open thread – December 9-10, 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.

{ 941 comments… read them below }

  1. Burning Out on Burn Out*

    Hi all, I’ve made the painful decision that it’s time to move on from a job that I really love and have spent most of the last decade at. My department has been severely understaffed for years, and I’ve spent years advocating to get more people to do our very critical work. Our clients increase each year but it’s just two people working. Last busy season it finally broke, we weren’t able to keep up with the bare minimum of our job which involves payments to vulnerable populations so… a pretty big deal that we couldn’t keep up with deadlines.

    We had to work intense overtime to only get about 70% of our jobs done, and we had to deal with angry clients, angry coworkers that represent the clients, and it was super demoralizing. Well, I’ve just learned that leadership has rejected my most recent proposal to increase staff so I’ve finally realized I just need to move on. I’m pretty sad because outside of the busy season, I really love my job.

    But here’s where I’m looking for guidance: We all know that it’s not as simple as snapping our fingers and finding a new job. I have two children and live in a high cost of living area so I’m not in a position to leave without something lined up, nor would I just take anything. I’m starting my job hunt now, but it’s pretty likely that I wouldn’t find another job until after the busy season starts so how do I cope during the busy season?

    I feel like I always start the busy season reminding folks that we are understaffed and it’ll take much longer to get replies from me, and that processing takes longer and they act understanding ahead of time but… when the clients need their money in the moment, people react badly, which I do understand but I’m not a robot. I literally cannot do more than I do. Leadership also tends to have amnesia about all my warnings, and then starts pressuring me to get more work done when we are in the middle of the storm. No one at the org is cross-trained so no one can help us during this time.

    I don’t want to get fired for lack of delivery, so do you have tips on CYA, things to say to higher ups? I don’t want my reputation to hurt too much by being in a situation with unrealistic expectations but that’s what I’m in. They already know that we are severely understaffed but seem to be delusional about how much work myself and the one other person can do. Also, any tips on how to just “let go” and be okay with under delivering? I worked myself into the ground last busy season and it was not appreciated at all, and I know I can’t do that again. I’m really committed to our clients, but I need tips for just drawing better boundaries and accepting that not everything (even important, urgent stuff) won’t get done because of things outside of my control.

    1. Gosh Darn Awful*

      I could have written this. My department is also short-staffed. I asked for help multiple times and was given a pep talk each time. But no help. They threw some money at me at my team. My team also has low morale and look at me as though there’s something I’m able to do to fix it. I can’t. I’m beyond the point of burnout that it’s all I can do to keep the lights on in my brain let alone give my staff some song and dance about how to feel better. To be honest, I feel like I’ve been taken for granted from above and below and it’s a pretty lonely feeling.

      I write all this to commiserate and keep tabs on anyone who responds with some lovely words that will make this not seem so gosh darn awful.

      1. Burning Out on Burn Out*

        I’m so sorry to hear you are dealing with this too, hopefully we both get out quickly and find places with better work/life balance.

      2. Prospect Gone Bad*

        ” My team also has low morale and look at me as though there’s something I’m able to do to fix it.”

        This is one of those huge downsides of management. You’ll do 20 things well and can’t do the 21st and all your employees care about is the 21st items and your inability to change it creeps up constantly

        1. JS*

          Oh I feel this. I was there a few years ago, stuck between higher administration who did not listen and a team worn out. Tbh, it soured me on ever managing again. I think I’ll remain a individual contributor.

          1. Gosh Darn Awful*

            I’m contemplating telling my new boss that I no longer want to manage. I’ve been doing it for a few years, but have been dealing with an underperforming employee and an entitled employee. I am beyond sour at this point.

            1. Prospect Gone Bad*

              It would be so much easier if people in general admitted their flaws. Not saying I don’t have that. But so much of why these things burn people out is becuase you’re dealing with someone who is delusional about their level of performance. Fortunately my most delusional coworker is lateral to me so I don’t have to try to manage him, TBH his issues go way way back, no one manager is going to fix that level of delusion

      3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        How honest are you being with your staff about how you see this situation? I can definitely find compassion for managers who are doing their best, but are being blocked by people above them. Only happens when I know that’s the situation, though.

        I’m talking about saying things like that you agree that staffing is inadequate and you’ll push where you can, but that there has been significant resistance from above you. Cut out the song and dance because we can all see through it and I’ve gotten super resentful of management pushing individual ways to “feel better” when the problem is structural. This type of thing will erode my morale further.

        1. Gosh Darn Awful*

          Pretty honest. Everyone knew we were going to be short-staffed and that it would be temporary. (It’s since been resolved). If I’m being perfectly honest, I think the low morale was caused by an increase in responsibility and growing pains that come with learning something new. (They were compensated for the additional responsibilities they picked up) People who wanted more freedom to be creative or work on side projects, felt constrained by the burden of that responsibility. Some of my staff thrived and showed they were capable of doing more. Others did not.

          But, the end result was my entire team had issues with the situation and for the most part now feel they deserve more authority over what they will or won’t work on. But their roles remain as they were before and I’m now left managing several disgruntled people who are not going to get what they want.

          1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

            Yeah, that’s tough. I can definitely see how it’d be nice to have more authority over what I work on, but that’s just not how things happen in most jobs.

    2. Trawna*

      Having been there, when I stopped running myself into the ground delivering, my firm hired more staff. I really was doing the work of three people.

      I suggest working your set hours and taking lunch and breaks. Set alarms on your phone and block off lunch time and breaks in your calendar.

      If the organization has multiple higher-ups, your organization has the money.

      1. Burning Out on Burn Out*

        This is why I was hoping that after last year they would finally see the light and hire more, because it was literally a dumpster fire but sigh…

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          I’d be very curious how they would react to someone asking “so, last year we had 2 staff handling [X number of client requests] and had [results]. If anything, we’re expecting more requests this year. What is the plan to make sure things go more smoothly?”

          It’s wild that some employers don’t get that if two people doing X went terribly, 2 people doing more than X isn’t going to work, either.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      How is your direct manager acting in regards to all this? If they’re being supportive but their hands are tied on getting more help, maybe they can run interference for you, and do some of the communicating with people higher up the ladder and with coworkers and customers. If they’re not, then I would follow the advice that Alison always gives at times like this: make it clear what you’re capable of doing, and ask your manager to prioritize what they want you to do. Get it in writing! “Boss said I should focus on X, even if it meant not doing Y, so that’s why I haven’t finished Y.” I find that it can help to have statistics: how many hours it takes to do a given task, how many of each type of task tend to come your way, etc. If you can show that the time to complete the workload is literally more time than it’s possible to work, they have very little room to complain.

      1. Burning Out on Burn Out*

        We have a brand new leadership team and my manager is one of them. I’m actually on leave at the moment, but when I originally talked to her about the issues she seemed like it would result in more hires and that is now not the case. I want to get stuff in writing but there seems to be a toxic positivity vibe with the new leaders so I need to be careful how I word it. I need a nice balance of CYA and not too negative.

        1. DannyG*

          Any chance you could borrow a few FTE’s from other places in the organization for the busy season? Train them to do the routine work and regular staff handle the technical work.

    4. LuckySophia*

      I think Alison has written something like, “you can’t care more about serving your clients than your company cares about serving your clients.” And it sounds like your company’s unwillingness to staff appropriately for client needs — tells the whole story.

      I think all you could do at this point is to send out a preemptive memo to the people internally reminding them that last year your staffing was inadequate to meet the need, and that this year’s staffing levels can’t be increased, so they need to expect that results will be the same until/unless someone can be (a) cross-trained or (b) newly-hired.

      Unfortunately that won’t change or help anything– all it does is put people on notice that the whole situation stinks! (But at least they will be forewarned in writing.)

      1. Science KK*

        I think this is the way to go, documentation, but not overly aggressive, very matter of fact. May help with the folks who get angry down the line, and if they forget you can say well I sent that memo out that said this is how it’s going to go down.

    5. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Man, I feel for you.

      Can you pre-emptively triage and say ‘these are what I see as our 1-n list of priorities. There are 18 things on that list. With the holiday surge, that means thing 1 and 2 take double the time (so 3 hours per client instead of 1.5), meaning coworker and I can only do 3 things each total from December to March. That means items 7-18 aren’t getting done during the busy season at all. If we detailed 1 person to us we could also do items 7-12. Please let me know if you’d like me to prioritize differently or have any other recommendations”

      I did this before by quantifying the numbers of hours something took (it was a swag but a decent educated guess that was defensible) and I even got my super toxic boss to back off me. I even heard him using my math as justification to his boss.

      1. Burning Out on Burn Out*

        Yes, I’ll get something in writing for my manager about this but there is a pressure to be solutions oriented even when given an impossible task, or I’ll be looked at as “not a team player”, so I’ll need to think over my wording.

        1. TeaCoziesRUs*

          I hate to fuel snark, but I gotta say… if you’re “not a team player” for being 2 people doing the work of an ENTIRE basketball (5 starters + 3 back ups min) or football (11 on the field at one time but roughly 40+ total as a minimum) team… then you’re in the wrong game! You can’t play football with a basketball team, and that’s what they’re asking you to do while giving you half the staffing for a golf scramble (4 players).

        2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          “We’ve made x and y adjustments to the workload after our client load increased by y and our staffing decreased by z. To try to keep up, coworker and I are each working 60 hours per week, and that still leaves us with 260 more work-hour requirements each week that we can’t get to. My recommended solutions are more staff or prioritizing our work differently, and I’m definitely open to anything I’m missing that would help.”

        3. Janeric*

          Could you go to your supervisor and be like “as previously mentioned this is a very busy time of year and we’re short-staffed. Normally we prioritize cases in this way, but when clients are losing services staff and understandably want to have it addressed immediately — but unfortunately we won’t be able to do that with everyone. I’m going to send people who insist that they need to be a priority to you until MONTH.”

          And then do that. And if your manager wants to make you switch tasks, write the person for the first task and say “Manager has asked me to prioritize other tasks over your task so there will be some delay.” and then just shunt as much of the anger and disappointment onto your manager as possible.

        4. miseleigh*

          Maybe try reframing everything as ‘positive’, so you can’t be reprimanded for ‘negativity’? Meanwhile, they can still get actual numbers. “Coworker and I finished items 1-6 today with only x hours of overtime! If nothing new comes in tomorrow, we should be able to get 7-12 done and be caught up. Go team!”

          And then the next day: “Today we completed items 7-10, and reassured clients 11 and 12 that we’ll get to their items as soon as we can. Also, we only had 8 more items today, so if there’s no new items tomorrow, we’ll be caught up by the end of the week!”

          “We saved time today by redirecting clients looking for updates to Boss, allowing us to finish items 11-15 with only x hours of overtime! With luck we can finish items 16-25 this week, and then items 25-40 next week. Thanks everyone!”

          When you’re eventually asked why so much isn’t getting done (or why clients are angry), be positive again. First give them a blank look, and then smile and say “Well, we got x and y done, which means there hasn’t been time yet to get z done, but we’re working on it! We’d love some help so we could get it done sooner though, I wish we didn’t have to leave clients hanging like this.”

    6. Can’t possibly keep up*

      I’m so sorry your situation isn’t any better. You may have to let go of the good reference idea. I’m hearing you’re not going to be able to deliver what they want and keep your mental health intact. If you can put a boiler plate preface on each email request or demand saying, “Our department has made numerous requests for more staffing which have not been filled. Only 15% of requests can be filled. Please contact boss for prioritization.” Or whatever is relevant in your case. Then let it all go. Let it fall. Do not risk your mental health no matter how much you care about your clients. I’ve been in this loosing battle. It’s so hard. Keep looking and I wish you the best in your job search.

      1. TeaCoziesRUs*

        I love this wording! Manage up, put the pressure on where it NEEDS to be, keep your head down and knock out your highest daily priorities while also maintaining your need for breaks and reasonable hours. Before the feathers hit the fan can you give something to your boss that says, “If we choose to hire a temp, this is what they can do (filing, prep, etc) so that I can increase my own productivity by X%”? There might not be enough time to spin someone up completely, but could you delegate easier tasks to a temp to ease you through?

    7. Zweisatz*

      I think your best bet is to get clear in your head what you’re going to do before busy season starts (so great impulse to ask around here!)

      First are there any aspects of your role that don’t have to do with this important core function (getting money to clients) that you can hand off/get started on handing off right now?
      There might not be, but just checking.

      Two, sock away as much money as you can starting now. If at all possible you want to be able to quit on short notice if the alternative is ruining your physical or mental health. It would also have the upside of giving you a chance to actually breath for your job search. I understand you would like to avoid this but having options never hurts.

      Finally, hash out your own boundaries. During the busy season, which work times do you want to commit to that are *sustainable*? Go home when they are up. Just go home.
      Make sure to never ever take on any volunteer tasks & make sure to professionally refuse tasks that are not actually yours to complete.

      If necessary write down a mantra that you cannot care more about your job than your manager/organization does. This really is key.

      Right now people get mad at you. Who is behind these issues? Who would have the power to solve them? Brainstorm a short explanation why you’re unable to fulfill your coworkers’ requests any faster and redirect them to the decision maker who could fix this whole mess. Do it every time somebody gets impatient.

    8. Camellia*

      This probably isn’t particularly helpful, but if there’s only two of you, and no one else is cross-trained and can help…they are not likely to fire you. Because then who would they have to do the work?

      1. Burning Out on Burn Out*

        Good point! It’s a new management and they have laid people off in the middle of huge projects and then left others to pick up the pieces so I have a slight worry that may happen with me.

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          But there isn’t anyone else to pick up the pieces – you are the piece picker upper, right? Lol

      2. The Real Fran Fine*

        This. My mom is in this exact situation at work and I tell her the same thing. She stopped overworking and just doing what she could in her allotted hours, and no one dares to say anything to her (especially not her manager, who knows exactly why she’s in the position she’s in now, but refuses to do anything about it).

    9. Amchi*

      Let that rope drop. Talk to your manager about what overtime they expect of you during busy season, and then literally do only that amount. It’s so important to remember that client’s not getting paid is NOT YOUR FAULT. Send the angry ones to your manager: +Manager to emails. “I’m looping Manager in on this since they are more equipped to respond.” Send the heat up to where it belongs. You’re doing your best.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        THIS. During the ridiculous time, I’d suggest looping your manager in as much as possible, even if it’s more just CCing for her knowledge than kicking things up for her to handle. Make it extremely clear what you’re dealing with. Make her inbox borderline unusable if it comes to that and force her into the chaos.

    10. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      There are several good pieces of advice above mine, but just wanted to re-iterate that while you do have a job to do, you are only one person on a small team and you don’t have more hours in the day than anyone else.

      I agree with the people about setting boundaries. When there are problems getting the work done, redirect people to your boss, to the leadership team and say that their decision to staff at this level is what is creating this problem, not you. In other words, return the problem to sender (your leadership team).

      Depending on the culture or how things work at your company, that may mean having in-person conversations, or copying your manager or the leadership team on replies. If it’s not uncomfortable for the leadership to continue on this path, then they won’t ever deal with the understaffing problem. I’d also document everything to ensure you have records.

      1. Burning Out on Burn Out*

        This is actually one of the reasons I want to leave is that if I were to forward these emails, the new leadership would absolutely lose it (at me, and not reflect at all). It would be received very badly. There is a lot of toxic positivity pressure and to not make leadership look bad.

        1. Trawna*

          That’s definitely the impression I formed of management from your original post. That’s why I suggested changing your own behaviour (leaving on time; taking lunch). Any CYA in writing is going to be manipulated in some way by them, and not to your benefit.

          If for your own soul you need to do more, do volunteer work in your own time.

        2. Kay*

          So here is the thing – they are already reacting badly. Management is already making your life miserable – dig into why you are so willing to make what should be a management problem your own.

          There are lots of ways to say “Hey boss, there is a fire over here and I need help putting it out” without saying “Hey boss, that lit cigarette you just tossed into the wastebasket full of paper caught on fire and is burning the place to the ground – just like I told you but you ignored me you flipping expletive, expletive”.

          You may just need to get your resume in order, save funds, and when you are feeling more comfortable in your exit strategy start to push back. To be honest, I would absolutely start right this minute by setting boundaries, letting things fail if you can’t get to them within your 40 hours, and setting the stage now for presenting the solution of hiring X number of people within Y amount of time because this is the only way to be able to complete Z, which you will have twice as much Z to do in your busy season so best get on this one and only solution now. Any reasonable employer will understand your leaving when you mention your position changed drastically and there were no plans to provide the resources necessary to complete the new role. That is what tripling your work without providing you with robots or time travel is right? Best of luck to you in your search!

          1. Can’t possibly keep up*

            This. Management is bullying you because it makes them look bad that they can’t or won’t fix the problem. The beatings will continue until morale improves. Can you go grey rock? I know it’s hard. I feel for you.

    11. Employed Minion*

      If most of the communications are by email, maybe an auto response would help. Something that states the timeframe of the busy season and the typical turn around time. Something to establish realistic expectations and you don’t have to take energy to do it

      1. Burning Out on Burn Out*

        I did this last year and then got in trouble for doing this as it “made the company look bad” to the clients. No one would reflect WHY I had to have the auto response, it was just treated like I was being an unavailable employee.

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          Yeah, this is insane that you got reprimanded for doing something super common. You are right to be looking for a new job now. Wishing you luck in finding something better quickly.

    12. Quinalla*

      Don’t run yourself into the ground again for sure. I’d probably put in a little extra effort – busy seasons are a thing in a lot of fields – but don’t try to do 100% when you know you won’t be able to. I’d communicate regularly with your boss and possibly even loop in higher ups as well, maybe a quick “In follow up to my request for more staff, we are now entering our busy season. Last year with extraordinary effort, we only met 70% of requests. Please let us know if you want anything prioritized differently (or whatever makes sense for your work).” And then daily or weekly or every 2 weeks I’d send an update something like

      “We have closed Y cases during Z time period. We have X cases that were not able to be completed in time. We are prioritizing per our guidelines. Please let us know if different prioritization is required or if we will be able to get new staff or cross train existing staff. Thanks!”

      And I’d also make a form response for people who are pissed things aren’t getting done “on time”.

      “As I let you know on X date, we have entered the busy season and requests will unfortunately be delayed. Please contact BOSS if you have any further questions or need something prioritized different than per our guidelines.”

      This may need slight modification depending on your circumstances, but keep throwing it back to your boss/higher ups to find a solution while demonstrating how much you ARE getting done still. It is highly unlikely they will fire you, then they will be getting 35% done!

      1. Zweisatz*

        I would also put straightforward numbers on the tasks. If you say “we completed x amount of tasks” or “x percent of tasks” managament can still act like you are just failing at your workload because what about the open tasks?
        If you say “we have xyz amount of tasks equalling 250 working hours and 80 working hours available. I think of prioritizing abc in those 80 hours. Let me know if you would like to make changes to the priority”, they at least have to come up with a plausible alternative reality where 250 hours of work can be completed in 80 if they are against prioritizing the workload.

    13. Diatryma*

      One thing I say my trainees is that taking breaks is important, and not taking breaks… won’t make a difference. You cannot overwork yourself enough to finish the job. Working yourself to death won’t fix this problem. So you accept that the work won’t get done, and you do the work you can get done, which is caring for yourself and making sure you have enough energy to stay afloat. Martyring yourself won’t do enough.

    14. Roscoe da Cat*

      I just want to say that based on my own experiences, just the fact that you are working on what comes after this should have a positive effect on your mental health. Part of the frustration (for me at least) was being at the mercy of everyone else. Once I was looking for a change, I was making the decisions and that helped pull me through.

      1. Zweisatz*

        For me it also helps to establish a “that’s kind of your problem” mentality, which is very healthy when everything is burning so you don’t feel you should attempt to fix the unfixable.

    15. Momma Bear*

      In discussions about the work, do you document their priorities and what you can reasonably accomplish in x timeframe and what will slip? Not every fire burns at the same temperature. Let the slightly cooler ones simmer a little.

    16. LCS*

      I’m a big fan of auto-reply e-mails for situations like this:

      Thanks for your message. For the period X-Y, I am focused exclusively on processing payment types A, B & C. If you have submitted complete and accurate paperwork you can expect A&B types to be processed within 2 weeks and C types to be processed within 3 weeks. Where submissions are incomplete or inaccurate, timing will be longer. If you are looking for a payment status update, please note that personalized updates can only be provided for payments where the timelines above have already been exceeded.

      If you are looking for support on D, E & F during this time please contact *Manager*; during this busy period my full focus remains on timely output of A, B & C unless specifically redirected otherwise. Messages left for me regarding D, E & F will be addressed once X-Y period has concluded.

    17. Podkayne*

      In a workshop on burnout that I developed in a past life, three quotes had the biggest power for me:
      1. “The graveyards are filled with indispensable people.”
      2. “Do your 8 and hit the gate.” (Attributed to wartime military nurses who HAD to self-care or they would not survive the long haul.)
      3. “Burnout is the result of a CHRONIC mismatch between EXPECTATIONS and results, made worse by trying to cure that mismatch by working harder and harder.” Adrian Savage.

      I get that this doesn’t answer your specific question, but I think you’ve already got the answer; no amount of reframing is going to elicit a different result. … Pull down that oxygen mask for your own self. Burnout is serious sh*t.

    18. Somehow_I_Manage*

      To help get over this speed bump. Re-define your job with yourself. Your job is to deliver as many payments as a reasonable person can within working hours. Internalize that. That’s what success looks like.

      Your job is not to make all the payments. Your job is not to cater to unreasonable customer expectations. Your job is not to do whatever it takes to avoid getting yelled at. Your job is not to be a shield for management.

      While doing your job advances these goals, you alone do not control them.

      Good luck in your search!

  2. Stella70*

    Hello! I am the OP who wrote the story Alison featured on Wednesday (my bullet-pointed write-up of the worst company holiday party I ever attended, which was hosted by me).
    I was unable to respond to comments, but I want to thank Alison and all who read it and were so kind to give me feedback. Have you ever had God or the universe or whatever your higher power is, give you what you need – exactly when you need it? That’s what happened to me when Alison featured my story. My life has been difficult the last few years, to the point it’s been hard to beat back the depression. When Alison requested holiday stories last week, I was very ill, trying to WFH, and for the millionth time this year alone, hoping to find something to lift my spirits. Humor has always been my crutch and writing my catharsis. (To be honest, I have had a hard life, much of it from my own ill-advised and frequent forays into “What’s the worst that could happen?!”. You’ve heard do-gooders say, “If I can save just one person, this all was worth it?” I say, “If I can make someone laugh-snort, I may save on therapy.”)
    I wrote my submission in one draft, flying on DayQuil with a Tylenol chaser. I read it now and cringe over an inferior word choice or wish I had polished a paragraph. But so many of you said I made you happy for a moment, and I can’t describe how that made me feel. I am so grateful to Alison and you all, for that lifeline you tossed me this week. It meant more than I can explain, though I just spent a few hundred words trying.
    Now, answers to your questions:
    * My grandmother’s vintage china teacups lived to see more Christmases, mostly because I developed kleptomania that night, swiping them from the hands of my boozing coworkers every chance I had. One co-worker asked me to hold her cup while she used the bathroom; when she returned, both the cup and I had disappeared. I told our burly body shop manager (who was spinning his cup around his little finger) that his shoe was untied and kindly offered to hold his cup; when he stood up, the cup was gone, but one of my breasts had suddenly become quite misshapen (the fact I forgot it was stuffed it in my bra and not a single person noticed was highly insulting).
    * I found my toaster in the drawer of a bookcase in my living room, but not sure I would have, if my dogs hadn’t been obsessively sniffing around it. Little Sherlocks…
    * SHEILA never apologized for misunderstanding the concept of co-hosting, but I felt she punished herself enough by sleeping with GLENN (two N’s, please – I should have named and shamed him, too). Her marriage didn’t last, his did.
    * For the MN readers, nope – the business owner was not Denny Hecker, the notorious and felonious car salesman. I worked for Melvin, of the just-as-questionable ethics, and not-nearly-as-handsome visage (Denny’s mugshot is one to see; go check, I’ll wait here).
    * Yes, I did clean the house until morning. Confession: I weirdly love to clean and to have my house go from a Lifetime holiday movie set (at the corner of Impoverished and Hovel) to a crime scene and then back to cozy in 15 hours took some epic cleaning skills. (And far more than $20 – damn you, Melvin!)
    * Yes, I did speak to my dogs, but not about the pee ring. I begged their forgiveness, and vowed if I was ever that dumb again, we would swap their Alpo for my dinner for a whole month. (One year to the day later, I intercepted their “2nd Annual Stella70’s Holiday Extravaganza” invites, moments before they sent them out. Little jerks…)
    * Finally, another confession: I must admit it did hurt my feelings a tiny bit that two commenters felt my story was invented. It was not. Every word was true. The only detail I am a bit fuzzy on is that the bread may not have been Wonder bread – I can’t be sure of that, since back then, I could only afford what was on sale. (Which is why bread was the only other food in the house – I blew my budget on appetizer fix-ins.) Since this party was over 25 years ago, I had to guess about the brand. I totally understand the cynicism; you all have no idea who I am.
    But real or invented, I made a lot of you laugh this Christmas, and no gift will top that (apologies to my husband). I am an Office Manager these days and while I love my job, in my heart, I wish I had given writing a chance. Zero confidence, but lots of stories to tell. (I was born under the sign of Murphy – with me, if anything can go wrong, it probably just did.) This party was but a moment in ‘My Life of Why Me?’ [trademark pending] and my mom’s advice for years has been “put it in your book!”. (Have you ever heard of someone’s mom begging them to quit their job and write full-time? At 83, my mom still does.) I’ve not written a book, but this was an equivalent thrill for me. I printed my story and every one of your comments for my mom to read, so the joy you gave me this week, Alison and readers, will be shared with her.
    Thank you, and I wish you all have the most wonderful of holidays.

    1. irene adler*

      It was epic!
      I’m so glad you posted it!

      “2nd Annual Stella70’s Holiday Extravaganza” -um, wow. Chutzpah!

    2. SereneScientist*

      Stella, your comedic voice is truly something! Thanks for even more laughs and hope to see more of your stories around. :)

      1. 1 writer 2 another*

        100% agree! And as a professional writer, I can tell you that if you “cringe over an inferior word choice or wish I had polished a paragraph” – you likely have the soul of a writer!

    3. I need a new name...*

      Thank you for the extra info Stella70! Wonderfully written once again (and it’s never too late you know)

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Big vote for the book! I would read it and buy multiple copies as gifts.
        YOU HAVE THE GIFT

    4. The Prettiest Curse*

      Your story was awesome, incredibly well written and will go down in AAM legend. Bravo and THANK YOU for the quality entertainment!

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      Thank you for the follow-up! This was delightful. I hope your holidays are fun, festive, and free of coworker drama.

    6. Weekender*

      Thank you for the update!!!!

      Your story was magical! I had to re-read parts of it because the laughter it induced was addictive!!

      I hope you have a fantastic holiday :) Keep the stories coming!!

      1. Constantly Learning*

        What a win-win! I really enjoyed your story. I’m now smiling again that the reception to your story brought you joy!

    7. pcake*

      I’m a freelance editor and writer, and I absolutly loved your story. It made me laugh, snicker, chuckle and guffaw, and I occasionally felt a little sad that the younger you had to learn the hard way. And at a couple points, I found myself holding my breath in suspense waiting to see what happened next.

