open thread – December 16-17, 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.

{ 956 comments… read them below }

  1. MostlyTired*

    Just complaining for a second. My company has a combined PTO bank for sick/personal/vacation time. We also have a use it or lose it by the end of the calendar year policy. Every December this place is a ghost town because everyone saves a few days all year just in case of emergency/illness. Every year the C-suite complains about the lack of people at the end of the year and wonders why no one is willing to just lose their PTO. It’s madness.

    1. Nonprofit Blues*

      Ugh my office has this same policy, and it’s stupid. There’s no reason to have use-it-or-lose-it leave when you’re also not generous with the leave you offer; it just makes people feel pinched and defensive. Also, my office is closed the week before Christmas and New Years so all that lose-it-leave has to be used in the first part of December, know the end of the month isn’t going to be productive either.

      1. Spencer Hastings*

        We aren’t closed those weeks (except for the actual federal holidays), but we have to request time for the weeks of Christmas, New Year’s, and Thanksgiving by sometime in August so that management can coordinate the approval process for everyone’s time. Which is a pretty good system (since it avoids many of the failure modes seen in AAM letters), except that it leads to a similar kind of problem, where we’re like “OK, today is December 1 and I have two days left to use — what would be some good days to take off that aren’t (1) going to interfere with specific work I have going on, or (2) during a week that I would have had to request off several months ago?” Pretty frustrating, though of course it could be worse.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        My office has the opposite policy, to the point that I had to make a spreadsheet to figure out which PTO bank to use when I take a day off. We have sick leave, COVID sick leave, floating holidays, ‘wellness’ days, vacation and a sabbatical bank. (No, we don’t actually have sabbaticals, I don’t know why they call it that.) Each has a different hourly cap and expiration date.

        Just finding out how many hours you have in each category and when they expire requires logging into the payroll system and generating a PDF of the most recent pay stub. To make things extra complicated, your long-term disability insurance becomes more expensive if you use too many days of sick leave (but the COVID sick leave doesn’t affect it).

        When I first started, you also had to fill out a request form every December asking payroll to move the about-to-expire vacation hours into the non-expiring sabbatical bank; fortunately they decided to automate that.

      3. Chirpy*

        Same, we have a use it or lose it policy, except it resets on your start anniversary. But we only get 2 weeks, no sick leave, and no vacations allowed for most of mid October through mid January (retail, and we do inventory in January)

    2. ThatGirl*

      So dumb. My company is also a ghost town the last two weeks of the year because people are using up PTO and you know what? It’s fine!

      I did like my previous job’s policy where you could roll over up to 5 days to use in Q1 of the next year; I usually saved one or two to use in the depths of January or February.

    3. Dino*

      I wonder if they’d be open to letting 1-2 days roll over for the first 90 days of the next year, just to offset that. Seems like an easy solution.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        Or if you don’t want people to use it and they don’t want to lose it, buy the PTO that wouldn’t be used back.

        1. rayray*

          I worked at a place where you could get paid out on sick time since it wouldn’t roll over to the next year. It’s a good system!

          1. Elevated Learning*

            I like this on principle but I really really hate it in reality. I’ve experienced people coming in to work clearly horribly ill but refusing to leave because it would “cost” them a day’s sick leave payout. It overall discourages taking leave, encourages a workplace of contagious people, and puts managers in a position of determining whether someone is “sick enough” to force them to forego a day’s payout and send them home.

    4. A CAD Monkey*

      We have the same policy for the office-side of my firm (in-field get to roll over some of theirs because jobsites can’t be left un-supervised), most of my department will be out the last week of the year.

    5. rayray*

      I hate this kind of policy. The bosses that implement this kind of policy always act so incredulous too when everyone wants to use up their PTO.

      I worked at a place that rolled over unused time when we had separate vacation and sick time, then switched to just PTO all in the same category. Management there complained when people started using up their time. Long-term employees who had weeks worth of time saved up were using it all. I took a week off to just have a staycation at home because it was either that or forfeit it, and then people acted like I was lazy for doing that. So stupid. I actually used that week off to job hunt :D

      1. Totally Minnie*

        “How dare staff want to have all the compensation we agreed to give them in exchange for their labor!”

      2. Quinalla*

        We have use it or lose it for PTO, we do have a separate sick day bank of time so helps with this kind of issue for people that aren’t caring for kids, etc. that get sick a lot, but we don’t complain when folks take time off at the end of the year. Lots of people want to take time off at the end of the year! Heck, most of the other firms we work with/for just close the last week or two of the year.

        If you have a use it or lose it policy, you should be encouraging people to take time off all year and not complain if you didn’t really let them do it and they want to take a bunch in December. We do allow roll over requests for special circumstances (like hey I’m getting married next year and want to save some extra or having a kid or special trip planned, etc.) and we also allow people to go “negative” since you just get your PTO all at the beginning of the year, so that really allows people to spread out their PTO more too.

    6. cowtools*

      This is how my company works too. A lot of it happens in early/mid December because people already have holiday PTO scheduled later in the month. I used my one “extra” sick day yesterday so I wouldn’t lose it. Today I’m back in the office but very few people are here. I expect it to be like this through the new year. I only got seven combined sick and vacation days. I was kind of bummed to be using one yesterday just so I didn’t lose it. I would rather have taken the day off after my wedding this summer, but I was worried about not having any sick time later in the year.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      Are the C-suite folks subject to the same combined pool and use-it-or-lose-it policy? If so, I’d wager they’re part of that “ghost town,” too.

    8. Essentially Cheesy*

      The C-suite needs to be taking time off along with everyone else. Or is that too pleasant and obvious? They can handle a few free days off, right?

      1. Chirpy*

        I would not be at all surprised if my company’s corporate office *doesn’t* lose their vacation time while everyone at store level does. They also all get all evenings and weekends off when we have customers with issues that come up with during that time that we can’t fix without corporate, so guess who gets yelled at (and then bad reviews, which is what corporate sees)….

    9. BlueWolf*

      That is madness. We have a combined bank for PTO, but we just have an accrual limit. As long as you don’t hit the (pretty generous) accrual limit you don’t lose any PTO. Avoids the calendar-based issue of people all taking off at once to avoid losing PTO.

      1. ZugTheMegasaurus*

        Seriously, I’m one of those people who never takes time off, but the accrual limit is pretty high (about 25 days, though it used to be higher) and it doesn’t expire year to year. It’s kind of annoying knowing that I’m missing out on accruing more vacation by being at the cap, but I’m currently job searching and it’s really nice knowing I’ll be cashing out a month’s salary when I leave.

      2. Totally Minnie*

        Us too. I our rollover limit is the equivalent of something like 4 or 5 weeks, and I think they only do it to limit the amount they have to pay out when people leave.

      3. Samwise*

        Our sick and annual leaves roll over. The issue is when you leave the university: depending on whether you are on the state pension system or the optional retirement plan (eg TIAA CREF, other similar plans), sick leave does not pay out at all; annual and bonus leave pay out up to 240 accrued hours.

        You can donate your accrued leave upon retirement In practice, most folks take a lot of sick leave that last 6 – 9 months to use up as much as possible.

        Lately I’ve been taking half days even when I have an hourlong medical appt — I have almost 200 hours of sick leave accrued, so I just see my doc and then go hang at a cafe. Have also been trying to take half days off and three day weekends, midday staycation (I have a LOT of annual leave).

      1. ThatGirl*

        Of course it’s legal for the c-suite to complain. They’re not actually preventing people from taking PTO, they just don’t like it that everyone is.

      2. Aitch Arr*

        In most states, use it or lose it is legal.
        In the few states where it is not (CA, CO), you can cap accrual.

        1. Generic+Name*

          Funny, I’m in CO, and we refer to the accrual cap as “use it or lose it”. In years past, several employees with lots of vacation ended up taking time off at the end of the year. Or is the cap versus use or lose a new thing I wonder.

    10. PassThePeasPlease*

      Same thing happening at my company. The last company I worked at allowed for rollovers through March and it was so nice, I always took a few rollover days in January to decompress from the holidays but just had to add them to my holiday leave this year and stop work sooner.

    11. Kes*

      Ugh, yes. We don’t have shared time but we do have only three sick days, so every time I’m not feeling great early in the year I go “but what if I get sick later??” and mostly work through it. Then at the end of the year I’m like “I’m taking these days now!”
      To be fair though, I don’t our leadership really complains about people taking time off – in fact there have been emails reminding people to do so, although work constraints can still be a thing.

    12. The OG Sleepless*

      We’re dealing with the same thing, and it is so annoying! And as I’ve posted here before, I don’t even work in an industry that slows down during the holidays. I’m one of three people in our office that can do my specific job, and one of the others is my boss, and she’s the worst offender of all. Last year she realized at the beginning of November that she had a bunch of unused PTO and just peaced out for the last two weeks of the year. This year she tried to take both Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks off, except I pitched a rare conniption fit so she sprinkled her days around a bit more equitably.

    13. Momma Bear*

      During the pandemic, the c-suite was waxing poetic about people not taking PTO…because everything was closed and no one was traveling. There were also people who felt like they couldn’t just take a random week off due to projects. If they have policies that don’t work, then change them. I personally would rather cash out or roll a week into the new year.

    14. Moonlight*

      Funny how a use it or lose it policy hurts them when they end up understaffed at the end of the year. My hubbys org did end up putting a limit on theirs – previously you could bank the time but I think it led to problems of people having sometihng like 8+ weeks vacation them being (frankly unreasonably) pissed off when they couldn’t just peace out of work for 10 weeks or longer (e.g. someone one my hubby gets 5 weeks vacation a year) so I think they let you bank 2 weeks a year now BUT you can’t KEEP banking more (e.g. if you have 5 weeks, only used 3, you can keep those 2, but the following years your can’t keep those 2 + get 2 more cause then the year afterward you’d have 9 weeks). This approach sounds riduclous even if though I understand why some orgs feel the need to limit it in some way.

    15. Girasol*

      Do they also scold you for lack of good judgment if you used your PTO up earlier and have to ask for unpaid time off if you get sick in December?

    16. There You Are*

      It’s the same at my company. This year was especially frenetic because we had people leave and our VP agree to more projects than we could deliver without working overtime. Things are still “hair on fire” so, even though I booked PTO and makeup hours (for overtime) for almost all of December, I have worked 4-8 hours each day so far.

      BUT… my VP doesn’t mind bending the rules. So when all the fires go out by next Wednesday, when the managers are all scheduled to be off for the rest of the year, I’ll disconnect until the 2nd week of January.

      I feel really bad for the people whose Grand-Bosses just let them lose their PTO (while taking all of their own), when the only reason anyone has so much left at the end of the year is because we were taking care of all the things the Grand-Bosses said couldn’t possibly wait.

  2. Maraschino. You know, like in cherry*

    My company has a zero tolerance policy for bullying, which includes: If from a superior, bullying may include setting up the recipient for failure by setting unrealistic goals or deadlines, or denying necessary information and resources; either overloading the recipient with work or taking all work away (sometimes replacing proper work with demeaning jobs); or increasing responsibility while removing authority (b) Abuse of authority: Examples of abuse of authority include, but are not limited to, such acts or misuse of power as intimidation, threats, blackmail, or coercion.
    What exactly does this mean?

    My team got a new director this year, and this is basically what he’s done. He’s taken away the day-to-day work from us and funnels all communication. None of us do anything anymore. Yes, he’s terrible and has no idea what he’s doing, but what would “taking all work away” look like? At what point would we need to talk to his boss or HR?

    1. Nonprofit Blues*

      That doesn’t sound like bullying to me, although it does sound like bad management. I feel like bullying needs to have a more personal angle. But I’m not a lawyer.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I agree based on what you’ve written here — I know the policy says these things CAN be bullying, but I think there’s an unwritten “if done with malicious intent.” If he’s doing this to your whole team, I’m guessing HR will not see it as malicious. (If you have documentable reason to think it is malicious, then yes might be worth it!)

      2. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Exactly. This sets up a logical fallacy I am sure there is a name for

        Now they can say “there is no bullying” and it leaves the impression things are going well when they are not.

        As a Director myself, I find a common habit where many try to get involved in work that should go to Managers or front-line employees. As in, they are paying you to do the complicated parts of strategy or things like software transitions, you should not be following up on individual low stake errors in customer accounts

    2. WellRed*

      This is neither bullying nor abuse of authority. It’s bad management. And micromanagement. How long has this been going on? Has anyone tried speaking up?

      1. Maraschino. You know, like in cherry*

        It’s been like this since September. I tried speaking up but he was just rude. His boss just started though.

    3. Morgan Proctor*

      If your company policy defines what your director is doing as “bullying,” then that is what they are doing and you should start kicking it up the chain of command. You don’t mention if this person is your direct manager, but if they aren’t, that’s where you should start. HR is definitely on the table if they don’t take action.

    4. Not A Manager*

      The definition includes “setting up the recipient for failure.” To me, that sounds like an element of intent: The *reason* the superior is doing this is in order to cause the recipient to fail. Unless you have some reason to think that your boss wants the entire department to go under, I don’t think you’ve met the intent part of the definition. (Although it would be interesting and Machiavellian if for some reason this guy was trying to sink the entire department. Does he work for Elon Musk?)

      On the other hand, it sounds like your boss is in fact setting up everyone to fail, even if that’s not his intention, so I hope you can escalate this even without the bullying issue.

    5. Trawna*

      This isn’t bullying per se, but has the same effect from a healthy company’s point of view. My suggestions…

      Option 1. Raise this to HR, after an initial very gentle query discussion with the director. Because that will have no effect, go to HR “seeking advice” about the productivity dead zone that is your department. What this director is doing is very bad for the company, and that’s what HR cares about.

      Option 2. Wait six months. Their KPIs will be terrible, and management will then take notice and come asking questions.

      Option 3. Do both.

      Option 4. If this looks systemic (ie, the company is heading into unchecked dysfunction) polish up your CV and start interviewing.

    6. sdog*

      In the context of removing duties, I see bullying as being targeted towards one or specific people, perhaps in an attempt to phase them out of their position or block advancement opportunities for them. From what you’ve written here, I tend to agree with others that this just seems like poor management. What do you all do instead now? Do you sense that the manager is taking away the duties because they want to be fully in control of what goes out/gets done? If so, that seems to stem from excessive micromanagement than bullying.

    7. Totally Minnie*

      I think this particular case is more bad management than bullying.

      An example of a supervisor taking away work to bully someone would be something like everyone else on the team working on their reports like usual, but Jared got on the boss’s bad side so he’s not allowed to do his usual work today and he’s being assigned to something outside the scope of his normal work instead.

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

      Whether or not it qualifies as bullying, I think, is a matter of how extreme the behavior is. The part about taking away work — you say the day to day work is gone — but are you really not doing ANY work at all, or being asked to do work you consider not your job, like clean the bathrooms; the demeaning part is also open to interpretation but generally if custodial work is nowhere near your usual job, being asked to do it could be considered “demeaning,” but so could event planning, travel arranging, filing or creating expense reports, etc. It all depends on what your normal job is supposed to be and whether there is any perceived insult…but this one is tricky. Misuse of power would be if he starts asking you to do his laundry, give him money or gifts in exchange for being assigned work, take the blame for his mistake or cover for him doing something ethically or legally wrong or else get written up or fired.

    9. Gatomon*

      Bullying is generally specific to one person and motivated by personal animus in my thinking.

      If your boss took away your work and then put you on a PIP with metrics you can’t meet now because you have no tasks, that’s bullying by setting you up to fail. It’s specific to you, he’s treating you differently than your peers and you are set up to fail. If he does it to the whole department, it’s likely just bad management.

      Now if he took work away from everyone but only put you on the impossible PIP, then that could still be bullying in my mind.

      The company would probably like to know that they have a lot of idle employees, but if this guy is successful doing everything himself it’s possible they may just decide he doesn’t need direct reports.

  3. Nonprofit Blues*

    I can’t decide if I’m being unreasonable, please weigh in. My office is mostly remote, but they hold a good number of in-person meetings at our shared office space (it’s not a WeWork, but picture a WeWork). This office has no parking, so staff has to pay for a garage, and we are not reimbursed for travel to/from the office, although we are if we travel to meetings off-site in other locations. Initially this made sense to me – I mean, most people don’t get mileage reimbursement for their daily commute. However, I’ve realized this makes me disinclined to volunteer to go to meetings or work in-person in small groups; after all, it costs me money to do so, versus zoom meetings which are free for me. The problem is that my boss would clearly like me to volunteer to staff more of the in person meetings because then she doesn’t have to do it. She “likes” to get together face to face sometimes to work on shared projects. It’s a small amount, but it probably costs me $6 a pop every time. I can’t decide if I’m just grumpy because the organization recently changed offices and the old location was both closer to me physically and offered free parking; I feel like they offset their costs onto employees. Is it worth bringing up that staff would appreciate at least parking reimbursement since the office is not actually our “home base” ?

    1. Nonprofit Blues*

      Also, does anyone know if I can write off the business expenses related to a W-2 job on my taxes? I also do some freelancing on the side, so I itemize my taxes and I do write off other business expenses related to that work.

      1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

        Pretty sure you cannot deduct parking costs at your normal place of business, ie., where your W-2 work is administratively housed. (Equivalent to how commute time to a W2 job is not paid time.)

        1. Nonprofit Blues*

          Thank you – I think this is why I was getting confused. The “normal place of business” to me feels like my house, since I’m remote – but the administrative housing angle makes it clearer. Appreciate it!

          1. Cj*

            Is the admin housed at this location? Or does everyone work remotely and you just use this location for meetings? If it is just for meetings, it’s not really commuting, and you wouldnt have a better case for getting reimbursed.

      2. bratschegirl*

        Tr*mp did away with the employee business expense deduction as of 2018. Congress has been making noises about restoring it, but that hasn’t happened yet. You can deduct expenses related to any 1099 (independent contractor) work you do on your Schedule C, but any expenses related to W2 employment aren’t deductible.

        1. bratschegirl*

          At least, those aren’t deductible on your Federal tax return. They may still be deductible for you on your state return (that’s the case for us in California).

          1. Nonprofit Blues*

            Oh good thought – thanks! I can check that. Since I’m probably not going to bring it up to my boss, I’d at least like a silver lining.

            1. Cj*

              Even for states that still allow a deduction for employee business expenses, you can’t deduct commuting expenses, which it sounds like these would be.

              Even non-commuting employee business expenses are limited to the amount that exceeds 2% of your adjusted gross income, and are part of your itemized deductions. So if you take the standard deduction it won’t benefit you.

    2. EMP*

      It seems pretty easy to bring up if she’s already mentioned/brought up that she wants more face time. You can pretty neutrally say something like “I’d be happy to volunteer more if I knew the office would reimburse me for parking”

    3. WellRed*

      Honestly, while it’d be nice if they paid for parking, I don’t think it’s worthwhile to push it and you likely are just feeling “grumpy.” Which I totally get. But would you rather drive in every day and pay for gas? As for the tax question, others will know better but I’m pretty sure that’s a no go these days.

    4. a raging ball of distinction*

      If your office is mostly remote (or even if you’re the only remote worker), that makes your request for parking reimbursement inherently different from a daily commuter’s. I wonder if your boss could get a pack of parking vouchers for a garage in the area, or budget for ## parking reimbursements each month. Open it up to everyone; I doubt you’re the only person making this consideration.

    5. Rex Libris*

      I’m in-office every day. Parking is free, but gas, lunch and incidentals run me 20-25 dollars a day. Everything’s relative.

      1. Nonprofit Blues*

        Yes, I used to the be in the same situation and it didn’t bother me as much then … I think it’s that my “office” is my home now; of course I’m not expecting any reimbursement to drive to my home to be ready to work, nor would I expect my job to pay for the food I eat at home or the new driveway I’m putting in for parking. But someone higher up made a good comment that it’s about where the organization is administratively housed, not where my office is.

      2. another_scientist*

        I’d do this if it’s my *career* (i.e. I am invested in the job or the company mission, interested in growing and being promoted). I would have to be getting decent base pay to start with.
        I would be very reluctant to pay for a meeting that I can attend from home for free, if it’s just a *job*, and/or I am paid poorly.

      3. Firm Believer*

        You could make your lunch though? That seems like an enormous amount. What incidentals do you need every day?

    6. Green Goose*

      You should definitely bring it up, the worst case scenario is that they say no, and best case, you get reimbursed.
      I’ve been job hunting and I recently saw a remote position listed for a super interesting role associated with a college on the East Coast, and when I was reading the fine print it said something like “though this role can be done remotely throughout the U.S., there will be certain times during the year that the director would need to be in person, all travel and accommodation costs would be at the expense of the individual” and I was like, ummm pass! For multiple trips a year, that could be like $5,000-$10,000 from where I live. Hopefully not the new normal.

      1. Nonprofit Blues*

        I have frequently seen this in my sector. I think it used to be considered a good deal since it let you live somewhere cheaper and fully remote work was so hard to find; that probably isn’t as true anymore. I guess it’s something you could weigh the costs versus benefits on but I agree, it doesn’t seem very generous.

    7. Pool lounger*

      Your boss would like you there more, and doesn’t know why you don’t volunteer to go in, so why not tell the boss? It’s a factor for the company to consider if they want to be not fully remote. I don’t think it matters that other people at other jobs have to pay for parking/gas/lunch/etc. There’s no reason to compare like that. At your job you (and likely other people) would go in more of parking was free—you don’t want to pay money to go to work. Makes total sense, and even if nothing changes it’d be good for management to understand your reasons.

      1. umami*

        This makes a lot of sense. If the boss knows there are some (albeit minor) obstacles to having more involvement in group work and in-person meetings, there is an opportunity to find solutions. I would be thoughtful about how to approach it, though, because someone who is encouraging folks to go in more for these activities isn’t likely to think the expense is a deterrent. But said matter-of-factly, ‘it costs me, so I (and others) would do it more often if we could strategize a way to eliminate or offset those costs a bit’ sounds reasonable. I wouldn’t ask, though, if hearing no is just going to make you feel more grumpy.

    8. BRR*

      In my experience, I’ve seen a good number of employers that both cover parking costs as well as not cover parking costs. I would also be disinclined to go into the office if it cost me $6 though. I think you can definitely ask about parking reimbursement.

    9. Momma Bear*

      If other people get paid parking, ask for parking just for the days you come in since the office moved and it’s no longer free. She may not be aware about the impact of the move. I would also discuss how many meetings per week/month she would like you to cover so you can plan ahead for those days. Maybe make it as worth your while as possible and pick a day with a lot of on-site activity.

    10. Foley*

      I think you can bring it up and frame it as…when I took this job, parking was free onsite and now it’s not. I’d think they could work out some building/voucher/validation scheme. It’s popular here in LA where ‘free’ parking included changes with the winds. (bigger tenant moves in, gets parking, building sells off parking to servicer and reserves some spaces, but not enough, etc.)

      In your exact situation, it’s reimbursed about half the time, so it’s worth asking. The worst-case scenario has you exactly where you’re already at.

      Here the likelihood often depends on the building/lot. Sometimes the compromise is you can park for free down the street somewhere else.

    11. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      $6 per day is cheap! At my former downtown job, the daily parking was $18 per day. And we had to come in every day because the CEO wanted us there (while he walked to work from his company paid apartment). Nowadays, the same parking garages have gone up to $28/day. I’m SO GLAD I left that job. It was costing me too much money to work there and I avoid downtown like the plague.

  4. Violet B*

    What are some interview questions to see if a company is super into office politics? 

    I’m in the middle of interviewing at this company. I’m not 100% sure about them yet, mainly because there is mandatory traveling to their headquarters 1x/quarter (for 5 days) for corporate stuff, like goal setting, etc. Now I’m wondering if this shows that the company values seeing “people in seats”, and wants employees to participate in all the “rah rah” stuff. I interviewed with the hiring manager, who I liked, earlier this week. Next week it’s more of the upper management folks.

    1. EngGirl*

      I’d just ask if they can go into anymore detail about those week long trips.

      I’d also ask what kind of employee does well at their company. You can get a lot of information about what managers value because most tend to put what they value in an employee as a hallmark of success even if it isn’t strictly true. (Ie the top performer at my job is constantly late, very casual, very informal. My boss says that people who show up in time and put in hours do well because that’s what he wants to see)

      1. ursula*

        “What kind of employee does well here” is a really good interview question that I have never thought to ask! Nice, EngGirl, thanks.

    2. WellRed*

      I don’t see this as office politics, but a company that likes all that corporate crap. Our company is a bit like that and “family” but they only have a leadership summit thing once a year for two days.

    3. a raging ball of distinction*

      As someone who used to have to travel back to HQ once or twice a year, I can assure you that my company’s trips were definitely not butts in seats business as usual. OldCompany took advantage of that time for face-to-face decision-making and connections that felt easier and more natural than video conferencing. There was specific programming that was explicitly different from our day-to-days.

      I now work at a Fortune 50 corporation that gets stupidly political. I don’t love it. But my boss and his boss are both invested in me (and everyone else on our team) as individuals. They talk openly about the larger company forces and give us guidance on how to surf the political waves. Depending on the size of this new company, the hiring manager and their manager will likely make more of a difference to your experience than folks you see 4 times a year.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I was at a job for only one year, and my department had at least 4 different directors. My boss and his boss never changed, though, so it didn’t make any difference to my job.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      You could just ask them why these things are done at headquarters.
      Also, I’m not sure how what you described relates to office politics.

    5. Quinalla*

      If an employee discovered a change to the process that could save the company $$, what would it look like to get that implemented?

  5. Not Elastagirl*

    Im getting increasingly frustrated once again wit my company’s blind devotion to “customer service”. We’re an international company and my department is (as always) short staffed. We work 80/9 hours so I’m in the office M-Th 7-5 and have every other Friday off. My position is needed at 7 to support our European branches that are 5-6 hours ahead of us. We have offices in central time so they’re an hour behind, and we’ve been working more with clients on the west coast as well, so they’re 3 hours behind. I’ve been having more requests to stay late and “be flexible” or “take one for the team” to support our west coast clients. I’m not allowed to flex my time, and I’ll be honest I wouldn’t want to if I could, because I need some kind of separation in my life and the ability to do things like run errands after work. These requests are almost always last minute. I’d love to use Alison’s scripts and advice for reasonable individuals but these individuals are simply not reasonable.

    Any advice for how to keep my sanity while I job hunt?

    1. cardigarden*

      Could you suggest assigning particular people to handle particular locations? It makes no sense to have a person (you, in this case) be responsible for both Europe and California. Are they expecting you to work 7a-8p in order to be able to handle the Pacific Time requests? Because that’s insane. Also, are you the only person being asked to “take one for the team” all the time?

      1. Not Elastagirl*

        We are incredibly understaffed unfortunately, and I’m one of the only people with the knowledge base and experience to handle the needs. It’s not like a constant thing, like I’m not on the clock for 13 hours a day or anything, its just a lot of last minute requests like “oh hey we put you on a meeting tonight that starts at 6pm your time, but no you can’t leave early or come in late to get back the time” or “I know that this meeting is over your lunch (which I also can’t really move around) but 75% of the call is an hour behind you and this is ‘urgent’ so we need you to get on”

        1. Phillippe II*

          “oh hey we put you on a meeting tonight that starts at 6pm your time,”

          “Sorry, I have plans tonight that I can’t change.” The plans may be to watch the Star Wars Holiday Special in your R2D2 onesie while eating Chunky Monkey ice cream, but you have plans and you don’t need to say what they are. If you keep agreeing, you are training them that you are available at their beck and call.

          1. Totally Minnie*

            Exactly this. You plan not to burn yourself out on a job you’re actively trying to leave.

            If they ask you on a day when you feel energetic and you’re happy to to it, cool. If they ask you on a day when you’re already feeling tired and overwhelmed, you have a preexisting commitment. That’s not a lie, it’s your commitment to yourself and your well-being.

        2. MigraineMonth*

          If you’re the only person with the knowledge base and experience to handle their needs, you have a lot of negotiating power. What are they going to do if you say no? Fire you and lose the only person who knows the answers?

        3. Momma Bear*

          Who is “we” and can you reach out to the people running the meetings directly to remind them that your hours end at x time their time and negotiate a better time for you to be included? Or can it be a call in only and you take it on the road/on your phone?

          Since you’re eyeing the door anyway, I’d also cross train other coworkers. The powers that be rely on you but just because you’re the main SME doesn’t mean you have to be the only SME.

        4. Samwise*

          Oh hey, west coast meetings need to happen between 7 am and 1 pm west coast time, that’s the only time I am available because I have other obligations before and after that.

          What are they going to do, fire you? The office is already understaffed and you’re the person *they* need. Not the other way around.

          You’ve got leverage. Use it.

      2. cncx*

        This is what we did at my old job. The early shift person in europe got Singapore, the late shift person got New York. It was never one person covering both time zones except in emergencies.

    2. Colette*

      When I worked a job that involved customers in multiple locations, we had 3 shifts – 8 – 4:30, 10:30 – 6, and 11:30 – 8. It sounds like you need something like that – if you work 7 – 5, someone else should be working 10 – 8.

    3. Rex Libris*

      Unfortunately no advice, but I’ve never figured out why the companies that most push customer service seem least willing to commit the resources to provide it.

    4. XYZ*

      If you are non hunting and planning to leave, I would just stop bring flexible. When someone sets a meeting outside your working hours, respond and say this is out side my working hours please schedule it for between x-x times. If anyone pushes back, say sorry this is outside my working hours so I am not able to make it. If anyone asks why, it’s outside your working hours and you are busy and unable to accommodate meetings outside working hours, repeats as needed.

    5. linger*

      The big-picture answer is, your coworkers need to put more work into avoiding, or mitigating the impact of, these emergencies. Leaving their requests until they are “urgent”, at the end of your day, makes it harder to push back (and that’s probably at least partly by design); so get in ahead of them.
      Last-minute requests at the end of your working day, when you are not given any flexibility to start later the following morning, fully deserve the old standby “your lack of planning does not mean I have an emergency”. Gotta go now, should have brought this to me earlier.
      And as for “taking one for the team”: if you’re the only one with the background for these tasks, then there is no “team” until they make themselves available to do the cross-training necessary to allow them to take on those meetings too. Suggest that instead (because it’s a good idea regardless), and watch them squirm.

    6. Bunniferous*

      For some humor, go look at Sarai ( saraimariee_) on Instagram (specifically her reels.) You will laugh AND get some encouragement to set some work boundaries….

  6. Diocletian Blobb*

    How are professional writers out there feeling about their career plans/prospects in light of the sudden revolution in large-language AI like ChatGPT? I’m 5-ish years into my career as a marketing copywriter and was feeling pretty good about my future prospects up until I tried ChatGPT for the first time a week ago.

    Now I feel like my current skillset could be basically obsolete as soon as 2-3 years from now. ChatGPT is good enough *right now* to write the kind of quick-and-dirty SEO articles that I started my career writing, and it’s only getting smarter. Fortunately, the work I do now is a good bit more advanced — I’m at an agency where I have a close working relationship with big corporate clients who are unlikely to immediately turn their copywriting over to a very new and risky technology that’s not even commercially released yet. But it seems likely that within the next five years (at most), AI will be good enough to do what I currently do with minimal human input, and I want to be sure I have more to offer when that happens.

    Right now I feel like the smart move for me is to get into UX writing and design, which requires a lot of multi-disciplinary coordination that AI won’t be able to pull off for some time. (Of course, I said a similar thing about copywriting five years ago.) It’s also personally interesting to me, although I worry that it will require me to put a lot more of myself into it than my current gig (which I enjoy specifically because it gives me enough time and mental space to work on my fiction writing projects). It’ll require learning a lot of new skills, but TBH that’s probably what I need to do anyway, and I think the skillset I’ll pick up in UX will be applicable across a lot of different fields.

    My alternative is to follow my old plan, which is moving into something highly specialized like medical, technical or legal writing. However, I worry that even these fields might be on their way out by the time I get myself established in one of them. The higher stakes of these fields means they’ll probably be among the last to be toppled by AI writers, but again — as soon as it makes financial and legal sense for AI to write pharmaceutical trial reports and airplane manuals, I have no illusions about the likely outcome.

    What are the other professional writers here doing?

    1. ThatGirl*

      I’m also a marketing copywriter (15 years into a pretty widely varied career) – it’s possible I’m being naive but I don’t think human beings will get phased out by AI writing that quickly in most places. I feel like the kind of folks and companies who will use AI instead of real people are already using freelancers and not placing a high value on copywriting in general. My (internal, non-agency) jobs have involved a lot more than just churning out writing – they involve a lot of brainstorming, coordination with channel and vertical marketers and graphic designers, and just knowing the brand and the company well, adjusting things on the fly as well as doing long-term planning and coordination.

      Of course, I could be wrong – and certainly this stuff is worth keeping an eye on. But keep expanding your skill set, learn as much as you can and be flexible and I think you’ll be OK.

    2. Super Duper Anon*

      Hunkering down in a large stable company and crossing my fingers (technical writer though, so I probably have more leeway than copywriter). May move back into a company doing writing for medical software/devices again in the future as I liked doing that. Also thinking of UX writing.

    3. Alix*

      Fellow writer here (I’m a journalist, though). The thing to remember is that ChatGPT has been around for quite a while. It’s just recently been opened up to the public, but it (and AI that can write, in general) is not at all a new thing. There are some publications that already do use AI writing for very basic sorts of articles and have for a while. but they still do require human editors and the process has a lot of human involvement. I would not worry that lots of people posting ChatGPT on Twitter represents some massive change to the status quo that requires you to change your career plans.

      The other thing to keep in mind is that ChatGPT is not free to use. It’s being offered for free right now, which has led to great publicity for the company that makes it, but it is incredibly expensive to maintain and they are literally hemorrhaging money right now. The creators have said that the status quo is temporary and that they will at some point need to monetize the product. I think you can safely assume that even if this technology ends up being something companies want to incorporate, it’s not necessarily going to end up being a cost-saving measure for lots of places (and certainly not all of them will even be able to afford it in the first place).

    4. Friday Person*

      Maybe this is unduly optimistic, but I’m not particularly worried about it at this juncture. Part of that is that the writing I do is editorial in nature and on a topic that requires specific area knowledge. But more broadly, while I can imagine the ability to generate text reshaping some written content creation jobs, and possibly eliminating the need for some low-level work (i.e. “we just need some text here”), I don’t get the sense that we’re anywhere near the point where the generator isn’t going to require a smart human mind to correctly envision and refine prompts, and to do the necessary editing and revisions on the generated text.

    5. The New Wanderer*

      I’m not a professional writer but I write a lot for my job. I just read an article in The Atlantic discussing the ChatGPT situation that you might find interesting if you haven’t seen it yet, since the author specifically reviews its capabilities in content generation of various types.

