open thread – October 21-22, 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.

{ 1,035 comments… read them below }

  1. Fragile Bird Bones*

    I find myself confused by FML. I’m a frequent bone breaker. In 2019, I broke a leg bone and had to be non-weight-baring for 2 months. During that time, I had 2-3 physical therapy appointments every week to regain. Because of such frequent time off, not having enough sick leave to cover the appointments, and adding them to my calendar with short notice, I applied for and was granted FML. I still worked at my job but I took the time I needed for my appointments every week. My supervisor and coworkers all knew why I was frequently out of the office and it was never an issue with work load.

    Last year and at a new job; I broke my hand. It was a difficult break that was hard to diagnose. I went through 2 casts, 4 x-rays, and a MRI. Though I had several appointments, I did not apply for FML; I didn’t think I needed to because I had the leave to cover it. My time off was not critiqued in my evaluation. This year, I’ve broken my ankle, still at the same job I broke my hand. I only had two doc appointments but now I need physical therapy; just a few sessions over a month. Though I have the leave to cover it, I’ve been advised that I should apply for FML because it will protect my time off from negativity affecting my yearly evaluation (my supervisor said it’s highly unlikely it would but it would be extra protection for me).

    I mainly thought FML was for unpaid time off and very long running or frequent issues. Should I be applying to FML for every broken bone if I know it will be more than two appointments even if I have the paid leave? I’m soon going to be working with my doctor on my bone density so these breaks happen less to me. Should I get FML for that if it will be several appointments for one issue? When does FML come into effect?

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Do you have a known underlying cause for the breaks? I would suggest applying for intermitten FMLA (which would cover a long term issue that you anticipate will require unexpected time off over an extended period of time) but you do need your doctor to sign off on it – so I’d start by having a conversation with your doctor about at least exploring an underlying cause (that might be the bone denisty test, or something else). The exploration period can also be covered by FMLA but you’ll want your doctor to be part of the conversation.

      1. ferrina*

        Yep, def talk to your doctor. There’s a several underlying conditions that can cause bones to break more easily. It’s worth knowing if you have one of these conditions.

        1. EJ*

          My husband and son both have osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bones) so I am just popping in with sympathy! Frequent fractures are so challenging.

    2. Harried HR*

      I think you FMLA (FML means F*ck My Life!!)

      FMLA is up to 12 weeks of Unpaid Leave (job protection) in a rolling 12 month period. It is irrelevant haw many times you use it, which is why Intermittent FMLA is a thing. The key point is the 12 weeks of job protection and the rolling 12 month calendar.

      Short answer… yes take the leave when you need it.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Lol. Ah that’s good. Is there a site for regular people about this? I have a lot of questions.

          1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

            Woah that’s confusing. I’m supposed to go on fmla if I get a virus and need to rest for a week. This website is confusing me more

      2. JanetM*

        I’m nitpicking here, but I think FMLA is Family Medical Leave Act, and FML is Family Medical Leave (as well as F* my life).

      3. Chilipepper Attitude*

        So you take FML and can get paid (if you have the sick time or whatever)?

        Is that right?

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          The most common scenario is people use FML if they run out of sick time or will be out for a significant period of time. FML itself is unpaid, but employers may have other policies or let you use your accrued time concurrently. The biggest thing with FML is job protection. You can’t be fired, demoted, or penalized for taking protected leave.

      4. FMLA Weirdness*

        FMLA isn’t always a rolling 12 months, employers can choose to use one of four different options, they just have to specify which one they’re using in their FMLA policy and stick to it. I believe it’s either calendar year, a fixed 12 month period, a 12 month period looking forward, or the rolling option.

    3. Zephy*

      The Family Medical Leave Act makes it illegal for your employer to discipline or terminate you specifically due to needing time off for a medical condition. It’s like putting a bookmark on your job so you can step away to handle [PT/post-childbirth recovery/cancer treatment/mental health treatment, etc, whether your own or someone else’s] without worrying about being fired or disciplined for absenteeism. (That’s how I understand it, please correct me if I’m wrong.)

      It’s probably a good idea to have the FMLA in place at this job and all future ones because this is a known issue for you, it will eventually affect your availability to work and you don’t want your boss to be able to fire or discriminate against your medical condition just because you didn’t file some paperwork.

      1. Snow Globe*

        Yes, that’s correct. The original purpose of the act was to protect jobs of people who need to be out for medical reason (theirs or their family members), which is why the act doesn’t specify if the leave is paid or not. I agree with always requesting FMLA to ensure absenteeism doesn’t become an issue.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        I had to be out for a month and a half after surgery, and my HR department required me to apply for FMLA even though I had PTO to cover it and my boss encouraged me to take all the time off I needed. It might just be “the way things are done”.

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

          exactly, it’s so that if someone else in the company looks at the OP’s absenteeism they can see that it’s not just slacking off.

      3. JSPA*

        Yes!

        Even if the eventual diagnosis is “nah, just clumsy” (or “statistics, some people do happen to get hit twice by lightening, or break three bones in short order”) rather than something systemic with your bones–or your reaction time?

        There presumably will either be a barrage of tests to rule out an underlying problem, or some sort of ongoing testing and therapy (whether it’s metabolic / nutritional or mindfullness / volitional or, well, whatever!) to treat an underlying problem.

        The only reason not to take it is if you suspect something underlying that’s so serious, that you need to horde those 12 weeks of leave for [insert serious thing with serious recovery time].

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

      When you broke your hand, how long had you been with your new company? If it was less than a year, your boss may not have suggested it then because you wouldn’t have qualified for FMLA, but is suggesting it now because you do. I wouldn’t necessarily read an implied threat, but companies don’t close the book on absenteeism when the first issue is resolved and start over; there is a cumulative effect. They’re going to be keeping track of all the time off from the hand break AND the ankle break, and any other leave, from now on.

      1. Mockingjay*

        It’s worth asking even if you haven’t been with a company for a year. The law kicks in at one year of employment, but companies can make exceptions on their own.

        One more note for OP: FML is usually granted after an employee has used up their leave. Find out what your company policy is. Mine allowed me to take a month of FML without using my remaining leave balance. It was nice not having to start banking leave all over again when I returned.

  2. Not a Tiger King Fan*

    What’s a script to shut down conversation with a coworker about a personal choice of theirs I disagree with?
    My coworker is getting an exotic pet. It’s legal in the state we live in, but I personally don’t think people should have them. If this was a friend of mine I would be laying out all the reasons I think this is a bad idea (an apartment isn’t enough space, working full time means you can’t fulfill social needs, the animal can potentially injure you- even accidentally, expensive care, it’s literally a wild animal not a domesticated species, etc). Further coloring my views, I worked at an exotic animal rescue years ago. We didn’t have any of that particular species, but lots of similar ones so I know just how hard the care is..
    When they first started talking about it I mentioned my concerns but they didn’t want to hear them. And they’re a coworker so it’s really not my business. But they’re excited and want to talk to me about it. I’ve so far managed to say polite nothings and run away but I’m looking for something so they stop bringing it up. Is “Due to my experience at [rescue] I’m not the right audience for this conversation.” too weird/mean? What should I say if they ask why. I can’t just come out and say “I think no one should have the animal you just paid a stupid amount of money for in their home.”
    I may be overthinking this, but I already dislike this coworker and they’re historically very thin-skinned so I need to be careful with my phrasing.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      “Due to my experience at [rescue] I’m not the right audience for this conversation” is the right combination of honesty and chilliness.

      I’d make it more clear by dropping the rescue thing – don’t give the coworker a wedge to object. “Due to my experience with feral ungulate I’m not the right audience…”

      1. Spicy Tuna*

        I like your second suggestion, and tone is very important here…I’d be a little concerned with just the rescue part that the coworker may think that OP is offering up their experience and therefore advice on the new pet.

    2. ErinB*

      I think that’s great phrasing, perhaps with the addition of a validating intro. “I know you’re really excited about this, but due to my experience at [rescue], I’m not the right audience to talk about this.”

      Delivered in a kind but unapologetic tone, this should be pretty clear.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think your line is fine. If they ask why you can say “I have strong feelings on the subject that I really don’t want to get into at work. Thank you for understanding.” and just repeat as needed. I know this is hard. Your tone will probably make a huge difference in how they receive it. I’d shoot for gentle/friendly and not saying it through gritted teeth with a look of disgust, yknow? Maybe practice that if the subject is an anger trigger for you. “Historically very thin-skinned” people are usually reactive to tone.

    4. Everything Bagel*

      Honestly, I think, “Due to my experience at [rescue] I’m not the right audience for this conversation,” is the perfect response. You’ll probably only need to say it once and won’t be asked to elaborate, but you should try for a friendly tone.

    5. bicality*

      Your phrasing is very similar to what I use. I don’t usually give any background reason, I just say “I’m not the right person to have this conversation with.” And repeat it if they press. Even if they have annoyed you enough to warrant the wrath of your actual opinion, it’s probably going to be more diplomatic to just refuse to participate in the conversation.

      And they might think refusing to participate is rude, but they had a chance to internalize how you felt about the situation and they chose to ignore it. Keeping it civil at work is all you’re bound to, at this point.

    6. Harried HR*

      Key Point here is you CANNOT control other people and their choices. You CAN control how you react.

      Behave like a Grey Rock with responses like Good for you, yes you already mentioned that, Ok…let’s talk about work topic.

      You already don’t like this person you don’t have to engage outside of a cordial working relationship.

      1. tessa*

        “Key Point here is you CANNOT control other people and their choices. You CAN control how you react.”

        …which is what LW is asking about, i.e. the one-line response (“reaction”) LW offered for discussion here.

    7. No Tribble At All*

      I think because you mentioned your initial concerns, you can say “look, I get you’re excited about Fluffy, but you remember I said before I think Komodo Dragons are too dangerous to be pets? I’m not the right person to talk to about this.”

      1. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

        As someone who loves Komodo dragons (but recognizes they’re not meant to be pets!), I loved this example so much.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          I’m now imagining a Komodo dragon wandering around my small apartment. I suspect my cats would not be happy with the new roommate.

            1. Kay*

              There are not many times I find myself thankful I’m out of coffee. This is one of those times. Appreciate that laugh!

    8. KoiFeeder*

      I think “Due to my experience at [rescue] I’m not the right audience for this conversation.” is a reasonable thing to say- if they keep pushing at you or start giving you crap they’re the weird and rude one.

    9. SoloKid*

      I think your script is fine, and even beyond that, I would become a wet blanket by bringing up concerns with the same “enthusiasm”.

      Them: “Percy did a backflip today!”
      You: “They don’t do that in nature because XYZ predator would see them.”

      Do you have contacts at your animal rescue that could give you some scripts?

    10. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’m going to go against the majority here. I think if you go for a jugular, “stop them from ever mentioning it in my presence again” angle you’re likely not going to get the reaction you want. If you go for the strong anti reaction, you’re going to rally other coworkers and the individual to want to convince you to change your mind about it, and have wayyyyy more conversations regarding new pet. Coworker will feel like they need to justify ownership of pet. You might even have HR conversations about it if you or they make it super hostile. If it’s boring to talk about new pet to you (ie you grey rock politely) you’ll get less and less of it over time (its more fun to talk to other people about pet). I’d just keep grey rocking and changing the topic. (Leaves it open to interpretation, maybe OP doesn’t approve, maybe OP finds pets boring, maybe OP has phobia of pet, who knows not us lets get back to work)

      1. Not a Tiger King Fan*

        That’s what I’m afraid of too. And I know I’ll definitely having a hard time staying neutral in a prolonged conversation when I really just want to tell about ethics and animal welfare, lol

    11. Elle Woods*

      “Due to my experience at [rescue]…” is the perfect response, especially if delivered in a calm, even tone. Repeat as necessary.

    12. Posie*

      I would probably soften my tone a lot given that the coworker is thin-skinned. Something like, “I actually used to work for a rescue and saw a lot of unfortunate things happen when people adopted exotic animals. It’s kind of a sore spot for me, so it bothers me to talk about it in general.”

      And then when they inevitably say, “But it will be different for me because, blah blah blah…” Just smile regretfully and say, “I’m sorry, it *really* bothers me to discuss this. Can we not? Thanks for understanding.”

      1. Jessica*

        FWIW, this is the sentence I could imagine myself saying in a work context most easily. Or for an even softer approach, what about, “I’ve actually had some past bad experiences with pet lions, so the topic makes me really uncomfortable, can we not talk about it?” My guess is a thin-skinned person might be flattered to learn about your implied Secret Lion Tragedy and therefore respect your wishes to not bring it up. And your statement wouldn’t be untrue — you’ve seen some bad things happen with pet lions.

    13. Not teenage but still ninja turtle*

      I guess I’m going against the grain here, but I would consider a very confused look accompanied by “You know I used to for [rescue], so I’m not sure why you’re looking to me for support/enthusiasm. Let’s get back to [work topic].” I also feel strongly about this, so I would want it to be crystal clear from the get-go how I felt and that future discussion is not an option.

      1. MurpMaureep*

        I’d definitely fall into this camp (and also have very strong feelings about animal welfare and exotic pets).

        I think it’s totally valid to push back a bit while making clear you have no interest in engaging in the conversation. Not to be confrontational, per se, but to be firm that your stance has not and will not change.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        I’d be concerned that might get a response along the lines of “but surely you must LOVE exotic animal, since you worked for the rescue,” with the implication that therefore how can you NOT be excited to hear of all the cute things THEIR exotic animal did.

        I would guess the idea that they worked for the rescue makes the coworker think they’d be really interested in hearing about it, like one might expect somebody who works at a dog rescue to be interested in hearing about somebody’s new dog. I’m not saying it IS the same, just that the coworker probably sees it that way.

    14. Raw Flour*

      I think that’s a perfect script.

      I got a similar response once – although it wasn’t because my coworker disagreed with my personal choice*, but because it was an upsetting topic for them due to their past career. I was not offended and we moved on without my ever mentioning it again.

      *I mean, I’m making an assumption. The topic at hand was my volunteer work with an NGO, which I think is pretty unobjectionable.

    15. JSPA*

      I think you can even say, “I’m not the right audience for your enthusiasm. More specifically, I don’t want to give you the misleading sense that by talking to me, you’re being proactive, or preventing a bad outcome. Every owner we dealt with had been just as excited as you now are, and believed they had being proactive. And it still ended in tears and abandonment, if not injuries.”

      Because that’s the crux of the matter, isn’t it? They’re telling themselves that they’re talking to a subject matter expert, which is making them feel better about the process. I think you CAN name that dynamic, and insist on stepping out of that dynamic, without straight-out saying, “this is a sucky idea.”

      And you’re not even saying it’s a sucky idea; you’re saying that no amount of talking to you is going to make the idea better, or more foolproof. That’s a completely legitimate point, with anyone.

      (In terms of pure formal logic, it’s of course possible that some such “adoptions” do work out–and those are the ones that rescue operations never see.)

      1. Not a Tiger King Fan*

        To be clear, I’m not an expert and they don’t think I am. It’s more just coming up in small talk and I know I’m not able to fake even a little bit of enthusiasm for it.
        I just don’t think a social and intelligent animal should be kept in an apartment. At zoos there’s a staff of people to make sure the animals are getting everything they need physically and mentally with enrichment and training. And the animals are kept in groups for socializing. We work in an office so there’s no way they can provide that level of interaction since they’re gone for 8+ hours a day.

        1. Me ... Just Me*

          I’ll be honest that I think you should just change the subject or grey rock them. No need to even interject your thoughts of disproval or prior experience as it will only end badly. If something is legal and all that, it should get a “social pass” at work. I need to do this with all sorts of things that my coworkers are excited about but that I think are ill-advised. I don’t tell them not to talk about it, but I do just grey rock the conversation.

          1. Not a Tiger King Fan*

            That makes total sense. I’d rather not have to hear about it at all, but after talking through it more here, I think saying something would just lead to attempted justification and then arguments.

        2. Marna Nightingale*

          It is possible depending on your office culture that this is too chilly for you to use without it turning into A Thing but no, you’re not being too mean. At all.

          On related matters I have occasionally resorted flat-out to:

          “Velociraptors shouldn’t be kept as pets. It’s a bad life for them. You’re not going to change my mind. So this isn’t a conversation you want to have with me. And since there’s nothing I can do to change your mind, it’s not a conversation I want to have with you.”

          And if they persist, you can choose between “No, thank you!” and just wandering off quietly.

          (If you’re minded to, you could keep the number and address of the closest good velociraptor rescue centre handy, because we all know the day will come.)

          1. Marna Nightingale*

            As you said you don’t want to give them anything to argue with, I should add that the bits around the core of it can be tweaked. The core is 1) “I don’t want to discuss how cute your velociraptor is, and I’m not going to”, with or without the implied “and if you keep asking me what I think, I WILL tell you.”

    16. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      “As I’ve said before, my experience with exotic animal rescue has left me with considerable health and safety concerns for both the animal and the owner in these situations, and I’m not able to get excited about this, or even continue this conversation.” Exit Stage Left.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        And if they continue, It’s weird that you keep talking about this after I asked you not to.

    17. HannahS*

      If you want to avoid fallout because this person is thin-skinned:
      “Well, I hope it goes well. Can we talk about [work thing]? I was hoping to get your opinion of [work task.]”

      I find it easier to say something if I know it isn’t a lie. I’m sure that you DO hope that it goes well and not like it went in other cases.

    18. marvin*

      I think it depends on whether it’s more important to you to keep the peace or to not have to hear about this. I think it’s very reasonable to not want to hear about something that upsets you at work, and your coworker is being rude because they know how you feel. I understand why it can be worth it to sometimes put up with suboptimal behaviour from coworkers but if you’re finding that it really bothers and distracts you to be confronted by this topic at work, I think it’s okay to recognize and prioritize that.

    19. Contracts Killer*

      Wow, I’ve never had a situation that I’m so qualified to answer (for better or worse). I am an officer and foster for an exotic rescue. I’ve seen the absolute worst case scenarios for an unfortunate amount of things. Here are my go-to ways of handling things when a coworker, friend, or family says they plan to get an exotic pet:
      – Hey, I have some experience with X animal and can probably save you a lot of money and headaches if you want to talk before you get it.
      – Did you know you can get X animal from Y rescue, you don’t have to go through a breeder or pet store? There are so many that are surrendered because they’re much more expensive/destructive/whatever than people anticipate.
      -Were you able to find an exotic vet? In my experience, most have a multi-month wait list and an appointment will cost you about $200 just to get in the door. Exotic vets are recommending holding off on getting new animals until the vet shortage is better.

      Those approaches generally get people to genuinely want additional information from me, quietly walk away and come to their own realization that it’s a terrible idea, or try to argue. For those that argue (and while he’s not arguing, I’d put your coworker in this group because you’ve already expressed that it’s not a great idea and he’s proceeding anyway):
      – I appreciate that you are excited, but I have seen the heartbreak of surrendered animals that miss their families or have severe medical problems because well-intentioned people didn’t know how to properly care for them or didn’t have the resources. I’m sorry, but I can’t be the audience for your excitement about an exotic pet.

      That’s a buzzkill, room-clearing response that is very likely to shut down all future attempts at conversation and you’re never finger pointing or saying that coworker will be one of those people (though it’s heavily implied).

      Oh, and PSA for anyone reading this – there are more than just puppy mills. When you get a small animal from a pet store or farm store, it has likely come from a rat/guinea pig/mouse mill and pet store pets receive minimal or no vet care. Our rescue receives calls A LOT from employees that were directed to put sick animals in the trash, hide them in the back until they died, or sell them knowing that they were sick. If you want an exotic or farm pet, search for rescues first. You might be surprised at the kinds of animals that are available (and we spay/neuter and use foster homes for socialization).

      1. Not a Tiger King Fan*

        That’s super helpful! Unfortunately they already got the animal but I’ll remember those lines.

  3. Orange Crushed*

    I overheard my boss talking to my manager on the phone about me. We had a meeting and then after the meeting, my manager called the manager who sits directly across from me. They were talking about me! I sit right there so obviously they wanted me to hear it.

    I wanted to say, “Is there something that you want to say to me?” They don’t know how to talk to people. Example: My manager turned the ringer up on my phone because I didn’t answer when he called me (I was in a meeting), instead of talking to me about it. (A coworker told me this after I nearly jumped out of my seat because of the sound.)

    After our meeting my boss seemed mad or something because when I turned in a form to take a day off, she said that I had to talk to people to see if it was okay, but no one does that! We just fill out the form and turn it in. I just wanted one day off and it is for a wedding next month- my coworker said that he gave a one day notice about taking a week off and she approved it! Wtf? I just want 1 day!

    The next day my manager called me and acted nice, which seemed fake and obvious.

    I don’t know why I’m held to a different standard. I also don’t know why they can’t speak to you directly when there’s a problem.

    Any advice? What would you do in these situations?

    1. Everything Bagel*

      Regarding the day off, I would say in the moment, “I thought the process is just turning the form, so has the process changed?” And then just let her answer. If she says yes it’s changed say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t see that communication. Was it emailed or posted somewhere?” At least then she’ll have to explain herself better and you are asking honest questions without any sort of attitude about it.

    2. Everything Bagel*

      The ringer thing is weirdly passive aggressive when she could have just asked you if you were away from your desk when she was trying to contact you. I would put a piece of tape over it so it can’t easily be adjusted again, if that’s possible. I had to do that on an old desk phone that I would always accidentally turn the ringer up just moving things around and had to put tape over it to keep it from happening. Who knows what other goofy things should come up with though. She sounds like a jerk.

        1. NaoNao*

          I suspect the line of thinking was that if the OP was somewhere in a 10′ radius they could hear the phone and rush over.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Aside from looking for another job, what I do when I’m stuck in a situation surrounded by passive-aggressive people is become deliberately obtuse /oblivious about what they are implying. Take everything exactly at face value and be very literal.

      If they say, “It’s fine,” in a tone that implies it’s not fine, I say “Great!” and act like it’s actually fine. If they say I have to ask people for time off, I go around and say “Betty said I needed you to approve my time off.”

      The only way to win that game is not to play at all.

      1. WellRed*

        I agree here. Either your boss has taken a dislike to you or they treat anyone in the role this way. Either way, you can’t win.

      2. MurpMaureep*

        I’ve worked with a lot of weirdly passive aggressive people in my career, and I come from a family whose native language is passive aggression. I’ve also found that the best response is to kill with kindness. Take them entirely at face value, be upbeat, do not rise to the bait or snipe back…that’s what they want.

        This can be even more effective with those who have power and authority over you because if they become actively combative they risk invoking HR/policy protocols and then you can document their inconsistencies.

        1. Lana Kane*

          I dealt with this a lot in patient-facing jobs in healthcare and that was exactly my approach. I have had to occasionally use it with managers as well, and it’s worked as long as I try really hard to cover the annoyance on my face!

          The example that comes to mind is actually with a coworker. Every morning there was a staff huddle and each team had to have 1 representative. It wasn’t my day to attend but I sat very close by. The admin assistant, who was on the more aggressive side of passive-aggressive, read out names of people who had made some sort of small mistake and said they were on her shit list. I was one of those names. I went over and said “I heard my name, is there something I can help with?” – the look on her face was pretty great. Never happened again.

    4. Books and Cooks*

      What was your manager saying about you, that you overheard? What was the meeting about? Is your position the same as the others in your workplace, or do you have a different job that might require a different procedure for requesting days off?

      What’s the general atmosphere in your workplace like?

      Sorry, I want to help, but without knowing the situation I don’t know what to say.

    5. Michelle Smith*

      I’d look for a new job, personally. This is not a healthy work environment and I can’t work for petty, vindictive people.

    6. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Nasty. It doesn’t matter who you are or what they might think of you as a person or employee; this is just gross behavior. Get out. ASAP.

    7. Linda*

      IME people act like this when they know, at least subconsciously, that their negative feelings are unreasonable. They don’t like the color of your clothes, or what school you went to, or that you eat turkey sandwiches for lunch, and since they can’t force you to wear pastels or what have you, and they can’t manage their feelings, it comes out as passive-aggressiveness. Also a lot of people are plain bullies.

      I agree with the other commenters that it’s time to job search.

      1. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

        Ugh! So many grown ass adults in the workplace like to be bullies or find a scapegoat. It’s so ridiculous and like they never got past high school.
        Just WHY? Are so many Americans that stunted emotionally?

  4. Help Me Rhonda*

    I need help adjusting to what I think is a good workplace being mared by my past bad work experiences.

    I started a new job 6 months ago- it’s SO much better than my past jobs- better people, lighter workload, higher pay and it’s in big tech. The biggest adjustment is my boss is much more hands on- she’s pretty involved in my projects where as my old bosses were not involved unless I had an issue. It’s not in a micromanagement way, moreso she prefers to be the point of contact when working with senior leadership and she sometimes takes on deliverables in my project that past bosses would absolutely not touch at all. She gives me a lot of praise (even when I feel I don’t deserve it) whereas past jobs I got not much. Additionally, she’s the nicest human ever.

    Sound great right? But I can’t help but feel super paranoid something is off. I understand due to my past jobs (hello BigLaw!), I may have gotten a warped view of the way ppl work. One big thing is she doesn’t provide constructive criticism the way past managers did- she does tell me when she wants me to change the way I’m doing something but she doesn’t really stress how critical things are. I can’t tell if she is too nice and doesn’t want to hurt my feelings- or is it that my past jobs have just been so crazy, they would freak out over little things (I am aware enough to know no mistakes I’ve made have been truly critical to the business, just peoples egos)

    The past few work years have been rough and I really am welcoming a lighter workload and not needing to handle people dynamics or office politics. I don’t really want to rock the boat and take on more work but I also don’t want to be blindsided come review time (1 month until our officially 6 month check in) and I especially do not want to lose this job. How do I quell my paranoia while keeping things the same?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yeah, I think you’ve definitely been warped by past jobs.

      BigLaw tends to make every single document The. Most. Important. Filing. Of. All. Time. I think the partners foster that as a way to squeeze more hours out of the scrambling associate attorneys, and then that all rolls downhill to paralegals and support staff. They also conflate importance and urgency.

      You know, of course, that logically the 17th draft of the real estate sale-leaseback agreement between Acme Llama Farms and Teapot Land Management Trust III is just another piece of paper. So when you feel a sense of doubt or paranoia, just take a moment and make a dispassionate analysis of how important your particular task really is.

      Also, make it a habit to ask your boss about what’s critical and urgent. “NewThing sounds important – should I do it before OldThings 1 and 2?”

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        Having been in BigLaw and also in-house, this is exactly right. BigLaw treats every little nitpicky error as The End Of The World How Could This Happen How Can We Go On! In-house is much more of a “good enough, don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good” vibe. There just isn’t time or incentive in house to sweat the small stuff.

    2. LDN Layabout*

      Check in with them explicitly about this (that’s it). If they’re a nice person who already values your work, it will go fine.

      I had to do this with a manager (manages work but not me) recently since my current job is reasonably new, in a slightly different area to what I was doing previously and more senior. So while she was friendly and there’d been good feedback, I felt a lot better saying ‘I’m still not familiar enough with X to identify if what I did with Y had any issues. Please let me know if you catch something I didn’t.’

      You’ll likely end up in the same situation as me where the response was: No, it’s all great and having you here is helpful. Keep doing what you’re doing.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Seconding this. In my first few months at a new and good workplace, I was walking on eggshells based on my bad experience at my previous job. I brought it up directly with my manager. She was glad I said something, and reassured me that everything was fine. That’s all I needed to let go of all that old stuff.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      It takes a while to get over a bad work environment. When I was very young, I worked for a psychologically abusive manager (who knew exactly what he was doing). After 2 years of that environment, it took me another 2 years to recover and feel comfortable in a work environment again.

      With your manager, since she seems like a very good person, I would tell her that you need her to be direct about what she wants you to change and with what she wants you to take on / what the priority work is. I would tell her that your prior company was very high stress and that you are loving the more people-friendly culture, but that it would help you for her to be quite clear and direct with you about what she wants you to focus on.

    4. Sparrow*

      If she’s telling you when you need to do something differently, I think that IS constructive criticism – what you’re doing isn’t working; I need you to do it like this instead. I suspect the criticism you’re used to wasn’t actually that constructive, and I’d guess your boss isn’t freaking out because 1) the issues aren’t actually freak-out worthy and 2) she doesn’t need to freak out for you to take the correction seriously and do as asked. I think you’re probably fine, but since you have a reasonable boss, I think it doesn’t hurt just to ask her directly for feedback!

      1. All Het Up About It*

        I suspect the criticism you’re used to wasn’t actually that constructive

        This is so good! OP – Please read Sparrow’s sentence several times!!!

        Now – it’s possible that you’d like your boss to not only tell you what she wants you to do differently, but also why and that’s fine. (Sometimes – don’t do it all the time!) Is that also something that is bothering you? I’m a big “like to know why” person, so I have learned to in the work place 1) do my own research a lot of the time 2) Reply to a correction with “Oh absolutely I can do that. Do we do it that way because…..*insert some possible observation/research I made* 3) Sure! I can make that change going forward. Is there a particular reason we use the Goldenrod paper for Accounts Receivable, when we use the Mint for Accounts Payable?

        Als0 – If you want to have feed back prior to your formal evaluation – ask for it! In a 1:1, state, I know we’ll have our formal 6 month check in a month, but do you have any feed back for me that I can work on prior to that?

        And don’t be afraid to ask if her involvement in how she will always handle things, or if it’s because you are still so new!! It’s quite possible that she’ll be less hands off, or let you play point with leadership after you’ve been there for longer than 5 months.

        It really, really sounds like you are letting past toxic work experiences amp up your anxiety. There’s not perfect way to recover from that other than time, but just keep reminding yourself that your past experiences WERE toxic.

        And read Sparrow’s statement again.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        Exactly, “I need you to do it this way in the future” is the best way to deliver actionable constructive criticism when A) the employee doesn’t resist feedback and B) the mistake wasn’t that serious.

        You mentioned that you’re concerned about your upcoming performance review. Ask your manager about it! Ask if you’re meeting expectations, which areas you need to work on, how good your work has been overall. If you start feeling comfortable, ask about what you would need to do to get a promotion; that will give you some stretch goals to work on.

    5. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      My therapist likes to remind me to think about “what I know to be true at that moment.” So, based on what you described, all you know to be true is that you have a nice manager, a more manageable workload, and a 6-month review coming up. That’s it. I also work in Big Tech, and if your manager really is a good manager, they won’t surprise you with something major in your review. They’ll likely start with asking how things are going, and then have some things to share with you about what they’re seeing. It does NOT sound like you will be terminated. Ultimately, the only advice I have I have is each time you have those negative thoughts, ask yourself what you know to be true. Even take some deep breaths. Sounds like working in Big Law was traumatic, and it will take time to reset your central nervous system and thought patterns from that environment. It just will. I promise you will eventually get into the rhythm of the new job and industry. Think about how you’ll look back on this at your 1-year review. It will get better. And boo to your previous employer for being such a toxic environment!

      Not sure if this is allowed, but if you and I work at the same Big Tech company, maybe we can find some way to connect. Does your employer start with an M and end with a T :)

    6. Mockingjay*

      I think what’s missing is context for the changes. How do Boss’s changes fit into the workflow? Are her comments simply review comments at this point? Affect the due date?

      It’s an everyday conversation: “Hey, Boss, your feedback on the last few items seem to be about X. Is X something I need to know more about, or do you normally provide inputs for X?” As others have suggested, ask about priorities: “I’m happy to make these changes, but I also have Y and Z in my queue. Can you tell me what to prioritize?”

      Ask in the moment as things come up. These are normal business questions and you’re still learning at this point.

    7. Michelle Smith*

      Story time – My very first annual review post law school I was told that I wasn’t meeting expectations with client and opposing counsel follow-up. Apparently there had been a couple of complaints about how long it took me to return voicemails/emails. This was exceptionally frustrating for me because (1) no one had given me any information at the time of the complaint that this was a problem and (2) I wasn’t given any opportunity to actually speak to the people who complained, apologize, and try to improve the relationship. Instead, I guess they just held this information for months to blindside me? It all just felt extremely off. Of course, at my next review it said I had improved in this area because, you know, I finally had the appropriate feedback I needed to make sure people were happy with the level of communication (even if it wasn’t always from me and sometimes involved my paralegal letting people know I was on trial or whatever it was). So believe me, I get the anxiety of surprise faults being raised in annual reviews! Unhealthy work environments can definitely warp our sense of what’s normal and reasonable.

      Nothing in this post gives me any indication that you are in danger of losing your job or receiving a negative review. I recently transferred out of what is hopefully my last legal role and just had my first review in my new position. My boss was good enough to tell me ahead of time that she doesn’t believe in keeping surprises for annual reviews and that if there was a major problem with my work, she would have addressed it with me as it came up. I expect your boss may be the same way and just hasn’t explicitly verbalized it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with proactively asking your boss about that though, if for no other reason than to quell some of the anxiety (I know some of it won’t go away until your boss has proven you can trust them). Do you have regular one-on-ones? If so, I’d just straight up ask her: “I’ve had experiences in the past where I was given feedback in my annual review that I wish I’d had an opportunity to correct/start working on sooner. I wanted to touch base now and see if there are any areas you’d like me to improve in so I can start working on them now.” Something like that, but in your own voice so it’s more natural and applicable to your situation.

      1. Leandra*

        Another BigLaw alumnus here (staff, not lawyer).
        Legal is my second career and I’ve worked in several BigLaw firms, so I have a basis for comparison.

        These firms can be bureaucratic and absurd beyond belief. But if one hasn’t worked anywhere else, one might not know that. Believe me, they’re not the way the whole world operates.

        I think some bosses save stuff for performance reviews because they don’t like confrontations, either. If they told the person directly, that could open them up for a response the boss doesn’t want to hear.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      “But I can’t help but feel super paranoid something is off. I understand due to my past jobs (hello BigLaw!), I may have gotten a warped view of the way ppl work. One big thing is she doesn’t provide constructive criticism the way past managers did- she does tell me when she wants me to change the way I’m doing something but she doesn’t really stress how critical things.”

      Your ability to trust broke with the last job. Now it is time to work on being able to trust people again.

      The number one thing that jumps at me here is that you want to know how critical it is. I hope you can let go of this need to know how critical it is. I think it comes from a place of “will I get fired for it?”.
      Well if we keep doing something after being told not to, I am sure anyone of us would get fired eventually.
      Just decide to stop doing it that way and do whatever it is her way. It’s pretty simple, she says do x not y, then that is what to do.

      One idea that has worked for me is to say to the boss, “I like this job and for a number of reasons I am happy here. I don’t want to do anything to mess this up. I want to be sure you know that I am most willing to make adjustments to my work where ever necessary. This is because it’s important to me to be known as a good and reliable employee.”
      Then see what she says. One of the bosses I said this to was a terrible boss in the long run but even she responded in a kind manner to this type of statement.

      I think you are not used to bosses talking in a conversational tone while giving instruction or correction. Decide that this is her tone for conveying what you need to know. And you will simply follow her instructions WITHOUT going into a worry loop about being fired. Separate these two things – the message and the emotions from each other. You no long need to go into major worry just because you were asked to do something differently. That cycle happened because you needed to super-protect yourself, now you no longer need to do that.

