open thread – February 10-11, 2023

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.

{ 920 comments… read them below }

  1. No questions asked*

    I’m towards the end of an interview process for a potential job (a Llama Groomer), and I wanted to see what you all think about some of this –

    – The phone screening with the HR person #1 was fine. She told me there were actually hiring for 2 Llama Groomers, 1 for Classic Llamas reporting to “Joe”, and 1 for Wooly Llamas reporting to “Christine”. At the time of this screening, there wasn’t decided if I (for example) would be working for Classic or Wooly Llamas
    – I had a 30 video call with Joe. He told me they still hadn’t decided who “I” would be working on or reporting to. He asked me questions for 25 minutes, then gave me 5 minutes for questions, I only had time to ask 2 questions because he had a hard stop. Normally if I run out of time in the interview, I ask the interviewer if I can email them the rest of the questions. Joe told me that he would tell HR person #1 that I didn’t get to finish my questions, and that I should communicate through her. (After this interview, I never heard back from HR person #1 about not getting to my questions)
    – The next video call was a “case study” where I had a set of data and had to present it to Joe, Christine, and their boss. HR person #2 sent the case study an hour before the video call. When I got it (it was an excel with some data and directions, and a separate document with the directions). I soon realized they must have sent me a copy of the presentation another candidate worked on, because it still had some of their answers! I deleted them and wrote my own answers.
    – The actual video call to present to them was 30 minutes. I presented it to them and they asked me questions about it. Again, we spent the full time with them asking me about the data, and I wasn’t given any time for questions. Honestly I thought I bombed this part because all 3 seemed very unimpressed
    – However, HR person #3 reached out the next day and said they wanted to move forward with the last interview, 2 full hours with 4 people (including Joe, and not Christine; 30 minutes each). I wrote back asking her how long I would get with each person because so far I’ve only been able to ask a few questions and I want to make sure this position is a good match. HR person #3 wrote back she’ll ensure the team leaves 10 minutes for questions. I’m now scheduled for next week.
    – The company name is something similar to “Geek Drive”, and sign off in their emails for all 3 HR people has been “Stay Geeky,”

    I feel like it’s a bunch of little things but I’m not excited about this role. They seem disorganized and I’m put off that they aren’t letting me ask questions. I’m wondering if it’s worth it to make a point at the 20 minute mark next week to say I’d like some time to ask questions or if I should see if they give me any time. If I don’t get any time, I’m willing to withdraw myself from it. I’m also assuming at this point I would be reporting to Joe since I’d be meeting with him again? I’m wondering if they might be a “drink the kool-aid” type of culture.

    This role isn’t even a next step up, it’s more a lateral move. But it’s a pretty decent salary increase. I’m looking to move because my old boss quit and my new boss (and new management team) is terrible and incompetent. I’ve also been having trouble finding other roles, I’ve been trying to find a new job since September.

    1. Norm Peterson*

      I’d do the interview and see if they give you more time for questions. I’m not sure I’d stop at the 20 minute mark to ask my own questions, but probably just push to let each chunk run long (or at least the last one/time with Joe). More money is rarely a bad thing.

    2. rayray*

      It does seem a little weird, have you checked out any glassdoor reviews or indeed reviews? That might help get some insight to how things actually are at the company.

      I’d honestly be a little put off by this process too, but I’d do some more digging if I could.

    3. Samwise*

      They’re going to give you…ten minutes? for a TWO HOUR INTERVIEW????? Hahahahahaha– that alone would put me off this employer. Unless they offer you something too fabulous to turn down, I would take their inability to give you time for questions as indicative of the culture. Top-down, titles talk and the rest of you can shut up, unwilling to provide time outside of the formal structure to get needed info, not listening to reasonable requests (you’ve asked for question time repeatedly and they’ve not offered it — either they don’t care or don’t listen, but either way, that’s a problem).

      If you go to the interview, I would really press for question time. Like, I personally would interrupt (as politely as possible) to wedge in my questions. Or use my answer time to ask questions — answer expeditiously and then before they can ask their next question, ask yours. Or even, if they get their question in, say “That’s a great question, but before I answer it, I’m wondering “My Question”. And keep doing it. This is the third round interview — they should be making space for conversation and your questions.

      1. Tabby Baltimore*

        I really like this answer, and I hope you will consider following Samwise’s advice here. I know *I’m* making a note of it.

    4. Sharks Are Cool*

      I use “Thank You,” almost exclusively. I would say the majority of emails I send are to people above me in the hierarchy, or are emails where I am asking for something, so gratitude/deference seems warranted. I use “Best” sometimes, usually when “Thank You” really doesn’t work with the context. And when a matter is resolved/doesn’t a require a reply, and especially when I’m emailing students or people below me in the hierarchy, I go with, “Have a great day/weekend,”.

    5. English Rose*

      Is the last interview face to face, or still video? If it’s in person, which it sounds like, then that will allow you much more scope to judge if you can actually form a working relationship with these people. But… they do sound disorganised and the HR email sig would be a big turn-off for me!

    6. Simone*

      Especially as you are unsure and presumably OK if they throw up a red flag and you walk away – I’d email the hiring manager (I guess both of them) and say you’ve appreciated their time and understand busy schedules/hard stops and understand the final interview round is going to only have a few minutes for questions, so would they be up for a phone call to run though some of your questions. If a hiring manager likes you they should want to make sure you have all the time you need to ask questions and such. At my company we’re lucky to have a phenomenal recruiting team which keeps close to candidates via text and phone so our candidates can really easily just say they have more questions/want to talk to the manager more and we will usually ask the manager to give them a call, if they’re a solid candidate. If this freaks them out then I’d say its red flag, you should be considering them as much as the other way around.

      1. Tio*

        I think this is probably the best way. I have a feeling they expected the writer to email the HR person the questions, not have the HR person do it, which I don’t think is super weird. I also don’t think it’s super weird they haven’t decided on whether you’d get classic or wooly llamas if both positions are open; they probably want to know you/the other candidates better.

        The two hour interview bit is the part that puts me off the most. That’s a lot of time and not much that seems to be open for you, but I would probably do it (if you have the time) just to see how it goes.

    7. Mike VII*

      There are definitely red flags waving in the breeze here, but I’d be tempted to see it through out of curiosity if nothing else. You don’t have to take the job if they end up offering it.

      I’d do the interview, and see if they give you any time to ask questions. Then wait and see if they offer you the job.

      If they do offer you the job, then say “Thanks, I still have some questions I want to ask, but there wasn’t time in any of my interviews. When can we have a call with [whomever you want to talk to] so I can get a better sense of your organization and how I’d fit into it? I’ll need that to happen before I can give you an answer.”

      If they react to that any way besides completely accommodating, then you can nope out.

      But I kind of like putting people like that on the spot if I have nothing to lose. Not everyone does.

    8. Ranon*

      The email sign of would not really worry me, it’s entirely possible that the marketing people have gotten overly excited about branding via email. Our HR people have mandatory things in their signatures as company branding that does not at all indicate their individual personalities.

    9. UpstateDownstate*

      Congrats on progressing so far into the interview process! I feel you on the job search thing, it’s tough out there.

      Before call #3 would you consider asking one of the three HR reps for a call to discuss your questions? Or possibly clarifying if this role is now to work with Joe and emailing those questions to him via the HR rep?

    10. Chilipepper Attitude*

      As others said, annoying.

      But I would just insert my questions. Here is my answer to that one, followed by, how do you all handle that process? In one interview, several people asked very similar questions. I said, you have asked about x a lot, what is behind that concern?

      I don’t tend to wait for question time but if I get it, I ask the things I did not ask during the interview.

    11. RagingADHD*

      It seems like you are ceding a lot of control over the conversation and just waiting to be given permission to ask questions- even when the interview consists of you making a presentation, which strikes me as odd. Are extremely rigid/formalized interview processes standard in your industry?

      Based on the way I’m used to interviewing, I’d bring up (in a conversational way) at the beginning of the interview that I have a lot of questions I haven’t been able to get answers about, and that I’d like to make sure we have time for them, either right then or at the end.

      Then if they don’t make time, and come back with an offer, I’d just ask my questions before I consider the offer. I think if you aren’t happy in your current job and have the opportunity for a lot more money, it would be prudent to overlook a lot of surface stuff for the time being, and see how it goes.

      A cheesy email signature is not a red flag that it’s a bad place to work. Neither is interviewers struggling to manage their time. Those are minor things, particularly if they are 2 people short on the team. Push a bit harder to find out what you need to find out.

    12. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Definitely some yellow flags here. I think you have it right to give it one more try, and move on if you don’t like the vibe. Trust your gut instincts!

  2. Have a nice day*

    What is your work email sign off? I’ve always used “Best”, but I saw the other day that it’s apparently hostile?!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I mostly use “Regards” and occasionally sign off with “Thank you” (when appropriate).

      Personally, I never read anything into anyone’s sign-off. Regards, Best Regards, BR, Thank you, Thanks, Cheers, Best, etc. are all pretty standard.

      I think the people who are likely to read hostility into an email sign-off are mostly people who change their email sign-off specifically when they are feeling hostile.

      1. Antilles*

        I agree that you should never read anything into anyone’s sign off. Most people have it as a complete default (often pre-set in Outlook itself) without even thinking about it.

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I just realized I don’t have one. Then again I noticed that people don’t have them when they email me

    3. By Golly*

      I use “Best”, too! I think it’s only hostile if the content of the email you’re sending makes it clear you don’t wish the person the best. I use “thanks” when i can’t use best sincerely.

    4. Ferret*

      There’s no answer that will work for everyone. Currently I alternate between Kind Regards and a simple Thanks depending on context. Moved away from just a plain Regards after someone told me they would perceive it as hostile but I’m probably just overthinking it

      1. Mr. Shark*

        Why did they think “Regards” was hostile? That doesn’t make much sense to me. Kind Regards seems a little too, I don’t know, weak? Overly sentimental, same with Best Regards.

      2. Siege*

        It’s a crapshoot. I personally wouldn’t use “kind regards” on the grounds it’s overly formal for my personal style, and we have a whole Thing in our organization about not using “thanks” as an email signature because some people see “thanks” as a “thanks for doing your job” and others see “thanks” as “I am asking you to go above and beyond” and oh my god my eyes glazed over while I was typing that out. But I think overall it’s really weird to read a closure as anything other than “I am closing this email now, get ready for my signature” because there’s so much variation in acceptable signoffs, and even in salutations, too.

        Admittedly, I do use “Best” and sometimes while typing the closure clench my teeth and mutter “my best wish for you to have a very bad day, mf’er”. But I like that ambiguity and do my best to keep it out of the body of the email itself.

    5. Katydid*

      I stick with the standard “Thanks” most of the time but I do use “Kind regards” frequently for my non-US clients

    6. same coin*

      same, but since my intentions are not hostile and it’s not my responsibility to police other people’s perception.

    7. jane's nemesis*

      I think it can be used in a hostile manner, but I don’t think it’s inherently hostile.

      I use “Thanks!” even if I did something for the other person. Whenever I feel weird about it, I tell myself I’m thanking them for asking me for help :)

    8. TeacherTeacher*

      I use “Take care” but I’m a teacher and generally emailing caregivers. “Thanks” works too.

      I don’t see Best as hostile…

    9. Glomarization, Esq.*

      1) I use “regards” most of the time, “kind regards” very occasionally.

      2) Life is too short to expend the mental effort to interpret an e-mail sign-off as anything but “you have reached the end of this e-mail, mind your step as you dismount from the ride.”

    10. English Rose*

      I occasionally use Best, standard is Regards or Kind regards. Thanks if it’s appropriate. If I know the person well and am feeling particularly chipper, then Cheers.

      I’m sure each of these will annoy someone. My personal bugbears are abbreviations like KR, and personalised email stationery. Such is life!

    11. PassThePeasPlease*

      I typically default to “Thanks! [name]” as I think it’s polite and works in most situations. I also like to use it always so it’s one less decision I need to make as I go about my day, decision fatigue is very real!

      I always wish I could pull off “Cheers!” but seems that the only people I’ve seen pull it off authentically are British or Australian expats in my US based office, with others it seems a bit trite. I’ve never had an issue with “Best” and certainly wouldn’t take it to be hostile if nothing else in the email pointed to that.

      1. WheresMyPen*

        I’m English and I wouldn’t sign off with cheers at work unless they’re a very good friend and we happen to be having a very jovial conversation. I rarely ever use it in written text, it’s more of a verbal or very friendly thing imo

        1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          I’m English (and a middle manager), and I sign off with “cheers” for more informal things. I kind of have a sliding scale: “with best wishes”, “Thanks and best”, “cheers”, and “warmly” (warmly is for conversations that cross into something personal-ish eg “thanks for having my back in that meeting” or “sorry to hear about your family problem and thanks for letting me know you’ll need (x) next week”.

      2. LZ*

        I’m a dual US/Canadian citizen, worked in both the US and Canada, currently living in the US and working for a Canadian company. Have incorporated many Canadian language quirks as my own.

        I use “Cheers” as my signoff almost exclusively: the exceptions seem to be when I’m messaging an exec who I don’t know for the first time (which means I’m probably asking for something); when I’m responding to auditors; or some other time when I feel I need to be especially nice/especially formal, or both.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        Same! And I know Best, is now seen as hostile, but it is still in use where I am not in a snarky or hostile way. And I think the tone and context matter.

    12. Samwise*

      Anyone who sees “best” as hostile is looking for reasons to be offended.

      If it’s someone you have to pay attention to, I’d say something like, “oh wow, I had no idea! what do you suggest instead?”

    13. ecnaseener*

      I don’t get why people think it’s hostile! I usually use Thanks, but if that doesn’t make sense I’ll use Best. So maybe I’m part of the problem, if people notice I’m using the “less warm” one in certain contexts maybe it seems pointed…it’s really just, if you asked me for information and I’m providing it and there’s truly nothing to thank you for, I’ll use Best.

      I don’t get why anyone would see Best as hostile but not Regards or Sincerely – they all seem the exact same to me except that Best feels more casual.

      1. londonedit*

        I agree. I usually use ‘Many thanks’ or ‘Best wishes’, or for less formal emails I might use ‘Thanks!’ or ‘Cheers’. Sometimes I use ‘All best’ or just ‘Best’ but I don’t think it reads as hostile because of the general tone of the email. I’m sure sign-offs like ‘Best’ and ‘Regards’ *can* be use passive-aggressively, but I think the rest of the email would make it pretty clear if that was the case.

    14. ThatGirl*

      I use Best or sometimes All the Best, the VP of my division signs off with “All My Best” so I feel like it’s not remarkable…

    15. vv*

      “Best,” if it’s more formal or to someone new, “Thanks,” or “Thanks!” to colleagues. If it becomes a back and forth convo with someone I know I either drop the sign off or just do my name. I think of the “thanks” as the equivalent of me saying thanks for your time if I were to pop in and out of their office.

    16. Anonn*

      Admittedly, I use “All the best” like 95% of the time, but very occasionally I’ve used just “Best” if I’m exceptionally annoyed with someone. I do this entirely for myself, though; I am near certain the recipient would not notice this level of small pettiness (or, the situation has escalated such that I’m ok if they do).

    17. amoeba*

      I’ve always used “Best”. Maybe it’s because I’m not a native speaker or it’s just my style, no idea, but for me “kind regards” or even “best regards” or “warm wishes” or whatever would seem too formal and… stilted? (Somehow getting that Schitt’s creek feeling with them…)

      I do generally add something else before that, so might easily be “Thanks a lot and have a great weekend! Best, amoeba”. Hopefully nobody finds that hostile.
      For short emails I do sometimes use only “Thanks, amoeba” as well.

    18. Tuesday*

      I say “Best”! I get why people think it’s hostile but I also think “thanks” can be hostile, so probably I would find a way to interpret any signoff as hostile if I was irritated enough, haha. I feel like we need more options that aren’t “sincerely” or “stay gold.”

    19. Peanut Hamper*

      All of my emails are internal to people I know. So I use “cheers” if I’m just communicating news with people on my level, or “thanks” if somebody has provided information or moved a project along, or I’m communicating with people higher than me on the org chart.

      Nobody has ever commented on this.

    20. OtterB*

      Most often Thanks (I am often corresponding with people who provide data for my job), otherwise Regards. Or, if it’s a continuing back-and-forth, nothing (not even my name).

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Me either. You’d never say “Best!” or “Kindest regards” to someone’s face and I won’t say anything I wouldn’t say IRL.

        That said, I used to say “Thanks–” and now I’m not even allowed to say THAT :/ I must be formal and robotic at all times.

    21. Here for the Insurance*

      For people I know, I use “thanks”. For those I don’t, I use “regards”.

      I wouldn’t waste time over someone assuming passive-aggressive hostility over “best”. If I’m hostile, trust me, you’ll know it. If I’m not and you see hostility anyway, that’s a you problem.

    22. Long Time Fed*

      I don’t know that it’s hostile, but “Best” makes me cringe a little.

      I usually use “thanks,” or if that doesn’t work I sign my first name.

    23. Corrigan*

      I use “thanks” if appropriate to the context of the email and “best” for everything else.

      I know some people don’t like “best” (though I’ve never heard anyone say it seems hostile!) but I haven’t found anything else I’m comfortable with yet.

      1. amoeba*

        I am surprised by the number of people who always use “thanks” – I mean, I use it quite often as well, but it really doesn’t always fit in my emails? Like, if I just write something like “As discussed, here’s the report on X” – what would I be thanking them for?

        I use it when I either ask something of them or am actually thanking them for something they’ve already done. However, in the last case, I often start the email with “thanks a lot” and it then also stops working as a sign-off, especially if the email is short…

        1. lebkin*

          For me, I tend to mean “thanks” as short hand for “thanks for reading my message”. Even if the email doesn’t ask for anything, they still put some level of effort into opening it and reading it.

        2. Rinn*

          I do find “Thanks” or “Thank you” a little grating when people do it. I think it is odd to thank someone for something that has not occurred yet. Nor do I believe it is necessary to thank someone for their time in… reading an email? Or thanking them for simply communicating with you? Why does someone feel the need to thank someone for a conversation? Are people just trying to make sure they are covering all their bases just in case a “thanks” was needed that they did not realize? If so, I’m not your bank lol.

      2. This Old House*

        Same. But I wouldn’t be surprised if “Best” could come off as a little hostile, since I tend to be using it when there is no possible way that I could be thanking someone for anything, and those are usually not the most friendly messaged!

    24. MigraineMonth*

      I used to just use my name, but I’ve been trying to be warmer in communications, so now I sign off with “Thanks” 90% of the time. It may be nonsensical in some situations, but at least it’s warm?

      1. Your Computer Guy*

        I have a work reputation for warmth and positivity that does not feel like a true match to my everyday personality and I think it’s because I say “thank you” 110% of the time. Even if I’ve been waiting for something forever, even if I had to drag someone into doing something, even if I’m contemplating arson…”thank you.”

    25. Dark Macadamia*

      Usually “Thanks!” with coworkers, “Let me know if you have any questions” with students or their parents, and nothing if neither of those are relevant.

      But I love my sixth graders’ signatures. Most of them are their names in the snazziest font they could find, sometimes in a bright color, huge size, or with an animal emoji. One kid does “Lots of Chuckles” and I can tell who made their signature with a specific coworker’s guidance because she uses “Warm Regards” and a lot of them do as well.

    26. New Mom*

      How is “best” hostile? I cannot keep up. I sometimes just sign off with my initials, or I say

      Hi (person)

      Email text.

      Thank you,

      NM

    27. Gato Blanco*

      I’ve used “Best” for almost 10 years. No one has ever told me it came across as hostile, and I have plenty of warm relationships with my coworkers.

    28. GalFromAway*

      I use “Yours sincerely” for outside e-mails. Sometimes thanks, sometimes all the best (depending on what the conversation is). I do like “Cheers” for internal casual emails – will have to add that one!

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Gasp! The hostile full stop! (sorry I know this is a US blog but “the hostile period” sounds weird to my English-Aussie ears)

    29. Ann O'Nemity*

      I alternate between best, thanks, and regards. Sometimes I’ll add “warm” or “kind” to “regards” if I’m feeling it.

      It would have never occurred to be that “best” would be interpreted as hostile!

    30. Minimal Pear*

      I use “Thanks[,/!]” or “Thank you!” if I asked for anything at all during the email. I use “Best,” if it’s a formal enough situation where I need to sign off with something but some kind of thanks won’t work. I use “–Minimal” if it’s informal/we’re pretty far into the email chain. And once we get really far into the email chain and our conversation is more like texting, I just write the body of the email.
      Oh and sometimes instead of “Best,” I use a holiday that’s very nearby, like “Happy New Year!” But there are a lot of holidays I don’t celebrate, so I rarely use this.

    31. Taketombo*

      I have my signature as:

      “Sincerely ,
      [my full name]

      Company position/contact information/etc.”

      Becuase I realized I was overthinking “best” vs “thank you” vs “sincerely.” Now it’s in a different font and color than the rest of the e-mail and signals “message is done, I put no thought into tailoring the sign off to you. Also, here’s my phone #”

    32. sundae funday*

      I always use “best” or, if I want to be really fancy, “all the best.”

      I don’t think I’ll ever stop. It’s my favorite sign-off.

    33. CSRoadWarrior*

      Usually I use “Regards”. On occasion I would also use “Rhank you”.

      IMO, I think “Best” is also okay. I wouldn’t think it is hostile.

    34. sb51*

      Wow, I can’t ever remember seeing “Best” and it wouldn’t occur to me (though it wouldn’t bother me, it’d just seem unusual since I haven’t seen it).

      I just use my name if there’s no reason to use “Thanks”. Very occasionally something specific like “Hope to hear from you soon” or if I need to be extra formal, “Sincerely”.

    35. cactus lady*

      I sign off “warmly” because when I took this job I had to move to a notoriously hot region of the country and I find the pun entertaining.

    36. fine tipped pen aficionado*

      I generally don’t use one at all unless my email requires more than one answer or action in response and/or the email is more than the old Tweet length. Then it’s usually “Thanks and let me know if you have questions”.

    37. Also Cute and Fluffy!*

      I generally sign my emails All Best, because one of my favorite people in the world signed their emails that way, and it reminds me of them.

      I belong to an online community in which Warm Regards, is a synonym for “Bless Your Heart.” If you get a Warmest Regards, you’ve done a bad, bad thing.

    38. RagingADHD*

      I use thanks, regards, best regards, best, take care, or anything of that ilk, depending on what the body of the email is about.

      The thing you have to bear in mind about online articles is that advertising and social media algorithms require continuous input in order for people to make money. Even when there is literally nothing to say. So people just make up total BS that nobody ever actually cared about in real life, just to have something to write about. And then they use hashtags and buzzwords and push people’s emotional buttons to try to get a controversy going.

      I suppose there may be a small number of people who have enough time on their hands to actually parse email signatures or care about them. Except for the rare eccentric who has managed to get a position of authority, they are not people you need to worry about offending.

      I can’t recall the last time I actually read someone’s sign-off. The information I need is in the body of the email, or maybe in the signature block below. As long as it isn’t something bizarre, the exact words don’t even register.

    39. Your Computer Guy*

      That’s interesting, I would never read “best” as hostile. But I also don’t have the energy for that kind of intrigue. I try to be blandly pleasant to everyone I interact with professionally, because I’m just trying to get through the day.

      When we had control of our signatures, I included “Thank you, First Name” before the usual block of logos and nonsense. Now that our signatures are centrally controlled, I’ve got a keyboard macro to insert “Thank you, First Name”. I just feel like it’s a little more personal/polite than just the signature block.

    40. A Poster Has No Name*

      I use “Thanks!” but I also don’t pay the slightest attention to other people’s email sign-offs, and I think if you are, you really should ask your boss for more work to do.

      I mean, if someone signed off with “F*** you!” I might notice, but otherwise anything that isn’t the body of the email just gets ignored.

    41. Distractinator*

      I will say the (usually military or gov’t related) signoff “V/R,” or sometimes “V/r,” cracks me up. It’s the abbreviated form of “very respectfully” and aside from whether or not the content of the email is or is not respectful, there’s something about the idea of abbreviating down to two letters that seems to undermine the idea of attentive respect. But I’m not Bothered as such, it more makes me giggle and be glad that’s not the culture I’m usually in.
      Mine is almost always “thanks,”which sometimes doesn’t make sense but as a recipient I don’t put much weight on exactly what polite word comes before somebody’s name, so I don’t worry about it much as a sender

      1. Orsoneko*

        Ha, my work frequently involves dealing with Navy personnel and I feel the same way about V/R. Every time I see it, my mind’s ear hears “VERY RESPECTFULLY” in a comical robot voice.

      2. allathian*

        I usually disregard sign-offs, and in inter-team emails we mostly skip them completely and just sign our first names.

        But I absolutely DETEST abbreviations as sign-offs. If you can’t be bothered to write it out, or to have it in your signature, just skip it altogether if the alternative is to put the abbreviation in. Yes, I do realize that this is very much a me problem.

    42. Madame Arcati*

      I use Many Thanks if thanks are even vaguely appropriate which tbh they often are, then Regards or Rgds if not.

      If I write Kind Regards it means “and the horse you rode in on” but that’s just me lol.

  3. Waffles*

    I would love to get everyone’s opinions on this. 

    I work in family law which is very emotionally charged and draining. We see people at their worst and most stressful times in their lives. Professionally, we have probably the highest rate of burnout in the legal world because of all this.

    My coworker sometimes makes negative comments about clients with BPD/bipolar/etc. Nothing toooo bad but just about how they are hard to work with, she doesn’t enjoy it, she wishes she had less of those clients. As someone with very controlled and managed BPP, it’s really hard for me to listen to these comments. I don’t know what I can say without “outing myself”. 

    Am I doomed to listen and bear it and try not to take it personally?

    1. different seudonym*

      You can say it bothers you but frame it as being about “someone close to me” as a way of testing the water. If they get more hostile, then you know it’s hopeless. If they dial it back, you have an incremental win, and you can revisit the question of disclosing in 6 months.

    2. Emm*

      That sounds awful! I don’t work in law, but I’m sure she shouldn’t be gossiping about clients like that. I understand it may be difficult for you to bring it up, but there’s no need for you to reveal your personal history in order to ask your coworker to keep those comments to herself. Maybe you can frame it as a matter of professionalism, if that helps. And if you feel like you can’t say anything without “outing yourself,” is there someone else you could address this with to have them say something to her?

      1. Bagpuss*

        I don’t get the sense that she is gossiping, more venting to a colleague. As Waffles says, Family Law is draining, it’s all confidential so you can’t talk about it to friends or family except in very vague terms so being able to talk to and vet to collogues is pretty normal and healthy.
        I think the issue is with how she is talking about specific clients, and the fact that it seems to be ‘dealing with Mr X is really hard because he had BPD” or “I hate dealing with those people with BPD”. If it was more “I’ve just had a long meeting with Mr X, I find him really hard work because he constantly talks over me / uses sexist slurs against his wife / whatever” it would be easier to cope with as she would be talking any the individual’s actions, not their diagnosis.

        Waffles, I think in your position I might try the line different seudonym suggests, or you could just say ‘I get that [name] is really hard to deal with, but when you focus on not wanting to deal with clients who have BPD it comes over as pretty stigmatizing and it’s not pleasant to hear. Can you focus on the individuals and their actions, not on any medical diagnosis they may have?”

        On a professional note I would also be worried as to whether she is letting her prejudice affect how she deals with those clients and whether she is able to be professional in dealing with them, and whether she is working as effectively on their cases as she would if they didn’t have that illness – if she doesn’t stop it may be that raising it with her supervisor on that basis might be worthwhile. What would the approach be if she was making a similar sort of comment based on a clients race or gender?

        1. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

          Cosigning Bagpuss.
          Both as a person with a stigmatized mental health diagnosis, and a person who frequently finds people people difficult for diagnosis-independent behaviors they like to blame on their diagnosis if they have one… I wish people would lay off the focus on diagnosis labels. Like race, gender, religion, other protected class labels, they’re rarely as relevant as people tend to assume.

        2. Mom2ASD*

          How does she even know whether her clients have a mental illness or not? My guess is that she doesn’t – but that there are people she doesn’t like, and she has an impression of what BPD looks like, and she is (incorrectly) attributing this diagnosis to people who are disagreeable.

          BPD does NOT equal “asshole”. It’s a mental illness characterized by severe mood swings, depression, mania (grandiose thinking), etc. It comes in several flavours of severity.

          It sounds to me like she’s conflating BPD with narcissism, ODD, or another disorder of personality, which are totally different things, and which she is also highly unlikely to be qualified to armchair diagnose. Even there, a diagnosis does not equate to “asshole” by definition. (I know someone who is very likely a narcissist. Surprisingly lovely person – just highly anxious, attention seeking, and self-absorbed to a pathological extent. Not evil, just badly damaged, got some unfortunate heredity of mental illness, and coping as best they can with therapy.)

          Anyway, I agree with you that she’s being discriminatory/prejudiced (and probably mistakenly so) against people she perceives as having mental illnesses, and it is NOT a nice attitude. If I were you, I would ask her if she is seriously complaining about clients on the basis of their mental illnesses, and had she thought about how that makes the firm look. I might even go as far as speaking with the managing partner about it – the very last think the firm needs is someone in a public-facing role making statements derogatory towards people with a disability.

          1. RagingADHD*

            If they work in family law, it is extremely likely that the clients have had psychological evaluations that are part of the court record. Certainly, in a custody battle, if one parent had severe symptoms of BPD or bipolar that was not well-controlled, it would be entirely correct and relevant for the other parent’s attorney to demand an evaluation.

            In some cases, CPS may be involved. Family law is exhausting for a lot of reasons, and one reason is that it often involves children suffering the effects of their parents’ problems. When everyone is behaving reasonably and responsibly and there are no blatantly obvious signs of untreated (or undertreated) mental illness, that’s an easy case that no lawyer would have reason to complain about.

            On the other hand, when you’re trying to advocate for your client to maintain visitation or parental rights after having severely abused or neglected their child when they were off their treatment plan, that’s freaking exhausting and morally wrenching.

      2. New Mom*

        I work in a stressful setting that supports vulnerable populations, and it’s important for me to be able to talk about tough cases with colleagues. I would never go home and/or spread information about a client, but it does help to talk things out/vent with others who know the situation and know that they must be confidential about it.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      Can you ask her to not make those comments around you? You can frame it as “I have a [family member/loved one] with BPD, so it’s difficult for me to listen to your comments about clients with BPD and bipolar disorder. Can you not make those comments when you’re around me?”

      If you get the sense that she won’t respond well to the request (for example, if you think she’ll then start on “oh, who in your family? it must be tough to be around them,” etc.), then this is not the right approach and you may be stuck with just tuning those comments out as best you can.

    4. English Rose*

      How horrible, difficult not to take it personally. Perhaps she doesn’t realise how badly she comes across. As others have said, framing it as a friend or family member is an option. Or be even more straightforward, still without outing yourself, some script around how inappropriate these comments are. Certainly if you were her manager you should be saying this, but you may not have standing to do it. Does her manager ever overhear these remarks?

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      You can push back on it without making it specific or personal to you. “Hey, I get that you’re frustrated, and I’m sorry, but I feel bad hearing complaints about people because of an illness that they didn’t choose to get. I know we’re all kind of emotionally fried here because of the stuff we deal with, but can you please try to be a little more empathetic in the way you talk about these clients?”

    6. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      Maybe something like “I realise you might not mean it in a horrible way, but I’ve realised I’m not entirely comfortable with that kind of grumble, because any of us could have mental health troubles, and it’s not their fault. I’m not saying never grumble, it’s fine to grumble about people being arsey in general, but any chance you could cool it with that particular type of comment?”

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

      She’s experiencing people at their worst, whether they have an illness or not, so you might get a small win if you remind her of that part the most rather than reveal your own personal details…the vast majority of people with bipolar disorder, or any other illness, do not behave the way she is experiencing them. Challenge her to replace “bipolar” with any of the other characteristics that society is biased against and see if makes a difference… would she say people of (race/national origin/culture/religion/economic status/etc) are hard to work with, and she wishes she had fewer of those clients?

    8. Velawciraptor*

      I’d take the straight up professionalism route: “we serve the clients in front of us without judgment. In addition to the fact that these comments fly in the face of that professional expectation, you don’t know which of your colleagues deal with these issues in their personal lives either themselves or with a loved one, so you don’t know which of your colleagues you’re alienating when you make these comments. Discretion is the better part of professionalism, especially in our line of work, so choose your words accordingly.”

      Also, if your state has a JLAP (Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program) or something along those lines, perhaps suggest they get in touch with a professional to vent about these things too. Therapy can be a good self-care tool to prevent against the burnout that comes with certain legal specialties and that would be a more appropriate space for your colleague to be processing those thoughts and feelings.

    9. Jenny*

      I think it’s hard because your coworkers comments can be legitimate without being a criticism of you. I have a sibling with bipolar disorder and have had to live through some very scary and stressful situations. This doesn’t mean I don’t love my siblings or dislike people with bipolar disorder, just that it’s a pernicious disease that’s really hard to cope with sometimes.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        My friend is a nurse working in public health with vulnerable people. She spends her days working directly with people with really complicated stuff – combinations of trauma, abuse, mental illness, physical illness, various types of addiction. She’s amazing at it, and very compassionate and caring.

        I’ve also heard her vent specifically about dealing with patients with borderline personality disorder, and how particularly drive her up the wall stressful they are to deal with. So I agree that the fact that she’s finding it difficult and wants to vent does not mean she’s prejudiced about mental illness in general, but that dealing with particular types of (uncontrolled) mental illness is really hard to do on a daily basis in stressful situations.

        So I’d approach it from an “I’m not a good person to vent to” perspective rather than a “you’re a terrible person” perspective.

    10. Justin*

      I had a coworker who said stuff like that. I do not have the things listed but I do have mental health issues and given we interfaced with public employees, it was a real bad look. I was not confident at my last job so I emailed my boss who told him to cut it out and he apologized to me.

      These days I’d be real direct. Choose your own adventure.

    11. theletter*

      I think it might worth framing it as a matter of compassion for your clients who are going through one of the worst experiences possible. Armchair diagnosis isn’t really appropriate in these situations.

      If its not a matter of armchair diagnosis, but a known diagnosis, then it might be better framed as a matter of respect for those clients. If working with them it too stressful, they should remove themselves from the case or find a different way of dealing with the stress. Family law is super stressful! Lawyers have to find a way to manage it without taking it out on clients or venting behind the scenes.

    12. Somehow_I_Manage*

      I’m kind of mortified for your colleague. I’d assume she’s just woefully ignorant…but not only does that mean she hurts your feelings every day, but she’s also probably not treating these clients with the compassion they deserve. And it could be fixed!

      I don’t know the best way to get to this endpoint, but some sort of sensitivity training and mental health education training seems NECESSARY to muster the empathy to do your work well. Perhaps there’s a way you can advocate for that to your management without being specific.

    13. Jenny*

      I think there is an interesting ethical issue here too. You have a client who has a pattern of making different legal decisions during a manic phase but they’re not manic to the point of a competency issue. Ethically, you should respect your client’s wishes. But if you have experienced a pattern and know you’re also expending resources and making changes that will just get reversed what are your ethical duties.

      There are quite a few ethics guides for dealing with clients with mental health issues and I think this is worth exploring as a firm if your client base is perhaps over represented in this area.

      Coming up with some clear guidelines for how to handle certain situations (when your client is being abusive, when you receive instructions that don’t make sense). That should help your colleague’s frustration.

    14. Educator*

      I like what folks are saying in these comments about keeping the focus on professional responsibilities and the importance of empathy in your work.

      I really don’t think you need to talk about “someone close to you” with BPD. It is not bad to be ableist because someone with a medical condition or who cares about someone with a medical condition might hear it. It is bad to be ableist because everyone has a fundamental right to be treated with dignity as a human being.

      This kind of conversation happens sometimes in education too—lots of empathy on the burnout!—and as a supervisor, I am always glad to know about it so that I can address any biases directly with staff members and provide appropriate retraining.

    15. JSPA*

      If they’re cillifying people, that’s not ever OK.

      BUT

      If they’re mostly expressing exhaustion and distress at the challenge, that’s not intrinsically disrespectful.

      In that second case, mentally shoehorn in the words, “uncontrolled and intrusive.”

      (You could also remind them to stick to person first language, and ask them to include “uncontrolled” out loud. But you can hear that implied statement, even if they don’t supply it.)

      Yes, there’s also the fact that they find this variant of uncontrolled / active / intrusive problem to be particularly stressful.

      But…they’re allowed to find some things harder / more stressful. Everyone has some stuff they do more easily, and other stuff that’s generally a slog for them.

      Some people are extra stressed by dealing with [specific type of substance] users. Some people are triggered by other people’s [specific type of self-injury or restriction]. The practicalities of not knowing which way your client will be functioning, and whether you need to adjust facts and expectations one way or the opposite way is legitimately extra-challenging, and can mess with anyone’s sense of being a prepared, coping professional.

