open thread – May 19-20, 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.

{ 1,145 comments… read them below }

  1. WW*

    I’ve been at my job for a year and a half. At the 1-year mark, I asked about a performance review. My manager said that the company wasn’t prepared to give any performance reviews, but “company wide performance reviews” would be coming in the Q1 of 2023.

    Kind of unusual – it’s not like the entire company was hired at the same time, so to do a big band of performance reviews at once seemed odd, but I rolled with it.

    Well, we’re now well into Q2 and I just got my review. It wasn’t a meeting, but a pdf document emailed to me with my manager and CEO’s signature. Here’s what it said:

    WW provides excellent and timely work. Keep it up.

    That’s it. That’s the whole review. No mention of compensation increase. (I’ve never had a raise working here – neither a merit raise or a cost of living raise with this crazy inflation.)

    I’m pretty insulted. I waited over six months for…Two sentences? I’ve been putting a lot of hours into this startup and am starting to feel burnt out, but this really puts me over the edge.

    1. Be Gneiss*

      I once got a review that consisted solely of “I don’t know what you do, but you’re doing a hell of a job of it, so keep up the good work.”
      It sucks.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Every company I’ve ever worked at has done annual reviews at the same time for everyone, regardless of hire date. So that part doesn’t strike me as weird.

      But your company’s actual process does – can you ask for a 1:1 with your manager and ask for more in-depth feedback, or what you might need to do to get a merit increase?

      1. JelloStapler*

        This. I’m used to that time of year all at once, but we have a long form and a 1:1 with our boss.

        Then we get to see if our merit of busting our butts to “go above and beyond” gets us a whopping 2% raise. :p

      2. Capy*

        +1 this! My company does reviews at the same time every year. I would definitely ask to have a 1:1 with your manager for direct feedback.

    3. Jess R.*

      I would be upset, too! That’s a wildly useless performance review, at best. I mean, I suppose it’s nice to know your work is “excellent and timely,” but that feels more like a mid-semester report card comment for a middle schooler than a professional performance review. I seriously hope you’re job searching — this is clearly not a place that supports your professional growth (not even in the context of their own work, which is extra weird).

    4. Shopping is my cardio*

      My company does the same. One massive time where everyone gets a review. With my last boss I don’t really get a review either just an email with a pdf. But I do get more than 2 sentences and a raise. All this to say that the lack of review, in my opinion, is less upsetting than no merit increase after a year and a half. In this job market I would expect an increase, even if it is modest seeing that you have worked there for only 18 months.

      1. WW*

        Nice to hear that other companies opt for the massive reviews at once. So we’re not totally out of touch on that front.

        Yeah, I am definitely more upset about the lack of compensation. This has triggered a job search immediately.

        1. londonedit*

          The company I work for does annual appraisals for everyone at the same time, too. It’s part of an official HR-led process – if you’ve been with the company under six months when appraisal time comes round then you wait until the following year. We also don’t have pay rises based on merit – everyone gets a cost of living pay rise once a year, and there’s also a company bonus scheme tied to overall performance, but no one gets a ‘you did particularly well so we’re giving you a pay rise’ as a result of their annual appraisal.

        2. Tio*

          Yeah, most of the companies have a regular yearly review, that’s not the weird part.

          The weird/bad part is the two sentences. You mention its a start up, so sounds like they have not ironed this process out at all and it’s probably not a high priority for them. Since your reviews can affect raises, I would be out too.

          1. Momma Bear*

            They may still be figuring out their process it’s still in the startup phase. I worked for a startup that had several different review processes while they figured out what actually worked. I also found out that since they bid everyone on a contract, you were stuck at that pay rate for the duration of the contract so I didn’t get any raises while a contract was “active.” It was weird. Startups are quirky.

            I think the bigger problem is the statement that OP is feeling burned out and underappreciated and needs to discuss that with their Boss.

        3. Observer*

          Job searching is not a bad idea. But you shouldn’t be insulted. This is totally not personal.

          On the other hand, in addition to job searching, is there any reason you can’t go back to your boss and say “You say I’ve been doing well. I’d like a raise.” And explain why you think you should get one. And if they say that they can’t do it, ask when do they see it happening, and what do you need to do to make it happen.

          Again, this is not *instead* of job searching, but *in addition*. If they come back with something you are ok with, you can stop searching.

          1. Momma Bear*

            Agreed. This warrants at least a discussion with the boss for clarity so that OP is making an informed vs purely reactive decision. If they find something better, great. But if they’re feeling upset and haven’t communicated the problem, boss can’t fix what they don’t know.

        4. I have RBF*

          IMO, if your review is good but they don’t give you a raise that keeps up with inflation, they have essentially said “You only deserve an effective pay cut due to inflation, because we think you are a useful sucker.”

          Time to start looking, definitely, because no increase after 18 months means you’ve lost about 5% in buying power.

    5. Heather*

      Ask for a 1 on 1 with the manager and bring your “performance review” and ask for a raise in line with the current market. Offer specifics about what you have done and show them your review. Should be all it takes… To either get the raise or show them what a horrid process they are using. Either way, good luck.

    6. I should really pick a name*

      Company-wide reviews have been pretty common in places I’ve worked.
      Depending on when someone started, they might not be included in the first one that happens after they’re hired.

      But yeah, that review sounds like bullshit.

    7. EMP*

      Agreeing that it’s incredibly normal to have all the reviews done at the same time (most companies have a “review cycle” that lines up somewhere with their annual budget cycle), but it sounds like your workplace has other issues. Do you want more frequent feedback, like from a regular 1-1 with your manager? Or do you feel like you get good feedback but aren’t being recognized for it? If you’re getting burnt out and they aren’t paying attention to employees, I’m not sure I’d put all that much more effort into this job.

    8. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Our company also does everyone’s reviews at once. When we were smaller, it was scattered throughout the year by hire date, but with things changing from one fiscal or contract year to the next, it forced us to get more systematic and efficient about it and do them all at the same time. There’s some threshold at which you don’t get a review, I want to say it’s 6 months. 18 months seems like a long time to go without a raise, maybe it’s 3 months. Anyway, it’s in the handbook now, so it should be explained when you’re hired, I hope.

    9. Bagpuss*

      Yes review at the same time for everyone is fairly normal – we do that. But we di also do 3 and 6 month reviews for new starters, (the 3 month is the end of the probation period)

      But I agree, ask to meet with your actual manager for a more in depth discussion about pay etc.

    10. Momma Bear*

      Take a breath. I would ask for a one-on-one follow up with your boss for whatever clarification you might want. You could just say you appreciated the positive comment but it was a little succinct and you have a few more questions/would like to touch base in general about your work and goals. If you need clarification about the compensation, that would also be the time to do it. This is your first review with this company, so you didn’t know/don’t know what to expect.

      We also do our reviews at the same time, I think just for sanity sake for Payroll. If you weren’t here long, then it’s more of a mid-year review kind of expectation and everything is prorated.

    11. DataSci*

      Everywhere I’ve been has always done annual performance reviews at the same time for everyone – it’s much easier to track that way. It does mean you may wait a few extra months if you get hired right before review season (since they won’t know enough about your performance to say anything) but it’s the usual system. You should be able to have regular check ins with your boss, though!

      1. WW*

        Yeah, after reading the comments I totally get that annual company wide performance reviews aren’t as unusual as I thought.

        Really what’s upsetting to me, and another commenter mentioned this, is that I feel undervalued and overworked. I waited extra months to get some solid feedback and hopefully an increased compensation and this was more disappointing than nothing. I really pulled some long hours, and it feels like morale company wide is pretty low. I can’t be the only one who got a review of this stature.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          Though it was very short, your review did state that you are doing an excellent job (with no qualifiers). Schedule a 1-on-1, write a list of all your accomplishments, and make the case for your raise!

        2. Some words*

          The company I work for splits the review and the salary changes. We receive our reviews and then generally have to wait a couple weeks to hear about compensation changes. It might be helpful to ask if that’s how your company handles this too.

          1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

            Same, my performance reviews and compensation reviews have always been at different times of year. I don’t think I’ve ever had them tied together (in fact, I’ve had companies explicitly say that they’re not). That doesn’t mean I haven’t been able to negotiate for good raises by pointing to my excellent performance, and it doesn’t mean my boss doesn’t take my performance into account when deciding on the raise amount.

            (Seconding everyone’s comments that I’ve never worked anywhere that performance reviews weren’t all at the same time.)

            I’ve also definitely had useless reviews with useless bosses, and good reviews with good bosses.

    12. Generic Name*

      Yeah, I’d be pissed too. I once got a review that was similarly brief, except it wasn’t a typed up and signed document. The “hr” person had a one-inch strip of yellow ledger notebook paper that she read from. It was bizarre. Like, why bother?

    13. Llama Llama*

      The company I work for does do annual reviews and actually splits the review from the salary change. We do our reviews and rate how our people did. Then based of that review rate salary and bonuses are determined. This happens 3 months after the fiscal year end. People are prorated if they didn’t get a raise the last time because of timing of hire.

      That being said, it is with employee input.
      It is not a one sided conversation. Schedule a meeting with your manager!

    14. JustaTech*

      My last performance review the conversation part with my boss was “You know you’re doing great, this is your time to give me feedback.”
      Oh come on boss, don’t drop “give me feedback” at 9am on Monday with no warning!
      And it’s not like I’m ever going to actually say “you need to stand up for yourself and us more” because I know it’s more complicated than that.

      I will say that the written part of the review (that gets sent up the chain) was much more detailed and included the phrase “JustaTech’s knowledge is encyclopedic” on two separate projects (with an undertone of “only JustaTech knows where all the data/reports are, don’t let her go!”). I’ve always wanted to think of myself as Encyclopedia Brown.

    15. Ghostwriting Is Real Writing*

      I can understand your frustration – I’d be more than a little upset at what appears to be a performative review rather than thoughtful feedback. You mentioned it was a start up. That might be all the explanation you need. Do you have a product on the market? Are there revenues outside of venture / founder funding? If it is early stage, it might be unrealistic to expect a raise. Did you get equity shares? Was there anything in the offer letter about profit sharing when the company reaches a certain milestone? Working ungodly hours and being underpaid in expectation of future returns is just sort of the start up world. But a review should actually be a review. They owe you that.

  2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

    Anybody have thoughts/experiences with Strengthsfinder, DiSC, or similar that you might recommend? I did MBTI once at a prior job and wasn’t too impressed with it, but I’m hoping to find something that will be useful professional development as part of a retreat for teams that cross several functional areas.

    1. Chidi has a stomach ache*

      My org is all-in on DiSC profiles. I bring a health skepticism to this stuff, but I do appreciate that our facilitators seem to stress it as a tool for reflection — meaning, the traits ascribed to you aren’t written in stone, and you can identify places where you may not match the typical profile. I do find that DiSC also feels centered more on interpersonal interactions than about personality, which is a bit more useful for a work context.

      1. Panicked*

        Same. We do the DISC for everyone we onboard. It’s not a “fix all” solution, but I do think it helps people communicate better.

        I personally like the Five Voices better than the DISC, but it’s not as well known.

        They can all be helpful tools when used correctly. That being said, none of them are going to fit perfectly for everyone and business decisions shouldn’t be made based on someone’s profile.

        1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

          Adding Five Voices to the list of options to research! Much appreciated.

      2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        That was kind of my issue with MBTI, it kind of felt like workplace astrology, lol. Tools for reflection are exactly what I’d like, I’m hoping for something that will spark thoughtfulness about how you can leverage your talents and would definitely like to avoid the “personality quiz” vibe if at all possible. Thanks for the input!

        1. CityMouse*

          My personal experience with my org is they did these personality sessions in lieu of actually useful training. So instead of being trained on how to use the mentoring software functions or how to do the assessments for mentees, we instead did DISC, which didn’t help me with the actual tasks I needed to learn.

          So my very dirty lens is sometimes management will bring in this stuff for “leadership training” instead of actually providing useful tailored training to the role.

          1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

            Yeah, this retreat isn’t intended to be specific functional training and isn’t meant to make up for lack of it, either. I’ve seen that happen before, though, and it’s hard to ask people to care about an exercise like this one if there are deficits in other areas that are affecting morale. I don’t think that’s the case in our office but is something to keep an ear out for. Appreciate your input!

      3. Chauncy Gardener*

        I’m a fan of DISC as a means to understanding how different people communicate

      4. Lily Rowan*

        Yes, same here. I will also say that my DiSC profile is the only one of these things I’ve ever done that actually reflected my experience at work.

        I did laugh (and also try to step up) when I got a notification about my new supervisor after a re-org that opened with, “[New Supervisor] is MUCH MORE ORGANIZED than you.” Fair enough, and good to know!

    2. Box of Kittens*

      My previous company used Disc, and my current company uses the PI. I and my teams have found both helpful, especially when talking about different communication styles at work. I have found it works better when your team is into personality typing, which mine is. The PI is a bit more in depth than the disc, and we use it across the entire organization.

      1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

        My company is all in on Predictive Index too. They put a lot of weight on it.
        I appreciate that it has an opportunity to show how you are as a person, and who you are at work (might not be the same, assuming you answer truthfully, of course), but I don’t live by it personally. I think it’s often being used as a replacement for actually learning about coworkers/employees and learning to work with them yourself, versus making assumptions.

        1. Venus*

          The fundamental problems with these tools is that people fill them out based on who they think they are, and on who they want to be, and sometimes that can glaringly not be who they are at the time. It’s why they are so awful as a hiring tool, because it doesn’t really assess the person.

          It can be useful as a way of understanding that not everyone around you reacts the same way to problems, and there can be good uses, but as you say it can be used as a substitute for better options.

          1. The Shenanigans*

            Agreed. I find astrology more convincing than really any of these tools, lol. Also, if they are used in hiring, people are going to check the boxes they think the company wants them to, not something that reflects themselves at all.

            The only questionnaire I saw that made any kind of impression was one for one of my undergrad classes that asked pretty extensive questions about your feelings about such tests and incorporated those answers into the profile. I found that interesting.

    3. Newly minted higher ed*

      I had to the DISC for some PD at my current position, and didn’t really get much out of it at the time. It pretty much confirmed my existing interpersonal, work-related values I had already noticed, but it did help me put into words where I was personally and help me think more explicitly about how to embrace elements of myself going forward in relation to the values and traits the assessment purports to measure. And then life happened and I forgot about it entirely, until I went on the job market this spring and realized that the language I learned about some elements of myself actually benefitted me to speak more explicitly in answer to various interview questions about autonomy vs collaboration.

      Like the other ones I’ve done, I think one gets out of it what one puts into it, and it’s interesting to see written out a description of traits one has. I wouldn’t have it be the end point, but a launching point to help people lay out goals and strategies going forward? It ight be useful, though the certified DISC trainer my company used didn’t do that for us.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        This is super helpful input, thank you! Something that can be useful in how people are thinking about and articulating their own skills and strengths is exactly what I’m looking for. My expectations aren’t that this is going to effect a sea change or address any dysfunction as some people in this thread have experienced, but if it sparks some discussion within and across the teams in the short term, it’s a success. If it pays off in a situation like yours in the longer term, all the better. Agree about getting out what you put in.

    4. ThatGirl*

      My company does Discover Yourself, which is color blocks. It’s mostly about communication styles — the idea is to help coworkers figure out the best ways to approach each other and also learn more about themselves. I have described it as “horoscopes for business” because it seems a little woo-y and silly to me, but there are times it has come in useful too.

      1. AustenFan*

        As a scholar of communication, I would really like it if these measures were validated in either the communication studies or psychology literature. They are not, so I have a heathy skepticism of all of them.

    5. CityMouse*

      I had to do Disc for a work project. I thought it was a complete joke. I have yet to run into a personality test that the response/result isn’t obvious, so the result is clearly just whatever you were trying to get the test result to be. Honestly just tell me what result you want on these things and I’ll answer it that way.

    6. Polar Vortex*

      My company is a big fan of Insights. And as someone who could take or leave a lot of these personality type tests and has taken most of them, I actually found this one interesting. It definitely helped identify how people communicate that I had already picked up on – what people prefer data impact vs emotional impact, etc. It just helped to clarify better ways to communicate with coworkers across the company, and the paperwork you get about yourself was pretty spot on for me and helped to clarify some areas to work on, how I can better communicate with some coworkers who are the exact opposite of me, etc. (I had guessed down to the spot in the circle where I’d be, but I know myself pretty darn well.)

      So that’s my two cents at least.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        Appreciate this! Adding Insights to the list of options to research.

      2. Laika*

        I liked Insights too. My partner and I met at work, and had been seeing each other for a while when they offered Insights for the whole company. We ended up as direct opposites on the wheel haha. We traded profiles and chatted about the results, and reading through the “how to communicate with your opposite” section was genuinely helpful for me, even if there are definitely still whiffs of workplace horoscopism in it.

        It must have taught us *something* because we still use language from it as a quick shorthand nearly a decade later!

    7. NeedRain47*

      I thought strengthsfinder was interesting, and I learned a lot about the psychology of focusing on the things you’re good at and becoming great at them, instead of trying to improve at things you’ll only be average at best.

      At the time I did it, the head of the organization was encouraging everyone to do so and perhaps other peoples’ managers genuinely cared about making them more engaged with their jobs. But my direct supervisor did not care one bit what my strengths were and it ended up coming off as “find out your strengths, but you don’t get to use them!” (I also learned, as part of that session, that people whose supervisors are unengaged hate their jobs more than people who actively dislike their boss.)

    8. Hlao-roo*

      I did a DiSC assessment at one company, and I found it middling useful. The things that made it useful were the coordinators of the assessment were clear that:
      – your dominant letter (D/I/S/C) is not the end-all, be-all it’s more of the communication/thinking style you default to and tend to respond best to
      – they gave us tips for how to communicate in each of the “styles,” which was useful because if you’re (for example) an S it’s helpful to see examples of how communicating like an I works

    9. Rick Tq*

      My employer did StrengthFinders twice. The second time was to cover a bunch of new hires.
      The consensus as we went over results as a group was “Janie is a Woo? Of course she is….” Yes, we reviewed our reports as a group. We are a 70 person company so a pretty small group to review and we mostly know each other already.

      No blinding insights, just confirmation of pretty much what we knew about each other.

      1. Beth*

        We did Strengthsfinder once, years ago — VERY small company, under 10 people. I don’t know how much they spent on it, but it did nothing that common sense couldn’t have done better.

        I was glad that they didn’t do it again.

    10. Lynn*

      My org had done Myers-Briggs and some McKinsey one (where you were a guardian, pioneer, or something else) and then Strengths. Strengths was the first one that clicked for me and I realized why I had struggles with certain aspects of my work. I don’t think my org went all the way with Strengths and using it to help balance responsibilities or discuss as a team but I still found it more helpful than most other typologies!

      1. Kevin McCarthy likes my debt ceiling*

        I found Strengths to be enormously helpful to my personal journey and then into my professional journey.

        From, an Analytical – Input- Learner – Harmony – Connectedness person

    11. Tio*

      Our company did DiSC, but while it was at least somewhat interesting, I honestly don’t think it helped much.

    12. Lora*

      I’ve done DISC at one company and StrengthsFinder at another. Neither was very helpful and felt like management was trying to put a bandaid on major Personality Problems as opposed to disciplining offenders who couldn’t get along with other people. When it didn’t magically fix the “communication issues,” they did finally break down and do some management training and get rid of the worse managers.

      I feel like StrengthsFinder would maybe be useful for college students trying to figure out a major/career, or early graduates, early-mid stage folks, but not super helpful for established professionals. If you’ve been doing a job for 30 years and a test says you have the aptitude for it…great, you probably know already. If it says you’re lousy at the skills needed for this career and you need to change to something more suited for your talents then you’re in sort of a crummy position to change and you probably won’t just because a test HR made you take says you should.

      1. introverted af*

        This was exactly the scenario where StrengthsFinder was helpful for me. I took it as part of a team for a college job, and it was really useful to think about what can I do well and how can I use that to contribute to my work and find a good career. I still really like it.

      2. Bess*

        That’s actually StrengthsFinder’s initial intended audience, college students!

        I found my report to be creepily accurate. Not the one with the standard strengths descriptions, but the one where they tailor it to you–so if you and a coworker have the same strength, each of your reports will have a different description of the strength, based on your specific test.

        I did feel it helped me articulate some of the things I did at work and leverage them/be aware of them more. It also helped me identify a strength I didn’t know I had and would have denied previously (the “strategic” designation). It also helped me connect with teammates and understand some of how they ticked a bit better (again, this was mostly in the tailored descriptions rather than their generic blurb for each strength).

    13. Lizzo*

      I took the DiSC assessment as part of a grad school class and did find it very useful (though that was a while ago, so I couldn’t tell you what exactly was good about it). More recently, my spouse had to use the Clifton Strengthsfinder for his graduate program, and I thought the results were much more useful for both work and non-work situations. We were especially amused that the bottom 10 attributes on his results list described me perfectly. Guess this is why we’re a good team.

      If you’re looking for something that isn’t a personality assessment, our team has used the Crucial Conversations book to strengthen communication within and across teams. It’s a short and easy-to-digest book, but best read before the retreat so you can apply what you’ve read when you’re face-to-face.

      1. Lizzo*

        I’ll also add: I find this part of the Clifton Strengthsfinder the most compelling:

        “success in spite of your weaknesses, with concepts and strategies that help you manage — not fix — what you don’t do best so you can focus on getting the most from your strongest CliftonStrengths”

        So often we’re told to work on improving our weaknesses, or to avoid/ignore them altogether. Coping strategies = very good!

    14. what the nope*

      We did strengthsfinder, more as a conversational starting point. Everyone who was comfortable shared their results and we discussed overlaps and complementary differences in our teams/units.
      It was fine. Most folks participated without eye rolls and the follow up conversations led to some helpful team building.

    15. DataSci*

      They made us do Strengths finder at my last job. Somewhere between useless and counterproductive – I had to guess what they wanted to see and answer accordingly rather than being honest, which was very stressful.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        That does sound unhelpful. Was this a generally bad management situation where you felt that if your results were “wrong” you’d be penalized for it? Or was it something in the test itself that made you feel this way?

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          Yes, I hate anything like this that is pseudoscientific and automatically shared without my consent. For personal use they are interesting. For team or company wide use I find these very invasive and pigeonholing. I can fake being extroverted for example, but if I were to take an honest MBTI it would come out as extroverted. Now I have to explain myself and/or miss out on potential opportunities for getting labeled as “too shy” or . whatever. This is a more benign example but it sucks. I also hate being forced to share personal data with the companies that make these things without my express consent. If I sign up personally I can use a fake name but when work signs you up it’s your real name. Where is this data going? Who gets to see it from work? etc. It’s so icky.

          We had another MBTI that was expressly described was being “confidential” and “you don’t have to share your answers if you don’t want to”. The great grandboss who decided to use them and valued people only opposite of my type got to see everyone’s results anyway. Then we had an in person meeting where they told everyone to stand on one side of the room for each letter combo. Like F on one side and J on the other. That’s not anonymous anymore… ugh!

          1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

            Yeah, I wasn’t a fan of MBTI for a few reasons. I was curious about the above poster’s experience with Strengthsfinder because it bills itself as being more about skills/talents than personality, so I’m interested in hearing more about bad experiences with it and how much they line up what I didn’t like about MBTI. The point about third party data collection is a good one to consider in any case.

    16. Garlic Microwaver*

      I actually prefer True Colors. More simplified version of DiSC, which I believe to be complicated.

    17. Yes And*

      I did a lot of these (including Strengthsfinder) in grad school, and I found them all equally useless, reductive, and designed to erase the situational nuance that actually guides most workplace interactions. I’ve read the comments on this thread, and obviously some people feel differently about them. But if you are going to go down this route, please remember that none of these “tests” has any more scientific value than a Buzzfeed “Which Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle are you?” quiz. Use them, if you must, as an entertaining conversation starter, and not as a way to actually sort or (godforbid) evaluate people. And be aware that some of your retreat participants are going to tune out, and you need to be okay with that.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        A conversation starter is exactly the goal. I’ve been on the employee side of workshops like these and am aware that these sorts of tests are not scientific.

        The managers in this group all have years of history managing our respective teams and we’re organizing this retreat in response to staff interest in more “in-house” professional development and team building, not because we have any use for it in evaluating them. As with any all-team activity there will be different levels of interest/engagement, which is fine. Any attendees who aren’t interested are still welcome to the catered lunch and change of scenery for the day.

    18. JelloStapler*

      We’ve done it all, multiple times. Then ever actually did anything with it.

    19. lurkyloo*

      Huge fan of Insights. It focusses very much on communication styles and is really easy to remember. Great for team building.

    20. sb51*

      If the training focuses on things like “how to communicate to a group with varying styles” and “how to ask to get your communication needs met”, I think any of these would work; if it’s treated as bizness horoscopes, none of them will work.

    21. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      Blanket thank-you to everyone who replied to this! Y’all have been generous with your experiences, positive and negative, and there’s lots of useful food for thought here. Much appreciated.

    22. Ginger Cat Lady*

      Hate them all, they have no place at work IMO. Stop trying to pigeonhole people and just treat others as individuals worthy of respect.

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        Nobody’s trying to pigeonhole anyone and I have a lot of respect for my team and our colleagues. I’m looking for tools that will address staff requests for more professional development that’s done as a team, as opposed to everyone going to separate conferences and workshops. These tools may or may not fit that bill and I’m taking negative feedback under advisement along with the positive.

      2. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

        *chuckles to myself about what a Sensing (MBTI) response this is*

        (I kid, I kid! I lived with a group that got very into MBTI for a bit in undergrad, and we got good at predicting MBTI types for friends and acquaintances, and used to this exact response also. I do know now that MBTI was largely made up, but it was good fun for…most of our friends, I guess.)

    23. Ranon*

      My org also likes DISC, I did not find it very valuable but “different people work differently” is like a fundamental core value for me. If your org is full of people who assume everyone else is like them maybe it will be helpful?

