’t a huge deal and it worries me that it seems like it has become a big deal between you and and this coworker.

      1. Ann Ominous*

        Agreed, this seems like a disproportionately strong response and makes me wonder what else is going on to make them feel so strongly.

    6. Hiring Mgr*

      This sounds like such a minor thing…is this person normally reasonable? Connecting with someone who you were just in a meeting with right after that meeting to clarify or ask something is extremely common…

      1. Me ... Just Me*

        I’m wondering if the writer had previously been counseled on her communication style and this new thing made her additionally frustrated. I’m not sure why the other person simply asking to be contacted after the meeting so upset? High emotions here.

    7. Someone Online*

      Sometimes meetings have to end when they end, because the facilitator or others in the meeting have to go to their next meeting. In large meetings you can’t see everyone on the screen at the same time, so being unmuted wouldn’t necessarily catch the facilitator’s attention.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I have had to hit that mute button 4 or 5 times to get it to unmute. Others in my group have the same probably and now we joke- “wait while I hit the mute button 5 times.”

      I’d recommend waving or holding up an index finger to gesture “wait a sec, please!”.

    9. Svennerson*

      Did you know you had the question before the end of meeting wrap-up, and wanted to save it for when it wouldn’t interrupt workflow, or did the question come up right as the wrap-up was happening?

      If it’s the former, then that’s exactly where the hand raising notification shines. You wouldn’t have to wait for the end of the important part of the meeting – raise your hand the moment the question comes to mind, and the meeting organizers will know not to head off without getting that resolved, while being able to remain in the flow of the meeting.

      If it’s the latter, then I sympathize with you somewhat – I try to linger a few seconds longer during the wrap up in case there’s a last second question. And yes, unmuting and raising hand would take equal time.

      However, I think I need to flag your tone here, because yes, it does sound very argumentative. Argumentative is less about what is being said (“she asked me why i didnt do something and i gave her an explanation”) and more about how its being said (“and it showed on my face that i was frustrated.”) One of the most important skills to develop professionally is to be able to react calmly and cheerily even in the face of these sorts of frustrations. Your annoyance is valid, but letting that annoyance show is going to detract from what you’re trying to communicate 99 times out of 100.

    10. Dark Macadamia*

      I guess I’m wondering why you waited until people were already leaving to try to ask the question. Was there no wrap-up moment, even if it was something like “sorry, we ran over so if you have questions please follow up later BYE”? It’s weird that the group would go straight from meeting/presentation to signing off with so little warning you couldn’t have asked sooner or alerted them not to leave (by, sorry, using the hand raise feature!). If you knew before the goodbyes that you had a question you should’ve done something to alert the meeting leader in advance so they could address it, and if you didn’t think of the question until after people started logging off it’s not reasonable to expect that they would’ve all stuck around just in case.

  22. CharlieBrown*

    I was thinking about the receptionist and the $3000 decorating budget from earlier this week, and realized that I saw a much larger example of this.

    The Disney+ channel has a six-part series on Industrial Light & Magic that is exactly this situation. George Lucas hired several special effects people to create a new company and make special effects, gave them a couple of million dollars to do it with, and then left for England to film Star Wars.

    When he got back from London, they had exactly two shots filmed, and he was livid. Obviously, a lot of details were left out of the documentary, but I thought how much all of that ire and frustration could have been avoided if he had given them some sort of outline of the shots he needed, the order he needed them in, and the dates he needed them by, and then did some remote check-ins to see how things were going.

    It really does help to give people some guidelines, whether it’s $3,000 or two million. But at least LW wasn’t the first one to make this mistake!

    1. Mr. Shark*

      Did he fire them and they wanted to come back to the office and take their Death Star model home? :)

    2. Clumsy Ninja*

      I watched that documentary, too!!! Thought it was fascinating, and also thought that Lucas was a terrible project manager, especially for a brand new company that was having to invent how half this stuff could be done.

  23. Sandy*

    What to do when your employee makes a derogatory comment towards you, as their manager?

    I was having an admittedly uncomfortable performance discussion with one of my employees earlier this week. She has a track record of lashing out when she is upset and then later cooling down, but this time was different. I mentioned something she need to improve on, and she retorted “you only care about that because you’re gay!”

    It’s clearly inappropriate, and if she had said it to one of her colleagues, I feel like I would have had a clearer map to follow on how to address it (clearly state that is inappropriate, document it with both her and HR, follow appropriate steps from there since we’re government and one comment isn’t going to get you fired, follow up with the other employee to see what they need, etc.)

    On this one, I feel so unsure of myself! I can’t IMAGINE *ever* saying something like that to anyone, let alone my boss!

    I am taking a couple of days before officially responding, because it feels SO personal (because it is), and I don’t want to be accused of blowing things out of proportion. That said, I am also avoidant by nature, and I don’t want to get into a dynamic of being scared to manage my own employee.

    1. EMP*

      that’s SO inappropriate. And she has a track record of lashing out? I’m not sure about what’s appropriate in terms of reporting to HR because of the reporting structure here, but I would do everything else on your list and maybe also ask HR about reporting it.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Whoa, no, that IS personal! That’s a horrible comment to your manager or your peer– that is wholly inappropriate! I would ask your manager for guidance, but also speak to HR. Just because she said it to you doesn’t make it any less derogatory. Don’t second-guess yourself here, she’s way out of line.

    3. londonedit*

      Yeah, you don’t have to put up with this sort of thing just because you’re a manager. I’d handle it exactly as you would if she’d said it to anyone else – you need to have a conversation with her and clearly state that it was inappropriate. If you’re worried about having left it or not having spoken up at the time, you could just start with ‘I wanted to give myself a couple of days to consider this, because I understand you were frustrated in the moment, but the comment you made in our meeting last Monday was absolutely not acceptable’.

      Is there someone else on your level who could perhaps take over the documenting with HR, etc, just so you’re not doing it yourself as the person the remark was aimed at?

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I’d also handle like she said it to anyone else. But I would probably loop my own manager or HR in to give their direction about the steps you plan to take. Like you would say, x happened. I plan to take y steps and wanted to go over my plan with you because this was said to me.

    4. Dinwar*

      “…if she had said it to one of her colleagues, I feel like I would have had a clearer map to follow on how to address it…”

      I would use that. You have a clearly-defined procedure, which negates the “It’s personal” complaints that could arise. The one tweak I’d make is to ask your supervisor to either handle this process, or assign someone to do so. Obviously you shouldn’t do it yourself–it’s a conflict of interests–but someone needs to.

      If you don’t follow through with the process you are training your staff that it’s perfectly okay to make derogatory and bigoted statements to their boss. The error you walk past is the standard you accept. That alone is bad enough (managers deserve respect), but it WILL NOT stop there. You know this, because this person already has a history doing this sort of crap. Further, you’re training your staff that the policies aren’t universally applicable. This can go one of two ways. Either they decide to ignore the policies completely (which will eventually include things like safety regulations, stuff with fines and criminal charges associated with it), or they decide that the rules only apply to certain people (which will result in all sorts of nasty interpersonal issues).

      For the good of the organization you need to shut this down.

    5. JelloStapler*

      That coupled with her issues with her temper and inappropriate emotional regulation, I would be discussing how to proceed with HR.

    6. ursula*

      Just +1ing that I get why you feel weird about this but it is 100% outlandish and unacceptable behaviour, and you being a manager doesn’t change that. If anything, it makes me wonder what she would say to someone who was giving her difficult information and *wasn’t* her manager. For whatever it’s worth, I’m generally in favour of giving people lots of chances, but (a) it sounds like you’ve already done that (you say she has a history of lashing out when upset), and (b) I would seriously consider immediate firing. I have no idea how you two could work together after this.

    7. ferrina*

      Speak to HR! It’s absolutely not acceptable for one employee to speak to another like that (regardless of whether that person is their manager or not). If your HR is competent, they will be able to give you guidance on how to handle this going forward.

      fwiw, my HR team requires that homophobic remarks be reported. They’d be annoyed if you didn’t report this. (You wouldn’t be in trouble cuz, hey, you’re very understandably flustered and upset, but you’d get some coaching in recognizing and reporting inappropriate behavior)

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Get your boss involved, maybe consult with HR also.
      You have more than one thing going on here. There is a homophobic remark PLUS insubordination. When a boss says “do x” there is only one answer, “yes boss”. She is not receiving constructive feedback in a proper manner. And oh yeah, there’s the performance issue that started this whole story. She’s just stacking up problems as fast as she can here.

      She threw you a curve ball to take you off course. She felt she had to throw a curve ball because she had nothing else. You had her on what you were saying. I’d suggest that any further convos with this person could be done with a third party in the room.

      Avoiding this will only make it worse. If she is willing to say this to you, what is she saying to her cohorts????

      Let me give you a starting point for thinking about this in a practical way: “I do not speak to you that way because I do not expect to be spoken to in that manner.”

      Make it rain in her life. Seriously. People test the waters to see what they can get away with. Let this one go by and the next will be worse. I think I have met relatives of this person.

      I had a subordinate who said, “I don’t have to listen to you.” He really made himself stand out in the group because NO one else said things like this. I got my Big Boss. Big Boss walked over to him and said, “Yeah, you do have to listen to her. If you don’t you can consider yourself fired. I don’t need this kind of help here.”

      He never said anything to my face after that but his coworkers came and told me what he was saying behind my back. I lived with it. He was seasonal, so he was gone a few weeks later. Of course, I suggested they did not rehire him.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this. Except I disagree with “yes boss” being the only acceptable answer when your manager tells you to do something. If I already have too much on my plate, I’ll ask them to help me prioritize my task list. Bigotry is never acceptable, though.

      2. tessa*

        I once had a boss who didn’t really push back on a co-worker of mine, who acted like she was boss.

        Because of real boss burying her head in the sand, co-worker talked to the rest of us any way she damn well pleased – just a classic bully – and boss did nothing.

        Last I heard, co-worker was promoted. Don’t be my former boss. Follow procedure, and make it crystal clear to your employee she’s been warned.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Completely unacceptable on several different levels. If she talks like that to you, can you imagine how she talks to people who *aren’t* her manager? I think you need to spend some time finding out how she treats people around her, or who report to her, who may be afraid to speak up.

    10. Qwerty*

      Talk to your boss and HR, preferably together, and bring your documentation with you. One of them needs to take the lead on this. If you are worried about being accused of blowing it out proportion (you aren’t!), this will protect you. It’s possible that one of them may also take on more actively managing the performance issues with your employee – this is intended both to shield you and to show that everything is happening above board.

      If this feels like overkill for one comment, I really want this all documented and taken seriously because it was tied to performance feedback. It’s such a weird response that I can’t even think of what kind of feedback would be related to that. But she’s invalidating your feedback based on your orientation which is a big no.

      I’m sorry that you are dealing with this.

    11. Curmudgeon in California*

      That employee is lucky you are their manager not me. I would be very hard pressed not to chew them out for bigotry, complete with cuss words, right then and there. That shit is so not okay.

  24. Someguy*

    Good morning

    I would like some feedback about a candidate’s behavior during a panel interview – was it odd/concerning or am I overthinking it? Basically the candidate addressed his responses mostly to me – occasionally briefly facing and speaking to the other panel members, but mostly to me. The panel consisted of the hiring manager, three of his staff (one by phone), and me. I work in an adjacent department that this department supports – I am there to provide kind of bigger picture context of what the larger organization does, and conduct a tour of the facility – again providing big picture context. (Throughout my spiel and tour, the hiring department’s panel members will explain what they do within that larger context).

    I am a 50ish white man, the hiring manager (Alistair) is a 50ish non-white man, the two other panel members physically present were 50ish white woman (Beatrice) and a late twenties white man (Conor). When I asked a question, the candidate (Zach), a 50ish white man addressed the answer mostly to me – and also whenever anyone else asked him a question – he might start addressing them, but then transition back to facing me. After the interview I talked briefly with Beatrice, and she brought up that she had noticed the behavior – she asked a question – he directed his answer to me.

    We were seated at a longish rectangular table (say five seats per side). Alastair was seated at the end, the candidate and Conor were on one side of the table – with a seat between them. The seat directly opposite Zach was empty, with Beatrice and I on either side.

    I have not historically noticed that I have such commmanding presence. I am unsure about how to interpret this- does he have issues working with a more diverse group? Does he have a stiff neck/back pain so that looking at me is the least painful option? Is it just a interview discomfort quirk?

    Any thoughts about how much weight I should give this or questions or ideas about how to re-contextualize it would be appreciated.


    1. secretstoneraccount*

      I think your concerns are appropriate and, if this candidate advances, I’d ask his references about his experiences working with diverse groups and/or specific examples of his handling of challenging interpersonal communications. I think you’re likely to get more insight that way as to whether what you observed actually reflects a workplace red flag or if there’s more likely a benign explanation (e.g., your stiff neck idea, or interview nerves). Generally in my experience conducting panel interviews (lawyer in my 40s here, for context), when something like this comes up (one of these “is this the tip of a problem iceburg or is this nothing” kind of moments) I’ve found insight from references about how this person actually performs in a work environment to be typically more probative than any quirks that come across during the interview, simply because so much can be chalked up to people being nervous while interviewing.

    2. to varying degrees*

      It could be that you seemed like you were more senior to the company so he thought you were lead (that would explain why he defaulted to you regardless if a man or woman asked the question) it could also be the setup is a little weird. With two people in front of him and the other two on his side( or sides?) it was a little more difficult for him to constantly change his line of vision. We used to do panel interviews (almost exclusively) at my last organization and we tended to put the candidate at the end of the table with the panel being along the two sides, leaving typically one seat in between us and the candidate, close enough to feel more relaxed but not “on top of them”.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, the last time I was interviewed for a job, we were seated at a long table for 8 people. I sat at one end and the hiring manager sat at the other, with the rest of the panelists on either side, and the two chairs on either side of me were empty. Much more comfortable that way than with the hiring panel on one side of the table and the candidate on the other, and it was very easy for me to always look at the person who was talking.

    3. ferrina*

      That’s a red flag. Usually you’d expect a candidate to either address their answer to the person that asked the question, or to the hiring manager. That the candidate chose to address his answer to the 50-ish white man in the room (not the woman, the younger man, or even the hiring manager!) is telling.

      I would definitely take this as a sign to look further into interactions with him. Honestly, every time I’ve seen this behavior it’s been the tip of the iceberg- if they got hired, they wouldn’t listen to female/non-white SMEs, even avoiding them to go over their heads or to someone that didn’t have expertise.

      1. FashionablyEvil*

        Totally agree. I have seen this before and it is NOT a good sign. In my case, the employee was new to the role when I saw this behavior, but over time the guy would not listen to his female boss or female project directors. It was a serious problem.

    4. Ginger Baker*

      My guess is that he presumed you, as the oldest white man in attendance, were the Important Person in the group, the Authority Figure, and therefore the one who would make the decision and he needed to address. I would definitely take that information into account when considering his overall candidacy.

    5. Trotwood*

      It’s hard to work out the exact geometry of your interview setup, but were you approximately in the middle, and it was easier for him to look generally at you? It’s hard to keep up eye contact with four different people in an interview equally, so unless you saw other evidence suggesting he can’t work with a diverse team, I wouldn’t make that assumption. My company’s interviewing guide contains some specific questions about working with a diverse team, so if you didn’t ask about it directly, it seems like a good thing to add. I’d give more weight to what a candidate said than to subconscious cues based on their body language.

      1. Someguy*

        It would definitely be easier for him to address me or Beatrice rather than the other two – though Beatrice and I were kind of equally positioned.
        We kind of don’t plan the spacing before we entered the room – a smaller, rounder table might be easy (if we are trying to avoid kind of everyone on one side facing the candidate.

        1. Me ... Just Me*

          Maybe he feels more comfortable with you? It sounds like you may have spent more time with him, perhaps giving the tour and introducing him to the other interviewers. If this is the case, it might have just been that he felt he had a better rapport with you since you’d already established a sort of relationship, however brief. I could see myself doing something like this while nervous, especially with the weird set up of interviewers sitting next to me.

        2. Trotwood*

          On the one hand I’m certainly aware that a lot of microaggressions or what have you can be nonverbal, and there can be value in trusting your gut if the vibes were bad in the interview. But I’d be really hesitant about making big assumptions about whether he can collaborate with a diverse team just because of who he seemed to be looking at during the interview, unless it was really egregious, like he acted as if Beatrice wasn’t even there. If you’d otherwise move him forward to your next round, it seems like you could ask some more targeted questions then.

          1. ferrina*

            This feels like it’s just on the wrong side of egregious. It’s one thing to end up talking to one interviewer more than the others, but this sounds like he consistently found a way to direct every answer to one interviewer.