      So if the message is, “dealing with uncontrolled bipolar is like trying to walk normally during a massive earthquake, I know I’m doomed to fail at some point,” you can probably be sympathetic. Both to the coworker and to their clients, and to the fact they wish they could do better for their clients.

      But if they’re prejudiced, or making “it’s not controllable, they’ll never be fine, why do we bother” comnents– that’s 100% unacceptable, and the unacceptability is baked into the statements themselves, in a way that has nothing to do with your own diagnosis.

      ” It really bothers me when we talk down any of our clients, or imply that they could never find a path towards improving their conditions. I understand that you’re feeling a need to vent, but I am not the right person to vent to, in this way.”

    16. RagingADHD*

      Is your colleague venting about the difficulty of working with these clients in terms of the attorney-client relationship, and the clients are high-maintenance or stressful? Or about the facts of the case being emotionally difficult to deal with, because the client caused harm to other people due to their symptoms?

      If it’s the former, I think the discussion of professionalism is relevant. If it’s the latter, I think you need to just let your colleague know that you aren’t the right audience for this conversation because you don’t have the bandwidth for it. She may have a legitimate need to process some stuff, but you don’t have to be the person she processes it with.

  4. Middle Manager No More*

    I’m in policy role in my organizations headquarters and I’m the lead assigned to 3 of our regional offices. One of them is the regional office I previously worked at and we have a great relationship- they keep me in the loop on key issues, respond to my requests timely, include me in meetings and decisions I should be in, etc. The second is an okay relationship- obviously I don’t have as many tight connections there as my prior office but we work together well and they are pretty good at keeping me in the loop. The third feels like an impenetrable fortress- they leave me off communication I should be on, don’t include me in meetings, aren’t responsive to my requests for information, if I schedule meetings they will send low level staff (with no authority to fulfill the mission of the meeting) instead of the managers I requested. Generally the vibe is I’m a nuisance to them and they don’t consider it necessary to interact with me. This clearly comes from the top- the regional director is the ringleader of the freeze- if I manage to make it into a meeting with her, she basically never misses an opportunity to make some rude remark to me. But she outranks me in the organization and is a nationally respected subject matter expert and generally she’s allowed to operate however she likes by senior leadership.

    But people expect me to be up to date with the general goings on in their office and so I feel like I’m just failing epically at a third of my job. It’s not infrequent that the first time I learn about something they are doing is from the budget office or government affairs office asking me, “Can you give me some context on why Region 4 is doing X?” and, internally, I’m like “news to me that Region 4 is doing X” and feel great panic about needing to figure out ASAP so I don’t look completely incompetent. On one hand, they are kind of known for being hard to work with, so maybe people aren’t holding it against me. But on the other, they clearly keep other HQ specialists (Budget, Government Affairs, Communications) in the loop MUCH more then they do me, so maybe it is making me look bad. I’ve bent over backwards to be kind to them, to understand their programs, to offer them help, to accommodate their schedules, anything I can think of to get them to let me “in”. But – and I’m starting to feel hopeless after a year in the role and nearly zero progress breaking the freeze. HELP! Is there anything I can do to get this region to essentially let me do my job?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      A standard move would be to loop in your manager about the problem. Explain that your normal approach of x elicits useful data from two of the offices, but nothing from the third. Go over other solutions you have tried thus far. Ask for their assistance in building cooperation with the third office.
      An out of the box solution would be to get approval to work out of the third office for some period of time – depending on distances and your personal commitments, of course. But if you were physically there for a week or two a month for three or four months, you would build relationships and they would get to know you as a professional worth responding to!

      1. Bagpuss*

        Yes, I agree with all of this.
        And if there is someone more senior than the regional manager you could try to get a meeting set up with you, regional manager and Senior Person to try to address it – not accusing her of deliberately freezing you out, but naming the problems of lack of response , people being sent to meetings who can’t effectively participate etc and approach it as ‘what can we do to fix this’
        Also, would it be possible for you to chat to the other HQ specialists to se whether any of them had similar issues and how they managed to fix them? (For meetings – is there any overlap for joint meetings so that the regional office is meeting with you and also one of the other HQ specialists? F so, then wither they freeze you both out and you have someone else who can corroborate what you are saying, or they behave professionally so as not to show themselves up, and you get the info / access you need.

    2. JN*

      Not sure if it’s possible but can you travel to the regional office to have some meetings in person or work out of that office for a few days? I’ve had to work with colleagues in other regions that seemed icy and some informal coffee or after-work beer chit chat has helped warm up the relationship.

    3. DivergentStitches*

      I’d bring it up to my own manager, ask how they want you to proceed, and document everything.

    4. Supervisorintraining*

      Have you tried talking with the other HQ specialists to see how they stay in the loop? They might have some specific tricks/meetings/distributions/etc. they are on to keep themselves informed.

      The other thing to consider is why (per your vibe check) does the site see you as a nuisance? I’ve worked with Corporate before and my experience with them is one of two: they’re knowledgeable and helpful to the site or they’re focused on their own work and the sites needs are secondary if ever addressed. The first kind is always welcome and the second type is tolerated if we have to.

      Your comment does not cover any help you provide to the site, which begs the question:
      Other than staying informed of their business, are you actually helping Region 4 with their problems/issues?

      1. Middle Manager No More*

        Totally agree with those two types of corporate- and I would love to be the helpful type. But it’s hard to be helpful when they keep you in the dark about pretty much everything. Here and there I’ve been able to help them get an approval pushed through, but for the most part I’m pretty sure they see me as useless and I feel pretty useless too.

        1. Supervisorintraining*

          In that case, I think your best bet at changing that would be being on site for a period of time, circumstances permitting. That will give the personal aspects of people seeing you and interacting with you more. In addition, going to their normal stand-ups/meetings, you might be able to pick up on issues they are dealing with locally and (on your own initiative) address a handful, which can change their perspective on you. Also, when you are locally there, you can scout for :

          1) individuals who you normally wouldn’t work with, but can keep you in the loop once you’re back in the central offices.

          2) Potential “Clients”: Local folks who are happy to take your help (and sing you praises) who are not the usual folks you are expected to work through.

          Last thing I can say is spending some time you’ll notice differences in how the site works (either best practices to bring to other sites or areas where you know ways other sites do it better).

    5. Jinni*

      Someone will probably have a better answer about working with the snarky SME, but are you or can you get close to one or other of the HQ specialists (Budget, Government Affairs, Communications) to get you in the loop?

      I’d find someone who shared some kind of affinity and reach out via phone. (Hey we went to x college, are from X town, etc., I’d love to chat with you, can you keep me in the loop)? Smoother than that of course, but that’s the gist.

    6. Me ... Just Me*

      Are they not responding to requests in a timely manner for information or just not volunteering information? Are there specific things related to Policy that they are negligent on or that need improving? Are they behind on any sort of deliverables that you need from them?

      I’m just trying to get a picture of what concrete type things you are wanting/needing from them.

    7. Mill Miker*

      When you show up for a meeting and they’ve not sent the people you actually need to talk to, is it possible to just end the meeting there, and tell them you’ll reschedule for a time when the people you need to talk to are actually available, and just keep doing that?

      Also, if they’re supposed to be keeping you in the loop, and you’re also requesting information that they’re not giving you, then I don’t think it’s incompetent to admit when you’re blindsided by something another office asks about. I think it’s fair to say something like “My records say they’re not, and they should looped me in or mentioned it in one the reports I requested if they were.”

      You’ve tried being nice, so if you think you can get away with it, I’d try pulling back to just being professional without covering for them.

    8. Somehow_I_Manage*

      The way your job is structured, you’re not actually able to be a manager because you don’t have any power. If they’re not going to empower you to do your job, than the job can’t be done. Unfortunately, the only path forward is to escalate this, and discuss the boundaries of your position with senior leadership, and solicit their support in enforcing compliance with their organization.

      This is similar to letters that come in about improving direct report performance when it turns out their supervisor has no power to hire, fire, adjust salary, or put staff on an PIP. It can’t be done.

      /I hope that’s a relief, by the way. Even if you *won them over* with winsome charm, you’d still be ineffective. They shouldn’t be facilitating your work as a courtesy. It is their job!

      1. Middle Manager No More*

        This hits home. I don’t feel empowered to do my job at all (or this third of it at least). I think escalating is the right next step. Thanks for the input!

    9. JSPA*

      When they’re that siloed, I tend to think funny things may be happening with money and/or contracts. Not getting the mud on you may be the best you can hope for???

    10. MurpMaureep*

      I’d escalate to your management. Describe how interactions with the other groups go well and you get what you need, but frequently hit roadblocks with the third group. I wouldn’t even bring up that their leadership is the problem. Simply describe what you are seeing (not having the right staff in meetings, learning of things late in the game, etc.). Then ask your management if they have suggestions for getting traction and if they can help with reinforcing what you need to do your work.

      If you get some variant of “that’s just the way they are”, push for direction on what to do when it happens. It may well be common knowledge that they are difficult to work with, but that can’t be your problem when something falls through the cracks because they won’t communicate and engage.

    11. Tegan Keenan*

      I’ve done communications for nonprofits/government entities for the bulk of my career. One thing I always tell new communications staffers is: “You need to accept that your top priority is everyone else’s last priority.” Early in my career this phenomenon infuriated me. But now I try to make a game of it–what can I do to get people to give me what I need?

      I try to make it as easy as possible for people to keep me in the loop. I rarely ask someone to “write something up” for me; rather, I ask for bullet points, draft, then seek their feedback. In my experience, often people don’t share info with you because they don’t understand the relevance for your job. Them doing their job is not newsworthy, in their minds. I am explicit that I don’t want to create more work for people. It’s not always successful, but it frequently shifts chilly people. Especially when my work uplifts their work to someone important. Then they see the value.

  5. TeenieBopper*

    How do you respond to bullshit reasons for not allowing working from home?

    I’m interviewing for a position. I’m a good fit skills wise and I seem to be getting along well with the people I would interacting the most with. While waiting for other interview participants, I was talking to their HR person and the topic of working from home came up. I have been fully remote for three years and have nothing but positive reviews. The new job could 100% be done fully remote. The HR person said that they’re flexible and allow working from home on a case-by-case/day-by-day basis. There seemed to be two parts to her reasoning: the first is that they’re a smaller company (~50 people) so they don’t have an official work from home policy and the second is that allowing someone to be fully remote or having a structured work from home schedule wouldn’t be fair to the employees that *have* to be in the office (receptionists and engineers building prototypes were two groups mentioned). Both of these reasons sound like bullshit to me because 1- just write a WFH policy and 2- that someone else has to be in the office to do their job is completely irrelevant to the fact that I *don’t* have to be in the office to do mine.

    With the caveat that I’m willing to do up to a six month probationary period where I’m in the office 4-5 days a week to meet people and get to know/understand the company, how do I push back on this? If you have experience with other reasonable sounding but in actuality garbage reasons for being against WFH, I’d like to hear those too, just so I can be prepared. I realize I could be in a position were my only real power is being willing to walk away and being explicitely clear that WFH is the reason why (because I am and it is) so that they know it’s cost them at least one person they wanted to hire.

    1. Valancy Snaith*

      Why do you think, that as someone who doesn’t work for the company in question and doesn’t have the full scope of understanding of their business, you have the ability to describe it as bullshit, or that you can push back on it at all? Withdraw, tell them why, move on with your life.

      1. Tuesday*

        I kind of agree. I think that without actually working there, you don’t have the full picture of their reasons for wanting people in the office. There are many jobs that seem like they could be done fully remotely but there are benefits to being in-person, like collaboration or professional advancement that might be highly valued here. It’s one thing to say you only want to work 100% remote jobs, but it’s another to say that every company should allow 100% remote work just because that’s your preference.

      2. TeenieBopper*

        Because the job they’ve described in both interviews is basically the same thing I’m doing now, and have been doing – successfully – while fully remote for the past three years.

        1. Tuesday*

          Sure, but every company is different. I’m a copywriter and have worked fully remote and freelance for many companies doing exactly what I do now, but this workplace really prioritizes off-the-cuff collaboration and it would be a significant hardship if part of our team wasn’t here. It’s not a bad workplace just because they don’t offer a fully remote option. It’s just the culture here.

        2. Anonny*

          That’s great, but it’s not how THEIR company works. They have every right to say they only do flexible day-by-day WFH and don’t support full WFH. You have no insider knowledge as to how they work on an operating level at their business as a potential employee.

          If you want to work remote, apply to jobs that explicitly say they are remote. Don’t waste your efforts on a company that does not align with your personal needs as a worker, it will just stress you out!

        3. Simone*

          Some places really value in person! I worked in HR years ago at a locally owned manufacturing place. 20 years old, grown from 10 to 100-150 people, 75% of which were working the floor/line workers, the rest engineering, management and admin. I’ve moved on to other things but kept in contact, some of the management were family friends, and they are vehemently against it even in the hight of covid, they closed for a few weeks and then fully reopened. In general they are very old school and one of the reasons I left, but…
          1. Most of the employees do have to be there, so they don’t want to have to accomodate any of the remote “stuff” – they literally don’t have anything like zoom, they fairly recently moved to laptops from desktops and only for some employees. Some of the folks are so “paper” based that it really would be hard for those people to adapt event though with like a week of setting up some new processed most of admin could go remote.
          2. Manufacturing, at least how they operate, is still paper based. Even finance does a fair amount of paper related work around inventory and cost of labor.
          3. They think its unfair for some people to have different perks/benefits. This limits their hiring BUT I get the principle, they were big on that even management has the same vacation and benefits and lunch time that the shop floor got. Everyone has the same Xmas party… So although there are people who could do the job remote its such a big part of the culture to be seen on the same “level”.

          It’s hurting their hiring, but they have so few roles a year to fill that it’s not a crazy inconvenience and honestly culture fit matters more to them then performance. They want people who want to come in every day and chat and join in on potluck lunches. There are absolutely places that have real (cultural and logistical) reasons for staying in office and that’s legit, it’s good to let those places know that being remote is the 1 reason you are dropping out (or if you’re there and they aren’t going remote push back and share that it’s important for you), but it’s not really fair to accuse them of not having a reason, even if they don’t share it with you or give a vague answer: it’s their successful business, they can require what they want.

        4. Valancy Snaith*

          That’s cool for your previous job but since you don’t actually work for the company you want to work for, you can’t say it would work for them. Every job and every company culture is different (which seems to be something that a lot of commenters here struggle to understand), so clearly this particular position is not for you. Why fight an uphill battle?

        5. Traswilihar*

          +1. Companies have every right to craft the kind of culture they want, including asking employees to work in the office.

      3. JSPA*

        Because, while there are plenty of legit, workplace-specific arguments, “but it’s not fair to people who do have to come in!” is not one of them. It’s bad logic; nothing more, nothing less.

    2. Reba*

      Not having a policy as a justification to… not have a policy?

      My spouse is dealing with a similar situation in his current job, being “called back to the office” when he was hired fully remote (and the rest of his team is a mix of local and remote, AND the local office has moved 60-90 minutes away). Incredibly grating but in a way refreshingly transparent, the stated reason is because the CEO feels like it.

      1. Simone*

        This really sucks, presumably they’ve accepted they will loose some percent of the staff and hopefully given you guys a month or two heads up so people can push back, and/or find other work.

    3. Sunflower*

      Honestly I’d just drop out of the process. Most of the world has adapted to hybrid working and they don’t want to. I doubt you’re the first person to say no to this job because of this and you’re talking about trying to take on an entire company policy while only in the interview phase. Just tell them ‘I’m only interested in the role if remote working is acceptable X days a week. If not, I don’t think I’d be a fit and it’s best we end the process now.’

    4. Jujyfruits*

      Don’t bother. Interview at fully remote companies. It will be an uphill battle and there are places already set up for remote workers.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        This is my advice, too. EVEN IF you did have standing and could negotiate an exception…where does that leave you? In a company of 50 where you’re the only or one of the only offsite folks? 49 people that work together every day, and you’re the one they don’t see and aren’t motivated to include or accommodate? They don’t want to do this, so even you win you are likely to lose. It’s hard to succeed starting in that position.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think you can really argue this. Yes, the reasons are BS, but if that’s what they’re sticking with, and this is a company you’re interviewing with, then I would say you shouldn’t take the job if offered. It doesn’t sound as if they’re going to be a good place to work if they use that kind of “logic.”

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I think you push back by not accepting any offer they might give you that doesn’t meet your own personal wants or needs for WFH. It’s up to them to decide whether they’ll alter their current set-up for the benefit of one new employee. By the same token, it’ll be up to you do decide whether you want to work for a place that’s not perfectly WFH the way you like it. I doubt that you’ll be able to change their mind with some brilliant argument at this juncture.

      1. Simone*

        Agreed, and OP doesn’t want to be the new hire thats seen from the beginning as difficult or not wanting to be part of the team. Let them know it’s a requirement for you and if they say they really aren’t open to it believe them and move on.

    7. starsaphire*

      I would absolutely walk at this point. If it’s a hard limit for you to be fully or even partially remote, and you have other options, just walk. Tell them why, absolutely, but do it. You can’t change the company’s perceptions from the position you’re in.

      And I agree that most of the reasons we’re hearing these days are total BS. “Collaboration!” my left toe.

      1. Caffeinated in California*

        This.

        Management gives the same arguments for forcing in-office work with Covid still raging as they did when shoving everyone into open plan germ pits. Both are bunk to paper over real estate cost delusions and the need for “butts in seats” control.

        Last time I was looking one company pulled a bait and switch on me, saying “Oh, you live local to an office? Then you have to come in.” I noped out, and told them why.

    8. TX_Trucker*

      As a potential future employee, you don’t have the capital to push back on this. It may be BS, or they may have a legitimate reason that you are not aware of. But it doesn’t matter because you are an unknown job candidate and not a valuable existing employee. If WFH is important to you – walk away now. Don’t accept an offer to WFH after a probationary period, because they may change their mind later. Be happy that they are telling you upfront that they don’t value WFH as opposed to a bait and switch later.

    9. ecnaseener*

      Yeah, I don’t think you can push back to any effect. You asked, they answered honestly to let you make an informed decision about whether to accept those working conditions. You could say “that’s disappointing to hear, I’m looking for a role with real flexibility around WFH after I’ve established myself” – but that’s you withdrawing your candidacy, not pushing them to make a change in order to win you over.

    10. Rex Libris*

      The reasoning behind X can’t do it so you can’t do it is almost always BS, barring some union agreement or something similar. Every position has its own unique requirements and perks. I’m not allowed to start my day before 8:00 am. Our janitor starts at 6:00 am. Is this unfair? No, it’s just that I don’t have to finish cleaning the restrooms before we open, and the janitor doesn’t have to answer the phone during business hours.

      …and they don’t have a policy because they prefer the ambiguity of not having a policy. Writing a policy takes at most, MS Word and a couple of hours. It isn’t size dependent.

      My takeaway is that they don’t like work from home, but don’t want to say that outright because it limits their candidate pool.

    11. Simone*

      Id just say that you have been remote, highlight that you’re work out put and everything they’ve interviewed you for is accomplished with you remote, and aside from an initial in office period, its a requirement for you to be remote. Better to tell them now than to get resentful and quit in 6 months anyway. plenty of remote gigs and if small companies still refuse to allow remote at this point post covid they likely aren’t going to change UNLESS they are loosing candidates for that very explicit rreason.

      1. Caffeinated in California*

        Correction: We are not “Post Covid”! Covid is still infecting and killing people, to the tune of over 500/per day, average, in the US. Long Covid is still disabling people, too.

    12. Ormond Sackler*

      I had an HR person reach out and schedule a final interview for a job that has been open for a while (so clearly they haven’t been able to find a good candidate) that really matches my experience expertise. I live about 45 minutes from their office, but they wouldn’t let me work remote, even though most of the job would be emails and conference calls. Blows my mind they’d rather wait however long to find someone to sit in the office and answer emails instead of someone doing the exact same thing from home.

    13. cardigarden*

      I would (and have) withdrawn my candidacy over the telework policy (or in your case, lack thereof). If lack of telework is a hard no for you, you’re going to be wasting your own time and theirs if you go through this whole process to ultimately turn an offer down because they can’t/won’t offer it.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Same – I withdrew on the basis of a horrible commute + no regular WFH allowed. The team I would have joined was spread across the country, very little in-person work expected but the whole company had this policy. (Sidenote: this was prior to Covid. During the first year of Covid they went full remote and announced after a year that they will stay that way permanently.)

        My spouse is talking to a company now that put “full time remote” on the job description (very common for that line of work to be full remote), but the recruiter said it’s full time in office. Spouse hasn’t been able to clarify yet, but will absolutely withdraw if there’s no WFH allowance.

    14. Velociraptor Attack*

      If you’re not willing to not work remotely, are you applying to jobs that say they are remote and this one was misleading or are you applying to all jobs with the presumption that of course they’ll let you work from home?

    15. Prospect gone bad*

      I feel like people online keep overestimating how efficient work from home is. Yes, if your job was always back office processing invoices or something, yeah you can do it from anywhere.

      I also keep seeing people who are not in management trying to manage up online and acting like work from home not always working means the management is bad and doesn’t know how to manage.

      Just from my personal experience as a Director, I do see more employees going through periods of lower productivity when working from home. Missing for hours at a time. And now that were three years into it, I’m getting more “I was not aware of this” or “I didn’t know that rule” emails.

      I’ve been ccing everyone on everything and having more meetings but people aren’t robots and don’t read and digest everything.

      I also see the more reliable people keep getting assigned more work and I’m wasting a lot of time trying to get everyone on the phone at the same time to get them off projects and reassign to the people who just happened to be missing when the project started. We never had an issue with this pre-Covid when we were in the office. If I wasn’t actively managing it we’d have a situation where a few people did 100% of the work.

      It’s very easy online to say “these are management issues.” Yes, but I can’t spend the entire workday just managing workflow issues created by work from home. I still have individual contributor work and regular management duties.

      I think it’s time to start asking individual contributors, what have you been doing to make work from home more viable for your employer? Do you have the chat application on your personal cell phone, so you’re available when you go missing for three hours in the middle of the day? Are you jumping in on new projects at the same rate as you did before Covid? Are you scheduling meetings with people at your level that you used to sit next to Earth, to go over areas were you over lap? Are you including other people on emails, to keep them in the loop, when they don’t overhear what’s going on verbally? And at the same time, are you not overloading them by copying them on everything? Are you willing to occasionally jump in and do something in person if needed?

      There’s been a lot of talk of it’s a management issue online, but I rarely hear from the managers and directors and vice president. Some days I feel like I’m barely doing my part to keep the business afloat. Like a few days recently I’ve been completely drained from stress. When that the pace I’m working at, the last thing I care about is whether somebody had to drive 30 minutes to an office or take the train to the office a couple times a month. My bigger concern is whether they even have a job to go to in the future.

      I feel like there’s been a trope of a do-nothing manager online that’s gotten worse since some of the tech layoffs have exposed that some people at big tech companies didn’t do much work. But that’s the exception and not the rule

      1. cardigarden*

        I mean, a lot of your points sound like organization culture things that, as a director, are kind of on you to make sure your managers implement. Not enough email ccs and inefficient calendar use don’t mean that telework is a failure. And multiple people saying they didn’t know a rule exists would tell me that I need to schedule a training/refresh session. These are all things that the managers who report to you can take on.

        1. Prospect gone bad*

          You’re missing the point. I said those things happen I didn’t say they happen to everyone every single day.

          The larger point is management may already be in charge of 1000 little things, now you’re adding another hundred or so little things where I need to police everybody’s behavior to make sure they’re productive working from home and away I did not need to do in the office.

          When you’re actually in it in real life, hearing “that’s a management issue” is completely meaningless

          I could just as easily say everything is “an employee issue” and just go with the school manager and start writing people up and firing people.

          Also just saying change the culture. OK? Do you realize that that could mean implementing a bunch of stuff that employees here would hate? I’m trying to give everyone a chance to make it work but many people do take advantage of work from home

          Most employees who are not productive don’t even realize they’re not productive, that’s sort of the catch 22 when I see all these threads across the Internet about how everyone is so productive at home. When I actually look at what people are doing, there’s a lot of shifting papers around or doing stuff really cumbersomely, so they may feel productive but that’s not real productivity. And yes this happen in the office as well but it’s easier to get by longer like this working from home

          And when it comes to people being an efficient but claiming they’re productive, that puts me in a conundrum. They’re not telling me they’re doing things the long way, so to find out I know we need to monitor their computer usage or micromanage. And every single case I look like the bad guy.

          This is not something that used to happen in the office because all I would take is one comment or seeing somebody pulls too long staring at the computer screen and not moving for me to pick up on them doing something wrong or inefficiently

          Overall, people really need to start admitting that work from home is a preference and stop framing it as they’re super productive sitting alone at home all the time.

          1. Me ... Just Me*

            Yes! Managers already had their hands full managing on-site. Now, they’ve got all these people at home who are spending time (and money) figuring out ways to circumvent even minimal tracking of time/productivity (mouse movers!) and then say, “well the managers should be able to figure out that so and so isn’t producing”; except that so many processes and deliverables have an expanded timeline, more than one contributor, etc. Plus, manager are used to trying to be hands off and give people the benefit of the doubt – this means that it could be many months before you might discover and deal with productivity issues. Who has time for the ridiculousness? I’d just rather have folks back in the office than deal with it all. So much easier to catch things earlier, that way.

            1. Prospect Gone Bad*

              I’m bored of the constant “I do the work of ten people working from home but can’t do anything in the office” comment threads that are all over the internet and under any article on WFH. It’s not even about sides since I WFH most days but the comments have been repeated everywhere and no one ever wants any feedback or counter points.

              I think we need a “work from home disasters” thread!

              Like “didn’t realize my trusted coworker was actually working another job” or “heating bill triple because last coworker left windows open and no one was in office the next few weeks to close them” or “had to close down a line of business because everyone refused to visit client sites” or “can’t get former employee to send back their computer”

          2. cardigarden*

            I’m a department head, so I have in fact been “in it.” Maybe this is an industry difference thing, but I’m really curious about the nature of your business where the director is able to make judgment calls about what counts as staring at the computer screen too much.

            I think it’s nice that you don’t want to put too much work on your managers, but some of the things you’re talking about should be their things to handle and not things that necessarily need your attention.

          3. Qwerty*

            You and Me..Just Me raise good points. In defense of employees – I think context is a huge factor in memory and behavior. Bluring the lines between work and home means that a lot of subtle indicators have disappeared. Some examples
            1. Too much info. We used to call it Slack Storms but I’ve also seen this happen with email. Everything is relying on written communciation, so a ton of info is being sent at people to sort through. Either they can’t keep up, or their brain triages the info and doesn’t always retain the right stuff.
            2. Work mode vs Home mode. I used to only have important convos in the office during hybrid jobs. My unscientific study from being in charge of keeping a bunch of teams on the same page was that people could remember work meetings better because their brain also associated various work stuff together like we were in the south conference room or Sally from Accounting was there or Gina wore a blue shirt which prompted a joke about the new policy. When all the meetings are over Zoom, sitting in the same spot, it all blends together. If you want to remind someone about what we went over in the meeting last week, you have fewer small details to jog their memory.
            3. Everything is text based. People process info differently – text, audio, visual. In the old office setup, there would naturally be multiple events that we didn’t even realize with how we were communicating. Or you subconsciously pick up that someone doesn’t get it and automatically pull up a visual or start drawing on a white board.

            None of these things indicate a “bad” or “poor” employee, but it does create issues that weren’t there before and affect people in ways they don’t realize. Pure remote companies generally are run differently than in-person companies, part of the issue is when you mash up the two.

            That said, I do feel like the disconnect with others made a lot of people just kinda give up? I’m out of management partly because when it went remote I started feeling like I was expected to be more of a mom than a leader. So much basic problem solving skills went out the window and never came back.

          4. Name*

            Ah, I think your definition of “management issue” is different than how I would define it. You’re saying management issue and then using “I” statements about what you do and don’t have the capacity to individually handle.
            When I think about “management issues” leading to poor outcomes, I think of that as a systems problem. No, it shouldn’t all be on you. The larger management structure, systems, culture needs to shift, and then yes, all individuals need to play their part (manager and employee). Ultimately though, there’s a power dynamic and leaders have to set the standard/expectation and follow through.
            Like, company/team policy is we leave an away message if we are stepping away for XX time. Get the whole management team on board, be consistent, etc.

        2. Mark Baron*

          Regardless of your prior experiences, not all companies want employees working from home on a regular basis. We are one of them. A similar request here would be denied. I don’t think they owe you an explanation or have to bend over backward to accommodate you. They don’t allow it….move on.

      2. Bess*

        I mean I’m way more productive at home than in our shared open-space office, and that has definitely shown in my work. If people aren’t as productive at home sometimes that can be a personal/style thing…but I find it hard to believe there weren’t productivity issues to begin with, on some level, at that point.

        Lack of productivity shows through in the work. If you are assuming people are missing for hours at a time, check in on that and check in on their actual work. You can tell if someone’s doing the job or not and if they’re keeping up with your expectations.

    16. Nikki*

      I really think you should withdraw from consideration and focus your search elsewhere. Even if you were able to convince them to let you be fully remote, do you think that would be the best situation for you? If everyone else is in office, you’re very likely to get overlooked on a regular basis. You’ll be left out of off the cuff conversations at people’s desks. Maybe participating in meetings will be more challenging for you if everyone else is in a conference room together and you’re trying to get their attention through a video call. Maybe when projects are divvied up the in person staff get first dibs and you’ll be left with whatever everyone else didn’t want to do. You’d be better off at a place where most people are remote.

    17. goducks*

      You don’t like their reasons, but you as an outsider don’t have enough information to determine they are bullshit. Having done a similar role remotely for a different company only makes you qualifed to know that it might be possible to do this work remotely in this company. But it also may not be, for all sorts of reasons you are not privvy to.

      And beyond is it possible to do the work, the employer has to want to allow WFH, which this employer has told you they don’t.

      You need to move on. This is not the job for you. You cannot get them to change the job to fit your desires. They told you straight up. This is no different than if they told you their max salary is half what you desire. You and they are not a match.

    18. Generic Name*

      Honestly, it sounds like you and this company are not a cultural match. Unless you HAVE to take this job, I’d withdraw from the process. Why make life harder for yourself by accepting a job where it would be an uphill battle from day one?

    19. JSPA*

      disease and space-wise, it’s a benefit for those in the office if others stay home. That’s the tack I’d take; more air space and the chance to spread out mean that someone who’d otherwise be in a cubicle has a de-facto private or semi-private office, if enough people WFH.

    20. Qwerty*

      This is an in-person job. It really doesn’t matter what the reason is, that’s the fact of the job. If you want a fully remote job, then it makes more sense to withdraw from the interview. You don’t need to do it in a huff, just send them an email saying that you are only interested in remote positions so you’ll need to withdraw your candidacy.

      You don’t have the data to know if its a BS reason or not. And really – does it matter what their reason is if you feel so strongly about remote work? If a job says they require 50% travel and you don’t want to travel at all, I’m guessing you would move on rather than negotiate if the trips are legit? They aren’t making a judgement about you, it’s how their office is set up.

      Personally, I’ve found candidates who chaff at an in-person job not being remote will never find a reason good enough. I’ve worked at a place where the job literally couldn’t be done effectively from home and the candidates who pushed back early in the process, then came around after getting “good enough” reasons, ended up being miserable once they accepted the job and kept constantly trying to find ways to make the job remote (it involved on-site equipment and the job ads were clear about the circumstances). It made everyone miserable, but mostly the person who wanted the remote job rather than the job they got.

      1. Caffeinated in California*

        Seriously. If I apply to a job that expects me to regularly lay hands on equipment, then I know that it’s going to be at least hybrid, if not full-time on site. I just take myself out of consideration, no matter how good the rest of the fit is. If “fit” for them means spending the majority of my time in the office, then I know it’s not a fit for me. It happens, and remote work is just as much a criterion as pay and benefits.

    21. RagingADHD*

      I think if having a fully remote job is important to you, you should apply to fully remote jobs and not to jobs that are listed as hybrid or in person.

      The employer doesn’t actually need to justify their reasons to you, any more than you need to justify your reasons for wanting to WFH. The job is the job. If there is a major point of incompatibility then it’s not the job for you.

    22. Chilipepper Attitude*

      It sounds like their policy is no work from home. You can certainly ask, but I don’t think you have any standing to push back. This might not be the job for you.

    23. Little Beans*

      My stance on this has evolved. I do work that can be done fully remote but I work with a lot of people who cannot easily be remote. THEIR jobs are harder and less fun if their coworkers are never there while they’re working. We just started a rotation system, so the people who were formerly remote are now in the office about 2 days per week. It’s actually been nice! But I would be resentful if I had to commute just to work in an empty building by myself, so I’m glad that everyone is coming back together.

    24. EMP*

      I’m an employee at a small start up that never went hybrid/remote that describes their WFH policy similarly, and we’ve fired two people in the past 2 years who joined thinking they could use “WFH if you have a reason” as “WFH as much as you want”. I wish our policy were different but it’s not, and IMO a company that’s made it this far without having official remote/hybrid roles isn’t going to negotiate on that unless you have a truly unique skill.

    25. Helewise*

      You shouldn’t take this job.

      If you’re already irritated with the company before you even have an offer in hand, it’s going to be a poor fit.

    26. Helewise*

      You should not take this job.

      If you haven’t even started and are already this irritated with the company, it’s bound to be a poor fit.

  6. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    If your boss gave everyone a cryptic warning about backstabbing and dotting our ps and qs how worried would you be? I have much anxiety so when my boss busted out with that I was super anxious. My ps and qs are not dotted I am quite sure btw

    1. PassThePeasPlease*

      Honestly that sounds like very bad management and I’m struggling with even figuring out the meaning? Could be a weird power play on the bosses part (some like to lead with fear) but I honestly can’t imagine a situation where this would inspire good work in anyone. I would be making an exit plan if I could.

      1. L. Ron Jeremy*

        Especially when they don’t know that the expression is ‘mind your ps and qs’ and comes from being a bartender, where noting the number pints and quarts consumed.

        Now if you’re talking about crossing your ts and dotting your is, that would make more sense.

        1. Sharon*

          I thought it was from typesetting, where you have to work upside down/backwards and it’s easy to mix up the p’s and q’s.

          1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

            And I’ve heard it as meaning your pleases and thank-yous! (P for Please, Q for “thang-Q”)

        2. linger*

          Manager seems to have come up with a new one: dot your i’s, backstab your q’s, cross your legs, and try to contain your p’s until you can escape this office.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I think it wasn’t management she was just having a weird outburst and because I am weird I got nervous because it seemed unlike my boss ( we’ve worked here for the same amount of time but I am not good at people)

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      I wouldn’t be particularly worried, assuming I hadn’t been backstabbing anybody. I would guess that either somebody (or a group of people) have been going to him, trying to undermine others or he has had an allegation of bullying.

      Not that this is a good way of dealing with any of those things, but I’d guess he means “I don’t want to hear nasty comment about other members of staff and I know certain complaints are malicious and I will not act on them.”

      I do think it’s bad management to be so vague and he should be dealing with the issue with whoever he believes is backstabbing, but I doubt it relates to you. In context, I would guess that dotting the ps and qs (which is a mixed metaphor anyway and I suspect he means minding your ps and qs) means taking care to be polite to colleagues.

      I suspect he is talking to somebody specific or a specific group and if you are not undermining people, complaining people for minor issues, making snide remarks, etc, it’s unlikely to be you.

      I could be completely wrong but that’s how I’d read it.

      What would worry me are the red flags here about the company. If people are backstabbing and being rude and he is dealing with it somewhat aggressively, it sounds like a place I’m not sure I’d enjoy working.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I feel a lot better even if I did apparently use the wrong metaphor. I am not rude to people at work because I can’t do the whole thing about office politics ( that’s why I’m not a manager. The whole thing goes over my head (

        1. Irish Teacher*

          Sorry, I didn’t mean to criticise you there. I assumed it was a direct quote and that it was unclear what he meant by it. I didn’t mean to sound sarky, but I think my comment could come across that way so sorry about that.

    3. The OG Sleepless*

      I would assume that there was some interpersonal drama going on between others that I didn’t know about, and it was making the boss grouchy. I wouldn’t give it much more thought than that. Even though that is an annoyingly passive-aggressive email.

    4. Tio*

      The last time I was in a position like this it was because a bad manager was trying to push blame onto other departments, so we had to be super careful he couldn’t et anything on us. It’s bad management from above, our direct manager wasn’t terrible but the one above him wasn’t dealing with it so we were in a bad spot. It later imploded spectacularly and I left. Beware.

    5. Over It*

      Your boss doesn’t know how to manage.

      My old boss would do nonsense like this about gossiping. And YEAH it was a rampant problem, but instead of addressing with with the instigators, he held an all office meeting to demand that we stop.