      Strengthsfinder has been the most useful to be but mainly because it’s an incredibly useful shortcut to good answers for the strengths/ weaknesses parts of interviews, lol

    24. Anonymous 75*

      my last job was very into the DiSC assessment, like really into it. if I had to hear one more conversation about what damn bird someone was, what bird you thought others were, which bird is better, I was not going to be responsible for my actions.

      I thought it had some value, especially if one was new to assessments or hadn’t ever really done any introspection or critical thinking about themselves, but I (and a few others) had done similar types of assessments in the past so I personally didn’t really get much from, although it can be taken maybe a bit too far

    25. Zephy*

      Short answer: Ugh.

      Longer answer: Personality testing is tricky under the best of circumstances, and a work-related context is very rarely going to be anywhere close to that. In a work context, for good or for ill, people will assume that there is a “correct” answer that they “should” be trying to get, for whatever reason – you’ll get bad data to start, even if your company does pay for a professional who understands how the assessment works to interpret results for you. You’ll save money and get just as much actionable information by handing out copies of the horoscopes from the day’s newspaper.

      Is there a particular goal you have for this retreat? What do you want the participants to come away having learned?

      1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

        To your question about goals and takeaways: our department comprises a few teams that often collaborate on the projects but have different core functions, so by way of professional development we usually send people to external conferences, seminars, etc. pertinent to their functional area. Conversely, other departments where the different teams do similar work tend to do more internal trainings and workshops in addition to the conferences, etc., so the net professional development opportunity they get from our employer is greater. When we’ve asked what our staff would like out of future professional development programs, we’ve heard that doing more with their peers, and getting to know their colleagues better outside of stand-up meetings, would be welcome. (We already do staff appreciation meals, etc.)

        In terms of takeaways, the goal is a space where we keep it light but substantive enough that people can reflect on their own skills and qualities that they want to leverage professionally, outside of the pressure of the annual performance review, and also get to know their colleagues a little better. Horoscopes may indeed be just as actionable in terms of a springboard because the actual value would be in the reaction/discussion, not what the piece of paper is telling you. But since that’s not a real option, here we are.

        We’re not using these in hiring or anything close to it so I’m really not worried about bad data. People who are into it will be into it, people who aren’t will go through the motions, it’s OK. I’m interested in what these different tools offer and whether there’s anything that can make one or the other more helpful to offer. What I’ve gleaned from these replies is: not really, they can all be useful for the purpose of sparking discussion, and when badly implemented, they can all suck. I’m open to alternative options as well, but I’m coming up short on things that are both work-relevant and relevant to the whole group.

    26. N.J.*

      My university offers strengthsfinder through our professional women’s leadership initiative. It is by far the best of these types of assessments I’ve ever taken. One, it focuses on strengths, two, there is material available to offer reflection etc.

    27. (Not So) New Here*

      I’m surprised no one mention GlobeSmart. I work for a large (>2K) international nonprofit and it’s incredibly helpful in understanding cultural differences in approach to work. You can drill down to specific teams and pairs. As a manager it gives you helpful prompts and look-fors when you have staff who approach situations differently than you and it’s really clear that this is a way to understand each other w/o any one profile being ‘preferred’. There are 5 dimensions including direct/indirect and task/relationship.

    28. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      We do strengths finder and create tags for our office doors with our strengths

  3. Dovasary Balitang*

    Currently dealing with my company’s sales department wanting to fight the company’s credit/AR department. Why is it that salespeople don’t seem to care if their B2B customers actually pay for product? Can someone illuminate this for me?

    Is this some long con against capitalism? Because I would probably be okay with that.

    1. darlingpants*

      * because they’re not incentivized to care
      * because your paperwork is annoying and complicated
      * (projecting from my own company but maybe also applies to yours) because finance keeps changing the procedures to make them more and more onerous without once asking the end user what they’d like/how much time it takes them

    2. Mouse*

      Look at how your sales people are incentivized. Do they earn commissions when their customers pay? (Probably not.) Are they considered successful when they sign contracts or secure sales agreements? (Probably.) If their primary measure of success, whether it’s commission-based or just general performance goals, is based on getting people to want to buy your product, then anything that damages their relationships with the clients–like accountants demanding payment–hurts their reputation, their compensation, and their standing in the company.

      1. Picard*

        Our sales people get their commissions when the customer pays so yes they do jump in at times if our AR is having difficulties collecting.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      If sales people are compensated regardless of whether or not the customer pays, that sets up the tension between the teams.

    4. Rick Tq*

      What are the sales rep’s incentives for bringing in new business? Sales Management may be pushing the reps to add new customers without any regard to ability to pay long term…

      If the reps get commission on payments they should be more interested in profitability but if they are measured by their management on new customers before the first billing cycle there is your conflict.

    5. Observer*

      Why is it that salespeople don’t seem to care if their B2B customers actually pay for product?

      I doubt that that’s what is going on. Sales people are generally not stupid. They know that customers need to pay.

      So if there is a battle going on, and it’s more than one sales person and a few “special” clients, I’d take a good hard look at how your company’s credit / AT department works.

      Some possible issues I’ve seen:
      ** AR makes it too hard to pay eg they only accept ONE form of payment on ONE schedule, and, worse, it’s not a check post payment. (No one payment set up is universally useful, but this is the one that’s the most likely to be useful.)

      For instance, one vendor we had required prepayment via CC, and didn’t want to issue invoices one a monthly basis. If we had had a sales person who had helped us do an end run around this nonsense, we would probably have stayed with the service. We were perfectly happy to pay, but this set up meant that we HAD to move away from them the minute we could move to a vendor that allowed up to pay in a more reasonable fashion.

      ** AR is doesn’t handle payments well eg If you don’t have all of the correct items on the check, they will deposit the check but they won’t credit the account.

      When something like that happens, AR will play it like the salesperson is trying to let the client not pay, when what the salesperson is just trying to make sure that the client is getting credited for their payment.

      ** Mistakes in billing happen eg Bills are sent for services / items that were never delivered.

      We got a several thousand dollar bill from Verizon for an internet line that was never provisioned. It took YEARS for use to get it resolved. Mostly, they kept on dunning us, and we kept on refusing to pay and it went quiet for a few months. Then they sent it to collections AND said that they couldn’t give us another different service we needed unless we paid for it. The sales person who finally helped us find the right person to clean it up and pushed it through wasn’t trying to help up avoid paying for service. He just understood that despite AR’s messed up records, we’d actually never gotten the service, but we also weren’t going to up our payments if we didn’t get this cleaned up.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*


        I’d add another one – how are you sending invoices out? If the invoices are being sent by email once a year to the CFO of the organization (true story, this is what one of my clients has done), it’s going to take a lot longer than if you’ve got a nice online portal sending email alerts out once a month where people can log in and select an invoice for payment. People don’t pay stuff they don’t see.

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        These are absolutely all valid reasons, but as a Finance person I’ve seen plenty of shenanigans on the Sales side too.

        One time at a former company, someone in the Sales group booked and invoiced sale in December before the contract had been finalized so the salesperson could get their commission before Christmas. Then she went back in January and initiated a credit memo. Then the contract never got signed.

        So not only did the salesperson get a commission that they hadn’t actually earned, the invoice calculated sales tax, which was then remitted to the state in January. It was a state where the company rarely had any business, so it wasn’t an adjustment that could offset against future tax returns. It was a huge “sale,” so it triggered a significant tax liability, which then sat there for months while the tax person tried to get the state to send a refund.

        1. Waiting on the bus*

          In the one B2B place I worked, the source of the tension was solely the Sales team promising utter nonsense just to close the deal. Their commissions depended on signature of the contract, not payment and, caused them to do some wild deals.

          A bigger contract brought them a higher commission than two smaller contracts (which would end up the same or even more than the big contract put together, but be worth less in commissions when added together). Sales would promise the moon and the stars to the customers and leave cleaning up the mess to the accountants, account managers and even the dev team (when the Sales team promised that feature’s for the software were in development that weren’t even on the roadmap). And no one in the higher ups cared because Head of Sales was buddy-buddy with the founders and convinced them that Sales was the only worthwhile department in the company. The whole thing led to the Sales team becoming something like a villain to all other teams.

    6. JelloStapler*

      I’m sorry, no advice but- I just imagined a rumble. Like West Side story with them meeting in the parking lot snapping their fingers: “When you’re Sales, you’re Sales”…


  4. Eliza*

    I have a question for folks who work in marketing — I’m about to have a “career” chat with my manager and I’m kind of at a loss for what my future could/should look like.

    Context: Up until about a year ago, I was a journalist. I now do content writing for a medium-sized company, mainly blogs and ghost writing for executives. I really like this position and I’m good at it, but I’m not sure where I can really go from here, career-wise. I like being an individual contributor and I have no real desire to be a manager, but in general I feel very under-educated about what kind of jobs are out there in marketing and what a career progression might look like.

    So my question is: Do you have any recommendations for like, general marketing education? And if you were once a content writer, where did you go from that position?

    I’m also looking into some SEO training, so if you have any recommendations for SEO skill-building that you think are particularly good, I’d love to know that, too.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I was in a similar position as you – four years in journalism transitioned to content writing/content management. I am now a copywriter (in-house). I’ve mostly been self-taught and learned along the way through trial, error, watching, reading and just doing the damn thing. Happy to answer questions you might have.

      Do you have access to LinkedIn Learning through your job? Watching some sort of marketing basics courses will help you get the “business speak” down – learning about things like the marketing funnel, email marketing, SEO, etc.

      1. AnotherGirl*

        Hi! I’m a trained journo went in-house communications strategist/writer for a large non-profit. I do think marketing and comms (writing) are different tracks. Some roles may pull from both, but my team has separate staff who produce the content and who market it. It’s helpful to know the basics so you can work with marketers but doesn’t need to be your role if you don’t want it! My evolution has been in part on developing multi-layered, multi-media comms strategies. What are goals with sharing news item/new program/etc.? Who are the audiences? What are the messages for each? What are the best tools (e.g., press release, webinar, profile, Q&A)? Best of luck!

    2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      LinkedIn Learning is good for brushing up on the tech side, not that you need to code but it’s good to understand ths difference between HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Google’s free courses are actually decent – they have extensive introductions to analytics and mobile friendly tech which are aimed at beginners. Accessibility is also good to study for SEO, look at the W3C guides.

      In terms of next steps, maybe digital PR?

    3. Garlic Microwaver*

      Take your role out of the equation and focus on an industry. I’m a content strategist for a pediatric healthcare system, but before that, was not always in healthcare. Use your skill to fall into what you are truly interested in. Ghost writing for executives, for example, lends itself well to an eventual leadership role in internal communications, which is often part of a marketing team, especially in healthcare. Blogs, there is so much you can do. As far as courses go, check out Digital Marketing Institute. I recently completed their intensive content course and they touch upon SEO as well as “general marketing education.” Check out Moz as a tool. And try not to worry about robots taking over our jobs at this point. Remember, ATMs never took the job of tellers.

    4. LunaLena*

      Is communications in general something that would interest you? I work at in higher ed, and we have a small comms team that does everything from social media to putting out a weekly newsletter and writing speeches for the university president. They also maintain various blogs and work with a variety of departments (such as alumni relations and donor relations), helping them with written pieces and communications.

      A lot of non-academic departments (like the arts center and sustainability department) also always need help with applying for grants and community outreach, and I’ve known a few people who were freelance writers for things.

      1. LunaLena*

        Forgot to mention, as far as I know our comms team favors AP-style writing, so someone with a journalism background would fit right in.

    5. Another IVF mom*

      Hi, Eliza! A natural progression for a content writer could be harder/more challenging/more technical copy writing (if you’re interested in that); especially progressing into getting some experience with speechwriting, op-eds, external media content like press releases, whitepapers, etc, and writing website copy; content strategy (because if you’re just getting assigned projects, it’s fun to research and suggest topics and help make the content calendar); content delivery/tracking (which is where the SEO piece comes into play) or other roles in communications. I’ve been in communications for 15+ years and let me tell you, content is EXTREMELY VALUABLE and can be very lucrative!

      1. Eliza*

        This was super helpful, and feels very resonant to the path I’m currently on. Thank you so much!

    6. yarnowl*

      I love the HubSpot Academy training courses. Some of them are very specific to the product, but many are product-agnostic and great courses for learning important concepts. SEO research is a great skill for writers to have! HubSpot has some great courses on it.

      Up until last year, I was also a content writer. At my current job in B2B, I’ve taken on content strategy and planning responsibilities (so, deciding what topics we’re going to write about, doing keyword research, researching and developing outlines, etc.). I also project manage a group of writers who work on my company’s content. I don’t actually manage them, but I do the topic/planning, work with them to get all the materials they need together, provide reviews and feedback, etc.

      I think strong content writers are also great fits for a lot of different marketing roles, and if you’re at the right company, you could try your hand and see what interests you. For example, I’ve taken on email marketing (everything from planning campaigns to testing emails and presenting findings to my colleagues), building landing pages, I’m learning Google Ads right now, etc. I feel like as content writers, we’re good at finding the interesting nuggets and framing them in a way that’s interesting to the right audience; that’s a skill that a lot of B2B marketing requires.

  5. Enescudoh*

    I’m working at a major public institution on a high profile project. There are 4 or 5 of us who are on similar contracts for this project and my manager is convening us into a task force.

    She started off by calling the task force something… not appropriate (think military reference to a particularly ‘efficient’ war group that were very much the baddies). I don’t think she knew the full context of this. After she used this several times I asked if I could please, please rename us something that didn’t have those implications and she agreed (she takes the whole thing a bit more light-heartedly than I’d like, but that’s a topic for another day).

    Only now I am drawing a complete blank. AAM heroes, please can you help me find a fun (and ideally non military, but certainly non partisan) name for a campaign (ie press, marketing, partnerships, content etc) task force?

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      Can you name it based on what the project focus is? Your description is too general for my Friday morning brain to come up with ideas.

    2. a tester, not a developer*

      My company usually goes with something like “Operation: Creampuff” or “Project Bluejay”. This year the theme seems to be types of stone so you get invites to “Operation: Feldspar Kickoff” or “Project Quartz Touchpoint”.

    3. Polar Vortex*

      Could you make a play on a Dungeons and Dragons thing? (Since it’s often called a campaign for a game?)

      Like: “Subways and Suburban Development: The Battle for Mass Transit”

      Else I’d try to find something in a Marvel or DC theme, generically nerdy and hopefully she wouldn’t name it after The Brotherhood of Mutants or Hydra.

    4. Hlao-roo*

      I like Charlotte Lucas’s idea to name it after the purpose of the group. “Teapot Task Force” or “Order Streamlining Task Force.”

      If you think your boss wants something more fun and less corporate, is there a popular major league or college sports team nearby you can name yourself after? For example, if you’re in/near Nashville TN, you could call yourselves the “Titan Task Force” after the Tennessee Titans. You could also name the task force after a local (or non-local) animal that’s not tied to a sports team.

      1. CTT*

        Thanks to that ad the Titans did about their schedule, my first thought was “or they could call themselves the Atlanta Florida Dolphins!”

    5. EMP*

      Apparently this also comes from the military but for some reason my current place calls teams like this “tiger teams”. It’s dumb but as far as I can tell, doesn’t have a lot of baggage associated with it.

      1. DataSci*

        Tiger team is pretty common. At my current job we now have a “dragon team” as well. Not sure what the difference is supposed to be.

    6. persimmon*

      Animal names? It would help to know more about task force’s focus/vibe but there are tons to choose from and tend to be non offensive. Just off the top of my head you could go something like Project Osprey, Project Ladybug, Project Jaguar, Project Killer Bee, Project Peacock, Project Mustang, etc

      1. MigraineMonth*

        While there was that viral video of a Javelina running really fast, one of my projects with an extremely short timeline adopted the Javelina as our group mascot.

    7. NaoNao*

      You could do animals–Wolf, Tiger, Shark, Leopard, Jaguar, Panther–something elegant and “apex-predator-y” maybe?

    8. Hiring Mgr*

      These are often also called “Tiger Teams” – you could always just go for something bland like that

    9. GreenShoes*

      My company either let’s the team decide (with a vote if needed) or someone just names it something odd. We used to have working titles of all of our projects named after beers. Had to stop doing that when they would get referenced as such to customers.

      I also think colors were used for a bit… but that got a little confusing, so I wouldn’t recommend that one.

    10. MigraineMonth*

      Ugh, I ran into a similar issue recently (though thankfully not at work).

      There’s a local volunteer group that organizes local get-out-the-vote efforts for Democratic candidates. They’ve decided to call themselves S.W.A.T., and I’ve decided to volunteer for a different group.

    11. OP Glowing Symphony*

      A task force is a group who works on a single defined task or activity. While originally introduced by the Navy, it’s not specifically used by the military, and it’s not only found there either. There is no ‘appropriateness’ indicated for its use unless you’re asking kindergarteners to TF Playground for a coup.

      Lighten up Francis.

      1. Echo*

        Reread the comment you’re replying to. They’re saying there was an inappropriate nickname given TO the task force, not that the phrase “task force” is inappropriate.

    12. House On The Rock*

      I like the idea of something lighthearted, maybe animal based…say an animal associated with what you want to evoke when you think of the project (Cheetah for speed, Elephant for consistency/staying power, Water Buffalo for strength).

      Along similar lines, long ago I worked for super corporate company that was run by people with very little knowledge of history, literature, art, etc. There was an initiative with various segments named after “things that soar”…so they had Eagle, Jet, Rocket, and…wait for it…Icarus. When this was rolled out I asked my boss if it was a jokeand he looked at me blankly…so I had to explain that generally when one references the myth of Icarus it’s as a caution against spectacular failure due to great hubris. He basically told me “don’t let anyone hear you talking like that, this has been decided already and we don’t need your hyped up book learning making waves”. In retrospect it ended up being pretty apt.

    13. Fidgeting giraffe*

      One possibility: There are random word generators online. Click through until you get a list of like five that sound vaguely interesting to you.

      Slightly more serious possibility: Take words from something nearby — are there any native animals/plants? (There’s a native bird that I frequently see when I go for walks near work, I would suggest that in a heartbeat if this were at my job.)

      Third suggestion: Heartbeat! (I just had that thought after typing it above.)

      Good luck!

      1. JR*

        ChatGPT is good at this, too. “Name a task force that is focused on…” It gave me really boring names until I asked for a fun name and then the suggestion was actually really good!

    14. The Shenanigans*

      If this is an internal name, why not just pick a piece of media or character that most people like? Or some kind of pun? Or both? I can’t think of a specific name unless I have more specifics, but totally get why you want to leave this general!

  6. Jess R.*

    What job (that you don’t currently have) do you think you’d excel at?

    It doesn’t have to be a job that currently exists under capitalism. It doesn’t have to be something you think you’d actually be hired for if you applied today. You don’t even have to have any “evidence” you’d perform well besides your gut/vibes.

    I asked my best friend this yesterday about me (because I’m doing some soul searching re: career), and she said: “Mediator on the gay commune. Event organizer at a summer camp for 30-somethings. Theater stage hand.” Which was *fascinating* and gave me a lot to think about.

    I have an unshakeable conviction I would be a great matchmaker or estate sale organizer, for some reason. What about y’all?

    1. Minimal Pear*

      Minor noblewoman running my medieval household largely on my own because my (relatively enlightened, understanding) husband is usually away.
      I also think I would be a great doctor, I’m just too disabled to survive med school.

      1. WorkNowPaintLater*

        Does your medieval household need a gardener? That would probably be my ideal…

        I think I would like being in theater again on the management side as well.

      2. Lana Kane*

        Holy crap, let’s be best friends lol I have thought about that very scenario!

        1. Minimal Pear*

          Seriously! I’m good at a lot of domestic things–cooking, baking, sewing, weaving, etc. and I’m also good at dealing with logistical stuff, keeping track of what I have in my fridge, etc. Plus I like being In Charge Of Stuff.

    2. ENFP in Texas*

      Dog adoption counselor. I have a lot of knowledge about dogs and their behaviors, as well maintenance and training needs, and I think I would be good at matching up families with the right dog/dog breed for their situation. It’s not as simple as “Oh, that one is cute! Let’s get him!”

      1. debbietrash*

        Where I am, this exists, but it’s largely a volunteer role with local shelters (I’m based in Canada where we get a lot of rescue dogs from the states). This is how my partner and I got our current dog, whom we adore. We essentially had a caseworker who interviewed us, and based on our lifestyle and wants, we got placed with our dog.

        1. ENFP in Texas*

          What sort of questions did they ask, and what. things did they take into account when matching you with a dog? I am ecstatic to hear this sort of thing actually exists, maybe I need to see if there is potential down here by me!

          1. Dog and cat fosterer*

            Ask at local foster-based rescues. Your local shelter might have something like this too, but ours pays the adoptions staff and they are expected to work full days. Of all my local rescues I think only a couple offer this service because it takes more work, yet it can be really useful for all involved when done right.

            They ask the usual things… activity level, experience with other pets, desire to do training, age of any kids, detached home vs apartment (dogs that bark do not do well in apartments), and that type of thing.

            I have fostered litters of pups and those with distinct personalities often get assigned to different adopters. I had one family who were first-time adopters and they were very disappointed that they didn’t get a choice. I then happily offered to bring out the others, and within seconds their eyes got wide and they understood that I’d made a good match. The family had young kids and the other pups were high energy whereas the pup I’d matched them with was calmer and less likely to play bite.

          2. First pet researcher*

            today I was googling, trying to find out what dog would suit our household. I’d say that an enterprising blogger could create a little income stream from a blog where you share your knowledge and tips for all the questions that dog-buyers or pet-buyers have. Today I was searching to find out how different breeds might suit us, and still got so much research to do! Also searching for how to choose a breeder, breeders in our area, reviews for breeders, costs of buying puppies of different breeds, and costs of having a dog (per year).

            1. First pet researcher*

              ps. if you have a recommendation for a trainable, sociable, not too shed-y small or medium sized dog who is likely not to bark a lot, needing max. an hour’s walk a day, for a household with no kids and no other pets, I am all ears :)

                1. Dog and cat fosterer*

                  @Dogtor – agreed so much. I wish that all smush-faced pets would suddenly find themselves unable to have puppies or kittens. Humans have really messed up their ability to breathe and it’s so sad. If I can hear a dog struggling to breathe before I see it then I feel so awful for them.

              1. Dog and cat fosterer*

                A lot of a dog’s personality is about how they are raised as a puppy. All dogs are trainable (some take longer but a good breeder will teach the Action -> Reward connection from a very young age), sociable varies within a litter as much as it does between breeds, and most dogs do well with a combination of physical exercise and training.

                We get a lot of potcakes at local rescues who can be really lovely. They are medium, don’t often bark, short fur and shed little, social and smart. The available breeds with breeders and rescue really depends on your area. I’d suggest focusing on good breeders more than specific breeds.

                1. ShinyPenny (the other one)*

                  Please please could you clarify what you meant by “potcakes” in your comment?! I am assuming that was a autocorrect gremlin, but I can’t figure out how to reverse engineer that and I am so curious!

                2. Dog and cat fosterer*

                  @ShinyPenny : Sorry, a late update. Potcakes are dogs from the caribbean, and while there is some variety in color and size the ones that I’ve met tend to be medium and brown.

                  Some need more training if they weren’t well socialized as pup, so I would strongly recommend checking out foster-based rescues in your area and not adopting directly from a Caribbean rescue. I knew someone who did that and she had a lot of problems and eventually needed to rehome the dog. It was an older dog that had separation anxiety but this wasn’t known down south because it was in a home where someone was home constantly with a pile of other dogs. So find out if local rescues have any potcakes, and don’t worry about it if you don’t! A lot of breeds vary by area. My neighbor has a medium dog that looks like a black mouth cur and she is the best dog ever but that breed is rare around here.

        2. Cyndi*

          The rescue where I volunteer has these as well! Plus the first step of our process is that you take a short lifestyle quiz online (children, other pets, activity level) and all our dogs are rated on those criteria too, so you already have some information about which dogs would fit your lifestyle. For us an adoption counselor is the last step of the process, after that quiz and meeting the dogs in person, and the final decision-maker on your application. (Since I’m the volunteer doing introductions in the middle, they’re also the person I can pull aside real quick and say “hey these people really want this dog, but I have concerns for X and Y reasons” and god I appreciate having someone in that role SO MUCH.)

      2. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

        I could totally do this for cats. I do volunteer at an animal shelter, so I get to do some of it!

      3. Heather*

        A book called, “Elsewhere” by Gabrielle Zezin has this exact avocation as part of the plot.

    3. CindyLouWho*

      Scrum master for my very large, professional-society project.

      Hopefully I can make it happen soon, though!

    4. ThatGirl*

      I think I’d be good at mediating dumb arguments. Not things that need full-blown counseling, but petty things where people are misunderstanding or talking past each other.

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      In grade school, I read an article about angora rabbits. The way you get their fiber is by holding them on your lap & brushing them. I think I would really excel at that.

    6. galaxyrow*

      Kind of lame but…I would make a great office manager/general office support. I’m incredibly organized, have a great sense of timing, have some experience with event planning, and am a hobbyist graphic designer (I’ve had some paying clients!)

      It’s what I want to do when I no longer live in a HCOL city.

    7. ThursdaysGeek*

      Professional Listener. I’ll provide the tea and will listen to you talk about whatever you want. Hourly rates apply.

      1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

        Can I be your business partner? I also like to bake–the session schedule could have tiers along the lines of “brief chat,” “catch up over tea/coffee,” and “this calls for pie.”

        1. Hermione Danger*

          I would like to be placed on your waitlist so I’m near the top when you open. I have a Very Large Basket of “This calls for pie” topics.

      2. MigraineMonth*

        Ooh, have you read A Psalm for the Wild-Built? The main character is a nonbinary traveling Tea Monk who offers tea and respite to those who need it.

    8. Polar Vortex*

      Head of an exploratory group into deep space. I’m good at mediating between groups and also just making the final decision and swinging people’s minds over to my side. I’m great in a crisis situation. I in no way think humans are superior so I’m not out to conquer new planets, and I have a healthy love of new cultures and places.

      Else: Spin Doctor. I’m great at taking things and spinning it to tell the story I want. I just know it’s too easy to use my powers for evil so I tend to avoid it.