    6. Not A Manager*

      Perhaps this is out of left field, but… if he advances in the interview process, could you ask him about this directly? “At our panel interview, it seemed that you mostly addressed your answers to me and not to the other interviewers. What’s your take on that?” I think you could get a range of answers from “oh my aching neck” to “oh my goodness you’re right and I really try to be aware of those things” to “of course I did because you are clearly the important person” to misremembering the event (“no I didn’t do that,” “you were the only one who asked me questions”). The content of the response, as well as non-verbal signals, might be informative.

    7. The New Wanderer*

      The layout doesn’t sound great for a panel (someone on the same side of the table as the candidate, hiring manager off to the side), but even so I would expect any candidate who’s aware of their audience to make an effort to address all members of the panel with fairly equal eye-contact time. At the very least, addressing each answer mostly to the person asking each question would be expected, rather than addressing most answers to one person regardless of who is asking or who has hiring authority. Good candidates do this because they want to be sure they’re understood by all of the panelists; bad candidates don’t bother if they think only one person in the room matters.

      I think it’s telling that the female interviewer noticed this as a behavior when she asked a question, and it would be worth asking if the non-white hiring manager noticed the same.

    8. Someguy*

      Thanks all for the comments and insights

      I will definitely communicate my concerns with the hiring manager, and suggest that the references be asked about working with diverse groups. I don’t know that we have another interview with him, but I will talk with the hiring manager.

      Annoyingly, after the end of the interview I realized we had managed to skip the behavior based question “can you give me an example of a time…” that referred to working with diverse groups.

      It was instantaneously a bit funny when he when he addressed the response to technical ability based questions at me – as I was basically able to clearly ascertain whether his sentences parsed and that’s it.

      1. linger*

        Unless the respective roles of the interviewers were clearly communicated to the interviewee, then this setup may have triggered a default interpretation, that the person sitting in the middle is assumed to be the head of the committee. So we can’t say with absolute certainty it’s a red flag (though, if Beatrice in particular, also seated near centre, asked questions that saw answers directed at you, that is suggestive).

  25. What To Do? What To Do?*

    RE: Working For The Federal Government

    I got offered a job with the Federal Government yesterday (Treasury)! However, I’m about to start a new job with another company Monday (not government) that pays more, so if I accept it, I will be burning a massive bridge which I’m feeling horrible guilt over and walking away from money on the table.

    One of the biggest reasons I want to work for the fed is job security, and retirement. My parents retired from the fed. But I know the fed has done layoffs because there is a special checkbox in the applications that one checks if they are a displaced worker. Plus, my parents remind me that the fed has done layoffs before. But it didn’t happen to them.

    So, to all the federal government employees out there, have you ever been displaced from the federal government? Have you heard of it happening often? I’m trying to get a sense of how common it is. If I accepted the job, I am hoping to ride it out into retirement. But at 45, have I missed the boat on that unless I plan to work into my 70’s (which I didn’t want to do) to take advantage of the retirement they offer? Is it even that good anymore? My parents’ retirement was amazing, but they were working for the fed back in the 70’s and retired long ago, and I know the current retirement offered is nothing like it was. So, I am hoping to find out if it’s even worth going to the fed when the company I will be joining has a great retirement program already (for private sector anyway).

    The pros and cons for each job pretty much balance out, but if I list “federal government” as a pro, it would win. But I don’t know if working for the fed is the golden ticket I’ve grown up to believe it is.

    I realize how thankful I should be to have this problem. I’ve been unemployed for months and just want to be somewhere earning a check again.

    Thank you all for your insight!

    1. Overeducated*

      I think federal layoffs are less common than private sector layoffs because they’re a more complicated process. I do know people who were RIF’d due to the budget sequestration around 2014, but nobody since then. That said, choosing that over “a lot more money” is a big tradeoff, so you’d have to think about the stability of the private sector job as well, and which you value more.

      You can easily calculate the value of federal retirement versus the private sector package online. It’s not a “golden ticket” like in your parents’ day, it’s worth running the numbers. Look up FERS calculators.

      That said, the government is really big, and I don’t think turning down this job offer would be burning a huge bridge. Good luck!

    2. Anon for This*

      Government retirement benefits are better than most in the private sector. They are not as good as they were under the old Civil Service Retirement System your parents benefitted from, but they have the “three-legged stool” approach of a Federal Employees Retirement System pension (including health benefits in retirement), the Thrift Savings Plan (government version of a 401K) and Social Security. Check the web for the age at which you will be eligible for full retirement – I am guessing it’s 67 based on your current age – should be the same a social security eligibility. So close to, but not into your 70s. There is more job security in the Federal Government than outside of it. As you note, there are times when someone is displaced, but it doesn’t happen a lot. Sometimes the displacement is because of something personal – e.g., a security agent who suffers and injury so can no longer perform the physical requirements needed and is seeking a desk job. Sometimes a location or division closes. But it’s rare.

      As you know the specifics of the two jobs, only you can tell which is going to be better for you. Both will have their pros and cons.

    3. I'm Done*

      I worked for the federal government for almost 25 years and was never laid off. Also, turning down a job in the federal government doesn’t burn bridges. I turned down several jobs when a better offers came along. I also worked twelve years in the private sector in the middle of my 25 year federal employment and didn’t find all that much difference except in regards to job security (got laid off a couple of times), which is what led me back to working for the government in my mid-forties.

      1. What To Do? What To Do?*

        I wasn’t clear, I meant burning the bridge with the new job that I am starting soon since I don’t know yet if I will officially accept the government role.

        I appreciate your input. The stability is something to consider.

    4. Twisted Lion*

      Honestly you would probably need to be more concerned with government shutdowns versus being laid off. I have worked in fed 5 years and havent heard of layoffs for my organization.

      1. What To Do? What To Do?*

        I was discussing that with my wife. My parents only had shutdowns like twice. But I feel that shutdowns are happening a lot more often. My wife also works for the fed so that could put us in a pinch.

        1. Student*

          Generally, actual feds get paid back for shutdowns. It’s a giant taxpayer-funded vacation, although you don’t get that back pay until the shutdown ends, so it can create some major short-term hardships if it drags on and you don’t have much in savings.

          If you’re a contractor to the feds, generally then you get nothing, but your company still gets paid. It’s a giant taxpayer-funded money bonfire, and scares off our more talented contractors.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      I took a job with the federal gov’t over continuing with my industry job (the salary was roughly the same but long-term the industry job would pay more due to bonuses and the raise structure). I was laid off twice in my career, once was from the company I left for this job, but job stability wasn’t really a driving factor for me. I mostly needed the overall change and I wanted to do this kind of work. However, when I asked other relatively new people in my group what made them look at fed jobs, job stability was a major reason that was mentioned. Also, my agency in particular is really popular as a second or third career so our new hires are routinely in the 40+ crowd, and retirement benefits/plans might be one of the reasons.

      Personally, since you’re still pretty far from retirement (and I’m about the same age as you, looking at up to 20 more years…), I would consider what job I’d prefer doing more. If the job you’re about to start pays more and also the work is interesting, that seems like a pretty solid option to stick with for the time being. Also consider whether the Treasury job is mainly attractive for the sense of stability/security. However, if the Treasury job is truly your preferred job, above and beyond what it offers in long term benefits, then it might be worth bailing on the about-to-start job.

      1. Jocasta Nu*

        The reason there’s a check box for displaced Federal worker is because they get preference in all new hiring, even over vets. So in the rare situation of a layoff (I’ve never heard of one, but I suppose offices do close or certain positions become obsolete) then you get first dibs at anything new in your local commuting area. So long as you are being hired into a Permanent or Career Seasonal position, you will eventually (I think 3 or 4 years) achieve the tenure necessary for automatic reassignment or dibs placement. Retirement is solid, but possibly no longer amazing. Healthcare is amazing, especially if you retire before Medicaire age (there’s a complicated age + tenure calculation for when you are eligible-see OPM). And right now, with my pre-fed 401K down 60,000 from the 1st of the year, the retirement based on your high 3 years is looking a lot better. But, everything could change between now and retirement,, one way or another, so it’s always going to be a bit of a gamble.

    6. ZSD*

      I work for the federal government. Retirement is now 1% of your salary* times the number of years you worked, plus .1% of your salary times the number of years worked if you work 20+ years. So if you start working for the federal government at age 45 and retire at age 65, you’ll have worked for them (us) for 20 years and will get 22% of your salary at retirement (plus Social Security, your Thrift Savings Plan savings, etc.)
      *The “salary” on which this is calculated is the average of your salary for your three highest-paid years, I believe.

  26. Pam*

    I love the Office, so using their names for my story.

    I am Pam. I report to Jan, who works out of state, with a dotted line to Michael, who manages the site where I work. A while back, I was being bullied by Dwight, who honestly scared me, so I started job hunting. I accepted an offer I didn’t really want and put in my notice, just out of self-preservation. In the meantime, Dwight left the company. Jan approached me with a counteroffer and I accepted, because I liked the job and company just fine, and my bully was gone.

    Michael’s boss was Charles, and he was toxic. Multiple people had issues with Charles, and he recently “chose to leave the company”. Yesterday, in a 1:1, Michael was relating a story to me about the last conversation he had with Charles. He had been pushed to the brink and began to unload all of his frustrations, not caring that he was pissing off his toxic boss. As he was telling me the list of things he confronted Charles about, he said, “I even talked about you. I said, ‘You and Jan did a GREAT job [sarcasm] giving Pam a counteroffer. She stayed for the money and now she doesn’t really want to be here.”

    Whoa. I could instantly hear Alison in my head, saying that I should be deeply concerned that my dotted line manager has this view of me, and that I should immediately try to clear things up. I circled back, and said, “Just to be clear, I resigned because I was being bullied. My bully left the company in the middle of that process, and I accepted the counteroffer because I actually like working here. I want to be here.”

    But…I’m not OK. I can’t get that bizarre comment out of my head. Who *says* that to someone who works for them, so casually, with no further commentary? Are there other things
    he has observed that have made him believe I don’t want to be here? Am I wrong about how weird and inappropriate this was?

    1. ferrina*

      I’m a bit confused by your story. So….essentially your dotted line manager told you that he doesn’t think you actually want to be there?

      That’s not great, but how big of an impact it has depends on what Michael’s role in the organization is and how much influence he has. If he’s the same role/influence as Jan, and Jan is happy with you, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If Michael is more influential, it still likely won’t cause immediate problems, but it could cause issues down the road (smaller raises, not getting promotions).

      I think you did the right thing in addressing it in the moment. Now let it play out and see what happens. I might be a little peppy-er around Michael for a bit (at least not looking irritated or disappointed, even if you’re only irritated that you haven’t had your coffee yet)

      1. Pam*

        Yes, my dotted line manager not only told me that he doesn’t think I want to be here, but he apparently also told his boss, and god knows who else. And as far as I know, this was purely based on the fact that I resigned and accepted a counteroffer more than a year ago. He gives me great feedback about my performance all the time, tells me the company needs me, etc., which makes his comment especially bizarre and out of left field.

        1. ferrina*

          That is really weird. I wonder if it was just one of those bad day things? But yeah, I’d definitely be more cautious around him.

        2. Amusing Antelope*

          It’s not great that he said that to you. On the other hand, while he is wrong about you, he is not wrong about counter offers in general. Employees who get counter offers do typically leave anyway and it is typically because they wanted to leave for factors that were not about the money. That part is even true for you – the reason you wanted to leave had nothing to do with pay. it is true that you stayed because the reason you wanted to leave resolved. If you had accepted the counter offer and were still being bullied, you eventually would have left. So, while you can definitely blame Michael for saying some thing like that to you, you cannot blame him for believing that about you.
          I recommend that you take Michael’s words as valuable information about how you are perceived at the company and do your best to provide the real narrative.

    2. Manchmal*

      I think you handled it super well in the moment. And I can see why it would leave you unsettled after the fact. What if you circled back around with Michael about it? Just say that you have been thinking about what he said, and you want to clear the air and make sure he doesn’t think you’re “just around for they money” (even if, duh, we are all working for money). You can say that you would hate to have that reputation around the office, because you genuinely enjoy what you do and believe in the mission of the company (or however you feel about it).

    3. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Can you talk to your boss about this and ask her for advice about possibly talking to Michael’s boss? Maybe she could mention it to him. And confirm with your boss that you are very happy there and ask if she knows what makes Michael think you are not happy.

  27. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

    What is everyone’s thoughts on accepting gifts from vendors if you know you won’t use them?

    A new thing I see all the time now is a “here’s a free gift! Want to hop on a call?” And the gifts are things like Beats ear buds and Amazon gift cards.

    I don’t feel comfortable accepting when I know I don’t even want to get on a demo, but some of my colleagues say “hey, they know there’s a chance folks will take it and ghost, they offered, I’m taking it.”

    Where does everyone land on this?

    1. CharlieBrown*

      At my last job, one of my vendors took me to lunch because he was getting in trouble for having a budget for taking clients out and not using it. So we had burgers and fries and talked about baseball for a couple of hours.

      If you think there’s a chance you might be interested, I don’t have a problem with it. They do realize that they are casting a net with big holes, and that only a small percentage of those giveaways will result in a sale. The same thing applies at Costco when they give out samples.

      That said, Christmas is coming up, and a bunch of small items like this could make for some good stocking stuffers.

    2. t-vex*

      They’re offering the thing in exchange for listening to their pitch. If you want to listen to the pitch and get the thing, great. It doesn’t obligate you to go further than that.

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

      My org has a policy on accepting gifts and your example of Beats or Amazon gift card would be in violation. We can accept nominal things that can be shared with people that don’t have vendor decision-making power, like a plate of cookies left in the break room for all to enjoy. If a vendor offers something that wouldn’t be okay, we have to decline.

      1. Alan*

        Mine too. What’s odd to me is how much pressure I get from vendors when I tell them this. Like they double down and insist on giving me whatever it is. And I have to get very direct and tell them absolutely not because my job is on the line.

    4. JustaTech*

      In the past when I’ve gone to shows/conferences my personal rule was if I wanted the thingy a booth was offering I would listen to their pitch (but then if I 100% did not need that item/service I would say so before I took the thing and then get out of their way to let them pitch to someone else).

      But when it involves getting on a call I’d lean no, mostly because I don’t want to have to spend weeks fending off a hopeful salesperson (mostly because I generally have no buying power so I couldn’t help if I wanted to).

  28. LeftAcademia*

    Mysterious bonuses part 2.

    I work in Research and Development department of a mainly software company. My boss is happy with me, but does not have any direct power to affect my pay. Six weeks ago I have agreed to work more hours and asked for a pay raise with the comment that is was not a deal breaker (my boss is extremely flexible with work times, which is much needed with a toddler). Suddenly the next month I get a 10 percent bonus in the paycheck. After asking payroll, I learn who has authorized it but not why. This month, I get another 10 percent bonus with no explanation. How long would you wait before requesting to speak to the grand boss?
    My previous pay increase of 30 percent was left uncommented for about two months.

      1. LeftAcademia*

        The regular boss is not aware of the exact reason and did not know about the bonus in advance, but knows his boss wanted to talk to me about it at some point.

        1. ferrina*

          Maybe give it 2 months then? My big concern was that the money was given by accident and you’d need to pay it back, but it sounds like the authorization was legit.

  29. squids*

    Any thoughts on an appropriate gift for an employee who is off on leave waiting for surgery?
    I don’t want to take up a collection, as they want to be pretty private about this health condition. And we are not sure how long it will take before they get the treatment. I’d like to drop off something small that will be appreciated. (No gift cards for dinner out, etc.)

    1. Yes And*

      When we had our first baby, someone gave us a trial subscription to a meal kit service. It made taking care of dinner much easier in those first sleepless weeks, and then we were able to cancel it when the paid portion of the subscription would have kicked in, so it didn’t cost us anything. Would something like that be appreciated in this situation?

    2. Educator*

      A nice greeting card that you send through the post. I would not drop anything off with someone waiting for surgery–the last thing you want to do is pressure them to answer the door or come outside to deal with something when they may not be up for it. Just stick with a note that lets them know you are thinking of them, and requires no further action or response on their part.

    3. Gracely*

      If you have any idea of what they like to read, a book or two might be appropriate (nothing huge or heavy), or a book of crossword puzzles/mad libs/sudoku with fun colored pens. Something they can do quietly while they recover, that they can also easily put down. Only do that if you’re pretty sure they’d like it.
      A cozy blanket could also be nice; you can usually find those for $15-$20. Just get something machine washable.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      When I had surgery just under three years ago, I got the following gifts from colleagues, all of which were massively appreciated – a book token from the three members of staff I work most closely with, a journal from another colleague and collection of toiletries/things I might need in hospital (think travel sized shampoo, that kind of thing) from another colleague.

