open thread – May 26-27, 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.

{ 905 comments… read them below }

  1. Eleanor*

    I’m looking for recommendations on finding a management/professional coach. Until recently, I’ve only managed 1-2 people at most, but now I’m leading a larger team, with pressure from my boss to take on a larger management role, and I’m struggling with imposter syndrome and just a lack of practical skills and hacks for this work.
    I work in an arts non-profit with many alt-ac staff, so it would be great to find a coach who understands academics. I don’t think the work tasks we do are all that different from those in a for-profit setting (depressingly so, at times), but the PEOPLE are really different: what motivates them to care, their hypersensitive bullshit detectors, readiness to call out leadership on any kind of misstep, and a baked-in mistrust for authority. And all of that goes for me as well! Where can I find a coach who can help me be a better leader and mentor in this environment?

    1. Thegreatprevaricator*

      Not coach but course – I recently did the Common Purpose Emerging Leaders course and found it helpful. I’m also in the arts but am in UK. My employer paid for it. I think there are international cohorts through. I suggest because there were people on the course from various backgrounds and I think it was affirming to see the commonality in challenges. It’s leadership not management focused though, ymmv

      1. Eleanor*

        Thanks! What did you like about the course? I looked at the website but you have to give them your email address even to look at the brochure for the program, and I don’t need to end up on more marketing lists.
        I have never thought of myself as someone looking for a leadership role, certainly not an executive leadership role (heaven forbid), and to date I find the work of managing people mostly draining and unfun, but it seems like I can’t avoid this change, so I guess I’m in the “reluctant leadership” camp.

      2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

        Check out Jen Dary’s So Now You’re a Manager course and resources on her Be Plucky website.

        1. ANON*


          I was hired at my current job about two years ago, my coworker (let’s call him Ben) has been at the job for about eight years.

          My life circumstances have unfortunately changed and I requested a transition from full-time to part-time. I figured it didn’t hurt to ask, but surprisingly management was very accommodating and it was approved.

          Ben has been very upset because apparently their plan has been to transition to part-time in two years once they received loan forgiveness through our workplace. Many comments to others (no word to me) like “I’m going to go to HR if he gets it before me” and “this place clearly doesn’t respect seniority.”

          I don’t understand this. Should other coworkers not be allowed schedule changes because someone senior to them in the company wants a schedule change in tentatively two years? Help!

    2. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

      My company has a Bravely subscription, which I haven’t used but have heard good things about.

      Good luck to you!

    3. Dr. Doll*

      Look up Rena Selzer’s group. A bunch of very senior former academics who are doing leadership and executive coaching as second careers.

    4. RedinSC*

      When I was a brand new manager I found the Coaching and Mentoring For Dummies book really helpful.

      I got it when I was working in the tech world, but I’ve found the principles in it helpful through my work in non profits and higher ed.

    5. Annimal*

      Hi Eleanor – it sounds like you’re looking for an executive coach. I know several people who have worked with them and loved it (including my boss at this very moment!). They can help you with tools for prioritizing of your time and your responsibilities, management tools, etc. You may have better luck with a coach who particularly works with nonprofits, mainly because the folks working with you are motivated so differently and you’ll likely be dealing with boards more in your new role, and the right executive coach can help you both with your management of a team but also your management up of the board and/or other executives.

      I also have an arts colleague who has run departments and started transitioning into coaching who wants to focus on mid-level managers as they transition into new roles, which sounds like exactly what you are describing! Email me and I can put you in touch – he’d coach remotely. :)

    6. New Mom*

      I went through this scenario very recently. I work in a niche part of college access and a perk that was offered to people at my level was a professional coach to support with our new responsibilities, change management and other professional things we want to work on. We were provided a list but like you, I really wanted to find someone who had experience with my niche type of work.
      I reached out to a member organization that we are part of, and found a client services staff member and ask them since they knew all the members and I assumed that they would know if a professional coach had worked with anyone in their field and they did! It was so helpful, they sent me a list and I reached out to the four people and ended up selecting one and I’m so glad I did. I don’t have to explain as much backstory because she knows my field well.

      If I were you I would connect with art non-profit member organizations or maybe there are other professional development orgs for your field, if a coach exists in that field they would likely know.

      One flag is I did get some recommendations for people who were very experienced in the field but not a coach, “oh, you should reach out to Bob Smith, he has two decades of experience and could be a great coach!” So I was really clear in my email that it needed to be someone who had been working officially as a coach for at least five years.

      1. Eleanor*

        This is such good advice! I have a couple of people I could probably tap for ideas, and I agree that I want a real coach (and I can use professional development funds toward this). I just have too much experience at this point going to seminars and workshops led by people who usually work with corporate clients and feeling like almost none of what they say is relevant or helpful for my workplace, and half of their advice would start a full-blown riot in the office!

    7. Unkempt Flatware*

      Can I just say that the fact that you are asking this and taking it seriously means you’re already miles ahead of bosses in my life. My current boss needs so much executive functioning help that I’m not sure simple leadership coaching will be enough.

      So, good for you. Your direct reports are lucky to have you.

      1. Eleanor*

        Oh, I’m also hoping to gain managing-up skills for working with my boss! Our workplace is very hierarchical and old-fashioned in many ways, and I am feeling the squeeze between newer/younger staff demanding change and leadership that is mostly well-intentioned but struggling to understand the problems (or, too often, allowing the problems to slip off their radar screen, and they don’t really appreciate being reminded of them).

        But, the transition from (mostly) individual contributor to (mostly) team leader is rough, and I’m doing it with a lot of reluctance (but recognition that I’m probably the best person for the role, at least right now). I know that I need help with this, stat!

      2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        This is exactly what I thought. I’m two years into managing academics in a Humanities department and your capacity to nail the EXACT challenges that presents, compassionately, accurately & hilariously, is amazing. Good luck with the coach!

      3. TakingNotes*

        Speaking of executive function! I wonder if anyone has tips for finding an executive coach (or other such resource, really!) who has the skills to support a manager who has executive dysfunction (and is trying to figure out accommodations and strategies)?

        1. Garblesnark*

          this is going to sound wild but have you considered an occupational therapist? I’m not an exec, but my OT is the only reason I can hold down a job.

          1. TakingNotes*

            Ooo, thank you–I hadn’t considered occupational therapy in this context! Did you find your OT through your workplace?

            1. garblesnark*

              I didn’t – I found her through my mental health therapist. But if your company has one of those employee assistance hotlines, they might be able to help as well.

    8. By Golly*

      Alison recommended that I try the Management Center’s Managing to Change the World course, and I use strategies from it nearly every day. I believe the Management Center also offers some coaching, though I’m not sure if for individuals or more organization-wide. But they are cued in to the non-profit world in ways I don’t think typically executive coach types might be, so I highly recommend!

  2. Anon question*

    I’m in a weird situation. I’ve been nursing a fledgling freelance career and it’s just starting to feel stable. I don’t have enough work yet to pay a “living wage,” but I do believe now that I can get there, whereas before I was convinced the whole thing would be a disaster.

    The main thing I love about freelancing is the freedom to set my own schedule. I’m not at the point yet where I can be selective about the work I take on (beyond reasonable limits), but I can decide when I work and when I take a break. That’s compounded by the fact that I’m still avoiding crowded situations, so it’s great to be able to do things in public when other people are at work or school.

    But before I got this comfortable, I panicked and job-hunted – and now I have an offer. The package is okay (not great, but good enough), it’s home-based, and the work is exactly in line with my (uncommon) expertise. There’s no real reason I shouldn’t take it – but now that I’ve experienced greater flexibility and freedom than is possible in a 9-to-5, I’m feeling real reluctance to re-enter it, even though I could really use the security of regular pay and benefits.

    Any advice or thoughts on how to make this decision? On mentally coping with a return to greater structure if accepting the offer? Or, if declining (after having been through the interviewing and negotiating process), how to do so without embarrassing myself or burning bridges, if that’s even possible?

    1. Tio*

      What do you know about how flexible the new offer actually is? Have you spoken to them about flexible scheduling or just assumed it’s inflexible?

      That said, if you did take it, would you be able to balance your freelancing and your regular job, or would one have to suffer? If you’re on the edge of breaking through to a proper wage on freelancing and would have to give some of that work up to take this, now might not be the time to take the offer regardless. If that’s the case, a very simple, “thank you, but I’ve actually decided to pursue another opportunity” is how you turn it down. You really don’t need to give them more than that, it’s not that uncommon.

      1. Anon question*

        I’ve definitely had the conversation around flexibility. There is some, but it’s limited because the job requires a fair amount of working with others, who are not on flexible schedules. It’s definitely a situation of one or the other; I could do the odd smaller freelance project while employed, but no more than that.

        Thank you for the advice!

        1. Pink Candyfloss*

          You could view it as an opportunity to build current and future networks, in the event you decide to move back to freelancing or even pursue higher opportunities in the future.

          A job isn’t a life sentence, so you will have more freedom than you think ;)

          1. Anon question*

            Thank you! This is a hard thing to wrap my mind around, but a true one. I struggle with saying no, so it’s hard to decline a job offer – but equally hard to imagine accepting and then leaving without spending years in the position first…

    2. Sloanicota*

      I had kind of the opposite experience (I enjoyed being a freelancer, but had to recognize the writing on the wall in terms of sustainability and ended up going back to FT work) but I’d say there is more opportunity to get another job offer like this in the future versus restarting this momentum. So it feels like more of a one-time opportunity to see if you can really make it sustainably as a freelancer, which it sounds like you think would ultimately make you happier. Decline respectfully, it happens all the time.

      1. Anon question*

        Thanks for your thoughts. I could be completely wrong about succeeding as a freelancer, but the work is starting to come in, which I worried it never would at first. Jobs are hard to get these days, but so is freelance work!

        1. My Useless 2 Cents*

          You say your expertise is uncommon. Would they be willing to take you on as more of a contractor basis? Just another branch in your repertoire toward building your freelance business? Or is that just not a workable solution?

          1. Anon question*

            I don’t think that is a workable solution for this rule, but it is a good idea if I either decline the role or accept it and end up not staying long-term. I could absolutely offer to contract for any needs they have that aren’t filled by employees or to bridge the gaps while they find or train others.

      2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I agree, as someone who freelanced for a very long time (and sometimes job hunted to see what was out there). You’re building momentum, you’re seeing things you like — this is an opportunity to see if this can work for you.

        I had absolutely no idea how much having control over my hours/time/clients would mean to me and how much better my brain would be because of it. That IS a real reason to turn this down.

        1. Anon question*

          Thank you! That makes me feel a lot better. I’ve been so busy being anxious over the practical aspects of freelancing (you know, making enough money to survive) that I didn’t stop to think about how much I valued the intangibles until I was presented with a real opportunity to sacrifice them for security.

    3. another Hero*

      You probably have to make the call on prioritizing flexibility vs security yourself, although following Alison’s general recommendation to talk to some people who work there seems like it might help here. But I think you can back out if you want. “I appreciate the offer, but in the time since I applied, my freelance work has become more consistent [or something similar], and I think that’s the right direction for me right now.” And the general platitudes about how you’re sure they’ll find someone great (idk, I’ve only withdrawn earlier in the process, so I always say something like “best of luck with the search” or whatever) and maybe note that you can take on tasks freelance if they ever need it lol

      1. Anon question*

        Thank you. I’ll see if there’s the option to speak to employees. It’s quite late in the hiring process, I know. The process moved slowly at first, then very quickly in the later stages, and unfortunately the freelancing followed the same pattern.

    4. Resident Catholicville, U.S.A.*

      See if you can negotiate a more flexible schedule, especially if it’s work from home and you want to continue doing freelance work. If not, still think about what flexibility would work and/or you’d be happy with and negotiate for it. If they’re the kind of organization that would ding you for even asking for that, that might be a red flag for other reasons.

      I worked from home during Covid lockdowns and I now have a schedule that gives me Friday afternoons off. Given both experiences, if I have to job hunt in the future, I’m going to look into a more flexible work experience than I had before and feel pretty confident that, given the right company, they’d be willing to work with me on it.

      1. Anon question*

        Thank you! I have done some negotiating and they’ve been open to it generally, but it’s limited in scope because the job requires a fair bit of interaction with colleagues on fixed schedules. I guess the real answer lies in soul-searching…

    5. TG*

      Are they the type of place that even when remote require set hours or as long as you get your work done are you good? You might want to work at the job for stability for pay and benefits and continue to build your side business if you can be flexible with both.
      My two cents is take the job and worse that happens is you give it six months and leave.

      1. Anon question*

        They’re a little of both. Formally they have set hours, but informally there’s minor flexibility. It’s the kind of job where it really depends: if the work is manageable (from a burnout perspective) and the flexibility is real, then I could continue building my freelance business to a degree. If one or the other is not true, it’s unlikely. But that’s the kind of thing I could only find out by trying the job!

    6. AllTheBirds*

      I think a lot depends on your goals and point in career. If you value security and the benefits of easy access to health insurance/401k match, take the job. If you’re 5010 years from retirement and have had it with the grind, stay freelancing.

      Freelance is pretty tough to sustain as real income — not just “enough to get by” but income approaching what you’d earn monthly from a FT job. Would you feel more settled and secure knowing you have $XXXX coming in — guaranteed — every month?

        1. Alice Ulf*

          I have to admit that I laughed because 5010 years to retirement is totally how I feel some days, haha.

          1. Anon question*

            I definitely feel 5010 years from retirement no matter which option I choose! With respect to your question, though, I don’t know which I value more: security or freedom. I know I don’t place a lot of value on a high income (just enough between myself and my partner to pay all of the bills and have the occasional small treat, like a fancy coffee or Indian food).

            I think my ideal situation would be something that splits the difference (like a part-time job + part-time freelancing, or getting a freelance contract that occupies a set amount of time for a set amount of money). Unfortunately, right now I have to choose an either-or. I’ll try to really think about the points you’re raising in the decision-making process, though, thank you.

    7. SweetTeaRex*

      I vote stick with freelancing. Personally, unless I was desperate for consistent income, I think the regret to not trying giving it a go would eat at me more. Building up momentum takes time, and you could always find another full-time job if it ultimately doesn’t work out.
      But I think it will. Good luck!

      1. Anon question*

        Thank you, this is such an encouraging comment. No matter what I do, I really hope it ends up on Friday good news one day!

    8. T. Boone Pickens*

      Does it make sense to take this job and possibly continue freelancing and use your freelancing income to bolster your savings/income? If you decide this job isn’t for you down the road, you’ll have more stable footing for when the inevitable ebbs and flows of freelancing kick in.