      Something that has been successful for me is to vow not to make the same mistake twice. Hey, new jobs are tough. Mistakes happen, but they are not fatal. Vowing not to make the same mistake twice helps to redirect my thoughts, emotions and even nervous energy into a proactive activity that will help to preserve my job in the long run. I figure out what type of reminder or stop gap measure I will put into my routine so I twig that vulnerable problem area each time and that mistake does not happen again.

      As the months go on the dots will connect more and more. You will be able to see or figure out- well if I am supposed to do x NOT y, in a parallel situation they will probably want me to do A NOT B.

      I have trained a lot of people. And I supervised for years. I can tell you first hand that bosses do not put energy into an employee who is a hot mess. So you can step back from this whole concept that you will be fired at any moment. You’re not a hot mess. Your boss sees something of value in you and that is why she just converses with you about the job. She feels that it will fall together and you will get this just fine. And I also think that she has some confidence in her own ability to lead people. A person who has some confidence does not need to yell, throw things, snark, etc. That is because they know they have actual tools and abilities as a leader. People who have NO real skills as a leader resort to these sort of things.

  5. What About Insurance?*

    I have a bunch of doctor’s appointments coming up in November/December. I was hoping to use the insurance I get from work to cover them, but I’ve realized I am most likely going to be quitting by the end of the year because the office is a toxic, abusive mess. I have literally never had insurance in my entire life until now, and it’s through my employer. What happens if the insurance doesn’t process my doctor’s bills until after I’ve quit? (I have no idea what this process involves, how long it takes, etc. I know *nothing* about insurance.) Am I going to be on the hook to cover everything myself?

    I’d love to just wait it out at my job until everything clears, but the job is why my health is failing. I haven’t gone to ask the HR benefits person about this because our HR is actually a huge part of the problem driving me out, and I don’t want it known that I’m planning to leave soon in case there’s retaliation.

    1. my cat is prettier than me*

      If you were insured at the time of treatment, insurance will cover it (to whatever degree the plan does).

      1. What About Insurance?*

        That seems to be the general consensus in these comments, with a few little caveats I should check up on. Thank you for this!

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Yup! And in the US, even after you quit, you have the option to extend coverage for several months via COBRA or to immediately purchase coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace (no need to wait for the next open enrollment period).

    2. Justin*

      I would look to your job’s rules about when your insurance expires after leaving. (It should be written down somewhere.) Some jobs, the day you leave, insurance is gone. Some jobs, it lasts another month.

      But bottom line if you were covered on the day of the appointment, you shouldn’t be on the hook. Not that no one has ever been screwed before.

      1. What About Insurance?*

        Ooh, yeah, I’ll definitely check into that, thanks! I intend to have all my appointments done before quitting, but I don’t want to get unexpectedly snagged.

        1. WellRed*

          If it ends the day you leave ( unlikely) make sure you aren’t owed money back from the monthly premium.

          1. KuklaRed*

            Not necessarily “unlikely”. Most of the companies I have worked for have ended my coverage on the day I left. Some continue it to the end of that month, but many don’t.

    3. I edit everything*

      It’s the date of service that counts for whether your insurance will cover it. So get all those appointments in as soon as possible!

      And I think “pre-existing condition” for your next insurance policy only becomes a thing if there’s a gap in coverage. So your condition existed before any insurance covered it, not just the new insurance. So if you can avoid a gap in coverage, be sure to do that, even if you have to use COBRA or a plan from the ACA exchanges (assuming you’re in the US).

        1. I edit everything*

          Oh, right! We’ve had the same insurance since pre-Obama, so my brain didn’t make that switch.

    4. urguncle*

      If you have coverage when the appointment takes place, it will be processed by the insurance company that covers you. If you have the money, you can also choose to continue coverage through COBRA, although that is typically very expensive.
      That comes with a big BE AWARE: if you’re using that insurance to cover procedures that require pre-approval for a cycle of treatments, they may require you to keep that insurance throughout the cycle or be responsible for payment of those treatments if you lose or change insurance carriers.

    5. Well That's Fantastic*

      If you can, find out when your employer ends health coverage when you leave the job. (I’ve worked places where it lasts until the end of the last month worked, others where it lasts only through your last day, and one where it lasted through the end of your last pay period worked.) As long as the appointment is before the insurance ends, it will still cover the appointment, but if there is a billing issue, you may need to prove your last date of coverage.

      Important caveat: If you have FSA funds, you may need to SPEND the money before your last day, not just incur the charges. Not sure if this has changed over the years (or if I had a shifty employer at the time), but I once lost out on a few hundred dollars in my FSA because I hadn’t received the bills to pay yet by my last day and thought I could still submit them for reimbursement because of the date of service.

      1. Snow Globe*

        I think that was a shifty employer. If you use FSA funds that are not for the right purpose or not in the right time frame, you might need to pay a tax penalty, but the employer should not be taking funds that were withheld from your paycheck! (Unless perhaps that was a employer contribution.)

      2. What About Insurance?*

        Oof. That’s a good warning. I wouldn’t say they’re outright shifty, but the people handling this sort of thing are incompetent enough the results would be the same.

    6. Notanon*

      If your employer is covered by FMLA, you may want to talk to your doctor about needing intermittent FMLA for this slew of appointments, like the poster above, or even full FMLA depending on what issues work is causing. It may get you off enough work so that you can avoid quitting until you sort through the health issues and you will be protected from retaliation because no half-way competent HR person will allow anyone to terminate or take adverse action against someone on FMLA. And you would be able to keep your health insurance if you keep paying the employee portion of the premium.

      1. What About Insurance?*

        I’m definitely going to look into this a bit more. I will be leaving regardless, but I’d like to buy a little more time to take care of some things.

        Thank you!

    7. Syzygy*

      Once you have left your job, you should have the option to continue your medical coverage through COBRA. That will be more expensive because you are paying for the employer’s contribution as well as yours, but at least you will have that if you want it. You can sign up anytime in the 45 days following your last month of coverage. If you haven’t already started another job with health coverage, you can use this time to explore your other options, including plans available through the ACA.

    8. SeenThisHappen*

      I think you’ve gotten the advice you need about timing here, but one piece of process stuff to think about: make sure that all your insurance communication is directed to your personal email, and that you can log in to your insurance independent of your work email/ID! If you leave and no longer have access to your account, that could create problems for you

      1. What About Insurance?*

        I’ll double check that everything is going directly to me, thank you so much for the reminder!

    9. Jessica*

      One word of warning: will your appointments be related to pregnancy? I changed insurance companies when I was literally five weeks pregnant (before I had even seen a doctor) and my new insurance company tried to say that my old insurance company was responsible for all the pregnancy costs because the child was conceived while I was under the old insurance. Seriously.
      Luckily I hadn’t switched employers — my employer had just switched insurance companies — so after trying to solve the issue myself, HR called the new insurance company representative and got them to cover everything.

      1. What About Insurance?*

        Luckily, that will never be an issue for me, as long as I have anything to say about it! (And I am definitely side-eyeing the way the current political climate in the States is going re: the rights of anyone perceived, correctly or otherwise, to have a functional uterus….)

    10. WoodswomanWrites*

      As someone else mentioned, check to find out when your insurance expires related to the day you quit. At places I’ve worked, I’ve maintained my insurance coverage through the last day of that month. For example, having your last work day be December 1 would mean you can make appointments throughout December because you would still be covered. But that’s not true for every employer, so check into that.

      Re COBRA, I had a lapse in my insurance for a month between jobs. COBRA has a provision that you can sign up for it retroactively if you need it. I believe the timeline for signing up is within three months of leaving your old job, but you should double-check that. Because of that provision, I didn’t sign up for it during my one-month period without insurance. If I had some sort of emergency in that window, I could legally sign up for COBRA then to have it covered.

      Detailed COBRA info is at https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/ebsa/about-ebsa/our-activities/resource-center/faqs/cobra-continuation-health-coverage-consumer.pdf

      There is a sign-up window for Marketplace plans that I think has a retroactive window also, but you should look that up for details.

  6. I edit everything*

    I had a job interview this morning. It went really well! I think it would be fun–a nice mix of routine and opportunity to manage some projects and use some creativity, and it’s part time. I’ll have to figure out a lot of stuff if I take it, like care for a family member, but I think it would be good for my mental health and my bank balance to have something steady to offset the feast-or-famine nature of my freelancing.

    I’m not asking a question, but I would appreciate some good vibes, both for getting an offer and making the best decisions for myself and my family. Thanks!

    1. I'm not a rapper*

      Hope you get a great offer and best wishes as you navigate the family care! Sounds like a promising opportunity.

      1. Duck Confit*

        Sending you all the best, OP! Another thing to keep in mind, which helped me when I was caring for a family member and looking for work, was knowing that jobs of that type were out there, which made me feel a lot better. So even if this one doesn’t work out (and I have my fingers crossed for you!), you can remind yourself that there are definitely options out there.

    2. TheraputicSarcasm*

      Preemptively assuming you get the job and everything falls into place. Congratulations!

  7. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m still trying to be organized. I notice that I can do maybe 2 hours of organized tasks in the morning ( if there’s no emergency, there’s no meetings, etc) but no matter how many notes or planners I use I’m out of pocket in the afternoon. I’ve tried exercise. I’ve tried meditation. It’s like I’m out of brain energy. How do yall manage?

    1. Panicked*

      ***I am not a doctor and in no way trying to diagnose you.***

      Have you talked with your doctor lately? I know several people who are very similar to you; they are productive when they start but are completely spent afterwards. They have varying diagnoses, but ADHD is the primary. It may be worth a conversation, especially since you’ve already tried mitigating with little result.

      1. cubone*

        Yeah, just an ADHD checking in to say your post is how I felt before medication. That doesn’t mean it’s the explanation for you (or, even if it is, that medication would be a solution)! But afternoons to me were the worst, I was so spent and felt like my brain was wading through fog. I’m not trying to be rose coloured glasses and say now it’s all fine and dandy, but it’s wild how I realize now that was a symptom or presentation of symptoms for me.

        1. Ginger Baker*

          Did you find that the afternoons were terrible *but* you got a second wind maybe around 4/5pm? Uhhhh just asking for no reason…

          1. Generic+Name*

            Raises hand. I call this the end of the day panic, or “oh shit, I actually have to get some stuff done today!”

          2. cubone*

            Hmmm I did but, largely motivated by the pressure of “I need this done for tomorrow” and/or “I need to say I did something of value today”. My psychiatrist talked about “ADHD brains” being more motivated by pressure, novelty, passion and interest vs the non ADHD brain motivators of priority, importance, etc. So.. that does kind of fit for me as another manifestation.

            The biggest thing though is that I don’t CRASH the same away from 1-3pm. Apparently some people on stimulant meds do but for me it’s like the first time in my life I feel relatively “consistent” all day. I used to drink coffee in the morning, sometimes get a second coffee in the afternoon and/or a snack (usually something super sugary) around 3pm as part motivation, part distraction. I still do need an afternoon snack but I don’t crave something sweet the same way and I literally switched to decaf when I started taking meds and have been 100% fine with it. So .. yeah.

            Also for anyone reading this, the best advice I can give re ADHD diagnosis and talking to your doctor is to really focus on the symptoms: what are your experiencing and how is it impacting your day to day functioning and quality of life. You can look up the adult ADHD screener online (CHADD has it I think) but even then, think about your answers to the questions on it, in different situations (school, work, home, relationships) and what are the impacts.

            1. Ginger Baker*

              I uhhhh…sometimes struggle with a major MAJOR urge to legit nod off (including at my desk!) at 2:30/3pm. Like, sometimes I am fine but if I am low energy or super sleepy it is almost always at 3pm, with no relation to how much sleep I’ve had or when the last time I ate was (or what I ate, as far as I can tell). But by 4:30 I am raring to go. I’ve “joked” about it for years. I figured it was a siesta-genes pull or something…

        2. Laika*

          Yep, my organizational skills didn’t improve a wit after I got my ADHD meds but it 1000% improved the amount of mental energy and bandwidth I was wasting beating myself up about being “disorganized”.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      I don’t have ADHD and that happens to me sometimes. I schedule a afternoon snack religiously. The act of getting up and walking to get snack, and the looking forward to it makes it easier for my brain to hang in there. Gives my brain permission to turn off for 15 minutes instead of trying and failing repeatedly. Gives my brain a motivation too, I want to finish task A before my tea break and that’s in 20min so let’s go! I’ve also had good luck with work playlists, and background sound generators (coffee shop one is my fav).

    3. Generic+Name*

      If you can plan your day so you do the less mentally taxing tasks in the afternoon that might help. I usually take my dog on a short walk mid afternoon and sometimes I’ll have a caffeinated beverage if I’m really dragging.

      1. My+Useless+2+Cents*

        2nd this. Ideally less mentally taxing tasks, or extra long tasks (that you can just plug in the ear phones and zone in on) can be great for those times the brain just doesn’t seem to kick in to gear or be able to switch between multiple tasks.

        If the problem is getting interrupted in the afternoons and you’re finding it difficult to switch back and forth between tasks and throws off your afternoon, schedule in “unknown task time” into your planners/calendars so you aren’t constantly pushing things out. Great time for organizing, filing, and other routine busy work while you are waiting for those added things you know are coming your way that you just can’t plan for. (I’m a big proponent of not scheduling 100% of your day. The mental bandwidth and benefit’s of being able to fit in those last minute tasks cannot be understated.)

        1. JustaTech*

          Yup, I often schedule my low-brain lab tasks (so up and moving around) for the “uuuhhhhh” time after lunch.
          I also often consider those tasks a “treat” compared to other work like revising documents or sourcing materials, so I get that little serotonin boost too.

    4. RagingADHD*

      There’s a reason they schedule classes to be under an hour in school. Take breaks, walk around, switch it up.

      It is normal to have different levels of concentration or energy at different times of day. With or without ADHD, everyone has a diurnal rhythm. Try as much as you can to match the type of task you’re working on with the type of energy you have. For example, I do better when I compose, have meetings where I’m “on,” or do intense focus in the morning, and edit or do “housekeeping” in the afternoon.

    5. OyHiOh*

      Are you eating lunch? Not energy bar/office snacks/coffee but an actual lunch: Salad, sandwich, leftovers, microwave frozen meal, etc.

      When my brain stalls like that, it’s usually because I haven’t eaten adequate calories

    6. Sharks Are Cool*

      Sometimes I’m the exact opposite–it’s like the part of my brain that is Desperate. To. Distract. Me. is so exhausted after a day of fighting (and compulsively opening browser windows for googling art supplies and other things I care more about than work) that it shuts up enough to let me do a few hours of dedicated work tasks at the very end of the day. Part of that is also the urgency kicking in, and the need to complete the things I said I’d do that day. I know that sometimes my subconscious is working through a thorny problem when I’m distracted, and there are a lot of reassuring letters on this site about how no one is productive 100% of the day, but I still have a lot of shame and self-recrimination about it (compounded with the fury that when I get home I’m too exhausted from fighting my brain all day to actually work on any of the things I spent the day distracted by). I do have an ADHD diagnosis, and I’m on a very low dose of Adderall. It helps, but it also increases my general anxiety, so I’m trying to take it only as needed. This is more of a commiseration comment than a solutions comment! Stuff is hard, brains weren’t built for 9-5, down with capitalism, etc.

      1. Ellen Ripley*

        This is so relatable! 6-8 pm are my most productive hours of the day for the same reason. I have been wondering if I have an ADHD brain, maybe it’s time to finally talk to a doctor. Did you find it hard to find a doctor knowledgeable about ADHD in adults?

        1. Sharks Are Cool*

          For me it was pretty simple—I sent a note to my primary care, was referred to an onsite social worker for the ADHD testing, and then referred back to primary care for prescription. I did feel like I had to work to justify myself to the social worker, as I am high-functioning and very motivated when I’m working on something I care about, but ultimately I had enough symptoms to qualify for a mild ADHD diagnosis. At some point I’d like to move to a differently-structured job, but it’s hard to think of what I’d be qualified for that wouldn’t compromise pay/hours/benefits and wouldn’t aggravate any of my chronic injuries!

          1. Ellen Ripley*

            Yes! I feel weird about discussing it with people because I have “done well in life” and feel like I’m complaining when pointing out how much I’ve struggled/am struggling.

            Bringing up symptoms with my primary care doctor is on my list for my next appointment, thanks for the reality check.

            I hope you find a job that works well for you!

    7. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      It’s also possible you are more of a morning person, and that is the best time for these types of tasks. Could you just lean into it, and keep a to do list each morning of the type of organizational tasks you need to complete that day? Then afternoons are for different types of tasks? I’m someone that is more successful with heavy writing tasks in the afternoon. I like to get into something and have hours of open time to work on it. So I plan those for mid-day into the afternoon.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        My problem is that the items I can achieve from 9 to 11 am are not adequate. So I try to put them in the afternoon ( they don’t get done) In the evening I do other tasks ( yay! Achievement!) But then it’s 7 pm and I’m cranky and blow work off entirely.

    8. Mockingjay*

      Map your energy to the task. Try doing the big/complicated task(s) in the morning. In the afternoon do the little things – it’s easy to take a break in between short tasks if you need to.

      (I’m the opposite: I do my little tasks in the morning, and save the big, long-term tasks for afternoon, which is when I focus best.)

    9. thelettermegan*

      there’s a methodology, I can’t remember the name of it, but you basically stick your tasks into a matrix of urgent/non-urgent vs. important/not important, and then organize your day around how your energies best address those tasks – the urgent and important in those two hours you have, the important but not urgent with what energy you have left, the unimportant, non-urgent getting shifted to rainy days, and the urgent, unimportant getting triaged and/or delegated.

      But you say there’s meetings and emergencies? Are they interrupting your organized tasks, or are they a core part of your job? Some of us like a little chaos in our jobs to keep things interesting, and it’s ok to lean into that a little. Crisis happens, and someone’s got to be there for it, someone’s got to be excited about finding a sense of order in the pandemonium.

      If that’s not the case though, maybe take a look at how meetings and emergencies play into your work, and what can be done to mitigate.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        The meetings and emergencies are my job! So are the organized tasks! I have so many tasks that weren’t the hot task of the day that were undone that if my boss was even a tiny bit more organized I’d be fired

      2. Ina+Lummick*

        Oh I did something like that in a time management course (not that I needed it, HR were trying to boost uptake of their internal courses) but then most things I did were important + urgent (customer service)

    10. Afternoon slump*

      Can you change work locations in the afternoon? Take a laptop and work from a different office or meeting room? Sometimes that helps to reinvigorate me.
      The other advice I have is just to lean into it. If you already know you lose energy in the afternoon, prioritize your task list to pack in the most critical tasks first thing in the morning. Include scheduling some time to work on long term projects (try not to use the whole 2 hours just working only urgent-important tasks; block some time to work on nonurgent-important tasks as well so that they don’t fall behind). In the afternoon allow yourself to do less structured activities like reading books about your field or about leadership/professional growth, answering emails/phone calls, organizing things, etc.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Nod. I tend to grind through the tasks and not switch when I need to find a way to alternate

    11. Koala dreams*

      If you have a job where you can decide when to do tasks, try to plan tasks to fit your energy levels. Some people work better in the mornings or afternoons or evenings, try to find out what’s your best time for different tasks. Make sure to take short breaks when working. In my experience, a short walk or some stretching is more effective as a break than reading, but actual exercise is too much. Again, try to find a good break for you.

      If nothing works, start looking for a different job. Some jobs require more organizing than others, if that’s your weak spot try to find a job with less organizing.

      Also, sometimes it’s not possible to do a full-time job, for example with certain health issues. If that’s the case for you, you can look into accomodations or part-time sick leave, or try to find a part-time job. (In addition to treatment of course.) Life isn’t fair, some people really struggle a lot more than others with things.

    12. young worker*

      Not a doctor, just someone who experiences slumps:
      I’ve found recently that my wild tiredness / subsequent inability to focus are much improved when I have some sugar. At 11am I almost religiously get slumps of exhaustion, but 3 glucose tablets tends to bring me back to life.

    13. TheraputicSarcasm*

      What helps me is to rotate through several tasks for a set amount of time. If I know I need to complete task 1, task 2, task 3, and task 4, I’ll work on task 1 for 45 minutes, stand up for a few minutes and move around/stop looking at the screen, work on task 2 for 45 minutes, stand up and move, repeat repeat repeat repeat. I heard someone call that “mindful procrastination”: since you’re gonna get distracted anyway, set yourself up to get distracted by something else that needs doing. YMMV.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      I have to eat a good breakfast and a healthy lunch. This includes protein for energy.
      Hydration is super important. I measure out my water and I have set points during the day where I need to have finished off one bottle and started the next.
      Sleep. I like me so much better when I am rested.

      Now here’s the nuts and bolts. I try to do the harder stuff when I first come into work and I am fresh at it. At night, I line up where I will start the next morning.
      I think it’s fine where ever possible to leave the easy stuff for the afternoon when the fatigue starts. It can be a bit of relief to be doing the more mundane stuff toward the end of the day IF possible. This brings me to the subject of pacing.

      We can’t go 90 mph all day long. Sometimes things come up and we really have to run at it hard. But this is not sustainable. On sane days, set a pace that you can maintain for most of the day.

      At home, I liked to plan Wednesday as my easy night at home. I tried to have leftovers ready to eat, I did not do too much extra around the house and I went to bed early. I found it made a difference in my week for me just to have a mini-time out from rat-racing around everything.

  8. StruggleAndStress*

    How do you deal with extremely high-pressure times at work?

    Right now I’m working on a critical task for a critical project that I will not be able to get done by the deadline without working overtime. No one has asked me to work overtime, and there’s usually no expectation of overtime, but if I don’t I definitely won’t meet the deadline. There’s no one else with the skills who can help me and there’s no option to push back the deadline at all.

    I’m basically resigned to working all hours until it’s done, regardless of how appalled my manager would be, but it is making me hate my normally great job. How do people deal with this?

    1. Sunflower*

      Are you eligible for OT pay or not? How much OT is actually required and how long is this going on for? Is there anything your boss can do (pay for meals, transportation, etc for this time?)

      I just went through a period like this of about 3 weeks. Knowing the definitive timeline for when it would end was the most helpful part- it was really brutal but I kept reminding myself things will be better on the other side. I’ve been out on the other side for about 2 weeks now. Even with other stuff going on, I worked only 3 days last week and I’ve worked maybe 4 hours each day this week. Probably will be back to the regular 8 hours this week but the key is just remembering better things are on the other side and slugging through this period of time is worth it if things are really great the rest of the time. Now if better things aren’t on the other side or you don’t feel like you’re being fairly compensated, that’s a different conversation

    2. LDN Layabout*

      Is your manager aware? This is in effect their job. If you’re resigned to doing it, it’s worth asking for something in return e.g. if I worked X hours extra, I can take that timed the following week w/o PTO.

      Knowing I had ‘extra’ time off after intense projects really helped me deal with them in the moment.

      1. StruggleAndStress*

        He’s aware that I am incredibly stressed and don’t think I’ll meet the deadline, but not that I’m working extra hours (to my knowledge). He’d probably tell me not to, but I don’t know how he’d reconcile that with the project deadlines.

        The trouble with asking for time off in lieu is that I already have too much leave left for the year and no chance to take it. I’m planning to take a week at the end of December, and on top of that they’re letting me carry over twice as much as they usually allow in part because I’m needed for this project, which goes live in the first week of December.

        1. I'm not a rapper*

          I mean if I were your manager I’d want to know that you’re working overtime – maybe there’s some flexibility in parts of the project deadlines that would lighten your load? And even if not, I’d want to recognize your contribution and make sure you’re being supported in ways that I could affect.

        2. LDN Layabout*

          Your manager needs to know you’re working overtime. There’s clearly an awareness you’re working too much and have to carry leave over, so this won’t be a shock at this point.

          However, the leave issues you already have might make dealing with it more difficult. Although, sometimes it can be done unofficially. e.g. you do go live, you are ‘there’ for emergencies, but in reality you’re not working and your manager is aware of that but knows you’re a phone call away if needed.

        3. Jay (no, the other one)*

          “Can you help me figure out how to meet the deadline without working overtime?”

          Let your boss know what’s going on and ask for guidance. If he doesn’t want you to work overtime, what’s his solution? Figuring out that solution is his job.

        4. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

          I was in a similar position this summer (stupid huge grant being due in the middle of stupid summer when everyone else is on their stupid holidays). I’m exempt, but I tracked my OT hours out of curiosity, and then my manager had me cancel previously scheduled vacation time to take lieu time instead (3 weeks lieu, earned during just over 6 weeks!). I would also have been allowed to carry over extra holidays earned from that, but I’m planning to spend them this year.

          So it might be worth a conversation about it, or trying to negotiate a bonus, or extra vacation time next year. I’d suggest approaching your manager with the issue, the stakes, and a list of things you would be willing to accept in order to do the extra time to get it done. Good luck!

        5. I should be working*

          If at all possible, take a few days off as soon as the project is done. Not weeks later, but a.s.a.p.. When I have situations like this I’m generally mentally exhausted when they’re done & my brain needs to unwind and get out of emergency mode.

          Now if I could just remember to take my own advice. If I don’t schedule time off I end up calling in sick because I’ll wake up and think “I just can’t”.

          1. Afternoon slump*

            I would double down and even say take a few WEEKS off and actually plan a relaxing or fun getaway. Sounds like there is lots of PTO that needs to be used, and it will give OP something to look forward to during those long days of OT.

    3. urguncle*

      I’m in a similar position currently and I’m really working on setting realistic boundaries for myself. I don’t have issues working into the evening, but I do tend to wake up and immediately microwave my brain in work problems at 5am.
      I think there a few questions I would ask myself here:
      1) Is this deadline the end of a marathon or the end of a sprint before a marathon? Are you going to work to meet a deadline and then immediately get another unrealistic deadline, or will you be able to take a solid 2 week vacation to unwind?
      2) Is this a reasonable amount of time to hold yourself to unreasonable expectations? Are you doing this for 3 weeks, 3 months or a year?
      3) What boundaries will you have and how will you keep them?

    4. Zephy*

      how appalled my manager would be

      Implying you haven’t told her this is the case? Why not?

      You say this is a critical project and critical task – what are the actual stakes, here? If this project doesn’t proceed on the current timeline, what happens? Do people die? Are private citizens put in danger of immediate bodily harm? Are people’s livelihoods on the line (i.e., a specific group of people will 100% definitely not have a job after X date if this doesn’t happen by Y date)?

      I also doubt there are absolutely no pieces of this task that you could bring in someone else to help with. You cannot possibly be the only person on God’s green earth who knows how to do any part of this thing, if it’s this big and this critical.

      Tell your boss that you’re trying to fit ten pounds of work in a five-pound sack of time, and ask her what she wants you to do about it. I can almost guarantee you aren’t paid well enough to work “all hours” until this is done, either, or you wouldn’t be asking. Either the deadline moves or you get help from somewhere, but there’s not a version of this story where “StruggleandStress sacrifices her physical and mental health to get this thing accomplished by X date” is a reasonable expectation or acceptable outcome.

      1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Even if they have to take this whole thing on themselves (which I agree seems unlikely) maybe there’s other work they can offload to someone else.

        I had a critical project that needed to be wrapped up in two weeks, and while others could have helped, it was faster for for me to solely work on that, and have other people take the rest of my work until I was done.

        Bottom line OP, talk to your manager! Figure something out that doesn’t leave you just resigned to doing to all yourself.

      2. StruggleAndStress*

        It’s the data migration for all of our internal systems to a new system that’s in the final stages of being built. It’s critical in the sense of business-critical – no work can be done without these systems. I’d bet good money that I am the only person on god’s green earth who understands the inner workings and data of at least one of those systems. I’m also the only person in the company with experience using the software we’ve got to do the migration.

        I’m sure there are millions of people out there who could do it – the company making the new system have data migration experts after all – but they’d all need either weeks-to-months to get up to speed on the truly awful systems and complicated business processes or me to train them, and UAT (which needs data) starts a week on Monday.

        I haven’t mentioned it specifically because what can he do? There’s no time to get someone external in even if the board approved the extra cost. There’s no one internal who wouldn’t need training. If he approves extra time off there’s no time to take it.

        1. Mailer Daemon Targaryen*

          I haven’t mentioned it specifically because what can he do?

          We don’t know and neither do you. That’s why you need to talk to your manager. Even if the three things you mentioned are true, those may not be the only three options. But you need to loop in your manager regardless because the current situation isn’t tenable.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            And there’s several things things here, beyond the OT. One is that your boss may have access to information/resources/decisions that you don’t, so he can make things better, or advocate for you at higher levels.

            Another is that, as far as everyone higher up is concerned, you’re a bit stressed about a major project, but no more than that. They don’t know that they project they’ve set up has either an unreasonable staffing or timeline. So if they think you’ve completed it in a normal amount of work, they have no reason to believe their project didn’t go smoothly, and no reason to change things the next time they have something major coming up.

            The third is that anytime you’ve got a time critical project that depends entirely on one person, you need to have a plan for what happens if that person becomes unavailable. If you get a bad case of COVID next week, or fall ill because you’re run down and exhausted, what happens? If they haven’t considered it, that’s poor management.

    5. Gracely*

      If you’re salaried, I would just do what it takes to meet the deadline, then cut back some hours the next day/week after (depending on how many hours of overtime we’re talking about). Or if that’s not as feasible for whatever reason, give yourself more/longer breaks. Basically, give that extra time back to yourself somehow so you don’t get burned out.

      If you’re hourly, talk to your manager about OT.

    6. Ms. Norbury*

      This advice may not apply, but if there’s no one at the company with the skills to help, is hiring a contractor a viable option? This is sometimes done in my company when we realize a project is understaffed.

  9. snarkfox*

    Not really a question, I guess, just a vent? I got my first ever bad Google review that mentioned me by name, and I know I shouldn’t care, but it’s really disheartening.

    I work in mental health, and I was supposed to do some testing on a child. The child was very sick and open-mouth coughing constantly. Neither he nor his mother was wearing a mask, so I decided not to do the testing. I just can’t afford to get sick and miss work. That day, we were super short staffed because two other employees were already out. I’m out of sick days, so I’m not about to risk my paycheck.

    The review said that I “darted out of the room” and that if I’m so afraid of getting sick, I “shouldn’t work in healthcare.” Which… that might make sense if I worked for a medical doctor, but when you’re taking a child to a mental health appointment, there’s no reason to bring your kid to the appointment sick. She then stated he wasn’t actually sick, but had bronchitis (which to me means you’re sick, but okay).

    Like I said, this mother was being absurd, so it shouldn’t bother me, but the entitlement frustrates me. I should risk getting sick and being out for multiple days, meaning other kids’ testing is going to get canceled, so this kid can get tested? It’s just frustrating. And now my name is immortalized on Google (except she spelled it wrong so there’s that).

    1. Oogie*

      Because healthcare workers shouldn’t be worried about getting sick…like any other person? Ugh. I’m sorry you have to deal with people like that.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Ooof, I totally understand why that hurts you. Also, bronchitis can be caused by a viral infection so wtf was she on about? They both could’ve been contagious. A few things might help resolve this for you:
      1) confirm with your boss you’re allowed to refuse clients who appear to be contagious
      2) post signs, add a notice to the appointment confirmation, etc that clinicians reserve the right to reschedule clients who appear to be contagious
      3) remember they spelled your name wrong! So it won’t be immortalized on google, because… if I google “Allyson Green” (To use an example) it won’t find “Alison Green” the correct spelling.

      I know it sucks, but you did the right thing :)

      1. snarkfox*

        Thank you! My boss also totally backed me up, and she complained about him, too. And she actually spelled his name right, lol. That’s a really good idea about putting signs up, though. We didn’t have to worry about it as much for the longest time because msot people were actually being respectful during Covid.

        It’s also funny how much Covid has changed my perspective, because previously, I would have no problem with seeing the kid, even if it ended up with me getting sick. But now I want to be respectful of others’ health, which means I’m going to do the right thing and stay home when sick, which interferes with my paycheck…. (Not that I came to work when seriously ill previously, but I had no problem coming to work with a cold).

    3. Temperance*

      I’m guessing that privacy laws prevent a response, but honestly if I saw that, I would view her as the AH.

    4. Hello sunshine*

      I’m sorry that happened to you. I feel it’s probably good that she was forthcoming about the health issues in the review. If I read that I’d read between the lines.
      Additionally, as someone who works in mental health, the word of mouth is so much more important. Having the confidence of other professionals to include pediatricians and schools will be more influential to your reputation.
      Lastly, does your clinic have a wellness policy. If not I’d push for one.

    5. SnapCracklePop*

      If it makes you feel any better, after reading the review, my only thought would be “Poor OP. Sucks that they have to deal with crappy/entitled parents.”

      A lot of reviews are ridiculous, and reasonable people ignore them.

    6. Maggie*

      No one will read the review and think you’re the AH, they will read it and think she’s rude and entitled. I’m assuming by saying it’s bronchitis she was trying to say her child isn’t contagious but who knows. I don’t know why people bring their constantly coughing children everywhere… I actually left a restaurant this weekend because a family brought 2 obviously sick toddlers who were non stop open mouth coughing and they were seated next to me. It’s bizarre. You did nothing wrong.

      1. Sabine the Very Mean*

        Agreed. And I actually get a kick out of reading comments that are obviously misguided. They have never swayed me unless there are lots of reasonably written bad reviews.

    7. cubone*

      This mostly speaks to the “darted out of the room” part: I used to have a call centre job where I managed a central inbox, which meant I fielded lots of complaints. We also recorded our calls so I would usually connect with the appropriate manager who would review and summarize what had actually happened.

      There were absolutely valid complaints but even in those ones, people 99.999% of the time use VERY dramatic, over the top language. Things like “they yelled at me and slammed the phone down without warning ”, when the recording shows the employee gently letting them know they will be ending the call 3 times and doing so appropriately. I mean it: this was far and above the norm not the exception. In some ways, I understand – they feel hurt, unheard or angry, so their memory of it includes those feelings and explanations of why they felt that way. It takes an absolutely absurd amount of maturity and self reflection to be able to express a complaint fairly and reasonably without embellishing it.

      You have every right to be frustrated about this and you did nothing wrong. It still sucks to see this in writing. But just try to remember that the language and the way it’s framed honestly has very very little to do with you and most to do with their own feelings. IMO, there’s no way you could’ve handled this that would’ve resulted better – it sounds like your actions were always going to be at odds with her expectations.

      1. workswitholdstuff*

        Oh yeah, I got those ones in my call centre days too. One swear, they got a gentle ‘I’m trying to help, please don’t swear, please give me the info I need to help’.
        2nd time ‘I’ve already asked you to not swear at me while I’m trying to help, if you swear again I’ll have to terminate the call’ – that was normally where they’d either shape up or swear at me again and hang up. if they didn’t third time was ‘I have reminded you repeatedly, I’m terminating the call’.

        I got some corkers of complaints occasionaly. One I still remember was the entitled woman who ‘turned away the boiler service engineer because he didn’t look like an engineer – and she knew this stuff cos her husband was an architect’

        After I finished boggling, I checked with our service department – they were ‘nope, no refund – the engineer went out, she turned him away’. She wrote in complaining, our complaints department claimed I’d misadvised – which I was furious about. And then service department absolutely stuck to their guns and reiterated I was right, vindicated me and she didn’t get her refund! (sometimes, they do get their comeupance for being unreasonable!)