      Personally, I think there are some parallels to the voice assistant explosion (Siri, Alexa, OKGoogle, and so on) from a few years ago. That ended up being kind of a bust – yes, many people have those devices in their homes and on their phones, but what are they really used for? It turned out to be much harder to monetize those interfaces than expected because the actual applications are limited by how much effort people are willing to put in for some pretty thin results. One example was the early idea that people would use Alexa for shopping, like actually choosing and comparing items. Without images and with a single (and slow) thread of spoken information that probably has to be corrected multiple times along the way. For the vast consumer market, that’s just not reasonable. So the novelty is appealing but the practical applications and long-term use are harder to predict.

      If I had to guess, like most automation it’s going to force more people out of production and into management/oversight of the system. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing but it would mean different skills become valued. I could see using ChatGPT to create the basics of content (in the vein of “it’s always easier to edit someone else’s work than your own” or “overcoming writer’s block”) but I wouldn’t trust it to produce a good end product without human review.

    6. Mockingjay*

      I’m a technical writer. I don’t see a huge impact in my area (IT/Comms, civilian and military), because so much context is required to create our deliverables. Even with AI assistance to write manuals, you’ll always need a human to interpret the need: what level to write to – public, specialty technician, etc.; determine where errors are likely to occur during human execution – because people make mistakes – and what to do next. And so. AI can help with capturing the grunt procedure steps (which I really don’t mind; the first drafts can be VERY tedious to develop). But the Human Touch will always be necessary to provide a useful and contextual document (online or printed).

    7. Sylvan*

      Marketing copywriter with four years of experience: I’m trying to get a little experience in copyediting. You can’t replace a human reader with AI. But I’m also trying not to worry about it.

    8. Sherm*

      My work largely involves medical/technical writing, and AI is not worrying me. Online, someone had AI write text describing dimethylmercury as a new skin cream. The AI-generated text was lovely…but the problem is that dimethylmercury is a horrible toxin.

      So AI has some limitations. AI can’t say no. AI has trouble with authentic, iterative conversations with the people you are working with, and to really know the people you’re working with, their motivations and goals. Real writers are unparalleled in realizing what they *don’t* know, what they should know, and how all the pieces in the messy world possibly fit together. Maybe in 50 years I’d sing a different tune, but I’m not bothered at the moment.

    9. Spearmint*

      I just made a post anxiously worrying about ChatGPT below before I saw yours, so I sympathize!

      When I’m in a less anxious mood about this, I think it’s important to keep the limitations of large language models in mind. They frequently “hallucinate” false information, especially when you ask them something more nuanced or complicated. They also sometimes confidently state falsehoods on more specialized topics. And they’re not good at collaboration/iteration, like you can’t impose a “house style” on a large language model.

      The optimistic take is they instead of replacing writers, large language models make writing easier and more predictive without replacing people, much like calculators and computer programs augment rather than replace STEM work. For example, maybe the future workflow of a writer is you gather information, develop your main argument, and write an outline in bullet points. Then you feed it into an AI that spits out multiple drafts based on that outline. You then pick the best draft, and edit it to make it better, make it conform to a particular style, and to fact check it. There’s still lots of work to be done, but the “grunt work” is automated.

      Of course, as my post below shows, I’m still anxious about this in other moods.

      1. linger*

        They frequently “hallucinate” false information, especially when you ask them something more nuanced or complicated. They also sometimes confidently state falsehoods on more specialized topics.

        Worryingly, also true of a number of humans with media platforms, so may not disadvantage AI as much as we’d hope!

    10. tlmic*

      While I’m not a professional writer, I do use a skillset that is slowly getting automated.

      The funny thing is the automation is actually about as difficult to manage as the original skill. Once I learned how to manage the automated parts of the job, I was rapidly promoted.

      Even when I got the automation to the point where it was just a click of a button, people still ask me to push the button for them.

      Remember when Charlie’s father got a new job at the factory where he used to work, maintaining the machine that replaced him? Capitalism is like that sometimes. There’s always going to be a company who will pay for someone else to learn all the buttons.

    11. Quinalla*

      Not a writer, but work adjacent to programming so been knee deep in chatGPT. This take by a content creator helps put this in persepctive. Also, if you haven’t, log on and try it out yourself. It does some impressive stuff, but it’s very basic and still makes a lot of errors.

      1. Diocletian Blobb*

        I have used it myself, quite a bit. I definitely didn’t get the impression that it’s ready to replace me yet, but the whole idea of these models is that they get smarter, and while it can probably replace only the lowest-quality content mill jobs at the moment, I’m pretty nervous about what it will be able to do two or three years from now.

    12. Momma Bear*

      I think you should explore tech writing/specialized writing. I don’t think AI will obliterate that anytime soon. You might also aim to work for a government agency, which is less likely to trust/rely on AI to do the job.

    13. Nonprofit Blues*

      I am also a writer and at the moment I’m more concerned about this ai art than I am about the impact on writing. I have already seen reports of self-pubbed/”indie” authors using ai art for covers and picture books. I suspect much of the web content I already encounter is ai generated based on how poorly it’s written, but those jobs were never going to be well paid anyway. However, I remember (on here?) a translator saying that ai sort of lowered the bottom floor for translation services beyond what it already was, hurting the whole field as a results.

    14. Tinkerbell*

      I’m a romance author, so our landscape is a little different:

      1) Amazon controls 90+% of the market, especially for queer romance (which is my genre). The way their Kindle Unlimited program works is, readers pay a set fee for as much as they want to read. Amazon decides how much money they’ll pay authors each month. Then they divide the total number of pages read by the amount of money and that’s how much you get. If scammers figure out a way to drive up pageviews to certain books over others, they get a bigger piece of the pie. Amazon has historically been very, very bad about cracking down on this. Unfortunately, part of the terms of service is you CAN’T have your book available anywhere else if you want to be part of KU, and KU is where all the voracious readers are, so Amazon can basically monopoly their way into squeezing out the competition.

      2) Amazon is constantly evolving their software to cut down on plagiarism, piracy, etc, but AI writing is already blowing that out of the water and they’re going to take a while to catch up. Previously, “authors” were getting away with pasting large swaths of nonsense into a “book” and then either paying people in third world countries pennies to click through all day or making programs to do it for them, and scooping up disproportionately huge percentages of the total compensation pool. AI writing makes it so they don’t even have to copy from anywhere – they can easily generate as much drivel as they want, and it’s going to be a lot harder for Amazon to tell the difference between AI-written work and just poor writing.

      3) This makes the “bestseller” list pretty useless, because it’s already half scammers – readers can’t use it to find new work anymore, because just because something’s popular according to their algorithms doesn’t necessarily mean it’s even a real book.

      4) We will always need gatekeepers. Once upon a time this was publishers, who decided what was “good enough” to print and what wasn’t. Then ebooks exploded, and you couldn’t find the good books among the drek, and readers turned to places like Goodreads and reviewer blogs to find their next story. Amazon clawed some of this back with ratings and recommendations and their top lists and buying out competitors, but AI is going to mess with that again. Eventually someone will come up with a new way for readers to trust “these titles are good” and we’ll do another round.

      My $0.02, anyway!

      1. Foley*

        Oooh. I wonder if we know each other. I used to write romance (for 10+ years trad/indie) before switching genres a couple of years ago. Anyway, a new FB group just opened for indie romance authors who are using/trying this to ‘enhance’ writing. I’m on deadline, so I haven’t done a dive yet though…

      2. Nonprofit Blues*

        It’s really nuts that Amazon can’t at least assign a person to manually review their own ‘bestseller’ lists with human eyes – that’s not nearly as many books as the sight hosts, surely.

      3. JR*

        This is super interesting. Clay Christensen has done some interesting work on the idea that, when the product gets commoditized, the platform through which you access the product – including the curation element that let’s you find the product you want – grows in value.

        This post gets at his theories to some degree, though it isn’t specifically about platforms like kindle unlimited:

    15. TW senior*

      I’m not giving that garbage a second thought. My writing is so heavily governed by regulatory bodies and national laws that allowing the work to be done by a machine would be utter insanity.

    1. Jenna Webster*

      There is no possible way to get agreement, but it’s always a fun fight. I say 74, but our Facilities department disagrees. We all have space heaters.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I’m fine with 70-72 and my space heater or sweater if I’m cold. What bothers me more is the AC blowing on my desk (which I have mitigated as much as I can).

    2. Corkey's Wife Bonnie*

      That’s a hard question to answer, it really depends on the building. I worked at one place where it was set to 72 degrees and I nearly froze to death, yet at another building it was set to 70 and perfectly comfortable. Building 1 was older, and probably didn’t have the best windows or insulation and building 2 was newer. It’ll probably be just adjusting to what’s comfortable for your place.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        It also depends on how much electronic equipment & people are in the office. Both raise the temperature by giving off heat.

        And how much movement the average worker has. When I was a trainer, I needed it cooler.

    3. A CAD Monkey*

      for hvac efficacy, t-stats should be at 72F which also covers the majority of office workers personal comfort levels. there should be a way to individually adjust airflow to make peoples spaces warmer/colder, but too few places have these controls in place as they cost $$$.

    4. 1234ShutTheDoor*

      I’ve just accepted that I will be using a blanket at my desk and wearing a company-branded jacket during meetings. I think erring on the cold side is generally better because it’s easier to layer up in a professional setting than it is to deal with excessive heat. (And it’s always going to be subjective. I used to think that offices were always too cold and wished they’d be warmer, then I went on a medication that caused hot flashes and was grateful for the chilly office!)

      1. Manders*

        We have thermostats in every room at work, but they are seemingly just for show. My personal office is set to 50F currently, and the lab I work in is set at 85F, but boths spaces are around 72. Everything in our building is controlled centrally by physical plant. Not sure why they bothered to put thermostats up.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          I read something years ago where they claimed that the thermostats gave people a sense of control. Like – we could be tricked into thinking we weren’t cold?

      2. Unkempt Flatware*

        Remember Mars Attacks? I envisioned the sensual walk to be like the lady alien behind the guy’s back.

    5. cat socks*

      My husband works in corporate facility maintenance and they set thermostats to 72. They often got hot and cold calls and they would try to adjust vents, etc. to help individuals be more comfortable.

      1. Inkhorn*

        Or colder climes? I’m in the subtropics and there’d be calls to building management if the office got that cold – 68F/20C is a chilly winter day here.

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          Yep, Phoenix here. We’d be frozen blocks of ice if offices were kept at this temp. Even thinking about it hurts my bones.

          1. Phillippe II*

            I remember during the oil wars in the early 70s and the feds ordered all public buildings to set their thermostats to 68 to save energy. We lived in Phoenix and all the air conditioning systems kicked on…

            1. There You Are*

              I’m in North Texas and, just before our power grid faltered mightily in February 2021, we were implored to turn our thermostats to 68 to save energy, keep pipes from freezing, and keep the grid up (hahahahaha!). I had to turn my thermostat *up* to get to 68. I was miserable all night and got no sleep.

              For the 2nd (and 3rd and 4th, and 5th) nights, I set every faucet to a pencil-line stream of water (with a mix of hot and cold running), and turned my thermostat down to a more sleep-able 62F at night and 66F during the day.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          I’m in the subtropics (very humid climate), and we don’t have heat in the office.

          Summer the A/C is set to a physical/legal minimum of 25 C (77 F), with an outside temperature typically 35 (97 F) (as in government regulations state the minimum, and there’s a lock on the system so we can’t set it lower).

          In winter, the building settles to a temperature based on the outside temperature. If we get a cold front (12 C for a few days), which happens a couple times a year, the building is unpleasantly cold for almost everyone. A more typical outside temperature in the winter is 16-25 C, with occasional random days of 30 degree weather.

        3. Ina Lummick*

          I’d agree with colder climates – 23c (74f) is a warm summers day here. I’d say 18c/64f is a good office temp: but I work in I very drafty 122 year old building in the UK The temp changes by 5c depending on what end of the room you’re in.

    6. Angstrom*

      A quick search will produce many studies showing a gender difference in office temperature preference. Women temp to prefer warmer temperatures than men.

    7. Charlotte Lucas*

      Open office plans make it harder. Opening & closing doors helps control airflow & temperature.

      But I work in a building with some lovely lake views. Desks with those views tend to be cold in the winter & warm in the summer on sunny days.

    8. Emma2*

      This has a gendered aspect – office temperature settings are typically based on the average man (not person or woman). Women tend to run colder so will often find these temperature settings too cold. There is evidence that women perform better at temperatures between 70 and 80F and men perform better at temperatures below 70F, however the detrimental effect of lower temperatures on women’s performance is greater than the detrimental effect of higher temperatures on men’s performance (obviously this is based on averages, there will be exceptions).

      1. luffender*

        I have read that this is gendered but have always wondered how much weight/size has to do with it. Anecdotally, it always seems to be thin people shivering in the corner while I’m getting a little flushed in the face. The disparity is probably also bigger in the summer, when skirts and dresses are more common for women while men are traditionally in long pants and long sleeves all year.

        1. Quinalla*

          Weight and size do matter as does clothing, but all of these also nudge the numbers on average for women to prefer it warmer than men (except when women are pre-menopausal, then you just are either too hot or too cold all the time forever! Wear layers when you join me here!). For normal office work level (this matters a lot too, if you are slinging coffee or working in a warehouse, etc. it will be different), 74-75 is about right to maximize comfort. But there are so many ways systems and buildings can be designed poorly that even a comfortable temperature doesn’t matter if you have a vent blowing right on you, if you are sitting next to a poorly insulated window/wall, if the sun is at the worst spot for solar load right that minute and you have no ability to pull a shade. Or to get more complicated: glare in the eyes, off-gassing from new carpet/paint, etc. so many things that can make a building uncomfortable in other ways too!

          Dummy stats are definitely a thing as are stats that can be overridden at the Building Management System and sometimes they just override them forever usually because they want to save energy. I honestly don’t know why any regular office stat, etc. lets you set to something like 60F, you will never get there. This isn’t an OR or special lab :) And you’ll never get to 90F either, this isn’t a hot yoga studio designed to get there :)

          1. Quinalla*

            And to clarify, 74-75 in the summer, 70-71 in the winter. And this does vary by climate as well, this is for midwest/northeast climates in the USA.

          2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            Ours will definitely let it get as cold as 55F in a regular office, since that’s what we set it to for weekends when the building won’t be in use (in winter, so “don’t turn on the heat until it’s below this” rather than “turn on AC until it’s this cold”). I assume that there’s a way to similarly set the AC to only come on if it’s 90F or above in the summer, but I think in practice we just turn the system from “cool” to “off” for weekends in the summer.

            1. Lucy P*

              Ours are set to come on at 85 on summer nights and weekends, right after the plastic in the office starts melting. Thats up from 80 a few years ago. They’ll probably mandate 90 degrees next year.

        2. Inkhorn*

          Skinny woman here who wears a cardigan in the office most days – I’ve always assumed my lack of natural insulation is a major contributor to my being perpetually chilled at work.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        I am a woman, & I do not want to be in warm environments.

        The only person who routinely liked it colder than I did was was maternal grandmother.

        Different people have different preferences/needs.

        1. Philosophia*

          I still remember the thermostat wars between my parents during my childhood in the middle of the last century. My mother liked lower temperatures than my father did.

      3. MigraineMonth*

        I’ve always assumed the discrepancy is partially explained by gendered dress codes. If you set the temperature based on the comfort of men in standard business dress (suit, shirt, undershirt, tie and long pants), the women in standard business dress (blouse and skirt or dress) will probably be freezing.

    9. Namenlos*

      German legal minimum for offices is 66 Fahrenheit / 19 Celsius. We actually set 66 at both min and max for a few weeks to help save energy. We quickly learned it’s too cold for mostly sitting. We’ve sinced raised it to 70 Fahrenheit / 21 Celsius. That seems to work for most people as long as you dress appropriately.

    10. luffender*

      70 makes the most sense to me. Seems like it’s better to ask always-cold people to put on a sweater than to ask always-warm people to walk around in shorts and tank tops.

    11. Clisby*

      Winter or summer?

      I haven’t worked in an office for years, but at home 74 is fine for summer. In winter, 68 (down to 65 when we go to bed.)

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Same. At home my A/C set to 74 during summer, even though my actual upstairs office gets to 77-78 (which is miserable), because it’s just too expensive to keep the A/C lower.
        During winter, 68 for the night time, 70 during the day, because my male partner (I am a woman) feels cold more than I do. 68 during the day would be perfectly fine for me.

        1. Clisby*

          I’m in South Carolina. I always wonder why public buildings are kept so cold or so hot here. I’ll go out in the summer, wearing shorts and a T-shirt – normal summer wear here – and the grocery store, or library, or city hall, or whatever is *freezing* (OK, it seems to be below 70F.) Why in the world set it that low in the summer? People aren’t wearing their parkas. The reverse for winter. I’ll go out wearing jeans, socks, T-shirt with a sweatshirt layered over it, and maybe even a jacket. The library’s temp must be set to 75 F, and it’s stifling. It’s like they’ve never figured out that people dress more warmly in the winter and less so in the summer, and adjust accordingly.

    12. Chauncy Gardener*

      IF, and that’s a big if, there is good insulation and no drafty windows, 72 F has generally worked for my offices. But YMMV a lot depending upon the state of the facility.

    13. MigraineMonth*

      I think that the thermostat should go from 70 degrees in the winter to 74 degrees in the summer. First, it reduces electricity use. Second, I dress for cold weather in the winter and hot weather in the summer, and I hate having to bring extra clothes to work because the thermostat is the same all year round.

      Dress codes should also be relaxed enough that people can dress for the weather (looking at you, mandatory suit jackets on sweltering summer days).

      Of course, all that must be trumped by disability accommodation. One of my coworkers can’t “just put on a sweater”, so their need to not get hypothermia is more important than my desire to wear warm pants during the winter.

    14. Lucy P*

      Ours is set to 78 in summer and 68 in winter. In the individual offices (thermostat temp and actual room temps are different) that translates to 74 in summer and 69 in winter. In summer men run fans and women go sleeveless. In winter we’re all running spaces heaters and tripping circuit breakers.

    15. Picard*

      In the winter, ours is set to 64 F which is ok (but I run hot) I would say it would be better if it were set at 68 F.
      In the summer, its set to 74 F which is warm for me but usually gets to 76-78 (manufacturing facility and insulation sucks)

    16. Mill Miker*

      One job I was at, the arguments got really, really bad about this. I know the thermostat was probably not accurate, but our HR person just kept saying “Just set it in the middle” when team was pretty evenly split into the group that thought 76º was “way too hot to think” and the group that thought 78º was “so cold I can’t feel my fingers”.

    17. Auntie Matter*

      My office was moved to a brand new building where something is clearly not yet right with the AC. There is a thermostat in my office that does nothing when I try to use it. I just sit there and watch helplessly as the temperature climbs. The worst I’ve seen it get was 79, but I suspect it’s gone higher because on those warm days, I would eventually just go work in another space. There’s also absolutely no airflow, which makes it worse. Now that it’s super cold outside, it’s a more reasonable temperature inside (around 70), but I know those too-warm days will come again… (I run warm, anyway, but I can’t believe 79 and stuffy would be comfortable even for people who don’t run warm.)

  7. Camellia*

    Do we have any structural engineers here? (jk, but not really)

    When I’m awakened at 2:00 AM by my neighbor’s shouting matches, is it most likely to be my upstairs neighbor, the neighbor next to me, or the neighbor behind me?

    Further structural context: I live in a tiny one-bedroom apartment, square footprint. The bathroom/kitchen wall is shared with my next-door neighbor and the bathroom/bedroom wall is shared with the neighbor behind me. Why am I mentioning my bathroom? Because while the arguments are loud enough to wake me up in my bedroom, when I go into my bathroom (yeah, I wake up I need to go) it is so loud that I can literally understand the words they are shouting at each other. It’s almost like they are shouting into the exhaust fan, which is on the wall right up next to the ceiling of the bathroom/kitchen wall, which is why I also think of my upstairs neighbor. My brain imagines them shouting into it the way one would shout into a megaphone. How loud and clear? I could probably testify in court to the content, if needed.

    This happens at least once a week, sometimes more often. I get up at 4:30 AM and if I wake up prior to that, I can’t go back to sleep, so this is not great. I want to make a noise complaint to the apartment complex management but don’t know which neighbor it is most likely to be. Can anyone here help me figure that out?

    1. EMP*

      my only qualification to comment here is a thing told to me by people working in architecture, but I’ve been told it’s easier to soundproof vertical walls than horizontal dividers. I also personally have heard every word of an upstairs neighbor’s conversation before. That said, I’m sure it depends on the building. Sorry you’re dealing with this!

    2. Ashloo*

      Ugh, I’ve been here and ultimately had to move. Could you wear ear plugs for your sanity?

      This is unpleasant at 2am, but could you step outside your apartment to see if you could hear the argument through their door to pinpoint? Or look at whose lights are on at that time?

    3. Rex Libris*

      I’d be tempted to just join in on the conversation by shouting back something like “You tell ’em! You shouldn’t have to put up with that!” They might get the clue.

  8. Sara*

    How many times should you follow up on advancement queries before just calling it and moving to outside opportunities? I like my company, but there’s not a lot of upward mobility so I’ve outright asked my manager about what steps I need to take. He says he’s going to talk to the CFO but idk if the CFO is blowing him off, or if my manager is placating me by saying that. (relevant, its a small company, the CFO is very accessible and they talk almost daily). I’ve followed up a few times but I don’t know at what point its just not worth my time to keep asking.

    I’ve been getting interest from recruiters so I’m keeping my options open and looking to see what’s out there, but I would honestly prefer to stay here if they’d bump me up to a senior role. I just don’t know if asking for a fourth or fifth time if he’s ‘heard anything back’ is pointless.

    1. irene adler*

      There’s no set number.
      Thing is, if advancement is something management and managers are interested in providing, they would be doing just that. There would be little need for you to ask-other than to learn about how advancement works in your company.

      No harm in talking with recruiters. If nothing else, you can explore other options which will give you new perspective on your current company.

      Remember, only you have your best interests at heart. And only you can take steps that serve your best interests.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      My experience manager in a smaller company is that there is either a lack of real opportunity, or your boss is beating around the bush in the conversation. In medium sized companies and smaller it’s too easy to get pigeon-holed. “Sally can’t manage accounts, she does data entry.” As if no one ever grew out of a role ever and people always stay at their entry level skill set. Sometimes you have to do a little convincing to get higher ups to realize that someone is indeed ready for a stretch
      To directly answer your question, maybe start looking and do one more follow up.

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

      If there isn’t a clear path for you to take — existing positions that you could easily move into — start looking. It sounds like you want them to create a new title for you, but that usually is just window dressing; you’ll likely still be doing the same tasks with the same authority level, and maybe no extra money, which would only benefit you on a resume as you look for a real step up.

    4. Mockingjay*

      Businesses are pyramids. There isn’t always room at the top when you are ready to move up. The other side: businesses hire people to do certain jobs. If you move up, now they have to staff your prior position. Sometimes it’s in the company’s best interest (cost/schedule/performance) to keep you in that slot. Sometime promotions and retention aren’t a high priority. There’re myriad reasons.

      I’ve been in your place; I had to leave to move up. I liked the prior company, I liked my work, but I was performing several levels above my role, which made me extremely cost effective and productive. Of course they wanted to keep me there.

      No harm in looking or talking to other companies; you might be pleasantly surprised with a more challenging role that better fits your long-term career.

    5. Quinalla*

      Definitely start at least casually looking or talking to recruiters that come to you. Even if you don’t bite on any of it, having more up to date info on potential salaries/positions that are available will give you more confidence, etc.

      Maybe ask your manager if you can talk to the CFO about it directly? I dunno if you even want to, but that would be my next question to try and shake things loose or get more info.

    6. Momma Bear*

      If you are considering options, can you have a frank “I’m looking at my long-term goals. You know I want to be in a senior role. Is that achievable for me in the coming year? If so, what are the next defined steps to get there?” And then move based on that answer. You might roll it into a regular one-on-one or review meeting.

    7. Keep looking*

      In 2020 I’d been in a job 6 years. I loved the people and really wanted to stay. I’d been “promoted” once but it was barely a change in pay and I was performing at least two levels from where I was.

      But every time I asked about the promotion they said I was going to get they wouldn’t give me a timeline.

      So I got a job at a competitor two levels up for a 35% raise.

      It was worth it career wise but I hated the job and didn’t like the people. So I started looking but only applying to jobs I was really, really interested in.

      In a few months I got a job with a much better title and making 75% more. So since 2020 my salary has more than doubled. And my role is so much better.

      I didn’t even really want to leave my original job because I was so attached to the people. But if I hadn’t, I have no doubt I’d still be doing the same thing, being drastically underpaid and not knowing the extent of it.

      See what’s out there because it could be way more than you’ve ever realized!

  9. Alix*

    Every year my team needs someone to cover our desk over Christmas. There’s a yearly rotation, and unfortunately I’m stuck with the Christmas shift this year. It’s a huge inconvenience for me, because I have a ton of family who live internationally and just due to everyone having hectic holiday schedules, Christmas is one of very few days each year when I’m able to see everyone. I did mention this to my manager, and while she was sympathetic, she said that nobody wants to work this shift, everyone has their turn, and unfortunately an exception couldn’t be made. So I very begrudgingly will be working it, and will be having a miserable day knowing that I am missing out on seeing people close to me, and on family traditions that are dear to me.

    Today in the office, I ran into one of our senior executives. He said, “I saw that you’re working the Christmas shift this year. Thank you for your service.” I’m sure he was just trying to be nice, but in the moment I had no idea what to say. I strongly did not want to say “You’re welcome” or “No problem”, because working this shift was a huge problem for me, and I felt totally disingenuous acting like it was. So I ended up saying something neutral like “Well, I got stuck with it this year, it is what it is.” Then he started talking about how much he’d hated having to work the Christmas shift when he was my level, and how much it must suck, and how much he and whole company really appreciated me giving up my time to do it. Again, I understood that he was trying to be nice, but in the moment I just wanted to shout that I wasn’t doing the shift from the goodness of my heart, I was being made to take it. I was getting so annoyed that I ended up just kind of nodding and changing the subject.

    For future situations like this, are there any responses anyone can recommend that acknowledge that having to do a thing sucks without sounding rude?

    1. Mississippi*

      “Thank you for acknowledging that it’s a hardship.” or “I appreciate the acknowledgement of the hardship.”

    2. Kez*

      For these cases I usually say “I appreciate that” because clearly the person is trying to indicate that they are sympathetic and want me to feel my sacrifice is being acknowledged. Even something like, “I appreciate that – it’s really tough on me because of my family situation, but I hope I’ll be able to see some of them before or after” which might flag that it’s a sensitive subject for you specifically, and for them to not belabor the point.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      “Gotta take one for the team!”
      “Only fair– guess it was my turn!”
      “Thanks… I appreciate it.”
      “Yeah, it kinda stinks, but it is what it is.”

      The guy is sympathizing with you. He’s not expecting a smile and a, “Oh, I don’t mind, it’s my pleasure” or anything like that. It does suck, he knows it sucks, it sucks.

    4. ecnaseener*

      Your response sounds fine, as long as your tone wasn’t grumpy.

      It sounds like this guy knew you weren’t doing it from the goodness of your heart, fwiw – he was trying to say he knows it royally sucks, he sympathizes, he can’t make it go away so all he can do is you it’s really appreciated.

    5. WellRed*

      What you said wasn’t great but I also don’t think it was terrible and I wouldn’t give it another thought. People thanking you for doing this is really just a version of saying “how are you?” You wouldn’t tell them “ I have massive cramps, my spouse is cheating on me and i can’t pay my bills.” You say, “fine thanks” and move on.

    6. Colette*

      I think what you said was OK – and I also think you should reframe this.

      Part of life is that you can’t do everything. You’re going to miss things you wish you could attend, miss out on seeing people when they’re in town, have committments you can’t break that interfere with other things you’d like to do.

      And that’s OK – the only alternative is having nothing going on in your life except waiting for other people to show up.

      The other people who could cover the desk also have people they’d like to see and things they’d like to do. If taking your turn to cover the desk is not something you’re willing to do, this isn’t the job for you.

      1. Alix*

        Trust me, I’m willing to do it. I’m doing it — I didn’t resign over doing it. But I’m unhappy about doing it! It is reasonable to enjoy a job but still be unhappy about having to do parts of it IMO

        1. to varying degrees*

          To be fair, that’s not really the tone that’s coming off from your post, at least to me, especially since it seems you tried to subtly get out of it. All you need to say is like someone else said ” Yeah, thanks, It’s my turn” or something similar.

          1. Alix*

            Don’t really know what to tell you! I’m unhappy about having to work over Christmas while also understanding that it’s necessary. People have irrational emotions.

        2. Colette*

          Sure, but there’s unhappy and there’s wallowing in bitterness, and your initial comment seems like you’re leaning towards the latter.

          There’s no reason you need to “have a miserable day”, for example. You can have a nice day doing something that’s not your first choice. And feeling like you want to shout at someone who is acknowledging that you’re making a sacrifice is a pretty emotionally-charged reaction.

          1. Alix*

            I apologize if my post came off that way — I definitely do not think I am “wallowing in bitterness”.

        3. Not A Manager*

          Honestly, it is reasonable to be unhappy about parts of your job, but it’s not always wise to telegraph that to your superiors. It sounds like the system is very fair, and you’ve benefitted in the past from others working the desk when it’s their turn.

          Your senior executive *knows* that it sucks and you’re unhappy, because it sucked for him and almost everyone else when it was their turn. You gain nothing by being ungracious.

        4. slashgirl*

          For something that happens or is going to happen how many times over the course of how many years? I could see being this upset over it if it was once every other year or once every three years. But this sounds like there’s a larger roster of folks, so really, not that bad.

          My parents owned and we lived over a convenience store–and short of us leaving the building, even if we’d had signs up that we’d be closed on Christmas, we’d still get phone calls asking if we were open–sometimes at 7 a.m. on xmas day. (Step dad was too cheap to spring for a business line and a personal line and this was in the days when you HAD to answer the phone to find out who was calling.) It could be worse.

          And hey, look on the bright side–you do it this year, then it’ll be however many years before you have to do it again.

    7. tlmic*

      It’s really too bad when a company puts people into a crappy situation and then refers to it as ‘service’.

      If the business it self isn’t essential, is there anyway to outsource or ramp down the front desk duties over the holidays? If you can document that the amount of stuff that needs to happen on Christmas isn’t worth paying someone to work on Christmas, you might be able to end Christmas coverage forever, for everyone.

      1. Cordelia*

        OP isn’t saying it doesn’t need to be done though, just that they don’t want to be the one who does it. Yes it sucks, OP is allowed to not want to do it – but the executive is just acknowledging it sucks, he’s not under any impression OP is doing it out of the goodness of their heart. The company is not doing anything “crappy” – seems pretty fair, that it’s done on rotation. Perhaps they could ask for volunteers first, but if no-one volunteers then a rotation is better than “first come first served” in taking leave, or seniority, or popularity, or any other solution I am aware of.

      2. Alix*

        Yeah, unfortunately due to the nature of our team’s work, it is 100% necessary for us to have 24/7 coverage.

        1. Momma Bear*

          So here’s a thought – do you get a meal break? Can you invite a relative to join you for lunch to help make your day brighter? It may be most convenient for everyone to see everyone on Christmas, but a lot of people don’t get that flexibility. Can those who can flex meet you before/after your shift? Is there another day you can take off and use as your family time?

        2. Cj*

          Lots of families celebrate on Christmas eve, and it sounds like your family does on christmas day. I don’t know what time your 24/7 shifts are split up into, but if it wouldnt keep you up too late to enjoy the next day, could you trade with the xmas eve person?

    8. BRR*

      I think this is one of those situations where you just lie and say you’re welcome. It sounds like everyone understands that it’s an unpleasant task and that you’re not doing this out of the kindness of your heart. I can’t think of anyway that you would benefit from complaining about it.

    9. just another queer reader*

      I’m sorry you’re stuck with it this year.

      Also, I know it’s no help now, but any chance you could get them to change the staffing system for next year? In my experience there’s often a handful of people (even Christians who celebrate!) who legitimately don’t mind working Christmas. Management could sweeten the deal by offering overtime pay or extra PTO/ flex time.

      1. Alix*

        Yeah, we get a comp day if we work Christmas, but that’s not really a ton of incentive for anyone. I think there might be volunteers if they offered overtime pay, but we’re all exempt so I don’t know if they can do that?

        1. jasmine*

          They should still be able to offer a bonus if you’re exempt. Definitely worth bringing up for the future if management is generally decent and not opposed to hearing new ideas.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        Yeah, one of the places I worked offered pay-and-a-half for Christmas day. I celebrate Christmas, but I signed up because most of my family traditions happen on Christmas eve. As a bonus, all the clients were really sweet and grateful to those of us who were working that day.

        I think incentives is a good place to start, but if no one volunteers I think rotating responsibility around a team as they’re doing now is probably fairest.

          1. Willis*

            Just because you’re exempt doesn’t mean your company can’t pay you some small bonus as an incentive or additional compensation for working an undesirable shift. It doesn’t have to be based on an hourly wage, but if they wanted to do it like that, certainly they could take your weekly or biweekly or whatever time period salary and divide it by number of hours you typically work over that period. It’s not a complicated idea.

        1. Cj*

          My BIL used to work xmas and new years day every year. He got paid for the holiday, paid double time for working it (so triple pay for the day), plus they were always really busy that time of year, so working those days would put him into overtime for the week.

    10. RagingADHD*

      A gracious response would be “thank you for saying so.”

      Your description of the interaction and his response of extended commiseration makes me wonder if you came off sounding / looking surly, and let your annoyance and begrudging attitude be very obvious.

      If 24/7 coverage is standard in your industry / organization, and everyone on the team has to take a turn working holidays, I hope you can find a way to mitigate that impression in the future. It is really not a good look for your career prospects if you choose a 24/7 industry and then give the impression that you believe you should be exempt from common inconveniences that are inherent to the job.

      From some of your comments about “at my level” and the way your manager had to explain the system to you, it sounds like you might be relatively junior in your career. You should bear in mind that if you habitually make it obvious that you don’t want to be at work or shoulder the same responsibilities as everyone else, the natural outcome of that will be detrimental to you staying in jobs long term or advancing out of junior level positions.

      1. Alix*

        I am not junior, nor am I in a 24/7 industry (our team just happens to function this way, but the entire company and industry does not), nor did my manager have to explain the system to me (?) nor do I not want to be at work or habitually make that obvious. I appreciate the comment, but it sounds like I probably worded this question poorly.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Oh, well, the bit about: “I did mention this to my manager, and while she was sympathetic, she said that nobody wants to work this shift, everyone has their turn, and unfortunately an exception couldn’t be made” led me to believe you were not familiar with the rotation and it was a surprise to you.