      1. Anon question*

        I have been thinking about this. I’m not sure because the job is likely to be quite demanding and might make it difficult to maintain freelancing in addition. If I do take the job, I’ll definitely try to keep freelance momentum going meanwhile. And it would definitely allow me to put away at least a little money for another attempt later on.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Having freelanced for an extended time, I’d advise taking a hard look at your financial / health needs and plan for worst case scenarios. I can tell you that the time freedom you’re currently experiencing is directly related to the fact that you don’t have enough work to live on or pay the equivalent of a benefits package. How long can you realistically hold out if the volume of work stalls or only gets you partway there?

      Then look at the amount of time you’ll need to spend working if you are at full capacity. While you would still be able to decide when to work, you will face deadlines and work volume that eats up more of that freedom than you expect. Make sure to add at least 20 percent onto your work hours for unpaid marketing/business development and administrative work.

      Look at the total compensation on the offer (including health benefits, PTO, any kind of retirement fund matching). Do the math on how much freelance work you’d have to do to earn the equivalent. If you’re in the US, be sure to subtract 30% from your gross income for taxes, because you have to pay both the employer and employee portion.

      You’re the best judge of your own situation, just make sure you’re taking everything into account. You may have done so already, but a lot of new freelancers don’t when they’re focused on the dream.

      1. Anon question*

        Thank you. This is really good, solid advice and I wish there were some way to flag it for all potential freelancers to read!

        I’ve done a lot of this as part of my thought process and I absolutely know that this job offer will provide more money/benefits than I could get through freelancing. I also know that I will lose time and (to a lesser degree) flexibility by acquiring more freelance work – but, even after accounting for enough work to achieve my relatively modest goals, I am reasonably sure I’d still have more time and flexibility than as an employee.

        So I guess the real question is: exactly what does that “enough work” look like, and is the remaining time/flexibility worth the trade-off in terms of income/benefits/security.

        Thank you.

    10. Hola Playa*

      If you do decide to decline the offer, maybe let them know its because you’re excited about the momentum in building your biz in case they need your expertise. How awesome would it be to convert the offer into a paid consulting contract?!

      1. Anon question*

        That is a great idea and one I’ll definitely keep in the back of my mind if I choose that direction (though it may be a bit tricky to bring that up). It also might be a good route to consider if I take the job and end up not staying; I can offer to continue supporting on a freelance or contract basis.

  3. Alexandra the Great*

    I’m looking for advice on whether or not something is worth pushing back on:

    My entire company has been remote since the pandemic hit. Now there is talk about bringing us back to the office at least some of the time. It would be to do work that cannot easily be done from home, or not done from home at all. (Note: I’m not asking for advice about this part. It is true that not everything can be done from home and lots of work was neglected over the last three years because of it. Us being brought back some of the time was expected).

    What the issue is: The company says everyone wants the remote option where we only have to go to the office one day a week or one day every 1-2 weeks, it will not renew the lease on our current office and find a smaller space. But then we would not have assigned desks and we would not be allowed to leave any personal items at work. There would be lockers for whoever was in on a given day to store their things, but we can’t leave anything behind at the office. There are no exceptions and this policy would be very strictly enforced.

    The alternative according to the company is we keep the current building with assigned desks and personal stuff but then no remote work is allowed at all (I do not live in America like most people here. It is completely legal for the company to not allow remote work at all).

    Is it worth pushing back on the no leaving personal items if we want remote work? We have to answer the survey by next Wednesday. (If we did do the remote work option it would start August 1). I don’t want to be in the office full time, but I also don’t like the idea of not being allowed to keep any personal items at work. Thank you.

    1. Maggie*

      I honestly don’t think it’s worth pushing back. If you’re only expected in once a week or once every other week, then a small space with lockers makes sense. Also a side note, in America it’s a legal for a company not to allow any remote work, in fact it’s fairly common.

      1. Alexandra the Great*

        “Plenty of US workplaces do not allow remote work. It is not illegal to not allow it here.”

        Sorry for any confusion. I have seen on here that working from home can be offered as a reasonable accommodation if someone has a medical need or disability. That is not the case where I live. They can completely deny work from home regardless of anyone’s circumstances. That’s what I mean.

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          That’s actually true in the US too. Employers are required to engage in a collaborative process to work with an employee who has a disability, but if they can prove the accommodation (such as remote work) would be a substantial burden they don’t have to do it. I think it’s probably getting harder and harder for an employer to claim they absolutely can’t allow any remote work at all, but there’s no specific protection for remote work, even as a disability accommodation.

          1. SpaceySteph*

            Even if remote work is something they could do, they don’t have to offer your preferred accommodation to meet the law if they offer other reasonable accommodations that meet the need.

    2. londonedit*

      I think this is fairly common – we desk-share now that we’re all doing hybrid working, so we’re not allowed to leave personal items on our desks either (because that desk is being used by someone else for part of the week). It’s weird, though, to have lockers and not allow people to store things in those lockers when they’re not in the office. What is the point of the lockers, in that case? Again, we also now have lockers, but that’s so people can leave things at the office while they’re working from home. The only thing we’re not allowed to do is leave laptops in our lockers – those have to be brought home with us every evening for security reasons. So I think the bit you could definitely question would be the use of the lockers – I don’t see the point of having them if not to use them to store personal items while someone else is using your desk for their work!

      1. Alexandra the Great*

        There will not be enough lockers for the almost 250 employees who work here. The new space would only have 50 lockers, enough for the people who are in on a given day.

        1. Tio*

          This is actually how my current job works. They own the building and cannot currently expand for reasons, so they have a rotation and lockers. The lockers aren’t meant to leave things there full time. That is one of the tradeoffs of not coming in. The lockers are meant to store purses, bags, lunches, etc., things you might need through the day, not actual personal items you’d have at a desk.

          Honestly I don’t think you’re going to get them to agree to more lockers. What you should do is make a little go-bag that will fit in the locker of things you might need in a day – snacks, supplier, hygiene products, whatever – and bring that back and forth. That’s what the lockers are meant for.

          1. Artemesia*

            Get a snazzy backpack with only your office stuff (pair of shoes you can walk 20 miles in – remember 911), dopp kit, sweater, mug. And just plan to take it back and forth. My travel backpack is a Cabaia and I love it, but it is just a square space — there are tons of cheap backpacks that have all sorts of pockets and separators to help organize if you prefer that. A small price to pay for wfh if that is what you prefer.

            1. Shorty Spice*

              This is what I do. My work bag is a nice large tote bag that holds: my wireless headset, a notebook, a coaster and a zipper pouch containing my pen, scissors, and cellphone charging cable. I also have a small cosmetic bag that has my toothbrush/toothpaste/floss and a couple bandaids.

              All of our work is done electronically, so I never need to access any paper files, meaning I don’t have any need for the other typical desk stuff like post its etc

          2. new year, new name*

            My office was in a similar situation at one point — we were in a temporary space while the main office was renovated, and we were all hotdesking and there wasn’t enough space for everyone to have a locker. Instead, they got everyone a pedestal file: basically a small, lockable filing cabinet on wheels. They don’t take up much space but still fit a reasonable amount of office supplies, paper files, and small personal items, and you could just roll yours to wherever you happened to be sitting that day. I thought it was a good solution!

        2. Bagpuss*

          250 lockers would take-up a lot of space so it sounds as though it’s a practical issue, and I can understand why they might not want to give one to everyone, and they may also be wanting to make sure that they don’t end up with people leaving food or other things that might smell in lockers for long periods, or leaving things at work which they need to work from home.

          I personally would go for the hybrid working and accept that that would mean toting stuff back and forth. But I would also suggest that you consider how much / what personal items you would normally want to be leaving at work? For me, it would mostly be small stuff that I could fairly easily take back and forth (sanitary supplies, emergency snacks, nice pens, maybe a mug, probably a note pad of some description) – if you have larger or more unwieldy things that’s you’d want in the office then it does get more difficult but depending on what they are, you might be able to look at whether you can get the company to provide them (or n equivalent) if they are necessary for you to be able to work.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I would totally go to the hot-desking model if it were me, but it sounds like the office is asking how you feel. It makes sense to me that, for companies who are willing to entertain remote work, they want to see the savings in their lease and overhead – that’s one incentive for doing it, which means a smaller office footprint. I also wouldn’t trust their expectation that things will be completely inflexible and well enforced if they go one route. Nobody knows yet how it will shake out, but I’m sure they could find a locked space for storage if that was a major hangup for everyone.

      1. Alexandra the Great*

        It will be inflexible. The company has a space in mind, but it only has 50 lockers and 50 desks. Enough for whoever is in that day but not enough for the almost 250 people who work here to have their own. The space would be leased and comes as is, the company can’t modify it or add storage.

        1. Artemesia*

          don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good — this is a small sacrifice to be able to work from home most days.

          1. Pink Candyfloss*

            We were made to come back to a hotdesking setup at 3 days per week/12 days per month mandatory minimum, so one day a week would be a DREAM for me.

    4. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think it’s worth pushing back on. But before you ask for locked storage, ask yourself whether just a wall unit of bins from Ikea or wherever would be enough. And also consider whether you have coworkers who tend to be packrats, or who leave food to spoil, or who spend lots of time arranging personal decorations and knickknacks at their desks instead of working. The policy may be a way to defend against those things.

      You may be able to point out that the “no personal stuff” would be counterproductive for you, because you’d be more effective if you didn’t have to cart everything around with you every time you came in (especially a pain if you use transit). And you’d be less likely to skip the once-a-week trip to the office too!

      1. Alexandra the Great*

        “And you’d be less likely to skip the once-a-week trip to the office too!”

        I’m not sure what you mean here. The once a week or once every 1-2 weeks is not something I can skip. It is mandatory and I would get fired if I decided to skip it.

        The space the company is looking at already exists. There is no room to make adjustments or add things and company is leasing the space, not buying it. It comes as is. It has 50 lockers. Enough for whoever is in that day, but not enough for everyone (almost 250 employees) all the time.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          I think there are a lot of places who might say “the once a week trip is mandatory”, but in practice will just shrug if their employees only make it 75% of the time. Your employer sounds like they are very serious about it, so that part of my advice probably doesn’t apply to you then.

    5. Hlao-roo*

      I think clarification would be good. Will you be allowed personal items if you bring them in on your office days and take them home at the end of the day? Will you be allowed to bring in personal items and store them in the locker when you’re working from home?

      Also, what personal items do you want with you during the work day? It may be easier to argue for access to your personal pencil organizer and personal mug than for 12 framed photos of your family.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I see you clarified that there are not enough lockers for each employee, so it will be a “pack all of your stuff in and out” situation. I recommend the recent Ask the Readers post “how to cope when you don’t have an assigned work space” from May 11, 2023 if your company decides on remote work plus occasional in-office hot-desking.

      2. Artemesia*

        push back hard enough when the company is offering this huge benefit of only having to come in once every two weeks and they may just renew their lease and have everyone come in to the office every day.

        1. Tio*

          Yeah… It doesn’t sound like there’s much to push back on, given they can’t really add more storage. I suspect if they push back, the response is going to be “If you need a desk reserved five days a week, you be here five days a week.” The choice here doesn’t really seem like it’s even a very bad one; I suspect once they get into the groove, they’ll realize that they don’t need a bunch of stuff stored at an office they’re only going to one day a week.

        2. It Actually Takes a Village*

          Exactly. This is honestly so risky to push back on such a HUGE benefit for such a tiny annoyance. I don’t know how reasonable your employers are but the situation you’ve described means that what you’re requesting is logistically impossible anyway: there’s just no physical space to accommodate.

          So what are you hoping to gain by pushing back on this?!

    6. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      This is really a matter of personal preference. For me, it would be well worth not being able to leave things at work in exchange for being able to WFH 80-90% of the time. I can easily carry what I will need for the day in my bag, and bring it back home after the in-office day. So I wouldn’t use capital pushing back. But if there are enough of you that feel strongly about not being able to leave things at the office, getting a group together to raise the concern as a united front could be worth it.

      1. londonedit*

        Yes, I’m the same. I said above that we do have lockers that we can leave things in (there are enough lockers for everyone) but mine just has a few random bits that I don’t really use anyway in it. I’m quite happy carrying my laptop/notebook/water bottle etc to and fro a couple of times a week if it means I get to work from home for the rest of the time.

      2. Echo*

        Same here. This is my setup; I have mandatory in-person work once a week. As someone who always liked having lots of decorations and personal items on my work desk I’m shocked by how quickly I got used to hotdesking, carrying my laptop to work in a tote bag, and taking everything home when I leave. I usually sit in the same space every week anyway. Things are very neat and tidy. It helps that my job can also be done 100% digitally so I don’t need to carry books or papers.

    7. Person from the Resume*

      I don’t think I’d push back. If you’re going into the office 1 day a week or less, everything you need for work needs to be at home most of the time. What you left would barely get used. I’d probably not really leave anything ant work and just bring what I need for the day. Like if I’m there a few times a week, I’d leave snacks in my desk. If I’m there once a week just bring your snacks with you every time you go in.

      1 day a week or less really doesn’t make sense for fixed desk used that little and it also kind of doesn’t make sense that everyone gets a locker.

    8. ferrina*

      What is the personal stuff that you want to keep at work?
      I think it makes a difference if you are looking to keep a lot of notebooks/reference books that you need to do your job vs a potted plant and gourmet tea kit (all of these are things I have kept at work before, so no judgement- if you have a gourmet tea kit, I have some tips for making it portable)

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I agree! Can you clarify if “personal items” includes stuff like reference materials? It seems like that could have a space made for it.

          1. ferrina*

            How big? How much?
            A certain amount can be carried into the office with a decent bag. I’m able to fit extra shoes, a book, my lunch and a stash of tea and snacks in my bag (in addition to my laptop and mouse). I’d prefer to have a reusable mug, but I’ve switched to the paper cups my work provides. It would be nice to have a plant, but that’s something I can do without. I’ve started dressing a little more casually, since it’s impractical to always wear a blazer on my commute and I can’t keep one at the office, but everyone else in the office has been doing the same (to the point where I no longer bring the extra shoes and just wear my trainers all day)

            1. SteveHolt!*

              But what exactly are the personal items you think are important to leave at work? I have trouble imagining anything that would outweigh the benefit of wfh that you could be jeopardizing by pushing back. I would never do it.