    8. Irish Teacher.*

      Honestly, I think anybody who sees that will be very clear the mother is in the wrong. Healthcare workers work with vulnerable people; they need to be extra-careful about things like covid for fear of passing it on to vulnerable patients. Anybody reasonable would think you responded completely appropriately.

    9. SansaStark*

      I can totally see how that would dishearten you! But maybe it would be helpful to remember that reading a review like that may have the opposite effect that she’s intending. If I read a review like that, I’d be even more inclined to schedule an appointment with a provider like that who takes health and safety seriously.

    10. Hiring Mgr*

      Sometimes in cases like these I try to imagine the other person from the most generous perspective possible, even if don’t really believe it. So in this example I might think, “well she was rude and inconsiderate but maybe she came 50 miles, this was the only day she could take off, she’s upset about having to get this test anyway, and so on. None of that probably happened but it might put you at ease…

      1. Double A*

        I also wonder how soon she could have gotten a rescheduled appointment. When I’ve canceled my kids dentists appointments because they are sick, it is literally months before they can get me back in.

        I mean, I cancel because I’m a decent person but that timeline is extremely frustrating. If it were for an appointment that was critical, like mental health testing, I would feel extremely defeated. I wouldn’t leave a bad review but I would be frustrated.

    11. marvin*

      It really sucks when you’re invested in helping other people and still get slammed when you have very reasonable boundaries. If you work in mental health care I imagine that you care about others a lot so receiving this kind of response probably hurts. It’s okay to be bothered by it even if you know that this person was being ridiculous! Especially if you don’t get a lot of recognition in general (I might be projecting there but I always find this kind of thing extra bothersome when I already don’t get the appreciation or support I need).

    12. Afternoon slump*

      If I read a review that a mental health professional declined to see a client who was coughing and visibly sick, I would actually interpret that as a good sign that the provider takes health seriously. In my mind I would likely dismiss that person who wrote the review as an entitled client with incorrect expectations. So even though it sucks to know it’s out there, just know that it likely won’t have much (if any) impact on your ability to get clients.

    13. akovi*

      Did they mention you by name or mention COVID in the review? Those can both be grounds for removal if you are not the owner of the establishment and/or you are following well established medical consensus. You will need to file a complaint to GMB (look up “How to contact google my business support”) and then follow the steps.

    14. It's Giving Karen*

      If it makes you feel any better, I think “LMAO that customer must’ve sucked to work with” when I read reviews like what you describe. My friends, coworkers, and family all react similarly; so I think it’s fair to assume the review will come across as more damaging and negative on her end rather than on yours. She showed her ass on the internet, take joy in the fact that countless strangers get to judge her!

    15. Rara+Avis*

      My healthcare provider (which includes mental health) still requires masking in all their facilities. Which makes sense to me — I want the prob sets to stay healthy!

    16. TheraputicSarcasm*

      She said that in a review for a mental health care provider, not medical? Plague lady just told on herself! Au revoir les Feliciuses!

      Sorry. I know you’re upset and I get it. Know that reasonable people will read that review and laugh just like I did.

    17. nightengale*

      Wow yeah. I am a doctor but work with kids with developmental/behavioral disabilities, not acute care of kids with respiratory symptoms. All health care is not the same, yes if you do primary care or acute care you are going to get exposed to illnesses but that doesn’t apply to all health care, let alone mental health care.

      Most of my families will cancel an appointment if the kid is acutely sick with something. Even pre-pandemic. Especially for a testing/intake type visit because it is almost impossible to get a good sense of a kid’s moods and abilities when they are feeling crummy. Now I sometimes will switch to telehealth for a follow-up if the kid is sick but that really doesn’t work for new patients or testing.

  10. ...And another thing!*

    How do you/CAN you break into editing/proofreading without an established provable history of skills? I don’t even care if the pay is terrible starting out, so long as it’s legit work, and not those ripoff “averages to pennies per hour” places. My day job situation is becoming kind of an emergency one for me for health reasons, and I need to get out ASAP.

    I saw another commenter here recently talking about going freelance in editing and publishing through a valid online publishing-related company. I’ve always wanted to get into doing work like this as well, but I hadn’t tried before because I don’t really have a provable skillset. I’ve done informal proofreading and editing for friends’ personal and business writing; written articles for publications that no longer exist and which I have almost no real proof of; as well as fiction writing, traditionally published and self-published (mostly RPG fantasy adventure fanfic on AO3 these days–let’s be real here, haha). I don’t use any specialized programs for any of this, just like Word and Scrivener and even Notepad. I don’t have any specialized training, just decades of self-taught writing and tweaking practice that probably doesn’t hew tightly to any industry procedures.

    How does someone with no formal training get into this kind of work? With my day job, I don’t have the time or money to pay for schooling and certifications. Is there any way to start getting paid for the skills I actually do have? I also like the idea of working through an outside entity where I don’t have to deal with so much of the “small business management” minutia until I learn about that aspect of working for yourself.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Even if you don’t have formal training (I’m not even sure what that is, beyond being a working writer or editor), if you can demonstrate knowledge and skill, you should be able to break in. Study up on AP Style and the Chicago Manual of Style if you don’t know those. Familiarity with standard style guides is a must. Take online editing tests to get familiar with those — most jobs in editing or proofreading will want you to demonstrate your skills.

      1. ...And another thing!*

        Thank you for this! What sort of things I would need to brush up on was also on my list of “what do I need to know here??” so this is helpful.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Strunk & White’s Elements of Style is also a classic good resource, and Eats, Shoots and Leaves is a fun little read for word nerds. Good luck :)

          1. Redaktorin*

            Elements of Style contains a number of mistakes. It’s interesting for what it is, but as a professional editor, I would absolutely not recommend it as a learning resource to someone with no other training.

            1. ThatGirl*

              I didn’t say it was the bible – but it is something most editors have read at one point or another.

              1. I edit everything*

                Read, yes, but don’t use as a reference or authority. But most of us editors have probably read a lot of the same books.

    2. I edit everything*

      I know you said you don’t have the money for any training, but you might look into some of the short courses (not a degree program or certification program) offered by the Editorial Freelancer’s Association. Many of them are self-directed–you have a year to access the course materials–and others are a set time with more active instruction, but still asynchronous. They’re reasonably priced and very helpful.

      I also find the Editors Association of Earth and Editors Backroom groups on Facebook extremely helpful from a collegial standpoint. Many others have asked the same questions there, so once you’re in the groups, you can search and find oodles of advice.

      Volunteer your services for local non-profit orgs, so you have something to put on your resume. Figure out what kind of editing you want to do and the standard style guide for that kind of editing, and familiarize yourself with it (Chicago Manual of Style, AP style, the various academic styles, etc.). If you have any kind of specialized knowledge (tech, science, education, medical, languages other than English), that could help. Subject area editors tend to be paid more and valued higher than editors like me, run-of-the-mill fiction editors.

      I don’t love the freelance marketplaces (Upwork, Reedsy, etc.) for finding work, and I think an editorial services organization (that funnels work to editors “on staff” or contracted with the company) will want to see more experience. But even with them, you’ll likely have to deal with the business side of things, because you’ll still be a contractor, not an employee.

      It’s a hard road, no joke. Start with the EFA. Try one of two of their beginner classes, and network with everyone. Good luck.

      1. Hydrangea*

        “Volunteer your services for local non-profit orgs, so you have something to put on your resume.”

        How does one actually find these opportunities? Cold call non-profits until you get a bite? Sign up as a volunteer in some other capacity and keep pitching your editing skills until they give in? I guess I have the impression that an organization would have their staff do rather than a volunteer.

        1. I edit everything*

          It depends on the org, of course. Smaller ones would probably be more in need. I did some for a local human services agency (food pantry/thrift shop/job training) org in my small town. Call them and say, “I want to volunteer. These are my skills. Can you use them?”

    3. Redaktorin*

      If I can be completely honest with you, someone with no formal training probably shouldn’t do this work at all. Like all other jobs, it contains real skills that you aren’t born with and don’t usually pick up in the course of pursuing other careers. And the majority of the people you’re competing with for jobs will have provable career histories and/or editing education.

      So I think you may be asking the wrong question. A better question might be “How do I approximate formal training so I am capable of the work?” This question is easier to answer. You should read the sections of the Chicago Manual of Style having to do with grammar, punctuation, usage, etc. You should read the Grammar Girl blog. You should join the Facebook groups mentioned above. These things have helped a couple people I know.

    4. marvin*

      In my experience, it’s difficult. I used to be a book editor and it’s very much a question of knowing the right person. I was able to get work mostly as a result of getting lucky and landing an internship and meeting people who were willing to give me a chance. Everyone else I know who works as a professional editor has a similar story, which is part of the reason the industry is so dysfunctional and insular. I wish I could give a more positive answer but there is a reason why I don’t do this work anymore even though it does have its benefits.

      1. I edit everything*

        It’s true that it’s a difficult area to get into and that not everyone can do it, even if you got A’s in all your English classes. Most of us took kind of sideways paths into editing. So, OP, if your current industry has need for editors, see if you can take that route–look for communications or editorial jobs in that industry, as an employee rather than an independent contractor or freelancer, for example.

        I love love love editing. I can’t imagine not doing it. But it is not an easy life, and you have to bust your butt to get anywhere close to a living wage (which is why I interviewed for a part-time job this morning).

        1. Weegie*

          ‘Sideways paths’ is right: I got into editing while teaching (English) plus literally bumping into someone in a corridor who needed an editor. It was a long, hard, haul into full-time work via a bit of technical writing work, badly paid hourly gigs, joining an editors’ association and working my way through their self-directed learning materials (as mentioned above), and then knowing someone who was about to give up their work for a publisher and happy to turn it over to me. I do know people who did writing and publishing degrees, and they all got jobs. It’s not easy, and it’s not well paid, especially in the early years, and it relies a lot on connections. I do it a) because I got into it by accident and realised b) it’s my vocation, but I advise everyone who approaches me wanting to know how to get into editing not to do it.

        2. Redaktorin*

          I make six figures editing, actually?

          The thing is that in order to do this, I had to give up on the idea of editing fiction. It’s dry medical advertising materials all day. I tend to be very honest with the newbies who ask me that the more boring the materials, the more you get paid.

        3. Redaktorin*

          It’s not hard to make a living wage. I’ve done it since I started. The secret is to work on things that others don’t want to work on—dry, depressing, and highly technical things like slide decks for insurance industry higher-ups walking them through a comparative cost-benefit analysis of two prostate cancer drugs.

          This work isn’t the romantic ideal of the job that a lot of newbies are picturing, but I’ve stared down the barrel of a “fulfilling” arts career that was going to leave me in poverty before, and it turns out that reliably making rent is more fulfilling in the long term.

    5. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      You might also consider, as an intermediate step, looking for work that includes an editing proofreading component that is not the whole job, and where you’re qualified for the rest of the job. Use that part-editorial-part-whatever-else job to keep your bills paid while obtaining formal experience, developing demonstrable skills and documents you can use as samples of your work, and advancing your training (maybe even paid by the employer, to the degree that it supports your work for them), and make networking connections and get a sense of what roles are available in editing /publishing related to that field. (the work landscape in fiction/literature editing is quite different from academic editing and again different from technical or legal editing, or journalistic editing for a serial publication.)
      Then you’ll be better positioned to transition to fulltime editorial work that suits you.

      Good luck!

    6. NaoNao*

      Fiverr is one way to consider. The key is developing a current portfolio and learning how to deal with clients + market yourself effectively.

    7. Foley*

      This is such an interesting question because I hire freelance editors often. However after a dozen or so years, I only hire with recommendations from people where I can read the work that was edited. Most writers I know have been burned and the good editors are scarce, so even we bogart them.

      But I think your first question is what kind of editing? I hire developmental editors as well as line editors and proofreaders. Some editors do all three, but most only focus on a single area. The skills are wildly different. That’s fiction. Nonfiction is a different kind of skill. You’ve mentioned all, but at this point, I only hire editors for the narrow purpose that suits the writing style/genre and stage (drafting/proofing).

      Once you’ve narrowed in on an area, I’d survey editors without formal training on how they got to where they are. There are courses that allow self-pacing. Or you could solicit small projects and build from there via word of mouth…

      The editors I hire are all veterans of the billion rounds of layoffs from the Big 5.

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        Important point and one I was coming here to make—editing and proofreading are different skills and you need to be clear which you are good at/offering. And there’s copyediting too, which is an entirely different beast.

        At least in fiction, the distinction goes something like this: The editor says, “Your character’s motivation seems unclear” or “The pacing needs to be tightened up.” The copyeditor says, “Character A has red hair in Chapter 1 and brown hair in Chapter 5–make consistent? Also, you used ‘lie’ where you needed ‘lay.’” And the proofreader says, “Insert a comma here and don’t break that contraction between lines.”

        That how my arm of publishing handles it, anyway…there are distinctions in different areas.

        Don’t mean to be discouraging, but in my experience copyediting/proofreading/editing are all different jobs and some one-the-job training is really helpful for any of them.

  11. Pocket Mouse*

    I’m a union member (government) and our most recent contract ended many months ago. The bargaining process is underway for the next contract, and if history repeats itself, 1) the “start date” of the next contract will be in the past, right after the last contract ended, and 2) a pay increase will be effective as of the contract start date, meaning at some point current union members get a lump sum of back pay in their paycheck.

    My question: do members who have left the job between the start date of the contract and the paycheck in which back pay is issued ever get the back pay? How is this handled, both from a contractual standpoint (if it is typically addressed in the contract) and a payroll standpoint (if separated employees are entitled to the back pay)?

    1. Kowalski! Options!*

      Your union rep is probably in a better position to provide a more ample answer, but…are you with PSAC in the Government of Canada, by any chance? (The situation you describe sounds RATHER familiar!) If so, you’ll probably get the money: I left my represented job and moved to a non-represented job during a similar situation, and not only got the outstanding back pay I hadn’t been paid, I also got the three days of extra leave that had been negotiated as part of the Phoenix settlement.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        I’m not in Canada, for better or worse. Glad to hear you got the back pay and extra leave! What were the steps along the way- did you have to proactively request it, did payroll/HR reach out to make sure your contact or direct deposit information was still correct, etc.?

    2. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

      I have seen this – I was in a union in residency, which meant that we had a very temporary workforce and folks had often graduated by the time new contracts were hashed out. I would make sure that you leave the most up to date information with HR as you can, as well as making sure you keep the contact info for the union rep. It would take roughly a million years for the back pay to make it to the departed residents, but it would happen.

      1. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

        Whoops, missed that you asked about whether this should be covered in contact negotiations, and yes, it is. Ours did not necessarily spell out backpay, per se, but the period of time that the contact was covering was strictly negotiated, and then any residents who were employees during that time were eligible for back pay.

  12. Meds*

    Anyone have experience/ tips with injectable medications on trips? I am flying to Los Angeles for a business trip and it seems like California law requires that you bring used needles to municipal sharps disposal sites. Is ducking out to run to one of these sites while it’s open just a thing some people have to do on trips to states with this requirement? This is my first time encountering this so it feels weird but maybe is just NBD.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      You might find that there are more disposal sites than you’re thinking of . I think many municipal buildings (community centers, city halls, libraries) have them, based on what I think I see frequently. I don’t have a medical need for sharps so sorry I don’t have concrete info but I just don’t think it’s going to be a long way to go.
      But no, don’t duck out of a meeting to dispose of a sharp. Is there a safe container you can tuck the used one in until your downtime, when you can find a disposal unit?

    2. Panicked*

      I have no idea what Cali laws are, but can you put the needles in a well-marked safe container (my diabetic friends use an old soda pop bottle with a cap) and then bring it back with you? You could then dispose of them how you typically do.

      Barring that, I would assume you could go to any medical facility and ask them to dump in their sharps container.

      1. JanetM*

        This is wildly different state-to-state and maybe even county-to-county or city-to-city, but I’ve been in a number of public buildings that have sharps disposal containers in the restrooms. Also, many pharmacies have public sharps disposal containers.

    3. Temperance*

      Call your hotel and ask if they have a sharps disposal. I bet the rules are more like “don’t throw them in the trash” than finding a specific place to dump it.

      1. to varying degrees*

        Most hotels I know of have a sharps container for this very purpose. Worse comes to worse if there is a pharmacy near there, they should have one as well.

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      Look into getting a sharps container from a pharmacy, medical provider, or syringe service program. (An informal sharps container would be a thick plastic bottle, like Gatorade.) Hospitals are likely to have sharps disposal receptacles, and airports often have sharps disposal containers in the bathrooms, if you can save them up safely until then, or just bring them home with you. Alternately, there are syringe needle clippers that collect and safely store the cut-off sharp piece, in which case you can re-cap the syringe and dispose of in the trash as with any other debris–this might be the best and safest option overall, even in your home state!

    5. Valancy Snaith*

      Ask your pharmacist when they’re dispensing the medication. Most have sharps disposal containers to carry with you. The law in California will likely refer to people disposing of these containers as they shouldn’t just go in regular bathroom garbage. People do not go to sharps disposal sites after giving a single injection.

    6. Former Mailroom Clerk*

      Most hotels should be able to provide a sharps disposal container for you, and then they’ll make sure they dispose of it properly.

    7. fhqwhgads*

      Bring a sharps container with you. Put the used ones in that. At some point during the trip, you can go to either a sharps drop-off (many are drop boxes, you don’t even have to go in a building, you just drive up and drop your container in, similar to a mailbox) or a CVS or other pharmacy, and you can dispose of your sharps container there with their sharps trash. Go to the counter and ask.
      The point of the law you’re referencing is “do not throw it in the regular tash”, not that you have to go to a difficult to find/rare location.

      1. JustaTech*

        Most airports have sharps disposals now.
        (I once had to explain to a friend that this wasn’t about people using heroin, it was about people using insulin or any of the tons of other injectable medications. “Oh.” She *really* wanted to assume this was a ‘soft on drugs’ thing.)

    8. WellRed*

      I just put mine in something and bring back home to dispose of. I’d never throw sharps in trash and I suspect most of us don’t (I hope!)

    9. Not A Manager*

      I am dubious about some of these responses. My child used to need daily injections when we lived in CA. Now, this was about 7 years ago so maybe things have changed, but I looked for sharps disposal in pharmacies and the like and did not find them. I asked the doctor, who also did not offer sharps disposal, and the doctor LITERALLY told me to put them in a taped box marked “medical sharps” and put them in the trash.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Been in CA for close to 20 years and have lived less than a mile from (one of a dozen) county drive-up sharps drop box for nearly 10. This may vary by area; California is not a monolith, but I’d expect the circumstances in Los Angeles to be closer what I’ve experienced than what you’re describing. A taped box is a terrible (and not legal) method of disposal. My understanding is this law has been on the books in California since 2008. They need to be in, at minimum, something hard-sided that the sharps can’t puncture, like a coffee can or glass jar. It’s illegal to put them in the regular trash, but if someone’s gonna, it’s significantly less dangerous if it in an unlikely-to-puncture container.

    10. Girasol*

      While waiting for a covid vax I noticed that my local drug store sells a personal “sharps bin” that’s about the size of a medium sized pill bottle. You could carry something like that.

  13. Dil*

    So this just happened.

    I work for a local doctor. Part of my job as medical scribe means I do whatever he asks me to do, which includes ordering him breakfast.

    However, today I’m off for a minor surgery. Surgery is scheduled in the afternoon, but I found that out last night. Point being, they didn’t know what time I’m in surgery.

    My friend from work texts me to ask if I can do the order for breakfast. I usually do it through DoorDash, but I don’t want to give them the account because it’s my personal google password, so I say I’ll just do it for them. He’s given me permission to save his personal card onto my DD account, so it’s not like I’m paying.

    It takes almost a half hour for everyone to decide what they want. I’ve already had the Doctor’s simple order ready to go. Bacon, eggs, toast, coffee. Bam, done.

    Then I start the order and it turns out one of the items is available on the restaurant’s website, but not DD. So I text back asking what to switch it for.

    No response. Fine. I assume that she’s in a room, taking in a patient. My friend is a med tech. I wait. But then it’s a half hour gone by, and I’m sitting here hungry, waiting for my surgery, trying to deal with everyone else’s breakfast orders. I send another text saying I’m just sending the breakfast without that one item.

    About 10 minutes later, I get a text saying she was in a room, as expected, and that I should’ve gotten that person the same thing as she had.

    My response, “Okay, well, I’m doing this as a favor to y’all since I’m out for surgery today. Next time, get his card and call the place up or something.”

    Her response: “We did that last time and we had to go pick it up. His card is saved on a lot of delivery sites so it wouldn’t take it. That’s why.”

    And I haven’t responded yet. I don’t think I want to. I’m upset with her.

    My question is this. Should I go ahead and call our manager to say this can’t happen again, or should I try to talk to my friend personally?

    1. Ginger Pet Lady*

      Honestly I would not have responded to the text at all, or would have declined right off and not answered any follow ups.
      But at this point, I’d probably call the manager and put in hours for the work. Not really a complaint, just a “Since I worked, I want to get paid”
      I’ve found this effective in the past in making a point about being asked to do work on my day off.

      1. Dil*

        Silly me, I assumed that “we need help” would’ve been a small problem, easy to resolve.

        I’m steaming.

        1. Cyndi*

          I’m steamed for you! This is the kind of petty but snowballing annoyance people absolutely shouldn’t be dumping on you this morning. Good luck with your surgery.

        2. Sabine the Very Mean*

          I’d be steaming too, but about half of it would be toward myself. Unfortunately, I’ve let situations like this get me so steamed that I take it out on [coworker] when I should have resolved to look out for myself better next time. Set your boundary and leave it there. Make no apologies. Either don’t respond next time or say, “No, I’m not available. I won’t be able to respond from here on so I hope it gets worked out. Good luck”.

    2. JustMyImagination*

      I’d not do anything until after your surgery and you’ve had a chance to eat. But next time, can you just say no? Instead of making it a thing and a big conversation, just don’t agree to it next time.

    3. Zap R.*

      Your coworkers were being huge dinks. In future, I would suggest a rotating breakfast schedule where a different person is responsible for the order every day.

      That said, YOU WERE OUT FOR SURGERY. Your boss is a grown-ass adult and can pour some Cheerios into a bowl his damn self for one day out of the year.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      I think you both need to let it go.

      If a request like this ever comes up in the future, you can say “last time I tried to do this from off site it was a hot mess, so you’ll have to figure something else out.” Or even just “sorry, can’t this time!”

      1. Lana Kane*

        Agree with this. Coworker was inappropriate, but OP really shouldn’t have agreed. They were waiting for surgery and not in a good position to deal with the request. I’d take it as a lesson learned and just decline next time.

        Or maybe create a company Door Dash account.

    5. Posie*

      It’s totally ridiculous that your coworkers would bother you on your surgery day to ask you to order breakfast. If you were my coworker or employee, I would never even consider contacting you on the day of your surgery unless it was to wish you well or alert you to some dire, life-threatening emergency. They were jerks. Next time, totally ignore the initial text.

    6. DisneyChannelThis*

      Could you just work on just fixing the procedure so it doesn’t happen again? An easy solution I can see would be to make the doctor his own door dash profile with the card and a shared login that anyone who does the ordering could use. Then go to manager/friend with solution not blame. It’ll prevent you from dealing with it again, it’ll make you look like a problem solver/innovator, it won’t damage your friendship.

      1. Little beans*

        I agree with this one. Yes it’s annoying and I get why you’re upset, but it sounds like the real problem is that you’re the only person with access to do this and that’s what should be changed.

      2. Leandra*

        Also agreed. This has the added advantage of then nobody can accuse you of blowing them off.

        They still should’ve been adults and handled this themselves. If the boss’s credit card was an issue, then use somebody else’s and write them a reimbursement check later.

    7. rage criers unite*

      Next time (and there probably will be a next time) you’re out for any reason your response should be “i’m so sorry I’m out today and cannot order breakfast”

      or no response at all.

      you’re not working – dont work!

    8. Hydrangea*

      My advise is to respond with something like, “Understood, thanks for clarifying. Nevertheless, this can’t happen again. Please plan accordingly next time.”

    9. Madeleine Matilda*

      I would let this go. First, having set up the delivery using your personal DD account with your boss’ card meant your co-workers couldn’t place the order. Second, your boss didn’t ask you to order breakfast. You say your friend did. You could have said no, but instead you agreed. She likely assumed when you agreed that meant you were able to place the order.

      Perhaps you can put a process in place for future absences so they don’t reach out to you such as setting up an office DD account so others can place the order when you are out of the office.

    10. Rick Tq*

      This saga should have ended with you responding to the first request “I’m off for the day”.

      That should have meant you are not working, not taking notes, and not ordering breakfast for anyone. You should also start changing passwords for any work-related web sites to NOT use your personal passwords, and IT security people will tell you to use unique passwords for every site so if one is compromised the hackers don’t get access to all your other systems.

      Hope your surgery goes well.

    11. TheraputicSarcasm*

      That both sucks and blows at the same time. I’m sorry you had to deal with that. The only thing I’d suggest is not to talk to your boss or your friend yet. Your beef is legit and will require a cool head when you address it.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Tell the doc he has to have his own account because this current plan is no longer working. Then remove his card from your account. You can let him know that this is what you will be doing.
      I understand sharing an account makes things easier- but in the long run it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

  14. OTGet*

    I applied for an internal job (with management responsibilities!) and had a good (I think!) phone screening with HR. What are your tips for internal interviews, should I make it to the next round/meet with the hiring manager? I’ve never been in this situation, and I’m wondering if there are things I’m not considering because I’m an inside. I work in higher ed, if that’s relevant.

    1. bicality*

      Internal interviews, in my experience, mean you can do WAY more sleuthing before. Especially in higher ed, where you can generally figure out who else works in the department, with the department, etc. I’ve moved twice in my tenure at a university and both times I took the opportunity to call up colleagues who knew the hiring manager and department and ask really candid and probing questions. When it came to the actual interview, I was super comfortable because I knew so much about them and could ask very detailed questions on what I was still curious about. I could also reference all of the systems and processes used in the university because they (ostensibly) have the same experience. This made it very tangible for both of us to imagine me in the position, hitting the ground running, because I knew so much about the situation already.

      1. bicality*

        LOL, I see everyone else has the exact opposite experience as me. Listen to them; I obviously take an unusual approach (which works for me and the kind of networker I am)! To clarify, I don’t act like I know everything in the interview, I still ask the basic questions to get their take on things, I just have really good follow up questions.

    2. Ringo’s mom*

      I’m in higher ed, too, and have years of experience on hiring committees. My biggest tip for internal candidates: Treat the interview as if you are interviewing with an outside company and people you don’t know. Don’t assume you know everything about the position—research it. The biggest mistake I’ve seen internal candidates make is in assuming people on the interview committee know everything about their skill sets. The second biggest mistake: being too casual and familiar with the hiring team. Bring your A game. Good luck!

    3. cubone*

      I’ve interviewed a few candidates internally before and the biggest mistake I noticed is they make assumptions about what we do or don’t know about them. Things like “I led Project X which as you know was very successful” – I know it feels dumb explaining project X and it’s results to people who worked on it, but the best interviews are always people who are clear and specific about their accomplishments, and tie them to the job they’re applying for (internal and external).

      Obviously use your best judgement and don’t infantilize them by over explaining very basic knowledge, but give them the same approach you would external ones and explain your successes in DETAIL. Tie things back to the new job. Do your research on the new team/departments goals. Basically in short: don’t cut corners thinking things are obvious or well known just because you already work there.

    4. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      My one piece of advice for internal interviews is to treat them like external ones. Early in my career, I assumed I had a promotion in the bag (and TBH I did until I screwed it up majorly in the interview), so I didn’t prepare at all for the interview and said things like “Well, you know how that project went.” The problem was 1. I was unprepared and seemed as if I hadn’t given the interview the time/attention it deserved, but the biggest one was 2. there were two people who didn’t know me and my work in the interview. I had been groomed for the job for a year+ but it went to someone else who was more prepared and blew the two outside-our-department people away.

    5. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      I just went through this (also higher ed). Definitely be as prepared as you would be for any external interview, as others have said! I also recommend asking around to find out more about the team, the manager, the work environment. See if you can figure out adjacent teams who can provide insight, if you’re uncomfortable asking directly into the unit.

      My tip, as an anxious and bad interviewee, is know that they’ve also likely done their homework on you. My work and reputation is great, and I realized over the process that there were a number of conversations behind the scenes that supported my candidacy – so my bad interviewing (I am not catastrophizing, I have receipts from trusted colleagues and former managers that interviewing me is the worst part of working with me, and not due to lack of preparation) was just a bump on the path. Even during the interview when words were falling out of my mouth uncontrolled, I could comfort myself with the knowledge that I came in as a strong candidate. And got the job!

      1. OTGet*

        I worked closely on a number of projects with the person who was previously in this role. (She left for an internal opportunity as well.) Too direct to reach out to her?

  15. Ginger Pet Lady*

    What’s the weirdest, most misguided thing your company has done in the name of boosting productivity?
    Talked to a former coworker this week, and the company we used to work at removed all art from the walls and painted over all the murals and colored walls. Just white EVERYWHERE. Made all employees remove any decor as well. To “put the focus where it belongs. On your work!”
    I guess they figured people were spending too much time admiring the photo of the Grand Canyon over by accounting? Or maybe the Eiffel Tower one from IKEA that was by the conference rooms was just tooooo distracting? And the gray and white diagonal stripes on the wall opposite the elevator were a REAL time suck?
    Apparently there was a mass exodus not long after.
    Seen any similar weirdness in the name of “productivity”?

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Yes! Humans like aesthetically pleasing surroundings! We need beauty in our lives.

        Also, this is the opposite of what encourages productivity.

        1. JustaTech*

          When our building was renovated the person in charge of the renovation made sure that her floor had nice, work-related décor (pictures of our patients, art of our product, that kind of stuff).
          My floor? White walls. And Every Single Time I have asked to put our technical posters (showing off our accomplishments!) back up it’s either been a flat “no” or a mealy-mouthed “oh we’ll have to check”.

          Best part? The person in charge of the renovation left years ago.

    1. Cyndi*

      My company is moving our entire office from a centrally-located building where we have cubicles to a brand new facility way out on the edge of the city, in a direction that will make almost everyone’s commutes much worse. It will be open plan, with tighter security where employees leave most personal possessions in lockers instead of keeping them at their desks, and there isn’t even anywhere to eat in the area. They’re insisting this is for “efficiency” but no one on my team intends to still be working here by the time of the move, so good luck being more efficient while getting an entire fresh team up to speed, folks!

      1. Hydrangea*

        We moved from mostly private offices but some clusters of cubicles to an open plan office. I now WFH most days.

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

        I had the same thought! “An office that LOOKS efficient, IS efficient.”

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      My office took away individual printers. Everyone has to use one “centrally located” printer. It was supposed to be for more efficiency, but now it takes me at least twice as long to go down the hall and wait my turn while someone else is scrambling up my pages. On a good day, I get back to my desk with all of my correct pages and none missing or nobody else’s mixed in.
      But now we have more empty surface area at our workstations! Less clutter! Quieter!

      1. Cyndi*

        Oh God I was once in an office with a few “centrally located” printers and the most convenient one was two feet behind my desk. It was so disruptive having people coming and going right behind me all the time that I had to ask to change desks. Efficiency!

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I had a printer behind my desk once. Super annoying & I had to listen to all the “standing around waiting for printouts” conversations.

          1. Cyndi*

            Yeah, it actually outweighed the convenience of being able to grab my own printouts without getting out of my chair.

      2. Gracely*

        My workplace did this. It’s super annoying. Especially when the one central printer/copier/etc. per floor is out of toner or jammed or just out of service.

      3. Snow Globe*

        Our company did that years ago, so I learned how to save notes in pdf documents, and otherwise go full digital. I haven’t printed anything in years. So I guess it worked, at least in my case.

      4. Jaid*

        We use centrally located printer/copiers, but our work is saved to the cloud(?) and if we want to print something, we need to use our keyed badges and a password to access our print job.

        Photocopies don’t need that, unless you’re saving a copy to your e-mail to send elsewhere in lieu of faxing.

        Anyway, with the badge and password, no work is being mixed up. Maybe your business should look into that!

        BTW, the copier is right behind my desk, but most people don’t hang out and chit-chat there, so it doesn’t bug me.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, same. I got a new computer in May this year. I haven’t installed the printer driver/secure printing queue yet. Thankfully no need for passwords in our case, just flash your smart card at the rfid reader. But I’d have to go to the office if I needed to print anything, we aren’t allowed to print stuff at home for security reasons.

        2. JustaTech*

          Teh big central printer used to live right by my desk (until they took away the other one for the floor so we moved ours to a more physically central location) and the only time the printer was annoying was the week it developed a squeak.

          After two days the other person who sat near it just unplugged it and told folks to badge into another printer because we were going nuts.

      5. Esmeralda*

        It’s not for efficiency, they’re just saying that.

        They don’t want to spend money and time ordering supplies for a dozen personal printers, plus maintenance, replacement…

        Of course, when the one central printer goes down, everyone is screwed.

        1. AsPerElaine*

          I mean, it is more efficient — they’ll spend less on supplies, and less on printer service, and can probably get better printers overall.

          It’s just not necessarily efficient in terms of employee time and effort (aside from the people who were responsible for all those printers).

    3. Sad Desk Salad*

      I’d like to hear from professionals how they help others that want to follow their path. Context: I’ve been a lawyer for about 10 years, I like it, my job is great, but being in law school and taking the bar were probably the worst parts of my professional life. I know a man from a shared sport who’s asked me for advice on finishing his law degree, and I really don’t know the best way to help him. His situation is very different from mine; he’s essentially unwelcome in his home country due to his political position on the Ukraine invasion. So his previous legal experience is very different from mine, and I’m not sure how to help him. He’s sent his resume, so I presume that’s where I start, but resume review is not really my strong suit. (My spouse reviews resumes for a living so I’ll probably tap her for advice as well.)

      Normally, for Americans, I would strongly discourage people from attending law school unless they had a strong, compelling reason or a mission in mind–it’s way too expensive and difficult to not be fully committed. But he is very genuine, has a ton of legal experience in his home country, and has a focused area of interest, and I think he would be a great candidate for law schools. I want to help him, but I’m not exactly sure how. Asking him directly along with his resume review is my next step, but if anyone else has any other ideas, I would love to hear them.

    4. calvin blick*

      A friend’s job insisted that people come in on Saturdays so the executives and investors could drive by the parking lot and see how many cars were there. They were also very insistent on people not “wasting a workday” by traveling on weekends if possible.

      I guess they got some productivity out of that but morale and retention were not good as you would expect.

    5. RagingADHD*

      The agency I primarily work through added two extra layers of project management for improved efficiency and organization.

      So now, questions from the client about process that used to get answered the same day whenever the PM checked messages, take a week. And sometimes don’t get answered at all until they’ve been forgotten, re-discovered, kicked over to a different layer of management, forgotten again, and re-surface as emergencies that delay the product release and require scrambling to bring in a team of specialists.