      A book token is a good idea, I think, because being in hospital is pretty boring.

    5. DataSci*

      I’m going on leave for surgery soon myself, and am keeping it private as well. Three broad categories of things:

      * Food. You say you don’t want meal gift cards (even though something like an UberEats gift card would be really great for someone who doesn’t have much capability to cook and can’t go out), but a gift basket or something along those lines would be nice.

      * Comfort. A nice fuzzy throw blanket, or fuzzy socks, etc.

      * Activities. Books are challenging since you probably don’t know their tastes and most people recovering from surgery may not have the brainpower to read what would usually interesting while they’re in pain / on painkillers, but a book of crossword puzzles or an adult coloring book with colored pencils or the like could help with the crushing boredom of recovery.

  30. This Old House*

    I screwed up – not a huge screw up, but it’s come due and now I have to fix it. Almost a year ago, we wanted to get a piece of info from another organization. I asked a colleague who had a contact there to put me in touch with my counterpart at their org, and expected he’d come back to me with someone’s email or phone number. Instead I got a voicemail from the person. It was around the holidays, I was going through some personal stuff, and I just . . . never called her back. This was a low priority request, I didn’t do it right away, and the longer I waited the more awkward it seemed to call her back. And now, for the first time, 10-ish months later, I’ve got someone looking for the original info and I have to follow up. What the heck do I say when I call her and introduce myself after so long?!

    1. thelettermegan*

      “hey, you reached out to me 10 months ago and then I horribly failed at phone tag – could we try to connect again?”

      And if all they did was leave a voicemail, they shouldn’t be salty about it. Life happens.

      1. ferrina*

        Agree, most reasonable people won’t think twice. She probably doesn’t even remember you calling 10 months ago. You could probably get away with “Hi XXX, I’m This Old House. I was hoping to talk to you about….” and just not mention the 10 month ago call.

      2. londonedit*

        I agree – whenever I’ve had to do things like this, people have been totally fine with a ‘So sorry to pick this up again now – I know it’s been months since we last spoke about it! Would you have time to send me X info on Y organisation?’ Just acknowledge it’s been a while and ask again – any reasonable person will understand how ‘I’ll do that on Monday’ sometimes suddenly becomes ‘Oh my god I totally meant to do that and now it’s three months later’!

    2. Angstrom*

      I’ve used something like “…reviewing past accounts and noticed…” or “…going through old files and realized…”.
      You made a (small) mistake, you realized it, and you’re following up to correct it. It would be unusual for someone to be offended by that.

    3. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Ugh I am so familiar with this feeling! It’s always a bigger deal in my brain than for the other person, and it’s usually about my shame of not following up in a timely way. If roles were reversed, would you care if someone reached out a long time later to get a bit of info for you? Of course not, you’d give them the info and never think about it again.

      “This fell off my list, but now I’m hoping to reconnect and get X from you” – it’s totally fine!

  31. NeedToSnack*

    Anyone have any good rules of thumb for what’s appropriate to eat at work? I have a medical condition where I can’t go long periods of time without eating (doesn’t really matter what I’m eating, just need to eat something), and I got my first office job and was trying to eat some apple at a meeting the other day and got really self-conscious of the crunch. But most healthy snacks either need refrigeration/have a short shelf life or crunch. Any suggestions for me?

      1. JustaTech*

        Seconding bars: some are hard and crunchy (Kind, Nature’s Valley Granola bars, also knows as “crumbs everywhere”) but cliff bars, power bars, some lara bars can all be quiet. I got some bars at Trader Joe’s (chocolate hazelnut) that are very soft/quiet. You can usually tell by giving the package a gentle squeeze. And once you find something you like you can usually get a better price at Costco or online.

        I want to say that one of the brands of small snack cheeses technically doesn’t need to be refrigerated (Babybel? Laughing cow?) but I’d check the package. If you do want to go the cheese route you could eat those first on days you have back-to-back meetings so they don’t have a chance to warm up too much.

        Oh, and fruit leathers! Quiet and room temperature.
        For really long days, what about making a soft/quiet sandwich (PB&J or a soft cheese) and cutting it up into bite sized pieces?

    1. AnonyMouse*

      I like dried fruit, yogurt, soft granola bars, grapes, cashews/nuts (there is a crunch factor there though). Maybe bring some crunchy and non-crunchy options, and eat the crunchy ones between meetings if you can? And as someone who’s very sensitive to eating sounds, I have to say I appreciate you thinking about this!

    2. This Old House*

      You could slice an apple – it might not crunch so much that way. But I’ve always eaten apples (carrot sticks, granola bars) at work and never had a problem. Or, in a situation where nearby coworkers need more quiet than average, would there be an issue stepping away from your desk (to the break room/outside) for long enough to eat an apple? It’s really just a few minutes – in many offices that would be fine.

      1. NeedToSnack*

        I didn’t initially expect it to be a problem, but I’m in a very quiet office and I just feel weird breaking the silence. (It’s software development, so we’re all pretty introverted folks who like to keep our heads down and get work done when we’re at our desks.) Stepping out to eat when possible would be a nice break, so I’ll put it into my repertoire.

        1. mst*

          Same industry, and honestly crunching noises don’t disrupt -me- (people talking to me instead of pinging me on some sort of IM does, but my colleagues don’t do that.)

          Personally I find that when writing code my brain seriously needs complex carbohydrates, so I tend to keep a bag of pasta spirals (fusilli or etc.) next to my desk and just eat them by the handful.

          The blandness doesn’t bother me because I’m eating them on autopilot while staring at the screen so I don’t notice anyway.

    3. Temperance*

      What about a lunch bag that stays cool, so you can keep things outside of a refrigerator longer?

      Could you theoretically eat before/after meetings, so you aren’t crunching an apple while no one else is eating? I think noisy eating is one of those things that’s fine if multiple people are doing it, or if you’re at your desk, but not great if you’re the only person eating in a meeting, for example.

      1. NeedToSnack*

        That works about half the time, but 2-3 times a week I’ll get stuck in 4-5 hours worth of back to back meetings, so I need solutions for the “in a meeting.” But I also am wondering if eating crunchy things at my desk would brand me an annoying coworker.

        1. Temperance*

          I don’t think it would!

          Maybe bring something quieter to a long meeting, like those Sargento cheese + nut protein packs.

        2. LDN Layabout*

          Do people eat in these meetings? If not, I’d stick to things that don’t necessarily translate to ‘eating’: liquids in a mug or glucose tabs, if these work for you. Or if you can step out for a moment, energy gels.

          1. This Old House*

            If NeedToSnack has a medical reason to eat non-disruptively in a meeting, they can eat in a meeting. I don’t have an official medical reason to eat at work, but I’ll get killer headaches if I don’t – no one should begrudge someone a fruit leather to keep them standing/awake/not in pain.

          2. JustaTech*

            I would hope that if I were in charge of a meeting where anyone was regularly eating a Gu or other energy gel I would reconsider the structure of the meeting to let people have a snack break!
            (As a runner I’ve eaten my fair share of those things and while most are very palatable these days, they’re right on the boundary of what is actually “food”.)

            Honestly I think “regular” food would be less distracting. Also, once other people realize it’s a regular thing they’ll probably stop noticing.

    4. Lady_Lessa*

      Dried fruit tends to be both healthy, and quiet.

      I have some spicy dried mango in my office as I type. My other go-to hulled sunflower seeds may be too crunchy or too easy to drop. (I tend to get both roasted-salted and the roasted-unsalted and mix 1:1)

      1. NeedToSnack*

        I like the dried fruit idea. I am a little klutzy sometimes, so the sunflower seeds would be a gamble.

        1. Angstrom*

          A neat way to eat things like seeds or trail mix is to put them in a small glass, like a juice glass, and “drink”.

    5. Policy Wonk*

      Dried fruit or cheese cubes. (Refrigerate the cheese cubes until just before the meeting starts. They will warm up a bit, but should last through back-to-back meetings.)

    6. Gracely*

      String cheese sticks (they’re good for several hours w/out refrigeration if unopened), protein bars (luna bars don’t have much crunch at all), already-shelled nuts, blueberries(berries in general), pre-cut strawberries, grapes, clementines/mandarins, dark chocolate, raisins/other dried fruits, cherry or grape tomatoes, pureed soups (like butternut squash, potato leek, or tomato bisque) sipped from a thermos/mug intended for hot liquids (bonus that you can add protein powder to this if you want), smoothies, protein shakes/muscle milk, fruit gummy snacks, even beef/chicken/whatever jerky–just cut it up beforehand so you’re not distracting when you eat it. There are a lot of non-crunchy options!

    7. Jaydee*

      – Grapes
      – Baby carrots (crunchy)
      – Sliced apple (use a few drops of lemon juice to prevent browning)
      – Clementine oranges (need to be peeled but less messy than larger oranges)
      – String cheese or cheese sticks
      – Yogurt
      – Granola bars or similar
      – Dried fruit
      – Nuts or trail mix (be cautious of allergens in group settings)
      – Popcorn
      – Crackers
      – Dry cereal

      Most of these don’t strictly need refrigeration (even if they might be tastier or keep longer when cold).

      If you’re stuck in long or back-to-back meetings, you can also ask for a quick break so you (and presumably others) can stretch your legs, use the restroom, get a snack or drink, check e-mail real quick, etc. Or just take a break! Leave the room for 5 minutes, eat your crunchy snack, and come back.

    8. PostalMixup*

      Boiled eggs could be an option if you peel them ahead of time. But if these are virtual meetings and you’re on mute, I wouldn’t worry to much about food sounds while at your desk. I just ate an apple while muted in a virtual meeting.

    9. iamfrank*

      i make myself a really large smoothie in the morning that i drink off and on throughout the day. i find if i use frozen food, it stays cold all day.

      i also eat avocados, sliced in half w/a spoon

      my partner, who loves chocolate and peanut butter, makes chocolate milk/hot chocolate with chocolate protein and dried peanut butter, on days he knows he won’t be able to take a full lunch.

  32. Eorl*

    How do you maintain personal morale when the company you’ve spent your entire career with just laid off your entire department with the exception of yourself and 2 peers? At least 25 people have just been let go, their work will be outsourced to a contracting company. Those of us left are terrified, but we’re also grateful that we seem to have been spared thus far. I’ve never navigated a situation like this in my 22 years of professional experience.

    1. ferrina*

      It’s okay to be scared. This sounds scary! Did this just happen today? Be good to yourself this weekend. Then take a long hard think about what you want to do. I recommend job searching (either casually or intensely, depending on how comfortable you think you’ll feel staying at the company).

      I’m so sorry!

      1. Eorl*

        Thank you. Yes, the news came down yesterday, apparently everyone on the team received a 1 on 1 meeting request with the director, and after the first person had their meeting and was told they’re being let go at the end of the year, everyone else in the group knew, so they had to sit around waiting for the hammer to fall. I wasn’t in the building but I heard it was just horrible.

        1. JustaTech*

          That’s awful. (I’ve been on the sidelines of similar things and it impact everyone to some degree.)

          I’d say first thing, don’t try to “keep up morale” right away. A really sucky, scary thing just happened and you’re 100% allowed to feel whatever you’re feeling. (Like, maybe try to not cry openly at your desk, but it’s fine for you to look glum.)

          Ask for support from friends/family over the weekend. Like ferrina said, be good to yourself.

          Then I’d suggest a serious conversation with your manager about “what’s next” and be ready to go to something new. (It doesn’t have to be a new company, it could be an internal transfer.)
          My boss once took an offer to be the guy to wrap up a whole department as it was shut down and he described it as “the most soul sucking year of my life”. You didn’t close the department, don’t let the people who did try to guilt you into cleaning up if you don’t really, really want to.

          A virtual cup of tea from one internet stranger to another.

    2. BalanceofThemis*

      I’d start job hunting. Experience tells me it’s likely that they are keeping a couple of you on for continuity and to train the incoming contractors, but once they’re up and running, I expect they will lay you off too.

    3. 1234ShutTheDoor*

      If the stress about when you’re going to be fired is getting to you, I’d start a serious job search now. But otherwise, I’d just expect that I will be fired, keep a casual job search running, and try and coast there until you get fired (that way you could get severance pay/unemployment/whatever?) and kick up the job search at that point. Unless your backburner job search turns up something great, then you bail out then. I always try to make job searching as leisurely as possible for myself because otherwise I get anxious/panicky and take jobs that actually aren’t that great, so the more time you have to be a little choosy works in your favor. I also find I tend to interview better when I’m not desperate for a job because the lower anxiety levels really come out. But this is just what I would do, and if your current job is more stressful than unemployment, you should just quit so you can interview better.

    4. All I Got Was This Lousy Tee Shirt*

      I am so sorry you are going through this, OP. I don’t have a lot of answers, but I hope this helps:

      Having been part of a company that frequently lets go of staff, and split their work amongst the remaining coworkers, it was helpful to me mentally do a “keep in touch” sort of thing with the workers I was close to, and update the remaining coworkers about them in case they hadn’t heard anything else about the leaving ones. If you have the bandwidth, offer to serve as a character reference for leaving employees you know well.

      Knowing that they landed in a better situation or found a job to keep them going helped me a lot. Sometimes bosses and companies make a point of not sharing updates, especially if it makes them look bad. Sometimes they are legally not allowed to share, or the ex-employee doesn’t give the ok.

      * If you have personal stuff on a work computer, if you want to save it, save it to a thumb drive or email it to yourself, then delete it from your work computer. If you are let go, it will be one less thing to worry about, especially if they tell you it is your last day and you only have an hour or so to get your things together.

      * Make copies/email yourself all your performance reviews, work accolades, W-2’s, and pay stubs for your current job. Keep doing that for every paystub.

      * Make a general list of your weekly schedule and what you do each day. It will help if you draw a blank later on down the road. (If you want, you can share that with your ex boss if you are let go, but some bosses aren’t worth that consideration.)

      * When I was let go, I forwarded all the good things people had said about me to my email and kept it in a separate email folder. If it was applicable, I figured out a way to work it into my resume.

      I would also offer to be a character reference for the coworkers I knew personally

      Start job searching yourself, because your turn may come after you have relaxed and think nothing else will happen. If you find out about jobs that won’t work for you, but may be applicable to one of your fellow or former coworkers, give them a heads up.

      * Be careful about when, where, how long and how hard you vent, and with whom. Sometimes venting eases the burden for me, but usually it depresses me more than it helps. And I used to have a coworker who was let go, and I would see him out an about. Even after he found another job, he would go on and on about it for an hour or longer, while I still had to go to that job and work with the same group that fired him tomorrow. I stopped calling and checking on him to protect my own mental health. When it got too much for me, I would give an excuse to cut the conversation short.

      After a certain point, save it for your friends and loved ones who will sympathize and hear you out without getting upset by it.

      Realize that this may take longer than a few days or weeks to deal with. It hurts and it is going suck for a while.

      If your company offers it or you can afford it, get counseling from a mental health professional. They can provide a listening ear for the grief and actual steps you can take that would be even more effective.

    5. Grateful for my new job*

      As someone who was laid off 3 months ago, I would also encourage you to reach out to your teammates who were laid off, if you feel up to it. I really, really appreciated the messages that I received from my colleagues who didn’t lose their jobs.

  33. AnonyMouse*

    I recently applied to a fully remote job with great benefits. While I wait for a response, I have started worrying (overthinking?) because my house is not really set up for remote work. I do not have space for a dedicated office, so my desk is in a room that gets transit from the whole family. I also have two kids who are sometimes around (we have fulltime childcare for them during the work day, and my husband works outside the home). Right now I work partially remote, which started during the pandemic, and everyone is sort of used to some occasional kid noise, but I’m not sure how it would be at a new job. I can send them out of the house for a video interview, but I can’t do that every day!

    My questions are: is not having a great space a dealbreaker for fully remote work? Anyone else have experience with this type of setup?

    1. ferrina*

      Depends on what your role is. If you have a lot of meetings and/or sensitive conversations, this could be a problem. But if your meetings are minimal and the impact is just a bit of background noise, this might not be a problem at all.

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Nah it’s fine. My desk is in a corner of my living room. It’s a disaster. I put a fake background on teams so even if I lay in bed nobody knows.