    6. Girasol*

      You can always ask, “Was that about something I did? I’m not aware of anything but I wanted to check.” Boss will probably say no, and there you are. Added bonus: if several people come to the boss asking if they might be the person in question, the boss may realize that a personal reprimand addressed to the group as a whole does more harm than good.

    7. Mark Baron*

      I agree with the warning not to backstab. I don’t, ever, so that warning wouldn’t matter to me. However, I would simply ask for clarification on what was meant by minding your p’s and q’s

    8. Squawkberries*

      Well ignoring the mangled expression… Im curious about what they said about back-stabbing. Did they warn you not to try backstabbing anyone, or did they tell you to be extra careful because you might be the one getting back-stabbed ? Might be that there is “politics afoot” in your org. Wonder what they’d say if you followed up to ask them if they had any specific concerns ?

  7. Ferret*

    I’m involved with organising a session on neurodiversity (with specific mentions of ADHD and Autism) in my workplace, so an open request for any useful resources on the topic! I know AAM has addressed this a few times But happy to look at any specific ideas or additional sources.

    I’m based in the UK – open to resources from anywhere but anything specific to US laws won’t be as useful

    1. Tea Jay*

      This is the ASAN (Autistic Self Advocacy Network) resources page. I was recently diagnosed and I have found the site’s emphasis on self-advocacy really refreshing.
      https://autisticadvocacy.org/resources/
      The tab “Accessibility Resources” on that page has some info on accessibility in workplace trainings, meetings, and networking events. There is more info on other parts of the site. :)

    2. DivergentStitches*

      Autistic here!

      I recommend the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) – they have PDFs about various conditions and accommodation recommendations.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network has a resources page with a section on accessibility that has some good tips for things like meetings and events that are accessible to autistic people.

    4. Tea Jay*

      This is an accessible services guide from the National Autistic Society in the UK that I found for you! It has an accessibility checklist and more resources. It seems to be more written for a non-autistic point of view and could be a good supplement to the ASAN resources.
      https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/topics/autism-friendly-guide/accessible-service
      I also have ADHD so I’ll go looking for resources on that and comment again if I find any :)

    5. Tea Jay*

      The Attention Deficit Disorder Association has a nice page on possible accommodations for ADHD and how to deal with/initiate them in the workplace.
      https://adhdatwork.add.org/accommodations-for-adhd/
      I assumed you would check the Equality Act 2010 requirements, but the guidance page has a section on best equality practices for employers as well as advice for employees. https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/equality-act-guidance#h1
      There’s also an intro to neurodiversity video from How to ADHD. It turns into an ad at 3:48… but it’s a good starting point if you can stop it before then. Also, she’s American… so, ya know, accent. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALJ3CFRRZpo
      And a full TED talk by Elizabeth Wiklander, who is autistic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qvvrme5WIwA

      1. Happily Retired*

        Awwwkkk at the How to ADHD video – that’s not an American accent; that’s an “I have a giant balloon full of helium from which I breathe as frequently as possible” accent! Or maybe someone sped up the vid 50%. I can’t even listen beyond the first 10 seconds.

    6. Irish Teacher*

      Asiam might have something useful. It’s specifically Irish, but it’s organised by an autistic man, (whose brother is actually a high ranking politician and was our Minister for Health for a while) and I don’t think most of their stuff is specific to Irish law or anything. Some of their advocacy will be, but this page: https://asiam.ie/advice-guidance/employment/ has info about supporting autistic adults in the workplace, including a video and about the whole question of whether or not to disclose and about reasonable accommodations, a lot of which is likely to be similar everywhere.

      As somebody who may or may not be neurodiverse, I would say one big thing is being accepting of quirks that don’t affect work. I’ve worked places where people have made a big fuss about my eating habits: “why don’t you eat x?,” “you should try y; it’s delicious,” “why aren’t you eating? Are you a vegetarian?” “why didn’t you finish that meal?” They didn’t generally mean any harm; they weren’t being deliberately rude but it made me feel I constantly had to justify myself. My current colleagues are completely laid back about it, never push me to eat stuff I don’t like and when they ask questions, it’s simply because they are interested and not because they think I am doing it wrong.

    7. Autistic kitten*

      Autistica have produced a report about autism and employment, including reasonable adjustments, which you might find useful. I don’t know if we’re allowed to post links here, but if you google “autistica dare report” it should be the first thing listed.

      Another resource is Autism By Experience. If you click on the “handouts” link, there is one there specifically about autism and employment.

    8. Retired To Morning Room To Write My Letters*

      If you have the budget, I would highly recommend that you look into getting a trainer who is themselves neurodivergent. Unfortunately I don’t have any one I can recommend off the top of my head but there are plenty of them out there, in the UK. If you don’t know any, perhaps you could start by contacting a disability-led organisation and/or training providers and asking them if they can recommend any neurodivergent trainers.
      The quality of the training is just better if it’s from someone who is a member of the group concerned (provided they’re a good trainer, of course). In the same way as you’d get more insightful anti-racism training if the trainer was a person of colour.
      But if you don’t have the budget or can’t do this, it is of course possible to do a good job yourself. Best of luck.

  8. New Mom*

    Is it a red flag if the new HR person that did my first round interview couldn’t really answer when I asked how the position would be measured for success or how performance evaluations work at the org in general? My current company has a very complicated performance evaluation (which the org is quite proud of) that I struggle with annually as a manager and an employee but I was a bit surprised that she couldn’t tell me anything. Everything else about the org seems great.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Not a red flag. An HR person wouldn’t normally know how success in a (non-HR) position is measured, that’s a better question for the hiring manager (the person who will manage you if you get the job). And I’m not surprised that someone new to the organization doesn’t know the performance evaluation process works, because they probably haven’t been through it yet themselves.

      If you have a second round interview, definitely ask those questions again, but based on this information I see no reason to have any reservations about this company.

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

      I don’t think that’s a red flag. In my org, HR doesn’t do performance evals; they’re just the…IDK “storage place”…for them. Did you interview with the hiring manager? That’s the person who should be able to answer how the position will be measured/evaluated.

    3. rayray*

      If this is the HR person and not the person that the role reports to, I don’t know if it’s too much of a red flag. If you get a second interview with the actual manager, ask your question again and see how it goes.

    4. NotBob*

      I think it’s a yellow-ish flag. Do you know how centralized the organization is? The HR person might not know because different departments have different practices. How new is new? They also might not know because they just don’t know yet (not great, but often HR people who do interviews are recruiters, not the type of HR people who manage that process – you’d still hope they’d know, because their work is being evaluated too, but it might not have come up yet).

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I agree. HR wouldn’t be expected to answer the first question, but they should be able to answer the second in general terms, like how reviews are scheduled & the process overall.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      Our HR person wouldn’t be able to do this. She collects them, yes, but our supervisors who actually work with us all the time do the evaluations. We’re in a different building from HR so there is no way for her to know how well we do our jobs (and there are too many of us for her to keep track of it, anyway). If you asked her that she would probably tell you that she’d double-check with the department head and get back to you.

    6. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think it’s a huge red flag as in lots of organizations it isn’t something that HR would be directly involved in, it’s a small red flag that she couldn’t tell you that would be dealt with at a departmental level (for instance) – I’d be more concerned if when you have a second round interview and are presumably speaking to the people you would be reporting to, they still couldn’t answer.

    7. Simone*

      As an HR person with some tenure where i am I could probably give a nice sentence or two summary for the roles I support, or refer them to chat with someone in that role who’se done really well, but would follow up with “But get with Jane Doe, the hiring manager for detail on that!” As HR it is not our job to be the hiring manager and measure very specific outcomes in a job (some roles likes sales this is really easy to quantify, some roles like dev ops this is much more technical), so I’d give them grace on that one. HOWEVER I’d expect an HR person to be able to answer the general annual performance evaluations with ease.
      You said they’re new – if they really are like 2 weeks in, no this is fine, they wouldn’t necessarily know either of these, they’re screening you, and yes you should be able to get some info from them too, thats not really the point of a screening call.

      1. New Mom*

        Hopefully I didn’t put them off by asking those questions. This was my first interview in eight years so I’m a little rusty. I really like what I’ve heard about the organization, but really only have my current job as a point of reference.

    8. Mark Baron*

      It’s not necessarily the HR person’s job to know that. I would ask your supervisor-to-be or departmental manager that question. I’d call (or e-mail) and ask if you could talk to whomever would be able to give you that information.

    9. Qwerty*

      The hiring manager would be the best person to answer that question. You also mention that this person is new – assuming she is the hiring manager, I would expect her to find out the answer and get back to you before making an offer.

  9. jane's nemesis*

    How to prep for a one-way video interview with Spark Hire?

    They have a “ten tips for preparing” video, but it’s about basic crap like cleaning your video’s background space, wearing clothes that aren’t too bright or busy – stuff that really just comes with the territory in this Zoom world.

    I want to know about how to prepare for the questions and the full awkwardness of being on camera without having a recipient to speak to. I am not a “camera ready” type person, so even though I’m totally fine in live Zoom interviews and meetings, this just feels so bad.

    PS: I hate the concept and think it’s very inequitable, I just want to do this for practice.

    1. kiwiii*

      Practice!

      In general — If you have any information about what types of questions they’ll be asking, make sure you’re prepared to answer those — if not, ensuring that you’ve brushed up on your regular interview answers will always be useful a la, give an example of a time you worked well with others, a time you didn’t get your way, how would you handle a disappointed client, what are your strengths, what’s a weakness, etc, etc, etc.

      But also, on camera! See if you can record yourself answering the question and ensure you sound like a person and you’re not just reading off the paper or looking all over the place or whatever.

    2. UnpopularOpinion*

      Practice, out loud. Either to your pet, the living room or your computer screen. Go through a handful of standardish interview questions.

      When I do a demo or presentation at work, I try to always practice out loud to myself (I don’t do a ton of demos/presenations so this helps me feel ready (and polish up my demo or presentation — I think every practice demo ends up finding a bug).

    3. CLYDESDALES AND COCONUTS*

      I have had to do a few of these and detest them- I find myself having to re-record my answer numerous times before I accept it and move to the next question. In many cases i end up writing a response on paper and then using it as a guide to hit all the specific points i need to address.

      1. jane's nemesis*

        This place has a rule that you can only re-record your first answer one time, and then after that, no more re-recording! There’s one minute to prepare and then two minutes to answer. I don’t like it. :(

        1. Bearly Containing Myself*

          The only way that’s reasonable for them to do is if the job requires someone to think on their feet and answer questions with almost no preparation. Are you applying for a job where, for example, you will be expected to answer questions from the news media, live, on a regular basis?

        2. Caffeinated in California*

          I would pass on it, quite frankly. They are filtering for people who will do silly things like record one-way interviews under tight time constraints to get a job.

          If it feels awkward and off to you, that’s because it is.

    4. Unkempt Flatware*

      Similar to another comment reply, I have only had unlimited chances to record my answer the way I want and submit it. I hope you get the same. It made it laughably easy to answer very polished.

    5. irene adler*

      Practice delivering answers in front of a mirror. That will make things less awkward-feeling when you are talking and seeing yourself on camera.
      Practice concise responses and find a couple of ‘sign off’ phrases to avoid ‘prattling on’ with your responses.
      “sign off” phrases = something to conclude your response.
      Example: ” to recap” + a one sentence summary of your response.
      (there’s loads of others – but you get the idea)

      Have ready – but outside of the camera view: pen or pencil, sheets of paper. Plus, for reference: your resume, the job description and your notes on what you learned about the company.

      The one-way video format is usually one where you are either given a few minutes to prep your response before they turn on the camera, or you can make multiple attempts to record your response. Either way, use the paper to jot down an outline or key words/thoughts you wish to include in your response. Then use this to deliver your response. If they give you several minutes to prep a response, use that time. Don’t cut it short to deliver your response.

    6. Bess*

      Just a note–some places are forced to do this–your eventual manager may not have chosen to do this! I work for a place that offers them but refuse to do it. Some places will insist.

    7. Educator*

      The people who come across best in these wretched recorded interviews are the ones who are warm and conversational rather than stiff and formal. I would practice with a human if you can, and then pretend that human is there when you record so that your tone says “having a chat over coffee” rather than “reciting things for a machine.”

    8. Parenthesis Guy*

      Make sure you have a recipient to speak to. Have either a spouse or a friend be behind the computer monitor so that you can see them, but the video can’t. And then just talk to them. That’s what I did when I had to do these because they’re miserable if you’re just talking to the screen.

    9. DCLimey*

      The way that I prepare for these one-way video interviews, is by writing a polite email withdrawing from the application process.

      My last company was using them when I joined and I did ask HR how many applicants we lost at that point, and it was about 50%, so I am not the only one that feels that way!

      1. jane's nemesis*

        I actually did just withdraw! I had emailed the HR rep to ask salary range before doing the video interview. She never got back to me, and I just found out I’m getting a promotion at my current job, so I withdrew. :)

        Thank you to all for the ideas, though, I’ll keep them in mind for next time!

      2. Caffeinated in California*

        This.

        One way video interviews are lazy on the part of the company, and feel like “Let’s see how many bananapants hoops we can make this person go through to get a job, so we know how much we can jerk them around later.” That may not be what’s actually going on, but it sure feels like it.

    10. RedinSC*

      One thing I learned after being recorded to play back is to sit still.

      Apparently I do not. I weave and sway when talking on camera and it was SO ANNOYING to watch after the fact.

      So, when you’re interviewing be conscious of being still, not moving around a lot, and then try to not use the ums and other ticks that allow you to process and create time.

      TL;DR – sit still and be concise.

  10. Let’s do the Time Warp again*

    A company I am interested in is entirely remote and has employees all over. They don’t always specify, but for the job I’m applying for now it says they are looking for someone “based in, or willing to work the standard hours of, the central time zone”. I am on the west coast (2 hour difference) but I have been working early mornings for 2 years- not only does it not bother me, I really like that schedule. Is this something I should mention in a cover letter, or wait to discuss it in an interview?
    I worry that if I don’t mention it the hiring manager will be suspicious that I ACTUALLY am willing to work those hours or, worse, that I didn’t read the job description fully and missed that part.
    If I do mention it, how should I word it?

    1. jane's nemesis*

      I think you may be overthinking it! If they’ve specified the hours they want someone to be willing to work, and you apply, why would they be suspicious that you’re NOT willing to work those hours?

      You can mention you like working CT hours in your cover letter, but I don’t think you HAVE to. I would say it similarly to how you already said it in your question: “I have been working Central Time Zone hours for 2 years and I really like the schedule.”

      1. Lily Rowan*

        That sentence is great, and I definitely think they should put it in the cover letter, because people apply for jobs all the time where they don’t actually want to do some of the things stated in the posting!

    2. Hlao-roo*

      I would mention this in a cover letter briefly. You just need a sentence or two along the lines of “I am currently based in [state/area] and I my current work hours are 9am – 5pm central time, so I am willing to work standard hours in central time.” Saying you already do work those hours is stronger than just saying you would, similar to how it’s worth mentioning ties to an area in a cover letter if you’re looking to move states.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        I’d phrase it a bit more strongly: “… and I would like to continue working these hours.” It is a selling point for you, after all!

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think you should mention it in the cover letter, but you should definitely bring it up in the interview.

      1. Bearly Containing Myself*

        I disagree because they might screen her out for being in a different time zone before she gets to the interview stage.

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      I would for sure mention it in your cover letter. My company posts positions like this and it would be helpful to know that while you may not live in that time zone, you desire to work in that time zone

      Perfect user name btw!

  11. LilacLily*

    Am I right to be miffed about my new line manager?

    Context: I’m in my 30s, 12 years into my career, and my experience revolves mainly (but not solely) around customer support. I recently left an old job where I was essentially a senior customer support representative and shared the responsibility of line managing the more junior employees on my team with a peer. I left that job for various reasons, main one being I wanted to step away from support work, so last year I took a platform consultant role at a much smaller company (less than 50 employees).

    First issue that arose when I started and only then found out they don’t have a 1st level support team. Tickets about system configuration or answering general customer questions were just sent to the consultants, who would then get around to them whenever. From day one, due to my experience working in support, I was put in charge of the consultant’s ticket queue, which I didn’t mind at first. However, as time went on, doing support tickets became my main job, while interesting consultancy work that I was looking forward to do when I took this role was assigned to my other two senior coworkers instead. I told them that this wasn’t at all what I signed up for and they promised that I would be given more interesting work, but so far I haven’t seen any progress on that front and have started to deeply resent my company.

    The issue at hand: I have a coworker, Meg, who’s the only person working on the closest approximation of a support team. She distributes incoming tickets, leads daily standups, chases after tickets who’ve had no updates for over a week, plus other small things. Fairly easy tasks, things that I used to do at my old job while also doing all my other duties. Moreover, Meg’s only 21 and this is her first job out of uni; she started here in 2018 as an apprentice. Meg isn’t very technical and reaches out to me every day to double check who she should assign tickets to, which I don’t mind in the least. I cover for her when she’s off sick or taking annual leave and I’m more than happy to answer any and all of her questions. From the beginning I saw her as a mentee, but last month I was told that I’d be moved to Meg’s department and thus would be line managed by her, which makes sense since we work so close together already.

    I expressed my hesitancy to my manager, phrasing it as seeing Meg as a peer. He explained that the move was only structural and that I’d still be a part of the consultant’s team, so Meg would just be responsible for approving leave and leading my 1-2-1s. HR got a wind of this and called me into a meeting to hopefully assuage my fears, and the bottom line of that meeting was that this was the natural progression to Meg’s career, that they wouldn’t have offered the role to Meg if they didn’t think she could take it on, and to just come at it with an open mind.

    I haven’t said this to my boss, to Meg or to HR, but I honestly feel disrespected, like my decade-plus of work experience doing what I do means nothing to them. I also feel like getting Meg to line manage someone who’s a lot more senior than her career-wise is a disservice to her; she’d be better suited (and it’d be a lot less intimidating I’m sure) to start her career as a line manager by mentoring someone who’s more junior and has just begun their career working customer support.

    Needless to say I’ve been looking and applying for jobs (and I’m seriously considering quitting after our bonuses are deposited next month, as I have some savings and my mental health has taken a big hit ever since I began having issues with the job) but I’m also wondering… am I overreacting? Or am I right to be a little offended by this weird structural change my company’s imposing on me?

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      You’ve got pigeonholed and “typecast” as a support desk analyst instead of consultant and in my experience that’s a very difficult situation to get out of without moving elsewhere. You aren’t overreacting. BTW I feel like Meg has been given this “promotion in name only” as a response to saying she wants leadership opportunities. For some reason they see her as on her way up.

    2. DivergentStitches*

      I wouldn’t have been happy with it either. You say they “offered” the job to Meg, why didn’t they consider offering it to you, if you were going to be moved to that team? That would make more sense to me, since you’ve already been mentoring her.

      1. LilacLily*

        I say “offered”, but it wasn’t like the job was posted; she’s the lead for a one person department, so by default, anyone who joins her department sits immediately under her. She’s told me she’s excited to try her hand at line management and she’s going to be trained on it before taking it on, so it’s not like this was imposed on her.

        At the end of the day I’m the new gal in a very small, tight-knit company. She’s been with them for 5 years and if I had to guess she must’ve mentioned to her line manager that she’s keen to progress her career somehow because at the moment there’s no upwards mobility to her role, so they moved some things around and this is the best/least worse solution they came up with. I feel for Meg, I really do, because I’ve been at the same situation she’s in. It sucks not having a proper career development plan due to the size of the company, but the logic behind their decision is absolutely bonkers to me.

        1. Tio*

          Ok, I get that, but it does not make sense to have someone who was supposed to be doing higher level work, in another department, to be moved to a lower level work in another department. And if Meg is already asking YOU questions, there is definitely something off in the structuring here.

    3. PassThePeasPlease*

      If I were in your shoes I would be very miffed at this whole situation! And not because of Meg being a younger employee but at the mishandling of your company from (what sounds like) day one! It sounds like there was a bait and switch in the job you signed up for and the job you got which can happen but it sounds like they have no interest in fixing it and are instead prioritizing Meg’s professional growth over yours.

      Are you doing the job you want to do now and only helping Meg as needed? Or are you still working on the projects you asked to be moved off of? If the latter, and that sounds like it may be the case due to this structure change, I would agree that looking elsewhere is your best bet. The company doesn’t seem willing or able to listen to your very reasonable requests.

    4. Two Dog Night*

      I think you’ve been bait-and-switched (maybe not intentionally, but that’s the effect), and it’s time to leave. And I don’t blame you a bit for being miffed.

      If you don’t want to leave without something lined up, maybe you can frame it in your head as a chance to teach Meg to be a good manager while you’re job-hunting? But, yeah, definitely time to go.

    5. Honor Harrington*

      It sounds like they pulled a bait-and-switch on the job. You were hired to be a consultant but have shown how much they need good support. Their response is to create a support team with Megan as the manager, and you as the employee. I personally would not believe that I would be getting to do any cool consulting, because you haven’t been able to do much so far, and Megan is going to want to build our her team and processes.

      Megan is not the issue. The fact they re-defined your job and re-orged you into a role that codifies that is. You need a new job.

      1. cncx*

        This happened to me at my last job. I was sold an infra role with “a little bit” of second level support.
        The reality was I was supposed to run dispatching for the service desk and all the first level, got promised I could do more infra “once my tickets were down.”And my former boss pretended like I was just this eternally dissatisfied person when he essentially either lied or was too poor of a manager to understand the realities in his department, or both.

    6. Over It*

      I don’t think you’re wrong. I’ve been at companies like this where they have weird priorities around promotions and structure and it’s always frustrating.

      1. Mockingjay*

        A previous company of mine did something similar. They brought on my supervisor who came from a different industry, then I joined a couple months later. While she had some management skills, she had absolutely no knowledge of our industry and its standards, which meant that she had no idea what tasks had to be done, how these had to be done, what skills were necessary to do the tasks, and whether the end deliverables met standard. I spent a year trying to give her a crash course in this career field. It was supremely frustrating. A colleague summarized the situation succinctly: she was hired first and I was always going to be second – because I was the ‘fixer.’

        It was a somewhat similar company: small, trying to break into a new area, and just didn’t know how to do it and hired all the wrong people. I had to move on.

        Read Alison’s interview guide – it really helped me ask probing questions about company culture and how work is conducted and evaluated. It took awhile, but I finally found a company that appreciates and promotes skills.

        I’d look at this job as a mismatch. You expected one thing; company prefers you as Meg’s support and the problem fixer. They probably don’t realize how good you would be in Meg’s role, because they’ve never had that level of effectiveness demonstrated. Channel that frustration into a job search and wish them farewell.

    7. Parenthesis Guy*

      I don’t blame you for feeling disrespected.

      But this is a great opportunity for Meg. Managing someone at your skill level is a great chance for her to get experience at managing. Even if she’s not good at it, you know what you’re doing, so she has a learning curve. And it’s not unheard of for a manager to manage people more senior than they are.

      You should still get out for your sake. But I can understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.

    8. Qwerty*

      Moving you to report to Meg is the logical step if she’s running the team and that’s the work that you do. The Meg stuff is a red herring.

      The problem is that you don’t want to be doing support and that you were hired for consultant work. I’m guessing you wouldn’t be happy about this move even if Meg had 20yrs experience in support tickets. Right now it sounds like they think you are concerned about having a new manager who is very junior, when the real issue that needs to be focused on is that you have gotten pigeonholed into support. There is no reason to trust them that you’ll still be on the consultant team – after all, your original job was supposed to doing consultant work and you got stuck with support. Now that you are officially on support, it’ll be even harder to claw your way back.

      Totally understandable to job hunt.

      *PS – drop the case presented in your second to last paragraph where you think it is too intimidating to Meg to manage someone with more experience than her. It takes away from your real issue and does not reflect well on you. If you fixate on Meg, its just going to look like you are intimidated by a younger manager. I’ve managed people with 20yrs more experience than me before and we did just fine.

    9. Caffeinated in California*

      Oh, man, I would definitely move one if they did that to me. Being managed by someone who is junior to you in skills and experience, that you have been mentoring? Oh, no, no.

  12. New Mom*

    I’m almost done with my maternity leave and I’ve been trying to find a new job but no luck. I had lunch with a coworker this week (we’re work friends and it was a catch up) and I basically found out that all my fears of work not getting done while I am out are true. But my leave is six months so this is like, a really unacceptable amount of work to just not have done when I’m gone. I left plans, and timelines and recommendations for who could do what and I guess it has been largely ignored. I’m struggling to even think about how to address this when I get back because I can only think of really unprofessional responses at the moment.
    We also have a massive project that starts a little over a month after I return, and I think they will expect me to do six months work of planning in like 5-6 weeks, but I can’t do that. I have two little kids now and won’t be able to work more than 40 hours a week. Ugh.

    1. Marmalade*

      How long do you need to go back to not have to pay back benefits? It sounds like they have put you in a bad position and I’d just assume that many old things can be neglected – if they didn’t need it for 6 months, how badly does it need to get done? Good luck on your job search!

        1. londonedit*

          I imagine it’ll be in the employee handbook, if there is one – here in the UK there’s often a clause that says people need to pay back company-paid maternity pay if they leave within 6 months of their return to work, or similar. How often it’s actually enforced is another matter, but there should be a clause in your employee handbook along with the other info about maternity leave.

        2. Xyz*

          Check your employee hand book/ employee benefits site/ any paper work you filled out/ signed for your leave. Some companies that have parental leave beyond FMLA have a clause that you have to return for X amount of time after your leave or you have to pay back you benefits/ salary/ etc that they were paying you on leave.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      Don’t care more about a project than they care, and don’t do more work than you can do. Do a good job in the time you work, and don’t worry about what you can’t get done. If they really want it done, they’ll provide enough resources.

      1. New Mom*

        Thanks, I’m going to have to really work on mindset shift when I get back because it sadly seems to be the only thing I have control over. The work that should have been done directly impacts our vulnerable clients so it makes me sad that the company is just going to make them be negatively impacted by this. And I’m not happy that I will likely be the messenger and scapegoat when it happens :(

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          That does make it harder – you have a job where caring is important. But you can still only do what you can do, and with a new baby, you and the baby have to come before the job.

    3. Tio*

      I would suggest that when ou get back, you have a meeting with a couple people and ask them to pass over the work that has been done in your absence “for review” to get ack on your feet. Ask them to summarize really quickly what projects were handled and did we meet the recommended deadline for A, B, C that you left? there’s going to be a lot of awkward shuffling and blank stares. Make them say that they didn’t do it, and act surprised.

      Then when the new project comes in, you can say to the higher ups, “Per Jane and Tom, these deadlines were not met while I was gone. I don’t have any hope of completing these items in this timeline when we are so behind. Can I pull Sansa and Arya to assist on this if it’s very urgent?” (assuming pulling someone would actually help, but presumably you could pull whoever was supposed to cover you)

      Make sure you lay out anything that will not hit deadline no matter what. Your attitude is to join them in their dismay that things weren’t done and you’re now behind, and can’t easily catch up.

    4. Cheezmouser*

      Same thing happened for both my pregnancies. I was out 4-5 months and returned to see that nothing was done, despite all the instructions I’d left. Colleagues and boss were apologetic, but it’s understandable since everyone is so busy with their regular work that I wasn’t too surprised that they couldn’t take on my work on top. The only work that got done was stuff I had submitted prior to leave or stuff I had assigned to my direct report. I’m pregnant with kid #3 now and so I’m trying to work as far ahead as possible under the assumption that nothing will be done again while I’m out.

      As for coming back to a massive project, is there any chance that the timeline could be pushed out?

    5. Hatchet*

      There are only so many work hours in a week and you are only one person. It sounds like the upcoming project is the priority, so remind yourself of that. The work that didn’t get done for 6 months is not your priority. (If it was important enough to the company, they would have made sure it was done while you were out. A lack of planning on their part does not make it an emergency on your part.) They can’t expect one of you to do six months of work in a 1-2 months – that’s unreasonable and unfair.

      I’d honestly play dumb a bit when you do return – operate under the assumption that OF COURSE that work was done while you were out… then act surprised when you learn it wasn’t done. Put it back on them. If they want you to get it all done – you only have room on your plate for projects A and B. Use Alison’s suggestions and ask them what is going to be taken off your plate if you are asked to add other pieces/projects.

      Rereading your post: Six months worth of planning that was neglected… there obviously needs to be more than one person (you) working on a project of such importance…so Boss, who are you assigning to help me get caught up? Good luck.

  13. stelmselms*

    For folks who have been advised to get a lawyer (like the letter writer earlier this week who was dealing with the body shamer), how did that go? Did you get the successful outcome you were hoping for? Did the employer knock off the egregious behavior? Or did it make things worse for you? I’ve always wondered what happens after the fact?

    If you didn’t get a lawyer, were you worried about retaliation?

    I’ve just wondered how it’s gone for folks who take that step. I hope it turned out great for them, but I’m just curious.

    1. Justin*

      I had a free consultation with two lawyers when I was dealing with some racist nonsense that didn’t quite rise to action but was making work hard for me. I didn’t tell them but I am pretty sure they had an inkling based on some of the conversations we had and they left me alone enough.

    2. Shandra*

      I knew two people who consulted lawyers, and both had solid cases.

      One didn’t pursue their wrongful termination because winning would result in being permanently blacklisted in their industry. The other got away from a cruel boss whose behavior eventually crossed a legal line, and put the employer on the wrong end of a potential lawsuit.

    3. Opal*

      I had a free consultation with an attorney over defamation by an executive in a connected part of our organization. Think I’m a manager at the chocolate tea pot division and this person was in the compliance section of the tea pot molds division. The other person was making far and wide accusations of my malfeasance. Easily disproved by independent inspections.

      I live in a defamation per se state. Damages are presumed if the statements are provably false.

      I let my big boss know I had consulted a lawyer and that I wouldn’t have to prove damages. He basically told other person to stop talking because of liability. There was no blow back. I didn’t pursue the case because I shortly went on to a better position and for my own mental health let it go.

    4. blabbity blah blah blah*

      Consulted a lawyer after my anonymous ethics complaint against a higher up was handed directly to that person, and they immediately started retaliating against me. Glad I did, because I ended up being let go, and the lawyer stuck with me through the case. And because they already knew what was going on before I was let go, action was quick. I think employer was surprised because this is the kind of place that demanded loyalty, and they just assumed no one would do anything.

    5. Anonymous for this*

      I decided on my own to hire an attorney after I was let go. Coincidentally that happened about 2 weeks after the investigation into a complaint I filed concluded, which seemed pretty retaliatory; and I think the company knew the timing didn’t look good. (Especially coupled with the fact that I was excellent at my job.) The attorney’s work was essentially transactional; I had a free consultation and paid for two billable hours worth of work. Ultimately everything was resolved to my satisfaction.

    6. Lawyer anon*

      I have twice. Once early in my career- my boss threw a full 3 ring binder at my face; then had the arrogance and audacity to have their lawyer write me a nasty letter telling me to come back and work my complete 3 month notice (Europe). My lawyer told their lawyer they could relieve me from my notice or we could take this to court for, not for workplace issues, but for assault. They picked relieving me from my notice.

      In the second case, lawyer didn’t even have to write a letter. I had a solid enough case for workplace harassment and constructive dismissal with the cherry on top of the harasser “implying” that I stole company property to at least five people. When I found out, I told the office snitch I had a lawyer and hopefully I would get the police report the harasser surely filed “soon” so my lawyer could look at it. Strangely a week later I got an email from the head of HR which was very gracious and confirming payout of my PTO.

      I think lawyer letters are most useful in negotiating departure/severance/references in cases where there could be a court case and no one wants to go to court.I’ve never been in a situation that was lawyer worthy in a place I wanted to stay.

  14. Tough Love*

    Advice on how to coach a coworker into having some thicker skin/not take things personally?

    Due to some changes, my job went from being very autonomous within my team of experts to now working with and getting input from people who are not experts yet tend to have inflated egos, think they know everything, etc. My past 2 jobs were like this (hello Big Law!) so I understand how to manage them and not take their comments personally. My coworker, however, is having a lot of difficulty and some very minor comments have gotten her on the verge of tears and ruined her day several times. I am very understanding of this but I’m also fearful she’s going to be in for a long road of struggle and misery if she takes every interaction this way. I also understand because of past environments, I may have some thicker skin and want to be aware if these comments are worse than I’m taking them to be (AFAIK, I haven’t seen anything illegal or hostile. It’s mostly ‘thanks for your expert input but I think this so let’s do it this way’ type stuff that I roll my eyes at and work around). We commiserate about things together but this is a different level as while she complains to my boss about it, I feel like I’m getting a front row seat to her personal feelings about it.

    I want to be understanding and validate her feelings while also helping her understand that she will be happier if she can let it roll off her shoulders more.

    1. Hylia*

      Has she asked for this help? If not, leave it. It’s not your place to tell her how to feel. You can shut down her complaining to you if needed, but the rest of it is hers to manage. It would be over-stepping to try to coach her like this unless she has sought that advice from you specifically.

    2. Jinni*

      In the ‘leave it’ vein, maybe spend less time with her when she’s complaining or shut it down? A lot of the books I’ve been reading about neuroscience do suggest we can take on the feelings of others around us. It feels like it could be draining/make your day more negative to have to navigate her feelings as well as the job at hand.

    3. Waterlily*

      I’m also a very sensitive person so I would be (and to a certain degree, I have been) this person. Here’s what I know and has helped:

      1) It would help me to know how you got tough. If you were to take me to lunch and say, “I used to be really bothered by it also, but I’m good now. If you want some of my tips, I’m happy to share with you what really works for me in terms of dealing with these folks.”

      2) I happen to know that these people don’t change. So what helped me was a guide much like you who said to me, “Look, people have complained about these folks for years. They aren’t going to change. So the best you and I can do is get good at managing this.”

      3) You can google a few tactics, but one thing that helped me the most was actually just practice. After a while, I built up an immunity to bad behavior. And in my mind, I just labeled it: “Oh. You’re mean and you’re being a meanie today. Got it. Moving on.”

      4) In an extreme case, here’s what I do. I stop the conversation, and I say, “Hang on. I feel like things are getting a little tense. Have a I done something to upset you? I feel like you’re upset with me over something, and I’m not sure what I may have done that’s cause this kind of tone.” Most of the time, the person I’m talking to will be mortified and apologize. But! Use this tactic only in-person or phone (take it off email) and in extreme circumstances.

      1. Circe*

        Waterlily has a great point w/ #3. It’s not easy, but the thick skin does come with practice. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to say there’s light at the end of the tunnel and it won’t bother you as much in a few months.

    4. SpringIsForPlanting!*

      A genuine, empathetic, “it’s not about you, it’s about them, this happens to everyone in this position and it’s important to learn how to roll with it” might help. Some people need to hear stuff like that explicitly and out loud. The way you framed it in this post may even be useful. Maybe along with some “here’s some scripts I use, feel free to borrow.”

    5. Here for the Insurance*

      I’d work it into the commiseration and address it obliquely by talking about myself rather than directly about her. Use a lot of “I” statements. Example:

      Her: Fergus said (whatever). Why is he like this? I’m so upset!
      You: Ugh, I’m sorry. That sort of thing used to really get to me, too. It took me a while to not take it personally but I’m a lot happier now just letting it go.

    6. Mark Baron*

      You are far more kind in this situation than I would be. I am a no-venting zone. As soon as someone starts, I immediately say “Stop, this is between you and so-and-so. Either talk to them about it or let it go.”

    7. linger*

      There is a stereotype (see “… and Relationship Counsellors are From Uranus”) that women express their frustrations primarily to seek commiseration and reinforcement that their feelings are well-grounded, and men then treat those expressed frustrations instead as a problem requiring an external solution — which often leads to more frustration.
      So Coworker may not actually need a “solution” here.
      First of all, reassure Coworker that her expertise is not in question.
      Agree that these specific criticisms are ill-founded, or at best irrelevant to product quality (even if you now may be forced to accede to some of them).
      Agree that it sucks.
      Then you can move to ask if Coworker wants help with coping strategies (such as the excellent suggestions above from Waterlily and Spring).

  15. Dealing with a toxic coworker*

    I have excellent professional relationships with my coworkers, but I share a deep connection and friendship with Sam. After twelve years of working together and confidentially sharing various challenges we face, Sam and I have earned each other’s respect and trust. We have our confidential conversations off-site and after hours. As a result, nobody knows how good of friends we are. This has put me in a situation where I need some help.

    For some background, we have one toxic person on our team named Jessie, the kiss-up and kick-down type. I have been in Jessie’s crosshairs for years for no known reason. Thankfully, Jessie is not my supervisor. I have a good relationship with my boss because I’m dependable, professional, and positive. I produce excellent work, and my reviews have always been stellar. Despite all that, I am a BEC to Jessie. I’m okay with that and don’t take it personally. As long as it doesn’t impede my work, I don’t let it bother me. But here’s the problem, Jessie tries to make me look bad behind my back! To my face, Jessie’s alright; not warm and fuzzy, but alright. Jessie is loud with a big ego, but this is something we all get to “enjoy”.