          I am a bit taken aback if you have watched your coworkers take turns missing Christmas with their own families year after year, and still expected your manager to make “an exception.” How did you envision that working out, if nobody ever volunteers to take the shift?

          1. Alix*

            I did not expect that, nor did I ask my manager to make one. It merely happened to come up in conversation at one point where I mentioned that I was bummed to have the Christmas shift this year, and that was his sympathetic response. I realize that this was worded poorly in the post.

    11. umami*

      Just acknowledging that he understands it is a hardships is best. He was actually empathizing with your plight because he’s been there, so at least they weren’t hollow words. If you can focus on the fact that he didn’t mean he appreciated you in some sense of altruism, but that he appreciated (i.e. understood) that you were giving up valuable time in accordance with the scheduling, you might feel a bit less annoyed, I hope!

    12. Alix*

      Thank you everyone for your responses. It has been made clear to me that I was out of line in how I responded to this comment from the executive. I hear what you’re all saying and definitely did not mean to imply here (or to the executive) that I resent my job or anything of that nature.

      1. LB33*

        I don’t think you were out of line, more that it’s not clear what you are looking to get across to the exec. I’m pretty sure that they already know you aren’t doing it because you love your job more than Christmas

    13. WorkingRachel*

      No advice, but my dad says this a lot to cashiers, etc., working on holidays and it bugs me so much! There’s probably a 90% chance they didn’t want to be working today, and it feels rude to lampshade that they are there on a holiday.

  10. a raging ball of distinction*

    TL;DR: How do forgetful people learn to keep track of important things?

    My oldest stepkid is halfway through their junior year in high school and loses things all the time. Has been like this for years. I worry about their college experience and how we can give them experience being responsible for themself and their stuff, to say nothing of the fact that they’re interested in an independent outdoorsy career. I’d love to hear from folks who had similar issues as teens. What helped? What didn’t? Or do you get into your house with a retina scan now bc it’s cheaper than having a new set of housekeys made every month and you’re an adult so you get to choose?

    Caveat the 1st: An item’s value (cost or emotional) does not make a difference. Kid brought a case of paraphernalia from their favorite hobby and #1 priority to use while on vacation with a friend’s family this summer. Kid accidentally left the bag on the train on their way up – hundreds of dollars worth of supplies accumulated over a number of years, gone.

    Caveat the 2nd: Our kids get excellent mental and emotional as well as physical healthcare. Please do *not* assume or suggest any UN-diagnosed conditions are at play. That said, I don’t think Kid’s (diagnosed and medicated) ADHD is doing any of us any favors.

    1. Marmalade*

      My mom was always paranoid about us losing stuff (not sure why, neither of us were prone to forgetting things) and she would clip bags onto our main bag with a carrabeaner – so basically a leash for the second bag. I wonder if there is something that beeps when you get too far away from its base that you could put one on kid and one on belongings?

    2. Sylvan*

      ADHD impairs short-term memory. You can encourage your kid to talk to their therapist/psychiatrist about it, because advice for neurotypical people might not suit them.

      Some things that help:

      – Using storage that keeps items visible, ex. clear boxes or wire bins
      – Writing important dates on wall calendars instead of in easy-to-lose planners
      – Having only one location for important items like ID documents
      – Adding trackers to important items

    3. Nea*

      This is very much Your Mileage May Vary, but the only way I can keep track of things is to enlist a version of the Japanese point-and-call system. In my case, touch and call. Yes, out loud. In numbered order.

      So, when leaving the house, it’s “One, I have my wallet. Two, I have my keys. Three, I just locked the door” etc.

      When shutting down at work (where I don’t say it out loud, but I do touch and think in order) it’s “One, the computer is shut down. Two, my headphones are out of the headphone jack. Three, the “Gone for the day” sign is up…”

      In his case, perhaps one of the counts could be “I have looked back at my seat to see what’s left” or simply “One, first of x bags; two, second of x bags…”

      1. CrankyIsta*

        In the same vein, when I’m going somewhere (especially anywhere that I might be moving quickly or be more forgetful of things), I count my bags at every step. So I’m leaving home? “I have three bags.” Getting off the train, “Do I have three bags?” etc.

    4. ScruffyInternHerder*

      As you mentioned, ADHD isn’t doing him any favors. Object permanence issues can be a thing.

      My life hacks, which do have some workplace relevance:
      Everything has its place, and everything goes in its place. I make no exceptions.
      I have tiles (basically electronic homing devices) on things like keys, wallet, etc. If nothing else, sometimes they help me locate my purse when its wandered off.

    5. Green Goose*

      Okay this question is for me! I was the kid whose backpack and locker/desk was ALWAYS a mess, and I would frequently lose/forget things. I’ve always been a bit disorganized and while it’s definitely gotten a lot better, it’s still there in me. I was really irresponsible too, in high school I lost my house key multiple times and in the first two years of college I lost my cellphone (as in lost it and it needed to be replaced) like five times in two years. When I was in high school we did some sort of ADHD diagnosis but I don’t think we really followed up, I remember we got one bottle of adderall and it made me so wired and uncomfortable that I stopped taking them and that was sort of it. I only mention this because even getting the diagnosis didn’t help me at the time.

      As a now 37 year old looking back, I think what ultimately made me better was when no one could bail me out and I had to face the real world consequences of being messy/sloppy. I remember hearing second hand that a guy didn’t want to go out with me after he saw how horribly messy my dorm room was (I almost died of embarrassment).
      I lost a house key when I was living abroad and it was a nightmare, I didn’t speak the local language well enough to call a locksmith and the owner of the school I worked at who owned my apartment was annoyed with me so she refused to call on my behalf, so I was locked out for almost a full day and berated by my employer. Also, as I got older, I was paying for all my own things, and you know what? I never lost my first iphone that I had to spend $800 of my own money on, whereas I lost those five Nokias that my parents paid for.
      I’m definitely still messy, but I’ve gotten much more responsible and I think it just comes from growing up and becoming more responsible, and not being able to rely on people to bail you out.
      I know it’s frustrating though! My mom and sister regale me with tales of how annoying I was with leaving my backpack in the doorway almost every day, and just being a forgetful slob in general. I’m typing this from a very cluttered desk at home.

      1. Green Goose*

        I just thought of another consequence: When I was 25 I worked in South Korea, where people tend to keep their offices pretty spotless and mine was… messy! I didn’t think much of it and one day I came to work and one of the managers pulled me aside and said that the CEO of the whole company (multimillion dollar company with 30+ branches) was at our office earlier and for some unlucky reason, went into my office with our branch manager and was enraged when he saw how messy it was. He apparently brought multiple people in and shouted about it, and then the branch manager came to my office every couple of days to check on how organized it was, I would say that’s one of the humiliation highlights of my life. Ugh!

    6. tlmic*

      – Airtags or finder tiles are very useful in these situations.
      – Having one of those ‘hidden key’ rocks can also be very helpful for those lost house keys.
      – setting up an official key hook inside the house can also be very helpful
      – talk through these optimization tactics and let the kid know that they’ll have to experiment to find what works best, but you’ll support them as they work it out.

      Having bags or backpacks that can fit ALL THE THINGS is also really helpful. How you can or cannot carry things is a vital travel skill that I think a lot of people just have to learn over time through painful mistakes. But the gift of easy-to-carry/easy-to-pack bags with all the right pockets for the stuff can be a real game changer.

      It may also be helpful to let them mourn over things that are lost, and commiserate. Everyone makes mistakes and loses stuff, and it hurts! They should feel empowered to mourn what was lost without beating themselves up for their mistakes. Show them the compassion that they should give themselves, so that they can gain the resilience to power through future challenges.

    7. still forgetful at times*

      I do this with things I don’t make an effort to keep track of. My brother was worse about this than I was but it as gotten better as he’s grown up.

      Part of it is prevention. Like with the bag left on the train, maybe putting it in his lap or attaching it to his suitcase with the clip or something so it’s basically impossible to leave behind. I do this now with my keys/wallet. I have a GIANT wristlet with a keychain that attaches to it, so it’s so much easier to keep track of.

      My dad would start buying bigger and bigger things of stuff the family would lose all the time. By the time I left for college, we had a TV remote like this (

    1. can't find my stuff*

      This answer might not be reassuring, but I was very much like this as a teen, and I basically still am. It’s not exactly advice, but I’ll share my experience.

      For a while, I lived in a very safe rural area, and avoided the key issue by keeping my door unlocked. Now I hide my key in the yard rather than carry it. I wear my key fob for work on a hair tie around my wrist and put it in the same place every night which helps a lot, but even so, I’ve lost it a couple times. I have lost so many important things (financially and/or emotionally) as a teen and adult. I try to carry very little with me- I don’t carry a bag or wallet day to day, so if I lose something it’s likely to be in the house. I have some pay apps/store accounts on my phone, so if/when I lose my debit cards, I am not totally out of luck (learned this one the hard way). Now I’m married, and my spouse holds onto our documents. I don’t borrow things at all from other people because the risk is too high, and I don’t travel with anything precious. I struggle enough with car keys, drivers license, and registration papers that I have arranged my life in order to not have to drive.

      I know this all sounds extreme, and probably worrying as a step-parent! But, I’m an adult with a professional job, a spouse, apartment, etc. I’ve been able to live anyway. Ultimately, to a certain extent, this is the way I am. It’s not that I don’t care enough to pay attention to my things, as I hate the deep emotional pain of losing something beloved, or the significant financial consequences. It’s a very painful part of my life and I wish I knew how I lost things so easily. But, it is what it is. I have had to work on letting go of my attachment to material items. Like I said, I know myself well enough now that I don’t borrow things, and I ask other people to help by holding onto items for me. I call a lot of lost and founds. And I have shaped my routines and life around not putting myself in the position to lose important stuff.

      Medication, while it was really helpful for me in other regards, didn’t help at all for keeping track of belongings (for me) for what that’s worth. I feel for you and your kid, because it’s tough. I’m also lucky to have the financial ability to generally replace things when needed without ruin. Your stepkid may take a while to figure out the little tricks that work for him, but I bet he’ll be okay in the long run.

  11. teapot filer (hopeful ex librarian)*

    Hi! So this is mostly me venting but if anyone has any advice….

    I started a new job in august. A few weeks ago, that job didn’t have enough to do and I was moved to another team. I didn’t have a choice or say in this (I actually would have preferred to stay with my old team). I went from teapot research to teapot filing. This had nothing to do with my performance. I didn’t interview or anything for this new position, I was just moved….

    Yesterday me and my team lead had a check in with how my training is going. Apparently I’m only doing 50-60% of what’s expected, numbers wise. I knew I was going a little slow, but I didn’t know it was that bad. We talked on ways I can improve said numbers.

    But now I’m worried I won’t meet expectations. My team lead (who isn’t my main trainer) said that she’s had someone on her team for three months and they do hundreds of orders a day, error free. She doesn’t expect me to do that right now, but I’m wondering if that’s the eventual standard. I don’t know if I can meet that. I still do want to take my time so I don’t make any mistakes (or at least cut down on them). I’ve also never been in a position that was this numbers-based (teapot research didn’t say anything about them, even though I took my time there).

    1. EMP*

      urgh. It does sound like she’s implying that’s the eventual standard. Do you think you can get there with your current training? If not, now is a good time to open a conversation about that gap and how you can close it.
      I would also ask if going back to teapot research will be a possibility in the future. In general it sounds like this job did a bit of a bait and switch and maybe not aligned with your skills as well as you were lead to believe.

      1. teapot filer (hopeful ex librarian)*

        that’s what I’m thinking, too, that it IS the standard. I think I could at least do better than I have been. but I don’t know if I want to – I mean, I’m going to improve my numbers, but I do not want the stress of trying to meet that standard, you know? even just working today in trying to get my numbers up, I’m stressed out and anxious and I Do Not like this feeling.

        and yes, I would love to ask about going back to teapot research in the future, but I know teapot filing has a lot of work backlogged so I don’t know if that’s a possibility. but research is more aligned with my career experience as well as being the job I originally applied for and got. apparently the lack of work there is not normal and I would not have been moved otherwise, but it does feel a little like a bait and switch. surely there was something else I could have learned on that team….

        1. Mockingjay*

          Try approaching as this is a “temporary” assignment (even if it isn’t). “I’m happy to help out with the backlog temporarily, but I’d like to know when I can expect to return to Research. Can we nail down a date?” If they say you’re not, well, then I think you have your answer about this company.

          Last try: “I’d really like to discuss how to get back on that team; I was hired for research; my background and skills are in research and I really want to pursue the projects I started with that team.”

          1. teapot filer (hopeful ex librarian*

            Thank you so much! Hopefully they won’t give me a flat out “no” and it’ll be something I can go back to eventually. I just really wish I had some kind of a say in this. I only got a heads up because my former team lead is fantastic, everybody else told her not to say anything to me.

    2. ecnaseener*

      I think the first thing is to ask for clarification on that standard. Do you know your current numbers so you can calculate what the expected standard is? Is it crazy far from hundreds a day with zero errors, or is it fairly close to that?

      And the other thing to keep in mind is, if you ultimately can’t make the standard at this job, you’ll have the most understandable reason – you were transferred into it without anyone considering whether it would be a good fit, lo and behold it wasn’t a good fit.

      1. teapot filer (hopeful ex librarian)*

        so for the training stats, the numbers I have are not super far behind that, and I am trying to reach that standard for right now. from the overall standard for stats, it’s not even close. but right now, i’m just going for the training standard….. that would be good to get clarified – they keep telling us it’s quality over quantity, but then in the end, numbers also do matter. so idk. they’re also on one of my coworkers (who is new to the company) about his numbers too.

        that’s a good point, though! i’ve been kind of beating myself up over not meeting the standards, even for training stats, but i was just kind of thrown in to this. i think i’m on this team more because they really need help, not because my skills match or whatever.

    3. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Would you be able to talk to your old team lead and ask when abouts you could be coming back to your old team? I mean, you must have been hired to do a certain job, and being lend out to a different team for a certain amount of time might just be the company’s way of dealing with a downturn in demand concerning your expertise, but you probably took that original job because it played to your strengths/experiences/education/… Them now expecting you to do something very different – something which you possibly wouldn’t have tried to get a job in if the company had orginally been hiring for it – and do it to a high standard, is quite the wrong use of your abilities and a weird expectation of theirs.
      So, talk to your former team lead and point out how much more to your strengths your original job plays and that you never planned on doing that other kind of work because you are aware of your weaknesses there.
      Caveat: Should you not have been hired for a certain position or the company made it very clear from very early on that you could be placed on different teams whenever they felt like it / needed it and they would expect a strong work output whichever team you’re in, then you have to weigh less heavily on the “what I was hired for” and much more on the “my strengths” part of it.
      Good luck!

      1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        Ah I took too long to answer, so my point has already been discussed. Sorry for the doubling of ideas!

      2. teapot filer (hopeful ex librarian)*

        i don’t really remember my interview, but i don’t remember them saying that i might be moved to a different team at some point. or that moving from team to team is something that’s done.

        but no, had i seen this job listed, i don’t think i would have applied for it, and i don’t know that i would have made it beyond the application stage honestly. i don’t have a ton of career experience that matches with this, unlike research.

        thank you for the tips! i’ll talk to my old team lead as soon as i can, i have a performance review coming up soon, so i’ll ask if my coming back is a possibility at any point. i don’t hate filing, but i don’t like the high standards we’re expected to meet. if they had asked me if i’d like to move, i would have said no, because research matches so much better with my skills.

  12. WannaApplyforNewJob*

    A new job was created at my company. The job description is almost identical to similar roles (think administrative assistant type of job description) but they added a line about two years experience in event management type of skills.

    I have some of that already and plan to put that into the cover letter.

    I also have done volunteer work as a Scout Leader and planning for a camping trip shares some of the skills: collecting RSVPs, payment, instructions on what to bring, food, equipment, and handling issues on site (first aid, “I forgot my…”). Could I work that into my cover letter?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Yeah, you could include that in your cover letter, but be prepared to show it to a friend to see if it needs wordsmithing. I think what you’d want to avoid is sounding too much like a mom, you know? Emphasize the organizational/administrative skills and less on who it was for (kids).

    2. CheesePlease*

      I think so! I would phrase it as taking the professional experience and applying it to your personal life, kind of a fun anecdote. A cover letter, yes. A resume, no.

      1. ecnaseener*

        I think it would be fine in a volunteer section of the resume – no more than one line, but it’s a legit volunteer position.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Fellow event planner here! I would include it, but definitely wordsmith it as Lunch suggests. Something like “I also provide event support to my local Scout organization in a volunteer capacity. For an annual organization event, I [do X Y Z event management things] and routinely troubleshoot on-site issues like [ABC] by [123].”

      Essentially, I’d remove that it’s a camping trip, just to mitigate any biases about the complexity of the planning involved. Anyone who’s planned a camping trip (or really, any trip involving many people, especially children!) will understand the amount of logistics and preparation involved, but others might scoff.

    4. a raging ball of distinction*

      I would also include “here are some of my strategies and how I rocked planning for the camping trip, this is why I’m excited to move into a role that involves more event planning.” Maybe an obvious question, but… you are interested in the event planning aspect of the new role, right?

    5. MigraineMonth*

      I believe Alison has said in the past that accountability is important for deciding whether something should go in an application.

      “Cooked dinner for my family” doesn’t have the kind of accountability that, say, working in a commercial kitchen would. So running a fan site for a pop singer doesn’t belong in the application materials, but volunteering to run the pop singer’s publicity campaign would.

  13. Aspiring fundraiser*

    Hi all — if you work in nonprofit fundraising and development, I would love your advice.

    So about a year ago, at an internship, I downloaded organizational files for future reference (a lot like the LW who forwarded candidates’ resume to themself). Obviously this was a terrible mistake and I regretted it almost immediately and deleted my copies.

    I’ve managed to get two other internships since (but I don’t know if I would have gotten hired if they knew*), so I’ve been building up a track record of honestly and integrity. This has actually made me super conscientious about staying professional at all times! Still, I worry that my severe error in judgement means that future employers won’t want to take a chance on me, especially since this happened in the recent past and I keep seeing job ads that require an ability to be sensitive with discreet info. Am I being irrational, or should I consider going into another field?

    *I leave the internship off of my resume and have plenty of other stellar references, but I still wonder what would happen if a future employer wants to look into *all* jobs from X amount of years or if I run into a former coworker from that internship.

    1. PassThePeasPlease*

      Does your former company know you downloaded the files/were you reprimanded or written up for it? I’m guessing that’s the case since you leave it off your resume but if it’s not I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

      If you were reprimanded, I think you have to be honest if it ever came up and own up to it but now you can also mention that at the time you were new in the field and have since learned from the experience. And mention that you’ve completed additional internships since then with no similar issues. Once it’s 5+ years in the past I doubt there would be much chance of it coming up unless it’s a really small industry.

      1. Aspiring fundraiser*

        I’m not sure, actually — this happened on my very last day, so I assume they must have found out after I left (a couple of people asked me to stay in touch but then ghosted me around a month later when I asked if they’d be willing to serve as a reference). I’ve always wanted to apologize but am terrified of bringing it up.

        That said, I would definitely be honest about it if anyone asked, and I’m actually in a kinda different industry now.

        1. PassThePeasPlease*

          I wouldn’t say professional contacts ghosting you is enough to go on to say they know what you did, “stay in touch” when it comes to work colleagues means different things to different people (and is sometimes just a nicety) especially since people get busy, move, change jobs, have kids, etc. I definitely wouldn’t bring it up if it was never mentioned to you directly, to do so could raise some red flags and an apology isn’t warranted in this situation if no one knows it happened in the first place.

          I would continue following the path you want to and try to forgive yourself for past mistakes. Everyone makes them and most of the time they don’t have much impact on future roles. Just use it as a learning experience (which is mostly what an internship is anyway).

        2. tlmic*

          I think this is logic leap that’s too large to be real. If you downloaded these files, and then immediately deleted them, and then handed in your laptop for the ceremonially wiping of all info, how would anybody know what had happened? And if they did know, and it was a big deal, wouldn’t they have followed up with you after you left to ensure you didn’t keep those files on a personal thumbdrive?

          I think it’s much more likely that two people you reached out to just missed your message or were too busy to follow up. But you’ve had two successful internships since then, and you clearly think a lot about security now, so maybe it’s time to reframe this as a learning experience – in realizing how easy it was to make the mistake that you did, you’re now extra careful about it, and you probably care a little more about making sure it’s not so easy for others to make the same errors.

          1. Cj*

            I’ve never work anywhere that wiped your computer when you left. They would just scrub it for any personal files they found on your hard drive, delete any saved log ins to your pay and benefit info you accessed on it, etc.

            And if she e-mail the info to herself, no doubt her work e-mail was forwarded to somebody else for a while, and they could very well have noticed this on her sent folder.

        3. NeuroSpice*

          As a certified over-thinker, I pass you my crown

          It is highly unlikely anyone noticed this or will remember or care enough to mention it going forward, and having guilt about it is definitely a cognitive distortion.

          You can feel free to release yourself from this.

    2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Professional fundraiser here. What kind of files? If it was confidential donor information then yeah, that was really not great, but I don’t think you need to continue beating yourself up over it. You made a mistake, learned from it, and have resolved never to do that again. If it was an internship (rather than a job) I think you have even more reason to let it go, because internships are for learning and we all make mistakes when we’re learning.

      Do you have any mentors or professors you could talk to? My personal opinion is that you should let it go and forgive yourself – there is literally no one who has never done something they’d get in trouble for, and you didn’t actually do anything harmful with the material. If you want you could talk about it in interviews as something you’ve learned from, but I really, really think you can put this behind you!

      1. Aspiring fundraiser*

        So I’m not sure if they were confidential. We had a shared Google Drive for the entire org and I would look at files worked on by other teams, just out of curiosity because I loved everything about the org’s work and thought I use them as case studies for personal use as I continued learning (these were things like work plans, meeting notes, etc.). It was sorta like I was given a textbook and told to read chapters 1 and 2, but I also read the other chapters, which were probably none of my business. But obviously I didn’t touch anything that was specifically marked confidential or was password protected.

        That said, it was against org policy to make copies of *anything* without specific permission, which I realized later (definitely learned a valuable lesson about actually reading the employee handbook).

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          Honestly, those things are really not a big deal! I regularly bring templates and blank agendas with me from job to job (not anything with donor info or strategy, but other things are fine). I think you should give yourself permission to move on and continue growing into the professional you want to be.

    3. Tex*

      Did you get in trouble for it? It doesn’t sound like anyone picked up on what you did. If that’s the case, then consider it an internal lesson learned and release yourself from the guilt. Self correcting a mistake that nobody noticed is a step towards personal and professional growth.

      And if your did get in trouble for it (reprimanded by your supervisor), that’s fine too. That’s what internships are for – making mistakes. It would be a great interview point for you to demonstrate that you screwed up in your early career and you now know what the line is for ‘being discreet with information.’

      Now if you got fired for it, that takes it to another level.

      1. Aspiring fundraiser*

        I think it must have come out after I left, since my mentors there who told me to stay in touch later ghosted me when I asked for references afterwards. But I didn’t get fired nor have I ever actually faced any professional consequences, which adds to the guilt.

        1. Friday Person*

          For what it’s worth, it sounds to me like you’re having some anxiety driven thinking about this.

          Obviously it wasn’t a great move, but I don’t think you need to bring it up in the future, to assume that it is the reason you haven’t heard back from your former colleagues, or to let it be a deciding factor in any of your future career plans.

        2. Hen in a Windstorm*

          So you are telling yourself these contacts punished you by ghosting you, but you also say there haven’t been any consequences. If that were why they ghosted you, those *are* consequences. *You* are adding to the guilt. There is no outer force “adding to the guilt”.

          Why do you want to apologize but are “terrified” to do so? You already leave the internship off your resume and you already believe you lost 2 references over this. Literally what other consequences do you imagine? Do you think they’d throw you in jail? This is your anxiety brain coming up with crazy scenarios. If you want to apologize, then reach out and apologize. If you don’t, then stop thinking about it.

          Literally, btw. Like, talk back to that voice in your head by saying (out loud if necessary) you made a mistake, you learned from it, you forgive yourself, and therefore Brain can put it to rest.

        3. Generic+Name*

          I’m not following your logic here. What I do see is a type of cognitive distortion called “filling in the blanks”. You don’t ACTUALLY know why your former mentors didn’t respond to you. Maybe they moved on to other jobs, or they retired, or they died. Or maybe it’s like when you say to an acquaintance, “let’s hang out sometime” without intends g in actually hanging out. All you know is you downloaded some files, and that some mentors didn’t respond to a reference request. And your mind is connecting the two things.

          1. Nonprofit Blues*

            And honestly, I don’t think downloading the files is as big a deal as OP does, TBH. I’m in nonprofit development. If I was a boss and my intern downloaded a bunch of stuff on their last day, I probably wouldn’t jump to fraud anyway, unless as others have said it was highly confidential information. It could have been an accident. I probably wouldn’t notice anyway. Also, a good supervisor would have raised this with you if they did notice and care. You sound very conscientious OP … perhaps *too much so.* This is not like murdering someone or deliberately sabotaging files or taking the client list so you can use it in your freelance work. It’s time to let it go.

            1. Her name was Joanne*

              I agree. And unless it was a very sophisticated nonprofit, the chances that their IT would even notice is pretty slim.

  14. Spearmint*

    Is anyone else feeling anxious about AI potentially automating away their job?

    For those who haven’t been following, there have been major advances in language AI over the past few years. Look up “ChatGPT”, seriously it’s better than you likely think it is. This is far better than Siri or Google Translate or any other AI in mass consumer products. It can write very convincing short form (a few paragraphs) content that is very often indistinguishable from a human.

    I don’t think the current tech is quite where it needs to be to automate away large swaths of white collar work, ChatGPT has many flaws still, but what worries me is what happens in 5-10 years if AI keeps improving at the current pace. Then I could see a lot of the work I and other white collar workers do, writing emails, dry summaries and analysis, and tracking schedules, become largely automated.

    I’m not saying this will happen for sure, but I used to think white collar work was safe from automation, at least in my life time, and now I’m not so sure. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m not worried it will actually be able to do my job better than I can, but I am worried that people in charge of hiring/firing will think it can do my job as well as I can…

      1. Data Slicentist*

        I’m a data scientist and I’m worried about how the press about “AI” lately differs from the reality of the cost of running high quality models trained on ethically obtained data. Mostly for what Anonymous Educator said above.

        I don’t work on anything to the scale of ChatGPT, but much of my job is looking for opportunities to use machine learning to free up our knowledge workers to handle more complex (and frankly more interesting) tasks. Entire jobs that can be performed cheaply at a high level of quality by machine learning are few and far between…but I don’t think that’s the impression most people are getting from the discussions lately.

    2. Ssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      Honestly? No.

      There are so many out there still who actively resist learning new tech, doing it old school, or the old way that would make the transition to AI harder. There’s all the troubleshooting I do daily for my whitecollar job that I can’t see how AI could do that for me.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I still can’t get clients to reliably send me massive database files in .csv instead of .pdf, let along adopting a whole new writing system.

        Otherwise, I think we will have to wait and see. One thing I immediately think of is that ‘learning AI’ conflicts immediately and tremendously with basically any job that involves information privacy. If I’m working with a given client, can I use their data to train the AI? Do I have to use only that client’s information, or everyone’s? How many people have to file cross-consent forms for this to be effective?

    3. Ragged and Rusty*

      I have an art degree but I work in an engineering field. I was more scared of the engineering job being automated away, and now instead it turns out it’s my art degree that’s at risk.

    4. Tex*

      30+ years ago, my HS English teacher said that she used to dislike the automatic spelling correction in word processing software because she could not tell if the students were able to spell correctly and perform at grade level, that it was a short cut and grade inflation by not being able to take points off.

      Then she changed her mind because she realized that it was more important to grade on the content of what was written and that the automatic spelling allowed the students more time to think about the assignment than to check and re-check spelling.

      At my office, everyone is drowning in the bureaucracy. Some roles will change with AI, but new roles will also emerge. Nobody wishes for the old typing pool to come back.

    5. Observer*

      I’m not all that worried. The thing is that LLM’s (Large Language Models) are inherently limited and so far, no one has figured out how to get past those limitations. There is a reason that despite having multiple LLM’s, Google has not released any of them to wide use. Even their EXPLICITLY labeled “AI Test Kitchen” is seriously limited.

      Yes, they are working on these models and they are using some of them for specific purposes as PART of a larger system. But to the extent that there is a risk of white collar work being automated away, it’s not coming from these systems.

    6. Dino*

      Other people seem very convinced that my job will be automated. I’m a sign language interpreter and every time some “sign language gloves” or translation transcription app comes out, every layperson (not deaf or signers themselves) says my job won’t exist in 5 years. All of them are talking out of their asses and have no clue what real time interpretation actually requires. Most of them don’t even get that having gloves that translate what the deaf person is signing doesn’t magically make said deaf person able to understand spoken language…. because they are deaf. So it’s not a solution to needing interpreters.

      tl;dr: don’t fret yet. Tech isn’t great at language.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Aren’t the gloves largely useful only for fingerspelling? I can’t imagine them keeping up with rappers the way interpreters do (nor be anywhere near as entertaining).

    7. LittleBeans*

      Not really. I would actually welcome it if AI could help write some text to make my job easier, like the way I currently use template emails when I frequently have to send the same thing over and over again. But the vast majority of the emails I write still require customization to specific situations and I can’t see AI being able to do that anytime soon.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When computer-assisted coding systems (medical coding, not programming) started coming out, there was a kerfuffle that we would become obsolete. My coders use CAC and we are constantly having to correct it and retrain it, because it’s blindingly terrible. Zero concerns about automation here. (That said, I’m working on putting together a chat bot to use as a FAQ on processes etc for my team. Heh.)

    9. Ranon*

      My white collar job largely involves helping groups of humans figure out how to resolve their mutually incompatible needs, preferences and budgets while also meeting self contradictory rules written by other human beings. I wish the computers luck trying to figure that out when I can’t get a consistent interpretation from one jurisdiction to the next.

  15. LittleBeans*

    If you’re exempt, can you ever feel like just taking part of a day off? My understanding is that I have to use sick leave in full day increments, and if I work any part of a day, it’s a work day, not a sick day. Sometimes I feel under the weather and don’t want to work 8 hours, but feel like I could pull it together for a hour or two if something is important. How would you handle this? Is it ok to cancel less important things if I’m feeling sick, but not cancel things the same day that are particularly timely/would be hard to reschedule?

    1. Melanie Cavill*

      I’m exempt and have never worked a job where I couldn’t book off chunks of time by the hour. At my previous job, I took a lot of half days. Never got any pushback. Does your company use a portal for booking time off? If so, check and see if it’ll allow you to book less than eight hours on a day.

    2. Kris*

      This is our policy. Full days OOO you must use time. If you come in, but are not feeling well, have a doctor appt, etc., you can leave without using time. I would clarify with your manager, but that is usually how it works.

    3. Todaloo*

      When I was exempt we were allowed to use PTO/sick in hourly chunks (and had to use it to reach 40 hrs in some cases). Oddly it’s now that I’m non-exempt that my company, according to one supervisor, wants me to only use PTO in full day chunks, not hourly increments. It’s a really silly rule in my opinion. It makes timekeeping a pain and drains my PTO/sick super quickly.

    4. ecnaseener*

      My manager has actually told me NOT to use PTO in less than full-day increments, to just make up the time in the same period if I’m gone for part of a day. Which…is not how salaried exempt is supposed to work, so that ticks me off. Luckily I have enough PTO to just take a full day if I have a daytime appointment.

    5. a raging ball of distinction*

      this seems like a “talk to your manager if they are at all reasonable” kind of thing. Earlier this week in fact, I had intended to work but my morning travel plans went sideways and I didn’t sign on until mid-afternoon. I let my boss know I’d take that full day as PTO and log off a few hours early one day during the Xmas/NewYear’s week and that was fine. Your boss should also be able to let you know (or find out) how much your org’s PTO robots care about full vs partial days. As long as you’re not trying to slice hours every single day you’re out and your boss is reasonable, they should be fine. All that said, I think it’s worth reflecting on your job and/or your approach to it if you *always* feel like you can’t take even a full day off.

    6. Estimator*

      I think depends on your supervisor & company culture. At my current job if you need a few hours off you just take it and no one cares as long as the work is done and it’s not all the time. My previous employer it was frowned on and not done, you had to use PTO. Both were exempt. But guess which place has a lot of turnover and which doesn’t.

    7. LittleBeans*

      To be clear, I have full autonomy over my schedule and my boss is fine with whatever I do. My question was more about the ethics/optics of the situation. Can I cancel some meetings but not cancel others the same day? Like, will people think, if you’re well enough to do that other meeting, you should be well enough for mine too? I don’t really care whether it’s marked as sick time or not but I’m also concerned about the message to my team — I’m a manager and I don’t want to suggest that people should still try to come to a meeting when they’re taking a sick day. So I’ve historically always taken “full days”, as in, if I tell my team I’m out sick, I really log off for the whole day, to set an example. But it’s been inconvenient at times, and I’ve had to reschedule important things that I probably could have just done even when I’m sick.

      1. another_scientist*

        My initial reaction might be ‘is my meeting less important to OP than this meeting they made time for?’ and then I’d catch myself and say ‘probably, yes.’ That’s ok.
        It’s not different than triaging meetings because an important deadline came up, or you have to put out other work-related fires.
        Taking enough time to properly recover and modeling that for your team are also important, but you have your reasons for prioritizing and I wouldn’t borrow trouble in assuming people will think less of you for doing so. You have enough time to cross that bridge when someone makes a comment.

      2. JR*

        This kind of juggling seems totally normal to me. This last week, my daughter was sick and my husband and I had to trade off childcare. He stayed home while I led the 20-person workshop I was facilitating. Then I relieved him, so I rescheduled the three-person in-person meeting and skipped the team lunch but had them proceed without me. Not because the latter two weren’t important, but because they could be rescheduled or go on without me more easily than the former.

    8. Quinalla*

      Really depends on your policy, for us if you are taking a light day, generally you just make up the time somewhere else in the week. Like when I get a migraine (ugh) I usually talk off 2-4 hours depending and just make up the time either in the evening or the next couple days. If I’m losing an hour for a doc appointment, that is so easy to make up, I just let people know so if they need me they know I’ll be less/not available. If it was on Friday and I wasn’t to 40 hours yet (rarely happens for me honestly as I tend to work about 45 a week) I’d just put in however many hour of sick time to get to 40. But yeah, some places have different policies.

      I’d just ask your manager or a peer about it and get the scoop if it isn’t apparent to you how it should work. Exempt should mean more flexibility on both sides, but it doesn’t always.