    9. Hlao-roo*

      Just dropping by to say I think there’s a lot of overlap between “mediator on the gay commune” and “matchmaker” as well as between “theater stage hand” and “estate sale organizer” so I think you and your friend are on the same page about your strengths! Those all sound like great careers, btw.

    10. Cyndi*

      I used to be a non-skating official for roller derby and I LOVED it but it was a volunteer role with a lot of unpaid travel and past a certain point I just couldn’t afford to keep doing it. If I could do that as a full-time paying job I would in a heartbeat.

      1. Diatryma*

        Oh hi! I also NSOd for a bit, though not a ton– the social aspect was a bit weird and I never had the kind of leadership/structure I wanted. But I did get a derby name, albeit not on anything, and I can say that I injured my knee at roller derby because I stood up from the scoring table funny.

        I’m Terror Bird. You?

      2. Tiny clay insects*

        Oh yay derby! I play, and my husband is a skating official. I wish we got paid! My nephew recently said he wanted a job like his uncle when he was older–a roller derby ref! I love that he thought it was his actual job.

    11. Serenity*

      Professional blurb-length book reviewer for book store shelves.

      You know how a good indie book store will have little cards saying how staff liked a particular book for one reason or another, to try to get you to buy it? I would be great at reading all the books and writing those.

    12. Atlantic Toast Conference*

      I think I’d be a pretty good at undercover intel operations/cultivating human sources of intelligence. Not like Mission Impossible dangerous heist type stuff, but like chumming up to a foreign attache and worming my way into their confidence and ultimately cultivating them as an asset.

    13. Whomst*

      I’m just a big pile of contradictions, so I don’t think I could pick one thing to do for more than a year or two straight – it would play to some strengths while other parts of me withered and died. So I think seasonal work would be fantastic. Do some field work or recreation guiding work outdoors during the nice part of the year, do some homier things in the winter like being a nanny or personal chef. I’ve actually considered shifting to teaching so I could have a different job during the summer, but the low pay/disrespect for the profession keeps me hesitant.

      1. DEJ*

        Private investigator is something I was toying with at one point partially because of this.

      2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I love to find info. I could just look up factoids and research little things all day. Not like big thesis type research (I already do some of that) but what else has this actor been in, how on earth President John Tyler still has a living grandson, what do you call a group of penguins, stuff like that.

    14. HCTZ*

      I would’ve made a GREAT travel agent, back when that was a thing. It combines several loves of mine – seeing the world, organizing trips, etc. I’d love to help introduce people to experiencesand help people make (hopefully good) memories!

      1. allathian*

        Being a member of the landed gentry means you have to work pretty hard if you want to maintain that lifestyle. Sure, some privileges remain, but they’re much less extensive than they used to be and there are other ways to gain at least some of those privileges apart from birth, given our celebrity-obsessed culture.

        I watched the miniseries about Highclere, the estate where Downton Abbey was filmed, and the current Earl of Carnarvon, George Herbert, and the rest of his family work very hard to maintain it. Running the estate costs about £10,000 per *day* so it’s no sinecure, especially not with only a handful of staff to help them run it.

        I just wonder what their ancestors a few generations back would think of it, given the contempt the leisured class had for anyone who had to actually work for a living or became rich through their own hard work.

    15. Jezebella*

      I’d be a great “No is a complete sentence” coach. Boss demanding unpaid overtime? No. Boyfriend wants you to walk a mile in summer heat because he’s too cheap to pay for a cab? Hell no. Mom tells you, a whole-ass adult, that you’re not allowed to drive after dark? Uh, NOPER. And no need to explain.

      And so forth.

    16. NaoNao*

      Budget decorator: When you want a makeover but have very few $, I will source items, rearrange and declutter, and give you that much needed fresh look. I will be firm but caring about your stuff you don’t need anymore :)

      Tough-love personal stylist. I will help you get rid of the 400 band tees that don’t fit anymore, but I’ll have you laughing while we go through your closet. Also on a budget, I’m Koupon Kween.

      Cataloger. Do you need a way to organize and manage all your stuff? I will find it! And I will conquer with you! I love cataloging (digital and analog) and I love collections so let’s goooo.

      1. I remain. . . Anatole*

        Pleeeeeeeease help me. My home always, always looks like Early Grad Student.

      2. Brrr*

        I would hire a budget decorator too! And if your cataloger services would include files: sorting, purging, organizing and setting up a workable paper filing system for us, I’d hire you to do that and then pay you to do a check in every couple of weeks to make sure we’re keeping up with the mail sorting and filing system.

    17. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Excel teacher. Spreadsheet debugger. A professional ‘let’s keep this meeting on topic’ person, wrangling groups so that they keep the main thing the main thing.

    18. Sharon*

      I think I’d be a great inn-sitter (person who looks after a B&B when the owner is away) and will probably look into that when I retire!

    19. Double A*

      You know how in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy the actual president of the Galaxy lives on a planet by himself and people just show up periodically and ask him stuff and he tells them and then they leave? I think I should be that guy. In charge of all the ideas, not responsible for implementing them.

    20. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I think I’d make a good literary translator, and wish I’d pursued formal training to make it my career when I was younger. Lots of reasons why it didn’t happen, and some of them sound painfully like excuses all these years later.

      I also have lots of thoughts about food writing, most too long for the space of a comment. In short, I’d love it if there was a niche for people who want to write about the simple food they eat at home, how it makes them feel, and the role home cooking has in discovering new flavours. That’s a subject I’d love to share lots about (I’m not a chef, restaurant reviewer, food science / sociology person or professional photographer, and most of the people I enjoy reading stuff from are at least one of those).

    21. Tricia*

      When people have a decision with 2 choices to make, I would help them look critically at both choices, work threw their concerns and help them make the choice. And if they couldn’t or wouldn’t, I’d make the choice for them.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        Have you seen the Ask a Manager “interview with a decision coach” from October 3, 2022? Will link in a follow-up comment; it was an interesting read.

      2. Sloanicota*

        this would make an interesting format for a sister blog to AAM! Most advice givers are somewhat wary of choosing “for” people (understandably) but sometimes I do want someone to just pick one of the options and let’s go with that.

    22. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I would give teens therapy but somehow magically not have to do any casework

    23. jast*

      Professional gofer/fetch-and-carry guy on a college campus. I’ve got good running/walking endurance, a high carrying capacity, a high heat tolerance (for the summers) and have a hard time getting lost. Plus, the autism would actually be useful here because I wouldn’t get bored :D

      1. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

        I did that for several years as a student, and it was satisfying just as you imagine. If I could have supported myself on it, it would have been an almost perfect job.

    24. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I am a good friend matchmaker: I’ve had several situations where I introduced friends I had from separate areas of my life to each other and they became actual BFFs (like in each other’s weddings, etc.). Not sure how to make an actual job out of it, but if I could, I think I’d be good.

      Cat cafe owner/employee. Travel guide writer. Namer of things–I would be SO good at coming up with great names for nail polish/paint/etc. colors and other things like that, and I find that kind of thing inordinately fun to do.

      Ancient Aliens/History channel “mystery things” comedic commentarian, a la MST3K. I’ve thought about doing an actual podcast or something along these lines for fun, I just don’t have the free time at the moment.

    25. Miss Cranky Pants*

      I kinda do this now, but I’d do more plant sitting. You know, caring for houseplants and an outdoor garden/curated space of no more than 12X12 feet. I’d coo to them, prune as needed, give correct watering amounts, etc. I like have small green friends who sigh in the breeze and unfurl fresh new leaves when they’re happy. Makes me happy too.

      I also second cat adoption counselor. Personalities, lifestyles, people and types of in said household all matter to a shelter cat needing a furever home. I’d be great at that.

    26. DoodleBug*

      General interpreter. Not the kind from one language to another, but… I listen to the conversation you’re having with tech support where no one seems to understand each other, and I rephrase/summarize what one party is saying so that the other party understands the issue/the gist. But broader than just tech support.

      The number of times I’ve been in meetings (or just conversations) where I’ve chimed in, “It sounds like X is saying Y” and X has agreed with me and Y has suddenly understood what X was trying to communicate… I guess I’m good at “translating” between different groups.

      1. Chipmunk*

        Yessssssss. But I don’t have good luck getting people to agree even when I understand where the misunderstanding is happening.

        1. DoodleBug*

          Oh, I wouldn’t mediate or try to get parties to resolve conflicts – that is not me! I’d just be working on the misunderstandings. (In my comment above, the “agree” is just the original speaker agreeing that I’ve correctly summarized what they were trying to say.)

          1. Chipmunk*

            I think you’ve just solved my whole problem! They don’t have to reach an agreement…

    27. Chipmunk*

      Whatever job exists where you’ve got your nose in everyone’s business and then use your power for good to align resources, deadlines, projects, etc. to avoid duplication of efforts, projects that end up missing important information from other offices, inefficiencies, etc.

    28. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Professional decluttered and organizer. I am very good at organizing and not at all sentimental so I love getting rid of stuff. I have a label maker, and I’m not afraid to use it.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I had to label so much stuff in my last job (grant-funded project, so nobody else was allowed to use our supplies) that I got a bit carried away whenever I had to break out the label maker. I don’t often have to label stuff in my current job, so I miss it!

      2. Head sheep counter*

        We could pair up. And frankly this sort of service is really needed… so perhaps its worth investigating further (yours that is…)

      3. Sloanicota*

        oh please come to my house. i don’t need labels but I do need someone to tell me it’s okay to get rid of a bunch of stuff I don’t want/need or to suggest which stuff it should be

    29. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      I would love to be a xenobotanist or -agronomist, studying and preserving culturally-important crops for cultures from other worlds.

    30. The Prettiest Curse*

      I would excel at coming up with names for bands. For at least 50% of the band names I come across, I think, “is that REALLY the best you could do?”

    31. BalanceofThemis*

      Wise hermit, preferably one that lives indoors, bit I could survive in a nice cave.

    32. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Writer of letters of complaint. I have a bizarre ability to be scathingly, disdainfully, eloquent when I put fingers to keyboard to register grievances. I would call myself The Freelance Festivusian.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        That’s a good one. My mother in law can take the mildest slight and turn it into a three day free all inclusive pass to disney world – there’s got to be a business there somewhere

      2. Damn it, Hardison!*

        My cat would like to hire you. She has many bones to pick with her servants.

    33. Chirpy*

      – Research/Reference librarian for a particular fandom
      – prop master/maker for said fandom (yes, it exists, but not where I want to live)
      – I think I’d be a good nature documentary director/ filmmaker, but I have no idea how one gets into that

    34. Rex Libris*

      Introvert socializer. For a modest fee, I’ll sit on the other side of the room while we both quietly read to ourselves.

    35. Silver Linings From Dreamland*

      In terms of jobs that don’t exist- making connections between phrases/song titles/expressions etc.

      The grammar police in me is tempted to say some kind of editor but preferred writing styles (everything from tone to grammar) are so subjective, I can’t think of a specific role I’d be particularly well suited for.

        1. Head sheep counter*

          There’s someone doing basically that in my neighborhood as an after school program.

    36. WorkNowPaintLater*

      After thinking more on it after replying earlier…Office Jack-of-All-Trades on a contract basis.

      Need computer assistance? Someone to clean out file cabinets/closets/that office in the back? How about getting all that paperwork shredded? Maybe a Notary? I’m sure there are companies that do this – but I’m thinking small scale for small businesses.

      1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        When I was about 8 I picked out a color t0 paint my bedroom — I was enthralled by the paint color names and thought that sounded like a fantastic job. (And it really is a job!) Many years later, after art school and wordsmithing jobs I realize little me was already dialing into things I love.

    37. I edit everything*

      I saw an article somewhere about a person who helps people make decisions. I’d be great at that. I got tired of the “Oh, I don’t know. What do you want to do?” cycle in my family and just started making executive decisions for everyone. They seem grateful not to have to pick out the color of their new kitchen cabinets or where to eat dinner.

    38. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

      I like to picture myself as a local witch. People would come by for advice, potions, etc. It would be sort of expected that I would be a bit odd, have cats, and read a lot.

      tbh it probably isn’t THAT different from my day job, but just seems so much cozier and warmer.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I too would be good at inventing spells or rituals, as long as they don’t actually have to work, just provide some sort of closure. Like a magical therapist.

    39. Felicity Lemon*

      Researcher — and specifically historical researcher — for fiction authors. I’m not great at writing fiction, but I love hunting down information and I’m fascinated by historical stories & tidbits.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        That’s a real thing. I worked in the library of a history museum, and some of the researchers who came in worked for fiction authors. I’m also in a Facebook group for a specific historical period, and there are some historical fiction authors in it who both get and give information.

    40. MigraineMonth*

      I want to be an Incentives Alignment fixer. I would spend several months learning about an area with lots of perverse incentives (e.g. US healthcare, private prisons, civil forfeiture) and then publish a legally-binding opinion on how to fix it (e.g. universal Medicare, no for-profits involved in prisons, police departments keep none of the revenue from civil forfeiture/fines).

      Unfortunately, I would probably get assassinated within the first year.

    41. RLC*

      Vintage/antique/historic fine jewellery appraiser. I’ve always been fascinated by gemstones and cuts, and find it impossible to admire a piece without also trying to identify the cut of the stones, the hallmarks on the setting, and the style or historic period. I’ve definitely found some wonderful pieces for incredible prices over the years!

    42. JelloStapler*

      Lottery Winner. I wouldn’t tell anyone, I would use my time to volunteer and anonymously donate.

      Ice Cream Taste Tester.
      Dog Day Care. Unfortunately, it does not pay the bills.
      Children’s Book Illustrator.
      Vet Tech (if I could stand the blood, guts)
      Listener, without having to give advice or counsel.
      Recording Books or articles.

    43. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

      I want to work for a baseball announcer/commentator and feed them random stats.

      Also, my plan for when I retire is to volunteer as a baby snuggler in the NICU.

    44. Head sheep counter*

      I used to feel really confident in my ability to help friends better utilize their spaces – think turning one doorway in a two doorways next to each other space into an entertainment system and on the reverse since it was the entry a coat rack. I also really wanted to help people do budget interior design – think recovering furniture and using what one has with special finds from all over… but I’ve lost that confidence and so… I’d love to regain it. And lets be honest… I need to deploy it on the nesting that the last several years brought to my house (so much stuff).

    45. Gondorff*

      Alphabetizer. For a modest fee I will come to your home/office and organize your books/DVDs/CDs/files/etc. in alphabetical (or numerical, via Dewey Decimal, Library of Congress, or other system of your choosing) order. Talking to me during this process is not remotely a requirement.

      (I used to work in a library and the best part of my day was organizing the books before re-shelving them. There was nothing more soothing than just…putting things in order.)

    46. Faintofheartt*

      Celebrity or high-profile executive personal assistant. I have this unnatural ability to predict what someone needs/wants before they ask for it (which has been super helpful in my paralegal career, but I just know I’d be a phenomenal assistant to a celebrity or executive).

    47. Anonanon doo doo doo doo doo*

      I would be a professional de-tangler. Give me your lumps of jewelry, extension cords, etc, and I would have everything separated and sorted.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        I would love to become a professional fiber artist, and would hire a yarn detangler in a heartbeat!

    48. alex (they/them)*

      I did science education outreach as a volunteer college student, and briefly as a (under)paid employee. It was incredibly rewarding, but the paid was way too low for me to pursue as a career :(

      1. Domanda*

        As someone who has done science education for the better part of 2 decades I can agree that it is very rewarding and vastly underpaid.

    49. KatCardigans*

      When I was a teenager I went through a period of thinking I would be fantastic as one of the people who sets up dolls and toys for product photoshoots. While I have less faith in my photography prowess now, I still think I’d be fabulous at the set-up part.

    50. Too Many Tabs Open*

      DNA match wrangler. You need someone to sit down and sort all your Ancestry DNA matches into groups and figure out possible common ancestors? Let me at it. (Results not guaranteed if you descend from a highly endogamous population.)

    51. Domanda*

      I have a BA in Art History and a Master’s in Science Education and I also teach construction skills so I’m good with my hands (I’ve had a varied career).

      The job of my dreams is art restoration. Using science to clean and repair works of art? Yes please!

    52. C*

      My dream job is to be a full time Christmas tree decorator. I really feel like I could coordinate a team to decorate a several-stories-tall Christmas tree, plus I think I’ve always had a knack for it.

    53. what the nope*

      Rewilding engineer. Wiping out pavement and lawns, replacing them with appropriate native habitat. Everywhere.

      1. Once too Often*

        Oh, that sounds great! And much better than my initial misreading of “bewildering” engineer – a puzzling title.

    54. SansaStark*

      Professional Personal Cheerleader. Do you need someone who’s going to pump you up before the big interview or that third date with a great person? That’s me. Had a terrible day and just got fired? Sit over here next to me so we can cry and then find you an even better job bc you’re amazing! Just want to sit in companionable silence after you had a big talk with your mom about her trampling your boundaries? I got you and you will feel (but not hear!) my silent pride in how you handled that tough situation!

    55. yarnowl*

      When Alison interviewed the professional decision-maker, I was like, that is an amazing job and I would love to have that. I feel like I’d be pretty good at it too! People do tend to come to me for advice and I like giving it.

    56. Chirpy*

      On the original show, MacGyver worked for a vaguely defined organization called the Phoenix Foundation that did everything from conservation to humanitarian causes to hostage rescue to taking dumb executives on wilderness retreats. I would really like that job (minus the stuff where people ended up shooting at MacGyver.)

    57. My Brain is Exploding*

      Philanthropist, dog cuddler, household organizer, setting up people’s kitchens when they move, clean-out/declutterer of houses and closets, telling people what they should do, book reader, genetic detective…and that’s just off the top of my head.

    58. Cedrus Libani*

      When I was an underemployed, mid-20s STEM nerd, I gave serious thought to becoming a “professional” science crank. I would spend my days reading the scientific literature, filling my brain with a broad assortment of intriguing proto-facts that people were trying to make sense of. I’m really, really good at connecting these sorts of pieces together.

      I’d have a blog or something. Wouldn’t actually get paid, I’d just be doing it for bragging rights. I’d support myself as a part-time SAT/MCAT tutor.

      I didn’t do it. For one thing, I didn’t trust myself to stay on the useful side of the line; it’s just too easy to wander into the realm of science fan-fiction, and I’d have nobody to drag me back. For another thing, I managed to get a legit STEM job, now career, that uses these skills and is willing to pay for them, such that I’m no longer climbing the walls of my life with boredom and frustration.

    59. Zephy*

      I feel like the “summer camp for 30-somethings” IS the gay commune, or is like, the primary source of income for said gay commune. So, you could do all three of those jobs in the same place, probably.

      I’ve thought idly about some kind of freelance “unf*** your filing system” scheme. You got a back room stacked to the heavens with unfiled papers? You got a database filled with junk? Hire me, I’ll come in and fix it.

    60. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

      Historical re-enactor/living history interpreter. Did it for a while, it was good, but the wages/working conditions were not sustainable.
      House spouse for my own family or housekeeper for someone else’s. Did it for a while and was good at ti but the wages/working conditions were not sustainable.
      Not a tailor, but a person who “takes in mending” like used to be A Thing in the 18- and early-mid 1900s. Another job that doesn’t currently pay due to the economy of mass production.
      Animal rescue and rehabber. Takes more time and money than I have at the same time, but if I won the lottery or an inheritance…

    61. Sherm*

      Puzzle Consultant. For video games that are more on the puzzle-y side (as opposed to ones that are predominantly about hand-eye coordination), I would patiently sit by you and help solve the puzzle. If you just want subtle hints to nudge you forward, I could do that. I’d also help with “Hunt a Killer” style mystery/puzzle games.

    62. Hermione Danger*

      Creator of Enchanting Experiences.
      Want to go on a magical vacation? I would find the most delightful/intriguing hotels, the best teashops/cafes/restaurants, the most unusual but fascinating tours, all selected based on your personality and preferences.
      Need an unforgettable setting for your wedding proposal / first date / 50th birthday party? We’d have a conversation and I’d find the space, the decorations, the music, the clothes, the lights, the food…
      All of my experiences would be crafted to take your breath away and bring joy, with unexpected wonderful details included.

    63. I have RBF*

      I have always thought that I would be a great Business Weakness Analyst – one of those people who comes in, works as a temp in various areas of a company for three to six months, then writes a report on all of the dysfunctions and broken processes identified. It takes me three to six months working as an IC in a company to identify their “Achilles’ heel(s)”, but then I have no power or standing to get people to act on the data. But I don’t have a fancy MBA to make companies willing to pay for my evaluation, unfortunately.

    64. Fish*

      Interview people about what they do and don’t like doing in a job, so I could help them find the right match. For instance, not putting a planner with a procrastinating boss.

      Systems analyst. My first career was in IT, but I ended up exiting very early for reasons too long to go into. Decades later I understand systems design better now, than I did when it was my job. Especially learning the client’s business well enough to make the system fit their needs, not to make them serve the computer.

      I can’t believe how many IT implementation disasters still happen today. Technology has vastly improved since my day in the field, but human stupidity has stayed pretty much the same! :-)

    65. WantonSeedStitch*

      Part of me fantasizes about being an archaeologist or historian who focuses on food and cooking, and then blogging about my attempts to re-create ancient or historical foods! “I made a Sumerian clay oven! Now I’m going to bake Sumerian bread!” (*I have no idea if Sumerians used clay ovens, but it seems reasonable.)

    66. Squeakrad*

      I just read a New Yorker article about a woman who is a professional disaster, preparedness specialist. I think I would excel at that. She investigates current disasters to make recommendations on what to do for the future. She also works on creating scenarios for likely disasters that happened yet happened but could and makes recommendations for that. That’s the part where I would especially excel.

    67. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      My friend runs a summer camp for 30somethings, if you want to get involved!!

    68. Union*

      Person who goes from town to town fixing their zoning codes. [If you have a population of 650 people, your zoning code should not be 350 pages long.]

      Reviewer who looks at architects’ plans and points out all the ways people will ruin your “perfectly planned” building. [I already do this, but no one ever listens to me.]

      Book mover. I will pack all of your books or other regularly-shaped media, like CDs or records. I will also take anything you aren’t keeping and distribute it to used bookstores and donation centers which, if you’ve ever tried to get rid of a bunch of books, you know is a sorely needed service.

      Recapping for local government meetings, big and small. The drama! The pathos! The secret relationships that impact every citizen-sponsored text amendment!

      Person who follows reality TV show hosts around and flags inaccurate numbers. [Completely renovating this flood-damaged building and installing a state-of-the-art ice cream factory will take much, much, MUCH more than $300,000, Marcus Lemonis.]

      Politician who takes the fall for unpopular but necessary decisions.

      Designer of mass transit systems that completely replace private vehicle access in national parks.

      Owner and operator of a very late night bookstore. [Located directly in the nightlife district so if you’re done for the night and want to sober up in a calm environment you can come get a coffee and flip through a book.]

      1. Union*

        Organizer of lavish balls for adults held at science and children’s museums where unaccompanied adults are typically frowned upon. Also you get to wear something you’ve been wanting to wear forever.

        Also my late night bookstore would be called A Midnight Dreary and there would be big comfy couches and if you bring me the syllabi for your classes at the beginning of the year I’ll stock all your required reading so when you or your students inevitably forget to grab a copy I’ll be here waiting for you.

        1. Union*

          Production Assistant to Nathan Fielder on The Rehearsal who just follows him around in an identical laptop harness taking frantic notes.

      2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        I want the job of the person who hires for all these jobs so you can do them all! Especially the local government meeting recaps, I am envisaging a podcast which I would listen the hell out of. (Also if you or a colleague in the recapped industry could do it for academic department meetings, that would be my perfect show).

    69. Mimmy*

      I think I’d be a good accessibility auditor. I often notice when a physical or digital site isn’t accessible to people with various disabilities, such as if the aisles are too narrow at a store or if a website probably wouldn’t be easy to navigate if you use a screen reader. I have a lot of knowledge about disabilities and a general knowledge of the ADA and various accessibility and Universal Design guidelines. I’m just not sure I’m up for the level of technical training it’d probably require.

    70. Chaordic One*

      I think I’d be a very good technical writer. I’m usually very good at writing down step-by-step instructions about how to do all sorts of things. Even though I was fired from a previous job at Dysfunctional Teapots, Ltd. I was told that they used my instructions for years after I left. Things like the instructions on how to use the copiers or how to access the client information in the specialized database.

      Senior Executive Philosopher sounds good, too.

    71. Chilly delta blues*

      Subject enthusiast. I love research a new topic, learning all the super cool things about it, and then getting everyone around me hyped up too. My current fascination is Space Weather and I think I’m good at explaining things in a way that makes topics feel accessible to everyone. I’ve watched a lot of Bill Nye the science guy though.

  7. Sarah, Plain and Tall*

    If you’re interviewing at multiple places but a bit further along with one that’s not your top choice, how do you communicate or try to move the interviews of your top choice(s) faster? Should you even bring this up to your top choices?

    For context, I’m laid off. There are 2 places I’m interviewing at that are my top choices and 1 that I honestly don’t want. However, if I didn’t get the top 2, I would take the 1 I don’t really like, because I need a job. I don’t want to seem pushy with my top choices. During my phone screenings, the recruiter has been like, “where are you in your search, let us know if anything changes”, but how do you balance communicating that you want to schedule the interviews quickly without being pushy?

    1. galaxyrow*

      Yes, bring it up! It’s completely normal. You’re viewing it as pushy but really its an example of being a good communicator.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Maybe something like “I hope this is OK, but I actually have a couple/few other interviews this week, but if I got equal offers from all at once, [Company] would definitely be my first choice, so would I be bothering you if I keep in touch about my application status?”

        2. MigraineMonth*

          I wouldn’t be particularly deferential; you’re giving them important information that they want and have asked for.

          “I wanted to let you know that I’m further along interviewing with another company / I’m expecting an offer in [X] weeks from another company. If you decide to interview me, would it be possible to schedule that soon?”