    Sam works near Jessie in an open office setting and overhears conversations about me and others. If Jessie knew about my friendship with Sam, they would likely be more careful. Sam has heard Jessie tell lies that make me look bad, steal my ideas, and say terrible things. Based on this, Sam has warned me many times not to trust Jessie. To spare my feelings, Sam doesn’t tell me everything said (Jessie can go very low) but will share work-related things. I believe every word Sam says, and I am grateful to know what’s happening. Sam can’t come to my defense because 1) they’re not involved in the conversation, 2) they don’t know the whole story until we chat (but knows it can’t be true), and 3) they only learn my ideas were stolen when we chat.

    Because Sam is the only one close enough to hear what Jessie says, and I’m told in complete confidence, I am in a situation where I can’t address the issues without throwing Sam under the bus. Jessie talks to people in high positions who don’t know me well but who Jessie has formed personal relationships with (kiss up, kick down). These outright lies or half-truths are what they know about me. What, if anything, can I do to protect my reputation from such sabotage? I can’t talk to my boss because of the confidentiality with Sam.

    1. Carolina cardinalis*

      Can Sam talk to your manager? I don’t think they’d have to disclose that y’all are close friends or whatever, but if Sam is overhearing all this, surely they could go to your boss and say something along the lines of “I’ve been hearing Jessie say XYZ about OP, andI know none of that is true because I’ve known OP for 12 years. Also, she took credit for ideas A and B – and I know those were OPs ideas because OP talked to me about them before Jessie did. We chat in the coffee room.” Of course the ideas might be harder to prove and definitely don’t have Sam say that if y’all didn’t actually talk about them prior to Sam hearing about them.

    2. cardigarden*

      Who is Jessie saying these things to? It’s entirely plausible that this stuff can get back to you via one of them rather than Sam. Can you say to your manager something along the lines of “it’s come to my attention that Jessie is saying [these things] about me and my work”? You don’t need to disclose who told you and your boss SHOULD want to know if something like this is going on.

      1. Tio*

        +1.

        Also, Jessie can’t be certain no one else was ever around or heard them either. Sometimes someone is just round the corner or lingering. And you can always say you’ve heard it from “multiple people”.

        If the boss asks to know who told you, just say you don’t want to put them in the crosshairs. It’s a bad sign if they do though.

      2. Just stoppin' by to chat*

        Yes definitely this. You can and should talk to your manager, especially since this has been going on for so long. It can be intimidating to advocate for yourself, but I hope you will do it. You’ve got the whole AAM community behind you!

    3. I edit everything*

      Can Sam talk to your boss? If he goes to your manager and says, “Hey, I’ve overheard Jessie saying negative things about various people in the office, and I’m worried she’s going to do fundamental harm to their reputations and career,” what is your manager’s likely response?

    4. Waterlily*

      I agree with cardigan. It sounds like Jessie’s behavior is so outrageous that it’s plausible that others will overhear or it’s just become quite a spectacle.

      Overall, though, I think Jessie’s behavior has become a hindrance to productivity. If Sam is a dear friend, I think you could approach him and let him know that Jessie’s behavior has reached a threshold whereby you have to take some action. As a dear friend, Sam may understand. Besides, even if he wasn’t your work bestie, it’s possible that Jessie is so toxic you would have been informed anyway.

    5. Hiring Mgr*

      I’m confused about why you have to keep the friendship with Sam secret, if that’s what’s preventing anything from happening here.

    6. Solokid*

      You’re very kind to put Sam’s confidentiality above your own professional reputation, but if the gossip is serious enough to cause damage you should rethink how “close” you are to Sam and other coworkers in the future.

      If Sam is both unwilling to do anything, and doesn’t want you to out them, Sam shouldn’t be spreading what they hear. I’d honestly talk to them and ask to keep office gossip to themselves if they can’t butt in on your behalf once in a while.

      1. Bess*

        From what’s written here, it’s hard to tell if Sam is doing OP a solid and just giving them a heads up about something damaging, or if Sam might have his own desire for Jessie to suffer and is hoping OP will take on the problem solo. I have to say, I have worked with a ton of people who are VERY happy to critique toxic behavior they’ve observed but not do anything about it themselves, and instead complain to people who they think can be baited into taking action about it.

    7. triple*

      “I’m dependable, professional, and positive. I produce excellent work, and my reviews have always been stellar. Despite all that, I am a BEC to Jessie.”

      Small note: change “despite” to “because.”

    8. Rebel*

      Jessie obviously is a piece of work and then some, but frankly, I’d take a closer look at why Sam is telling you things that you say you can’t act on. What’s the point of your having that info. if politically it can’t go anywhere beyond you?

      It’s actually unkind of Sam to keep you informed. To me, that’s the crux here, because it’s somehow making you care more about Sam than your own reputation.

      And that’s concerning.

      1. Velociraptor Attack*

        100%, I’m side-eyeing Sam here. There is no reason to share this information with you, tell you that you can’t act on it, and apparently make sure you know there is WORSE information out there that they aren’t sharing as a kindness to you. Sam might not be you friend either, OP.

        That said, I have to ask, are you two keeping your friendship a secret because there are conflict of interest issues? Based on Sam being in an open space with Jessie that you aren’t in, are you the supervisor of this team? It seems weird that there’s this big interest in making sure no one knows you share this “deep connection” unless something else is going on.

    9. Mark Baron*

      When I have been in the same position, I confront the other person but in a professional manner. “My understanding is that you’ve said _________________ and ______________, and stole my idea about __________________. Why would you do that to me; I’d never do that to you?” Assuming they deny it, “So the people that overhear you talking about this are lying?”

      If it continues, I may or may not toss a threat out there. “Saying all these untrue things, which are damaging my reputation here, is the very definition of slander. If it continues, you might be contacted by my attorney.” Do the equivalent of a mic drop and turn around and walk away. (I actually did do this once.)

      Hopefully, by letting them know you are aware of these things, they’ll cut back if not stop completely.

    10. Dealing with a toxic coworker*

      Thank you all for weighing in. This is my first chance to read and respond to your messages. In the interest of staying as anonymous as possible, I neglected to mention a few things that may help you to understand the situation better.

      1. I mentioned that nobody knows how good of friends Sam and I are. It’s not because it is a deeply held secret, or there’d be trouble if anyone knew. It is only to say that this is why Jessie feels so free to talk about me within earshot of Sam. I can’t stress enough how toxic Jessie is, and honestly, most people are afraid of confronting Jessie, including our leadership team, which is why going to the boss is a waste of time. Jessie gets away with it because they’re good at what they do, and dealing with employee issues is not our boss’s strong suit anyway (we have ample evidence of this!).

      2) Sam tells me these things because they care, and we confide in each other, but, more importantly, Sam doesn’t want me to let my guard down. I’m a genuinely nice person, while Jessie is a textbook manipulator. Sam is afraid I will fall for the manipulation because it’s that good. I always assure Sam that this will never happen. I have fallen for it in the past and always ended up regretting it. The stuff Sam doesn’t tell me is the personal insults because they’re not worth making me feel embarrassed about or hurt. I appreciate not hearing the petty things.

      3) Jessie has a select few people they share this garbage with. As I said, people are afraid of Jessie, so they don’t want to rock the boat by calling Jessie out or telling me or the boss (plus, we all know that won’t lead anywhere, and Jessie is very vindictive). We just want to do our jobs and do our best to ignore Jessie.

      I find my work very rewarding, and I’m compensated well. I’ve toyed with the idea of leaving to escape the toxicity, but there are just too many things on the pros list to leave my job because of someone like Jessie. Sam and others believe Jessie is jealous and threatened by me. Since I’ve never done anything to Jessie, this makes about as much sense as anything else I can come up with! I think your comment is right on, Triple!

      Thank you, everyone!

      1. Helewise*

        I suspect that people know who Jessie is and take what she says with a grain of salt. I know that isn’t always the case – some people are really good at presenting different sides of their personality to different people – but every time I’ve worried overmuch about something like this I’ve eventually found out that they’ve been problematic with others as well. There have been a couple exceptions and I don’t think it’s a bad idea to do what you can to defend your reputation, but going that direction too aggressively can backfire sometimes, too.

  16. Sindirella*

    I need to know if I’m crazy here. I did a phone screening where I was VERY CLEAR, I do NOT have a specific certification. Job only said “preferred”. HR person pushed me on to the in-person interview, scheduled for 2 hours on a Saturday!! Ok ok, it’s a big job, totally worth it, big local employer.
    I get to the location and the door is locked, totally fine, it’s not business hours, someone will come let me in. A lady appears and immediately addresses me by name and just launches into small talk. Never told me her name…Ok…asked if I wanted a water or coffee. I asked for a water and as she’s getting me the water I ask if she’s the HR person I have been talking to, Amy. All she says is “no, I’m not Amy”.
    We get to the head honco’s office, he gets up and introduces himself and this woman just seats herself at the table in his office. Still, no introduction. After we’re all seated, she proceeds to rip into my resume telling me that I’m clearly a job hopper because I’ve taken promotions every 2-4 years ALL WHILE WORKING FOR THE SAME EMPLOYER… She was also clearly trying to math out my age and having a hard time because while I started my career over 20 years ago, I only finished my 4-year degree 12 years ago.
    So finally it comes out that the specific certification that I made no indications of having and was very clear I did not have is actually required. My 2 hour interview was 20 minutes. Still never got the woman’s name. After some significant digging I found out she was actually an owner. At any point, how aggressive should I have been to get this woman’s name???? Am I right to be sort of pissed off at this whole process??

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      You know, I think you should be grateful they showed their crazy so early on so you don’t get stuck working there!

      1. starsaphire*

        100% agree. Bullet dodged.

        And now you’ve got a great story to tell. Wait a couple of years and if this business implodes, it’ll be an even better one. (Witness all the “wow”s any time someone here says, “I actually applied at Theranos/Enron/whatever once; thank goodness I saw the red flags and ran!”)

      2. Peanut Hamper*

        Gosh, I wish if I had a situation like this I could go back in time and just call this woman “Notamy”.

        “Actually, Notamy, I’m not a job hopper, as all these promotions occurred at the same employer. But about that ‘preferred’ certification…”

    2. Hlao-roo*

      For the name, I think your question “are you Amy, the person I’ve talked to on the phone?” was polite and most people would respond “no, I’m [name]” instead of just “no, not Amy.” If the interview had gone well, I might have asked at the end, when I was shaking hands and saying “nice to meet you,” I would tack on a “I’m afraid I didn’t catch your name earlier.” But because this woman was clearly a jerk, it’s understandable you didn’t follow up about the name.

      I think all things taken together (not giving her name, thinking different roles for the same company is a sign of job-hopping, trying to math out your age, and clearly having bad internal communication about how important the specific cert is), you have a right to be annoyed at the whole process.

      1. Caffeinated in California*

        IMO they should run the other direction. Not-Amy is clearly a jerk, and not someone I would want to work for or with.

    3. londonedit*

      It sounds awful and it sounds like they have no idea how to hire people! I wouldn’t touch their job with a ten-foot pole.

    4. Peanut Hamper*

      Yes, you are right. I would add this to Glassdoor. The place is obviously problematic in their hiring process.

      1. amoeba*

        I am surprised by the number of people who always use “thanks” – I mean, I use it quite often as well, but it really doesn’t always fit in my emails? Like, if I just write something like “As discussed, here’s the report on X” – what would I be thanking them for?

        I use it when I either ask something of them or am actually thanking them for something they’ve already done. However, in the last case, I often start the email with “thanks a lot” and it then also stops working as a sign-off, especially if the email is short…

        1. Aggretsuko*

          Eh…I do “thank you” because it’s the only office-approved signoff I can stand. I figure even if there’s nothing to thank them for, then it’s literally thanks for nothing :P

    5. Onward*

      You’re definitely NOT crazy. WHAT did I just read??? Why did they invite you in when they were just going to berate you the entire time?? Who even was this woman??? Wow. The situation is definitely insane, but not you.

    6. afiendishthingy*

      You’re definitely right to be pissed off. But you also definitely dodged a bullet. Imagine working for that woman!

    7. Dr. Prepper*

      Unfortunately, in my professional career, ANY job description that says preferred should immediately be translated in your head to “mandatory.” Early on, I was suckered by recruiters that “preferred” was an optional need and “experience was key.” I literally made it to the final rounds where the super-big-boss finally admitted “you are so great, if only you had were certified in XXX” – the preferred requirement had become a mandate, obviously.

      Never believe a JD with a preferred certification and hang up on a recruiter that guarantees the preferred requirement is not a mandate. The only exception is if you are in such a rarified field that NOBODY besides you is looking for a job, or if the job is such a step down in salary (think government) that they HAVE to settle for non-certified candidates.

      1. Spearmint*

        Interesting, I don’t think you’re correct about this as a generalization. I’ve definitely been called in for interviews on jobs where I didn’t even meet all the “required” bullets and I’ve known people who got hired in jobs they didn’t meet all the so-called requirements for.

    8. Shiba Dad*

      They wasted your time, so I think you have a right to be pissed. I also think that you dodged a bullet.

      She had a problem with you being promoted several times at the same employer? That’s bananapants.

    9. Zap R.*

      Forget “sort of pissed off.” You have a right to be *very* pissed off. Your nameless interviewer was being a goof and wasted your Saturday.

    10. Wokka Wokka Wokka*

      Why would you ever want to describe asking for someone’s name as aggressive? A simple, “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name,” at any point would do the trick.

      1. Roland*

        Yeah, I mean clearly there’s no point now but also you can just ask if you end up in another situation where the other person doesn’t remember to introduce themselves.

        1. Sindirella*

          I had intended to make sure I got her name before leaving, but the whole thing was just so off-putting I didn’t bother at the end. I was mostly wondering if I should have asked directly after she told me she wasn’t the HR person. But that felt awkward to me, like “no, I’m not Amy” “oh, ok, so who are you then?” Haha!
          Also left out that she kept having side bar conversations with the actual hiring manager that I was so clearly the exact opposite of what they were looking for and she couldn’t understand why Amy had put her through to the in person interview. It was sort of embarrassing!

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

      You’re up against other candidates and probably someone had the preferred certification, which suddenly makes it mandatory in order to remain a candidate. They can probably get multiple candidates that have 100% of the required things, but that preferred thing is the distinguishing mark; so when you get to the final round of interviews and they have narrowed it down to 2-3 candidates, if there is one candidate that has the preferred item, that’s the winner. If they can’t find any final candidates that have the preferred item, then it’s not mandatory.

      On the identity of the woman… if this person was the owner, could her photo and name have been on the company website? She may have been testing…playing games… to see if you did any basic research into the company before the interview.

      1. Sindirella*

        Her info was not on the website at all. I got the info on who she was from a prior employee that recognized her description and attitude.

    12. Here for the Insurance*

      I don’t think you should have been more aggressive in getting her name. What difference would it have made to have it? Sure, be pissed off that they wasted your time, or just thank your lucky stars you don’t have to deal with her every day for pay.

    13. Mark Baron*

      Pissed about the whole process? Absolutely.

      How aggressive should you have been to get her name? Why? What difference did/does it make what her name is?

    14. Caffeinated in California*

      Really? At the first sign of “… rip into my resume telling me that I’m clearly a job hopper because I’ve taken promotions every 2-4 years ALL WHILE WORKING FOR THE SAME EMPLOYER…” I would want to stand up and tell them “Thank you for your time, it’s obvious to me that this will not be a fit.” and then walk out.

      No one should put up with abuse in an interview. Why? Because if they are willing to abuse you in an interview, the actual job will be worse. When they show you who they are, believe them, and move on.

  17. Norm Peterson*

    When is it worth fighting back over being told July vacation can’t be approved until July, and that it is dependent on two someone else’s (including the person who told me it can’t be approved until July) being on top of their workload? It’s for an event I’ve waited 6 years to attend, and I figured asking 5 months in advance would be plenty of time. I have more than enough time to use. A coworker suggested I bring the Union rep into this already because this has apparently happened before to other people in my position (who all left). I’m also newish to my position, but not to the field (or to the overall org, which is why I have so much vacation time).

    1. Tuesday*

      Bring in the rep! And look up some of the scripts Alison has posted here in response to bosses not approving vacation time. Something like “how do we ensure I’m able to use my time off, as it’s part of my compensation package?”

    2. Happily Retired*

      I would absolutely bring in the Union rep. This is a ridiculous way to schedule vacation time, and it appears that it’s, shall we say, an informal departure from whatever the official version might be. If it’s BS, the Union rep should know how to address it.

      Do you have an employee handbook or similar that addresses how vacation is scheduled? I’d also review that.

      1. Tuesday*

        It’s ridiculous and not sustainable! So Norm can never take a real vacation requiring plane tickets to be bought in advance because their coworker might be behind? Norm will effectively never be able to use their time off! I’m so mad on their behalf!

      2. Norm Peterson*

        The HR site for the org just says time off is at the discretion of the unit’s needs. I’m happy to work on several days of this trip (most of what I want to do is after business hours/on the weekend and already work remote 3x a week), to help with coverage, but I literally cannot help on their project. I guess I’ll reach out to union rep and see what they suggest.

      3. Sadie*

        Personally I’d be prepared to leave the job over such a thing. I know not everyone is in such a position, though.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      Fight back. How do you get airline tickets for any vacation if you have to wait until the last minute?!

    4. billiards15*

      If you have a Union, you will have a collective agreement. It may outline the rules regarding vacation requests. If what they are doing violates the collective agreement, it may result in a policy grievance to get things to change.

      1. Norm Peterson*

        Grumble grumble. All the agreement says is “subject to the operational needs of org, the department will schedule vacation of employees…. Should respond to requests submitted as soon as possible and … try to honor specific vacation requests”. I’m not sure that helps me a ton.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          It’s squishy but it sounds like this policy is being misused to some extent. Last-minute vacation days might be something that is granted on a case by case basis “subject to operational needs,” but vacations with multiple months’ notice should clearly be handled under “honor specific vacation requests.”

          If there is a pattern of denying people their earned leave, the union rep should be able to point to that. It’s apparently driving out employees, which seems like a big hit to “the operational needs of org” if they’re having to hire new people on a regular basis.

    5. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Definitely do whatever is needed to advocate for yourself. Waiting six years to attend an event, having the vacation time banked, AND giving notice so far in advance…absolutely take the time to attend your event! Sorry it’s come to this, but worth fighting for.

  18. Help with toxic coworker*

    I have excellent professional relationships with my coworkers, but I share a deep connection and friendship with Sam. After twelve years of working together and confidentially sharing various challenges we face, Sam and I have earned each other’s respect and trust. We have our confidential conversations off-site and after hours. As a result, nobody knows how good of friends we are. This has put me in a situation where I need some help.

    For some background, we have one toxic person on our team named Jessie, the kiss-up and kick-down type. I have been in Jessie’s crosshairs for years for no known reason. Thankfully, Jessie is not my supervisor. I have a good relationship with my boss because I’m dependable, professional, and positive. I produce excellent work, and my reviews have always been stellar. Despite all that, I am a BEC to Jessie. I’m okay with that and don’t take it personally. As long as it doesn’t impede my work, I don’t let it bother me. But here’s the problem, Jessie tries to make me look bad behind my back! To my face, Jessie’s alright; not warm and fuzzy, but alright. Jessie is loud with a big ego, but this is something we all get to “enjoy”.

    Sam works near Jessie in an open office setting and overhears conversations about me and others. If Jessie knew about my friendship with Sam, they would likely be more careful. Sam has heard Jessie tell lies that make me look bad, steal my ideas, and say terrible things. Based on this, Sam has warned me many times not to trust Jessie. To spare my feelings, Sam doesn’t tell me everything said (Jessie can go very low) but will share work-related things. I believe every word Sam says, and I am grateful to know what’s happening. Sam can’t come to my defense because 1) they’re not involved in the conversation, 2) they don’t know the whole story until we chat (but knows it can’t be true), and 3) they only learn my ideas were stolen when we chat. I wouldn’t expect that anyway!

    Because Sam is the only one close enough to hear what Jessie says, and I’m told in complete confidence, I am in a situation where I can’t address the issues without throwing Sam under the bus. Jessie talks to people in high positions who don’t know me well but who Jessie has formed personal relationships with (kiss up, kick down). These outright lies or half-truths are what they know about me. What, if anything, can I do to protect my reputation from such sabotage? I can’t talk to my boss because of the confidentiality with Sam.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Why can’t you talk to your boss about it? It would seem like there’s a perfectly good reason why any random decent coworker would tell you that Jessie is spreading lies about you and that’d be a good reason to talk to your boss. Keep it simple, maybe? Like, “Sam was hearing Jessie say some terrible things about me and said that she was the one who came up with the new TPS report plan instead of me. Do you know anything about that?” Or something like that. You don’t have to let on that you and Sam are really close. Or if Sam is concerned, why doesn’t she go to her boss or your boss about it? Anything overheard in an open office is fair game for concern; I wouldn’t think it would be thought of as eavesdropping unless your boss is also a terrible person.

  19. Amber Rose*

    Next Wednesday is my 8th (!) annual employee review. I want to make a case for a higher than COL raise (~2% is built into my job currently) and a new title. What sorts of things should I prepare, and what’s a reasonable request for a raise, or how would I determine that?

    New title: I run the safety program single handed and am the ERP admin as of last September-ish. I kinda want a manager title at this point, but admin is fine as long as it doesn’t sound like a demotion. Titles are confusing. Currently I am Coordinator.

    My raise reasoning:
    – Took on the ERP admin thing. On top of my many other jobs.
    – Launch of Phase 2 is finally happening at the end of this month, and even though we’re not there yet I feel like I can call that an achievement.
    – Massive inventory project complete.
    – Everyone really likes my meeting running skills and I run a LOT of meetings.

    1. Can't think of a funny name*

      When I was asking for a raise, I determined the amount by looking at current job openings and talked to a couple recruiters. If you have the job description for your current job, I would go thru that line by line and see if you can explain how your role has expanded since you took the job (which it looks like you’ve started doing by talking about the ERP thing so that’s a good start).

    2. onyxzinnia*

      I would come to the meeting with a document outlining your full list of responsibilities and what results you’ve been able to achieve with as much specific numbers as possible. You’ll want to be able to show that you take initiative, can work cross-functionally and produce results. I’d also send your manager a copy in advance so they can review ahead of the meeting (or send them a copy afterwards if that would make you more comfortable).

      I recommend having a few titles in mind for what you’d like instead of your current title. The easiest sell would be if there’s an existing title at your organization for you to move into. Otherwise, research industry-standard titles in your area (this will also help you figure out what you should be asking for raise-wise). Also think about where you want your career to go longer term when choosing a title. Using the examples above, do you want the focus to be on being an ERP administrator or on being a safety program manager? Which one is more transferrable across organizations?

  20. Mimmy*

    Spammy LinkedIn request?

    Do you ever get connection requests on LinkedIn from people who clearly didn’t read your entire profile? I just got a request from someone who says I’d be a good fit to apply for a leadership award to be given out at a conference this summer. Awesome…. except that the group running this conference isn’t even REMOTELY related to what’s on my profile or my career interests. Without question, I am going to ignore this request.

    I’d like to see the person’s profile to see if they’re spamming mutual connections, but I don’t want them to know I viewed the profile. I don’t think LinkedIn has an easy way to anonymously view profiles anymore.

    1. Morgan Proctor*

      You can anonymously view profiles. Account > Settings and Privacy > Visibility > Profile Viewing Options

      Spam is very common on all social media platforms. Just ignore it.

      1. Lyudie*

        The only drawback to this, unless they’ve changed it recently, is that this option will also remove your ability to see who viewed your profile (no, I don’t know why it works this way).

    2. Elle Woods*

      I used to get them frequently. I mistakenly accepted one and opened myself up to 3-4 messages a week for a month from a software sales consultant; I never responded to any of his messages. The final straw was when he asked if there was someone better (yes–better) to speak to about purchasing the software. If he’d have bothered to read my profile, he’d know that I’m currently a freelance consultant and there was no one else at my company. I removed the connection and blocked him.

    3. Don’t put metal in the science oven*

      I had all my settings as private as possible and still got these shotgun messages. Once in awhile a long time ago, I’d message back to point out to them how out of the ballpark they are. Didn’t make any difference so I then just ignored.

    4. Dangermouse*

      I just got a Suspiciously Similar invitation on LinkedIn. It *is* in my field, but would be hard-pressed to say I’m an industry leader. It’s most likely a vanity spam email like the “Who’s Who” books.

    5. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Daily.

      I frequently get “recruiters” who, if they’re even in the general ballpark industry, state that my experience as a whatsit engineer makes me a perfect candidate for XYZ.

      Except I’ve never done thing one with whatsits. I don’t even dignify it with a response most times.

    6. CIPP Tea*

      I did get a LinkedIn invite request but it was from someone after I did their anonymous survey, and they asked me in their request–did you actually want to learn more about X, Y, or Z, or did you fill out the survey for fun? I felt judged :/

    7. Bearly Containing Myself*

      That sounds like a scam to me. LinkedIn has a ton of them, with shady companies writing to say “You’d be great on a Board of Directors!” “We want you to appear on our TV show!” “You are nominated for our award!” etc.

      They all involve giving someone a significant amount of money for the possible opportunity to receive something sketchy in return, although it will usually result in you receiving absolutely nothing in return for your money. In your situation (if it were related to your profile or career interests), you would pay to apply for an award that would go to someone else.

  21. TheAnxiousOne*

    Not sure what I’m looking for but since everyone is so nice here maybe some sort of validation.

    I recently turned down a seemingly amazing job offer. It would’ve been a big career step. I would be relocating to a big city. My pay would have increased a lot more. I might finally have savings. Basically, my brain was telling me it’s necessary I take the offer for my future. But my heart was…not really into it. I found myself only thinking about the potential red flags.

    I did have a strong interest in it. But it was pretty obvious that this new job would have required more complex work which will most likely be accompanied with increased stress. Based on what I later researched about the company, overwork and overtime is a normal thing at the new job. And I’m already hearing rumors that the manager I’d be working under is a huge micromanager. My expenses would have most likely increased since I’ll have to move to a HCOL area.

    I was hoping the increased wage will cover that. And the fact that being in a big city would open up to more opportunities

    Yet, I still turned it down. I think I’m too deep into the comfort of my current situation that I was having anxiety about making changes. I started to have weird mini anxiety attacks.

    See, I have a job that is really, really chill. It’s a dead end type of job with no promotions. But no overtime. No worry about taking home work. I’m done when my shift ends at 5pm. Commute isn’t bad. So far my coworkers and bosses are mostly great. I’m mostly able to take a day off whenever I want. It’s not city life but I get to live a mostly simple life which I don’t mind. I don’t have to be career-driven. What matters most to me is that it’s great for my mental health. Only negative is I get paid peanuts. Like barely enough. I don’t have savings but, since I have no debts and I keep my expenses low, it’s been okay so far. I’ve already asked about a pay raise at my current job but unfortunately it’s not happening. Despite this, I thought I made the right choice when I declined the offer.

    Yet again now I’m wondering if I just shot myself in my foot. I’m starting to have doubts. Did I just screw myself? My anxiety got to me again and I’ve just cried for hours about it. I’m trying to go to therapy but I don’t have the money for it so can only take the free ones, which can only be a bandaid at most.

    For those with anxiety, especially when trying to change jobs, how do you get over the anxiousness or fear of making changes?

    1. jane's nemesis*

      1) You saw red flags about that potential job and made a decision that was best for your mental health! I think you did an AWESOME job there!

      2) Just because you turned that one down because it wasn’t right for you, doesn’t mean you have screwed up forever! You can keep looking and the next opportunity or the one after that might be the one that’s a great balance of more money but not a lot more stress!

      3) You’re doing great. Anxiety is a monster in our heads that lies to us, and you are doing GREAT.

      1. Trixie Belden was my hero*

        Anxiety is a monster in our heads that lies to us….

        THIS SO MUCH!!!

        Even though I’m not in the same situation, I am stealing this quote for my quote collection. And make it my new mantra for when I start spiraling. Thank you.

        Also agree that the OP is doing great. There’s no need to take this red flag job. You’re not stressed where you are. This is a great position to be in, you can still search and have the ability to make decisions without a deadline or being burned out. Good Luck!

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      I also need to be in a job that is good for my mental health, so I definitely think you made the right move. Even if you ignore the fact that you’d have to move for the job, which is a big deal, it sounds like the job would have taken a toll on your mental health and you definitely don’t want that. Are there jobs in your area that would pay you more but not require you to move? I’d focus on those, unless you are also excited about living in a new place.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Based on what I later researched about the company, overwork and overtime is a normal thing at the new job. And I’m already hearing rumors that the manager I’d be working under is a huge micromanager.

      These are good enough reasons to have turned down the position. Honestly, if your current job is chill, there’s nothing wrong with it being “a dead end type of job.” You don’t have to be stuck in that job forever. In fact, you know you can get other jobs (because you have this offer you turned down). You did the right thing, and don’t be afraid to keep applying for other jobs.

    4. Gracely*

      I think it’s good that you realize the impact your job has on your mental health, and that you turned down a job to support your mental health. A lot of people would just jump at the extra money and figure they could cope–but money doesn’t always make coping easier.

      I do think you should keep looking–you should probably be paid more than you are, but since your current job isn’t a dumpster fire, you can take your time and be picky about where you go to. Don’t be afraid of moving on to a new job, but definitely listen to your gut when you’ve got multiple red flags about a job like the one you just turned down.

    5. DivergentStitches*

      How did you feel immediately after turning it down? If it was relief, then you did the right thing.

    6. Waterlily*

      Hugs to you. I just went through the same thing only I took the new job. Now I’m having the same kind of anxiety you are- ha! Well, here’s what I’ll say:

      Maybe the answer is just a “not yet” or not this one. I agree with the other post: keep looking. There’s likely another opportunity out there for you that checks all the boxes. I left my comfy spot for the same reasons you may be looking: the pay was too low and benefits lacking so it just wasn’t sustainable for the long run.

      For anxiety on changing jobs: The good news is that each day, each week, each month gets a little easier. You’ll have a moment in your first month when you’ll panic. But just nod, say “Hello Panic!” and keep going. In 6 mos to a year, you’ll be fine.

    7. Cheezmouser*

      People turn down opportunities that aren’t the right fit or not the right time or not worth the extra stress all the time. It doesn’t mean they won’t have opportunities in the future. In the past 2 years alone, my husband has turned down 2 job opportunities that would’ve paid more and had higher title because the company was nuts or the job required ridiculous overtime. He just got another opportunity this week that he has declined to apply for. If you do good work and build good relationships, opportunities will keep coming in the future. There is no one right choice, it’s whatever works for you at that point, and sometimes the answer is to pass.

    8. Mandie*

      I just changed jobs and had a lot of anxiety even though I knew I was doing the right thing. I left a high-stress job at a dysfunctional company for a much lower-stress, specialized role at one of the best employers in my city (they’re literally an award-winning employer). Still, as I went through the interview process, my 2-week notice period at my old job, and my first day here, I had panic attacks, sleepless nights, and near-constant anxiety. Now, at the end of my first week, my nervous system is calming down. Any big life change, good or bad, can trigger and worsen anxiety. Don’t let that be your only indicator.

      For me, there’s a “yuck” factor when I’m interviewing for a role that isn’t right for me. Some examples would be: the facility is not kept up and doesn’t look like a pleasant place to spend a lot of time, the people who interview me are rude or not engaging, the company has a bad reputation, or the work itself sounds miserable/too hard for my skillset.

      I guess my main message here is to trust your gut, but not necessarily your anxiety! And there is nothing wrong with staying in a role where you’re comfortable if it’s meeting your needs. My therapist often reminds me that these decisions aren’t “either or”, but they can be “maybe both”. Maybe your current job isn’t paying you enough, but that doesn’t mean a job that pays you enough will be stressful or too hard. Maybe you can have a comfortable job where you’re happy and you’re paid well. The one you turned down just wasn’t it. Keep looking!

    9. MsM*

      I think it’s important not to get sucked into the idea that was either take this job despite the valid concerns you had about it being a step down from a stress/quality of life perspective, or you will never see another opportunity to advance. It’s okay to decide you still prefer the current job despite the low pay, and keep your eyes open for something with a higher salary that will still let you work reasonable hours with supportive coworkers in a place you want to be for more than just a better title.

    10. Dangermouse*

      There will be other offers and other opportunities. Turning down a job where you saw a bunch of red flags is a GOOD thing. It was a SMART decision. Just keep looking until you find something that you want to run to.

    11. Glazed Donut*

      I’ll agree with everyone here. I was in a similar situation last year. I got an offer that would be an increase in pay and prestige, but was a work-life balance nightmare. I thought that passing on the offer would mean it would be harder for me to leave my current job/break into a new role (current job was dead-end, dull, but chill).
      I ended up getting a different offer — not even looking — that is all of those but I have a lot more work-life balance than I would have had with the first offer.
      The best advice I got then when I was considering it (aside from this thread): It should be an easy yes to take another position. If it’s not a quick yes, then it’s ok to pass.

    12. Mark Baron*

      I’ve had anxiety EVERY time I’ve left one job for another. It sounds like you did plenty of due-diligence, researching not just the company but also the work ethic and those that would supervise you. The one additional step I’ve done myself is asked friends and former co-workers whether they think the new position is right for me; can I handle it? For this, you would have to be picky on who you ask. Some friends are somewhat phony about this and just give you support, saying “You can do it”. But you need someone to be gut-punching honest, who might say, “You are a relatively lone wolf who prefers an office or cubicle with very little interaction, but in this job you’ll be in a shared workplace with six other people. I just don’t think you’ll be happy in that environment.”

      In the end, all you can do is gather all your information and make a decision. You did this, so it’s time to let that position go and get the shoulda/coulda/woulda thoughts out of your mind.

      Best of luck in finding the right position.

    13. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Don’t doubt yourself!
      If that job didn’t feel right for you at this time, it probably wasn’t. Sometimes these things happen for a reason.

  22. Bug*

    Old issue but still curious. My job is that I send out emails to my peers and I had one guy email back and address me as Mrs. [Last name]. I’m not married or a woman and we don’t really use honorifics for people besides Doctor for people with doctorates. I ended up just answering his question and ignoring the name issue but does anyone have an idea of a good way to have responded to all that?

    1. kiwiii*

      A breezy “oh, just call me Bug!” or however you prefer to be addressed with anyone you’ll interact with more than once or twice at the top of your response should be fine. You don’t need to fuss with the like “you shouldn’t make assumptions” piece because they’re not anyone you manage or work with closely.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      You can just address it in the email response:

      Hi Bob,
      It’s just Bug, not Mrs. Jones. The answer to your question is…
      Regards,
      Bug

    3. Sadie*

      Was the person possibly not a native English speaker? The subtleties of addressing people and formality of such is sometimes missed. Go to a German website for example and the options, even in the English translation, are often Mr or Mrs, because it’s a little different in German than English, both in terms of using titles to speak to strangers and in terms of the default title for women. Even Germans with excellent English often miss this.

      If English is his first language he’s just weird.

    4. Mark Baron*

      I would have simply done what I do with all work e-mails, sign off with my name. No need to make a deal out of it. Now if I were to get another one with Mrs., I’d probably include in the e-mail, “You might have missed this in my last e-mail, but my name is Mark Baron, not Mrs. Baron.”

  23. Push back around a potential employer's hiring practice.*

    Can I push back politely about a HR hiring policy for a job that I applied for and have an interview request? They want to provide my current employer as a reference as part of finalizing candidates. How do I say I’m not comfortable doing that? If I omit my current employer as a reference….does that look bad and disadvantage me? I know for sure my current boss would not be too happy to provide me a reference and then if I don’t get the job continue to work for them. Is this a new HR requirement that is the norm now?

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Not so common that it’s automatically acceptable! I think it’s reasonable to respond that you would not want to involve your current employer at this early stage. If they insist, you have your answer about this not being a company you want to work for!

    2. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      It’s not the norm but it does happen, more commonly in some fields than others. It’s an automatic dealbreaker for me. No, you can’t speak to my current employer. Next.

    3. EMP*

      It’s pretty common to request this. I used a trusted peer as a reference the last time I was searching but did not list my manager or anyone I reported to. I don’t know if that’s an option you’d feel comfortable suggesting as a compromise if they insist on someone from your current org.

    4. Rebel*

      I wouldn’t just write off the job, as other have suggested, as sometimes things are a bit more complicated and job-seekers don’t always have that luxury.

      So, practically speaking, my experience is that for my current role, the HR here specifically required a reference from a current boss or previous boss, going back only five years. My former boss gave a qualitative reference, and, as I found out later, my current HR contacted my then-job’s HR to get a quantitative “reference” as part of the background check on me i.e. time worked there, which department, which role. It seemed my then-boss suspected, but she didn’t say anything; she might have had to confirm those quantitative data or something.