      Thanks for sharing your story!

    8. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

      OMG, offering to hold the cup and suddenly having a misshapen breast??? That’s my favorite part!! Thanks for the story and this update, totally made me smile amongst my excel haze! :-)

    9. pcake*

      I’m a freelance editor and writer, and I absolutely loved your story. It made me laugh, snicker, chuckle and guffaw, and I occasionally felt a little sad that the younger you had to learn the hard way. And at a couple points, I found myself holding my breath in suspense waiting to see what happened next.

      Thanks for sharing your story!

    10. New mom*

      It was so greatly written, I felt like I was watching it all in real time. It reminded me of my own holiday party scenanigans too.

    11. Sarah*

      The teacup in the bra!!! I, too, am often stuffing things in my bra if I don’t have pockets. I worry that some day I will do this in public instead of the safety of my own home.

      This follow up is just as good as the original! Let us know if you ever give writing a chance (even just as a blog) because I’d read it.

    12. Syzygy*

      This update might even be funnier than the original! Stella – you ARE a writer! Look at the thousands of people enjoying your holiday tale. Please keep it up, so we can read more of your adventures. Start a blog and let us know, send your writing to newspapers or online magazines, self publish a series of humorous essays – I want to read it all!

    13. ThursdaysGeek*

      Thank you! I was so concerned about Grandma’s china teacups, and especially enjoyed those little additions of ways they were saved. You definitely made me smile Wednesday and today. Keep writing!

    14. I edit everything*

      Thank you for the teacup update! You’re a magician.

      As an editor, I say: please keep writing. It is never too late. It makes you feel good, you bring laughter and delight to others (or not, if you decide to keep it private), and you’re good at it. Listen to your mother! On this, at least.

      Blessings through the holiday season and the year to come.

    15. Hlao-roo*

      Thank you! I’m glad the china survived, and am greatly amused by your kleptomaniac rescue of the teacups!

    16. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      I did enjoy the writeup and I do not think it is too late to do a bit of writing! My first book was published when I was 54, if that’s any help.

    17. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      I think you could take the comments about your story being invented as a compliment. It was so wild and also so well-written that it could be considered fiction. I believed you for the record – you have a very authentic voice – and I was delighted to read it.

      If you can find space for compassion and acceptance of yourself, and any shortcomings, I think that may give you peace around when you mess up or when you don’t do something that’s as perfect as it could have been if you’d worked on it more. You’re allowed to exist and to be delighted in, and to like yourself before you’re perfect.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Tangent: I once submitted a story to a short fiction contest where I blatantly copied a character from a coworker sitting across the cube-farm aisle from me. His looks, his talk, his mannerisms etc. Did not make it to the next round – my story lost points because the character was deemed too unrealistic. Our coworkers. You can’t make them up, but some of them sure do sound like we did!

    18. Koifeeder*

      Stella70, if you could live well and happily on a writer’s salary, I’d be right there with your mom. Unfortunately, that’s not really feasible in this world, but I am delighted you’re willing to share your writing with us anyways.

    19. sagewhiz*

      Another writer/editor here joining the chorus! Both the op and this update are so hilarious my mascara’s gone all Tammy Faye. Do start writing your stories—even 10 min/half a page a day, at the end of a year you’ve got a book. Which so many of us want to read!

    20. Phillippe II*

      I’m always amazed at the people who look good in their mugshots – Denny didn’t, that’s for sure. I know mine weren’t good…

    21. Hen in A Windstorm*

      Oh my goodness, you are a great writer! What a turn for a phrase you have! And I am both sad you’ve had such a hard time recently and thrilled this made you so happy. It was very funny and I realized I have never had a truly raucous party. I’ve had a Breakfast at Tiffany’s-style so packed nobody can sit down party, but I never had to hide from my own guests!

      (I used to live near Minneapolis, but we moved away when I was 14, so I never got to experience the true Minnesota goodbye.)

    22. slowingaging*

      Mom is right, please write. Love the bullet points.
      Just need the next story of how you go about 15 hours of cleaning. Do you remove all trash from the whole house and then do a light clean or, is each room sterilized. I have strong opinions on this.
      Then, of course, further info on the dogs. I can tell they started things, that we need to know.
      “flying on DayQuil with a Tylenol chaser. I read it now and cringe over an inferior word choice or wish I had polished a paragraph.”
      So write it and post on Saturday open thread, next week post your polished version. Then we will discuss with you which we like best.
      I somehow became the family historian and I started writing a few family stories on FB with pics. Cousins chiming in on whether it was Great Uncle Floyd or Great Uncle Lloyd who did what 60 years ago.

    23. Btdt*

      when he stood up, the cup was gone, but one of my breasts had suddenly become quite misshapen (the fact I forgot it was stuffed it in my bra and not a single person noticed was highly insulting

      Oh man I can see that happening like it’s in a movie . I’ve been having a low week and your story made me cackle out loud several times. You have a great writing voice/style!

      1. AGD*

        Yeah, I’m so run over I’ve decided to sit out the holiday party, but this part made me burst into laughter.

    24. Gracely*

      You definitely, definitely need to write all of this down and put it in a book. I love reading those kinds of memoirs, and so do tons of other people. I would absolutely buy a book “from the writer who brought you Stella70’s Holiday Extravaganza”.

    25. Can't think of a funny name*

      I would read your book! That story was amazing, I would have broken down in tears during the party, not sure how you got thru it!

    26. Cookies for Breakfast*

      OP, you sound so cool. And because I missed the opportunity to content on the original post, I’m glad I get the chance today, adding a few things in because of your comment.

      1) “I decided to remain in there with them, until my get-together was either busted by the cops or the Lord called me home. Neither happened.” was one of the funniest turns of phrase I’ve come across this entire week.

      2) Ditto for the idea of you speaking to your dogs. Though my first image was of the landlord accepting it as an answer with an incredibly straight face, leaving you wondering whether he actually thought the dogs would listen.

      3) “Zero confidence but lots of stories to tell” is something I can 100% relate to. Though I wish I had a mother who begs me to quit my job and write fill-time – my mum has always begged me to hang on to a full-time job and forget about writing! (so far, she seems very pleased she’s succeeding)

      Thank you again for a good laugh, I’ve been housebound with a nasty cold all week and really needed it.

    27. Quinalla*

      Awe, thanks for the sweet follow up. It was hilarious and especially well written for being sick and on medication, well done! And hey, maybe you’ll never have a book published, but keep writing even if just for yourself. I am one who dreamed of “one day” having a book published. I have ended up channeling my writing passion into tough emails, technical narratives, etc. for my work, but I still may try to at least write an article for an industry magazine or maybe even write a book someday who knows, but I always write a little bit each day even if just for myself because it brings me joy!

    28. thelettermegan*

      You have the chops! You should give Creative Non-fiction essays a shot. Lots of places will publish short pieces.

    29. Dark Macadamia*

      Your writing style is so funny, I really enjoyed your story!

      I will never understand people who read anonymous content like advice columns and then scream fake. The whole fun/point is to at least treat them as if they’re real!

    30. TeaCoziesRUs*

      Psst… the author of “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” wrote her first book (which was lovely – easier than KonMari, and sweetly tart enough to be talking to a loving grandmother with no Fs left to give) at “somewhere between 80 and 100.” There’s LOTS of time for you to pursue writing! You obviously have a gift for it. :)

      1. Momma Bear*

        Mike Rowe’s mom (lovely woman) published her first book at I think 83 yrs old. I’d love to read more from you, OP.

    31. Former+Retail+Manager*

      Thank you so much for posting again and I would encourage you to write. Perhaps a blog with your funny stories, or even not funny stories. I found your story amusing, relatable (youthful stupidity) and written in a way that I couldn’t wait to see what the next bullet point held. I hope that your holidays are merry and whatever you want them to be and that whatever struggles you’ve been facing subside soon. All the best!

    32. Siege*

      My mother is 84 and still tells me to put it in my book. In my case, my book is called “I Never Have To Make It Up” because I don’t. I was once kicked out of Canada because my passenger was an Australian with two hours left on his visa and “Canada doesn’t like to be used to extend your visa, eh,” but the hitchhiker we met at the bar was fine to enter. I also got in trouble crossing the border (on a different trip) for possession of fresh fruit which is much, much better than the possession of swords we were also eligible for, and I have very successfully stalked rock stars for the low, low price of “driving my coworkers crazy.”

      On the plus side, the trip where I got kicked out was the opportunity for the American border guard to get in his genial kindness for the year by being clearly superior to those Canadian d-bags.

      Stella70, I salute you. If you ever have another holiday party please do not invite me, as the world cannot contain that much awesome that close together and remain structurally stable.

    33. Elle Woods*

      I loved your story and all the details in it. Your gift for writing is a treasure and I thank you for sharing it with us. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and feel better soon!

    34. Lyn+Clements*

      you are incredibly funny — your comment brightened my day! Thank you for sharing your gift of comedy!

    35. anon24*

      And with this post, this just keeps getting better. I wish I knew you Stella, you are hilarious and your story and this comment have made my week. I love the bullet points.

    36. Mimmy*

      You are a terrific writer and, yes, you definitely gave us all a great deal of joy and laughter, something that is very much appreciated these days. I hope that someday you do decide to publish something.

    37. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I somehow missed the story when it first came out, so thank you for this comment because it helped me finally find it and read it! OMG!

      Whoever thought the story was fake, clearly hasn’t ever hosted a party gone out of control. I can think of two in my family off the top of my head:

      – my housewarming, back in Home Country, when I unexpectedly got a studio (1-room, rather – same rooms as a studio would have, but no open plan) apartment from my employer – not super unexpectedly as I was on a waitlist per Home Country’s rules at the time, but most people stayed on it for decades before getting their first apartment, and it only took me 18 months. I was 24, and also the youngest by 10+ years in my work group; with one exception – a 20yo guy whose parents worked at the same place in upper management positions, and who had a big, well-known crush on me, despite me having a fiance and being about to get married. (Fiance was finishing up his college classes at the uni where we’d met, and so sadly missed the party.) I had hardly any furniture, no connections allowing me to buy and prep party food/drinks in a country with a shortage of everything. My “old” 30-something married teammates were VERY helpful and supplied the furniture and almost all of the food. The booze came from the infrastructure dept and was basically rubbing alcohol that they were issued at work, processed so it was safe to drink, and steeped with fruit and/or fruit preserves. It was potent. The party was pretty decent and everyone left around midnight, except for the 20yo guy who had a crush on me. He’d had too much of the rubbing alcohol, got sick all over my bathtub, then locked himself in the bathroom (thankfully the toilet was in a separate one with its own door) out of shame, and refused to come out, then fell asleep there. I also spent most of the night cleaning, while he was sleeping it off in the bathroom. At four AM, like a movie trope, one of my guy coworkers returned to extract Romeo out of the bathroom and take him home. I then cleaned the bathtub and then it was time to go to work – we had strict hours.

      – my younger son’s 20th birthday party. He lived off-campus in an apartment with three college classmates, in a building that was apparently a known party building. He invited “up to 50” people. A total of 200 attended over the course of the night. He did not know most of them. His friend, who DJd for the party, had his stuff stolen while he was working as DJ, blood was found in the bathroom the next morning, police reports were filed by some of the guests, my son never hosted a college-style party again.

      But, like, the culprits in my stories were all in their late teens and early 20s, and yours were fully grown adults? with families and lovers on the side? Minnesota is full of surprises!

      Another thing I wanted to share is that I, too, offered to host a work party after learning that the new owners had refused to give us one. My grandboss supported the idea and said that work would help pay for the food. (He ended up writing a check out of his own account, work helped with nothing.) I invited 50 people, each with a plus one. Then promptly freaked out because, although my house at the time was big, there was no way it could hold 100 people. Luckily only 25 came. It was a pretty lowkey party. Our family dog was terrified anyway and spent the night hiding from the guests. My kids stayed in their rooms doing whatever they normally did on a Friday night. 10/10 would host again haha.

      Lastly, your mom is wise, listen to your mom and get to writing full-time. Thank you again for the story and I wish the most wonderful of holidays to you too!

    38. GoryDetails*

      Thanks so much for the update – and the original post; beautifully written and hilarious! (No pressure if you don’t actually want to try writing a book – though I’d love to read it if you did – but just FYI, my sister had a first novel published this year, and she just turned 65, so… you never know?)

      Am still laugh-crying over the teacup-in-the-bosom bit!

    39. Blinded+By+the+Gaslight*

      Between getting into self-generated predicaments, later telling hilarious stories about said predicaments, having everyone say you should put all your stories in a book (and somehow never managing to do it), and persistent depression, I feel like we’re some kind of “chaotic good” doppelgangers. We should totally be friends, but it’s probably safer for everyone (albeit significantly less fun) if we don’t combine these superpowers.

      Thanking you for your hilarious story and making me feel like I have a kindred spirit out there, and wishing you all the comfort and joy you can handle this holiday season!

    40. random person*

      You had me laughing out loud then, and now again with your update!
      Please, please keep writing because you have a great gift that is needed by so many people!

    41. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Maybe at least propose a column for your local newspaper because you’ve got a real way with words. Humor is HARD–as I learned working on the campus humor magazine –and this followup is as gloriously chuckle filled as your original saga. Brava.

    42. TCO*

      Stella70, I want you to throw another terrible party just so we can all read about it! Thank you for sharing your talent (and assuring us that your teacups survived!).

    43. allathian*

      Thanks for coming back with more bullets! I’m sorry you’re dealing with depression, and I’m glad that knowing your stories made some people’s days a little better made you feel better for a while.

    44. Put the Human Back in HR*

      I never doubted your story was real. I loved it!

      If you want to write, go for it — you don’t have to quit your job. When my younger child started college, I wrote romantic suspense in my spare time. I did get a publishing contract. I didn’t hit the big time, but I did have fun.

    45. Miss+Curmudgeonly*

      I loved your story too, can relate to much of what you say about writing, AND had not even a shred of doubt about its veracity. Fellow midwesterner here, and heck, I remember going to parties back in the day that were pretty much just like that. (In fact, I just read it over, and there’s not even anything implausible in there!)

    46. Former Employee*

      One of the best humor pieces I’ve ever read and I’m a regular reader of Alexandra Petri @ WaPo.

      Maybe just write up anecdotes the way you did with the holiday party and post party clean up.

      Didn’t Erma Bombeck become famous for writing homey type humor?

      Best of luck in the future.

      Happy Holidays!

  3. Not So Super-visor*

    An update (but not a good one)
    Last week, I mentioned my frustration at being given a promotion to a different department but that my current department is dragging their feet on letting me go to my new position and going as far as not even interviewing internal applicants.
    it gets worse…
    a) they have now decided that they are not filling my position until at least mid-February (but supposedly I get to move roles Jan 1?), so it really just seems like they are dragging this out on purpose
    b) my current department has decided to cut me out of all holiday traditions (think Secret Santa, cubicle decorating contest, potluck) since I’m not really part of their department anymore, but I’m still here in the middle of it doing my previous job
    c) between previous boss and the other supervisor, they’ve decided to take all of the holiday PTO time. Normally, we’d sit down and make an arrangement where all of get some time off around the holidays, but now I will be here without any PTO through the end of the year

    1. Sssssssssssssss*

      (b) really sucks. And that’s a morale killer. Honestly. When I won a role that had had six other people backfill for almost 18 months, I invited them ALL to the team Xmas party because without them, the work would have stopped. Two of them took me up on it and were appreciative of being appreciated!

    2. Ama*

      Ugh it’s so hard when people don’t think outside the basic staff hierarchy when making holiday plans. I was victim of that a couple times: for a few years at my current employer I was a department of one, reporting directly to the CEO — there were two consecutive years where she told other department heads to fold me into their department’s holiday plans and everyone assumed someone else was doing it, so no one did. It doesn’t happen now because I’m in a department of five and also report to someone else, but it was unpleasant those two years.

      also your management SUCKS if they’ve taken all the holiday PTO between them.

    3. WellRed*

      Do you want to participate in the potluck etc? Any reason why you can’t just…cheerfully show up or is the location a secret?

    4. Just here for the scripts*

      Might be worth looking for other work OUTSIDE of your company/organization. Window shopping for work is a good way to get perspective on where you are.. and given that this offer isn’t currently happening, and all of your management staff are acting as tools (secret Santa, PTO, etc), you might find something better elsewhere.

    5. time for cocoa*

      My last company threw up so many obstacles to inter-company transfers that multiple people give up and quit. We had 4-6 extremely talented engineers be told “you can’t leave this department until you finish project X” where project X was a years-long boondoggle that was never going to reach fruition. Some managers just love shooting their own feet repeatedly.

      1. Missing person*

        My last company would not let anyone transfer from my site. Period. They encouraged a finance guy to transfer to my site to further his career and, after 2 years, when he wanted to move back to corporate they told him that they never allowed transfers from my site because it was so badly run.

        So they made him quit.

    6. The Real Fran Fine*

      Focus only on a) and the fact that you get to move January 1. The passive aggressive nonsense of your current department leadership will come back to bite them in the ass, trust me. Keep your head held high, know that this will be over soon, and again, reach out to your new team and get ingratiated with that leadership to ensure your move is in fact happening and see what they’re doing for the holiday. When I was in a similar position to you, my new department heads ended up inviting me to their holiday party in advance of my transfer mid-January (I also attended my then-current team’s holiday events, so not exactly like your situation) and I had a great time meeting everyone I didn’t already know. See if you can swing something like that with your new colleagues.

    7. JelloStapler*

      What a bunch of whiny temper tantrums. I’m glad you’re getting out. Remember that through the transition.

    8. Momma Bear*

      I’d go to the new department’s manager and discuss the options for your moving over there and/or being included in holiday festivities in the interim, maybe as a way to get to know the new team better.

  4. Not-So-Chatty Cathy*

    How do you determine how much to talk at work? I regret talking about 60% of the time, both in formal meetings and casual conversations with coworkers.

    If I don’t speak up in meetings, some people act like I’m not contributing, which is fair. If I don’t make small talk with coworkers, then I’d be seen as cold and unfriendly, which is not ideal. That means I make the effort to talk more than I’m inclined to, but it feels like I’m always wasting everyone’s time, presenting incomplete ideas, or oversharing.

    This is definitely a me-issue, and I don’t have concerns about toxicity, weird cultural fit, bullying, etc. Past experiences have given me poor calibration on the topic though, so I wondered how other people gauge when to speak and when to keep quiet.
    FWIW, I have gone to therapy about this, but I’m interested in other people’s successful, practical approaches to striking a balance here.

    1. heather*

      I have a tendency to be way too talkative. If I am in a large meeting (like 10 people or more), my self-imposed rule is that I am essentially able to make one comment. Because if a dozen people all need to weigh in, I can’t keep sharing my own thoughts without monopolizing. I might allow myself a couple more “Yes that makes sense, I agree” sentences, but in general, I get one substantive comment.

      In informal situations, it is much harder. Basically I just try to avoid being someone who talks too much! I don’t really think there’s any such thing as talking too little, as long as you are responding in kind to others. So if someone says “How was your weekend?”– you should not just say “good” and stop the conversation. You should say, “Good, I went out to eat with my cousin! How about you?” But I don’t think you have to go out of your way to INITIATE that sort of conversation in order to be considered friendly. Just smile and respond when other people start them.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I have always struggled with this. I used to hate college courses because the professor would ask a question and nobody would answer, and I found it agonizing to see it hanging there and I’d really want to jump in and throw the professor a bone (plus I usually had something to say) – but I also don’t want to take up too much space and talk more than once or twice! And sometimes I know I got too carried away with my own thought once I started in. I really try to bite my tongue in meetings. The image of Hermione Granger in the early books helps me sit on my hands.

    2. to varying degrees*

      When you do speak up in meetings (or in social environments) what are the responses you get back?

      I’m fairly talkative and outgoing in social settings, but I do tend to clam up in work meetings (though I’m fine in work social settings). I think it’s because I tend to overthink and doubt my contributions. What I have learned (and constantly work at) is reminding myself that those contributions, however much I get nervous and critical about them, are generally well received. As such I am not a reliable narrator and can’t base my inaction/quietness on my own first instinct in these situations. In fact, I probably need to default to the opposite.

      It took a long time for me to get to this point though and something I still have to remind myself.

      1. Not-So-Chatty Cathy*

        That’s definitely part of it! I work with a lot of smart people, and I assume they’ve already thought of any idea I might contribute.
        I get more pushback for staying quiet than for speaking up, although there’s not typically much direct feedback either way.

          1. to varying degrees*

            Totally agree. I think we can sometimes get in our own head and start believing the untruths we tell ourselves (if that makes sense), when in reality, that’s not how everyone else is perceiving us.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I tend to be quiet when I’m in a new situation/working with new coworkers, and I have noticed a few times people have remarked on that. “Hlao-roo is always so quiet” and similar comments. I talk more once I feel I have a good “lay of the land.” Have you heard similar comments when you speak only as much as you’re inclined to that lead you to believe your coworkers do see you as cold and unfriendly? Because it could be your natural level as small talk could lead you to be thought of as “reserved, but pleasant” or “reserved and warm” or something along those lines.

      Strategies that I use to make sure I’m not talking too much (once I’m comfortable around my coworkers):

      – For small talk with coworkers, I think if my coworkers initiate the small talk (at least some of the time) that’s a sign that they’re not fed up with my social chit-chat.

      – For speaking up in meetings, I try to get a read on if I’m speaking considerably more/ about equal to/ considerably less than other meeting participants (obviously adjust if some people in the meeting are presenters, junior coworkers just sitting in, and other roles that will clearly have more/less speaking time).

    4. T*

      Kindly, I think you might be catastrophizing a bit.

      If you don’t naturally initiate small talk, that’s fine. Normal people will not perceive this as cold. I say this as someone who has been in the workforce for two decades and who has not ever been a small-talk-starter. Just respond warmly if someone else speaks to you, and you’ll be fine. There’s no need to force yourself into being chatty. A good way to make sure you’re coming across warmly (rather than accidentally exuding ‘why are you interrupting me’ vibes) is to smile a little as soon as someone starts speaking to you.

      As for contributing in meetings – this is trickier. I think this is an issue everyone has some of the time. You want to appear engaged, but what if you don’t really have any ideas to contribute?! It’s tough. Here are some of my strategies:
      -Take notes. Even if you end up saying very little, the act of taking notes will make it clear you’re engaged and taking in the information.
      -Ask questions. Sometimes you don’t have the solutions, but you can still be the person asking the right questions. These can be understanding-based questions (“I’m not really familiar with this process, can you give a little background on _____?”) or solution-based questions (“When we say we want to streamline this process, do we want a faster turn-around, or do we want it to be less complicated?”).
      -If you do have an idea you want to bring up but it’s not fully formed yet, just say so. “Forgive me for thinking out loud, but is this a possibility?” “I’m just spitballing here, but if we were to approach it this way…” etc.
      -Speak up in support of other people if you agree with their ideas, concerns, etc.
      -Use this one sparingly, but I’ve found that sometimes telling a (quick, work-appropriate) funny anecdote during a social part of the meeting counts in people’s minds towards contribution. I’ve been thanked by bosses before for being engaged in a meeting when this is literally all I did.

      1. Not-So-Chatty Cathy*

        Kindly, I think you might be catastrophizing a bit.
        Certainly! :) That’s why I’m asking for some concrete examples. From all the helpful responses, I’m talking too much in casual interactions and not offering enough support in meetings. That is good feedback to have and gives me a better sense of what to work on.

    5. Bird Lady*

      One of the things I did early on was this:

      During a meeting, I might keep silent on an open subject I was not responsible for presenting, but expected to contribute towards. I was still learning the balance, and sometimes I was unable to respond in the moment for fear of looking silly. So after thinking about something, I’d bring it up to my manager with a line like, “So I was thinking of… Sorry I didn’t bring it up at the meeting; I wanted to consider it a bit more before suggesting it.” Eventually, I got enough feedback that my ideas were legitimately great, that I asked my manager if I should start bringing these ideas up in the moment at meetings. When she said yes, I took that as permission to be more bold.

    6. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      To normalize this a little take the case of an extrovert I know. She often talks about consciously trying to refrain from talking during meetings, or knowing when to walk away from the water cooler when a “hey, how’s it going” turns into 15 minutes of chit chat.

      To best position yourself at work it’s often a matter of adapting a little bit by smoothing out some of those edges, whether talking more/less, choosing phone/email to communicate with a boss who prefers one over the other and so on. Obviously this should not be taken to extremes, no one thinks you should pretend to be a different person, but if you think of it like “Linda is working to give others space to talk more while Cathy is working to contribute more during meetings” it can help to take some of the pressure off.

    7. Prospect Gone Bad*

      This may be as simple as you not having anything to say, which is fine. If you have something burning that needed to be said, you wouldn’t be asking this. I see this framed as introverted/extroverted but it could simply be “my job doesn’t lead me to find things that need to be said in meetings.”

      I’m introverted but can speak for an hour in meetings because I naturally come across problems and discrepancies and have been around long enough to see stuff.

    8. aubrey*

      My practical approach was to pick someone who I thought did a good job of this and pay close attention to when she talked and what kinds of things she said. It was kind of reassuring since she definitely made awkward comments sometimes too, but my overall impression of her was still so positive. Sorry past-coworker for probably observing you a bit too closely….

      Also, practice (unfortunately, I hate when that’s the answer). As I got used to speaking more, I got used to gauging this better, and also got used to letting go and not overthinking it.

    9. lebkin*

      For meetings, you don’t have to contribute NEW ideas every meeting. You can speak up by offering support for the good ideas of others. “I think Jim’s concept for the new ad is really great. I support us moving in that direction.”

      This shows you’re engaged, have opinions, and help push the conversation toward a decision. Strong supporter are of great value in meetings.

    10. Marvel*

      Ask people questions! That’s what I do to help curb my own social awkwardness. Most people like to talk about themselves, and they’ll see you as engaged and attentive even if all you do is nod and ask follow-up questions.

      Might not work in meetings; does work for small talk.

  5. Anna*

    Would you take a role where there is travel 1x/quarter (for a few days)? At a start-up in the series A funding?

    I’m interviewing for a this role.

    1. Melanie Cavill*

      I absolutely would, as long as the travel was reasonably reimbursed and there were no terrible airbnbs or having to share a hotel bed with a coworker or anything alarming like that. But I find travel soul-reaffirming.

    2. Kiwiii*

      if it’s truly ~3 days/quarter, that would be absolutely fine with me. Caveats of, I don’t have children, I used to travel about 10% for a previous job and liked it, and my husband doesn’t have to travel for work/can easily watch our pets.

      If you hate traveling, probably don’t go for it. But if it’s just a “what does that look like??”, I would ask about it in the interview and what that all entails/what their travel policy/booking process is, etc. if you’re curious about logistic.

      1. New mom*

        All this! I used to travel quarterly before I had kids and I liked it, I had friends in all the places I’d go or I got to see a cool city. I now have two littles under 2.5 and I wouldn’t be able to do it. I’m stressing over a one night trip that isn’t until June!

        1. New mom*

          Also, where are you traveling? I liked shorter trips but I had two trips from the west coast to east coast and it was brutal. Getting up at 4:30/5 to get to the airport, hours at the airport, flying and then with the time zone is was getting dark by the time I arrived. Also, will they fly you business class or economy?