    9. Dust Bunny*

      I don’t. This sounds like a very reasonable compromise to me: Not having to come in all the time vs. not leaving personal things at work. How many personal things do you actually need to leave there, much less if you’re only in half-time?

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        I agree – my old company wanted us to hot desk while coming in 3 days a week, which I though was bananas. Enough people pushed back that it was reduced to those only coming in once per week or even less frequently, which I thought was quite fair.

        1. Pink Candyfloss*

          My company told us we had to come back 3 days (hotdesking). We pushed back. They replied to our pushback that if we wanted to come back completely full time with no WFH, that was also certainly an option, in fact it was the only other option. We took the 3 days. It was worth it in the long run.

      2. rayray*

        This is what I am thinking. Even though I am full-time in office, just looking at my desk, I could easily pack all of my personal belongings and a lunch and laptop in a backpack or tote bag easily.

        I realize some people bring lots of stuff to their desks, but you need to decide what is absolutely essential and what isn’t

        1. Momma Bear*

          This. When I worked PT remote and sometimes had to spend time at the client office, I kept a lot of things in a backpack that I brought around with me. I didn’t find it ideal and don’t love hot desking, but if I knew in advance I’d get an appropriate bag and travel light. Also, if the commute is by car you can keep a bag in there of other things that you might need, just not on the daily basis.

    10. TG*

      Not worth it – bring the bare minimum. I’d take it if it means only working 1 day every week or two.

      1. TreeLily*

        I agree. When we were sent home at the start of the pandemic it was hard because I had everything I ‘needed’ at the office. Then, later they had us come in and clear out our desks to make them available for others who were in the office. I didn’t realize how much I had that I really didn’t need until I was boxing it away. Now, I come into the office 1-2 times per month. I take my laptop bag and a largish beach tote where I fit my large refillable water bottle, extra tea, my desk fan (office tends to run hot), Lysol spray, hand lotion, etc. I keep everything for the office in the beach tote and only add the tea and water bottles in the morning before I drive into work. Totally worth the hassle to be able to work from home 95% of the time.

        1. Fierce Jindo*

          Lysol is really toxic and aerosolizes. It’s not a great thing to use in a shared office space where others may be pregnant, etc.

    11. IrishGirl*

      I think your company is going to have issues just based on your 50 lockers/desks and more than 50 people. You are going to have to have assigned days and even then you may have more than 50 people in the office on a day.

      1. Alexandra the Great*

        There will assigned days with 50 people or less in the office each day. No more than 50 people in on a given day because of the number of desks/lockers.

        1. linger*

          So the people at work each day of the week will be completely non-overlapping sets. This only makes sense if the work you are required to come in for does not involve guaranteed physical interaction with any particular individual. So it’s work that must involve objects or documents (or possibly, random external clients) physically present in the office space. How much personal stuff do you really need for that?

    12. Polar Vortex*

      My company went from Assigned to Hot Desks due to Hybrid, so we’re also not allowed to leave stuff at work. I’d ask you: what are you looking to leave at work? Is worth having that at work worth the pushing back and maybe ending up as in office if the powers that be decide that is the factor to shift to in office?

      Is it an adjustment having to take things back and forth, yes it is. It means I’m bringing my laptop, mouse, water bottle, lunch and pen/paper on a good day. On a bad day it includes coffee thermos, breakfast, book for work, work papers that need to stay with me, umbrella, etc etc etc. I’ve learned how to drive efficiency in how I pack and what I bring, shifted backpacks to something that’s more organized. Is it still a bit of a hassle if I forget something? Yes, but unless it’s my work badge or laptop, it’s survivable for a day.

      If it’s just a matter of you like to look at your desk full of your pens/photos/etc, that’s what you give up for hybrid. My home desk is my place, my hot desk is just a landing pad while I’m running around in office.

      1. Garblesnark*

        in order to work, I need ergonomic wrist rests, something to set my computer monitor on so I don’t aggravate my neck issues, sometimes an external keyboard if there’s no extra monitor (because my arms can’t comfortably reach the laptop keyboard if the whole laptop is elevated), and an external mouse.

        also I have lifting restrictions due to my disabilities.

        what’s your proposal for someone like me in this situation?

        1. It Actually Takes a Village*

          I would think that this kind of required equipment would be rare enough that you could argue individually that you need an accommodation, so an extra locker just for you, or a locked rolling file cabinet that could stay in an office.

          What people are confused about it the idea that someone would jeopardize a pretty amazing remote work opportunity for miscellaneous and generic personal items that most people just bring with them in a backpack or satchel.

    13. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      I wouldn’t push back on the lockers, but I would ask how the desks will work. If, for instance, it’s a free-for-all every day and people sit where they want, that’s one thing. but what if they number the desks and assign the employees. For desk #1, employees A, B, C, D and E use it; desk #2, employees F, G, H, I and J (250/50 desks=5 people sharing). such that A, B, C, D and E cannot be in the office on the same day. If they work it like that, you, as employee A, could just come to an agreement with B, C, D and E about what gets left for common use. You should ask about the mechanics because I guarantee they have not thought about it that far.

      1. Alexandra the Great*

        It will be a “free-for-all”. No one will have an assigned desk and it is first come, first served to choose a desk.

        As I said, the company has been clear that we cannot leave anything personal at work if we end up going with the hybrid option. That’s the part I want to push back on.

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          I think it would help to have an idea of what personal items you feel are important to leave in the office, even if you’re not there 80-90% of the time. When I think of personal items I need with me for a single day at the office it’s all little things like snacks, water, tissues, phone charger, etc and I could easily carry it in a backpack. What are you envisioning needing to keep at the office even when you’re not there?

      2. SpaceySteph*

        Yeah this is what I was wondering. I used to work in a hot desk environment (not exactly the same, it was a shared workstation with mandatory coverage) and we had a stash of common use items (plastic silverware, notepads, pens, etc). Everything else I kept in my backpack.

    14. Nancy*

      That is reasonable for your workplace. Companies are not going to pay for assigned desks and lockers for 250 people when only 50 people will be in at one time (based on your other comments). I recommend finding a good quality bag for whatever you need to bring in the 2-4 days a month you need to be there.

      Plenty of US workplaces do not allow remote work. It is not illegal to not allow it here.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Yeah. About 3/4 of the workforce can’t work from home, so I doubt any country is going to make it illegal not to offer WFH. It would be unfair if there was a right established that only a quarter of the workforce and quite often the top quarter in terms of pay etc were able to exercise.

    15. DataSci*

      I would only push back so far as requesting lockers, so that you can leave stuff at work, just not at your desk. That way there’s not as much you need to bring in when you go to the office. Assigned desks don’t make sense if you’re only using them once or twice a week.

      1. Alexandra the Great*

        The space the company is looking at has 50 lockers installed. The company is leasing, not buying so no modifications or additions can be made.

        Almost 250 people work here. There will be assigned days with 50 people or less in on a given day. According to the company.

    16. Sutemi*

      It can matter how you commute, and how all your coworkers commute. If almost everyone drives, then you can keep a bag of personal stuff in the car. For those of us who bike in or take the subway, it gets more complicated. I bike, then shower and change at work and leave all my professional shoes in my drawer, but that isn’t necessary for people who can work in sneakers all day or who drive. Will inclement weather affect if you need to come in, and if so will there be places for boots and coats?

      1. Alexandra the Great*

        Whoever comes in will have a locker they can use for that day. But you can’t leave anything in it at the end of the day.

        Before the pandemic 99% of people used public transit. I’m not sure how much that will change now.

    17. Akcipitrokulo*

      Honestly, I wouldn’t. And it sounds like they are being upfront about it – remote work has benefits and drawbacks, and they are spelling out one of the – reasonable – drawbacks.

      I’m in a similar situation. It was nice having my own desk, but now with remote/hybrid working, you hotdesk and take your belongings home with you. Which isn’t their being mean – it’s their being practical.

    18. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      I’ve been pushing back at my work place on this! I cycle commute, and it’s 12km up a steep hill, and it would be ridiculous for me to have to carry full shower gear, professional shoes, a blazer (inevitably hella crumpled), plus lunch and snacks and my computer etc etc each day. I live in a ‘green’ city and my workplace aspires to facilitate this, so it has been a compelling argument. I think we’ll each have our own locker, plus some larger/other spaces for us bike commuters to hang our rainy gear in the morning.

      I think pushing to have your favourite mug available is less compelling, but if there’s something that facilitates your work like an ergonomic mouse, or a specific cushion for your posture, those could make a compelling argument. (I think that not commuting by car is a strong argument, if that applies to you)

      Also, how hard is it to have lockers for everyone? Sheesh.

    19. Rex Libris*

      I wouldn’t worry about it. This is why the Universe gave us commuter backpacks.

    20. Pink Candyfloss*

      We have switched to this no assigned desks, only day lockers, work situation and we are required to be in 3 days a week so tbh one day sounds like a dream to me.

      It’s easier than expected to live a nomad lifestyle and I’ve got used to it. We have common areas where items like staplers, pens, tissues, note pads etc are kept and we also have coffee & water stations as well as storage for lunch items & supplies. A lot of what I used to keep at my desk I have learned quite easily to live without.

    21. Dancing Otter*

      What about common supplies and materials?

      I’m picturing GAAP guides, law books, tax code, professional journals, software manuals, but I’m sure most professions have similar references that they use. Surely, it would make sense to have a shared bookcase or similar rather than expecting people to drag those back and forth?

      If there are certain tasks that can only be performed in the office, then shouldn’t the tools and supplies for doing so be kept at the office, in some common storage location?

      There should definitely be an office supply closet or cupboard for stuff like paper, pens, etc. Granted, it won’t be your personal special red stapler, but if I have to choose between generic office supplies and adding more weight to my laptop bag, I’ll be /happy/ to use a cheap pen one day a fortnight. Okay, maybe not one someone’s been chewing on, but in general…

      1. Alexandra the Great*

        We would not be allowed to keep any personal items there. Work related items and supplies would be kept on site.

        1. Tio*

          I do want to say, I notice you won’t say what it is you want to keep at the office. If for some reason you’re wanting to keep something vital there, like an extra Epi-pen or similar emergency medication or medical device, you should talk to someone higher in the office and see if an accommodation can be made, like an admin who’s in more regularly keeping it in a locked drawer or something similar. If you just really want to have an office plant or something, see if everyone’s ok with you keeping one in a windowsill or corner or something.

          if that’s not it, and these are just things you really wanted to have on your desk, I really don’t think it’s worth it. One day a week is a lot less than you think, and I don’t think you’re likely to succeed anyway. I think this will work out better than you think.

        2. allathian*

          Still not worth pushing back on, IMO. I do think it’s odd that you won’t specify what exactly you mean by “personal items.”

        3. It Actually Takes a Village*

          Seriously. What could you possibly need to keep at the office for 1 day a week that you’d be willing to risk the entire staff having to come back to work on-site full time?

    22. Karo*

      I work at an office that’s set up like your partially remote option: In the office 50% of the time, no assigned desks, no personal items. Most of us just carry our stuff to and from work every day. I thought this would be a much bigger pain than it actually is. Now instead of my work bag having just my laptop it has my laptop, mouse, headphones, a notebook, and any meds/grooming stuff I want to have on me…and it’s still a very slim backpack.

      All that to say: No, I genuinely don’t think this is something worth pushing back on! You’ll adapt and it’ll be great.

    23. Ellis Bell*

      I think the perk is worth the sacrifice. With the caveat that it depends how you commute, you might be surprised by how much less stuff you need once you’ve been hot desking for a while. I teach, and honestly a lot of teachers have had to get used to doing without a desk to work off, or somewhere to hang their coat, never mind having a classroom, or somewhere to stash books and papers, or a place to stash personal stuff. I traded in my chic leather handbag and carry a commuter’s backpack now. What I pack in it can be toted on a short walk or on public transport; it would be less doable if I was cycling up hills. My backpack contains: empty travel flask and water bottle in the side pockets (to be filled at work), pens and an A4 planner in the front pocket (I actually prefer these handy pen loops to a traditional pencil case now), in the middle section I have a comfort bag containing hair tie, tampon and lip balm. There’s a power bank in the special charging pocket (so I can charge as I walk). There’s also room in the middle section for my lunch bag (a soft and vertical one so it can be squished in) which contains my lunch in tupperware, a cutlery set, snack bars and teabags. In the back pocket there’s a stash of tissues. Things I keep elsewhere: My phone is kept on my person in a running belt under my sweater, my keys go in a zipped jacket pocket, my pashmina/silk scarf is worn around the neck in cooler weather. Things I don’t bother with at work anymore: change of shoes (I just buy the more comfortable shoes now), spare cardigan (I just dress in layers or with scarves), a long supply of snacks or teabags (I pack enough for the day), a kindle or notebook (I read and write on my phone). There’s also usually some grace given to useful items you’re willing to share, or go turns on, like bulk buy teabags or sanitiser for the whole office, if that’s an appealing option for you, though it may not be.

    24. Quinalla*

      For one day a week or every two weeks, I actually think this is pretty reasonable. It does depend what kind of on-hand materials you need to do your job, for me I can fit them all in a small backpack/briefcase, so I’d jump at this. Will they have kind of common desk junk (pens, post-its/notebook, etc.) at each desk or do you have to grab from the supply locker every day? If you can push back, I’d push to have some common items like this left at the desk but all personal things yeah folks take home every day.

      Yeah, it’s not as nice to not have your pictures out and what not, but for 1 out of 5 or 1 out of 10 days, not the end of the world!

    25. Water Lily*

      Lots of great advice here. I recently went through the same thing- moving offices and no personal items on the desk at work. To be honest, I don’t miss personal things, not nearly as much as I thought I would. Actually, it helped me focus a bit more.

      Also, I have a locker, and I kinda like it. Dump back and commuter shoes in locker, maybe even cell phone. Knock out a solid day and then back to my cozy wfh.

    26. Liz*

      Since you have mentioned in the comments that there is no flexibility/room to expand in terms of storage space, I’m not sure what there is to push back on. Do you really have so many personal items that they won’t fit into a satchel or backpack? To me, that would be a small inconvenience in exchange for the benefits of being able to work mostly remote. Good luck with whatever happens!

    27. Llama Llama*

      Don’t push back if you want to risk working there 5 days a week.. Rent is a huge part of a businesses expenses. It’s justifiable if business activity is filling up the space. It is not if the space is sitting empty. So they can allow people to WFH if they make a smaller space, but people insist on having their own desk, they will insist on people being in said desk.