      Regardless, I understand, as Alison has noted here many times, that when companies know you are looking they might push you out earlier, but, as in my case, they might not. Admittedly, it was easy for me to not be fearful because I was headhunted for my current job, so I didn’t care if my boss knew anything earlier than when I was ready for her to. Without that certainty, I’d have just laid low.

      Good luck. It’s a tough position to be in.

    5. Mark Baron*

      This is a very common request. So common, in fact, that here we tell people we will not contact their current employer until they are the finalist or one of two finalists, and even then, we will call them first to forewarn them.

      1. allathian*

        What a great way to sabotage yourself. Many people will take themselves out of the running as soon as you say that.

        Granted, not all would. In my org, managers are evaluated on how they help their employees advance, even if it’s to another organization. Sabotaging a good employee’s chances of getting a job elsewhere because they don’t want to go through the hassle of recruiting another unicorn would get them written up. I’ve been at my current organization for 15 years and I’ve had 4 managers in that time. I don’t have any other relevant experience, and the manager I had before I got this job knows nothing about me as an employee now.

  24. Anonymous for this question*

    My team met last week and my grandboss, who announced recently that they plan to retire within a year, said something low-key racist (along the lines of how annoying it is to have to remember non-Western names) and I was (still am) appalled. This person is C-level and the only person I could report them to is our CEO. I don’t know what would be the point in doing so, though, because this person is obviously on their way out, and it would be obvious that it was me reporting them. And I don’t know what the CEO could do about it anyway; CEO is a good person so I don’t think they’d use it against me but I do worry that my grandboss might. Do I just try to ignore it? I always want to work to end racism but the reality is a lot more complicated.

    1. Justin*

      Sometimes the most anti-racist action is retirement, so let them do something anti-racist. I say this as a Black person who knows that in places with racist higher-ups, there is usually not much to be done except extricating yourself, like I did. If you truly feel comfortable, you can approach it from a ‘this made me uncomfortable’ angle.

      Now if they try to stay on forever, raise hell.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        You mean that I should just let grandboss retire and not say anything? I’m particularly frustrated because I don’t generally meet with the CEO but CEO has been meeting with everyone one-on-one each year and this thing happened literally the week after I’d just met with CEO. If it’d happened the week before I definitely would have told CEO.

        1. Justin*

          It’s hard to say from the outside, but, if you feel the CEO might be trustworthy, you can tell them, and even discuss with them what is the best course of action. I personally wouldn’t want to call the person in for an awkward meeting where i told them they hurt me or something, and it’s unlikely he’d be fired.

    2. Tio*

      Honestly there’s probably not much that will happen if you mention it. The CEO will probably say something along the lines of “Watch what you say” to them (if they even do that). It’s not like they’re going to write up or fire a high-level exec who’s on their way out the door at this point. If they do it again, or do other things that form a pattern, then you might be able to leverage some action (although… outlook not great on that tbh) but otherwise… probably won’t do much

      1. Anonymous for this question*

        Yeah, thanks, I think you are correct. It’s too bad but I guess it’s not worth spending my capital on this one thing. And, yes, if it keeps happening I’ll definitely say something but for now I guess I just need to let it go.

      2. Aggretsuko*

        This reminds me of a really bad teacher I had in school that was retiring. I reported him and the principal was all “we have no incentive to make him behave, he retires in a month.”

    3. Mark Baron*

      If you follow the old adage, “pick your battles”, I don’t think the specifics here are worth picking this one. The person is leaving relatively soon, so I’d let it go. Now if it was a different circumstance, such as someone younger or same age/older with no retirement plans, then I would say something. Not to get them in trouble, but so that someone warns him that comments like that can open the company to a great deal of financial liability.

    4. Anonymous for this question*

      Thanks everyone for your insightful comments! I appreciate the advice and feedback.

  25. Disappointed DEI*

    What is a good way to gauge senior management in interviews? I have unfortunately had 2 jobs in a row where a change in my direct manager-them being let go, and their boss then taking over managing me- has lead to me going from loving my work to hating my job in short order just because I do not like the management styles of the new boss. I know in this age of layoffs galore, changes like this are common but what’s some advice I can use in the interview stages to see if I align with the management styles of all levels in my org?

    Another concerning issue I have, and I don’t really know if there is good advice for but want to ask-what do you suggest for situations where most of the people being let go are POC-is the only remedy to find a new position in an inclusive company? I am just so disappointed that the diverse and inclusive seeming workplace I joined a year ago has in no short order let go of other POC in ‘layoffs’ and the remaining teammates are… well not POC. I know you can’t predict futures and yes our sales have not been stellar so cuts needed to be made but its just alarming when all the people no longer here are the POC right?

    1. Justin*

      I can’t speak for your finances, but places that talk a big DEI game and then don’t actually have a diverse team aren’t likely to improve that much anytime soon. I’d leave when possible, again not knowing your life etc.

      1. Disappointed DEI*

        Ah thanks for validating my concerns. I have some runway so I am ok if I too get caught up in their ‘layoffs’ and as cheesy at it sounds, I do really like the work I do with my customers so I’ll keep applying and just hope for the best in this ‘resetting of the great resignation’ that we seem to be in.

    2. Mark Baron*

      I can’t speak to the second concern because I’ve never worked anywhere in which that was an issue.

      On the first concern, I’m not sure that gauging senior management in interviews will be particularly helpful. Although you’ve had two jobs in a row in which senior mgmt took over when your direct boss left, I think in most companies this is the exception rather than the rule. Typically a new manager is hired (or someone is promoted), and you won’t know anything about their management style until they come on board.

      That being said, I have typically asked, in interviews with the person who will be my supervisor, what their management style is. There is nothing wrong with you adding a second question, “What is YOUR boss’s management style?”

  26. Anon for this one*

    I have hit peak burnout and don’t know what to do. I’m drinking more than previously, calling out sick when really it’s a mental health day, etc. My job is quite supportive and it’s not a bad place to work… rather, I just… need time to breath and there never seems to be any. I have a great therapist and have been on medication for years so have support in that regards; and I think the last few years have just put me over the top. Has anyone done FMLA for mental health reasons? How did you go about it? Any other tips?

    1. Onward*

      I’ve known of people who have taken FMLA for mental health so I know it’s certainly possible. Talk to your doctors about making it happen. In the short-term, take as many mental health days as you need, put boundaries on what new work you’re able to accept, and generally take care of yourself first and foremost. Be sure you find some kind of outlet outside of work where you can completely disconnect and have fun (something physical is great). Good luck — you can get through this.

    2. SJ (they/them)*

      Hey Anon, I’m mostly here to let you know someone is reading and listening. Mental health days are sick days, it’s right there in the name – health. So that part is fine.

      The drinking I don’t have any advice on except that I’m glad you’re noticing the change, and being aware of a problem is the first step to solving it. So good on you there. Is your therapist aware? Might be worth bringing up if not.

      Going on medical leave for mental health reasons is completely valid in my opinion but I am not in the US and can’t really assist with the details. Does your employer have an EAP you could ask? Maybe your therapist could point you in the right direction?

      I hope other commenters will have some more concrete ideas for you. I am wishing you all good things and hoping you can get the rest and recuperation you need.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      Are you able to take two full weeks and completely disengage? I found that incredibly helpful when I was feeling burned out; a day off here and there wasn’t sufficient.

      1. Mark Baron*

        I agree with Ann that a day or two here and there doesn’t quite cut it when you are burned out and just need a break. If you have enough vacation time to still allow days here and there later in the year, can you take a two week vacation?

        I used to take four-day weekends about every month or so, and while I like knowing a four-day weekend was always only a month away, I just never felt completely relaxed. By the time I was almost there, it’s time to go back to work again.

      2. Anon for this one*

        Ann, I don’t know if you’ll see this but it’s a great idea. My boss pushed back a little bit when I wanted to take two full weeks as I’m going overseas. However, I think I’m going to add 2-3 days at the end of that trip to just be home.

    4. RecentlyRetired*

      I used up most of my PTO last year taking one day here and there trying to deal with stress at work. I considered taking a month off as leave without pay or FMLA to de-stress but I realized that I would lose the company’s portion of my medical insurance during that time and I’d have to pay thru COBRA.
      I had been trying to find a therapist off-and-on since March, but couldn’t find one that I could coordinate with.
      I resolved by getting my PCP to agree to paperwork for me to be on “intermittent FMLA”. I could work a few days of work, but not full time, until I used up my allocated hours.
      After doing this a couple of months, I realized it wasn’t working. I also turned 62 during this time and decided that my financial situation was “good enough” to retire. (Not the best, but without parents, husband, or children to support, I could make it.)
      The day I filed paperwork, I could feel the stress run out of my fingertips.

      So my intermittent FMLA was enough to help me make decisions for my mental health, but the decision was to not return to work at that job.
      Best wishes in your journey.

    5. MacGillicuddy*

      Mental health IS health just like physical health. There is absolutely no reason to elaborate if you are taking a sick day. Just say “I’ll be out sick today.” Or “I’m not feeling well today so I won’t be in.”

      I would never say “I’m taking a mental health day” any more than I’d say “I’m staying home barfing all day”.

    6. Also Anon For This*

      I took almost 2 months mental health FMLA leave about a year ago and it really helped. FMLA is unpaid but I was able to get short term disability through my state. Your job and health insurance are both protected under FMLA. State disability only covered a percentage of my salary but I had the option to use PTO to make up the difference. My manager was very supportive and encouraged me to take the full time my doctor had approved and not to try to come back until I was really ready. You don’t have to disclose the reason for FMLA but I was glad I did in my situation. My manager already knew I was having a hard time, I had been talking to her about it for a few weeks before I decided to take extended time off. At first I tried to keep working and take a day off here and there, but that just didn’t work. It took a few weeks to fully disconnect from work, and then a few more to feel like I wouldn’t break again as soon as I went back. There are good workplaces and managers out there in this type of situation. I’m still at this job over a year later.

    7. SofiaDeo*

      With all the stress of the past few years, “burnout” as a medical, “real” thing, affecting your body which then affects your mind, is something you should not hesitate at taking “sick time” for, if you can. Depending on if you’re US based, and if sick/other PTO are separate or not, may influence your decision to seek a part time FMLA accommodation, or intermittent FMLA. If your employer is as decent as you make them sound, I would think they would rather have scheduled, known times you are off. As opposed to days you really do get physically sick from the stress of burnout, and have to call out urgently. I got a fibromyalgia diagnosis after a few years of intense stress; in my case certain food additives aggravate if not induce the attacks (IBS like diarrhea, migraine, physical pain, all to the point of unable to go in to work) and “stress” made symptoms worse. I spent a solid year of “5 weeks on, 1 week off” after the stressors finally made me so physically ill I was stuck in bed for a few months. So all the other comments re: “take the FMLA” are right on target IME. It’s hard to say if an intermittent leave, a single solid block, or shorter workweeks for a protracted period would work “best”. But if you haven’t had a decent vacation in several years, please consider taking at least 2 straight weeks off, to start. I know at least some people who need a solid week of “no work” before they even begin to feel human again, and this was pre-Covid.

  27. L. Ron Jeremy*

    My friend is a software engineer and they are embracing OpenAI’s ChatGPT at their job and finding it helps them do the more mundane aspects of the job more quickly. He said that using these tools is becoming a skill that getting the more recognition from management.

    It seems inevitable to me that these tools will be required for many jobs in the future, just like the Microsoft office suite is today for everyday office work.

    Any other software or AI engineering people want to chime in on this new skill set? Seems like something to put on your resume in the near future, even for regular office folks.

    1. Nicki Name*

      I think it might be more useful for regular office folks. I’m a programmer, and when a coworker encouraged us all to check it out, I couldn’t think of anything I was doing at the moment that it would be any use for.

      If I’m debugging some very industry-specific software, or writing a new feature for it, it would take so much explaining the problem to ChatGPT that I’m better off just doing the work myself. I’ve seen demonstrations of it writing solutions to typical CS homework problems, but basic algorithms like those are likely to already be available and implemented in a third-party library we’re using if we need them.

      I do think it could be useful in making up for missing documentation– the sort of thing where such-and-such tool is supposed to be really useful for what you’re doing but you wind up searching all over Stack Overflow and the web for code examples in the hope that one of them will give you a clue as to how to actually use it in your particular situation.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I am a regular office folk, and I have no idea how it would be useful to me whatsoever.
        In fairness, we don’t use any coding, and nothing more complicated than Excel and QuickBase.

      2. TechWorker*

        +1
        Basically so far it’s good for something you could Google/stack overflow (it’ll probs do it quicker) but useless for anything actually hard (which I’m fine with, I like being paid :p).

        Also for whatever output (words, code, other), it’s just using whatever’s already on the internet and it might be wrong… so it’s useful to save yourself time but you still need to know whether it’s ‘right’ before you can rely on it. (Similar to ‘you would probably check sources or test’ before just believing the first result on Google).

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Not software per se but I do a lot of work with various databases & some sql coding. One thing that does look very promising to me is the potential for ChatGPT to take over some of the really annoying debugging in the way excel and other programs have started to – things like “missed a comma, misspelled a formula, hey that last file you selected has an incompatible format”. The sort of thing that is a pain in the butt when it happens, annoyingly tedious to debug, and primarily requires a lot of attention to detail rather than coding skill.

      That said, I think that we massively overestimate the workforce’s ‘tech-savvy’ skills already. The Office Suite is commonly underutilized; Word is more than a text editor! Excel is not a database & can do amazing things with spreadsheets! So while ChatGPT will be pretty common I don’t think that it’s going to be as widely used as we think it might be, or the uses are going to be relatively subtle QOL kinds of things.

    3. onyxzinnia*

      I’m not an engineer but part of my role is to help the communicate about highly technical resources in a way that’s easy for regular folks to understand. I’ve found ChatGPT helpful to compare my own writing against and see if I’ve addressed all the major customer pain points or product value-adds.

    4. Mark Baron*

      I have no answer to your question. However, for those who don’t know, Microsoft is rolling out, in Beta mode, Bing powered by ChatGPT. They’ve said it will most likely cross over to Office, although no timeline has been set for that.

  28. Freddie Mercurial*

    No question– just complaints and comments. My beloved manager gave notice. It was a great relationship, but I understand why they’re leaving. Dysfunction higher up that is not getting better any time soon. I’ll be reporting to the grandboss indefinitely. My plans are to document everything and keep firm boundaries.

    1. Mark Baron*

      It is an interesting reminder that even people at the management level have to deal with crap from people up the ladder.

      1. allathian*

        Middle managers are often stuck between a rock and a hard place, because they have to implement the (often inane or stupid) decisions of upper management, and in doing so, they make decisions that their reports are unhappy with. It’s one reason why I don’t want to be a manager.

  29. FrogEngineer*

    I struggled with finding a job for a long time, and began to suspect my interview skills were lacking. I did finally land a job, but I’ve since learned that they’re somewhat desperate for engineers, so it’s hard to assess whether it was because of or in spite of my interview. Is there a way I could ask the people who interviewed me, “Hey, when I interviewed back in September, how did I do?” or would this come off weird?

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      I feel like I would wonder why someone was suddenly concerned with their interview skills, if they’d just started working for me five months ago.

    2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      That would come off weird. It’s ruminating to still be worried about an interview that was 5 months ago, for a job you got! Just focus your energy on your work today.

    3. kiwiii*

      I think if it’s part of a larger conversation around recruitment/interviewing it would be fine, but bringing it up randomly is going to be like “why are you thinking about this now”

    4. irene adler*

      I agree with the prior posts- asking is gonna raise eyebrows.

      Plus, if they should give you an assessment, what if it isn’t something actionable? Or what if they suggest something that turns out to be irrelevant to 99% of other interviewers?

      If you are worried about your interviewing skills-and wish to improve upon them- you might reach out to a job coach and ask them if they will assess your interviewing.

    5. Tio*

      Can you prepare a list of questions for someone else to ask you and have them do a mock interview? There are also places that do this for a fee, but having a friend or someone similar do it might give you just as much information.

      In addition, are you sure your resume has the same level of skills to be competitive?

    6. Distractinator*

      Were they all management interviews or did you talk some with your current teammates also? Once you’ve got a strong friendly relationship with someone who you met that day, you can ask – but I wouldn’t frame it quite the way you did here, more as a funny stories reminiscing chat kind of way, especially if hiring is a topic of conversation (new hire just started this week, etc) “Hey, you were on the panel when I interviewed, right? I remember being terrified that I had screwed up when Boss asked about X and my mind just went blank – I can’t have looked as embarrassed as I felt, right?”

  30. A Good Egg*

    We had a few burned bags of popcorn in the break room microwaves last week, and we had a discussion about new rules for the ovens. What types of rules have people put in place that have worked?

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      No more popcorn in the microwaves worked at my last job. I really hated how the burnt popcorn smell wafted through every corner of the building.

    2. DarthVelma*

      I worked at a place where cooking popcorn in the microwave was forbidden to the point that being caught at it would result in disciplinary action.

      We had the fire department come out TWICE in the span of less than 6 months because someone put popcorn in the microwave and just walked away so that it burnt and set off the smoke alarms. After the second instance, management came down like a ton of bricks and the vast majority of employees supported them on this.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Oddly, every microwave has a “popcorn” button. And every bag of microwave popcorn says “Do not use the popcorn button.”

        I’ve checked. The popcorn button always runs for longer than the instructions on the popcorn bag says. If you use the popcorn button, you’re going to end up with burnt popcorn.

        Do not use the popcorn button.

        1. A Good Egg*

          Popcorn buttons vary from oven to oven. Some have a set time and ask the weight of the bag, while others have some type of feedback mechanism. The comment from saskia about listening for pops is what most microwave popcorn vendors put on their packaging.

        2. Rinn*

          +1 And you always have to stop the microwave *before* the pops slow down to a few pops. You have to sacrifice some kernels that won’t get popped in order to not overcook all of them.

    3. saskia*

      It always astounds me when I read these popcorn-burning anecdotes. I worked in an office for years where microwave popcorn was provided by the job as a free snack, and it was made almost daily by multiple people. Nobody ever burned theirs — and these were mostly college students and young adults just starting their careers, so not typically the most ‘aware’ people ever.
      I recommend telling people, one, that they must stay in the room while it’s popping and, two, that they should press ‘stop’ when they hear two seconds between pops.
      But overall, I think we had no popcorn-burners because we hired carefully for conscientious, detail-oriented and caring people. Plus, nobody wants to burn something in an open office where everyone can see the culprit :P

    4. Generic Name*

      Granted I work with reasonable and conscientious coworkers, but our microwave has a funny meme on it about keeping the microwave clean…..and the microwave stays clean. For some reason, nobody pops popcorn in the office microwaves. We do have company provided snacks, though.

    5. Qwerty*

      Must stay in kitchen when making popcorn. Preferable next to microwave.

      All of our incidents with burned popcorn were the result of people leaving the room and not realizing this particular bag finished before the popcorn timer was up. I’m assuming the popcorn setting on your microwave autopicks a time and power level, which tends to over cook because newer formulas require less cook time. Newer microwaves have some form of sensing ability for when it is “done”.

      Also maybe check if the popcorn supply is old/dried up. Those burn faster.

    6. Mark Baron*

      Our only microwave rule is “Don’t do what Mark did.” (I’m Mark, by the way.) I once put in a mini pizza and THOUGHT I set the timer at 2:00. What I actually did was set it at 20:00. A few minutes later the alarms are going off, the break room is completely filled with smoke (from burning pizza, not a fire), and we have two fire trucks and an ambulance in front of the building.

      We have a great relationship with our town’s first responders, so the next day I had pizzas delivered to them from our area’s best pizza place, with a note, “Sorry for yesterday. I promise I did not cook these in our microwave.”

  31. Need Distraction*

    Work appropriates to goof off? I work remotely on a work laptop, but have my personal laptop nearby for personal stuff like browsing this site. I often have small bits of downtime – like a 1-2min while waiting for a process to run. Plus I’m dealing with a break up that I really need to keep my mind off for a few days (this need for new stuff was on my mind before, its just a little more urgent to get recommendations)

    – Pinterest used to be my rabbit hole but now I find it either boring or it riles me up on all the -isms.
    – Reddit seems confusing? I tried browsing around there but didn’t see anything engaging, just some scary internet arguments’
    – I lost interest in my phone game of Merge Dragons, which I usually use when my brain needs a break
    – TV / video won’t work. I’ll either start watching it and abandon work or completely ignore it.
    – Spent yesterday making phone calls, so I’ve pretty much caught up with my social schedule

    I can still keep up work productivity while being very distracted. My workload at the moment is all low-brain energy stuff and my meetings all got cancelled.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      Do you like word games? Wordle is fun, but there are also variants on it that you can play repeatedly instead of just once a day: Dordle (two Wordles at once), Quordle (4), Octordle (8). Then there’s Waffle, which is just one daily but has an archive of all past ones that you can play and replay as you like. Those are my go-to “couple minutes of brain relaxation” things.

      1. sb51*

        For simple word games, Wordscapes on a phone is my go-to — it’s simple enough I can zone out a little and simple enough that I don’t get super engrossed in it and can bounce back to work easily (unlike some distractions I’ve tried).

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      Reddit works best when you find some subreddits that you are really interested it. Some of them can be nice little communities. The more popular ones can be more like The Purge.

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Yes, definitely find subreddits relevant to your interests! Perhaps one for your favorite tv show or book series, any activities you participate in or want to participate in, and then there’s the always popular r/AmItheAsshole. For some feel good animal threads, I highly recommend r/rarepuppers, r/dogswithjobs, or r/bigdogsbeingpickedup.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Yes, my favorites to engage with are TV show ones – usually pretty low stakes and entertaining discussions with a feeling of “inside joke” type camaraderie because you’re all familiar with the same topic. Hobby ones can also be pretty good.

        TOMT and whatstheword or whatsthatbook are fun because they feel like a trivia game.

      3. The OG Sleepless*

        Yes, you can find any flavor you want on Reddit. My feed has become largely whimsical smart-people stuff like r/whatisthisthing (just what it sounds like: found objects that people can’t identify; somebody always knows what it is), r/justrolledintotheshop (odd things auto mechanics see), r/science, r/books, and when I just want some trashy-magazine sagas, r/BestofRedditorUpdates.

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          Ooh, I forgot about r/whatisthisthing. You can go down some interesting rabbit holes on that one.

          For a long time, I paid attention to r/castiron. Very interesting and I learned a lot!

      4. Caffeinated in California*

        I am a sucker for cat related subreddits, like r/handfulofkitten, r/illegallysmolcats, etc.

    3. Specialized Skillets*

      I find I need an assortment of phone games to rotate through. I did Merge Dragons for a long time and then it abruptly felt like work so I went back to matching games (Clockmaker is my current favorite) and sliding puzzles (Sliding Seas and Jewel Sliding).

      I also like watching animal videos (the Dodo has some lovely happy-ending animal rescue series).

      1. allathian*

        Yes, me too. Currently I also mostly play Clockmaker. But I rotate through a lot of different match 3 games, like Homescapes, Jewels of Rome, Gardenscapes, Cradle of Empires, etc…

    4. Whomst*

      Answering the actual question: since you’re working remotely, you could try and develop a skill, like getting better at drawing or learning an instrument. Do a doodle, spend a few minutes shading, practice some chords, then hop back to work.

      Some unsolicited thoughts that you may throw out if they are not useful: if you’re dealing with a recent bad breakup, it’s likely that you’re going to have trouble avoiding it for at least a little bit. There’s nothing wrong with you that some mental space from the breakup won’t fix, but you’re gonna need to do some uncomfortable grieving first, which can often mean difficulty focusing or finding enjoyment in things you used to like.

      1. Need Distraction*

        Not only unsolicitated, but unwelcome and unhelpful. I’m not interested in your condescension. I know how to handle a breakup and how to grieve. I did not ask for break-up advice. I did not suddenly lose interest in everything overnight – Pinterest has been steadily less fun for years and I got bored with my phone games a while ago and hadn’t gotten around to finding a replacement.

        As I mentioned in my post, my workload got really easy and my meetings got cancelled, so there’s a lot more brain space to fill than usual.

        1. Helewise*

          You specifically mentioned the breakup as one of the reasons you needed brain space filled. I didn’t see anything condescending in that response, but find your comment here really unnecessarily rude.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, agreed.

            When asking for suggestions, don’t mention anything that you don’t want people to comment on. It’s a very simple rule of thumb. If you do mention something, it’s fair game.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      I like phone games for this kind of thing. 2048, Sudoku, coloring book apps, Duolingo, Two Dots, etc.

    6. Minimal Pear*

      Have you ever tried Tumblr? It’s not the easiest website to get used to as a first-time user but there’s a lot of REALLY cool art, writing, etc. You also have a LOT of control over your user experience.

    7. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’d recommend Duolingo or a similar language learning app if you have headphones. At least you’re learning something useful while goofing off. Though I don’t know what I’ll do if I ever make it to the end of the French course!

    8. Zephy*

      I’ll second that Reddit can be good for little distraction-nuggets but it requires some work to set up initially to make it a pleasant experience. Basically, Reddit is made up of a bunch of “subreddits,” or “subs” – these are discussion boards centering around particular topics (hobbies and recreational activities, various kinds of media, personal identities, geographic area, professions, etc). Users who aren’t logged in, or users with brand-new accounts that haven’t modified their subreddit list, see content from the “default” subs, generally the biggest and therefore most generalized communities. Sometimes a post from a smaller/non-default sub gets a lot of attention for one reason or another, and it shows up in the general feed (called “r/all”). Like any large internet community, there’s a lot of garbage to wade through in the default subs; you’re better off unsubscribing from all of them, and seeking out the subreddits for whatever you are interested in, like your favorite sports teams or TV shows, your hobbies, maybe your city/local area. If you curate your Reddit feed just so, it’ll be nothing but wall-to-wall pictures of cats and cookie recipes, if you want that. It’s highly customizable, but requires more active effort on the part of the user than, say, TikTok.

    9. Name*

      I like to have some no-tech options. For awhile I had a solitaire game of bananagrams going, or a puzzle. Personally I’m trying to reduce screen time, and I find the games to be a mental rest and not a distraction the way social media sucks me in.

  32. The Rural Juror*

    I need a little help in reflecting on how I reacted in a situation. TLDR: my coworker asks extremely personal questions and puts people on the spot.

    I was eating lunch yesterday with a couple of coworkers and one of them happened to mention something about their relationship status that isn’t well-known among the group. This person isn’t necessarily extremely private, but one of those who mentions something only when it’s relevant and comes up naturally. You won’t find them coming into the office going, “Guess what! I got engaged!” I know about their life simply because I work closely with them and we talk, but knowing that they’re more reserved, I try not to pry.

    Coworker A mentioned their fiancé in the conversation because something reminded them of a thing relevant to their significant other. Instead of letting the topic of conversation continue, Coworker B immediately picked up on that word and said, “You’re engaged?! You didn’t tell us!” then proceeded to hijack the conversation and ask many personal questions, putting the spotlight on this person who doesn’t normally talk about themselves a ton and doesn’t seem to enjoy the attention. How long they’d been engaged, are they living together, do they want to have kids – all questions they were then peppered with from Coworker B.

    I started trying to throw a lifeline to Coworker A when B started asking about their reproductive plans and made a joke about that being overly personal…but Coworker B didn’t take the hint and continued asking away. It took me making 2 more jokes like, “Whoa! Do you need us to bring in desk lamp so you can have a spotlight for your interrogation?” before Coworker B started to take offense and retorted, “We spend so much of our life with our coworkers, it makes sense to get to know each other.”

    On one hand, it wasn’t necessarily my place to decide what questions Coworker A should or shouldn’t answer. It’s their place to decide what they do or don’t want to share, but it seemed like they were a little blindsided and felt pressured. That’s why I was trying to use humor to defuse the situation a bit and throw them a lifeline. They never took the lifeline – they did offer up answers to the personal questions – but I could tell Coworker B was annoyed with me for insinuating that they were over the line. They got a little defensive towards me as conversation continued.

    There was a Coworker C with us as well, who seemed to be in agreeance with me, but is newer to the company and didn’t seem comfortable to do anything more than chuckle to what I was saying and nod along. I can’t fault them for that, they’re still finding their footing here.

    My question is more for folks who have found themselves in the spotlight and was asked questions they don’t necessarily want to answer. Did you want anyone to step in? Is it overstepping to defend someone who isn’t necessarily asking for help? Coworker B has asked me personal questions in front others and I’ve just replied by saying, “That’s not something I want to talk about at work.” So should I just lead by example and keep my boundaries healthy, but butt out when the questions aren’t directed at me?

    1. Tuesday*

      Currently dealing with this a lot as a pregnant person and I have been really, REALLY grateful when people have stepped in to steer the convo away from my body! It’s very awkward to be the interrogated person and to not want to seem rude or withholding even though you’re uncomfy. You were not overstepping. Coworker B WAS over the line and they’re miffed at being called out, that’s all.

    2. Wokka Wokka Wokka*

      “They never took the lifeline”

      When they don’t take the lifeline, that’s the time to butt out.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Personally, I think one *sincere* “you don’t have to answer that” to A or “that’s kind of personal” to B would be a better option. Making jokes, especially multiple jokes, just adds another type of awkward to the situation. A is an adult and they’re allowed to answer invasive questions or set a boundary themselves, so at most I think you should say something to signal “you’re not wrong to be uncomfortable” and then drop it unless A speaks up.

      Since B interrupted a conversation about something else, it also would’ve made sense to be like “wait, what was that about (topic)?” or “sorry, could we get back to (topic) for a second?” after the initial “I didn’t know you were engaged!” derailment.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        I think maybe the reason I tried 3 attempts/jokes is linked to what you and MsM are both saying – Coworker B hijacked an entire conversation (that had been interesting!) to ask all these personal questions I didn’t care to hear. Not that I’m not interested in Coworker A’s life, but the whole thing was making me uncomfortable.

        I’m reflecting on that today – why it made me uncomfortable and how to advocate for myself and others – and I REALLY appreciate you weighing in.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I had a similar response to you in a situation where one person ended up asking another person some pretty deep questions at a group dinner. Prior to that, none of us had had that level of conversation before so it was new territory. Also none of the other three of us would have dared ask such sensitive questions, but the askee had the most social power of anyone at the table so was probably not feeling pressured to answer and seemed fine to respond pretty openly.

          When I thought about it later, I realized that I myself am fine with answering somewhat personal questions and having personal conversations, but I almost never *initiate* the personal conversations by asking questions of others. Somehow I feel like I would be prying if I ask, even though I don’t generally feel like the other person is prying to ask me? Maybe it goes to the social pressure aspect. I wouldn’t want someone to feel obligated to tell me personal stuff so I avoid creating a situation where that would happen.

          1. Jamie Starr*

            I relate to your second paragraph. I figure if someone wants to share something personal with me they will, but I don’t want to ask because it might be too personal, etc. I think this comes from me being a private person. I grew up in a small town where everyone gossiped about everyone else all the time and I couldn’t stand it. That being said, over the past several years I’ve learned to make an effort to ask my close friends things I would normally consider too personal because I realize it shows I care.

    4. MsM*

      If they’ve ventured into the territory of wanting to know reproductive plans, I think it’s perfectly appropriate to jump in and let them know that’s enough of that line of questioning without sugarcoating it. If Coworker A wants to say “it’s fine” and answer anyway, so be it, but at that point Coworker B needs to realize they probably are making other people who don’t want to talk/think/be asked about their own plans uncomfortable, too.

    5. Pocket Mouse*

      I would definitely appreciate someone pushing back- this did happen to me when one person asked about my reproductive plans, and another started laughing as if the first person had asked in jest, they couldn’t possibly have actually been expecting an answer. This exchange actually happened a second time immediately after, and I gave a vague response before the first person got the hint.

      I’d suggest pushing back but with a refocus on what the person was on track to say before the questions- highlighting that the questions are too much still keeps the focus on the questions so there’s not another conversational place to gracefully go.

    6. Mark Baron*

      I’m a mega shy, introverted person. However, I’m also very direct. I would have simply said, “I don’t really feel comfortable talking about that many aspects of my private life.”

      I don’t really think it’s your place to stop the interrogation, although I realize it comes from a good place. If the co-worker didn’t want to talk about this, all she had to do was say so.

  33. I edit everything*

    I’m nervous. Officially, I am a secretary in a tiny office–tasked with answering the five phones calls a day and greeting the three people a week who come in. I love my job–the amount of interaction is perfect for me, and I like my coworkers (who aren’t usually in the office).
    My boss has delegated to me the task of finding a system that will let us take online reservations and payments for our public facilities (park pavilions, picnic shelters, etc.). So I have three calls set up for next week to get demos and pricing. It’s bordering on project management-type work: evaluating options, choosing the best solution, presenting it, and then learning and implementing it. Eventually, I’ll be teaching other employees how to use it (if we actually get it up and running). Seems like a lot for a secretary.

    I don’t know what I’m asking, really. Tips from others who have done this kind of thing, I guess. I know this is in my skillset–I’m organized and analytical, good at planning and making decisions, and comfortable with technology. It just seems like a lot for an “I want a regular paycheck because freelancing is a roller coaster,” low-stress job.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      It sounds like a natural evolution of your work and that your boss is happy with your work to date. Also a pretty low risk way to dip your toe into project management! Just keep a spreadsheet of your options, good notes from the demos, talk to current clients of the prospective vendors, and run cost scenarios from the entire range of use possibilities (low to high). Have fun!

      1. I edit everything*

        I’ve only been here for two months! Mostly I think he just doesn’t have time/feel capable of doing it.

        Thanks for the recommendation to talk to current clients. I’ll ask for those references (though some I should be able to find myself).

    2. Hybrid Employee (Part Human, Part Wolf)*

      Document document document. You don’t know how valuable your spreadsheets will be until you’re getting quizzed on a bunch of data!

      A lot of times when I work on something like this, I try to imagine what question my boss could ask me about this that would make me panic. Then I try to figure out the answer to that.

    3. Indolent Libertine*

      Can you ask your counterparts at other municipalities/park systems what they use, what they do and don’t like about it, etc? The companies will connect you to people who are happy with their product, but reaching out directly you might find someone ego could tell you “oh boy, we started off with Brand X but had these problems and their customer service was awful and unresponsive, so we switched to Acme and have never looked back.”

      1. Helewise*

        This is a great idea, and in my experience most people are happy to talk to counterparts in other municipalities.

    4. Lilith*

      That sounds interesting! I’d recommend, if you have time, writing down and prioritising your requirements for the new system before you have the demo calls as it’ll help identify any specific questions you’ll need answered. Makes it easier to fairly judge each system against each other as well!

      When I’ve done similar systems before, we ended up prioritising things like ease of making payments over the snazziness of the site, and cost of the system now over ability to scale up in future.

  34. Calling all Data Science/Analysts for help*

    Any data science/analysts people here? Question for my spouse. Spouse has a master’s in data science. He got it while working full time as a teacher, which is what he’s been doing for the past 7 years (teaching physics and computer science). His undergraduate degree is physics. He’s a self-taught coder, so he has severe imposter syndrome, despite the degree and despite being at the top of all his data science classes (how he could vent to me about how poor his classmates’ code is – some of whom were working in data science jobs – while still feeling insecure about his own ability to get a job in the field is beyond me).

    He’s toying with the idea of leaving teaching and working in data science. Ideally, he’d like a fully remote job. What sort of job should he apply for, and what sort of salary should he expect?

    Thank you!!!!

    1. Jill*

      The field of data science is fairly mature at this point. There aren’t many entry level positions. Most companies are looking for Sr. Data Scientists or higher. Those positions want 5+ years of experience. This isn’t to say that entry level positions don’t exist, but they are few and far between. Your spouse may need to start with a data analyst position.

      My husband entered the field in 2020 after doing a bootcamp. He has a master’s degree in Physics. His first job paid $85k, his 2nd job paid $130k, and his most recent job paid $150k. Unfortunately, he was laid off last month and the market is dismal. If your spouse has a steady, secure job, he may want to stay put until things settle more with the economy.

    2. Data Slicentist*

      100% remote data scientist here: I’m in health tech. There seems to be a lot of opportunity in the midst of volatility (COVID, changes in regulation around telehealth, new tech).

      As for salary, that’s extremely dependent on your location. Folks with a DS title at a relatively small number of prominent tech companies in very high cost of living US cities skew the average a lot. I’d recommend checking sites like Glassdoor, levels.fyi and Payscales for a better idea of how much it varies. On reddit, r/datascience has a pinned thread with compensation but I’d warn that Silicon Valley jobs seem over represented.

    3. Parenthesis Guy*

      It depends on what technologies he learned. I recommend looking for jobs based on the languages he’s familiar with.

      Fully remote should be doable. I’d think $80k is reasonable with a jump to $95k in two years.

    4. MissGirl*

      Health systems have a ton of data. It’s a great place to get a job and get experience. Salaries are all over the place.

    5. Spearmint*

      I’m trying to break into this field as well, though I only have a BA in math and a few years in a data-adjacent government job, so I’ve been in the weeds of this for many months.