      1. LittleBeans*

        Yeah, it is normal on my team to take off an hour or two, or even a half-day, and still count that as a day worked and assume the time will be made up some other day. Unfortunately, I have a toddler, so I can’t easily make up time at other hours though – if he’s not in daycare, I’m not getting work done.

        Example: last week, I was pretty sick, coughing, headache, etc. and really, I just needed a couple more hours of sleep. Ideally, I would have cancelled all of my morning meetings and slept in, but then probably would have logged in for one meeting in the afternoon that involved a lot of people and was a pain to reschedule. But I felt like it was all or nothing so the first day, I sucked it up and worked all day despite feeling pretty terrible, and the second day, I called in sick and cancelled everything, except the one important afternoon meeting which I asked my boss to cover for me.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      At my org hourly folk can do PTO in literally any number of minutes but salaried can only do increments of 4 hours (half day).

  16. Treebeard*

    tl;dr: I feel guilt about my role in a coworker’s contract possibly not being extended

    I have a coworker, Hilda, who was hired on a 3 year contract to fill a specific role. Hilda was told at the time of hire that there was no garuntee of further employment at the end of the contract. (At least, I am assured this by our then-manager.)

    The 3 years are nearly up and its looking like Hilda’s contract won’t be renewed, in part because she hasn’t been doing the job very well. The complaints have come from outside our department and outside our company. I don’t have much interaction with that area of her job.

    However, part of her work is under my supervision, and she hasn’t been great at that either. I regularly have to tell her the info she’s using is wrong, and why, and my corrections rarely seem to stick as the same mistakes get made again.

    So, when our current manager suggested that it would be possible to extend her contract by moving her into my team, I was less than enthusiastic, both because of the mistake making and also because of her volatility.

    Hilda’s reactions to things are intense, beyond what the situation might call for. When we were, as a department, discussion the discontinuation of a specific service (due to a combo of almost no demand and staffing shortages), Hilda angrily told our entire dept that we were undermining our status in the larger company and shooting ourselves in the foot and if we can’t provide this service then what are we good for.

    I’ve had regular work conversations with her that start light then take weird turns. One notable one was when we started by talking about an ongoing project and somehow the conversation turned into a really intense one about her anger at her dead friend.

    I know that it is Hilda’s less than good work and unpredictable behavior that has led to this, and in the end it is the manager’s decision to keep her or not, I can only advise. Could I handle her on my team? Probably. Would it be a lot more work and stress for me? Yes. Do I feel selfish choosing my own situation over Hilda’s continued employment? Yes.

    Hilda is now very upset at me (because our manager dropped my name in the conversation about her contract ending, sigh) and I feel kind of guilty.

    Is there a way to square this circle, as it were? Another way for me to re-frame or approach the situation? Or is the guilt just part of it that I need to sit with?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Sounds like you dodged a bullet with Hilda, but it’s worth a conversation with your manager to understand if they threw you under the bus without checking in with you. If Hilda is so “upset” she can’t work adequately for the remainder of her term, maybe they can support you by moving her along sooner.

      1. Treebeard*

        I was pretty pissed about being thrown under the bus! My manager has…little to no filter. And no real sense about what should or shouldn’t be shared. Sadly.

        1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

          Which is reeeaaally not ideal for a manager of people and should at least be a warning to you concerning your manager’s handling of future conflicts/situations

          1. Treebeard*

            Very much not ideal. This manager also doesn’t take Hilda’s volatility too seriously, even though I and others have brought it to her as a concern. A lot of not idealness going, sadly.

        2. Quinalla*

          Even though you know this, I would recommend bringing it up to you manager!

          I wouldn’t feel too bad about Hilda, you didn’t make up things, you reported what you were seeing and honestly it sounds like her contract should not be renewed! Sounds like she wasn’t good at any part of her job and was also a bit emotionally volatile, no thanks! Hopefully when you manager wasn’t keeping his mouth shut about you he also gave her honest feedback about what she was doing wrong so she can learn from it.

    2. Season of Joy (TM)*

      The question I always ask myself is, if I were to hire someone new for this position, would Hilda be my chosen candidate?

      1. Treebeard*

        Yeah, this was definitely a conversation that I had with our manager, that training a new person from scratch seemed less daunting than dealing with Hilda.

    3. Morgan Proctor*

      Yeah, you can reframe this as saving your coworkers from this horrible person. Stop thinking about Hilda and start thinking about all the people her behavior and bad work are affecting.

    4. Water Everywhere*

      Hilda has made herself a less than ideal candidate for continued employment due to both her work and behaviour not meeting expected standards. Possibly she’s just not a great fit for the type of work/your company, and by not offering her a job when her contract ends you’re freeing her to look for more suitable employment. Also consider that by keeping her it won’t be just you that suffers more work & stress; the rest of your team will, too.

      1. Treebeard*

        One reason I feel a little bad is we’ve had a revolving door of managers, so there often hasn’t really been someone to give her feedback on her work and behavior. I’m more of a team lead, so I give feedback in the moment, but at no point has anyone above me asked to take a holistic look at the work she does for me. Which, is not a me problem per se, rather an organizational one, but it contributes to my icky feelings, ya know? Like, if there had been someone to course correct earlier, we might not be here? I’m definitely getting too far down a rabbit hole though.

        1. Mississippi*

          “at no point has anyone above me asked to take a holistic look at the work she does for me.”

          You don’t have to wait for someone to ask. It sounds like you have a fair amount of direct contact with Hilda, and I’m guessing with all your team members. If you have more contact with them than your manager does, it makes sense that you would provide your manager with trends that you notice in their work. It also makes sense for you to provide this feedback to your team members.

          You aren’t the decision maker, so I think your obligations are just to be transparent with your team members about the problems (and strengths, but this is about a problem employee) you see and what you are telling your manager about them. In Hilda’s remaining time, if it comes up, all you can do is be matter of fact that you told your manager about the number of times you had to correct her work and how the intensity of her reactions is a performance problem. With future team members, you can be more proactive about larger picture feedback, and maybe your manager will want to do some course correction.

          1. Treebeard*

            This is exactly where some of my guilt come in, that I wasn’t proactive enough about what feedback and coaching I could do. I haven’t had a direct manager for most of the past 3 years, which meant my grandboss had a lot of low level direct reports, and many things just fell by the wayside. If it wasn’t a blaring red alarm problem, it wasn’t big enough to address.

            I plan to be much more clear and transparent with future team members, and Hilda in her remaining time. Big lesson learned here for me for sure.

    5. MT*

      Any chance that someone else may join your team instead of Hilda? In that case I would frame it as ‘someone else may want/ need this job and be so much better at it than Hilda’. Or maybe it’s not so simple but the extra budget may go into something useful/positive for the team? Also, if it’s fine to have one Hilda around, consider what happens when you keep every Hilda around and the place becomes a toxic hellhole.

      1. Treebeard*

        We already have another toxic person on the team, and I do think part of my thinking was that we (I!) can’t handle a second one.

    6. Venua*

      Hilda knows that she’s not doing a good job and isn’t improving after 3 YEARS. If she is extended then you will have to deal with her moodiness constantly, rather than the limited time to the contract ending. You can’t care more about her doing a good job than she does.

    7. Pocket Mouse*

      People can feel bad or guilty because they did something wrong, or because they got yelled at (metaphorically or literally) even when they didn’t do anything wrong. Take a close look at what caused your own feelings of guilt – it sounds like the latter. Hilda made herself an undesirable colleague and is now living with the logical consequences of that.

    8. Stoppin' by to chat*

      I would take a step back from this situation, and be glad you don’t have a volatile direct report. This is NOT your fault! You have nothing to feel guilty about! I know it’s easier for me to say that since I’m not involved with your situation at all, but everything you described makes me wonder why Hilda was not released from their contract a long time ago. They did not show they could do the position long-term, and extending their contract out of guilt would have been a terrible situation. If nothing else, think of the impact to the rest of your team.

      If anything, I would dig deeper into your feelings of guilt, and if this happens in other parts of your life. I get it…I’m female and I think guilt gets ingrained into us in strange ways throughout our lives.

      How about this: if every time you felt guilty, you accepted it for a second, then told yourself you made the best decision with the data available to you (Hilda’s track record over a 3-year contract), and then released the guilty feeling, I bet this will blow over soon.

      1. Treebeard*

        I’ve done so much work over the years to not feel guilty about things out of my control, and it mostly works, which is why this one threw me for a loop! And, there are others at my job who have been saying maybe we should just extend to contract to ‘keep the peace’ which I think is a bad idea, but has had the effect of making me second guess my judgment.

        1. Mississippi*

          “we should just extend to contract to ‘keep the peace’”

          What? No. You would trading listening to her complain for her remaining time for continuing to deal with her performance and behavior problems for the length of another contract. Peaceful for them, but not for you.

          1. Treebeard*

            I also think extending the contract could be seen as approval of her work, which could lead to other problems down the road. And, it sends a message that higher ups are ok with rewarding bad behavior if it makes the immediate problem go away.

          2. Momma Bear*

            Eeep, no. This is actually kinder, IMO. She knew it was x time and at the end of x time it wasn’t continued. She can save face better this way with the next job vs being told she was fired. Which she kind of was, but “end of contract” is a lot nicer.

        2. Cat’s+Cradle*

          I suspect there’s a lot more peace without her. Don’t appease the boat-rocker – that just means you’re signing everyone else up for boat stabilization duty.

        3. linger*

          It sounds like your feeling of guilt is coming mostly from your concern that Hilda wasn’t given effective feedback about her performance. But (i) it doesn’t sound like that was your job; (ii) it was from the outset a limited-term contract, and nobody owes Hilda an extension; and (iii) the neglect by successive managers may have been at least in part because, given Hilda’s contract had a built-in endpoint and her performance didn’t merit extension, managing her was inevitably a low priority. Were any of the revolving door of managers over this period actively engaged in feedback and career development for your full-time staff? If so, any guilt regarding Hilda has to be seen as a result of past management decisions. If not … well, it’s still a result of more widespread bad management. For example, if is this how your team’s current problem member has been allowed to stay a problem, then … that is not a reason to multiply the problems unnecessarily!

    9. Momma Bear*

      I don’t think there’s any guilt to sit with. You might feel bad that someone is getting laid off, but she had no promises of an extension, she didn’t do the things that made her valuable, and you weren’t impressed enough to bring her to your team because she’s really not an asset. Let her go, and let go of the guilt.

      The bottom line is it wasn’t your final call. You’re probably an easy target. If she won’t at least work with you professionally, you need to talk to your collective boss. She can be angry, but she needs to be professional at work.

      And, frankly, I’d let the manager know the outcome of that non-filter. I don’t know if they meant to throw you under the bus but damage was done.

    10. MigraineMonth*

      I’ve been fired (sorry, “encouraged to resign”) from several places that weren’t a good fit for me. I was always upset at the time, but it’s also how I ended up figuring out what jobs were a good fit for me. Now my stress level is so much lower I don’t feel the need to drama llama all over work anymore.

  17. Phillippe II*

    This may be a good ask the readers post for Alison, but I’ll ask it here.

    When you moved to management, what was the most difficult thing for you? Especially if you moved from individual contributor to manager in the same team.

    In my case, the two big ones were not doing the parts of the job that I really enjoyed and letting go of just doing things myself.

    1. Season of Joy (TM)*

      Yes, big same on that one. I would also add, moving from task-based work, where I knew I had completed something, to becoming okay with the gray area of loops that may never close.

      1. Elle*

        The people issues are so hard. The drama, personal crisis, performance. You want to be human but also follow office policy. And office policy isn’t always clear.

          1. Elle*

            Sometimes that what it is! I had to deal with two employees who got in a fight over closet organizing. They were angry at each other for months. It was so dumb.

      2. Interplanet Janet*

        Absolutely. Dealing with people will wake me up in the middle of the night from stress or musing. Dealing with technical issues is fun.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      Letting my direct reports learn by failing. These are processes I developed or “perfected” and can do quickly and easily. Teaching my employees how to do them, or giving them the freedom to find the ways that work best for them to do these tasks — that’s been really hard. Allowing them the freedom to not do it right, thus having to correct them (versus going in and fixing the mistake myself), and having it take more time… man, it’s been hard.

      Mind, I advocated for hiring these people because I wanted to offload these tasks. Actually giving them up has been harder than I expected.

    3. Elephant in the bathroom*

      I’m currently moving to management, and it is rough going. The thing I’m struggling with most is the fact that I have to make the plan for the overarching work my unit will be doing over the next year. I’m used to thinking project by project, and now I have to think about it in “collections of projects” and that is just not how my brain is used to working.

      Anyway. It’s all making me question if I can actually do this job. It just feels like my boss is always frustrated that I don’t know how to do this. Well duh, you knew that when you offered me the job, I’ve been working for you since the start of my career, and you know I’ve never had to manage like this before!

      1. Season of Joy (TM)*

        I promoted someone from a support role to an individual contributor role (responsible for a program) and they had similar issues making this shift. Something I encouraged them to do is to devote 10% of their week to professional development, and 10% to strategy. It takes time and energy to make that shift, and if you don’t plan for it, it’s the first thing that’s easy to let go.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      Interviews and hiring! I always felt like I needed to make a perfect selection to fit in with the current team. I had previously been an individual contributor on the team, and our old manager seemed to recruit new employees from the loony bin. We were so burned out from trying to keep up with the workload, train the untrainable, and tiptoe around all the eggshells. I lived in fear that I’d stick the team with a problem child!

    5. Yes And*

      For me, it’s change management. Learning to prioritize and balance between deferring to how my team is used to doing things vs. implementing changes for things that could be done better. Getting buy-in, building small wins for the team, all of that.

    6. Struggling at Managing the Hard Parts*

      Having to deal with underperforming employees.

      I thought to myself, “I read AAM, I know you have to have the hard conversations, I generally don’t mind being confrontational, I can do this” But faced with somebody who is going through health stuff and not able to come in (and not eligible for FMLA time yet) and isn’t getting done what we’ve asked of them when they’re home? I’m a little turtle shrinking into its shell.

      Otherwise, I’ve actually really enjoyed the handing off of stuff, consulting on projects instead of owning actions, etc.

    7. Quinalla*

      Having hard conversations/giving negative feedback. I don’t think there are many who enjoy doing this, but I especially have a hard time with it. I’ve had to work hard on reframing that feedback is not only part of my job but I’m hurting people if I don’t give them honest feedback.

      Not jumping in and doing things myself is also hard. I’m very much a I’ll just jump in and get this done and it is hard not to do it when I really should not be doing it! It’s even harder as I do still do “production work” sometimes because I want to and because it makes sense for my team, so I have to stop myself when it isn’t my responsibility. Not that I won’t help, I definitely will jump in and help when needed, but jumping in without someone asking for help is a huge problem and I hate when people do it to me :)

    8. Glazed Donut*

      I definitely miss doing things alone and not waiting on other people to finish their part (and trust them! eekk embarrassing that that’s a small pain point) before I can do mine/sign off/etc. It was really nice to have predictable daily rhythms.

      I knew that I’d have to manage other people, but I don’t think I realized just how big of a time commitment People Managing would take. Some parts are obvious (like approving time off requests, writing up reviews, etc) but some parts are draining: figuring out why Sally is slow to get work done when she won’t share anything going on, giving feedback to people who just don’t care to hear it, training and onboarding new people (takes SO much time). I was under the impression that People Management would be 10-15% of my work but some weeks it feels like 40-50%.

    9. E*

      Agree with all that’s been said, and adding: supervising people who were your peers, possibly even friends, is a transition. When I moved up I was very conscious about making sure everyone knew I’d treat them fairly and equally even tho some ppl I had been closer to than others, socially, before I was in a supervisory relationship with them. That meant having to sever some friendships I really enjoyed.

  18. CheesePlease*

    Does anyone have tips for how to read books at work?

    I am allowed to use downtime / slow periods at my job to do personal development in areas that relate to my field. Great! This typically involves online trainings, but really is any form of learning. I read better when I have a physical book in front of me compared to a PDF on my computer, and I retain information from a podcast or audiobook better when I am doing another mindless task (ex: prepping dinner, driving, chores). Neither of these are good options for what I can do at my desk in an open office. The optics are just…bad? I know my manager would vouch for me but I feel weird.

    Any tips? I can change the blue light on my screen but it’s had for me to concentrate on a pdf for more than 10min before needing a break.

    Am I just stuck reading these books at home and trying to do other productive things during my downtime?

    1. Rex Libris*

      You could try an e-ink eBook reader, like a Kindle Paperwhite or some such. They’re less visually intrusive than a book, and read more like paper than a computer screen does. They don’t cause eyestrain or headaches for me, anyway.

      1. Bird Lady*

        I had issues with glare from iPads and fancier tablets, so preferred books for serious study or reading for enjoyment. My MIL feels the same, but adopted a Kindle Paperwhite and loved it. She gave me one for my birthday and I am hooked too. It’s a nifty eBook reader! No glare issues and I bring it out to my pool since its water resistant.

    2. Taura*

      Is there any chance some of those reads come in a more “training”-looking format? I’m thinking like procedure binders or spiral bound books, etc. Something that looks like it might have been handed out at a training conference, you know?

      If not, I think reading the pdfs in 10 minute increments is probably the best you can do, or relying on your manager to vouch for you as they said they would.

      1. CheesePlease*

        I could print and bind these at work, or have them in a binder. But it’s a waste of paper when I can get a copy from the library.

        I should recognize my priorities though. Saving paper or being productive. etc.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Obviously I come from another time and possibly another planet, but why would it be unprofessional to read a hard-copy book directly related to your job or professional development?

      1. CheesePlease*

        Just the optics. Reading a book looks like I’m “relaxing”. Obviously if someone were to ask, and I was like “Oh it’s this book from Harvard Business Review about project management” or whatever they would probably not think anything of it. But if someone is just walking by they could make the wrong assumption. Nobody else does it with “standard” books. Mostly textbooks or other things that look more professional (binder material as another commenter stated above)

        1. Pool lounger*

          If your boss would vouch for you, and if people ask you could explain, does “optics” truly matter?

        2. Not A Manager*

          I agree with Angstrom below. Set yourself up to look like you are “actively” reading rather than passive. Have a highlighter in your hand, an open notepad next to you, maybe another binder or text open on your desk so you can cross-reference.

          Also posture matters. A straight back with the book open on your work surface looks different than leaning back with your paperback in your lap – although even that can be mitigated with a good highlighter. Sometimes hold the book so the title can be seen by passersby.

          I think once you get into the groove of doing this and enough people have registered that you sometimes read hard copies for work purposes, you can stop with the theater because you will be established.

    4. Angstrom*

      Maybe a bit of theater? Have a notebook open next to your book, and occasionally take notes or reference another book, a .pdf, a Word doc, etc. Make it look like “research” , not “reading”

      1. Interplanet Janet*

        this was going to be similar to my suggestion. Something seems different about seeing someone with a book spread open on their desk next to a notebook, holding a pen, vs. seeing someone leaning back in their chair with their legs crossed, holding the book like you would a cozy mystery in a commercial for hot tea. Logical? No. Human? Yes.

    5. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Can you have a notepad/pen next to you and take physical notes while you read? Not sure if that would help you learn the material better, but it would shift the optics from ‘fun book’ to ‘school book’.

      1. CheesePlease*

        Yeah I think this is probably the way! I own some books too from my college days I want to re-read so a highlighter could work too

    6. TX_Trucker*

      If you have your manager’s support, I would just read a physical book. If you are concerned about the optics, just mention some insights from the book to several colleagues. I want to share this fascinating tidbit I just learned from this totally work related book. As for reading books on the computer, do you have the option to change the font? Multiple studies have shown that the best font for physical reading are not necessarily the best font for computer screen legibility. I almost always change the font on documents that I edit on the computer screen. I use the library app Libby for e-books, and it has several font options. I personally like Futura and Open Sans when reading an online book.

      1. juneybug*

        Could you go to a conference room during reading time? I was allowed to read at work for professional development and that is what I did. Shut the door, close the blinds, and no one knows that you were reading vs having a meeting.

  19. Shirley Keeldar*

    Is there a perfect cancellation policy?

    I’ve started a new career this year where I offer an in-person service to clients. It can’t be done remotely (think cutting hair or doing nail art).

    If a client no-shows or cancels with less than 24 hours’ notice, my employer pays me my full rate for that hour, which I appreciate. (Not all employers do this.) They charge the client half the normal fee.

    The problem arises when the client cancels last-minute because they’re sick. I appreciate that they don’t come in sick! They’re doing the responsible thing by cancelling. Yet they take a financial hit, don’t get the service they were expecting, and sometimes get upset when charged the half fee.

    Should we change the policy so that we don’t charge people if they’re cancelling because they’re sick? If we do, will everybody who cancels or no-shows just say they’re sick? Opinions?

    1. Melanie Cavill*

      I would say keep the late cancellation fee for illness, maybe lower it to 25%? My dental office used to only charge $10 for missed appointments without 24-hour notification. Would a fee like that undermine the financial bottom line?

    2. Colette*

      IME, most places have a similar cancellation policy – i.e. less than 24 hours notice, you pay a cancellation fee that is the full cost or a partial cost if the service. And then, if you are sick, they let you reschedule without paying the fee. But that’s not part of the policy – it’s an exception that they can make at their discretion. I assume that if you often call and say you’re sick, they have the flexibility to charge you.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        I like this one. Staff can know that if there’s a “good reason” they can waive or reduce the cancellation fee, but you don’t need to advertise it so clearly that you set yourself up for people trying to game the system.

        We’re struggling with this at my employer – how do we manage folks that don’t show for appointments – and we’re getting tougher on the “didn’t bother to call” people, and trying to establish clarity on what the “good reasons” are.

        1. Nesprin*

          I would make it a strict written policy and give staff the unwritten policy- i.e. if someone is sick, bereaved etc, give your staff the ability to waive the cancellation fee.

          1. juneybug*

            That is what my dental office did – waviered the cancellation fee due to my chronic health issues. I have been going to the same dental office for 20 years so they are very aware of my health issues. The wonderful staff put it in my notes that no-one is allowed to charge me a cancellation fee ever.
            I love my dentist and staff!!
            TMI warning – Some days I just can’t be in a dental chair when my stomach is acting up.

    3. Brownie*

      What about something like they get charged half the normal fee like the current policy, but if they rebook and show up for an appointment within a month of the canceled appointment that fee can apply to the new appointment? That could apply to not only sick, but also other reasons, so you won’t see folks claiming they were sick to get the better option.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I feel like that doesn’t work very well in Modern Times. We don’t want people coming in while coughing the second time because they don’t want to pay a fee.

        I know a bunch of people who haven’t gotten Covid once, but I also know a schoolteacher who has gotten Covid at least three times.

    4. TeaFriend*

      Ugh, that’s a nightmare. I used to work in a physio clinic and we were required to phone clients who cancelled to ask them to reschedule (many cancellations were made through replies to our appt. reminder sms), and we would phone no-shows at the time of their appt. to ask if they were just running late or if they needed to reschedule. We’d then remind them that if they cancelled within 24 hours of the appointment three times (can’t remember if it was in a row or in a period of time), that we would bill them for the full cost of the appointment and not reschedule until that was paid. I found though, that most of the time if someone was sick, they would contact us to say so, whereas the people who just didn’t value the physio’s time wouldn’t give a reason (and if you probed with a “Oh I hope everything’s okay” they’d say they forgot/double booked/were busy etc). We obviously didn’t include being sick as a strike, and we got a good feel for the people who were generally reliable and those that didn’t care, and adapted our approach as necessary.

    5. Danish*

      Other people have good suggestions, so I just want to chime in as a person who frequently has to cancel appointments for health-related reasons: especially for small businesses or contractors, I fully know I would be potentially impacting their income by cancelling and don’t want to, so I am always okay with the cancellation fee. It’s cool you are trying to come up with something and I’m sure you do get people who are angry about it, but! At least some people know you gotta eat whether or not I can make my appointment.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Yeah, it’s never fun to be charged a fee, but that’s less important than allowing the service providers to make a living.

    6. Momma Bear*

      That policy is pretty standard. However, I’ve also had the experience where if I’m a longtime client and I cancel rarely that they’ll rebook me without a fee if I can reschedule immediately. But I would totally accept the fee if it was same-day, even for a good reason.

    7. Annie Edison*

      I’m self-employed in a field with similar issues, and I’ve ended up with a strict on paper but lenient in reality system. Officially- my clients are still charged for late cancelations because I still need to pay my bills. Unofficially, I sometimes end up waiving that for long time clients that are generally responsible and respectful of my time.

      1. Annie Edison*

        Gah, hit enter too soon and apparently can’t edit? I feel like if I reduced my fee for illness across the board, I’m just going to end up with people lying and saying they are sick regardless of what actually happened and my bottom line ends up suffering. Is there a way you could have some more discretion in waiving the fees for genuine emergencies with clients you trust, while still keeping the policy the same to protect your income from people who might take advantage?

    8. Gnome*

      Echoing others. This is pretty standard. It is also pretty common to waive it if someone calls sick last minute. I got one waived when I called to cancel two hours before an appointment because I was on my way to the ER. Another I missed entirely because I was too sick (stomach bug) to even tell my husband to call and cancel my 9 AM. Obviously, I was super apologetic and I’m not in the habit of missing appointments. If I do, I will gladly eat the fee as it’s entirely my fault.

    9. Shirley Keeldar*

      Thank you everyone for the very thoughtful replies! I think we unofficially have the “waive the fee for a really good reason” thing happening (one client got the fee waived because she was in labor…hard to beat that for a reason). It’s a little trickier with sickness, though…. Lots to think about here, thanks again!

  20. darlingpants*

    Any tips or stories about how to gracefully turn down higher level work/responsibilities welcome!

    I don’t know for sure if or when this will happen, but it seems likely from a team workload perspective that I’ll be asked/told to take on a higher level client facing role on some projects next year and I don’t want to, even for a promotion/raise. My manager has tended to tell rather than ask when he wants me to do something higher level in the past (like hire a direct report). Help me prepare so I don’t just nod when he tells me the next thing!

    1. tessa*

      Is what he is asking of you tied to your role/responsibilities? If so, I don’t think you can do anything to get out any related project/task, short of leaving. If not, I’d ask him why he is choosing you, and the amount of raise tied to it (even though you say you don’t care about that). Without more details, it sounds like you want to refuse, and I don’t think that’s an option for most employees.

    2. Jack Handy*

      You may not be able to turn it down if your manager looks at this as assigning tasks. But, I have managed to turn down manager roles & stay an individual contributor. I’m a 1099 consultant so arguably it’s easier for me. I wrote up a list of individual contributor tasks I’m willing to do. I keep it at the ready for meetings. It can be a long list when you think about all you do. I’ve said that I’m not interested in managerial roles. They are NOT my strength. My value to the company is in the listed tasks. It’s worth a shot

    3. Jack Handy*

      Your handle, darlingpants reminds me of a band, Darlingside. They’re an Indy rock/folk band. Really good.

    4. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Sorry, long text incoming.

      I’d say, firstly think about why you don’t want to work on a higher level. Non-judgementally, just list the reason(s). Any reason is completely fine as it is important to you. Like, do you want to keep a good work-life balance and fear/know higher level work would screw with that? Or does the work (and the thought of more of that kind of work) make you anxious? Or are you just happy with where you’re at and have no intention to climb the corporate ladder?
      Then check those reason(s) for their usefulness/validity for you. Compare your career plans with where you’ll be at if you turn those tasks down vs. accept them. Compare your probable work-life balance for either scenario. Try and figure out which things are more important to you and choose accordingly.
      And whatever the outcome of this decision, these are your reasons and you are completely free to act according to them.

      Now for not simply nodding when your manager comes along and tells you to do higher level work.
      Nip it in the bud, before he comes the next time. Because by then he will already have made up his mind and wanting to tell you what to do, not actually discuss if you are willing to do it. Experience has shown you this.
      So instead, go to your manager once you’ve figured out your reasons, and tell him that you are not willing to do that higher level work in future. Put it nicely, of course, but try not to soften the message by creating caveats that you will regret later. (Should there be caveats that you *won’t* regret, you can of course tell him those!)
      There is no need for you to tell him any of your reasons. You only figured them out to have them bolster your resolve. Should your manager ask for your reasons, then “it’s not part of my position” and “I am not planning on going for promotions as I’m quite happy with the kind of work my position is about” and whatever else you feel comfortable telling him, are conpletely valid responses!
      (You might also want to ask him why he’s always/often to try and ger you to do those higher level work things. Maybe your manager assumes something about your career goals and thinks he’s supporting you. Maybe you are short-staffed and should look for someone to actually do the higher level work. Maybe this is just the easiest way to make sure the work get’s done. Maybe…)
      The idea here is to have already planted the knowledge “darlingpants won’t do it” in his mind, so that when he comes asking nevertheless, you can remind him of your earlier conversation, making it easier for you to shake your head instead of nodding along.

      It, of course, all very much depends on your standing with your manager, and his personality – so please figure that into your actual behaviours.

    5. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Could you broach it now? That way you get ahead of your manager just dumping it on you without a conversation. Also, if not you, then who on your team would do this work? Can you trade something with them that you’d rather do? If you think this all out in advance and then have the conversation with your boss, it might go better.

    6. Momma Bear*

      We have a couple of “not the manager” managers in my company. They are really happy doing what they do and don’t want to manage anybody. I think the gist of it is they’ve said so to their bosses and while they’ll work with and even lead a team now and then, they do not want to be a FT manager and their skills are best put to use at a contributor level.

    7. MigraineMonth*

      I’ve directly told my manager what work I enjoy and which work I’m not interested in. “I prefer to be an individual contributor.” “I really enjoy working on X. I’m fine with adding Y to my workload, but I would prefer not to take over project Z.”

      (Admittedly, the power dynamics favor me because they still haven’t hired replacements for the last two people who left.)

  21. Bline*

    Does anyone have advice for discussing expected work hours during the job search process? I am a project manager in an industry that will have some off-hours work so I do not expect a strict schedule. In my current job, pre-pandemic I was on a team of five, and I was working about 9-6 with occasional nights or weekends when we had a big project or last minute request. Now we have a team of three, and between being short-staffed and everyone’s work hours being different I am more or less ‘on the clock’ from 8-5 but routinely getting emails from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m and working late or on the weekends more often than not, and I’m rarely not thinking about work. (These aren’t emails that are being sent when the other person happens to be working and they don’t expect an immediate answer, it’s often my boss sending a request and if I don’t respond within half an hour the third member of our team will.)

    I make a decent salary in a somewhat high cost of living area, and I know for the work I do I could go elsewhere and make much more money, but I will happily accept the lower salary to have night and weekend work be the exception rather than the rule. What is the best way to get real hours expectations set so I don’t walk into a job that seems to offer a good work/life balance only to find work creeping into the majority of my nights and weekends again?

    1. CheesePlease*

      I’ve just directly asked “how often do you or individuals on your team work past 6pm or on weekends?” and people so far have answered honestly since I know to ask that question.

      1. Bline*

        That’s good to hear. I worry about companies obscuring the truth especially when it seems like everyone is short-staffed and employees are overworked, but that might be pessimism from reading this site.

    2. Loopy*

      I would phrase it as “is it a problem in this role to be unable to work nights and weekends?” This might weed out employers who know that is the reality if they think you CAN’T.

      That being said you have to be okay with them taking you out of the running because that phrase indicates it’s not an option for you.

    3. Quinalla*

      Asking about a typical day can help sometimes if you want to not be as up-front about it.

      Usually I ask it like this (my industry has work that ebbs and flows and deadline driven so I understand there is some fluctuation): “I have been in the industry for X years, so I understand I’ll have busy days/weeks at times, when you have those busy times here, what does that look like?” I might even say in your case as the conversation gets going that “I’m working more weekends than I’m not right now at my current job and not happy about it.”

      I know one of the things I didn’t want at my now current job was lots of travel. I was traveling 2-3 days a week (day trips but still) at my previous job and I was sick of it and didn’t want to get into that at the new place. I asked a general question about travel expectations and then went into detail why I was asking. I wasn’t interested in a new job with travel like that and I could afford to be choosy!

    1. Mimmy*

      Sometimes posts get caught in moderation because the filter catches it. A post goes into moderation if you included a link or if certain words are used (not sure what those words are exactly). However, there are times when a post goes into moderation for no apparent reason. I’ve had that happen to me a few times. When Alison gets a chance, she’ll check and release the post.

      Hope this helps!

  22. Hotdog not dog*

    Our company is currently undergoing some reorganization. While I don’t believe my job is in jeopardy per se, it’s clear that certain parts of it are likely to change. Other than having my resume ready to go, any suggestions to best position myself for whatever might be coming? So far I know that I will begin reporting to a different manager as of Jan 1 (although which one remains to be seen- some are being let go, so if they said what the new teams would be that would spoil the “surprise”.) My current strategy is to just keep working at a steady pace, and of course I’ve already started a low key job search as plan B. I like my job, and I’d prefer to stay, but I’m not willing to set myself on fire to keep them warm.

    1. WellRed*

      Honestly, if a company told me they were keeping new mgr up wraps so as not to “spoil the surprise” (wtf?!), I’d think there was no hope. Your strategy is a good one but I might amp up my job search a bit.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        That was actually my wording. They used a whole barrage of corporate-speak to essentially say that team announcements were being postponed until after year end. Separately, they revised the org chart on our intranet, and instead of 8 mid-level managers with 3 to 8 reports each, there will be 5 managers with a minimum of 7 reports, so clearly we’re about to lose 3 managers. Historically, layoffs are announced on the 3rd Monday. Yes, it sucks. I’ve been involved in these shenanigans before, both laying off and being laid off (and subsequently rehired).

    2. cncx*

      Depending on how big your company is, the reorg may not come with immediate layoffs. At one job of mine in BigCorporate, I got a new boss in January, another new boss in June, I quit in July but my position wouldn’t have been in danger until the following January. I would clean up your cv and ramp up the job search but don’t start freaking out until say, this summer. I wish I had stayed and taken severance or ridden it out, the job I took after it absolutely sucked and I left within a year.

    3. E*

      Maybe think about what duties / functions you’re willing and interested in keeping/ taking on vs what you’d do begrudgingly vs what would be a deal breaker? thinking some of that through in advance to the extent possible might help you be prepared when the time comes to know it’s NOT the right fit anymore, or maybe if you’re lucky and have room to carve out some preferences, you’ll be prepared to advocate for the pieces you want.

  23. New Mom*

    Low stakes question, if both my company and my partner’s company offer a wifi reimbursement it is unethical/illegal to accept it from both companies?

      1. Zap R.*

        But seriously, it’s probably best to just use one if you’re feeling iffy about it.

        Is your Wi-Fi bill significantly larger with two people working from home than it would be with one? Then you might be able to make the case for two reimbursements.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        But the flip side is that company a would be benefitting from wifi being paid for by company b. Is there a way to split it so each company is reimbursing half?