          1. Sloanicota*

            Agree. If I would be going mostly cool places with many direct flight options, I’d be excited. I’d be happy to go to Chicago or New York and would be confident I wouldn’t get stranded. If I was going to be traveling places I have no interest in and that are hard to get to (so, indirect/multiple flights and then rental cars, meaning means more points of failure in transit) I wouldn’t be very excited. I used to travel for work and it *sucks* to have to spend your Friday night sleeping in an airport, missing your own Saturday plans, and then turn around and work on Monday.

    3. I edit everything*

      There’s so much more to consider! I like travel, so if the job’s a good fit and has travel, I’d be happy with that. But startups are…unpredictable. But if you’re at a stage in your life where you think the experience would be valuable and you don’t need stability/predictability, and the job seems good otherwise (not a toxic workplace, or other orange flags), then the startup nature shouldn’t disqualify the job.

    4. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      The travel part seems very reasonable. It would be the start up part that would give me pause. But I’m the sole earner now for a family of 4, I couldn’t risk it not panning out. But if you’re in a position that should it fail, you’d be ok, it might be worth considering. Just ask a lot of questions and take whatever they say with a grain of salt because start ups aren’t going to paint their future in the most glowing light possible.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Travel a few days once a quarter isn’t something that would have any real impact on my decision to take the role, personally. It’d have to be more often, or for longer duration, or — well, I guess if they tell me that the travel is always last-minute and “hey, you need to fly out tomorrow” like I don’t have time to make arrangements for my non-work needs, that would be relevant. But if they’re giving a reasonable advance notice of the timeframe and details, and we’re sincerely only talking a few days four times a year, that would not even land on my mental pros/cons list as something to consider.

    6. Generic+Name*

      Some advice given to me is that whatever the amount a job posting lists for travel is to double it.

      As for whether or not to take it, that’s a very personal question. Do YOU want to travel for work? In general, the folks I’ve seen who are happiest to travel for work either have no dependents (human or animal) at home or have a spouse who is willing and able to hold down the fort while they are gone AND don’t have small children.

      1. Kiwiii*

        I wonder if that’s just for 10% or more roles, or for all? I took this specific job in part because they mentioned some travel, and the plan ended up being “sometimes, up to a couple days per quarter” but haven’t actually travelled at all in 3 years lol

        1. Generic+Name*

          Good question. The roles I was looking at said “25% travel”, and my colleague said to expect travel about half the time.

      2. Weekender*

        This is great advice.
        I started at a start-up this year — remote and have to fly to go to the office. In the job description it was loosely advertised as once per quarter we would meet at the office. I think I traveled 6 times — there was a 7th I couldn’t do. Which it ended up being fine, but you never know when certain projects may get kicked off/delayed that require travel.
        My company is VERY family-focused and stress that family obligations take priority over traveling to the office. I know for next year they have asked us to cut down on trips to save money, but I am still guessing it will be 5 trips next year.

        I have an older child so it was easier to get coverage. I acquired some pets over the lock-down so now I require a pet sitter.

      3. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Conversely some jobs exaggerate the requirements up front to get rid of less serious candidates so OP may find they never get to travel!

    7. Sara without an H*

      The travel wouldn’t bother me, but I’d be cautious with a start-up. See if you can find out more about the requirements of travel, how tickets and hotel bills are paid, etc. Is there an admin who makes travel arrangements or do they get you a company credit card?

      If they expect you to front travel expenses on your own credit card and submit receipts for reimbursement, be cautious. You do NOT want to be left holding bills for a lot of unreimbursed travel expenses if the company suddenly folds.

      1. Ama*

        This is VERY good advice. One time a quarter isn’t bad as long as there is infrastructure to support it but if they don’t seem to have thought through the process very well I’d be concerned.

    8. Zephy*

      I would want to know their travel budget – what kind of transport and accommodation options do I have, do I need to front the money for a plane ticket/hotel room/etc and get reimbursed, if the travel is within driving distance am I expected to use my own vehicle and/or pay for the gas. I would not personally take a job involving any amount of travel if I was expected to shoulder any part of that cost – if it’s so mission-critical that I physically be somewhere else to do your business, you can pay for me to get there, stay there, and eat while I’m there. Company card 100%, I’m not fronting costs and getting reimbursed. I’ll drive if it’s reasonable, but it’ll be a company vehicle with gas bought on the aforementioned company card.

    9. Qwerty*

      I’m at an early-startup and travel one week a quarter.

      From a general perspective, the amount of do-able travel depends on your obligations. My main issue with work travel is that I have a cat, and my cat sitter is moving away, so getting coverage for quarterly trips + vacations will be tough going forward.

      Questions to ask are how does this travel affect the rest of your work (ex: are you playing catch up when you get back), what kind of hours/expectations are there during the trips, does travel time count as work time or do you lose your weekend as well, etc. The food budget usually has a big impact on a trip – I want to know whether I’ll be able to enjoy a decent dinner with a glass of wine? Some place I’ve been at had really low per-diems or wouldn’t cover alcohol.

      1. Sloanicota*

        True, if the travel was significant, I would definitely negotiate for the top of the salary range because I have always found little expenses add up (I seem to get parking tickets more when I’m unfamiliar with an area, I forget to get receipts for tolls and parking, more wear and tear on my personal possessions) and I can’t be reimbursed for the extra costs at home I would incur, like a house or pet sitter.

    10. Sloanicota*

      Honestly between conferences and regional meetings I probably travel four times a year (overnight for one or two nights) for work as a matter of course, and it was never mentioned in an interview or anything, just considered normal. So on it’s own, this wouldn’t affect my decision either way.

    11. AcademiaNut*

      Travel by itself, no problem. The start up part I’d balk at.

      One thing to ask about the travel is whether it is on short notice or not – having to fly out on half a day’s notice is quite different than pre-planned trips. Also, are they asking for extremely long days (get up at 3am to get to the airport, fly somewhere, work 14 hour days, fly back getting home after midnight, and having to be at work the next day).

  6. Melanie Cavill*

    Today, on ASD At The Office things – had to walk away from my desk because the gentleman adjacent to me was having one of his many loud, bitter, and complain-ful personal conversations and my earbuds failed to drown it out. I risked losing it on him or bursting into tears or both (fortunately, I did none of the above). Am planning on speaking with my supervisor as soon as they get in but… man, this did not feel good.

    1. Kiwiii*

      That sounds so frustrating. I wonder if suggesting a quite work area be more enforced would be an option.

      1. Melanie Cavill*

        Maybe! The plan is to eventually move me into my supervisor’s office when we do some new year’s shuffling, so I just have to keep my mellow for a bit longer.

    2. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Solidarity, my friend. I have a coworker who, despite being a lovely person who I typically enjoy working with, has a terrible habit of not being able to properly control his volume on phone conversations. He’s not even an angry shouter, more just a boomer who seems to think he needs to shout to be understood by a non native English speaker. It’s an enormous anxiety trigger for me, and I had to get up from my desk and walk away yesterday because of it. He’s off today, thank goodness.

    3. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      I recommend you do not talk to your supervisor about this. This is a matter that you want to talk to your coworker about and not something that your supervisor thinks they needs manage between their subordinates. If they are talking so loud that it is distracting mention it to them, but I recommend using more neutral terms than you did here.

      1. Melanie Cavill*

        This coworker routinely gets into shouting matches with other employees and spends half his day in personal calls complaining about every aspect of this company and anyone who isn’t in his specific age bracket. If he hasn’t learned to manage his communication now, I don’t imagine my comments will make him want to; hearing him yell on the phone to his wife about how accounting-oriented emails I just sent him are making him angry isn’t something I can bring up in a way that doesn’t look extremely petty.

        1. Fran*

          Ya the manager really needs to be talking to him about appropriate voice and topics (if they haven’t already)

      2. Observer**

        What I would normally say the OP needs to do is to ask to be moved to a different spot, but it sounds like that’s already on schedule.

        OP can you ask your boss to do some WFH till the move happens?

    4. Marvel*

      Ohhh I struggle with that too. One of the people I currently supervise on a project is a chronic complainer about anything and everything, and every single time it feels like they’re dropping bricks on my head, emotionally speaking. Even when I’m just listening to it!

  7. L-squared*

    This is a question for the managers out there.

    How have you felt when you offered what you thought was a fair raise and your employees countered for more?

    I’m having my annual review next week. I know my company, and they are fairly cheap. I believe I’ll get a decent, but not great raise. Essentially, I know what I want my raise to be, and I have no faith it will actually be that number. So when my boss gives me the raise, I’ll be countering to ask for more.

    Is this something you typically go in expecting? Does it bother you?

    I have a great relationship with my boss, but being a fairly small company, I know its not fully in her control how much I’m getting. So I’d just like to know what might be going through her head when I do this.

    1. Rowan*

      As a manager, it’s hard to get a raise adjusted after the point where it’s been communicated to someone. By the time you get there, it’s likely been through multiple layers of discussion and approval up the management chain. All the budget has been allocated, so changing one person’s number would be very difficult.
      So I’d say don’t put off the discussion – have a call with your manager now to talk about your desired number, while there might still be time for them to advocate for it.

      1. Somehow_I_Manage*

        Yep. By the time an on-cycle raise gets announced, it’s already been considered as part of the group’s budget, and run all the way up the chain and back. If you wait until you receive it, prepare to wait another six months.

        Every company is different, but generally speaking, a manager/department head is allocated an across the board increase (e.g., 4%) that they can then allocate to their team as they see fit depending on performance and other factors. Raises associated with promotions are normally considered separately.

        The ideal time to discuss salary is about 2-3 months before reviews. Tell your manager exactly what your salary expectations are and why. We track the market and have a good idea of competitor salaries- so if you think that there’s a discrepancy, which does happen occasionally, bring some backup evidence that we can use to advocate for you.

        The other benefit to this is if there’s some experience or responsibility you’re missing that’s holding you back from a promotion, we have time to work with you to rectify that on the fast track before your performance review.

      2. Sloanicota*

        This was exactly my thought. You need to spit out the number you want (or that plus 5K, so they can talk you down) now, to get it on the board, as otherwise your manager is probably thinking “standard 3% inflation” or whatever.

    2. TimeTravlR*

      Just be sure to have your justification ready. They offer X and you counter with Y based on A, B, and C. That is, be prepared to tell them why you deserve more. Sell it!

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      When my employees get an annual raise after their review, I have very little control over the amount. I can get enough wiggle room within the HR regulations and boundaries to move things up or down a few fractions of a percentage, maybe, but that’s about it. I would LOVE to be able to offer my employees larger raises, but even a large university like the one where I work is still a nonprofit, and they just don’t get that big here.

      If someone counters with a higher number, it just isn’t possible: we simply don’t do annual increases that way. I have no power to make it happen, neither does my upper management, and neither does HR, within our regulations. So for them to get a higher salary, there needs to be either a market adjustment (if their salary is below market range) or a promotion. We try to do market reviews every couple years or so. If they are at market range and want a higher salary, promotion is the only option, and if there are limited options for promotion available, well, that’s when we end up losing an employee sometimes. But because our salaries ARE in line with the market to start with (our kind of role is one that ONLY exists in the nonprofit world, so it’s not like they could get a better salary with a for-profit), and because our benefits are great and it’s just a generally good place to work, it’s not as big a problem as it could be.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I do not care for this system, personally! It suggests that a brand new secretary has the same value as a secretary who has been there for three years and has gained all these amazing new skills as well as specialized knowledge. I suppose it would be okay if there were lots of stepwise promotions (“senior secretary” “secretary grade 2”) but I have not encountered that.

    4. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      are you prepared to go get another job? Because I would get some resumes out there. You shouldn’t have to accept a mediocre raise when you could get a much better one elsewhere.

      1. L-squared*

        Yes. Like part of my justification for a raise is that I am getting approached weekly for other jobs looking for my qualifications, and the bottom of the range they are giving me is more than what I’m guessing this raise will be. This will be part of my justification for a higher one. But overall, yes, I’ll willing to leave in the near future.

        1. Sloanicota*

          This is a delicate point to make, IME. You want to press for the raise you want, advocate for the ways you have grown your skills to contribute to the company such that it makes you this valuable, and suggest that you can get it elsewhere, but not make the whole ask based around that last point only – or at least, that’s what I try to do.

    5. Educator*

      I definitely expect it. It actually makes me a little uncomfortable when I offer someone a salary or a raise and they are just like “oh, ok.” I’m a manager, not a dictator–please negotiate with me! It helps me advocate for you.

      I have limits from above me on how much I can offer. So if you make a really good case for why your work is worth more, that makes it a lot easier for me to make the case for why your work is worth more to all the other people who need to approve a higher raise. Written bullet points that we can talk through are particularly helpful, because I can take them with me to my own boss and make similar points.

      The crucial thing is to provide evidence that you are working on a higher level, which merits higher pay. Unfortunately, I can’t do much if you talk about the cost of living–those increases are set–or how you are just doing your job well. I need accomplishments I can point to and say “This person is working beyond what we expect for their role, and we need to compensate them for it”

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I find this very surprising! Salary offer, sure. But a raise? I would never in a million years think I could counter on a raise that’s already been set. (As other commenters have noted, it may be possible during the process or in an initial request, but not after it’s been decided and presented.)

        1. Educator*

          I’ve been at a few organizations now, mostly nonprofits, where there is a little more push-pull around raises because roles change a lot over the course of a year! So this is probably situation-dependent. But, especially because of how my sector has had to evolve so much recently, most of my employees have had changing responsibilities very different from what they were initially hired to do. I think that is becoming more common these days, and it should definitely make raises negotiable!

      2. Missing person*

        At least you didn’t have me as an employee. During the thick of Covid, I took on 6 different job roles and basically broke my back for the company. We were staffed at 1/3 of the appropriate level and I did everything I could to keep the place afloat. I was ranked the highest possible, as in only 20 people out of the 500 working there were ranked at that level.

        I received a .7% raise that year.

        I laughed in my manager’s face and I refused to feel ashamed about it.

    6. Prospect Gone Bad*

      It depends on how well your company pays. My company pays well so I would be a bit annoyed. If someone was underpaid I wouldn’t care or would even be happy and use is as fodder to raise it up the ladder (if the employee did research about market rates). So it depends

      1. L-squared*

        The problem is, my CEO thinks we pay well, when in reality, its below market. Not like significantly, but definitely below. And he has to approve all raises.

        1. Observer**

          Then you need to talk to your boss ahead of time to see what’s possible. And if what you want is not possible, don’t say anything, but start looking.

    7. OrdinaryJoe*

      You can ask but, as your manager at my company, I have very little control. It’s all above my paygrade and set for by a complicated X/Y grid, where your base salary falls compared to everyone else, how close you are to the ‘top’ of your pay grade, etc. I *might* be able to get a small ($1,000 – $5,000) bonus for a great worker or extraordinary circumstances but even that will take a lot.

      At my company, you’re better off having that conversation when you know reviews are being written because that’s when the numbers are crunched. Once it’s set, it’s … all but set.

  8. time for cocoa*

    Anyone ever do a Gallup phone interview? Any tips? I’ve found a lot of coaching videos on YT but it’s very “bro hustle culture” and I’d like to hear from regular people.

  9. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Thanks everyone who explained FMLA to me. I realized that I probably couldn’t take two days off ( the treatment involved no driving for 24 hours and like no. That would not work) a week. So I’m taking care of my mental health by finding a new therapist instead. ( Hopefully virtual). It won’t help with the energy problem or that I do not become motivated after doing things problem but it’s enough for now.

    1. Weekender*

      I missed your original post, but there is such a thing as intermittent FMLA for something that comes up intermittently throughout the year (for the same situation/diagnosis). Once you got to the equivalent of 12 weeks, you would be out of FMLA for the year.
      I hope you can find balance and feel better :)

        1. MenolyYoga*

          I’ve taken intermittent FMLA twice in the last 8 years (within the same large aerospace company).

          The first was 4 years ago when my mom had a stroke in another state and I went to take care of her. I was luckily able to work part time from her condo. When the FMLA was running out, my brother helped me bring my mom back to live with me and I hired caretakers for 12 hrs/day; 5 days/wk, so I was able to work during the day and take care of her for the rest. That lasted about 8 months until she decided that she didn’t want to be any more of a burden on me and she essentially gave up on life and let herself pass away.

          The second was 4 months ago when I realized I was too stressed to work full time. I had considered taking 6 weeks Leave-without-pay, but then realized that I’d need to pay my own insurance thru Cobra (which costs a fortune). I had my PCP fill out the FMLA paperwork and ended up working 2 or 3 days/wk until I decided that returning to work wasn’t going to fix anything and – guess what? – after spending several hours reviewing my finances I calculated that I had enough to retire! At 62! So Dec 1 was my last day at work! It’s a happy/sad situation because the cash from selling my mom’s condo was what pushed me to have enough to retire. But I felt the stress sliding off my body that I have been carrying for more years than I want to admit!

          As I was writing this I realized that 6 years ago I was also working less than full time as I was in Chemotherapy treatment for Colon Cancer. My (large government contracting) company required approved charge numbers for you to get paid. But, they had a special number for “intermittent medical treatment”. So, two days every two weeks I stayed home for my treatment. And I had some hours that I was able to use near the end of the 6 months of treatment that I could use just for recuperation, as chemotherapy takes A LOT out of you after successive treatments.

          Best of wishes on your journey.

  10. The Post It Always Sticks Twice*

    My grand-boss started 6 weeks ago and she thinks my team’s newish director is “killing it”. But she doesn’t know he has taken over my, and the rest of the team’s roles. He has cut us out of meetings and communication and doesn’t let us do anything without checking with him. I was chatting with my teammates and we’re having the same experience. With someone on my team, he told them they were hostile and they would discuss it during their next 1:1, but he never said anything more about it. With me and my other teammate, one of the higher ups wanted to meet with us weekly again, and he flipped out. When he created the meeting, he made sure to tell us that he would be running the meetings and it would be optional to attend.

    We’re struggling to see what we can do without shooting ourselves in the foot.

    1. Not So Super-visor*

      yeah, that’s definitely not “killing it.” Unfortunately, it also sounds like there may be communication issues going on as well that would prevent you for being able to raise the issue higher up.

    2. Ama*

      Oof, do you trust one of those higher ups that wanted to meet with you enough to maybe have a discreet conversation with them where you explain what’s going on? They might be willing to be your advocate to the new grandboss.

      I would not be at all surprised if the request to meet with you again is because they *don’t* think your new director is doing that great a job, so they might be willing to help. But go with your gut on whether that is too risky.

      I will say one of my coworkers once had to go straight to our CEO with concerns because her newish boss was doing a lot of similar things to her, and it did end up working out (newish boss was eventually fired), but we’re a small office and our CEO wasn’t new — she knew my coworker well enough to know she wouldn’t come to her with baseless complaints.

      1. The Post It Always Sticks Twice*

        Maybe? But I feel nervous approaching her, I don’t want it to feel I’m I’m/us are putting this on her or bringing her into this mess. Our CEO is a complete moron, she loves our boss, because she doesn’t understand what we do.

    3. Prospect Gone Bad*

      There could be a conversation with grand boss here or even an AAM post. One of the pitfalls of management is doing stuff at your level, what does “at your level” even mean in your company. I’m a Director and have definitely pushed back on the other two Directors at my level in a friendly way when they started diving too hard into every day tasks. I’m fine with going hard into a project here and there to understand how everything works but they shouldn’t be involved in every small piece of mall piece of minutia. Sometimes they need help to see what they are doing and to step back. After all we get paid a certain amount to fix larger things and direct, not get paid $120K to do work $60K employees should do.

    4. Workerbee*

      You’re going to have to meet with your grandboss and any other higher ups without your director there. Don’t ask his permission, don’t tell him about it.

      Last year, I had a director like that. He had to be in Every Meeting that involved any of us and senior leadership. Turned out it was because he not only wanted to control the meeting entirely, but he’d been misrepresenting us and our work to senior leadership in their own meetings, and vice versa. Morale tanked. Fortunately, senior leadership finally noticed that projects weren’t getting done (he also did all he could to stall or detonate projects) and started looking into his actual work, but it still took a couple years. Get your deadweight gone sooner!

      1. The Post It Always Sticks Twice*

        The only solution I can think of is this:
        – Have our team put together a written list of everything he’s done
        – Talk to the higher up we meet with to see what she thinks
        – Talk to our grand-boss about it and show her the written list
        – ??? No idea what will happen after that

        Ahh, this is so stressful!

  11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    One of my team members put in his notice a couple weeks ago, and I submitted it for the end of the pay week (tomorrow) and listed his last workday as today … and they deactivated his username/password for all access effective 9am this morning instead of midnight tonight. THANKS GUYS. (His loose ends were all tied up, so rather than hassle with getting them to reactivate him for one more day, he asked if he could just call the rest of the day PTO and pack it in, and I told him if that was ok with him it was fine with me.)

    1. Kiwiii*

      A similar thing happened to me in a temp role several years ago, they deactivated my access at the beginning of the week that was supposed to be my last for some reason??? So frustrating for everyone involved

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        He joked that IT was kicking him in the butt one more time on his way out the door :P He wrote me a really nice email though — when people say that managers appreciate those heartfelt notes, they’re not kidding, that made my day. :)

    2. Dances With Code*

      I had a situation at a previous job where my key access and IT access was cut off instantly when I submitted my exit survey at 3:45PM. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without needing to be let back in by another employee, technically a security violation, because the restroom access was in the elevator lobby, outside the key controlled area. And then my supervisor acted like I’d pulled a fast one on purpose to get to leave early on my last day. I said, sure, give me something I can do without computer access and I’ll do it. (Friends, I was and am a software developer.) He realized that wasn’t going to work and let me go after an unwanted hug (he had never hugged me before).

    3. SomebodyElse*

      My IT department is notorious for this. They will often overlook the date and time field in the termination request. I generally tell those who are leaving to have everything closed up the day before their last day. Then on their last day they should plan for a 1/2 day (usually long enough for me to take them to lunch) or whenever IT shuts off their access… could be 8 am could be midnight :)

      My favorite day was when I got in to work on an employee’s last day and my access was shut off. It seems the IT person got a little confused between the terminated employee name and manager’s name on the form. We then got to have a little chat about how I was snottily instructed to submit a ticket… to a system that I didn’t have access to anymore.

      1. Observer**

        We then got to have a little chat about how I was snottily instructed to submit a ticket… to a system that I didn’t have access to anymore.

        That is CLASSIC.

        I still have to remind people that although standard reporting for most IT issues is email, THAT DOES NOT APPLY TO YOUR EMAIL NOT WORKING! You would think that it’s obvious. And to be fair, some people are coming from environments like yours where someone that try to insist that someone use a system that they can’t access to report the problem with access. The rest of the staff always gets a good laugh.

      2. Sloanicota*

        My manager once requested I be upgraded on a new system the day another employee left. Something got crossed and they deactivated my account instead. Manager and I had a good chuckle and she called them … and they told her it was irreversible! They had to create a brand new account for me and somehow I lost all my email history, was assigned a new phone number, and even had to go around with HR about vested contributions and seniority benefits, which had all been wiped away! I was not chuckling for long!

        1. Observer**

          That’s inexcusable. And I frankly don’t believe that it was necessary to do it this way. As for HR? They were certainly being lazy, although they may also have been hampered by bad systems. But you NEVER EVER just wipe away the money in people’s accounts and their vesting. That’s HR 101 and a legal issue to boot.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Oh yes they did restore that stuff once they realized it had happened, I think manually. The rest of it was gone.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I hate seeing that we were not an isolated incident when that happened in our department! For us the departing employee had NOT finished rolling everything out and backing it all up so corporate IT caused a lot of extra work for local IT.

  12. Bippity Boppity Bummer*

    Good people of AAM, please advise! I’m up for a remote position that had a fairly intense interview process (SIX interviews!). I’m really interested in the position and realllllly desperate to leave my current job, but something popped up late in the process that hadn’t been flagged to me. While the role is remote and people are located all over the country, the company does hold meetings at their headquarters for all employees either quarterly or twice a year, in addition to an annual offsite. Due to some health concerns I likely won’t be able to travel for these as they’re quite far– how prohibitive is this in accepting the position? It’s the only travel associated with the position, and I’m not sure how to communicate my concerns to the hiring team if I am to be offered the position, especially since I got pretty far in the process before hearing about it.

    Separately, I’m still pumping– any ideas on the right time to note that and the need for breaks and/or camera off and mic muted during meetings?

    1. Janey-jane*

      RE: Pumping and new position. I told them after I accepted that I’d need to build in pumping times. My boss said just block your calendar and that was it.

      I’m remote 2 days a week, so not exactly the same, but it was fairly straight forwards. I certainly did have times where I was in meetings remotely (with a board I’m part of, not clients), but those were rare, and it wasn’t unusual to just turn off my camera. I’d just type, “I’m still here” so they knew, and then I didn’t find my headset picked up pump noise, so I’d chime in as needed.

    2. 28dogs*

      The travel thing probably depends on how involved you’d be–if you’re just attending like anybody else, my guess is you could raise it as a reasonable accommodation. There’s no way you’d be the only one at a large company who’d be unable to attend. If this is the case, I wouldn’t raise it except with HR after you have the role.

      If you’re more involved (someone in your job would be expected to present or host a small group or just be more visible), then it gets trickier and I’d talk to the hiring manager about it ahead of accepting the job.

      For pumping, definitely not until after you get the job – just make a note of it to your manager and have a script ready to go if anyone asks. “Oh, I have a baby and need to pump – thanks for understanding!”

      1. Interplanet Janet*

        Yep, I’m a supervisor who has hired employees who pump. I’m GLAD when they don’t tell me during the interview process because although we’re very family friendly, I never want to know anything that could introduce even the perception of discrimination in the hiring process.

        After they’re hired and setting up a schedule, it’s very easy to just make a note that they have a standing break (or breaks) that are firmly scheduled each day.

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

      I wouldn’t recommend bringing either of those up before you are offered the job. If you can’t travel due to health reasons, you might be able to get a disability accommodation (IDK if your health concerns would qualify). You would start that process after you are hired.

      I think the same for pumping. That is a conversation for after you are hired and a reasonable company wouldn’t deny breaks and privacy for pumping. Is there a reason you think they won’t be reasonable in accommodating either request?

      For the travel, if it’s a deal breaker, you could negotiate that at hire like you would compensation or PTO. Maybe something like, “I’m excited about accepting this position, but due to medical concerns I would like to negotiate a permanent waiver on the quarterly/annual travel requirement; I’d certainly still participate virtually if possible.”

    4. Mockingjay*

      We have large quarterly meetings. About half of the teams attend in person; the rest participate via Teams or dial-in. Most companies have video conferencing these days. I’d just have a simple convo about attendance: “Traveling is a bit difficult for me; will there be conferences for most of these meetings?” The annual offsite might be a stickler, but you don’t know until you ask.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        In that convo, feel out how missing these sessions or being virtual at them might affect your visibility & success in the role. It’s not a direct question, more of putting your radar up, seeing what they say about how many attend or if they talk about the importance of it. If they’re like “sure lots of folks dial in it’s no big deal”, that’s a better answer for you than “well….almost everyone comes and it’s such a great bonding experience”.