    3. NeedToSnack*

      I think a lot of it depends on how old and how responsive your kids are to requests to tone it down while you’re in a meeting, and how many meetings are expected in this job and the atmosphere of those meetings. I’m assuming this is the only possible location for your workspace and you can’t move it somewhere with less traffic, because that’s the best-case scenario. If your kids are toddlers, you’d have to have a very relaxed employer. If your kids are older and can respect requests to pass through the space quietly, and you’re not constantly in meetings, I think you’d be fine.

    4. Parenthesis Dude*

      Depends on what you do. If you work with sensitive info, then you’re in trouble. If not, you’re fine.

      1. AnonyMouse*

        Info wouldn’t be sensitive, but I think the role would have a fair amount of meetings – like being in meetings with video daily for sure…

    5. DisneyChannelThis*

      Can you rearrange your layout to give a quieter space? Move a desk into a bedroom? Hang a sheet so don’t have to worry about kids in background? If data confidentiality isn’t a concern, and the kids themselves aren’t needing you out of view (I know under 4s def do not understand WFH boundaries, do better if unaware parents are home while their with caregiver), then it might not be an issue. I like a little visual distance from my workday, either a closet I can close the door on work so its out of site or a separate room. There’s always remote coworking spaces outside the home too.

    6. Glazed Donut*

      Not a deal breaker! Many people blur backgrounds or use fake backgrounds. I think if you have a lot of meetings where you need to participate, you may need to relocate for those (closet? bedroom?) but that seems like a ‘figure it out when it happens’ thing.

      1. AnonyMouse*

        My kid’s bedroom might actually work for this, despite the unicorn wall hangings lol… maybe having a secondary space just for video meetings could work.

    7. Super Duper Anon*

      My husband works from home full time and we are in a small space. He uses a combo of a fake background for video meetings and having the kids hang out in their room when they get home from school, covering the last bit of his day. Our kids are older though and know not to bug him until after he is done for the day. So I think how easy it would be depends on how old/independent your kids are.

    8. Generic+Name*

      I don’t think you necessarily need a separate home office in a room by itself, but you do need a dedicated workspace, even if it’s a corner of a room. I’d also recommend being thoughtful of what’s behind you. Yes, you can have a fake background in teams, but if there’s any chance you’ll have meetings on more than one platform, you can’t count on having a background you can use. My company uses teams, but I’ve had meetings on at least 4 separate platforms in the past 2 years.

      Also, please have your childcare situation squared away, if at all possible. I know there are still pandemic closures; stuff happens, but I’d look in the employee handbook to see what requirements there are for remote workers as it pertains to childcare. My company requires that kids have some sort of caregiver other than the teleworking employee. That’s not to say that kids can’t be in the house, but you shouldn’t be their primary caregiver during work hours.

      1. AnonyMouse*

        Good point about the platforms and backgrounds. I have used Zoom, Teams, and Meet this week alone…

        Childcare is one area I am not worried about! Maybe because husband and I have both been mostly in office, but we have a good system with a combination of childcare methods, plus local family to help in a pinch, so even if the kids have mild colds we have coverage. Very lucky in that sense.

  34. N C Kiddle*

    I saw a news article this morning that I wondered what people here would think. A prison was hiring new officers, and apparently got a serving inmate to be part of the interview panel. This was described as outrageous.

    I can understand that there might be security issues with putting an inmate on the interview panel, but I don’t think I’d say it’s automatically outrageous to involve them and take their perspective into consideration. Is it because the relationship between inmates and officers is assumed to be adversarial? Would it still be outrageous if it was eg a patient representative on the interview panel for a hospital doctor?

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

      It’s an interesting idea. I didn’t read the article but as long as they choose the inmate appropriately — a non-violent offender and someone with a history of model behavior while incarcerated — I don’t think it’s inherently a bad idea. I don’t think that officers SHOULD be assumed to be adversarial…authoritative but not belligerent.

      1. ferrina*

        I’d be worried about retaliation for the inmate! But no, I don’t think it’s an outrageous thing to do. I’m not sure how affective it will be (also have no experience with the prison system), but it’s not a terrible way to hire.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      It’s a thing in some organisations and it should be more widespread. I know in the UK, some places have contact banks/groups of traditionally vulnerable people who are affected within the realm they work in and they participate in things like policy development, inspections etc.

    3. kina lillet*

      I think this is much more of a political question than a work question, honestly. The article is describing a quite conservative outrage reaction to what seems like a small step to improve the condition of a very very vulnerable population; according the article, inspectors found a “number of significant concerns about the treatment of and conditions for prisoners.”

    4. I am not a cat*

      I think there is a real problem with inmates being seen as less than human. I applaud the idea of taking their point of view seriously when hiring the people who will basically be running their entire life while they’re behind bars.

    5. DataSci*

      I think this is outstanding, and my only concern would be for the safety of the inmate if they’re perceived as having a special relationship with the guards.

      Maybe I’m just clueless, but what possible sort of security consideration could arise from acknowledging that inmates are human beings and should be treated as such?

    6. Student*

      “Interview panel” means different things in different industries. I can see ways where this might be beneficial for the person being interviewed to learn more about the prison’s inmate culture, if allowed to speak with the inmate privately.

      I guess my main concern here would be for the inmate, actually, given the balance of power involved. Interviewing is inherently a business work function that I seriously doubt they’re getting paid for, and that’s flat-out wrong. I don’t think the inmate’s priorities and the prison’s priorities in hiring will necessarily be aligned. I’m not sure what the motivating factor was for an inmate to participate in good faith, but I’d be worried about potential coercion of the prisoner.

      I’d also be slightly concerned that maybe this prisoner was getting (and perpetuating) very special treatment due to wealth or power or fame. Seems unlikely, but… not impossible. How does that look to a new prison employee, if they need to gain the approval of an inmate as part of the process to get hired?

  35. Picard*

    I found the news about equivalent interesting especially in light of threads we’ve had here Re working 2-3 jobs at once. Link in comments or google equinox firings.

  36. Meep*

    I need a sanity check. My Toxic, Abusive Former Manager was fired on August 8th, 2022. The past two months have been wonderful, even if obnoxious at times when it comes to undoing the havoc she wrecked. We are actually growing as a company all around with two new contractors and four new employees! (Whereas before, she refused to hire anyone and take that pot as a raise.)

    Prior to working for our company, she was a consultant for another company in the building and actually maintained an office in their offices, refusing to move down stairs with the rest of us plebs. That other company is owned by a friend of our company’s owner and is actually on our Board of Directors as he is an investor. So he knows what went down with her and all the reasons she was let go. Mind you, she is a contractor so I don’t imagine she will be remotely as powerful as she was before (e.g. hiring, sales, client interactions). She is an incompetent idiot who doesn’t know how to resize an image despite billing herself as “Sales & Marketing” but whatever. If you want to piss off your clients, not my business.

    With that said, I need a sanity check: Would you be embarrassed to work in the same building you were let go from and in the same office you were told to clear out two months ago? It feels embarassing.

    1. Tuesday*

      I would be mortified, but if she was a bad person who knows she’s a terror, she might take pleasure in continuing to be a malevolent presence. Like “you thought you could get rid of me? I’m going to haunt you forever!”

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

        Yes, this is what I’d assume. She feels like she’s flexing on all of you as she breezes into the building and up to her office on a “higher level”.

      2. Meep*

        That was my first thought, but I didn’t know if I was being a bit dramatic on this. She is absolutely bonkers without a doubt and went out of her way to try and ruin my life, because I bought a house (and wanted me to hide this fact from my long-term partner, now husband).

        My second thought was she is doing this to save face. Like “see! we are still on good terms!” but like literally no one in our small industry likes her. We only have large companies re-engaging with us now that she left.

        1. Celebrate New Wins*

          Start celebrating new customers with banners, streamers and balloons so when she comes to the building the fact that your company is growing and adding new customers is rubbed in her face.

          Petty, I know but the face she will show her face in the building after stealing from your company is beyond belief!

      1. Meep*

        Because this specific person literally built a reputation in our industry for being unethical and toxic. Many of our clients refused to work with us because of her and she was fired for stealing company funds. If it were me, I would leave the industry and never look back. Not go back to the same office. I am shocked she doesn’t feel the slightest bit ashamed.

        1. Roland*

          If it were you, you wouldn’t have done those things in the first place. It doesn’t make sense to use your bar or a “sanity check” when we’re talking about someone like that.

    2. Gigi*

      No, but then again I wouldn’t be toxic either. I’ve given up expecting shame from shameless people. They don’t think the way we do.

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      If I really needed a job I probably wouldn’t care, depending on how big or small the building is.

      But is it a concern that someone on your BOD and an investor wants to hire this person even after all that she did at your co?

    4. Irish Teacher*

      It really does depend. In the situation you have described, DEFINITELY. If it were a case of being let go at the end of my probationary period or something just because I wasn’t performing well enough or was a bad fit, then probably not. Let go for not making sales targets, but still in contact with friends from previous workplace? I’d probably be pleased to be working close to them. Bad reputation across the workplace and didn’t get on with anybody? Yeah, I’d probably prefer to stay away and that sounds more like the situation here. But then, jobs aren’t easy to get when you probably lack a good reference, so…she may have limited choice.

    5. JelloStapler*

      She does not exactly sound like the most self-aware person and probably is okay working there because she thinks she is “showing all of you” that she’s still awesome (in her mind).

    6. RagingADHD*

      I think your sanity will check out a lot better if you stop speculating about the emotions of toxic people. I guarantee she’s not giving one single thought to your feelings or those of your colleagues, why should you spend bandwidth on hers?

  37. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m working on getting my coworker to STFU. She’s like ” you certainly must go to the talent show at our unnecessary in person conference “. I of course do not want to do this. I noted that I do not like crowds. I might just make up some ridiculous excuse instead.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Ever thought about giving her a noncommittal answer? Or just saying, “I’ll think about it but crowds aren’t my thing”? Or, “I’ll see if I’m feeling up to it”?

      There’s no “of course” here, she can’t read your mind. She apparently thinks the talent show is a lot of fun. She’s allowed to think that. But she won’t know you’re not interested unless you tell her.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        The non comital sounds perfect. I don’t want to argue about whether it’s silly for me to dislike crowds or disclose how embarrassed I am about having a panic attack in public ( yes I know people can’t tell. )

        1. Amusing Antelope*

          Why be noncommittal when you could just say no? Tell her, “oh, talent shows aren’t really my thing. But you have fun!” Repeat as necessary.
          Eventually the talent show will be over and the problem will resolve on its own.

    2. Generic+Name*

      This is where platitudes and white lies come in handy. You don’t have to explain and she isn’t required to understand and agree with your reason for not attending.

    3. I should really pick a name*

      “Sorry, I can’t make it” and be annoyingly vague when she probes for a reason.

    4. Alice*

      I mean, don’t go, for sure. And I’m sorry you have to do an in person conference that you don’t want to go to. But I think you can reframe the relationship with your coworker more positively if you think, “Coworker enjoys this kind of event and thinks I will too” or “maybe Coworker felt lonely in the past when her colleague didn’t invite her to hang out during work travel.” If she keeps asking after you said no, she’s an annoying jerk. But just inviting you once is not objectively a bad thing.

    5. All I Got Was This Lousy Tee Shirt*

      No is a complete answer and a complete sentence. Rinse and repeat. Do not engage.

      No thanks, if you want to be polite about it, but even that tends to get people to keep going.

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      A few of the responses here sound snarky to me. I don’t understand why someone would want to be “annoying” to a co-worker or answer with “no” as a complete sentence. Feels rude. (Does answering co-workers with a “no” as a complete sentence really work for people in this comment section? I mean, for real? With people that you spend 8 hours a day with?) Without more information from OP, it sounds like the co-worker is just trying to be friendly and share an experience that they will enjoy, reasonably thinking that if they enjoy something, other people might enjoy it, too. It’s likely not obvious that “of course” the OP doesn’t want to go to the event, people can’t read OP’s mind.

      Why not just say, “Thanks for thinking of me, but I think I’ll do something on my own instead”?

    7. tessa*

      Sounds like she’s being friendly. Why seethe? Just let her know you aren’t going. If she keeps pressing, rinse and repeat.

  38. elizabeth*

    I was laid off last year and hired this year at a different office. My manager at my first job was always telling me that I didn’t “work enough to maintain appearances that we need to keep your position” (I worked 50 hours a week) and also said things like how it was unfair of me to ask her to manage my workload or give me deadlines or figure out what to do when conflicting deadlines arose. She was chronically disappointed in me, and I honestly suspect she used a merger of our company with another as an excuse to lay me off because she didn’t know what to do with me.

    My new company appreciates my work, constantly praises me, and is delighted when I can do things outside of my job’s required skillset, like helping design and update our internal SharePoint sites. They’ve told me to my face that I’m reliable and always seem available/quick to answer email. The wild thing is that I work about 5 hours less per week and have changed absolutely nothing about my work style, and it’s messing with my head a little. I’m trying to accept the idea that you’ll never be enough for the wrong people, but it’s difficult!

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      Enjoy the praise.

      I had something similar happen to me. At my temp job, they even rearrange some item gathering (it was a warehouse) so I could be the one doing it during my notice period. (big order for new stores)

    2. ferrina*

      Yeah, it’s awful how one terrible boss can haunt your thoughts like that.

      It sounds like you know logically that OldManager was the problem and that you did all the right things, but part of your brain is latching onto her. Sometimes it can help to picture OldManager expanding that ridiculous behavior to the rest of her life- “I know this is a four-way stop, but all cars must go at once so deadlines can be met!” “Lightbulb, I can’t believe you aren’t burning as bright as the sun! I’m disappointed in you.”

      She was truly ridiculous, and this is all on her. You’re doing just fine!

  39. AnonWithQuestions*

    I am currently in a job that pays well, but, well, I have very little to do. I’ve hesitated to say much to my work assigner (not my manager who is extremely hands-off) because I don’t want to attract attention. I make sure to attend on time any meeting I’m invited to, complete assignments when they do come in, and participate in Teams threads etc. During work hours, I make sure to be at my (home) office desk and pay attention periodically to any questions or emails. (Which rarely happens). I really like the people on my team but we’re re-org-ing the end of the year. I’m trying to figure out a) if I should be looking for something else just because I feel guilty and/or re-org makes me nervous or b) should I stay put and see what happens since I think most people are expecting a recession next year and at least I’d get severance if I’m laid off from this job. Questions: Should I feel guilty? Should I be speaking up more? (I think my co-worker in the same position doesn’t have much to do either, but I can’t really ask.)

    1. ferrina*

      You should speak up when you have bandwidth. The work assigner can’t read your mind and doesn’t know what your availability is, so when you have availability, it’s your responsibility to check in- “Hey, I’ve got some bandwidth. Is there something I can be working on?”

      It’s fine to have a few free hours a week, but if you are chronically underutilized, that is not great because 1) it stalls out your career growth. This can be fine short term, but long-term can cause issues (like skills not being current). Even if you’re okay with that, there’s 2) that your position might not be worth it to the company. If they are reassessing staffing, is your position worth keeping? Because if it’s not then 3) you have a reputation as someone who doesn’t speak up and doesn’t seek out opportunities. Is that someone that will succeed at your company?

      1. Trotwood*

        Very much agree! I don’t think you need to feel guilty if you have a few extra hours in the week, but if you’re truly sitting at your desk watching the paint peel off the walls for hours every day, maybe you can find some more responsibilities to tackle? Your manager would probably appreciate if you came to them with some ideas of what you’d like to tackle in your additional time. If you just pose it as “I’d love to start working on X project” your manager probably won’t think “wow, Jane must have been slacking off all these months/years if she has time to work on this now!”

    2. Puzzler*

      Definitely don’t look for something else just because you feel guilty. First I think you need to make sure your manager is aware that you currently don’t have anything to do – make sure during your downtime that you are checking with your boss (and maybe other senior colleagues as well) if there is anything they need your help with. I would also bring your manager suggestions for other things you might do (are there new initiatives you could start or old projects you could revive, or anything around the office that could use an upgrade?) and see if he would be okay with you working on any of those in your downtime.

      If those do not get you anywhere, I don’t think you have anything to feel guilty about. At that point you will have done all you can and it’s not your fault you don’t have any assignments. I would at least make sure that you’re using the downtime on something work-related, maybe there is a new skill you could work on learning that is related to the job?

      Regarding the re-org, I don’t think there’s any harm in applying to other jobs if you see any that might interest you. That way if you are laid off during the re-org you will at least have other irons in the fire. And who knows, you may end up finding something that will pay just as well, but will have more fulfilling work for you to do.