    6. Meep*

      Still drives me nuts years later, but my former manager insisted during the pandemic because we were working remotely we would have check-in meetings every morning at 8:30 AM, 1:00 PM, and 5:00 PM in the evenings with everyone to make sure we were “on task”. Never mind this absolute loon of a person was rarely in before the pandemic. Never mind this absolute loon of a person insisted that we all prepare for it at least an hour before. Never mind this absolute loon of a person would cancel at least two of those meetings during the day last minute. This went on for two years before people just went about their day.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        My partner’s workplace has a version of this.an “informal” check-in that the entire company is supposed to attend. It’s one meeting a day rather than several, but in the timezone we’re in, it’s right at the end of the working day, so he can’t even use that time to wind down tasks and prepare to log off.

        Probably because my partner’s job already involves being on video calls most of the day, this rubs me the wrong way, like an extra demand on people’s time. The boss is the same person who had his direct reports dial into a weekly team meeting at 9am, when their workday usually starts half an hour later. I also think they’ll have a hard time keeping it up given how fast the company is growing, surely expecting everyone to attend is becoming a stretch (and I think I’m right, they’ve already reduced them from every day to twice a week).

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      Maybe not quite productivity, but I worked at a school that put a HUGE emphasis on standardized testing. Like, the state already required a full week of these mind-numbing tests, and our school would do a full SECOND week of PRACTICE testing where we basically replicated test conditions as closely as possible and kids took FULL-LENGTH practice tests instead of, you know, occasionally giving them a couple questions as part of their regular learning to practice test-taking strategies.

      One year they decided the students weren’t prepared enough, so we needed to replace our last unit before state testing with, you got it, MORE practice tests. Literally just … skip several weeks of teaching new content (which would be ON THE TEST) so they can do practice questions. Every day. I cried in the meeting and then proceeded to teach as usual while ignoring my giant binder of sample tests (I think I used a handful of the questions in tutoring). My students did fine on the state test.

      1. Alex (they/them)*

        That much testing must be awful for the students! I wouldn’t be surprised if made their scores worse :/

    8. Cookies for Breakfast*

      Ah, yes, my former workplace’s move to an office with more fancy interior design than sense.

      Hot-desking office with fewer desks than employees, which in theory could have worked (we all had flexibility to WFH), but in practice was a mess, because only some workstations had monitors to plug into. If you wanted to work on a large monitor, which was the only thing I couldn’t do at home, you had to get there very early. At one point, they started replacing the monitors to force people to “upgrade” their laptops…to newer versions that didn’t last as long or work as well, but were compatible only with the new screens.

      Also, there was no room for people to store their belongings, aside from one coat rack and a row of open square shelves. Again, fewer than actual employees who might have wanted to keep their laptops at the office. Honourable mention for the time someone took my laptop out of its sleeve while I was on holiday, stole the sleeve, and stored the laptop on a shelf too high for me to reach. And if I think back to the mass of bags people left on the floor because there was no room to store them anywhere in the office (we were told we could not have our personal stuff at any desk), “health and safety hazard” are the first words I can come up with. Yay productivity, yay safe working conditions.

    9. New Mom*

      Deciding to mandate that everyone come back to the office, when we can all work remotely and the commute would add up to two hours of driving to our day for “collaboration”.

    10. A Girl Named Fred*

      My company is on a big kick right now with a raffle happening this quarter. If you do certain things you get a ticket and can put those tickets into a drawing to win Super Awesome Prizes (that weren’t chosen when the quarter began and haven’t been announced yet.) It was initially announced as a fun optional way to boost some numbers, and has devolved into supervisors constantly checking in to make sure you’re sending them your ticket requests and randomly doubling the amount of tickets you get for X, Y, and Z and announcing it with important pings on Teams and all the fanfare and urgency of a 90% off sale.

      I want money, not a raffle ticket, but I appear to be in the minority in my org (and am trying desperately to get out.) But if I get another Important ping about “TICKET FRENZY!!!!!” today, I might just lose my mind.

    11. DisneyChannelThis*

      Hot desking. Hands down. I have no idea why anyone thinks losing assigned seating is going to improve anything

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

      Our business office only cuts checks/cheques for accounts payable or depositing in the post office account, etc., once a week, on Wednesday. This way they don’t need to keep cutting checks constantly and can focus on other tasks…except, if I need to have those funds in the post office for instance, to do a bulk mailing on our org permit…and I request the funds on Thursday morning…I have to wait until the following Wednesday for the Day Of Checks. And GAWD FORBID, they forget or lost the requisition, because now I gotta wait another week.

    13. Sabine the Very Mean*

      Decided it was necessary to have an entire team read documents, send emails, make comments to a working file, and basically all other things as one entire unit. So for hours at a time, all 10 of us would be looking at a screen while one person reads the content outloud. Boss did this in response to improper communications going out by team members.

    14. Leandra*

      Several of the largest firms in my industry either already have, or are going back to the era of the office secretarial pool. They think it’ll reduce secretarial downtime by spreading the workload out.

      Now as then, the biggest problem with that is when bosses aren’t trying to steer their work to secretaries they trust, secretaries will try to pick and choose what tasks they want to do.

    15. SofiaDeo*

      The strangest, most misguided thing the State hospital I worked at, was when the Assistant Directors and Director decided to redesign the department space, supposedly to “improve workflow.” Instead of asking any *actual staff working in that space* for input during this huge project(we are talking, moving walls/rooms, adding/changing counters and desks and telephones) they had the 3 interns who had been there only a few weeks do it. The entire thing.

  16. darlingpants*

    TLDR: I don’t like being a manager and I need tips on how to make it bearable for me, a good experience for my employee, and also for strategies to try not to make my management responsibilities larger without overworking my “group” (just me and this one employee).

    I mostly enjoyed having an intern this summer but I think that’s because it was more mentorship than managing, and it was time limited. I don’t like having an employee. I don’t like having to figure out what she’s working on on top of figuring out what I’m working on. I hate that that’s going to be what happens forever and ever until one of us quits this job. I dislike talking to her about compensation and I really hate this inner conflict I have about wanting her to take vacation and get raises and also thinking she makes a fair wage for her pay band and I know lots of people in our lab make way less (yes I’m taking this way too personally but I don’t know how to stop).

    I wish she was more independent but also she’s been working here for like 3 months. I feel overwhelmed but like it’s my responsibility to balance work that needs to get done with work that’s fun and interesting and that if I get the balance wrong she’ll quit. I want to hand her a full project and walk away but that’s not fair: she needs training on a lot of this stuff.

    Some of it’s probably a learning curve. Some of it is my personality. I like being a mentor, but not a manager. But also I need at least one other person in my group for work timing issues. Writing this out showed a big problem is how personally responsible I feel for her well-being but I don’t know how to stop that without abdicating the actual responsibility I do have as her manager.

    Any advice is extremely welcome.

    1. Qwerty*

      Are you a new manager? Can your office send you to some intro management trainings? It can be tough when starting to determine where the line is on what’s your responsibility to care about. It sounds like you are overwhelmed, which is totally normal (Making of a Manager is a good book that talks about feeling like you’re drowning when you first start managing)

      Some things you can punt on for now. She’s been there 3months, you’ve got time before stuff like raises comes up. Accept that this employee WILL quit at some point – you can’t be making decisions worried about the possibility of her leaving.

      It might help to separate this into two buckets. You are not just managing this employee, but also onboarding/training her. Adjusting to management is easier when you start with established smooth running folks. Building a team is harder. As she gets more trained, you’ll be able to focus on just the management side.

      Obviously you can also explore the possibility of stepping down as a manager, but it’s probably worth trying it out for a while longer and seeing how it feels once you get the hang of it. I totally get prefering mentorship over management – I left leadership to go back to being a senior IC because I have the same preference.

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      So a few thoughts:
      1) Tell her to tell you what she’s working on. Establish a regular update schedule where she sends you an email (or whatever written format you prefer) with everything she’s working on. Make it really clear that she needs to put everything on there, and if she doesn’t put it on the update, it doesn’t count towards her performance review.
      2) Set up a regular 1:1 (after you’ve had time to review her regular written update) so you can discuss everything she’s included in the update, clarify concerns, and set up next steps.
      3) shut the compensation talk down. She’s only been there 3 months, you think her compensation’s fine, she’s not as independent as you need her to be; ergo, she’s not in a position to negotiate compensation yet. Give her a date and specific goals you need to see her meet before you’ll be willing to discuss compensation with her again, like: I need to see at least X progress from you in 6 months. If you want to be considered for higher roles and higher compensation, we really need to see Y and Z before we can even discuss adjusting your compensation. Be really clear. And then if she brings it up again, refer back to your convo about seeing Y and Z.
      4) Training; you like being a mentor. Lean into that when you’re training her – what’s fun about being a mentor? How do train your mentees? See if you can get that same energy when you’re training your employee. Eventually she will be able to handle a full project by herself.
      5) if she quits, it’s not your fault. Your job is to be pleasant, clear, and fair with her. She gets to decide if this job isn’t a good fit; you don’t have to bend over backwards to make it fit her.

    3. cubone*

      Aw, your post struck my heart. I felt a lot like this with my first FT employee. I realized I do actually like being a manager, but it was a learning curve and she was also struggling in her job. A double whammy.

      Some random thoughts, echoing some of what’s been said by others but hopefully expanding:
      1) what she’s working on: when you frame it as “figuring out what she’s working on vs what I’m working on” it’s always going to run into trouble. Being a manager means part of your job (as in, a literal job task) is to be giving guidance of how things fit into larger goals – yes, you will each have your own tasks (and possibly different projects) but you have to shift to thinking about what those all ladder up to. You are both working on the SAME work, you just have a different breakdown of tasks or responsibilities. If you’re thinking “but we have different projects/tasks” then take a mental step further out from just those specific projects. Keep going until you can see larger overarching goals (I recognize this is always going to be different in different industries). Then when you are assigning work, it’s thinking about what tasks are going into those larger goals, what are most appropriate for her vs you (keeping in mind some things will live 100% with each of you)

      2) compensation: koala said this well: shut it down. Next time it comes up (or bring it up yourself): “I’ve heard you talk a few times about compensation. I want to be up front that right now raises aren’t on the table for [a tenure of X/until performance reviews/one year in/whatever]. At that time, we can revisit it based on your work. Does that make sense?” If no – then you say I’m sorry to hear that, but unfortunately that’s the situation. If it keeps coming up, you revisit the classic AAM advice of “we’ve discussed this and it keeps coming up. I need to know you understand this isn’t going to change and not continue to mention it. Can you agree to that?” After my employee left, I heard from several people that her constant complaining about pay (which was higher than them) was extremely demoralizing and upsetting. It’s not just you taking it personally.

      3) 1:1s: in addition to having them (HAVE THEM), ask what she needs out of them. What makes a 1-1 useful for her? Does she find highly structured (agenda, minutes) helps or more conversational about issues?

      4) your job as a manager isn’t to prevent people from quitting. It’s to help people be successful so the work gets completed. That’s it. If successful to her means she leaves, that’s fine (if you have a dozen employees and all of them quit, that’s a different story and reflection obviously).

      5) others may have different book or learning recs but Radical Candor by Kim Scott helped me a lot as a new manager. Not everyone loves it and it’s an imperfect book but specifically it made me realize that a manager who is rude and aggressive is not actually significantly worse than a manager who is unclear, passive, insincere, or too worried about being disliked. Those managers suck. Don’t mistake kindness or gentleness or management. You can be kind, compassionate, and gentle, but you also need to be clear and specific. Don’t shy away from speaking to her because you don’t like the job; it’ll make infinitely worse

    4. Toodle*

      I solved it by quitting being a manager.

      Not having to care about what other people were doing made a tremendous difference in my mental health and professional career.

  17. Raspberry*

    I got a new job that moved me across the country that I just started last month. Things have been rocky. I was quickly able to dive into most of the work, and I even cleared a 5 month backlog of reports already. The VPs I support are thrilled with me, but my team is where I am struggling.

    First the guy whose roll I took over, “Aaron”, instantly gave me bad vibes, and while he was training me on a report he asked me to stop taking notes and just watch because he had a guide. However as the due date for the next report approached I asked several times for the guide and never got a response. I asked around my team and got a snarky response from the Sr lead that “on this team we respectfully take notes when someone kindly takes time from their day to train you”. I responded “Oh I take notes, but Aaron specifically asked me to stop taking notes on this one since he had a guide and my note taking was slowing down his training session”. She replied sarcastically with “Sure”. The whole team could hear this exchange because our desks are in a pod but the training was in a conference room.

    Well I started working on the report, figuring correctly at that point that there wasn’t a guide. I managed to get the report out on time and accurately. A couple days later, Aaron sent an email copying my whole team and my manager as well as the VP the report goes to with a version of the report he put together, and that he had heard I wasn’t able to complete this report but that he would find time in his busy schedule to train me again. The VP who got the report replied that he’s not sure who told Aaron that Raspberry hadn’t done the report, but that she clearly understands it well since she actually remembered to update the constants on tab 3 unlike a busy someone ;).

    After that a few of the younger employees on the team let me know in confidence that they see I do good work and not to let Aaron get me down,  but the older employees are clearly team Aaron. Not sure how they don’t see Aaron’s fumbled attempt at a set up there but whatever. I had another run in with Aaron, but someone else made their presence in the room known so he cut it short. It was inappropriate but nothing that Aaron couldn’t spin as overeagerly trying to give the new person helpful advice.

    This Monday I was in a conference room waiting to meet with my boss for my 30 day check in when one of the Sr staff came in and closed the door. “None of us want you here you know. We voted to hire the guy who actually got a CPA.” (I’ve only got degrees in mathematics and statistics). A bit exasperated, I kept an even tone “Well I have no use for that information but I wish you a pleasant rest of the day” and opened my hand towards the door. She stormed out and my boss came in about 5 minutes later.

    My boss said I was doing great work and he was impressed with how quickly I built relationships with the VPs and directors, but he wants me to work on improving my relationship with the team. When I mentioned the note taking thing, he cut me off and said that he doesn’t know what the deal with that drama was, but I should know that Aaron, himself, and the CFO attend the same church and golf together so he knows Aaron is a godly man with integrity. Because of his response, I didn’t tell him about the “we don’t want you” conversation.

    I guess I’ll mention here that I am an out non-prostelyzing atheist.

    I’m not sure what to do. I can’t afford to lose a job that moved me here, in fact if I get fired or quit before 2 years I’ll be out the FULL $5,000 in relocation assistance that I will have to pay back in a 6 month period.  I feel like there is no chance to improve my relationship with the older coworkers who apparently never wanted to hire me in the first place and are clearly up Aaron’s ass. My game plan is to keep my head down, avoid Aaron, and continue to ingratiate myself to the VPs and Directors and build up better relationships with the younger coworkers. HR here sucks so I don’t trust them to be any help.

    Does anyone else have any advice? I’ve never had a group turn into a shit show like this!

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      This sounds awful. I would look around for a new position (it’s a candidate’s market) and if/when you get an offer, see if they’ll cover the $5k as a signing bonus. Covering this kind of thing is pretty common in my field (biotech).

      1. Raspberry*

        It’s definitely not a candidates market in my field. I have been applying since May in jobs that 3 years ago I got almost 60% interview rates on and now I literally only got one interview (this group) after about 45 targeted applications to roles around the same seniority just a smidge higher. It feels like competition in my field is suddenly through the roof and even some jobs I held prior at my current company are requiring masters when they did not before.

    2. Rick Tq*

      This all around stinks, but I think you have the right plan. Build enough high-level air cover to protect you from TeamAaron…

      My hackles went up as soon as your boss said “Godly man with integrity”, it usually means the reverse as you have seen.

      Watch you back, Document/Document/Document!, and good luck.

      1. but I'm not a rapper*

        To add on to Rick’s last point – try to document all the negative interactions (honestly, this sounds like bullying!) that you’re having, including the nonexistent guide and the “nobody wants you here” incident. Keep track of dates, times, and the remarks that you remember, and stay matter-of-fact in your notes. Even with a terrible HR, it’s possible that you can accumulate enough incidents to make a compelling case.

        Also – it sounds like you’re making work friends with some of the younger employees. That’s great! You could try asking them for recommendations on working with the more hostile folks, or if they witness any of the hostility you could ask them to back you up with HR.

    3. Zephy*

      Oh god, get the hell out of this job ASAP. 800 bucks a month ($5k over 6 months) sounds like a reasonable price to pay for getting away from this dysfunctional-ass office. Your boss basically told you Aaron’s not going anywhere, this situation will not change for you until you leave.

      1. Raspberry*

        Thankfully Aaron is not in my department so I may not have to interact with him much now that I’m trained on the big stuff.

    4. calvin blick*

      I signed a relocation agreement as well, except mine is for 3 years and a whole lot more money. Never doing that again (although thankfully my team all seem to be pleasant people).

      Does your agreement have a sliding scale? Mine decreases by a third every year, so maybe if you can stick out for another 11 months the payback amount will be a little less.

    5. Parenthesis Dude*

      Document, document, document. When you’re ready to leave, talk to a lawyer. This sounds like a potential religious discrimination case.

    6. Gracely*

      Wow. I’m a non-proselytizing Christian, and that “godly man with integrity” line is total bullshit. I can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone described that way that wasn’t a complete tool. Plenty of glassbowls attend church–it’s a great place for people who want to manipulate others, unfortunately. Ugh.

      I don’t think it means you can’t tell your boss about the “we don’t want you” conversation–frankly that’s much more egregious, easier to explain, and harder to dismiss than the note-taking stuff–but you might be better served by sharing that with someone above your boss, and holding off on it at the time was probably the right thing to do.

      I think you have a good plan in building better relationships with the VPs/Directors and your younger coworkers, but given the hiring market right now, I’d also be looking elsewhere (and plan to ask them to cover that relocation assistance). Until then, keep an eye out for other sabotage attempts from Aaron and the others (because I doubt it’s just Aaron who’ll try stuff), and maybe they’ll eventually see that you’re not going anywhere just because they don’t like you.

      But I’m really sorry you’re dealing with this at all.

      1. Raspberry*

        My fear with speaking with my boss is that, since he utterly dismissed me on the guide thing which at least has some email evidence, why on earth would he believe me over someone who has been here 30 years when it’s a simply a she said she said situation?

        I’m afraid he’ll take that to mean I’m drama and just drop me at this point. I don’t know his boss so I won’t go to them until I know them more and know if I can trust their judgement.

        1. Two Dog Night*

          I think you’re right–your best bet is to do good work and build relationships with everyone you can. Hopefully your boss will start to trust you more over time, but it’s still really early, and the fact that he golfs with Aaron isn’t a good sign. I’m so sorry Aaron is still around. You’re in a tough spot.

          And I agree with other commenters–a new job that includes a $5K signing bonus might be the way to go.

        2. Gracely*

          I definitely get that fear, and I don’t think it’s misplaced. I would wait until you’ve got a better footing and clear track record.

          Just remind yourself (and anyone else who tries to say something similar) that they didn’t hire the CPA, they hired you, so there must have been a good reason for that.

          Hopefully it will get better once they get their heads out of their asses and see you can do the work. Until then, CYA and document, document, document (and save that documentation somewhere you can get at it if you lose access to your work computer/files) so that if they do try and get rid of you, you have some recourse. A lawyer’s letter backed up with documentation can go a long way towards getting a company to decide it’s not worth pursuing that relocation fee.

        3. I edit everything*

          If the older team members have really been there that long, maybe they’ll retire soon, and there can be a changing of the guard. If there are “older” who’ve been there 30 years, and “younger,” who are separated enough in whatever way not to be part of that pack, it sounds like that might have already started happening.

          Good luck! Doing your job well is going to be your best path forward, proving to your boss and whoever else was involved in the hiring position that you were the right hire.

        4. random person*

          I realize this might be extreme, but maybe look into the laws in your state re: recording conversations. If the law allows, it might not hurt to set your phone to record if you ever find yourself alone again with that senior staffer (who sounds like a world-class a-hole).

          I’m also wondering what the deal is with the CPA that they voted to hire. Maybe that person had the ‘right’ religious card??? It just seems bizarre for them to be that hostile to you from the get-go. Like others have said, I’d document everything.

        5. Me ... Just Me*

          I wonder if you could christian-shame Aaron? Next time he does something shifty, pull out the “I know you’re a church going godly man, so I was hoping that ….” Or, bring it to his attention that one of his fellow old-timers said mean things to you and you want his advice as a “church going godly man”. He might just eat that right up.

      2. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I can confirm that if you have to say that you’re a ‘Godly man with integrity’ it’s the religious equivalent of calling yourself a ‘Nice Guy’. That’s not something you should have to say with words.

        Also as a CPA, I can comfortably say that I’ve met plenty of incompetent and/or inexperienced CPAs. Unless you’re hiring for something that requires a certain level of certification clout, experience will be a heck of a lot more valuable than certification. Math and stats degrees are no less challenging than business degrees and I salute you for your accomplishments. Your Sr staff is a jerk too.

    7. SomebodyElse*

      Coming into the comments way late but I couldn’t resist:

      “A bit exasperated, I kept an even tone “Well I have no use for that information but I wish you a pleasant rest of the day” and opened my hand towards the door. ”

      Good for you giving this response! Well played.

      Now a little bit of advice. Keep doing what you’ve been doing. In the meantime, look for another job either in the company and away from these 3 if possible or with another company. It sounds like you might have an ally with the VP so you may be able to find a little cover there while you look.

    8. Qwerty*

      – Document every little thing. Keep in a location you can access from home that isn’t tied to your work account at all. Email yourself the entries so they are dated/timestamped. Include as much detail you can – quotes where possible, who was in the conversation, who witnessed the interaction, who you told about the situation (could be reporting to boss, HR, execs, or even just discussing with peers)

      – If you get fired, get a lawyer and show them the documentation. They should be able to negotiate part of your severance being to keep the relocation bonus. At a minimum, you’ve got a boss who took religion into account when have a performance discussion with you, and flat out told you he was taking Aaron’s side over yours because of religion.

      – Build your relationships with the VPs who like you. Try to meet with them neutrally at first, in the spirit of getting to know them to support them better and sprinkle in some small talk. Especially the VP who had your back on the report – when you are comfortable with her, let her know that your boss uses individual’s religion when making team decisions and about the “we don’t want you” conversation.

      – Continue building relationships with the younger employees who you get along with. Let them know about the s**t that happens in a professional manner. This is to help create a trail so that you contemporaneous accounts to back you up.

      This sucks. If you are able to find a new job, its likely that you can get them to cover the relocation bonus.

      You need to tell someone in leadership about the religion conversation to get protection if/when your boss continues to discriminate against you for being atheist vs going to his church. I get that HR is not safe for you, so it can wait a little bit while you build a relationship with someone who has clout to protect you. It is important because right now if you were fired your boss could deny the conversation ever happened, so you want something in writing with someone with the power to do something as your paper trail.

    9. My Cabbages!*

      Wait, you have to pay it back if you quit *or are fired*???

      So, they can keep you for 1 year 11 months and 29 days then drop you AND make you pay for the privilege of being fired?

    10. Stoppin' by to chat*

      Actually I would tell your manager about the “we don’t want you here” comment. I mean if you feel comfortable. You could say something like, “I thought about what we discussed in my 30 day review. However, I was so shocked at the time I didn’t mention this, but wanted to now since I could use some guidance navigating this situation. So-and-so came in 5 mins before you did and told me explicitly they wanted to hire a different candidate, and that the team doesn’t want me here.” Since you mentioned improving my relationship with the rest of the team, I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

      Again, you may not want to, and I get that. But that was such an inappropriate comment, that you could take the approach Allison often recommends; to treat the situation like OF COURSE your manager will say something to the other employee, because what kind of a person tells a fell coworker they don’t want them there!

      Otherwise, you could lean into the relationships your building with VPs, etc and explain that you’re concerned about how you can continue to be successful at the company when you’re being treated this way. And that if the team doesn’t want you there you would be happy to leave the company now, but would not pay pack the relocation bonus due to the situation. I mean, if you’re planning to look for a new job anyway, and you were there for such a short time, may as well burn that bridge and leverage your good will!

  18. Sunflower*

    How does one gauge if they should be worried about losing their job during a recession esp if they are new-ish to the company (4 months)? I was in college in 2008 so I’ve never dealt with something impending like this before. I work for a very large tech company, I’m the only person who does my role on my team (although there are other people in my org who perform very similar roles).

    I feel pretty complacent in my job- I do a good job and care about my work product but I’m done breaking my back and grinding when it’s not required trying to prove my worth. I really don’t want to put more on my plate to show my worth but is this something I need to do to ensure my job is safe? What have others done in the past that’s worked?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I think rather than take on more projects it’s better to showcase some soft skills. If you’ve got 5 people in the company who can do task X doing more of task X won’t help you know? Efficiency + lack of errors maybe one way to judge the 5. But if you have to pick 2/5 to go, other skills are going to be things like are they easy to work with, do they learn and retain new information easily, are they both an independent worker as well as a good teammate, do they manage to reply to their email and calendar promptly? If you’ve got a good relationship with your boss you could talk to them about your worries, some fields aren’t super effected by recessions you may be worrying for nothing.

      And then keep your resume up to date just in case and chuck extra into savings if you can.

    2. OrdinaryJoe*

      To be blunt … in my opinion, there’s not a lot you can do with only 4 months on the job. Make sure your resume is up to date and save … The good thing is that you are probably making less money and costing the company less than people who have been there for several years so you might have that going for you.

      During a re-org (not exactly the same thing but …) a manager at my level but with many years less at the job was kept while I was offered a buy-out because they were costing the company a good deal less than me due to seniority and benefits that came with yrs of service, even if our base salaries were close.

    3. Educator*

      Jaded elder millennial here—no job is ever truly “safe” and anyone who thinks they have job security is kidding themselves. That’s just the reality of capitalism. Once you accept that, you can make choices that help secure your future regardless of what happens with any one job —save as much as you can, keep building new skills and staying on top of industry trends, network and develop a good reputation, figure out how you would get healthcare if you lost your job, and save some more. Layoff decisions at large companies are rarely made by people who know you or your work in any detail.

      Sorry, that is a really pessimistic answer! But after a recession and a pandemic, I feel like we cannot depend on any one employer anymore. We have to take care of ourselves.

  19. AnxiousAF*

    My toxic manager pushed me over the mental health edge and I’m out of work on STD. I can’t imagine going back at this point, and I feel like it’s career suicide, but I needed to take care of myself. Any advice from someone who has been there?

    1. Posie*

      I’m so sorry. I left a job once with no backup plan because my boss was sexually harassing and mentally abusing me. He was a doctor, the owner of his practice with no HR. I truly had nowhere to turn. I filed for unemployment, which was declined, and reported him to the state medical board. I was unemployed for 5 months during a time when my husband’s income was severely reduced. Somehow, we made it, and we only had to borrow a little money from my parents! I honestly don’t know if I would do it differently if I could go back in time. If I had confronted him and stayed, he would have made my life even more miserable. If I had waited until I had a new job to leave, there’s no telling how much more abuse I would have endured. To this day, this was the single worst experience of my life, so I guess in retrospect, I did the right thing by just walking out.

      In terms of advice, I can offer this: don’t be afraid to get a menial job that pays the bills and doesn’t require much mental effort while you recover from this experience. I had 2 of these on my road to recovery and they were honestly the best things for me. I still look back fondly on my month of sorting pretty nail polishes in a beauty product distribution center for 5 hours a day. Today, I’m back on my original career path and making almost double what I did when I had to walk out of that job. Take care of yourself above all else.

    2. Joielle*

      My spouse was there around this time last year. He ended up taking a month off with FMLA and his health was so much better not having to deal with his toxic manager every day. He gave his two weeks notice on the day he returned from leave with nothing else lined up. Within a month he had an offer from a consulting firm to do similar work but with a 30% raise, fully remote, much better work life balance, and a very supportive team and boss. His health is not 100% even now, but it’s a world of difference. His stress is about 20% of what it was and his schedule is very flexible for therapist and specialist appointments.

      In interviews, he said that he left his previous job because the work life balance became untenable after some colleagues left and their positions weren’t filled, and he was glad to be able to take some time off to be really deliberate in his job search and figure out what he wanted to do next. That seemed to go over just fine and he didn’t have to talk about the health impacts at all.

      My advice is to start looking at other jobs while you’re on leave and see what’s out there. Take as much time off as you can. My spouse is honestly kicking himself for not taking that leap much sooner – it’s scary to leave a job with nothing lined up but not necessarily career suicide at all!

  20. SnapCracklePop*

    I have two questions:

    1) I’ve been interviewing with a company who requested references because they said they wanted to talk to them before doing final interviews next week. I’m going to be traveling for a week starting mid-next-week—do I need to tell them this ahead of time? They didn’t acknowledge my reference info e-mail, and as far as I know my references haven’t been contacted, so I don’t know that I’m still even being considered.

    2) I want to leave my current job because of my boss, which I obviously can’t say if asked why I’m leaving when I quit. I feel like I need to have a “good” reason though because my boss will likely be angry or upset and want an explanation. Would it be reasonable to say I’m leaving because I’m worried about getting laid off? Company leaders keep mentioning financial problems in townhall meetings and team leadership has assured us several times there are no planned layoffs. But I was assured I wouldn’t be laid off before I was laid off from a previous job (which resulted in very long-term unemployment). So this should be a reasonable reason to leave based on my past experience?

    1. ThatGirl*

      1. I would only mention this if/when they follow back up, unless you are going to be totally unreachable while traveling.

      2. yes, worry about layoffs is a perfectly legitimate reason – as well as wanting new opportunities in general.

      1. SnapCracklePop*

        Luckily I won’t be totally unreachable, but I won’t be able to do in-person interviews and I won’t be checking e-mail as often. I was also leaning toward not saying anything unless they follow up (since at the moment I am not expecting to hear back from them).

    2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      1) The day before you leave on your trip, if you still haven’t heard anything from either your references about being contacted, or your contact with the company, you could send your contact a note that said, “I’ll be travelign with very limited availability from x date to x date; in the event you need to reach me during that time, I’ll be slower to to respond than usual”.
      2) Nope, don’t say either of those things. If it even comes up during the final interview, just say something like, “I’m looking for new challenges, and the career progression series at current company is stalled due to the market” [or whatever bland non-reason you like].”

    3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I wouldn’t say you’re worried about being laid off, that might prompt more in depth questions. In my experience a simple “I’m looking to do more of X, which my current job doesn’t have” is enough or even “I’m ready to take on a new challenge”

      Most of the time that is enough.

      1. cncx*

        I’m leaving my current job because of my boss and this is what I have said exactly, that I can’t do enough of x in my current job (while leaving out the part that it’s because my boss won’t let me for what are his personal sexist reasons…)

    4. Zephy*

      1. It’s not a bad idea to proactively let the new company know that you will be unavailable for interviews from X date to Y date. If they’re interested in you, they can make it work; if they aren’t, that saves them time. You will not lose your shot at this job for being proactive and considerate of their time, and if that IS the thing that turns them off about you, this is not a place you want to work.

      2. Are you worried about what to say to interviewers, or what to say to your boss? Your boss can feel how she feels and throw her tantrum, you’re not obligated to share any more information with her than “my last day is X.”

      1. Gracely*

        I mean, presumably SnapCracklePop wants to keep their reference intact/not burn bridges, so a polite response is worth having. I’d go with something vague like “I’m looking for a new challenge” as others have suggested. Maybe “I’m concerned about the company’s financial stability because of the recent townhalls, and this opportunity came up.”

        1. SnapCracklePop*

          Yes, I do want to be able to get a good reference.

          I don’t think my boss will throw a tantrum or do anything dramatic, but I think she’ll be upset or angry because she asked me a few weeks ago to let her know if there was anything she could do to improve as a manager or anything she could change to keep me happy (a lot of people on our team, albeit under other managers, have quit in the last year, so I think there is a general worry of losing more people). But one of the reasons I want to leave is that when I come to her with problems (typically things that aren’t my fault), she gets angry with me, which makes me feel unsafe about asking questions or bringing up concerns. So I think she’ll be upset that I’m leaving when I didn’t give her suggestions on how to improve her management style or the team. I thought giving a reason totally out of her control would make her less upset.

          1. Zephy*

            I mean, even if she is the reason you’re looking, you aren’t leaving AT her. You aren’t her parent, it’s not your responsibility to teach her how to behave. You can’t “make” her feel or act any type of way, she has choices about how she behaves because she is an adult, and you already know that no suggestions you could have made would have helped. You’re allowed to leave jobs for good reasons, bad reasons, or no reason at all.

          2. Her name was Joanne*

            Or if you want to make it as painless as possible, you could always go with the standard “ an opportunity fell into my lap that was just too good to pass up.”

          3. linger*

            If a large number of coworkers have recently left, that should reduce the risk of layoffs, so that excuse may no longer have sufficient face validity!
            But can you ask any of those recent departures what reason(s) they gave?
            Otherwise, some selection from the old standbys of “seeking new challenges”, “seeking a better work-life balance”, “seeking to move into [different subfield]” could work for you.

      2. SnapCracklePop*

        My first instinct was to be considerate since I’m a considerate person by nature, but then I had doubts while thinking about by ghosted by employers so many times (after doing multiple interviews, after providing references, after being told I’d definitely hear back by x date, etc.). So that’s why I’m waffling on it. I guess I’d just feel extra stupid to reach out to them about my trip if it turns out that they end up ghosting me.

    5. Stoppin' by to chat*

      Re: #2 – Who cares what your boss thinks? I mean, yes, in the moment it feels really big. And a boss who will upset tells me there are more issues with this boss anyway! People quitting jobs is a thing that happens. It’s fine to use a really basic script…Allison has many on this site. “This opportunity fell in your lap and you just couldn’t say no.” Or, you were interested in doing x in y industry, and what do you know, a job where you can do exactly that!” Again, I know it seems like you need a “good” reason, but you don’t. All you need to say is that you’re giving your two weeks notice, that x will be your last day, and if you’ve also thought about a transition plan, then share that as well.

      Are you newer in your career? I ask because when I left my first company after university after 6.5 years I felt like I was leaving a family! But guess what, I left in a calm, practical manner (they were surprised but not one got upset with me), I just kept saying it felt like time to try a different employer, and then I moved on. I promise once you give your notice it will feel like such a relief. Then you can focus on the bare minimum to transition and wrap stuff up (as feasible, do not work crazy hours during your notice period), and then you’re done with that job!

      Good luck!

  21. Daystar*

    Why do jobs require a background check? I’ve recently gotten a new part time job writing some research related blog posts, and a background check is required before I begin. I understand it for some positions where you are working with sensitive information, money, or caretaking (among other things) but it seems a bit overkill for this role. I’m working remotely, so it’s not as if I’ll even be in an office where I could steal staplers or something. They didn’t do a reference check, which would presumably be another way to find out if my work history is legit. I don’t mind doing it and it’s not as if I have to pay for the check, but what is the reasoning? I’m genuinely curious why this is worth doing for employers. It may just be university policy, I suppose.

      1. Американка (Amerikanka)*

        I am guessing it is general university policy as well. Even part time student workers at my university employer are required to undergo background checks.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      If this is in the US, university = Title IX = concern about anything in your past that could be construed as sexual harassment or assault. Easier to make a blanket policy, even if you never come within 200 miles of a student.

    2. Maggie*

      They don’t want people with a criminal past to work for them. Take that in whatever way you want but that’s why. I had to take a hair drug test for my sales job. Why? Company policy! But I do work with high value goods so background checks are totally normal to me.