        3. Nesprin*

          I really enjoyed discussing the position with you at our phone screen, and it sounds like a great opportunity. I wanted to let you know I’m interviewing with other companies shortly. I’m really excited about this opportunity, so I wanted to ask if there any way to move our interview up?

        4. House On The Rock*

          It’s fine to say something along the lines of “I am actively interviewing for several positions but am very excited about this one and am eager to move ahead in the process with your organization”.

          When I interview candidates I always ask them to tell me if there are outside considerations that may necessitate accelerating the schedule or giving them a decision more quickly (I can’t always do this because my organization takes forever to hire, but I try). I am appreciative when candidates take me up on this!

    2. T. Wanderer*

      If they’re asking, they want to know! I don’t see a problem with saying “You’ve asked about where I am in my job search — you should know that I’m [a bit further on/in later stages] interviewing with another company, although they wouldn’t necessarily be my first choice.”

    3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      When I was looking last year I had this situation. I just told my contact I was in the final round with company A, but their company seemed more in line with my goals. It did help get interviews scheduled a bit faster.

      And also, it’s ok to accept Job 1 and see how your top choices pan out and back out if needed. It’s not ideal but it happens all the time.

    4. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      This is totally normal and ok (so make sure you approach it from a place of knowing it’s OK, not being overly deferential about it).

      I did it when I was interviewing with three positions last summer. At the initial stages of the interviews I was candid that “I want to be open that I am farther along in the interview process with another organization but I am very interested in this role and look forward to meeting more of the team.” Then when I had two final interviews on the same day I told my 1st choice “I’m very interested in this role but I want to be candid that I’m expecting an offer from another organization. This would be my first choice so if the timing is able to work out I’d be glad to consider any offer [org] is able to make.” I was able to get a verbal offer within 3 hours of the interview and a written offer by EOD, at a huge org that usually takes forever to make decisions!

      Good luck!

    5. Ranon*

      You say “look, you’re my first choice, but I’m at the later interview/ offer/ whatever stage with another company- what is your expected timeline and is there anything you can do to help” and then if they’re excited about you they hurt up pdq because they don’t want to lose you.

      I don’t know what your job market is like, my company is seeing folks get hired out from under us if we don’t move fast so we really want to know!

  8. Box of Kittens*

    Is it common for proposal writers/proposal managers to earn commission? I have tried googling this, but most of what comes up is about grant writing for nonprofits, not proposal writing for a for-profit company. Any insight or industry norms would be helpful!

    1. Actuarial Octagon*

      In my field, consulting, no. The person who brings in the request for proposal gets a commission but not the individual who writes the response. They may get a bonus tied to the overall performance of the sales team for the year.

      1. Felicity Lemon*

        Same here (US professional services firm, for-profit): the proposal response team does not get paid on commission – they are regular salaried workers.

    2. Ata*

      Even though I’ve been in academia and know what proposals are, when I read the first few words of this I started trying to figure out how marriage proposals had developed to the point of having writers and managers. *face palm*

    3. gsa*

      I don’t know that it’s common, but I do know the nonprofit where my father-in-law sits on the board pays their grant writers 10% if they win the grant.

      This was discussed previously, and some people did not think it was common, and at least one person thought it might be illegal.

      If I can find his organization’s website, I will post a link separately.

        1. Peachtree*

          Hey, I don’t mean to be rude, but your father in law must be one of about 5-8 men on that webpage. I don’t know if self doxxing is a good idea?

          1. gsa*

            Not rude, just incorrect.

            My father-in-law’s picture is not on that website, I looked 1st before I posted the list.

            And if his picture was, who would know who which picture was of him.

      1. abcde*

        It is not common in nonprofits, and is highly unethical according to AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) Code of Ethics.

    4. Laika*

      Western Canada, proposal writer/coordinator in construction here, no commissions for me :)

    5. Generic Name*

      I’m a consultant, and (for better or worse) I am not measured by how many proposals I personally write win. I certainly don’t get a commission based on which projects we get.

    6. Mockingjay*

      I’ve gotten quarterly awards and bonuses for writing proposals (for-profit company). The awards were small “thank you for writing this after hours” (I got paid straight OT); the yearly bonuses were large “we won; here’s the ‘real’ award; thanks again!”

  9. Cyndi*

    Great news! I’ve been talking for months about my job hunt due to an impending office move, and I finally got a job JUST under the wire—the offer literally came at EOD the night before moving day. So for now I’m stuck in a really miserable notice period where my commute is almost two hours each way, but freedom is in sight. And meanwhile my boss and coworkers are being very understanding about how fried I am. (WHY is sitting on a train for 3.5 hours a day, not even doing anything, so exhausting?)

    I can even credit AAM advice for this! There was a general discussion about applying for stretch jobs a few weeks ago, and at that point I was really struggling because I could barely even find openings comparable to my current job that paid as well, and hadn’t heard back from a single one of those. So I said what the heck, this can’t go worse so what do I have to lose, and started applying for stretch jobs. For the first couple weeks I still got nothing and thought you all had led me astray, but then I got two interviews—on the same morning even—and was offered one of those jobs this week! It pays a bit better, the commute is MUCH better, and if all goes well I have it in writing that I can go hybrid after six months. You all did NOT lead me astray and I’m sorry for doubting you.

    I do still need advice though. My new workplace is too small for group health coverage, so instead I’m eligible for reimbursement if I get my own. This is an idea I’m familiar with in theory for very small businesses, but haven’t dealt with in practice before. In fact my only experience of shopping for my own insurance is checking my state marketplace exactly once per period of under/unemployment, going “Yep, just as I expected, can’t afford that!” and going uninsured until the next job. Does anyone have any tips for insurance shopping?

    1. VA Professor*

      On the insurance question, my town has a marketplace company that is affiliated with several insurance companies. They ask questions about your health and finances and recommend one for you. They get paid by the insurance company. For me at least, they recommended I stick with my old workplace’s continuing insurance for a couple of years and they don’t get paid for that recommendation so I trusted them

    2. Zzzzzz*

      There is no shopping in the U.S. There is only the ACA/ website and what your state offers on the “exchange.” Find out what plan you want/need, ask to be reimbursed 100% for those costs (and get it in writing!) and every year thereafter as costs go up get that in writing too as part of your salary. Info is put up every year around Thxgiving.

      1. Zzzzzz*

        One addition: ask about the tax implications of your company giving you cash–you have to pay on what they give you if it is seen as compensation.

      2. Momma Bear*

        Consider starting with looking at what providers you want to keep and what coverages they take. It may do you no good if you really want to keep your GP but they stop taking your insurance. That will help you narrow down what you’re looking for when you go the exchange/marketplace.

        1. Cyndi*

          I had a provider I really liked who I had to drop recently because they stopped taking my insurance, so ACTUALLY you’ve made me realize that this might be an opportunity to go back there, thank you!

          1. MigraineMonth*

            Some plans are set up to allow you to go out-of-network. My current plan is more expensive, but it has out-of-network coverage (with slightly higher copays/deductibles). So it’s more expensive, but worth it for me since my therapist isn’t in-network with many insurances.

      3. SG*

        My understanding and experience is that employer reimbursement for health insurance expenses is NOT taxable per federal law. There may be some special circumstance I am unaware of — I’m not an expert — but please look into this. I was going to post a link (check out healthcare dot gov for example) but didn’t want the comment to go through moderation.

    3. Goddess47*

      Find a broker… that’s their job to put together what you need (and can afford) vs what’s out there… Your peers may not have a broker immediately in mind, but either ask someone in the retirement level or at a senior center. My financial advisor has an insurance broker on their staff… so ask around.

      1. Jinni*

        This. I have had a broker for 20+ years of being self-employed (or working for an employer with no or VERY expensive insurance). She’s great. She does private and marketplace shopping. I tell her what I want/need/can afford. She sends me the plans, signs up for them, and tells me who to pay/when. Once a year (or if there’s a qualifying event), she reaches out – gives me the increases/options, and signs me up again. Maybe the employer has a broker contact? Or friends who are self-employed. I have zero idea on the reimbursement portion, though.

    4. Rosemary*

      No tips for insurance shopping, but in the meantime can you use COBRA? It tends to be pricey, but might be less painful if some of it is reimbursed by your new job. That would at least buy you some time to look into other options.

      1. Cyndi*

        I haven’t looked into it for this current transition yet, and I guess I wouldn’t hurt to check, but my experience from looking into COBRA after leaving previous jobs is that it cost more per month than my entire income, every time.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          That is true about the expense of COBRA, but one advantage is that you can kind of pay as you go with it. If you don’t have any medical visits you don’t need to pay anything that month. Even if you do, you can wait and see if the cost of those bills is more than what COBRA would be before activating it. So it’s possible to ‘wait it out’ in that sense..

          I should add, this was true the last time I looked into COBRA which was 7-8 yrs ago, and I’m sure I missed some details there but i think this is more or less accurate

    5. Lasuna*

      Confirm what the network is like, and that any provider’s you want to keep are in network with the marketplace plan. In my area, everyone takes Large Insurer, but many doctors and even some hospitals are not in network with Large Insurer’s Marketplace Plans. To keep marketplace plans (more) affordable, many insurers have significantly smaller networks for their marketplace plans.

    6. Scarlet Ribbons in Her Hair*

      You said that your new workplace is too small for group health coverage. How small is it? Because I once worked at a company that employed between six and nine people at any given time (including the owner and me), and we had group health coverage. I’ve heard people say that they don’t get health insurance from their company because their company is so small, but invariably, their company had more employees than my company. Does your company have fewer than six employees?

      1. Cyndi*

        It’s probably too late for you to see this but yes, it’s smaller; it’s a one-attorney law firm where I will be the ONLY full-time employee except for the attorney, my new boss, who’s on his spouse’s health insurance. The only way for us to be a “group” at all would be for him to upend his family’s current healthcare situation.

  10. QueerExplorer*

    Training for Process Designers/Improvers

    I’ve recently started a role designing and improving business processes for a non-profit; and have the chance to do a course through my employer.

    My manager suggested looking into Lean Six Sigma, which I know a bit about and know is well recognised, but my colleagues don’t have great feedback about the course. There are lots of options available to me including Business Process Modelling/Mapping, Business Analysis, Change Management, Agile, etc.

    I’d be keen to hear from anyone doing similar work on what courses/ learning you have found most useful, or feedback about any of the above. Thanks!

    1. Purely Allegorical*

      I’m currently a change manager and just got the certification in it (CCMP). I haven’t heard of Lean Six Sigma before. But I would rec change management courses, there’s really good info there about process — though they tend to be more focused on the human-side of change, rather than the technical side/project management side of change.

    2. Frankie*

      PROSCI, ADKAR or other change management will be useful for getting people on board and understanding how to work within an organization’s hierarchies (explicit or hidden). I wouldn’t try to apply Agile too far outside of the dev space, to be honest. Business analysis will be good for mapping out what things ideally should be. I think the change management is really needed for actually implementing change, though.

    3. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Agile is, to the best of my knowledge, really meant for software development. it is being imported into other areas, and there ARE useful ideas, but it really should be, in my opinion, left to software development. I code, but don’t do software, and struggle with it sometimes in my own context, which is pretty darned close.

    4. change manager*

      I did my Prosci certification and though it’s great for building towards successfully implementing changes, it’s not really helpful for designing process changes.

  11. Minimal Pear*

    What is and is not appropriate to sing at karaoke with one’s coworkers?
    My coworkers have mentioned karaoke as a possible activity. It probably won’t happen anytime soon, but I’m interested, and I’d like to be prepared. Here’s the problem–I’ve never done karaoke with coworkers before, and my music taste… Well, it tends towards a few different categories, none of which I think would be appropriate:
    1. “I Am So Very Very Sad About All The People I Murdered And I Am Going To Be Explicit And Homoerotic About It”
    2. “Ta Ra Toompty Toodle I Cuckolded My Landlord And Got Murdered”
    3. “Beep. Boop. Beep. Boop. I Am Going To Recite The Postal Oath. This Song Is Nine Minutes Long.”
    I don’t necessarily need song recs (although if you have them, I have a rather weak voice on the low end of soprano) just some guidelines on what I can and can’t use as a song.
    My workplace is pretty casual and leftie–in fact one category I’m considering is protest/union/workers rights songs.

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      heh my music taste is ‘ in the 90s we were sad about things for no reason ‘ ‘sad dads singing cryptically ‘ disco and r&b but from the 90s. I go with the last two.

    2. EMP*

      In my limited karaoke experience, the machine will provide a range of pop songs to choose from so you can’t get too esoteric with the choices (although I would lean away from a “let’s get physical” type sexual pop hit myself)

      1. Minimal Pear*

        The last time I went to karaoke they pulled up the songs on youtube–I don’t know how typical that is but that experience made me think it might be an option. If it’s pop songs I’m pretty screwed, lol. I do know some (especially from the 80s) but I sound TERRIBLE singing them. It’s not like I’m trying to find the perfect song that makes me sound like an angel, but I’d like to not actively sound bad, yanno?

        1. linger*

          My go-to is The Clash “Should I Stay Or Should I Go”.
          (Pro: Extremely forgiving regarding performer’s ability to follow tune or rhythm. Con: may suggest you are not that wedded to this workplace.)
          Depeche Mode “Enjoy The Silence” is easier to perform than you’d expect: most of the melodic work is done by the backing track, and if you’d rather not be singing, the lyrics do take on a delicious irony.
          Garbage “I’m Only Happy When It Rains” could work for you given your cited themes.

      2. Roland*

        Any karaoke I’ve ever done has had a huge catalog of songs, not curated at all.

    3. CTT*

      I’ve done karaoke with coworkers several times and I feel like the usual karaoke “rules” apply (don’t pick anything too obscure or too long), with the extra caveat that you probably don’t want anything too raunchy or swear-y if that’s not your office’s vibe.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Question about raunch factor–how do we feel about something along the lines of “Sugar We’re Going Down” by Fall Out Boy? It has a repeated line in the chorus about being a notch in someone’s bedpost and in one verse it has a line about “wishing to be the friction in your jeans” but that’s it. Is that too much? My office is moderately swear-y so I’m less worried about that.

        1. Gondorff*

          Personally I don’t consider this song even remotely raunchy, so I think you’re safe (my general rule of thumb would be if they play it on the radio without bleeping anything or changing the lyrics, you’re probably fine).

          Of course I’m someone who in my younger days at a particularly spectacular work party managed to convince my (much older male) boss to duet ‘Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy’ with me, but I’d like to think my judgment has somewhat improved over the past decade.

        2. CTT*

          Agreed that I wouldn’t consider that raunchy, but also a lot of it is in how you sing it! Mr. Brightisde is one of my go-tos, and there are some eye-brow waggles and hand-gestures that I do late at night with friends that I do not do with colleagues.

        3. Cj*

          OMG, I love that song, and don’t consider it raunchy at all. in case it matters, I’m 62 years old, so it’s not a song I grew up with.

      1. Jezebella*

        Right? Like, link me to this entire genre of murdery pop songs? Or are these like English folk tunes of some kind? Appalachian murder ballads? I need to know.

        1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

          I have a playlist of “women murdering crappy men” songs. My faves are:

          Goodbye Earl
          No Body, No Crime
          Independence Day
          Sunny Came Home
          Man Down

      2. Minimal Pear*

        Not gonna lie, I spent a few days thinking about posting this question and laughing as I came up with those descriptions!
        1. Alt Rock/Emo/Pop Punk in general; this specific example is My Chemical Romance, the Revenge album
        2. Folk music in general, specifically referencing “Matty Groves”
        3. Laurie Anderson and similar Weird Stuff, specifically referencing “O Superman”

        1. emm*

          Now that you say #1, I should’ve clocked it, lol. Not as familiar with MCR’s catalog though.

          You mentioned FOB, Sugar We’re Going Down is probably the riskiest I’d go with personally, but from their discography, I’d probably feel safer with Immortals (if it’s fine for Disney, then it’s fine for work).

          If we’re thinking any pop punk band, I’d probably go with something like Good Riddance, Move Along or All the Small Things (though some higher-strung workplaces could take offense to “work sucks, I know” in that one).

          1. Minimal Pear*

            HAH All the Small Things is a good idea, my workplace is great but because of our general political vibe they’d be very on board with “work sucks, I know”.

        2. what the nope*

          Love the version of Matty Groves by Water Street Bridge. I can only find on a Marc Gunn podcast though.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      Always err on the side of keeping it light.

      This will depend somewhat on the event, of course, but karaoke is mostly for entertainment value. We all may really like “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night” but it’s still kind of a downer, both in subject matter and in tempo.

      1. House On The Rock*

        I’m laughing out loud thinking of someone singing this at karaoke. The crowd I do karaoke with would probably love it…then again, one of my spouse’s go to songs is Johnny Cash’s “25 Minutes To Go”.

    5. Double A*

      Avoid “Afternoon Delight,” especially if any of your coworkers are also relatives.

    6. Tio*

      Probably avoid religion, explicit lyrics, graphic murder, and anything over 5 minutes at most (the last one is more about fairness, people WILL get bored after about 3 min.) It’s less about the leaning and more about people going hmmmmmm at your taste.

      1. Tio*

        Side note: Also avoid anything with a long non-verbal interlude, like a guitar solo. Then it’s just you and everyone staring at each other while the imaginary person riffs it hard.

        1. House On The Rock*

          Corollary to that is avoid anything that has a very repetitive chorus, or ending. I once thought “Just Can’t Get Enough” by Depeche Mode would be a super fun party song…until you realize that you are just repeating the title ad nauseam for the last 30 or so seconds of the song, and it is not so fun.

    7. CarolinaCardinalis*

      Much as I would want to befriend a coworker that sang something like You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison (which came irresistibly to mind with that first bullet point of songs you like), probably best to not sing that in the workplace. With the caveats that you might want to observe what other people are singing first, and I do not do karaoke but do think about what music I listen to in a professional setting, I’d suggest avoiding anything with explicit violent or sexual content, anything with a lot of swear words (what constitutes a lot will depend on your workplace), anything that touches on political hot topics (school shootings etc), anything with content that seems likely to trigger someone (explicit discussion of mental health issues, assault, etc), and anything longer than 4-5 minutes (too long). Might be smart ahead of time to come up with some generally acceptable/“classic” songs you’d be okay singing even if they aren’t what you’d normally listen to.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        Now, now I have enough of a sense of decorum not to sing “Prison” at work karaoke. I was thinking “Deathwish” instead. :P (but yeah #1 is absolutely me referencing Revenge-era MCR)

    8. Llellayena*

      Broadway songs are usually a safe bet. (Please don’t sing Memory from Cats though. I say this as a high soprano who CAN sing that well and I STILL don’t subject people to that) Also for a low, light soprano, any song by Jewel is probably a good pick for your voice. If you have any interest in country music, that’s usually a good pick for karaoke.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I was gonna say, Jewel or maybe Fiona Apple, and Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Shania Twain on the country side of things.

      2. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        I don’t go to karaoke because I’m a huge Broadway nerd with with a terrible voice, but after a few drinks I am 100% convinced that I can slay “Defying Gravity” doing both parts.

        Spoiler alert: I cannot.

      3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        Broadway is often a safe bet, but maybe not _Chicago_, and I’d be careful with Sondheim (much as I love his work).

    9. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Karaoke is my worst nightmare (only my cats like my singing), but if pressed I would go with Train in Vain or Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash. Either might be good for the crowd you described.

    10. GoryDetails*

      Heh! Excellent question – though I expect the answer varies wildly depending on specific workplaces/individuals. If I were up, I’d probably try one of those spoken-ballad songs – think Lorne Greene declaiming “Ringo” – as I don’t have a good singing voice at all. (Can manage if in a chorus, hanging on desperately to the notes coming from my neighbors {grin}.)

      I am fond of murder ballads myself, from the old folk songs to such teen-death-song pop hits as “Tell Laura I Love Her” – which would be great fun to act out while (attempting to) sing, though the “twisted wreck” and “dying breath” bits might be too much for a co-worker-type gathering.

      Something fun in the same vein: “Hannah Lee,” a country-western song performed by Johnny “Ballad of Paladin” Western. It’s about a woman who kills her cruel husband to be free to join the narrator, only to throw him under the bus when the law gets involved. And then she confesses to save her erstwhile lover’s life, and goes to the gallows herself. Classic tragedy, right? But the music is a hilariously upbeat, bouncy one, completely subverting the plot. I adore this song. [Can be heard on YouTube if you Google “Hanna Lee, Johnny Western”.] It’s… probably NOT listed on most karaoke sites, sadly…

      If I had to choose a song to actually try and sing to, I might go for something I love so much that I could (almost) forget myself while tackling it; “Running on Empty” by Jackson Browne, that kind of thing. [I expect I’d be booed off the stage within a stanza, but what the heck!]

    11. Silver Linings From Dreamland*

      A lot of 50s and 60s songs are pretty tame lyrically. I’m not a singer (and don’t even like trying) and the NSFW stuff I’m into is more in the Slayer vein but one other song I thought of that has a sort of “feelgood”, fun kind of vibe is the Friends theme song (“I’ll Be There For You” by the Rembrandts).

    12. Not my usual handle*

      Heheheheh, nothing better than a murder ballad.

      I recommend Violent Femmes, Country Death Song.

      Check out my Spotify playlist: death, murder, and revenge

    13. Polar Vortex*

      See if you can go later in the group – lie and say you need some courage – that way you can see what others sing and how they react. (But given you mention MCR/Fall Out Boy, you could probably get away with a lot of those since they’re all popular but older hits unless you’re in a very conservative older group.) ((I’ve definitely traded music lists with my old bosses and we’re all within 5 years of each other so nobody is phased by the music we share.))

      Else, a rule of thumb I’ve discovered: the older the song is, the more likely people don’t care about the content. You sing a song from today about banging someone and it’s not work appropriate, you sing something from the 50s, not so much. (Exception would be Marvin Gaye, there’s always an exception.) Some immediate thoughts: almost any Motown, You’re So Vain, anything Disney, and TLC’s No Scrubs.

        1. Polar Vortex*

          Lol yeah some of the old stuff is just as explicit as today’s honestly. It’s fun to blow people’s minds with that.

    14. Head sheep counter*

      I mean… if they sing along with you (eg its so catchy)… is it really work inappropriate??? :) For example: I like big butts, and I cannot lie… or Violent Femmes… or… there’s a tear in my beer…

    15. Dog and cat fosterer*

      There are a bunch of songs that do well as a group. A friend of mine can’t sing at all and I suggested the 500 miles song because it can be spoken and everyone can join in. I was there at the time and our group started the song with him and pretty quickly the room was all singing.

    16. Blah Blah*

      Just sing Livin’ on a Prayer by Bon Jovi and be done with it. Songs with crowd involvement tend to go over best.

      1. Minimal Pear*

        One thing I was considering re: crowd involvement is picking a “meme song” from the aughts, something like Dragostea Din Tei. A few of my coworkers seem like they would recognize those kinds of songs and maybe sing along.

    17. Forrest Rhodes*

      Miss Otis Regrets? The lyrics are the best, and the tune is easy.

      Or maybe the country classic I’ve Got Tears in My Ears from Lyin’ on My Back in My Bed, Cryin’ Over You?

      Okay, so I’m no help, right?

    18. WantonSeedStitch*

      OMG. I feel for you. The songs I belt out the most at home are 40s jazz, songs in your #2 category, sea shanties, and similar. I don’t know enough songs in other categories well enough to feel comfortable singing them in public. But I feel like generally speaking, nostalgic 80s or 90s pop rock stuff goes over well, and a lot of people manage to pick that stuff up by osmosis just by hearing it played in public places or at weddings or whatever.

    19. Donkey Hotey*

      I have two standard karaoke songs that I use on all occasions (because I know them and sing them well): Lyle Lovett’s “She’s no lady, she’s my wife” and Art of Noise/ Tom Jones’ cover of “Kiss.”

      All this to say, find something that you know well and so long as it’s not Nine Inch Nails “Animal” I doubt anyone will care. Ham it up and be corny. They’ll remember that more.

    20. Happily Retired*

      More of a crowd song, with brief interludes for soprano: “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba. For you youngun’s, it’s a 90’s song about being unemployed in northern England with little else to do but go to the boozer. Perfect for a union crowd, especially the chorus: “I get knocked down, but I get up again / You’re never gonna knock me down”

      And I push to my higher range (for a mezzo) to sing, “Pissing the night away / Pissing the night away…”

    21. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      I have nothing to suggest but had to squee at your song titles! Also I now have O Superman in my head so thank you for that very welcome earworm

  12. RT*

    What quick little things do you keep (or wish you kept) in your office/workspace, just in case?

    I’m putting together my little kit for my next job (!!) and so far I want to include:
    * Dental floss
    * Chapstick
    * Stain stick
    * Spare masks
    * Spare set of clothes
    * Nail clippers (FOR HANGNAILS)

    What am I missing?

    1. Jess R.*

      I’m a big fan of always having some kind of baby wipe around. Recently, I’ve been very into witch hazel wipes because they’re doing beautiful things for my facial acne, but really, even store-brand baby wipes (which we have in bulk at my house) are a wonder for cleaning up little spills on yourself or your desk, or just giving yourself a brisk refresh when you’re warm and sweaty.

    2. Picard*

      tooth brush
      tooth paste
      hand sanitizer
      nail file
      lip balm

      I dont keep extra clothes because my job doesnt entail anything that would be likely to stain and if I did have something that happened, I would just drive home and change (15 minutes away)

      We have masks on hand so I dont need to keep any and I dont clip my nails at work (ew gross) so yeah, no nail clippers.

      I do keep some snacks at my desk and I have one framed family photo on my desk

    3. londonedit*

      Blister plasters for when your (or someone else’s) shoes (usually ones you’ve worn 17 times previously with no issues) decide they’re going to attack your feet.

      1. Phony Genius*

        Just thought of another. If you live in a transit area, enough fare to get home.