      1. AnonWithQuestions*

        Part of the problem is I have not spoken one on one with my actual manager since 2020 (we’re home-centric now). I think I got a COL raise this year but never received any email or feedback on my performance (but my paycheck did go up slightly in about the right time frame.) I do volunteer anytime something comes up for grabs. We did just get a new manager so maybe I should wait and see how that goes, but everything changes at the end of this year (a large portion of our dept/team has been sold to a vendor company, basically.) Meh, so on the fence. Also, I’ve never looked for a job unless I was at toxic anger levels or laid off, so that may be some of my hesitation, I’m not accustomed to just looking for something when I’m not miserable.

    3. PassThePeasPlease*

      To me, it sounds like you’re completing the tasks assigned to you in a timely manner and otherwise fulfilling your job’s duties. Do you have any insight on if there is just a lull or if this is a more long term aspect of the job? Can you use the downtime to upskill or cross train in other areas? If you are worried about the reorg I would consider putting out feelers for a new job but based on solely what you said I don’t think you should feel guilty.

  40. Sylvan*

    Where do you all get list notepads, sticky notes, and other stationery for work? I’m looking for something with a little more style than a legal pad and yellow sticky notes, like Papier’s products. Don’t need pens, btw, I am fully entrenched in Pilot G2 addiction.

    1. Cyndi*

      I don’t need any work stationery but Rifle Paper Co products always look so pretty and I wish I had an excuse to buy them. I think they sell matching pajamas now, too, if you’re WFH and want to be extra coordinated.

      Oh, and I have a friend who works at JetPens, one of the most dangerous stationery stores out there, so I have to shill for them too.

      1. Minccino*

        Seconding JetPens. It’s my go to shop for stationery.

        Yoseka Stationery is another neat shop with similar offerings. :)

  41. Hmmm*

    I’ve been in my field longer than I care to admit. While I love some aspects of it I’m just not happy. To be honest I’m miserable. Has anyone done/ recommendations for career placement testing.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I’ve seen Johnson O’Connor aptitude testing recommended a few times by commenters here in open threads/on ask the readers questions.

      I don’t have any personal experience, but it’s something you can look into.

      1. No smart name ideas*

        I regularly second this suggestion—and it’s about what aptitudes you have and work/career fields that people with those aptitudes do well in.

        They also can identify what hobbies/other-than-work things will make you feel more balanced (a good reminder that we can work to live, not live to work :))

        For instance I was told my aptitude to hear different tones is very similar to a professional singer’s/musician’s…but I enjoy music and musical theater as an audience member waaaaay more than as performer (especially since I cannot carry a tube in a bucket). They also explained that that aptitude is often used in management and HR roles (think “read between the lines”).

  42. Cyndi*

    LW4 in the last post reminded me of an old situation and I’m curious what people think of it.

    I used to work in an extremely regimented data entry facility. We were a government contractor with tight turnaround time and security requirements. (My friends still remember it as “that job you had with rules about what water bottle you could carry.”) There were fifty workstations, staffed 24/5 in three shifts, and our time was managed and tracked to the minute–if you weren’t on a scheduled break your butt was in your seat, typing. So our keying capacity in a shift/day/week was very predictable. We were often offered OT or unpaid hours off if workflow was high or low, but it was almost always voluntary either way.

    When I’d been there a couple of years, the workflow peaked way beyond our capacity to turn it around on time. We started having mandatory OT every third Saturday–each shift taking turns at them–and then it became mandatory Saturdays for every shift, every week, for several weeks. I had a side retail job a few nights a week, so this added up to a 55-60 hour work week for me; I wasn’t even getting to enjoy the OT pay, because I was too tired to feed myself or get out of bed easily, so all that extra money went to ordering takeout and booking Ubers to get to work on time. It was a really miserable time for me, and I started getting ocular migraines that prevented me from working because I couldn’t read during them. We were on a points-based attendance system so even with my supervisor giving me a ton of leeway, I ultimately missed enough work from the migraines to get me fired.

    The really strict environment had been terrible for my mental health since day one, so honestly getting fired was a huge relief. I don’t hold any ill will for my supervisor and team lead who were making scheduling decisions; they did all the same mandatory OT we did, and it seems to me they were pretty stuck between a rock and a hard place. But I’m not a manager! I’m not even a little bit cut out for management! So TL;DR my question is, to the manager types around here: do you have a better solution, and what would it have been?

    1. ferrina*

      Several options:
      1) Assuming govt contracts allow, bring in temps/outside contractors to handle the overflow.
      2) Build expected capacity into the contract. So if the work you get from the client (i.e, govt) exceeds the original intended scope, additional payment would be made. This payment would fund….
      3) Additional staffing. If all of your staff are regularly doing overtime, you can expect burnout and higher turnover rates. If you’ve got a long term workload issue, you need higher staffing levels.
      4) Assuming that wasn’t possible (cuz those are the best options), I might get really creative:
      Giving folks the option for a altered schedule where they work extra long on wk 1, then have F/Sa off on week 2 (for a 3 day weekend). This only works if you have multiple people that will sign up and you are insanely good at scheduling. Or have days when I’d close the office early (maybe a skeleton staff stays).
      5) If I wasn’t even given the flexibility to do 4, I’d job search and reiterate to my staff that this is what they’d be doing for the foreseeable future. Oh, and completely unrelated, I’m so proud of them and if they ever need me to be a reference for them, either in the near or far future, I’d be happy to.

      1. Cyndi*

        Thanks for a really thoughtful response! I would totally have gone for option 4, for what it’s worth–I was pretty happy to take both voluntary OT and voluntary unpaid time off. But I honestly don’t know if adding temp staffing would have been an option. Because of the heavier background check requirements (I think? This was several years ago) it was three months from my job offer to onboarding there, and another month or two there to get new hires up to speed. So I genuinely can’t tell you whether they considered it, or whether it would have really been useful as a short-term option.

        If it makes any difference, most of us were already contractors. My team was mostly contract workers assigned long-term from various staffing agencies, with only about twenty permanent employees who had benefits and fun perks like “having a company email” that temps didn’t. The turnover was surprisingly low and every time a perm left all the temps applied for that one slot; as a result I applied and was rejected for my own job a few times, which didn’t make me any happier working there.

    2. Hannahnannah*

      In my experience, when workload becomes as steady and high, it’s time to hire staff. Working your employees that hard for a long time will lead to burn-out and other undesired outcomes. Hiring the right number of people for sustained increases of workload makes sense, but is not always possible.

  43. Anon Today*

    I have a direct report who gets easily irritated and upset at things in the office that can lead to 1) just them being extremely upset, 2) them coming off as rude or snappy to people and 3) possible escalation of situations that really are not a big deal, that I then have to come in as the supervisor and deescalate. (#3 is obviously going to happen sometimes and that’s part of my job, but the number of times it is happening seems extreme.)

    Just this week this employee shared with me that they want to work on letting things go and decreasing stress. I happened to stumble across a career coach I followed during a job search in the past on LinkedIn and one of their mindfulness programs.

    Weird and overstepping to share with my direct report or reasonable given this behavior is starting to impact their work and they shared voluntarily with me that they wanted find resources to work on letting things go more?

    1. Cyndi*

      As someone who’s sometimes had issues in the past, I would’ve really appreciated this! You’re just passing on info that might help, it isn’t as if you’re going “hey, I found this resource and I’m requiring you to use it whether it’s actually a fit for your needs or not.”

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      They asked you for resources! Perfectly fine. If you’re uncomfortable you can refer back to the request when you share it so it’s couched in context.

    3. Morgan Proctor*

      Weird and overstepping UNLESS your company is going to pay for it. These unlicensed, non-experts can be absurdly expensive.

    4. mst*

      “Hey, I’ve no idea if this is going to be any use to you but I happened to stumble across and it reminded me of what you were saying about decreasing your stress levels” would seem like a way to phrase it that wouldn’t suggest any sort of pressure.

      Though I’d check the pricing first to make sure it’s likely to be within their available budget – accidentally suggesting something somebody can’t actually afford is never fun for anybody.

  44. Cbh*

    Crazy question and yes I’m “wrong”. I am in my mid-late 40s. My current new-ish position is the first time in my career working for a “big time” corporation. It’s an amazing company. My career is where I want it to be. I earn the same as the National average says I should be even in a high COL area. I was able to switch positions when my children were younger to work full time and be class mom. My current position is my dream position. In other words I have no complaints.

    Everyone on my team has truly earned their positions. They have the right experiences, the right education, the appropriate licenses.

    I’m (me alone) having trouble adjusting to this scenario- those below me hierarchy wise are straight from college geniuses! Some even trained me. The managers / executives above me are the same age or 10-15 years younger than me.

    I just can’t get over this inferior complex like I haven’t made it, I failed. How do I deal with this?! I just can’t believe how ashamed I am that I feel this way.

    1. NeedToSnack*

      I think you’d need to dig a little deeper into exactly why your coworkers being younger than you bugs you. I get the impression that you’re comparing yourself to them in some way and seeing yourself fall short. So you can stop comparing yourself to them (easier said than done), or you can do some emotional work on whatever area it is that you think you’re failing at (also hard to do, but could be easier depending on what it is you need to reevaluate).

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Yeah, seconding this.

        If it bugs you mostly because of your coworkers’ ages, dig into why that is and/or try to not “see” their ages as much as possible. Instead of “Mike knows so much and he just graduated from college 6 months ago!!” change your inner voice to “Mike knows so much, I’m glad he’s on my team and willing to share what he knows!”

        1. Cbh*

          Thank you for this. This is the positive attitude I aim for in my career. My teammates jokingly and lovingly call me Mary poppins. I truly am greatful for all my teammates.

          I want to emphasize I believer merit not age should be taken into consideration for a position. I am NOT writing to say they’re younger than me they don’t deserve it. NOT AT ALL.

          I think I’m just frustrated that I worked hard to get where I am but I have this annoyance in my head of when did they learn so much so fast – why didn’t I pick up on this sooner, why did I miss this aspect?

          Again I am proud of my team and we all get along, everyone deserves what they have earned and everyone is in positions that best suits their knowledge.

          1. Ann Ominous*

            I have something similar and I have a refrain I tell myself when this acts up “I am smart. If I don’t know something already, there’s a good reason, and the reason isn’t ‘I’m dumb’ or ‘because I don’t belong here’ and it doesn’t indicate ‘I’m never gonna make it here’.”

          2. WantonSeedStitch*

            One thing that’s hard to pick up super quickly is soft skills: negotiation, facilitation, coaching, feedback, etc. I find that a lot of the “young superstars” might be at the same level with their more-experienced colleagues in terms of technical job skills, but often just haven’t had the workplace experience to really refine and develop those soft skills. Gen-Z Genevieve might know everything there is to know about data analytics, but she might not be as good as Gen X Gerardo when it comes to things like how to present that data in a way that different groups of people with different roles, levels of experience, and priorities can understand it and make use of it.

    2. ferrina*

      Hugs and love- I’m right there with you. I had a weird career path and finally landed in a good spot, but my brain swung wildly from “You failed! You should be higher up than you are!” and “You failed! You don’t deserve to be this high up!”

      But from the management side- there’s a reason why they wanted you there. You bring unique experiences and skills that are valuable to the team. If everyone had the “right” and conventional experience/education/etc., then everyone would know the same things and only those things. There would be less creativity and growth.

      I wish I knew how to make the failure feelings go away. If you can, talk to a therapist about that. Another thing I did was make an accomplishment journal- every day I’d write down what I accomplished that day, whether it was doing the dishes or turning in a big project. A full page of accomplishments. Because when I felt like a failure, it’s because I was focusing on what I didn’t do and not recognizing all the things I did do.
      Good luck! Let me know if you find a strategy that helps- I’d love to try it too :)

    3. Anna Badger*

      I haven’t yet hit the point where I’m reporting to people who are younger than me but I have absolutely hit the point where the younger people in my teams are frighteningly dazzling, and yeah, I did have to do some rapid blinking the first time I did the maths on it. if you’ve always thought of yourself as being ahead of the curve then it’s not particularly joyful to realise that the curve has caught up.

      it did settle down when I settled more into the job and realised I did have particular skills that were unique in my team, which made things feel like a more even exchange with everyone learning from each other.

    4. Diatryma*

      What did you do at their ages that they are not doing? Remember that there’s a reason you chose to do that– the person who focuses on school and early career isn’t focusing on family and vacations, the person who focuses on relationships and travel isn’t focusing on promotions and retirement savings, the person who focuses on long-term goals and networking isn’t focusing on community building and hobbies. No one can do everything. You’re in a setting where the shiniest people are the ones who focus on work. Go to a school meeting and the shiniest people will be the ones who focus on the school.

  45. F Frank*

    I work at a fintech that is cutting people right and left. Mostly remote workers, but a round this week that’s hitting WFO hard. Not due to economy BTW. My plan has been to ride it out until my day comes then use the severance – should be 22 weeks worth unless they slash that – to give me time to regroup and search.
    I’m over 50, and have a 6 mi supply of all meds, don’t anticipate needing appts, but have enough in HSA to cover that. Will set a good amount aside for taxes.

    What should I be looking at pro/con for staying till the end or jumping now? There’s some personal life stuff which really makes it tough for me to job search or start anew until early next year. There is a chance I won’t be cut as I’m the only one left who does my job, but I want to make sure I’m not missing anything.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      There are only 11 weeks left in this year, so I think you’re OK to not start searching until your personal life calms down at the start of 2023.

      When you do have the bandwidth, I suggest updating your resume and perhaps starting a very casual job search where you only apply to jobs that look like a particularly good match so that if you are laid off, you have a bit of a head start and aren’t scrambling.

    2. Alice*

      You sound super organized!
      I believe that you have a bit of time after a layoff to decide whether to take advantage of COBRA or not. Maybe a month? So, if you get the paperwork ready, and just don’t file it until you know whether you need healthcare in the period the deadline.
      Good luck.

  46. Eldritch Office Worker*

    I’m having a problem with direct communication from senior leadership at my company.

    So as an example – I’m HR, I sit in on disciplinary conversations. We had one employee who was being punished for lying. She was very nearly fired, and instead was given a written warning. Typically I don’t speak very much in these meetings, the senior manager delivers the feedback/explains the situation and I simply describe next steps and serve as a witness in case anything gets distorted later.

    We had key talking points, we prepared, a team of people gave feedback and this was supposed to be a hard conversation – and she totally wimped out in the room. Never used the word “lying”
    said something like “we found this problematic”. Never said “almost fired” said something like “we were almost done”. She said there wouldn’t be a formal PIP (news to me, had to revise my documents). I was in all the prep and knew exactly what her points were and I had a hard time following the conversation because she convoluted and softened her language so much.

    I’ve seen this pattern with other senior leaders as well. I have a very direct communication style and this feels contrary to my values – like it feels personal to me. You’re not doing the employee any favors by being vague and overly generous. They don’t know what to fix. They end up confused. I really hate it and it’s under my skin.

    These people are above me, I can’t tell them what to do, but I can make suggestions. I just don’t know how to approach it when it feels like such an embedded practice here. Any advice?

    1. Bernice Clifton*

      Can you ask your supervisor how they want you to handle it when that comes up, or how to avoid it? More as an FYI because I thought we wanted to present a united front in these meetings and less complaining about the way the sr. leader handled things.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Any chance that you could do a lunch-and-learn type presentation for your leaders on how to effectively give feedback in disciplinary situations, and communicate why it’s so important that they be clear and specific?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        maybe as part of a L&L series over a few months — our HR has been doing weekly L&Ls for managers and up on various leadership topics for a couple months now, we just had one on what our Absence Management team does when folks are on FMLA or other types of leave vs what the direct manager should and should not do, “Coaching for Career Development,” “Supporting Team Cohesion,” that kind of thing.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        That’s a good idea! Does it feel passive aggressive to do that without confronting the incidental issues first? There are many so I don’t know if there’s benefit to that or if it’s better to just blanketly give positive advice.

        1. ferrina*

          Do the training, saying it’s been a recurring issue with multiple people. Then you’ll have something to refer back to when dealing with the individual instances.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I don’t think it’s a problem, unless you’re talking about a group of like three people. :) Could get a little awkward in that case, but if you have a bigger group, everyone has a little plausible deniability about their previous hiccups.

      3. ferrina*

        Yes! My company actually did a multi-part training on how to give good feedback. Sessions were geared around why feedback is important (i.e., it’s actually a form of caring and investing- “I care enough to tell you hard truths so you can make tough decisions”), strategies for giving feedback, even info around what stress responses look like (i.e., what makes us panic and not give good feedback). We even had role-playing scenarios so supervisors could practice the skills.