    1. luffender*

      Nope. If neither company were reimbursing you, they’d both be offloading their operations costs to you by making you pay for wifi, right? So if only one company is reimbursing you, then the other company is offloading its operations costs to you. So it’s only fair that both companies pitch in. Besides, they’re likely not compensating you for the increased use of water and electricity when you work from home. And my company doesn’t let us reimburse office furniture or headphones. So it seems fair to me.

    2. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Nope. Think of it like a transit reimbursement. If I buy a monthly transit pass but only use it 2 days a week because I WFH the rest of the week, is that unethical? No, the company has decided to subsidize that cost at whatever level works for them, regardless of my actual use.

    3. just another queer reader*

      I think that’s fine.

      My company’s cell phone reimbursement (which is calculated by a mysterious formula) is slightly higher than my actual cell phone bill; I just consider myself lucky.

      My partner’s work gave everyone a $500 home office stipend in 2021; she didn’t buy anything at the time but might buy a nicer chair now.

      It’s not a big deal.

    4. cncx*

      Look at it as you probably have to bump the plan up in bandwidth to handle two people on zoom and vpn at the same time. If both of you were working in office how beefy would your home wifi plan be? I work in IT and the amount of people with cheesy home wifi who tho two parents and three kids could be online at the same time. I don’t think it’s unethical in that if you’re both using it, at a speed that works for your jobs.

    5. Albert "Call me Al" Ias*

      As long as you don’t work for the same company, it’s probably fine, as others have mentioned. If you DO both work for the same company, then they may have a policy about that.

    6. E*

      Also do you get any subsidies for WFH for increased utility usage, toilet paper consumption etc? If not I think it’s fine to mentally categorize it like one employer is paying for internet and other is paying for other costs of WFH

  24. Zap R.*

    The Good News: My company’s gotten really into inclusive language. I can totally see how using terms like “master/slave” in an IT context could be alienating for people.

    The Not-So-Good News: My company’s decided that we can’t call straight people “straight” because it implies that LGBTQ+ people are “crooked.” I’m the token queer person on the DEI Committee and I don’t know how to tell the rest of them that A) this is not even remotely reflective of how the whole community feels about this word and B) is not even remotely close to the biggest problem LGBTQ+ people deal with at my company.

    I guess I just feel like a well-meaning decision was made on my (and my community’s!) behalf without any consultation. If it was a word like “queer” or something, I could at least understand the debate given the word’s history but this feels like overkill.

    What do I say to someone who’s like “Hey, Zap, how come you won’t let us say ‘straight people’ anymore?” And how can I gently suggest to well-meaning allies that we have much bigger problems? (I mean, I work in sports media for Pete’s sake.)

    1. EMP*

      where to even start.

      Since you’re on the DEI committee, maybe you can bring it up with a kind of, “I know you meant this to avoid harm to the LGBTQ+ community, but actually within that community the term straight doesn’t imply anything of the sort. It’s causing more questions and scrutiny than intended by banning its use and it makes it sound like we aren’t listening to the LGBTQ+ community when we do this.” For the more problems thing…best explanation I can come up with is something like “focusing on whether we can use terms like “straight” focuses on defining our place relative to heterosexuals and ignores the dangerous discrimination and harm done to LGBTQ+ groups regardless of what they are called”.

      Good luck. As a queer this is just very [stares into the camera].

      1. Anon20*

        Agreed. I also hate stuff like this because it can make LGBTQ+ folks seem fragile or ridiculous when literally no one asked for this. Not to mention it’s even funnier because there are straight people (straight =/= cishet) in the community!

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I think instead of trying to correct folks on whether the word straight should be used or not, you should essentially say what you said here with A) and B). Yes, it can be difficult to speak up when you’re the token person on the committee, but you also have a little more standing to say something here.

    3. Junior Dev*

      What is the context in which people want to say “straight people” at work and in what context is it being banned or forbidden? I’m bisexual and part of various other minority groups I won’t get into here and I guess it’s just strange to me that this is even coming up. Is there some list of forbidden words? That in itself seems more problematic to me than the stance on a single word.

      1. Zap R.*

        It’s just a reference guide. It’s not an outright ban on the word so much as a strong suggestion not to use it.

        1. Junior Dev*

          It just feels to me like creating a reference guide that goes so far as to list specific terms is maybe causing more problems than it solves, because language is so context-specific. As we’ve already seen, “queer” can be a slur or a term of pride or a neutral descriptor for institutional categories (as in the “queer studies” department at a university, etc.) Individually benign terms can be hateful in certain contexts (like “family friendly” being code for “gay/trans people not allowed”).

          I’m sure you can come up with plenty of arguments in defense of the word “straight” but to me this gets into a deeper conceptual problem with workplaces compiling lists of offensive words.

        2. luffender*

          Is this like a house style guide or something? It might be worth bringing up with whoever’s in charge of that (at my company, which sounds similar to yours, it’d be the copy chief), because the nature of their job is to sweat the small stuff like word choice. If this is coming from like HR, legal, or management, you might have a tougher time pushing back because it will seem nit-picky (which is silly, since the issue is a comically over-cautious policy).

    4. ecnaseener*

      Maybe you could find a reputable LGBTQ+ 101-type glossary thats clearly made by lgbt people, appeal to authority and all that instead of arguing the logic.

    5. NewManager*

      This is quite the eye-roller. I’m dying to know what they want you to call straight people instead of straight? Cishet? Are you supposed to roll out “heterosexual” every time it comes up?

      1. Tinkerbell*

        Even that, though, there are straight trans people, so “cishet” wouldn’t always be correct :-P

        1. NewManager*

          My interpretation of cishet has always been cisgender AND heterosexual? In queer spaces I’m in it’s generally used to designate people who are not LGBTQA+ whatsoever.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            You’re agreeing with each other. The point is that a transman dating a woman is straight. Hence “straight” and “cishet” aren’t interchangible, which is why banning “straight” as a term is kind of pointless and weird.

    6. Other Alice*

      I see the straights are at it again. I’m glad I’m not in your place, otherwise I might ask them if I can use the word “gay” because it implies that other people are “miserable”.

      Jokes aside, GLAAD has on their website an “Ally’s Guide to terminology”. Maybe that could be useful to show that the word “straight” is not considered discriminatory at all? It’s not even in the list of words to avoid, it’s used normally in the text.

    7. just another queer reader*

      Another resource that comes to mind is The Radical Copyeditor. Their blog dives deep into topics of language choice. (Their guide on writing about trans people is very good.)

      I didn’t find anything on their site specifically about “straight,” which tbh is a good indicator that this is not a problem! But their other posts could possibly be helpful.

      Good luck! I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this!

    8. marvin*

      Wow, that’s a new one to me. I’m always fascinated by people who have very weird takes on what they should do to be supportive to marginalized communities and decide to go full steam ahead without actually checking whether this is wanted or needed. It sounds like your DEI committee may have larger issues if consultation/collaboration is not automatically part of the process.

  25. Other Alice*

    Not much of a question, just whinging a bit. The same day we had the letter about the 4 coworkers having trouble settling how to split the bill for a business lunch, I also had trouble splitting the bill while on a business trip.

    On the last day we had lunch at the airport, all 4 of us staying well below the per diem, but the waiter absolutely refused to bring separate bills. We would have been fine either paying for our own or splitting it equally by 4, but no dice. We were annoyed because we’d had no trouble splitting the bill for the entire trip, and there we were in a big european capital having to decide which credit card should take the hit.

    Mine was very much Not It since I was nearly maxed out after an unexpected expense earlier in the month, fun times! Senior Coworker with a corporate credit card ended up paying, and finance was a bit miffed at the extra paperwork, but I was told we have no Guacamole Bob so the charge was approved, with many admonitions that we are not to do it again.

    My question is… how do we not do it again? It wasn’t us who refused to split the bill. We thought we had asked the waiter beforehand, but there was a language barrier and we think he misunderstood. Should we have asked for a manager, or maybe contact someone from the airport to help us translate? We were very short on time and frazzled after a week of meetings so I’m sure the situation could have been handled better. Anyway, any other tips aside from asking for a corporate credit card if we’re to resume business travel on a semi-frequent basis?

    1. Zap R.*

      Just be straight-up with Finance. “The waitstaff didn’t speak English and no one would separate our bill. Sorry for the extra paperwork it caused. On the off chance we’re in this situation again, how can we make this as easy as possible for you?”

      1. Other Alice*

        Yeeaah, I didn’t talk to them directly but my coworker said that basically their recommendation is “just don’t eat at places that won’t split the bill” which is less than helpful. It does seem like we were worried about nothing, and if it happens again we’ll do the same thing and apologise to finance for the trouble.

        1. another_scientist*

          In that case, get Senior Coworker’s pulse at an opportune moment. “Accounting is not being helpful with their instructions. They just say not to eat at places that won’t split the bill, but that’s not workable. Am I just overthinking this?”
          It’s very possible that Senior Coworker has not spared this incident a second thought, that making accounting do extra paperwork is fine and she’ll do it again when the situation warrants.

    2. darlingpants*

      Your company policy seems odd to me. Ours is explicitly that if there’s multiple people at a meal, we’re not supposed to split it and the highest ranking person pays and submits for reimbursement. Concur has an option where you can add multiple people to one meal.

      1. luffender*

        I agree, the company policy is odd. There are many restaurants and cities where asking for multiple checks (especially more than two) is a non-starter. If you have the standing, I would try to explain that to Finance. If you don’t have the political capital to push on this one, all you can do is try to ask about split checks ahead of time, which is already going above and beyond, imo.

    3. WellRed*

      The senior person with the corporate card absolutely should have “paid.” Your finance department is being ridiculous. It’s the same money in the end.

      1. Other Alice*

        I kind of see their point that the 4 of us are from different departments so the money comes from separate budgets. It’s easier to have separate receipts to begin with. It’s definitely a matter of convenience and not a huge issue for the company, though.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        I don’t think it can be expected for 4 people at a meal to all have enough cash on hand to cover their portion of the bill. People just don’t carry cash anymore!

      2. Other Alice*

        We must be from different places, paying with cash is unusual both in my home country and the country I was visiting (so much we didn’t even exchange our money for the local currency).

    4. Occasional Road Warrior*

      Zap R.’s comment is the best approach for this situation. However, your comment about your card being maxed out does bring up another issue – all employees that travel should have a corporate card for travel expenses, not just senior people/execs. Part of my company’s new employee on-boarding process is requesting a expense card for them, if they are in a job role that could possibly involve travel.

      1. Other Alice*

        That’s a very good point! It’s a weird situation because I joined during Covid so all travel was forbidden and they had stopped issuing company cards or renewing them for existing people, that’s why another two people didn’t have company cards. Leadership still needs to decide if travel is resuming like before or if this was a one-off but I’ll definitely ask for a company card *before* the next trip.

      2. luffender*

        I agree that it should be that way, but it’s unfortunately very common for lower-ranking employees to have to front their travel costs with their own money. It sucks so much.

      3. TX_Trucker*

        That’s interesting about the expense card. I work for a 1,000 employee firm and we have the exact opposite standard. None of our C-suite or senior managers have a corporate credit card, but our administrative staff do. We pay a flat per diem for meals and the employees receive the money about a week before travel. Admin pre-pays hotel and airfare with the expense card.

    5. cncx*

      I worked in a company where, in the case of group dinners or lunches, the most senior person present with a company card paid all. That way five and ten people weren’t submitting expense reports.

    6. Mockingjay*

      You mentioned a language barrier and limited time, so I’d chalk it up to a one-off and not worry about it.

      It’s travel. Things happen. Maybe add a little extra time in the schedule for meals before flights on your next trips. More than that, not sure you can do anything.

    7. fhqwhgads*

      That’s kind of crap. Any time I’ve been on a work trip and several of us eat together at an establishment one person puts it on their card, and in the expense report it states it was lunch for x,y and z employees. It shouldn’t require extra paperwork. I’ve never had an employer complain about whose company card something went on, or one person’s expense report having expenses that covered other employees on the same trip. It’d only have been a problem if the non-splitting happened and someone who wasn’t an employee was in the mix.

  26. Guest*

    Just here to vent. I applied for a job that, based on the (pretty vague) description, I am slightly over qualified for, but I’ve heard great things about the company, so figured it could be a good move.

    A few days later I was emailed to do an initial screen. Except it was one of those record yourself and we’ll review and get back to you. Red flag to me, but again, have heard good things, so I did it.

    A few days later, got an email asking me to schedule a 30 minute Zoom and also please provide FIVE references, including two current or former supervisors, who will be immediately emailed to fill out a survey. I am also to check daily to make sure they have completed it, remind them, and if they don’t, replace them with other references. Mind you, I’ve not actually spoken to anyone at this company and also, according to the description, this role requires 3 years of experience so where five references are to come from is confusing.

    I emailed back and said I’m excited to learn more about the role on the Zoom and provided my availability, but stated that I am not comfortable having my references contacted at this stage. They replied back and said that was fine, I could provide them later. Cool cool. Still not sure where I’m going to come up with five, but that’s fine.

    It’s been four days and they have not scheduled the call, so I think I’ve been ghosted? Which is probably for the best.

    1. NewManager*

      Wowwwwww that’s ridiculous. I guess it’s possible it’s an HR thing and your department would be fine…but I wouldn’t want to work with a company whose HR thinks telling people to nag their references DAILY is a good idea.

  27. A CAD Monkey*

    Had a new guy start at my firm this week. he lasted 3 days. left early his first day, came in late on the second day. he got caught sleeping at his desk by at least 3 different people, including the OWNER, and left early again. third day he ncns and was summarily fired.
    guess who gets to do the work he was supposed to be doing while another coworker will be out on maternity leave on top of existing projects

    1. Other Alice*

      I also got to pick up the slack after a new guy was fired on his first day. I strongly advise you figure out what you are able to do without overworking yourself, then go to your manager and ask them what they want you to prioritise. Tell them “I can do X and Y, or Z, but not both because of the time commitment they require”. Do this now, not after 1-2 months when you’re already burned out by working two jobs.

      1. A CAD Monkey*

        i’ve already talked to him and he knows that i won’t be over-extending myself to get projects out the door. i’m established in my working time and habits and will not be changing them. we can hire project managers for the construction side of the firm all day, but finding someone for the drafting side is a pita. luckily our consultants are being slow rn so that’ll help spread the projects out some.

    2. Choggy*

      So there were no red flags during the recruitment process to head off something like this? I’m always surprised how new employees get past the gate to then just be a waste everyone’s time.

  28. Tired*

    Any advice for staying engaged at work when you are on your way out? I already have my next position lined up but it doesn’t start until July. My current job is great and I’m not moving on because I’m unhappy. It is a training position (think residency) and I am moving on to another training position (similar to a fellowship). My current boss is wonderful and provides so much flexibility. In the past I have really given it my all and been the go to person for my coworkers but I am feeling burnt out and it is hard to care anymore. Everyone is wonderful and I don’t want to take advantage of the flexibility I’m given, but I have been working on a lot of mind numbing (but important) administrative tasks at work. I just can’t find the motivation to do more than the minimum but I feel guilty about it. Nothing I do now really affects the next stage of my career. Any advice on staying motivated?

    1. How many llamas?*

      Please give yourself some grace. It’s pretty normal to lose motivation on the way out. Summer is a way off so maybe you can shoot for bursts of productivity in between not working so hard. You sound responsible so your lesser effort is probably more than a lot of people’s regular effort. And I know it’s corny, but sometimes I narrate in my head, “Here is how our trainer documents llama brushing. Here is our trainer documenting how many llama brushes we have. Notice her attention to detail.” Maybe really silly, but sometimes that helps me.

    2. Sheik YurBooti*

      Are there any processes to be defined and written out? Any nice-to-have-but-have-no-time-for projects that were shelved that you could take on? July is many months out, so you can do something with that time.

      Changing how you think about work is most important. You’ll also have to intentionally focus on removing the link between feeling guilty and showing up to work being the best you can every day, until you move on. Keep telling yourself that even though the work is boring, it’s important, and it’s OK that you are not working something challenging now. Honestly, the less you think about New Job until June, the better your emotions will be.

  29. Excel jockey*

    Can anyone recommend resources for neurodivergent people going into management? I want to stay at my current company for the next few years because it’s a great place to work and I’ll need FMLA protection for a while. There’s a lot of upward mobility here, but one thing I recently learned is that most opportunities at the next level involve managing people, usually 1-3 direct reports in addition to individual contributor responsibilities. It’s possible to advance as a subject matter expert, but there are far fewer opportunities and it generally takes exceptional skills to advance that way.

    So I’m considering if I have what it takes to be a good boss. I’m autistic and tend to come off as distant and intensely serious, especially noticeable since I’m a woman. My concern is that I wouldn’t be good at managing people on the human level, as much as I’m otherwise ok with the responsibility as a part of moving up. My current managers aren’t particularly outgoing and still do a good job, but somehow the “people work” seems really daunting even though I like working with people! Is this just typical nerves?

    1. 1234ShutTheDoor*

      Honestly, it’s probably typical nerves. I honestly think a lack of inherent social skills can be a benefit to a manager because they tend to have thought more about social skills and carrying an intention and awareness into it often translates to better social management than those who have never struggled with it before. (Similar to how the kids who never studied in high school can crash when they hit college because they don’t have the “how to learn” skills built up)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        It me. And personally I actually identified that as a strength in my management interviews. “I am not by nature a people person. As a result, I have deliberately developed a conscious and intentional process of mindfully working to understand best ways to work with each individual on my team and putting those into practice, rather than relying on “being a social person” and taking personal interactions for granted.”

        A year and a half later, she has actually told me that she didn’t realize it at the time, but having seen the way I work since moving into the management role, she agrees that my intentional style is very distinctively an advantage that she sees.

    2. Season of Joy (TM)*

      I’m wondering if you can find a mentor in management now before you even get to the point where you’re looking at promotion. You can ask them straightforward questions about how much of their job is People Work, and maybe even have them talk through some hypothetical scenarios with you about the kind of People Work you’d need to be doing.

      FWIW, I’m very extroverted and have never taken into account whether my boss was distant/serious. What has always been important to me is that my boss is clear and forthcoming with pertinent information. I don’t think that part of your personality has to hold you back!

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      I had a manager who was neurodiverse, and I really miss her! No, she didn’t do warm fuzzies, but she DID clearly and explicitly state her expectations. Her communication was always direct and consistent. We always knew exactly where we stood with her, which made it super easy to get our work done.

        1. NewManager*

          Honestly, coming from a fellow neurodivergent person (ADHD instead of autism), direct, clear communication is exactly what puts me at ease! I had one set of bosses who didn’t like my work but would not clearly state their expectations, and my anxiety and depression shot through the roof because I could tell something was wrong but could not get any straight answers. I nearly ended up hospitalized because they decided to “manage” my anxiety for me (I didn’t ask them to and had not, at that point, requested any accommodations) by being EVEN LESS direct with me, which of course backfired and made my life a living hell.

          So just a little thought, but neurodivergent people deserve managers who don’t walk in with the expectation that everything comes just as easily for one person as the next or that it’s reasonable to expect people to read between the lines. Who would be better at that than another neurodivergent person?

          That’s not to say it isn’t hard work, but maybe if you look at the advice Alison gives about giving feedback and imagine yourself doing that with people you work with, you might get a better picture of if it’s for you.

    4. luffender*

      I think it’s typical nerves combined, perhaps, with a lifetime of being told that autistic people are “bad with people” or “socially awkward.” I’m also a neurodivergent aspiring people manager, so I’m gonna follow this thread and hope there are some good resources. My advice is to really think about how your traits (autistic and otherwise) can be strengths.

      – For example, you might be very good at clearly communicating your expectations; that’s very valuable in management.
      – Maybe you’re good at working with other neurodivergent people and creating workflows that lean into their strengths, which is valuable anywhere but especially valuable if you’re in a field that attracts a lot of ND people, like software development.
      – Are you a creative problem-solver? Look for instances in which you were able to see a solution that other people around you couldn’t see.
      – Do you have a strong sense of justice? That could translate into good teamwork and not being overly influenced by your personal feelings when evaluating someone’s performance.
      – Are you particularly organized, detail-oriented, or precise? Maybe you can leverage those traits to get really good at documentation and creating training materials, or perhaps you’re good at finding useful metrics to quantify performance.

    5. Nesprin*

      That sounds like nerves! There’s lots of kinds of managers, and being a warm fuzzy sort of person is less useful than setting clear achievable goals, advocating for the resources your people need, and recognizing good work.

  30. Green Goose*

    I had a session proposal accepted for a conference in June and someone quite high up in the host org (membership organization) wants to co-present with me. This is a pretty cool opportunity and a great networking opportunity for me. I reached out to my boss and colleague to give a price breakdown, and since we have room in the budget I assumed it would be automatic. Well, it turns out our CEO wants to bring one of my direct reports to an event on the opposite coast (this does not really contribute to professional development of my department like my conference does) and she wants all of his travel expenses to come out of my measly budget and they basically said no to my conference.
    I’m really bummed and annoyed, and I’m wondering if it would be crazy to go and foot the bill? I can technically afford it, but I’m just super annoyed. I had built a conference trip into my original budget for each member, and this one direct report has already went to another conference so I’m not taking anything away from them. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone in this city and hotels are pretty expensive so I’m not sure.
    Has anyone else had to pay for things like this? Was it worth it?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Sorry, that sounds like BS that there isn’t room in the budget for more than one person to get professionally developed per fiscal yeaer. Can you push back on where the funds are coming from? ie., “If Fergus goes to his second conference this FY, the rest of us won’t be able to go to even one, unless Teapot Painting funds his.”
      Otherwise, yes, go to your thing! Get your manager to agree that it is all (including your travel days) paid work time even if you have to eat the registration & hotel costs.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes if you haven’t brought this up directly please do, including pointing out the direct report has already been on one trip.

    2. Nesprin*

      I have paid my own way to go to a couple of conferences when in between jobs- they can really be incredibly important in some disciplines, and especially if you’re leading a session, that’s a big deal. It was worth it for me but I was also young and broke and willing to live on granola bars and stay at a hotel that required a bus ride.

      Is there any chance that your conference could foot part of the bill for your travel if you’re running a session? Are there any sorts of travel awards that would work? Do you have any leftover airline miles? The conference may have a board with people looking for an airbnb share depending on conference type.

  31. Just a Manager*


    I know this is a first-world problem. My company does very well and gives out bonuses after the beginning of the year. Last year, we had a great year and gave out bonuses to everyone, some more than others. This year, some will get bonuses, and some won’t. I hate to wait until I get my final numbers approved before telling someone they are not getting anything or less than expected. I’m thinking of a Christmas Vacation scenario. Any ideas on how to approach this?

      1. Just a Manager*

        I’ve been here for five years and was always told to come up with my numbers. I finally told my boss that all this was very arbitrary. She went to the VP and got some (not excellent) guidance – a little for very good performers, more for excellent performers, and a lot for company difference-makers. I know this is still not a lot of structure.

    1. Driftless Writer*

      Could you send a general email to your team, basically outlining what you’ve said here? “I know this is a difficult time of year to be wondering about bonuses. I wish I had final information for our team, but I don’t yet. I do want to share what I know so far: Not everyone will be getting bonuses this year. And for folks who do receive one, it might be less than in previous years. I’ll share more with you as soon as I know. Thanks for understanding that this is out of my hands.”

    2. ThatGirl*

      You’re asking for advice on how to tell your staff?

      I would just lay it out in broad terms – “the numbers aren’t final, but it looks like there’s less money for bonuses this year and some of you might not get any; I’m sorry about this but wanted to warn you in advance” – maybe tell people individually if you can.

  32. WhaleWisher*

    I know this is a sticky topic without real solutions for individuals, but any resources or advice for someone who has a chronic illness and struggles working full-time? It seems like I have to sacrifice my health and happiness to keep working or stop working and get plunged into poverty and consequently lose my health and happiness (AKA health insurance and a place to live).

    1. Colette*

      I think you’re right about there not being any real solutions. All you can do is be honest with yourself about what you can do, and see how you can make that work. (Can you work a 40 hour week from home and still have energy/health for general life stuff? Does that change if you have to commute? Can you do 40 hours, but not in a standard work day? What types of work are you qualified to do, and how well do they overlap with what your capabilities are?)

      IME, larger organizations are better equiped to deal with different needs, so personally I’d prioritize looking at larger companies/government.

    2. ABK*

      Have you looked at ASKJAN? They have a wealth of information about different job accommodations based on the illness and/or challenges. Maybe there are accommodations that could help you to work full-time?

    3. Hen in a Windstorm*

      *Train on a job that pays really well for fewer hours? I know nothing about you, but I know of people doing things as different as radiology and ironmongery (fences, art, etc) that pay top dollar for PT work.
      *Work as a freelancer or consultant so you can set your own hours?
      *Find a non profit job that has shorter work weeks? I used to work at a nonprofit that considered 35 hours to be full time.
      *I know Keymaster has talked about how she had to career change after she became disabled, which is why she now works as an IT manager.

  33. Anon and struggling*

    I know we’ve discussed the ethics of being over employed but I would love to hear someone’s take on this scenario. My current employer is doing badly managed layoffs (we were told in mid November that folks would start getting notified in mid December and the notification period would go to the end of January). Morale sucks. People are stressed out. Teams are restructuring in poorly planned out realignments. It’s a nightmare.

    There are now rumors that my department could be spun out if it’s not sold off.

    So, in the interest of maintaining my financial security and to be prepared for a rough few months is there anything ethically wrong with picking up a second full time position?

    I have an offer for something working in the PST time zone and my current gig is EST. They would be long days for me with an overlap during my current gig’s quietest part of the day. Both employers have a “just get it done” attitude with very little micromanagement.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Why wouldn’t you just take the second job and resign the first one that is in frreefall anyway? If you “work” both, and are found out at either place, you could face serious professional consequences potentially including actions to recapture salary and/or legal actions, depending on your field. Plus, obviously it really screws over second job who are expecting a dedicated full time employee.

      1. Colette*

        Yeah, agreed. Why would you choose to stay in a terrible environment when you have another option? And why would you risk poisoning your new job?

    2. Working Three Jobs*

      There’s nothing wrong with working more than one job, as long as you don’t stress yourself out and as long as you’re able to get your work at both jobs done. Some people will say it’s not ethical to work 2 jobs….but it’s A-OK for jobs to exploit employees all the time. It is my personal belief that the people who say it’s wrong to work more than one job at a time are execs because I can’t imagine the “little person” saying something like that.

      When it comes to things like working more than one job at a time, just do it and keep it to yourself. There will always be people who say you’re wrong for trying to make money. I really don’t know why people are so bothered by someone trying to just survive in this country, especially nowadays.

      However, if this first job is really stressing you out, I would tell you to just find another job and leave that first one. Then later on, you can go find a side job. And don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for trying to pay the bills. Just do what you need to do for you and your life. As you can see by my username, I’m working 3 fulltime jobs lol. Two of them are at the exact same time, the third one may overlap with the other two, but not usually. Two of the jobs know what I’m doing and don’t care. The main job doesn’t know about the others. And let me tell you, I don’t care who thinks I’m wrong or unethical or bad for working 3 jobs. Let them come pay all my bills if it’s so horrible for me to do what I’m doing.

      1. Anon and struggling*

        It really does come down to being able to pay my bills and increase my safety net. The current job looks better on my resume while the new job is a step back but with a salary that’s very high for the work expected. I want to stay with my current employer because the benefits, bonuses, and stocks are far superior to most other companies and the position itself opens a lot of doors. Cost of living is also really high and I’m in the age bracket that I won’t be able to afford a home without the support of generational wealth (which I don’t have).

        I’m leaning towards going for it and managing two jobs and seeing how it goes while continuing to apply to others in case it all blows up in my face. I really do expect to get laid off from my current job though so it would only be for 2 to 6 months which comes out to maybe an extra $75k on the long side.

        1. N'mousse*

          Just go for it! (this is coming from someone who always comes down on the side of ethical-except when strictly ethical disproportionately favors those who already have the advantage) Obviously don’t do it if you find you don’t actually have the capacity to do the job at both places – but it is really tough to fault anyone for trying to make sure they aren’t homeless and starving when they know a layoff might be around the corner.

          The same people who would shame you for working 2 jobs (assuming you aren’t just collecting a paycheck at one) would be the same people shaming you for not having saved enough/picked yourself up by the bootstraps/planned well enough/been enough of a go getter, etc. to survive a layoff without vacationing in the lap of luxury for 6 months to overcome the trauma of the layoff itself. I’m obviously exaggerating to make a point – which is – take care of yourself!

        2. jobbyjob*

          Try it! Be very honest with yourself about how it’s going and quit one if you find your performance or quality of life starts to suffer.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Take the new position, quit the old one. Nothing you’ve described from your first job sounds like something I’d want to stay at, and keeping it might damage your position at NewJob.

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I say embrace and exploit the chaos vacuum. Two to six months to build up some reserves – go for it. Their inability to manage is not your problem and, in fact, an opportunity.

  34. Amber Rose*

    I’m so frustrated with my one coworker (we both report to the same boss). She’s got one job, she’s responsible for our teapot logistics department. She also helps me out a little bit with teapot quality issues, mostly by making sure the broken ones end up with the correct repair person since incoming shipments cross her desk first.

    She’s spent several months now in everyone’s office telling them how to do their jobs, from sales to finance to engineering. She’s had so many people telling her to stay in her lane that it’s become like a bad comedy. In response, she has become passive aggressive, embraced her martyrdom, and is now sending 8 page emails inventing new procedures that she insists we follow with the tagline “I’m not trying to step out of my lane, I just want to help improve the company.” She should have gone into government though, because these processes have like 8 levels of approvals and signatures and are a level of bureaucracy you normally don’t see until a company is six times the size of ours. They make my head hurt.

    Last week we had some office games that I scheduled weeks in advance and she sent her one direct report out to buy snacks during the games so he couldn’t participate. Then when we asked if she would participate, she said she couldn’t because she was the only one left and “some of us have to work.”

    All of my emails to her have become frosty, even when it’s not warranted, because I’m so irritated with her. On the one hand I feel bad because I know she’s probably feeling pretty isolated and ganged up on, but on the other hand, I cannot with the 8 page emails and the insistence on arguing with things that are none of her business.

    1. Season of Joy (TM)*

      I think you work with someone I used to manage. I still have the 8-page emails (full of objectively incorrect information, in some cases) in my inbox, just in case.

    2. ferrina*

      Wow, she sounds incredibly obnoxious. I can see why your emails would be politely professional and nothing else. This isn’t “ganging up”- this is natural consequences. (and it’s not like you’re all talking about her behind her back, right?)

      You can flag some of this for your boss. The process thing that sounds like it’s way outside her job- you can flag that. Position it as “Hey, did you ask Annoying Coworker to revamp X process? No? Well she just sent around a proposed process that’s really unteneable. Just wanted to double check that I should be following the normal process.”
      The thing with her direct report is annoying but not worth flagging. She’s allowed to choose how her reports spend their time, and since it was your games, it would look like sour grapes (fwiw, I’m with you- the report should have had the option to participate if he wanted to). Good luck!

      1. Amber Rose*

        We’ve all been flagging it. The complaints about her aren’t just coming from me. Everyone is fed up.

        My manager is a nice guy but pretty ineffective as a manager.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Can you all make this more his responsibility? When your co-worker sends you one of these ridiculous emails, can you forward it to the manager with her on the chain, and say something brief to hand it off?

          The first sentence is important because it flags him. “Fergus, Esmerelda has a proposal for the llama grooming protocols.” The second sentence would be anything plausible. “As you know, our current practice is x”/”On first glance this looks costly”/”Would you like me to look into this further?” Anything that makes you sound not-snarky. And then a third sentence that removes this from your plate. “Please let me know how you’d like me to proceed”/”Unless I hear from you I’ll continue with our current protocol,” etc.

          Theoretically, Esmerelda should be happy with this because you are taking her seriously and sending her suggestion upward for a decision. Obviously you know whether there’s any risk that she *would* be taken seriously, or if it will make you seem passive-aggressive yourself, but I do think that it might be good for your ineffective manager to bear some of the costs of tolerating this behavior.

    3. juneybug*

      Can you just ignore her “process un-improvement” emails?

      Or response back with “how will this save the company time, money, or resources?” This will put the burden on her to figure out if their process will have benefits.

  35. NewManager*

    I was just promoted to my first managerial position about two weeks ago, and boy do I have some questions.

    I’ve been at my job for about a year and have been pretty unimpressed with the way my department has been run, as well as the lack of professionalism and maturity displayed by both my colleagues and my recently-departed manager. We’ve lost good staff from elsewhere in the organization in no small part because of my department. I also haven’t been impressed with my own professionalism since I started working here; I’ve been going with the flow more than I should have. I have plans to overhaul both our overall systems of doing things and our professional behavior.

    The problem is, neither of my direct reports is going to be on board with that. One has been working for this organization for about four years and is the “coordinator” of the space that causes the most problems, and he’s been downright insubordinate when it comes to any rule he dislikes passed down by our assistant director (currently my boss, his grandboss). AD has been very open that he knows I’m managing the two most unmanageable staff we have, but we need to see change. Also relevant: I’m a woman, both my reports are younger men.

    My main question is: do I rip the bandaid off and launch into an overhaul immediately, or should I bring on changes gradually? Also, any scripts for acknowledging that I am going to be asking them not to do things they have seen ME do, which I will be trying to correct myself?

    And really, any other advice on this situation/being a first time manager would be appreciated. Ack!

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Definitely this is a conversation to have with your boss, because they need to have your back 100% either way – either “you’re taking too long to make real changes” or “you’re rushing into a big overhaul without familiarizing yourself with the needs!”

      1. NewManager*

        Oops. Yeah…I told him I was planning to ease into it, rather than ask what he’d prefer.

        But that’s actually another factor I forgot to mention: my boss is planning to have all managers at my location get together in a few weeks/months and come to a compromise on how to handle conflicting customer needs, as well as rampant behavioral issues from our youth customers. A lot of the changes I make are going to hinge on how that goes, so any big meeting I have now is going to be followed up with another one soon.

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          I would suggest that you take the next few weeks to figure out a few potential action plans and ask your boss for time after your big meeting to discuss rolling out changes in your department. Trying to make a big change now that may or may not be affected by other changes in a few weeks will probably not go well, and there’s the authority bonus that if you change All the Things at once you can come at it with not only support from your boss but from the support of “we had a Big Meeting last week and moving forwards will be aligning ourselves with Departments X, Y, and Z”

    2. ferrina*

      Seconding Lunch Eating Mid Manager- the second thing you need to do (before implementing) is get your boss’s buy-in. It sounds like your employee may react so severely that it may require disciplinary action, and your boss needs to be on board with that.