    28. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Personally, if you’re only coming in 1x every other week you really don’t need to keep a whole heck of a lot of personal items at the office. I think a lot of people would accept that compromise over coming in much more often! At least your company is looking at this from a leasing/office space perspective. I actually love this because it transforms what the purpose of the office is.

    29. Qwerty*

      What are you willing to give up in exchange? It sounds like you want things both ways.

      If the company continues to pay for an office space large enough for everyone to leave personal items at work, then they need the workers to actually use the space.

      If you want to keep working remote 80-90% of the time, then the company is going to save money by downsizing to a space that fits the onsite workforce.

      So if you want to keep the big space, then the money to pay for it needs to come from somewhere or some other justification for keeping a space that is 5x larger than it needs to be.

  4. Scripts to Coach Coworkers at My Same Level To Be Less Helpless?*

    My organization is extremely flat, with one boss, who is not me, and then the other four of us at the same level. I’m never sure how to react in the moment when one of my coworkers – my peers who I have no authority over – are using “learned helplessness” strategies on me. Here’s an example: a coworker and I are supposed to co-write a grant for their program (I’m development, she’s programs). She comes to the meeting without having read the RFP or apparently having any thoughts about what she might like to do with the money even after I read the RFP to her (which had been previously shared). She says several times how great these “working sessions” are, and how we should have another “working session” to edit the draft together. We don’t need a working session for this, we can edit asynchronously, she just needs to … do that. I haven’t figured out the right script so that at least next time we can be more efficient. Second, my coworkers text me when I’m not working asking for file locations. “Can you send me the X file?” I go into our drive and search for “x file” and there it is, the thing they’re looking for. I’m not sure if there’s a way to say “did you try searching for that in the drive (or in your email from the last time I shared it with you?)” without seeming kind of snotty. Is the only answer to stop responding to these texts or say I can’t help?

    1. Cat Mom*

      I’d say something like, oh, I know that’s on the drive(or I emailed you that on Thursday just before lunch), let me know if you can’t find it there. Stop enabling!!

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        Or respond with the path to the file and not the file.
        “You’ll find that on Our Drive > 2023 > Drafts> x file”

        You’ve given them the info but they still have to do the work ;) When they realize you won’t just send them the file, they’ll stop pretending they can’t find it.

    2. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      There’s nothing snotty about asking – in a neutral, professional tone of course – What did you find when you checked your resources/searched the drive/ran an email search? It’s a perfectly fair question, especially when someone is past the initial training stage. Some people just need that subtle signal that hey, I’m onto you, and you need to be responsible for your own work.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      “I’m tied up with other projects so can’t realistically schedule another meeting to work on this in person, but why don’t you work on your edits and then send them to me by [date] and then I can review the document from there?”

    4. Boolie*

      For the asynchronous editing, if you have a the option to right click and add a comment/note somewhere, tell her to do that if she is unsure about her contributions. I’mFor the shared drive, I agree with Cat Mom to say, check the shared drive and let me know if you have issues accessing it. Just “assume” they already know that and it won’t come across as snotty.

    5. Nicki Name*

      Do they start off knowing that the X file is on Y drive (or that files of that type are generally in there), or is their conceptual model that the file is somewhere in your magic bag of file holding and they have to go through you to get it?

      If it’s the former, you’re totally justified in not responding to the texts. If the latter, you can try to educate them, but it will take more effort in the short term:

      “Can you send me the X file?”
      “It should be on the Y drive.”
      “Where on the Y drive?”
      “Just type ‘llama’ in the search box, that’s how I find it.”

      This could also uncover issues like, maybe they never got access to the Y drive and decided it was easier to ask you than to tackle IT’s procedure for getting that access.

      In general, the idea is to increase the time and effort it takes to make you do the thing for them, so that they find it easier to do it themselves.

      1. OP*

        I think they want the confirmation that I am sharing the latest and greatest file, but often it wasn’t a file I was even working on, and I just … used the search function for “xfile_final” so I do not have some special knowledge they don’t have about which file might be correct

    6. There's a G&T with my name on it*

      I think I’d be tempted to come across as snotty, to try and reestablish the boundaries. Ignore texts relating to work when you’re not working and say “sorry, I’m trying to set healthy life-work boundaries so I didn’t respond. Hope you managed to find it in the end!” or something.

    7. ferrina*

      Some strategies:
      -Utilize action items. Agree with her on what she will do and what you will do, and what date it will be done by. Send this in an email (which is helpful anyways, so you can both reference the timeline and to-dos)
      -Set an agenda for “working sessions”. Make the agenda things that you need to collaborate on. Decide how much time (if any) you are willing to put toward editing. You can literally say “I prefer to edit asynchronously- can we try that then at our next working session focus on ABC?” (where ABC is something you need to collaborate on). Or you can say you don’t have time for a meeting to discuss changes, but let’s touch base on Tuesday to talk about next steps.
      -When she texts, give it some time before answering. Make yourself less convenient. Or “It’s on the shared drive. I don’t have the exact link on hand, but it should be in the project folder. Let me know if it’s not there.” Or “Is it not in the project folder?” (that puts the onus on her to admit that she didn’t check- if she does say “I didn’t check”, tell her to check that first. Again, it makes you a less convenient option than doing the right thing in the first place).

      Good luck!

    8. Echo*

      On issue #1, could you just make them into working sessions formally and spend less upfront time yourself? Basically, imitate what your coworker is doing? I think the trick to very flat hierarchies like this is to match your own effort to the level of effort you see around you.

      On #2 – Yes, stop responding to texts while not working. Wait until your working hours and start with “Hi, just saw this!” Eventually people will get used to finding the files themselves or asking someone else.

      1. My Useless 2 Cents*

        The downside of matching effort level is that nothing gets done as everyone is just racing expend to the least amount of effort. You need to find a way to show that you will not be doing the entire project on your own without downgrading your own performance.
        I’d suggest something like:
        “A working session sounds great but I’m really busy right now. Can you take the lead on those edits? When you are at a good point let me know and we’ll get together and go over what you come up with. Thanks!”

    9. Artemesia*

      The key is to not act annoyed but also not do her job. ‘I’m crazy busy, did you check my email for that’. or ‘I can’t do that for you right now, why don’t you pull it up from the drive where our project drafts are.’ AND then never ever do it for her. If she flops on the metaphorical floor and ‘CAN’T do that — it’s toooooo hard.’ Then stand over her and walk her through it so she has to do the thing, but with the added annoyance of you standing over her. Never send her the file twice or look it up for her — make sure she always does not get out of work by leaning on you. But do it in a bland neutral matter of fact, or course this is how we did it way.

      And on separate tasks. ‘We don’t have time to have two people doing the same thing — I need you to edit the draft and send it to me’. or whatever her job is.

      When I managed PhD students some of them would arrive to discuss their dissertation without a thought in their pretty little heads waiting for me to tell them what to do. I established a ground rule for the initial meeting. They had to come in with ONE PAGE, no more, in which they stated 1. The question they were trying to answer. 2. Why anyone would care about that i.e. why was it important. and 3. How did they propose to gather the data to answer the question. This is extremely basic; if you can’t do that, then you aren’t ready to get down to the hard work of design and getting feedback. It really worked to make the students take initiative and our meetings more productive.

      Oh and scan the environment for opportunities to work with a better team member.

    10. ecnaseener*

      I feel you on the sending files thing! I try to give myself literally only seconds to come up with an answer — no checking that the file is where I think it is, just “it’s on the shared drive, I think in the X folder.”

      It sucks when you’re competent and conscientious, but the only thing to do is really just be a little less helpful :/

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

      All great ideas. You may experience “extinction bursts” while you train coworkers to do their jobs because they don’t want to change. I’d blandly push back every. Single. Time. Otherwise you train them that eventually you’ll do it and that’s the opposite of your goal.

    12. Lasuna*

      For the coworker who wants working sessions, I would email her something along the lines of, “I’m really busy, so I will only have time for XYZ in our next meeting.” Depending on the culture you may be able to include something like, “In order to make sure we are able to accomplish that, I will do task A before the meeting. Could you make sure you have B completed and ready to discuss?” However, in some flat workplaces I could imagine people bristling at being “told what to do” by a peer. The real trick is to stick to your limits when the meeting happens. In the first meeting, where she hadn’t read RFP and wasn’t prepared, you could have said something like, “We won’t have anything to discuss until you read the RFP and decide what you might like to do with the money. I’m too busy to help with that side of it – why don’t we cancel the meeting and reschedule for tomorrow (or whenever timing makes sense).” For the follow up meetings it will be important to stick to what you put in the email – “I think we’re getting a little off topic. I only have time for XYZ today!” Say it in an upbeat voice. Tone really impacts how these things are received.

      For the coworkers texting you for file locations, respond once with “I’ve realized I need to be much better at respecting myself and my need for time away from work. I won’t be able to respond to messages like this anymore.” After you’ve sent that, stop responding to texts from that person outside of work. Repeat as needed with additional coworkers. If this is happening when you are working, you can try something like, “I’m getting a lot of these requests, and it’s starting to impact my work. Have you tried searching for the file in the drive? Do you need me to show you how to search the drive so that you can find files yourself?” If you want to start with a gentler response you could try a training response like, “I think that will be in the drive. Try searching XYZ.”

    13. introverted af*

      I have the same thing with a coworker who always wants a call and doesn’t actually say what she wants. A couple things have helped with training her out of that behavior:

      1. I stopped responding quickly. I give it until lunch time, or right before the end of the day. That way I’m not the easiest solution.

      2. When I do respond, I tell her I’m not free for a call a bit (or until tomorrow, or whatever is appropriate). In my case, I also ask if she can explain what she needs via email or if she can send me an agenda.

      Overall, I try to be responsive to things she actually needs from me. And I try to be a total gray rock when she doesn’t tell me what she needs. I don’t offer anything, just keep asking questions until she gives me what I need to actually help her.

      1. Another academic librarian*

        “Overall, I try to be responsive to things she actually needs from me. And I try to be a total gray rock when she doesn’t tell me what she needs. I don’t offer anything, just keep asking questions until she gives me what I need to actually help her.”

        This is what I do now.

    14. Another academic librarian*

      I feel your pain. I have been pushing back on a colleague who does exactly this. AND the project is HER project! Yes the goals benefit my department and the institution but meeting after meeting is her spinning wheels and stating “hard it is” to do this work. I am exhausted thinking about it.

    15. Anon comment*

      Agree with previous comments. As a helpful person, it can be hard!
      I have coworkers who ask me our boss’ location since my desk is near her office. I warn them that I will look it up once or twice, but after that they’re on their own. “I don’t know, did you check her calendar?” seems to work pretty well.
      In your case:
      Coworker via text: “I can’t find the Crucial File! Where is it??”
      Your reply: “Let me think, did you check the X Drive?”

      I changed “I don’t know” to “Let me think” in case that might be a better approach.
      Other options to replace “I don’t know”:
      “That’s tricky”
      “I think I remember”
      “Hard to say”
      “I’m not on the clock but”
      Also remember that you don’t need a timely response when you’re not there. If it’s faster to find it themselves, they might start doing that.

    16. Quinalla*

      Looks like good advice on the file thing – I also will just wait a bit to answer and say something like “Oh, just seeing this now, been busy driving/(insert plausible work thing here). Did you find the file on the X drive yet or in your email when I shared it last week? Let me know if you still need help!”

      For the first one, I’d be more explicit about what needs to be prepared prior to the meeting and if she isn’t prepped, just say “Oh, did you not read the RFP yet? Ah, let’s reschedule for 2pm after you’ve had time to read.” And for working asynchronously, suggest a split of work and then make sure its in writing. When you are done, message her and say “OK, I got X, Y & Z done for our review meeting on Wed, looks like you still need to do A, B & C, thanks!” It’s a friendly reminder that way.

      If you are waiting on someone to do something, say “Hey, we agreed we’d have this done by Thursday, but I need a day to turn my part around after you do yours, when will you be done? If you don’t have time to complete by Wed, do we need to push the deadline?”

    17. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’d end the meeting as soon as it was clear she didn’t read the RFP. “We’ll have to reschedule once you’ve familiarized yourself with the RFP. That’s step one and I won’t be able to use our shared time to listen to you read it or read it to you” and then before you agree to a follow up meeting, pointedly ask her if she is sure she is familiar with the RFP. Do not let any shared meeting time be used to co-edit or co-read.
      I’d also push back on “working sessions” or whatever she called it. These weren’t working meetings, they were hand-holding meetings. I’d say, “we actually haven’t been able to have a working session yet but if you’re able to pre-load this work, we might have a chance to do so productively.”

    18. Extra anony*

      My boss does this constantly so I feel for you, but it’s my boss so I have to respond.

      If I were off work and someone asked for a file, I’d say something like, “Not at my computer right now but it’s on the Drive in the Projects folder.” The first situation is harder. To continue using your example, could you ask for her to send some ideas ahead of the meeting, and if she hasn’t added anything by meeting time, write to say “I think we should postpone the meeting because I don’t see any comments in the doc yet” and then propose a later date? Tough for really time sensitive stuff though.

  5. Publishing Industry Discussion!!*

    I was reminded on the “leaving your dream field” post this week that there are a good number of traditionally published authors who are regular commenters on the site. As we know, publishing is a whackadoo field that involves a bunch of things that wouldn’t fly in more professional industries, partly because of the “dream job” element and partly for other reasons. Anyone want to share some crazy stories in the trad pub world? Tips for navigating or success stories?

    1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I used to work in academic publishing in the 2000s and it wasn’t unheard of for authors to provide entire manuscripts in handwritten form.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Hehe I have editor friends who still today say they receive manuscripts in which every tab or every line space was done manually, as if MS word is a typewriter.

        1. londonedit*

          Yep, we absolutely do! Or, at the other end of the spectrum, the manuscripts where the author has seemingly attempted to typeset the book themselves, and/or where the whole thing is full of every single whizzy MS Word formatting/style element they can possibly squeeze into it. Which I then have to strip out so that the copy-editor and typesetter have something clean and easy to work from.

          1. Siege*

            I always found that fun, honestly. It was kind of meditative to just let Word do its replacements and then scroll the document checking things. Like, I objected to authors who refused to learn that email has much larger capacity now so they’d send in like 6 emails of 5 chapters each, out of order because they were trying to be under the arbitrary email attachment size of 1993, but reassembling the document and setting the page breaks and stripping out the weird formatting and the spaces instead of tabs and the two spaces after a period and all that was an hour of meditation for me.