        I don’t know if it helped, but it was moderately well-received.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yes, having opportunities to practice will help a lot too. If you have the opportunity, you can even make that part of the process with individuals after your training — “The discussion with Fergus might be a little rough and you’re going to have to communicate some difficult information to him, so as part of the process leading up to that discussion, I’d recommend that we set up a half-hour where you can practice giving that information in the ways we discussed during the feedback trainings so you’re not trying to remember it all on the fly.”

      4. Curmudgeon in California*

        This is a really good idea. Most companies do not have training for managers on how to do things like “give good feedback, both positive and negative”, “manage employees on a PIP”, “interview for equity”, “write effective performance reviews”, or even “how to lay off or fire someone”.

        Most companies seem to just promote, or hire, managers and just let them do whatever they want. I have lost track of how many managers I’ve trained as a direct report for how to do some of this, and I still don’t get considered for management spots (all of my management experience is managing volunteers.) Maybe I’m just cynical, but the training for managers seems very… spotty in most places.

    3. Not A Manager*

      If your superiors actually DO agree in advance that this was “lying” and that the person should be on a “PIP,” etc. but then they can’t bring themselves to say it, do you think they’d appreciate you setting the stage for them in advance? What about if you opened the meeting with a brief summary of why the person is there, and then turned it over to the actual manager?

      “Patrice, we’re here today with Manger to address your recent incident of lying to a client. Ordinarily this would result in your termination, but in this case we are giving you a written warning and putting you on an improvement plan. In this meeting, Manager will walk you through the details, and then you’ll have an opportunity to ask any questions.”

      You could only do this if you’re sure the manager won’t then toss you under the bus by softening all of that. If you decide to try it, I’d signal it to the manager before the meeting, but without mentioning that otherwise they wimp out. Just say, “so I understand we’re agreed that Patrice did intentionally lie, she’s getting a warning and going on PIP, and this is her last chance. I’ll plan to open the meeting by summarizing that for her, and then turn it over to you.”

      But, as my name says, I am not a manager, so maybe this is unrealistic.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Actually, I like this. It saves them the face of being the bad guy up front – I’m happy to be the bad guy it’s just harder to do that if it means undermining someone.

    4. Educator*

      This is so important, and you are right to want to address it. Can you name the problem when you are prepping with the person who will be giving feedback? Like, “I’ve seen a lot of people soften their language in these conversations. I think it is really important, from both an interpersonal and legal perspective, that we actually say the sentence ‘This type lying about work is a fireable offense.’ Could you please make sure to use those words?”

      Alternatively, could you paraphrase with more direct language in the meeting, as part of your witnessing job? After the feedback giver softens the language, could you say something back like, “What I hear you saying is that this type of lying is a fireable offense. Are we all on the same page about that?” Honestly, I think everyone will appreciate the clarity.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I think me taking a more active role in the meeting is probably a good approach, if people are really this uncomfortable being direct I can just take the discomfort on the table. I just need to figure out how to propose that without sounding like I’m inflating my role – that’s just politics though.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        It’s for the behavior that led to the lying and includes a lot more transparency around communication and workflow.

    5. PX*

      Ooof. I feel like this is a bigger issue than you think it is because it really means your company doesnt do any kind of corrections/difficult conversations well at all!

      From your comments, I’d definitely take the approach of suggesting that you take a more active role in these conversations and then be the bad guy (as it were). It definitely seems like you are the only one willing to do it, and I feel like they are likely to be grateful and just let you do it! You can even frame it as part of your roles and responsibilities.

      But definitely look into training and coaching on this for all parties involved, because long term this sounds like a terrible way to work.

  47. Yes And*

    Our top executives have contracts specifying annual raises plus potential percentage-based bonuses. (The rest of us are at-will.) They did not receive their raises or bonuses since March 2020 due to COVID-related cutbacks. Now that we are out of the financial woods, the board wants to not only restore their contractual salaries, but pay out the lost raises AND bonuses as a catch-up.

    These top executives already make double the directors (my role). Directors make double managers. Until very recently, managers made double associates, which was straight up not a living wage. Many of our hourly workers are still making close to minimum. There has been some movement recently (think, in the past 6 months) to benchmark salaries to industry standard and pay full-time workers at least a living wage, but there’s still a ways to go, and a good bit of resentment/low morale at the company over the issue. (It’s worth mentioning that with their new raises, the two senior executives will be getting paid about market rate in our industry; but that speaks to the widespread gap between executives and everyone else in our industry, not the fairness of those salaries.)

    The catch-up payments for these two people will total in the six figures. The salary catch-ups are probably guaranteed per the contracts (which I haven’t seen), but the bonuses are at the discretion of the board. On the one hand, our company has weathered the COVID storm very well, and the leadership of these two executives does genuinely deserve a lot of the credit. On the other hand, paying out so much to these two people when we still have a lingering pay equity problem is at the least really bad optics.

    I am not in a position where I have any say over these decisions; but I do have a role in executing them, and I have the ear of the decision-makers. Should I say something? If so, to the executives or to the board?

    1. Picard*

      Its not clear, WHO can make the decision to change the distribution of excess. If you can, speak to them/that person. Nothing wrong with pointing out the “appearance” of inequity in compensation. I dont think you would be hurting your rep. I think you would be helping them see how their potential actions will be viewed by the rest of the company and if they are remotely interested in morale, they will readjust.

    2. Angstrom*

      If your associates were part of weathering the COVID storm, it would seem unethical to exclude them from any bonus payments. Doubly so because they’re getting hammered by the current inflation rate. It’s worth talking with the board.

  48. Looking for Medical Librarian Contemplating Phoenix*

    Last month in a weekend thread there was a post from someone called Medical Librarian who was looking for input on Phoenix–I am also a medical librarian who currently lives in Phoenix (Hibiscus by name) and invite you to pick my brain.

  49. Little Fried Teapot*

    Short version: I feel burnt out; I feel stupid for feeling burnt out; I feel more stupid for getting stuck in this situation; and I don’t know what to do.

    Epic version (sorry, it’s very late here so I need to cover EVERYTHING up front then sleep):

    I’ve been longing for a stress-free interval since 2019, desperate for a break since March, counting down to the Xmas shutdown since August, crying regularly, losing energy and motivation, dreading Monday as early as Saturday, and getting increasingly fed up and bored with doing the same. damn. job. for 4+ years with no development. And now I’m having work-related nightmares.

    The thing is … it’s not that bad! It’s not those months I spent working flat out 9 hours a day with 15 min for lunch, doing the bulk of the work once done by a team of 4. It’s not that surge with several 60+ hour weeks, multiple 10+ hour days, and OT on some public holidays & weekends (2 weekends straight through). I currently take most of my lunch hour, usually leave only 15 min late, and the shutdown guarantees me at least some of my leave each year. I used to like my job and could probably like it again with enough change. I don’t have the longest hours or largest workload in the office, for the first time in forever I have basically no stress at home, and isn’t nose to grindstone 50/52 and year-to-year monotony normal?

    So I don’t really feel entitled to feel so worn out. And some of the frustration is on me – I saw ages ago that this job isn’t setting me up for anything. (They call me a teapot design engineer, but the boss does all the designing and computers do all the engineering. I just polish – using non-standard custom-built gear – and do a tedious ton of QA.) I saw I’d have to upskill myself to be employable elsewhere … but I let overwork and plague distract me so now I’m stuck.

    And stumped. My job really has to be done daily and there’s no-one else who can do it if I take leave (which there’s a culture here of not doing). I’m not (yet) burnt out enough to get a medical certificate for sick leave. Cyber security makes WFH literally impossible in my role. There’s no-one else in this tiny company in a position to take on any of my tasks. My TL is way more overloaded (in & out of work) than I am, so I don’t feel I can complain, and my boss has already said they’re limited in how much support they can provide.

    I’m not skilled; my entire work history before my rapid rise from sweeping the teapot factory floor to stagnation is 2 stints of Xmas retail. (I have a tally of the skills most wanted in the crockery field, which I happen to like, but I’ve been too tired to set about acquiring them and don’t even know if I’d be any good at them.) I’m single with a mortgage so can’t take too much of a pay cut. Formal study while working will leave me charcoal.

    I have no network to ask – no family living, no childhood friends, an isolating adult life largely spent dealing with long-term illness and caregiving, no contact details for former coworkers – so I’m asking the commentariat instead. There has to be something I’m too bogged down to see.


    1. Hlao-roo*

      I just want to address this part of your question:

      My job really has to be done daily and there’s no-one else who can do it if I take leave (which there’s a culture here of not doing). I’m not (yet) burnt out enough to get a medical certificate for sick leave. Cyber security makes WFH literally impossible in my role. There’s no-one else in this tiny company in a position to take on any of my tasks. My TL is way more overloaded (in & out of work) than I am, so I don’t feel I can complain, and my boss has already said they’re limited in how much support they can provide.

      This is not your problem. Your leave is part of your compensation package, you are entitled to take it. You should take all of the leave you are entitled to, and take it in large chunks if you can (because you are burnt out and you need large chunks away from work to heal burnout).

      The tasks you are responsible for–they won’t get done. Or they will pile up for when you come back. But again: not your problem. (I know that immediately, it sort of is, but) your company is choosing to not staff the role appropriately. Someone should at the very least be cross-trained on you work and have the capacity to fill in for you when you’re on leave. But your company has chosen not to staff appropriately and will continue to choose to be that way because the current system works for them. You never take leave, the tasks get done.

      Take your leave. Let your tasks pile up. Don’t stay late when you return from leave to work through the backlog. Let your company feel the pain of their poor staffing.

      1. 1234ShutTheDoor*

        Seconded! You didn’t agree to do everything that needs doing all the time, and your company shouldn’t expect you to cover it. Take a long vacation without guilt, and if anyone tries to make you feel bad about it, return to sender and make them understand that it’s the company’s fault they don’t have any redundancy.

        1. JustaTech*

          Thirding! Your company is being, frankly, stupid and playing with fire by having positions that are both essential for daily function *and* have no backup.

          What if you won the lottery and quit with cod? They’d be up a creek with no paddle. By taking vacation you’re actually doing them a *favor* by forcing them to see the potential disaster and plan ahead for it.

          Taking a long vacation is also doing them a favor, because it might help you not need medical leave (which would be longer and more complicated for them).

          1. Little Fried Teapot*

            Lol-ing thinking of the chaos when a similarly critical employee got poached…. then despairing thinking of the knee-jerk “mandatory professional development” scheme that was hastily announced and hardly mentioned again.

            I would dearly love use the 1.5 months of leave I have accrued (would be far more without the cash-out scheme) but that daily task is daily for a reason – VERY prone to backlog. The enormous amount of work I’d return to (not to mention the multiple missed client deadlines) would be more stressful than soldiering on. Assuming it was even approved…

            Plus our leave request forms have a mandatory section for detailing how time-critical work will be handled in your absence. For my role there is no answer to that.

            1. Rosie*

              Do you have a decent manager you can take this to? You could tell them that you want to take leave but feel like you can’t due to how this is set up. If they’re any good they’ll realise this is unsustainable.

            2. Manchmal*

              The way you write sounds like a bit like Stockholm Syndrome, like you’ve taken on the company’s concerns and values and decisions as your own instead of seeing them as something that’s kind of not your problem. It’s a terrible business decision, not to mention extremely unfair, to place someone in the position of never being able to take leave (leave that is due to you, that most other people in your kind of job would get). What’s to stop your company from demanding twice as much work, giving you so much that it would require 16 hours a day? At some point, this just isn’t the deal you make for a regular full-time (40-hr per week) job. It isn’t your job to figure out who will do your work when you’re out, or how to convince them to cross train people. It sounds like you haven’t had a vacation in ages. At the very least you can take a long weekend to try and see things from a more rested and detached perspective. Take a look and see what other jobs are out there, there isn’t a better time than now!

    2. ferrina*

      Start taking steps to leave. You are not stuck, though it feels that way. Update your resume and start applying. I went through one job search with a 50 hr/wk job, 2 kids under 5 and serious burn out. It sucked The way I got through it was bite-sized chunks. I set a goal of applying for 2 jobs a week. I spent a week up front creating a Master Resume that was 4 pages and had a ton of accomplishments under each job. Then for each application, I’d cut out the accomplishments that weren’t relevant to that job (cutting is faster than rewriting). I did something similar for my cover letter- 7 prewritten paragraphs each highlighting a different skill, then would select 2-3 for each cover letter (some re-writing required, but not nearly as hard as writing from scratch).

      Also know that recovery won’t end when you get the new job. It can take some time to get your feet under you (it’s normal for it to take months, depending on how rough it is/how much self-care you’re able to do/lots of other factors). It will take the time it takes, and you give yourself the time you need.

      You may also want to see a doctor and be screened for depression/mental health conditions. Some of what you describe is very common symptoms, so worth talking to a doctor. Your regular doctor can usually do this for you.

      1. Little Fried Teapot*

        If I had skills I’d have started applying the minute the ink was dry on my mortgage approval! As it is I just have to hope chipping away at my list of things to learn gets me somewhere…. I don’t know what non-crockery direction I could possibly take, it sucks having entry-level skills at close to 40.

        Pretty sure it’s not depression given how much happier I am on the weekends I can avoid thinking about work….

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I really do second ferrina’s advice to update your resume/CV. You may be surprised at how many skills you have right now! Some things to think about (you don’t need to answer these questions here):

          – Can you apply for other crockery jobs at companies that have better staffing plans? Basically, look for jobs that are the same as you’re doing right now (you have the skills for this!) but where there are other people in the same role/with the skills to cover for you so you can actually take your leave every year.

          – Can you afford to switch to an entry-level job (with entry-level pay) in another industry? Are there any industries where the entry-level pay is high enough to support you and the jobs are interesting/manageable so they won’t depress you and burn you out? If there are, apply for some of those jobs.

          – Look at jobs (in your current field or a different field) that are a step or two up from entry level. Do you meet all of the requirements? Probably not. But if you meet 60% or more of the requirements, does it hurt to apply? The worst that will happen is nothing, and the best that will happen is you’ll get a better job than the one you have now.

  50. Annie Edison*

    Can anyone recommend an app to log time spent on different projects?
    I’m self employed and I’d like some concrete data on how I’m spending my time. Is there an app where I can easily track my time throughout the day and tag it for different tasks? Things like billing, content creation, business social media, client support, etc. And then have a total at the end of the week of breakdown across tasks.
    Bonus points for free/cheap, and easy for my adhd-ish brain to use

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        It’s fun. Sometimes you can race yourself to do the thing faster. Like you did the tps report in 20 minutes yesterday, maybe you could do it in 15 today.

      2. CharlieBrown*

        I just downloaded Toggl based on your recommendation because I have ADHD and sometimes time just…disappears. It does indeed seem to be quite intuitive and easy to use, and I’m sure it will help me. Thank you!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      ATracker (iPhone/iPad for sure, I think also available on Android) is one I used for a while. The free version limits how many categories you can set, but it’s pretty cheap if that’s not enough.

    2. Deschain*

      I use Harvest (I am a self-employed bookkeeper). Been using it since 2015 and it’s great. But it’s $12 a month, so not the cheapest option.

    3. mst*

      I’m not sure if this is a remotely useful answer, but throwing something together using excel or google sheets or one of the assorted no-code database thingies’ free plans (airtable springs to mind, google “no code business app creator” for lots of others) is possibly an option worth considering.

      Heck, so might be a SQLite browser app and a couple custom queries if you don’t mind reading an SQL tutorial.

      The reason I mention this possibility is that I hate doing this sort of data entry, but if I have some vague control over the system so I can tweak it then it becomes much more fun for me.

      Though I’m a developer (among other things) by career so my views are inevitably skewed.

      If that sounds as boring and annoying as I suspect it would to many people, then combining a tool that you find “good enough” and using HabitRPG to provide positive feedback for remembering to update it might also be a net win over the tool on its own.

      (the only reason I manage to log stuff at work is because we have a custom chatbot that lets me record it with a message in the staff chatroom so not only does it get recorded but I know my colleagues can see what I’ve been working on … there’s probably other chatbot type things that provide similar but being a development shop of -course- we wrote our own ;)

  51. lurkyloo*

    Canadian former federal employees:
    How hard was it to transition to private sector? Did you find it easy to translate government specific work into easily understandable private sector lingo? How did you get away from the ridiculously long cover letters? (That’s my biggest issue. I’m so trained on ‘example for each competency; my latest was 13 pages. SIGH)

  52. Lemony lime*

    I made a silly error at work and I’m… embarrassed. It was a small thing, caught in time and I corrected it immediately so ultimately no harm done, but somehow I’m imagining scenarios where my manager thinks “good lord, how does she not know this?”