      As Jill said, my impression is that true data science roles (as opposed to analytics roles mislabeled as “data science”” positions) are very hard to get, and most people getting those jobs have PhDs in quantitative fields or many years of experience in analytics.

      Though I haven’t secured a job yet, I have had much more luck getting interviews for data analytics and business analytics roles. They probably aren’t as technically advanced as your husband is hoping for (more SQL and Excel and BI software, less programming and statistical modeling), but they’re easier to get as an entry level candidate and it seems like there are more openings. Entry level salaries seem to be $70k-$80k with room for growth (and some companies offering bonuses and stock in addition), though I’m in a high-ish COL city.

  35. No Internet in Austin*

    I’m in Austin, TX, where the ice storm last week caused major power and internet outages all over the city. I work remote, and my boss works remote in Florida, and I have two other team members on the east coast.

    I couldn’t access the internet last week, so Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings, I sent an email to my boss and teammates from my personal gmail account (data network was actually working) saying that I couldn’t work because I had no internet. During those days I never heard back from anyone.

    Friday afternoon I was able to go to the library and access my work email. My boss had sent an email to my work address saying that he wanted to check in since he knew Austin was having bad weather. The next day he sent a chat (through the Teams work app) also saying the same thing. I chatted him back asking if he got any off my emails, he responded they went to his spam folder (after her checked).

    Granted, I’m at the BEC with this guy, but I’m like, If you haven’t heard from your employee in days during a time when they are in a location experiencing a disaster, why wouldn’t you (1) check your spam folder to see if they’ve reached out or (2) email their work email? If I had access to my work email, don’t you think I’ve had reached out?!

    As a manager, could he have been allowed to go to HR and say, “can I get the phone number to my employee, they’re in a disaster and I haven’t heard from them?”

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      TBH I hadn’t really heard about what’s going on in Austin. I mean, I don’t have any employees or relatives there, but I don’t know if it was big national news.
      To the broader question, managers should have employee phone numbers, period. No need to go to HR as a special one-off! Why isn’t there a number he had for you??

    2. Camellia*

      Honestly, I never think to check my spam folder. And my boss gives us his cell phone number so we can text him if needed. I thought pretty much everyone did this, but maybe it’s unusual?

    3. Lily Rowan*

      Disaster or no, I would expect to know what was up with my staff over the course of three days! And would be calling if there was no sign of them online.

    4. acmx*

      I think it’s odd you didn’t use work email in the first place. Or call/text. I almost never think to check my work spam folder (in 6 years, I’ve probably had 2 emails go there).

      Also, I’m in FL and hadn’t really heard of the storm in Austin. But your boss did so he obviously was aware and had some concern. It is odd that apparently y’all haven’t exchanged phone numbers.

      1. Same Same!*

        I don’t think it’s odd at all!
        I don’t have work email on my phone at all.
        Not only is that important for work/life balance, my company doesn’t provide phones, and if you have access to work stuff on your personal phone, they require access and will wipe your phone remotely if you leave the company. Can’t do a partial wipe, something might get missed. So bye bye contacts, photos, and other personal data on your phone!
        And that’s a HUGE no thanks.
        If I were in that situation, with only phone data access, I would have used my personal email without a second thought.
        That said, I do have cell phone numbers for coworkers and could have called or texted.

    5. RussianInTexas*

      Did Austin power outages really made the nationwide news? It’s really hard to gauge from inside the disaster zone how much of it is known to the outside world. Obviously, we here in Houston, did, because next door, and I know affected people, so again, it’s difficult to gauge.
      Also, why does your manager not have your phone number?

    6. Tio*

      I mean, if he sees on the news that there’s storms and power outages, and don’t hear from an employee in that area for a couple days, I would just assume they’ve got no power. I wouldn’t necessarily check my spam. And he probably emailed your work email thinking you’d possibly log on and check it on your phone while you had battery, and if not, well, power outage. I the outages were over and I still hadn’t heard anything, maybe I’d escalate, but it really doesn’t sound like anything is out of line here.

      1. another poster*

        I agree, this seems like a pretty normal response. I never think to check my spam folder. Could you not login into work email on your cell phone or some other source? Also, do you have a phone number for him at all? I’d have tried that too. For what it is worth, I’m in Austin and manage people. Some touched base right away, others didn’t for a few days, and we were fine with it (we assumed folks didn’t have power and honestly wanted them to use what power they did have/cell phone battery on other things). Plus it was weird since some folks had power, then lost it, then got it and lost it again all over the course of 3-5 days. We tried to communicate with our staff how we could, but really allowed a lot of leeway given the situation.

    7. Loulou*

      What exactly are you mad about? He checked in with you once and followed up the next day. And he probably assumed the reason he hadn’t heard from you was because you didn’t have internet, which was correct.

      Maybe I’m confused because I think you’re missing a word in #2 of your “BEC” paragraph (did you mean “email their NON work email”?) but I’m not getting the issue.

    8. Mark Baron*

      I wasn’t aware of any issues in Austin. But if 911 Lone Star is even remotely accurate, you guys have all kinds of weird weather happens regularly.

      I agree with you that he should have checked spam. I always do that, by default, when I am expecting an e-mail and it hasn’t arrived.

      Beyond that, though, I’m very surprised your manager doesn’t have your phone number already. That seems like bad planning.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Oh no! Please don’t rely on 911 Love Star for the climate and geological info for Central Texas.
        The weather can be a rollercoaster during winter, but not to the point of frog showers, 130 degrees heat burst, tornados, and ACTIVE VOLCANOS. Lol

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

      My department has a group chat reserved for this kind of emergencies. This week there were lots of heatwave related power (nad internet) cuts, so it was pretty active.

  36. NeonDreams*

    I’m in a job that’s not a good fit for me. I’m trying my hardest but have fallen short in many ways. This week my boss had me sign a documented counseling. If I don’t meet it, it starts a pipeline to possible termination. I’d like to avoid that at all costs. My question is: how do I keep myself motivated without losing my mind with stress? I need to keep this job because I have an apartment and thousands of dollars in debt that needs paid off. I’m scared as hell to be fired. I’m also looking for others jobs, both internally and outside the company.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      There may be some overlap with your situation and the Captain Awkward letter “How to tighten up your game at work when you’re depressed” (#450). I recommend reading that post and using whatever strategies you think will help you. Good luck!

      1. NeonDreams*

        I scanned over it and it looks like the exact post I need. Will read it after work. Thank you for the recommendation!

    2. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      I find that staying on top of your job search can help you maintain a sense of order and control over your life when things otherwise feel like they’re spiraling. Set aside a regular block of time and “work” it just like you do a job – X amount for searching new postings, Y amount for editing cover letter/resume, Z amount for brushing up a skill, whatever your related tasks are. This can be a good touchstone for staying mentally and emotionally centered instead of letting hopelessness take over. And it’s a good, concrete reminder that there are lots of other opportunities out there – it’s just a matter of finding the right one, which takes time. You got this.

    3. germank106*

      I think the first thing you need to do is to identify why this particular job is not a good fit. Are there specific tasks that you can’t handle or is it more of a general “I’m not good at any of this” situation? Once you have figured that out you (and your boss) can figure out how to improve the situation. If it’s a specific task you could ask for more training, more practice, etc. If it’s the overall job that’s not a good fit find out if there is a job within the company that meshes with your skill set and personality. You might also want to update your resume and brush up on Interview skills in case none of this works and you need to find a job with another company.

  37. Just a Manager*

    Question on neurodivergence.

    I manage a group of IT techs. We have a temp person we brought in to fill in for various people being out for significant periods. I have permission to fill the temp position permanently. The question is, while the temp does good work and has learned all the intricacies of our job; they show some characteristics of neurodivergence, lack of eye contact, one-word answers, etc. I understand and can deal with that through prior personal experiences. Most of the team likes them. My boss and a couple of other people in the organization aren’t experienced with this and question their ability to do the customer service aspect of the job.

    I want to talk to the temp about what is going on, but I don’t know how to phrase it. Any suggestions?

    1. Onward*

      Have their been any actual issues with their work? Have you seen them work with customers and noticed any difficulties with accomplishing what they need to?

      1. Just a Manager*

        I’ve talked to our customers, and the feedback has been positive. Unfortunately, there was an incident where one group was put off by the lack of eye contact and short answers.

    2. A Manager for Now*

      If at all possible, focus on the behavior not the explanation. For one thing, the temp may not be aware they do this, or may not be diagnosed as neurodivergent. For another, at the end of the day, it isn’t suuuuuper important for you to know why they do these things when what you really need to communicate that it’s impactful enough to prevent them from getting the full time role.

      Maybe start with something like
      “I’ve been really happy with your work in X, Y, and Z. There’s a couple things from a customer service stand point I’d like to talk about. I’ve noticed that you tend to avoid eye contact, which is important because of A and B. I also sometimes see short one-word answers where more information or context would be needed, for example [event where this was true]. I’d like to help bring those areas up, because you’re a really valuable member of our organization and I want to make sure you succeed here. Do you have any thoughts?”

    3. Educator*

      I think the important conversation here is not with the temp, who is doing good work, but with your boss, who seems to have an overly rigid view of what good customer service looks like. Don’t armchair diagnose, but give the boss very concrete and detailed examples of how the temp is succeeding in this aspect of the role.

    4. Mark Baron*

      If the person is handling the position, doing a good job, does it really matter if they lack eye contact or give one word answers?

      Anyway, I don’t think there is anything wrong with you giving them some coaching regarding the lack of eye contact and one-word answers. Regularly reminding them of this could help them overcome it. I say that because it worked for me. I have Asperger’s and I was king of one-word answers and non eye-contact. A manager awhile back helped me with this, and I overcame the drawbacks enough to become a CEO.

  38. Qwerty*

    People here have talked about using buttons for corporate logos as a size-inclusive alternative to company polos/vests/etc. Does anyone have recommendations on where to find these? All I found was either name tags or those big circle buttons. Is there a special name for them?

    Is it easy to do small orders of these? My company has <10 people and I've spreading this idea around to the startup community which is also small number of employees. I'm consistently the only woman, so I also like it as an early stage alternative to t-shirts.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I think you are looking for pins. (Solid metal with enamel.)

      If you just want smaller buttons, you can actually buy the kit and make them yourself. It’s quite fun!

    2. Amber Rose*

      We always got ours from small printers like Vistaprint (which is Canadian I think but there’s gotta be equivalents in other countries.)

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        For anyone wondering – Vistaprint is available in the UK and US, as well as lots of European countries.

        OP, are you maybe looking for small enamel pins? You can get these customised in the shape of your logo – not sure where, but I would just search and see what come up.

    3. Adhesive residue*

      A couple of thoughts:
      Some people hate putting holes in their clothes for buttons or pins
      For adhesive stickers, make sure it’s a good name brand. The cheaper ones leave an impossibly difficult to remove adhesive residue
      The magnetic pins/buttons might be the best bet

      1. MJ*

        But, as I discovered when looking into these, some of the ones with strong magnets are not recommended for people with pacemakers!

    4. Rinn*

      I’m female. I would not be interested in buttons or pins. Well actually I do save nice metal pins sometimes but not to wear on my person. But as opposed to a nice jacket or other clothing (what my company gives), a button or pin seems like a step down, you know, if they were willing to put out money for a jacket.

  39. Sundays Off*

    Am I picking the wrong hill to die on by refusing to travel on weekends for work?

    My company has multiple locations located all over the world. The facility that my group is lost frequently asked to travel to is 12+ hours worth of travel to get to. The frequent ask is that we travel to this location on a Sunday in order to maximize our time in that location and “get another day of work in”. When we visit that location we also are frequently asked to work additional hours or put in situations where we’re having working dinners so a 40 hour work week becomes a 50+ hour week from the working time alone, leaving out the additional travel. Because of the timing of the flights we either have to get in very late Sunday night before getting up very early to start work the next day or we have to leave extremely early in the morning on Sunday which kills our whole weekend. We are not given any kind of comp time for this.

    Recently my boss made me aware that there was a push for my team (which I manage) to begin traveling to this location somewhat regularly, think each person needing to make the trip every 6-8 weeks minimum and told me that the ask was that we would travel on Sunday. I told her that was not going to be possible and explained the issues that I (and my team as I had talked with them about this previously) had with the Sunday travel. She said she understood and that she was ok with Mondays given all this information.

    We started up the rotation and I went first and travelled on Monday and returned on Friday. I was asked to get the next person set up and then their travel was denied because they were unable to travel on Sunday. I talked with our travel coordination and was told that my boss had put a hold on all travel that wasn’t going to happen on Sundays. My boss has yet to speak to me about this, and it sounds like she’s considering the info being given to me from the travel coordinator as me being informed.

    I’ve spoken to people in my department and 1 of them is willing to travel on Sundays, but the others, including myself, are not ok with it. At this point I’m basically planning to just let this fizzle and see if my manager addresses it, but there is an extent to which I am questioning if this is a standard ask. I’m also concerned that the company will take the one person who is willing to do it and use it as a “well employee A is willing to do it why aren’t the rest of you.” There are other people willing to do this travel (mainly upper level managers or people who know it’s a 1 off trip), but to be honest those are all also people with abundant PTO time or “live to work” mentalities.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Oh I would totally die on this hill. 50+ hour work weeks, plus 12+ hours of travel, no additional compensation, and now they’re coming for your weekends as well? Hellll no. If they want you to give up more of your time it at bare minimum should include additional compensation.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      You don’t mention it, but 12 hours of travel also strongly implies time zone changes (unless you are traveling from, idk, Stockholm to Cape Town), which would make it even more important to me that there be some leeway given by the company.

    3. Ashley*

      If this was just once or twice a year I get being annoyed but maybe not a hill to die on. But for a time to be constantly subjected to this without accompanying flex time is ridiculous. At the very least you should argue for your team to get off the Friday before a trip.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        This is where I land too. I’ve done the occasional work travel on a weekend and that was OK because it was occasional. See how it plays out, but if it looks like traveling on Sundays will be the norm, I agree with Ashley that it’s worth raising the possibility of taking the Friday before off, so you still have two non-work/non-travel days.

        1. Sundays Off*

          Honestly we have early closure on Fridays so it wouldn’t come close to touching it. There are some really rigid policies and we often have to make up time if we need to take an hour or two as salaried exempt employees, even if we’ve already put in more than our scheduled hours that week. So I’m kind of like, yeah a single PTO day isn’t cutting it for this.

          1. Rosemary*

            Wait so they nickel and dime you when you need to take some time for say an appointment, yet they expect you to give up your Sundays to travel 12+ hours…every 6 to 8 weeks?! Oh HELL no.

            1. Caffeinated in California*

              Seriously. This is my problem with it.

              It sounds like they are working the “exempt” thing to their benefit only, whereas it’s supposed to be a give and take. If they micromanage your time off by tracking make up time for one or two hours, but don’t give you any comp time for weekend or hours over 40 in a week, I’m not sure you’re really exempt. Time to talk to an employment lawyer about whether this is legal.

    4. Ann O'Nemity*

      Giving up Sundays, the long travel, and the extra hours are hardships. The company should be prepared to offer additional compensation and/or comp time as an incentive. It’s pretty tone deaf of management to just expect you to suck it up and do it….

    5. Qwerty*

      Absolutely a hill to die on given the regularity of travel. They need to make some sort of trade off, like giving the person the Friday beforehand off.

      My rule has always been that travel time = work time. It doesn’t have to happen during work hours, but the employee gets some sort of comp time in return.

      With the 12hr flight time – is this one way? Are you travelling overseas or is this because of layovers? That length of travel combined with the regularity needs to also be paired with a higher level of seat if they are expecting you to travel for 12hrs and then be fresh the next day.

      Optional to add arguing this could have a disproportionate effect on certain demographics. I’m guessing younger non-parents are more likely to be able to travel, but parents and/or older employees will git dinged for not being able to travel on Sundays. Gender is affected too – women tend to be more responsible for child rearing in our society, so I’ve found moms struggle more with frequent or weekend travel than dads do. (especially if the dads on your team have stay at home spouses)

      1. Sundays Off*

        We’re all young without kids, so thankfully that’s not a factor I have to worry about. The time is due mostly to having to take flights with multiple layovers, it’s not an easy area to get to. We also have to take the most inexpensive option within reason so seat upgrades are definitely not in the cards.

        1. Rosemary*

          You are young without kids now – but what if that changes? What if someone on your team has a child? Or you hire someone who does? Or, someone breaks their leg or gets sick or goes out on leave or literally can’t travel for some other reason – does that mean the rest of the team will end up having to travel MORE than every 6-8 weeks? I am sorry, but this is absolutely a hill I would die on. MAYBE very occasionally – VERY occasionally – you travel on a Sunday if it is absolutely necessary that you are in the office in Monday. But it should be the exception not the rule.

    6. Sadie*

      The one person who is willing to travel is going to burn out hard one day if they don’t learn to stand up for themselves. Not necessarily because of this travel, but because they are clearly willing to give far too much for a job.

      No compensation of your time! That is wildly unfair.

    7. Maggie*

      Okay, so I do think it’s a pretty decent hill to die on if it’s every 6-8 weeks. It it was a couple times a year for an otherwise good job, I’d say just deal. But that’s too often. I occasionally travel on sundays for work or will work a trade show all weekend but it’s rare and it’s made up for by the flexibility of the job the bulk of the time. Once a quarter would be the absolute MAX I would be willing to travel on sundays though.

    8. Daria Grace*

      If it were once or twice a year and you could do it without major problems I’d say to roll with it but that frequency without compensation is wildly inappropriate.

      There’s also the problem that some people will have religious or family reasons work travel on a sunday is not an option

    9. Bess*

      I would definitely not be okay with this, but don’t know if it’s an industry norm so can’t speak to how easy it will be to push back on it.

      This would definitely be a dealbreaker for me, and they should absolutely be considering how this would disadvantage some groups disproportionately. I’m a bit miffed that you gave feedback, got an agreement, and now that’s been rescinded without clear communication. That’s actually worrisome to me. It does feel like the only business “need” here is the desire to maximize your working time at your own expense, and the fact that they’re not presenting you with any other information increases that feeling.

      I guess if I wanted to keep the job I would either push for Monday travel or possibly try to negotiate flex time. But honestly, this is probably a level where I’d end up leaving–that much travel routinely is so exhausting, before you even get to the impacts on my family life.

    10. Mark Baron*

      This is one where I would draw the line. I’ve turned down job opportunities that involved regular travel that does not come close to the scenario you describe. Heck, even if it meant being fired and having to move back in with my mom, I’d tell them this is something I am just unwilling to do. Not unless there was a substantial tradeoff, such as an extra vacation week for each travel week, or enough of a bonus paid for each trip to make it worth while.

    11. cncx*

      The Sunday travel doesn’t bother me as much as no comp time. I have worked at companies where their travel policy had it in writing that the person got the travel day comped, weekend or not. I wouldn’t work somewhere that didn’t comp travel time, like this would rise to “I’ll quit over this” ridiculousness. Even my ex husband who worked for a churn and burn consulting firm (think McKinsey) got travel over four hours comped.

    12. allathian*

      This would definitely be the hill I’d be willing to die on, but so would the expectation to work 50+ hour work weeks…

      1. Sundays Off*

        Just to be clear, the 50+ hour weeks are really only when we travel. Our standard week is in the 40-43 hour range (although I can’t pretend like we haven’t been encouraged to put in more unpaid OT)

  40. Justin*

    I got a raise, which was expected (whole company gets those in mid-Feb). Not a ton but I’ve been there last than a year so I wasn’t sure I was eligible. The cut-off was being employed by Oct 1st, so yay. It’s not a huge pct but it was higher than any other raise I’ve ever gotten by dollar amount. I’ve worked in nonprofits/academia/govt my whole career (after teaching overseas) so, yeah.

    I still work for a nonprofit but it’s well funded and a very supportive place. In fact, against normal advice (which I understand), I foregrounded my ADHD in the interview process because I really wanted to be absolutely sure my next place would be explicitly welcoming, and they have been, because…

    I’m also getting a bonus (a larger pct than the raise; together it adds up to 9% of salary), specifically because of my, essentially, boundless energy (which is really an ever-restless brain) and curiosity. It helps I am good at my main tasks, but still.

    A year ago I was rapidly gaining gray hair on my job search conducted while working full-time and finishing my dissertation and writing a book, so to be here is nice. I have certainly benefited from reading AAM since 2016, even if I haven’t actually been an official OP.

    1. Justin*

      I know there are a lot of people struggling so to be celebratory feels weird, but I’m still a person of color with a disability that has hindered me in previous jobs (let alone, you know, racism), and ultimately it all benefits my son, who will be 3 next week.

      1. SJ (they/them)*

        I’m very happy for you! I think it’s perfectly okay to be celebratory for your own sake, too. The whole point of making it through the hard times is so that good things can happen! Yay for you :)

      2. Caffeinated in California*

        Revel in your celebration! IMO, we like hearing good stories too, because it reminds us that not everything is full of bees.

        Congratulations!

  41. A Simple Narwhal*

    Career advancement has always been an issue at my company – there’s no clear path and promotions are rare. I had a more straightforward conversation with my manager about it this week, and he basically said that he didn’t foresee a future where the company needed more senior people in my role, but there would potentially be advancement for me as a project manager. (It truly is out of his hands, it’s a long-established issue that managers have almost no control over promotions.)

    I’m not a project manager, but I’ve dabbled in project management in my role and I don’t dislike it. In hindsight I can see that my manager has been providing me with project management projects over the last year, but now (if I’m interested) he’s very in favor of me receiving official project management training, taking courses, attending conferences, etc. He was up front that there is no guarantee that this will lead to a promotion, but essentially it’s the best chance I have at advancement.

    I’m of the mind that carrying on as is definitely won’t lead to a promotion, so there’s no harm in getting training in (what I imagine is) a transferrable skill while I figure out what I want to do. (FWIW I’m hesitant to just immediately leave since my job is flexible and very steady, both things that are valuable as I recently had a baby. I’m just starting to think longer term.)

    Is this nuts to consider? It feels like such a shift, one I had never considered. Any PMs or people who did a career shift out there with any advice for me?

    1. Specialized Skillets*

      If you’re interested in the work and your current job will pay for it, that seems like a win-win! Go for it!

        1. Specialized Skillets*

          Not PM, but I did a career shift within my organization and the fact that some training was paid for by the org and done on work hours was extremely helpful! Worst that happens is you stay in your current role but with an expanded skillset to carry with you. :) Good luck!

    2. Bess*

      PM is an incredibly versatile skill–there are a ton of jobs there that really boil down to different flavors of project management. I can’t see how this would hurt you.

    3. Mark Baron*

      I know two people who obtained their Bachelor’s in project management within the last two years. Both had job offers within a month of graduating. And they didn’t go to large, nationally-known universities. They were just local universities.

      Plus, project management skills transfer to many other business-related positions. If they want to give you free training, go for it.

    4. There You Are*

      I’m an internal auditor. As a Senior / Lead, the vast majority of my day-to-day work is project management.

      In my last job, we (internal IT audit) shared space with coders and data scientists, and those teams actually hired non-IT project managers to manage IT projects like developing new apps and improving existing ones.

      Which is to say: It’s a *very* transferable skill!

      1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

        Yes to non-IT PMs supporting IT projects. Often called Business Analysts yet essentially Project Managers. I think it was actually beneficial that they were NOT programmers, to help figure out how new software would impact various depts differently.

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Take the training. Parlay it into a better job outside the organisation later (if PM is what you decide you want to do); it’s one of those fields where many employers/recruiters look specifically for a certification.

      Do your due diligence about any “clawback” provision about the training costs though – ie will you have to pay it back if you leave within (e.g.) 2 years – this can be in the form of something you sign when you arrange the training, or could be already stated in a handbook/contract/etc.

      It seems to me almost like your manager is setting you up with this path so you can get on track to a “promotion” elsewhere, but of course they won’t say so.

  42. Starry Starry Night*

    (Hope it’s ok to post this question again – I tried last weekend but didn’t know that this thread is usually inactive by Sunday.)

    Can anybody recommend a simple app that I can use to track my WFH days? Post pandemic, our management has introduced a mandatory percentage of 60% of working time spent at the office.

    We don’t clock in or have any similar mechanism that tracks this. My boss can be a bit of a stickler for following rules, though, and lately they‘ve been alluding to feeling like our office „isn’t as full as it should be“. If they ever raise this with me directly, I want to be able to show that I’ve been following our rules.

    There are only ever three options for a day: office/wfh/non-work. I’m hoping there‘s an easier way to track this than an excel file/pencil marks in my calendar. So any suggestions would be much appreciated.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      A few months ago, someone recommended the Toggl Track app. I really like it.

      Bonus points: if you login online, you can actually download your time tracking as a spreadsheet. Mischief managed!

    2. Meep*

      Can you just do it on your online company calendar? You can mark if you typically work from home W-F for weeks in advance and then just change it based on the circumstances.

    3. I edit everything*

      Do you need to track the time spent working as well? When I’m on a freelance project that pays by the hour, I use TogglTrack to track my time. It’s a free app and easy to use. There’s also a paid version with more functionality, but if all you need is Project Name/Time spent, the free one is sufficient. You get an email every week with a summary of your tracked time. So if you only use it at home, whatever that email lists will be your WFH hours.

    4. londonedit*

      If it was me, I’d probably just do it in my Outlook calendar – if you use Outlook you can set a recurring task or appointment for each day saying ‘WFH’ ‘Office’ etc. Within my team we can all see each other’s Outlook calendars (of course you can still mark appointments as private) so if it’s an option it’d be an easy way for your boss to see where you are for the week.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      Can you tack it in the calendar attached to your work email? For example, my company uses Outlook, and on the Outlook calendar, I can create an appointment for the day (not scheduled at any particular time), title it “work in office/WFH/off work,” and mark it as “free” (so it doesn’t show me as booked for the day). In Outlook, you can also change the color of the appointments on your calendar, so if your boss asks you can quickly show them “all the days with red appointments are days that I worked in the office.” I don’t know if gmail and other programs have all the same functionality.

    6. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Seconding all the online calendar suggestions.

      My employer has a calendar for each physical office, and we’re all anywhere from 60% to 90% WFH. Whenever you’re planning to go in, you just make an all-day note on that calendar “Fergus in office”. And you can set it or change it in retrospect if need be.

      And of course there’s a PTO calendar as well. So your boss can see at a glance what everyone’s situation for the entire week/month is.

    7. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Does your work lend itself to have regular in-office days? IE, could you decide “my schedule will be monday, wednesday, thursday” and be able (or be interested) in doing that reliably? Because one thing you could do on an outlook calendar or similar is have a standing all-day event for “work from office” on days you come in to the office.

      Also, is there a way for you to have an excuse to ‘drop in’ on your bosses while in office? Even if it is walking past their office and waving hello? It sounds like visibility is more important to them than results (which, yes, dumb) so there might be some quick and easy ways to boost your visibility during ‘in’ days.

      1. Starry Starry Night*

        The visibility thing is a great idea, thanks! It does seem like that’s what they want, so why not give them that.

    8. Qwerty*

      I used to use a mood tracking app to keep track of migraine vs non-migraine days. It had a daily reminder option to force me to log the result. Maybe something like that could work? There’s a lot of bullet journal style apps too. Sorry I can’t think of the names, didn’t install it on my new phone.

    9. EMP*

      A couple people mentioned outlook but if your company uses gmail for business, google calendar has an option to mark your location (office, home) now too

    10. Mark Baron*

      I don’t know what’s wrong with what you are doing now, marking it on your calendar. It follows the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) philosophy.

  43. Collie*

    I had an interview for an assistant management positions recently and one of the questions asked about my ideas around motivating employees. As someone who is highly self-motivated, I thought this was a really interesting (if obvious in hindsight!) question. Partly because this is an internal interview, I talked about, in the event I was selected, I’d really like to have honest conversations with staff about why they chose to work with the organization/in the field and what keeps them coming, noting that even “just the paycheck” can be a valuable piece of information. I later thought of things like gamification (silly for some, but I think potentially very enjoyable for others), verbal shows of appreciation/acknowledgement, and employee-driven projects to the greatest extent possible.

    Money, in this case, isn’t an option. It’s a government job with strict salary rules and while I can probably get away with taking folks out to lunch once in a great while and throwing the occasional pizza party, more monetary motivation isn’t possible.

    So now I’m curious —

    1. Employees, especially if you’re not someone who is highly self-motivated, what things have motivated you to do your job/do it well in the past?

    2. Managers, what motivation strategies have been successful for you in the past?

    1. CheeryO*

      I’m in government, too. I think the best employees are intrinsically self-motivated based on passion for the field or civil service in general. It’s getting tougher with inflation, though, with our salaries being what they are. Having good management really does help keep morale up.

      Things that keep me motivated and that I try to keep in mind for my own employees… knowing that my supervisor has my best interests in mind, based on his actions (talk is cheap). Knowing that I am trusted, and being given a small amount of flexibility in terms of my schedule, within the bounds of what’s allowed by the agency. Being allowed a high degree of independence. Not wasting my time with unnecessary meetings. Acknowledgement of my good work, both 1-on-1 and in group settings. Being rewarded for my hard work with interesting and challenging assignments. Being included in decision making when it’s appropriate, and feeling like my input is valued.

      1. Collie*

        The meetings piece is so interesting to me because I *love* meetings. I like the opportunity to connect with my colleagues without the distraction of the public/active work, and I love the opportunity to gather information and get others’ perspectives. Meetings often leave me feeling more motivated and inspired, even when I disagree with what comes out of the meetings. I believe I’m in the minority on that, though, and can understand why most others feel otherwise! Still — I can’t be alone and suspect others are also motivated by meetings. So that’s a fascinating balance for me to consider.

        Thanks for this list!

    2. RussianInTexas*

      Honestly?
      As an employee – money and not get fired. Maybe perks like more time off, better medical benefits, that kind of stuff.
      But it really boils down to being paid and having a job. I don’t have any particular passions that would translate in to jobs, and I don’t really care about having important projects or having extra responsibility or whatever.

    3. Aphrodite*

      I work in higher education in California (and the college has a strong union for classified employees of which I am one) so salary bands are rigid. But I am working with a new administrator–and I am in love (not literally) with her. Right now she is in the position as an interim director, but I am hoping–desperately praying–she gets the position permanently. She can’t do much but what she can she does. I have permission from the VP of our division to WFH on Tuesdays and Thursdays but not Fridays as I originally asked for. My director lets me WFH on Fridays. Of course I will come into the office on any of those days if she needs me to but her generosity makes me love her. Neither of us is rigid so things are flexible and work well. She has my back–and I have hers, having and still navigating the politics and relationships of the department. So that is one motivation.

      Another is the trust and and respect she gives to me. She values me, not just as classified employee but as a fantastic strategist and ideas person.

      I am amazingly motivated to go above and beyond for her. And she for me. And that relationship produces some of the best work for the college division that has been done since I started here 19 years ago.

    4. Bess*

      Check out the ADKAR model for some good things to think about here. It’s change-specific but gives a lot of food for thought about motivation in general and what people need to be on board with something. I would go into an interview armed with a research-validated framework or two to discuss.

      Also, a warning: you may need to attend to your own morale and motivation in a new way as a manager. For example, if something happens in the organization that causes a morale hit, you will be responsible for your team’s motivation as well as your own, and that can be interesting to navigate.

    5. Mark Baron*

      I struggle with this, because I, too, am self-motivated. Compliments don’t motivate me because I already know when I did a good or great job on something. I’m my worst critic, too, so no matter what someone might say about something going wrong, I’m mentally beating myself up more than anything they can say.

      What I do is perform multiple walk-arounds a day. Even if all I need to do is make a copy or get some coffee, I’ll circle the office (it’s a small single-floor facility) and be on the lookout for something to compliment someone on. No phony compliments just for the sake of a compliment; often I’ll make the round trip and I don’t see anything worth talking to them about. But things like “Wow, your work area is extra clean today”, “I heard you talking to that member. You did a great job explaining to them how x works”, “I saw that you took two calls even though we just closed. Thank you for putting the member first” all seem to motivate people because they know I am noticing what they are doing right, whereas many managers just point out what is wrong.

    6. Shirley Keeldar*

      It’s really motivating for me when I feel that my manager/employer has their side of things handled–admin runs smoothly, expectations are clear, I can get questions answered fairly quickly/easily, if I point out a roadblock or a difficulty they are quick to get it handled (or tell me, “Sorry, that’s rough but it’s not changing” so I know what to expect). Team lunches and those kind of things are fun, maybe, but honestly not that big of a deal. Praise is nice but not the biggest thing. Mostly it’s knowing they’re doing their job so I can do mine.

  44. ( Virtually) in Berlin*

    Does anyone have experience as an American working for a company based overseas? In this case, Germany? I’m looking to potentially freelance (w the possibility of part-time or full-time hiring) for an online brand. I don’t have an LLC, all the freelance work I’ve done previously have been tiny independent contracting gigs for US-based companies. I’m guessing I could consult with a tax lawyer? Do I pay two sets of income tax? Where do I start? Any advice?

    1. WestsideStory*

      Yes, I have worked for three different companies based in another country. One was actually a full-time employment (Germany) but the other two were Contract Positions (UK and another I won’t mention).

      You don’t need a lawyer, just a good tax accountant.

      You should not need to have an LLC if you will be freelance; you will need to continue to pay self-employment tax in U.S. You will not be expected to pay a tax in a second country.

      A contract will be sent and you will have to option to be paid by ACH (electronically direct to your bank account). When negotiating figures, make sure you figure in the difference between Euros and dollars when offered – a lot of times they want to pay you in local currency and you are expected to suck up the exchange fees.

      German companies tend to be much stricter in employment requirements – but as mentioned, either on staff or freelance they will send you a big contract which will have everything spelled out.

      Oddly, sometimes it’s worse if you live in one U.S. state and work for a company based in another state or city – you’ll be expected to pay both taxes unless you decide to fill out the incredibly complicated form to get it rebated back to you. (I’m looking at you, Philadelphia).

    2. Amerikanerin*

      If you will be living in Germany and working for a German company, you may not have to pay US income tax. We lived in Germany three times (funded by research fellowships, not freelancing, so it may be different) and were able to exclude our German income from US taxes. Search for “foreign earned income” on the IRS website or just read Publication 54, Tax Guide for US citizens and resident aliens abroad.

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Not clear to me whether you’re a U.S. citizen living overseas, or a U.S. citizen living in the States and working for an overseas company.

      If the latter, no, you don’t have to pay income tax for the country where you are not living. The U.S. is one of only two countries where you have an obligation to file taxes based on your citizenship rather than your residence.

      If the former, and you are a U.S. citizen, you have to file taxes in both countries, your American tax liability will likely be reduced if not entirely wiped out, and you have to further file disclosures about all foreign-held bank accounts. The first year you do this, you should talk to a tax advisor, but after that it’s not super complicated if you’re already familiar with preparing your own tax returns.

  45. President Porpoise*

    I know – and my boss has told me – that I’m doing work at least one level up from where I am in my org. For the last 18 months, my boss has been working to position me for a raise and promotion that will bring my job level up to match the caliber of work that I’ve been handling. And this is high level work – very collaborative, strategy setting expert level work that frequently presents to VP level folks in a F50 company.

    Well, last week my boss told me that in the performance/development planning meetings that she’s in, (where they decide raises, promos, etc.), there was some debate on me getting the level of raise that I’d need to make me eligible to go to the next tier (yup, apparently my current salary is far enough under the next pay band that they can’t bump me up without giving me more money first!), partially because another person at my level doesn’t get a bonus and I do because of grandfathered merger stuff. Obviously, I think that’s bull. This other person is great at what she does do, but she’s frankly not doing the same level of work as me.

    As it is, I won’t know if I’ll get to the pay level I need to be at for the promo for a couple weeks. But I’m getting pretty tired of being jerked around, and I’m thinking that if it doesn’t materialize, I may need to look elsewhere. My concerns are that:
    1. I am at a company that does pay really well, so if I left for a higher position at a different company, there is a good chance that the pay would be similar or only slightly higher.
    2. I’m really young for the work I’m doing and my job title/position don’t reflect my demonstrated skills – and I’m worried that prospective employers will think I’m inflating my resume.

    I’m not worried about burning bridges with my boss – she’s fantastic and is very supportive of my career growth, to the point of watching for and telling me to apply to internal jobs that could provide growth and change (problem is the aforementioned pay gap problem is causing issues on that front from the HR side). She’s not pushing me out (she really, really relies on me and is always singing my praises). I’d like to stay here if I can – good benefits, lots of learning opportunities, great manager – but I’m not getting warm fuzzies as far as compensation. Does anyone have any thoughts?

    1. I edit everything*

      Start putting feelers out. Being recognized and appreciated is important, and it sounds like the higher ups are quite happy to have someone doing high-level work at mid-level pay. The people above your boss might be in the “we can’t afford to promote this excellent worker” position, which is profoundly unfair.