      But the first thing to do is put together your plan. What are you seeing now? What are your proposed changes? How will your proposed changes impact all of those involved (both your department and others)? Really go into the weeds about what’s going to add work for who, and what will streamline processes. The goal isn’t to assign blame- right now, we’re going to act like The Process is to blame. When you position changes as a process issue rather than a people issue, it helps people get onboard. Make sure that the new process really does make your Direct Report’s job easier, and if/when he pushes back, listen. You don’t have to agree, just listen. If I don’t agree, I don’t tell them they’re wrong- I say, “Hmm, I hear what you’re saying, and I’m going to keep an eye on that issue. For now, I want to start with this process. We’ll regroup and re-evaluate regularly as we go.” Then do that. Make sure you support your person as the new processes take place. This will 1) help him feel supported and like he can come to you with questions and 2) give you enough oversight to hopefully catch things before they go wrong. Item 2 sometimes includes catching that the person isn’t actually making the changes you mandated, and applying disciplinary action as applicable.

      Good luck!

      1. NewManager*

        Thanks, this is super helpful! I do have some buy-in from the boss already (though the disciplinary process here is not encouraging…one report has been demoted in the past for behavior that wasn’t okay at the role he was demoted to, either, and then got promoted again despite not having fixed the problem behavior).

        I’ll keep the systems part in mind. Unfortunately, I will be making my reports’ lives harder in a lot of ways, because right now they’re just plain not doing enough necessary work. There’s no getting around that. They avoid doing a lot of things they don’t want to do, leave our public spaces a horrible mess, play video games at service desks in full view of customers whose tax dollars pay our wages (and yes they’re playing games with the mess still sitting there, but that isn’t even the main problem!), etc. Some of their neglectful behavior could get us into legal trouble.

        I will have to help one prioritize his workload, but that’s also going to be to the detriment of what he wants our workplace to be vs what our boss wants it to be.

        1. ferrina*

          Ooh boy, that’s a tough situation! Definitely loop your boss in. It sounds like these folks need to be managed out asap.
          If your boss isn’t aware of how bad the issues are, make sure the boss knows. Have the boss walk you through the process of managing someone out. Generally, you’ll set a PIP. Don’t go easy- hold them to the same standards they should have been held to all along. The goal is to clearly show that they are just not up to the job, so you need to be fair about what the job is and don’t give them a pass for not doing it. Document EVERYTHING. And if they meet the PIP, great. But make sure they continue to keep up the good work (and have a contingency plan in place with your boss to make sure that the change sticks)
          You can simultaneously change the process, slowly roll it out or even postpone. Go with what will be easiest for you while you manage the employees (this will look different in every situation). Be ready to do a lot of extra work while you manage out the old employees, hire in new ones (assuming that needs to happen), and onboard. That would usually be 4-6 months of really hard work, but it’s worth it to have a more stable and productive and just happier group of people.

          Good luck!

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      This would be a hard position for an experienced manager to be in, so know that you’re going to make some mistakes along the way!
      Also, you’re not “making their lives harder,” you are setting a reasonable expectation about how their job is to be performed and if they can’t do it, then they need to leave.

  36. Applesauced*

    Has anyone heard of or “(insert city here) Women for Good” professional organizations?

    I recently moved to a new city, so I’ve been looking for networking and volunteer opportunities and this came into my in box – are they legit?

    1. TeaFriend*

      Can’t speak for Grapevine but Rotary is a pretty reputable service organisation that’s well networked

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      Women for Good looked like a scam to me. I’ve had emails from them. Read a little MLM like, with fees but not clear breakdown of where that money goes.

    3. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Check out VolunteerMatch for volunteering opportunities. Also Catchafire, which is where they try to match your professional skills to your volunteerism.

    4. MenolyYoga*

      Also check out Altrusa. It’s an international women’s service organization (that accepts men, too).

  37. Driftless Writer*

    Fellow freelance writers and editors, how are you finding new gigs these days? I’ve had an intentionally small workload for a few years (while having very young children) and I’m ready to ramp up again. There seem to be endless platforms for contract work–which ones do you use/like? I’ve got some great personal-network connections and a couple of regular contract gigs, but I’d like to branch out. (I do also submit work on the spec for magazines, etc., but that’s not realistically income-generating for me right now.) Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

    1. curly sue*

      I’ve had excellent luck with Reedsy, positioned as a fiction editor. There is a screening process for the platform, but if you have credits / references from some larger clients you should be fine. They charge a percentage of the fee for admin but I vastly prefer not dealing with the contracts / invoicing /chasing people for payments side of things, so it’s worth it for me.

    2. Foley*

      I’ll second Reedsy. Met the guy who runs it (so young) at my friend’s weekend house party (she’s a writer) before the pandemic.

  38. Can't think of a funny name*

    Gift giving question. Prior to this year, I was a manager of 1 department with 2 direct reports. Both of them give me a present every year ($25 range). I’d rather they don’t “gift up” but they insist so I give them a gift as well. I am now a manager of a 2nd department with an additional 5 employees…Jane is my direct report and the other 4 people report to Jane. My thought is that if I am going to give gifts to dept #1 then I also have to give gifts to dept #2, right? Or can I continue to just exchange gifts with dept #1 and not start it with dept #2? Can I give a gift to only Jane in dept #2 since she is technically the only one in that dept that reports directly to me? We are all remote so I mail the presents, it’s not like I am giving them out in an office in front of everyone.

    1. ferrina*

      Yes, you need to give to both departments. People talk, and it wouldn’t be good for folks to find out that they were left out.

      For what to give, you’ve got a couple options. You can:
      1) give something to everyone, and lower the value. If you do this, you might want to give Dept 1 a head’s up that that’s what you’ll be doing and reinforce that you don’t expect a gift from them. Just so they know that they’ll be getting a lower value exchange.
      2) give something to just your direct reports. If you do this, it might be good to touch base with Jane to make sure that you two are aligned and she’ll be giving something to her team (you can help her brainstorm free options if she doesn’t want to/can’t spend the money). I had a boss that would send $20 starbucks cards to everyone, including people that reported to the folks that reported to her. For those people (her grand-reports?) she signed the card from herself and the direct manager (I really appreciated this)
      3) Give nothing and declare that this is the year that you just can’t. Inflation is a great reason to point to. Be very public about this, and try to find a non-monetary benefit you can give your team (an afternoon off?)

    2. Someguy*

      I think it would be a tough sell to only give gifts to one department.

      Can you use this as an opportunity to end the gift exchance – essentially that it would be inappropriate for you to give gives to this department but not that department, etc.?

  39. Prospect Gone Bad*

    I hate these chat message systems. I have been completely unsuccessful in getting people back onto email. Completely unsuccessful. One person emailed me a very non-urgent request this week and then decided to follow up with texts again (SMH) an hour later. Someone else basically said “I get interrupted all day too” which was a jerk thing to say especially since their job is completely different (they do a series of small transactions and I need to do more in depth technical stuff so it makes sense they’d be more ok with interruptions).

    As of today I’m just not responding. If people can’t respect boundaries, I can only play along so much. It’s not even that I refuse to help, but if every passing thought is an emergency, then nothing important will ever get done.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Idk if you’re asking for advice or just venting, but if your chat system it has do-not-disturb and/or status messages, I think you’d be on solid ground setting yourself to permanent DND and checking your messages once or twice a day.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        venting and asking if anyone actually got their coworkers onto email. Maybe I’ll just DND people. I don’t get what the freaking big deal is asking people to transition to email. It’s cool for them to randomly take up an hour of my time for something not important but God forbid i have any pushback

        1. Friday Person*

          I might try to decouple this into two separate issues:

          First, your preference for email over other message systems.

          Second, your coworkers barraging you with non urgent requests that they expect you to handle immediately.

          The second is a valid, very annoying issue. The first is a little trickier, since your preference for email does not automatically outweigh their preference for other messaging systems.

          Expectations around reply time messaging systems can vary, but is there a chance you can either wait to respond until it’s convenient for you, or drop a note along the lines of “I’ve seen this and will address it when I’m able”?

        2. Lost academic*

          I’ve never worked anywhere that would fly. Just because supporting coworkers isn’t your main role doesn’t mean it’s not a necessary condition. You can talk to people individually about using email more than chat, but your company is providing that tool for a reason and they expect you to be responsive. Permanent DND status is a Very Bad Look, I would guess, and shouldn’t be used that way.

        3. ecnaseener*

          I will say I’ve had success with showing people that I’m more responsive over email vs phone! Not chat because I don’t mind chat, but people email me 90% of the time now because I’m generally very quick to answer emails, less quick to answer voicemails. I didn’t have to tell anyone what my preference was, just let them figure it out.

          The key is that I *am* quick to answer emails, like almost always same day and frequently within the hour. If your MO is to let emails sit for a few days, then you either have to commit to letting chat messages sit for even longer, or accept that people will chat you.

    2. Ginger Pet Lady*

      If using the chat message system is how your company does things, you don’t get to just summarily decide you’re refusing. You don’t get to decide everyone has to move to email to accommodate you.
      This isn’t going to go well for you and it’s not the fault of people who don’t do things your way.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        But I’m measured on some long term projects and 0% on whether I drop those projects for 2 hours a day to handle random non-urgent things people frame as emergencies. So I’m not sure this is all part of “how the company operates”

        1. Unkempt Flatware*

          I set my calendar to say, “Production and Development Time” and then I turn off my chat feature, close my door, and put on my headphones. Ignore figures standing in your door way, ignore the phone, and retrain them. The chat issues is less of a problem than your colleagues ignoring reasonable boundaries.

        2. nope*

          Do you think you are superior to your colleagues? Because that is definitely what I’m getting from your comments.

          1. Prospect Gone Bad*

            Wow. This is out of left field. Not sure why you’re creating a narrative here but yes, if I’m dealing with a $10K problem it does trump a problem worth $50. I am not sure why that’s offensive to you.

            1. Ginger Pet Lady*

              No, it’s not out of left field. It’s absolutely the way you’re coming off.
              And if you won’t look at that, and understand and adapt to your company norms, you’re not going to succeed.
              Using chat programs is very, very common in professional work. And your company uses one. You’re expected to use it too. Suck it up and communicate the way everyone else does instead of expecting them to change everything around to suit YOU.
              The fact that you think everyone should adapt to you very much reads as “Me and my preferences are far more important than all you plebes and I expect you to conform to me!” – look at how you value your work as much higher than theirs! That speaks volumes right there and very likely isn’t actually true.
              The world does NOT revolve around you and your preferences.

    3. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Can you put a status message on that requests that work requests and status updates are sent through email only? And if people send them via chat, reply with an canned “please send this request via email”?

      Depending how large your pool of people that contact you for requests, individual conversations would likely go further, but reinforcing like this could do the trick.

    4. abcdef*

      This comes across as unnecessarily aggressive. It’s fine to have a preference for email over chat. It’s fine to be annoyed at coworkers expecting you to drop everything to handle what they consider a minor emergency, and try to set communication boundaries around that. It’s not ok to just not respond to coworkers who are using a legitimate form of workplace communication.

  40. Millie Mayhem*

    Hi Everyone – I’ve been with my current org for about 8 months and I’m starting to think my boss and I are not a good fit for each other. My boss is a nice person but is very scatter-brained and I feel like I don’t often have her full attention or support. When we do meet, I almost feel like she is trying to micromanage me or question the work that I’m doing, which is very unexpected because I’m a high performer and have never run into this issue before. I also feel very little support from my boss when I run into an urgent issue or work emergency. She is often unavailable, out of the office, or dealing with something HR-related. For context, my boss is Director of HR, and I report to her but my role has nothing to do with HR (it’s more office administration).

    There is another Director who I work with a lot, more often than my own boss. She has often stepped in to help support me with urgent situations when my boss is MIA, and I get along with this Director wonderfully and just like her a lot. This Director leads our facilities team who I work very closely with as well, and part of me feels like it would make more sense for me to report to her.

    Is there any way I can potentially broach a conversation about a restructure so I can report to this other Director instead? This is a long shot, but I am feeling pretty miserable with my current role and I think a huge part of that is my manager. I’m trying really hard to make it work, but if anything things are getting worse and I just don’t know what to do.

    1. ferrina*

      Instead of a restructure, what about a gentle shuffling of responsibilities. Frame it as a kindness to your boss.
      “Hey boss, I know your role means that you’re not available all the time because you have to put out some serious fires [benefit of being true]. I was thinking about X. Other Director has helped me a few times on this, and I was thinking that it might make sense for me to go to her with this kind of thing. Obviously I’d keep you in the loop [and make sure you really do this- it helps micromanagers to get regular updates] but this way it would be one less thing for you to deal with. What do you think?”

      A restructure is really unlikely and a pretty extreme solution. Most companies would say no and may even side-eye you for suggesting it. If you’re at that point, you may want to be applying to other places. Even if you don’t find another role you want (and you can be really picky!), it can help to remember that you have options.
      Good luck!

  41. Donkey Hotey*

    I’m not sure if this is a today question or a tomorrow question: Do people only like talking about work if it’s terrible?
    Prior to April of this year, I worked at a very strange company. Conservative, old-boy network, toxic masculinity, laughable pay and benefits, bizarre job expectations, and zero covid protocols. To cope, I poked fun and vented online in private ways so that it could never be tied to my actual place of employment. My friends would always ask about my work because there would always be something new to vent about.
    In April, I found a new job, gave notice, and left. (Thank you Alison and the commentariat!) This new job is everything that my old job wasn’t. Inclusive, equitable, 25% raise, more PTO, hybrid work, and actually pleasant and enjoyable people to work with. However, a side consequence is: no one wants to talk about work any more. I am loving my job and 99% of everything I do. But no one asks and when I bring it up, the conversation shifts quickly.

    1. Yecats*

      Unfortunately I think in general people find drama much more interesting to listen to than things going well — see, for example, every news article or clickbait title ever :(

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I think the “annoying office anecdote” is simply something more people are able to relate to across jobs and industries. For even some of my absolute closest friends, I truly have no idea what their job is or what their day-to-day looks like, and it would be incredibly difficult to explain the nature of my role to them too. So, it’s just easier to talk about the latest story about my quirky coworker or the newest ridiculous request my boss had. Those are nuggets easily understandable by people outside my office. The rest of my work stories involve too many nuances and too many people that external parties don’t know, and it makes for un-fun listening.

      Now, if I had something to celebrate (like a promotion or a project that went really well), my friends would want to hear about it and would be happy for me. But their attention would not last long.

    3. 1234ShutTheDoor*

      Dysfunction typically is more generally interesting. It’s possible they’re jealous – I know I’m always uncomfortable talking about work with someone who loves their job when I don’t. It could be that your job doesn’t provide a lot of general interest. (I love listening to my friend who works at the zoo about her job, I don’t love listening to my friend who does office payroll.) It could be all sorts of things. I don’t really have a solution other than directly addressing it with the people you used to talk shop with, if it’s important enough to you.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I’m reminded of the Anna Karenina quote “each unhappy family is uniquely unhappy”. One good workplace looks like any other good workplace. An unhappy place can have infinite permutations of crazy that is very entertaining for anyone not involved in the crazy.

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          Good point. Also there is the added tension of not really being able to call coworkers out on stuff. Like, unless someone is frying fish at their desk and leaving at 11AM and not doing any work, it’s considered “unprofessional” to say anything about it. Which makes any actual back and forths like “hey can you please do your work” seem like intense confrontations

    4. ecnaseener*

      I mean, yeah, if your friends don’t know much about your line of work, they probably won’t be interested in the details of your projects and things like that. Bizarre stories of terrible behavior are much more interesting, by nature.

    5. Pool lounger*

      In general, unless your job is really interesting (you’re a celeb’s assistant, an acrobat, you work with big cats at a zoo, etc) or you’re a doctor or lawyer willing to give free advice, most people not in your field won’t be very interested in talking about work. I find people in the same field often have a lot to say about work to each other, but most other people aren’t interested, especially if your work seems like general office work or is incomprehensible to someone on the outside.

      1. Not actually that interesting*

        And honestly, even jobs that people think are really interesting on the surface, they probably aren’t actually interested enough to have a ton of question. I work in a passion field within a passion field that surprises most people (think: “I didn’t realize there were llama veterinarians working at NASA!”) and even then, after an initial “Oh whoa, neat!” the day-to-day of my job is pretty boring to most people. I’ve learned how to pivot gracefully to avoid the lull where they realize that actually, they don’t have that many questions. (“Oh yeah, well, someone’s gotta keep ’em grounded! Ha! Say, have you seen those appetizers?”)

    6. Prospect Gone Bad*

      One issue is that our (and most) cultures value modesty. Most stuff I like about my job are things that make me look good, smart, better than other people at some things, or things that directly lead to me making more money or making 100% bonus. Most people hear bragging when you discuss these things, unless you discuss them with someone way above you in the socio-economic ladder. Hence they don’t get discussed

    7. Unkempt Flatware*

      Yeah I really have no interest in my friend’s or family’s jobs. It’s almost maddening to hear them talk about it. I just don’t care. They also don’t care about my work unless there’s some gossipy type stuff to share. I’d find an online forum for folks in your industry or otherwise make a friend in your industry to KiKi with about work.

    8. Danish*

      Yes, unfortunately, I’d say that even for my friends whose jobs I think sound interesting, I still am not really interested in hearing about what they do day to day, or what projects are happening, etc. That’s close-roommate who sees me every day talk. Like if it’s a big deal event – positive or negative – then that’s newsworthy… but it’s true that a negative-day-to-day feels more listenable. Humans love a complaint?

      That said, I would at least want to hear on that you got a new job/that it’s great/has good benefits when you got the job! (and, indeed, congrats to you!) and every few months/weeks an update of “wow things are still awesome!” would be good news… but it’s not really something that feels like we could *talk* about, if that makes sense?

    9. Irish Teacher*

      I don’t think it’s 100% true, but I do think that sometimes the bad parts make better stories. I often have to take care that I’m not making our school sound bad when I actually love my job, simply because stories about that one kid who is completely out of control and does the maddest things are way more interesting than stories of the 90% who are sitting there doing their work most of the time. (It’s not literally just one kid, but it’s maybe 5 or 10 out of 250-300.) And yeah, people probably are going to be more interested in the story about the kid who pushed over a desk and stormed out of the room than the kid who improved his reading age by three years in one.

      I think the same is true about workplaces. Not 100%. There can be fun stories from good workplaces.

      A certain amount might also be how you are telling the stories. You said you poked fun at the bad workplace in order to cope with it, so that might have made your stories funnier. Are there things you could do that with in your current workplace? Not necessarily in the same way, but even if things aren’t bad, there might be things you could have a laugh about.

  42. Hmmm*

    I was having a conversation with friends and am curious to AAM’s opinion!

    Has anyone had a coworker that appeared to be struggling. For whatever reason that person is no longer with the company (was let go or left on their own). After the fact the employer realized the coworker had more knowledge than you realized and their “struggling issues” were more a company concern than a performance issue?

    Nothing malicious in the scenario just a coworker and employer looking at things from a different angle. Would love to hear both sides your stories- and maybe to “prove a point” with friends ;-)

    1. Flying Princess Hedgehog*

      Yup. I took over managing a “struggling” employee. While she never became a superstar under my management, it was clear that a LOT of the issues were due to the previous manager, who didn’t want to do the work of managing, but also didn’t want to give up the role and prestige of managing.
      When I took over, I discovered that she was missing out on a LOT of training, and receiving no guidance. She was brought on during the pandemic (which was hard for all around), but there was no training plan and some really big assumptions made about what she did/did not know. Even when we got back in the office, the original manager NEVER had a 1:1 with her! When concerns about her performance were brought up, original manager did nothing, and another leader in the unit had to step to smooth things over as best as he could among all the staff members affected, but he didn’t have the authority to actually make meaningful changes. So what about the original manager’s manager? Also a horrendously bad manager/leader who simply did. not. care. about the entire situation.
      Thankfully, the grand-manager was removed from the position (but still has a position at my org!), and the new grand-manager was able to start making some effective changes.

    2. Lore*

      I’ve had situations where I suspected this was the case but the company never admits it after. Curious to see what others have experienced.

    3. CheeryO*

      Yes, moving into a management role has opened my eyes to all kinds of structural problems at my agency. We have a bunch of early and even mid-career folks who struggle with making decisions and taking on work outside of their core duties. They are all smart, capable people, but the common thread is that they were never properly trained or mentored, and may have even been a bad fit from the beginning. We are absolutely terrible at hiring and on-boarding, and effective managers are few and far between. It takes a particular personality type to succeed despite all that.

    4. ferrina*

      100%, at several companies. One company was notorious for leaning on mid-level managers and making them do all the hard work, while the senior leaders saw themselves as “idea generators” (never actually executing, just thinking up more work for everyone else). The Sr leaders were always upbeat (often unwarranted) and would be down on anyone who was complaining or saying that it was that person’s fault that they were struggling, and if they just followed Senior’s suggestion, it would all be fine. The politics could get really nasty, so mid-level managers (including myself) would often shield our team. The Seniors had a habit of suddenly firing people that disagreed with them, if they thought that person was disposable (none of us mid-levels were disposable- we were doing Sr’s jobs for them).

      Also worked a couple places with similar scenarios to Flying Princess Hedgehog- junior staffer never gets proper training, manager is hands-off/neglectful, junior staffer finds themself in a spot where they are getting responsibilities that they were never trained for and aren’t supported in. Neglectful Manager isn’t about to change their ways, so they say it’s such a shame that Unfortunate Employee isn’t working out/is lazy/isn’t understanding (the things they were never trained in), and Unfortunate Employee is let go.

      And one more- Person gets a mandate from VP 1 to overhaul system X. Person goes about the job, doing wonderful work. The work impacts Department 2 (maybe making them responsible for something they were shirking, or being better at one of their responsibilities than they are, or just unknowingly stepping on someone’s toes). VP 2 complains to VP1, and VP1 claims that Person is going rogue. Person is maligned and/or fired.

    5. Hen in a Windstorm*

      Yep. Had 2 coworkers who seemed fine and normal. They got a new manager and suddenly they were a problem, nothing they ever did was right, they were micromanaged to death. She got promoted (!) and the even newer manager was literally told she’d likely need to fire these 2 *in her interview*. She stood her ground and said she would asses their work herself. Well, surprise, surprise, she had no issues with their work whatsoever. She wrote a lengthy thesis on their work being fine. They went back to being considered normal, good employees. (They were both pretty close to quitting at one point, and 1 considered going to a lawyer.)

      1. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

        This is my current situation Hen.
        Five years of good work under 5 different managers. Suddenly new manager comes in and I am the Worst Employee Ever and NewManager micromanages every thing I do and I got written up within NewManager being here less than 3 months.

    6. cncx*

      I left my current job after my manager decided I was struggling when the reality was how he managed the department and my tasks. I was being shoehorned into junior tasks I wasn’t good at that weren’t what I was hired for, among other things that were worse (yelling etc). If I take a more charitable interpretation, I was just a bad fit for the department. This after ten years of glowing performance at a much more competitive company. Like you said, my manager had no idea the breadth of my knowledge, he just decided I was a silly little female.

      I can say I would appreciate it if someone from that company (not my boss, not holding my breath) would tell me that it wasn’t me and they see that. Because even if I know this intellectually, even if I know my manager was a piece of work, I feel like a failure right now when it isn’t all on me.

      1. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

        Sometimes they don’t appreciate you until you’re gone. Then those managers often fall flat because you were doing the work.

  43. Yecats*

    I am currently recovering from covid, on my last day of work for the year before 2 weeks of time off, and struggling to sit through a meeting full of business-y jargon about revenue and objectives and value risk and…

    My eyes are glazing over.

  44. YouWithTheGlasses*

    Look, a place to complain! My office is short staffed. Not enough to sink us, but enough to keep things a little chaotic. The broader organization’s solution? Assign temporary staff to take on the less involved tasks. It’s a decent idea in theory, but awful in reality. There’s constant training because no one stays in the temporary positions longer than a few months and half of the time the temp workers are poorly suited to the job, due to just being bad workers in general or just not in shape for the amount of manual labor involved. All of the good workers get snapped up by other departments once they get trained up and we can’t do anything about the willfully bad workers because they work for a temp agency, not us.

    On a happier note this may not be my problem anymore in a few months- I found a job opening that pays more and is fully remote with the organization I work for now. It’s in the same general work area I’m in now, just at the opposite end. If my current job is teapot assembly and distribution the job opening is in setting parameters for teapot components forecasting and teapot requirements.

  45. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    My daughter’s SO works for a mental health impatient facility. Two weeks ago, she sprained her wrist and elbow while helping to hold down a patient who became violent towards the staff. She went out on Workman’s Comp and her doctor told her she could resume normal duties in 5 weeks.

    The facility is now telling her that they have an alternate, temporary position that she could do with her injury (think light office work), which she would be happy to do, except:

    a) It is at a location 30 miles away, she doesn’t drive, and there is no public transportation to the other facility since it’s relatively rural.

    b) She specifically works second shift at her regular job because she has classes for grad school during the day (she will graduate with her MSW in May). This alternate position is 8am – 4pm, Monday – Friday.

    They are telling her that if she refuses the other job she will be taken off paid leave for the last 3 weeks, which to me seems like a giant steaming pile of bullcrap. Does anyone have any advice on how she can push back on this? We are located in Wisconsin if it makes a difference

    1. Risha*

      Sorry I don’t have any advice, I’m just outraged on her behalf. I’m so tired of employers trying to do this type of nonsense. You get hurt on their time/property, doing the job then they try everything to get out of paying. Something very similar happened to a friend of mine and she had to consult with an attorney who specialized in that type of thing. (I don’t remember the outcome it was a long time ago). Hopefully your daughter’s SO can find a free or low cost consultation?

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’d recommend documenting the offer of the alternative position — and the response about why that’s not going to fly (e.g., “thanks for offering the temporary admin position, but the location and the time are not something I am able to change.”) And then when she is off paid leave, she may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance, so file.
      When the employer balks at the UI claim, she can pull out the non-accommodations as part of her reason for being out of work. In my state, she’d probably get the UI until she got back. It would be something, anyway.

    3. ABK*

      Workers comp law varies a lot by state. She should call the workers comp. adjuster and explain the situation. The adjuster will be able to provide the answer based on the state law.

  46. Ejane*

    I’m in hell

    I have lifelong PTSD from a severely negligent and frequently abusive household when I was growing up. I recently started at a behavioral health agency where my supervisor unexpectedly switched to someone who is extremely similar in appearance and mannerism to my stepmother. This is very triggering for me.

    The supervisor is also a general disaster. I am one of four people who have had massive issues with her. One of my coworkers went to HR with a 60 page document with proof of retaliation, unequal treatment, bias, and general asshattery at the beginning of November.

    I’m also completing my clinical internship through this employer. I have been an intern since January, and was invited onto the team as an employee by a prior supervisor, whom I did not know was going to quit shortly after I started.

    I took paid medical leave in November to recover from a significant mental health relapse. When I came back, I was in a better space, but I have since relapsed again. For me, relapse doesn’t involve substance abuse, but it does involve self harm and just general deterioration of my mental state.

    I’m trying to get out. Here’s the problem. I was told by multiple people when I became an employee that if the employee part didn’t work out I would still be able to be an intern. I reached out to HR yesterday, citing a medical concern as reason for extended leave. HR responded and told me that I could not continue as an intern if I left. Not in my current team, not at the team I had prior, not at all.

    On top of this, this supervisor with whom I struggle to communicate, a supervisor who has consistently and noticeably treated me differently, with distain, removing me from active duty for no clear reason, assuming the absolute worst of me, including accusing me of seeking punitive outcomes for extremely vulnerable clients and attempting to impose disciplinary restrictions on my service dog and creating rules that violate the ADA in the process, extended my probation.
    I had lodged a discrimination complaint the week prior, which came back as unsubstantiated.
    This was clearly retaliatory, especially because the letter itself is a documentation disaster (The math doesn’t add up, the dates are incorrect, she miscited the union contract), and immediately preceded the four paragraph email about my service dog.

    HR is doing backflips to assure me that this probation extension was not retaliation. They have not commented on the service dog bit.

    So, I am in a job that involves my dream job description, a good team, a supervisor who transforms me into a terrified six-year-old whenever she gets angry, and an HR team that is somehow failing to adhere to both the union contract and the employee handbook, and I was just told that if I want to leave, I will need to push my graduation for my masters program back by at least one full quarter.

    I’ve spoken with my field liaison regarding the internship and worst case scenario I stay through the end of January. This is really not ideal, because I am tabulating the various consequences as this would be ideal, this would be good, this at least won’t make me suicidal.

    I really just need someone to validate that this is insane. It’s so bad, and the supervisor is so good at gaslighting, that even as I’m writing this, and leaving stuff out because no one needs to read an actual novella, that it seems like I must have made this up.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Oh my gosh. I can so relate!! Right down to the stepmother.

      I had a boss so bad in my old job that I would come home and ask my husband to tell me one single thing that I do that not terrible. Not just as an employee, but as a human being. Because I could not think of one at all.

      My only advice is GTFO. You can’t heal in a toxic dumpster fire that is also actively abusing you.

      Sacrifice whatever you need to sacrifice, and get your hours somewhere else. This is NOT at all normal.

      I’d also recommend MAPS-type therapy along with an IFS therapist if you can find one – transformative. But still get out. Even if you had zero history of abuse, this would still be a screaming dumpster fire.

      1. EJane*

        Thankfully I have an absolutely MAGNIFICENT therapist! a big reason that I’m not in an even worse place is that I’ve been working with her for three years and made SO much progress in the meantime, and she’s been instrumental in helping me navigate this.

        I think I might have really, really good news in a bit. Fingers crossed.

        1. Nesprin*

          I’m so sorry- you need out and to find a different internship.
          Your school should have your back- there are protections for students, and especially for disabled students which you 100% count as.

    2. ferrina*

      It’s not your dream job if it’s causing you mental health to relapse.

      How quickly can you get out? This is not a good situation, and it’s not going to get better. Can you ask your school to reassign your internship? (I don’t know if this is something your program can do, but you need to ask). If not- how bad is it really to push back your graduation? If it’s that your mental health collapse, I’d argue that that extra quarter is time well managed.

      You aren’t going to win at this place. You’ve already had to go on medical leave once. The cost of this fight isn’t worth it, and what are you fighting for, really? One more quarter? I know if feels extreme and terrifying- the unknown is a horrifying prospect at times like these. My childhood gave me cPTSD, so I’m right there with you. Trust me when I say it gets better. Leaving a bad situation is scary when you’re walking into the unknown, but you’re going to make it. You’re going to complete this program, and you’re going to have an awesome career. And it sucks that the first thing you’re learning is when to walk away (it’s completely unfair), but unfortunately that’s where it is. Walk away, know that it’s not what you planned but it will be okay. I believe you, and I’m rooting for you. I also recommend Dr. Ramani’s YouTube videos on gaslighting and Patrick Teahan’s videos on childhood trauma- those were immensely helpful for me.

      Good luck!

      1. EJane*

        Thank you for the youtube recommendations! I think I might have made a breakthrough with HR, potentially. We’ll see.
        I really needed to hear that encouragement as well. Thank you so much. My poor service dog has been all over me all morning.

    3. KatStat*

      It sounds awful. I am so sorry. The only thing that jumped out at me is mention of a union contract. I would contact your union rep for advice. I am not in a union but my understanding is that the union rep is there to help in workplace disputes.

      1. EJane*

        unfortunately the union’s power is limited because I’m a probationary employee. :/ The union rep has been WONDERFUL with pay step stuff, but otherwise it’s pretty useless.

    4. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      As someone who just finished a Masters while working full time (by submitting my research project approval mere moments before the very last deadline), I just want to remind you that finishing one quarter later is nothing in the grand scheme of life! I’m sure it feels like a lot now (it did for me!) but even the extra costs, if any, are nothing compared to the benefits of extracting yourself from a toxic situation, and having significant mental health relapses. Social work is hard enough when you are well – I can’t imagine you’re getting what you should be from your internships when your trauma is constantly activated! 3 months will feel like nothing, even by the end of next year. Take care, internet friend.

  47. No Raise But At What Cost*

    I’m at a loss for words in this situation. I have been in my current role for over two years. It was a brand new position in this company and now we have grown and I will be hiring two team members that I will supervise. The Department Head in the main office has taken on the majority of interviewing for these positions since I’m completely swamped with work (hence why we are hiring two junior team members). We have selected one candidate that we will make an offer to. Then the problem popped up. This candidate’s salary expectations are more than what I make now at this position. I have 4 times as much experience as this candidate and I will be their supervisor. Department Head is going ahead with the offer. I asked about my own compensation because it’s not right for a supervisor with way more experience to make less than a new hire I will be supervising. I was told they might revisit my salary in March and will bump me up if I prove myself to be a higher level performer. What does that even mean? I’m already going to be this person’s manager yet they don’t see an issue with killing my morale for a new employee? I don’t understand this thought process.

    1. Margaery Tyrell*

      The fact that they’ve allowed you to be underpaid and overworked means they don’t value you. (What’s especially telling is the future promise of fixing what they should fix ASAP.) I’d get out — I’m sorry you had to find out this way.

      1. irene adler*

        And, especially true if this statement cannot be quantitated -right now- by management: “bump me up if I prove myself to be a higher level performer.”

    2. ferrina*

      It can actually be okay for a direct report to make more than a supervisor depending on the different roles and skills. The additional years of experience is likewise a red herring- years in the profession may or may not make a difference depending on the actual profession and work. What’s more important is skills and responsibilities. What’s not okay is that it sounds like they have two people doing mostly similar work with a distinct pay difference (and that you have additional responsibilities and skills and are still on the lower end of the difference). That means they are either overpaying or underpaying someone. Look at some salary calculators to find out which it is. Then decide if you want to stay at this company.

      The company is making a calculated decision- they need additional staff. It sounds like they’ve had trouble finding people. They can either hire this person at more than they intended, or leave the position empty. They choose to fill the position, and they are not adjusting your pay because they think that you’ll stay at your current salary. It’s a pretty coldhearted ROI calculation, and short sighted- this kind of practice generally pushes out high performers who don’t want to deal with these games.

  48. NotRealAnonforThis*

    I need to momentarily rage shriek or I’ll say something out loud which won’t go well.

    Our AP manager insists on knowing “why” people WFH. Everyone.

    Note that she does not get to approve it outside of her department, she can not retroactively disapprove it outside of her department, as a matter of fact she has zero reason to know WHY someone might WFH on any given day unless its a direct report.
    And she is not my manager. Not even my department.

    Individual managers have the authority to permit it on a case by case, day by day basis. My manager is fully aware that his department can and does sometimes need to be a little flexible and he does a great job of managing without relying on “butts in seats”.

    So I did WFH one day this week. And I got the third and fourth degree about it the next day. I kept a perfectly calm “because I needed to, boss, grand boss, and CEO were fully aware and had no problems with it, that’s it” script.