    5. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I started a new job in July. I’m in the Midwest and everyone else lives on the East cost. They’ve had some in person days but there wasn’t an expectation that I go, since it is more than just driving a few hours and maybe one overnight stay. I will be traveling for the division yearly conference in January (you must have a negative PCR test to go) but even that was “If you can, great! But don’t worry if it doesn’t work” So I’d just ask about health precautions or if attending in person would be mandatory since you live farther away.

      As for pumping, I guess it depends if you have a position where coverage is needed. I work from home but I take breaks when I want to. If I was pumping I’d just block my calendar at those times. If there was an on camera meeting I had to attend, I’d just pump before or after. But I wouldn’t ask about it now. Maybe a more general how meetings are structured type questions.

    6. Kay*

      I know this isn’t the question you asked – but I couldn’t help think as I read this – SIX interviews, then they forget to talk about travel!! – flags a waving!!

      The other advice here is good on how to handle it, but I would suggest being extra careful to watch out for any signs you might be jumping from one situation to another. I hope it is nothing and all works out for you!

  13. southwest*

    I’ve had a shower thought on professional mentoring: I’m in academia, and I’ve had a lot of professional mentors in various capacities. They’re great for practical advice, like how to write grants, how to position myself for faculty positions, how to interview, etc. But I was reflecting a bit last night and I kinda wish I had a professional mentor that was kind of a coach/cheerleader? Like I just hit two professional milestones in my new position, despite still being really new to everything and having a lot of work going forward, and I feel my mentors are all about how to help me do the next thing, and there’s no pause to be like “hey, you’re doing really well for 3 months in. You should feel good about this!” Instead it’s all about “here are the other 120 things you could be doing to get tenure in 6 years.”

    anyone sympathize/have thoughts?

    1. Justin*

      Academia is like that, it’s why I didn’t pursue the field after my doctorate.

      I have to find community in academic spaces with other young/early scholars who are slightly ahead of me (or, I did, when I was in school). And then I try to pay it forward with people a year or two behind me.

      1. southwest*

        yeah, to some extent I’ve started doing that. Even many of my peers around the same stage as me are in this hamster wheel mode, though. But I’ve found a like-minded buddy at the same career stage who alas is an ocean away. We video chat every few months and cheer each other on. And I have a mentee who is early in grad school that I try to cheer on. I think I just wish we got more of this from above.

    2. Hexagon*

      Congrats on your milestones!
      And yes, as someone with a decent CV who is terrified it won’t be enough when I go up for tenure soon, I absolutely sympathize.

      The “never enough” mentality isn’t limited to a academia, but it certainly has a strong hold on that work environment.

      1. southwest*

        yeah “never enough” mentality is a good way to put it! I think it’s absurd, I’ve always felt “never enough” to some degree throughout my whole career which up to this point has been objectively highly successful by a number of typical measures. I want to normalize feeling good enough!

    3. lunchtime caller*

      Do you perhaps just want an industry friend and not a mentor for that? Someone who “gets it” more than out of industry friend/family but not really someone who does the rest of the mentoring stuff.

      1. southwest*

        yeah, a friend who gets it would help. and does help! I have a friend at my stage and I’d say we both lean on each other for this. But in some ways I think it would be SO helpful/validating to have someone senior and experienced to also be encouraging, haha.

        1. Gracely*

          It might be helpful to remember that even senior faculty can have imposter syndrome. My spouse has made it to full professor, and even he worries that he’s not done/doing enough (and he does so much more than most of his colleagues). He’s pretty good about remembering to encourage/celebrate his mentees, but I know that’s not the norm. To be fair, mentoring takes a LOT of work even if it seems like it doesn’t.

          Encouragement is great, but most people are doing good just to be treading water, and they can forget how much the people below them would love to know that they’re doing good. The best way to improve this is to remember it when you become senior to someone, and be the example you wanted. Trying to make someone senior do it for you is probably not going to work (and may well backfire), so definitely look to peer groups and other people in your field/also in academia who understand what those achievements mean to get validation from them. A lot of the validation you get in academia is going to come from you celebrating yourself, honestly.

    4. Sara without an H*

      Justin’s right. For sanity and moral support, as well as encouragement of this kind, you really need a peer group. Senior faculty tend to be fixated on achieving The Next Thing — it’s how they’ve survived in their own careers.

      Can you recruit a couple of writing/research buddies at about your own level of experience?

      1. southwest*

        not just senior faculty! Many of my fellow jr faculty seem fixated on this as well. It’s been tough to identify those that might be like-minded, I think in part because we don’t want to stand out as being less hardcore than our peers. I’ve got one friend at a similar stage that is good for this, but very far away. I hope to identify some peers at my institution for this in the next year. :)

  14. Todaloo*

    This week I accepted a job offer in another state. We’re super excited and already packing. However, I’m not sure how to handle my resignation (and am kind of dreading it honestly).

    My spouse and I work for the same company, and because of weirdness with our company structure we report largely to our grand boss. I’ve wanted to leave the company, while he has not. When I resign, I’m not sure if I should frame it as “I’m leaving because this just isn’t a good fit” or “I’m leaving because we’re moving”. Ideally my spouse would be able to stay on remotely (the different state shouldn’t be an issue, we both work remotely, and they’ve been trying to fill a third position like ours for literally 6 months with no luck), and I want to make sure we frame things in a way to facilitate that. But I also want to make it clear I am leaving.

    I’m also worried that my leaving might have a bit of blowback on my spouse. I’ve only been at this job for about 6 months (spouse has been here for several years), but on my end it really has been a poor fit. I would be leaving even if I didn’t get a job in another state because there are issues with this job that just aren’t going to change.

    Do you have any suggestions?

    1. I edit everything*

      “I’ve gotten a new job, which I’ll be starting on X date. Can we make Y date my last day here?”

    2. Hlao-roo*

      Second Kiwiii to put more focus on the new job. “I accepted a new job at [company] in the [department]” or “I accepted a new job as an accountant. I’ve learned a lot at [current company] but llama grooming isn’t for me and I’m excited to grow my career in a different direction.” Whatever framing works best for your situation, but keep the focus on you/the new job more than your spouse/your current job.

      Your spouse should have a separate conversation with their manager along the lines of “Todaloo and I are moving to [state]. Will I be able to keep working remotely in my current role?”

      1. Todaloo*

        We plan for spouse to have a separate conversation, just trying to minimize the likelihood of a panicked freak out phone call from grandboss.

      2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        Yes to the second part. Do not assume that working remotely means they would be fine with moving to another state. If it’s a state they already have a nexus in, it’s likely not an issue. But if they don’t, there’s significant tax issue that come into play.

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

      Since you’ve only been there 6 months and it’s been a poor fit, I don’t think you really need to give much of a reason — they may already know it’s been a poor fit. I agree with I edit everything, “I’ve accepted a new job opportunity, beginning on X date. My last day will be Y date and I’m happy to wrap up XYZ or help hand off the project before I leave.”

    4. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      All you HAVE to say is “This is to let you know that I am resigning. My last day will be [Jan. 3].” It’s nice to add something like “Thank you for the opportunity to work with a great team” but it’s not required, and you don’t have to answer any questions.

    5. SaltedChocolateChip*

      Others have posted elsewhere and I think possibly Allison has as well, but keep in mind that unless your company already has employees in your new state, your husband may not be able to continue working at your current company due to tax laws and nexus rules. They could look into it if they’re desperate to keep him on, but the cost and barrier to entry can be very high for employers and they might decide doing it for one employee isn’t worth it.

    6. Camellia*

      Pleeeeeeze double-check this statement: “Ideally my spouse would be able to stay on remotely (the different state shouldn’t be an issue, we both work remotely, and they’ve been trying to fill a third position like ours for literally 6 months with no luck)”!

      Just because you work remotely doesn’t mean that you can move to any state and continue to work for your company. There are many tax and licensing issues, to name a few. Alison has even posted on this lately.

      1. Todaloo*

        Yes, I realize this. Our company, and even our team specifically, operate across multiple states including the one we are moving to.

    7. Kay*

      Being as you want to keep the relationship as strong as possible I would opt for the age old “An amazing opportunity fell into my lap that I just couldn’t pass up. I really appreciate you giving me this opportunity/I’ve learned a lot/enjoyed working with you/insert whatever marginally true statement you can make”. If this is tough you can think of it as – you do appreciate them paying you so you have money in the bank/you learned this isn’t the position you to/your coworkers are nice/you are thankful your spouse is still employed, etc.

      Good luck!

  15. Holiday penguin*

    Hi all! Does anyone have suggested language to close the loop when you’ve turned down a job offer via email and nobody acknowledged that? I’d be still be interested in working for this organization in the future, so I don’t want to come across as thoughtless, even though I know it’s very unlikely that my email wasn’t received.

    I’m 99% sure Alison has covered this in one of her Inc articles, but I can’t seem to find it anywhere!

    1. Kiwiii*

      Honestly, I would consider that loop closed already, since you sent the email, and leave it at that. If they continue conversations as though you haven’t dropped out, then restate.

    2. I need a new name...*

      Can you clarify how that offer rejection went in your email? It may have been enough to be its own closure. The versions I can think of would all work as a final communication so I’m curious to know why you think it needs a follow-up.

      1. Holiday penguin*

        Hi Hiring Manager,

        Thanks for reaching out, and I’m delighted that I was chosen for this position! However, I’ve actually accepted another opportunity, but I wish you the best of luck in filling this role and I hope that our paths cross again in the future!

        Best,
        Holiday Penguin

        You’re right that it probably is enough closure; it’s just that I’ve turned down a lot of jobs and interview requests over the years, and have always gotten a response thanking me for letting them know (and I’m also pretty sure Alison’s advice in that Inc article was to follow up once more just in case). I’m probably more anxious about this than I need to be, though.

        1. Holiday penguin*

          And honestly, I got offered the job via email without an interview (this is a short-term job, but still), which probably says something about their hiring process.

        2. I need a new name...*

          That sounds very closed to me. It gives all the relevant info, you wish them well and establish that you’re ending this on good terms; leaving a door open for the future.

          I would think that’s plenty for most jobs, but particularly this one as it was offered by email with no interview.

    3. ecnaseener*

      Yeah I don’t think there’s any way to say “just making sure you saw that I’m turning you down, please confirm you understand that I turned you down!” without coming off weirdly. If you knew someone else who might be a good fit, you could refer them – that’s about all I can think of.

    4. Cordelia*

      I think the loop is closed, isn’t it? As you say, it’s unlikely that your email wasn’t received, but if that was the case they would contact you wondering why you hadn’t responded, and whether you were accepting the job. It’s rudeness/incompetence/oversight on their part not to have responded to you, they should be closing the loop, but you’ve done your part. I don’t think there is any good way for you to say “just checking you got my email turning down the job? I’m still turning it down…”

  16. CowBusiness*

    I’ve realized I’m underpaid after some salary research. I’m new to this (niche) field and really in my career. Stupidly, I didn’t negotiate salary. I’ve been here for a year now, and received one very small raise (not anywhere near meeting inflation). The company does raises once a year during the summer (if at all). I didn’t have too many complaints about the pay when I started though it wasn’t great. With the cost of living increasing fast in my area, the role being more advanced than I realized, and looking at comparable roles at other companies, I’m feeling more sour about it. I’ve just had to move, and with the cost of rent and commuting, I can barely afford to work here and support my family. I’m looking for other jobs, but I don’t want to mess up my resume, and I don’t want to leave my field. Do I ask for a raise, knowing it’s outside of their normal schedule? For reference, I make about 33,000 a year, and similar roles around the country seem to pay 42-45. The difference is huge to me. I’m worried since I’ve only been here a year and did get a raise, it will come across as out of touch. However I have taken on a lot of new responsibilities and been very successful.

    1. Lynx*

      I actually asked for a raise in my annual review today because I realized I’m underpaid.

      Do you have a set annual review schedule? I waited to revisit mine until then despite knowing for half of the year that it was something that was coming, but if you’ve taken on a lot more new responsibilities since your last review, I think it could be worth a separate meeting for!

      Here’s how I approached mine: I got great feedback in my review but only a small cost-of-living increase (to be fair, my company is bracing for the potential recession, which my industry would be very affected by). So I said that I wanted to address compensation and that, to be transparent, I’ve been contacted a few times this year about jobs that are basically the exact same thing as what I do now/my title at companies in my city but all of them are looking to pay a base that’s nearly $30k more than what I’m making now.

      I told my boss that I don’t want to go anywhere, but that was eye-opening to me, and further research showed that’s about accurate for my job title in my city. I reiterated that I appreciate all the opportunities this job has given me, I really enjoy working for the company, and I’m looking forward to working on our 2023 goals (all are true!) but that I do also have to keep in mind my career & cost of living in our state.

      I also made sure to ask if there was a path to that salary level with the intent of making him feel less like it’s a “raise me to the new amount now or I’m gone” situation.

      He understood completely that that’s pretty far off the benchmark and said he has to talk to company leadership but would do so! So the conversation went really well even though I was nervous as hell to bring it up. I can’t ultimately say it’s going to work for me, but I feel so, so much better having done it, so I think you absolutely should ask!

      1. CowBusiness*

        My company does do annual reviews, also in the summer. Raises come right afterwards. My review this year coincided with the end of my six month probation period. Just after that, a coworker retired and I took on many of her duties. I may well get a raise at the next one, I’m just not really sure if I should wait until July or if it makes sense to bring it up sooner. I am unhappy in this job and trying to think of ways to make it more bearable until I have been here long enough to leave. The fact that my pay is effectively decreasing with inflation and is harder to live on every month isn’t helping! I really hope things go well with your raise. Good luck!

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          Raise it now, don’t wait until your annual review. At that point, raises will probably already be allocated, so your manager may not have any room to adjust your percentage if you think it’s too low and wanted a bigger increase.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      I think it makes sense: you aren’t asking for a raise based on merit (which WOULD be inappropriate after one year when you have already received a raise), but based on the fact that you’re being paid under market range. You didn’t do the salary research until after you got your raise and realized it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the rising cost of living. Show them the research. Have as much data as possible. And be prepared to hear “yeah, no way we can do anything like that” and having to start looking for a new position. Hopefully it won’t happen, but it’s better to brace yourself just in case.

    3. Can't think of a funny name*

      Start asking now, you might have to bring the conversation up multiple times. Bring examples of comparable roles. My company usually only does raises once a year as well but 1/2 way thru the year I brought up to my boss that I was being paid under market and was interviewing and willing to leave. I got a substantial raise and I know they proactively gave others raises at the same time…and I just got the “normal” annual raise too.

    4. Somehow_I_Manage*

      “Similar roles around the country” is probably too big a net when comparing salary because of the differences in cost of living. Try to research and prepare some data showing comparable salaries in your market.

      When you ask for a rate increase focus on the market rate for your position, and any additional responsibilities you’ve taken on. Do not bring up your rent, price of gas, family needs, etc. Those things aren’t relevant to your raise, and they’re influenced heavily by external factors that aren’t the company’s responsibility. They should pay you well because the market demands it, and that’s what it takes to retain you.

    5. kt*

      The language I’d use would be around an “off-cycle market adjustment to base salary”. You are not looking for a promotion or merit increase, you want to bring your salary in line with market. Yes, you should ask even if it’s not “on-cycle”. At my company it’s important to make cases for different kinds of raises at different times. Merit-based or career-ladder raises are in a yearly cycle, but we do market and equity adjustments when needed/noticed, not on a schedule.

  17. 28dogs*

    Job interview today!

    It’s the fourth job interview (-_-) for this position — a marketing role at a hospital.

    After 10 years in corporate-land, I’ve gotten used to these multiple rounds of interviews (HR screening interview, Hiring Manager interview, Big Boss interview, at minimum). My wife (an attorney) is always horrified. What field are you in, and how many rounds of interviews is ‘standard’ for your neck of the woods?

    1. Anna*

      Attorney at a federal agency, and we have three rounds of interviews, all within the department (no HR/recruitment interviews), the last with General Counsel.

      1. Mid-sized firm lawyer*

        Also a lawyer, though at a mid-sized private firm. I had just one interview (with the head honcho). I was referred by a senior associate who had recently left. If I had applied with no one vouching for me, I would not have been surprised to have another round.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      medical administration – in my department, positions with no direct reports usually do 2 interviews (hiring manager and director/grandboss), positions with direct reports do 3 (hiring director, panel of peer managers, exec director/grandboss).

    3. Fmr HigherEd Staffer*

      Higher Education staff here and I think things have gotten worse over the last couple of years. During my search earlier this year, one prestigious university had me go through 10 (TEN!) separate 1 hour interviews, ghosted me for 3 months, then came back and asked me to do another interview. (I declined.)

      Average for a director level staff positions seemed to be 6 interviews, starting with short HR screen and going up the ladder from there.

      I left the field for an industry job that had 3 interviews, and one of those was an extra that I requested.

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

        I’m also in Higher Ed as professional staff, and 10 is a lot unless it were a high ranking position, like Dean! For my department we would probably stay around 4-5 and each round would narrow down the pool until there are 3 finalists — HR screen, hiring manager screen, a panel interview within the department, a panel interview with other stakeholders we work with depending on the role. If it’s a high ranking position there is often even a town hall type presentation/Q&A open to the whole university.

    4. londonedit*

      Book publishing, UK, and two is standard. Phone screens are unusual; usually you apply with CV and cover letter and the first step is an in-person (or video, in Covid times) first interview. Usually that’s with the person who will be your direct manager and someone else in the department, maybe a peer or someone slightly higher than the role you’re going for. Then a second interview would be with the direct manager and someone higher up in the company, like the head of department (say, you’re going for an editor job on a cookery list, your first interview might be with the editorial director and one of the senior editors, and then the second interview might be with the editorial director you met before and the overall publisher for food and drink). And then they make a decision. Occasionally for a more senior role you might have a third interview, but in my experience two is the norm.

    5. MSpaint*

      Graphic designer here! 2 to 3 interviews and a creative test are the norm. Some people get hired right off the bat if they have a killer portfolio but a creative test is standard. The test is something related to the job you’re applying for (ex: designing an ad, website page, or packaging) and the good places will send the necessary assets (fonts, logos, other imagery) when they send the assignment.

    6. WantonSeedStitch*

      I’m in nonprofit fundraising in higher ed (a back-office role, rather than an actual asking-people-for-money one). We usually have only one *round* of interviews at my place of work, but that round consists of multiple interviews with multiple people or groups. For my last promotion, I had six half-hour interviews and one 15-minute wrapup in one day:

      * The grandboss for the position
      * An indirect report of the position
      * A direct peer on a closely related team and a potential direct report of the position
      * The head of a team that collaborates frequently with this one
      * A manager from a team that is an internal client of this one
      * The boss of the position
      * HR/wrapup

    7. Fridaying Fun*

      I’m in fairly senior marketing role at a small/midsize company. I had three interviews – HR phone screen, hiring manager, peer/team interview – and typically do the same for roles I am hiring for.

    8. Chidi has a stomach ache*

      When I was in academia, it was usually 1 panel (virtual or at our major guild conference), and an on-campus, 2 day long affair that included a job talk and/or teaching demo and/or interviews with dept chair, Dean, and Provost/VP. Sometimes also 1:1s with individual department members.

      For my current job, it was 1) phone interview with the principal, 2) virtual teaching demo/panel interview, 3) phone interview with school president.

      I’ve been looking since spring, and I’ve seen a wide range. The last job I was a finalist for in higher ed had 2 interviews and then a presentation/panel interview, then hiring manager interview x2 (I was a candidate for 2 particular positions).

      Currently a finalist for a nonprofit position that has 4 total: HR Screener, hiring manager, panel, and team interview (coming up next week). It’s been one of the more reasonable processes I’ve encountered. One place I applied to (nonprofit consulting) outlined 6 phases and a lot of takehome work (kinda glad that one didn’t progress, to be honest).

    9. cardigarden*

      Higher ed library: 1) phone screen = 30 minute call, and then for the finalists after the phone screen 2) long form interview = half-day to full-day depending on position with sessions with the hiring committee, hiring manager, potential future team, and library director. Certain roles (the ones that require a full day) also have a presentation and an open Q&A with any library staff who wants to show up. Then it’s just reference checks before an offer is made.

      1. TK*

        I’m also in an academic library and it’s basically exactly the same here. The in-person interview is just a half day for hourly positions, but anything salaried is a full day with a presentation/Q&A, and includes lunch at a local restaurant with a group of staff. Sometimes (always for faculty-level positions, and sometimes for staff, depending on various things) dinner with a different group of staff, at a different local restaurant, is included as well.

    10. Cedrus Libani*

      I’m a scientist working in the biotech industry.

      Interviews are almost always one-day events, but they require a solid half-day at minimum. There’s an hour-long presentation for the whole team (it’s our version of a portfolio), often scheduled next to a lunch with said team. There are 3-5 technical interviews; typically it’s the hiring manager, the hiring manager’s boss, another scientist at the hiring manager’s level, and then 1-2 peer-levels. There’s probably a session with HR also.

      There may or may not be a quick phone screen beforehand, to catch obvious misalignments where this process isn’t worth the time of all concerned.

    11. SnowyDay*

      Healthcare-everyone (clinical and admin) has two interviews, plus a brief take home exercise for fields where that makes sense, like data analytics, project management, accounting. More for our CEO position.

      1. Oscar+Martinez*

        Tech/developer often 3-6 rounds
        HR initial screen
        Hiring Manager Screen
        Tech Assessment (live screen-sharing programming/coding)
        Frequently Round(s) with adjacent departments (1-3)
        Frequently Director or VP Screen
        HR Culture Fit

    12. Chauncy Gardener*

      4 to 6. Fully remote software company. But one of those is a peer and one is with a person who does nothing but talk about all the benefits, org chart, culture, etc.

    13. Occasional Interviewer*

      Wow, that is A LOT of interviews. I’m a senior architect and two seems pretty typical for senior roles….usually just one for junior/mid positions.

  18. Tired of backfill*

    For those of you who happen to work in an unionized environment with generous leave plans, how long does HR let a long term leave (sick leave) go before advising the employee that their job will be released and will be posted as a vacancy rather than continuing to backfill it?

    The employee will still have a job at the company should they return, but not the job they used to do.

    At my place, it take take up to three years, which I feel is too long, with no disrespect to the employee on sick leave who may genuinely feel or had hoped they might be able to return sooner.

    After nearly three years as this backfill, I now feel like the job is Mine. (Some other backfill assignments have a fair amount of turnover.) But it’s not. The post was posted as a vacant position but with the union and seniority rules, someone with more seniority applied and could win the job. I support the collective agreement and seniority rules but this *stings.*

    How do other firms handle long term (sick) leaves?

    1. ABK*

      We allow 6 months and not a day more. We have to stick to the union contract, or we are setting a precedent for all future situations.

      1. Tired of backfill*

        That’s interesting. There’s no such limit or wording in our union contract.

        There is wording about a two-year limit to reestablish employment but a careful reading indicated that this was for unpaid leaves. A sick leave is paid.

    2. Billiards15*

      Ours is 24 months. After that, the position can be filled permanently. There person in the position doesn’t have “the right” to the position as they were filling it on a temporary basis. The position will be posted.

    3. SomebodyElse*

      I’ve seen good people get screwed by ‘bumping’

      Person A with seniority’s position is eliminated so they ‘bump’ Person B from their position, now if Person B is lucky they have seniority over someone else and can ‘bump’ them and so on until the jobs run out.

      In the case I saw, Person B worked as a ‘clerk’ in a specialized department for years and Person A worked as ‘clerk’ in a different more generalized department. A bumped B and then had no idea what they were supposed to do, B was lucky enough to bump C in another specialized department, but also had no idea what was going on in the new dept. This was multiplied several times over throughout the company. It was chaos.

      1. Billiards15*

        It’s a little different where I’m at. I’ve been involved with at least half a dozen bumping situations and in each case the person needed to demonstrate they were qualified to perform the position they were bumping into.

        For the OP, bumping is probably why they haven’t filled the position permanently before the 3 years has expired. If they fill it before the 3 years, they run the risk of the person coming back, which now results in a bumping situation, which isn’t pleasant for anyone.

    4. Keymaster of Gozer*

      UK based here but heavily unionised and the limit is 6 months. Technically. We’ve had a few of a year but those were exceptional circumstances.

    5. just a random teacher*

      Here, it’s posted as a one-school-year temporary position if a teacher goes on leave. If that teacher wants another year of leave and is approved for it, that job would be re-posted as another one-school-year temporary position for the following year – it would not be the same job carried over even if it’s the same position vacant (although the person filling it would be able to re-apply if they hadn’t found something else). In the current hiring climate, people in those one-year positions will usually have a permanent teaching job lined up for the next year by the time the temporary position would be re-posted anyway. It’s seen as kind of like a year-long working interview to get your foot in the door with a school district and build a good reputation.

      Another district I used to work in would hold your specific job for a year’s leave, but only guaranteed a position somewhere in the district in general for a multi-year leave.

      Of course, that works well for schools because we have a distinct yearly “hiring season” and a distinct beginning and end of the school year when positions become vacant and people may shuffle around, so that builds different patterns than a workplace where work just kind of rolls forward forever with no obvious break points.

  19. Nervous*

    I took a position as a federal contractor a year and a half ago, and now positions in the same department are opening up for permanent employees. Since there are no openings in my section this would mean moving sections within the department and away from the group I currently support.

    While I’ve been encouraged to apply, told I qualify, and that the move is obviously better than being a contractor, I’m nervous about telling the person heading up my section. He has worked with me from the beginning and trained me up on this job, so it feels like something of a betrayal and like I’m “jumping ship,” even though I would be around to ease someone into my old role adn field questions rather than dumping them into it and departing.

    I think that when I apply I should give him the heads-up out of courtesy, but what do I say? I’m concerned that he’ll resent me for it and I’m also concerned that if I don’t get the job, everyone in my section will just see me as a flight risk from then on even though I want to stay at this agency.

    1. TimeTravlR*

      Most federal supervisors almost expect this to happen. The fed is the one place you can job hop and no one bats an eyelash (not that I think you are job hopping). If he is a good supervisor (sounds like it) then he probably will just say, go for it! I wouldn’t necessarily give a heads up though. It’s not necessary. And HR will work with him on when to release you.

      1. Anna*

        My problem with not giving him the heads up is that if I make it to the interview stage, my section head is one of the people that is going to interview me. She’s going to go right to him to ask him about my past work performance since she’s so new. So I think there’s about a 100% chance that he’s going to hear that I’m interviewing, and I don’t want it to catch him off guard.

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        I work in state government, & it’s the same. Even if you change agencies, we’re still all working for the state. Consider it a compliment that they want you to try for a permanent position.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Conversion from contractor to government is common; the section supervisor will probably be fine with it. The hiring steps can be a long process, which will give you time for a good transition. Do what you’d do in any role before moving on: work your best while you are still there; document procedures and special knowledge; train coworkers as needed.

    3. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      You could approach it as you know that this means he’ll have to do the work of backfilling you, but of course he was going to be happy for you.

      On my previous team, I had a mix of contractors, federal civilian employees, and military. People moved around all the time, that’s the nature of this work. I always told them I supported them and would be glad to write letters of recommendation for whatever they did next. Because we had a brilliant team with a cool mission but that was also always understaffed, they felt bad when they were considering leaving.

      I always told them that the federal government would make do! We would shift around duties and figure things out. But the only people who could NOT make do are themselves and their families.

      There are many people who can fill the job of being [their job title]. There is only one person who can fill the job of being [their name] to their family and in their lives. They have to prioritize themselves.