            As a related note, I hate Courier with the fire of a passionate designer and it was life-changing very early in my adoption of computers to learn you could just select all and replace the font to something more pleasurable to look at.

          2. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

            Sloanicota & Londonedit, I have edited documents with BOTH hard carriage returns and fancy formatting.
            In a MSWord doc that the author *knows* is going to be run through the publisher’s conversion tool to produce a different format.

            Sometimes they also do a mix of citations using a 3rd-party plugin citation manager (think Endnote) that uses form fields in the doc that call from a secondary database, and also in the same document, manually typed citations in plaintext.

            And also, some of them are savvy enough to use Comments for developmental editing (notes to self or coathor like “remember to cite Smith on this” “elaborate on this point” etc.) and some of them just type those kinds of notes directly in the main text, and just change the formatting a bit, like make the text a different color or italicize it. I live in fear those comments will get reformatted to match the surrounding text and then overlooked and not edited out before the final draft.

            1. OP*

              Heee my old boss used to have a terrible habit of writing in “we did X tasks and Y outcomes” (like actually inserting the letters X an Y) without really flagging those places in any way and it was sooooo easy for those to make it into the final versions of things when there were a lot of people doing a lot of edits!

        2. Artemesia*

          no one has a secretary anymore so authors who have not had roles where they had to master software professionally and know just enough to type up their chapters will have bare minimum skills. I worked with men at University who dictated their work or provided secretaries with handwritten drafts. Increasingly rare, but not unheard of. So of course their typed ms will have double spaces after the periods and so forth.

          1. Jinni*

            I have an author friend who’s in her 70s. She dictates (arthritis prevents long bouts of typing), then has a transcriber she pays personally!

        1. Chirpy*

          I mean, Scrivener isn’t the only word processing program designed specifically for writers, and it’s been around for over 10 years now.

          I like it because you can separate chapters/scenes and move them around like physical notecards (there’s even a “corkboard” format) and include research folders all in the same document. And you can export the whole thing into a single document at the end. There’s also templates for novels vs scripts, etc.

    2. Miss Cranky Pants*

      I am wrapping up a freelance contract that I have chosen NOT to extend partly because the person I work with most closely: 1- cannot bookmark a website for quick reference; 2- prints off and edits ALL versions of files by hand (and we’re talking about fairly complex scientific research papers, not vampire fiction; 3- cannot understand how to use the Zoom function in a Word document so she can more easily see Track Changes; and 4- recently told me rather than use Track Changes (which, ya know, SHOWs the changes) she wants me to highlight and put into comments my suggestions for copy edits. My typical # of changes in a copy edit is usually about 400-600 edits. And 5- cannot read and Excel sheet or Google sheet to manage the publishing schedule. Instead, I copied all of the tasks into a Word doc using a Table.

      Just no.

      I’m sorry but it’s not 1997 anymore. And you cannot expect 2023 results using 1997 processes and so I quit. :)

      1. Ama*

        I’m not in publishing but I do trade edits on documents with a lot of academic institutions. I had one institution administrator return edits last year where at first glance it looked like all the edits were standard Word track changes and then I went in to “accept” one and discovered, no she’d just formatted it that way. Like she took the time to put in her edits and then manually formatted them as red and underlined instead of using track changes. It was mind boggling (and annoying because it took me twice as long to get the final document formatted properly).

        Unfortunately I could not fire this person as a client because she was just an employee of the larger academic institution my employer was partnering with on this document. Although I did notice she was not still there when I worked with that institution again this year.

        1. ecnaseener*

          I had that come up just yesterday lol! Not publishing, but I review documents with tracked changes (and send them over with tracking still enabled, so no one has to find the button). A person applied the strikethrough format on everything they wanted to delete instead of actually deleting it :(

      2. Magda*

        Ha! When I sold my first novel, the editor sent me a very-kindly “how to” guide that showed me … how to view comments in MS Word, and introduced the idea of “track changes.” I was like, who the hell’s novels are you working on?? Yes I know basic Word functionality!!

    3. WestsideStory*

      What I am finding mind-boggling: now that the state of New York (biggest hub of publishing in the US) requires job postings to include salary ranges, how wretched salaries still are. Like starting salaries under $40KUS still happening! Latest example: a Sales Director position for a well known medium sized publisher – to be responsible for 4 different revenue channels, have 7-10 years of experience – range $60-80K US. I’m guessing they rely on people wanting some support in health care benefits… because it’s unlikely anyone at Director level still believes the job has “Glamour.” Thoughts?

      1. Sloanicota*

        Agree, it’s been so frustrating to see that salaries are basically still “anchored” at like, 1980 levels. There were so many folks on Twitter saying they were making 30K right out of school 10 years ago and now the job is … still $30K. Meanwhile author payments seem to have gone down for most outside the megawatt stars. The money is going somewhere!!

      2. Hillary*

        I suspect they’re not disclosing the total comp package – I looked at some non-sales postings at one of the big publishers and they were listed as low for NY but not substantially worse than other industries. The sales roles were low but match the base part of base+commission. The NY law doesn’t require disclosing commission etc, just base or hourly pay.

        I do know my friend who sells for one of them makes a lot more than is posted.

  6. Pinky*

    I wanted to get y’alls take on something. I was laid off earlier this month from a job I had for 3 years. About 6 years ago I was also laid off. I work in the marketing industry, and both of these companies were acquired while I was there, and eventually laid off people in waves. I have about 10 years experience and had a few jobs between that first layoff and this recent one.

    Anyway, I met with the hiring manager for an interview this week. He was a white man, probably in his 50s. He came off as condescending during the interview and gave me insights that he’s probably a micromanaging nightmare to work with. He made a comment along the lines of, “you’ve now been laid off twice, why do you think you were chosen?” I was gobsmacked at such a question. I can be over sensitive, so I’m not sure if I’m feeling defensive at this question, but I felt it was so inappropriate! Both times after my layoffs, all the interviewers were pretty respectful with asking about it and talking about it. Especially with marketing, and more so with mergers and acquisitions, layoffs aren’t uncommon. But I (as a white woman), thought, “are you asking this to everyone?” It just reeked of unempathetic privilege and put a bad taste in my mouth.

    I do not want to continue interviewing, but they wanted to set up a 2 hour interview (to meet with several people), so I did that. THANKFULLY I actually got a verbal offer from somewhere I’m excited about. They are putting together the written one. But I’d still continue interviewing because you never know what will happen. Another weird thing with this manager, was that the position was okayed as “remote”, but he expected the person to fly into headquarters 1x/month! I told him that would be hard to do, but I could do 1x/quarter.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      But I (as a white woman), thought, “are you asking this to everyone?” It just reeked of unempathetic privilege and put a bad taste in my mouth.

      Yikes! Yeah, at worst, it’s sexist. At best, it’s “just” awkward and obnoxious. Like, what kind of answer is he expecting from this question?

      1. Artemesia*

        I suspect this is a jackass and does in fact ask everyone this question including white men whom he enjoys also dominating. I am pretty attuned to sexism but this one comes off to me less that they jerk.

      2. Siege*

        “In hindsight, I suspect it was my habit of microwaving fish and keeping my toenail clippings in the receptionist’s desk drawer that led to my being selected for a layoff, but who can really speculate on such unknowns?”

    2. Capt. Liam Shaw*

      That is not the job for you. I don’t think he asked that because of your race/gender but because of his age. His view on getting laid off sounds very boomer generation mindset (no offense to the boomers reading this). In this economy with M&As being frequent getting laid off isn’t that big of a deal and frankly something a lot of Gen X and younger folks will have to deal with. I know in banking and finance M&As are common. Layoffs are common too in aerospace and defense when a company loses or doesn’t win a contract.

      In short that dude was just a jerk with some very outdated views. He is probably one of those folks who thinks “nobody wants to work anymore.”

      1. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

        If he’s in his 50’s then he’s GenX, not a Boomer. I am 52 and solidly GenX, I was a tween/teen in the 1980s. I don’t mean to be pedantic, but just like Millennials are hardly fresh out of college these days, a lot of GenX-ers are grandparents now. My mom is a Boomer and she’s 74.

        I agree with you that this is likely due to a “pull up your bootstraps” mentality, but I see that among all age groups.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Haha thank you for taking a stand I swear we Milennials are supposed to be perpetual new grads (I am 40!!).

        2. Prospect Gone Bad*

          Younger X here and this is starting to confuse me too, LOL. Like, seeing someone a decade older than me and being like, it’s so crazy they are a grandparent, they had kids way too young, they look old for their age. Then doing the thinking and realizing it all actually checks out and is not that insane.

          Also another generational-myth busting, not all X is old and the younger end is still barely middle aged. Sometimes I see people say “we” are all “old” and it’s just not true. Many 70s babies still without a gray hair or barely a crows feet in sight.

          1. Sloanicota*

            This is off topic but I’ve been speculating that many people today genuinely look younger than our predecessors at the same age, whether due to different makeup / hair styles, better nutrition, more water, or sunscreen.

          2. RagingADHD*

            Because UVA blocking sunscreen came out in the 90s. Too late for our childhoods, but early enough to prevent a lot of sun damage.

            And we’re better at hair dye than the Boomers.

            1. Random Bystander*

              Except for folks like me who proudly let the gray come in. But then I do feel obligated–when I was in my 20s, my maternal grandfather had this gorgeous silver-colored hair (yes, actually shiny). I said “I hope I got the silver-haired gene”. Well, when the first one came in, it was shiny silver … so I don’t dare cover it up because I asked for it. But it is funny that I at 57 look so much more gray than my mom at 76 because she doesn’t want to be gray.

      2. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

        If he’s in his 50s, then it’s not a given that he’s a boomer – he could be Gen X. Source: I’m Gen X and just turned 56. :-)

        Even if he’s a boomer, he’d be a younger boomer (a la Generation Jones).

        Still doesn’t mean he’s not a jerk, because he definitely seems to be that.

        1. Former_Employee*

          The youngest boomers turn 59 this year, so it’s possible, but more likely he’s Gen X. Besides, as a Boomer, I don’t want him to be one of us!

          And so true about Millennials! The ones I know are in their 30s and early 40s. The recent grads are Gen Z babies, born in 1997 or later.

      3. Qwerty*

        It isn’t an age thing. Just last week I heard a Gen Z person refer to a layoff as “trimming the fat” and talking about the lay off not being a loss because it cut the lower performers. Zuckerberg told the Meta staff last year they weren’t working hard enough and basically pre-emptively blamed laid-off staff for their own layoff. It is not unusual when a layoff is coming for a manager to be told to rank their staff and have anyone below a certain line (# of roles, percentage, etc) be laid off.

        This manager sucks and it tells Pinky how he’ll manage and give feedback. Being a jerk is not a generational thing. No matter his views or experiences on why people get laid off, he didn’t need to voice them.

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Rude bugger, at a time when most hiring managers would try to show their best face. A nightmare to avoid if possible.

      I don’t think age affects attitudes to layoffs, more a matter of privilege:
      I’m a boomer, comfortably retired after a professional career, but I grew up very poor, so I’ve known several people who were made redundant. Mostly just bad luck – and bad / callous company management.

      re 1 day / month in office: many remote jobs want the occasional visit, but that’s the maximum frequency I’d regard as “remote”. YMMV.

      btw, would they pay for your travel costs and hours? If not, even if you’ve already agreed your salary / range, I’d increase this and state why.

    4. Ampersand*

      These are red flags. I’m annoyed just reading about him! I know you say you should continue interviewing because you never know what could happen—but it sounds to me like you should withdraw your candidacy, lest you end up working for him (unless you’re in a financial position where you’d absolutely need to take this job if it were offered and the other one fell through).

    5. Texan In Exile*

      I have no answers but I am offering sympathy. I had an older white man ask me, a white woman, the same question. I was the only woman in my group and the only unmarried person in my group and the only one my older white male boss laid off and I swear that was the reason (I had no family to support! IT WAS OBVIOUS!), but I couldn’t say that when the interviewer asked me.

      1. Chirpy*

        Yeah, I am quite sure my status as the youngest person in the office, single and childless, had some bearing on my job being the one eliminated. It sure was reason for everyone to discount my ideas/expertise while I was still there, anyway.

      2. Quinalla*

        Yeah, this is a thing that still happens – sometimes people even admit it to the person they are laying off!!! – and is awful.

        Interviewer sounds like one of those people that thinks bluntness/rudeness is necessary to be honest. (Hint: it’s not!)

    6. Ellis Bell*

      Oh, he’s definitely a cretin. What empathy he must have, to just throw that one at people. Also, question time: are layoffs the same thing as what we call redundancies (in the UK)? Because you choose to make the role redundant, not the person! The latter is illegal.

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I believe they are the same thing. Here, it is sometimes the case where upper management decides to halve the number of people in X role, and leave it up to middle management to make the decision of which half of those employees to lay off.

        In the platonic ideal of this kind of layoff, one retains the best employees. However, from what I’ve heard the manager’s decision is usually more chaotic:
        – Lay off the oldest person in the department because they make too much money;
        – Lay off Todd because he recently accepted the company’s counteroffer, so he isn’t loyal enough;
        – Lay off Rachel because otherwise they would have to lay off their Best Friend or Golden Boy;
        – Lay of Emma because she’s (probably) planning to get pregnant, or because her spouse should support her;
        – Lay off Jennifer because she doesn’t have a family to support;
        – Lay off Jamal because he never seemed to fit in (for some totally other reason than that he’s the only person of color on the team).

        1. Former_Employee*

          Sometimes managers use last in/first out as a way to avoid favoritism being a factor.

          The problem with that approach is that Jamal and Jennifer could be part of the last hired group and that is due to the company’s finally becoming aware that they keep hiring white males.

          How would it look if the only female and only person of color were laid off?

          Now, the poor manager can’t use a formula and they’re back to choosing based in part at least on personalities meshing (or not).

          This is why I think that someone other than the direct manager should create a list of people to be laid off from a department, give it to the manager, and let the manger have the final say.

    7. Jinni*

      I have a friend who is a CEO (white woman, mid 50s) who told me that she believes layoffs always target poor performers. I’d never heard that before she mentioned it, but she says it’s a belief among her peers.

  7. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    What does your work journal look like? mine is a lectrum ( sp? basically a hard back book) with dots because I was going to create a bullet journal but didn’t. How do you lay out your work journal? Mine is a to do list, any notes and then a to do list for the next day

    also my boss is too busy to do any 1 to 1s so that’s a bummer

    1. IAmSoTired*

      I just use a spiral bound steno pad, and I use bullet journal notation for my daily todo list. I don’t do the running list thing, I just write a list every morning, and some things often carry over from day to day, but I find the writing things down fresh helps me prioritize better.