    4. Sitting Pretty*

      A set or two of silverware, paper towels or napkins, extra menstrual products if you are someone who menstruates, a few ziplock baggies, a pashmina or shawl, sunscreen stick and/or brimmed hat for spontaneous coffee or lunchtime walks with coworkers

      1. Mockingjay*

        Silverware, yes! I went to Wally World and bought open stock flatware for about 98 cents per piece. Two each: knife, fork, spoon. Sturdy and washable, but nothing that I cared about should a spoon go astray. The office kitchen has plastic utensils but some meals need sturdier implements to consume.

    5. cardigarden*

      Honestly? A dedicated pair of sneakers for actual emergencies. A prior job was in a sensitive location and I had to be ready for the possibility of having to walk home.

      Less serious: deodorant, bandaids, ibuprofen/pepto/lactaid, fork

    6. Ama*

      Things not on your list that I used to keep in my desk when I was in office:
      Saline solution — even if you do not wear contacts it is useful if you/someone else gets something in their eye AND it can be used to get out any protein based stain).
      Fabric softener sheets — good for dealing with static cling in the winter
      Comfortable but work appropriate shoes that I can use in the winter when I wear my boots to work (or if my other shoes get soaked in an unexpected rain storm or break in transit, which has also happened, I’ve had more shoe issues than clothing issues at work)
      Cardigan that goes with almost any outfit (I run cold at work)
      Spare umbrella

    7. Panicked*

      I always have meds on hand; tylenol, tums, cough drops, etc…

      Emery board

      Contact solution and a spare pair of glasses


    8. Charlotte Lucas*

      Extra chargers
      Padlock (I sometimes use our fitness room, & there’s a locker room)
      Tote bag (I sometimes need extra carrying capacity by the end of my day)
      Light cardigan

    9. No Tribble At All*

      Unscented hand lotion! Every office I’ve ever worked in is cold and dry. Moisturize me.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Yup, came here for this. I’ve worked in some meatlocker like offices in the past and my hands would get pretty gnarly. I had to make sure I was moisturized.

    10. Trina*

      Microwavable rice bag – when cramps or even just a headache strikes at the office, heating it up has done wonders for my comfort while waiting for medication to kick in. I actually have been without for a few months because we had a mouse problem and it chewed mine up, and several times I have missed it dearly.

    11. Manchmal*

      salt! there is nothing worse than being stuck with an underseasoned lunch (whether you brought it from home or bought it). I laways have a dedicated salt shaker at my desk!

      1. linger*

        Flavourings I stored in my last office: salt, pepper, ketchup, tabasco, powdered parmesan, garlic powder, and a shaker containing a blend of basil, oregano, rosemary, and paprika I mixed up at home. Oh, and vanilla essence (for rescuing bad coffee).

    12. Dust Bunny*

      Snacks/backup lunch material (canned soup, etc.)

      I have tweezers, nail clippers, bottle opener, pocket knife, nail file, tire pressure gauge, several kinds of pens, extra safety pins, a can of cat food, a hand lens, NSAIDS, microfiber lens cloth, and sometimes a guitar capo (hey, you never know) in my handbag, anyway.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          And I have a leave-at-the-office jacket. With pockets.

          Small sewing kit.

          I probably have too much stuff here.

      1. Always Bring Pickles to a Potluck*

        Heating pad if you are prone to menstrual cramps or back aches. Hair ties/clips if you have long hair.

    13. DoodleBug*

      Refillable water bottle or mug for your desk. And a cleaning cloth for your eyeglasses, if you wear them.

    14. Momma Bear*

      Coffee pods (used to have a k-cup coffee maker, too, but the office got new ones)
      hand sanitizer/hand wipes
      hand lotion
      spare utensils/napkins/mug
      mini bottle of nail polish remover and a few cotton balls
      basic OTC meds
      sanitary products
      spare office sweater/light fleece
      low socks/flats
      wall charger

      I keep my brush, spare charger, etc. in my bag.

    15. Mr egg*

      For some things unmentioned: Tweezers (because I am prone to random splinters), lint roller, ibuprofen, hand cream, glasses wipe, ginger candy (for nausea), toothpicks, mouthwash tablets, and ibuprofen!

    16. Downpour*

      I keep a spare set of shoes in my desk drawer. My commute involves a bit of walking and there’s nothing worse to me than my shoes being soggy. In a similar vein, a small umbrella for unexpected showers, too.

    17. Mid-West Nice*

      Always have a travel set of Painkillers:
      Not all places have these available and even if you don’t need it one of your new coworkers could.
      Pepto-Bismol (generic equivalent) is also good
      Antacid tablets for when the Thai food was spicier than you expected.
      Cell phone charging cable and wall charger are also nice

    18. By Golly*

      I keep a couple of shelf stable backup lunch options (cup o noodle and those boil/microwave bag indian food things) and some snacks/chocolate. and tea bags. hand lotion.

      1. Kettle Belle*

        –Alka Seltzer
        — Excedrin
        –Aluminum Foil
        — spare reading glasses (and contact lenses)
        — Shopping bags
        –Face Masks

    19. Head sheep counter*

      I envy you a drawer… my next office better have a drawer. Currently, I have an empty (well crap stashed on it) long book case and a three drawer lateral file. I work somewhere… you can’t have your own printouts stored in such things… so its frustrating. I like your list. If you use it… deodorant

    20. DataSci*

      Basic first aid kit. Snacks. Water bottle.

      If you have more space, think about what sort of emergency is likely to happen in your area, and plan for it. In LA, this was “major earthquake makes roads impassible and we need to shelter in place”. So enough shelf stable food for a couple days. In DC, it’s “lockdown means the only way out is on foot”, so it’s good walking shoes.

    21. Unkempt Flatware*

      quick cold remedies or allergy remedies like alka seltzer tabs, saline nose spray, tummy meds, etc.

    22. Aphrodite*

      Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss
      Bar soap (Dove Sensitive Skin)
      Disposable gloves and masks
      Small hand mirror
      Emery boards
      Pinkish chapstick
      Two pairs of underwear
      Trash bag liners
      Paper towels
      Paper bags
      Salt and pepper grinders
      Set of flatware (for 4)
      Glass dinner plate, salad plate, bowl
      Glass pitcher
      Wine glass
      Canned soup (Beef Barley from Progresso) as emergency lunch backup
      Vinegar (gallon jug) for cleaning
      Mini microwave
      Small (but not tiny) refrigerator

    23. anon24*

      Everyone has great suggestions but I’ll add my kit. At my last long time job I rotated sites on a 2 week schedule and didn’t have storage, so every day I had to bring with me everything I’d need for the day. So I didn’t want too much, but also whatever I’d conceivably need. Of course, your mileage may vary. My backpack included:

      – Small pack with my favorite loose leaf tea, a few packs of individual sugars, and a loose leaf tea ball steeper thing
      – insulated tea mug
      – A small tin with an assortment of individual snacks, granola bars, cheezits, etc
      – mints of some sort
      -one of those small Bumble bee chicken salad lunch kits (they don’t taste amazing but are small, shelf stable, and are great in a pinch)
      – A zip lock bag with what I called “my pharmacy”. I had a bunch of OTC meds for different ailments, such as Aspirin, aleve, ibuprofen, Tylenol, benadryl, cough drops, etc. I even had stuff I didn’t use but knew the people I worked with did, so I always was the go-to person.
      – Enough tampons so that if by some freak of nature both myself and the person I was working with both ended up having massive emergencies for a 16 hour shift we’d both be supplied (never happened thank the gods, but better safe than sorry)
      – A phone charger with a wall plug and a small battery pack that gave me 2-3 full charges
      – 2 sets of earbuds
      – A corded mouse for my laptop (and my laptop and cable)
      – Extra socks and underwear
      – extra pens
      – sport wipes
      -2 different kinds of lotion, a thicker greasy kind and your standard hand lotion
      – hand sanitizer
      – a couple extra hair ties
      – eyeglass cleaning and repair kit and extra microfiber wipes
      – extra PPE, masks, spare pair of goggles
      -and other things like spare batteries for my flashlight and spare charging cords for any electronics that I had with me or regularly carried.
      – In the colder months I’d tuck a smaller fleece blanket on top to wrap up in when I had time to sit down.

    24. Employed Minion*

      One thing I didn’t see mentioned is Imodium. That will STOP whatever is happening and give you a chance to get home.

    25. Too embarrassed to leave my name.*

      An extra set of underwear. Because, um, accidents will happen.

  13. Strict Extension*

    For the first time one of my direct reports is leaving for a position outside the organization. Other than a pleasant and constructive notice period and promise of a good reference, is there anything else you would have liked to get from your supervisor when leaving an organization? Ours is typically a very familial and festive org, so I’m already anticipating that we will have a little snacky gettogether for everyone on her last day. If it makes a difference, the position is very early career, and she’s leaving for a parallel position with better benefits. Also, we are both part of a small freelance community in a related industry, so I’ll still be seeing her a lot, but it would no longer be the same relationship dynamic.

    1. Friday Person*

      I feel like this is a situation where a thoughtful note/card would be really nice to hold onto!

      1. Momma Bear*

        I agree. Or maybe some small gift like something useful or pretty for her future office.

    2. Purely Allegorical*

      Do a Kudosboard — online tool where people can do a digital version of the going-away card. You set a time for the link to go to the recipient and then they can download it for later. It’s always nice being able to go back and read the nice things that coworkers have said about you.

    3. Tricia*

      An email to their personal email address with things like company contact numbers / email addresses for HR, their manager, health benefit info and anything else that they might need to follow up on. For instance – if they have questions about their W2 (or in Canada their T4) next year, it would helpful for them to have an email with the contact info they will need.

  14. Picard*

    As an employer looking to hire someone for an open position, may I offer a word of advice? Please please please, put your email and your phone number somewhere on your resume that Indeed cant strip it out. I have at least one candidate that I would LOVE to get in touch with (they have applied for this position twice so I do know they are interested) but they don’t appear to get the notices from Indeed and there is no email or phone number because its been stripped by indeed. I will not be able to interview them or hire them because of the process

    (yes I know I COULD discretely contact their place of employment but that just feels a bit squick to me)

    1. Jess R.*

      I had no idea Indeed stripped out contact info from your resume! I have no idea how to put them in so that they can’t be removed (any suggestions?) but that’s super good information to have.

        1. Minimal Pear*

          When I worked in recruitment (a few years ago) Indeed didn’t strip your contact info if you uploaded your own resume. But I think if you made your resume through Indeed, they removed your email address. They might have left the phone number on? I remember that however they had it set up, it seemed like they were really pushing people to message back and forth through their messaging system.

      1. Picard*

        This particular candidate has not updated their linkedin since 2 jobs ago (per their resume) so I doubt they check it very often.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          If you send them a LinkedIn request or message though, it should still make it to their email inbox, even if they don’t use LI at all. Worth a try

    2. Corrigan*

      Do you not have access to the full resume? (I have no idea how Indeed works, so I’m curious!)

      1. Picard*

        Not if they just fill in the data on Indeed’s website. If they upload their own PDF, then yes.

    3. Jezebella*

      Well this is alarming. Is it possible nobody can actually reach me based on my Indeed profile? WTF?

    4. Momma Bear*

      I’ve had that happen. HR handed me a resume but there no contact info or cover letter and no easy way to follow up. HR didn’t have any info. Applicant left it off their resume, I guess assuming that it would come with their application package. I’d rather get it twice than not at all.

    5. Parenthesis Guy*

      Indeed wants to make sure you go through them so that they get paid. Otherwise, you can deny the application and then email them yourself.

      1. Picard*

        I’m sure thats why (although we always pay if we did get the contact through Indeed)

    6. Picard*

      So basically if you upload your resume to indeed, I’ll be able to find your info. If you use the Indeed resume builder or their formatting process, they strip it. They leave an “indeed”.com email and have a button to “call” that requires a PIN and who knows how it shows the the job candidate but they have never ever answered (or gotten a message I guess?)

      I cant tell you how aggravating it is an an employer trying to hire to have to chase down candidates and then sadly, at the end, never even be able to get in touch with someone you think has a great shot at your position.

  15. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

    Does anyone have any recommendations for talks/lectures/videos on communication for a socially awkward, diagnosed-with-anxiety manager who wants to help his reports, but doesn’t know how to talk to them?

    My boss is struggling with giving clear expectations to his (our) reports. He’s socially anxious and well-meaning, and he will try everything to help people succeed *except* talking to them. This has reached the point where major, high-visibility (to C-levels) projects aren’t getting done because of confusion over who’s supposed to do what by when, and as a result, people are getting fired, almost fired, and not promoted due to failing to meet expectations they didn’t know about.

    My bosse does now realize his communication avoidance is a problem with increasingly high-stakes consequences, and he does want to change. He’s asked me for recommendations on talks and videos that can help with this, since he’s dyslexic and learns best that way.

    I’m…I don’t *exactly* have a speech processing disorder, but watching or listening to something is like pulling teeth for me. I don’t consume shows, movies, or podcasts for this reason. So I have zero recommendations to give him, and would rather go to the dentist than listen to a bunch of talks to figure out which are the good ones.

    So I’m throwing out a request for recs to the AAM crowd.

    For context, the kind of reports he’s struggling with are those who are quiet, hard-working team players who are reluctant to speak up when they want something or when something isn’t working for them, and who don’t proactively check in to make sure they’re on the same page about expectations. At least one of these reports has a diagnosed anxiety disorder that I know of, and the other has said he comes from a background where you were punished for speaking up. So while I’m coaching them too, I need the boss to be able to meet them halfway.

    Examples of beginner-level conversations I’d like my boss to be able to initiate with his reports are:

    – “I’m expecting you to be this far along on this project by this date; let me know if anything comes up that might impact that.”
    – “Do you think you’ll be able to work on these two projects in parallel, or would that be too much?”
    – “What are the obstacles you’re encountering?” (in a variety of contexts)

    Intermediate conversation examples:
    – Coaxing other socially anxious people to tell him what projects are interesting to them, so they can be assigned to those projects where possible.
    – “How is collaborating with Jane working out for you?”

    More advanced conversations:
    – “These skills, soft and hard, are what it takes to succeed in our field,” and general mentoring.
    – “What are you looking for in your career, and how can we support that?”

    At the very least, he needs to start being able to do the beginner-level conversations asap, so those are what’s most important to me in terms of recs.


    1. Dust Bunny*

      (I also do not do podcasts because I stink at auditory processing and cannot absorb anything by ear) does your workplace have an EAD? Because he might do better starting with this as an address-the-underlying-anxiety situation.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        I *can* do auditory processing, I did fine during school and if there’s a lecture or talk I’m particularly interested in, or a meeting at work. I just get very bored and frustrated spending 30 minutes listening to something I could skim in 3 minutes. (The person on my team who has an actual speech processing disorder struggles with meetings and conversations, which is why I can’t say I have a disorder. I just have impatience. ;))

        To address the actual topic, we do have an EAP, but he’s been getting professional therapy for years and is continuing to get it. Do you think an EAP on top of that would add anything?

        What I think, and the angle I’m coming at this from, is if he has tools and scripts to reach for, and isn’t just floundering on his own, it might make him *less anxious*. People feel more anxious when they don’t know how to do something, but if they know what they’re doing, things become less scary.

        My impression is that he doesn’t know how to bring things up in a non-confrontational-seeming way, so he avoids bringing them up, and then problems arise, and then he’s frustrated, and then any time he thinks about bringing it up, he knows he’ll be coming from a place of frustration, so he puts it off *more*, and then…vicious cycle. What I want to do is give him scripts for addressing things *before* they’re problems, so that he doesn’t need to be coming from a place of frustration and it doesn’t need to be as scary.

        Because, yeah, “It’s been a month, why isn’t X ready yet?” is a much scarier conversation than “FYI, I’m hoping to have X in the next couple weeks.” And it’s the latter kind of conversation he needs to start having, and given the work ethics and competence of people on the team, having that conversation will remove the need to have 99% of the “Why isn’t it done yet?” conversations!

        1. Chipmunk*

          But why is his frustration directed at his staff? They can’t work within guidelines he has refused to give them.

          Also, most of this sounds like basic project management. When new tasks are assigned they should have goal posts and deadlines attached. Why is that not happening in the beginning when no one should feel frustrated or scared?

          If your boss’s inability to do his job is getting his staff fired, I’d be looking at talking to HR, not trying to help your boss.

          Or maybe coach your coworkers to be proactive and work around him so they don’t get fired at the very least.

          1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

            “Why is that not happening in the beginning when no one should feel frustrated or scared?”

            That’s exactly what I’m saying! We need to have the less scary conversations first, when no one is frustrated or scared, just to do basic project management! That’s why I don’t think addressing the anxiety is the problem here; the anxiety is an offshoot of not having basic project management skills.

            “If your boss’s inability to do his job is getting his staff fired, I’d be looking at talking to HR, not trying to help your boss.”

            I actually did talk to HR the first time someone got fired over this, and that’s how I got promoted to have the authority to keep it from happening again. Now I am using that authority. He has promised he won’t fire anyone again without me being 100% on board, which means there will be clear expectations and a PIP before anyone gets fired for performance.

            “Or maybe coach your coworkers to be proactive and work around him”

            That’s also what I’m doing! But I am trying to attack this problem from both angles, since it seems to give us the best odds. None of these people know how to do basic communication, and I am coaching them. But the coworkers are not the ones who asked for videos, so they’re not the ones I’m asking for recs for. (Maybe next Friday I will be!)

            “But why is his frustration directed at his staff?”

            The answer to this is because neither he nor his high performers have ever needed this kind of specific guidance. I will knock things out fast enough that no one’s ever left wondering why they’re not done yet, so will a number of the other people on the team, and my boss definitely never got guidance on when things should be done by. He’s superman when it comes to getting things done (that’s how he got promoted without training; you promote the best individual contributor without recognizing that management is a skill). He literally comes from a background of poor management where if you can’t do that, you get fired, and has always thought that’s an inevitable feature of work.

            And like, maybe the guy who got fired would have had to be fired eventually anyway. He wasn’t even doing a fraction of what my boss and I figured out on our own. But it was his first corporate job, he only had one year of vocational training before entering the workforce, and I think he deserved to at least be mentored on the things he wasn’t spontaneously picking up! Yes, I also entered my first corporate job with only a little training and knocked it out of the park. But some people can thrive as long as you spell things out.

            1. Chipmunk*

              Honestly, what’s team morale like? Even if your boss somehow figures out how to be an actual manager, are the remaining staff going to trust that their jobs are safe and that he is actually sharing all needed details with them.

              It sounds like he needs to return to an IC role and YOU take over as manager.

              Another thought, if your boss is used to the dynamic of “you can’t do it, you get fired.” Has he applied that to himself? Does he get that he can’t do the job and therefore…

              Plus his ability to figure out work on his own without instruction is…ironic considering he’s asking for instructions on how to do his job. And then penalizing his own staff for needing the exact same thing.

              Also, do you guys have any kind of training? If you have half your staff who can work independently right out of the gate and half who can’t, that seems like there are gaps in your hiring and training processes.

              I think it’s very kind of you to help him out, but I’m not sure that doing so benefits…anyone, at this point.

              1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

                I can tell you that team morale is 1000% better than it was under our previous bosses (I’ve been here over 6 years). Yes, there are some lingering issues that I’m working on resolving, but the thing is…he gives almost exclusively positive feedback, and work/life balance is excellent.

                So while the lack of clear guidance is definitely leading to some dissatisfaction, which I’ve pinpointed and he’s acknowledged, I don’t see anything I can’t address here.

                “It sounds like he needs to return to an IC role and YOU take over as manager.”

                Ah, but you’re missing two pieces of the puzzle here: he is the one dealing with corporate politics, and his boss is a nightmare and I would quit if I had to work to work with him (that’s why my boss got promoted and I didn’t). If you search AAM for “I think my assistant would be better at my job than I am,” my boss could have written that letter. I’m only thriving at leading the team *because* he’s my boss. I was on the verge of quitting with my last two bosses, and I had no social capital at all with them because we were constantly at loggerheads.

                I’ve told him that if he quits and I get promoted to his job and have to report to Grandboss, I probably quit shortly after. He said I could probably negotiate to report to Great-grandboss, but I’ve worked for him, and that was only slightly better.

                My boss has also pointed out that if I want his job, I have to learn to not alienate everyone I can’t stand, and that he’s willing to coach me on that if I want his job. Which I don’t yet, but it’s on the back burner. Coaching him on improving his skills while getting more involved in managing his projects is the next step toward that for me.

                “Another thought, if your boss is used to the dynamic of “you can’t do it, you get fired.” Has he applied that to himself? Does he get that he can’t do the job and therefore…”

                Hahaha, yes, I’ve pointed that that to him specifically, and he’s agreed with me that he needs to extend grace to everyone else. The problem is that you don’t know what you don’t know: if you’ve been taught that your job is not to give clear direction, but to weed out people who don’t need it, then you think you are doing your job! I’m apparently the first person to show him a better way. He’s surprisingly receptive to all my feedback and not letting ego (or refusal to grasp that it is a better way) get in the way!

                “Also, do you guys have any kind of training? If you have half your staff who can work independently right out of the gate and half who can’t”

                Hahaha, it’s kind of endemic to our field (not quite software engineering, but close) that you’re expected to figure things out on your own. I’m trying to introduce better ways, but he didn’t invent that mindset, nor did our company. It’s the flip side of being able to make a ton of money with no education or work experience: if you can teach yourself, the world is your oyster. If you can’t, no one’s got the skillset to explain things; we’re all neurodivergent nerds who were selected for being able to pick technical skills up without explanation. (I am also a neurodivergent nerd who was selected for being able to pick technical skills up without explanation; but one, I’m naturally good with words, two, I have recently learned to compensate somewhat for my abysmal people skills by studying psychology, in an effort to trying to understand how people work, and it’s paying off.) And I got some management training at a previous job, as I mentioned.)

                “I think it’s very kind of you to help him out, but I’m not sure that doing so benefits…anyone, at this point.”

                I would say it’s had massive benefits just this week, in that people are starting realize they need to ask about deadlines and he’s starting to realize he needs to volunteer them. It’s been great for me to be involved in more project management of the sorts of projects I need more experience with if I’m going to move up. If he doesn’t improve, it won’t benefit anyone, but if it does, I don’t see why helping him get better at leading doesn’t benefit anyone. He’s only had his first real wake-up call 2 days ago, I’d like to give him at least a month to improve.

                I’m losing track of which subthread I’ve said what in; did I mention/did you see that I got promoted to co-manager and given a raise specifically to help cover his communication gaps? I make more than he does, and it’s in my job description to have performance conversations, so…does that change the tenor of the feedback I’m getting?

                1. Mighty midget*

                  Thank you for this excellent, clear and patient post. I can see why you’re good at your job!

                2. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

                  “if you’ve been taught that your job is not to give clear direction, but to weed out people who don’t need it”

                  Extra negative: that should read, “weed out people who need it.”

                3. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

                  I want to watch a TV show set at your office! This dynamic & set of problems/personalities is FASCINATING.

                  My work subscribes to LinkedIn Learning and they have a ton of videos that might help your boss, everything from 30-second “nanotips” on specific phrases to use through to full-length multi-part trainings. If it would help I can chuck some links in a separate comment to specific videos, but obviously they are paywalled so it only helps if your institution has a subscription.

                4. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

                  Firefighter, we do have LinkedIn Learning! Specific links would be *great*!! Maybe lifesaving!

                  Also, lol, a few open threads back, someone said I should write a book on management and they would buy it, and in this thread I’ve been thinking, “Here. Here’s another chapter,” about my long posts on deadlines, performance assessment, and communication in tech. Now you want a TV show, lol! :’D

                  I think part of the fascination is that I can see where everyone’s coming from. There are no villains, just complicated people with understandable motives in isolation, which lead to conflicts when they intersect.

                  My boss really did believe that 1) everyone understood what was being asked of them, 2) providing clear direction isn’t part of the job; after all, no one ever did it for *him*, high performers just spontaneously self-manage and everyone else is weeded out, 3) he was fairly assessing people’s performance, 4) if projects weren’t getting done, it’s because the people assigned to them weren’t good skill and motivation fits for those projects.

                  And I’m sitting here going, “But I can see everyone doing what they’re told and trying really hard to follow direction and be good team players! We can channel all that skill and motivation if we give better direction!”

                  So I can see why the plot and characterization here is interesting. :)

                5. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

                  Ran out of nesting! Here are some LinkedIn Learning links – mostly searching for “project management”, “setting expectations”, “manager communication tasks” etc. There are transcripts, so you don’t have to watch the videos before seeing if they might work for your boss. Hopefully if he starts here, LinkedIn will start recommending relevant things to him. Good luck!!






                6. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

                  Firefighter: there are even transcripts for me? This is great! Thanks so much!

              2. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

                “Even if your boss somehow figures out how to be an actual manager, are the remaining staff going to trust that their jobs are safe and that he is actually sharing all needed details with them.”

                I should add that the person who was almost fired doesn’t know he was almost fired; only my boss and I know that, and I put a stop to it. He now (as of 2 days ago) knows that despite exclusively positive feedback, Boss was secretly wondering why things weren’t done, but he also knows that Boss has acknowledged his management failure, and that we’re all working on not letting it happen again.

                So like I said, not ideal, but I think it’s fixable.

                1. Chipmunk*

                  Ok, I was thinking your boss has been knowingly struggling this whole past year, rather than for just a couple of days. It doesn’t make it better on his end, but it explains your willingness to help him so much. Lol.

                  I don’t necessarily think that having the requirement of being a self starter is bad…but you’ve already seen how that can weed out staff from diverse backgrounds, such as the employee from a different culture. Would it help your boss if you also phrased it as a DEI issue? He benefits from having a more diverse team with different viewpoints, but that means he has to change his style to fit the needs of his staff so he can get the best results from them. And what field are you in? I’m great at figuring stuff out on my own and would love to get paid to solve problems and teach myself. XD (I mean, I have a design and comms background, which is a lot of that kind of work except we have very defined deadlines that are communicated over and over. Getting what we need to meet the deadlines is another issue…and sometimes the self starting ability can save your butt there.)