      Because everyone knew that I believed this, and backed it up with actions, I always got tons and tons of notice when someone was planning on leaving.

      Since it’s the government and moves at a snail’s pace, we still often had long vacancy periods, but the long notice did allow us to cross train and plan for what we were going to do when they left. It was a win.

    4. Overeducated*

      This sequence is completely normal in government contracting, to the point that I’d consider it structural, not personal. I don’t think you need to give him a heads-up that you’re applying for
      a permanent job, at least not until/unless you think he may get a reference call. And honestly, I don’t think you have to worry you’d be considered a “flight risk” as an individual, but the nature of contracts is generally not long term and it’s expected that contractors may leave for more secure roles if offered.

    5. Someone Online*

      As a supervisor, I never hold it against people if they try to improve their working lot. Better pay and better working conditions or just something new? Go for it.

    6. Observer**

      I’m concerned that he’ll resent

      Why would he resent you? If this is actually likely, you should do everything you can to get out from under, because this would be deeply unreasonable. If, however, he is a reasonable person you have nothing to worry about.

      everyone in my section will just see me as a flight risk from then on

      That’s a terrible term. You are not a prisoner who might break out, or someone on parole who might illegally “flee”. Having said that, if the regular staff, especially your manager, don’t already know that you are going to be looking for permanent positions, they are living in la-la land. After all you’ve “been encouraged to apply, told I qualify, and that the move is obviously better than being a contractor“! Which means that all of the people around your position clearly expect this kind of move. Again, unless you are dealing with people who are just out of touch with reality, they know you’re going to look at other opportunities.

  20. rayray*

    I know a lot of companies are laying off right now. Anyone else work somewhere that’s laying off workers right now? Or maybe you actually were affected? How are things for you or the company?

    Morale is pretty low here. I work in the mortgage industry, so things have tanked the past year. Last mass layoff was back in May and then again this week. I started here in 2020 after being laid off and it was supposed to be a placeholder job but I am struggling to find anything new. I am being picky in my search, mostly because I made the mistake before of leaping from one job to another and hating it. I am going to ramp things up in January since hiring isn’t so hot in December.

    I am not sure how to handle things right now, I feel like it should be obvious that people are wanting to leave but I know I can’t be super blatant about it. I have gotten pretty good at writing and editing resumes and would like to offer out help but not sure how I’d even go about it. We have a mix of people in this department, some young 20-somethings who could probably find a just-as-good job if not better much more easily than some of those who have been in this industry 10 years or more and are in their 50s or older. I’m kinda in the middle as a 33 year old with a college degree and some varied experience.

    It just sucks here right now, and I don’t see this company truly bouncing back.

    1. Baby Yoda*

      rayray, I’ve been in the mortgage biz for over 30 years and sometimes companies can bounce back, sometimes not. But it is pretty normal in this industry to have many jobs on your resume, it’s kind of a given for how you move up — unlike most industries. Best of luck in your search.

    2. Koifeeder*

      Ooooooooh my goodness. This is a friend, not me (thankfully!), but Let Me Tell You Their Story. I was gonna post this as a stand-alone comment but I’m not sure what advice anyone can give them on this situation besides “run” which they are already trying to do.

      Our story is set in fair Verona the Wren Programming Department, which until yesterday contained twenty workers. Dan, the manager, had been sleeping with the only three woman Wren Programmers in the department (yes, all three, at once). Layoffs arrived Thursday, and Dan removed every male Wren Programmer except for one, my friend Dunkle(osteous).

      Things for Dunkle are very nerve-wracking right now! And not only because a department of four cannot handle the workload of the other sixteen. The only quote-unquote good news is that during the layoff conversations Dan made it clear that he wasn’t giving out good references to the folks laid off or else he wouldn’t have needed to lay them off, so Dunkle is not particularly worried about torpedoing a reference since he probably won’t get a good one.

      But also that department is doomed. Because, yanno, four workers, former department of twenty, no reduction in workload coming in. It’s going to be a shitshow.

  21. Sociology Rocks!*

    I recently started a new job, and part of my responsibilities is sending meeting reminders and agenda requests for recurring meetings. Does anyone know of a way in outlook to set a reminder for myself a few days before the meeting, while keeping a reminder of the meeting going off the day off? Or a way to automate a recurring reminder email that I can just get a prompt to check/update details before it sends to the appropriate people?

    1. rayray*

      Have you tried Microsoft To Do? I sometimes use that to write T0-Do lists and if you put in due dates/times, it should give you a notification.

      1. Sociology Rocks!*

        Is there a way to set it to send reminders every 3rd Tuesday of a month or something? Most of the meetings are scheduled to occur in this manner so the specific date of them changes.

        1. Rayray*

          Yeah! If you have it open where it says “My Day”, on the bottom you could type in “X Meeting Reminder” and then on the far right there is a calendar icon with a little arrow thing and you can set that reminder to occur weekly.

          It is hard to explain over a comment, but I am sure if you click around on the program you will figure it out. There’s probably also help guides online.

        2. Just here for the scripts*

          There’s a reoccurrence setting in outlook that may accommodate this: pick the initial date then set it to reoccur on Tuesday once a month.

          Do it just for yourself first and test to confirm it works the way I think it does.

    2. TimeTravlR*

      I just create separate calendar entries to remind myself to do the thing ahead of the meeting. Even things I do every week, I set a reminder because it’s so easy for things to slip when you’re busy!

        1. Lynx*

          I live by my Outlook task list, yes!

          If you put an item on there, you can set it to give you pop-up reminders

    3. Annie Mouse*

      If your company has MS Power Automate you can create a flow to send reminders and agenda requests.

  22. Moi*

    I had someone call my bosses boss to complain about me because… I addressed them by their first name. And instead of my grand boss pushing back on the ridiculous overreaction, she’s getting an apology. FWIW, this is an employee of the same organization not a customer. Ironically, if I had lost it in someone for such a ridiculous reason, my boss (rightfully) would have had serious words with me.

    1. Mississippi*

      Have you talked to your boss about it? They might have some insight into grandboss’s reaction and also might advocate for you.

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

      The complainer may be an employee at the same org, but I’m guessing that they are higher ranking than you (and possibly Grand Boss) and there are politics involved. Their insecurity about being called by their first name is their issue, but I would definitely just call them Ms/Dr/Professor LastName; they’re entitled to be called what they want even if it makes them seem silly or out of touch with the culture of your org. I don’t think this is the hill to die on.

      1. Moi*

        Boss is sending an apology for PR reasons. Which I understand but I’m also annoyed that she didn’t stick up for me.

        I’m not going to die in this hill, I’m more venting about the extreme over reaction. Had this person responded with, “please call me ___” I would have switched over and it would have been a non issue. Ironically, if I had treated someone this way, my boss would have had serious words with me. I’m slightly annoyed that the person did not get called out in their ridiculous behaviour. Grand boss does not manage them but def. outranks them.

    3. SoloKid*

      Is this a case of someone wanting to be called Dr. – ? Many women and minorities have put extra emphasis on the title because of being disregarded in the past.

      Of course, being kind is always the best way to go about those kinds of reminders.

    4. Miette*

      I once worked somewhere where senior management expected anyone lower than them (so below VP) to call them “Mr. So-and-so,” including their own assistants, but even back then (the mid-80s! Yikes!), it was odd.

      Are they senior to you in the hierarchy and therefore believe you are disrespecting them? Do they expect everyone to call them “Mrs. Whatever” but no one told you that? Or are you being singled out? If the latter, could this be motivated by your gender/race/sexuality? I think it’s worth understanding what’s going on here–because it sounds pretty hinky.

      1. Moi*

        As per boss the person is grumpy and old school. They expect everyone to call them the same way, however this is not in accordance with the company norms. I’m happy to call people whatever they want but NOT happy that they called my grand boss to complain OR that my management didn’t stick up for me and push back in their ridiculously excessive behaviour especially when there’s clearly defined policies on conflict resolution that were not followed

        1. Kay*

          I think if anything this gives you valuable information about grumpy old school employee as well as management in your org. I’m guessing on a few possibilities – Grump has some political capital/needed skill, your org doesn’t handle conflict as judiciously as the policy likes to state (this is universal though), you are newer to the org, you are younger, there are other issues with Grump & the org so they are trying to keep feathers smoothed, inherent sexism (you are female), etc. It is hard to say what exactly what is going on but I would suggest doing the usual analysis of your relationship with your boss, your recent performance, the general mood of the situation – if all else seems good I would proceed as normal but with the knowledge that your guard is best up Grump.

    5. ecnaseener*

      Ugh, that’s so annoying. Big fancypants person can’t figure out how to say “Please call me Dr. Jones, thanks” ?

      I’ve had dr’s sign messages to me with just their first names and then get annoyed with me for using their first name. Sign with the name you want!

  23. the Cat's ass*

    it’s deductible season here in the US! And everyone who needs care is not going to be out of pocket for those expenses, so there is a stampede. EVERY. YEAR. I have been explaining that we are really trying to get every study and procedure scheduled ASAP, but it’s just awful and folks are terribly rude about it. And no, asking me to call your PCP who then also screams at me about scheduling (which is out of my control) is not a good look. Telling me it’s an emergency when the emergency is so you can go golfing in the Dominical Republic is also not an emergency. Threatening me and verbally abusing my staff is also not fun. Is it any surprise that I’m advising my daughter NOT to go into health care?
    Happy holidays!

    1. rayray*

      We really really need to revamp healthcare in the USA. It’s absolutely ridiculous for so many reasons.

      Good luck to you and your team, hope you can get through the next 3 weeks with your sanity in tact.

    2. Educator*

      Yeah, this is not the fault of your customers, but of a ridiculously broken system. Imagine if we lived in a country where sky-high deductibles did not prevent people from getting the care they need when they need it! Vote for the people who support healthcare access and equality.

      1. Moi*

        I’m in Canada and our very different system is a giant mess too): although everybody can access care regardless of income

    3. bratschegirl*

      The only good thing about breaking a bone at the beginning of February a couple of years ago is that it guaranteed I’d max out my deductible and out of pocket for the year (between the astonishing ER charge, the jaw-dropping ambulance bill, all the PT, etc. etc. etc.) and get some later things fully paid for. Ain’t US healthcare grand?

      1. Double A*

        Yeah we had our emergency visit in November. Really wish my daughter could have waiting until January to spike a fever that caused a seizure.

      2. Ali + Nino*

        Yep, that’s family planning around US insurance – any way we can time this baby to arrive very early in the year?

  24. Lil sebastian*

    I’ve worked in local government for my whole 15 year career– about 6 different positions– and I’ve never had more than 2 interviews.

  25. Anecdata*

    So we’re doing anonymous employee surveys, and there’s something that’s bothering me that I’d like advice about wording:

    I wish my manager advocated for our team more. I see other groups, where managers seem to treat it as part of their jobs to eg. cultivate opportunities to work on successful high profile opportunities, or take on a leadership role — our manager will try to give us those opportunities, but only if no one else wants them (so it’s not that our manager blocks us from professional growth, just that we’ll always lose out to people from other groups, including often people who are less qualified). For example, we’ve worked several projects where someone needs to be in a “team lead” type position, we’ve expressed interest, and been left waiting for an answer for months (which delays the whole project) to “see if someone from Y’s team wants that role”

    Also, our manager’s mentioned that his leadership approach is basically “take blame individually, share credit widely” – and that gets applied to how our whole team is presented. So, for example, we’ll be in a position where we say “We need X from team Y, in order to accomplish business goal Z”. Team Y doesn’t come through with X, and our manager will tell leadership “it’s our fault Z didn’t happen” – but if Z does happen, team Y gets all the credit. I get where my manager’s coming from on the leadership philosophy, but I’m worried about the overall effects on our team’s reputation (and tbh, on my personal reputation!)

    Is there any way to phrase this stuff, without it just sounding selfish / like all I’m concerned about is “me getting more credit”?? (Or maybe this is selfishness, and I should let it go?)

    For context, I generally respect my manager and if I could figure out how to word it right, I’d be ok saying this directly to my manager – I’m not super worried about the anonymity aspect

    1. TimeTravlR*

      “I would like to see Manager being more proactive in our professional development.”

      The second issue about sharing credit has me a little stumped. Because I don’t think team Y should get all the credit. Sharing the credit means “Through the efforts of Team A (us) and Team Y, we were able to complete the TPS reports in record time to close out the year” not “Good job, team Y on doing your part in the thing we all had a part in.”

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      One thing you could push back on is that this is going to result in some misleading business decisions. If something fails and your manager says “That’s on us” when it was really team Y, then as upper management I might not know that the problem involved team Y at all. Team Y would then get no resources, coaching, or instructions on how to improve next time, and then the next time everyone is in this situation Team Y will probably drop the ball again because the failure was not correctly communicated.

      It sounds like your manager is trying to be ‘nice’ without realizing that they are making management decisions that will ultimately harm the team and the company.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Agreed and this is why I don’t think OP’s comment needs editing. A manager is completely fine to hear “hey you don’t advocate for your people enough.” It’s not the most pleasant thing to hear but it’s far from an insult. Maybe they just go “yeah I should put more effort into that.”

    3. Anonosaurus*

      I don’t think that it is selfish to want your manager to be proactive about the development of individual contributors or ensuring the team’s achievements are recognized. If someone in my team gave me this feedback I would take it seriously.

      One way of approaching this kind of thing is to ask about it – why did Boss do a particular thing, is there something I am missing? I’d like to understand this more because from my perspective it comes across that you aren’t prioritizing our access to Y opportunities.” You might find out something useful about Boss’ thinking and it’s a nonconfrontational way I to the topic.

      1. Anecdata*

        Thanks all! These suggestions are really helpful

        One thing that makes me optimistic is, when it’s just our team, our manager really is generous about giving us both cover and credit when needed – like if it’s a project just our team did, he’ll go to bat to get the IC who did the work in the room with the csuite to present the results. And if something goes wrong within our team, he takes responsibility as a manager for not giving us the context or background info or whatever it is.

        It’s only when other teams are involved that things feel weird – and unfortunately 90% of what we do is with other teams, and professional advancement opportunities for me and my role now depend more on our execs deciding my team’s role is worth expanding, than my individual boss thinking I’m great at what I individually do – which is why the “external” recognition matters

  26. Cruciatus*

    Should I wait to apply to jobs that really excite me, or move on to another job that is maybe “meh” but that employer has more future options?

    I am ready to move on, though I really like where I am (academic university, almost 8 years, 2 in one position, 6 in another), but we’re on a hiring freeze. Jobs on campus occasionally pop up but not enough that I can or want to apply to. I’m in the library so there isn’t much new to learn (but it’s the best job I’ve had so far all around). Talking with other coworkers on campus, when they have switched jobs they get only a little bit more money, so yeah, eventually I might make a move here but get only a few thousand more. But the jobs at other places (mostly for-profit places) haven’t been exciting, but I keep hearing that if you can get in then after a year wait you can apply to anything else. But I just find I’m having trouble going for it (usually I see a job posted and think, this is it! I must apply!). But the sooner I start a job I *might* find meh, the sooner a year is up and I can look around at other jobs. Any success stories out there of people who did (or maybe didn’t) make the switch in a situation like this?

    1. Riya*

      I think what you need to do is figure out what kind of job you ultimately want, talk to some people who are currently doing that job, and figure out how they got there. If you decide you ultimately really want to be a canvassing director, but the only way to get there is to first take a “meh” job as a canvasser, then it sounds like you should start a canvasser job ASAP. If it turns out that there are other paths to being a canvassing director that would excite you more, you could consider those instead. But it seems like your first step here needs to be to figure out what kind of job you ultimately want in the long term.

    2. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      I’ve worked in an academic library, a government library, and a corporate library. Although mine were separated by time off having babies. What kind of library position do you do now and what are you looking at applying for?

      Do you think you’d feel okay about a not exciting job if it paid well enough and helped you get to your future goals? Some people care more about their daily tasks being interesting and some are willing to sit through more boredom and focus on getting fulfillment elsewhere.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I’m a library staff person–I deal with ILL processing, circ desk, e-reserves. I had a per diem position with the public library a long time ago so I am familiar with this world. I like it but there’s no where to go where I am (If I moved to main campus that would be a different story, but at my campus there are 3 staff positions. That’s it. The other is my level but budgety stuff, and the other is our supervisor. We do have librarians, of course, but that’s a different side of things. They are faculty, not staff).

        I don’t have a career plan. I just usually apply to jobs that sound interesting and hopefully will give me more money and something new to learn. My current job is NOT that interesting, but I have autonomy in it, which I have found I really like having. I’m actually looking at either state jobs or at a local insurance place which is from my city but has offices all over the country. Both have pensions, the ability to move up (not saying it’s necessarily easy but it’s probably easier than my current campus). It’s just confusing because I’m not trying to leave this place because I hate it, I just want more money and more to do. Every other time I’ve left a job it was because I. wanted. out. So I think that is complicating my feelings. What if I end up giving up everything I do like about this job if I land somewhere else?

        1. 1qtkat*

          I think you nailed it on the head – you want a higher paying job with more responsibilities. So I think you do want to leave, you just don’t want to job from a job you’re comfortable at to something new and unknown. But that new job doesn’t have to be unknown if you take the time to think about what you like about your current position – what tasks do you like? And then look and apply for positions that meet those requirements. During the interview make sure you’re asking questions to gauge whether this is the company/position for you. The process doesn’t have to be quick if you don’t have an immediate need for more income, you can take the time to find that new position as you figure out what you want and passively job hunt to find out what’s out there.

    3. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      If you’re employed and it’s generally OK (as in not totally toxic) I would advise you to keep searching for only the roles that you’re truly excited about.

      If you’re in a toxic environment, apply and interview for a wider range.

  27. IEanon*

    Just thought I would pop in to say that I had the worst interview of my life yesterday for a position that was literally recommended to me by the supervisor for that role.

    UPS attempted to deliver a package during the middle of my virtual conversation and my dog barked (LOUDLY) for the next 20 minutes. It was very distracting and equally mortifying. (And, if I’m being honest, kind of hilarious if you’re not the one interviewing…)

    Please tell me they won’t hold this against me!!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I wouldn’t, at least, because I’d have assured you that there but for the grace of God go I, and I have been in those stylish loafers more than a few times myself. :) (Especially not if you were personally recommended for the role.)

    2. TimeTravlR*

      Fortunately, in a weird way, the pandemic helps here because so many of us were forced into a WFH situation that may have been less than ideal. So little kids running in and out, someone screaming, dogs barking… that’s just part of a regular meeting now!

    3. Educator*

      They probably won’t! That likely falls within the expected range of normal background noise.

      But you can sign up to get alerts when UPS, Fedex, and USPS are going to deliver to you, and change the day if needed, for free on all of their websites. (I live in an apartment and have these alerts set up so that I know when to check in with my lobby attendant.) Might save you and the doggo some stress.

    4. Squeebird*

      Given that we’ve all spent at least a couple of years doing video calls, the chances that one of your interviewers has had something similar happen to them is quite high. I would hope that they would have some sympathy!

  28. ThatGirl*

    It’s layoff season, man. My current company had a round last week – 60 people across the org, 11 in my department – which definitely sucks, but isn’t massive. But oh, on Monday I heard about big cuts at my former employer. They laid off 90 people – about 1/3rd of the office’s workforce – and the WAY they did it. Oof.

    On Friday everyone got an email telling them to work from home the entire next week (so, this week) and that everyone would get a call on Monday about their status. And not to talk to anyone else because those calls would continue all day. Like… these poor people spent the entire weekend anxious and then had to spend a good chunk (or all) of Monday anxious too. And it’s a phased layoff, so not all at once – people are expected/asked to work for another 1 to 3 months before their final days. Oof. I was laid off there in 2020 and for me, it was a big surprise; I’d rather that than be worrying all freaking weekend.

    1. rayray*

      I agree with you. We’re also dealing with layoffs here. Fortunately, my department has assured us that this department let go of everyone they were going to and if we are still here we’re safe. I have had a feeling layoffs were coming and by Tuesday, I just knew it was going to hit my team and department. I saw the number of Active Employees subtly dropping since Friday, noticed the closed door meetings, my manager barely emerging from her office, and the overall thickness in the air. I was a nervous wreck. Then, my coworker who’d been at the company for 13 years got pulled away and came back to pack his desk. It was awful. So far I think about 25 people overall have been let go, and likely more will get the news today. I got laid off in 2020 and basically I was tricked into moving my car out of the garage and then once I got back, called in and was given a severance check and had to hand over the parking badge. That sucked too, but it was less brutal than having to spend a whole weekend worrying.

      I also get why they don’t want gossip to start, but when people’s incomes and livelihoods are on the line, they will worry and they will talk. I figured out I poke around on the workday directory to see who disappeared and then check workplace to verify their profile was deactivated. I knew a few names of people laid off before we were officially told.

  29. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

    My good friend has finally quit his corporate job. Unfortunately he had to make the decision to do this without another job lined up, as understaffing and mismanagement resulted in mandatory overtime and productivity demands which, combined with burnout and a medical emergency early this year leaving him with a PTO deficit, meant he had no time for job searching and interviewing.

    I’m trying to support him as far as I can with reading resumes and cover letters and checking job boards. In particular, he would like to take this opportunity to pursue one of his preferred long-term goals and break into non-profit work. He’s interested in social justice, politics, and community organizing in black, lgbt, and low income populations. His recent work history was in finance, but he also has experience in community organizing, public speaking, and research. He’s looking to get a certification in grant writing, but that will take a few months to even enroll in. Currently he’d prefer remote work, but he might be willing to relocate in a few years.

    Does anyone have any tips about what to look for, how to apply, or what certifications/experience to pursue short-term (though I realize this will apply less to his immediate job search) to get into this type of work? He’s a very capable and driven person, and he’d do very well once he broke into a field he was passionate about (I’ve worked with him before).

    1. DashDash*

      Idealist dot org is a job board specifically for nonprofits–your friend could look there for finance or finance-adjacent jobs to get started.

    2. CDFI Grrl*

      Here is my commercial for the CDFI industry! CDFIs are nonprofit orgs that are mission-driven to improve low income and marginalized communities through investments in community programs, small businesses, affordable housing, charter schools, microloans, etc. CDFIs are typically loan funds, banks, or credit unions.

      There are a wide range of jobs attached to this work, from grant-writing and fundraising (as you say he’s interested in) to lending and underwriting, marketing, policy work, admin/accounting, program management, research, etc. There are also jobs on the funding side, usually with foundations, corporate ESG, etc. and with the federal government (with the CDFI Fund (if you’re in DC) and also with regional branches of the Federal Reserve (if you’re in one of those cities).

      Go to OFN dot org to learn more about the industry–they are a membership organization that advocates for the entire sector. They have a job bank your friend can search, as well as a listing of members so you can find one near you, and a free online community where they could learn more if they’d like to lurk (it’s called CDFI Connect). In addition, the Carsey School of Public Policy at U of NH offers a CDFI Practitioner certificate that may be of interest.

      Wish your friend luck!

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        Ooh, this is very interesting, and also sounds like it might be more likely to exist in our immediate area. Thank you, I will pass this on.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Depending on what sort of finance he was doing, not-for-profit finance and accounting positions might match up in the short-to-medium term. Not-for-profit financials have some quirks that can make them challenging for newcomers to the field and once you develop an understanding of them you can become very valuable and helpful to an entity.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        I’m not 100% sure I understand what he’s been doing in finance or how he can apply it. He definitely works for a financial company under their 401(k) area, it sounds like processing transactions from employee retirement accounts. He’s worked in several different departments doing wildly different things, having being promoted frequently. Finance is not his area of interest, but he’s now worked in it for the paycheck for several years, so he at least has this experience.

        I’ll leave that part of his job search up to him, but I’ll pass on your advice.

    4. Observer**

      There are some decent non-profit related facebook groups that he might find useful. Not all groups will allow in someone who is not already in non-profits, but those that do could be useful.

      I would spend a bit of time just reading for a while, just to get a better sense of the group and of some different aspects of the non-profit sector.

  30. Sister Spider*

    I am completely at a loss for what my next move should be. I have been engaging with my boss for nearly a year now about working towards a promotion in my current position. I am currently underpaid by 15-20% based on my industry and title, and I am the most tenured person outside of my boss and his boss in this department after four years (which isn’t great, we’ve turned over our entire department except for me in the last 3.5 years).

    After taking on multiple extra projects at his direction (I kept our department running during the peak of the pandemic and he was able to work on high visibility projects to get himself a promotion) and never getting a single piece of negative feedback, I cannot get a straight answer as to what else I need to do at this point to move up. I am the only person on this team who has experience working in all of our functional areas, I have two master’s degrees and three professional certifications. All I keep being told is that I need to collaborate with management on what I see for myself in the future – which sounds to me like “continue to take on more work and responsibilities and eventually we might reward you”. My boss will not provide any insight as to how he wants to develop this department and our team and where my talents could fit into that. I’ve seen two coworkers with less responsibility promoted to manager in the last couple of years. I worked while I was on parental leave. I currently manage major compliance initiatives for a multibillion dollar corporation and no one else here is able or qualified to do my job. Nothing I seem to have accomplished prior to this year seems to have merit in consideration for adjusting my title/compensation.

    To make matters more complicated, I am pregnant and due next spring – my boss knows this as well. Do I just drop this whole subject, bide my time until I can job search, and then quit? How else can I get through to my boss? How does a person establish their own milestones for personal development without direction?

    1. Kiwiii*

      Would it be worthwhile to have a discussion with the coworkers that were promoted, to determine which steps (if any) they took that you haven’t?

      1. Sister Spider*

        I have – my coworker that was promoted is completely mystified by the wringer I’m being put through. Her process was really straightforward – she was recognized for doing great work and moved up. I’ve had to agree to take on managing our interns (“for experience”) and working with multiple mentors, in addition to branching out into other areas of expertise. The only thing she can think of is she has way fewer reasons to stay at this company (a few years younger, unmarried, no one to support) than I do (more experienced and fewer positions at my level, mortgage, family who needs insurance coverage).

        1. The Real Fran Fine*

          It sounds like your management has no intention of ever promoting you. They like you where you are, as the workhorse, and because they know you’re pregnant and unlikely to make any impulsive moves like quitting immediately, they’re going to continue to work you like a dog for the foreseeable future. I’m sorry, but it’s time to go. Your colleagues have been promoted for doing much less – that should tell you everything you need to know.

    2. Bess*

      If I were told this, I would presume I was never going to move up for some performance or political reason they are declining to share (which is not great management) and I would job hunt. Also, honestly, I might be explicit and ask if there is something standing in the way of promotion. But it sounds like you’re getting an oblique no and I’d make your decisions from there.

      1. Sister Spider*

        That’s what it feels like – I’ve asked very directly what I need to be working on at this point and not really getting anywhere. My boss is a great manager of projects, but people are another story. Looks like I need to ride this out and start looking around after I return to work from parental leave next year.

        1. Bess*

          It also may not be anything terrible, but they don’t see “x” in you and don’t want to demoralize you because you’re great at so many other things. That’s the most charitable reading of it and sounds like it’s theoretically possible based on what you’ve written (in that you seem like a solid performer). But if you want to move up it still kind of leaves you in the same place.

        2. Observer**

          Don’t wait start looking now.

          You might not find anything, but if you do find a place that will treat you well during an after your pregnancy, that’s worth something. I wouldn’t worry TOO much about parental leave. You may have officially gotten it, but you worked anyway. And no one seems to care.