    Just…why. Its not her job. Its not her responsibility. Seriously WTF?

      1. NotRealAnonforThis*

        The whole management team is aware, and since she can do nothing except be an annoyance, occasionally reminds her to stay in her lane. Because she could go to my management tree, and the answer would be “we all knew. We’re fine with it.” and she’d still be picking at it.

      1. Everything Bagel*

        Yes, why not just outright ask her why she’s asking? Not in a critical tone, but a curious one.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’d honestly just sort of give a half smile and ask her how she is this morning. Keep evading like this until she tires. If she persists, I’d just tell her she’ll need to take it up with my manager.

    2. Dragon*

      Maybe the AP manager is seeing the dollars-and-cents cost of letting more people WFH: increased technology infrastructure, paying taxes and other costs to states where the company has no presence, etc.

      Or she needs certain people to be either in the office, or more responsive online because she needs approval or stuff from them in order to do her job.

  49. Anxious and Confused*

    I don’t want to put all the details out here, but basically my husband is in the running for an out of state job that would be a step in from where he is now. He had lots of contact with the most senior manager via email, 2 hour plus long phone interviews (I think one was actually 90 minutes) where he felt at ease talking to them and that they were trying to sell themselves to him. He then was invited to an on site interview, he flew there and spent 2 days, basically spent most of the day with them (6 hours) which included lunch. Oh and they did a background check before he ever went there.

    He sent a thank you email the next day and the same senior manager replied back that she forgot to tell him they would be making a decision in December.

    Since then, he has had no further contact, which feels a lot different to how they treated him before his interview. But December isn’t over yet and he hasn’t gotten a rejection. It’s been one month since his in person interview….should he follow up? Or just wait it out? At some point he needs to give them his travel receipts for reimbursement (he has emails stating they would pay, but they haven’t asked for them yet.)

    1. ecnaseener*

      If the contact for reimbursements is a different person than the HM, he may as well send in his receipts. But I wouldn’t follow up with the HM until January.

      1. Anxious and Confused*

        They don’t tell him her who the contact is for that, I think the only email addresses he has are the CEO and one from HR when he had to fill out ms old fashioned application as a formality. He was kind of waiting until he heard whether he got the job or not before bringing it up, but now we are wondering if they are ghosting him as they had a couple other interviews the week before and after his and I would think the candidates were pretty narrowed down by then, but maybe not.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Ok, then I say wait! They’re not ghosting until the stated timeline has passed, at the very least! (And the stated timeline was a decision *made* in December, not that it would be signed off on and an offer letter prepared by the end of the month.)

          1. Anxious and Confused*

            Sigh. Ok. Ok. Logically I know you’re right, a month just feels like forever already!

            A friend is mine pretty much gave the exact same advice (wait till January), but then another friend whose husband was a hiring manager at Ford said they loved when candidates followed up as it showed they really wanted the job. That said, Ford is a big corporation and this company is probably 100 employees or less.

            1. DisneyChannelThis*

              You could do it a little slyly, as if you wanted to give them a heads up you’ll be traveling and possibly out of phone reach Dec 25th-Jan3rd . Then it’s not your being pushy to know their decision, you just want to make sure they don’t think you ignored them and it shows interest still.

          2. Unkempt Flatware*

            Me too. Plus with everyone around me dropping like flies, it wouldn’t surprise me if all of HR is sick right now.

            1. Anxious and Confused*

              I hadn’t thought about that, but it’s very true…the illnesses going around are wild right now.

    2. Colette*

      Submit the receipts. It’s a reason to get in contact, and he’s owed that money – no need to wait until the process completes – and given that it’s December, it’s likely someone key to the process is off work, so it could take a while.

    3. Ithappens*

      Get the receipts in before the end of the year. He can just send them to the HR person saying that he figured accounting would want this to happen in the same calendar year. And then something about looking forward to hearing from you soon…

  50. kiki*

    Four months ago, I pivoted to a new role in a similar field to what I had been doing for most of my career. I really like the pivot and feel that this type of role is better for me, but the company I’m at is going through a really bad time and cost-cutting like crazy. I’m not a finance or accounting person, but lot of the moves seem penny-wise but pound-foolish (e.g. – taking away a tool that’s expensive, but allows everyone to operate much faster) . I don’t think my job is at risk (I’m a very necessary role on a product that is one of the company’s remaining cash cows), but all the cuts are making my job harder and harder to do.

    If I had been in this role or type of role longer, I’d start looking for a new job immediately, but I don’t feel like 4 months is long enough to making me a compelling candidate for similar jobs. My plan is to stick things out for about a year. Does anyone have tips for keeping your sanity in a time of extreme cost-cutting?

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      First, sympathies – this is not a fun situation to be in.

      Second, be honest with yourself, and more importantly with your manager, on the impact the cost-cuts have had. “Sorry boss, earlier I would have been able to do both X and Y by end of week, but now that we don’t have tool A I can only get X done by end of week”. One of the reasons this sort of disastrous cost-cutting happens is because no one quantifies the process and whoever is in charge of the cutting doesn’t ask enough questions. Make the actual cost visible in what you are doing. And then only do X. Do not try and push yourself to do Y done, because that does not accurately convey the cost of this cost-cutting. Especially if you are salaried.

      Third, are there any alternative tools you can explore? This is very dependent on job of course, but it’s often worthwhile to explore the applications you do have access to in search of any less-used functions. I find that Excel & other Office products are particularly underused and have metric tons of functionality built in that people are just not familiar with (this is of course massively dependent on your job/industry – I’m most familiar with the Office suite because that’s what I use 99% of the time). I wouldn’t spend too much time on this but googling your problem + any applications you have access to has provided me with pleasant surprises in the past.

      1. ferrina*

        This is great advice. Do all of this. If your manager is reasonable, definitely be having regular honest conversations about what you recommend and why- it will help them better evaluate the impact of their decisions

  51. Margaery Tyrell*

    I know the easy answer to my conundrum is “leave and find new job,” but would love outsiders to weigh in on short-term options.

    My role has been say, Digital Teapot Painter for a few years now; I previously started more as a Teapot Watercolor & Digital Painter and have found I enjoy digital painting a lot more. Due to staff changes, my current role has been more in the Watercolor sphere, with the understanding that once a new Head of Digital Teapot Painting was hired, I could formally apply for my old role. (Trust me, I’m salty about this.)

    Well we went months without New Head, so I’ve been trucking along as the most senior Digital Painter for awhile, but now New Head has arrived and has formally posted the position. My interactions with him have been minimal, but every one of his comments has been incredibly condescending to me. (As a Painter, I get feedback all the time — I’ve gutchecked with peers and my manager and they agree.) Theoretically, if I want to keep doing the work I enjoy more, I need to formally apply — but I have a lot of reservations about New Head as a manager. Is it worth sucking it up in the short-term and giving him a chance to prove my first impression wrong? Or do I listen to my intuition and stay where I am, knowing eventually someone(s) will be hired to take over the digital work I’ve been doing for years?

    1. ecnaseener*

      My first reaction is don’t sign up to work with this boss. Obviously you have to weigh the options yourself of crap boss + preferred work vs decent boss + less-fun work, but when you weigh them, assume he will continue to act like he’s currently acting.

    2. ferrina*

      Is the work worth the manager?
      That’s a real question. Every person and situation will have a different answer. I’d also look at how he treats other people, not just you (particularly people that have your same demographics- always worth checking if there’s a pattern).

      You can also apply with an exit strategy in mind. For example, if things don’t get better in the next 3 months, I’ll apply elsewhere. If you were already close to looking, it means you were sick of your current position. This new position may be worth trying out (depending on how bad the interactions with New Head have been- you should trust your gut on this), or you could bide your time in current position.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I say apply to the new (old) role *and* apply to outside roles. Treat it similarly to any other job application.

      It sounds like the decision in front of you is “apply or don’t apply”, *not* “stay in my current role or work for New Head.” By the time you’re at the latter decision point, the situation may have shifted enough that you have a clearer idea of what you want to choose.

  52. swordswallower*

    Okay, I’m not sure I’m being too weird about this. What do you think?

    My boss quit not too long ago, and it’s been me and another assistant manager running things in our department. for the past while. We run the box office at a theater.

    The other day, the head of communications came to us and asked if one of us would connect one of our Facebook accounts to the company page so we can monitor it during the day for any box office questions. Apparently, that’s what our boss did, though I’m not sure how long he was doing it for.

    My boss hated his job, in part because he had a very hard time disconnecting from work. I’m not sure he knew he could turn off notifications, but he certainly kept getting them.
    I am VERY adamant about us not going down the same path. I really want to maintain that separation (and we have not been offered a bonus or raise for taking on our boss’s work). Also, I’m concerned that if we take it on, they eventually will shift the entire management of the page to box office.

    I asked the head of communications if there was a way we could just log into the page itself, create a fake Facebook account, etc. and he said he wouldn’t know the answers to that. I told him that I really want to maintain the separation, and he said “Oh, THAT would be nice.”

    I personally think that it should be a communications thing; either he or the social media management company can find a way to forward questions to us, or even answer them directly.
    That said, we do monitor an email already and we have phone lines, so I guess it’s not a stretch to have us monitoring the Facebook page. But where will it end? Instagram? TikTok? BeReal?

    Surely there HAS to be a way for us to monitor this without us connecting our personal accounts, right?

    1. Flying Princess Hedgehog*

      I would not do this without additional compensation.
      I do this for my job – and yes, it is my personal Facebook account linked to the office account. But I rarely use Facebook anyways, so I simply ignore all notifications off-hours.
      And if you’ve already taken on other things the boss used to do, it would make sense that this is where you draw the line (you simply do not have the bandwidth to take on one more thing), or you start getting compensated accordingly.

    2. WellRed*

      I monitor our Facebook page and absolutely do not have it connected in any way with my personal account. Hard boundary. Also, why can’t you just monitor the page through the page (not that I think it should be your job).

    3. GoLightly*

      Facebook is really strict about this kind of thing – I tried making a fake account for the same reason and it was disabled within 24 hours. It’s so ridiculous, because I’m sure LOTS of people are in the same boat! But my current employer does have a fake Facebook account for managing their business profile and has managed to keep it up somehow. Maybe look into how you can fool their automatic filters if you decide to do that!

      1. GoLightly*

        Also, we have ours connected to Hootsuite and all of the messages and comments go there, so I don’t have to actually log into the page itself to respond. That might be another option?

        1. swordswallower*

          Ooh, great suggestions! Hootsuite does sound great, and I think it’d help for other platforms too. THank you!

    4. Just here for the scripts*

      Why doesn’t the head of communications do it? I mean it’s communications—not box office. Unless you’re selling tickets through the FB page., sounds like communications head wants you doing work outside of your swim lane.

      1. swordswallower*

        Oh, he’s got a long history of doing that. We do quite a few communications tasks, actually, like sending the show reminder emails. I will find a way to put a boundary there. I feel bad because he’s short a staff member, but… so are we.

  53. Vireo*

    So I went down the rabbit hole of original comments to the poster whose ambitious driven self was gone, and I saw a lot of people who wanted to move from career-type corporate jobs to more passion-based work. Anybody else out there going in the opposite direction? I have been fortunate enough to be able to work in a field I am passionate about for decades, but I am now becoming burned out on the consistent low pay and lack of benefits and am trying to figure out how to pivot into a ‘regular’ job that pays enough to live a modest life on.

    1. anon24*

      Me! I worked in EMS for awhile. I very much had a love/hate relationship with it, it’s a extremely hard job that is frustrating as all hell but it’s my one true love in life. I moved over the summer and decided not to get a job in it in my new state because I didn’t like my options here. I miss it so much that I dream about it and wake up crying, but I’m getting ready to go back to school to get a degree for a better job because I don’t want to make $15 an hour for the rest of my life working in that field.

      1. Season of Joy (TM)*

        Oh, this hurts my soul! Are you anywhere near a small town that has a volunteer EMS service? My spouse is an EMT for our neighboring town of 800. He gets paid a small stipend for every call he goes on. It’s certainly not enough to pay the bills (not his main gig) and they only average 5-10 calls a month, but it might still scratch that itch you get.

        I have another friend who is a paramedic, but she is currently going to school part time to get her BSN and then she plans to go on and get her CRNP. So the struggle is real, and I empathize.

        1. anon24*

          I am part of my local volunteer fire departments medical team, but they haven’t let me become a driver yet so I don’t get to go on many calls because my station only has a few people and it’s rare that I’m there when anyone else is, but it is something! No stipend or anything, but I’ll go over sometimes late at night when I can’t sleep and hang out til the wee hours of the morning and I’m hoping when I start school next month to be able to go hang out and do homework there. I came from a company that responded to 30,000+ calls a year so it’s quite the adjustment. It was my life for a long time.

    2. ferrina*

      That was me! I’ve now officially reached corporate career (weirdly, my role at this company quickly became very passion-based. Love when things work out that way!)

      I had to switch fields, and that was the toughest part for me. From there, I worked first at a smaller company, then built up some strong achievements to move to the bigger corporation. If you’ve got some strong achievements in your current role, you might skip the smaller company step. Honestly, just switching from a not-for-profit where “we work for passion!” to a for-profit where “we work for money” quickly made a difference. Good luck!

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I’m not planning to stay on this trajectory for too long, but currently I’m in a “sellout” job because I needed the stability/money more than I wanted passion. And while I struggle with the lack of meaning in my work and am trying to find ways to create meaning out of what’s here, it was the right choice to make at this point in my life.

    4. 1234ShutTheDoor*

      I think that my dream would be to have a part time well paying soulless corporate job for the bills, and then have another part-time passion job. (For me, I’d pair software development or IT with teaching music.) Unfortunately, I my dreams are foiled by the US healthcare system. I think it’d be really good for a lot of people, though. There are plenty of jobs that need to be done that very few people are passionate about, and this way people could have flexibility to explore what they’re passionate about/take breaks if they’re burning out on one thing or the other. (Like, you could quit the one job and not have a complete loss of income while looking for something else, whether you burned out on the passion side or the “someone’s gotta do it” side.)

    5. AnonRN*

      12 years ago I left one “passion” (the arts, but a behind-the-scenes role) for another field that is commonly described as a “passion” or a “calling”: nursing. Here’s the thing–in the arts I needed a bachelor’s degree and got paid about 20K USD per 9-month season (granted this was 12 years ago, but still.) Nursing is hard and nursing school is hard, but at least I get paid real money (~110K plus all the OT I want these days.) This is a comfortable wage in my area. There’s plenty of passion in nursing if that’s what drives you (for some nurses, it’s and important part of their professional identity), but it’s not a requirement: if you are able to form a level of detachment and still provide good care that’s probably easier. There are lots of non-bedside nursing jobs (data, case management) but you typically need to spend at least a couple of years at the bedside to obtain these. So, if healthcare interests you, I’d encourage you to look into it. There are lots of second-career nurses out there.

  54. Alex (they/them)*

    Happy Friday everyone!

    I’ll be starting a new job next week at a brand-new company- I’ll be one of the first employees (although I’m being hired along 10-15 others). Does anyone have advice for working at a new company?

    1. Season of Joy (TM)*

      Something with a new company that can either be good or bad is that there won’t be established norms that you can pick up on by observing others. If you see something in need of clarity, ask! I worked for a self described “start up” (actually a new, non-academic university department with little to no oversight from higher units) and what we struggled with the most was clarity around roles/responsibilities, preferred working styles and prioritization, and understanding how to contribute to a shared vision. That last one was the fault of the executive director, who had no idea how to articulate that shared vision. If we had all been less conflict averse, we could have avoided a LOT of exasperation and miscommunication.

    2. irene adler*

      If you’ve been with a large company, there can be some things that one can just assume are taken care of – that won’t be the case at small company. Unless someone steps up and makes the arrangements.

      One example: janitorial services.
      Another: basic building maintenance (like who replaces light bulbs when they burn out)

      1. probably*

        Yep. I started working for my present company when it was less than 20 people. The CFO took the ttrash out and loaded the dishwasher.

  55. Lentils*

    I was hoping to get some advice regarding an issue my wife (“Melanie”) has run into at work.

    Melanie works in a very small private medical office, which is currently by appointment only and requires masks for all staff and patients. They do have a limited supply of masks for patients who forget (they are sent multiple reminders but it happens) and the general policy is that they are charged a small fee for masks, though sometimes the doctor/owner will waive the fee at her own discretion. But generally, the reason they have a mask fee is because the office can’t afford to keep a big supply of masks and just give them out, like a larger practice would.

    Melanie’s coworker Sasha is a specialist who works directly with patients after the doctor has seen them. Sasha has expressed direct distaste for the mask requirement, though not in the doctor’s earshot, and Melanie has witnessed her being both personally lax in her masking (i.e. wearing it under her nose) and allowing customers to either take them off temporarily or forego them entirely while working with them. All of these instances have been while the doctor is in an appointment or gone for the day. Melanie fears that bringing it up directly with Sasha will only antagonize her, as Sasha ignores Melanie at best and is weirdly hostile to her most of the time.

    However, yesterday she discovered Sasha is actively ignoring the mask fee. When a patient should be charged the mask fee, Melanie adds a sticky note to their chart to notify Sasha (who takes the patient’s payment at the end of their appointment). Melanie processes the office billing, and noticed that Sasha hadn’t included the mask fee on a patient this week that should have been charged. A quick look through the bills from the last couple of months confirmed that the last time a patient was charged the mask fee was October 31.

    Melanie is unsure whether to mention this to her boss/the doctor, or how to go about that. She suspects “tattling” on Sasha will result in worse behavior towards her, and has been attempting to ignore Sasha’s hostility and kill her with kindness and competency. However, Melanie is concerned this may come back on her if the doctor finds out about it later (as Melanie is the one who reports who should be charged the mask fee). Anyone have experience with something like this or have any tips for what Melanie should do?

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Focus on the work. So she can send an email, including to the doctor, to say: I have not seen any mask fees from Sasha or I’ve seen a drop in mask fees in general. Am I missing them? Are we accidentally losing the sticky notes and need a different system to note the fees?

    2. ferrina*

      Mention it to the doctor. If she wants to try with Sasha first, she can try the Innocent Query- “Hey, I noticed that the mask fee hasn’t been charged for a while, even though I’ve been leaving the notes. Did Doctor decide to remove the mask fee?” But if Melanie fears retaliation, go straight to the boss. The doctor will likely find out anyways, and may be frustrated that Melanie didn’t mention it earlier. If Sasha is behaving poorly toward Melanie, that’s something that the doctor may be willing to adjust some processes to help. If Melanie has some ideas on how to minimize her own interactions with Sasha, be ready to suggest them.

    3. Melanie Cavill*

      What’s more likely: Sasha is being forgetful or Sasha is purposefully ignoring the mask fee out of some anti-mask sentiment? Because one can be fixed with some gentle coaching, maybe a post-it note on her monitor, and one is quite alarming for a medical office and needs to be addressed immediately.

    4. AnonRN*

      Maybe this is beyond Melanie’s purview, but at this point the practice should find a way to include masks as overhead, just like towels or ultrasound gel or paper for the exam table or whatever. Some clients probably use more of those than others and presumably don’t get charged extra, right? Since more public places aren’t requiring masks, the number of clients without masks will probably increase. If the practice wants to require masks, the simplest solution is just to buy them (especially if the doctor is already waiving the fee at their discretion). It seems like the fee is a needless point of friction and the friction is outweighing the benefit of the fee (and clouding the bigger issue of inconsistent masking).

      1. fhqwhgads*

        You’re not wrong, but I’m guessing at least part of the fee is a disincentive to people “forgetting”. So it’d solve the money issue to roll it into overhead, but then you lose the disincentive. If this employee is letting people go without the masks, regardless of the fee issue, she’s acting contrary to the internal policies and is a problem.

  56. t-vex*

    I’m hiring for a public-interfacing role to coordinate a new community program where there may be some pushback from community members who don’t like the new way of doing things. What behavioral interview questions can I ask to make sure this person can stand their ground if pushed but still be nice about it and not take criticism personally?

    Complicating things, the person will be working out of the front office of another organization, about a 2-hour drive from me. I’ve never managed a remote employee before so I’m a little anxious about providing good support for them.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      For behavioral interview questions, I think something along the lines of:

      “Tell me about a time when you had to implement a change at work and received some pushback on the change. How did you handle that?”

      Would work pretty well. Good luck with hiring!

    2. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I’d just be clear about what you said here. Ask if they have had to negotiate a change like this or if they can give specific examples of something that they think speaks to their ability to navigate this.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      “Can you tell me about a time when you had to deal with pushback on changes you were responsible for (either creating or implementing)? How did you approach that?”

  57. sdog*

    In the context of removing duties, I see bullying as being targeted towards one or specific people, perhaps in an attempt to phase them out of their position or block advancement opportunities for them. From what you’ve written here, I tend to agree with others that this just seems like poor management. What do you all do instead now? Do you sense that the manager is taking away the duties because they want to be fully in control of what goes out/gets done? If so, that seems to stem from excessive micromanagement than bullying.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Happens often. It’s okay. You can either copy and paste it where it should go or trust that the Original Poster of your thread will see this one. All good.

  58. Anon for this*

    I’m not posting this for legal advice bc I don’t think it’s worth it, mostly to vent and be sad I guess.

    I have a chronic medical condition. It’s covered by the ADA and if I were 100% remote, I wouldn’t need to disclose or request an accommodation. Anyway, so I had to explain to my job about my medical condition and they in turn, brought it up constantly, saying I was in bad health and making it a point of mentioning it almost daily. Then after I submitted a request for an accommodation, I was put on a PIP by HR. I quit soon after bc I didn’t have the energy to fight honestly but I am still so upset by the whole experience. I work really hard at managing my condition and I have more good days than bad but there is no cure and it makes me feel so awful about myself to have people single me out for something I only have so much control over.

    1. WellRed*

      This sounds like a straight up violation of the ADA. Sure you don’t want to report the? (It’s ok if you don’t of course, but I’d consider it).

    2. Danish*

      Ugh, I’m so sorry. Knowing you’re entirely in the right is cold comfort when you’ve been poorly treated. Sometimes the best you can do is know they’re terrible, they treated you terribly, and hope that they’re as personally miserable as they act.

    3. ADA Compliant*

      If you can at all handle the paperwork and personal inconvenience, please report this. Those who follow you will appreciate it. I’ve had to train several team leads, supervisors, and managers what ADA accommodations are.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Came here to say this! And also that I’m so very sorry that this happened to you.
        I hope you can find a wonderful fully WFH job where this won’t be an issue

  59. Chirpy*

    Well, it’s been another week of coworkers yelling at me, the other thinks I’m entitled for I asking if I could turn the breakroom TV off – she was leaving! Why does she care? I specifically waited to go to lunch very late to avoid her, and she happened to still be in there. Apparently she gets to watch whatever she wasn’t even when she’s not in there and that’s not entitlement?? Management is not helpful, and I can’t go to HR except through management.

    My department head at least hasn’t said anything for a few days after the last thing. I hate this job and I just can’t find anything I’m even remotely qualified for. At least last weekend’s breakdown in the warehouse got me a coworker offering to be a reference?

    1. Hen in a Windstorm*

      This sounds hard. I’m sorry.

      Maybe you just left something out, but if she was leaving why did you feel the need to ask her permission? If coworker was leaving, just wait until she’s gone and then turn it off. That’s 1 situation avoided.

      1. Chirpy*

        She was still in the room when I asked, then argued from the doorway as she was walking out. I had thought that since her soap had been over for 10 minutes already and she was on her phone, about to leave (and the other 2 people in the room I know are chill about it) that it wouldn’t be an issue.

        Today I did wait until she left, but it meant other loud people were already in the room and I couldn’t turn the TV off. At least someone had changed it to the weather channel, which is less of an issue. I also now have a headache from being hungry and waiting too late to eat, though.

      2. Chirpy*

        There were two other people in the room, I was asking them if they minded turning the TV off because neither appeared to be watching it, she just wasn’t all the way out of the room yet.

  60. What would you do*

    I started a new job about eight months ago. It’s a great group but for many reasons, this job is not a good fit. I am miserable. I’m doing everything “right” to move on… sending out resumes, networking, finishing up work projects. I have nothing against the company it just not working. My anxiety is through the roof, I have daily panic attacks, my precious weekends are a 48 hour countdown till Monday morning. I’ve never “failed” like this before and am so upset. How do I get through this? I know it’s just a job I’m just at a loss

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      aww. I’m so sorry to hear this. Nothing is worse than dreading work every day. I too have been in my position about as long (10 months) and I need to get out. I think the way to get through it is to treat yourself as much as you can. Good food, comfortable spaces, friends and family. My prediction is you won’t be too far into the new year before you get a new gig and can put this behind you. I hope you’ll keep us updated. You can do it, WWYD!

      1. What would you do*

        Thank you for the virtual hug. I have a great support system and have no problem treating myself. I hope your situation works out as well sooner than later.

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Thanks for this. I’m also having a crap time at work and have started doing the thing where I get stuck in sadness inertia. A much-needed reminder to try to bring some more joy into my life.

    2. Hen in a Windstorm*

      First, I’m sorry.

      Second, I see a little bit of disconnect between “I know it’s just a job” and “I’ve never failed like this, I’m so upset.” It’s okay to have bad feelings. Allow yourself to acknowledge your disappointment, fear, sadness, whatever else. Those are real feelings, and trying to talk yourself out of validating them only makes things worse. You had hopes for the job and for yourself and those hopes are being dashed.

      Third, 100% do not allow yourself to think about this job for a second after you walk out the door. You are making this so much harder on yourself by not ever letting yourself take a break. Be task based – if there is something you can do, do it. If there isn’t, then acknowledge it’s out of your hands and let it go. Stressing all weekend hasn’t improved anything, right? So stop. Talk back to your jerkbrain. (Also, check out cognitive behavioral therapy if you aren’t already seeing someone.)

  61. Kat Maps*

    I’m feeling bummed out right now. I had posted several weeks ago about a colleague of mine who shared the same role as me leaving the organization. When there were two of us working in this role, I often found that there wasn’t enough work for me and I was often bored. Her role was a step ‘above’ me in terms of department hierarchy and responsibility, so I looked forward to maybe taking on additional tasks and responsibility. If her job was posted, it would be a good chance for me to move up in the department (I’ll add here that we’re unionized, and as such all our raises are based on time worked, and ‘promotions’ don’t happen unless a job is posted an you go through the application process. I am also in the lowest pay band of our department.)
    It turns out they’re not posting her role. Instead, they’re posting a hybrid role that would combine my tasks, with those typically done by another role a few steps ‘above’ me in our departments hierarchy. This new role is in the same pay band as mine. So not only do I not have any opportunity to apply for a role that would be a step up from my current one, but whoever does get hired in to this new role is better positioned to move up in our department once they’ve been here for a while. I guess I could apply for this new role, but it would mean I’d take a small paycut since I’ve been here long enough that I’ve had several merit increases based on time worked.
    I feel like growth in my role is completely stunted, as it doesn’t seem like there’s any chance for me to move up. I enjoy what I do, but I want more. I love my colleagues – they’re all so lovely to work with, but it sucks knowing I’m the lowest paid person in our department, with seemingly no opportunity for upward growth. My colleagues often call on my ‘expertise’ and I’ve been referred to as a subject matter expert by managers in our department; other colleagues seek my advice and input on their projects (I noticed even when there were two of us, people would come to me over my colleague). I’m good at what I do, but I don’t feel like anyone sees what I do as valuable enough to give me the opportunity to move up. I’ve been here for just shy of two years, and it feels too soon to search for something new.
    It would maybe be worthwhile to bring this up with my manager, but I realize his hands are tied as he’s unable to grant promotions or make any meaningful changes to my job description without going through HR. But I feel terrible and bummed out. Can anyone provide some outside perspective on this situation? I’m worried I’m too “in my feelings” to actually see some paths to a resolution or solution here.

    1. Anon for This*

      Consult your Union Rep to see how this action meshes with the contract. You shouldn’t have to take a pay cut to move into this new role.

      1. Kat Maps*

        This is a good point, thank you. I just assumed that ‘new role starts at zero’. I’ll check with my Union.

  62. Temporary Annoyance*

    I work for a healthcare staffing agency where I do temp and per diem assignments in admin roles. I like this job because of the scheduling flexibility. Right now my main assignment is working at a flu vaccine clinic, which is tentatively closing for the season at the end of the month.

    1. Assuming it’s closing I’ll need to find a new assignment, and I’m worried due to people being out-of-office due to the holidays I’ll get lost in the shuffle. How often is it appropriate to follow up if I don’t get reassigned quickly?

    2. Whenever an assignment ends, I send the scheduler I work with a general “I’m interested in other assignments, here’s my upcoming availability, I can commute throughout this area, I’m willing to train” type of email. Is there anything else I should add? In the last few months I’ve been very frustrated with my employer because I’ve had a lot of shifts suddenly cancelled and several times the schedulers dropped the ball on scheduling me for shifts on-site management specifically requested me for. To toot my own horn, I get a lot of praise from management at different sites for being the “best” of the staffing agency admins. I’m seriously considering if it’s time to find a new job due to this. I don’t know if there’s a tactful way to bring any of it up or if I should just keep it to myself.

    1. Hatchet*

      For Q1, I don’t have a great answer, but I usually give contacts outside of my company 2-3 business days to respond before following up. I think 2 days/48 hours would be fine in your case, as your income is dependent on it.

      For Q2, you say that you like the flexibility, but have you considered looking into working full time directly for one of these companies with the praiseful site managers? If so, if they’re saying they really like you, it might ask them to let you know if they have any full time job opportunities with their company. I’m not too familiar with the health care industry, but I know in metro areas, there are a few large hospitals/medical companies who oversee several locations. Maybe they’d love to have their own in-house floater with experience such as yours? (Being able to hop into different environments and pick up or learn skills quickly seems like a great thing you bring to the table!)

  63. NeutralJanet*

    I was hired part-time at a nonprofit at the beginning of the year, and the grant that was funding 2/3s of my hours was (surprisingly!) not renewed at the end of October. My manager assured me that they really wanted to keep me on, and a lot of the organization’s leadership scrambled around and eventually found a different role I could take on to replace those hours. So previously I was spending 2/3 of my time on Task A and 1/3 on Task B, and I’m now spending 2/3 of my time on Task C and 1/3 on Task B, with no reduction in hours.

    The problem is that…I really hate Task C! I’ve been doing well at it, and I really appreciate that the organization found work for me to do, but man, I wish it could have been just about anything else. Part of me is wondering if I should ask if there is any other work that I could do, but frankly, I doubt it, as I know it was a bit of a squeeze finding Task C for me. Task C is also important to the organization and hasn’t been worked on in quite some time–the person who was previously in charge of Task C quit in June and they haven’t hired a replacement, so it’s been half-done by a bunch of other staff members whenever they have the time.

    I really like my organization, the people are great, the culture is welcoming, my schedule fits perfectly with my needs at the moment, it’s just Task C! Does anyone have thoughts/advice? Would it be really obnoxious of me to job-search over this? (I don’t want to job-search, but I hate Task C!)

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Have you talked to your manager(s) ? Maybe one of the people who was previously half doing it would be able to do it full time and you could trade tasks with them?

    2. Nonprofit Blues*

      Greetings, fellow grant-dependent employee! The one advantage of this situation might be that if you are at all involved in grant writing or fundraising, or could be, you can write yourself a new job description with a new grant. Otherwise if it was me, I’d stay at my current org while I job search but ultimately plan to find something that suits me better. Life is too short to spend forever at a job when you don’t like the project you’re spending most of your time on.

  64. costello music*

    I’m looking for jobs that I might be able to do. I work with the public and I am Tired. I want to move away from customer service. I don’t know what kind of jobs there are that are mostly entry-level but also little to no customer service–like at worst, 25% of duties is the public. Suggestions?

    Things to note:
    I am aware of administration/clerical stuff and am working on my excel skills to apply for that.
    I work in libraries and basically manage patron accounts–adjust their info, bill accounts.
    I actually like the really mundane/monotonous stuff. I worked as a shelver for a while and LOVED it. I like when I’m just cleaning up patron records.

    1. Colette*

      I think there are a number of jobs that fit that bill, but I don’t know how you get them. For example, I worked in software compliance, which involves a lot of spreadsheets and reading license agreements. But I got there thorough front-end software asset management, which was much more customer-facing. I also did call centre process development – but I got there through executive customer service.

      I will say that dealing with customer service for business customers is much more reasonable (i.e. less personal) than dealing with the public, so as you work to get out of direct customer service, that might be a role to target.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Two suggestions off the top of my head:

      – Look at data entry positions. Go on Indeed or another big job board, type in “data entry” and see what pops up. There are usually some entry-level, computer-based, no customer interaction jobs available.

      – Look at warehouse positions if you want something similar to shelving (but possibly/probably more physical than shelving books).

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      Data entry sounds like your best option! Anyplace that has a database of patrons, customers, constituents, donors, patients, etc., and needs to make updates to it, will need people focused on data entry. Larger places especially are likely to choose to have designated data entry staff instead of having people just do it themselves, in order to preserve data integrity. Colleges are a great place to look, for example. We have a team of data entry staff in my workplace (the fundraising department of a university), and they mostly work remotely, heads-down, and enjoy their jobs quite a lot. We have little turnover there!

      1. rr*

        Does this type of job pay at allvthough? I think this would suit me as well, but I haven’t found a job that doesn’t pay less than I make now. Since I live in one of the most expensive states in the country, have a huge out-of-pocket, and already make very little, I really don’t want to make even less. Every data entry job I’ve seen has a low (hourly) wage, strict hours, and bad benefits. I guess they think being remote is enough? I do want to be remote, but these are bad jobs. Any more suggestions?

    4. Cyndi*

      As someone who’s on her fourth data entry job I want to share that even if you love repetitive work–which I do!–the office environment makes all the difference. I’ve worked in offices that trusted us to manage our own time and keep our stuff at our desks, like adult humans, and that felt great! I’ve also worked for an office that was very strictly butts-in-seats, tracked to the minute, and hilariously high security–there were only a few specific things you could bring to your desk–and the enforced lack of stimulation for 8-10 hours a day wrecked my mental health.

      TL;DR my advice is when you apply for a really monotonous, low-interaction job, even if it’s remote and you don’t have to worry about the physical environment, be sure to get a real good idea of what a typical workday looks like, if there’s variety in the work, what metrics you’re tracked by and how they’re addressed with you.

    5. Jill*

      I second the warehouse option. I started in a mailroom/warehouse situation and I liked the work but not the pay. I went back to school to get a degree in medical technology and now work in a lab. It’s different but hits all the same buttons for me that mailroom/warehouse work did (do a task, finish, move on to next task, little public interfacing) and it pays decently well.