                  I’ll say this reminds me a lot of past relationships I have had with some of my bosses. I was never in the exact scenario that you are in, where I was brought in to fill in for their areas of weakness. But I definitely have had bosses where I could have blunt conversations about how they are impacting the team. Ultimately what resulted was always an acknowledgment of the shortcomings, but no actual change from the boss. It was very frustrating because these were people who were great at certain aspects of their jobs and they’re people I genuinely like and learned from. So for me to say “here’s the problem AND solution!” And to hear back that they agreed and then nothing changed…argh!

                2. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

                  Ran out of nesting, so replying to Chipmunk here:

                  “Ok, I was thinking your boss has been knowingly struggling this whole past year, rather than for just a couple of days.”

                  I’ve been pointing out intermittently for a year that he should TELL people what the deadlines are, but he’s been thinking that another reasonable solution is to conclude that the project was too hard for them, to tell them “good job”, and to assign them to another project that they can be more successful on, in hopes of allowing them to play to their strengths. I kept telling him in a low-key way that that wasn’t a great solution, but his anxiety kept telling him it would be way easier than learning to communicate directly (scary!), so he kept convincing himself it was a great and totally viable approach to management.

                  Only last month, after a year of trying different projects and concluding that one particular report is good at some things but not others, but we really need someone who can do the things he was hired for, did my boss start thinking out loud at me about whether we should fire the report because he can’t do the most important things we need, or keep him because he does do a lot of really good work elsewhere, including in places where we didn’t expect.

                  I said that I didn’t think we could judge how good the report was at the biggest projects, since I was convinced that the report was doing exactly what he thought he was supposed and allowed to do. I said if he wasn’t making certain decisions and acting on them, it’s because he thought he had to wait for Boss to make the final decisions. I got Boss to promise to put any discussion of firing on hold until I came back from vacation.

                  I came back this week, and on Wednesday I talked to the report. I told him he was authorized to make these decisions, because Boss isn’t an IC any more and doesn’t have time. (The other problem with promoting the best IC without training is that they keep doing hands-on IC work, which blurs the boundaries.)

                  Report went, “Oh, I’m supposed to actually build these products? I thought my job was just R&D! I was wondering why no one was ever building the things I researched. I would love to build them!”

                  Me: “Well, that explains why Boss keeps saying that you’re finding lots of good information but the projects aren’t moving forward.”

                  That same day, I told Boss about this. He was flabbergasted, I was not. Yesterday, the three of us met, agreed to start with a mutual clean slate, and and we proceeded to establish clearly defined expectations (i.e. did project management). Report knows he was expected to do things he wasn’t told about despite positive feedback, but he doesn’t know he was almost fired, and he knows that I’ll be working closely with him and Boss to train them both to communicate better.

                  Right after that, I grabbed Boss, and said, “So, are we clear on the fact that if this high-visibility project didn’t get done FOR A YEAR because of lack of communication, and our report almost got fired, your acknowledged communication issues are no longer a nice-to-have for you to improve someday, but something that urgently needs to improve asap?”

                  And he said yes, and agreed with everything I said, and asked for training video recs. This was 24 hours ago, so, yes, I’m willing to help.

                  I also may have used too impersonal language when I said “people were fired/almost fired/not promoted”: he’s the one making the decisions here, now with my input. So as long as I’ve got him convinced he’s the main problem, no one gets fired/almost fired any more without my say-so. So it’s not like people are in danger of getting fired until he gets better at this. I’m the safety net here.

                  “I don’t necessarily think that having the requirement of being a self starter is bad…but you’ve already seen how that can weed out staff from diverse backgrounds, such as the employee from a different culture.”

                  It’s always been pretty common to enter this field with little to no relevant education and very little training, just tinkering in your spare time, so I wouldn’t describe that as a “different culture.” I think part of the problem is that’s exactly what my boss (and I, and his boss, and probably everyone else in the history of the team) did, so the really successful people largely think no mentoring or training should be necessary, because they certainly didn’t need it!

                  Now, if someone really *did* enter from a legitimately different culture, yes, not understanding corporate norms, for example, could be a hindrance. So there is an argument to be made there.

                  “And what field are you in? I’m great at figuring stuff out on my own and would love to get paid to solve problems and teach myself.”

                  Systems and database administration, increasingly transitioning to devops engineering, in this brave new world of ~The Cloud~. The thing is that you can totally come into tech with a degree in history and one year of software school, and have all the technical skills you need to get hired. Because there is no school that will teach you what you actually need to know on the job, i.e. the specific error messages you encounter (you have to google them, read stackoverflow, and use your brain) or the legacy code of the specific company you work at, so formal education in computer science is usually expensive and pointless. And if you can teach yourself tech on the job, you can make oodles of money.

                  BUT. What they don’t teach you in software school is that there are a dozen different soft and “soft hard” skills you need to actually keep your job, such as:
                  – Excruciating, character-level attention to detail.
                  – Ability to tinker successfully with software. This is made up of several components that come naturally to some people and don’t to others.
                  – A sense of the sweet spot of when to ask for help and when to troubleshoot on your own.
                  – A sense of the sweet spot of how far “above and beyond” to go. If you only do what you’re explicitly asked to do, you will be fired within 3 years, but if you’re a perfectionist, you’ll only get one or two things done when you should be getting 10 done.
                  – Risk assessment skills, so that you don’t break too many things but also don’t get paralyzed and never accomplish anything.
                  – Estimating unknowns (it’s dark magic, basically).
                  – A dozen little communication habits, which you wouldn’t think neurodivergent nerds would be notable for, but there are some very specific things that we successful ones do naturally, and some people need coaching on.
                  – Etc.

                  They don’t teach you this in school. They teach you code syntax, and then they send you out into the wild feeling pretty good about your As, and then you realize it’s sink or swim with all the personality traits and unspoken expectations. (I’m not talking about deadline expectations like my boss, I’m talking about the soft skill expectations I described above.)

                  If you’re missing too many of those skills, you will get fired. If you’re missing just certain ones, you will not rise as high as your technical skills warrant.

                  What I’m doing is telling people on my team about those unspoken skills, and giving them the chance to see if they can pick skills up with effort if they don’t come naturally. Aka, I am mentoring (the only manager in the history of my team that has ever seen the point of doing so). This is in *addition* to the fact that my boss isn’t doing effective project management and isn’t even telling people about deadlines they need to know about to succeed, which I’m coaching *him* on. (In addition to telling the team members that aren’t already spontaneously doing it that they need to *ask*, and they need to *keep asking*.)

                  Part of the problem is that there are almost no hard deadlines in the field, and they fluctuate constantly. So it’s never “this must be done by X date.” It’s more, “work on this, and I will judge your performance by how long it takes you in proportion to how hard it turns out to be and how much other work you’re doing.” You never know how hard a technical problem is going to be when you set out to solve it, and your priorities shift from day to day, sometimes hour to hour. There’s always new external asks coming in, and you’re always finding more stuff that needs to be fixed/updated/documented.

                  So what I’ve been training Boss to communicate is, “I will be surprised if X isn’t done by Y date and I don’t know why.” Because everything’s flexible, but his performance evaluation is based on his level of surprise at how long someone is taking to do something. This is why I also have to train my reports that a key factor for success in this field, and not just with this boss, is communicating when something is taking longer than expected because it turned out to be surprisingly complicated, and when it’s because you were assigned a bunch of other work. Because if you don’t, your boss will think it’s down to your skills and/or motivation.

                  But if your boss doesn’t communicate that he’s hoping to see X by Y date, you might not get it done because you don’t know that’s what he’s hoping for, and you might choose to prioritize something else. We have a backlog of 200 things to do at any given time, and a lot of autonomy to decide what to work on.

                  So the communication gap is understandable in terms of how it arose; it’s just a massive, massive failure in effective management, given that we do work in an environment like this and have to be able to manage in it!

                3. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

                  Argh, I spent an hour writing a very long reply to you, Chipmunk, and as soon as I hit “Submit”, I realized I should have backed it up somewhere. It sometimes takes a while for my comments to show up, and there might be a backlog with the open thread activity, but it’s been ~30 minutes and I don’t see it.

                  If it doesn’t show up this evening, I’ll try to make time to reply this weekend, perhaps more briefly.

                4. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

                  Haha, my long reply showed up just as I finished typing a repeat (I don’t think it was caching, because my second reply showed up instantly, and even incognito mode on different devices wasn’t showing it). Since I wrote a more elaborate response to the “deadlines, assessment, and communication in tech” part in the rewrite, some of this might be worth reading for other ICs and managers in tech:

                  Here’s how deadlines work in my field. There are almost no hard ones. I think I’ve only had a few that ever came with specific dates in my twelve years. There is a huge backlog of work, and your priorities shift constantly (day to day, sometimes hour to hour). Everything takes longer than expected, because you never know how complex a problem is when you start solving it. You only find out along the way. That’s understood. So no one ever tells you “this must be done in two weeks,” or at least very, very rarely. You also have a lot of autonomy as to what projects to work on, and how to implement the solutions. Plus, at least half your projects get abandoned partway through. Even for those that get finished, time-to-completion estimates shift constantly, that’s the nature of the beast.

                  The way you get assessed is that your manager takes a holistic, impressionistic view of “how hard are the problems you’re solving, how important are the problems you’re solving, how good are your solutions, and how fast are your solutions delivered?” and compares the answers to the norm in your field for junior, mid-level, senior, etc.

                  So given all this, I see how the communication problems arose. Here’s how I’m solving them.

                  1) I am selling my boss *and* his struggling reports on the important question being, “What does Boss want, and when will he be surprised if it’s not done yet and he doesn’t know why?” If it’s not done and he knows why, then he’s not surprised, and it doesn’t affect your performance assessment.

                  I’m telling Boss that he needs to volunteer this information up front, as part of project management, and I’m telling the reports that they need to ask, and that they need to keep asking as the project requirements and timeline evolve. It’s not enough just to get on the same page at the beginning of the project! I’ve compared it to defensive driving: yes, if the boss doesn’t communicate the deadline clearly, it’s on him as a manager, but in the end, it’s your career. Just like if you get in a car accident and the other person is at fault, but you’ve still got glass in your face! So don’t be paranoid and constantly watching your back, just like you’re not too paralyzed by fear to drive, but stay alert. Not just when you leave the house (= start the project), but along the road.

                  2. I’m telling the reports that they need to do consciously what I do spontaneously, which is: any time something comes up that’s slowing me down on a project, I tell my bosses what and why and how it’s affecting me, so they know to mentally adjust his expectations. And if my bosses need to, they can tell me to treat something more urgently or less urgently. We rebalance my workload constantly.

                  Most of the time in my career, no one’s ever told me when they want things by, and I’ve never needed them to. I keep my bosses in the loop about what I’m working on, how long it’s taking, and why it’s taking that long, and I let them adjust my priorities as needed. Because I proactively communicate, my bosses always realize that I’m solving difficult problems well, and that I can be relied on to do what they need when they need it. And they realize that if it’s taking that long to solve a problem, it’s because it really did turn out to be that hard, or because I’m that busy juggling multiple problems, or a combination of both. My bosses have always had visibility into my work.

                  And that’s what high performers spontaneously do (what my boss always did as an IC), and why managers evolved to think setting expectations proactively is unnecessary.

                  But then you’ve got quiet, hard-working people who keep their heads down, and in a field where everyone has a ton of different shifting priorities, and most problems turn out to be much harder than expected when you set out, you start out thinking it will take X amount of time to solve a problem, and then you don’t hear from someone until 3 times X has passed and they’re finally done…you have no insight into whether it’s because the person is slow, unmotivated, unfocused, busy, or dealing with a surprisingly hard problem. And when your boss thinks your performance is inconsistent because he thought something would take 1 week and it took 3, you don’t get promoted. When *I* take 3 weeks to do something that we thought would take 1, I make dang sure my boss knows why! This is part of defensive driving along the road.

                  So I’m taking our quiet, hard-working engineers and telling them, “Look, it’s not enough to solve the problem. You have to be in constant communication about what issues you’re encountering, so your boss can communicate revised timelines to other people, so he can readjust your priorities as needed, and so he can assess you fairly and you get credit for the work you’re doing.” 

                  And I’m telling my boss, “Look, you can’t base your assessment of people’s performance on your disappointed expectations when you haven’t communicated those expectations. Maybe these reports aren’t prioritizing project X because they have autonomy to do other work, and they don’t know that you’re expecting X in a certain timeframe. Maybe they think that as long as they’re working on X in parallel with Y and Z, they’re fine. Which is true in a lot of cases! Or maybe they’re running into difficulties with X you don’t know about, because you’re not the one deep in the weeds solving the problem. In the most egregious case that served as the wake-up call this week, one guy wasn’t delivering for a year and half because he didn’t even know X was his job! Stop thinking that your emotions of surprise and disappointment about timelines have solely, or even much, to do with other people’s skill sets and focus. Some of our reports need coaching on communication, and so do you, and then you’ll have the data to assess people’s skills fairly.”

                5. Chipmunk*

                  This is all really interesting! Thank you for the detailed explanations.

                  Another thought for your boss is doing regular status updates. With that many projects up in the air and changing quickly (which also happens a lot in comms) he would benefit from being proactive, especially with projects that are currently high priority.

                  Also, look into the kanban system. We used a physical version on our office wall with post its and a digital version in our project management software. It’s highly flexible, allowing projects to progress and regress as needed. It also lets you identify bottlenecks or overloads at both the process level and at the IC level. We would track canceled projects as well to determine why they were happening and where they were coming from to see if those could be prevented or shut down before a significant amount of time was invested.

                  I’m going to back and reread in more detail!

                6. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

                  Chipmunk, glad it was helpful!

                  We do do daily status updates, and we use kanban (in Jira), and we keep tickets updated. We’re pretty organized about that. Part of the problem is that in addition to not defining expectations upfront, my boss won’t give anything but positive feedback when he gets a status update, and he doesn’t even know how to ask the right questions. So we’ve got two main scenarios causing problems right now:

                  1. Engineer thinks his job is R&D, and Boss thinks Engineer’s job is R&D plus building the tool. Engineer reports research findings regularly in status updates. Boss tries to encourage him by saying, “That’s great information!” (which it is). Engineer accordingly thinks he’s doing what Boss wants. Boss silently wonders why Engineer isn’t building the tool yet, makes up stories why not (doesn’t have the skill, doesn’t have the focus, etc.), and starts thinking about replacing him with someone who can build the tool. A year and a half goes by because Boss is trying really hard to give the engineer credit for the work he *is* doing and leverage his strengths. But without the communication…balls get dropped.

                  It took me *15 minutes* on Wednesday, once I had picked Boss’s brain about what behaviors he was seeing and what behaviors he wanted, to communicate to Engineer that he was supposed to build the tool and to discover that he hadn’t known that until now. After a year and a half! I get why Alison is always telling people to *use your words*–so am I!

                  2. Engineer is giving regular status updates, but not in enough detail to explain why he’s still working on step 2 of a 5-step project. So Boss knows Engineer is still on step 2, but not why it’s taking so long. Is Engineer on social media most of the day? Is Engineer struggling diligently with step 2 because of a lack of technical skill? Is step 2 much harder than Boss thinks?

                  Boss won’t ask, because he doesn’t know how to ask without it coming across as, “Are you on social media all day or just incompetent?” Engineer doesn’t volunteer more detail, because he thinks he’s doing his job. After all, he’s working the right project, he’s giving status updates so that Boss knows he’s on step 2, and Boss said “Great!” when he heard that. Critically, Engineer, who is not the chatty type, doesn’t proactively volunteer several times per day details like, “Step 2 is immensely difficult because it interfaces with this other system we didn’t know it interfaced with, and I have to make sure that system doesn’t break when I update this one.” Then Boss is left thinking, “Wow, it takes Engineer a long time to do step 2, which seems simple to me (the one not doing it). Maybe he’s not ready for a promotion.”

                  It’s totally understandable that if you’re not chatty by nature (like a lot of engineers!), you give your status updates (how far along is the project), get positive feedback, don’t volunteer details about your experience, and think you’re done. I, who hit character limits on social media all the time, am constantly reporting whenever I run into any new difficulty. I’m like liveblogging my development experience throughout the day. And so if software I’m using for a project turns out not to provide a way to do what I need to do directly, and I’m having to hack together a workaround, my boss knows that’s going to add to the total delivery time, and then when it’s done, he’s impressed at my hacking-software-to-bend-it-to-my-will skills. And so forth.

                  And it’s totally understandable that if you’re a neurodivergent engineer who got promoted into management only because you care *which* projects are being worked on, because you have a sense of what projects have the most business value, and you got no training on asking “Why is this taking 3 times as long as expected?” without sounding accusatory, you might try to make up stories about how it’s taking longer because the person isn’t that experienced yet and you need to be patient (but not promote them). You will be much better at managing people who spontaneously liveblog their experience by reporting every little obstacle throughout the day. Unsurprisingly, the half of us on the team who do that are thriving under this boss much more than the half that don’t. That half are gonna have to be trained to do that (it’s a survival skill under every boss, because of the nature of the work, just more so under this one).

                  The wake-up call has been forcing my boss to realize it’s not that three different people in the last two years have deserved to be fired or at least not promoted, it’s that the common denominator here is communication gaps, and most of the communication burden falls on him. (Though monosyllabic engineer who didn’t get promoted is going to have to learn to be more chatty if he wants more money, it’s the only way a boss can fairly evaluate you. Your boss can’t reproduce your work to discover for himself how difficult each step turned out to be. Unless you give him that detail, all he has to go on his how difficult the two of you thought it was going to be at the outset, which is almost always an underestimate. But again, it is on the *manager* to notice this pattern and tell the engineer “I need more data if you want your skills fairly assessed,” not just assess based on the obviously incomplete data the manager has. But that’s called a management skill, and when you promote an engineer without training, you end up with missing management skills.)

    2. Little Bird*

      Those examples of “beginner conversations” are absurd. It’s wild that it took “people… getting fired, almost fired, and not promoted” for him to realize he needs to fulfill this basic requirement of being in a management position.

      Maybe that’s a bit harsh, but like… he’s not a toddler you’re teaching to tie their shoes, he’s an adult professional who is responsible for the livelihoods of others. He should be able to seek out resources to address this egregious gap in his capabilities without being hand-held by his direct reports.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        I agree 100% that this is a massive management failure. OTOH, I am co-managing this team (because he can’t do it by himself!), and I saw that there was a huge communication gap, and I kept telling him, “Tell people that you’re expecting this to be done in 2 weeks!” and I kept telling the reports, “I’m serious, make *sure* you are on the same page with Boss about what he expects when, and make sure you *stay* on the same page as circumstances evolve,” and yet this kept going on for a year, and it took someone almost getting fired (again) for me to realize I needed to give everyone a wake-up call.

        So I’m trying to treat this as a learning experience for everyone involved, myself included. I have pumped the brakes hard on firing anyone else unjustly (last time was precisely why I got formally promoted, so I have the authority to stop it from happening again; which I did, last month), and am working on solving this problem.

        I see a lot of opportunities here, and I do think it’s solvable, and in a way that makes sense (not spending 40% of your day hand-holding one person indefinitely).

        If it ends up not being solvable in a reasonable manner, I’m pretty good at cutting my losses. But I’ve worked with him for two years, and I’m optimistic.

        (FTR, this is what happens when managers are promoted without training. I may not be the best ever, but I had actual management training from an actual experienced and excellent boss at another company, and it shows.)

    3. Chipmunk*

      Your boss has had some of their staff fired because they couldn’t talk to them appropriately???

      I’m not sure it’s the staff who should have been fired…

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        Ha, somewhere in my notes of things I was planning to say if it became necessary (so far it hasn’t been, he’s been willing to acknowledge fault and work toward change) is a comment that it’s not fair that if both parties aren’t doing their jobs*, all the consequences fall on the more vulnerable party and the managers get off scot-free. I didn’t end up needing to saying that, but I did say “ethical qualms” more than once in recent conversations.

        * Yes, there have been various ways in which various reports haven’t done what I would expect of them either, but 80% of the problem is my boss not doing one really key part of his job.

    4. Ashley Armbruster*

      Why are you doing this for him? He’s a grown man in a managerial position. If he’s not going to make an effort to improve his skills as a manager, it ain’t gonna happen. There is only so much managing up you can do.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        But making an effort to improve his skills as a manager is exactly what he’s doing. He had a wake-up call this week, and now he’s asked if I can rec any training videos. I don’t think that’s a horribly unreasonable ask. Also, I am co-managing this team (I’m sort of junior manager; I report to him, but everyone else reports to both of us), so it is sort of my job to keep it functioning smoothly. Furthermore, getting more hands-on involved in these projects he’s been (not) managing that are outside my wheelhouse (which is why I also haven’t been managing them) is the next logical step to a promotion for me.

        FWIW, I make more than he does, and I’m increasingly stepping into his shoes for running our team while he focuses on interfacing with upper-level management and other teams (the part of his job I don’t want at this point and am happy to leave to him).

        I am planning to leverage this into an eventual promotion for myself, and since I’ve gotten him to realize that this communication business is not a nice-to-have but an urgently needed skill, if he actually improves at it…how is that not a win-win?

    5. Purely Allegorical*

      From this description, it actually sounds like your boss needs a full-on course for project and team management, particularly around deadlines. Youtube should have loads of videos around that. I would use the phrase “delivering feedback” or “Delivering difficult feedback” as a search term.

      Also AAM has a number of podcasts too…. I don’t think they’re actively updated anymore, but there should be good content in there.

      It’s really nice that you’re trying to help your boss out with these resources, but as others have pointed out this really shouldn’t be your job. If things have gotten as bad as what you describe, that should be a much larger conversation between your boss and your company.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        Thanks for the suggestions! That’s helpful.

        “It’s really nice that you’re trying to help your boss out with these resources, but as others have pointed out this really shouldn’t be your job.”

        I think the missing piece of the puzzle that I got promoted specifically to help him manage the team and compensate for his missing skills around organization and communication, so it kind of is my job. Yes, ideally he wouldn’t need this coaching and wouldn’t have been promoted without training, but also…I’m getting paid for it. More than he is, in fact. So the fact that I just nudged everyone for a year without going “WHOA WHOA WHOA” until this week, is down to my own inexperience.

        I got promoted specifically when the one person got fired last year, when I went to HR and said “Never again!” And now that he’s started talking about firing and not promoting people again, I’ve intervened to put a stop to it. He has now promised he won’t fire anyone again without me being 100% on board.

        Also, yeah, there is some ideal world in which I trust my company to replace him with someone more experienced, but then there’s the real world, in which the chain of command above him is useless and worse than useless, in which he’s the best boss I’ve had at this company, in which he and I work really well together and he will let me lead as long as I’m emphatic enough, and in which I’m learning a lot from hands-on leadership experience, so…I’m using my promotion to shelter our reports while training him (and them) to get better at communication. And I’m getting paid well for it. And he’s on board with all of that.

        So I’m planning to do it as long as I see him committed to improving and making progress.

    6. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Not what you asked for, but given the anxiety, I suggest something like a email template or a script for conversations (Alison’s book has some interesting worksheets for management).

      Maybe one for assigning tasks, one for follow up, etc. they could have various parts: what is the assignment, when is it due, etc. But also interim deliverables (to him) to report back challenges, delays, etc. This should be regardless of whether there’s an issue, so even the quieter folks should say something. again, it could be a script or a worksheet they do together, or an email or whatever works for him… but some kind of structure to make sure everyone gets what info they need.

  16. Lady Louise*

    Has anyone been stood up for an interview? I actually was yesterday lol. I waited more than 10 minutes before emailing the recruiter who coordinated it, it was supposed to be with the hiring manager’s boss. Anywhoo, she emailed me apologizing and I sent back some more available times. If I still had a job I would have withdrawn probably, but I’m willing to overlook it for now.

    1. Shopping is my cardio*

      I would give it one more try. In my current job (large defense contractor) when I went in for my interview the hiring manager was actually on her way to her lake house so I interviewed with her boss while she was on the phone with us. Her call kept going on and off because of the area where she was driving. I ended up getting the job and 8 years later I am still here and happy. She turned out to be one of the best bosses I have ever had. Things happen.

    2. Jujyfruits*

      Yes I was. I found someone on LinkedIn and they apologized. Apparently they hired someone for the role and it automatically canceled all scheduled interviews without notifying candidates.

    3. Dragonfly7*

      Yes, interestingly with the independent contractor-ish part of my current workplace. No notice and no response when I reached out.

      I have also been called to do an interview that someone neglected to tell me they scheduled. Since I rarely answer calls from unknown numbers, I didn’t know until I listened to my VM a couple of hours later.

    4. Kettle Belle*

      I was kept waiting for almost 2 hours. when I arrived at the building, the person at the reception desk called the person I was supposed to meet with and he told them I was there and he sent me upstairs. I’m figuring someone will be there to meet me when I got to the floor. Nope. So I sat and waited…and waited…and waited. I saw people I knew who worked at that company and they all asked me who I was there to see and if I wanted them to give the person a nudge. I told them yes, if they didn’t mind. And still I waited. and then FINALLY the admin came out and said the person was still on a call and would be with me shortly. When i did finally get to meet with the person, she offered no apology.

      The things one will endure when desperate for a job.

    5. Picard*

      Well I’m the one hiring but yes, my one o’clock interview just ghosted me/stood me up without a call or email.

    6. Qwerty*

      Multiple times! I generally contact the recruiter after 5min to check that I have the right time and video link and switch my settings to muted/camera off. At the 15min mark I give myself permission to sign off.

      It is generally a scheduling issue – when I check the interview invite, often the interviewer did not accept. One of my favorite jobs involved being stood up during the interview process.

      I only consider it a red flag if I’m being stood up by a 3rd party recruiter, since their job is partly to advocate for me.

    7. Scarlet Ribbons in Her Hair*

      A number of times, when I was working 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM at the time, I would set up interviews at 8:00 AM, only for the interviewer to be a no-show. I would run off to my current job at about 8:45 AM. Inevitably, I would eventually get a phone call in which the interviewer would say that she had been stuck in traffic, and she would tell me that she would call me to reschedule, but those calls never came.