    3. I edit everything*

      I agree with Bess. It sounds like you might be in a similar position as the letter/update I read the other day about the LW wanting to tell their colleague that she was never going to get promoted.

      You’re going above and beyond while underpaid. If they promote you, they’ll lose your work at your current level and have to pay you more. I think getting out is your best option. And stop doing all the extra stuff.

    4. Mockingjay*

      “I currently manage major compliance initiatives for a multibillion dollar corporation and no one else here is able or qualified to do my job.”

      I have a very strong feeling that this is why you aren’t being promoted. You are EXTREMELY valuable exactly where you are. Try to get what you want in a series of steps.

      First, ask for a raise. Give your boss the market research and point out your special qualifications as rationale. Have a number in mind; boss/company may negotiate, so add wiggle room to the figure. Go in with the mindset that this is happening: “I’m a valuable employee, I’m underpaid, and of course Boss/Company you want your employees compensated appropriately.”

      Second, can anyone else be trained in Compliance so you can move around/up? Point out that having only one person doing this is a single point of failure for something important.

      Third: If the raise isn’t happening and Boss is resistant to cross-training and opportunities, then you have a choice: start job hunting now, or wait until after your baby is born. If you decide to wait, then during your parental leave:
      a) DO NOT DO ANY WORK OR RESPOND TO TEXTS, EMAILS, OR PHONE CALLS. Let them – Boss especially – feel the pain of your absence while you enjoy time with your new baby.
      b) you can look while you are on leave, or look when returning to current job. (No harm in browsing Indeed while Baby naps.)

      I really hope this isn’t a case of “your boss sucks and is not going to change.”

      1. Sister Spider*

        *District 12 salute*

        If I could afford to not get paid for 12 weeks, I’d have no qualms about looking now. 60% salary is better than 0%. America!

    5. New Mom*

      First, congrats on your baby! I’m currently on leave with baby number two. Second, please don’t work during your leave again next time, especially for an organization that is not valuing you!
      I’m in a similar but different boat, I’ve gotten the promotions and pay raises but not the resources. We’ve grown and grown and the work is not sustainable nor tenable at this time. Where we are similar is that I’ve advocated for years to get more help, asked others who were able to get new hires what they did to convince management, hired consultants who created an amazing report about how much we need more staff, made presentations and I think it just finally clicked that they are not going to hire more people and I need to move on if I want a better work-life balance.
      I’m actively job hunting during my maternity leave. My advice to you, is that you should start networking now, reach out to other people in your industry or people who work where you’d like to work. I started volunteering for membership organizations that have people who work in my field but not at my company. I started presenting at conferences and writing Op-Eds so that people can google me and find my work.
      Don’t rush yourself, give yourself time to find a really great job, and don’t wait until you are desperate to go anywhere or you rage-quit. And pro tip, have an updated version of your resume and maybe even a few drafts of cover letters BEFORE the baby is born. I forgot how long it takes to update those things, even without the specific-role tailoring.
      Good luck! I’m also nervous about starting a new job with two littles so I’m going to have very high standards while I look.

    6. Somehow_I_Manage*

      No communication speaks volumes, and it’s a resounding “it’s not going to happen.” Ultimately, the reasons why are irrelevant. If you could change them, they would have said something- you’ve certainly given them the opportunity. If they don’t want to keep you happy, then they can’t expect to keep you. When the moment is right, it’s time to start the job search.

    7. Observer**

      I cannot get a straight answer as to what else I need to do at this point to move up.

      That’s an answer on its own. The translation here is “Not going to happen, but I’m going to tell you that.” Someone else mentioned an employee who was never going to get promoted because she was “too valuable” where she was – you’re in the same boat.

      Start looking now. You don’t have to take a job anyplace that won’t treat you well during / after your pregnancy. But job search takes longer than you expect, your energy level is probably going to drop, so start the process now.

      Don’t tell your boss – they don’t deserve that warning.

  31. Not Mindy*

    I will soon be purchasing an existing service business with a good friend. We are not related, but we have the same last name. He will be primarily be doing the service side of things, and I will be doing the admin side, but helping out with the service side as necessary.
    I would like to send out an introductory email to existing clients. I haven’t gotten very far in writing it because I’m stuck on what to do about the last names.
    “As you may have heard, Sunnydale Slaying was recently purchased. Mindy Harris and Xander Harris are excited to work with you for all of your slaying needs.”
    The wording of it feels funny to me. But if I put “Mindy and Xander Harris” it makes it sound like we are a couple.
    The answer is probably to write something completely different, but I can’t think of a different way to do it for the life of me!

    1. londonedit*

      I’d probably go with ‘Mindy Harris and Xander Harris (no relation) are excited to work with you’. No harm in being totally clear about it, otherwise you might still have people who assume/wonder whether you’re related/a couple.

      1. AngelicGamer*

        Thirding this approach. If anybody asks, just say that’s how others have used it since the 90s (Fictional but it works [Tiny Toons Adventures]).

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Leave off the last names? “Mindy and Xander are looking forward to working with you etc etc”

      1. T*

        I agree with this, unless it’s such a formal industry that you really can’t.

        People probably will still occasionally make the assumption that you’re a couple or family.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      The rule is that you only list last name once for people who are related. So, either say the last name twice or leave it off altogether.

    4. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I would probably phrase it more like “We are excited to work with you for all of your slaying needs” and then put your names & relevant titles in you signature block.

  32. BlueDijon*

    I changed fields earlier this year from higher ed (staff) to tech customer success, and am struggling to unlearn a lot of really unhelpful work expectations. Also doing a lot of personal mental health work for the first time in my life, so it’s all just a great Trying To Make Better Life Habits journey.

    I’m working on my perfectionist and external validation needs a lot, but am having a bit of whiplash. I moved from a field where there was a lot of consistency in the amount of work week to week each time of year, to one where because it’s a lot more project and onboarding based it could be crazy busy one week (which feels normal based on past experience, and sweet relief that I’m being productive and useful) and crickets the next (which makes me paranoid I’m missing something). I have background/learning/professional development low key stuff I can do during slower weeks, but still am struggling to reframe this as not me doing something wrong. Clearly a bunch of imposter syndrome happening, but that’s easy to say and less easy to break down.

    Anyone with similar experiences who found success in reframing expectations and getting through imposter syndrome where you can’t be constantly busy and thus proving your worth?

    1. Ama*

      I have a job that, when the workload is normal, has a lot of ebbs and flows in busy period. But my workload is just now returning to normal after two and a half years (it started in 2019 before the pandemic) where I was completely overloaded and felt like I was working at 110% capacity all the time.

      I do find myself now, on days/weeks when things are quieter getting nervous that I’ve forgotten something or that if I allow myself to take it slower now and just do A project this week and B next week, something will pop up next week to make me wish I’d done A and B both this week. I’m trying to remind myself when that happens that working at 110% capacity for 36 months straight nearly killed me (when I went to my boss to propose the restructuring that has finally, after a rough transition, eased up my workload I was fully prepared to quit without anything lined up if she hadn’t said yes) and that jobs in my field are *supposed* to have time for you to think, organize, plan, or just catch your breath after a busy period. But it’s taken some effort to get myself out of the mindset that having a “quiet day” isn’t slacking off.

    2. Mac 'n Plastic*

      I’m in a different type of role, but I also have the “busy – silent – busy – silent” cycle. I frame it as being engaged to wait until I’m needed, and then hit the ground running as soon as work comes in. For example, I’ve just gone from weeks of killing time with random training videos to now putting in 10-12 hour days. I figure I earn my salary in the busy times, and I think my whole team actually operates like this (our contracts often come in cycles)

  33. Erika22*

    I received a job offer last week – but have I now been ghosted by my future employer? (UK based.)

    I’d received a verbal job offer Tuesday last week, and the formal offer letter came on Friday. I replied a few hours later to the offer letter email (sent by HR) with my acceptance and a couple queries. I didn’t expect a response on a Friday, but by Tuesday I was a bit concerned. I sent a follow up email with a completed form they’d asked me to fill out and confirmed I’d done the other things they’d requested in the offer letter. I also mentioned I was still waiting on the queries. I’ve still not heard anything back.

    As I type this all out, I realise one week from an offer letter isn’t a long time, especially when there’s likely one HR person doing this during a busy hiring period (for them, they have a lot of roles to fill after receiving investment), but I’m still a little worried. I’d discussed with the hiring manager a start date of 9th January, and I have a one month notice period, so already that date will have to be pushed back given I can’t officially give my work notice until I’ve signed my new employment contract. Normally I wouldn’t worry about that, but I needed to give my manager a heads up that I received an offer so I could use her as a reference, and it’s now somehow leaked to my grand boss too. I’m not worried about getting kicked out of my role, just leaving everyone in limbo!

    Does a week of no response seem like a long time from an outside perspective? Will a third email next week seem pushy?

    1. londonedit*

      I don’t think so, especially as we’re in the run-up to Christmas and loads of people are going to be on holiday soon. I’d just phrase it as ‘just to check that everything had been received, would you be able to answer my queries, keen to get everything tied up on this before the Christmas holiday’ etc. I think it’s also valid to mention that you’d discussed a start date of the 9th but that’ll need to move as you have a month’s notice. I’m sure they’re busy rather than ghosting, but I don’t think another follow-up is unreasonable, especially at this time of year when things can slip out of people’s minds.

    2. Cordelia*

      I don’t think you’ve been ghosted, could be the HR person dealing with it has gone on leave or off sick. Or, that the HR person has to contact the hiring manager to get the response to your queries, and that the hiring manager has gone on leave or off sick. Or that everyone is busy and it hasn’t got to the top of the list yet. A week isn’t a long time at all. I think it’s fine for you to contact HR again, but perhaps also contact the hiring manager to have a discussion about realistic starting dates. If they think HR are indeed taking too long, they can chase them up.

    3. Storm in a teacup*

      Agree it isn’t a long time but with Christmas coming up things may have gotten busy.
      If you haven’t heard back in a couple of days it may be worth reaching out directly to the hiring manager stating you’re excited to begin work, have completed HR forms and are waiting on them confirming you’ve accepted the offer and send through a contract so you can resign your current role and you’ll update them with a start date once you’ve done this.

    4. Congrats on the new job!*

      Emails go awry, aren’t read for various reasons, end up in spam folders…..you’ve tried several times, I would give them a call.

  34. Scott D*

    After five years at my current company as a manager, working fully remote and receiving two promotions and always above average performance reviews (and most on my team receiving the same), new management thinks its important for people to be back in the office.

    Because we have written contracts agreeing to us being remote, six months notice is required so we were told to prepare to be in person July 1, 2023, or be terminated.

    The problem: New management REALLY does not understand how difficult it is to hire employees with high-level tech skills. I told the C Suite that it makes no sense to require people to commute to an office to sit on Zoom meetings all day with customers who are scattered around the globe, and that the current system is advantageous because we have employees working in all time zones who can field meetings that might be too early or too late in the time zone where the office is. Sales feels the same way. Upper management’s take is that “if we make exceptions for two groups, we’ll have to do it for everyone.”

    I polled my team and, no surprise, 90% said they would quit if forced to come to the office. Several have left already for new remote jobs. Part of me says “let the new management deal with not having an IT department” but the responsible part of me really does not the company to fail, which I’m 80% sure would happen without an IT or sales group (the sales group may be easier to replace than the IT). Part of me is also selfish–I don’t want to move halfway across the country to do the same job I’ve been doing remotely for five years.

    Any thoughts on other ways to get through to the C Suite?

    1. just another queer reader*

      “Dear C-suite,

      The IT team has been working remote for [10] years, exceeding metrics and successfully supporting the company.

      An in-person requirement would require [50%] of the existing workforce to relocate. In addition, I have surveyed the department and 90% would quit if required to come in person.

      Requiring in-person work would mean rehiring an entire new IT department, resulting in [downtime/ loss of knowledge/ lack of support/ company folding].

      If in-person work is required, I’ll be supportive of my direct reports as they job search, and do my best to remotely interview and hire new staff for in-person work. We would require [$x] more to our budget to facilitate the successful transition to in-person work.

      Please let me know if you’re prepared to support this transition.

      Sincerely,
      Scott”

      1. Gracely*

        Do NOT tell C-suite that you’ll be supportive of your direct reports as they job search. That’s something you do without telling C-suite. Unless you want to be job searching right after you send that letter.

    2. Phillippe II*

      You can’t get through to them, don’t try. First, do not bring up the poll results of your team. Find other sources for your prediction, make the prediction, Repeat the prediction in about 3 months when the first resignations start to come in as people find new jobs, then sit back and watch it come partially true. A lot of people will say, “I’ll quit if X happens!” and when X happens, they don’t. But you will no doubt lose a certain number of people over this.

      Whether you put out an “I told you so” of FAAFO is up to you.

    3. PassThePeasPlease*

      I think you need to share your findings about the team quitting with your leadership and also present stats about the workforce in the area they are forcing you to commute to. Barring that area being Silicon Valley or the Bay Area (and maybe a few other larger metros), I’d assume that depending on the level of expertise needed, adequately staffing the team could come with challenges. Once you do that unfortunately the decision is out of your hands but at least you could feel like you’ve done your part? These companies are way too short sighted with getting everyone back into the office without investigating if the plan makes sense for everyone in the office or even most of it.

    4. Storm in a teacup*

      Also share costs of hiring and I’m sure there will be a need to pay formal relocation costs if the team are on remote contracts

    5. Observer**

      Any thoughts on other ways to get through to the C Suite?

      Have you explicitly told your upper management that they are likely to lose all or most of their IT staff? And that replacing the majority of the staff from the city / commuting range of the city you are in will be difficult and expensive?

      If you have not do so, tell them. If they dig in, start looking for a new job.

  35. AnonFriday*

    I’m brushing up my CV because I have got to flee my current workplace soon (I feel the familar creep of burnout approaching) and I am pondering about whether I should leave a job I was at for only six months on it or not.

    I’m leaning towards ‘not’ because it was a ‘gotta find a job or will be evicted from my flat’ job, so taken out of desperation instead of me actually wanting to work there, it was the most toxic place I’ve ever worked and the CEO told me on the way out that I am not eligible for rehire because of my tendency to ‘tell lies’ – he means ‘report genuine issues to HR’. I won’t be listing them as a reference even if I leave the job on the CV.

    Problem is it’s a job that utilised all my admin skills, and wouldn’t it look odd if there was a six month gap after eight years at the job before that and the job I’m in now, which I’ve been in for coming up on four years? Obviously it was on my CV when I interviewed for my current job, so should I leave it on?

    Not sure what to do!

    1. londonedit*

      If it’s relevant to the jobs you’re going for now, and it showcases skills that you want to showcase, I’d leave it on there. You don’t have to list that boss as a reference, and you don’t have to say anything about the toxic environment – if you’re asked about it, you can just focus on the skills you used while you were there. If someone asks why you were only there for six months, something like ‘An opportunity to work in [what you’re doing now] came up, and that was something I’d been looking to do, so I couldn’t pass it up’ might work. Or, I’ve got a six-month stint on my CV that was a job that just totally didn’t work out for many, many reasons – my go-to with that one is to use a very genuine, almost regretful sort of tone and say ‘It turned out to be a very different role from the one I’d envisaged. In the end, it really wasn’t the right place for me, but I used the experience as a springboard to move into [something I wanted to do more], which was really useful’.

    2. Kiwiii*

      a six month gap between a job you were at for 8 years and a job you were at for 4 years wouldn’t look strange to most people, imo. gaps are only really an issue if you have Lots of them or when considering much shorter stints. but! if you think that role is relevant/makes you stronger for roles, i would keep it on there anyway.

      1. Miette*

        I had a 6-month gap on my resume once upon a time, but because I was only listing years of employment, not exact months/dates, on my CV and since those 6 months were within the same year, the gap was invisible. Could you do that? Just include the years you were there without further detail?

        1. Miette*

          Reading this back I realize I wasn’t clear lol: I mean to list years if you intend to leave the 6-month job off your CV.

    3. cncx*

      I would leave it. I was in a similar situation, explained my short stint as a “bad fit” (bad manager is more like it) and when pressed, said I was hired to do llama grooming but instead I was responsible for sending tickets to remote llama groomers so didn’t use the range of my abilities.

  36. Polopoly*

    We get lots of comments about people being overworked.
    In my position, 10% of my work is routine – I know what I need to do and when. The other 90% is project based. The projects are short to medium term in general. The problem is… my boss (and my grandboss) rarely ever assign me things to do.

    I hate being bored, so i end up scrounging around for things to do – asking other supervisors if they need help, seeing something that might need to be done and working on it, etc. But I’m new… i don’t know if what I’m working on is relevant or random/ unnecessary (or worse, counterproductive)… When Ive asked about it in the past, if I’m working on the right things or have right priorities, or if I work on xyz, only response I get is “that’s fine”. No feedback beyond that.

    I mean it’s great, in one sense to get to pick and choose…. and in another I’m feeling totally neglected like none of my work actually matters.

    1. Bess*

      They might just be too busy in their jobs and it hasn’t clicked with them to keep your plate full. You could suggest building and maintaining a backlog of projects to work on–they’ll need to dedicate some time to that but shouldn’t take, you know, weeks.

      Otherwise can you work on some professional development when you don’t have a project?

    2. BlueDijon*

      I feel this so hard! Trying to figure this out myself, so I unfortunately don’t have any, like, productive ideas, but just want to voice my commiseration.

      I’m trying to look at this as a personal mental health challenge to just be ok with not being overworked, and to build a habit of seeing professional development activities as something that’s just part of my day, but woof it is whiplash coming from an overworked environment where constant visible productivity is the gauge of worth…

    3. Girasol*

      I’ve seen this so often. Many managers can’t balance a team’s workload well, or will hire to address an immediate panic and never consider what that person will do after the crisis is over. They really don’t always want you to do something. We hit a dry spell during a reorg. The whole team was asking for work and suggesting things we could do, until the manager said, “Stop! Until our new roles are defined, I don’t want you to start anything! And stop asking!!” So if your manager already knows you’re ready and willing, try finding some activity that looks like work: studying something, whether work-related or not, starting a novel, or something like that, to stave off boredom while you wait.

    4. Polopoly*

      I’m creative and resourceful enough to come up with my own projects to do, but it’s just demoralizing. Partly it’s because my skillset (that they specifically hired me for) is a new one for the department and they don’t know how/ where to use me…. and the departments work is new to me so I don’t know where to help.

    5. Somehow_I_Manage*

      Depends on the industry you’re in. If you’re in a service industry in which your time is quantified and billed to clients, and they’re not giving you billable work, this is a problem. If it continues, I’d worry about job security.

      If you’re in more of an administrative position and your work is not billable, I’d be more patient and continue to grow into your role and see if it suits you.

  37. Treponema Pallidum*

    Gotta love temping for the state. I’m getting paid x as a temp, but the budget for bringing me full time is $4 less an hour. Sure, it’s got full benefits, but until I know exactly what they are, holy WOW I am not okay with that kind of paycut.

    How do I stay engaged and upbeat while I job search? I’m getting a terrible case of Yeah I’m Out Of Here Soon-itis.

    1. HR Friend*

      You kinda gloss over the FT benefits, but those may offset a $4/hour decrease. I’d see what those are before searching (if you like the job enough to stay, that is).

      1. Treponema Pallidum*

        Unfortunately, I cannot eat or pay rent with benefits, so they are juuuuust shy of irrelevant in the face of losing seven thousand dollars in pay a year.

        1. Observer**

          What are you paying for medical coverage? That could make the difference between being able to eat and pay rent or not.

    2. Miette*

      The only way I’m able to do this when I am in a similar position is to keep reminding myself I am a professional and I would not want my slacking/lack of engagement/attitude to reflect badly on me. You have to play a long game. You will never know who at your current job will be in a position to recommend or otherwise comment on your performance years from now, so leave them with a good impression.

    3. Govt Worker*

      I think you should view your position as a learning experience where you are also getting a paycheck. Work on as many projects as possible, so you expand your skillset and be an attractive candidate in the private sector. I hire temps at a local government frequently, but we rarely hire our temp employees full time. I tell them upfront this is not turning into a FT position. As a government manager, I have a set budget for staffing. That budget needs to cover everything associated with an employee: salary, benefits, overtime, uniforms, etc. Since I don’t pay those things for a temp, I can afford to pay them a higher hourly wage. Most government jobs require a mandatory contribution to their pension. So even if you get paid the same hourly wage, your take home pay will reflect a pay cut. The expense to my budget for the benefits package is about 38% of the salary.

    4. Molly*

      Do the math. Do full time people get paid for holidays? At least a week of vacation? (probably 2weeks). At a minimum that’s 6 holidays and 10 vacation days. Then there’s health insurance.

      A formula I’ve used for calculating what you’d need as a contractor vs full time is this: contractor hourly X 40 hours a week, then multiply that result by 40 weeks.

      For example, say a full time job pays $40,000 a year. That’s $769.23 a week, or $19.23 an hour.

      If you want to make the equivalent as a contractor, start with $40,000 and divide by 40 weeks, then divide that result by 40 hours a week. That gives $25. an hour. That’s a ballpark of what you need to get the equivalent. As a contractor you pay your own insurance, don’t get holiday or vacation, and if you’re a 1099, there’s more taxes.

  38. Constantly Learning*

    Are there good classes for learning to manage? (Online? A textbook?)

    I work in a professional services industry (e.g, accountants, engineers, lawyers) and have moved from private practice to in-house at a company. My job is mostly managing people and projects (internal to our department and coordiating with other departments) now.

    I’m learning and making it up as I go, but I am longing for a foundational framework to start from or to which I could refer.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. just another queer reader*

      Alison published a book for nonprofit managers! It’s probably a slightly different viewpoint, but I’m confident that it’s mostly the same skillset.

    2. RMNPgirl*

      My mom became a manager when I was a toddler and realized that the books she bought on handling kids actually worked really well for managing people. She’s said that those books helped her more at work than they did with me! It might be worth looking at a few to see if they have good tips.

      1. SomebodyElse*

        If I ever write a how to book, I’m going to title it “All I ever needed to know about managing I learned from Kindergarteners”

        No joke that I’ve drawn on my time as a teacher of school age kids in a day care setting more than any other management training. And this isn’t saying that I treat employees like children, in fact it’s the opposite I treated my kids as little adults (within reason). So the basic tenets are the same.
        -Consistency
        -Clear expectations
        -Praise
        -Specific feedback
        -Immediate (within reason) discipline when needed
        -Coaching/Skill teaching
        -etc.

    3. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      If you’re a book person, some good ones (a variety here)

      Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most – Stone/Patton/Heen

      The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You — Julie Zhuo (I like this one because it’s more millennial than some other ones that have kicked around for years, this is tech focused)

      The First 90 Days – Michael D. Watkins

      To whatever degree you are interested in Myers Briggs and other personality-style models, they can be really helpful to train your brain to think about what type of person Employee A is when you’re approaching them for a project, for feedback or just trying to engage them more. It gets overused and there are tons of problems with using it as a blanket approach but honestly having the framework to rely on as that reminder that different people think differently, value different styles of management etc.

    4. Somehow_I_Manage*

      Most of these replies are focusing on people management, but it sounds like you might benefit as well from some general project management training. My local professional society/industry group has leadership courses/resources that focus on these things: budgets, contracts, project performance, scheduling, invoicing, cash flow, labor . You could also check with your local community college for coursework. Finally, you might consider sitting for a “Project Management Professional” training and certification. That course covers, people, processes, and business and offers you a relevant certification that some clients value.

  39. Dr. Doll*

    I have a team member who is a very private person and I respect their wishes. “How was your weekend?” is about as far as it goes. They recently told a couple of other team members, but not the whole group and not me, that they *got married*.

    Is it okay to say “Hey, I heard from B______ that you got married! That’s wonderful, I hope you have a super holiday.”

    1. londonedit*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t mention it if you’ve only heard it second-hand from someone else. It’s possible they wanted to keep it really quiet and the person who told you wasn’t supposed to tell.

    2. RagingADHD*

      This is exactly the sort of news that a rather reserved person might tell one or two people with the expectation they will pass it around, so they don’t have to go around announcing it to everyone (which they might feel was too attention seeking).

      Unless you know them to be exceedingly prickly and unreasonable, I think it your proposed wording would be very nice.

      1. Squeebird*

        Same. I did the exact same thing when I got married; it seemed weird and kind of egotistical to make a big announcement to coworkers who barely knew me, so I mentioned it off hand to a few people and let the grapevine do its work. I think your wording is totally fine.

    3. JimmyJab*

      Most of my coworkers didn’t know I was getting married – a couple asked me about it after I put a pic on my desk :) I think if you’ve heard other folks talking about it out loud, your coworker probably isn’t going to be offended by the question!

  40. Miette*

    This one’s low stakes but I’m interested in y’all’s opinions:

    I am a self-employed contractor, and some of my clients prefer me to have email accounts on their internal systems. As a result of this, I am often included in the “All Company” mail list. So here is my question: When there are emails that invite folks to something (e.g. a “lunch and learn”, a training, the monthly staff meeting), do you see them as staff-only situations, or do you consider yourself invited?

    I ask because I ignored a client’s invitation to their holiday party for this reason (and the fact they are a $75 train ride away lol) and was asked why I hadn’t RSVPd. I explained that I wasn’t a member of staff so didn’t consider it a real invitation, but the planner seemed annoyed about it.

    I mean, it’s def going to be a workplace-dependent thing, I’m just interested in others’ experiences.

    1. Kiwiii*

      I would ask up front (at email creation), or upon receiving the first all-staff email that includes you, when possible.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Keep in mind that not everyone who sends to those all-staff email lists knows that you aren’t really a staff member.

    3. Haven’t picked a username yet*

      No. In fact – as a contractor you should not be included on employee/team events. It blurs the lines between how you are classified.

      I work for a very large financial firm and reminders go out around the holidays.

      I would just ignore them.

    4. RagingADHD*

      IDK how I’d draw that line now, when being fully remote is so common for FTEs. In the past, I’ve worked contracts onsite and fully remote. I’d consider myself included if I were onsite, and not included if I were remote.

      The math is different now, and I think the current default is “assume nothing, always ask’.

    5. Ama*

      I manage a contract employee who has an internal email account with us and we’ve agreed that if an all staff email goes out that she either needs to pay attention to or was intended to include her, I’ll follow up with her and say “hey, just wanted you to note X because it will have Y impact on your work” or if it’s an event “no pressure, but you are welcome to join us for this if you want.”

      I suspect in this case the planner was probably told to include you by someone else and they didn’t think about the fact that you would have no way to distinguish this request from any of the other all staff requests you don’t need to respond to.

    6. Kay*

      I am in a similar position as you in that I have corporate email addresses with clients even though I don’t actually work there. My default position is that these are ignored. I do have one client in particular who I often work closely with (say a couple people in a couple different departments), so I am often invited by multiple people/welcome at the events which are parties and am sometimes onsite when these are happening – those I will occasionally attend. I use my judgement and will typically only participate if I am onsite for other work related business, or if it is an event that might have other external attendees. So – no employee appreciation parties, team building exercises, etc. – but I might join when lunch is ordered for everyone if I am onsite for the day, or there is a party where spouses and vendors are invited (if my clients mention it to me of course). Follow the lead of your closest contact there, exercise prudent judgement/don’t take advantage and you will be fine.