      I don’t understand the pay gap situation–that’s not something I’ve ever heard about before. Sounds like BS to me.

      As for your resume, be honest, and find good people you trust in your current org to be references, people who can vouch for your performance and back up what your resume says. I don’t think most recruiters/hiring managers spend a lot of time trying to figure out how old applicants are just from a resume.

    2. SJ (they/them)*

      My thoughts are, if you feel like looking, look! There’s no rule that says you have to take a job that’s offered to you (or even an interview for that matter). Putting out feelers to get a sense of what’s out there is a great first step. Maybe your interest in leaving will cool off if nothing good comes along, or maybe you’ll find some great options that you want to pursue. Who knows! Nothing wrong with having a look. Good luck!

    3. Bess*

      Sounds like you will need to move on sooner or later, honestly, even if it’s for more lateral pay. People say a lot about having to leave companies to get a big pay boost, which I have usually found to be true…but what is mentioned less often is how there can be a similar strange gap in how people perceive your work. Sometimes you have to get a new job for your skills to even be recognized. It’s weird.

      So whether you do it now or later, it’s going to come eventually.

    4. Mark Baron*

      At my last job, my boss (the President) really pushed hard to give me a raise and promotion, because of how hard of a worker I was and how high my productivity is. But their Board of Directors would have to approve it. They turned down his request. Knowing that this meant I would never advance there, I left. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to eventually learn that they had to hire two people to get the same amount of work done that I did myself, costing them more (combined) than what I was seeking.

      The point is, sometimes you have to make a point and tell the powers that be, “you might not be willing to pay me what my worth to this company is, so I was forced to find a company that will. I’m am respectfully giving my two weeks notice.”

      Whether you are at that point, only you can decide.

      (Ultimately, leaving was the best thing to ever happen to me, because it led me to a position I never thought I’d have at 28.)

  46. Junior Dev*

    I feel terribly stressed out to the point I don’t want to get out of bed and start work today. My work is a huge mess right now because of poor planning, lack of process for making things work, and a “drop everything and fix it” attitude by management when the predictable consequences of that come along. I’m supposed to meet on Monday with an executive who got a bee in his bonnet about how our UI isn’t optimally designed and wants a bunch of layout changes across hundreds of web pages, meanwhile the functionality is behind schedule and full of bugs. My boss’s main tools for dealing with this are 1) berating people 2) sarcasm/condescension and 3) abruptly announcing new process for reviewing code such that we spend most of our time testing, not writing code—but we’re not trained in testing and the tests still miss a lot and then we have to scramble to fix it.

    I know my workplace is full of bees and I’m attending a job fair in a few weeks and working gradually towards a new one. But it’s not in the cards for me to just leave.

    How do I make myself go to work and do the bare minimum I need to do without losing my mind? I’m starting to get really burned out and it won’t help me move on from this terrible job if I’m pouring all my energy into it.

    1. Tuesday*

      This really sucks. I feel like a mindset shift is the best way to deal with it, although that’s easier said than done. Remember things like: they pay you to be there for 8 hours a day and you’re not responsible for anything outside of that. If they want to pay you to run around in circles for that time, that’s their prerogative. Even if the projects are ridiculous and cause you to abandon other projects, that’s okay. Projects take as long as they’re going to take. Your boss is a jerk and it’s not personal. The problems in their process are their fault, not yours.

      Honestly, “they pay me to show up and whatever they ask me to do today is up to them” has gotten me through so many ridiculous projects. It’s not my job to ensure that the company is a success, it’s just my job to do what they tell me to the best of my ability. They can change their minds and ask me to work on something new every 15 minutes if they want to – I’m still getting paid!

      1. ferrina*

        This is all really great advice. I second the attitude of “they pay me to show up and whatever they ask me to do today is up to them”. It’s gotten me through some rough times as well, and when I stop caring, I have more energy at the end of the day for my job search.

        Definitely save your energy for the end of the day so you can really invest in the job search. If you can’t just leave, do what you can to leave quickly. This place sounds nasty.

        1. Junior Dev*

          I will try. I sometimes express opinions on how things should be done and it never really leads to improvement. A lot of my coworkers seem to push back on any request for them to do any additional work over what they’d planned to do, no matter how important it is to other people’s projects, and I can totally see how that would have evolved as a coping mechanism in this environment. It sucks because I’m usually pretty outspoken but in this case it just gets me deeper embroiled in the dysfunction.

    2. New Mom*

      I really feel you. It sucks so much, and I’m sorry you are going through this. Are you able to request stress leave from your doctor? I know this sounds extreme but I was where you were and the only way I got a breather was by going on maternity leave. To be clear, maternity leave is not a vacation, but it has given me some time to think and actually spend time on job applications instead of just melting into the couch after another rough day. I was just drowning, really. I’ll be going back soon and I’m going to try really hard to not let the utter dysfunction get to me.

    3. Qwerty*

      Can you schedule breaks during the day?

      If you work remotely, having some “me time” at your desk at the start of the day? That way you aren’t trying to get up to go to work, you’re getting up to make a pot of tea and read the latest AAM article.

      At an in-person job I was at BEC levels a while back, I used to go on DuoLingo for 15min at the kitchen counter each morning and learn Esperanto (because it was easy and I suck at languages). Nowadays I’ll use LingoDeer on my lunch (shameless plug for better app)

      The best medicine is to find ways to be amused by the chaos. Oh look, we saw a cliff, drove over it, and are now attempting to tread water. If only there was a way of predicting this. Pretend Maggie Smith’s character from Downtown is doing commentary about the company, she’d be horrified.

      Sorry that you are going through this. A lot of tech companies are a mess, so also don’t beat yourself up later in your career if you end up at multiple rough places.

  47. WhoElseIsDrowning*

    Anyone got any tips for squeezing life admin in between a job? I know it must not be an uncommon problem, since people talk about work-life balance, but none of the work-life balance seems to address the nitty gritty. Some examples of my problems:

    “geographically distributed workforce means that meetings are somehow always scheduled when you want to eat, so how do you fit in eating anyway” – I have lost a significant amount of weight since starting a full-time job and I didn’t exactly have the weight to lose and I can’t seem to get it back.

    “There is never time to make dinner, do dishes, the laundry, vacuuming, etc.” – I’m developing a pest problem because of the inability to make time to clean enough. Am I just supposed to throw money at the problem and hire someone else to do all these things? I could probably afford it if I gave up on the idea of a house or retirement.

    “Government and banking businesses are only open during business hours” – I can’t even find the time to take a lunch break to actually eat lunch, and I’m supposed to be able to go deposit a check during this imaginary lunch break?

    I mean, I also have some health problems I’m dealing with, but my job is only 40 hours a week and I still can’t hack it. If anyone can point me to some actual helpful resources that aren’t just “set boundaries around your time” and “make sure to get enough sleep”, I’d love it.

    Additional info: I have been at this job for 3 years and it’s my first one out of college. I had a really hard time adjusting to working full time at first, then I thought I’d gotten used to it, but I have realized that I actually just started putting off essential life admin that I am now paying the price for.

    1. Junior Dev*

      Do you work from home? If not, if you’ve been at your job 3 years, it’s likely that you’re well positioned to find another job that’s hybrid or remote. Then you can do things like run the washer in between meetings and fold laundry with the camera off.

      I know applying to jobs is another thing on top of everything else and that is definitely a challenge.

      Are you too tired to do anything other than work 40 hours? I was in this position for years and I got a sleep study and found out I have sleep apnea. Treating it has made a huge difference. There are all kinds of medical things that can cause fatigue though and I’d encourage you to try and treat that if you haven’t already. If you have tried and haven’t gotten anywhere, let me know if you want ideas for how to get advice on what to do next (not medical advice, more like how to research and talk to doctors)

      1. WhoElseIsDrowning*

        I actually got diagnosed with endometriosis a year and a half ago, after years of pain and fatigue. Unfortunately, I’ve exhausted most of my treatment options on that front (surgery and 3+ different hormone medications) and I’ve just come to terms with the fact that I’m going to have chronic pain and weird intestinal upsets for the foreseeable future. I’ve got permission from work to wfh on my bad days, but the business is generally not wfh friendly because we deal with government contracts that often need a controlled environment, so it limits what I can do.

        1. Junior Dev*

          I think if you are accepting your current level of health as what it’s gonna be for the foreseeable future you might need to find a fully WFH job. I say this with no judgement, I’ve gone through similar issues myself, and it helps so much to be able to do laundry and dishes in between meetings.

    2. Supervisorintraining*

      Cleaning – Saturdays (sad face…) and a Roomba to help somewhat during the week.

      Cooking – Batch cooking on Sundays and microwaving the rest of the week

      Eating – if I can’t have dinner at 5 pm, it’ll have to be dinner at 3pm/7pm. Or very politely mute myself and eat while the meeting happens.

      Banking/Government – Online/Snail Mail if possible. (PS. Most banks will let you deposit checks from their apps, by taking a picture) . If not, depends on the supervisor (“Boss, can I leave an hour or two early today for X?” or PTO/Comp Time if first is not an option. Since you mentioned health issues, sometimes I’ll schedule my medical appointments such that I’ll take sick time for the day, go to my doctors, then run my errands.

      1. WhoElseIsDrowning*

        Do roombas actually work? I’ve always been skeptical of their efficacy. I do really appreciate the banking/government tips, those are new and useful.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          I don’t have a Roomba, so take this with a grain of salt, but what I’ve heard is that they are a good replacement for a daily sweeping but a deeper clean once a week is usually still necessary.

        2. ThatGirl*

          They do – in my experience they are good at picking up general dust and dirt and getting along the edges of walls which can be trickier for standard vacuums. The downside is some models are prone to getting caught on cords, or floor vent grates, things of that nature. Mine tends to need a little babysitting and a totally clear floor to do its best.

        3. kiwiii*

          We love our roomba/robot (we have a shark) for “maintenance cleaning”. Rugs/carpets definitely still need a periodic vaccuum, but it can easily go a couple weeks to a month without us noticing that they’re starting to get gross, and we like Never have to sweep anymore besides corners and whatever falls in the kitchen.

        4. Specialized Skillets*

          I too was a roomba skeptic, but they do a surprisingly good job! We got Shark brand on sale and have been quite happy.

        5. Paris Geller*

          They are particularly amazing if you have pets that shed! I think my Shark automatic vacuum does a good job with general debris, but what makes it worth it is the picking up of the constantly-shedding cat hair.

        6. 1LFTW*

          Yes. I still have mine from seven or eight years ago, which I bought for my bedroom to deal with severe dust allergies. I still vacuum with a HEPA vac once a week, but the daily clean helps enormously.

    3. Ashley*

      There was a productive podcast I listened to for awhile that had some helpful tips. One I loved was going to the grocery store on your way home one night.
      I am a big fan of easy grab lunches to make me eat. On good weeks that is meal preparing on Sunday but usually the bagged salads complete with dressing and toppings.
      For government business stuff, try and take advantage of atm’s as much as you can (and even remote deposit. But sometimes for this stuff and doctors appointments you either need a job that will let you flex your day occasionally with an early or later start, but you have to burn PTO. If you do use a PTO day try and cram as much in as possible. Also, if you don’t love love any of the your doctors maybe look for a practice that has slightly better hours. I have to plan ahead but I had one with 7am appointments which is easier to swing then something later for my schedule.
      And honestly you have to plan a weekend day to do a lot of stuff depending on your headspace. (And this is one reason why people love WFH options so much. Most people with a washer and dryer can just do it throughout the day.) If you are an apartment dweller sharing a washer and dryer I have found efficiency in just going to a laundromat sometimes to get it all done in less time if you can swing the clothing transport.
      I did have someone once have me assign my time in half hour blocks to see how I used my time for the week. That might be helpful for you to see where you can increase efficiencies in the getting the admin of life done. Good Luck!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah if you have sick leave in a separate bucket, just take a day of that and do a lot of medical things at once. I try to save up my sick leave till the second half of the year but then I open the floodgates and take at least a day a month. Nobody has ever complained to me about it. It would be more irksome if I had combined leave and that was lost vacation time, but in my case it’s not.

    4. Onward*

      Are your work hours like normal business hours or are they all over the place due to the team being in different geographic areas? Like are you working 9-5 or is it in spurts throughout a 12 hour period or something?

      You’re correct that a lot of this looks like being comfortable with setting up boundaries, so if work is often bleeding into your personal life, you should look at where the “leaks” are, so to speak. For example, if meetings are frequently being scheduled over your lunch, bring this up with your supervisor and be direct about what the issue is.

      Banking and errands – most banks nowadays allow mobile deposits, etc. I haven’t gone into a bank branch in years. I would look into mobile options for things like this to make this part easier. Other errands – schedule some time out of the day to do this using either PTO or flexible hours (if your job allows).

      Laundry, vacuuming, house maintenance: do all of this a little at a time. Make sure you don’t let it pile up until it is unmanageable or else it will seem like an impossible task. If your place is totally out of order, take a PTO day to get it to a decent state, then do a load of laundry every other day or so (depending on how much you have), vacuum once a week, etc.

      Depending on what your job is, some of these suggestions might not be reasonable, but I think the biggest takeaway is that you need to limit what you say “yes” to to what you can actually handle and be comfortable saying “no” when things get to be too much. It’s really hard to do this and hold that boundary, especially early in your career, but that seems to be what needs to happen.

      1. WhoElseIsDrowning*

        The advice “take a PTO day to get things to a decent state” is some “well duh” advice that I definitely needed. Kinda an annoying use of a PTO day, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I sympathize. Sounds like a lot of this can be put down to health, which is then sapping you of the energy to do the other stuff.

      Some practical advice I have is something I used when I was fighting depression. I made a chore list, and just had one thing listed per day. All I needed to do when I got home from work was do 1 load of laundry, which objectively I could squeeze in between 6 and 9. Maybe some of this is stuff you can do in the morning before work – like unload the dishwasher from the night before.

      As far as the meals go, I will unabashedly eat during teleconferences. I don’t think you should have any qualms about that. Keep granola bars in your desk, or bring in snack cheese, etc. You should also look at meals that can be prepped in advance, or dinners that don’t take a long time to cook (salads with precooked proteins, eg).

      Also, are you losing a lot of time to commuting? Can you structure your errands to take advantage of your commute? I make a point of seeking out service businesses that are on my way to and from the office so that I’m not losing extra time driving around.

      1. Lyudie*

        Seconding the one thing a day. I have done this during depressive periods etc. to get out from under a pile of clutter and undone chores. I called it my One Good Thing. Every day, I would do at least One Good Thing like take out the trash, do a load of laundry, pick up around the apartment/house for 15 min, etc. Break it down into small chunks. You don’t have to pick up clutter in the whole place, maybe just the kitchen today. Or even just sort and deal with the mail today, then tomorrow put away the dishes. I know it can be hard though when you are working this kind of schedule and are trying to do it all on your own.

      2. Shirley Keeldar*

        Best laundry tip I know (helped a lot when I was a single mom to a toddler): Put load of laundry in washing machine last thing before you go to bed at night. Throw laundry into dryer first thing when you get up in the morning. When you get home from work you have a dryer full of clean, wrinkled clothing. Sort and fold in the evening.

        Only works if you have laundry at home and don’t need to go out to a laundromat, though. If you do, my only tip is that nobody’s at the laundromat on a Friday night and you can get several loads done at once.

    6. ferrina*

      Hugs to you! (if you want them). I empathize so much with this. For me, I’m ADHD, so my brain just isn’t wired for certain life admin (my brain is well wired for crises, but when everything is fine? *shudder*). Some things that help me:

      -Eat when you eat. If you can, block 30 minutes on the calendar (this is what my boss does). If someone tries to schedule over it, warn them that means you’ll be eating during your meeting. If you need to bring food to meetings, so be it. If you’re virtual, turn your camera off and say “sorry, I’m back-to-back meetings today, so this is my lunch”. If it’s in person, try to sit near the back or somewhat out of eyeline. But make sure you eat- food is important (and if anyone at your work gives you grief, this reflect on them, not you). Also bring stop-gap food for snacking (granola bars, crackers, whatever). I eat like a hobbit at my desk, and no one has ever complained to me.

      -Drink coffee at 3 pm (a couple hours before you leave work). This will help you still have energy at the end of work, and you’ll have more bandwidth to do your housework.

      -Most banks are also open on Saturday mornings. Some banks have a robust online system- USAA is primarily online and is great for non-traditional hours. Take a day of PTO and move your finances that can accommodate your life.

      -Draw your calendar. Where is all your time going? When is your housework time? Throughout my life I’ve had different blockers- when I was working multiple jobs with long commutes, there literally weren’t enough hours in a day. When I was working 40 hours at a high energy job, I had several hours per day, but was so exhausted at the end of the day that I could barely feed myself. And when I have both time and energy, for me it’s a brain problem- something in my ADHD is blocking me (either things are so big that I need to break them down more, or things are so boring that I need to gamify it)

      -Check around about the general normalcy of your work. You say “I still can’t hack it”. Usually words like this are actually a sign of either 1) the workplace is toxic, but in a way that you can’t yet recognize or 2) you might have a condition that is impacting you (either a health/mental health or unrealistic standards). Find someone to talk to- ideally a trusted experienced mentor, but AAM can be a good stand in. Think about the things that strike you as odd, but you shrug off. Run this by someone- do they think it’s odd?

      Good luck! It’s a tough balance to figure out. It can get easier as you learn which strategies work for you, but for me, it’s never been naturally easy.

    7. Antilles*

      I can’t speak to the medical stuff, so even though that might be the real problem to solve here, let’s set that to the side and talk about other options.

      -If people are scheduling meetings during normal lunch breaks, I’m absolutely eating lunch. Sometimes this involves having lunch at 11 am instead of noon. Sometimes if it’s Teams, this means muting yourself while you eat. Sometimes I’ll eat at my desk. And occasionally, I’ve even just had to bring my lunch to an in-person meeting and just politely said something like “crazy day, slammed with meetings, hope nobody minds if I eat while we’re here”.

      -The usual life admin chores are something you do either after work or on weekends. It’s never fun to come home from a full day of work and then spend your time off vacuuming and dishes, but that’s just the unfortunate reality of how life goes. I’ve found it often helps if I “pre-schedule” this by just sort of mentally planning that tonight I’m folding laundry or Saturday morning I’m waking up and vacuuming all day or etc.

      -The government/banking businesses really depend on your role and how flexible it is. Are you really in meetings 9 am to 5 pm, no break? If you’ve got any flexibility, it’s often easiest to just take your “lunch break” at a different time to run whatever errands, then eat at your desk.

    8. FD*

      First of all, I think you’re definitely not alone! I would audit a few areas.

      1) Mental heath. If you’re in a bad depression or anxiety swing, everything takes longer than it should and it’s hard to get up the energy to eat. If that’s you, that’s priority 1.

      2) Why are you having trouble eating? Are you truly having back-to-back meetings or is something else going on? Some of the things I’ve personally experienced include 1) depressed appetite due to anxiety or depression, 2) food that’s not convenient to being eaten in the scenario where I’m going to eat it, such as food that isn’t good cold when I don’t have easy access to a microwave, or 3) food that just isn’t that appealing to me. The answer will help you figure out a solution.

      3) Are you having trouble sleeping? Is it a timing issue (e.g. your body wants you to be up until midnight but you have to get up at 5)? Can you negotiate a more body-friendly schedule?

      Apart from that, can you sit down and make a chart of your week with what you’re spending time on when? Crucially, work out the percentages.

      If you’re working for 40 hours, the other 80 are going somewhere. Try to work out where. Maybe you have a really long commute that eats up an unreasonable amount of time. Maybe your medical appointments do. It’s also possible that like a lot of us, you are accidentally spending a lot of time doing passive activities, like scrolling YouTube, that you don’t even really enjoy. That’s not to shame you, but it can be helpful to figure that out so you can decide what to do!

      For example, if you realize you’re losing 14 hours a week to social media (a not unreasonable number from personal experience) and you realize you don’t enjoy it that much. You can help work around that with an site blocker. I use Cold Turkey, for example, to limit my usage on sites I tend to lose time to otherwise.

      Or maybe you’ll realize you’re spending 90 minutes a day on your commute. That might tell you your best bet is to job hunt for a job somewhere with a better commute.

      I suspect that you’ll find out that you have more *time* than you realize, but I suspect you’re short on *energy*. This is where the mental health matter REALLY comes into play.

      Figure out what tasks drain the most energy. How can you make them less draining? Let’s say dishes are a real problem for you. Change to disposable dishes. Yes, that’s not ideal, but this isn’t a forever solution. You’re looking for energy-saving stuff that will help you right now.

      Maybe cooking takes a lot of energy. How can you reduce it? Look for five-ingredient recipes, or things you can make in batches. Buy pre-cut ingredients, like diced onions. You’ll pay a little more, but not as much as eating out all the time. Or look for meal options that don’t need to be cooked, like sandwiches, wraps, raw veggies, etc.

      Last, I know this is really hard to find time for, but what do you actually like doing? Can you find even thirty minutes a week to do that thing? Having something you can look forward to can make the other stuff feel more bearable.

      1. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

        So many potentially good suggestions from several commenters: FD, ferrina, Onward, more…

        Tagging on here to get really, really granular about suggestions for food.

        I enjoy eating and cooking when I can, but at various times I’ve lacked money, time, interest in eating (both “I’m not hungry” and the “I’m sooo hungry but most food seems yucky/too much effort”), attention/executive function for planning, physical energy for prep, or usually more than one of those challenges at the same time. And even when all those things are working right, I still have sensory and mental/health issues that make me ‘picky’ about what and when I eat (and a spouse to consider, who has different issues). So I’ve tried a bunch of different ways to make feeding myself (and family) easier. I usually use a combination of these:

        Meal-prep individual multi-component meals ahead of time like on Pinterest/Instagram: Rarely; it takes too much time/effort/planning. If I do it at all, it’s portioning bimonthly restaurant takeout or other food made by someone else into single serve containers.

        Batch cook (or batch prep an uncooked thing):
        Usually once per week to make ~10 servings (half the week’s meals for myself and spouse). How involved the prep is depends on how much time/energy I’ve got that week; on the low end, it’s 10 minutes to throw stuff in the crockpot, and pour the soup into a storage container a few hours later. We eat a lot of bean soup at my house is what I’m saying. Also: leftovers from meals that weren’t specifically batch cooked but made a few more servings than needed at the time.

        Minimal-prep food that only needs to be assembled or reheated:
        Instant oatmeal (not just for breakfast) frozen or “instant” ready meals, microwavable preseasoned frozen veg and meat, bagged salad “kits”; for a little more time/effort, precut fresh veggies and meat on a sheet pan. Come home from work, empty bag of food onto pan, throw some seasoning at it, pop in oven, have a shower, dinner is ready, maybe leftovers.

        Bulk purchased storage-stable ready-to-eat food:
        jerky and dried fruit/veggies, nuts, canned soup, read-to-eat meal packets, pre-seasoned tuna or chicken packets, applesauce cups, durable fresh fruits and veggies, protein or granola bars, crackers, airtight single-serve yogurt, cheese, hummus, hardboiled eggs (need to be refrigerated for longterm but they’re fine fora few hours at room temp to pack for lunch/snacks).

        Most of the time the majority of my eating tends to be snacks out of storage-stable ready-to-eat category, at my desk between work tasks (or during a zoom meeting). I might have one, or maybe on a weekend 2, actual prepared meals at a table with dishes and utensils, and at least one of them is usually leftovers –the 7th serving of last week’s crockpot soup.

        Briefly about cleaning: I don’t clean nearly as much as common advice recommends, but I don’t have a vermin problem and I think my house is sanitary and even looks clean except for the dust in the corners.
        The cleaning actions that I think give the most result for the least time and effort are ones that reduce conditions conducive to vermin and microbe flourishing: Clean up all food/drink/biological soils same-day or sooner: wash the dishes or run the dishwasher, take the trash out same-day if it has wet or smelly things in (every 3 days /week otherwise), clean up spills immediately. Piles, especially paper- or fabric-based piles, are welcoming for many vermin whose wild habitats are piles of leaves — so prioritize filing/recycling paper and laundering/hanging/folding clothes ahead of dealing with other kinds of clutter, and far ahead of dusting, polishing, vacuuming, or general mopping. IMO, tidiness (visible order) relieves a lot of the need for cleaning (soil/health hazard removal), and vice versa, so if you struggle with clutter, especially if you have Too Much Stuff, getting a handle on that may make cleaning less trouble — or at least give you an explanation for why it’s so effort-intensive and intractable.

        1. WhoElseIsDrowning*

          Thanks a bunch for the more granular food recommendations. The time/energy/chronic illness/sensory issues getting in the way of eating is such a problem for me, so it’s nice to hear from someone who seems to have come up with a system that works for them in similar circumstances.

        2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          Hey, I have the food stuff mainly under control in my own life but cleaning not so much- you may have just changed my life! Thank you!

    9. Minimal Pear*

      I’m very very chronically ill so even though my job is part time I still struggle with this. My solution (suggested by AAM commenters!) is to take a few days of vacation about once a month to catch up on cleaning, chores, medical appointments, etc. Sucks that I have to do that, but it helps a lot. I also use my lunch breaks, but it sounds like that’s not as much of an option for you.

    10. Colette*

      Some thoughts.

      For lunch: I assume these are virtual meetings. In many places, it’s OK to eat during them (unless you are presenting/leading the meeting). If not, eat before/after. You might have good luck with forgetting the concept of a meal and instead going with a number of snacks during the day. (Prep them on the weekend so all you have to do is grab them when you leave for work.)

      Is there a reason you can’t just … take a lunch break? Maybe it can’t be at noon, but could you take half an hour at 1 or 11 or 3 to run to the bank? (If you’re in Canada, you can deposit a cheque via online banking, BTW.) For bigger government offices (i.e. if you need a passport renewed) you may need to shift your hours, if that’s something you can do. Also, errands on your way home from work are a good way to go if the hours work.

      For the “cooking dinner”, remember that dinner can be a piece of toast with cheese & tomato or a can of baked beans or something that doesn’t require actual cooking, if that’s what you need.

      For everything else, pick one thing a day. Maybe you clean the bathroom on Tuesday, vacuum Wednesday, and do dishes on Monday and Thursday. Maybe you cook a big meal on Sunday so you have leftovers for the week – I’ve been doing this for years and it really helps. And yes, maybe you get help – possibly a one-time “come in and get things under control” clean so that you can keep on top of it afterwards. Or you ask friends to come and talk to you as you clean.

      1. ferrina*

        Seconding Colette’s comment that dinner is whatever you manage to eat. Trader Joe’s has a fabulous selection of microwaveable semi-healthy delicious foods. And the clean up is minimal

    11. Sadie*

      I would suggest, if paying for regular thorough cleaning is not feasible, to still pay for a good clean occasionally (like every couple of months) OR a small amount of regular cleaning but just, like, only vacuuming or only cleaning the kitchen or whatever you need most or hate most. If you can at all swing it, a professional cleaner can get a lot done in a short time.

    12. Mill Miker*

      I’d really recommend looking into some of the ADHD advice blogs out there. Not that I think you have ADHD, but a lot of the non-medicinal advice for dealing with the general symptom of “I don’t have the time/energy/motivation to take care of myself/my living space” can work regardless of why.

      For example, René Brooks of “Black Girl, Lost Keys” has a post called 100 No-Cook Meal Items For When You Refuse to Adult that’s pretty helpful for making sure you’re eating enough, and she also sells e-books on things like keeping a house clean when you have neither the time, nor the energy.

      Some things that have worked for me in the past:
      – Getting one of those wands or brushes or whatever for doing dishes that you can just load the soap in. Sure, at first glance it’s not as water/energy efficient as loading a sink with soapy water, but it sounds like you’re not doing that anyway, so try not to compare hypotheticals to reality. Same applies for stuff like getting a swiffer instead of a mop.
      – Try and sort your chores into “I need to do this for my health/safety” and “I need to do this so I don’t get judged”. Really break it down too. Washing dishes: safety, putting washed dishes away: judgement. And then take everything from that second category and forgive yourself for not doing it (unless you want to).
      – Hiring chores done is not an either/or thing. Many house cleaning services are fine doing a one-off cleaning. There are services that will come and pick up a pile of laundry and bring it back clean and folded, and you don’t have to set it up on any kind of fixed schedule. If you’re really far behind hire someone. I’ll bet a one-off visit from a cleaning service is cheaper than a one-off visit from pest control.
      – Get an air frier or toaster oven or instant pot or something like that. Something you can just chuck food in and press two buttons and wait. Did you know you can make a big batch of spaghetti with meat sauce in about 20 minutes in an instant pot, only get the one pot dirty, and not have to do any straining?

      I know none of these options are super-cheap, but hopefully less than throwing money at getting someone else to do it in perpetuity.

      Good luck!

    13. Rosemary*

      I technically have *time* to clean, do laundry, etc when I get home from work/on the weekends…I just typically don’t have the *motivation* to do it. I mean…I have been working all day; all I want to do at that point is veg out to TV or something. What I will often do so I can get my “entertainment fix” is:
      – Put on a podcast I am really interested in while cleaning, folding laundry etc., or while doing meal prep. Also when doing errands (I live in a city and walk everywhere)
      – Watch a show either live, or that I have DVR’d, and use the commercial breaks to put stuff away, do some dishes, etc – I see how much I can get done during the commercial breaks
      – Invite someone over. Seriously. Nothing motivates me more than knowing someone is coming over in a day or two (I have a friend visiting this weekend – my apartment is currently spotless)

      As for the bank, etc. Definitely do as much as you can online! I have not gone into a bank to “do business” in I don’t know how long. Places like the post office are a bit more challenging – but if you have to mail a package, a lot of UPS stores or “Mailbox Etc” type places are open on the weekends. They cost a bit more, but might be worth it if you can’t make it to the post office during normal hours.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Online banking including depositing checks with my phone means I only go to the ATM occasionally for cash and the last time I went inside a bank it was because I needed a notary.

    14. Mark Baron*

      I have a suggestion on your third item. I’m assuming, since you mentioned a check, that your employer does not offer direct deposit. (That’s surprising because most mid to large-sized employers offer this.) Many financial institutions, but not all, offer Remote Deposit Capture (RDC) where you can scan your check with your phone and it gets deposited within minutes or hours (depending on the institution). If your current bank or credit union offers this, ask them how theirs works and whether there is a cost. (It’s usually free.) If they don’t offer it, call around to other institutions in your area and ask them. If you switch institutions, though, be sure to ask ahead of time about minimum balance requirements and service fees.

      I work at a financial institution, and we have countless members who do all their banking (direct deposit, debit card for purchases, online banking & app for transfers and bill pay, ATM for withdrawals, etc.) without every setting foot in our building. A person can easily go a year of doing normal banking, never once coming to our site.

      1. Megan*

        I’m in Australia and paying people via cheques is unheard of. I don’t understand how America hasn’t caught up to direct deposit! With exception of cash in hand jobs I worked as a teenager (so, over 20 years ago) I’ve always been paid via direct deposit!

  48. Meep*

    Any advice on how to talk down a superior who works themselves up into a tizzy based on limited information?

    1. ferrina*

      Same strategy as one might use with a small child who’s worked up over something silly. Treat them with empathy- if they think it’s serious, be serious. Ask question. Promise to look into it, but don’t promise solutions. Plan to regroup soon once you can look into it (whether it’s in 5 minutes or a couple hours). The goal is to give them a quick breather so they can walk themselves back.

    2. President Porpoise*

      Best approach I’ve found is to limit the info shared, not to speculate without facts, and to come to any presentation with as many of those facts as you can.

      But really, if you can’t work them down with facts and data, expect to be sucked into a project to at least get the facts and data that’ll settle the waters.

    3. irene adler*

      In my experience, people who are all worked up over something, are not able to receive information. They hear, but they cannot comprehend anything said to them.

      Always speak calmly to them- no matter how emotional they get. Or how frazzled you get dealing with them. You do not want them feeding off of any heightened emotions you display.

      Limit their time with an audience (i.e., you and anyone else involved). Tell them you will discuss the topic after they have had a chance to calm down. Then walk away-fast. It’s not as much fun to have emotional outbursts when no one is around to witness them.

      If you can, tell them you are aware of additional information about the topic. But it needs to be discussed in a calm environment. If they start insisting that you tell them now, say that no, you’ll return in, say 30 minutes, to allow time for emotions to subside.

      And then always do return to talk about the additional information.

      The superior needs to learn that there’s a cost (i.e., a delay in receiving information) to throwing emotional outbursts. If boss can learn to control the ‘tizzy’ then they will have an easier time with things.

  49. ferrina*

    I volunteered for a mentorship program at work. I’m supposed to mentor someone, but not sure how I can be useful. This person isn’t in the same career track as I am.

    How can I be a great mentor for them? What is helpful information, questions or activities?

    1. YNWA*

      I mentor new faculty and I’ve found that being a mentor is a lot of listening and then asking questions based on what they say, especially when it comes to policies, hierarchies, resources. You can prepare a bunch of information up front but if they’re not ready to receive it, then it’s just wasting time. Most questions arise out of need and you can’t always anticipate when that will happen. Your job is to be that friendly face that can offer up vital information and that they can feel comfortable venting to (if they need to, in academia, venting is pretty standard).

      If they’re reticent, start by asking them basic questions “How’s it going? Are you finding balance? Do you have any procedural questions?”

    2. New Mom*

      I’ve mentored multiple times and it’s been a mixed bag of success. Two people that signed up to be my mentee ghosted me. But I’ve had two that went really well. Here’s what I do:
      Ask the mentee to be in charge of what they want to learn, have them send you questions before you meet/talk so that you have time to get thoughtful answers for them, and ask them what their goals are so you can try to shape the meetings around those.

    3. another poster*

      I’ve mentored, outside my career track. And it sort of depends. Ask the mentee what they are wanting to focus on. For some, it may just be networking, so then you can have them meet people, etc. I had one who wanted to work on being more assertive so we worked on that.
      Also, as a mentee, the best experiences I had were when I was really focused on what I wanted to work on, and told the mentor.
      I’d just ask the mentee what they want to work on, career goals, etc. And as you spend time with them, some of it may become obvious, like a lack of professionalism or something.

  50. ABK*

    Part rant part question:
    I work in a big organization, so reviews and such are very standardized and very SLOW! I was up for promotion at EOY. This has been the process:
    July 2022: mid year review: you’re ready for promotion at the next cycle, keep up the good work (which is soon to be next- grade level quality).
    Aug-Oct 2022: talk with boss about KPIs, I’m ready, please recommend me, here’s my personal assessment, etc
    Oct 2022: Big meeting where all the bosses talk about performance reviews and make preliminary promotion and bonus recommendations
    Jan 2023: crickets, but supposedly EOY KPIs were verified, etc?
    Feb 20, 23: meeting set with boss to discuss annual performance, also announce promotion and bonus decisions
    March 3rd 2023: bonuses paid out and pay increases enacted (seen in March 17th paycheck)

    So if my boss decided to promote me in Oct, I won’t see that promotion until 5 months later. Seems WAY TOO LONG! Especially since in order to even start the discussion, you have to demonstrate that you’re already doing the work of the next level up, which was validated at my mid-year review in July 2022.

    How do people function under this system? I’ve been low key job hunting, but 1. would like to demonstrate a promotion at this company to assist in my search and 2. have generally been excited to be the next grade level here so also don’t necessarily want to leave. but waiting for that “win” has been torture. Plus if I don’t get it, I’ll have lost 5 months.

    1. ferrina*

      Yeah, that’s bonkers. My company take about 3 months to review promotion recommendations (and I even find that slow!)

      Can you talk to your boss? It should be reasonable to say “because I’m not Promotion Role and not being compensated as such, this is actually outside of my scope. How can we balance this so I’m not undervaluing my time?”
      But I suspect the boss won’t go for it, and some bosses will punish you for standing up for yourself in this way. But you can be clear that this is a role that you really want and you see in your future. I think low-key job hunting is the right thing to do. Go for the role that you want/are going for at your current company. This may even be a rare scenario where you can get a counteroffer (though never assume you’ll get a counteroffer)

    2. Eyes Kiwami*

      I’ve worked in big orgs like this too and it’s a really big problem if your boss says you already have to be performing at the higher level, because you won’t be promoted for a whole year. My spouse got screwed by this because by the time promotion season came around, there was a budget freeze and therefore no money for promotions.

      The best you can hope for is to talk to your boss early about what kind of things they want to see before you hit the next level. If they want you to be able to groom 5 llamas at a time, and you’re currently at 3 but clearly learning and growing, they should be able to judge by your rate of acceleration that you’ll be at 5 by next year, so they should start pushing for your promotion now. But if you can’t get your boss on board, then all you can do is look for smaller orgs in the future :(

  51. Dont call me Joce*

    I’d like to start a thread about ADHD in the workplace. The post last week from the letter writer with ADHD and Heidi Klum in the worm costume was an eye opener for me.

    Specifically I’d love some advice on ADHD and job search. I’m 49, burnt out on my career and really happy to walk dogs for pocket money but it is not maintainable.