    2. Roscoe da Cat*

      I also have the Leuchttrum. I have a to-do list for the day on one side and notes on what happens each day on the other. I find repeating the to-do list each day helps me get ready for the day. Also, Leuchttrum have numbered pages so I can just write “Send note to Larry – details on p XX)

    3. Mimmy*

      Not a work journal, but I use a spiral reporter’s notepad to create running to-do lists. As I check off everything on each page, I throw it away. Similar to “IAmSoTired”, I find that writing things down helps me to better keep track of what needs to get done. I just don’t find electronic to-do lists to be very helpful.

      Now, if you mean an actual *journal*, I am interested in others’ ideas.

    4. There's a G&T with my name on it*

      I have tried many methods. Bullet journaling stuck with me the longest, and I keep a Leuchterm journal still but that has turned into an everything-but-work journal (includes conferences but not work meetings). For work I have a day-to-a-page diary where I write to-dos, and for larger projects I’m trialling Lists (Microsoft365). But I’ve only just started, so who knows how it’ll go. I used to be more wedded to paper, but I’m having some success with Todoist as well.

    5. Ancient Llama*

      I’m not sure what you mean by a work journal, I switched from to do lists to a Kanban board online. So easy to see what you are working on, prioritize your “backlog,” and move/archive done things to give you a sense of accomplishment. Plus being electronic I am not wasting paper moving items from the last list to my new list when I run out of space/the crossed off items distract. I added a column for “blocked” and put what I’m waiting on so I know to check back.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I mean like a little notebook of work stuff. I tried Trello for a bit but I tend to do something for a month and then stop

    6. introverted af*

      I have a TUL discbound notebook from Office Depot. I don’t use it for my to do list, but I do use it for my notes in meetings. I have tabs to separate out different kinds of meetings, and can add paper as needed. I also like that the the cover will be with me for a while so I have been decorating it with stickers and that has also been really nice. I keep a tab at the back of old meeting notes so I can reference them if I need to.

      I use Trello for my to do list – I have a column for my statistics, my calendar for the current week, my current pomodoro set, my to do list, my list of tasks pending other people, tasks accomplished this week, and tasks accomplished in each month. I also have a couple powerups that I use to link parent-child tasks.

    7. eisa*

      I used to write my todo items on loose sheets of paper and cross them off.
      Nowadays, I have three text files.
      One for TODO (where I also write additional information I discover as I work on something)
      One for DONE (I move the items over after they are finished)
      One for WHAT DID I DO (by day, and with less detail .. for reporting how I spent my time in our standup sessions)

      PS: I wasn’t aware of this product/company starting with L; Roscoe da Cat’s spelling came pretty close; so it’s Leuchtturm – German for lighthouse

    8. Admin of Sys*

      Does digital count? I use Joplin, and have a note per month. The top of the month note is the active to-do list with a bullet. Every work day a new date entry gets added below the to-do, anything done in the to-do gets prefixed with done and dropped into the day it was completed. At the new month, any still active to-dos either get copied over to the new note, or migrated to a longer term ‘misc to do’ or ‘scale planning’ list. I used to put personal commentary in under a different bullet type, but now I leave that in my personal journal, which is evernote.
      I like joplin because it supports markdown, so i can dump images or code into it. I love evernote and would probably use it instead, but I don’t like cloud options for work notes – it’s too much of a pain to make sure nothing sensitive gets stored.

    9. Katherine*

      I have spiral bound lined notebook with 6 tabbed dividers, size A5. My sections are (1) general notes (procedures, contacts, reference info, etc.), (2) customer 1, (3) customer 2, (4) misc. customer, (5) meeting notes and (6) to do list.

      I work in A/R and oversee multiple customer accounts but customers 1 and 2 are my big customers so they got their own sections. My notes for my smaller customers go into the misc customer section.

    10. CheeryO*

      Moved everything into OneNote recently and I’m never looking back! I just use whatever scrap paper is around if I need to jot quick notes, then either scan or type them up if needed. We’re hybrid remote and in-person, so it’s nice to be as paperless as possible.

      1. Mimmy*

        I use OneNote too, particularly to take notes during weekly staff meetings. Unlike to-do lists, I like being able to search for keywords if I want to reference something that was said in the past.

    11. KR*

      I use an 8×10 spiral bound week and month planner and use the week view as one big to do list for the week and a place to write quick notes.

    12. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Thanks for asking this! I am starting a new position that has more management responsibility and less benchwork, so I was thinking of ways to modify some of my old habits to fit my new role.

      When I worked in a lab, I used the Roaring Spring bound lab books with numbered pages. The pages are oversized (9.25 x 11.75 inches) and grid-ruled. My field notebook was a Black and Red spiral bound with a soft cover. The corner marks made scanning and digitizing my handwritten notes much easier.

      The first 1-2 pages of my work journal is reserved for the Table of Contents. Each page is numbered. The first page of each entry/project/section is dated and has a short descriptive title that is recorded in the ToC. I highlight things to report in my annual evaluation in the ToC, too.

    13. Quinalla*

      Mostly mine is electronic using onenote. I do take a lot of handwritten notes on post-its at my desk typically or in one of my 523985 notebook I have (ok maybe only like 25 or so, but still, way more than I need lol). I find writing by hand helps me remember things better. If I need to keep something more permanently, I put it in my one-note.

      In super, super busy times I sometimes use other software to track projects, but usually onenote is plenty for me. I like onenote since I can access it from work computer, home computer, my phone or ipad – very handy to always have it with me. I also track home/kid stuff there too.

    14. Dragonfly7*

      My favorite was a bound (hard or softback) journal loosely based on a bullet journal. I had a daily to-do and notes starting from the front. Any “standing instructions,” like a process I didn’t complete often but was inconvenient to look up on a computer, started from the back and worked their way inward.
      My current workplace is almost entirely paperless, and I’ve yet to find an electronic system that works anywhere nearly as well for me.

    15. Dubious*

      I started out with a paper journal/notebook but ended up switching to doing it on computer so that I could use that sweet sweet ctrl-f function.

      It’s bullet journal-inspired, so I have a system for carrying over tasks each day/week/month and indicating which are ongoing, not started, or completed. Each week and day is its own type of header, so I can jump to it easily from outline view. Under each day I note what meetings I have, then underneath it is a bullet point list of tasks. When I need to take notes for meetings, I put them as sub-bullets underneath each listed meeting for that day.

      I try to use consistent terms for everything so that the search function works. I make a new document for each quarter and link the previous and following quarters from it.

      I still love hand-written notebooks most of all, but this way I can look up information much more easily and quickly.

  8. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

    This is a really dumb HR question, but I’m not sure where to turn to about it. I’ve been the day-to-day supervisor for a struggling colleague for several months now. I recently learned that they’ve requested ADA accommodations and I’m going to be in the meeting with HR, our department head, our boss, and my colleague. One of the accommodations my colleague wants is WFH. Here’s my question. I’m about to have my second child and I’m planning on taking all 12 weeks of my FMLA with my baby. If my colleague gets WFH accommodations, can my office require me to come back early? I feel like they can’t, but I don’t know who to ask about this and not look like an idiot or a jerk.

    1. Temperance*

      They absolutely cannot take away your FMLA.

      I would also make sure to push back, as much as you can, on the person claiming to work from home. They’re not doing a good job in the office, how will they cope with no oversight?

      1. Tio*

        WFH doesn’t necessarily equal no oversight. That may or may not be successful depending on what the ADA request is – but if HR does agree to it, then you need some guidelines. I’d treat it almost like a PIP – how are you going to measure their success or failure in the role? Do they have to turn in X things per day/week? Answer emails within 4 hours? Some sort of error rate measure? Just make sure you have very clear measurements for success as much as possible, both for you and for whoever will be watching over them while you’re away.

      2. asdfw*

        Why do you believe that WFH means “no oversight”? This person may have a disability that means they’re becoming distracted easily in the office, or becoming fatigued by their commute, or need medication or rest they can’t get in the office. Why would someone push back against that?

        1. Called Birdy*

          Right, why would your colleague’s needs (ADA accommodation) cause the employer to deny you your needs (FMLA)..?

          1. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

            Because in my last office I was bullied into not taking as much time as I would have liked because “the office needed me.” And my coworker called me nonstop about how to do my job because she was too lazy to read the documentation I left.

            1. The Shenanigans*

              Your last office broke the law, then. That’s not that unusual, unfortunately. But if this office tries, you can politely explain that no, they can’t do that, and here’s the law that says so. If they persist, report them.

              1. Ann*

                The part about cutting leave short may not be illegal if she was taking more than the 12 weeks protected by FMLA. If you ask for five months and they give you three exactly, it’s unfortunate but legal.

        2. Temperance*

          The coworker is described as “struggling” and OP is their day-to-day supervisor, meaning they need a lot of oversight.

      3. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

        Thanks, that’s all my anxious brain wants to know.

        If it’s ok, let’s not go down the path of wasn’t reasonable and not. There’s a lot going on that I’m not adding here for my colleague’s privacy.

      4. DataSci*

        Really? 3+ years since we all WFH, some longer than others, and you still think it means no oversight? Oversight does not literally mean “someone is standing over your shoulder watching everything you do”.

        1. Temperance*

          Of course not, but someone who needs a “day-to-day” supervisor and is described as struggling clearly needs more monitoring.

    2. ferrina*

      No. They cannot threaten your job during those 12 weeks- that is literally what FMLA is designed to protect. They need to find the coverage while you are out.

      1. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

        Thank you! I don’t think they’d threaten my job, but I want to know my rights. If they threatened to pull my FMLA, I’d start job hunting as soon as I returned to work.

        1. ScruffyInternHerder*

          That would indeed be the correct move! (There may be “legal advice” about this but IAsoNAL.)

    3. VI Guy (visually impaired)*

      My understanding is that the employee can’t force a company to implement a specific accommodation, they can only explain the problem and expect to get accommodated. So if someone has a problem with lighting or noise then they can either work from home or be assigned an office where they can turn off the lights or be away from noise.

      Just because someone needs support for a disability doesn’t mean that they take precedence over others. I don’t know the legalities, but you should absolutely get all your weeks of leave.

    4. IrishGirl*

      You employees ADA accommodation has no bearing on your FMLA.

      Your job should be to prepare to mange that employee remotely and have a plan in place to document if the WFH is actually helping the employee or if they are still struggling while WFH. Anyone taking on your responsibilities while you are out should be able to follow your plan and what was agreed to for the ADA accommodation.

      1. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

        Thank you! One nice thing about our org is that HR will determine what is reasonable vs not after the meeting. If they deem this accommodation reasonable, they’ll tell us what to do and I should be able to hand that off easily.

    5. GreenShoes*

      So a couple of things.

      No, they can’t make you come back early (assuming you are taking FMLA). Don’t bring this up in the meeting. The time to have a discussion will be after the meeting with the employee with your HR, Boss, and dept head

      Second agree with the above. Make sure you voice any concerns about them working from home and be prepared with examples of how they are struggling. Again- this should be done after the employee leaves the meeting.

      1. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

        Thank you! I wouldn’t bring it up at our meeting with my colleague still there because that seems inappropriate. I just want to be able to take one worry off my plate for now and be able to focus more fully on the HR meeting.

        1. Temperance*

          Could you meet with HR and your bosses without the colleague first, so you can have a plan of action, and maybe loop in legal if need be so you can address what they want in the moment?

          You know this person and what they’re having difficulty with. The ADA requires what they call an “interactive process” to determine accommodations that work for the employee and aren’t unduly burdensome on the business. (I forget the exact language, but they don’t just get to do whatever because they request it.) Job Accommodation Network, or JAN, is great for t his.

  9. Confused*

    Can anyone explain to me the logic behind this?: I have a virtual interview at 1pm today. At 12:45, they’re going to email me the interview questions.

    WHY? What am I going to do with 15 minutes other than panic? I’d rather they not send them to me at all, if they’re somehow expecting me to have prepared answers after 15 minutes to prepare (while I’m also preparing my physical environment for the interview.)

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Speculation, but I can think of two reasons.

      1) They want to do a normal interview but speed things up and avoid crosstalk. You can read a question to yourself faster than they can read it out loud.

      2) They have one of those weird policies that everyone be asked the exact same questions, no exceptions. And the email is a way for them to document that they did that.

      1. Called Birdy*

        #2 at a recent interview. And agreed, getting the questions right before only added to the panic factor. Ugh.

      2. Katherine*

        #2 was absolutely standard practice at a college where I used to work! They didn’t at the time, but I bet they are now emailing the lists of questions to candidates.

      3. The Shenanigans*

        Either way that really shouldn’t fill the applicant with much confidence at all. Especially the second one. Diversity theatre tends to cover up a lot of real, actual problems they refuse to address. Confused should think of some really pointed questions to ask about culture and fit and business process.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      It could definitely be some misguided attempt to not create anxiety. They want you to see the questions so you aren’t surprised but not early enough that you can polish some pre-rehearsed answers. But, yeah, I can definitely see how that’s backfiring…

    3. another Hero*

      I would like this, actually. 15 minutes is enough time to look at each question and decide on an experience to talk about or a couple points to make. I’ve gone to in-person interviews where I was handed the list of questions when I got to the building; this seems similar. it’s not enough time to plan out your whole answers, but it is enough to look at the questions together, get a sense of their priorities (based on what they’re asking), and get a sense of what you’ll say. earlier might be better, but this is way better for me than not sending them at all.

      that said, if you can use the 15 mins before as a deadline for preparing your physical space, would that help? it would be more comfortable for me to have one thing at a time.

      1. Confused*

        I can and will do that, but it lengthens the time I need to take away from work.

        I’m also worried they’re going to expect more preparedness than 15 minutes notice is going to give them.

      2. Artemesia*

        agreed. It is critical in an interview to be specific and you should go into them with a thought out bank of examples of the time you did this, coped with that, triumphed over adversity etc etc. Having the questions 15 minute in advance, lets you quickly pull out your preplanned examples which is a little harder on the fly given the anxiety of the interview process.

      3. Unkempt Flatware*

        I have interviewed three times where I got the questions ahead of time. I loved it. I have no idea how it could make things more stressful. Maybe it is because of my industry.