    6. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      If you live where there are large local government offices, some of the behind-the-scenrs positions might suit you. I worked on property records in the Assessor’s Office. It involved making sure the owner information was correct on all property transfers, going back to the first owner. Newer properties were straightforward and just involved proofreading and checking that the property descriptions were accurate in size, dimension, location, etc. Older properties involved research in plat books and some other records. No public interaction!

  65. TacoBelljobfar*

    Update on the guy who hasn’t paid me for the 3 hour “tryout”. Now he’s complaining I’m bothering him. Since I posted here last week I sent 2 messages to him. He says he’ll mail me a check, but I’m a little skeptical. I’ll stop once he pays me.

    Another company did this to me they claimed the check got lost in the mail and blamed it on the post office. but when I got the “replacement” check it was dated a month later.

    1. Roland*

      > when I got the “replacement” check it was dated a month later.

      Not following, it’s a replacement, why wouldn’t the date be later? And I have had checks lost in the mail before (could see them in the USPS preview but they didn’t arrive in my mailbox). Sucks about the first guy, hope he pays you ASAP.

      1. TacoBelljobfair*

        That other place I worked for them in August. But did not work there for a whole month. Was waiting for a check all September. First they said they mailed it. Then I get a message saying the check was not cashed or deposited. I didn’t cause I didn’t have one. I get another message saying it was mailed out and if I get 2 checks to destroy one. Still no check. It’s early October by now. When I finally get the check on the 11th it’s dated October 7th.

  66. Cyndi*

    As part of my daily work flow, first thing every morning I open up an Excel spreadsheet from Sharepoint, download one tab of it as a PDF, and then fill info into that table line by line until my workday ends and I pass it off to someone on the next shift. The trouble is, when I fill out certain lines–the last few rows at the bottom of the first page, after PDF conversion–it jumps down to the end of the file the moment I type something into each cell, and I have to scroll back up several pages between every number I key.

    This is a total fruit fly of a problem, too trivial to even actually bring up in my actual office, but it’s frustrating when I’m trying to get a bunch of data entry over with. I’ve never seen this issue before, even doing the same process to a different tab of the same spreadsheet. Does anyone know what on earth could cause it?

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      No solution, but two questions:
      1. Why is the conversion from Excel to pdf required? Can you work from a copy of the Excel tab instead?

      2. Does anyone else in the office have a similar work process? If so, there’s a good chance that they have a workaround/fix. And if they have the fix, it’s not trivial to ask it. They’ll probably feel like a hero for helping you solve it. And one should always maximize people’s opportunity to be heroes.

      1. Cyndi*

        1. It still feels awfully silly to bring up, but you’re right–I’ll ask if anyone knows what the deal is with this bug.

        1. A lot of my whole team’s work involves downloading Excel and Word files as PDFs, filling them out, passing them along to the next person, and then re-uploading the PDFs at EOD. It has to do with documenting for clients how much work we’ve processed for them. I’m responsible for a daily checklist of several of these, so I do it a lot, but never had this issue before with any others converted from either Excel or Word. I don’t know WHY they have to be PDFs, but it’s so baked into the process that if I asked the building would probably collapse into rubble on the spot.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      No specific advice, but some troubleshooting tipes.
      1. What is different about the tab that you use vs the ones that don’t break? Does it have specific forms, formatting, or data? Is there more or less data? Maybe there’s some very specific formatting on that one single tab that is weird, which leads to:
      2. Can you try downloading as an Excel, and then doing the conversion with a local copy rather than the sharepoint copy? Sometimes using the online version of excel is very strange.
      2a. Can you copy/paste the data out of the downloaded excel onto a new, blank excel and then do the same?
      3. Given that other people in your office probably have the most similar workflow, they are actually great people to ask. Not in the ‘major problem’ way but in the ‘hey, does anyone else have this weird excel thing happen’ way.
      4. This depends on your workplace and programs but it’s worthwhile checking that your computer is up to date and has been properly restarted recently. Sometimes that can clear out the junk.

  67. Igirisu*

    I have a dumb thing happening at work that I really just want to share to see other peoples’ reactions. For reasons that will become clear, it’s important to note that everyone involved here is a monolingual white Brit (including me), and while that is not true of everyone I work with, there are no Japanese people on staff that I know of.

    A group of coworkers who have all worked together for a long time and get on well socially have developed the habit of referring to each other as “[firstname]-san”. These are all men between the ages of about 30 and 50, and my best cynical guess is that it stemmed from some or all of them getting into Cobra Kai when that first came out.

    They only do it occasionally, but they do it in person, over email, and in IMs. Which I know, because I’m working directly with most of them. I get along well with the guys, but I have less in common with them generally (late-20s, not a guy) and have not yet been “sanned”.

    Now, to me, who went to an all-girls’ high school during the late ’00s/early ’10s, this brings to mind strong memories of the time when everyone was “-chan” and every other thing was “kawaii”. The resultant whiplash is so strong that I just had to share.

    Incidentally, I did take a year of Japanese lessons at uni, and remember enough that my plan for if I ever do get “sanned” is to brightly respond that I didn’t know they spoke Japanese – in Japanese.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      Yeah, that is bad. I got nothing as a response beyond what you said or some version of, what does that mean and force them to explain.

    2. Mississippi*

      “to brightly respond that I didn’t know they spoke Japanese – in Japanese.”

      What is driving this response? What reaction do you hope to get? It sounds like you are trying to put them in the place, and I have to wonder what’s behind that. Even from an appropriation angle, this seems like the wrong molehill to die on.

      Why not take a curious approach instead? Just ask someone, without judgement, “Hey, what’s up with all the san-ing?”

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Honestly, this is one of those situations where you should treat it like an episode of a ridiculous reality tv show. Your coworkers are mildly ridiculous and cringy! Sit back, break out the popcorn, and do not interact if they do ‘-san’ you. You now have ‘-san’ poker face.

      I would not get your Japanese involved as I think that would feed the trolls.

  68. Vent-O-Tron 4500*

    Just venting. Our department purchasing manager retired and we hired a new one. Think something like a public works department in a good size city; so wide range of equipment intensive stuff that needs maintenance – sewer system, water system, roads, etc with nearly 500 people.

    The person we hired came from a different public agency and managers there told some of our managers on the down low, “Don’t hire her, she’s a nightmare.” They hired her anyway, and they were right. We have bespoke equipment that only the manufacturer can maintain, maintenance parts with lead times (even without current supply chain problems) that are a year or more, lab and other specialized software that is single source, and more.

    Purchasing has slowed to a crawl. Approvals for emergent work that used to take a day now take weeks. She doesn’t seem to understand that we can’t get three bids because there is literally only one company on earth that can do X on the thing they designed, patented, and made for us.

    Color me frustrated…

  69. Bippity Boppity Bummer*

    Just a vent, if I may. I posted on last week’s thread about a potential position I’d really wanted that involved six very intense interviews (Thank you all again, btw– I’d meant to respond because everyone’s responses were super helpful!). Sadly, I did not get the job. The very last, and most intense interview, was basically a “personality test” to see if I’d fit in with the company. Truly, one of the questions was “what’s the hardest (personal, not professional) thing you’ve ever done?” The feedback I got was that I needed to work on my soft skills and “ability to showcase vulnerability.” This was for a retail marketing gig. I was not applying to be an Avenger or the new Mr. Rogers.

    I know the questions were over the top. I know the whole interview *process* was over the top. But I like and follow the company, and I’d done my research, and everyone–including the internal recruiter– thought I’d be a great fit, but for the issue of my crap personality, I guess. And I’ve just been so miserable at my current job that this sort of broke me. I’m almost certainly going to be giving notice at the end of the year and just floating on savings, which is something I’ve never done before. I’m scared, because I support my family, but I’m also so, so burned out and depressed that I need to take a breather. I guess I’m just looking for a sign that I’m not making a massive, horrible mistake by taking a break to think about my next move.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’m so sorry!!

      For what it’s worth, a company that asks something like that probably has other boundary issues you would have been annoyed by if they had hired you. Like whyyyy on earth do they think needing to showcase personal grief tells them anything about how well I’d do in a job. That’s BS.

      1. Bippity Boppity Bummer*

        That’s a great point about the boundary issues. I really appreciate your kindness <3

    2. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I’m so sorry! My old employer brought in someone to do workshops with us about personality styles and how to work well with each other. The ideas could have been helpful but the way they used them at work was crap. Sounds like this place is doing something equally poorly.

      Please don’t believe them about your personality! Good luck with your plans in the new year. I’m really impressed that you are taking the leap and taking a break.

      All the best!

    3. Season of Joy (TM)*

      I have been turned down for jobs (that I would have been exceptional at) due to a conflict personality with the person doing the hiring (who wouldn’t even have been my manager!). It sucks. It really does. But I am here to tell you that you are a goddamned delight, and you’re better off without them. You likely would have found yourself still depressed and still burned out, just with weird judgment on your appropriate professional boundaries.

      If you can afford to take this time off, do so. Remember the update from this week (my ambitious, driven self is gone – and I don’t feel like working anymore)? This is your sign!

      1. Bippity Boppity Bummer*

        That update was the impetus I was looking for, for sure! Thank you so much for your kind words <3

    4. Lady_Lessa*

      Many years ago, I was turned down for a job that I thought I could do well, but wasn’t a drop in. I was told that I failed the personality test, but in reality I suspect that they didn’t want to pay the recruiter for me.

      Looking back, it turned out the best for me.

      Good luck.

  70. mangoamango*

    One of my freelance clients lies to HIS clients and says that I (and all other freelancers) WORK FOR HIM FULL TIME.

    I fully don’t give a shit so I straight up tell people I’m only part-time, but he’s told others to keep it a secret. This is just the tip of the iceberg but I might write in to Allison so I’ll keep the other pieces brief for now:

    – he hired a 3rd party company to redesign and architect his product, which is a white-labeled product he purchases from any entirely separate company. he did not fully own up to this, as far as i’m aware, to the redesign company OR the original company.
    – bc of this, unsurprisingly, the redesign is going just. SO bad. and he’s baffled and annoyed, the redesign company is baffled and annoyed why we don’t know anything (because…..he’s implied and/or told them we are all full time staff!!!)
    – he has absolutely no idea how his actual product works
    – me and one of the other freelancers are the only ones who know how anything works together, and are getting more and more concerned that this redesign is going to flop and we will somehow be to blame

    this is 50% rant 50% asking for advice. Should we all just quit????

    1. Nonprofit Blues*

      Ugh, having been a freelancer, I’d raise my rates and keep raising them. Enough $$ and I can roll my eyes at this kind of BS.

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Not what you asked, but it’s pretty common for small consultants/agencies to pretend like their freelancers are staff. I’ve never been asked to lie, but I’ve always been presented as an employee (email, calendar, title) so the client doesn’t see under the hood and the organization looks more permanent and profitable than it is.

      Does that make it great? No. But it also doesn’t seem like the real issue for you. That practice mostly only got under my skin when I was at BEC level with the person hiring me.

      1. mangoamango*

        ah, that’s fair. to be honest, he was upfront about this when I was hired, but only in the sense of “I prefer to tell **my** clients that you’re full time so it looks like we’re more together.” the part I’m struggling with is….the fact that he’s implied this to another third party company HE HIRED to redo the product. It puts us in a bad light, but also because he doesn’t have any full time staff who actually know (and care) about how his product works.

        So we’re stuck in this weird loop where the contract company is asking us very basic questions about how things work, and we have to sort of…..say we have no idea.

        1. mangoamango*

          for example: he has introduced my fellow freelancer to this contracted company at the level of, say, CTO.

          1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

            Oh yeah, that’s obnoxious. I think I see the issue better now — meet our CTO, who knows nothing. That’s dumb. Again, I think he’s the one who looks dumbest tho.

        2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          There are times to ignore “rules”, especially when it’s about creating clarity that helps to get the work done versus making him look bad to a client. I think it’s fine to punt, either with the truth (look, we’re sub contractors too we honestly don’t know) or a half-truth (this isn’t part of my role, I don’t have the answers you need, only Boss has the answers to how things work). He is really the one who looks bad here not you.

      2. kiki*

        It’s common, but in my experience it almost always goes sideways and leads to a bad experience. I mean, there’s a reason that they’re lying about folks being full-time staff instead of part-time freelancers.

        I don’t think is the main issue and reason mangoamango should leave, but it sounds like this org is irretrievably dysfunctional. And fighting dysfunction requires self-awareness and culpability from leadership– the fact that this client responds to uncomfortable situations by getting folks to lie makes me wary that the client is ever meaningfully going to address this dysfunction.

  71. DisneyChannelThis*

    Company scored low on employee wellness in anon surveys. Which the survey was asking like symptoms of burnout but whatevs company has decided that means they need to promote jogging club *everywhere* never mind that the only food ever served at get togethers is heavy cake surely this jogging club will fix *everything*.

    I’m so frustrated – supporting people actually using PTO, making a culture change to not answer emails at 2am, taking time at start of meetings to ask what’s going well, there’s so much actual stuff they could be doing for wellness. And if they really did want to just focus on physical wellness (not mental/emotional, feels deliberately obtuse) there’s still so much they could do besides suggesting everyone meet on the weekend to go jog together…

    Has anyone dealt with this before? Is it even worth trying to suggest anything or should I just keep my head down (and skip the cakes)?

    1. Season of Joy (TM)*

      I mean, it depends on your organization, but IME wellness initiatives vary widely in their quality. Do they have someone making these decisions who actually has training in worksite health promotion? If not, I think it could help to make some additional suggestions. If so, they might legitimately think they’re doing the most. Which is… unfortunate.

  72. Feedback Giver*

    I’ve been building a team and hiring a lot of new people recently. Part of onboarding is completing mini-reviews each month for the first 6 months of the job, and then getting into the regular review cycle once people are really locked into their work and roles.
    We’re at month 4 of Tom’s onboarding. I try to do pros and cons for each person; none of the new people we currently have are bad! They’re hard workers and try to do good work while learning these new-to-them systems and processes. I’m very happy to have them. No regrets!
    One of my new people, Tom, at his 4 month check in, seems to have responded VERY personally to feedback. I coupled it with many positives (“I know you do this with external people because we have good info from them when we need it”) but stated how communication with me (manager/supervisor) is often unclear and I ask a lot of questions asking for context, abbreviation meanings, etc. Tom responded by scheduling a meeting with MY boss, asking her questions that could have been asked to me, and generally doing a little “check to make sure I’m in good standing” even though I told Tom he was fine and this was a very small speed bump to get over–nothing bad!
    I think what happened here is Tom is a perfectionist who doesn’t often receive critical feedback or hasn’t in a while. Or hasn’t from someone younger. Or a woman. I get it–I’ve been in jobs before where I essentially maxed out and had no room to grow/improve. However, Tom DOES have room to improve (at a new company! that’s normal!) and this was such a SMALL piece of critical feedback, I worry that when it’s time for anything more substantial he will really overreact.
    Any advice for how to deal with Tom in the future, either in day to day meetings, scheduled check ins, or the 5 month review?

    1. LNLN*

      Tom scheduling a meeting with your boss to ask questions he could have asked of you feels like a power play on his part after your feedback to him. Stick to your regular way of giving him feedback, because he is trying to train you to back off. Good luck!

    2. Mississippi*

      The only thing that is strange about this is that he went to your boss rather than you. And I’m not jumping to any conclusions about why he did this. There can be good reasons why someone would go over their direct boss’s head regarding feedback, and I’m not making an assumption either way. I will observe that you are also having a reaction to something that happened once and is not a major deal. Try to avoid attributing worse intentions to him than to yourself–such as, don’t call his action a power play while you call your action a sanity check.

      How did your boss handle it? Have you had a debrief with them? I think you and your boss should get on the same page regarding how to go forward. If his questions were all things that could have gone to you, my suggestion is that you have a meeting with all 3 of you to give you a chance to respond. Your manager should let you do most of the talking and verbally give their support to whatever path forward you have come up with together.

      OTOH, if anything he wanted to talk over with your boss is something he wanted to say to them alone, and was possibly about you, then you have a slightly more complicated path forward to establish that will depend on what exactly he had to say. You should find out whether there were things that he didn’t feel he could say to you so you can resolve whatever is underlying it.

      1. Feedback Giver*

        Thank you – this is helpful, too! My boss and I talked about Tom once earlier in the week (before the month review), after Tom sent the meeting request to my boss, and again after the boss-Tom meeting.
        Everything my boss relayed were questions I could have answered (and some I already have). Things like “Manager says she doesn’t want us working outside of the work day but what should I do if my child gets sick at 2am?” (Boss said: “Ask your manager how she wants you to handle that”).
        My boss is supportive and said that if Tom does this again, she will tell him he needs to talk to me first. My boss also told Tom that it’s his responsibility to follow up with me to ask these questions (which he did do today). As far as I know, my boss did not contradict anything I’ve instructed Tom to do. She offered that perhaps the tone I used in one of my clarifying questions was off, but when I showed her the exchange, she agreed it was fine and definitely Not an Issue.

        1. Mississippi*

          Wow, your boss is great! She sort of had to meet with him just in case there was something he wanted to bring up without you. Since that doesn’t seem to have been the case, she did all the right things to have your back! I think it’s worth asking once whether he had any concerns in bringing these questions to you, just in case there is something. But if he says no or talks around the question, just let it go and tell him matter of factly, “Those types of questions are the kind of thing you would bring to me, so please be sure to do so going forward. If there is an issue with me that you are not comfortable bringing up, your options are X or Y.”

          Do you only check in monthly? Maybe you should try checking in more often just to build the relationship a little more.

    3. Me ... Just Me*

      I’m a little unclear as to what your feedback to him was …. is he an unclear communicator whose communication then requires you to circle back and ask clarifying questions? — If that’s what your feedback was, then him skipping over you to talk with your boss is a further indicator that he is having some sort of issue with you and actively doesn’t want to communicate clearly with you. This bears watching. I’d make sure that my clarifying questions and directions are communicated in writing and I’d continue coaching on this issue. Is your supervisor supportive?

      1. Feedback Giver*

        Sometimes Tom uses shorthand that isn’t common in our field (ex: MBT to stand for morning break time) and in general will message/email me things that are lacking context. Ex: “Should I add the new file to the tracker?” –we have MANY trackers, MANY types of new files — and I end up replying something like “Hi! I’m not sure what you’re referring to: Is this a new file for teapots or cups, or is it a renew file?”
        I showed Tom a few examples of these and how they could have been written to avoid ambiguity. It’s almost like Tom thinks I’m in his head/viewing what he’s viewing/in his daily motions and right there with him, instead of in a different city checking off my own to do lists, meetings, etc.

        I had a meeting with my boss earlier in the week (we discussed Tom’s upcoming review), and my boss recapped the whole meeting she had with Tom after it. There’s very little daylight between us and she is VERY supportive to the point she said “If Tom asks for another meeting with me, I’m going to say no and he needs to talk to you first.”

        I’m struggling to understand why communicating with me seems to be an issue. In my mind, I’ve been kind, receptive, calm, etc. He didn’t get any kind of different answer from my boss that he got/would have received from me.

  73. anon24*

    I’ve been in an “in between” period in my life and have spent the past few months working in a retail type store to kill time before I start school full time in January. Tomorrow is my last day, and I’m so happy to be leaving. The pay is so low its insulting and the manager does not understand why they can’t keep employees and why we aren’t happy with our $11 hour (we are not in a low COL area). Almost everyone in the business is planning to leave in the next few weeks to months.

    I was talking to my supervisor and said that I might just no-show my last day just to stick it to the manager, and he shrugged and said he didn’t care what I did. I’ve never done this at a job before, and I’m struggling because I desperately just want to not go in tomorrow, but I also feel like it’s extremely unprofessional. But then again, it’s a job where I make $11 hour, and have only worked there since September, so? Convince me this is a bad idea.

    1. WellRed*

      Where i am, retail starts at $16 an hour. Target is paying an extra $2 per hour for people who commit to staying through Jan 7. So you are right in leaving but please don’t screw over your coworkers by no showing on your last day.

    2. Nonprofit Blues*

      meh, if it was my very last day I’d probably try to work it, just for my own pride – try to make it feel special, plan a little going-away treat or something, maybe you can leave a bit early and get yourself a fancy coffee or a margarita right afterwards, or something. You have the rest of your life to no-call no show at this job. And congratulations!

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Go! This is your one chance to stand up to anyone that makes your retail day difficult! Throw a huge hissy fit at someone asking to see the manager! Quit dramatically if they ask you to clean the toilet!

    4. Colette*

      Why would you torpedo a potential reference for the sake of missing a shift? You wouldn’t be hurting the manager, you’d be hurting yourself.

    5. PollyQ*

      You know the old saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? Well, you also never get a second chance to make a last impression. Be a professional, work out your last shift, and leave a positive final picture of yourself for everyone to remember.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      Whatever about professionalism, I’d be more concerned about it making extra work for others who are also only on $11 an hour. Your manager doesn’t sound the type who’d pick up the slack himself.

    7. Observer*

      You think that the manager will care? No, they won’t. They WILL however bad mouth you. For what?

      On the other hand, the people who WILL care are the people who are going to have to pick up the slack. And guess what? They might remember you when they have ALSO moved on into positions that matter to you.

      Lastly, is your own integrity. $11 is a garbage salary. But it’s the salary you agreed to. You get to quit whenever you want to, of course. But you DID say that you were coming in. Ghosting just to be obnoxious … is obnoxious. You said you would be in that shift, show up. Keep your word.

  74. Ergonomics*

    Like Alison, I like to work from my couch sometimes. However, it definitely takes its toll on my back and my arm. Anyone have any tips or tricks for making that kind of arrangement more ergonomic?

    1. Everything Bagel*

      When I work from the couch, which isn’t often, I use a throw pillow behind my lower back for better support. I also don’t rest my arm on the arm of the couch, I keep my arms loosely at my side, same as when I’m working at my desk. And I think most of the time I keep my feet flat on the floor. Do you think doing these things would help you?

  75. Cruciatus*

    My department has a social committee for recognizing birthdays, congratulations or condolences, etc. We used to have birthday meals (pre-pandemic) that the committee would organize (collecting everyone’s money, running out to order/get the food, etc). I have no desire to be on this, but right now it’s a one woman show. My supervisor emailed my coworker and I to think about being on it, we’d be such a help, blah blah blah. My coworker said no first because I wasn’t here when we got the email. I also don’t want to be on this committee (though I admit to liking the birthday meals, though we haven’t done those since before the pandemic, as mentioned). But I feel like SUCH an a-hole saying “No, thank you….” It probably would not be that bad but it just isn’t anything I care about enough. If it gets disbanded completely I’d be like “Aww, too bad” but I’d live. Do I suck it up and do it or say no too? (and maybe this complicates the matter, but I’m also job searching, so I may not even be here much longer (or maybe I will be judging by how long I’ve already been searching).

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      I’d be leery. What if you join and then the original member quits leaving you to do it all??

      Also like did the supervisor email your whole department or just some subset? I’ve seen weird departments where only the women asked to do that sort of work, and it really does take time away from actual projects where you could get recognized for your actual work.

      What about a polite no? “Supervisor, while I’ve enjoyed the celebrations over the year and I greatly appreciate the efforts committee puts forth, I’m just not sure I have the time to focus on that right now. What if we switched to just announcing the day/time we want to gather and then gave everyone an extra 30min to their break to get their own food if they want takeout?” Or whatever other suggestion you have to make it more manageable.

    2. Tex*

      Say no. They can find a better system. Such as just going out to lunch as a group and everyone pays their own way. If it’s a really large group, then get it catered at the office and it’s X$ per head.

    3. Lady_Lessa*

      What has worked nicely at other employers is that each person is responsible for bring in goodies for their own birthday. That can mean everything from home baked cookies, to store bought doughnuts.

      Lot easier, and if a person doesn’t want to participate, not a big deal.

  76. sundae funday*

    I posted here about six months ago about my “side job” and how I feel like they expect way too much of me. It’s a job working as an online teacher with a “gifted” program attached to a very prominent university. My frustration was that I’m required to check my email every single day (including weekends and holidays) and respond to every student and parent question within 24 hours.

    Well the overwhelming consensus was that’s a ridiculous demand for an online teacher. But I wasn’t ready to give up the money. Well… after an awful few weeks involving my car breaking down, having a sudden, painful health problem, and having to go out-of-town for work, I had a parent complain (in a very exaggerated fashion, of course) to my supervisor that I’d accidentally gone two days without answering her kid’s question. Of course, I was directed to fall all over myself apologizing and book a Zoom meeting to basically suck up to the parent and make her happy.

    So I looked up how much I’d made this year. For how much time I put into it, I was thinking it was surely in the $20,000 range. Nope. $10,000. $10,000 a year for being literally on-call every 24 hours, on top of a million other responsibilities they keep piling on me (without a raise, btw).

    Once this course ends in January, I’M DONE. So if anyone who originally answered me telling me they’re taking advantage, THANK YOU. It may have taken 6 months to get here, but I’m here now.

      1. sundae funday*

        Thank you!! I can’t wait, honestly. Not that I had any doubts, but if I did… I just got an email from my supervisor that she and all the other full-time employees have off the entire week for Christmas/winter break…. Meanwhile, us part-timers have zero days off, even Christmas. Granted, I may not have anything to do on Christmas… but I won’t know for sure until I check my email.

    1. Nonprofit Blues*

      Good for you! I think it’s increasingly messed up how companies expect us to be available 24/7 even if we’re not technically “working” all that time – it’s one thing in a salaried white-collar job, but I was working part time no benefits, and I know others who were working hourly, trying to deal with this trickle-down thinking. There’s always somebody at every office who helpfully explains to me that “they just put slack and their work email on their phone so it’s no problem!!!!” and I’m like, you’re the problem, my friend.

      1. sundae funday*

        Thank you! Exactly! I’m basically “on call” 24/7. Even if I’m not working all of those hours, just knowing that I might have to do something at any time gives me so much stress and anxiety.

        I was also required to give out my phone number to parents and students, so they can literally call me any time, day or night, and I’m required to call back within 24 hours. What I did there was get a Google voice number and “accidentally” let it expire.

        And YES, I used to have the email on my personal phone, but I took it off. Because half the time, I’d see the email on my phone while out and about, but couldn’t even answer until I look up something on my computer later. So then I just felt anxious because I had this thing hanging over my head….

  77. Wheee!*

    Have any of you done the “Strengthsfinder” exercise at work? I’m curious to see what others think about it.

    1. Emma*

      It was a fun exercise! Unscientific labelling of people isn’t very useful though. Be strategic in how you choose your strengths so that you get a good profile.

    2. Flying Princess Hedgehog*

      It was interesting! I wouldn’t put a ton of weight into it, but it did help connect some dots on why I’m draw to/excel at certain things, and how that might translate into other types of projects/tasks. Treat it as one of many tools for assessing yourself.

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      As far as personality exercises at work go, it’s pretty harmless IMO. I do like the concept that it’s more important to lean into your strengths than “fix” your weaknesses.

    4. Stoppin' by to chat*

      Yes…twice! It’s fine. I wouldn’t say I learned anything earth-shattering, however I did find some new words to describe my personality (i.e. woo and context)

  78. Emma*

    My new boss loves to create drama. She gossips and spreads rumors. I have no idea how to handle it. This week she told me that Fergus had said he didn’t want to attend a certain meeting. Fergus on the other hand says our boss told him not to attend. She told me today that Bob found me difficult to work with. I called Bob to apologise and resolve the issue, and it turns out Bob hasn’t even spoken with our boss.
    And these things keep happening. Every misunderstanding in the team can be traced back to her.
    She keeps throwing us under the bus and telling our grandboss that we have bad work ethics and that she will step in and shape us up. We think she says these things to make herself look good to the leadership team.

    How do you handle someone like this? I’m baffled.

    1. Flying Princess Hedgehog*

      How much can you pull back on communicating orally and switch to communicating via email, so there’s documentation? What would happen if you sought more information from her via email? (Ex., “I’ve been considering what you told me about Bob finding me difficult to work with. Can you give me more detail or a specific example so I can improve my working relationship with Bob?”) But that depends on what you know about how your boss will react, especially if boss has a tendency to retaliate when called out.

      1. irene adler*

        Yes -get things documented as best you can.

        Also-and you are already doing this- verify each time she tells you something about a third party – as in your example with Bob. Do this BEFORE investing time trying to get details out of boss. People like this have ways of changing the narrative over and over to wiggle out of whatever ‘trap’ you try to set when asking for details.

        Instead, state out loud -to the boss- you are going directly to the third party whenever boss tells you something about a third party.

        Boss says: “Joe doesn’t like how you write your TPS reports.”
        You: “I see. Let me go speak with him -right now- and see if I can resolve things for him.”
        Then go.
        If boss then stops you, tells you not to talk with Joe, or whatever, then go find Joe when boss isn’t around to know. Get the truth from Joe.

        Don’t ask boss to elaborate. That could very well be more lies.

        My now retired boss was like this. Best thing was to NEVER believe -or act upon-what he told me about a third party’s thoughts/actions/needs. Get the straight story directly from that third party. Then take action.
        My boss would change stories 3-4 times in one conversation. It was difficult keeping up with him- until I learned to ignore ALL the stories.

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Argh, this sucks. I’m curious, how are you finding out what she says to your grand-boss? Like, is this happening at meetings in front of you / on e-mails you’re included on or are you finding out through the grapevine?

      Do you have clear, measurable performance metrics? It’s much easier to push back on someone saying you’re lazy if you can say that you’ve consistently completed 125 reports per month, which is above the 110 that is the minimum required.

      The big question is what is your relationship with your grand-boss like? Can you go to them and express concern?

      1. Emma*

        She told us that she had had a discussion with our grandboss about how she needs to step in and “sort us out” because we are disorganised and inefficient. And that she just discovered how bad we are and she is the angel who will have us all.

        We don’t have clear metrics and goals. But it’s a good idea to set goals and track performance against them.

        Our grandboss used to be good but has now gotten a slightly expanded role and therefore no one has heard from him since September. All communication is funnelled through our boss, which makes it difficult to know what actually is going on.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Shoot, that sounds awful. Hopefully you can pin her down on metrics and goals (and that she sets goals that are achievable) rather than being stuck with vague comments about being inefficient and disorganized.

  79. Genderqueeratworkwhoo*

    Any advice for getting well-meaning coworkers to use your correct pronouns? I’m lucky in that my boss and team are supportive, but they still slip up, especially when we’re chatting as a group and they’re not focused on making sure they use my correct pronouns. I’ve got my pronouns on my email signature and introduce myself with them, but haven’t don’t much in the way of corrections in the moment. Has anyone tried that or anything else that worked? Or if anyone’s experienced this from the opposite perspective, was there anything your coworker did to get their pronouns to stick in your mind? I use they/them pronouns if that helps. I’d really appreciate any advice!!

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      How do you feel about a button? One of my former coworkers had a pronoun button they liked wearing. It felt a little like when you talk on zoom and the pronoun reminder is right there under their picture. I don’t like the optics of you must wear something to remind everyone, but it does seem to help, and then you can just point at the button without interrupting the conversation….

      I’ve definitely noticed personally it’s easy for me to flip from she/her to he/him or vice versa but for some reason my brain struggles flipping to they/them. I personally just started using their name instead of a pronoun a lot because I was embarrassed to keep screwing up (George’s dog instead of their dog etc).

      1. Genderqueeratworkwhoo*

        That’s really helpful to know that spotting the pronoun pin on your coworker seemed to make a difference! I’d been thinking about it, but feel kind of weird about just showing up with a pin on (it feels passive aggressive? but also I’m definitely over-analyzing every part of this lol), but I can deal with the weirdness if it get me gendered-correctly! Also that’s funny about you using your coworkers name – I’ve noticed my department head almost exclusively just uses my first name and thought that might be why whatever works!

        1. Season of Joy (TM)*

          Our DEI office actually made up branded pronoun pins so everyone would be encouraged to use them. I don’t think it’s passive aggressive at all!

    2. just another queer reader*

      (context: I’m a cis queer person, and I have trans loved ones)

      Tbh I think your coworkers have to decide that they care enough to change their habits. This could be a positive thing (like a diversity training?) or a negative thing (being embarrassed enough to change).

      Do you have any coworkers who’d be willing to correct people when they mess up? Are you willing to start correcting people? In my experience it works on some people.

      Good luck, and I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

      1. Danish*

        I agree, unfortunately. And I don’t even mean like, they “don’t care” now so they’re clearly!! terrible people!!! I think most people actually are decent about it, they just haven’t realized that they are going to need to devote Actual Mental Effort for a few rounds.

        My last two jobs I’ve not brought my pronouns up aside from just having them in emails, and my coworkers either automatically respected them or would ping me to say that someone ELSE had alerted them they’d used the wrong one, and were apologizing, so I do think finding a third party who is willing to tag people on the side to let them know helps take pressure off of you + gives them the slight ’embarrassment’ that might help.

    3. Parakeet*

      I’m a they/she which makes this easier for me, but I have a lot of they/them friends, and I also have some friends who have varying levels of experience calling people they/them in practice. If A is talking about B and says something like “She did such a great job facilitating that volunteer meeting,” and B uses they/them, I’ll say something like “Oh remember, B uses ‘they’ – and yeah, they’re really good at keeping people on topic, aren’t they?” If it’s in messaging rather than spoken words, I might send a message saying “they” and then a second one saying “And yeah, they really did, didn’t they?” This “quick, friendly aside” method works pretty well in my experience. I think it can be adapted to a scenario where you are “B”. [A says something using the wrong pronoun] “Oh, I use ‘they,’ not ‘she.’ I’m so glad you thought my presentation went well!”

  80. Confused Trainer*

    Today we had a little get together at my office and something happened that I’m not sure I should bring up. I’m currently training a new person to take over my old role, but I’m not a manager nor have any experience being in charge of other people. But at the mini party, the woman I’m training asked our manager if she was going to finish the food on her plate. There was a bit of chocolate that was left. Our manager was a bit bemused but said no and the trainee asked if she could finish it, explaining she doesn’t like food leftover on plates. So our manager said okay and she ate it. This feels like a social faux pas in a workplace and I have overheard other coworkers talking about how odd it was. My question is, as her trainer, should I (kindly) bring up that it isn’t a good idea to ask to finish other peoples food in a workplace or should I just ignore it?

    1. ThisIshRightHere*

      How old is this person? It’s definitely a faux pas, but if she’s a fully grown adult with plenty of experience in the work world, I’m sure she’s already been told it’s unusual (which may be why she proactively explained it away as a personal quirk)

      1. Confused Trainee*

        In her later 20’s. She has held other jobs before this but I don’t think it was in an office.

    2. Anonny-non*

      This is a tough one, and I think it will have to do with your comfort level with this trainee. That said, I watched an associate VP at my org pick a piece of fried chicken off an external advisor’s plate without asking while the advisor went to the bathroom. It was pretty appalling, but I’m not in the position to tell him that’s not really the best look.