    3. WiscoKate*

      At my university, all employees except students are required to go through a background check, regardless of position. It’s just policy.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      If it’s in a university, my guess would be that it is because of underage students. Some people start college before turning 18 and while yeah, people aren’t necessarily at significantly higher risk at 17 and 10 months than they are at 18 and one month and many staff may not even be having much interaction with students, nonetheless it IS a job where staff may be around young people who are are away from home for the first time and who may be naive.

      I think it does make sense for people who may be interacting with students. As others have said you don’t want people with a history of sexual harrassment for example around young people or people who have a history of violence or scamming (a lot of young people are quite naive and could be easily scammed).

    5. Daystar*

      Sounds like a common policy for universities from these replies, perhaps because of title ix stuff/interactions with students. It struck me as a blunt tool given that my job will be 300 miles from the university writing blogs at home five hours a week, but that’s policy for you! I suppose it would be more complicated to get into the weeds of whether it would be useful for each individual position.

    6. Warrior Princess Xena*

      If you’ll be at a university you’ll presumably have some access to student information. Chances of it actually affecting you if you’re a normal person – 0.0001%. Chances of doing some damage if you’re a technologically skilled and highly immoral person – depends on your internal security but probably 15% or higher.

      Also working with minors.

      Think about it this way: the cost to the university is maybe $50-$100/person. Cost of a lawsuit resulting from them not doing the background check and missing something (like not being allowed around minors, previous incarcerations for massive financial fraud) – probably well into the 6 figures even before including the costs of implementing new security controls, losing incoming students to bad press, losing grants due to bad press, losing good staff who quit in fury, etc. It’s a lot easier and safer for them to just do the background test on everyone under the assumption that they’ll get back a whole lot of nothing.

      Equivalent in my job: I will do a keyword search of the financial accounts I audit for words like ‘fraud’. Do I expect to find something? No. Will I look really, really stupid if it comes out that Company A was committing fraud and wrote ‘fraud’ in a memo? Absolutely 100%.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      All the companies I’ve worked for have required a background check. Various reasons. If you’re going to be driving for your job, or have a company car, they wanted to know if you had a bad driving record. If not that, in general it was to see if you had any major recent criminal convictions. If there was one in the past, that often wasn’t a dealbreaker, unless you would be working on a government project.

  22. Professional Training Quals*

    Hi all

    I have the opportunity to do a professional qualification in learning & development, specifically for Facilitation Skills. I’ve run workshop and training for over ten years but don’t have a ‘rubber stamp’ to say I can actually do this.

    I’m aware of TAP and CIPD as options, and wondered if anyone had any other suggestions if things to investigate, and/ or any experience as a facilitator/trainer doing any of these qualifications?

    I’m UK based, but welcome thoughts from ours wide UK too.

    Thank you.

    1. I'm Just Here for the Cake*

      I’m not sure if its just US based, but the Associated for Talent Development (ATD) has a facilitation program that I’ve heard really good things about!

    2. Anonymous facilitator*

      I took the intro session from Interaction Associates years ago, it was super cheesy and very touchy feely mostly social services type people take these sessions, I think. It was still really useful and the content was explained in easy to follow language. Might be less cheesy these days, if that’s not your style at all I don’t think it’d be good. I like some cheesiness,but it was a bit much for me.

    3. cubone*

      Technology of Participation (TOP) from ICA. It’s international so I believe you could find something. There may be different trainings and programs but a fantastic, well-regarded approach to facilitation and training.

      I’d also recommend Art of Hosting training.

      I am considered doing CTP (certified training professional – the Canadian designation) and have an adult education degree so maybe able to answer some questions. A continuing Ed program or certificate can be more all encompassing and valuable, but I really really recommend TOP as a possible starting point.

  23. I'm Just Here for the Cake*

    My manager, who hired me 3 years ago and I had a really good relationship with, retired this week. She wasn’t a great manager, but I did have a very solid relationship with her that included talk of promotions in the future. Now I feel like I’m starting from square one with my new manager.

    To make matters more complicated, new manager has already alienated a lot of people on my team by making major changes without input from the team or other departments who would be effected, and dismissing any feedback she receives. She has also been extremely tight lipped about these decisions and major projects that are in the pipeline that the team time to prep for.

    I’m trying to figure out the best ways of establishing a relationship with her while also navigating the politics on the team. Should I reach out to her about setting up a recurring one-on-one? What else can I do? Any advice is supper appreciated!

    1. Anonymous Koala*

      Definitely set up a recurring 1:1 with her! It’ll help her feel more in touch with what you’re doing and might help foster mutual trust. I’d also give her time – it’s not great that she hasn’t been very communicative with your team so far, but it hasn’t been very long and maybe her reasons will become clearer as you get to know her style.

  24. Looking for a change*

    I’m at a point where I think I want to change to a completely new field, and I’m not sure where to start. I’m hoping the commentators here can give me some ideas.

    My background: I spent six years helping found and run a small media company with a few friends. After we unfortunately had to close our doors, I got a fully remote job as an editor at a medium-sized, niche publishing company. Now, two years later, I’m feeling extremely burned out, frustrated that all of my creative energy is being used up on projects I don’t care about, and just done with the stress and demands of working in the arts and destroying my life to hit print deadlines. I’ve been daydreaming about getting a regular 9-to-5 that I don’t care much about and spending my free time on all the barely-started personal projects I have languishing in notebooks and random word docs.

    Most of my jobs outside my creative field were retail gigs in my teens and twenties. I actually don’t mind retail work, but I do mind the low pay, pointless rules, and irregular, inflexible schedules of most retail jobs. And although my pay as an editor isn’t great by many standards, for the first time in my life I have actual savings and a car that isn’t about to start dropping parts on the road behind me, and I don’t want to give that up. So…some sort of office job? I’m feeling really lost about what to do next, or even where to look.

    Does anyone have suggestions for the kinds of jobs that might be a good fit for me while also hitting the “reasonable hours, no/minimal crunch, middle-class salary” requirement? I have good communication and writing skills and experience managing complex projects with many moving parts, plus a lot of random, low level skills and knowledge I picked up as a small business founder (I’ve learned a lot about shipping and receiving, I can do basic website maintenance, I’ve run professional social media, and I can fumble my way around most of the Creative Suite, for example). I’m having trouble figuring out what all this adds up to, and who would want to hire me. The term “project manager” seems to mean wildly different things in different fields, but maybe something similar to that concept?

    Any ideas would be incredibly helpful. Thank you!

    1. Westsidestory*

      You don’t mention your editorial experience is in magazines (online or otherwise) or in book publishing. There are many opportunities in book publishing besides editorial where your generalist background might be welcome, and if this was your first foray into books, well there is a lot out there.

      I’ve worn a lot of hats in book publishing and found there are many people who happily thrive I. 9-5. The experience wanted is in being detail-conscious while handling often temperamental brings.
      Spend some time on the following job sites to see if you can tailor your current resume:
      Bookjobs.com
      Publishers Lunch
      Publishers Weekly

      1. Westsidestory*

        Sorry meant temperamental “beings.” Authors are great fun, but I’ve never met a publisher who wasn’t crazy in their own special way.

    2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Media agencies are always looking for people who can pick up the basics of the industry quickly while being organised and able to communicate well. You could do one of the free Google Academy courses to get some background knowledge.

    3. WellRed*

      I work as an editor in niche B2B publishing. It’s steady, hour wise. There’s a few crunchy periods but it’s not crazy stupid. Maybe you are in the wrong niche? You keep referring to arts. If you mean that literally, look into something more business focused.

    4. Filosofickle*

      Have you considered just going in-house? Agency and publishing life are grinds. Your skills would transfer to comms / media / editing on the corporate side — a good bridge for now while you figure out a bigger shift. The key is finding a low-profile, boring, stable company that’s not prone to media crises or crunch periods. I was interviewing for comms jobs a couple years ago and there was a huge enterprise software company that I was interested in precisely because the work would be technical, scheduled, and steady (with the exception of occasional events). And they paid great! OTOH, the healthcare company I was talking to had “crisis comms” in the job description, there was more community outreach, and the pay was low so I bailed on that one.

    5. mreasy*

      Chief of Staff or other internal comms focused roles seem like something you’d do well in. Or running a Mailorder department?

  25. Newbie*

    Tldr: how do I decide between an offer at a busier company with more long term potential for salary growth and staying at my comfortable, slow job with a counter offer?
    I’m choosing between three offers that are similar money: one at a competitor where I’d be a cog on a small team, one at a different competitor where I’d be a cog on a large team, and one counteroffer at my current company. The competitors are industry leaders with large, busy portfolios; my current company is smaller and doesn’t have as much work for me to do. However, my current boss has told me she wants to train me for management (something I’m very interested in) although it would probably be a few years before I actually got a management position at my current company because of the way they operate. Current company’s people culture is great, they’re just slow and a bit boring. I’ve heard good things about both competitor’s cultures, but their work will be much harder. What sorts of things should I consider when I’m making this decision? Working at the competitors might give me the opportunity to spin off into a more lucrative consulting position in a few years, but staying where I am would probably get me to management a little faster.

    1. Rosengilmom*

      Not ever the counteroffer. If your employer hasn’t advanced you to date, there’s no reason to believe they will in the future

    2. ABK*

      Which boss do you think would be best for you to work with?
      Think about how hard and how much you want to work, and what your work/life balance will be in all 3 positions. Would you prefer consulting, or managing others?
      I’d probably make a pros and cons list for all 3 and let that guide me to a decision.

    3. PollyQ*

      it would probably be a few years before I actually got a management position

      I’d interpret this to mean “possibly never” and therefore discount it from consideration. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could get yourself into management just as quickly at either of the other companies.

    4. Anon for This*

      Don’t take the counter-offer. Your boss now knows you want to leave and will be working to replace you, not to promote you. I’ve seen it happen before.

      Personally, I would take the job with long-term potential as long as you don’t see any red flags from the people you would be working with.

    5. Dino the Dinosaur*

      What about the possibility of taking a job with a competitor now but leaving the door open to come back later? Will the positions at the other companies give you the experience and training you need for a management position? If you do decide to leave, you can let your boss know that you’d love to come back when a management position opens up. Of course there’s no guarantee that they’ll bring you back, but it sounds like if you stay there’s no guarantee the position will materialize.

  26. MizLisa*

    Question. I am a director with a great team in a pretty good company. My reviews have consistently being great and I’ve been told I’m on lists to be future C-suite. The leadership is warm and authentic. Sounds great, right? But our company is being acquired by a foreign company and there are some uncertainties associated with that, and so on the advice of my (VP) boss, I’ve been keeping an eye out for opportunities. Not to jump at anything out there, but to seriously look at things that might be a step up.

    There was a role posted in my industry last week that is managing director level and that I have specific expertise for. I know the hiring manager for the role, not amazingly well, but we did work in the same company years ago (he is senior to me). He is a bit known for having an ego. I sent him a friendly note on LinkedIn basically saying hello, wishing him well, giving him a brief recap of what I do now and what the situation is (the acquisition is well known in the industry) and asking if he could spare 15 min for a quick chat to see if the MD role could be a fit.

    I didn’t think this was unusual; I get these reach outs as a hiring manager all the time and respond to them. But he has left me on read, although he did look at my LinkedIn profile.

    Was I off base in reaching out? He is quite a senior person, and perhaps it was presumptuous? But the industry is small and we have a past connection, and it’s not like I’m some unqualified person taking a flyer. I feel weird about applying to the MD role now, but I might be overanalyzing this. Thoughts?

    1. Qwerty*

      Go ahead and apply! I’m assuming if you didn’t know the hiring manager you would have applied to this position, so move forward with that.

      I can speculate, but none of my speculations really change my advice. Some possibilities:
      – He didn’t see your message but LI algos suggested you as “hey, remember MizLisa?” since you messaged him so he clicked on your profile -> Apply anyway so he knows for sure you are interested in the position
      – He read your message (LI sends the message via email too, you can read it without opening the app), checked your profile, then got distracted before replying and has now either totally forgotten you messaged him or thinks that he already replied -> Apply anyway
      – He might not think it is appropriate to give an informational interview when he’s the hiring manager or thinks that you are going around the system. Message could be read and discarded or ignored in this scenario. Some people could construe that as you getting an “extra” interview or advantage. -> Apply anyway, you’ll get to talk him in the interview
      – He doesn’t think you are a good fit -> Apply anyway, the worst he can do is not give you an interview

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      That kind of reach out is totally appropriate and what LinkedIn is for IMHO. Go ahead and apply — he probably put off responding until he had time and then forgot. And if he didn’t and took offense (which would be really weird), you’re no worse off for having applied.

  27. Zap R.*

    I’m the Office Administrator at a radio station/media company and I’ve been here for three years with only cost-of-living raises and a title-only promotion in that time. There are a lot of issues but the one that sticks out right now is that the office vending machine is broken.

    The ancient, decrepit vending machine is essentially a sacred object to my coworkers and thus the bane of my existence. Every day in the office involves at least one complaint about snacks getting stuck, change getting eaten, snacks being too healthy, snacks being not healthy enough, pop being too lukewarm, etc… People hand me $100 bills and ask me to make change from the petty cash. It’s a nightmare.

    This week, I returned from my first vacation in a year to find that the vending machine had finally, FINALLY, broken down for good. My joy was short-lived, however, for my company can’t afford to replace the machine right now. While I was gone, they came up with a solution: they told everyone to bring money to my desk and order snacks from me directly. I am then expected to drop what I am doing (which is lot because I’m the friggin’ Office Admin) and fetch people their order.

    This is silly, right? Do I have standing to push back on this?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Yes, that is ridiculous. A better solution (though not ideal) would be for people to pay you ahead of time and then once a week you put an order in or go to the store (during work hours!).

      1. Zap R.*

        Thanks. Typing it all out made me realize I wasn’t nuts so I talked to my (very reasonable) supervisor. My supervisor says that we’ll just have people give me the money and then fetch their own snacks from the kitchen/storage room. It’s the honour system but it’s better than me taking time out of my day to essentially run a tuck shop.

        I think I was just caught off guard by my coworkers taking for granted that I would drop everything to bring them snacks. I wasn’t sure if that was a valid way to feel or if I was overreacting.

    2. Ann Ominous*

      I would try to ballpark quantify the impact “10 requests per day at 5 mins per request is nearly an hour extra per day” and recommend a pile of snacks and the honor system.

    3. Ez*

      Can they afford to replace you? I’d ask for a raise or tell them to hire a snack person or order a new machine. That, or do it for a month and demonstrate loss of productivity in areas in your job description they care more about.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      That is absolutely ridiculous! If they want something like that, there needs to be a system in place where requests come by a specific time & you have time to run out set in your schedule (separate from your breaks).

      What I don’t understand is why they don’t contract with a vendor who will provide a vending machine & its contents.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes I thought vending machines ( or honor snack boxes supplied by a vendor) were basically a consignment arrangement.

    5. Thistle Pie*

      Is there any reason why the office can’t have an honor system snack shelf set up? Take a survey of peoples favorite snacks, order those, and set up a basket for cash that you empty at the end of the day. It’s on them to have change or make it among their coworkers.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        That’s how we do it. And if these grown adults need someone else to do their snack shopping for them, they can figure out their own change. A display of snack foods that can be ordered online, and soda in the office fridge in a designated spot and good luck with that. Refill no more than once a day.

    6. Christmas Carol*

      Am I the only one channeling Jennifer Marlow from WKRP explaining to Herb, Les, Andy, and the Big Guy why she doesn’t have the time to fetch the snacks.

    7. Hannah L*

      I basically have the same position as you. In my office we bulk order snacks and soda from Costco. They have a business website, and they deliver. Our account is on a corporate credit card, but I assume there’s probably a way to just get invoiced instead if the card isn’t an option.

      Just an idea!

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

      Are these adults or children? Do you work in an area that sells food of any sort in walking distance? Do you work with people who are expected to take care of themselves in other respects or do you work with people who need basic assistance? If these are adults, you are located somewhere other than Antarctica or the Australian Outback, and everyone got themselves to work with the proper clothing on for the office and the weather, they can manage to bring their own snacks to work.

    9. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Can you convince an external vending machine company to take over? In my (limited) experience, a lot of these types of office vending machines are run by outside companies. I think the way it works is that they provide and stock the machine in exchange for getting the money made by sales from the machine, so you’re basically letting the outside company run a small, automated shop in your breakroom and the whole thing is no longer your problem. This would probably cause item prices to be higher if you’re currently running it as a break-even service, but would mean it was no longer taking up any staff time. (Except for the making change part, which also might be solved if the new machine takes cards.)

    10. pjm*

      Do not do this. This is outrageous. Grown people acting like toddlers. Let them buy their own snacks and bring them into the office. If you thought you were troubled before, it is going to get so much worse!

    11. migrating coconuts*

      You need to get an outside vendor. I work in a very small place (20employees) and we have a guy who does vending machines in the area. He placed it, he fills it, he collects the money, and we call him if it stops working. No time or money invested on our end.

  28. MissGirl*

    I’m interviewing at a small tech start up. They don’t even have a Glassdoor presence. What question should I be asking? What other due diligence can I do to get them?

    1. irene adler*

      If there are investors, there is a 10-K document that is filed with the SEC. That will have information on the company-the good, the bad, and even the ugly. If this company has a website, look under Investors or something similar. It will give you an accurate assessment of the business itself. It’s a big document so use the table of contents to locate specific information.
      Also, how much ‘runway’ is there? What’s the plan for continued funding? Is there money in the bank or are they planning to do fundraising of some sort? Or do they expect the product to be selling by the time they are out of funds? Okay, what’s the plan when that doesn’t happen per their timetable? (some of this can be answered with the 10-K document).

      What’s the growth plan? How does this plan affect the position you are interviewing for?
      Issue here can be such that more duties are given to the current employees. That’s fine until you are overburdened. What’s the plan when that happens? If they are in it for long-term they will understand that more hands will need to be brought in. So ask about the plans for the department you will be working in.

      There’s two kinds of start-up people: (1) folks who plan to run the business long-term (2) folks who plan to grow the company enough to sell it off for big profit.

      For #1, do they have an understanding of how business works? Maybe they have employed folks who know how to run a business? Hope so! Nothing worse than a good company that tanks from lack of business knowledge.

      For #2, expect the company to be run “lean and mean”. They have to keep to a tight bottom line to attract buyers. Don’t expect much help to be brought in if you are overburdened.

      Advice if you do decide to work there: get as high a salary as you can. Raises may not come on the regular.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Additionally: trust your gut. If it’s a small startup you should have the opportunity to meet your boss & coworkers before being hired. Make sure you get to meet the people before signing your offer. This is one situation where a lunch interview/office tour might be especially called for, assuming there’s any in-person component. If not, having a zoom meet & greet would be called for.

      1. MissGirl*

        Thanks. If I advance, I should be meeting with the COO and a team member in addition to the hiring manager.

  29. Amber Rose*

    We have a problem employee. She’s a nice person, but a very frustrating coworker. She supervises a department that handles a very specific thing, say teapot packaging. But she’s constantly annoying people by spending hours flagging teapots she thinks haven’t been billed properly, or insisting we charge for extra services despite sales saying no, or even selling things herself for a nightmare few months.

    I’m told she wants to move out of packaging, and I was asked if I would consider her for a position that will ultimately probably report to me. I have zero interest in trying to manage the unmanageable. She doesn’t listen, and she never has. When she’s told things are none of her business, she apologizes and then starts right back in on it with someone else.

    I’m really worried they’re going to force her on me and everything is going to explode.

    1. Rick Tq*

      Your first meeting if she is assigned to you probably needs to be a Boundaries and Behaviors discussion about what is acceptable working for you, and consequences if she continues her typical behaviors.

      One major item should be that not following your directions regarding pursuing issues not in her scope will get her put on a PIP quickly.

    2. PollyQ*

      Have you made it clear to your manager (or whoever will make the decision about a transfer) that you don’t want her on your team and exactly why? Seems like the best way to deal with the problem is to avoid it, if at all possible. But if it can’t be avoided, then I like Rick Tq’s advice.

      1. irene adler*

        Agree with PollyQ- Rick Tq . Only thing: make sure everything you do adheres to the employee manual. Otherwise, there might be some push back (legit) from the problem employee as to not following the rules. Don’t give her the chance to claim something like that.

  30. Insert Witticism Here*

    What are some jobs/pathways for someone who loves learning but doesn’t want to switch careers every few years in order to get their fix?

    I’m reaching rope’s end at CurrentJob due to never having – or being able to clear – room on my plate for anything new. (Read: Bored out of my bloody skull.) Recently I had a short-lived brush with some actual upskilling, and I realised how much I miss learning. Not minor new tasks with 2-minute explanations. Not a rare day watching a screen while parroting the trainer’s every move, then never having a chance to use that skill again. I mean learning you can actually sink your teeth into. Mortgage notwithstanding, a return to university is beginning to have some appeal….

    So I’m looking for ideas for a change! All thoughts, from the seemingly obvious to the totally obscure, welcome. Bonus points if it doesn’t require years of study, but a grad course isn’t off the table.

    (Potentially relevant info: I’m not much of a people person, live in a largish non-US city, don’t drive, and have health reasons for not working outdoors.)

    1. ArtificialDonut*

      As a software developer, I spend a ton of my time learning the hip new JavaScript frameworks or researching if there’s someone who wrote a library to do X and if so how to use it. I’m basically a professional googler. Admittedly, it’s all within the “how to program” niche, so I don’t know if that’s broad enough to scratch your itch for learning. But I thought I’d put that out there.

    2. irene adler*

      Quality Assurance.

      visit asq.org

      They offer courses towards certifications in various aspects of Quality Assurance: Auditing, supply chain management, Quality engineering, etc.

    3. Generic+Name*

      Look at jobs that require continuing education credits. Also anything that deals with regulations that change. I work in consulting in a stem field, and this is the first job I’ve never been bored at. There’s always something to learn.

    4. Golden French Fry*

      What’s your background? If it’s anything sciency/healthcare related you could look into regulatory affairs? Regs and laws get updated frequently, so there’s always plenty to learn in as detailed or broad a manner as you like it.

      It’s a little hard to break into, but I find it rewarding and highly compensated with decent work life balance. It lends itself well to working from home, and I’ve never felt that being a more reserved person has held me back.

    5. Hen in a Windstorm*

      You don’t have to go get a degree to learn something new! You can just take a class/series of classes. Especially if you don’t want it to involve career switching. Learn bookkeeping, for example, or a specific software, or another language, or flamenco guitar.

      In the US, there is also an option to do something called “auditing”, where you sit in on classes at university, but you do not get class credit or have to take exams, i.e., just for the interest of it.

      Having gone to grad school and never used the degree, it’s likely a waste of money.

      1. Clisby*

        I audit classes every year at the college in my city. Because I’m over 60, it costs $50 a semester, no matter how many classes I audit. It’s great.

    6. cubone*

      If you loved upskilling, what about learning and development? It’s filled with people who are passionate about lifelong learning, and while there is some repetition, in larger companies you often get to work on different learning projects and learn about different areas of work. Even just figuring out new technological platforms was stimulating for me in this work. People who go the more facilitator/trainer route should probably be people persons (people people?), but if you focus on something like eLearning there’s a high degree of technical skills and independent work (though also people work as projects often include connecting to people and subject matter experts).

      Also if you have the funds I can’t stress this enough: go to a career counsellor.

    7. Gracely*

      You could try getting a job at a university–most of those include a couple of tuition-free classes per semester as a perk/benefit once you’ve worked there 6 months to a year. Then you could work fulltime and also slowly work toward a new degree. That’s how I got my master’s–took me a year longer than my starting cohort since I didn’t carry a full load, but it was free, and my boss was really supportive when it came to working around my classes. My spouse is actually doing the same thing right now so that they can expand their teaching availability to a second (somewhat adjacent) field.

      1. Esmeralda*

        Remember, colleges and universities have employees in all sorts of categories, not just faculty. Maybe even the field you are in right now.

        Now is a good time to be looking for work in higher ed, especially non-faculty positions.

    8. The New Wanderer*

      I completed two online certificate courses, each lasted 3-4 months, and the cost was nominal. I’m in the US and don’t know whether the online course programs I took are available elsewhere but something similar probably is.

      The content was created/taught by well-known universities, though it wasn’t the same level of rigor or investment as taking a full university course. And there were other people also in the class but no group-work requirements and the content was self-paced within week-long blocks (as in, you could complete everything in one day but you’d have to wait to the start of the next week for the next set of content). I found the structure and assignments kept it more rigorous than learning on my own and I really enjoyed it. In fact, I may consider doing another in the near future.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        This suggestion is more appropriate if you’re wanting to stay in your current job and just flex your learning interest, although if you are looking to make a move there are probably certificate courses that would help you develop resume-worthy skills.

    9. Hlao-roo*

      Can you switch to a different job at your current company? I’ve worked at a few places that were very supportive of people transferring around different teams that required similar background experience but did different things. Are there any teams/department you work with in your current job that you think you would be qualified to move to (and would the company support you switching teams/departments)?

    10. Free Meerkats*

      How about a path that doesn’t involve work? There are always classes available somewhere. Well, not so much right now because … waves hand. Until a couple of years ago I got my learning fix through classes put on by the local Parks Department. Back when it was affordable I learned to fly, later I took sailing lessons up to the point to where I was an instructor and was teaching others; I learned more teaching than I did training.

      Pick something completely unrelated to your work and force your brain to build other pathways.

  31. ecnaseener*

    When someone emails you asking you to do something “when you get the chance,” how do you interpret that?

    I use it to mean not urgent, as in “whenever you get around to it,” but I often get really fast responses and I’m wondering if it’s being taken as a synonym for ASAP. It’s hard to tell because I’m generally using it for quick and easy tasks, the type of thing you might just take two minutes to do right away rather than bothering to add it to your to-do list.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I would take it to mean “this week or next” not urgent/today. But can’t you just email back and ask, By when do you need it?

    2. CTT*

      I think people getting back to you quickly has more to do with it being quick/easy than the language you’re using. It’s nice to be able to get something done quickly!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Exactly this. If I get a request and I know it won’t take long, I often do it right away to get it off my plate. Things like sending a document or answering a quick client question. That way I don’t have to worry about forgetting to do it. Now, granted, I’ve learned to leave things in my drafts folder so I can manage client expectations, but something internal I’ll just answer right away.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Thanks, that was my hope/assumption! It just occurred to me the other day that the phrase might be ambiguous, I used it to ask someone to fix a very minor, non-time-sensitive mistake and they responded right away with an apologetic tone – so I was like uh oh am I accidentally making things sound like a bigger deal than they are?

    3. CharlieBrown*

      If you’re worried about it, could you add a time frame?

      “When you get a chance, could you please do X? Any time before next Wednesday is fine.”

      That way, the person getting the request would know it’s not really urgent until Tuesday afternoon.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I really appreciate when people give a rough expectation. Because “when you can” could mean anything from “not something you have to pounce on immediately but in the next day or two” to “no deadline at all next month is fine”.

    4. Qwerty*

      A 2min task is easier for me to do in the moment and mentally move on from. Putting it on my to-do list and remembering to come back to it would take up more energy.

      I view it as someone being polite and generally triage it with what the request is, how much effort it takes, and how much I see it as being a blocker for someone. Usually I’ll either do it within a day or two or reply when an estimate of when I’ll get to it to make sure we’re on the same wavelength.

      If you are fine with a long turnaround (like a week or more), then feel free to phrase it as “low priority – can you send me the X file when you get a chance?” so really flag it as “don’t hurry on my account” but I’m guessing people are responding fast because they can.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I interpret it as “don’t drop everything this second, but do this before you start anything new.”

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        That interpretation for me is only when the request comes from someone who is director-level or higher. Or if I know something is high profile. Otherwise, it’s based on what fits into my day when

    6. Toodaloo*

      A lot of the time when I get that sort of “Whenever you get around to it” email, it’s something I use as a nice break from a task I’ve been working on for a long time. It lets me swap to something else for a short period of time without my brain stepping out of “work mode”.

    7. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I would usually reply, “ok, I’ll see if I can get to it within the next several weeks”. Their nebulous ask greeted with a nebulous answer. I’d usually get a more specific timeline after saying this. But if not? Then I wait until they ask again and say more urgent requests came in after their’s.

    8. fhqwhgads*

      I would take it as “within a week, probably” unless otherwise indicated. Depending on the thing though, if it’s a 5 minute thing and I have 5 minutes when I get it, it’s often easier to just do it than wait, or set a reminder for later, or whatever.
      Definitely should never be taken as “ASAP”. I do think what you’re seeing is in line with your 2-minute example, and you shouldn’t be concerned anyone interprets it as ASAP, but if it turns out later they were interpreting it that way, that’s a them problem.

    9. Mill Miker*

      I used to be responsible for triggering tasks for someone in a different timezone. The standing agreement between our employers was that tasks for this project needed to be completed ASAP, but I’d often be requesting minor things slightly outside of her regular hours.

      I’d use the “when convenient” phrasing to indicate tasks that weren’t worth putting in overtime or moving meetings around for, to really differentiate from some of actually “drop things and do this ASAP” requests.

  32. Seeking Second Childhood*

    A friend’s department has a new, remote employee and there are some issues.
    What are your favorite references to share on best practices for managing remote teams? Special request for ideas for performance expectations & monitoring results. I’ve seen discussions here but my google-fu is failing me this week and I’m only turning up a 2015 post from Alison.

  33. Американка (Amerikanka)*

    Are there any certifications that it would be worthwhile to pursue that would enhance job prospects?

    I am a library tech at a university looking to transition to a job like an academic advisor or similar. I am currently in a higher ed masters program part time and only have 1.5 years (three classes) left. I would enjoy a one on one job connecting people to resources. I am also open to managing staff and coordinating programs. I am open to leaving higher ed as well.

    I am looking for jobs now but am not advancing past the interview stage. I need help standing out more. Thank you for any tips!

    1. Alice*

      I think that connecting with people who can recommend you to their network would help even more than an additional certificate program. Can you find a way to work on some kind of collaboration between the library and the student success coordinators? Good luck

      1. ferrina*

        This. Experience and personal recommendations will make a bigger impact than a certificate (and some certificates can make you look naive, if it’s a field where the certificate programs are poorly regarded. Don’t trust the company selling the certificate to tell you).

        Start doing information interviews to learn more about what’s out there and how folks have entered those fields. Might want to look into non-profits or professional organizations (i.e., organizations devoted to supporting and advocating for a profession, like SHRM, AAP or ADA).

    2. PrincessFlyingHedgehog*

      So, I’ve known some people who have worked as academic advisors, and you need to vet these jobs carefully. Obviously, the workload is going to vary widely by university/college/program, but the people I knew who did this job and hated it, hated it because their case load was way too big. So, there really wasn’t the time to actually advise students, it was more to do quick check-ins to make sure everyone was registering for the classes they needed for making academic progress.
      Have you considered admissions/recruiting jobs? Some of these positions are very student-facing.

    3. Gracely*

      Talk to the academic advisors at your university! Or anyone else in the jobs that you want to move into–ask them how they got into it. Ask them how they like their department/etc. They’ll know if there are any openings, and they’ll be able to tell you what to focus on in interviews–plus, internal transfers are often easier to hire.

      1. Anon for this, colleagues read here*

        Yes, talk with academic advisors and with the folks who supervise them. Be sure to ask about specific *skills* and *aptitudes* needed to be successful at this job.

        Go to the NACADA website and read everything.

        For most academic advising positions, you need to have actual experience working with college students. You generally need a masters degree — many places will want that to be in a related field. Positions where you don’t need to have that experience to get the job — those jobs tend to suck, big caseloads, poor training, crappy pay.

        A good cover letter will really really help you. Pay close attention to the posting and **do a deep dive on the program’s website**. Your letter needs to be thoughtful and *specific*.

        No fancy pants resumes. Clear, well organized, and no more than two pages. (I’ve been working for over 40 years, of which 30 years in academia as faculty, advising, and leadership, and I have a two-page resume. If you make me read through pages and pages, I will not be impressed with your lack of understanding of the norms of the field and I definitely will not think you are hot stuff.)

        I’ve been on a lot of hiring committees over the years for academic advisor positions at all levels. The big joke is how many “lawyer applications” we get — it’s a good percentage of the applications we receive, not sure why, but those never make it past the first review because **they have no experience working with college students at all**. Get some substantial experience working with this population.

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      Unless the jobs specifically ask for a qualification that you lack, I would encourage you to think about how you’re presenting your skills and experience during the interview. You’re getting interviews, so the resume and the cover-letter are doing their job. (If you weren’t getting interviews I’d say take along hard look at those documents.) Talk to people who work as advisors at your school and ask them what they are looking for. I can’t be sure, but I would bet a lot of it has to do with experience working directly with college students. College students are a specific population and you need to build up experience working with them. Do you supervise or work with student assistants? (Every Academic library I’ve worked at had a bunch of student assistants.) That might be a way to develop skills working with that group.

  34. MissGirl*

    Open thread for everyone job hunting! What’s working and what isn’t? What are your successes and failures? What trends are you noticing?

    I have so many thoughts after the last few weeks of aggressively job hunting. :)

    1. Chidi has a stomachache*

      Piggybacking, because I’m in the thick of it. I’ve made it to one final interview, and I’m waiting to hear back (though it’s been long enough that I doubt I’m their first choice and I am likely waiting on a rejection). The toughest part of this is finding time to actually do the job hunting! I work in secondary Ed and I’m so wiped by the end of the day and we have all these big school events requiring extra evening/weekend hours that it’s been a real struggle to find time to work on applications. What strategies do you all have for job hunts when your FTE is so demanding?

      1. MissGirl*

        I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine job searching with that kind of demanding job. There’s ducking out for a quick interview or having a long lunch. One thing that’s helping me send out a ton of resumes is optimizing my cover letter.

        Most of the jobs I’m applying to are asking for a similar set of skills. I have about six or seven paragraphs highlighting separate sets of skills backed by experience. Then when I apply to a new job, I identify the three or so paragraphs that most align with the position’s needs. I custom write an intro paragraph highlighting what about the role drew me in.

        I also have a goal to have 20 resumes circulating at all times. If I get a rejection or two weeks has passed since I sent one, I have to send out another. You could make this goal something more reasonable for you.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I am noticing that I saw a lot more positions in my target salary range right before (like the two weeks before) I started sending my resume out, and they suddenly dried up. I want to get out of freelancing because I’m tired of the craziness, but I have to make a certain amount from a new job in order to afford it. Feeling a bit stuck.

    3. Not Today, Satan*

      Noticing a trend of “no responses.”

      Applied to ten jobs, got a Dear John from one, nothing from the other nine. So, not much ahs changed in the last few years…

    4. Retail Not Retail*

      I’ve had three interviews and two rejections in the last month. Waiting to hear back about the third!

      I’ve been throwing myself into volunteering at the local animal shelter, which isn’t related to anything, but it is pretty satisfying.

    5. Lucy P*

      I’ve now had 2 interviews. The first was supposed to make an offer, but didn’t (based on certain factors, I was glad).
      2nd interview was more about getting to know me to see if I would be interested in other positions within the company. My required salary was about 10k higher than they were willing to pay for the posted position. Other positions were suggested, but it was also made known that I’d still have to start at a lower rate due to lack of experience in those specific roles.