    4. ferrina*

      They might not even have the questions drafted until 15 minutes before the interview, or give you the questions so you can follow along with your own copy.

      fwiw, I would start making a cup of calming tea at 12:30

    5. Flying squirrel*

      My organization (public sector so everyone gets the same questions) tends to send them out 15-30 minutes in advance. I kind of like 15 minutes because everyone knows there’s no time to script your answers. Basically, I just try to get the initial panic/mind goes blank time out of the way. I usually come prepared with a few examples/anecdotes, so I just try to pick which one works for each question.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        My public sector job does the same thing. When interviews were all F2F, they would set you up in a conference room by yourself to read them, make notes, & get yourself mentally prepared. Then you were taken to the interview room.

        It was kind of nice.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I love it personally, and plan to share questions in advance next time I have to interview – I’m not hiring people to come up with polished presentations on the fly (or at all), so how well they reply off-the-cuff isn’t relevant to being able to do the work. So if I take that stressor off, then they can do better at the actual relevant stuff.

    6. Ithappens*

      I’ve had this happen a few times — I took the fifteen minutes to bullet point specific examples of the scenarios they were asking about. I think this is to avoid you having to think of examples during the interview and maybe not be able to come up with one. So if it was a question about a time I’d dealt with a difficult coworker I would make a self note “Susan — refusing to learn PowerPoint” and then talk about what I was and wasn’t able to do in that situation for the question. It’s also a good time to check that you’re talking about every aspect of your experience you’re most want to emphasize.

      (Now the time I was sent the wrong questions and then they wanted to send me the new ones and give me fifteen more minutes before staring…that was not great for me)

    7. Carolyn*

      I work in academia and we do this because we’re not allowed to send questions out any further ahead of time but the questions can be long, we have to ask the same ones, and we hope that having them handy helps the interviewee. We don’t ever expect preparation but it helps us from rereading the questions over and over

      1. Confused*

        I think flipping back between a zoom screen and the interview questions would be annoying actually.

        1. Siege*

          For you. I find it helpful to have the questions because of my audio processing issues, actually.

      2. Nesprin*

        Also academia- our job postings and our questions have to be linked- if we ask for expert in X, we will ask about that. If we ask for “collaborative team oriented” we will ask that.

    8. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      Not an interview, but I’m a Project Manager and I swear this is happening more and more with clients who need to provide us with files for testing and implementation. They will send a file that they’ve had an entire week to produce 10-15 minutes before the meeting and expect our analysts to have reviewed the file and ask questions when we meet at the top of the hour. Most people on these calls are jumping from meeting to meeting and haven’t even see the email, let alone had a chance to review it and identify issues. It makes me absolutely crazy.

    9. ecnaseener*

      I think this is a “can’t please everybody” situation — they want to let you see the questions ahead of time so you won’t blank on an answer in the moment, and there’s no one perfect time to send it that everyone will like. Some people would be more stressed out by having hours to prepare and feeling like they have to be fully rehearsed.

      They’re being up front about what to expect, so they don’t WANT you to panic. Interviews are just inherently stressful!

    10. Hawk*

      My interview for my current job wasn’t virtual, but we had the same process. I found that it was actually really a great way to collect my thoughts ahead of time about the questions. We were given a piece of paper to jot our notes down for each question.

    11. New Mom*

      I had this happen to me a few weeks ago but it was 30 minutes before and I had another meeting I couldn’t move so it caused MORE anxiety for me. I was also super annoyed. That employer is required to send interview questions ahead of time for DEIB but another job I was in the running for at that same employer sent me the questions 24 hours in advance.

      For 15 minutes they aren’t expecting you to have perfected answers because that would be ridiculous but I THINK it alleviates the deer in the headlights/panic when an interviewee is asked a question on the spot and they draw a blank and then panic. But 15 minutes is really not great, especially if it’s more than 2-3 questions.

      Good luck!

    12. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      I’m surprised by the reaction here, I think this is a great accessibility aid! I’ve been arguing for it at my public workplace too. You’re not meant to script anything, but it’s helpful to allocate specific examples to a question, so you’re not accidentally reaching to the same example, or realizing after that you ‘wasted’ your perfect answer on a question that maybe you would have liked to answer differently. It’s to help stop that panic reaction, and the babbling (speaking of myself here).

      It would also be so helpful for some of those curveball questions – during my current job’s interview I was asked, essentially, ‘why was colonialism bad for X people?’ I had just written a 30-page paper on this, but it’s pretty hard to come up with a pat answer for that on the fly, and even a few minutes would have helped me to pull out a few threads to string together. (It was an internal interview, so instead I told my boss-to-be that it was a hard (read: bad) question, that I wasn’t sure how to summarize 30 pages in this format off the cuff, and mumbled some stuff about genocide and cultural genocide and racism.)

      1. Siege*

        I have audio processing issues and don’t track complex questions well. We try to make our hiring and interview process really accessible, but we want your actual answers, not answers that are any more scripted than your typical “tell us about yourself” answer that everyone should have when interviewing.

    13. Siege*

      My organization does this. It’s partly so you see the questions ahead of time but none of them are particularly exciting questions – there’s like two scenario questions and then the rest are much more “tell me about yourself” kinds of questions so we don’t expect that you’ll actually craft answers to them in that time, because honestly, you already should have answers for most of them. And even the scenario questions are set up to be “how do you think about completing this task”; if you tell us that you’re immediately going to do one of the three things that the scenario explicitly rules out in its setup, that’s useful information for us to have.

      The other reason is because we’re conducting the interviews exclusively on Zoom now – we were actually early adopters of Zoom and our interview process went remote-available in 2018 (we can do in-person, prior to the pandemic, if interviewees were local and preferred it) – so giving you the questions allows you to read them as well. Since they’re long questions, particularly the scenario ones, there’s no way for someone to retain a memory of what was asked verbally, and if you have the questions you can read them with us or refer to them as you answer, whatever you prefer. We give the questions in print if folks come in to interview, for the same reason.

    14. Confused*

      Thanks everyone!

      I can report back now: I read it through and felt pretty good about the questions. There was one “tell me about a time” that I drew a complete blank on even though I know there were tons of times. I spent a while ruminating on that one and came up with a fairly good example. So I was glad not to be blindsided with that question. There was also another where I could have used a number of examples and I was able to decide beforehand which one I was going to use.

      All in all I didn’t hate it, but 30 minutes may have been better.

      1. Confused*

        OH and they did read out the questions and I definitely got the impression they were asking the same questions of everyone, but with the option for follow ups.

      2. Flying squirrel*

        I’m glad it went well!

        Again, I’m in the public sector and we love our STAR “tell me about a time when” questions. And some of them are awful. (I think I had one that was like “tell me about a time you used judgement to make a decision.” Couldn’t have been more vague.) I think if you’re going to expect people to come up with a relevant example and shoehorn it to show their skills you should give them a few minutes without interviewers staring at them to at least think of an example.

      3. Random Academic Cog*

        Thank you for sharing your experience afterwards! This is the first time I’ve heard of this practice, but the discussion has been fascinating to me. I think I will probably try this approach the next time I’m hiring (presuming HR permits).

        We have some questions I wouldn’t want to send out ahead of time, but all the “tell me about a time” or “how would you handle X” questions would probably go more smoothly with a short preview period.

    15. Dancing Otter*

      My first thought is that some people are more visual processors, and would be helped by having the questions in writing. I know it would help me.
      It also forms a vague agenda for the meeting, so you (collective, not individual “you”) don’t range so far afield that planned questions are missed. Unless, of course, they already sent a formal agenda?
      Fifteen minutes gives just enough time to print out the email.

    16. SpaceySteph*

      Probably proportionate to how much you NEED the job, but for me who is in a position to be choosy, at the time they told me this I would probably have responded with “what is your expectation for those 15 minutes?”

      This interview goes both ways and I’m interviewing them, too. They can tell me what they think I’m doing there– if its “have the questions on hand to read during the interview,” then great, I can read the questions and loosely come up with some examples and be extra prepared. If its “so you can have fully prepared answers by the time we start” then I know they have extremely unreasonable expectations of me and are poor interviewers and I am gonna interview awesome because I always do when I don’t gaf if I get the job, but I’m also am probably not gonna take the job because they’re ridiculous.

    17. spcepickle*

      I do this!
      It is because I want you to have a written copy of the question to refer to while I read them out loud. Some of my questions are multi part, sometimes we need our ears and eyes working together, for some people reading is way better then listening.

      That said I am not interested in you reading responses which is what happens if I give people questions earlier.

      The other thing I do if I don’t email them is drop them in the chat box of Teams, but that is hard for people who are interviewing on their phone.

      1. Hazel*

        This exactly! When I worked in local government everyone was asked the same questions and pre-pandemic they were given a written copy to refer to at the in-person interview. Sending questions out 15 minutes before a virtual interview is the same thing and you can print them or keep them on your phone or make a few notes or whatever you like, but it will still be ‘your’ answers because it’s not enough time to research answers from scratch.

        It really is meant to support you by not forcing you to memorize the question, which not everyone can do – and it isn’t the skill they are trying to test. Neither is totally ad hoc answering. My old boss used to send out some questions ahead and let people prepare, then have some on the spot, because ad hoc answers to complex questions isn’t the main real-life job skill for most people!

  10. Stacey Frank*

    It seems like it would be a reasonable request to ask for perpetually assigned lockers for each person so you can leave your personal stuff in your locker, if not at your desk.

    1. Artemesia*

      While I agree the OP has made clear WHY this is not possible in this situation; the main effect of endless whining about it likely to be the organization deciding to keep the current lease and have everyone return full time.

  11. RachelTW*

    I accepted an offer this week for a new job, mainly to get away from a boss that started off decent, but has continued to devolve in the 3 years I have been in this job. I love my coworkers, I feel like I do good work, I like the customers I interact with, this job has great benefits…. but my boss. I have a huge project due next month and a new-ish coworker that still needs quite a bit of training to learn all the things that I know after being here for 3 years. I feel terrible leaving, especially right at this very moment, …. but my boss. I am so worried this new job will somehow be no better or worse, but my boss has me crying at my desk not infrequently. I want to be excited about this new opportunity, but I am having a hard time letting go of all the wonderful things I am leaving behind. Seriously – best benefits at this job that I will likely ever have.

    1. One green bottle*

      So sorry. I have been there. I think the most important thing about any employed job is the boss. If they are wrong, it’s not going to work. In other words, you are doing the right thing by job hunting.
      Do you have any reason to doubt the new job you’ve been offered?

      1. RachelTW*

        No reason to doubt, just fear. I do also worry about changing jobs and suddenly being lowest on the totem pole if layoffs come. (And my current company was also so great about mitigating negative impacts like layoffs at the beginning of the pandemic, so I would feel so much more secure here than leaving)

        Additionally, I and my coworkers have done everything we can think of to try and get things to chance regarding my boss. I even asked my current company if I could change teams, nothing open they said a month ago, and nothing open they said again when I followed up this week. HR and my grandboss know I wanted to leave the team because of my boss. And they agree there are issues with my boss. But they’ve been agreeing there are issues and promising changes for months.

        1. Artemesia*

          change is always hard and then a year later you look back and say ‘why didn’t I do this sooner,’ Of course there is risk but there is huge risk in waiting too long too. If you have done your due diligence and have reason to think this is a solid place to move to, put your head down and get on with it. Hope in a year you do look back and say ‘wish I’d done this a year sooner.’

        2. One green bottle*

          What Artemesia said!

          Congratulations on getting this new job offer. I raise a toast to your exciting new start!

    2. WorkplaceSurvivor*

      Good for you! This random stranger is proud of you.

      If your boss has you crying at your desk often, then you had to get out, even if other stuff was good. These things can do real damage to your mental health, and you deserve to be kinder to yourself. You gotta put on your oxygen mask before worrying about your coworkers. So good for you x2!

      Look up “Set up to fail syndrome” and see if it fits your situation. It really helped me understand why my relationship with my boss devolved into an abuse cycle. She also was mean and I ignored red flags, but I felt so guilty for “letting everyone down” when I was actually a victim (and a player-in) of a well-known pattern. Which helped me forgive my part in it too.

      1. AusLibrarian*

        Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for posting and mentioning this syndrome. This is an exact fit for what I’m currently experiencing in my own job, with the added stress of a HR process on top (not yet my company’s version of a PiP, but heading that way if I don’t demonstrate improvements to whatever level my boss is looking for). I’ve actually flagged the sense of mistrust I’ve sensed, and she’s explained it away as nervousness, where the effect on me is still as described – she she clearly signals she thinks I can’t do something (sometimes even saying it) which then has my already shaky confidence falling off the ledge, so what do you know, I can’t do the thing because I’m overwhelmed and scared out of my pants I’m going to lose my job.

        I’ve made some mistakes, and admitted that, but the current process really isn’t designed to support me to learn what I need to know. There is some small comfort in realising this isn’t just me, and in knowing if I continue in management myself, I can use this to not do the same thing to my staff.

    3. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      Frequent crying at your desk outweighs any number of “wonderful things” about OldJob.

      Don’t feel bad about leaving: your boss drove you out and any resulting problems are his to sort out.
      With a toxic boss, your new colleague might well choose to job hunt regardless of how much training you give her.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I left a job that had the best benefits I could imagine (7% unmatched 401K contribution with no vesting!!) but I came to realize that, other than schedule flexibility, most benefits just come down to money. Don’t believe in those golden handcuffs!!

  12. External Drive*

    I’m planning to apply for a certain role at an organization I’m very familiar with. No open position right now, but I’m starting preparations. And I have a couple of questions for you lovely and insightful folks.

    – Most of my career has been spent in team-type roles. Lots of opportunities to shine but always in a team context, where I can’t take full credit for something. But having said that, I do want to be able to toot my own horn about my contributions! What is a good way to take credit for what I did do without it sounding like I’m ignoring the work others did? (I usually co-led such projects.)
    – How far back can victory stories be? I have recent ones that I will of course put front and center. But farther back in my career, say 10-15 years ago, I had a couple of opportunities to do some really cool stuff that I did well and set some precedents that continue to this day. I don’t want to lean on old news, but I’m awfully proud of these couple of things and would like to mention them too, but are they too dusty now?

    Thanks all and happy Friday!

    1. RachelTW*

      I put achievements from jobs on my resume that were about 10 years ago at this point, but the further back they are, I think the more spectacular the achievement has to be. If it’s something that has had the kind of lasting impacts you mention, it’s probably okay to include.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Even in a team situation, there are still specific roles within the team, right? What did you contribute to those victories? If I were interviewing you, I’d want to know. Sure, it’s good to hear you aren’t trying to hog all the credit, but you should be able to articulate some tasks you accomplished as part of those group efforts.