  41. Seal*

    I had surgery a few weeks ago and will be off work for 6 weeks to recover; all of this was planned months in advance. A few days after the surgery, I emailed my boss and her staff (who I also work closely with) and my staff to let them know things went well. My staff all responded with words of support and encouragement, but my boss and her staff didn’t respond at all. This is highly unusual, as other members of her staff have been out with various issues in recent months and gotten supportive responses from colleagues, including me, on our group listserv.

    My boss is new and obviously and very publicly struggling in her position. Unfortunately, she is also very defensive and seems threatened by her managers, shutting many of us out of decision-making processes. Our work environment has become so toxic, I considered putting of my surgery because I was afraid of what would happen in my absence. Regardless, it didn’t occur to me that this woman would be so petty as to not respond to a health update from one of her managers. Does this seem petty to anyone else?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      It might be petty, or it might be taking “I’m not allowed to communicate with Seal while they’re on FMLA” to an extreme. Automatically assuming the worst of her is definitely a little petty though.

    2. Educator*

      I think you are taking this too personally. If she is new and struggling, she is likely unfamiliar with your office culture and focused on urgent items. She probably read your message, thought “oh good, glad they are doing well, nothing to action here” and moved on. That’s not petty.

      People in leadership positions also need to be really careful what they say about employee health issues–honestly, I don’t want to know any details beyond how long my team member will be out and that it has been approved by HR. While I would be glad on a personal level that an employee’s procedure went well, I could not say much more than “glad to hear that” because, when I am the boss, it is really inappropriate for me to have an opinion about a subordinate’s healthcare.

      I would focus on your recovery and let this one go. Sorry the environment has been so toxic.

    3. Jones*

      It’s so hard to interpret things sometimes. When my husband had a stroke (he recovered fully) I emailed one person in the office to spread the news. We are a verrrry tight knit bunch and they had all rallied round me during a previous emergency, so I was shocked and mortified when no one but the person I emailed sent me messages. After wandering the halls of the hospital feeling hurt for a few days, I verified that she had indeed told people, and finally blurted out that no one had sent good luck wishes or emails saying anything at all. I’m so glad I said something. Turns out my colleagues had interpreted my “no calls” request to mean “no contact whatsoever.” I’m guessing it’s something like that in your case — a misunderstanding, or even just someone who is awkward about medical stuff so avoids engaging — without meaning to be petty or inappropriate. Good wishes to you, I hope you heal up soon.

  42. Trippychick*

    My daughter is 17 and a senior in high school. She’s been working in retail for over a year, but all the standing is causing her a lot of knee pain. She’d like to find a job where she can sit, or sit a lot more. Since she’s in high school it needs to be evenings and weekends. We haven’t been able to think of good options for her to look into, so I’m hoping you all might have some suggestions.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Maybe babysitting on evenings/weekends? Depends on how bad the pain is and if it clears up when she leaves retail. Also depends on the kids, sometimes babysitting is mostly sitting on a couch while the kids are asleep and sometimes it’s a lot of walking to the park/running around in the backyard.

      Also (again depending on the pain), she could look into lifeguarding in the summer. I know a lot of areas had lifeguard shortages last summer, and that job involves a fair amount of sitting.

      1. Kiwiii*

        Certain grocery stores (Aldi’s) and certain roles at other grocery stores (customer service) often have seating. Alternatively, stocking-type (vs. cashier/checker) roles in retail involve a lot of moving around vs. just standing, which may be an option.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          I’ve noticed that the employees at Aldi’s tend to do both cashier, restocking and shelf work, so the amount of movement may be too much for Trippychick’s daughter.

          I am glad that they get to sit, and they are very fast at scanning your items. (It helps because they don’t have to bag)

    2. just another queer reader*

      Aldi lets their cashiers sit. (All stores should do this!!!)

      Maybe working the returns desk at a department store? Or do a lap at the mall and observe if any of the clerks have chairs, and apply there?

      I wonder if there are customer service/ call center jobs that would fit her schedule. Taking reservations for a hotel or something.

    3. Llellayena*

      Theater box office or other ticket-taking roles? Restaurant host if the problem is more needing to move around? Second shift on a warehouse job (small piece assembly line or similar where sitting is allowed) or something else that needs 24/7 coverage?

    4. Unkempt Flatware*

      She could look for jobs in retail banking. Tellers can sit in most banks and I’d bet especially with an accommodation request. Being a teller was my first job and it was a good experience for me. Not to mention Sundays and Holidays off.

    5. beccalee*

      In the meantime, I’d look into supportive insoles! I used to get absolutely HORRIFIC knee and heel pain when I worked in retail, and I was also quite young. I got some insoles with high arch support, and it made a WORLD of difference.

      It may also be helpful to look into physical therapy exercises; if standing is causing knee pain, instead of back or heel pain, there might be something muscular that can be strengthened to help compensate.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        This! I started wearing custom orthotics in my early twenties when the pain in my feet finally got so bad that I thought it was worth mentioning to my doctor, but would have benefited from them in my teens had I known that was an option. Both seeing a podiatrist for the orthotics and seeing a PT to work on how I could sprain my ankle less often were really valuable for me in terms of being able to stand comfortably for long periods.

      2. Gyne*

        Agree with this – standing for 8 hours shouldn’t cause knee pain. I’d investigate the cause of the pain first before I’d move into a more sedentary position.

    6. fueled by coffee*

      Front desk positions at places that offer after-school programming (rec centers, dance studios, etc.) might be a good option for evening/weekend scheduling.

      Also potentially places like movie theater box offices or other places that do ticketing for events (though if she’ll have to rotate through working concessions, etc., this might still involve a fair amount of standing).

      Tutoring?

    7. Sitting Pretty*

      I have a teen who, on a whim, applied to be a lifeguard at the local community center. They is apparently a real lifeguard shortage right now. There are many reasons for this, one that it’s fairly low wage. But the community center provided all of the Lifeguard training (paid), has regular “inservice activities” every month to build skills (also paid), and is super accommodating of evening and weekend hours.

      Of course, your daughter would need to have basic swim skills and feel comfortable jumping in the water to save people, but 90% of the job is sitting!

      Alternatively, a number of other kids from the high school also work the front desk or doing after-school childcare at the same rec center, so there may be other options like that near you!

      1. Aglet*

        The lifeguards at all the pools near me stand a lot. There’s one lifeguard chair and at least 2 spots where a lifeguard stands, and they rotate during their shifts. The front desk attendants also stand. So ask or check out the places before she applies!

    8. MJ*

      Late reply: at that age I had a job working reception at a real estate office on evenings and weekends. It was mainly answering phones, greeting clients and typing up purchase offers, but that was in the 80s before computers & cell phones, so may not still exist as a separate role these days. But maybe some similar office-based service that’s open evening/weekend hours? (dentist, eye doctor)

    9. WheresMyPen*

      First, make sure she’s wearing supportive shoes. I know they’re often not fashionable but you need something with cushioning and support so your posture doesn’t end up wearing your joints. But if she still wants to sit more, have a look at different stores near you and see what their staff do. I’m in the U.K. and have worked in two supermarkets and both had a fold out seat behind the checkout so I could alternate between sitting and standing.

    10. allathian*

      Maybe a role that requires more movement would work better for her?

      I’m in Finland, and pretty much all cashiers have the option of sitting at the checkout, because the cashier doesn’t pack the groceries. Checkouts have two conveyor belts, one on which customers load their goods and the other behind the cashier, and a sliding divider, and people either pack their groceries after paying, or when we go shopping as a family, one pays and the others pack. When Lidl arrived in Finland 20 years ago, they tried to introduce short checkout desks where the cashier packs, and we were having none of it. The protests were so loud that Lidl was forced to introduce conveyor belt checkouts like every other grocery store here has.

      When I worked retail starting at 17, I was at the checkout most of the time, but I also filled shelves, made sure the right prices were posted on the shelves, took inventory, and eventually even signed off on deliveries and faxed orders to suppliers.

  43. St Paul Ite*

    I work in a field that has always been 100% office based. When the pandemic hit we switched to WFH and nothing was ever mentioned about it being permanent. Five months ago we were called back to the office 3 days a week with Monday and Friday designated as WFH and told this is permanent.

    My coworkers are livid that they can’t WFH permanently and they trash talk the company and other people loudly throughout the day. I disengage myself from any conversation when they do this. There are other teams in the work area and they can hear my coworkers too.

    To make things more difficult, during our COVID mandate to work from home there was a company reorg and our manager was replaced by someone not in our state yet alone our site.

    Every weekly zoom staff meeting these coworkers complain for over 15 minutes about how they should be able to WFH permanently “like the rest of the world.” Last week I think the manager had reached the end of her rope; she said “we’ve been over this dozens of times, this hybrid schedule is permanent and you’ll just have to deal with it. Why can’t you be more like St. Paul Ite?”

    I’m not happy being used as a poster child. Yes, I don’t have a problem with our hybrid arrangement, I never expected we wouldn’t be called back to the office 100% after COVID restrictions lifted. But my managers comment has now resulted in snide and snarky comments from my coworkers and makes any valid work interaction with them very difficult because they constantly bring up the managers comment and how it must be nice to be the favorite etc.

    I want to say something to my manager about how her comment has impacted the dynamics of the team and how I don’t think it had the intended effect. But should I and if so how? I have never mentioned the bitter company bashing of my coworkers to my manager. Do I bring it up now for context on how the managers comment added fuel to that fire?

    I must interact with these coworkers in order for all of us to complete our work. They have all been in their jobs 15+ years, I’ve been in my job 5 years but with the company 14.

    Ideas? Suggestions?

    I just want to do my job professionally and accurately and steer clear of the drama llamas.

    1. T*

      Yikes! The dynamics in this workplace sound very…high school. You’ve been tagged as teacher’s pet.

      I’ll be honest, I don’t know that going to your manager about the comment is going to fix anything. In the environment you’re in, it seems like manager is more likely going to try and discipline everyone else, which is just going to lead to more resentment.

      My genuine advice is to just hunker down and see if you can wait it out, and maybe to job-search.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Maybe ask your manager to reiterate WHY they want people in the office, since that’s the issue that has nothing to do with whether you are there or not. And some places will have valid reasons. I myself and dealing with lower productivity and balls being dropped managing people who WFH and most get defensive when you make the connection so I stopped doing it. IMO it’s helpful to just remind them, “you did so much more in the office and didn’t make these mistakes” since it’s obvious changing where they sit impacts how they work probably by getting rid of distractions, but they don’t want to hear it. I guess they just want to try really hard to stay motivated and focused while at home.

    3. Alice*

      No advice but sympathy. My great-grandboss has said to me “why can’t they all be like you?” referring to how I show up for my required in-person days and apparently some of my colleaues don’t. I have never had any problems getting info or feedback from them so I truly do not care where they are working from as long as they are not sharing their germs with me. I sincerely hope he is not saying “why can’t you be more like Alice?” to them, for all the reasons you said. I tried pointing out to my immediate boss that of course I (no kids) am going to be sick less frequently than my colleague with two young kids in daycare, but I don’t know if the message got through….

    4. Observer**

      I want to say something to my manager about how her comment has impacted the dynamics of the team and how I don’t think it had the intended effect.

      Don’t do that. Not that I think that your manager handled things well, but the fact is that the issue is not what your manager said, but that you’re apparently working with people who have the temperament and maturity of *bratty* high schoolers (there are plenty of high schoolers who are NOT bratty, and they would not act like this!)

      Is there any way you can look into a transfer?

  44. Whynot*

    In early January, I’ll be starting a new job after several years of freelancing. I’m very excited (and very happy to quit doing my taxes quarterly, and to have colleagues to talk with who aren’t my pets). I’ve been a freelance editor and am moving to an in-house editorial position with a museum, with a hybrid in-office and WFH schedule.

    My question: what do other folks here do to set themselves up for success when starting a new job? All advice welcome, but I’m particularly curious about organizational advice (tips on managing calendars, workflow, etc) and about boundary- and expectation-setting (my new job is 3/4 time, so this is going to be important). If you have a particular software/tool you like for project management I’d also love to hear about that (a friend of mine keeps talking about Airtable).

    Thanks in advance!

    1. I edit everything*

      That sounds like an awesome job. I don’t have any advice, but did want to say I’m a little bit jealous (I might have seen that job posting and would have been tempted to apply for it, if I lived close), and wish you the best in your new role!

      1. Whynot*

        Thanks so much – I’m thrilled about it, and I was sooo ready for a change. Here’s hoping you’ll have some tempting opportunities closer to home in the year ahead, fellow editor!

    2. lebkin*

      Take lots of notes! Notes not just during formal training, but in every meeting. Take them during one-on-one conversation. Document both project content (the walls need to be blue) and office content (blue paint is ordered by Sue). Type up and organize into a consistent format.

      Set project names and use them consistently on all related files and folders. “Smith Drawings”, “Smith Quote”, and “Smith Specifications” all go into the “Smith” folder inside of projects. Mirror this with “Smith” emails in an Outlook folder and with “Smith” documents in a physical one.

      Use a To-Do list to document all your tasks and organize items by priority. This helps both in making sure nothing slips through the cracks and so you are working on the most critical things.Keep tasks to single items (Quote Smith fireplace) rather than overly broad (Quote Smith’s entire house). Smaller tasks means more items you get to check off, which creates a sell-reinforcing loop of success.

      For good boundaries: keep a regular schedule. If you always arrive at 8:00am and leave at 2:30pm, people will be able to adjust to your availability. They will then be more likely to schedule a meeting at 1pm than at 3pm.

      Set the schedule based on what is most effective for the office. I work in a place that is a mix of early and late starters. So the window from 10am to 3pm would be the best time to overlap with the entire staff.

      Regularly take your entire lunch break out of the office. Being interrupted on lunch now and then is fine, but you want to establish that boundary time just like you do mornings/evenings. Knowing you might not be at your desk during lunch will encourage people to adjust to your more reliably available times.

      Good luck!

      1. Whynot*

        Thanks, really appreciate your detailed advice. Schedule-setting is definitely going to be a big part of boundary preservation. I’m already a big note-taker and it sounds like we have very similar styles in setting up and maintaining project files!

    3. Applesauced*

      I second the note taking, and add – try to keep you notes in ONE place so you’re not scrambling for a scrap of paper you just KNOW is somewhere over here.
      Boundaries:
      set up your office hours in your calendar, and don’t feel bad about leaving at 5 pm (or 6, whatever is your stopping time)
      Calendar – I like to schedule focus time. I block out my calendar for an afternoon or a day to work on one project.
      Email – I’m very close to instituting a “no email on Friday” rule for myself.

  45. anon for today*

    Something I’ve been giggling about… I’m looking at applying to internships for Clinical Pastoral Education (the type of training you do to become a certified chaplain), and the application consists of a cover sheet of basic info like your name, contact info, a reference from your faith tradition, what term you’re applying for, plus several essays. The topic for the first essay is, and I quote, “A reasonably full account of your life.”

    It makes total sense that this is something they ask for, given the nature of the work, but it makes me laugh how casually it’s stated. Like, hello, new applicant, tell us EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU, ready set go!

    1. londonedit*

      Oh goodness – this is perfect for the people who turn up to a job interview and launch into a full ‘Well, I was born in London in 1987, my family moved around a bit when I was little but eventually we settled in Surrey with a dog and three cats…’ speech when the interviewer does the standard ‘So, tell us a bit about yourself and your experience’ bit!

      1. anon for today*

        That’s exactly what I thought of! And the irony is, being a chaplain involves way more listening than anything else, so those people… might not be good fits for the work.

    2. I edit everything*

      My husband did CPE when he was in seminary. He has longish brown hair and a beard. More than one patient he visited thought he was Jesus come to take them home, I think.

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

      I think the “reasonably” part does indicate that they don’t want EVERYTHING about you; just the highlight reel of formative events. You can probably leave out pets, names of schools and teachers, classes you’ve taken and your grades, the name of your first date …unless they figure prominently in your personal development — like your are the oldest of siblings and were the primary childcare of the younger while parents worked, lost a parent or sibling, raised by non-parent family, had to start working at a younger age to help support the family, or family moved a lot so you had a hard time forming long-term friendships and building a sense of community, that stuff.

      1. anon for today*

        You’re definitely right, and there are other clarifying details to narrow the scope of the essay. (They want to know about people and events that have impacted your personal development, your family of origin, your current supportive relationships, etc.) The phrasing just strikes me as funny, and unusual in comparison to the broader job market and what application questions are appropriate for most kinds of work vs this kind.

    4. S*

      And they’re not kidding! I did CPE a couple years back and wrote what I thought was a reasonably full account and yet got comments in one interview that they felt I was hiding things. Which I wasn’t—I just hadn’t realize how much detail they wanted. So if you’re at all reserved or private, write what you think is right and then add at least 10%. Lol.

      Good luck! CPE was very intense but it was also very transformative!

  46. Paranoid*

    Is this a red flag, or am I being paranoid?

    A company I applied to called me on November 30th and December 2nd without leaving a voicemail. There’s an AAM post that says you don’t have to call back if someone doesn’t leave a message, so I didn’t. (I took it as a bad sign that they expected me to drop everything while at work to answer an unknown number or that they possibly expected me to know to call them back even though they didn’t leave a message anyway.)

    They emailed me yesterday, saying just, “Are you still interested in this position? I want to discuss next steps.” No idea if it’s someone from HR or the hiring manager, because they used an anonymous Indeed account and didn’t sign a name. They didn’t mention any timeframe for when they hoped they could talk or ask me for times that would be good for me to schedule a phone call.

    They seem like they’re bad at communicating or bad at the hiring process (at least compared to most other employers who have contacted me). My current job is both very hectic and very toxic, so I very much need another job, but don’t want to waste time or end up in another crappy job. I’m not sure if I should respond.

    1. londonedit*

      Sounds like they could be either bad at communicating or bad at hiring or both, but if you’re interested in the job I’d probably give them another chance to redeem themselves. Maybe the person doesn’t know how to use Indeed and didn’t realise the message wouldn’t contain their name etc? I’d go back to them and say ‘Thank you for your message; I am still interested in the position and would be happy to speak to the hiring manager or HR representative as a next step. I can be contacted via email on [address]; alternatively I am available for phone calls between [time] and [time] on Tuesday 13th or Wednesday 14th. Looking forward to hearing from you’. It could be that the interview process throws up more red flags, but I’d give them a chance before making that decision.

    2. Someone Online*

      You might be reading too much into things. Plus it could be a company policy not to leave specifics of personnel matters on voicemails.

      Do due diligence about the company, of course. But I wouldn’t consider the above huge red flags.

    3. T*

      If they’re unsure whether the phone is your personal phone or a work phone, it makes sense that they’d avoid leaving a message.

    4. anon for today*

      I think it’s a orangey-yellow flag, but that if the position is interesting to you, it could still be worth responding and trying to set up a phone interview. It’s not great communication, but it’s not so egregious that you should definitely take them out of the running no matter what. If you are swamped with other interviews or the role just seems meh, maybe let this one go, but it’s really up to you.

  47. Cyndi*

    I like my job fine and would otherwise prefer to stay here, but the office is moving locations in May and the new commute would be intolerably worse, so I’m regretfully cranking up the job search machine. So far it’s looking like my current position might actually be the best-paying for my work around here–plus most data entry positions are as contractors assigned to an office long-term by a staffing company, I did that my last two jobs, and it’s a terrible setup I don’t want to go back to if I can possibly help it. Not an encouraging start.

  48. A question*

    I’m an hourly junior employee at a small company and we have a paid week off between Christmas and new year. There’s a good chance I’ll be the on call person (may or may not have the on call phone), meaning I need to stay within our city.
    1. if I’m given the phone (not a typical duty for me or factored into my compensation) what kind of compensation should I be asking for?
    2. Typically, being called in after hours is paid overtime (but normally I’ve actually worked 40 hours that week). I’m not out of line to be expecting to be paid overtime rather than regular if I’m called in when the company is closed, right?
    To be clear, I don’t mind if any of this, but I want to be prepared just in case, since the company has had problems before by being unclear about what exactly provides extra compensation. I’d discuss this with my manager before accepting but want to set my expectations appropriately. Thanks for any advice!

    1. Rick Tq*

      If your travel is restricted this may be an “engaged to wait” situation where you are paid some extra compensation the whole week and not just being paid when you are actually engaged with a call. A talk with your state Labor board may be in order.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Ooh this is a tough one because in most cases I don’t think work is obliged to pay you either overtime or any extra compensation for this at all, but morally they should do something so they are not ruining your – and only your – vacation. They will have to pay you for any time you actually work, if you are hourly. As far as I know they’re not obligated to give you any paid leave at all (they would actually be within their rights to have the week unpaid if the office was closed, although then they couldn’t ask you to be on call for free) and they don’t need to pay overtime unless you work more than 40 hours.

    3. Foley*

      Not that you’re volunteering, but is this something you’d want to clear up now on the theory that you could reasonably be expected to make plans?

  49. Kat Maps*

    One of my colleagues has been very lovely and offering me rides home from work frequently. Additionally, after we finished a large project together that was particularly stressful for her, she gifted me a satchet of tea as a ‘thank you’. Before the holidays, I would like to give her a gift to show my gratutude for the transportation she’s offered me.
    She does not like tea or coffee. She does like wine, and speaks of visiting numerous vinyards often. Admittedly I feel a bit weird about bringing a bottle of wine to work to gift her – 1) because she’d be the only person I’m giving a gift to, 2) is it weird to bring wine to work? and 3) she seems like she knows enough about wine that I’m self-conscious selecting a bottle for her.
    Does anyone have ideas for a small but thoughtful gift I could present to her that are workplace appropriate?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      In my area, there is a “wine passport” which gives benefits at different wineries – maybe there is something like that around you?

    2. SoloKid*

      If she is still giving you rides, during the car trip would be my suggestion as a time/place to give the gift so other people in the office don’t have to see it (if that is what you are worried about).

      I don’t think gifting wine is a big deal in an office. People give 1-1 gifts to others all the time (e.g. for doing extra work on a project or whatnot).

      As for the self conscious part…I personally love wine and if I was gifted a “bad” bottle I could just cook with it and I’d never say a word to the gifter. :)

    3. I edit everything*

      I would be leery of buying her wine, because I have little knowledge myself. How about something that goes well with wine? Good chocolates, cheese, a pair of nice glasses, or something?

    4. anon for today*

      Is there a good local wine shop in your/her area? You could do a gift card to that, or to a vineyard she’s mentioned enjoying. I know some people find gift cards impersonal, but in this scenario I think it could be great because it shows that you a) put thought into she’d most enjoy but b) are self-aware enough to know you don’t know much about the area, and want her to have options.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Also, if I go to a nice wine shop, I will ask the merchant to recommend something in my price range (tell them anything you know about what she might like) and I’ve never been disappointed. I don’t know anything about wine and it’s not something I really go for so I need the help. I would only do this with a knowledgeable-seeming and enthusiastic employee, ideally the owner or manager.

    5. Prospect Gone Bad*

      There is nothing weird about giving a gift to only person or to gifting wine at work. Most people will know you have a special relationship

    6. Toxic Workplace Survivor*

      Nice hand cream works for something like this, too. It’s a little luxury many women don’t spring for themselves plus it’s always handy to keep a bottle at work during the winter months (assuming you are in Northern Hemisphere)

    7. EJane*

      A really nice corkscrew could be a good gift. Something from Sur la Table, Williams and Sonoma, or Crate and Barrel. If your coworker ever complains about hand strength or soreness, go for a winged corkscrew; if not, a waiter’s corkscrew is super classy and is easy to store and carry.

    8. Storm in a teacup*

      I don’t think gifting wine is inappropriate but if she does love wine then she may be more particular about what she chooses to drink. maybe a gift card for a local wine merchant or to a wine tasting. Wine glasses are also a good option or a wine decanter.
      I like the wine passport idea too

    9. WellRed*

      If she likes wine, giver her wine in a gift bag made for wine bottles. Don’t give wine accessories or vineyard gift cards. Ask the wine proprietor for recommendations and bonus if you at least know what type of wine (Pinot Grigio? Cabernet?). Signed, a wine drinker

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

      I love fine wine, been on wine-themed vacations, etc. and have never hated or sneered at a gift of wine; so there’s one data point for what it’s worth. If you buy her a bottle of wine, try to go to a wine shop, even BevMo or Trader Joes, rather than the grocery store so that the staff can help you pick a bottle. They should be able to recommend a nice mid priced popular wine. My favorite reasonably priced go-to if you have them in your area is La Crema, especially their Pinot Noir (but I prefer reds) or their Sauvignon Blanc for a white. And there’s really nothing wrong with 2 buck chuck…Charles Shaw wines…it tastes fine.

  50. a mean one*

    Any thoughts on organizing office holiday celebrations when you’d honestly rather chew your own arm off?

    Context: I am a newly-minted manager (department chair) in US K-12 public education. I am also deeply un-festive. This is especially the case around religious holidays – I’m really uncomfortable with, e.g. Christmas celebrations in a (supposedly) secular public school – but honestly I’m not a big holiday person in general, even for things like July 4th or Thanksgiving.

    But. New manager; department that has a tradition of holding a Christmas party during the last week before winter break. I don’t want to be a Grinch, but I also don’t want to be responsible for this party. Anybody been through something similar and have thoughts?

    1. Kiwiii*

      If it’s tradition, any chance that there’s previous years’ plans available and that you can just easily execute “the thing we did last year” without having to have much investment or affection for it?

    2. just another queer reader*

      – get someone else to organize it
      – do an “end of semester potluck” during lunch to keep it low-key and not too holiday focused
      – if you feel obligated to organize an activity, maybe make it professionally relevant. If you’re the science department chair, do a fun experiment/ demo that could be used in the classroom, or invite the biology class snake to the party, etc

    3. Educator*

      I would have also been deeply uncomfortable hosting a religious-themed event when I worked in public education. Your instincts are right. Because it sounds important to moral, I would throw, but rebrand, the party. Other possible themes: Winter, We Made it to the End of the Semester, New Year’s, Thank You for Your Hard Work, etc. Put the new theme on the evite, maybe have a few theme-related decorations, and never say the word “Christmas” at work again.

      In terms of the actual planning, people only really care about the catering. Put your energy there, and keep it easy. Depending on your budget, I would delegate the whole darn thing to a local restaurant if possible. I used cafe-type places rather than dinner places to make events like this affordable. I have also hosted some fun staff parties at cheap venues that included food, like a bowling ally or a diner. I feel like it is my job to name the time and place, make sure there is food, give a two-minute speech about how much I appreciate everyone and look forward to another great year, and pay the bill with my company card. Done.

      I grit my teeth a bit at this kind of thing too, but telling myself that it is a way of thanking people for their work really helps.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        This. Make the theme unrelated to the holidays, get good food, tell your team how awesome they are, and let them eat and chat for the rest of the time. That’s all you need. Often, doing more only makes it less fun.

    4. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      I don’t work in K-12 but I am the head of my son’s elementary school PTO, out of guilt because no one else would do it.

      I am NOT a kid person, nor an overly celebratory type either, but IME people in that world very much love that stuff. So I do what others have suggested, just do what’s been done in years past or have somebody else who’s into it organize it. I don’t have to love it, because it’s for the teachers or the students, and they like it. Thankfully I’ve had two other stay at home parents take over those things, they are doing a coffee and pastry bar next week. I focus more on fundraising (with a no selling crappy chocolate agenda), donations, and over all objectives. So it works out. Every now and then I have to fake enthusiasm for Trunk or Treat, but I get through it.