    Please tell me about a time you made an error at work! Commiserations also welcome

    1. kina lillet*

      My entire job is fixing other people’s errors and my own! That’s software development for ya. Sometimes you write some code and you find 1 mistake, sometimes you find 5, but you almost never find 0. So I’ve made too many mistakes to count. What matters is that you fix it, take the responsibility that’s yours to take, and always try to get better.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      A few weeks ago, I was working on a shared spreadsheet with a few other coworkers. There were about 10,000 lines of data we needed to check/update/keep the same. I made a copy/paste error on line 3,000 or so and it copied all the way down to the end of the spreadsheet. Luckily we weren’t too far along in the work, so I didn’t overwrite too many completed lines but still not a great way to start off a project!

      (I was able to clean up all of the incorrect data in a few hours.)

    3. Sharpie*

      My last job was packing in a warehouse. Usually my job was making up teapot kits (teapot, teabags, packets of sugar) but occasionally I would help out with the retail side, sending product out to customers.

      I went through a whole cage of things putting in one teapot kit, one refill, one set of cutlery etc. Even for customers whose packing slips said they wanted multiples. My supervisor had to print out a second set of those packing slips for me to go through to rectify – and there were several incomplete packages that had already been picked up by the shipping company.

      I told my supervisor I was sorry, and that I was going to slow down and not make the same mistake again, and she said it wasn’t a big deal, they’d just get sent out later as replacements.

      Change your process to help you catch these mistakes before they happen next time, and your manager honestly doesn’t think you’re stupid, she knows you’re human. Just make a point of learning from this and doing better next time!

    4. metadata minion*

      I once billed someone over $500k in library fines because I pasted their student ID into the amount field. Luckily when you bill someone for several times the cost of a university education, the bursar calls you right away and you reverse it hopefully before the poor student ever saw the charge.

    5. Rara Avis*

      Just yesterday I had two lists of data to enter in two different places and I reversed them. Now I have to wait for someone else to fix it for me. I feel very bad about creating extra work for them.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I sat on a couple million dollars in ambulance bills that I forgot about until the CFO sent an email to me with every level of boss in between me and them (which was five, I think) cc’ed asking why we hadn’t paid the ambulance company in nine months. (I was told to hold them until the contract was finalized, but nobody told me when the contract was finalized AND I didn’t think to ask the contract handler about it even though she literally sat in a cube ten feet away from mine. So I wasn’t ENTIRELY to blame, but partially for sure.)

      When my boss came to find me, I was literally sitting on the floor under my desk bawling and positive she’d come to perp-walk me out the door. (She did not and I got the invoices submitted for payment before the end of the day, so all ended well.)

    7. ClearedCookiesOops*

      To err is human, and I am very human. Today I created a database table in the wrong database – one that no one should really have the ability to edit because it’s the back-end of a crucial business application, but it still works so I’m calling it fine. Not too long ago I sent out a mail-merge to all of our company contacts with a file attachment named for the wrong company (i.e. company A’s file was named company B, company C’s file was named company A etc.). Before that, I’ve deleted an entire reporting database – thankfully I found a backup and restored it immediately. The worst I’ve done is accidentally delete every phone number from the CRM system, which I couldn’t restore myself. And since I did it at about 4:58pm, my then-boss had to stay late to fix it.

      Despite all these cock-ups I am well-liked and considered a “rockstar”. Most things can be fixed, so it’s all fine!

    8. Curmudgeon in California*

      In my field we have a saying “If you haven’t broken production at least once, you haven’t really done anything.” We don’t deliberately screw up production, but part of my job includes making changes to production, and there are always lots of ways to make mistakes. Sure, we try to put processes in place to minimize the fallout, but Murphy finds a way.

      In fact, one standard interview question is “Tell me about a time you broke production, and what you did about it.” I expect someone in a senior role to have several they can pick from.

      For me, there was the time I was rolling out a new release to production, and one of the two machines in one remote data center broke. I then tried to shut down the other machine to fix it with, and that broke too. We had to have someone on site provision a third machine, then copy data and software from another data center to rebuild it with. The root of the problem was that there were only two machines running our app in that data center, and the realistic minimum for safe upgrades was three.

    9. mst*

      Seconding the comments from fellow techies about “if you haven’t broken everything at some point” though I’m not sure any of my truly spectacular mistakes are possible to write up in a way to be accessible to non-techies (accidentally unrecoverably deleting 3,000 customer emails at a hosting company due to misconfiguring an anti-spam script was ‘fun’)

      As a manager I’ve always had the attitude “mistakes happen, I’ve made plenty, the only thing I ask is that if you make one and notice I hear about it from you first, not from somebody else when it causes problems later.” (if you don’t notice, fair game, I’ve messed up a data migration and corrupted every single customer’s email addresses and not realised until customer support went “uh” at me)

      It’s worth remembering from a business POV that the optimal number of errors is not, in fact, zero, because dealing with the occasional mistake costs less money than slowing people down 2x triple checking everything would.

      It’s also worth remembering to celebrate realising your mistake was a stupid one, because stupid mistakes are generally so much quicker and easier to fix than clever mistakes. (don’t ask me how I know ;)

    10. Anonymous Coward*

      I once pasted text with a non-standard character into a field where it got read as code, and locked every user out of our online product for like 3-4 days before they figured out what the problem was and how it had happened. (No, I was not in a technical role, and there should have probably been more safeguards in place to prevent something like this from happening. But.)

  53. My+Useless+2+Cents*

    Has anyone here gotten a PMP certification? Was it worth it? Did you actually learn something that transfers over to the job?

    1. PMP1*

      I guess it depends on your job? I have a PMP. Note that the exam is now a mix of agile and traditional/waterfall, so some of it may not apply to you, depending on how your company works. I already knew the traditional part since I’ve been doing the job for a while. If I hadn’t, studying for it would have been useful training. I found a couple of good training classes for a reasonable price on Udemy (with coupon) – I recommend those vs the more expensive classes. As with most such things, the benefit is partly just checking the box and having something to show on your resume, not just gaining skills, and passing the test is partly about learning things and partly about knowing what kind of answer they’re looking for.

      1. Amusing Antelope*

        Were you already doing project management when you got the certificate? Or did you get the certificate and use it to get project management work?

    2. Anon for This*

      When my husband was laid off over a decade ago, he had trouble getting interviews until he got his PMP, then found a job quickly. At that time it was still uncommon for people to have it. In the years since, it has become expected – he hires management consultants and tells me that if it’s not listed on the resume they move to another candidate.

      As to what you learn when you prepare, yes he said he was able to fill in some gaps in his experience – what you learn vice what you know will vary from person to person.

      Hope this helps.

    3. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Also agreeing that it’s helpful! I moved into a new role where I’m working with my org’s PMO a lot more, and one of the PMs (who has her PMP) was talking about her teammates, and essentially sorted them by “this person has a PMP and is a PM” and “this person doesn’t have their PMP so they are different even though they do the same work”. And this is in a context outside of traditional applications of PMP, so it doesn’t really matter.

      If you’re skilled at managing projects already, I find that the PMP is more useful for the letters than the skills, but the skills and tools are still useful. If you’re new to PMing or want to get into it, I would definitely recommend it!

  54. Anon9*

    Thoughts on pronoun stickers/pins at conferences? I am in a progressive but very cishet field.

    My institution is hosting a conference soon and we will have pronoun stickers available for people to wear in an attempt to be more inclusive. However, I know that not everyone loves that system (I’m trans and neutral toward it but can understand where both sides are coming from).

    I’d love to hear from (non-cis) folks how they wish pronouns were handled at work events with lots of strangers and what would make you feel included vs. put on the spot/ othered.

    1. Goose*

      Would love if it was asked during registration and added to everyone’s nametag so I don’t stand out. Just make it


      1. mst*

        (cis dude) this is what I’ve heard from basically all my non-cis friends exactly because it means nobody stands out, and something I’ve seen implemented to good effect at more than one conference now.

        Optional stickers have obvious disadvantages and most of said friends would really rather not.

    2. Gracely*

      The main thing is to not make it mandatory, because you don’t want to make someone feel forced to come out or forced to hide.

    3. Educator*

      The stickers are not great if the options are decided in advance and people have to pick among them. The best version of this that I have seen is just extra blank space at the bottom of the name tag, and sign next to a pile of Sharpies inviting people to add their pronouns if they want.

    4. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

      So the conference I’m attending next month has adding pronouns to your nametag as an option. We had stickers previously but I feel like just having pronouns as a line on your nametag is better.

    5. Curmudgeon in California*

      Enby here. I’ve seen it handled a number of ways. Stickers, pins, or a line in the registration for that gets put on the badge.

      What is just as critical is do not require legal names on badges. Have a place for “Name on Badge”. Even some cis folks might not want their surname visible, or may commonly use a nickname that isn’t strictly derived from their wallet name. I had a manager whose first name was “Charles”, middle name was “Dean”. He went by Dean. The hoops he had to go through, even as a cis white male with a PhD to get his conference badges where he was a presenter to read at least “C. Dean [lastname]” was pathetic. (It’s been 25 years since I worked for him, and I still miss him. He actually died in 2015 after a long, full career and retirement.)

  55. Kat Maps*

    Looking for some advice about whether or not I should raise a concern I have with management.
    During the pandemic my department grew a lot, to the extent that the company bought a new building to house our department and a couple others. I was hired during the pandemic, so I’d never worked at the old location. The new building is nice, but the location is not. And for what it’s worth, I generally only work in-person one day a week.
    As far as I can tell, I am the only person (aside from summer co-op students) that relies on public transit to get to and from work. Transit-wise, the location is lousy. It’s far from the downtown core and is surrounded by highways and hotels. There isn’t even a sidewalk leading up to our building – just a very long driveway that we share with a mechanics’ parking lot.
    My problem is this – I live in Canada, in an area that gets very snowy and icy in the winter. The driveway leading to our office has a very steep incline (again – no sidewalks!). I’m concerned that I, or someone else, is going to absolutely eat it (ie fall face-first into the ground) trying to walk to work. I do have ice cleats I like to wear in the winter, but I’m not sure even the cleats will get me safely up this hill.
    I know this is an entirely hypothetical situation at this point – perhaps my employer will actually maintain the driveway with incredible meticulousness! But I don’t know the answer to that yet.
    I’d like to raise this concern with my managers, but since it’s entirely hypothetical, I’m not sure it’s worth doing so just yet? Should I wait and see what things are like once snow starts to fall, or should I be proactive? I suspect that having this conversation will leave me feeling a bit “othered”, as I’m potentially the only person that this would affect to such a degree, but showing up to work bruised and wet from falling would also leaving me feeling even more othered. Thoughts?

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Not in Canada but in WI. I’ve never known a business who doesn’t have a snow removal/salt company or something in place. So just ask if they have someone come plow and salt the driveway. I’d bet they do because having an icy driveway potentially dangerous for anyone, even those who drive.

      Or maybe say since it’s getting to be the winter months, if on bad weather days if it’s ok to WFH, since you do for the most part anyway. Even prior to the pandemic no one who absolutely did not have to be in the office came in.

    2. Intern Wrangler*

      This is something that is really relatable to me. I definitely think it is worth raising it. I would want to know if someone had that concern and it would change how I structured our snow plowing contract.
      It took me a few years to find a contractor that was able to meet my concerns–we have parents and children coming into our building and my worst fear was one of them falling and hurting themselves or a child.
      It’s important for them to think about and communicate the different uses for the driveway. Treating it for pedestrians is different than treating it for drivers. It’s helpful for them to have advance notice of the needs.

    3. here's a thought*

      Really, though, NO ONE should be walking on the driveway! That’s a hazard, whether dry or icy. I would just ask one of the managers what the plan is for people who are walking to the building. If they give you perplexed looks, just say you walk from the transit stop and were worried about the safety of the driveway in the winter. If you fell on the driveway (or anyone got hurt while walking up it because that’s the only way to get into the office), they would incur liability!

      1. mst*

        The rule in .uk is that on a road without sidewalks (usually a rural problem over here) you should always walk on the side of the road that means traffic is coming towards you, since the headlights should catch your face and thereby warn the driver.

        Not a perfect solution, but works out pretty well in practice for us.

  56. cardigarden*

    Another federal government job question:

    I’m considering a job in the federal government and the documentation I can find on the OPM website about maternity leave is… pretty yikes. Obviously, this is not something I feel comfortable asking for clarification from the hiring team about. Can anyone give more insight about what the leave policy looks like IRL? Because it sure reads like you can only take whatever sick leave you have accumulated up to 6-8 weeks if you want to be paid for any part of it.

    1. Picard*

      Sadly, in the US, thats pretty standard. (although if you qualify for FMLA, you can get up to 12 weeks but its unpaid unless you live in certain states or have PTO to use) I know at my company, we only provide whatever PTO you have for pay, then you go on short term disability at 60% pay (I dont recall how long this lasts but not up to 12 weeks) and then any remaining time up to 12 weeks is unpaid.

      1. cardigarden*

        God bless America, am I right? It’s enough to make the terrible commute not worth it and I have better paid leave where I’m at, even though my salary is… so much less than what this job is offering.

    2. No name yet*

      Make sure you’re looking at the most up-to-date information for your area. My memory is that as of last fall, the fed now has 12 weeks paid parental leave – but that’s very new! AFAIK that applies to all fed employees, but there certainly could be exceptions.

      I’m in VHA, and when I had my kid 7 years ago, I took 6 weeks sick leave (for vaginal birth, would have been able to take more if it was a c-section), and then used 3 weeks of vacation time and 1 week of unpaid leave for the rest of my parental leave. I took all of that time under FMLA, just as an extra caution to protect my job, and it made those unpaid days easier administratively. It was all pretty straightforward, mostly just depended on how much leave I had saved up.

      Happy to answer other questions about my experience, but I definitely would double-check to see if you’d qualify under the new rules!

    3. nope*

      Not sure what you are reading. Federal employees can take off 12 weeks paid leave anytime within 12 weeks of a birth, adoption or foster placement. You do need to be employed one year before taking the leave.

      1. nope*

        Oops- I meant they can take the 12 weeks off within 12 MONTHS of the broth, adoption or foster placement!

      2. cardigarden*

        I’m discovering that I really shouldn’t be surprised that OPM hasn’t updated their website. The main link for paid leave still goes to documentation from 2015.

    4. Lex*

      The parental leave policy is that after a year of federal employment, you’re entitled to 12 weeks of paid parental leave, but you have to work for at least 12 weeks after returning at that position.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “it reads like you can only take whatever sick leave you have accumulated up to 6-8 weeks if you want to be paid for any part of it.” The PPL is separate from sick leave. you can take sick leave on top of PPL if you want.

      1. cardigarden*

        The main link for paid leave on the OPM website still goes to documentation from 2015 which essentially says that if you want any pay at all after the birth or placement of a child, you must use whatever sick leave you’ve accrued up to 6-8 weeks depending on how difficult your delivery as the birthing parent was.

    5. Policy Wonk*

      What you have is out of date. We get 12 weeks at my agency, if you have been there for a year. If less than a year you are in the situation described – cobbling together annual and sick leave. I have had several employees take the leave – sometimes alternating with the spouse so neither leaves their job too long. (I had one take it in alternating four week chunks, another that did six weeks two weeks at a time.)

  57. Endless meetings*

    How do folks who have back-to-back meetings most days manage to get work done?

    I’m fairly new at my job and I’m struggling with the number of meetings I’m in. On some days I have maybe 30 mins of non- meeting time to work on any action items that come from said meetings. I am not great at multitasking and these meetings really zap my energy. I’m already planning to talk to my boss to see if I can find ways to reduce the amount of meetings I’m required to attend, but in the meantime I wanted to ask how people manage to get work done! Have any of you figured out how to structure meeting heavy days to still get work tasks done?

    Any tips or tricks would be helpful. Thanks!

    1. Ashley*

      I try to get work done before the meetings start. Also if any are online and you don’t have to be fully present checking email then is helpful to knock out quick simple things. Otherwise try scheduling your own meetings so you have dedicated work time; you may need to talk to your manager about that.

    2. Erica*

      Uh I feel you. I honestly wasn’t able to get much work done on heavy meeting days, so I tried instead to build that into planning and block out “no meeting” times so people couldn’t schedule then. Not sure if you have enough capital at new job to do that but definitely recommend talking to boss about how to make sure you have time/space to do the many other aspects of your job outside of meetings

    3. No smart name ideas*

      I block time on my calendar to actually do the work—that way people don’t book me in back-to-back meetings. If one comes up, I either move the work schedule block to accommodate it, or I request a different time for the meeting (which I do often depends upon seniority of the people scheduling/in the meetings).