      Now I’m sending out resumes weekly. Not getting many responses, except the ones that reject me based on salary. Makes me wonder if there’s something outside of admin that I’m qualified to do and still pays at least what I’m making now

    6. Honor Harrington*

      I learned that the generic HR standard in the US is to fill 30% of jobs internally, and 70% of jobs externally. I also learned that our Recruiting team only sources candidates externally i.e. review external candidates and highlight them to the hiring manager for interviews. Since I’m looking internally, I learned I must reach out to the hiring manager myself. Yes, I need to apply via the system, but it’s the emails sent to the hiring managers which is getting me interviews. So, if you are working at a big company like I do, you may want to reach out to the hiring manager directly. I treat the email like a cover letter and attach my resume to it.

    7. MissGirl*

      I’ve sent out 33 resumes in the last three weeks for Senior Data Analyst roles. I accepted my company’s severance package so come November 1, I am unemployed. I’ve noticed when I do get a positive response to an application, it comes within 48 hours of applying. That really surprised me.

      I’m doing cover letters, which I haven’t always done. Hard to say if it’s helping or not. I know Allison doesn’t like “designed” resumes, but I get a ton of good feedback on mine from hiring managers and recruiters. I’m seeing more remote positions and posted salary ranges so that’s refreshing. Of course, some of the remote jobs give preference to local employees and ranges are between 50K and 150K so that’s less refreshing.

      I’m being super aggressive with applying right now because I’m worried the jobs will dry up by Thanksgiving and not start up until after the new year. I run out of severance on Feb 1.

    8. Temperance*

      Honestly, I got two rejections from my resume and an offer of a free subscription to a site for job seekers. It’s giving me 2008 vibes all over again.

    9. Me ... Just Me*

      Do you get the feeling that it’s no longer a job-seeker’s market? Six months ago, people were chomping at the bit to hire me and now I get no response to some of my applications.

      1. MissGirl*

        It’s so hard to say but that’s part of the reason I’m applying so aggressively. I’m worried it’s going to get harder. I’m getting about a 25% interview rate but I’ve never applied this much and this wide before.

        I also think things slow down at the end of the year too.

    10. Mimmy*

      I’ll preface my comment by saying that I am limited in choices by location and the fact that I can’t drive.

      Job hunting has been pretty rough for me. I recently graduated with a Master’s degree with the goal of leaving my current job and entering a field I’ve long been interested in. The interviews have been a good experience because I’m learning the kinds of behavioral questions that get asked and it’s making me think about how I approach my work and different situations.

      However, I express myself WAY better in writing than verbally, which then makes me self-conscious when answering questions on my feet, even with questions I expect. My resume and cover letter get me in the door but getting past the first round is the hard part.

      As noted above, I can’t drive, so I’m limited in my choices due to transportation access, so I have to really sell myself with the small number of jobs I do apply to. Also, COVID and economic conditions have kept relocation plans on the back burner. Hubby and I were originally going to move to wherever I find a job, but he wants to eventually move back to where he grew up. If I don’t find something here by next spring, then we’ll probably do that.

  35. Brownie*

    Problem Management – Career/profession or just a skill set to be used as secondary to a primary job?

    Recently I’ve been looking at pivoting from my current IT job to something that’s not under my current management (incompetent and still 2 years from retirement) but still within my company (really good) and IT Problem Management popped up as something that matches very well with my interests and skill sets. But in looking it up and talking to more experienced folks in IT it seems like it’s far less of a dedicated profession and more of a secondary skill set for supervisor or team lead positions. This is a brand new thing my company is looking at in regards to IT (it’s been active on the manufacturing side of the house for 40+ years) and I might be able to get in on the ground floor. Before I jump though, what do your companies do, do they have a dedicated Problem Management team or is it the manager’s job to do? What are your experiences with being in a Problem Management position? I keep hearing such mixed stories about dedicated Problem Management teams, everything from they’re integral to companies by fixing things before they cost the company money to they’re the first to be laid off because “they’re more worthless than auditors”. So what’s your experience?

    1. ferrina*

      Usually a secondary skill set. I also have Problem Management as a skills set. I’ve noticed a distinct pattern in my jobs:
      1. I join in a well-defined, standardized role.
      2. I quickly get a reputation for problem solving.
      3. I’m invited into more interesting projects
      4. My job is redesigned so I can devote a bunch of time to problem solving.

      A good project manager usually requires strong problem management skills (and that where I see a lot of people with problem management skills). For your case, I think you can easily go back and forth between problem management and project management.

  36. PleaseNo*

    What makes someone decide to leave a job? I’m not referring to obvious flags like a hostile work environment or dysfunction, but other stuff.
    I just got a new job with great benefits and great pay, and I’ve been at it for 4 months. But I had to move because it has a report-to-work requirement, and i bought a house as close as I could financially, which is still 40 min away, which is better than the 80+ minutes from my old home. And it turns out that time is only in the off-hours of traffic! My job has some flexibility in when I come into work, but I found out that it takes me just as long from the “closer” location as from my old home! And my old home hasn’t sold yet, so I’m tempted to move back because I’m not feeling my new house yet, and I miss several big things about my old place.
    Carrying 2 mortgages is taking up all my pay, so I’m burning through my little savings.
    I got a bonus for taking this job and I don’t have enough in savings to pay it back, so I’m stuck working.
    But after my required payback time, I’m wondering if this is the right job for me.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Nothing you describe is about the new job itself, what you like or don’t like about the day to day. Do you like the new job? Are you happy there, and see a career path? Maybe where you live is the bigger issue than the job itself. Could you move back into the old home, rent out the new home, and still work at this job (perhaps negotiating some regular remote work days?).
      My final thought it is natural to feel uneasy at so much life change at one time, so maybe you should also give yourself a little more time to adjust mentally and emotionally. Good luck!

      1. PleaseNo*

        lol, it’s so new I didn’t want to make assumptions. I like my coworkers (for the first time in 3 positions). I’m still learning policies and procedures and the environment so while I don’t like it, I also don’t dislike it yet.

        I have to be onsite, but I do get 1 day remote a week.

    2. WellRed*

      Sounds like you need to slow your roll a bit and give both the job and new house a bit of time rather than leaping and lurching. Is your old house Rentable? Or likely to sell very soon? I realize that depends on local markets.

      1. PleaseNo*

        It’s been listed for almost a month with no offers and it shows very well and is well-priced.
        I luckily already have a management company chosen and am engaging them to start the process next week.

        1. WellRed*

          Oh excellent! If you can stop the money drain it might help you focus on whether you do like the job and new house at all.

  37. Sotired*

    I need career advice. I got my Bachelors in Business Administration and Management about a year ago. I’m currently working in government doing social services and also have banking experience. What careers would be easy to transition to that I’m maybe not aware of? I would prefer no sales or interacting with the public.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      The whole world of back office/internal accounting/financial management: accounts payable, accounts receivable, financial projections, etc. You don’t need an accounting degree if you’re working a backoffice job for Teapots N’ Things.

      1. ferrina*

        Payroll as well- doesn’t require an accounting degree, and is often somewhere under the HR umbrella.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      You don’t say at what level you work in government, but usually once you are on the inside it is easier to move around – some jobs are only open to current employees. Look for openings in management, finance, procurement, contracting. You get the security of a government job with work in your field. And you may develop contracts in the private sector that may help you land the next job if you decide government isn’t for you. Good luck!

  38. Emily R*

    Can anyone who is data analytics or data science tell me how important degree vs self teaching is in bagging a job?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Really depends what level/field are you aiming to work in. Small start up tech companies – yeah they might waive a degree if your github is super impressive. Academia, larger companies – they’re unlikely to waive degree requirements, there’s too many candidates with the degree so HR isn’t going to be receptive to it. Make sure you do a cover letter if you don’t have a degree, gives you a chance to show writing skills.

      1. Emily R*

        Thank you. I have a masters degree in a adjacent but not technically related field. I took one data mining class in my masters, but I’ve done everything self taught since then. Wondering if I should just formally get the cheapest masters degree I can find or even do a handful of certificates or a boot camp course.

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          If you have a masters degree in a related field you’re golden. Adjacent but not related you might have to sell it a bit in the interviews/cover letter. Data science you can get some leeway if the degree is relevant (ie applying to do data science for a biology lab, have a biology degree – the delay in your coding skills might be worth not having to teach you the biology side of the job, you bring biological understanding to the numbers that will guide your analysis). Also the higher level (masters, PhD) degrees tend to stand regardless of field, they show you can commit to a research idea and see it through more than a specific she knows XYZ skillset. If the masters degree is totally unrelated (English masters for instance) then you need to be prepared to really talk about what data projects you’ve done and how you’ve self taught since then.

          Before committing to a second masters I’d seriously apply to jobs and seeing what happens.

    2. Honor Harrington*

      Right now this job field is so hot that if you have the experience and can demonstrate it, they don’t care about degrees. But you need to be able to show on your resume your experience and clearly answer questions in the interview process.

  39. Smocksmocksmock*

    Hey, so, I have a new job and it is exempt and VERY all the flexibility goes one way as described here:

    https://www.askamanager.org/2021/03/is-being-salaried-a-scam.html

    I think it is a scam, and misclassified, honestly, but I know that’s common and does anyone really care about that? It’s government so I’d guess they are buttoned up on that front but a lot of what we do is specifically called out as not exempt under the investigators/inspectors/emergency response part… Not a perfect fit, it’s clearly focused on LE but I don’t see why it wouldn’t apply to us.

    Also, do people have any recommendations other than give them exactly what is required and no more? Which is fine but I’m getting a touch resentful already even so and it seems like that’s my only option plus look for another job, which I’m doing but is no guarantee and not optimal to be this disgruntled this quickly.

    Also in one of Alison’s articles she mentioned they are allowed to dock full days of pay… One thing I thought they were doing that might actually not be okay but I’m just wondering if anyone understands how that works better than me. They were going to dock pay because my coworker was out of PTO and got sick. I thought they couldn’t do this but Alison wrote they can do full days if they offer “sick time off” and the person is out – we have PTO but it’s just one bucket, no specific sick time. They allow very very rare pre-approved WFH but don’t allow you to WFH if you call in sick, because if you call in sick you must be too ill to move, I suppose. But let’s say he did some minor wfh – he called into a meeting or he checked his email, or whatever, can they still not pay for that day?

    Also, what is people’s experience or understanding of on call as it relates to exempt/non exempt, what have you seen in terms of compensation and what do you think is reasonable?

    1. ferrina*

      I worked for a boss that liked to say “You’re salaried, so you work until the job is done” then gave me responsibilities for 3.5 people (literally- the department was supposed to have 3.5 people, and she refused to fill the roles and wanted me to do everything).

      There’s not much you can do. I recommend starting your job search now- you want to get out now before it sucks your soul away.
      In the meantime, quietly say no to what you can. “Sorry, I won’t be able to do that.” or “I can’t take this on unless I don’t do Project X” (it helps to be specific about what will be dropped) One of my favorite lines was “Yes, I can do this. I can start in 2 months”- knowing full well they expected me to start it that day and deliver in a month. I pointed out that with my current workload, I would need to drop 2 other projects in order to meet that deadline.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’m not a lawyer or anything, but my understanding is that exempt employees must be paid for the full week of work. Leave without pay can be voluntary, but can not be as a result of illness. However, I also know the rules for state employees are different. Either way, you sound really bitter and unhappy. Maybe looking for another job would be a good idea.

      1. Me ... Just Me*

        You don’t have to be paid for the full week of work if you’re exempt. They do, however, have an obligation to pay you for a full day if you work any portion of it. What this means is, though, that if you call in sick and then try to attend a meeting so that you get paid for the day, they’ll definitely be talking to you about that because it’s kind of dishonest. If you don’t have leave accrued (per whatever way it’s accrued at your job) then they can short your check for what you haven’t worked.

        You do seem unhappy, so you may want to move on, regardless.

  40. Jessen*

    I asked this a while back at one point but it was pretty late in the thread: how do you deal with burnout when you literally can’t take time off?

    I’m at the point where I’d definitely falling behind at work because I’m too burnt out to think straight. The problem is because of chronic medical issues, I have to spend literally of my sick time and my vacation time just on being sick, managing 2 dozen medical appointments, and so forth. Even stuff like FMLA doesn’t help because you’re still required to use all your paid time off first before you can take unpaid time. So there’s no chance for me to just take time away and destress.

    But I’m not sure what to do with this when I’m legit not getting any time to deal with what I need to. I’m afraid to say anything because I don’t want to be seen as unreliable or not able to do my job. But I’m also at the point where something’s got to give.

    1. Anecdata*

      So if you can financially afford to take unpaid time off, can you take it as FMLA and build in “relaxing and recovery” time. Ie. instead of coming off FMLA the very first day you can stand up, add a couple extra days that a) help you recover more health wise and b) have some not-strictly-medical relax items built in – sit outside, walks, etc; like a mini staycation. On a smaller scale, things like, when you have a half day appointment, take the whole day off.

      1. Jessen*

        Maybe? Part of the problem is I’m honestly not sure about how FMLA even works for stuff like mine. We’re not real clear on what exactly is going on, and I generally don’t have days where I absolutely can’t work. It’s more like that I tire out super easily and trying to work five days a week and stay focused on work for as long as the job requires me to stay focused just isn’t going well.

        1. Anecdata*

          I would definitely consider talking to your boss/hr about taking intermittent FMLA – maybe a couple days around your more draining appointments (I’ve been helping a family member with this recently so I’m a big advocate for it :)

          FMLA protects your job for up to 12 weeks/year — the intermittent part just means you don’t have to take it all in one chunks; and at a lot of large companies you can set it up as basically “pre-documented” with HR so you don’t have to start the process from scratch every time (for situations like, “when my X-syndrome flares up, I take a week of FMLA-protected leave, which is usually 5-10 times a year”)

          FMLA covers “serious health conditions” – you don’t have to be eg. disabled to the point that you can’t work at all. What you are describing sure sounds like it counts to me (and good HR depts don’t nitpick what “serious” is)

    2. ferrina*

      How is your boss? If they are reasonable, talk to them. They may be able to shift your workload or responsibilities (I’ve done that for team members a couple times).

      I’d also reach out to online communities that of folks that have your condition(s)- they may have more specific advice. The Mighty, Inspire or Patients Like Me might have a community for your condition.

      I’m sorry you’re going through this!

      1. kiki*

        I was going to say this. If you have a good boss, they’ll appreciate the heads-up that you’re at a breaking point and at risk for falling more behind rather than hearing about it after a lot of balls have been dropped. I think that’s something about management that’s been a little lost– it’s not about ensuring your direct reports are at 100% capacity, it’s about prioritizing, delegating, and organizing things around the capacity folks actually have.

    3. TiredSickAndYoung*

      As someone else who has a chronic illness and familiar with the problems of burning out because all you can do is deal with health stuff and go to work, I would recommend disengaging from work as much as possible and lowering your standards for what’s “bad enough” to call out sick for. I recognize that disengaging from work feels terrifying, since you need the job to pay for the medical stuff; what I’ve done is to pick things to step back from and see how much pushback you get, picking it back up if there’s pushback, and just slowly refine what my job actually entails, giving myself some more room when I am out more with the health stuff.
      Something else to consider: when I was at a similar point last year, I asked to spend a few months at 3/4 time so I could spend time to stabilize my health. It wasn’t a vacation, but it gave me some breathing room.

      1. Jessen*

        It’s definitely the sort of job where most tasks are all or nothing; either a task is done or it’s not done and turnaround times are expected to be short. So it would be pretty obvious if I started to disengage.

      1. Jessen*

        I have yet to see a therapist (in 10+ years of treatment) who could do anything more than hand me the advice off of the first page of google and then get frustrated when it didn’t work. I honestly feel like that’s part of why I’m so burnt out – I’m still trying to recover from all the years of guilt and shame heaped on me from being sent to therapy instead of having health problems recognized and acknowledged. I got a lot of times of being told I obviously wasn’t trying or didn’t want to get better because I failed to do things that would be easy for most people. Unfortunately I’ve found that there’s still such incredible widespread denial that therapy can be traumatic, combined with rampant base ableism, that it would be a miracle to find a therapist who didn’t actively make things worse at this point, let alone could actually help.

        1. Hydrangea*

          Therapy can be awful, seriously. I went to someone whose basic message was, you wouldn’t have all these interpersonal problems if you weren’t such an awful person. What I do is look for TED talks or books bc I can shut them off or close them if they are not helpful. My thing these days is emotional intelligence, and I just noped right out of a book that made some absolutely incorrect claims. The ability to nope out without an argument is actually sort of therapeutic in and of itself.

        2. CatCat*

          I’m sorry to hear you’ve had these terrible experiences with therapy. My therapist is an expert in burnout so I have been fortunate in that regard.

    4. Not in your timezone*

      I was really burnt out by the end of 2020 but feeling much better now. I started with genuine self care, which took a lot of work and energy at first. The things I found helpful:
      Stopped using my phone/email after hours and deleted social media.
      Guaranteed myself 8 hours in bed with the lights out each night.
      Started doing very light exercise (walking or cycling).
      Got a house cleaner to come weekly.
      Ordered a meal kit weekly.
      Dropped the rope with some family care issues.

      I know this sounds like life admin but they made the world of difference to my ability to cope with work. I just desperately needed some down time and these things gave me that. I hope you find a solution that works for you too. (I know this won’t take away your pain, this stuff just helps with getting by).

  41. Chirpy*

    How do I deal with a department head who says things passive-aggressively, then walks away before I can respond? The manager says I should just stand up for myself better, but my department head just snaps things at me as she’s walking past, and I’d have to chase her down, and when I do get to respond she just brushes off my response.

    Manager has no problem with my work. My department head tells me things that the new person has done wrong and I “need to work on with them” when I didn’t see the problem happen to be able to say anything, or things I should do that are so basic as to be kind of insulting, or vague passive aggressive statements about things that do need to get done while I’m doing something else, or just generally criticizing how I’m doing things-even if I’m doing what she’s told me to do (if I do things one way, it’s wrong, but if I do it the other way that she tells me, that’s also wrong and I should be doing it the original way). I think she just thinks I should magically do the work of 4 people, but when I point this out she says she has to work alone sometimes, too. I just don’t know how to deal with this.

    1. ferrina*

      Wow. Department Head sounds like a jerk.

      Unfortunately, there’s no way to solve this. Jerks are going to be jerks. Best you can do is say “I’ll look into it!” and then send a perfunctory email to your manager (with the goal of CYA to show that you’re handling it correctly).

      I’d be worried about long-term career implications if Department Head has any sort of impact on your professional opportunities. Once a higher up takes an irrational dislike to you, it can really impact the opportunities you get.

      1. Chirpy*

        Unfortunately, I’ve had that happen before, a coworker convinced the board they didn’t need my position…they then had to beg me to come back the next week because I was the only one who knew how to do something (which I had spent years telling them someone else should learn as a backup, as my job was essential to the organization’s mission). It absolutely destroyed my career.

    2. KoiFeeder*

      For what it’s worth, your department head sounds like a loon and this reflects on her far more than it reflects on you.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Given that, you have to decide how to respond. There’s a few options.

      One is the “I’ll look into that” option suggested by ferrina followed by a CYA email to your manager.

      Another is to say, “You should discuss that with Manager” followed by a CYA email to your manager.

      And then happily continue what you’re doing.

      Let her walk away, because she walked away. So, clearly, she doesn’t have more to say. Just let it go.

      If you need to CYA, write an email to your manager with updates about what you are doing and if needed, even write the department head, ccing your manager, something like, “I didn’t understand what you meant by X, but I am happy to help with Y as needed. Just talk to Manager.” The trick here is to repeat whatever weird request she gave you and force her to say what she actually wants. If she never replies, great! Problem solved. Move on.

      Again, your Department head sucks and isn’t going to change. So, you have to work around it. I wish I had better advice then that.

      1. Chirpy*

        I’ve generally been doing that (aside from emails, we don’t have them as the company decided a “more social media like” software was “better”, so if I message her it would probably be seen company-wide at all locations and there’s no way that doesn’t look bad for me). If I try to get her to clarify, she just brushes things off or doubles down what she just said (and will reverse later.) It feels like she’s trying to make me look inefficient (we’re both in the top 3-5 employees on several visible tasks).

    4. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Yell at her as she’s walking away, “send me a request and I’ll see when I can get to it”.

  42. Alice*

    People on my team want to start doing a monthly team lunch, indoors.
    I don’t do indoor dining because I share indoor air unmasked only with people in my household, friends and relatives who have tested negative that day, and people at the dentist’s office.
    They won’t push me to join them, so I’m glad about that. But I still feel like I need to “make up” for “being standoffish” somehow, to cultivate positive interpersonal relationships.
    Am I overthinking things and seeing obligations where none exist?

    1. ferrina*

      How’s your relationship with them generally? If you’re friendly in other ways and they respect your safety protocols, I wouldn’t worry about it. But I would try to make up for some of the face time in other ways- maybe grabbing coffee with folks on other occassions? (either virtual, or walk to a nearby coffee shop together)

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        This context matters. They’re bonding – if you miss out on that, yeah there could be consequences to that. It depends on the starting point. But there are ways to make it up.

      2. AnotherLibrarian*

        Yeah, this is what matters. If you have a positive relationship in general, this will likely not matter.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Would you be comfortable sitting and chatting with them, keeping your mask on? That’s what I’ve done when I couldn’t risk exposure. You’d have to find time to eat, I realize.

  43. Art Sent Me*

    I’m new to IT and just landed my first job sooner than expected.
    I was prepared for potential sexism/harassment/othering but wasn’t expecting the drinking culture to be so heavy duty. I’m at a place that’s just out of startup. It’s tolerable but annoying and sometimes triggering. I expect the big companies and conferences will be worse. How do the other non drinkers cope?

    1. Eether, Either*

      Are you in AA or another support group? If yes, ask for help! If not, and you feel comfortable going to bars or events with your co-workers, order a non-alcoholic drink. If someone comments, just say I don’t drink. That’s all you need to say. If you don’t feel comfortable around alcohol, limit your time wherever folks are drinking, at conferences, etc., if your presence is required/expected. Stay for a short time and set a “leave” time for yourself and stick to it. It’s none of their business why you don’t drink–there are many reasons these days, but that’s what I do. I’ve been sober for 40 years and rarely does anyone ask me why I’m not drinking.

    2. JustaTech*

      So this advice only applies to people who just prefer not to drink, rathe than for people who have a history of issues with drinking (I don’t know enough to be helpful there).

      My husband is in tech and for whatever reason his specific branch at his company is full of heavy drinkers. Like, they have a standing weekly wrap up meeting Friday afternoons called “Whiskey and Whine”. But his experience has been that while most of the people like to drink, they never give him a hard time for not drinking, or only having one beer when they go out. This has also been my experience when I’ve gone out with them socially “Hey, JustaTech, can I get you a drink?” “No, I’m good now, thanks.” “Cool.”

      So if you can make it clear from the start that you’re not interested, most people (should!) let it alone, especially if you’re still able to join them socializing. It’ll just be a thing about you, like “Oh, Art doesn’t drink, but they play a mean foosball” or whatever.

      As for company size, it’s my impression that as companies get bigger the heavy-drinking culture tends to die off, partly because bigger companies have a greater diversity of workforce (more of whom might not want to drink, or at least drink like college), and then eventually you get HR and Legal who point out the risks to the company of everyone getting sloshed on Thursday morning (so much liability, and also not working). Larger companies also offer more people to be around, so it might be easier to find other non-drinkers.

      Good luck and take care of yourself!

      1. Angstrom*

        Agree. As long as you don’t appear to be judgmental or disapproving, most adults will accept a matter-of-fact “no thanks” or “ not today”. On the practical side, having a non-alcoholic drink that looks similar to what other folks are having will avoid unwanted attention to your non-drinking.

  44. NewCommenter*

    People who wear a hijab/headscarf, do you leave it off for a (remote) meeting that you know will be all women? Recently gone back to work after grad school and its a fully remote position so all my meetings are online. I wear a hijab normally and I’ve considered not wearing it for meetings where I know it’ll just be ladies (like one -to-ones with my female manager) but somehow it seems unprofessional to wear it some of the time and not always so wondering what others do.

    1. Generic+Name*

      Interesting question. As someone who does not come from a head-covering culture, I might be confused if I saw a coworker without her head covering in some meetings but not others. I might not connect that you don’t wear them in meetings with all women. I wouldn’t read it as unprofessional, though. If you wanted, you could simply explain that you’re uncovered because it’s all women and the covering is only in front of men (or unrelated men?). I think you could do what feels most comfortable to you. Hopefully others with experience will chime in as well.

      1. Women in workplace*

        Same here. I’m a woman not from a head-covering culture. I’d be confused if I see OP without hijab in a meeting.

        I’d be wary about male co-workers get invited to the meeting in the very last minute though.

    2. Hydrangea*

      My answer depends on the culture/country where you work.

      In the US, I would say always wear hijab bc the gender of your coworkers cannot matter in how you behave toward them. This is similar to shaking hands when you are part of a religion that only allows touch between same genders. If you can’t shake hands with an entire class of people, then you should not shake hands with any people. If you can’t remove hijab with an entire class of people, you should not remove remove hijab with any people.

      In general, if your workplace is in a culture/country where wearing hijab is uncommon, you will probably just sow confusion about why you sometimes have it on and sometimes not, and it might come across as an arbitrary choice. So I advise just wearing it all the time to avoid that confusion.

      I’m the wrong person to have an opinion on how this would come across if your workplace is in a country/culture where hijab is common.

      The thing to think about regardless, though, is what happens if a man walks past where he can see the screen.

      1. Raw Flour*

        Oh yeah, +1 to your last point. I share a medium-sized home office with my husband, where we face opposite directions and have autonomous mic/headphone systems. He’s not privy to anything that my manager or employee speaks to me about; that’s all easily kept in confidence. However, there’s a non-zero chance that he turns around for a second and glimpses the person onscreen.

        1. Cormorannt*

          I have the same setup with my husband, and I often see his coworkers on screen when we are both working from home. It’s usually briefly in passing, but I do see them. There’s no way to control who might be sharing a space with your coworkers.

      2. fueled by coffee*

        Eh, I don’t know that wearing/not wearing a hijab is the same as hand-shaking; one is a behavior that involves other people, the other is a personal clothing choice that doesn’t really have anything to do with business norms, restricting opportunities to others, etiquette, etc. If I pull on a sweater every time I walk into a meeting with coworkers of a particular gender, this might be perceived as odd but you’d be hard-pressed to argue that this was somehow discriminatory, unless it’s affecting the meeting in some other way. This isn’t like Mike Pence refusing to meet alone with women on principle or having “old boys’ club” golf outings with the CEO.

        I come from a different head-covering culture (Judaism), but it would not strike me as unusual at all for a Muslim coworker to remove a hijab in one-on-one meetings with me but to wear it at other times. The points here about other housemates/colleagues/etc. potentially seeing you onscreen still stand, though!

        1. Hydrangea*

          Not shaking hands doesn’t exclude people from opportunities, either. Shaking hands and wearing hijab to a meeting both require you to first assess the gender of the person you are interacting with *in a way that is meaningless to the interaction.* That doesn’t belong in a workplace.

          1. Temperance*

            Arguably, it can absolutely do that. The hijab is a personal choice. Shaking hands with only men isn’t.

      3. Posie*

        I agree with Hydrangea. It feels icky (?) somehow that you’d cover up only when men are in the meeting. I think there’s an inherent implication that you’re somehow less safe with them than with women. And in all honesty, you don’t know that someone is a man just because they’re male-presenting, and vice versa. I agree with wearing it in front of everyone, or no one.

        1. Hydrangea*

          Modesty is tied up in safety, but it’s not directly about safety. That’s a good point about presentation, though. You don’t know whether someone is a woman just bc they are female presenting. Very good point.

          Really, it’s best to proceed at work in a way that doesn’t require you to evaluate the gender of your co-workers unless the subject at hand is actually gender relevant.

          1. Minimal Pear*

            Yes, I’m nonbinary and present as very feminine but my Actual Gender isn’t at all in line with that. I always worry that something like this is going to come up! (I am very good at worrying about made-up scenarios.)

      4. Reba*

        I get your point, but I agree with Fueled by coffee that it’s overstating the case — wearing a hijab or not is not something you are doing to or even with coworkers!

        I’m not a hijabi, but work with quite a few. People handle it in different ways, it’s up to the individual! One colleague wears it for public appearances, but only rarely in small group meetings (regardless of the gender makeup of the group). Others wear it in the office but often not when they are joining a call from home. It’s not inherently professional or unprofessional either way.

        I don’t think NewCommenter should worry about people being “confused” or needing to preemptively share her hijab strategy. Perhaps some people will be curious or even rude about it, but what can you do.

      5. Laika*

        > sow confusion about why you sometimes have it on and sometimes not, and it might come across as an arbitrary choice

        I don’t see how any of this is her problem. If my coworker chooses to wear a collared shirt one day and a sweater the next, they aren’t “sowing confusion” lol

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      I worked with a woman who wore a hijab. I’ve seen her with it off in the restroom a couple times (fixing hair or the scarf itself). The first time I apologized thinking I walked in on something I shouldn’t, she laughed and said all was well just has to have it on in front of men. I’m not sure what she does now, in large mixed group zooms she always wore it.

      A male coworker in current job has similar cover the head in front of opposite sex requirements, I know he does leave it off in all male meetings.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Now I can’t stop thinking about the “bad hair day under a hijab” episode of Little Mosque on the Prairie.

    4. Raw Flour*

      How recently have you joined this company/team? I ask because IMO, 1:1s with a trusted colleague are pretty much the only scenario where you can safely assume that only women (well, one woman) will be in attendance. Some folks have an unfortunate habit of forwarding meeting invitations without the meeting organizer’s agreement.

      That aside, would I feel it was unprofessional if my employee wore a hijab at work/on Zoom but did not wear the hijab during 1:1s with me? No, I would not feel it was unprofessional.

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      I don’t wear a hijab, but I had a coworker who did. She only wore it when she was in meeting with men. I was honored when she stopped wearing it during our one on one zoom calls, I figured it meant she trusted me. Personally, I’m a firm believer in doing what makes you most comfortable. However, I can imagine that the “men vs women” rules might get complicated if people feel like you’re discriminating against one gender.

      There’s probably more to this that has to do with your personal feelings about your faith. For those issues in Judaism, the usual answer to this sort of quandary is – Talk to a Rabbi. So, maybe talk to an Imam about the best way to proceed? It wouldn’t impact how professional I thought you were, but I’m just one pretty laid back person about these things.

      1. JustaTech*

        In college one of my roommates wore a hijab and when it was just us gals (4 women in a suite) she would take it off sometimes, like if we were all sitting around in our pajamas. I will admit the first time I saw her without it I did not recognize her at all (we’d only met that morning).

        So maybe in my mind (because of that specific experience) I would think that it was a little casual to not wear it if you normally would, but not to the point of “unprofessional”.

        (That roommate gave me one of her scarfs as a “end of year” gift and it is just the best thing to wear in the depths of winter to keep my ears warm!)

    6. Irish Teacher*

      As a woman who is not from a culture where wearing headscarves is the norm, I don’t think I’d take much notice of a woman wearing one sometimes and not others. I might wonder if there was a reason, if I even noticed, but unless we had the sort of relationship where it would be normal to ask about something like that, it would just be an “oh, I wonder if there are rules about when she wears the headscarf.”

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m surprised people say they’d find it confusing because I probably would not even notice lol (American, not religious, white). I wouldn’t question it any more than people being inconsistent about wearing masks, or wearing a shirt one day and a dress the other. If I even realized it was different I’d just assume you have your reasons and it doesn’t affect me

    8. Wordybird*

      My coworker does not wear anything on her head during her women-only department meetings. She wears a hooded sweatshirt with the hood up during all-hands co-ed meetings. I’ve only seen her in a hijab in a photo that she shared with us of her attending a friend’s wedding.

    9. NewReplier*

      Caveat: I’m in the US, not Muslim and have not lived in majority-Muslim communities. This response is more about whatever “confusion” you’re non-Muslim coworkers may feel.

      I know that certain contexts can add Complicated meanings to wearing a hijab, but my understanding is that one of the big things it is is an expression of faith. There are no professionalism dress codes you’re breaking by wearing it in some settings and not others, and if a couple people are confused about it, it’s still not their business why you wear what you do. You’re not treating anyone differently or as lesser by wearing it in some situations but not others.

      I’d add a +1 to the points others raised about whether it’s a concern to you that someone walking by your coworkers’ screens may be a guy, what it would mean to be meeting with non-binary coworkers, or that a man may be unexpectedly included in a meeting you thought would be women only.

  45. beep beep*

    The next couple weeks on my team are looking to be incredible crunch time- for most except me. We recently (July) spun up a new process that is much more time/effort/resource intensive to review our llama grooming teams to make sure they’re adhering to best practices, and November is when the show llama competition is going to be, so everyone wants to get their llamas in before then. However, with the hundreds of llamas to review that take hours each, it may literally not be feasible- not enough hours in the day- for the members on my team who agreed to take on review responsibilities to get them all done by the necessary date. I have some expertise in one aspect of grooming, but not at all in the other.

    Is it unethical to worry that if I put my hand up to pitch in on that aspect of reviews, I’ll be asked to keep doing them (this crunch before a competition will come four times a year)? I recently got a major raise, so I don’t know if that’s in the cards if I step up, and I worry that I’ll be absorbing a lot of worry, but my team are struggling, that’s incredibly clear.

    Any advice is much appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      So is the question — Is it unethical to be worried if you volunteer to do a portion of a task because it might mean that you’ll have to do it until the end of time?

      I guess I’d say, if this review process is part of the scope of your department and you plan to be in this department, yeah, odds are that you’ll be pulled into the quarterly task every time. And either you’ll do the part that you know so other teammates can pick up from there, or you’ll be trained to do other pieces until you’re as much of a reviewer as they need.

      If you’re worried because you want to set boundaries to never have to do it after being helpful once, well, yeah, that might come off as strange, unless your particular expertise has its own timeline and crunch times that make your availability to contribute every quarter less certain — which your team will then have to deal with.

      Either way, I think a conversation with your boss about how they would like to handle your ability to assist with this process is important. That way you can understand how things are expected to go in the future.

    2. RagingADHD*

      This is not a question of ethics. It is simply realistic to assume that if you volunteer to do these reviews, it will become part of your job. Getting rid of a task that you volunteered for once is nearly impossible, due to institutional inertia.

      Pitching in when your team is in a crunch, including these reviews, is either part of the scope of your role and your company’s culture of teamwork, or it is not. If your role or your culture oblige you to step up, then keeping your good standing at your job and good relations with your team demands that you volunteer. You’ll just have to worry about the long-term situation later.

      If it’s clear that volunteering for this would interfere with doing the rest of your job properly, it’s best to avoid it. And if it isn’t clear but not volunteering won’t have consequences for you, then don’t.

    3. Employed Minion*

      If you don’t want to get stuck doing these reviews, maybe an alternative would be to volunteer taking on other common tasks of your coworkers to relieve their work loads during this time. Then, after the crunch, you give the tasks ‘back’. This only works if there is overlap of course

  46. Anecdata*

    As a follow up to the “quiet quitting” discussion —

    Does anyone have advice/stories for what /has/ worked for you, in terms of going above and beyond but actually getting rewarded for it?

    I’m in a place in my life + career where I am trying to figure out how to “lean in” and I’d love to hear about what folks have done to make that “effective” — and do you think the strategies have changed, post covid?