      One time, I had an interview at a magazine that catered to an ethnic group of which I am not a member. Before the actual interview, I had to take a spelling test, a grammar test, a vocabulary test, and a typing test. I was certain that I excelled in all of them. Then the interviewer told me that unfortunately, she couldn’t interview me at that time, because she had a meeting to go to, but she said that she would call me. She never called me. At the time, I wondered if the reason that she didn’t call me was that I was not a member of the ethnic group to which the magazine catered.

      Another time, when I showed up for an interview, I was told that no one was expecting me, and no one was prepared to see me. They did acknowledge that there was an opening for the job for which I was applying, and they finally figured out that the woman who had set up the appointment with me hadn’t bothered to tell anyone else about it. I wasn’t surprised to hear that she wasn’t in that day. As I said, I was told that no one had time to see me that day. Apparently, no one had time to call me afterwards.

  17. Willow Tree*

    I’m anxious about my self-evaluation this year because of medical issues and my horrible boss.

    When my boss went over my self evaluation for my first year, they said, “Didn’t you realize that HR and grandboss would be reading this? Do you even know what the point of writing a self evaluation is? I was shocked at what you wrote.” But they wouldn’t explain what I did wrong, just kept shaking their head and repeating the above.

    For the record, the self-evaluation is a list of competencies that include various skills/behaviors. You rate yourself from 1 to 5, and there’s a comment box at the end. I wrote a few sentences about my strengths and/or weaknesses for each competency and gave myself ratings of either “3 – meets expectations” or “2 – needs improvement.” Which is what I’ve done at past jobs and what my coworkers said to do.

    To complicate things, I’ve been having anxiety/stress related medical issues for most of my time at this job and my performance has suffered. (Or at least my boss frequently berates me. Feels like they gaslight me a lot though.) My grandboss and HR know about the health issues since I started using FMLA recently. My boss has known much longer than them, but didn’t care.

    This year, could I simply write that I did my best despite struggling with medical issues, but realize my performance has suffered, and hope to do better when I get my health is under control? Or should I handle it differently? Should I just give myself all 3 ratings? All 2 ratings?

    I just want to make it as painless and easy as possible since I’m exhausted, but without getting into trouble with HR or my grandboss. (My boss will criticize me no matter what I write.)

    1. EMP*

      I haven’t worked with a boss like yours (who does sound horrible) but the advice I’ve always followed has been “rate yourself one HIGHER than you really think you are” because yes, you should be honest, but you are also somewhat selling your performance for the past year and going “look at me, look what a great cog in the wheel I have been”. If you have had problems, acknowledge them, but emphasize how you have worked around or past them and try to keep a positive spin.
      That said your company sounds toxic and I don’t know if “normal” advice will work, or if anything would be deemed appropriate by them if they will criticize you regardless.

    2. Rick Tq*

      If you aren’t on a PIP now, minimum rating should be 4s across the board, with 5s where appropriate. Your old company had some really bad practices and your coworkers did you no favors. The performance you are measuring yourself against for “4 exceeds” or “5 excels” is the performance of a random coworker, not you on your best days.

      Imposter syndrome screams you can never be a 5, but the scale descriptions so bad as to be deceptive. A 1 is you are headed out the door. 2 is PIP or close to it. 3 is does the bare minimum without being a problem. 4s are for things you do consistently well, and 5s are for categories where you know you do better than the majority of your coworkers.

      1. Willow Tree*

        For my current job, 4 is exceeds expectations and 5 is being so good that you mentor others, which I don’t think I meet. My boss gave me all 3s last year (I was shocked.) So I guess all 3s this year would be safe for my self evaluation?

        1. Rick Tq*

          Start with 4s across the board, with 5s for things you think you do really well.

          Yes, bump every rating you give yourself up one level. We are SO trained to not brag about our performance it is really hard to do it dispassionately. The only entity that can produce Perfect results is your Deity of choice, the best we can do is our best effort each day. Those days are 5s, the rest are 4s..

          I will bet your company ties pay rises to performance scores and they never budget for more than one 5 or more than a few 4s….

        2. GreenShoes*

          Give yourself 3s and highlight the good stuff you did or the metrics you met. Seriously, don’t make this harder on anyone than it should be. If you’re not on a PIP then you are meeting expectations. Don’t write anything negative.

          Even if you didn’t finish project A… say that but follow up with Project A is still in process due to changing business needs or whatever and write what you did do.

          If it’s a metric driven goal that wasn’t met, look for a plausible reason that you didn’t meet it. Ex: if the goal is complete all work in 3 days or less. You can say Completed 95% of work within 3 days despite a 50% increase in volume.

          This is pretty typical for all of the companies I’ve worked for:
          5/5 means you’ve made a significant contribution well outside of your core duties and walk on water. Unless what ever got you here was a fluke, you should have already been promoted

          4/5 means you are doing all of your core duties as well as advanced functions or projects to a high degree of competency/mastery -Employees consistently here are probably ready for advancement or promotion.

          3/5 means you are doing your job well and are a solid performer in your current role. That is the minimum you should rate yourself in a self evaluation. -Most employees fall into this category.

          2/5 means that you are not performing core duties to the minimum standard -In my company this would mean you are already on a PIP or will be placed on one immediately

          1/5 means you are not performing core duties to a significant degree. In other words you are currently failing the terms of a PIP

        3. Rex Libris*

          At the very least, throw in a 4 or two where you think it’s most appropriate. Part of what’s being gauged in self evaluations is whether you have a realistic level of confidence in your competence. It’s as bad to undersell as to oversell.

      2. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Seconding. Always rate yourself higher than you think. You won’t be getting a praised for brutal honesty or modesty.

        My internal measures go something like:
        5 – No one in the office (at my payscale or below) does this better
        4 – I am putting in effort and completing the work to the best of my abilities
        3 – I have back-burnered this to focus on other priorities
        2 – I am actively failing at this particular task and have no desire to improve
        1 – Would never, ever, ever, rate myself this low

        Also, do not grade yourself as if you are 100%. Grade yourself on the here and now. Would you discipline a coworker because their productivity dropped while going thru whatever you are going thru that led to the FMLA? I’m guessing not. You’d treat them with compassion.

    3. Darcy Smith*

      Before downgrading your performance on the self-review (I hate them and also have to do it) take an honest look at the requirements of your job and see at what level you are really performing. we tend to grade ourselves lower than other people would grade us. If you are normally a high performer, but are now an average performer due to issues, make sure you mark the average rating, not a low performing rating.

    4. Tio*

      It would concern me if people were rating themselves at 2, because that means they think they can’t get the job done. Depending on how many 2s you gave yourself, it would be a red flag to me. If you are doing your job appropriately, your lowest rating should be a 3. If there was one area you had a significant problem in, maybe rate that one a 2 and explain what happened and why in the comments along with a plan of how you’re going to do better, but other than that stay away from 2s.

    5. Flowers*

      oh god. Unless you wrote it in “text” speak or used memes/”lol” etc, that’s SO AWFUL of that boss!

    6. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      “To complicate things, I’ve been having anxiety/stress related medical issues for most of my time at this job and my performance has suffered. (Or at least my boss frequently berates me. Feels like they gaslight me a lot though.)”

      Uh, I don’t know what your personal life is like, but could your berating and gaslighting boss be a significant contributor *to* your stress-related medical issues?

      1. Willow Tree*

        Yes, the medical problems are from my boss, but I can’t tell people at work that. Everyone else loves them (though no one else has them as a manager). I’ve been job hunting for a long time, which also contributes to the anxiety and stress.

        1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

          Oooff, I’m sorry. I hope you find a way out of that situation soon.

    7. DataSci*

      The phrasing of “needs improvement” is unfortunate and potentially confusing for people with a growth mindset mentality that everyone can always improve! Think of it more like “currently unable to adequately perform this part of the job”.

    8. Irish Teacher*

      For the record, the self-evaluation is a list of competencies that include various skills/behaviors. You rate yourself from 1 to 5, and there’s a comment box at the end. I wrote a few sentences about my strengths and/or weaknesses for each competency and gave myself ratings of either “3 – meets expectations” or “2 – needs improvement.” Which is what I’ve done at past jobs and what my coworkers said to do.

      I am guessing that your boss thinks you are under-valuing yourself, probably because of your anxiety. Giving yourself 3s and 2s is pretty low and I would imagine he is saying “you don’t want HR and the grandboss thinking you are underperforming in a number of areas and barely meeting requirements in the rest, especially as most people will take it for granted that people are rounding up about themselves and that if the best somebody can say about themselves is ‘I manage to meet the minimun standards in some parts of my role,’ that doesn’t look great.”

      I have never had performance reviews (well, I technically had one but it was a college student job so it wasn’t a serious thing because they knew I was leaving anyway and we didn’t have self-evaluations even then) so not sure about the rubrics, but I would say that 3s for most things and 4s for the things you feel you do well at sounds reasonble.

      I think more 2s than there are 4s and 5s would look either concerning or like somebody who really undervalues themself.

  18. Bluebonnet*

    Where are good sites to look for well-paying jobs that require at least a bachelor’s degree? I am people oriented, creative, strategic, hardworking and eager to find a rewarding job where I actually grow (as opposed to my current job with limited growth opportunities where management haws pigeonholed me). Also, should I consider additional certifications since as Google’s Project manager certificate, or certification in being a Scrum Master?

    I have an undergraduate degree in journalism and am working towards a master’s in higher education (I have only 2 classes left and will graduate in May 2024). My work background is primarily in managing student workers at an academic library desk, although I would like to switch fields to student affairs or something else that involves communication and working with people.

    I use LinkedIn and Flexjobs, but am not finding anything of interest (it seems like job sites show jobs that are entry level and low paying). Recruiters on LinkedIn do not contact me despite my best efforts translating my experience to useful skills. I have also been searching Chronicle and Indeed as well as local job sites. I have even applied for jobs at my university employer as well as other local higher education institutions to no avail. I was a finalist twice at my university employer but both times it has fallen through.

    It has been a long, discouraging process.

      1. Bluebonnet*

        I haven’t but will take a look.

        One of my issues too is that few higher ed jobs are remote, but I would prefer not to move since I own a home and house prices have gone up (I am fearful about navigating the current housing market). I live in a small city with 2 universities and 2 community colleges in driving distance.

        Sadly, after I get my degree, if I still cannot find a job, I may have to bite the bullet and move.

        1. Unladen European Swallow*

          For higher ed roles that are more student facing, particularly in student affairs, I’ve found few (if any) institutions that have those be completely remote roles. Often, they are hybrid (with about 3 days on-campus) or fully on-campus. At my university, the fully remote roles are ones that are not student facing, such as in IT or in Finance/Accounting. I live in one of the East Coast cities where there are many colleges/universities, and this seems to be the norm across several institutions. Just to be aware.

        1. Bluebonnet*

          I am primarily looking for academic support and/or student services jobs, not teaching jobs.

      2. edjobs*

        Second HigherEd Jobs! Their alerts are how I found my current position.

        Also definitely keep in mind the higher ed hiring is notoriously slow, so if you have apps out there you may still hear back months later.

        1. cardigarden*

          Especially if a holiday falls within the search window. I’ve been on two committees where we had to pause for the week between Christmas and New Years.

        2. Rex Libris*

          Third to HigherEdJobs. And of course bookmark the employment websites for any school near you. Additionally, look for any state level academic organizations that host job boards.

    1. Frankie*

      Being a finalist twice is a good sign! Your application might be more competitive once your MA is actually finished. I have observed that for external hires the degree is an important factor.

    2. Well That's Fantastic*

      Try checking out the websites for colleges/universities in high cost-of-living cities. I work in higher ed and have found that (at least in my niche) the higher the cost of living where a university is, usually the higher likelihood they are willing to have remote or hybrid workers. Browsing the listings might also inspire some new search terms to try.

    3. Tricia*

      Government. So, so many jobs. And most of their jobs are advertised on their job site – not public sites like Indeed.

    4. Frodo Laggins*

      Have you considered searching for edtech jobs? I have a background in journalism/higher ed, and when I decided I wanted to pivot to fully remote jobs, edtech seemed to make the most sense. I searched that on LinkedIn and Indeed and got quite a few bites.

      Wishing you luck!

      1. Mimmy*

        Not the OP but could you please elaborate on “edtech”? I have a masters related to higher education and have been focusing on student-facing roles. However, I am sadly coming to realize that remote or even hybrid positions are hard to come by.

  19. AtticWife*

    I have recently started job hunting., I like my work a lot but in seven years have never received more than a 3% raise and I cannot afford to purchase a home in the area even in a two income household (My partner works remotely so moving is not a concern for them). I am looking at similar jobs. I work in academia in a somewhat niche department. From my search, I can see I am not paid market rate. What is the best way to say to interviewers why I am leaving? I do not make enough money and I do not want to rent at 4o years old seems a little blunt.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      How long have you been at your current job? If you’ve been there 5+ years, no one will bat an eye at “ready to move on and tackle different challenges.” You can also say (if you’re interested in advancement) that there’s no room for advancement at your current job. Interviewers are mostly looking for an absence of red flag answers with that question, so you can answer in a bland way and then tack on “…and I was excited to see [position] posted because [details about job ad/university that make you excited to work there].”

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      My favorite is, “Reading to take on something new” or you can use that question as a chance to mention what about the job interests you, “I am looking to move into a job which is mor X, because I am particularly interested in expanding my skills in X and Y.” So, you can often answer the question without ever mentioning pay.

    3. Generic Name*

      Something happened at work recently that I’m really angry about. Angry enough to leave over it. I’ve been here well over 5 years, and when companies ask why I’m looking, I just say I’ve worked for company X for a really long time and I’m ready for a change. Nobody has thought twice about that answer.

  20. Weekly commiseration*

    Weekly commiseration: how’s job searching?

    pet peeve: job postings that stay up for weeks and you don’t get removed, so you apply only to find out they shouldn’t have been posted and are filled.

    1. Bluebonnet*

      Yuck, that is a pain! I have several applications pending and 2 interviews this month, but no further progress. This process feels unending!

      I have been trying for over a year to get a new job but can be choosy since my current employer has good benefits (advancement is just next to impossible).

      I am wishing you the best on your job search!

    2. Corrigan*


      I interviewed about 2 months ago. I thought it went really well, but I didn’t get a second interview and I got a form rejection letter about a month later. I saw that it was posted again. (Definitely a new posting, but no idea if it’s a new posting of the same position.) I emailed the hiring manager to ask if it was a new position or the same one and if I should apply again or if there was something about my candidacy that concerned her. No response. I applied again anyway, and worst case they tell me no again I guess.

    3. Bunny Girl*

      UGH. It’s so awful. My current pet peeve is people misrepresenting jobs. I’ve had multiple interviews (and a couple offers that I’ve turned down) where the job turns out to be a very entry level clerical/administrative position, when it was presented as something different.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      I had an interview yesterday that I think went well. First round for an internal position that would be a small step up, so I stand a decent chance.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Back and forth. I got to the final round for a job that I really wanted, where I actually liked the managers and could tell they liked me, and everything. Then they went with someone who had more years with the same job title, which appears to be everyone’s most important priority regardless of other qualifications or experience. So that sucked.

      Then I dropped my salary expectations by $10-15K and started applying for jobs on that level, and I’m getting tons of calls. So I guess that is my sweet spot of demand. Problem is, I can’t live on that.

      Then I talked to a recruiter who said I was way overqualified for the low-paying job I submitted for, and he’d expect to place me for the range I originally was looking for. And he gave me some more insights about how to position my resume, and some skill certifications that would stand out. So that was encouraging.

    6. Random Bystander*

      Slow and depressing. I’ve gotten as far as a video interview (record your answers speaking to the ether) on one application. Usually, I get a generic email, and once an email that the position was no longer available within an hour of my putting in the application (all internal job search opportunities).

    7. Past Lurker*

      Pretty terrible. Lots of ‘we found another candidate that better matches’, forms that require your graduation date for no reason, and forms that require you to upload your resume and then separately enter the same information in different fields of the application. Apologies, I know I’ve ranted about this before! But since you asked :)

      1. Random Bystander*

        Oh, yes … the graduation date. Please let me leave that off because it smacks of excluding people based on age (my graduation was in 1987).

      2. Mimmy*

        Oh god YES about the forms!! Last week, I applied to one job and their resume parsing mucked everything up, including listing one of my internships as being in Australia. For the record, I am in the United States. Also, it put everything in reverse order.

    8. Cj*

      I just started working with a recruiter two weeks ago, and they set up three interviews for me that same week. I’m really excited about one of the companies, and hope I move forward with that.

      although, regarding cover letters, I know this goes against everything discussed on this blog, but when am I applying on my own I don’t send them if they’re not required. I still got quite a few interviews and though I didn’t send a cover letter. it takes so much stress out of the process, because of the job is already filled I don’t really care because it only took me a few seconds to apply.

      I just applied to a five jobs myself in about 5 minutes, because I didn’t include cover letters. I’m curious to see how that goes.

    9. Mimmy*

      It’s going so-so. After a bit of a drought, I found a few jobs to apply for, one of which I have a “pre-screening” interview for this week. Although I think I screwed myself a bit. First, the time they gave me conflicted with work, so I responded with alternate times. Second, when I first saw this listing, it was posted on LinkedIn by a recruiting agency, and it listed the job as “Remote / WFH”. However, I think this agency just scours job boards and reposts them because EVERY ONE of their listings is “Remote / WFH”. This university is out of state and not in a state we want to move to.

  21. Flowers*

    It’s  self-eval time. I’ve been taking notes for months – pretty much since I started – so I have A LOT of thoughts that I’m finally able to organize and drill down and reframe in a professional context.

    The big thing I want to bring up is that I’ve constantly felt excluded or like an afterthought. Ive seen the culture and I like it a lot but I just wish I was more a part of it. Some of the examples I have are legitimate, some are not for lack of a better word and the remaining are somewhere in between. I am self aware enough to recognize that the “non-legitimate” feelings stem from deeper issues (I do NOT mention this at work).

    For all my insecurities, self esteem/confidence issues, social anxiety and awkwardness, I find that I thrive on building relationships and collaboration and I’m slowly coming around to accepting that its’ OK to be like that. At work this translates to wanting the engagement, the interactions etc. When I see that specific people are constantly talking to everyone but ignore me, or are visibly impatient when I’m saying something even though I asked beforehand if it was a good time to talk (I’m not this long winded IRL), or the peer group I sit with doesn’t consider me part of their group ever or if someone who used to be friendly is suddenly not and its nto a one-off, those things all make me feel like crap at work.

    So my questions –

    Does it reflect badly on me if the majority of my answers are “Needs improvement” if I think it’s true? To me the worst thing in an evaluation is thinking I’m “good” or “excellent” but the manager thinks otherwise. Is this a standard professional way to think or is it my warped thinking at play?

    Re: the building relationships. There are certain examples that when I say them, I choke up and cry. I hate crying work esp in front of men (idk). I’ve tried saying certain things out loud to practice but I always end up bawling for some reason I can’t explain. I plan to address the crying with my therapist on our upcoming meeting but for the sake of the work meeting – should I just say “hey I will cry.” Im stuck on how to end that sentence.

    Just thought about this while reading this morning’s questions – would it make sense to ask what it was that made them hire me? There was a lot of confusion about my position early on (hired for one, doing another), and my interview was about 30 minutes long with an offer almost right on the spot; whereas others had interviews with multiple partners over the course of several days.

    Am I putting way too much on this one meeting? I do have quick 1 on 1s with my boss regularly but I feel like this is really the only opportunity I will ever have to really sit down express things I’ve seen and felt over the past year….

    1. ThatGirl*

      Yes, it would reflect badly on you if you said you needed improvement on nearly all parts of your job. It’s normal to have things you want to improve on, but are you really that bad at your day to day job? I doubt it.

      Think about your manager for a second – do you think they are the type to surprise you with an evaluation? Good managers give feedback regularly, and would tell you if you really needed to, say, improve your grammar or meet deadlines better or whatever. If you don’t think they’re so petty as to spring a last-minute “you suck” on you, I would guess you’re very much in the Meets Expectations realm.

      1. Flowers*

        That’s a good point; I don’t anticipate surprises.
        I did request a mini-feedback meeting last week where he did give me some good feedback. I requested it last week because I thought evals would be in July/August; had I known it was going to be now I would not have requested one.

    2. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I would put many as “Satisfactory” and then hopefully there is a box where you can add feedback for management. It doesn’t sound like you’re bad enough to warrant “need improvement.” I mean, everyone technically needs some sort of improvement.

      As a Director, I want to say that I’ve received the “want to be kept in the loop” thing a few times and the result has been two-fold. One, the person eventually starts complaining all of the meetings are a waste of time, or they stop reading all of the emails. So I would be specific about what I want to happen there.

      1. Flowers*

        Each section has a comment box, and the instructions say that “Needs improvement” or “Outstanding” require comments. but I plan to leave comments on a few questions.

    3. Brownie*

      “To me the worst thing in an evaluation is thinking I’m ‘good’ or ‘excellent’”

      That’s a lot to unpack regarding toxic workplaces, self-esteem/confidence issues, and more, so I won’t go into that side of things. From the workplace side I don’t think it’s a good thing to ever self-evaluate as anything less than “good” rating overall because it self-sabotages your whole review. If I see someone I think is doing “exceeds expectations” work rate themselves as “needs improvement” I will always start wondering what the employee sees/is struggling with that I don’t know about and adjust the rating downwards based on that. From a purely strategic side always rate yourself as “good” or better to avoid that kind of downgrade from a manager.

      1. Flowers*

        I touched on this below, but this is the exact opposite of what I’ve always been taught. So I’m glad I asked here as I’ve never even considered this POV. 

      2. Irish Teacher*

        I’d be careful about adjusting downwards based on self-evaluations as a lot of people are not good at self-evaluation and the criteria sound kinda vague. What one person might think “exceeds expectations” another might think barely meets.

        And of course, there are all kinds of reasons why different people might rate differently. Cultural differences are one. Some cultures value confidence and would be likely to round up when judging themselves whereas others value modesty and would be likely to round down. There are studies that indicate men are more likely than women to rate themselves higher. People with anxiety issues or how have been abused might be likely to underrate themselves.

        And adjusting downwards for those reasons could be inaccurate and problematic.

        I agree with you that it is better to avoid 2s because they could start a manager thinking that way subconsciously, but I also think managers need to be aware of trying to avoid such thinking and…maybe doing their own ratings before they’ve read the self-evaluation to avoid letting it influence them?

    4. Alex*

      Yes, i think you are putting way too much on this one meeting. Your performance evaluation shouldn’t be a time to “really sit down and express things you’ve seen and felt over the past year.” It should be about your work over the past year and your future goals.

      I’d sit down and make a list of the things you think you’ve done well over the past year. Then pick one or two items to say you would like to improve or learn. Then put those into paragraph form. That’s it. Don’t make this about your feeling excluded or how you think you are viewed by other people. Those are things for your therapist, or, if there is a real problem that you think your manager could help with, that is something you could bring up separately with them. I wouldn’t do it at your performance review. Performance reviews aren’t cathartic healing experiences–they are evaluations of your work and a chance for you to make sure you and your boss are on the same page about the quality of your work and where you would like to take it in the future.

      1. Flowers*

        Performance reviews aren’t cathartic healing experiences–they are evaluations of your work and a chance for you to make sure you and your boss are on the same page about the quality of your work and where you would like to take it in the future.

        Um, I wasn’t planning for it to be a cathartic healing experience? I am very well aware that my bosses are not my therapists. I did already include certain work things on my eval that I did not mention here. But culture is also a huge part of any work environment, and it’s valid to ask how bringing it up is appropriate during an evaluation.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          It does sound like you’re putting a lot of thought into the emotional issues here, though. I would think that the best way to bring the cultural stuff up is to try to deal with it in as calm a way as possible. I’m not saying talk like a robot, but a lot of what you say above, if you say it in a similar way to your boss, is going to come across as “no one likes me or wants to be friends with me,” and your boss is going to feel helpless to fix that–because they are. Your boss can’t change things like whether people include you at lunch or whether someone is friendly towards you. Social issues between coworkers aren’t the boss’s job to step in and moderate. But if there are issues where people are, for example, refusing to allow you access to meetings where you ought to be included for work reasons, or where someone is not answering your work-related e-mails, or is failing to give you information you need, that’s stuff your manager can (and should) address. Keep it work-focused, rather than emotionally-focused. That’s where your manager has the standing to do something.

          Also, you can talk about your desires to build relationships in a positive, work-focused way. Tell your boss you’d love opportunities for more collaborative work, more cross-team involvement, etc.

          As far as crying goes: don’t mention it unless it happens. If it does happen, try to address it as calmly as you can. “Please excuse the crying–I’m afraid it’s just how I sometimes am in meetings like this one, but I’m OK!” But if you’re not actually OK, it’s fine to say, “I’m sorry, I seem to be getting kind of emotional. Would it be OK for me to take five minutes to refresh myself?” and then go to the bathroom or go outside for a few minutes to do some belly-breathing.

          Don’t ask what made them hire you. If it’s a well-done review, they should be giving you specific feedback on what you’re doing well. If they don’t, ask for some. “Can you give me some examples of things you’ve been happy with in my work? I want to make sure I continue to do those things and maybe build on them.”

          Be honest about yourself. If you have regular 1:1s with your boss, hopefully they’ve let you know how your work is going so far. Take them at their word about what’s been good and what’s been more of a challenge. If they seem overall satisfied with your work, most of your self-ratings should be along the lines of “satisfactory.”

    5. EMP*

      An annual review is a time to reflect on your performance but the advice I follow is it’s also a time to re-sell yourself for your job. Everyone can improve, but that’s not what the rating “needs improvement” is really for. “Needs improvement” is like “should be on a PIP” – you aren’t performing the minimum functions of your job to a reasonable standard. Most people should be “meets expectations” and if there’s some areas where you think you perform well (doesn’t have to be perfect! just pretty darn good!) throw in an “exceeds” or two.

      I would also try to keep your feedback focused on yourself and what you want and can do. What I mean by this is, *you* want to connect more with your team. *You* want to improve collaboration. Don’t focus on what your team is doing wrong (“Reginald and Fergus exclude me”) for this review because that shouldn’t be the focus.