  58. Feminist, but don't want to be the standard bearer*

    I raised an issue of implicit gender bias in my workplace. My (male) manager took it very personally, and became defensive. He now wants to have a meeting with myself (a woman), another woman in a similar role, and a number of male managers, about my “allegations of sexism”.

    I don’t feel comfortable having this conversation. Based on the initial conversation I had with my manager, and a previous time I tried to raise an issue with perceptions of sexism among women in my workplace, it will not go well. (Happy to get into past examples if need be, for context/reasons I’m concerned.) I have asked for a facilitator to be present in the meeting, because I am not a professional at communicating about these issues. My boss has refused.

    I am looking for a couple of sentences I can repeat, that are professional, concise, and allow me to basically “plead the 5th” in the meeting. Something like “I do not feel comfortable being asked to prove to a group of men in power over me that gender bias exists and it is a problem, without an advocate present.”

    Any suggestions on wording?

    (Going to HR/using HR as the advocate isn’t an option. We’re a very small company, and HR is another woman who has the exact same issue in trying to discuss gender bias with upper management.)

    1. kina lillet*

      Can you reach out to an employment attorney experienced with gender discrimination issues? They’d probably have counsel on this front–especially because it sounds like you’re worried about the safety of your job. You could have a consultation with them, they could help you write a severe letter about not participating in the meeting without an advocate, or other aid they think is appropriate.

      1. Feminist, but don't want to be the standard bearer*

        I’m honestly not worried about my job, just the emotional experience of having to participate in the meeting. It will feel terrible and nothing will be accomplished. We’re talking minor microaggressions and overall patterns, which are doubly hard to define as gendered because it also follows the admin support/technical divide… and just so happens all our admin support employees are women, who are also the women who most often come to me with these frustrations. (I am on the technical side.)

        I had a suggestion from someone IRL to frame the problem that way, rather than gender, and that may be a good starting point.

        1. kina lillet*

          Good, I’m really glad to hear that! Yes, it sounds like the meeting will be absolutely awful.

          Look, you and they both know that they’re not coming into this in good faith. I think it would be a mistake to really try and engage them in good-faith explanation of why this is sexist, and why that is a microaggression. You have those explanations ready if they’re willing to hear them but they’re not interested.

          I was taking a look at your other posts, and it sounds like they probably will want to argue you out of the substance of your complaints about sexism. Maybe this is a politician kind of move, but for the duration of a meeting? I think it’s possible to largely avoid engaging on the substance and then leave.

          For example, at the top of the meeting, when you have a chance to speak, you can take it back to square one no matter what question they asked or how it started out: “Ok–well, let me say at the top that My Female Colleague In This Meeting and I have a hard stop at X time, so we’ll probably have to cut the meeting then. And, I’m interested in using this meeting as a way to talk about our shared commitment in making our company culture as inclusive as it can be for our non-technical staff and the women who work here. I know it’s hard to think that we have progress to make on that front, but I have some ideas prepared for how to move forward.”

          (Your ideas being, possibly hiring a diversity consultant, as you mentioned.)

          During the meeting, eye contact and a friendly face is your friend. Saying: “hmm, let me think about that” before you say anything, is your friend. Moving the focus to the meeting itself, or tangents, or other details, those are also your friends though they’re annoying tactics to be faced with–say they want the detailed examples of sexism that have been reported to you and you don’t want to reveal. “Well, I don’t have permission to reveal a lot of those details, and I don’t think it would be fair to in this context. Let’s shift the focus to the pattern we’re seeing, which is…” These are specific examples of things to say, but I think it’s really about BSing and–most importantly–feeling like you have the power to drive the discussion. I think you have, or can take, that power.

          When you hit your hard stop time, get the F out of there. “Sorry, it’s hit X time and we have a hard stop–I apologize. Let’s email about any follow-ups.”

          Good luck. I know this might not work for your situation or for you at all, but really I want to emphasize that you CAN get through this and you have no responsibility to try to match their bad-faith ‘debate’ with good-faith debate.

    2. Ashley*

      I would try to make a bullet point list for the meeting, but honestly it sounds like a bad culture fit. One of the things about fixing things like sexism, sometimes it is ok to say I am not fighting this war here today.

      1. Feminist, but don't want to be the standard bearer*

        Yeah, I created a bullet list in the last conversation we had about implicit gender bias in the workplace. Basically upper management just worked through my bullets one by one and explained why I was wrong for thinking it was a gender issue.

        The bullets I’m preparing this time are much more along the lines of “we live in a culture that creates gender roles and gendered expectations, so our workplace isn’t immune from sexism, no matter how well-intentioned you (men of upper management) are.”

        I think the major disconnect is that when I raise an issue where it’s like “hey, this pattern exists, and it’s a problem,” upper management hears that as “you, Mr. Manager, are sexist and a bad person who doesn’t respect women.”

        The feedback I was given yesterday (by upper management) is that rather than say “this exists and it’s a problem,” I should instead say “I have observed the following. Why do we think that is happening?” and not just present it as a gendered problem immediately.

        Really, this is the least-bad place I’ve worked in terms of sexism, so I’m not going to jet over this issue, and I just need to learn to keep my mouth shut. The company culture of conflict and debate does not extend to male fragility.

    3. ArtsNerd*


      Go in with the polite fiction that they’re eager to learn more instead of planning to defend themselves. I’d tell them that there is lots of research and writing on unconscious gender bias in the workplace, that it can be subtle and you understand why it might not be obvious to them. Make sure to use “unconscious” in the term. Either offer a couple of links from Harvard Business Review or other stodgy publications or suggest that they hire a DEI consultant or confer with an employment attorney instead of relying on your word. Upper management LOVE consultants, almost as a rule.

      Basically treat their egos as delicate as spun sugar, and make sure you’re referring to (white male) authorities that aren’t just some abrasive woman.

      Or get out of dodge because your workplace sucks! Easier said than done, but I spent years in a job where at least 40% of my time was spent on this kind of unnecessary emotional labor, trying to figure out how to exert my expertise without insisting that I actually am an expert on the things I’m definitely an expert in, etc. Walking away was the best thing I could have done for my health.

      1. ArtsNerd*

        Or you could say exactly what you listed in your post if you don’t want to play the demure maiden. I don’t mean to say you need to (or even should!) play demure maiden. It is just the pragmatic strategy that worked for me after being direct failed miserably.

      2. Feminist, but don't want to be the standard bearer*

        Honestly, the “polite fiction they’re eager to learn more” is where we started! I am a member of our leadership team. A few months ago, we dealt with an internal issue of a new hire who was a bad culture fit, some of which manifested in microaggressions against the women he worked with. I mentioned an issue to the leadership team, thinking that everyone already knew this problem existed. They did not, did not find my “allegations” reasonable or credible, and it was overall a bad experience.

        I asked for a DEI facilitator to be brought in to run a training for the whole company, and there was positive lip-service paid to that idea, and I was asked to make a proposal (even though this is way outside my job role/wheelhouse). I did some research, suggested a well-reputed local company… and nothing happened.

        Yesterday, I saw an article in HBR about how men in the workplace, even men who perceive themselves as allies and advocates, have a hard time seeing unconscious gender bias at work in the workplace. I shared the link with leadership, with a note that I thought this was informative based on other recent conversations. I genuinely thought it was a great resource! Here was a study! With data! In a reputable publication! That explained that even when men really wanted to be good allies, sometimes they fell short. Surely this couldn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, right?

        I should’ve left it there, but I went on to note that one of the particularly strong areas of difference in perception (in the study) mirrored an area that I knew several women on staff were frustrated with. Again, I didn’t think I was presenting new information, I thought that this particular morale issue was something everyone knew about!

        That was a mistake. Upper management immediately became defensive (and I was explicitly told it was my fault because my approach made them defensive). The only issue is my perception, there isn’t actually an imbalance. I only present problems and not solutions. Instead of stating an issue exists, I should state my observations and ask if a problem exists. The original point of the study was totally lost in the defensiveness of the specific issue I mentioned.

        Now they want to have a dedicated meeting about “the issue of unconscious gender bias in the workplace”, rather than just being an ad-hoc discussion in response to a link (that is reasonable!). When I said that based on their response I didn’t feel safe having that meeting, and I wanted a facilitator, I was told we “aren’t there yet” and that hiring a facilitator may be the outcome of the meeting, but we need to have an internal conversation first.

        My takeaway at this point is that this isn’t a problem I want to try to fix. Our workplace is, in theory, very open to differing opinions, conflict, and hard conversations, but that doesn’t extend to male fragility, I guess. Part of the complexity of my advocacy here is that I’m in a specialized technical role, and I don’t experience the issues first-hand. Instead, I hear about them from the women in the admin support staff. (That may be one tactic to get around this issue. Rather than make it a gender issue, make it a technical vs admin issue.)

        I do want to be clear that I don’t think my job is in danger. But I also really don’t want the emotional experience of describing issues more junior women have brought to me, and then being asked to litigate whether or not those are “actually problems” against the two most senior people in the company (both men). Based on our prior interaction, they will ask for very specific examples. I will try to give them, though my examples are issues I’ve heard second-hand from more junior women in the company. They will ask for context and details I don’t have, and dismiss the issues as individual conflicts, not a systemic problem.

        1. irene adler*

          Sounds like managers/men want you to be the fixer here and do the work of pointing out things and then educating them all on ‘what to do different’.

          That should not be your place. At all.

          Is there a diversity trainer/consultant that can be brought in to conduct all of this?
          I get that you are not comfortable attending this meeting. I sure would be as well.

          Would it be possible to ‘turn the tables’ a bit and not even go into the issues/examples at this meeting? Not much would come of that. Either, folks will grudgingly stop doing the behaviors you cite but then segue to doing other things. Or, they will argue away every example you present. Completely counterproductive.

          Instead, can you go directly to asking that a diversity trainer/consultant be contracted to bring resolution to the issues? Seems many there need to be educated on this – and again, that should not be your task. Why not bring in someone versed in this who can provide a productive avenue to solving the issues?

        2. JessicaTate*

          OK, so they want this meeting to be “about the issue of unconscious gender bias in the workplace.” I think that’s your angle to clam up.

          “Listen, fellas [don’t call them fellas], I am not an expert on the issue of unconscious gender bias in the workplace. I am a woman in the workplace and have personally experienced the impacts over the course of my career, but that does not make me an expert in the larger issue. I read that HBR article, thought it was relevant in relation to the specific things we’ve talked about in the past here, and shared it. But I am not an expert in this larger issue. If you would like to explore that very large issue, I think you need an expert – like a gender diversity consultant. I understand you don’t feel we’re ready for that yet. But until we are, I need to be clear that I am not qualified to serve in the place of that expert just because I’m a woman who has experienced or heard about the outcomes of gender-related bias.”

          If they want to talk about the litany of examples, it might be, “Those examples have all been communicated to you and HR previously. There’s nothing new to add. Moreover, I am not an expert in facilitating a discussion about connecting the specific incidents in our workplace to the larger issue raised here. That would be better handled for an expert diversity consultant.”

          And I would go to HR about this and, honestly, ask to have her there. I know you said that she’s hit the same brick wall with them, but… this is still closer to being her job than yours! At this point, you are tapping out of the fight. You can say as much to your women colleagues who come to you with gripes in the future. “Look, I’ve tried and failed to get through to management. I can sympathize, but I can’t fix it here.”

          I would absolutely avoid any reference to the very real issue of being a woman surrounded by and being interrogated by the powerful men of the organization on an issue where you’ve been outspoken about countering their narrative and trying to use evidence to support your points. They hate that. They will start to say YOU were being “adversarial” during the aforementioned interrogation that was requested and led by the powerful men. Ask me how I know.

        3. Qwerty*

          I might just tiredly state something like “I’ve been shut down when I bring up gender issues in good faith. I can’t continue to be the ambassador for women so I recommend discussing it with the source and/or bringing in a professional”.

          This sounds like a really antagonistic setting. If I understand correctly, you and the other woman are not managers? But they want you to face a panel of male managers to discuss “allegations” of sexism? If they keep pushing you in the meeting, then name that the setting is hostile.

          If HR knows there is an issue and is unsuccessful in getting people to listen, then that means nothing is going to change. People who make HR reports will probably not be safe either, so everyone needs to document everything in case anyone needs a lawyer down the line.

          Document, document, document. When the other women come to you to complain, tell them to do the same.

    4. Nesprin*


      Sorry for the shouting, but it sure sounds like they’re preparing to retaliate against you for raising a discrimination complaint.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      You’re not wrong to not want that conversation, that meeting sounds like a trap. Your boss is already defensive and refusing to have a facilitator, which is an awful starting point to any fruitful discussion. So unless you know that some/most of the other male managers are open to having this conversation, I highly doubt the meeting will be effective regardless of what approach you try to take.

      However, you could politely and in writing ask your boss to justify why he doesn’t want a facilitator to be present to help navigate this topic. I think his response (if he bothers to give one) would be very telling. Is there a grandboss who could overrule him on having a facilitator?

      For your actual question, some ideas for what to say in the meeting might be that you are hopeful that raising awareness of the patterns of behavior you have experienced will help everyone be more conscious of their own contributions to the problem. Emphasize that you have experienced *patterns* and these are not one-off instances that can all be explained away as misunderstandings or whatever. If it’s just a misunderstanding, why does it keep happening and always in a way that only disadvantages the women? If you have a chance to meet with the other woman who’s invited and gauge what her thoughts are, that would probably be helpful too.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      Do you… have to attend this meeting? I’m picturing a Marshawn Lynch grey rock approach if you can’t decline (see his press conference where his answer to every question was “I’m just here so I don’t get fined”). Your script is good but I’d go even simpler: “I’ve already expressed my stance on this issue.” “You know my concerns and I can’t discuss it further without an advocate.” etc

  59. MooBoo*

    UK Civil Service!

    I’ve applied for a promotion into a different department/agency and even though it’s only been two weeks since the deadline I’ve convinced myself I won’t get an interview (it is a very desirable role). If you were the hiring manager would you be put off if an applicant asked for feedback given that I wouldn’t have got very far in the process?

    I actually love my current role but the promotion has really got stuck in my head.

    1. Leelee*

      For the Civil Service? Don’t do it. You will know from working there in a different department that recruitment is maddening. It takes months for anything at all to happen.
      It took my friend 7 months from interview (not from the application, that was months earlier) to get hired. And that was a perfectly normal time frame.

      If you contact the hiring manager at all do so in a query about timeframes way, feedback on an application is unlikely to get you anywhere at all in such a short space of time.

  60. Bernice Clifton*

    Any recruiting folks/hiring managers ever have someone resign on poor terms or get let go and reapply for another position?

    1. Anon for This*

      Yes. We began writing job vacancy announcements to try to avoid this person applying again, declined to fill a vacant position at all when HR wanted us to hire him, and reduced more senior jobs to entry-level below the pay he would accept to prevent him from applying. Because he and our HR both seemed to think he was perfect for the job – hey he worked for you before so will slide right in, no need to train him! Sigh.

  61. FORMERHigherEdPerson*

    I do 1:1 leadership coaching in my organization, and a consistent issue I hear from leaders is their struggle with task management/prioritization (basically, they are so busy handling the day to day aspects of their jobs that they can’t do the bigger priorities of their jobs). I’ve coached them on Important vs. Urgent, Big Rocks/Little Rocks, and other techniques, and while it’s helpful, they are still overwhelmed and burning out quickly.
    Are there other things I could work on with them to help them better manage their time? It’s not that they don’t delegate, they just don’t have anyone they can delegate to. Or they themselves are short-staffed, so everyone below them is also burning out. I feel like I’m throwing a cupful of water onto a forest fire.

    1. Ashley*

      I would think something on efficiency would help. How do yo tackle things in the most efficient way possible? For example, are you having a conversation that could be a quick email or msg?
      And do they have email filters setup for newsletters so they don’t clutter the inbox but can be perused later? Unsubscribing from junk newsletters?
      IME the best way for more hours in a day is to use the time you do have as efficiently as possible. One question I would ask them is if they have an repetitive time suck tasks; sometimes with reports there is a faster easier way someone else may know but no one ever bothered to take the time to set up the process because they didn’t know how or didn’t have time.

    2. t-vex*

      I like thinking about *impact* in everything I do. What’s the point of my role? What actions/tasks have the biggest impact on ensuring the reason I’m there is addressed? Do those first.

  62. It even has a watermark*

    If you are in the middle of the process of interviewing somewhere and you have completely rebuilt your resume, is it weird to be like “heyyyy so here is my updated resume……”

    lol maybe not exactly like that

    1. Tuesday*