    1. Justin*

      Literally this past week, we’re all at a work conference here in NYC, but given I live here and most of my coworkers don’t (so I see them like, twice a year), I put together a happy hour when the event had a more exclusive event for C suite folks. The CFO was excited that I did so (and that I also was the one who made some trivia questions when we saw each other in July), and though it’s all TBD, it seems like it’s “getting me in” with those with the most power in the org (a nonprofit financial institution).

      And it wasn’t like I really sacrificed anything. So to me, it makes sense to do “extra” when it fits within my skillset and interests.

    2. LittleBeans*

      Well, my definition of “above and beyond” has changed. When I was new to the work world, I worked tons of unpaid hours, staying late and coming in on weekends. I don’t do that anymore – I mostly work my hours – but I am flexible about my schedule and available off hours when needed, I volunteer for projects that I’m interested in, I proactively seek ways to improve my work or our processes, I try to make my boss’s job easier in small ways when I can. And yes, I definitely believe I am rewarded for all of that! I’ve been promoted regularly throughout my career, and have a really strong reputation in my field if/when I want to move on.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      All of the conference planning committees I have been on have led to both a better understanding of how to get my papers accepted to national conferences, but also looked darn shiny on a resume. So, there’s that? I think you have to chose to do extra things that help get your name out there AND give you some helpful benefit.

    4. Anon for This*

      Do work “above and beyond” when it will show results, add up to an accomplishment that will be yours. Volunteer to lead the new project, to assist the boss in planning the conference.

      Do not go above and beyond to fix work that Fergus should have done right in the first place, and will take credit for. Do not go above and beyond on non-work projects – like don’t volunteer to clean out the fridge, or bake/buy the birthday cakes.

    5. AcademiaNut*

      With a lot of the stuff discussed in quiet quitting, the nuance that’s missing is that with good employers, stepping up and taking on higher level work or going above and beyond when something comes up are rewarded. It might be financially, via raises or bonuses, or it might lead to promotions or professional development opportunities, or you might get more interesting job tasks and more flexibility and autonomy. Even if there isn’t a ton of growth opportunity at the same employer, you can get stuff that goes on your resume that helps you to get a higher level next job. It’s reasonably common for employees to not realize that simply working *more* doesn’t necessarily make you a good candidate for promotion, because someone can be extremely hard working and a poor fit for a higher level job.

      If you’re working yourself to exhaustion because your workplace is understaffed or chaotic, or you are doing stuff that isn’t going to be rewarded, or you’re being asked to step into higher level tasks indefinitely without a raise or official promotion, or you’re doing stuff that makes other people look more competent but isn’t recognized for you, then stepping back is good.

      Things that bring you to the attention of people higher up in the hierarchy, or show that you can handle higher level work or leadership (and are limited in duration, reasonable in work load and recognized), or that make your resume look better for future jobs are better bets, *if* your employer is the type to reward people that do such things.

    6. k8orado*

      Without getting into details that would be identifying, I ended up in charge of a very high-profile crisis response at my organization last year (crisis as in the possibility of significant risk to many people’s lives if it was not quickly addressed). I was technically several steps down in the organization from many of the people I was leading, so it meant tons of face time with senior leadership up to the CEO level. It was basically soul-crushing at the time (15+ hour days, worked all weekend every weekend for several months, tons of middle of the night issues), but incredibly meaningful personally and professionally and I was directly told by the CEO that it was a major reason I just got a big promotion.

      Definitely agree with the advice above to lean hard into things that are likely to be seen and rewarded. I’ve been the person behind the scenes making everything work in various jobs for years, it’s when I had the chance to make things happen in very visible ways that I think perceptions changed and I was viewed as ready for a true leadership role.

  47. Pocket Mouse*

    What does “a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part” look like in practice? I’m particularly thinking of situations where there is ongoing collaboration, so the success of the project reflects on everyone involved, including those who are a victim of others’ lack of planning.

    For instance, Team Member A requests Team Member B document XYZ as they prepare the TPS report in order for Team Member A to do the final polish and get the finished report out on time, but despite assurances of progress at update meetings, Team Member B does not do this and now the team has to spend precious time getting clarity on XYZ before Team Member A can start polishing, causing the polishing to be rushed or completed in overtime. As Team Member A, I would like those in charge of the report to acknowledge that due to Team Member B’s approach, additional time is needed for a reasonable turnaround, but that doesn’t seem to be an available option.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      That’s not really the kind of situation that phrase is meant to be applied to, because that’s not a lack of planning that’s a lack of oversight and poor performance.

      This is more of an “in the debrief we need to discuss how this doesn’t happen again” scenario.

      1. JustaTech*

        Exactly. “a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part” is when someone knew about a big project coming up but completely failed to request that their supplies be ordered, and so is demanding that the ordering person pull all kinds of strings to get stuff overnighted.

        Person A clearly communicated their needs in a timely manner to Person B, which is 100% the opposite of a lack of planning.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This is a failure of management, and probably of communications.

      Did the boss of both A & B know about, create, or approve this arrangement? If so, then it’s the bosses job to intervene if B is jeopardizing the timeline. If not, then it’s As fault for not telling the boss – and then boss & A should have decided what to do if B didn’t meet the internal deadline.

      The aphorism you are referring to is from the perspective of the put-upon employee. If C needs work from D, but doesn’t inform D in time, or ask about D’s workload, or have the task clearly defined, then D can use that as a retort to C when C asks D to work over the weekend.

    3. RagingADHD*

      That phrase really only works when there is a clear delineation of roles and accountability. For example, the Accounts Payable department might have a system that payments go out every Friday and only on Friday, and everything must be submitted no later than 3pm Thursday, unless it is signed off by a VP or higher. Polly Procrastinator comes rushing up at 4:30 on Thursday insisting that her vendor has to get paid this week, and the VP of her department is on vacation.

      It’s Polly’s emergency, not AP’s. Similar to “not my circus, not my monkeys.”

      In a situation like you describe, it is your circus and they may not be your monkeys, but if the monkeys don’t show up you have no circus.

    4. Diatryma*

      I work in a medical testing facility. There’s a policy that people getting procedures done have a covid test. If the patient doesn’t get the covid test, we got calls from irritated Important Medical Persons… so we have a script. It boils down to, and this may identify me somewhat, “I’m sorry, we generally have test results within X time. Please do what is best for your patient and wear the proper protective equipment.” Because we’re not going to rush a test or something (I mean, we can’t, the test takes as long as it takes) just so the operating room staff can be more comfortable. We have procedures in place for this.

      It really, really helps that the staff giving this script have absolute backup from the Very Important Medical Persons who run the place.

  48. LittleBeans*

    I currently work a hybrid schedule but occasionally, am asked to come into the office for a one-off event. When I do, it’s hard not to make my commute part of my workday. For example, I’m supposed to be in the office from 2-3pm today so realistically, I will spend 1-2pm getting there, and 3-4pm fighting traffic to get home. The result is that a 1-hour event ends up taking up 3 hours of my day and it’s going to impact the other work I need to do today. Is this just an impact of our new work world? Or should I really be trying to change my schedule so that the commute isn’t impacting my work hours somehow?

    1. Justin*

      I mean, it’s part of my world. I just make sure I check my email early (that’s technically working!) and late to even out the trip (though for me my trip is only 25 min)

    2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Talk to your manager to develop an understanding about swapping your regular days in office. So if your normal days in office are Mon/Weds/Fri, but on Monday morning you’re asked to come in for a meeting on Tuesday, you’d say to your manager, Since I have to come in on Tuesday anyway, I’ll make that my second in person day, stay in office for 8 hours, and then work from home on Wednesday.
      If you don’t have a complex web of childcare arrangements hinging on solid days in office/remote, this could be a flexible solution.

      1. LittleBeans*

        I can’t change my schedule easily, I usually have other in-person meetings booked on my other days already. And to be honest, everyone on my team works from home on Fridays so I don’t want to go in for the whole day because I’d literally just be sitting in an empty office by myself except for that 1 hour.

    3. Qwerty*

      Commutes aren’t normally included in work hours, especially if yours is eating up a quarter of the work day.

      Is your hybrid schedule set in stone where your desk isn’t available on your home days? Usually people will come into the office for a full or half day if they have a on-site meeting, but that assumes your office has space to accomodate you. If it doesn’t, talk to your manager about how to handle the situation – she is probably assuming that you are flexing your hours if you are commuting during the business day, so its better to be upfront about that than wait for her to realize that isn’t the case.

    4. New Mom*

      I don’t really have advice but I can relate, I live in a highly congested traffic area and unless it I’m driving between 10:30-2:30, my 20 minute commute turns into an hour, or an hour and twenty if it’s my day to do drop-off or pick-up for daycare. It’s sooo frustrating that my office is now mandating 85% in-person for the *full* workday. It’s going to add two hours to my day and I feel pretty unhappy about it.

      1. LittleBeans*

        I think I phrased this like a question since this is an advice column but really, it was probably more of a vent. Like, I think the leadership doesn’t realize how inconvenient it is for me to come in to work for just 1 hour, and I don’t really want to have to do it. Also, New Mom, I also have a toddler who was born during Covid, so I’m now adjusting to a hybrid schedule and accounting for daycare pick-ups and drop-offs, which I never had to deal with before when I was working in-person full-time. So that’s another reason why it isn’t easy for me to just start work earlier or stay later.

        1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

          Venting is fine if that’s the context. Since we’re supposed to be posting questions, then what I would advise in this situation is thus — for truly one-off things that won’t be recurring, it probably makes sense to simply treat the whole day as in-office. Just plan to come in — or say to the organizer “Friday is my WFH day, could we do Tuesday instead or can I attend via video?”

          But if there’s a pattern of in-office events that may come up when you’re not expecting them, you probably need to sort out a few contingency plans and then have a chat with your boss about how they’d like you to handle these scenarios — e.g., are they invested enough in you coming in on a Friday to let you commute after daycare drop off?

    5. Overeducated*

      Unfortunately, I generally just have to block off the travel time on my calendar if it’s during the work day, but then “make up” that time by working late from home another day since commuting isn’t work. I really do hate it, as my commute is an hour outside rush times, but can be two when traffic is bad (or recently, 2.5 when there were two accidents en route). I’m seriously considering applying for remote work or asking if I could get a desk at a local site (even though the work I do is different than the local site’s), but we’re still adjusting to “back to the office” so I am trying to give it a try first.

  49. Academic Librarian*

    I am an academic librarian with a unique skill set, strong public professional presence, and golden handcuffs that have me spinning my wheels about my future. I have started to receive some exciting and interesting consulting offers related to my primary research area. However, in order to take all of the potential consulting offers on the horizon I’d likely need to negotiate my current 40 hour/5 days a week schedule down to 4 days a week. My institution allows us to take on outside consulting work in a limited capacity, pending administrative approval. Complicated by this is that my unit is chronically understaffed, and we are in the midst of a lot of leadership turnover in the reporting lines above me.

    Any advice on how I might negotiate a reduced workload in order to take on consulting work?

    Other leverage details if it matters: I am not geographically mobile for family reasons, but if I were, I would likely be a top candidate at many major institutions (I get recruiting emails from institutions much more prestigious than my current university). I have occasionally applied to non-library remote jobs aligned with my skills, which has resulted in some interviews, but either I didn’t make the final cut or I withdrew because it was clear that the job couldn’t match my current position’s golden handcuffs (tenure, union, job autonomy, and decent salary). I’ve been in my current role for several years and have never received the resources I need to fulfill all of my day to day job duties, but thanks to having tenure I can likely signal that I have been looking elsewhere without compromising my current job security. Like many academic librarians, I have a 3-jobs-in-one job description and I would be very difficult to replace.

    1. Nicky*

      I will say it sounds like this might be hard to do if your current position is chronically understaffed. Do you have any coworkers who have been able to negotiate a four-day deal or something similar? If so, I’d ask them how they did it.

      If going to your boss directly and asking her what you’ve asked us here isn’t an option, I’d do that. It seems like you might feel confident that this wouldn’t risk your job, so I think asking your boss directly (“I’ve started to receive a lot of exciting consulting offers related to my primary research area, but I won’t have time to do them unless I move to a part-time work schedule. Is this something we could discuss?”) would be the best move.

      If that’s not an option for some reason or if your manager says no, I would start applying around to other jobs that would allow a four-day work schedule. Once you have an offer, bring it to your manager, let them know that you’ve received a job offer, and that the reason it appeals to you is that it allows for a four-day schedule. If they really need to keep you (and you seem confident that they do) this may be enough to sway them to bump you to a four-day schedule.

    2. BookMom*

      My parent managed to do this during his last 15 or so years of employment in a K12 system. He had specific job functions formally transferred to another person in his department who was made “assistant director” — in his case some of the supervisory stuff he hated doing anyway, like negotiating which media specialist would be placed at which school in a given year, dealing with everyday squabbles and grievances, etc. He was able to focus on bigger picture planning, budgeting and vendor contracts, public relations, etc. .8 FTE schedule let him consult and travel a bit, while bringing some prestige to the district. He was able to frame it as a win/win for both. I think being clear on exactly which responsibilities were no longer his helped, as opposed to trying to do a little less of all the things.

  50. Grey*

    As a manager, is it weird to hang your framed accreditations and company awards on your office wall? Does it make you look qualified, or does it just look like bragging?

    I’m debating between hanging those or traditional wall decor.

    1. Qwerty*

      Where are they going to be placed?

      If it is behind you / over your head so that its facing people who come in and ask questions, then that could be odd. That style fits for more public facing roles, like doctor offices, because the people walking into the rooms may want some reassurance. Your team will care more about how you interact with them than where you got your degree.

      If its on a side wall or the wall *you* look at? Go for it!

      1. Grey*

        I’m talking only about industry-specific accreditations. Like, I have two certifications in my field, so I’m thinking of hanging those. I want people to know I’m legit. But at the same time, I don’t want to show off.

    2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Company awards from your current company, I think are fine. Otherwise I think hanging diplomas or accreditations are tacky. I know people do it, but just to answer your question with my personal feeling, it looks like bragging about … nothing important. (Exception is doctors. I want to know my doctor has a medical degree!)

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This is what those of us who worked in DC called the “I Love Me” wall. It was either all of your diplomas, certificates, etc. or a bunch of photos of you shaking hands with politicians and generals.

      Totally depends on your company culture. I had my diplomas, my apprentice PE certificate, a couple of other things up in my office when I worked in DC. It was very normal.

      If your company gives out a lot of these things, it would strike me as kind of weird to hang them up.

      1. JustaTech*

        Could one get away from the ” I Love Me” wall by having other stuff up there too? Like, a diploma, a certificate, an award, a drawing by your kid/nibling/etc, a picture of your pet, a landscape photo?

        My spouse used to work for a company that gave out an acrylic cube every time your name was on a patent. My spouse got one (that he was quite proud of) but there was another person who had so many they built a knee-high wall in their office of these cubes.

        1. Specialized Skillets*

          That’s what I did! I hung a workplace-specific certificate and my Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certificate in my cubicle along with family photos in a little collage. I figure since the certificates are work-related (unlike my college degrees lol) it is fine.

    4. Work is not dumb*

      It really depends on the profession and the company. My colleagues who worked in an older tech company told me how they received trophies, watches and crystals as awards. They realized that the newer companies don’t value those physical items as a recognition.

    5. lost academic*

      Maybe accreditations if they are relevant and used in your day to day job. Company awards, I wouldn’t – it’s a little silly unless there’s some unique thing your company recognizes that’s that special.

      I would generally lean towards none of this.

    6. Scrappy Gurl*

      I manage a team at a call center. Supervisors are only promoted from within. When I was promoted I hung all my certificates and awards at my cube. I think I felt a need to show the other reps that I was qualified to move up. Now that I have been in the position for two years I have taken them all down. Just my two cents.

    7. PollyQ*

      Very much dependent on your company culture, I’d say. If other folks are doing it, go ahead. If not, I wouldn’t. And if you do go ahead & display, maybe just pick the most recent or most important. A wall full of these things reads as insecurity to me.

    8. Hiring Mgr*

      I don’t bring stuff like this to work myself, but in general I couldn’t care less how someone decorates their office. (assuming everything is work appropriate). It wouldn’t come across as qualified or braggy, just what you chose to hang up on the wall.

    9. Warrior Princess Xena*

      To me it depends what accreditations you want to hang.

      College degree/professional accreditation/other Big Deal items? Sure, no problem.

      Company awards, small certifications, probably not.

      I’d use the resume test – if you wouldn’t put it on your resume by name, I wouldn’t put them up on the wall.

  51. Kat Maps*

    Several weeks ago, I posted in the Friday open thread asking for advice on how to occupy my time when I was bored out of my skull at work. I share my role with 1 other person, “Alice”, and I seem to work much faster than she does — while Alice would often complain of being overworked and overwhelmed, I was frequently left bored and under stimulated. Our work was divided 50/50 by management.

    Alice put in her notice earlier this week. I’m really sad to see her go — she was a lovely, warm, and caring colleague. I enjoyed bouncing ideas and brain storming with her. Now all of her projects are being transitioned to me. I’m expecting management to assume that I’ll be overwhelmed (I was hired specifically to relieve some of her workload) but honestly I’m looking forward to the increase in workload. I’m tired of not having a single thing to do for entire days at a time. While I realize there’s a chance that the volume of work might become too much for me alone to handle, right now I’m not seeing it.

    I have a 1:1 with my manager next week, and I’m trying to think of a way to explain that Alice and I completed our tasks within a much different time frame, so I would like expectations to change towards me slightly in terms of what I can accomplish in a week. I also don’t want to come across like I’m dragging her work or productivity.

    I know that we’ll probably end up eventually hiring someone to replace Alice, and maybe in time it will become necessary and the workload will become too much for me alone. But right now I feel an urge to really emphasize that I am presently actually looking forward to the increase in work. Is there a way I can bring this up to my manager without sounding too critical of Alice? Or might this be a “show, don’t tell” situation, and just wait for the volume of my output to speak for itself? Am I being too naive about this whole thing, thinking I can actually handle the workload?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I think that’s very much a “wait and see” situation. Or wait and show rather. Let your work speak for itself. Also who knows, maybe one of her projects really way complicated enough to require more time. If Boss asks how you’re feeling about it you could do a generic “Looking forward to getting involved in more projects” but don’t say anything about Alice’s work rate or productivity.

      1. Kat Maps*

        I think as I was writing out my question, this solution became more evident to me, so thank you for reaffirming that :)

      2. irene adler*

        Exactly! See what transpires. And get a “hand’s on” with Alice’s work tasks first. Don’t want surprises.

        FYI: YMMV, but sometimes management does some unexpected things. When my lab tech put in his notice, I was very sure management would allow an employee who used to work for me, to move into this lab tech role. This employee was looking forward to moving into the position as well (he wasn’t fond of his current boss).
        Nope!
        I was told the position was being eliminated and going forward, I was to do my own lab work.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I would recommend not saying anything to your manager until you’ve had a little while to acclimate to Alice’s workload to see if it’s something that you find comfortable or not.

  52. Cyndi*

    Other Jewish people around here, how do you handle Christmas season at the office?

    I grew up in a “celebrates both Hannukah and Christmas” type family with a minimally observant Jewish mom and a WASP dad, in a very Christian town. But in the past several years I’ve felt less and less interested in celebrating another religion’s holiday just because it’s the default, and aside from a few aesthetic things I love about the Christmas season I pretty much only recognize it for my parents’ sake. A manager at an old job–who didn’t know I was Jewish–once organized Christmas decorations and then confided to me that “we’re not supposed to in case someone gets /offended/, heh heh,” which really didn’t help. My current team is mostly people who are low-key but still overtly Christian, and Christmas is a big deal here, with a cubicle decorating contest and of course a Secret Santa. So as a Jew I feel weird about the Secret Santa, but still participate every year because it’s the sociable thing to do and heck, I really would be sad to skip out on the gift exchange.

    The thing is, I can’t see a benefit to telling people that I’m Jewish and feel weird about the office Christmas spirit? I don’t think people would be hostile or anything but I don’t like the idea of all the Christmas things becoming identical “holiday” things that everyone will still just think of as Christmas, and I’m worried about creating an expectation for me to conspicuously celebrate Hannukah when I’m not even all that observant of my own faith. It seems like I’ll feel awkward and out of place either way. Should I keep quiet and go on rolling with it?

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I’m an active Christian, but hate some of things that you mentioned. We are a small division, and the first time we tried Secret Santa, it never got off the ground. (in fact, I am dreading next week, when our owners (new in the last year or so) are doing “Employee appreciation week.” It includes, I think giving folks pumpkin carving kits and judging on Friday.

      I would consider bowing out of what makes you uncomfortable and putting one or two specifically Jewish items as part of your office/cubical décor.

      1. Cyndi*

        I’ve thought about it a minute longer and realized the one thing I really want is not to get anything explicitly Christmas-y in the exchange–I lucked out last year and got an assortment of fancy snacks. When the woman organizing it passes out slips for us to write down what we like, I might just write a note at the bottom and leave it at that?

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          That sounds like a good plan!

          I’m Jewish and I have spoken up about some piece of this in every job I’ve ever had. I don’t want to spoil people’s fun. I also don’t want to be invisible for six weeks out of every year. Since I have also spoken up about other things like scheduling a mandatory offsite on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and having a candy-and-cookie filled Easter celebration in the middle of Passover, everyone knows I’m Jewish. And I’ve been clear about not observing Christmas in my home since some American Jews do.

          I don’t shut down office Christmas fun (except for the one time I confiscated the Christmas music CD on November 10th. TOO EARLY) and I usually try to add the festivities by bringing in something for Chanukah – chocolate gelt or sometimes homemade soufganiyot (Israeli jelly donuts that are the best thing ever). Sounds like you don’t want to be as public about it as I am, which I totally respect. I think putting on note on your Secret Santa slip is a good start.

          1. Cyndi*

            Yeah, I barely celebrate even at home so there really isn’t much to be public about! I just don’t love celebrating other people’s holiday because it’s the “default,” same way I don’t love people assuming I’m straight even though I’ve been single for [REDACTED]

        2. fhqwhgads*

          Some of the well-done office gift exchanges I’ve seen had slips with lists for 3 things you’d like and 3 things you absolutely do not. If they don’t already do that, maybe suggest it? It’d probably help everyone.
          That said, I usually do opt-out citing “not my holiday”.

    2. HannahS*

      Captain Awkward had a good exploration of this:
      https://captainawkward.com/2017/12/19/1064-christmas-help-for-a-non-christian/

      Also, grey-rocking is an option. “Blah blah blah Christmas spirit” You: “Well, I don’t celebrate Christmas, so I won’t participate.” “Oh, no it’s not CHRISTIAN it’s just FUN blah blah blah” You: “Well, I don’t celebrate Christmas, so I won’t participate.” If they keep going: “Listen, is it a problem for you that I don’t celebrate Christmas?” Or even just, “Ok.”

      Additionally: “Well, I don’t celebrate Christmas, so I’m probably not the right audience for this”
      Also yes, you’ll probably feel awkward and out of place. It’s a reflection on the other people who are…deliberately making you feel awkward and out of place. There isn’t a magic sentence that will MAKE people understand.

    3. fueled by coffee*

      The one thing I like about December is the proliferation of peppermint-flavored items. So I stock up on some peppermint bark and then spend six weeks politely smiling at other people’s Christmas spirit while gritting my teeth and waiting for January.

      I personally don’t introduce Chanukah items into office Christmas-themed events, because what I actually want is for people to observe their religions privately, not for people to assume that religious practices are okay in the office so long as there’s a nod made to the most visible of the non-Christian minority December holidays (said nod is also usually, like, a tray of generic cookies with blue frosting, because as we all know, blue is the color of Judaism). At least this year Christmas and Chanukah actually overlap?

      I realize I sound like a grinch about this, and I would absolutely never voice this to my coworkers, but sometimes I just want to go to work between Halloween and New Years without having to dedicate mental energy to buying secret santa gifts and finding an ugly sweater to wear to an office party and baking cookies for the cookie swap and explaining why I don’t want to hang a stocking with my name on it by the front desk. Especially when I’ve had difficulty arranging PTO for holidays I *actually* celebrate. Anyway, no real advice, just commiseration.

      1. Cyndi*

        Haha that’s me exactly, but about choral music, greenery, sparkly things and gingerbread. I LOVE gingerbread cake and even in December it’s harder to find than gingerbread cookies, which are also great but not my One True Cake Love. Usually I buy a few boxes of the Trader Joe’s cake mix and hoard them. Thank you for validating my lingering dregs of Christmas-ing!

        Also, I make it a general policy not to buy clothes for themed work things that I wouldn’t want in my wardrobe otherwise. No ugly sweaters for any holiday. No charity t-shirts, though I’ll happily donate a few bucks directly. That kind of thing.

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

        Your last paragraph is me. I have no bandwidth for Office Xmas, Office Holiday, Office Hanukkah, just… no. It is not energizing for me. Some people seem to get such a bang out of it, and my sincere wish is that they could just enjoy that together and leave the rest of us out of it.

        1. Cyndi*

          I don’t even have bandwidth for Office [Any Holiday I Actually Love]. The things that matter to me personally aren’t FOR you, office.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          Yeah. You wanna put out Name-Any-Holiday candy in the breakroom? Go nuts. I’ll eat some, probably. You want me to do any other office Name-Any-Holiday thing? No thank you please.

  53. Justme, The OG*

    What exactly is business formal for a woman who doesn’t wear dresses and doesn’t have any suit jackets? I’ve been trying to find jackets at resale places but the pickings in my size are nonexistent.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Banana Republic or Ann Taylor should have suiting options up to size 14 in store or 18 online (last I checked). Buy one matching suit for around $200 and another pair of pants for maybe $60 and you can mix them each in a couple times a week.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        It’s too close to the event to do anything online. The event is Monday and I was told of the dress requirements yesterday. I also don’t have $200 to spend on a suit I will wear once.

    2. Justme, The OG*

      Addendum: This is for a single event, not something I will wear every day. My job is business casual, emphasis on the casual.

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      I have had luck with amazon and walmart sweater blazers. They feel like sweaters (little more stretch) but look more like blazers. 10$ and still using it 6months later. Look for the collar style, get that more formal flipped. Honestly tho, some of my actual sweaters with the right shirt look pretty formal too – fitted rather than loose, vneck over a shirt with a collar for instance.

      Collared shirts (Button downs) with nice pants will always read more on the formal side too. Those are a lot easier to find. Long sleeves reads more formal than short sleeves too.

      Solids or tiny patterns read more formal than large patterns.

      The right jewelry can also upscale from casual to formal. If you’ve got existing pieces that might be worth trying.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        I tried Walmart already, and nothing. Amazon won’t get here in time (already checked). I’m super busty and never wear a button front shirt because they do not fit well.

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          Oh I thought this was a general question not what to wear Monday morning. Then you’re SOL. Just apologize for being underdressed.

          1. Justme, The OG*

            Yeah it’s a specific event. I’m really peeved that they told us (it’s a scholarship luncheon) just a few days before the event what the dress code is. They said “dress for a job interview” and my last one was over Zoom but before COVID and I definitely wore a sweater and jeans. I got the job.

            1. PollyQ*

              Do you have khakis or cords? Those read a little more formal than jeans. Also, wearing dressy shoes and maybe a nice scarf will elevate that outfit.

                1. Minimal Pear*

                  Does “no dresses” extend to “no skirts”? I have somewhat similar dressing preferences to you and I rely heavily on calf-length skirts in my work wardrobe.

    4. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Do you have any nicer or more structured cardigans? I have a cardigan that is more similar in structure to a blazer than an oversized sweater, but without the stiffness. Depending on your role and how strict they’re adhering to a true definition of business formal, you may be able to get away with a blouse and slacks/skirt. I think button downs, pussy bows, and cardigan sets can all pass close enough to business formal if there’s no way to get a blazer.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        I have maybe one that has buttons on it. But no blouse to wear under it. I’ve also shopped for one of those and no luck. It’s also supposed to be 80 degrees that day so I want to minimize wearing sweaters.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Dang, because a turtleneck was going to be my suggestion – it’s definitely sweater weather here. Saw your comment below about not wearing skirts or dresses. When I was a size 26, my “business formal” outfit was a pair of wide-legged black pants and a tunic top. The pants had a certain “swish” to them that made them appear formal and the tunic was a deep burgundy. I bought them online, which I realize isn’t an option for you, and I’ve seen similar things at Catherine’s and Lane Bryant in the US. It still sucks to have to buy something for one event, but maybe you can get something that’s a little more usable than a suit.

          1. Not Today, Satan*

            Agree that a simple pair of black pants and shoes with at least a little bit of heel (even dressy boots?) combined with any simple tunic top — could also be black — will work. Add whatever accessories (scarf? Dangly earrings?) you feel comfortable in.

            1. Justme, The OG*

              I don’t wear heels either, even small ones. Literally every pair of shoes I own are flats.

          2. Justme, The OG*

            Our Lane Bryant closed earlier this year, so there’s none within an hour drive. I’ve never seen a Catherine’s locally.

            1. Loredena*

              TJ Max or Marshall’s? I’ve had reasonable luck with them. Or Kohl’s. Black khakis or leggings and a long tunic are my go to and I wear nothing but flats. I have a sparkly pair of FitFlops. Add jewelry and a nice scarf

        2. Esmeralda*

          If you are wearing a sweater or jacket you do not need long sleeves. You can wear a shell or a short sleeve top, even a sleeveless top. Get something with a round neck (not a v neck in other words, crew neck is ok if the fabric is fairly nice). If you’re busty then nothing clingy — honestly, I wear a tee type top in a solid color, heavy weight fabric. Target is your friend for this sort of thing. Then a cardigan as others have described in a neutral or coordinating color. Add a scarf — silky or cotton, not a wool/cold weather sort of thing. For instance, navy or black cardigan, red or warm rose colored or teal or turquoise, black or navy pants or skirt. Red cardigan, black or navy or cream colored top. GRey cardigan, almost any color top, black pants.

          Are you being interviewed? are you the interviewer? guest of honor? If you are just attending as one of the department to and are not “on”, then don’t worry as much.

    5. Hen in a Windstorm*

      I’ve worn a silky long-sleeved blouse and long black skirt. The fabric is what makes it more “formal”.

      1. Justme, The OG*

        I don’t own any skirts. I don’t wear skirts or dresses. My fancy clothes are a jumpsuit but it’s completely wring for this event.

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          Do you have any good dress slacks? Nice blouse + nice pair of pants might do the trick.

    6. Gracely*

      Nice pants and a nice, long sleeve top could work. Try TJMaxx or Ross if you haven’t had luck at resale places if you want to find a jacket/blazer.

    7. Not Today, Satan*

      Maybe we could be more helpful if we knew what pieces you already own that could make up a suitable ensemble… whether you’re open to running to a store over the weekend to add a specific item, or what…

      1. Justme, The OG*

        I have black dress pants and a bunch of t-shirts and sweaters (but too hot for sweaters). I don’t have much time to run to the store over the weekend, I tried last night and struck out.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Black pants and whatever your best-looking shirt is will be fine! I mean, it’s what you’ve got, so it’s going to have to be fine, right?

        2. Lyudie*

          Are any of your t-shirts solid colored? A solid t-shirt tucked into your dress pants with a bit of jewelry would work I think.

          1. JustaTech*

            Yes to the jewelry! Pearls if you have them, or something on the “classy not flashy” end of the spectrum.
            Polished hair and makeup (of whatever amount you wear).
            An evening handbag if you have one, or at least something that reads “fancy/business” rather than fabric.

      2. Westsidestory*

        Maybe just your regular pants and a new top that has some sparkle to it? If it’s a luncheon all they’ll be seeing is the top half of you, and when your standing the sparkly bits will draw the eye away from your workaday pants.

        1. Justme, The OG*

          I’m definitely not a sparkle person. I would feel really uncomfortable and that I was drawing too much attention to myself. I also looked for blouses yesterday and struck out.

          1. Esmeralda*

            Stop looking at blouses. Buttons, collars, patterns, etc etc. It will drive you bats if you don’t know what to look for, what looks good on you.

            Stick to a solid color pullover top, round neck, short sleeve or sleeveless if you have a cardigan. If you don’t have a cardigan or jacket, then choose a longsleeve pullover top and *for sure* wear a scarf or jewelry with it. I personally like a really big scarf, like a pashmina kind of thing. But that may be too dramatic for you to feel comfortable.

          2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            What I wear for “dressier than t-shirt” tops (which are definitely not fully formalwear), are the Kohl’s Croft and Barrow Essentials Crewneck shirts. They come in lots of prints and in plus sizes, they’re basically t-shirts with a nicer neckline, and they’re almost always on sale for less than $10/each. My local Kohl’s will generally have them available in plus sizes in-store, but I have no idea if you have a Kohl’s near you or what their selection is like at other stores. I look for busy prints so that if I spill coffee or food on myself it is less noticeable.

            For a really dressy event I’d pair one of those shirts with the one blazer I own, which I think I bought at JC Penney about 15-20 years ago and is black. That is not specifically helpful in your case, but may be a thing to consider picking up longer-term if your body tends to stay a consistent size. I picked mine on the basis of being black and machine-washable. If you can afford to buy a blazer and have a Kohl’s near you, it looks like Kohl’s also sells plus size blazers, although their in-store selection may be hit-or-miss.

          3. Imtheone*

            Black pants, a black t-shirt that’s more dressy, and a scarf or necklace. Shoes that are more muted. If it’s hot, few people will be in suits.

    8. SJ (they/them)*

      This sounds really difficult from your additional comments – I hope you find a solution but if you don’t, I want to say that it’s okay if you need to give up on finding something new and just do the best with what you have. You mentioned downthread you have black pants and t-shirts – if it comes down to the wire, pick the darkest color / plainest pattern t-shirt and just tell yourself you did your best with what you had available. It’s not your fault you didn’t get any notice for this — any awkwardness should live squarely with the event organizers who were so inconsiderate. Good luck.

    9. The New Wanderer*

      It’s obnoxious that they didn’t let you know this was going to be a dressier event than expected. They may want “business formal” but since it’s a luncheon rather than a dinner/evening event, I would not be surprised if at least some other people don’t wear blazers or suits, or don’t keep the jackets on if they do.

      Since you’re short on time and the temp is too warm for sweaters, I would wear the plainest, best-fitting t-shirt you have with the black pants and nice jewelry. If you do have time to hunt for a scarf with a similar color scheme as the t-shirt (or own one), there are guides online for how to wear scarves in various dressy ways. I know (as a formerly busty person) scarves are just bulk in the front, but it might elevate your outfit for this one occasion.

      1. WellRed*

        Yep. This sounds fine to me! I find it hard to believe a Monday daytime event is going to be all that dressy no matter what you’ve been told.

    10. Ms. Norbury*

      The easiest option is to wear your nicest top and pants (even if they’re pretty basic, better if they’re in non-stretch fabrics) and then put extra effort on shoes, accessories and grooming. Somewhat flashy accessories (like a tasteful statemente necklace or large-ish dangly earrings) can be borrowed or bought reasonably cheaply and can really make a difference in the overall effect. Put some extra effort in fixing your hair and, if you wear it, make-up, and you should be good to go.

    11. I edit everything*

      I had a surprise informational interview (same day notice), and I wore nice jeans, a black t-shirt, and a long, flowy, sheer shirt (technically a button-up dress, but I’ve always worn it as a topper because it would be too short as a dress), and boots, and that seemed to be nice enough. It looked put together and nice, but was just random stuff I already had.