    ADHD and stress are street fighting in my brain and I’m just feeling dead inside.

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Job searching is the worst. Not sure it gets me where I need to go career-wise, but I have to severely limit the number of jobs I apply to. It takes SO MUCH effort to get a letter and resume out, I can only do one or two a week at the absolute max. It’s so draining and then I get stuck in a spiral of “why is this so hard”. (I’d love to think there’s a world where it wouldn’t be so hard, where I could go lighter and faster so each one doesn’t become a time and energy black hole but I haven’t found that yet. And I’m closing in on 30 years of being in the workforce so I’m not holding my breath.)

    2. ferrina*

      Are you asking what kind of job to go for, or what to keep you going during a job search.

      For kind of job- think about your strengths first. ADHD folks tend to have unique strengths, so what kind of jobs do those strengths become a huge asset? Then think about environment- what do you personally need to stay motivated at work? Walking around during the day? Interaction? Uninterupted quiet time? For me, environment is really important. Finally, your job history and your weaknesses. What kind of roles are just wrong for you? If there’s a low chance of success, don’t waste your time applying.

      For the job hunt- for me, the key is simplify and gamify. First, invest the time to make it easy. My brain freezes up when I’m feeling nervous or underconfident, so when I take time to remove barriers in advance, it leads to better outcomes. For job searching, I have a clear and simple process, a master resume with eight pages of bullet points that I then remove the less important ones to tailor the resume for the job I’m applying for (because editing down is easier for me than writing more). Same for the cover letter- I have 6 strong paragraphs, then pick 2 to base an individual cover letter on.
      To gamify, figure out what amuses your brain. My brain loves sticker charts and rewards. I made a sticker chart- apply to X jobs, get Treat. Apply to X+5, get another treat. X should be a really simple, attainable number. I always make sure that even on a bad week I get a treat- that way I don’t punish myself for being sick. I’ve found that if I make X a challenge, what happens is that life happens, I don’t meet X, and I chide myself and become stressed and demotivated. But if X is something that I can meet even if I’m feeling a bit sick, then the first success will motivate me to go for the next success and will make me feel more confident going into the next activity.

    3. Spearmint*

      I simply don’t tailor my resume and cover letter anymore. I looked at a bunch of postings for the kind of job I was looking for, and then wrote a really good letter that highlights things any employer in the field would appreciate but aren’t just regurgitating bullets on my resume. Of course this only works if you want it move into a particular kind role instead of applying widely.

    4. shruggie*

      ADHD pops up in comments around here a LOT, so keep an eye out for them in future posts.

      One thing that’s really helped me, especially when I’m feeling negative or finding RSD cropping up, is to make the positive things permanent/accessible. I just took extensive notes in a review session with my boss, with emphasis on all the things I’m doing well. That way I can go back and remind myself when I feel like I just suck, period. I keep an email folder for positive feedback, gushing clients, etc for the same purpose.

      For your circumstance, you might try to dig up similar items to review right before an interview, or while you’re writing a cover letter. I’ve even quoted or paraphrased others in cover letters, when I’m struggling to say good things about myself.

      1. shruggie*

        Oh also – there are some “easy apply” jobs in the search function on LinkedIn. Once you upload your resume and have a basic profile, you can just click through, and maybe answer one or two specific questions (e.g. “How many years of project management experience do you have?”) and… you’re done. It really jump-started my job search to just crank out like 10 of these in one sitting, and feel productive enough/have the momentum to then do one that needed a cover letter.

        My current and most recent job were both easy apply jobs on LI. Both technically required a cover letter if I applied on the website, and they did eventually ask me for one, but I was encouraged enough by their interest that it wasn’t as much of a hurdle.

        1. Dont call me Joce*

          Interesting! Do you get strong responses from LinkedIn? I tend to avoid because my profile isn’t great. At one time I had lots of referrals and endorsements but in a fit of job search ennui (after getting fired the second time in a year) I deleted my profile.

      2. Pocket Mouse*

        Comments about ADHD pop up a lot, and there was a whole thread from March 7, 2019 – search the site for “ask the readers: how to succeed at work when you’re not neurotypical”. I haven’t read through it in a while, but some of it is bound to be relevant to job searching. Good luck!

  52. poutinerie*

    I just returned from a 12 month parental leave (Canadian!) and my teammate (Kitty), who in hierarchy on our team and in experience is below me, covered a portion of my job but got my title (unsure on pay, but I imagine at least some increase). My manager and one other part time teammate took on other elements of my job. Kitty did a well enough job and kept the wheels turning. I’ve picked up from conversations that she couldn’t handle doing all components of my job.

    I have been back two months now and it’s really bothering me that Kitty has not changed her email signature to reflect her original job title before my leave, even though she has returned to her original duties and my manager confirmed that my role has not changed upon my return. The job title is also on our company website, which I update – so I can’t make the change without there being a request.

    It’s 100% my ego and vulnerability after being gone so long, but I want the change. I also know I can’t ask my manager about this since it feels so… petty.

    I’m guessing I should just swallow my pride, but hoping for an outsider’s perspective.

    1. ferrina*

      Is Kitty the kind of person who would leave it there on purpose? Odds are, she just forgot to change her signature back. If not, you could gently say something to Kitty- “Hey, I noticed your email signature says X. Is that your new permanent job title?”

      If she is the kind of person to do this on purpose, I’d take a similar approach, but to the boss. “Hey Boss, I noticed Kitty has her job title as X on her email signature? Is that her title now?”

      Either way, you can say it once, but then move on. It is really minor. I agree that it’s also really annoying, but since it’s not directly impacting you, it will look way worse on you if you make it into a big deal.

      1. poutinerie*

        I think it’s intentional. She changed the website, her email signature, and her LinkedIn the moment she started learning my role (three or so months before my departure). Kitty is also a semi-recent graduate and taking on my role was a big leap in her professional development (which is great for her!) I understand why she isn’t in a rush to change it back.

    2. Tuesday*

      I actually don’t think this is petty. You can frame it as confusing to others: “Now that I’m back, I want to make sure everyone is aware that I’m once again the point person for X work. Could you ask Kitty to change her signature to avoid confusion? I don’t want them thinking she’s taken over my duties permanently.”

      1. poutinerie*

        We’re a very small organization (40ish folks) and everyone is aware I’m the person for my role/responsibility because my team services all the other teams in our work. I’ve also been welcomed back so there is no confusion I’m the person.

        1. Bearly Containing Myself*

          I suspect Tuesday wasn’t saying that literally, but was offering a way to communicate that you want this changed without coming right out and saying “I’m not happy that Kitty is claiming to be doing my job!” It’s similar to Alison’s advice on communicating in ways that are diplomatic or face-saving and not direct or confrontational.

  53. on my mind*

    What’s the biggest gap y’all have seen between what a job says the job is, the duties are, etc, and the degree that’s required for it? This week I found a data analysis job that wants a pharmacy degree and current licensure as a pharmacist. Nothing in the job itself says anything about pharmacy; in their defense, it is for a hospital. (link in first comment).

    1. ferrina*

      Job said: Basic office temp, formatting excel sheets, data entry

      Job wanted: Writes weighting algorithms, conducts, analyzes and prepares social research for publication (but put the VP’s name as author. She’s not actually going to be involved or advise, but she should get all the credit)

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I was working as a temporary forms coordinator for a hospital — my job, almost entirely, was the creation and maintenance of mostly billing documents. They posted the position to be filled permanently, as required per the union contract, and the posting stated that a bachelor degree in industrial engineering was preferred. I never did ask whether that was to minimize applicants or what — I was hired into the permanent spot, after working as a temp for six months, and stayed there for eight years, never doing anything that even hinted at industrial engineering. (And I didn’t have a bachelor degree of any type until a year after I left. :P )

    3. mattie*

      I applied for a job at a library that had a generic title (Librarian II or something along those lines) but the job description was very clearly archives-oriented. Duties were assessing and accessioning donations, processing materials, maintaining their archive room, and research help. May be requested to help in other departments if needed.

      I got an interview and they asked me tons of questions about instruction, reference, programming, community outreach, etc but none about archives. When it was my turn for questions I asked if they could tell me about the archival duties because wasn’t this an archives job? Turns out it was not /actually/ an archives job, it was adult services and general reference. Nothing to do with their archives. Didn’t get an answer as to why the listing was like that. They didn’t offer me the job and I wouldn’t have taken it after that but I’m like???

      I know they had at least one dud interview because of that listing and I wouldn’t be surprised if they missed out on some good candidates too.

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      Job posting: data analysis on research project A.

      Reality: compile questions into survey platform, run study visits for research study B, format tables with numbers crunched by someone else, copy edit publications in progress, guide development and testing of tool to be used in research study C.

  54. AMY*

    I understand some people are sensitive but this seems like too much?

    We have a ticket system where we deal with issues. If they are not fixed they get escalated in the system. These escalated tickets are marked in red and tagged as “critical”. New person has complained that the red colour and critical label cause her anxiety to spike. She said it is all too negative and makes her feel like she is not doing her job properly. They have asked IT to use a more neutral colour for flagging, and a less “aggressive” tag…

    I dont know if this is a vent really, I just think sometimes you need to overcome your own hangups. Lord knows I have LOTS of issues but I try to keep them out of the office.

    Or maybe this is just a BEC thing, I dont know. New person is exhausting in general.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t really know that person’s personal history, but I think in this case, the red is actually intended to cause anxiety… I mean, not like a full-blown panic attack, but the severity is critical… it causing some anxiety is kind of the point of the color. Like, we need to deal with this now!

      1. ferrina*

        Exactly! The red is supposed to draw attention and let folks know this is top priority. That’s a pretty normal use of red in the U.S. Depending on what you do, “critical” could be a bit dramatic, but again, that’s pretty normal business speak (if I had a dollar for every ‘mission-critical’….)

    2. Tuesday*

      Okay, I can see both sides! I’ve worked in places that did something similar, except we were so far behind that a LOT of things were red. That was awful – it made me feel like I was constantly on alert mode and I couldn’t actually prioritize anything. Could something similar be happening here?

      That said, I’m sure they chose red BECAUSE it’s a color that wakes us up, and it’s a little much for a new person to expect the whole process to change to cater to her. It should be reserved for emergency action items, though. If lots of things are red but she can’t resolve them because she’s waiting on someone else etc, I could see that being overwhelming.

    3. Some dude*

      This…seems like a her problem and not a work problem. If a part of her job is dealing with very urgent requests, she needs to find a way to manage that stress.

    4. Peanut Hamper*

      Stop signs are red because you are supposed to notice them. It can be a critical situation if you don’t notice them and just drive right through them.

      Your coworker is being ridiculous. Everybody needs to be a special snowflake, I guess. I mean, did she honestly not know that a ticketing system would use this as a way to distinguish tickets that need critical attention?

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      Red is a very common “important” signifier and that’s also what “critical” means in this context (it’s not like they’re being labeled FAILURE or INSULTING). Your coworker is being silly. Doesn’t sound like something you need to worry about though beyond silently being critical (ba dum tss) when she brings it up

    6. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      She’s being ridiculous. Red is the standard colour for these (I wouldn’t be surprised if the system doesn’t have an option to change that even if you wanted to) and Critical is a standard level of importance: Critical/High/Medium/Low/Wishlist.

      I’m agog that she joined a company and almost immediately raised a request to IT about that…

      My worry would be that if IT (rightly imo) push back she’ll try taking the “accommodations” route.

  55. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

    Just a quick note of thanks to WantonSeedStitch for the suggestion to leave a card with my contact info for my coworker who may or may not need a reference at some point in the future! He sent me a nice text the week after I left.

  56. Pine Tree*

    Any advice on recovering from burnout? I’ve been in my current position for about 3 years. Started at the beginning of covid, and frankly everything has been a struggle for the whole time. A large part of the struggle was external factors, mostly covid but many other overlapping societal issues that made it very difficult to achieve anything. As these piled on, I lost my bandwidth to cope, and then this fall a number of things happened that I just could not deal with anymore. My boss was super supportive and allowed me to take some time off and destress, but also reflect on how to move forward.

    For practical reasons such as health care, retirement, and student loan forgiveness, I need to hang on to this job for another year. I do like the organization and my coworkers, too (it’s just that my particular position kinda sucks).

    I’m back full-time and trying to avoid getting into the hole I was in this fall. I’ve navigated to get rid of some tasks that really were horrible and not working, but there is A LOT going on right now. I know my boss is super overworked but while she was supportive before I took some time, now she almost seems annoyed that I’m back. I might just be oversensitive right now.

    So, if anyone has advice on how to avoid getting myself burned out again, I’m all ears.

  57. ConstantlyComic*

    I’d like some external insight about a potential coworker dynamics situation and whether I’m getting too far into my head about this:
    Long story short, I’m afraid I might be potentially creating a rift with one of my work friends (for ease of conversation, let’s call her Ellie). Last week we had a conversation about a policy guide she’d written where I was condescending to her (it’s an aspect of policy that I know a lot about, and her guide handled a part technically left ambiguous in a different way than I prefer to have done). I realized very quickly that I was in the wrong there and apologized shortly afterwards when Ellie spoke to me about it, but I’m still feeling awkward about it.
    I also am planning to apply to grad school to work on getting a degree needed to advance in our field. Another employee in a different but closely connected department (calling her Abby) is also working on this degree from the school I would like to attend, and assuming everything goes well with my application, I will likely be interacting with Abby a lot, as it’s an online program and we both are of the opinion that having someone else to talk to in person will be helpful (I sometimes float to Abby’s department, so we already have regular contact). The problem there is that Ellie and Abby have pretty strong beef with each other (I don’t know all the details there, but I think it’s something to do with a transfer of responsibility that went poorly), so I’m concerned that my spending time with Abby might be alienating to Ellie.
    I will note that I’ve got pretty bad anxiety, especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships, and my only long-term workplace aside from this was a cesspit of drama, so my viewpoint on all of this is likely somewhat skewed. Is this something I should be properly worried about?

    1. Colette*

      No, don’t worry about it. If Ellie objects to you talking with Abby, she’s not being reasonable (assuming you aren’t talking about Ellie).

      1. ConstantlyComic*

        Admittedly I don’t think Ellie would openly say anything to me about Abby, it’s more that I’ve got an unreasonable amount of concern about people talking behind my back.

    2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Sounds like junior high. Stay out of the “beef” and keep your interactions with both pleasantly professional.

    3. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      You sound really sensible and self-aware, Constantly! From experience, being aware when you’re in the wrong and apologising is a big deal, so I’d think your apology will have mended any fences that needed mending with Ellie (I sympathise re: feeling awk, but that won’t be echoed in Ellie most likely, so just be kind to yourself around it; I bet you wouldn’t shame someone else in this situation, so try not to shame yourself*). If Ellie is even halfway reasonable, she will be able to deal with you spending time with Abby – my closest work friend is also work friends with someone I am BEC about, and it doesn’t bother me (or her, or cracker-eating b*tch). I think you can chill!

      * apologies if this is not what’s going on but I have found the notion of shame very helpful in similar situations

  58. Lynn*

    Career advice! Where should I apply?

    Experience: 7 years customer service (phones), 10 years starting, maintaining and running a successful eBay business (so, self-employed, lots of accounting/customer service/sales type work).

    Looking for: 8-12 hours a week job, mostly set schedule week to week. No (or almost no) evenings and weekends, and NOT work from home. Benefits not necessary, but also looking to make a minimum of $18-$20 an hour.

    Thankful that I have the privilege to be this picky.

    What types of jobs/businesses should I apply to?

    1. kiwiii*

      Reception jobs are frequently part-time on a set schedule (as two or more receptionists will cover the full 8-6 and a saturday morning or whatever), and while not All places will be more than about $16, more and more i’m seeing postings for reception gigs that pay $18+. Checking Idealist for “part-time” in your area may be useful.

    2. Somehow_I_Manage*

      Based on your skillset, I’d consider contacting some local small/family businesses and offering regular support for bookkeeping and invoicing. It’s exactly the type of work that a very small business typically has one person for that is way overworked, but can’t afford to bring on a second person full time.

    3. Lady_Lessa*

      What about church secretary? I know that many of them prefer that the secretary NOT be a member there since it prevents parishioners from adding to the work on weekends, etc.

  59. Over It*

    Do any of you have experience working in a company where it seems all the other departments don’t respect your department?

    I’m a professional, with expertise in a particular area. So is my coworker.
    Our predecessor was fired for being too rude with other departments, so it could be those departments are still annoyed from that. But if they treated him the way they treat us, I understand why he got rude! And I’ve seen his work, he’s very good at what we do.

    They are constantly telling us how to do our jobs – but they don’t have any knowledge about how our jobs should be done or even what a good result from our work would be.

    Our boss is a pushover who just wants us to make them happy.

    Is there anyone on here who h as been successful at turning a situation like this around?

    1. ferrina*

      Being cheerful and verbose.
      Be professional and polite in all your interactions. Cultivate a reputation of being calm and receptive (that way if there are any people that are just jerks, they can complain as much as they want and everyone knows it’s them, not you).
      Then casually drop in technical terminology that almost no one will understand. That usually stops the casual person from assuming it’s easy.

      1. Over It*

        You’re probably right about the first bits, but the one is part of the problem.
        They’re more than happy to let us do the technical stuff.
        They know they don’t have the actual skills make any of their demands a reality.

        They just want to give a bunch of insane instructions up front that mean we’re using our skills to make garbage.

        And they’re perfectly happy to have that garbage.

        No one’s complaining about our output but us.
        We know it can and should be something much better.

        It’s like, if we were making tables, but carrying out the instructions we were given would make the table wobbly. We go ahead and make the wobbly table and say, “See how wobbly this is? It will make people hate their dining experience” and they say, “PERFECT!”

        1. ferrina*

          What do they say if you don’t follow their instructions? Or if you say something vague like, “Hmm, I’ll need a bit of time to take a look at your specs and see what I can do. I’ll get you something by Friday.” Then on Friday say “I took the liberty of tweaking a couple things. I heard you saying that stability is key, so I used an advanced stabilization tool to ensure that you got what you needed.” This way you’re clear that you are listening to them (” I heard you say stability is key”), and they don’t need to know that the ‘advanced stabilization tool’ you used is a level.

          1. Over It*

            They’re not saying stability is key. They could not care less about the stability.

            What they’re saying is like… make a bright pink table with sequins all over it and marbles for feet. And I can make that. And if I do make it they will love it.
            And it will never occur to them or their clients that maybe the reason the restaurant has no repeat customers is because eating at that table is horrible, just like we said it would be.

            Obviously we’re not really talking about tables here so the analogy is a little weird, but hopefully you get the idea.

            I think it’s probably hopeless, but I love my immediate coworkers and the job has some very nice perks. It’s just a bit soul crushing to keep making garbage.

            1. ferrina*

              omg, that sounds so annoying! Yeah, in that scenario I don’t have any advice- I have no idea how to convince people that they have no taste and/or common sense.

              Hopefully it’s not your job to convince them. You can just flag ‘potential concerns’ and let them do their thing.

        2. Spearmint*

          Do you discuss with them the downsides of doing what they ask for? Do you outline alternatives as well when this happens?

          Also, you may want to consider they have legitimate reasons for asking for what they do, even if it’s not ideal from your team’s perspective.

        3. Bearly Containing Myself*

          By any chance are they giving you advice on marketing, design, or writing? I’ve learned over the years that there are a significant number of people who incorrectly consider themselves to be “experts” in anything creative and think their point of view should be listened to despite having zero expertise and suggesting ridiculous (wobbly table) ideas.

    2. shruggie*

      It’s a looong path in my experience, especially if the relationship between departments is already strained.

      It might be useful to follow through and make them happy with a shitty-to-you-but-good-to-them product a few times, just so you have buy-in. You can start giving suggestions later, when they know you can execute what they think they want. If you’re worried that you might get thrown under the bus when the shitty product underperforms, document the hell out of their specifications and demands.

      Are there ways you can get external validation of ideas or products? Maybe external, respected research supporting your suggestion, or in my design-related field there are relatively low-hanging awards that you can apply to for past work that, if awarded, give you something to point to showing your expertise… it’ll depend on your field I’m sure, as well as their personalities. But finding a way to build up cred (whatever that means to *them*) might be a way forward, too.

    3. Jinni*

      I encountered this when I worked as in-house counsel. We were told that our job was to try to achieve what the business side wanted…but there were often limits, regulatory, legal, etc.

      I played on being a woman and killing them with bubbly kindness, then really pushed back on some things. But it was a pick your battles sort of thing, where I told them we were trying to achieve a good result, but there were some parameters that couldn’t be ignored.

      The law is a huge authority, but maybe you could lean on whatever the boundaries are…

  60. FYPM*

    Is it ever acceptable to speak with HR directly in compensation negotiation for a new job?

    The times I’ve gotten a new job with a large organization, all my talks are with the hiring manager and they have to go back to HR and relay messages back and forth between us. Everything is couched in terms of “I don’t know if HR will accept ___” and “HR says their policy requires ___.” It always feels to me like a way to shut down negotiation— “oh well, I would give you that, but HR, you know…” always ends up being part of it. They essentially don’t ever let you talk to whoever is purportedly making the decision, and every question has to be relayed back and forth with a big delay, so you can’t really do much discussion.

    I’m job hunting again and I’ve been wondering, can you just tell the hiring manager you want to talk to HR directly? And when they inevitably say that’s not how they do things, how much might be reasonable to press? I’m not even hoping it would somehow get me better compensation (though maybe it would), but it would at least let me actually get all the information I need about how various parts of my compensation actually work so I would know what I even wanted to ask for or press about.

    It would also make me feel a lot more confident in why I do get. I had a job many years ago where I was told by my manager at hiring that the salary I was asking for was above the pay grade for the position per HR, and I ended up agreeing to a lower one. Later when I had to get HR salary records for a project budget, I discovered this was a bald-faced lie and I was at the bottom of the range. More recently I got a job offer and when I tried to ask for a higher salary figure, the hiring manager insisted to me that HR would not go any higher because of my qualifications. Except! I knew from some other inside info I had about the org that this was also a complete lie. I don’t think I will ever really trust “HR says…” from a hiring manager again!

    1. ThatGirl*

      No, I don’t think you can negotiate directly with HR. The hiring manager might be lying, but if they are, they’d still be your manager – do you really want to work with/for someone who lies about this stuff?

      1. FYPM*

        No, but without being able to substantiate it I would end up working for them without knowing, which is what happened the first time. It was a total fluke that I happened to know the second person was lying.

    2. m2*

      I think it depends on the organization. I see where you’re coming from so I think it is ok to ask but sometimes it depends on department budgets/ parity within the salary scale/ title/duties. Sometimes the same job title will mean something completely different in two different departments and get two different salaries based on those duties.

      I just hired someone in a new role. Basically had to go back and forth between me (hiring manager) and HR. This person wanted X salary which was more than our salary grade (hire knew salary scale from get-go) so I had to go back to HR. HR came back with a small increase, I knew this person should get more for the role, so I pushed for more and explained why. HR finally came back with this is the max. They came back and asked me and my boss if we approved the salary, we both agreed. Some hiring managers won’t go to bat for new hires.

      In this instance, if I had not pushed back twice to HR this person would have only had the first offer. Even if they pushed back HR would not have budged. I think it depends on HR and the hiring manager. Policies and parity are great, but some people really do work smarter and do a better job and should be compensated for their excellent work.

    3. Parenthesis Guy*

      It’ll be hard to really push. And yes, you can’t really trust “HR says.” To some extent, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you’re not getting what you want and therefore you need to leave to get it.

    4. Anonn*

      IMO, you can ask to speak to HR, but it either won’t make much of a difference, or might have a negative effect. As FYPM said, a hiring manager is the one who can go to bat for you. There is a budget set for the position; this is based on a whole host of factors like the duties, internal equity, etc. Some of this the hiring manager may have access to, but some of it they may not (such as if it is based on salaries of similar positions in a department the hiring manager doesn’t supervise). That’s a big reason why hiring managers have to check with HR. But, a hiring manager is still the one who’ll fight for you; they can tell HR that you are negotiating for a higher salary and that they think it’s justified for XYZ reasons. I don’t think it would be as effective to fight for yourself by talking to HR directly as it is having the hiring manager fight for you. You want the hiring manager in your corner pushing for a higher salary for you; it’s easier for HR to accommodate.

      And, sometimes, there just truly isn’t a way to offer more, for whatever reasons. HR will gladly tell hiring managers to blame it on them; why start a new hire off on the wrong foot with their supervisor? Better they hate HR!

      1. Anecdata*

        I don’t think you’ll have luck asking to negotiate compensation directly with HR but for the second part of your question — how do other parts of your comp work/details on benefits, that would be normal to ask hr at a lot of places. I would just ask whoever you’re talking to at the moment (inc. hiring manager) to send over the documentation so you can review it, and then if you still have questions, send a “thanks; I have some questions about tuition reimbursement/insurance/whatever; can you put me in touch with the right person for those?”

      2. Me ... Just Me*

        As a hiring manager, I’ve had to push for more money several times on behalf of a new hire. HR often doesn’t know anything about the particulars of the positions that they are hiring for. So, the things that they might put more value on aren’t necessarily what the hiring manager values and needs for the role. I’ve had to explain, that yes, I need this person and they need to be paid such and such because they have experience with this thing here and that other thing, which makes them ideal for the role. HR definitely low-balls when they make offers and will out and out lie to hiring managers on occasion, about the salary band.

      3. FYPM*

        You’re right, and I would want to generally be going about this was you & m2 are describing here. I’m talking about being able to substantiate a little bit of what the hiring manager is telling me directly with HR, because I’ve now had more than one experience people telling me some whole cloth BS that was perfectly plausible precisely /because/ all off this stuff is often true. That’s why I accepted it in the first case, and I would have accepted it the second time too if I hadn’t happened to know what I did.

  61. demotivated*

    Any advice to stay motivated during bad times in a job? For various reasons leaving is not an option in the short term.

    My company recently went through layoffs and some awesome people were let go. I should feel lucky that I was not one of them, but it has been stressful. I resent the way the layoffs were handled, resent the way management talks about it. This also came after months of hiring freeze (not even replacing people who left) and we were already overextended before layoffs. My department went through a reorganization, I now have a new boss, in a team with a very different focus. My new boss seems honestly great, and the change is not all bad. I’m a bit surprised myself that I’m having such a difficult time with this. It’s maybe relevant that I’m in Europe, and employment is generally safer here than in the US (no at will employment).

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Try to think of one thing you are looking forward to at work before you go in the morning. Could be finishing a project, could be talking to a friendly coworker.

      When you leave work for the day, try to think of one things that went well that day. Again, could be something big or small, work related or not. Just needs to be positive.

      The other thing you can try is: when you have a bad day (nothing to look forward to before work, nothing positive to remember after work), start the job search process. NOT with the goal of accepting a new job and leaving, but with the goal of reminding yourself you have options and you are choosing to stay.

    2. Helewise*

      I’ve been re-reading the book Designing Your Work Life by Burnett and Evans. It’s great for helping figure out what things might be fixable and what things can be helped by a reframe, in addition to thinking through when it’s time to go.

      Layoffs are really hard, though, even when you’re spared. My husband’s industry is layoff-heavy, and it never really gets easier – it is brutal to see colleagues walked out the door. It usually takes a while to move past it.

  62. Time’s thief*

    Just a slight rant. I’m 4 months into a new job and enjoying it but my husband just got offered a really great opportunity in a place we’ve been trying to get back to for years.

    I just broke the news to my manager and asked if there’s any chance of staying on as a remote worker. There’s absolutely nothing about my job that requires me to be in office and I already WFH two days a week. There’s an office 90 minutes from my new home I could be affiliated with if needed. Unfortunately TPTB decided that, after two years of everyone being fully remote and productivity going up, remote work is the worst and they won’t even consider it.

    I get it and was honestly expecting it but it’s still disappointing. They’ve put a lot of money into training me, we’re horribly understaffed, I’ve been top of my training class in all metrics and willing to do what I can to make this seamless but they’d rather lose me than have that cubicle empty an extra few days a week.

    The whole remote work has been a battle since before I was hired (job was advertised as fully remote and was changed to 4 days in-office by the time I got my offer letter) so it’s more a frustration with the entire situation but I hope I’m allowed a little sadness and disappointment as I brush off my still-fresh resume and go back to applying.

    1. Decidedly Me*

      You’re definitely allowed some sadness and disappointment! I hope your next role is everything you want it to be :)

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      I bet they’re hoping you’ll decide spouse’s job isn’t as important as your own. Or they’re not thinking past the weekend. In any case, I too hope your next job is better — there are some companies who’ve figured out that remote work works fine, and happy employees are more productive.

  63. Some dude*

    Opposite of a post above…how do you LIMIT distractions. I find that if I am not super busy at work I will waste too much time on various things. I quit twitter, which helps, and have blocked some sites, but I’m wondering what site blocking apps you use, and how you manage distractions. Thanks!

    1. kiwiii*

      I’ve been finding that Giving myself a schedule helps a lot, even if it’s just “okay, this task now has a deadline an hour from now; and this other task has a deadline of two hours from now”

    2. Eyes Kiwami*

      I block sites that I can’t control myself on–not a good way to do it on the phone without limiting all adult content, but you do what you gotta do.

      I use the Shortcuts feature on my iphone: it starts a timer (can use a meditation/pomodoro app too) and starts playing upbeat music. All I have to do is say a code word to Siri and it starts a pomodoro session for 20 min (or whatever I set it to). I find it helps because I only need to summon the motivation to say a word instead of also setting everything up.

  64. Independent Contractor or Employee??*

    Wondering if I should push back and risk not getting assignments or continue as usual…what do you think and what would you do?
    BTW – I love the work but feel underpaid as the tax situitation is higher as an independent contractor.

    I work in a seasonal position. There are several of us in this role.
    We have a supervisor.
    We are given a schedule.
    We are given a uniform.
    We are given a “script” to use with consumers of our service.
    The agency could not operate without our role.
    None of us have an independent business to provide this service outside of this role.
    None of us bring more than our own personal labor to the job (no equiptment.)
    No independent licence or registration is required for this role, however, the agency arranges us to have required site training standardized by the customer for the role and badging for entry into restricted areas.
    The agency contracts with the customer and maintains control of the business end of the income and expenses of the business.

    I think the above qualifies those of us in this role to be an employee rather than an independent contractor and we should be paid as such. As it is, we are paid a flat fee per day worked with nothing withheld.

    1. Over It*

      It sure sounds like you’re an employee, but you might search past posts, because I know Alison has laid out in really clear terms what qualifies as a contractor and what does not.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      How seasonal is seasonal?
      Are you a mall Santa for 5 weeks a year, or are you a park tour guide from April through November?

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      How seasonal is seasonal?
      Are you a mall Santa for 5 weeks a year, or a tour guide from April through November?

    4. WestsideStory*

      In the U.S., you would be a seasonal employee. You should be having withholding. Something is fishy here.

    5. germank106*

      If the company gives you a schedule and pays you on a regular schedule (weekly, bi-weekly, daily, etc.) instead of by the project, you are an employee. You can either file a complaint with the Department of Labor or with the IRS.

      1. AABBCC123*

        I think one issue here is the last bullet point “The agency contracts with the customer”. It is clear that you are an employee, but the question is of who. Are you an employee of the customer or of the agency?

        1. Independent contractor or employee?*

          OP here – Paid by the agency who contracts services with the customer. No direct contact with the customer but act on behalf of the customer. I believe the customer considers us to be subcontractors of the agency. I don’t want to specify the type of work because it is too identifiable and some managers/co-workers may follow this blog.

  65. Moon Moon*

    Is there anyone else there who attempted to make a big career change just prior to the pandemic, for whom things have gone badly and have never really recovered? I know I can’t be the only one out there! I’ve been suffering a pretty bad crisis of confidence lately and would love to hear from others in the same position, or from people who managed to turns things around after a long struggle.

    1. Mimmy*

      Right before the pandemic, I started a second Master’s degree so that I could enter a specific niche of higher education and leave my (still current) job. Thankfully the program was already fully online, so that wasn’t the problem. However, I had planned on looking for entry level jobs within the field to gain experience (my current job isn’t well-aligned with my interests) as I pursued this degree, but once the pandemic got into full swing, the opportunities completely dried up.

      I had built up a lot of confidence and excitement in the months leading up to starting the degree, which all but vanished in 2020. I finished my degree this past June and have been looking for a job since, working really hard to regain the momentum I felt like I had 3 years ago.

  66. Not_a_Newb*

    Spin-off from the first letter in today’s good news:

    I am really impressed with the letter writer who first was able to gain salary details from her 2 peers. Everyone I have ever worked with has been super cagey, probably because none of us want to find out that we are the one who is underpaid.

    That being said, I have been thinking about a similar scenario in my current role. I have had a couple of opportunities recently to leave for 20%+ greater salary but I have stuck with my job because I appreciate the flexibility I have, and fear I may not have the same elsewhere. We hired a new person – in the same exact role as me, with almost identical experience to me – a few months ago. I am certain that the new hire is at a higher salary than me – probably closer to the 20% higher that is seems to be current market-rate. Meanwhile, I was told no raise “for now while we wait and see how things go this year” which I assumed to mean due to business and not me personally. But it’s hard not to feel a little bitter in these circumstances. This is a small start-up company with no formal HR person. I am nervous about addressing this but today’s good news makes me think maybe I’m crazy not to try! What would you do?

    1. irene adler*

      Give my notice and take the one of the jobs with +20% salary.

      If they want to make your salary par with the new hire, they would have done that (assuming they actually did hire this person at market rate).

      Clearly they didn’t do that. The reason why is not relevant (but sure, might be interesting to know).
      Only you have your best interests at heart. And only you can take the steps to preserve that. Don’t depend upon a manager or a company to do that for you.

  67. in_arrears*

    I’m curious whether the following practice is legal:

    Prior to Jan 1, Company processed payroll twice a month, on the 15th and final day of the month. Employees would be paid for the pay period ending that day. So on Nov. 30, employees were paid for Nov. 16-30; on Dec. 15, they were paid for Dec. 1-15; etc.

    In January, Company switched payroll companies and began to pay one pay period in arrears. So on Jan. 31, employees were paid for Jan. 1-15, and on Feb. 15 they will be paid for Jan. 16-31. Effectively, this means employees only received one paycheck for one 15-day pay period in January.

    Is this legal?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Yes, this is legal. The company I work for also recently switched from paying for the current pay period to paying one pay period in arears. Previous places I have worked have been a mix of pay for the current pay period and pay for the previous pay period. Switching can be tough for some people (especially those living paycheck to paycheck) but it is legal.

  68. Alliesaurus*

    Just a little update/mini vent:

    I posted a month or so ago asking advice about turning down a job that seemed like a good fit skills-wise but terrible office environment (gloomy, quiet, no windows). Turns out I didn’t even need to stress about what I’d say if offered it because… they’ve seemingly ghosted me. :\ I gave it a few weeks before following up this past Monday, but I’ve yet to hear a peep.

    The weird thing is they acted super motivated to hire someone for the role, and my interview process was quick (as they kept telling me they really needed to make a hire). I’m not super mad about losing out on this role, but I’m a little peeved they couldn’t even shoot me a form email response about not picking me. *shrug* Oh well. I did keep Alison’s advice about putting it out of your head and continuing to apply/interview in mind, so I’m not personally offended, but it’s a little frustrating.

  69. Public Librarian*

    I am bored out of my mind at work. How am I supposed to do this day after day? I work as a manager at a slow library with great staff. I’ve been managing people for 20 years and this is not at all a challenge. I don’t know how to keep doing this but I also don’t see any changes coming.

    1. Somehow_I_Manage*

      When I was in college, one of my part time jobs was in a dining hall with multiple stations. Occasionally, I’d get stuck in a “dessert” station that mostly served slices of cake. This station got zero traffic during breakfast and lunch shifts. And we had two people to man the station.

      My senior dessert colleague told me that “we don’t get enough traffic to just stand here- you need to take more breaks, otherwise you’ll go crazy.”

      /I guess the long version of this story includes me leaving that job for a much better job at the end of the semester!

      I would think a public library has lots of opportunities to take on and start new initiatives if you were so inclined and have free reign. Our library has pretty constant programmatic scheduling, bringing in speakers, workforce training, etc. Go forth- build your kingdom!

    2. Colette*

      I think you have 3 choices.
      1) Find a job that suits you more. Maybe it’s at a different library, maybe it’s something else altogether.
      2) Make this job one that suits you more – come up with things that engage you. (New public programs? Making a comprehensive list of book by the colour of the cover so that when someone says “it had a red cover” you can find it? Start a maker space?)
      3) Accept this job for what it is. Find non-work-related ways to get fulfillment and keep yourself busy.

    3. Dear Liza dear liza*

      This is the dream! What individual contributor task or project would give you joy? Doing a program, launching an initiative, doing an outreach event? You get to approve it AND have the can see it through!

  70. SimpleAutie*