    5. just a random teacher*

      If you want the holiday party to happen as usual, just without your involvement, then locate That One Teacher who really likes to plan “fun” things and ask her if she’d mind taking the lead. (You can usually tell who this person is because her classroom is decorated within an inch of its life and she’s always sending out emails trying to convince everyone else to join her class in their whatever-it-is project that sounds exhausting. Our building’s person of this nature has attempted to organize everything from cultural slide shows celebrating everyone’s family culture to monthly dress-up spirit days.)

      If you want to pivot it away from religion, try shifting it to a “Welcome back” party in January when people return from break instead. That gives people less to do in the busy pre-Christmas December party schedule, plus gives people a chance to get caught up with their coworkers again after they haven’t seen them for a few weeks.

      1. Flower necklace*

        I agree with getting someone else to do it. I am also a department chair at a K-12 public school, and one of my teachers (of her volition) organized a holiday party. It’s not our tradition at all, but she felt like it would be fun. I ended up sending a lot of the communication about it, like inviting our boss and a few other people, because she didn’t feel comfortable with that aspect. But it was still her idea and she’s doing the bulk of the work.

  51. Ragged and Rusty*

    Beyond contacting the Ethics and Compliance people and my manager, is there any other person I’d need to inform if an ex-coworker is harassing me for information I’d provided while we worked together?

    1. Rick Tq*

      If they still are at the same company notify HR and their manager too. You mentioned Ethics and Compliance so there must be some data protection or privacy rules in place.

      It sounds like you are the Easy Button to get the data they want, assuming they even still have a Need To Know the information with their new duties.

      1. Ragged and Rusty*

        I WAS the easy button; I walked him through the information in recorded teams calls multiple times and process documents.
        He left the company on bad terms and absolutely hated me. He was a bigoted HR nightmare.
        His new company just happens to have a contract for a company that uses a slightly different version of the proprietary program I wrote the process documents for. If he was still employed by the same company I would’ve forwarded the videos and process documents again.

        1. Rick Tq*

          If he is no longer an employee and won’t take no for an answer it is time for a Restraining Order. Block his phone numbers and mark his messages as SPAM..

        2. Observer**

          So you are still at the company and ex-coworker is asking for information about your company?

          Let your manager, Ethics and Compliance people AND HR know that this is still ongoing and that you are going to 1. start blocking him on all methods and 2. let his current employer know.

          And then, DO IT.

    2. irene adler*

      Depending upon the form and intensity of the harassment, security (like if you felt physically at risk) should need to know.

      Maybe IT if you think there’s a risk there.

      1. Ragged and Rusty*

        I did reply to the original message to remind him that I’d be unable to help him anymore as we were no longer coworkers and he escalated to slurs and insults. I’ll go ask security for other next steps because he sounds unhinged.

        1. Rick Tq*

          It may be he presented himself as a Subject Matter Expert when he was interviewing, his probation is almost over, and now it is Put Up or Shut Up time.

          Panic City and it is your fault because you won’t help him like you used to…

          Notifying Security sounds like a good plan.

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          You could also choose to forward that email to his current boss at his new company, letting them know that they have an employee acting like that, but I’m not sure I can recommend doing that since it might expose you to further drama.

        3. Observer**

          Yeah, talk to IT and security.

          Oh, and change your passwords. ESPECIALLY if any of them are based on anything he might know about.

    3. StellaBella*

      Forward screenshots of messages, all emails etc to his new firm (find him on linkedin then block him there) – to their head of HR, Security, and C level people. Also, check your digital footprint and tighten it down so he cannot find you. Block phone and email too once all this has been forwarded.

  52. Applesauced*

    I think our office manager Patty (f, 50ish) doesn’t like me (f, mid 30’s).

    We’re a small company so Patty is the office manager, reception, and HR all in one.
    She has never been outright rude to me, and this isn’t impacting how we work together, she just….. not as friendly with me as she is with my coworkers.
    You know how you can hear if someone is smiling when you talk on the phone? I can hear that tone in her voice when she talks to other people, but not to me.

    I say please and thank you when I ask for anything, I say hello and goodbye when I come in or out (her desk if by the front door), I ask how she’s doing, I clean up after myself when I use the kitchen or conference rooms…..

    Is this worth looking into?
    Do I ask her if I’ve done something to anger her? Do I mention it to my bosses and have them talk to Patty?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      If she’s treating you professionally, I would leave it alone. This isn’t something to bring up to a boss.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      Since you said Patty isn’t outright rude to you and it isn’t impacting how you work together, I would honestly just let it go. Some people just don’t click on a personal level and that’s not the end of the world. If it does go beyond that, then I’d think about raising the issue, but since she is still being cordial and doing her job, I don’t think there’s much you can do. Keep being a good coworker, and don’t worry about it too much.

    3. Cyndi*

      This would totally worry me too, but I don’t think there’s much you can reasonably do about it. Definitely please don’t ask your boss to ask Patty to enjoy talking to you more.

    4. WantonSeedStitch*

      I’d let it go. If she becomes rude or unprofessional, or if you find her doing things (or failing to do things) such that your work is impacted, it’s worth talking about to your boss. But no, you don’t ask your boss to talk to someone because they aren’t as friendly to you as they are to other people. Absolutely not. You COULD go out of your way to be particularly warm to her, if her opinion is important to you for some reason, as a way of hopefully thawing her a bit. But it sounds like it might be hard to make it come across as genuine.

    5. Mockingjay*

      You don’t have to like everyone you work with. You just have to interact professionally, which the two of you are already doing.

      You said it yourself: “this isn’t impacting how we work together.” Patty isn’t doing anything wrong; she’s doing her job. Please let this go.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Leave it alone. Just continue doing all the correct things you’re doing. In this world, there will always be some people who just don’t warm up to you, for whatever reason (and vice versa).

      No harm, no foul.

    7. Dr. Doll*

      Although I’m going to agree with everyone that you should leave it alone and hopefully you are imagining things, I also want to express sympathy. It’s tough to feel like someone doesn’t like you and you have no idea why! Takes a lot more energy when every time you go to interact, you have to get over the little fear-of-rejection speedbump. But you just gotta fake it here.

      1. Applesauced*

        Thanks for the sympathy! As a type-A overachieving Tracy Flick style people pleaser, I hate when I don’t…. well, please people.

        Patty is professional, and good at her job. I can’t control if she likes me or not, all I can do is be nice to her and try not to take it personally.

        1. allathian*

          Ha, that explains it. I don’t particularly like type-A overachievers either, and while I treat my ambitious go-getter coworkers with respect and I should hope that I’m always professional in my dealings with them, I’ll never feel any warmth towards them, and I suspect that the feeling is mutual. I don’t “get” type-A people on a personal level, because I find it hard to relate to people whose attitude to work is diametrically opposite to my own. I work to live, and I definitely don’t live to work, and I’m not particularly ambitious even if I want to do a good job.

          At the same time, I do get the people pleaser bit. I was a bit of a loner in middle school, and only found my people in high school. I guess I have what I can only self-diagnose as some form of rejection-sensitive dysphoria from not fitting in at school. I feel vaguely uncomfortable during our coffee breaks if I can’t face everyone I’m talking to. Sometimes there are so many people that we sit two deep around the same table, and then my back is always turned to someone, and it’s even worse if someone who’s talking has their back turned towards me. I realize that this reaction is neither reasonable nor rational, so I keep it to myself.

          About 5 years ago there was a group of coworkers who were also friend-friends. I didn’t realize that was the case until one day when I heard them talking about going to lunch and I asked if I could join them, and one of them said something like “you’re obviously more than welcome to join our monthly team lunches, but this time we want to go on a friend lunch” while making it obvious that I wasn’t a friend. That was a bit awkward to be sure. Just after that, my then-manager came the office I share with a coworker, and because she was very people-oriented rather than task-oriented, and because I must’ve looked a bit sad, she asked what was wrong (my coworker wasn’t there at the time). So, I told her what had happened. She said that it was unfortunate but there was nothing she could do about it, lunches are time off the clock, and she can’t tell her employees to invite everyone to go to lunch with them, and obviously I agreed with her when she put it like that.

          Now that friend group is broken up, only one out of the five of them still works in our team. We still WFH most of the time, and we don’t have any days that we’re required to be at the office except our biannual development days, so usually those members of our team who happen to be at the office go to lunch together.

          But there’s a reason why I distrust friend-friendships at work. The only requirement is to be professional and reasonably collegial with your coworkers, personal warmth can be a nice bonus when it happens, but it can’t be forced. Just like I can’t force myself to feel personal warmth towards, say, type-A overachievers, I can’t expect everyone else to feel that sort of warmth towards me, either. And I’m also glad that my then-manager gently reminded me of what I knew in my heart of hearts, that people are allowed to have friends at work, and to choose who they go to lunch with.

    8. Observer**

      The real question here is what do you expect to accomplish here?

      I get that you want people to like you, but you can’t force people to like you. And getting your boss involved is likely to make things worse. It’s also likely to make you look really odd to your boss.

      How long have you been working there? Perhaps if you are relatively new, she just needs time to warm up.

      In any case, keep doing what you are doing and know that if she doesn’t like you, that’s her issue not yours.

  53. Lily Rowan*

    I’ve been somewhat dissatisfied with my job, and the other week thought I would at least check out openings across my institution. Well, I saw one that looked potentially great! It had been posted for a couple of weeks at that point. I submitted an application online over Thanksgiving, and tried to put it out of my head.

    BUT! I actually know the hiring manager a little. Should I send her a direct note?

    I’m not that worried about the timeline, given how slow things move here no matter what, and especially this time of year.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      As a hiring manager, I actually like when internal candidates (even the ones I don’t know) take the initiative to reach out when they apply to my posted positions, with the caveat that if this is your first impression, please make it a good one – don’t be a jerk, don’t email me fifty times in the next three days asking when I’m going to schedule your interview, etc. But our org culture is one where we really like to move people up our career ladder, and talent development is personally one of my favorite aspects of leadership/management to boot.

      And hearing from someone I already know is just going to make that potential positive impression even more likely to be positive — the last time I had a position posted, someone that I had worked with in the past reached out to ask about it, and even though the conversation we had as a result was unfortunately me explaining why she wasn’t actually qualified for that position (as well as what she could do in the future that might change that for next time, and/or open up similar opportunities for her in other ways), we both still came away from it feeling like it was a very positive interaction, and we’d both learned from each other.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        I second all of this! You don’t want to go to the level of setting up an “informational interview” if you’re already applied: the informational interview about a position is more to learn about the job to see if it’s one you might be interested in. If you’re already interested enough to apply, then the interview request smacks of “I’m trying to get around the process.” But dropping me a note to say that you saw the posting, were excited about it, and submitted an application? Absolutely!

  54. So very tired here*

    Working with baby in daycare we’re very fortunate to afford (both sets of parents still working or mentally ill or whatever so that wasn’t an option). It’s more than our monthly mortgage and we make enough, barely enough to cover said daycare (combined total salary roughly $200k). How on earth do parents of 2 or more kids do this? Is the current/next generation one of only children? How do you balance work and kids and stay sane in this current environment (with, y’know, RSV, colds, and all else)? An understanding boss? A flex schedule?

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think this is a major reason why a lot of people have dropped out of the workforce. Couples have decided they’d rather go back to single earner + stay-at-home parent, rather than deal with the cost and uncertainty of daycare.

      1. Bromaa*

        My husband planned his entire working life around us being single-earner (me!) so he could stay home with kiddo. It means we live a more modest life than both our siblings — but it put us in a very, very good position when covid unexpectedly hit fifteen days before bebe turned 1. I was able to continue working (from home now) without interruption, and we had no daycare to be disturbed. We haven’t had Covid either, which was a nice side effect.

    2. Another parent*

      We had our two kids five years apart because we couldn’t afford two in day care at once, and stopped there. I try not to think about that too much or I get mad.

    3. sometimes*

      Understanding boss, plenty of PTO, flex schedule to accommodate drop-offs and pickups. Also I have not looked for a new position in quite a while, as I’m able to be more successful at this job with my limited mental space while our kid is small, just due to my institutional knowledge.

      For the day care costs, they do decrease as the kids get older so you’ll see some relief, although with inflation your prices might remain steady. With two or more kids in care I understand that many people eat into savings to sustain the day care cost temporarily, or explore a nanny as it starts to get up there. When our plan was two, we expected to be paycheck-to-paycheck and do savings for unexpected costs–we had enough buffer saved to be able to do this for a few years, but might have run it down at the end.

      Day care is absurdly expensive for parents and also doesn’t pay the caregivers very much. Such a terrible system and don’t know how to fix it.

    4. Casper Lives*

      I’m not sure most people are staying afloat. I’ve seen grandma / SAH sibling / other family watching kids; hiring an au pair or nanny share; one parent must become SAH or part time with part time childcare from a religious group.

      My own parents struggled with this too, especially because I was a sick kid. And childcare is more expensive now. They lucked out in paying a SAH mother in our neighborhood to care for us. She had two kids close in age to the two of us. We all got to socialize and it was less than a daycare. (Probably under the table but it benefited all)

    5. MigraineMonth*

      My sister probably wouldn’t have had a second kid if our parents hadn’t covered the second child’s daycare costs.

      One of my friends had to drop out of the workforce when they had their third child because childcare cost more than she could make. As a result, the family dropped out of the middle class and had to move into section 8 housing.

      Some parents are making ends meet, but unfortunately a lot can’t anymore.

      1. Mom of 3*

        We just had our third (see below) and are currently relying on food pantries. Both parents employed.

    6. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      Also depends on the jobs. I knew a family where he did shifts so some mornings he could stay home with the kids and other days, it was the daycare and other days it was his aunt as well. It was a patchwork system and they made it work but it wasn’t ideal. It can go sideways quickly should the daycare provider decide they’re on vacation on the day you need them, or they’re sick.

      It can get really crazy if the daycare has rules that you child has to be fever-free for 48 hours before returning (or similar), meaning you’re at home or scrambling to find a friend/parent to watch a kid that’s more or less better but still within the 48-hour window.

      I have a coworker who is proactively working extra time for her own very-much needed regular medial appointments to save her sick time for her kid when the kid comes home sick from day care.

      Those first three to five years in daycare and kindergarten are brutal. I was a SAHM and had it easy but man, they still bring home all the germs.

    7. Gracely*

      I don’t have kids, but all of my friends who do have only 1 or 2. And the ones with 2 have them spaced out, or they *both* have really flexible work schedules. I have relatives who have more, but in those cases, one spouse has a really great job, and the other stays/stayed at home until the youngest was old enough for school.

      1. Gracely*

        Oh, and also, everyone I know with 2 or more kids has at least one set of grandparents still around who take the kids at least some of the time.

        One of my friends has said the one unexpected bonus of both her and her spouse’s parents all being divorced is that they have twice as many grandparents to rely on for help. Which…I mean, I guess it is a silver lining.

    8. Pop*

      All of the above. Hoping to have kiddo #2 3-4 years after the first, we’ll probably only need to double pay for one year. Next year when my kid is 2, her daycare costs will go down as infant care is more expensive. My husband works food service so we stagger schedules – kiddo is in daycare part time – but that means we each do a lot of solo parenting and don’t have a ton of time together as a family. We are both at jobs where we’ve been for a while and have goodwill, flexibility, and supportive bosses who have older kids and remember what it was like to have littles. We’ve started to build up a support system of other care options – kiddo LOVES her babysitter who we use every 2-3 weeks. We also try to cut expenses – live in a one bedroom, drive a very old car, hand-me-downs for all of kiddo’s clothes, used cloth diapers from FB marketplace, etc. We make under $100k in a MCOL city and definitely have some stress but are doing okay.

    9. aubrey*

      Of people I know some have dropped out of the workforce, some have nearby grandparent support, one couple both work really high paying jobs and hardly see their kids, and one couple work opposite shifts, so they hardly see each other but pretty much cover childcare between them. None of these are options for everyone or ideal situations for the people involved really. Also I have a family member working in daycare and the pay is so terrible she can’t afford to rent a studio apartment alone. The whole system is so broken!

    10. WantonSeedStitch*

      Hugs and sympathy. My son is in daycare a couple days a week. My husband doesn’t have a regular job (he works a week or so out of state every couple of months), so he looks after the baby most days. He needs some time, though, for some work-related stuff at home and for job applications (and for his own sanity–spending all week chasing a toddler full time is HARD). We are absolutely not having another. That’s not all due to issues of childcare, but it certainly is a big part of the reason. And we’re lucky enough to have my retired-and-healthy parents not far away so my mom can come help out during the times my husband is away.

      For what it’s worth, I DO also have a very understanding boss and a lot of PTO and flexibility in using it. If my husband is gone for, say, a week, I can have my mom come stay with me for a few days and take the rest of the time as vacation. If I have to drop things to take my son to the doctor, my boss is fine with that.

      It’s still hard. I don’t do much else at all besides work, take care of my son, and do household chores. In the evenings, I am too beat to do much besides flop on the couch and watch TV with my husband. Nearly all of vacation time is used in caring for a toddler solo. I can’t drive, so I can’t even bring him to daycare on the days when he’s normally scheduled, if my husband is out of town. Yeah, it’s still hard. But I’m one of the lucky ones, I know.

    11. CheeryO*

      I don’t have kids, but from what I’ve seen with my coworkers and friends, it takes two solid incomes and/or family support, with at least one of the jobs providing a lot of flexibility and/or generous PTO.

      COL factors in too. Until recently, housing was super cheap in my area (it still is, comparatively, but the days of getting a mortgage that’s cheaper than your rent are gone). Add in the opportunity to refinance when interest rates were under 3%, combined with better salaries from inflation and remote work, and you have an absolute cheat code for those lucky enough to have taken advantage of it.

    12. RagingADHD*

      A lot of people have 1 parent stop working and downgrade their lifestyle – up to and including selling their home, moving to a lower COL area, getting rid of a car, hoping the kids earn scholarships, etc.

      Every household budget is build on a certain set of assumptions about what expenses are fixed and what is discretionary. If the budget doesn’t work, you have to change the underlying assumptions.

    13. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I have no idea, which is why I have no children. I wanted kids, but I’m single with no plans to find a partner and I just don’t see any way to afford infant care on my salary. If I could just magically stay home until they hit at least preschool-age I could swing it, and my job works well for childcare needs once they get to elementary school age, but those baby and toddler years I just don’t see a way to make it work financially.

      It sucks a lot, since I really wanted kids.

    14. Mom of 3*

      It is really, really, really hard. Our oldest is in kindergarten; public school would save us more than $10,000/year but it’s important to us that our kids attend a private religious school. So for us, we won’t see that financial “relief” parents get once kids enter public school. We also have no family nearby (although even if we did, no one would be available to help us).

      I have a job I really like: WFH, super flexible, great boss. However, I’m an independent contractor – no insurance benefits. I end up taking a LOT of unpaid PTO because otherwise there is no one to take care of the kids when they’re sick/school’s out, etc. The whole family recently got sick so I had to take the whole week off – unpaid.

      The math is so frustrating because I make so little at this job, but I enjoy it, and I really don’t want to be home full-time with my baby and toddler (she loves her playgroup). Full-time work is pretty much impossible as childcare is at most six hours in our area (idk why).

      Honestly, we are facing thousands of dollars in debt right now, due to poor insurance coverage (and temporary lack thereof) during my pregnancy and unpaid parental leave for both me and my husband. And I have no idea how we will be able to make it up. I lie awake in bed at night worrying about it.

      Despite it all, I would still love to add another child to our family. I don’t know if you’d call that being financially irresponsible…but deciding not to have a much-wanted child due to a financial situation that can potentially be improved is not the (irreversible) choice I’d want to make, though I absolutely respect others who make that choice. And we can at least commiserate about how much it sucks that this is even a choice we feel forced to make.

      1. Observer**

        So for us, we won’t see that financial “relief” parents get once kids enter public school.

        If you have not done so yet, talk to your school. Many schools will provide some tuition relief, and it can make a HUGE difference.

      2. BadCultureFIt*

        I cannot imagine being thousands of dollars in debt and still paying for private school. That’s a…choice.

    15. Pulled The Goalie*

      Everyone I know with 3+ children has someone in their house 24/7 whose only job is child care. Usually a parent or other relative, though I’ve seen round-the-clock nanny coverage. Even two kids can push the lowest earner out of the workforce, because they’re not making enough money to justify the sanity cost of trying to make work happen.

      I am only now, in my mid-30s, in a position where it would be even vaguely sane to try for a kid. I’m not sure it would be sane to have a second. And I’m almost the last person who has any business complaining – my husband and I are well-paid computer geeks with the ability to work whenever and wherever.

    16. Rara Avis*

      My kid (now 14) was IVF, so higher probability than average for being twins. Infant care for twins would have been more than my salary (and the caretakers were undoubtedly underpaid). And yet we couldn’t afford housing in our high COL area with only one adult working (both teachers, so on the low end). It is definitely part of the reason we only have one kid.

    17. Erin*

      One of the reasons I was a stay at home parent until my children were school-aged was the cost of childcare and how much time I would have had to take off for illnesses. As to how we afford it now, it would be much worse if we didn’t have access to subsidized care through the military. We make about half of what you do and have 2 kids in care after school and during school breaks.

  55. MigraineMonth*

    Good news!

    The week before Thanksgiving, my workplace sent out an email inviting us to participate in a “holidays weight maintenance challenge”. It’s certainly not the worst challenge I’ve heard of (the hospital who decided to do a “Biggest Loser” competitive weight-loss competition takes the low-carb cake), but it’s still an overstep for an employer, triggering for people struggling with disordered eating, and Christmas-centric.

    I was trying to decide whether to spend political capitol pushing back on it when they sent out a second email canceling the “challenge”. Yay!

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Yeah, I’m saving my political capitol up to suggest discontinuing the “Health and Wellness” newsletter they send out every month with incisive, science-based advice such as “wear a warm coat in below-freezing weather” and “broccoli contains as much iron as steak!”

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          FWIW I actually have a dietician and they’ve pushed the protein/iron in vegetables thing very hard and seem to want to get people off of huge amounts of animal protein due to all the health issues they see in people. I’m not sure how pushing back on something like that works? The point might be lost.

          In general I am not sure I would be pushing back on any of this. You’re not being forced to participate. Many people want to lose weight or maintain their weight loss (in which case they’d do the competition with the intention of not winning). It sort of feels like pretending it’s a win to shut down Narcotics Anonymous when you never went to meetings to begin with. I wouldn’t assume your coworkers share your personal preference and if more than a few do, I still don’t think it’s cool to shut down an activity not meant for you.

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            Why is it my workplace’s job to make sure I am aware of the iron content of broccoli? Why is it their job to encourage me to lose weight?

            1. Hlao-roo*

              It should not be. But because in the US most employers offer health insurance, and the employer’s costs for the health insurance are cheaper if their employees are healthier. So a fair number of companies have “wellness initiatives” and the like in an effort to boost the health of their employees and thus lower their health insurance costs.

              1. MigraineMonth*

                Our health insurance provides wellness initiatives directly, such as giving gift cards for scheduling preventative care or learning about when it’s important to go to the ER instead of Urgent Care. The portal includes a “healthy habits” section where you can earn rewards for losing weight *if a doctor recommends it*, but you can also earn rewards for having better sleep habits or improving work-life balance. My employer additionally reimburses some costs for exercise classes and sports equipment.

                I have no problem with any of that. I do have a problem with Jenny from HR trying to weigh me on the assumption that a) it’s any of the company’s business, b) gaining weight would be bad for my health and c) I will struggle with not gaining weight over December because I’ll be celebrating Christmas.

                1. Observer**

                  have no problem with any of that. I do have a problem with Jenny from HR trying to weigh me on the assumption that a) it’s any of the company’s business, b) gaining weight would be bad for my health and c) I will struggle with not gaining weight over December because I’ll be celebrating Christmas.

                  Yeah, that challenge is gross. And if someone else hadn’t already done the job for you, pushing back on that would be an excellent idea.

                  But why do you care about the newsletter. Nothing you mention there is wrong, nor is it problematic. Some of this is about the level you expect to talk to 1st graders at, true. But I don’t see why I would bur political capital on that.

                2. MigraineMonth*

                  @Observer You’re right, it isn’t worth spending political capitol on. It just seems condescending and pointless.

                  I would prefer that they allocated the money currently spent on the newsletter (both the time spent putting it together and the money to buy the raffle prize you have to read the newsletter to enter) to the gym/exercise equipment fund that always runs out.

            2. Prospect Gone Bad*

              I thought we were talking about a newsletter you don’t have to read, and a contest you don’t have to join? Did I miss the part where someone force you to sit down and listen to a lecture about broccoli?

          2. MigraineMonth*

            Except no reasonable person would look at the data and say “there’s more iron in broccoli than steak”. Based on weight, steak has far more. Based on serving size, broccoli has far more. The only way to say broccoli has more iron than steak is *per calorie*, which was not specified. Not to mention, animal-type iron is more easily absorbed than plant-type iron.

            I’m not pro-steak: I don’t eat any red meat, and recently, I have been trying to raise my hemoglobin levels high enough to qualify for blood donation. Nevertheless, this “fact” is so misleading as to be completely pointless.

            1. Prospect Gone Bad*

              You and other commenters have not been getting that there are audiences for this material. There are some people who actually want to be in a weight loss club or receive health info because it motivates them to get healthy.

              No one is litigating these newsletters they way you are. It’s better to get to the point and say you just don’t like these things instead of couching it in pretending to call out misinformation.

              Just to give you my personal POV. I am someone who ate loads of vegetables and salads and such and suddenly had really high cholesterol and had to get a dietician. It was a real blow to my ego because I felt like I was doing it all right. Apparently I saw slightly overdoing animal protein and maybe too much salad dressing and these little things accumulated into horrible cholesterol. I would love a group or newsletter purely for motivation. Of course you can use this as proof people can make bad decisions based on light info (for example loads of people not eating healthy carbs now because carbs are now “unhealthy” even though they are not) but most people just want motivation and to be a part of the group, not taking every factoid literally

              1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

                …but why is a mass email at work the way to transmit this information? I’d have no issue with someone signing up for whatever nutrition newsletter suited them, and could certainly see my health insurance provider offering such a newsletter as a thing one could sign up for, but it doesn’t make sense as a thing to send out to the whole company unasked. (My work health newsletters are usually about mindfullness and stress relief, which is one of those things where what they need to be doing is making our jobs less stressful rather than telling us to do even more extra things to destress from our jobs.)

                1. Prospect Gone Bad*

                  Is a mass email at work some private thing where you can filter off everything? Not sure it is. Also I’ve encountered many and am related to a few “my health choices are none of your business” types who fail to realize that no, actually, your choices do impact other people. I think people here and online in general try really hard to create a boundary that doesn’t always exist in real life here. And yes, this isn’t 100% work related. But I and many others have had to excessively cover for sick people or take care of relatives for years (or take care of their houses or yards) for years because they made certain lifestyle choices. When someone puts their need to eat junk, smoke, and not exercise over everything else, yes, it sometimes becomes other peoples’ problems (ever see 600 pound life?), and an email at work that you don’t need to open is the least intrusive way I can think of pointing it out.