      Old Navy is a pretty good source for larger sizes, loose fitting tops, and the like, if you have one close to you.

  54. cioè*

    Looking for training recs!

    My startup (healthcare) does a ton of scheduling patients by phone for exams. There’s a certain amount of quasi-cold calling involved (patients have been referred to us, but may not know who we are, and we reach out to them). Our staff are all remote, and we’re looking for good e-learning training materials to improve customer service. Any recommendations?

    I’d love anything that runs gamut from improving basic phone etiquette on up to including leadership tools for managers to help us get more patients in the door to get their exams completed.

  55. Work is not dumb*

    Do you know anyone who’ve been negatively conditioned by workplaces continuously? I’ve a friend from university who has a belief that workplaces are filled with dumb and unreasonable people. Here’s my story.

    In her 20s (when we met), she worked in entry-level jobs such as administrative or call centre type of positions. Several of the jobs only lasted for several months. At that time she was dating an engineer who told her that she does not need to have a career.

    He left her when she turned 30. She was devastated. (He moved to another country so there’s virtually no legal avenues for compensation.) She dated other people that did not work out. She applied for secretarial jobs and government jobs that she never heard back from. During the era, she vented how the employers showed no courtesy on getting back to her and tell her how to get the job. She told me how her call centre job was soul sucking and she eventually quit. She told me how her mom reiterated that the employers should bend over for her instead of she bends over to employers. She refused to work for low paying or entry level jobs.

    To further reinforce her belief, she found out that some folks from her high school who were not high archivers like her have stable jobs. She told me things such as, “She could not spell but she works for the library.” She also told me how “dumb people” advanced their careers by some dirty tactics.

    1. Ann Ominous*

      Are you looking to commiserate or for advice?

      Reading this made me realize how far away I’ve stepped from other people’s drama … I want no part of any of it. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

      Not my job to change people’s minds, and especially not those who don’t want to be changed.

      I have a much more peaceful life now.

      1. Work is not dumb*

        Thanks. This is the answer to “what should I do?”. It’s not my job to change other people’s mind.

        It’s better for me to step away from this person, but we were friends since university and it’s hard.

    2. Hen in a Windstorm*

      She’s telling herself stories to justify not being where she wants to be in life instead of doing something different to get where she wants to be. It’s self-defeating, but you probably can’t help her see that. (I don’t think it’s the workplaces that have conditioned her, it’s her response to the situations that is the problem.)

      You can try the classic “and what are you going to do about that?” or “hmm, that’s not my experience”, but she has to want to change.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Yep, this right here.

        I have a friend who pursued a very exciting dream career for years, realised it was very financially unstable unless you’re at the top, and decided she wasn’t going to spend more years trying to get there.

        She has job hopped in many different fields ever since. She has a short honeymoon period with every job, and then it becomes the worst thing to ever happen to her and she quits. Even with the job she has held down for a year, she was talking about leaving after month two. Sometimes she has legitimate concerns, other times she’s done at the first sign of disagreement with a boss or a coworker. She’ll decide that she’s right, and they’re wrong, and the relationship is ruined (I’ve seen her do this in her personal life too).

        She asks me for career and CV advice every time she decides to switch fields again. I’ve taken to directing her to AAM, because none of my personal experience of longer-term roles really speaks to her, and I don’t know any of the industries she’s interested in. I really feel for her, because it’s clear her first dream career is where her heart is and where she’d thrive, but it’s also clear she wants to settle down in a way that work wouldn’t allow. Accepting it is definitely what’s taking the biggest toll.

        1. Work is not dumb*

          Yes I got the same vibes here. I afraid to point her to AAM so that she has less stories to reinforce her “bad people at work” belief.

  56. Fork in the Road*

    Trying to decide between two potential job offers.
    I’m feeling pretty DONE at my current job – toxic positivity in management (with no actual actions) and high turnover (think over 50% of the staff in our department resigning in the past 12 months). I’ve been here 6.5 years and been promoted 3 times.
    By absolute chance, a position on another team opened up – this team is known for doing great work, having achievable KPIs, and I know people in that department who have happily been in their roles for 5+ years. I interviewed and got the job offer with a modest raise. It’s different than the work I’ve been doing, but looks really interesting. I have until the end of week to give them my answer.
    AND
    I’ve also been interviewing externally and will likely get a job offer from a brand new company early next week. This would be for a lot more money (40% raise), doing the work similar to what I’m already doing. It’s new problems and a new company.

    I… cannot decide which one to take. I’ve never been in this position before with two offers and I’m terrified about making the wrong choice. It’s such a privileged position to be in, which is why I feel guilty asking my network for help.
    On one hand, I like the predictable, stable nature of my existing company… but I’m also kind of done with all the internal politics. I like the idea of significantly more money (obviously)… but am scared I’ll be jumping into a place with 10+ hour workdays.

    Thoughts???

    1. Starchy*

      Is the external company a start up? If so keep in mind a lot of start ups fail and with the economy doing what is doing, now might not be a good time to join one. If work life balance is a priority then I would stick to my current company. Did the external company indicate there would be a lot of hours or is that your assumption? Maybe it’s something you can follow up about.
      As for internal politics, not sure that is avoidable anywhere lol. If you are unhappy with your current manager, but happy with the company as a whole then I would consider staying. If you are unhappy with your company then I would consider leaving because a new department won’t change that.
      When I have these kinds of choices I usually follow my gut feeling. Look at it this way, if you end up not liking the choice you made you can always start looking for another job.

      1. Fork in the Road*

        That makes sense. It’s not a startup but IS in high growth phase… which usually does lead to layoffs 1-2 years down the line if the company doesn’t meet their own expectations. I’m in an industry that was medium impacted by COVID; a few rounds of layoffs but not as much as the travel/hospitality industry.

        I’m going to do some thinking on whether I’m unhappy with the company direction or just my department direction… and put more effort into figuring out what my gut wants. Thanks!

    2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Is there a reason other than salary increase that leads you to believe you’ll be working significantly more? I recently took a job that was a 60% increase and I had simple fears, but that wasn’t the case. I had to take the job even it meant me working more (and there may be times I have to) because my spouse is now disabled and I needed to bridge the income gap. But thankfully the large pay increase didn’t mean a large workload. I was just really underpaid before and move to an industry the generally has higher pay.

      I’d take the higher paying job, unless something during the interview process leads you to believe you’ll be working a lot.

      1. Fork in the Road*

        Mostly looking at Glassdoor! My current company is known in the industry for having lower salaries but a great work/life balance. But it also varies by department – mine just happens to have better hours (8-4, with one Friday off a month that doesn’t eat into PTO).
        The new company is in the growth phase, not exactly startup, but trying to scale quickly and their Glassdoor reviews talk a lot about bad work/life balance. But then again, it’s a new team in that company, so there might be more flexibility in the set hours.

        Thanks for your perspective – great to know you took a higher paying job and it didn’t end up requiring significantly more hours!!

        1. Rose*

          Honestly I think you have to figure out what you prioritize more. If the consistent theme of the Glassdoor reviews is bad work/life balance, there is a decent chance that it is indeed true. Sure it may not be true across all departments/roles – but if avoiding bad work/life balance is super important, might not want to take the risk. Conversely, if the salary bump is most important and you are OK if it means working more, then might be worth the risk. I am currently in a role with very good W/L balance and a lot of flexibility – so it would take a TON of money to get me to move, because at this point in my life that is more important than more money.

    3. MJ*

      Something I’ve seen suggested (here? Captain Awkward?):
      Make a decision. Pick one of the jobs. (Not actually accepting the offer, just in your own mind.)

      Then see how you feel about it. Are you excited about the possibilities? Do you wish you had picked the other one? Are you suddenly overwhelmed by the cons?

  57. ACG*

    How do you go about equating retail experience to an office environment during the interview process? I worked retail for 14 years and while *I* know I can translate that customer service experience if I’m hired, my last interview left me flustered as I tried to adequately put into words why I’d be a good fit (though, fwiw that interview had a bunch of red flags so I dodged a bullet).

    1. ferrina*

      Part of it is that you need an interviewer that understands the value of retail experience. Some of the key skills:
      -Cool under pressure (including time pressure, limited supplies, and of course, high stress situations)
      -Able to work and collaborate with all personalities
      -Conflict resolution skills
      -Understanding client needs (even when they don’t know what they need) then guiding them to what they need
      -Communicating with folks that don’t have background knowledge (if you worked in a specialty store where you are providing advice or info on how the products are used).

      Also knowing that these are raw skills that you’ll be applying in a new way, so talk about how you are able to quickly adapt to new environments and how you’re looking forward to using your skills in a new way

    2. Adrian*

      If you’re talking about a specific office duty, maybe you could relate a similar retail task you’ve done to it.

      This was long ago, but I heard of a restaurant server who became a department store buyer. At the restaurant the server had come up with a system for reviewing meal checks, to identify which items sold best and at what times of the day. The boss also wrote an enthusiastic letter of reference.

  58. sc.wi*

    I’d love any good scripts to use when explaining to coworkers that I’m now in charge/taking over parts of their work.

    Long story short: my position was created as part of a restructuring. While the majority of staff are thrilled that I’m managing part of their workload, a few offices are still holding out, trying to continue performing work that is now mine. I’ve worked closely with my (wonderful) manager and HR on this; they were clear from the beginning that some staff were upset with the changes, and we’ve been coddling them for the last 3 months.
    The most concerning office has made a LOT of progress after seeing my work, but they still have an attitude that they will always know better than me (for the record, I’ve had 3 separate staff tell me that they’re very happy I’m involved with this office, due to past experiences with them). Now, though, my manager wants me to be more firm in explaining that I am not just supporting this aspect of their work, I am managing it completely. Like I mentioned, they’ve made a lot of progress, but I am still anticipating friction. One (very gossipy) staff member thinks she is fantastic at what I do, while HR and my manager have explicitly told me that her skills are quite… lackluster.

    Any advice/scripts on how to approach this?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Why isn’t this management’s job? They should have laid out the new structure, and should be actively addressing the people who aren’t adhering to it. If they are avoiding the problem, it’s going to be really hard for you to fix it.

    2. Hannahnannah*

      I agree with AB’s Evil Twin here. This is something that Management should communicate to all of the offices/departments that are affected by this change. That way, it doesn’t look like you are barging in on the other offices’ work.

      Management’s communication needs to be clear, and should reflect these sorts of ideas:
      – sc.wi’s role has changed and they are now responsible for XYZ work in ABC offices.
      – Any open projects in this category need to be transferred to sc.wi by ___ date.
      – Forward all new requests for this kind of project to sc.wi directly.

      Best wishes as you get this sorted out!

  59. Coach Leonore*

    What’s the best way to open a “Boundaries and Behaviors” discussion with someone I promoted above me on purpose? Note: I’m female and he’s male, and this may have subconscious bearing on the issue, although he is supportive of women’s rights.

    Long story short: 1) I was a head sports coach at a high school for years (boys and girls), 2) the last few years I had an assistant coach with great complementary skills, 3) but now I’m changing careers, 4) so I suggested they hire him as head coach and I assist for a few hours per week to get him off the ground.

    And now he’s alienating people, and it’s problematic. He is extremely anxious about being a big success because he’s been struggling career-wise and is behind for his age, and it shows. He’s trying to be the big boss-man. He’s even pulled rank with me and scolded me in practice for not doing things his way. I warned him about it, but aside from condescending to me, it sets a bad example for the kids.

    This all came to a head this week when our long-time equipment supplier absolutely refused to have anything further to do with him. Either I pick up the gear myself (enabling), or I don’t pick it up and the kids have no gear for the competition this weekend and he blames the supplier (ugh).

    He’s being insecure, arrogant, and defensive. What’s my most effective approach?

    1. ferrina*

      It sounds like you knew him before he was hired? Is that right? If so, could you take him out to coffee and ask him what’s up? Then listen to his response (I’ve had someone literally talk themselves to the right answer while I just nodded). Explain that he’s alientating people, and you’re confused because that’s not who he is and not why you recommended him. It’s not about telling him what not to do, it’s about refocusing him on what to do.

    2. Hydrangea*

      The person above him needs to address the larger pattern. Is that the principal? Have you been having conversations about the larger pattern?

      In the short term, you, Big Boss, and Coach should have a quick sit down, explain that he has alienated the supplier, and that you will all be working on that over time, but for today, you and Coach will go together to pick up the equipment and do whatever it takes to start mending the relationship.

      1. Coach Leonore*

        Ah-ha. This is super helpful. As a coach I should always be aware of the “positive action” approach but sometimes it’s hard to remember when dealing with other coaches. I particularly like your soft-open approach and the listening advice. Because we coaches give a lot of “drop and give me twenty” orders, we can get into an authoritarian pattern. In fact, I think that’s what I may tell him. Hey! Did you just listen and I talk myself into the right answer? It worked! :-)

        1. Coach Leonore*

          So the above was my reply to ferrina, but my reply to you, Hydrangea, is thank you. I will involve the principal next if my boundaries discussion doesn’t work. The supplier issue will require me to help mend fences for a bit, but hopefully I can help restore trust so they can work with each other.

          1. Hydrangea*

            lol, yeah, it seemed like.

            I think a combination of ferrina’s response and my response will work well. ferrina’s approach would be good for the long term conversations you need to have with Coach and Big Boss. I think you should be involving Big Boss sooner rather than later, even if it’s only keeping them appraised. I actually think they should already have been informed.

            Short term, though, you might want to go with drop and give me twenty to explain why both of you are going to visit the supplier to pick up the equipment. Maybe on the drive over you can have a coffee talk conversation about what’s going on.

    3. Fabulous*

      Gosh, I would have to give him a hard reality check or Come to Jesus talk, like now. You recommended that he be promoted in your place and you did that as a FAVOR as he demonstrated promise in his assistant position. Since then, not only has he demonstrated that he was not equipped to handle the “power” of the position, he has done this in front of the children, effectively undermining your entire decision to promote him. Let him know that you WILL be talking to the higher ups and providing your recommendations for his removal if he does not clean up his behavior and issue some apologies to both yourself AND the children. Holy moly, this man…

  60. The Prettiest Curse*

    Since it’s been a dramatic week here in the UK, I thought it might be fun to have a lighter discussion. So, what are your favourite songs about work or topics related to work?

    Some that come to mind for me are One Piece at a Time by Johnny Cash (car plant worker steals parts to build his own car; it doesn’t quite work out), 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton (of course) and I Committed Murder by Macy Gray (woman kills her boyfriend’s boss for not paying him.)

    1. rage criers unite*

      It’s 5 o’Clock Somewhere is a great one about leaving work to drink margaritas at lunch and then never coming back – so thats fun.

      There’s a Shania Twain song about having a hard day at work and all the things that happen that is cute too

      1. Hen in a Windstorm*

        Five O’Clock World by the Vogues (really old) is a nice 60s pop song about how great the world is when you leave work for the day.

        Also, lately, 16 Tons, but that’s real grim.

        1. Moonlight Elantra*

          I LOVE that song and I used to sing it in the car on the way home from work on Friday afternoons.

          1. JustaTech*

            I have been known to hum 16 Tons when I felt upper management was being unreasonable. “Brother Can You Spare a Dime” as well.

    2. ferrina*

      Mission Statement by Weird Al.
      It was a terrifying day when I realized that I was able to follow the whole thing.

      1. JustaTech*

        Yes! I showed that video to my dad the former management consultant/ business professor and it was hilarious!

    3. Polly Hedron*

      “Take This Job and Shove It”, written by David Allan Coe in 1977. Johnny Paycheck’s version became the number 1 country music song.
      The song inspired a 1981 movie of the same name.

      1. Polly Hedron*

        As balance, here’s an even older one, from Mary Poppins, 1964, describing the opposite attitude:

        A Spoonful of Sugar
        In every job that must be done
        There is an element of fun
        You find the fun and snap!
        The job’s a game
        And every task you undertake
        Becomes a piece of cake
        A lark! A spree! It’s very clear to see that
        A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down ….

    4. Westsidestory*

      I was think about my experience in book publishing to answer another query here….so naturally my mind went to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” This was a favorite in our peer karaoke group but certainly industry specific!

      Thanks for the smile, and for bringing up good memories.

      1. JustaTech*

        There was a wonderful parody of this song called “Bad Project” about a grad student and the terrible research project she’d been given. It’s very life-sciences specific, but was very well done (lyrics, dancing, costumes, everything).

    5. Irish Teacher*

      Do union ballads count? If so, I have a string of them: “Tramworkers of this Town,” “Ballad of Jim Larkin,” “The Citizen Army is Out Today,” “Joe Hill.”

      Apart from union songs, there is “Ordinary Man,” about a guy whose company shuts down and leaves him unemployed. “The Ferryman” has a similar theme.

    6. KX*

      “You Are Boring the Shit Out of Me” by Hanslick Rebellion

      And two by Jonathan Coulton: “Re: Your Brains” and “Code Monkey”

    7. WellRed*

      This isn’t quite what you asked but there’s a novelty song called Eff you til Monday that I think y’all will appreciate. It’s on YouTube.

    8. JustaTech*

      There was a radio station in Boston that had a running thing where at 5 pm on Fridays they’d play “Bang the Drum All Day” (lyrics: I don’t want to work I just want to bang on the drum all day) and people would call in to “air drum” (basically saying “bang bang bang”) to this song.

      Very silly and very funny and clearly quite cathartic.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      “Teenagers” by My Chemical Romance – A friend made a mix CD for our grad school cohort (middle school teachers) and it cracked me up that they included this one.

      Probably not great for your light-hearted thread but I love “Millworker” by James Taylor. Giant bummer, beautiful song.

    10. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      When I’m frustrated by work I love The Struts – Could Have Been Me

      Just a great sing along shouter.

      Also, Head Like A Hole by NIN
      Yes, I go dark!

  61. DEIJ-aybe*

    Yesterday’s discussion about health insurance being or not being standard in the US reminded me of a debate we’ve been having in my org and I’d like to get some insight from the commentariat. Like many environmental nonprofits, we’re mostly-white (and mostly female FWIW) and we get a lot of totally appropriate pushback from funders for not having more BIPOC staff, especially when we’re trying to work in communities of color. The problem is: our organizational capacity is a mess, and I honestly feel it’s a bit exploitative to try to be hiring community members when we don’t pay a living wage or offer benefits. These people should not have to be impovershed to work for us. And neither should we, our own staff, but of course there’s a lot of privilege in the nonprofit sector so our employees are often retirees who come back “part time” (FT but no benefits) or people with wealthy, insured spouses. How can we invite more BIPOC into our space when our space is a mess?

    1. DEIJ-aybe*

      More context because I don’t want to be conflating “BIPOC” with “low income” – in this case, our project is about drinking water in an old rustbelt city with a minority-majority population, and specifically we are working in underserved neighborhoods – the rightful criticism is that our staff are not from that community specifically.

    2. ferrina*

      Pay real wages. Sorry, but that’s what it will take. I know a lot of non-profits are struggling with this, but it’s inherently disingenuous to say “We want to have your voice and respect you! And pay you less than you are worth!”

    3. Raw Flour*

      You said it yourself: it’s exploitative to be hiring community members when you don’t pay a living wage or offer benefits. I really think that fixing this is the only possible solution.

    4. Ez*

      In the long term, you have to clean up the mess. In the meantime, make sure you’re hiring practices are equitable. It doesn’t sound like your company would be very attractive to the community, but the community should not feel *excluded*.

    5. Temperance*

      Do you require education or specialized training do work there? I’m wondering if a scholarship would suffice.

  62. Worst Boss Ever?*

    I think I inadvertently made my employee cry during our 1:1 while I was delivering feedback and I feel like a monster.

    I have an employee who has been struggling with project team integration – there are a lot of things going on with that project team that are absolutely not this person’s “fault” per se, but there are things that they are doing that are making things worse – one of which is disengaging with the team when disagreed with (to keep it short). During the 1:1 we had a few difficult conversations about role & responsibilities on the team to ensure we were in alignment, then I shared about the disengagement and how that means the team does not benefit from this person’s view point and makes it challenging for work to continue – asked in their view how we could have more productive conversations where folks may have differing view points. Maybe I pushed too hard… I tried to keep it positive, but they admitted they didn’t feel valued often and I could tell from there they were very upset and wanted to get off the phone.

    A few notes: I work entirely remotely, so does this individual – we have never met in person. I have been their direct manager since earlier this year. This issue has been ongoing for several months and I already know I messed up not bringing it up sooner; I’m a new(er) leader and my personal growth area is that I am trying to improve my ability to give feedback that isn’t “soft.”

    What do I do? Do I follow up with an email/note like “hey, I recognize things got emotional, I want to apologize for putting you in a situation that may have been uncomfortable, and I want you to know I’m here to help support you”? Is that worse? Do I give them time alone to process? Help! :(

    1. Hydrangea*

      Give them some time and schedule a follow up conversation that is focused on what you will both do differently during team interactions going forward. People have emotional reactions sometimes, and you have to be able to give them some amount of space to have them. If they’ve been feeling unvalued on the team, then it is reasonable for them to have an emotional reaction. Feeling unvalued is a predictor of burn out. You need to manage the team interactions in a way that allows space for everyone to feel valued.

      1. Worst Boss Ever?*

        Thank you for your thoughts! That’s my hope as well, I feel absolutely awful that anyone is feeling this way and I want to fix this.

    2. New Mom*

      Maybe unpopular opinion, but I don’t think you should apologize. Some people are really bad at taking feedback and that’s a problem that they need to work on. It shouldn’t create an environment where no one can disagree with them and their boss cannot pass on important information about how they can improve their job. It’s super awkward when someone gets emotional at work, but don’t let that manipulate you into feeling like you need to hold back being a manager.
      From what you wrote, it doesn’t sound like you were unnecessarily cruel. You were relaying an issue that you, as a manager, as seeing in the team dynamic. And honestly, their reaction to you just solidifies what you said. If they disengage or get upset to the point of needing to end a conversation when they are not agreed with, that is something that they absolutely need to work on in a professional environment.
      I’ve had to manage interns and green employees the past few summers, and it’s been hard because a lot of them don’t handle feedback well and it makes the conversations awkward for everyone.

      1. ferrina*

        Agree with New Mom. You should not apologize.

        It sounds like you didn’t do anything wrong, handled a difficult subject as well as possible, and the employee cried because, well, it was a difficult conversation and sometimes people cry in difficult conversations. That’s not bad or means that you messed up by having the conversation- it just means that conversation was difficult. If you apologize, it will sound like you erred in having the conversation (which is not the case at all!) or it will reopen a conversation that the employee may just want to have done with.

        Give the person some space to think about the feedback and process it. Watch them for a couple weeks and see if they change their behavior. If they do change, pull them aside and praise them (which may be awkward too, but it’s still good to recognize that they listened and responded to the feedback).

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Agreed! Earlier in my life/career I had several episodes of what I call the doldrums — not Depression, but not great either. Anyway, it makes me worse at my job and I know it, so more than once when a boss told me I wasn’t doing great, I just lost it. Which was a nightmare all the way around! I’m so glad no one ever apologized for it!

    3. Texan In Exile*

      I went to a training where I played the employee and a co-worker was the boss giving (even, objective, actionable) feedback.

      I turned on the tears to see if I could rattle him but he just kept going. He didn’t even flinch. I was really impressed.

    4. Nesprin*

      If someone starts crying, stop the meeting+ reschedule.
      Once the tears start, there’s little chance they’re still receptive.

  63. Starchy*

    I have the opportunity to be on a committee dedicated to improving our workplace culture. From what I have seen so far they have taken prior committees recommendations and implemented them. There has been a big push to improve communication, transparency and collaboration. They already do remote work with lots of flexibility, gift cards, stipends etc. Any ideas on how we could make a good company really great?

    1. New Mom*

      Does your company offer anonymous employee satisfaction surveys? Ours does that and then we get a clearer look into what people value and/or dislike about the org.

    2. Eldritch Office Worker*

      You gotta ask people. This is going to be different by company, area, industry, employee group. Ask them what they need or want.

      Also don’t go into it assuming things are all good. Fixing the bad is always a bigger improvement than adding new good things, and you don’t know that your experience is universal. Be open to hearing negative feedback.

      1. ferrina*

        Yep. Eldritch Office Worker is 100% right- you need to talk to people.

        First, see what your baseline is. Are people generally happy? Unhappy? Want to be happy but are secretly on edge and not really sure why?

        Then listen to their feedback and experiences. Really listen. Some of what they say may surprise you (some may not). Let the conversation go where it’s going to go. It may do that you are doing great, and people don’t really need more. It may be that there are serious underlying conditions that need to be addressed. Only way to know is to listen.

    3. ErinB*

      I was on a similar committee at my workplace. I’m not sure how big your organization is, but something that has worked well at our firm is allowing smaller teams/departments to implement initiatives or plan collaboration/social events specific to that team/department.

      For example, rather than trying to plan bagels for the entire firm once a month, the X Department plans (and expenses) their own breakfast every third Thursday. This way the teams are able to ask for (and have!) things that are useful and logistically feasible for just those employees.

      This worked for a variety of reasons – one of which is that people felt genuinely heard and respected (“this thing is helping my team on a daily basis” as opposed to “what we really need is more support staff and instead I’ve been given a plush desk toy and a free coffee”) and also it was SO much easier to allot funding for smaller, discrete initiatives than to roll something out across the entire board.

  64. New Mom*

    I work in a niche field and I am one of two people that do my specific role at an organization with 400+ people. There is a membership organization that people in my specific line of work can join that was such a game changer. I didn’t know about the membership organization for the first 18 months in the role, and really struggled when new state/federal policies came through that impacted my work (this is common) or I had a question that the one other person at my organization didn’t know the answer to.
    After I found this membership organization, I’ve learned so much, the members are so eager to help others, it’s a great community and I’ve gained great professional development. I meet a lot of people like me, who are the sole niche person at their organization and I always recommend this membership organization. I’ve given the org shout-outs in Op-Eds that I’ve written and even on a podcast I was interviewed for. Now here’s my question:
    I was not an employee for this organization so I never felt conflicted about recommending them to others, I was just a happy customer sharing a great org. Well, they have now hired me to do a very, very part-time role which is exciting but… I still want to recommend this org to people because it is seriously so helpful, but I can no longer say, “I don’t work for them, they are just the best and you should join!” How should I phrase it going forward? I think for anyone in my type of role, whose company is willing to pay the membership fee, would greatly benefit from joining. We’re in a field where mistakes can have high consequences as it involves money for vulnerable people, so having a network to help is essential.

    1. Raw Flour*

      “Full disclosure, I do occasional part-time work for this organization as of [month], but I have had a positive relationship with them for years. I highly recommend joining!”

    2. MJ*

      “I think (company) is great and have been recommending them since (whenever you found out about them). I recently got the opportunity to do some part time work with them (which has only improved my view of them).”

  65. PTO policy*

    Curious to hear everyone’s opinion on this PTO policy at my company:

    We accrue 14 hours per month, starting 2 weeks after our start date. If time off is needed before the PTO is accrued, we can “borrow” it and can go into the negative up to 40 hours. And it can be taken in 1-hour increments. This includes sick time and personal time. The only separate “bank” is bereavement. (This is not the full list – there may be other things that I’m not sure are relevant but ofr sake of keeping this concise).

    At my last job, you began to accrue 3 hours every two weeks and could only take it in 4 or 8 hour increments (aka half day or full day). So 1 full day = took weeks to accrue. And the accrual began after 90 days of employment. At one point, everything was in one bank, but eventually they switched payroll systems and began to separate out sick vs PTO/vacation vs bereavement. Everyone also got bonus time off in addition to pay raises. If you exhausted all your PTO, you would get paid less for that period.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’m not sure what you’re asking – do you think it’s good? bad? 21 days per year (which is what 14 hrs/month works out to) is pretty good – that’s 4 weeks. People have mixed feelings on separating sick time from PTO, though.

      Personally, my current company doesn’t formally track sick time and we have enough flexibility to take an hour or two here and there without using PTO. But I don’t think that’s a BAD way to go, necessarily.

      1. PTO policy*

        Just ppls opinions on it and what the norm is I guess?

        I think 14 hours per month is pretty good but now I’m not so sure about how it’s all one bank.

    2. Maggie*

      The new ones seems good/generous to me? It’s essentially a full month of PTO per year and they allow you to go negative if you need it. It’s better than anything I’ve ever had. I accrue about 9 hours per month or something, I get 15 days a year

    3. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Not an answer, but what awesome amount of PTO. I’ve never heard of a company that has 4 weeks PTO to start.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        It includes sick though. I’ve had many jobs that started with 2 weeks vacation and 2 weeks sick per year. That’s equivalent.

        1. River Home*

          Maybe. It depends on whether you can use the sick time for vacation, and whether any of the time rolls over.

      2. Elle Woods*

        A company I’m interviewing with right now gives you 20 days of PTO for years 0-4 and you can purchase an additional six days if you wish. They also have seven set holidays and two “personal choice” holidays for all employees. Very generous.

    4. Hydrangea*

      That’s more PTO than I have ever had, and I’ve had comparatively good PTO banks.

      What’s your option on it?

    5. Lucy P*

      I get 10 days per year and that’s combined sick leave and personal. You can accumulate up to 20 days before it gets taken away. We’re allowed to go up to 2 days in the hole depending on circumstances. The last part is unwritten

  66. Junior Dev*

    Tips for redirecting a ranting boss back on topic? Whatever piece of functionality we are discussing on the website, he will get on a tangent about how angry he is that the website is slow, the page size is too big, etc. he’s really dramatic and rude about it, saying stuff like “this offends me to the core of my being” about the user experience being bad.

    It’s gotten to the point where I spend every meeting with him on edge and can’t concentrate on the substance of what he’s saying, which is often important for technical implementation. I have one friend on my team who will probably work with me to mitigate this if I ask.

    Sometimes it’s officially scheduled meetings where someone can write an agenda, sometimes it’s an impromptu call or conference call. All of this is taking place on Microsoft Teams.

    The site being slow is a real issue but the causes aren’t necessarily what he thinks they are; various teams are putting in efforts to holistically improve their own section of the site. Some of the ideas he thinks will fix things are ideas that have been tried and have made things worse, but it’s hard to say that when this commentary is happening as a derailment from some other important topic.

    (“Just quit” is not useful advice for reasons I don’t want to spend time justifying. I really need practical tips for getting things back on track, for at least the next few months.)

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      “I know, it’s frustrating, let’s get back to – ”

      I do this constantly with my bosses

      1. Junior Dev*

        This is great phrasing! It’s intimidating because he gets so bombastic but if my coworker and I can cut him off early on it could probably help.

        1. Eldritch Office Worker*

          It’s less intimidating once you do it a couple times. Cut him off early, sound politely bored (not dismissive, just a ‘yes, I agree, next item’ tone), and do it repeatedly – most likely the frequency of his rants will go down and he consciously or unconsciously realizes you’re doing it. He probably doesn’t mean to derail, bombastic people just get bombastic.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Has he really looked at the $ of this?

      A lot of the time, the easiest and most straightforward way to fix web system performance is to throw hardware at it. Hardware is cheap, labor is expensive. (I know about the various edge cases that make hardware scaling not practical, but those are truly edge cases and I’m assuming that your problem is not one of them).

      The cost of a 10-person meeting for 2 hours a week is probably $100k/year in labor. You can get some really beefy AWS servers for that, and save your labor for more important things.

      1. Junior Dev*

        A lot of the concern about slowness involves users being on old computers and slow connections so that only helps so much.

        More to the point though, if we’re going to address this problem it has to be through an overall process that’s well planned and supported through data. I don’t want to be the one to take that on. I’m a contractor and I don’t want to get overly invested in this company, or take on projects outside my own team. I’m sure there are many ways we could handle this more effectively as a company but I don’t want to focus on that, I want to get meetings back on track.

        Maybe there’s a fundamental disconnect here. I don’t like or respect him enough to want to address this problem as a whole. I’ve tried to suggest solutions before and he’s shut me down and lectured me about how (his incorrect understanding of) my proposed solution won’t work. I just want him to stop ranting about it when I’m trying to figure out some other piece of info.

        I didn’t go into this in the original comment but I’ve got 4 months left on my contract and probably won’t renew, and this guy is 90% of the reason. So I’m really only trying to make the next 4 months tolerable for me.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          Ah. Yeah if he’s that way then there’s not much you can do by appeal to logic.

          The only other advice I can give is my standby about using your inner David Attenborough voice. Put yourself at a mental distance and pretend you’re a biologist or anthrologist – “Here we see the incompetent IT manager in his native habitat. His loud wailing is a way to distract the predators in upper management before they can strike at his annual budget.”

    3. Banana*

      How are you documenting the defects he’s talking about and your efforts to mitigate them?

      In the meetings I participate in like this, we work on written documentation of next steps, decisions, etc as we go. Having people work with you on how to word their observations in writing helps head off some of the really flowery postulating. “This offends you to the core of your being…so I think you’re saying it’s a level 1 criticality? Is that right? Does this have to be fixed before deployment then?” Having a concrete list of defects to get through but focusing on one at a time helps keep the conversation structured. And the documentation covers root causes and previous fix attempts, so there is no speculation on the cause and no revisiting old fixes, because those things are there in black and white. We have clearly defined standards for what terms mean (For example, Criticality 1 has a specific definition, the problem has to meet criteria for impact for us to use that status, and there’s standard priorities and communication protocols connected to it.)

      If we didn’t already have that in place, I’d start by creating a template, either in a shared One Note file or Excel, and put all your known defects in there, and start collecting the documentation and using it as the structure for discussions going forward.

  67. janitorx*

    A week ago I posted about a problem employee who has been failing on the job for over two years, and there has been continual resistance from this person to receive feedback and improve. This person is basically a lifer who has been passed around through the organization because it wasn’t the “right fit”. This person knew that we were going to deliver their evaluation this month and the latest is that this person has been approved for FMLA leave for up to a year. This prevents me from delivering the evaluation and PIP, and holds up business operations in my division. I cannot help but think that this is a swerve to forestall the inevitable. People like this ruin FMLA for everyone. I’m so disgusted.

    1. Chestnut Mare*

      This situation can’t “ruin” FMLA. FMLA is the law. It allows an employee to take up to 12 weeks per calendar year in order to care for their own or an eligible family member’s medical care. If your company is allowing them to take more time that 12 weeks, that’s a voluntary choice. For whatever reason, your company is choosing to keep this person on board.

      1. janitorx*

        My organization is not choosing to keep this person on board–the university does not want to be sued. I forgot to mention that this person knows that I have a parent in hospice and that if I have to be gone, then the division will have serious problems. This was carefully orchestrated and was clearly a stall tactic to delay the PIP. It was intentional and I have no recourse. Yes, this person is ruining it for other people in my organization in the sense that even though it is the law, no one would take it seriously. This happened where I worked before–one person abused FMLA leave, and others with legitimate needs and out on FMLA still had to field work. It erodes trust.

        1. ferrina*

          It’s an awful situation, but saying that one person is “ruining” FMLA is giving that person way too much power. One bad actor doesn’t ruin an overall positive policy. It’s not one person abusing the system- it’s also about how others react to that person. When others have a knee-jerk reaction (stressful situations don’t bring out the best in any of us), it makes others sca