      AAM has some previous articles about crying in work/during feedback that you might want to read and see if any apply to you

      1. Flowers*

        That’s really helpful way to frame it! Yes I don’t like to say “xyz did this and that” but I just wasn’t sure how to phrase it. 

    6. Jess R.*

      Something I’m picking up — that I also feel — is that you might be conflating “needs improvement” with “could improve.” When you’re conscientious about your work, you’re often aware of possible improvements. I know I could reply to client emails a little faster, for example, or be more willing to make phone calls instead of sending emails. But that is different from “NEEDS improvement.” In a self-eval (although we don’t have those at my current job), I suspect I’d put most of my skills at a 4 or 5 out of 5, which isn’t to say that there’s no room for improvement, but rather that I am doing the job well enough and getting good enough results.

      1. NeedRain47*

        This, the most! I’m a person who always looks for ways to improve things. But when I do my self evaluation I’m comparing myself to the employer’s expectations (look at your job description), not to my own. You don’t have to be doing the BEST JOB EVER, you just need to be doing a *satisfactory* job.

      2. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Agree. (I responded to Willow Tree in a similar question above thread but) always rate yourself higher than you believe. You are not going to get kudos for brutal honesty or for extra modesty. A 2 out of 5 is basically telling your manager you can’t do the job.

    7. cardigarden*

      So, it sounds like the building relationships aspect you discuss is a separate concern from the content of the actual work you’re assigned to do but you’re conflating the two in your self-eval.

      The first thing you should think about is the 1:1 meetings you have with your boss. It sounds like you have them regularly, and if your boss is good at what he does, he should have been checking in with you regarding your work quality from the beginning. In an ideal world, the review meeting is a rubber-stamp because there’s been steady dialogue throughout the whole year. Your work product, specifically, is what you should be limiting your eval to, and from what you’ve shared, it sounds like you’re probably meeting expectations.

      Regarding the feelings of exclusion from your peers: you could use this conversation for a vibe check. When I have review meetings with my reports, I always reserve time for a temperature check re how they’re feeling about their job, workload, and interpersonal interactions. If your boss is good, you could ask him for guidance on how to navigate some of those interactions where you’re getting a “vibe’s off” feeling.

      Something I’ve had to work on for myself is that I am very perceptive to microexpressions, up to and including assuming feelings that aren’t actually there, which is sometimes frustrating for my partner who has a natural resting serious face. I’m often asking him if he has a problem with something I’ve said has bothered him and the answer is always no. Idk if that’s part of what’s going on with you, but it might be something to explore with your therapist.

      TLDR: Do not rate yourself as needs improvement. For my company, that automatically flags an HR review which usually results in a PIP, which you probably don’t want.

      1. Flowers*

        Yes that is true. He has been clear with feedback from the beginning and where my weaknesses are.
        Regarding the feelings of exclusion from your peers: you could use this conversation for a vibe check. When I have review meetings with my reports, I always reserve time for a temperature check re how they’re feeling about their job, workload, and interpersonal interactions. If your boss is good, you could ask him for guidance on how to navigate some of those interactions where you’re getting a “vibe’s off” feeling.Something I’ve had to work on for myself is that I am very perceptive to microexpressions, up to and including assuming feelings that aren’t actually there, which is sometimes frustrating for my partner who has a natural resting serious face. I’m often asking him if he has a problem with something I’ve said has bothered him and the answer is always no. Idk if that’s part of what’s going on with you, but it might be something to explore with your therapist.

        I like framing it as a vibe check. The interpersonal interactions are what I’m focusing on for this question, since the workload and job itself are pretty clear (and thus not included in this post).

    8. Rick Tq*

      Imposter syndrome screams you can never be a 5, but the scale descriptions so bad as to be deceptive, and honestly rating yourself is ‘bragging’ so there is a lot of pressure to downgrade your self-assessment.

      My take on the rating levels in the real world:
      1’s are you headed out the door.
      2 is you are already on a PIP or close to it. (NEEDS improvement, not can improve)
      3 is does the bare minimum without being a problem.
      4s are for things you do consistently well,
      5s are for categories where you know you do better than the majority of your coworkers.

      IMO your reference for measurement is a random person doing your job, not you on your best days.

      There is no shame in your manager marking you down from 4s, you may be surprised when they lift your 2’s to 3’s or better.

    9. Actuarial Octagon*

      In my experience very few people rate themselves as needing improvement in evaluations, especially for a “majority” of categories. Are you getting regular feedback from your boss? Can you attempt to tie your ratings to the feedback you’ve received?

      Also, on feeling excluded, is that from work conversations or more day to day chat? If you are not getting the information you need to complete your work then you should absolutely ask your boss for help trying to get that resolved. Something like “I find that I don’t always receive updates on project A as they happen, what can I do to ensure those don’t get missed?” But if you feel excluded from more idle chat I think bringing it up to your boss during an annual review will distract from what is important. And ultimately there isn’t much they can do to help.

    10. NaoNao*

      To address one small part of this, I’d end the “I will cry” part with “…and I’m okay, it’s completely physiological and not to worry!”

      But the rest–I hope this doesn’t come off as harsh (because I can *really* relate to a lot of this) but there’s a…fragility and almost neediness that comes through here in the writing, and it could be “a lot” for coworkers and peers, even if you’re doing everything by the book and technically correct.

      It’s not just being long winded that can have people fidgeting–it could be a number of things but it seems like there’s a level of rawness and openness or emotions that are just a bit too high for the workplace and that’s what people might be reacting to. Like asking the powers that be “why did you hire me” is asking (in so many words) for a level of reassurance and emotional labor that’s a bit out of line I’d say. It’s going to come off *really* needy.

      It sounds like maybe the job and culture isn’t the right match–I know that in certain cultures I’m the fish out of water and it’s miserable. I would describe those cultures as Type A, Gordon Gekko, wake up and 5 and punch the alarm clock in the face, skip meals, work late, Mean Girls and Bullies grown up, ultra high energy work hard play hard cultures. That’s…not for me.

      I would not take the time to pour your heart out, I would instead think of what you DO want. A “FeelingsDumpTM” (h/t Captain Awkward) won’t get the results you want. So what do you want and need in terms of work support they can reasonably give you? I’d focus on that angle.

      1. Flowers*

        not harsh but I don’t think it’s true. I avoid being too open with any personal things and I’m conscious of emotional labor, and I definitely don’t expect that from anyone at work. I’m not going into long monologues or making speeches to anyone. Why I would ask “why did you hire me” – there was some confusion about my position that I don’t want to get into too much detail to. I probably worded it wrong. 

        Now if it’s an unspoken vibes/RBF thing, I can’t change my face, but I suppose I can change my inner thoughts to change the vibes. And yes, I am in therapy and yes I have in the past and will be discussing this and other things with my therapist when I meet with them soon. 

    11. T. Wanderer*

      ThatGirl and Brownie both gave really good breakdowns of this, imho.

      I also really hate the idea of marking myself higher than my boss does, but the way my manager described it to me is: if you “need improvement” on something, you should KNOW it — specifically, your manager should have told you and it will be an ongoing discussion. If they haven’t talked to you about it, you’re doing fine. If they’ve complimented you, you exceed expectations!

    12. Kate B.*

      On “needs improvement,” “good,” and “excellent”–my take is that in a healthy workplace, these reflect how you are doing now, based on the amount of experience, training, support, and work you’ve received. You’re not evaluating whether you’re as good at your job as someone who’s been in your position for 40 years and is at the top of their game. Of course you will improve as you get to know your work better. But “good” is more like “meets expectations” to me.

      I understand that it’s psychologically nicer to say “eh, I think I need improvement” and hear “actually, you’re doing excellent!” than to say “I think I’m excellent” and hear “ehhhhhhh” in response–but I would move away from that impulse. If you think you understand what you’re supposed to be doing and you’re doing it, you’re “good.”

      If you’re being asked to evaluate things like attendance, if you show up when you’re supposed to or communicate in advance otherwise, you’re at least “good.”

      On crying, I think “hey I will cry” is not bad! I’d just follow up with what you want the other person to do. Should they keep talking until you signal that you’re ready and able to speak? Do you want them to leave an “awkward” silence for you to catch your breath? Do you anticipate needing to step out of the room for a minute to get a drink of water, but then you will come back to finish the conversation?

      1. Flowers*

        That’s really helpful advice about the crying, and YES to the psychological aspect of it!

    13. Flowers*

      Thanks everyone. So there’s a general consensus here about the “NI” rating that never occurred to me, so I am VERY glad I asked this!

    14. Tio*

      Putting Needs Improvement on multiple answers would be a huge red flag for e. The middle rating, usually a 3, means you complete your job without issues. Anything below that, means you run into issues doing your job. Multiple 2s/Needs improvement mean that you basically cannot do your job well enough, and would be incredibly alarming to see as a manager. Not going to lie, this may sound harsh, but if you came in marking a bunch of twos, and then cried about people not liking you, we would be in defcon-4 “this is a serious problem” mode, and I wouldn’t think the problem is everyone else.

      Maybe you could ask him for feedback on how he perceives your relationships with others and how to improve them as part of the 1:1 without going into these specific feelings of being snubbed or ignored yet. List out your specific examples on paper, and have a friend or therapist look at them and see if they sound like actionable items for the workplace. Then, maybe in another 1:1 later, bring these items up and ask for his opinion on them. Since you admit some of the problems are not actually external problems, I worry that there may be a bit of making some of the actual items into larger events than they may have been seen by others.

      I do wish the best for you! I think you’re probably doing a lot better than you think and you’re going to be fine. Good luck!

      1. Flowers*

        Since you admit some of the problems are not actually external problems, I worry that there may be a bit of making some of the actual items into larger events than they may have been seen by others.

        Ok that makes sense to do. and yes you’re exactly right – that some of them were larger than they really are. Hence why I’ve never actually brought them up. The only way I ever truly know is with time and hindsight….

    15. GreenShoes*

      I don’t want to spam the comments with the same answer… so search my username to see what I said on the question upthread about on the same topic.

      Short answer:
      You are WAYYYY over thinking this. Don’t give yourself anything less than a “Meets Expectations” or equivalent. Don’t beat yourself up in a self appraisal. If you think there are things you want to work on, leave it out of your PA and just have conversations with your manager.

    16. Rex Libris*

      My two cents, for what it’s worth… Your self evaluation, in my experience anyway, isn’t the place to express all the feels and do in-depth soul searching. It’s a (mostly useless, IMHO) exercise intended to see if your assessment of your job performance is reasonably in line with your supervisor’s, so there can be a discussion if it isn’t.

      Assume your own competence as a baseline, acknowledge your understanding of and progress on any performance deficiencies you’ve been made aware of, and point out every place where your performance has been noteworthy. Save “needs improvement” mostly for things you’ve been told need improvement, and where you don’t have any examples of having made progress.

      The other stuff would be better left for a different meeting centered around fitting more fully into the work culture there. I find it helps stem off the emotion to present it in the most professional terms you can. You don’t have to give teary examples, you can phrase things like “I sometimes feel that I have difficulty connecting with certain coworkers” or “I admire the work culture here, and would value your advice on more fully integrating with the team.”

      Don’t ask what made them hire you… it sounds too much like you think they made a bad decision, which may read as a red flag to your boss, and it’s really just coming from your own discouragement and anxiety.

      Good luck!

    17. Joielle*

      I agree with everyone else that you shouldn’t give yourself less than a 3 unless you’ve been seriously and recently reprimanded for something. Don’t undersell yourself.

      On the relationship building and culture stuff – I’ll be honest, to me, this sounds like a lot for a performance eval conversation. At most, I think you could say “I sometimes don’t feel like part of the group and I wonder if you’ve noticed anything I could change to help me fit in socially.” Personally, I would not get into descriptions of people who you sit with at lunch or who seems friendly or unfriendly or impatient at different times – especially if describing those examples is likely to make you cry. I feel like a performance review is a time when you want to present yourself in the best light, and you don’t want to give your boss a reason to think “jeez, Flowers needs a lot of hand holding” while they’re deciding how to evaluate you for the year.

    18. Flowers*

      Thanks everyone for the feedback! So glad I asked here because I definitely learned something new! I re-did my evaluation before submitting it, and I don’t’ think I put as many NI as I initially thought (I’ve done maybe 3 drafts prior to writing here lol). 

      Also I want to address this too – I’m not expecting my bosses or coworkers to perform ANY emotional labor or provide this meeting as a “healing experience.” YES I am an emotional person but I am also actively in therapy addressing my issues. It is a slow process. I do not “trauma-dump”. I am aware of the limitations of friendly work relationships – I’m not looking for “besties” and I always take other ppls cues and meet ppl where they are. But if I perceive that I am being treated differently, that is something that I will feel and question if I should bring it up…hence asking the question here first. I spent 5 years in a toxic environment, then I was home for 2 years. When I first started this job, I felt that my norms may had been skewered so I tend to err on the side of caution. 

      1. Redaktorin*

        I understand that your self-concept is someone who is aware of emotional labor, never dumps their feelings on others, and is aware of the difference between friendly and work interactions. But what you wrote here looks like the opposite of that, and enough people are saying so that you may need to re-evaluate whether your self-concept is truly accurate in this situation.

        I do think you’ll be fine if you *don’t mention the stuff that is making you cry*. That reaction is your body telling you to stop. Your boss is not a safe audience for emotionally fraught discussions of who you think looks annoyed when you talk.

        That said, I hope things get easier for you. Something that has helped me a lot when dealing with similar thoughts is that literally nobody is going to think about me as much as I think about me. Your coworkers may not actually be annoyed, or maybe they’re annoyed but won’t remember it in three minutes, or they’re annoyed because they’ve been fighting with their significant others and it has nothing to do with you, etc. Maybe they’re sitting together because they’re used to it and would be thrilled to have you there as well. Or maybe they’re toxic rude jerks, which is still not really about you.

    19. GingerNP*

      Re: crying – in my recent yearly review, the first thing I said to my manager was “just so you know, I end up crying in this office pretty regularly” (which is true, like every six months over the past 15 years, with all three of my managers) “and it’s not you, I promise.” But to be fair, I don’t know how to be somebody I’m not and I don’t know how to not have my feelings, at least when I have space to do so. I work in the ER so I stuff down EVERYTHING until i’m not in front of patients and it comes out when i’m in my boss’s office with the door shut.

  22. Aarti*

    3 people just quit in my office and 1 got fired and 2 are in a transition plan to get out in a few months.
    Whew. It’s been a rollercoaster.

      1. Momma Bear*

        Wow. Maybe take a good lunch to regroup. I’d want to touch base with my boss to find out the plan for myself.

    1. Mimmy*

      We’ve been bleeding staff at my job too. Several have left over the last year, one of them just returned from medical leave, and another just started medical leave, their second in a year. I’m looking to leave myself. We’re barely getting by with a mix of FT and PT staff.

  23. Shopping is my cardio*

    I have been asked to snitch on a coworker.
    Quick background info: I work in a group of about about 20 people, most of us do the same type of work. My workload is too large for 1 person so I always work with a partner, it has worked great for years. In the last 2 months I was told that I would get a new partner (not great since it involves lots of training, but whatever fine I have done it before). The only difference this time is that I was paired up with someone that is being monitored by our ethics department. There havw been problems in the past with this person abusing our OT, not doing the work, lying in timecards.. etc.. the list goes on and on. I am supposed to track what he does and what he doesn’t, when he does it etc. So far my fears have proved to be true since I haven’t seen any actual work for the 3 weeks we have been working together. I am keeping a running list of this. In the meantime they have asked a different coworker to help me with my workload since the first one is MIA most of the time. How long do I allow this to go on before I raise my hand? I feel like I need to establish a deadline with my boss of how long I will continue this farce. Does anyone have thoughts on how to handle this?

    1. ScruffyInternHerder*

      Question, filed under “Got the Tee Shirt”:

      Have they told you that you’re part of the ethics department monitoring? Or does it just seem like it?

      In a similar situation, I called my boss and asked for clarity, because if I was “being asked to make sure that the partner sucked, it would just be a lot faster for me to tell you what you want to hear and I’ll just make it brief.” Turns out, they honestly thought it was a solid move and that she was trainable. Great. Give me tools and leeway to do so, but you need to have a “Big Kid Now” conversation with her and HR first, I’ll come in late. They did. It worked amazingly well.

      Verify your role, find out what they’re expecting for a timeline. That’s my suggestion.

      1. Shopping is my cardio*

        He is not trainable, at this point they are at the documenting point of the whole firing process. HR is involved and I guess my role is to keep a log so they have backup (there are other things besides what I can see). I will ask for a timeline, thank you!

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Definitely ask your boss. Can you send weekly reports in the meantime? They might have a target number of infractions they’re looking for.

      And I would reframe this in my head from “snitching” to “documenting.”

      1. Shopping is my cardio*

        Thank you Charlotte, yes it is definitely documenting and I am doing it – it just feels like snitching and also something I don’t want to keep doing forever until they get their ducks in a row. Thank you for your answer!

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I don’t like the way your bosses are doing it, necessarily, but I don’t know why you’d have doubts about turning in someone who is likely standing in the way of getting the job done and of you getting real help (because they are using money getting paid to do nothing, and creating the appearance that you have more help than you do). Just tell your boss what you’ve seen so far and ask for–insist on–a deadline beyond which they feel they have enough information so you don’t get stuck doing this indefinitely because they’re too chicken to to act on it.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            This! I’ve been in the situation where I wished management would ask for documentation.

        2. Rick Tq*

          Your missing Fergus is functionally stealing from the company by being paid without performing any work. You aren’t ‘snitching’, you are helping document his behavior.

          This isn’t “Teacher, teacher! Jimmy is picking his nose again!!” You are asked to be witness to his behavior that management already knows about but needs more documentation before they terminate him.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Who asked you to track what he does. Can you not speak to that person, and summarize how it;s going, and ask them (i) what specifically they need from you and (ii) how long this is likely to continue for.

      Also – if you hadn’t been asked to track them but they were just a normal partner, what would you do in this situation, if they weren’t working? Presumably you’d raise it with your line manager / their line manager? Can you do that?

      1. Shopping is my cardio*

        I was asked by my boss who is also his boss. Yes of course I can speak to him (boss) but I wanted to hear what other people think or if someone has been in this situation. Thank you!

    4. Momma Bear*

      Go back to the boss and ask about the timeline. I once tracked a coworker’s impact on my work and partially it was just cc’ing the boss when following up with the Coworker. I increased my CYA and reminder emails to this person vs having calls or office chats about problems. Or directly noted it to the boss. “Hey, Boss. I know you wanted the Teapot Delivery Report but Coworker has not provided me an updated quantity. Please see my email to Coworker yesterday, which was a follow up from Monday. How would you like me to proceed?”

  24. Moomin the Great*

    If you had the chance to interview the person who was going to be your boss, what would you ask them? My team is doing a panel interview on Monday for our potential new manager and I want to weed out toxic micromanagers and find someone to help support us and keep our amazing team vibe.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Ask about how often they like to give their team feedback, what kind of team meeting structure they prefer, how hands-on they see themselves – that kind of thing?

    2. Bluebonnet*

      I would want to know their communication style and preferences, and how they handle challenges and conflicts (both from above and below).

    3. HCTZ*

      I’d wanna find out what do they consider are the most important qualities in a direct report? Think that’ll give some insight into what they consider important (besides business needs obviously) and how they might manage. Do they ONLY care about you meeting deadlines? Or do they care that you’re building relationships with others? And so on.

    4. Elle*

      Ask for specific examples of them looking out for the well-being of their staff. How supportive are they?

    5. T. Wanderer*

      Everyone hates “tell me about a time when…” questions, but I’d ask for an example of how they handled a low-performing report in the past. That might tell you how they support people, if the answer is “train” or “fire” and how successful it was, and whether they talk compassionately about even their annoying reports ;)

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I like those questions. It’s way easier (for me) to recount what happened in a scenario than to answer “what would you do if…?” that often has so many variables that it’s difficult to say hypothetically.

    6. Emma2*

      I might ask what they find to be the most challenging people to work with, and what an ideal employee looks like to them (or what qualities an employee needs to succeed in their team).

    7. spiriferida*

      Definitely keeping an eye on this thread, considering my own situation at work right now!

      Personally I’d ask the obvious question – what do they think is the most important part of their role as a manager? And I might also ask what are the kinds of problems they expect their reports to bring to them in this role, and how they might help them solve those problems.

    8. Tiger Team Apollo 13*

      Heading into that very soon. Our boss left at the end of March and won’t be replaced until July/August. We used to have an amazing team but those co-workers are leaving today and on Tuesday, leaving me and a very good coworker to re-assemble the squad.

      I don’t think you can really weed out a lot of personality traits because we’re on our best behaviors during an interview. Perhaps frame up a real scenario you’ve had with your previous boss, or co-worker, and ask them how they’d handle that situation.

      We’re headhunting for the new boss, then our CEO and COO will interview first and the two of us will get to panel the candidate(s). We’ll work together to assemble questions.

      It’s hard with only two of us to say ‘this is our culture and vibe’, but since we’re similar in our work process and ethics, we hope to find that person for us and then that new boss will re-hire for the two other positions and hopefully with the same ideals in mind.

    9. Sparkle Llama*

      I would ask for examples of advocating for their team to higher ups in the past (or to other departments).

      Also, how they approach change. What they do if they identify a potential opportunity to change process or policy.

    10. Higher Ed Kitten Party*

      I would want to know when the last time they changed their mind on something was. Especially something they received feedback on from their team.

    11. Lasuna*

      I would ask them to tell me about a mistake they made as a manager they changed their management style, what they learned from it, and how it changed the way they managed going forward. If the person is a great interviewer, the answer may be worthless, but it’s amazing how many people will answer that kind of question with unflattering honesty. You may get a answers like “I was hands off with a low performing direct report, resulting in XYZ problems, so now I (describes micromanaging).” A huge red flag is if they can’t admit to having made a mistake.

  25. Sauce on the side*

    How do you deal with a very dysfunctional work environment?

    I have been in my role for 2 years. I wanted to leave after my first week in the job. There are several reasons why this place is bad but at a high-level:

    Very hands off/stick their head in the sand management who refuses to deal with issues

    Yelling/screaming/disrespecting/insulting/accusing each other on a daily basis.

    Very lean staffing, with almost a zero chance of meeting and achieving goals. When folks leave due to health issues/burnout/new job, etc, positions are never filled. My personal team has had nearly 100% turnover in 1 year.

    High turnover – im currently on my 5th manager

    Yes, I am job hunting and have been for the last several months. Im just trying to maintain my sanity until I can find something else.

    1. Shopping is my cardio*

      Having been in your shoes many many moons ago all I can say is just to stop caring. I know it is easier said than done but you need to just mentally disengage so you can retain some of your sanity. I used to work in a place like this where the stress would sometimes wake me up at 3 am worrying about the day that was coming for me. I wish I had had the mental strength at that point to not care anymore. When you work in such a toxic place the only way to keep your sanity is to let it roll off your back and keep searching for a better job.

    2. Hlao-roo*

      There are some tips in the post “how can I brace myself for my toxic new job?” from September 17, 2018 that are probably applicable to your situation. I’ll link in a follow-up comment. Best of luck with your job search!

    3. Rick Tq*

      Work a full day, get done what you can, but Down Tools at the end of the day and go home.

      No ‘Above and Beyond’ performance, no nights or weekends either.

      Your company hasn’t felt the pain yet so they have no incentive to change behaviors or hire more staff..

      1. Sauce on the side*

        That is a really good point. I have been doing this for a few months and it is strangely freeing.

      2. kiki*

        Picking up extra work to make things better is preventing your leadership from learning an important business lesson. Don’t go above and beyond and feel satisfied that you are helping them grow as business leaders.

    4. RagingADHD*

      While job hunting, I keep my head down, keep my mouth shut, and get my work done with as little personal or emotional investment, and as little “making waves” as possible. Just Gray Rock the whole place, all day, and inside my gray rock I’m in my happy place.

      Godspeed on the job search.

    5. Bess*

      Help maintain your sense of personal control by reminding yourself you are choosing to stay there because you need to get paid. It’s easy to get into a trapped mentality in environments like that, and that can feel disempowering. As long as it is better than quitting without anything lined up, it’s working for you by keeping you employed.

      And yeah, stop caring to the extent you can.

  26. Alexander Blodgett*

    Not really a question, more of vent. The job I’m at now isn’t terrible, but not great, and I’ve been applying to other roles. I had an interview with a hiring manager for a role that would likely be a major step up, it went reasonably well…and the company ghosted me (and the recruiter) I was working with. It would be fine if they just found someone better, but the job is still posted and has been since January, so it seems that they aren’t really hiring for it anyway.

    Then I had another interview recently, similar situation…except the recruiter called to set up a time for a final interview with the VP responsible for the role for the next day, then cancelled it a few hours later and then ghosted me. It’s just so frustrating, since I can understand if they want to go with other people, but some resolution would be nice. Especially from the external recruiter, since you’d think it would be in his interest to keep me informed in case he ever wants to work with me again.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this!
      It certainly is shortsighted of the recruiters to be ghosting you.
      Good luck and hope to see you in Friday’s good news soon!

  27. Jujyfruits*

    Question for recruiters – I thought I had a great interview last week. The recruiter ended our conversation by asking my availability for the next week. I thought this was a good sign, but when I heard back, I wasn’t moved forward. I’m curious, do recruiters ask for availability of all their candidates? Is this common?

    Thanks to AAM I’m not as hung up on this as I’d be in the past! But I’m low-key annoyed because she was asking pretty detailed questions about my schedule.

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      Recruiter here, I always ask every candidate I speak with what their availability is so I can include it when I sent the candidate’s specs over to the hiring manager. It helps save an extra step.

  28. Bunny Girl*

    Why do some companies still insist on talking to your current manager when interviewing?

    I am job hunting and had an offer in a department that honestly I was pretty lukewarm on. They seemed overly rigid and I just didn’t feel like I would fit in or enjoy working there. But when they called to talk to me about the offer, they wanted to talk to my current supervisor! And it sounded like they wouldn’t fully extend the offer