      10-15 years ago is honestly quite a while ago, so unless the interviewer asks you specifically about stuff you’ve done that isn’t part of a team or unless those long-ago efforts are uniquely suited for the position you’re applying for, I wouldn’t bring them up unprompted.

    3. ferrina*

      1. Say what you did. If you were co-leader, talk about what your leadership contributions were. Don’t take credit for what you didn’t do, but you don’t need to spend equal time on everyone (or even call out that one person that did an amazing job but wasn’t relevant to your contributions- while they were key to the project, right now we’re focusing on you specifically). Everyone understands that an interview is to talk about your skills and accomplishments.

      2. Depends on how relevant they are. If I invented the leading cat braiding technique 10 years ago and I’m now applying for a job in llama curling irons, well, braiding techniques won’t help me with curling irons. But if I’m applying for a job in lion mane updos, I’d bring that up.

    4. A Girl Named Fred*

      For the second question, is there a way to tie those precedents into current things? Like, “I knew I wanted to focus on X because of Y achievement from my background, which has helped me focus on ABC elements of my work…” That might help “modernize” it, so to speak, and let you still mention it without focusing on how long ago it was.

    5. Somehow_I_Manage*

      Hi External Drive,

      RE: question 2. I think the secret is to cater your resume and project experience to the organization you’re applying with. Focus less on the date, and more on the relevance. If, for example, that organization serves a particular client, and 10-15 years ago you had direct experience or influence with that client- that’s a very important differentiator regardless of time. The victories that will resonate most from their perspective are sometimes different from the victories that you may find most personally fulfilling. As long as you’ve made that self-evaluation, you’ll be golden.

    6. Distractinator*

      RE: how far back, if it’s truly relevant, the timeframe doesn’t matter so much. I’d focus the main story on how it’s impacted you (keeping things in the present or near-past), but tell the most exiting snippets of that 15yr ago activity. “Ever since I single-handedly groomed the largest llama ever in 2007, I’ve been able to [skill] carrying that forward. As co-lead on the grooming team in 2019 we did X, and partially based that decision on my large-llama experience.”

      1. Sloanicota*

        This is a good way to phrase it. The only issue with highlighting something from 15 years ago is it implies you haven’t accomplished anything more important since. Now this may arguably be true through no fault of your own – these things happen! – but you’d want to manage that assumption.

  13. IAmSoTired*

    I am early pregnant, and it’s wiping me out and I’m worried about my performance at work. Normally I would talk to my boss, tell him I’ve got some health stuff going on that I’m trying to manage, and have him help me prioritize and let me know if anyone actually notices that I’m spending half my day trying not to fall asleep at my desk or puke. However, my boss got an internal transfer a few months ago, and they only just hired someone to replace him. The new guy isn’t scheduled to become my boss until they’ve ramped him up on the rest of the job, probably some time in July. I have talked to my current boss once in the past 3 months, and he doesn’t even work in the same building as me anymore. Any idea how to handle this? Do I just accept that my boss has no idea how I’m doing and as such I get leeway to do whatever? Note that I am the only woman on my team (one of only 6 women in my whole 85-person division) and it’s a male-dominated field, so I have no coworkers who I would feel comfortable confiding in.

    1. Cat Mom*

      Been there, done that (more than once with early losses), be thankful your boss has their hands full and you can fly under the radar until you want to disclose. I would definitely NOT bring it up proactively.

    2. RachelTW*

      I would keep it to yourself and be prepared to explain that it’s health stuff if your manager questions your performance.

    3. IAmSoTired*

      Some more context, to maybe bring in more responses:

      I often get that minority feeling that I need to prove myself to those around me and show that women are just as competent, so the fact that I really am not as competent right now and doing nothing to mitigate that really bugs me.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        You’re human, so of course you’re not going to be competent all the time. That would be a ridiculous expectation. Pregnancy is part of being human, but so is getting unexplained fatigue, or fighting off a virus, or having personal life troubles. If your industry enjoys employing humans, they’re just going to have to roll with it.

        1. IAmSoTired*

          Funnily enough, I work in software development, and while my particular work isn’t with AI, many many projects that my company is working on are AI. Because they don’t actually like employing humans to do these things, so they’re automating as much as they can.

          (My workplace is actually reasonably good at employing humans, giving reasonable vacation time and good health insurance, but they also are a bunch of middle aged and middle-class white men who have only ever worked with other middle aged and middle-class white men, so they have many blind spots on the human condition.)

    4. No Tribble At All*

      No actual advice, just commiseration. First trimester fatigue + morning sickness got me good. If it helps, you’re doing something none of them are doing.

      Take advantage of your boss’s distraction. You may have to confide in him eventually if you need to start burning sick time. It’s also OK to say “under the weather” without specifying the cause.

    5. Artemesia*

      I’d lie low and do the best you can. Give some special thought to the kind of things on your job that are highly visible and make sure you do those well. And hope that by July you are feeling great again. I was lucky in my pregnancies not to be sick BUT the fatigue in the first 3 mos made it really hard — I was just wiped by the end of the day. But the last 6 months were pretty good in terms of energy and most women I know with morning sickness found it getting better after the first trimester. Hope that is how it goes for you.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I was also lucky in that I didn’t throw up once during my pregnancy. I was slightly nauseous sometimes, although that was pretty much always a reaction to smells that my pregnant self found unpleasant, like coffee, which I normally love.

        I had to disclose my pregnancy to my manager much earlier than I would’ve preferred to do because she found me napping at my desk one day. I also regularly fell asleep on the commuter train after work.

    6. Quinalla*

      Yeah, normally I’d bring it up with boss, but in your case you could just lay low. I would probably reach out to old boss (he is still technically your boss yeah?) and let him know in case anyone says anything to him or if you are comfortable, maybe let your team know? I’d be comfortable doing that, but I recognize I’m in the minority there.

      Hang in there, usually that exhaustion goes away in the 2nd trimester! You get some back towards the end, but IME, 1st trimester is the worst and usually no one besides your partner knows you are pregnant. So you don’t get sympathy when you really need it!

    7. Ann*

      Sounds like your best option, as others say, is to keep it to yourself and just say it’s a temporary health thing if the boss does notice and ask. Hopefully it’ll pass quickly… usually you see an improvement by end of third trimester, if not sooner.
      And how’s your sick leave policy? Do you have to notify anyone you’re taking sick time, and can you take an hour here or there or does it have to be a whole day at a time? If it’s easy to take a little sick time here and there, it really helps on days when you just can’t manage a full eight hours.

  14. Now it's on*

    (Posting under a different username than usual.)

    I’m wondering if people generally have the ability to mute other staff on your internal discussion boards at work. I work for a large organisation and someone in a different department has recently started posting on the main board a lot, to the point where their content almost dominates the whole board. The content of the posts is work-related but a bit strange (12-paragraphs about stuff which is clearly very, very important to them), but they’re not obviously breaching the community guidelines and the content isn’t offensive, so it’s unlikely that their posts will be removed.

    Ignoring the posts isn’t really viable due to the sheer volume of posts and the length of the text. The posts don’t get much interaction, but this is the case with most content on the board, as people tend to use it more for announcements and information than discussions.

    I’d like to ask our internal comms people to allow muting on the board (it has to be enabled at an admin level and currently isn’t turned on) so I don’t have to wade through everything this person posts. I’ll have to stop using the board if I can’t mute this person, because I know that some day I’ll probably just snap and tell them to shut up, which would be bad for both of us. But since work discussion boards aren’t really the same as social media, is it reasonable to request a mute option?

    1. Marmalade*

      Could you try asking someone in the comms team to post a reminder about how the board should be used? Or ask if they can roll out a new “thoughts wanted” board and push that person to that?

      1. Friday Person*

        Agree with this: I think asking your internal comms people to reinforce some general guidelines (or even to redirect this one particularly person’s off-label use of the board) is probably going to be an easier lift than asking them to implement an entire new tech feature with the potential to create additional drama.

    2. beans*

      Are you talking about muting notifications from a specific person/board? i.e. a real-time ding/notification flag each time a post happens? That seems reasonable, since it can be a genuine distraction.

      If you’re talking about muting as in a social media context, where you literally wouldn’t see the posts from a specific board/person, I’m not sure that is, unless you can make a case that there is never a chance this person/board would share information that is relevant to you.

      If you can choose to scroll past them and skim/not read in depth, that’s what I would do, honestly. Definitely do not snap at your coworker!

    3. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      Um… can you talk to their supervisor about giving other people space and not dominant the board? Seems like a good time for a new policy.

  15. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    I am officially moving from full time to 3 days a week in a couple of months – am relieved as I was ready to quit from stress, but of course I need to enforce my boundaries for the time I’m in to stay in top of everything. But think this will go well.

    1. Friendly Neighborhood Bi Lady*

      That’s excellent! Hope your workplace respects your boundaries.

    2. Artemesia*

      Make sure your boss understands your new schedule. I cut back 25% taking that 25% pay cut when my daughter was a toddler for a couple of years and my boss who was otherwise quite wonderful did not put together than me resigning for giant grant project X meant I was taking a 25% pay cut. I got some snide remarks about ‘trying to find you and guess you were out Christmas shopping or something’ to which I said ‘you do realize when I dropped Project X I took a huge salary cut; that was so I could leave at 3 to care for my daughter?’ And he honest to god did not know this. It went fine after that. Your boss is used to you producing X; your organization is probably less loosely run than mine was, but he may still assume you will be getting all the same stuff done, so start this as you mean to go on and make sure you don’t get work creep.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I did this!! It’s really hard to maintain iron clad boundaries around working hours, particularly if everyone else is FT or you used to be full time. I try to be as flexible as is reasonable because I want them to be happy with my performance but I was warned early that in my field, “there’s no part time roles, only part time salaries” (!) My suggestion is just to keep checking in with yourself about the workload and boundaries

  16. workingbee*

    My portfolio and the number of staff I supervise were recently greatly expanded and I keep having the feeling I am forgetting some project or other, that either I have to do or that my new staff has to. My regular tools, to-do/tasks/calendaring etc. are not doing the trick at the moment, probably because it’s all so new. Would trello help with something like that? If so, how do you suggest setting it up? Or is there is another tool that you might suggest (could be pen and paper solutions too!). Thanks!

    1. ferrina*

      Trello is great; if your work is more deadline-driven, I’d look at Monday or Asana.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Haha this is probably just me but I haaaated Asana. Everyone could just assign other people work deadlines without discussion!! Totally unnecessary tasks completely clogged my account

    2. Temperance*

      Admittedly, I hated Trello and found it to be really difficult to work with, but my engineer husband is obsessed with it.

      I use One Note somewhat regularly, which I like because it’s customizable to what works for me, and you can just copy tabs once you nail down the formatting. I also have a RocketBook.

    3. GreenShoes*

      I honestly wouldn’t try a new system until you have your feet under you a little more. If you must then I’d suggest old school notebook with a running list of things (with names as appropriate). I’ve never had luck with a new role and a new system coming together at the same time.

    4. Eleanor*

      Just here to say, same. And, I feel you. I think the hard thing is finding a platform/system that works for your brain and also interfaces well with any systems your staff are already attached to. Unless you’re just looking for a “back-end” system for yourself, you may need to get buy-in from your staff to use a new platform. And, boy, do all of our brains prefer different things when it comes to organization and process!

    5. rae*

      Nothing against trello, and you should definitely try it out. But if you, like me, found that it took too much effort and didn’t keep you top of things, consider doing a physical kanba board with post it’s. And if you do go this route, go to YouTube and ask how to prevent post it’s from curling . Good luck and congrats on the promotion!

  17. Friendly Neighborhood Bi Lady*

    This is on behalf of a loved one, not me. My partner (they/them) has been on extended FMLA with an end date of June 1, but this morning their boss informed them that if they didn’t come in to work today they’d be fired, and stated that she didn’t believe they were really on sick leave. They ended up going to work sick today out of fear of losing their job, but they have a feeling they’re going to be fired anyway based on how their boss is acting. What options do they have? They have written documentation of all of these facts and are looking into an employment lawyer. This is in Massachusetts, for reference.

    1. Temperance*

      Did the boss email this, or just call and make the demand? Written evidence would be best.

      Your partner shouldn’t have gone in and should have let the boss attempt to fire them. If your partner wants to keep this specific job, they need to meet with HR and leadership ASAP to inform what their boss is doing, because it is illegal.

      Alternatively, a consultation with an employment lawyer, if you can afford it and might want to go the legal route, could be very helpful. There are pros and cons, depending on how much your partner wants or needs this specific job.

    2. WhaleToDo*

      If they have documentation of the FMLA leave, and they have documentation that the boss said they would be fired if they didn’t come in today because she doesn’t believe they’re actually sick, it should be a pretty easy case for the employment lawyer. That behavior is illegal. Not sure what the actual enforcement mechanisms of the law are though – hopefully your friend can just send a lawyer over and get a fat payout to cover them while they look for a different, less toxic, job.

    3. BellyButton*

      Yeah, this is illegal. Employers cannot ask employees to work while they are om FMLA. you can’t be forced by your employer to do any work – except for really minor things, like sharing a password or locating a file. The whole point of FMLA is that you’re not working.

      Your partner needs to go right to HR, this minute and let them know what has happened.

  18. Be Gneiss*

    Just wanted to say thank you to the commenters who talked about the Loop earplugs in the brown noise post yesterday. I’ve been thinking about getting them for work for a while but I was skeptical, and now I think I’ll give them a try. A good review here is worth a dozen Amazon reviews.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      If anyone has used them, can you tell me if there is a huge difference between the Experience and the Engage? I get some anxiety from loud noises and bigger crowds, but would like the option to use them when I’m just overwhelmed but a busy store.

    2. Colorofdisbear*

      I love mine! I can have full conversations, but the background noise and chatter is completely gone.

    3. Ampersand*

      Highly recommend loop! I use them to block out all the sounds: loud kid, tv, barking dog, leaf blowers (so annoying). They really work! :)

    4. Silvercat*

      I really like mine. I made a little keychain thing so I can attach the case to my phone so I always have them.

  19. The Wizard Rincewind*

    I have a toxic coworker who I hit my limit with this week. My supervisor won’t manage him, my boss won’t fire him, and I’m just…done. It’s been a death by a thousand cuts dealing with his mountains-out-of-molehills martyrdom for Our Lady of Guess I’ll Go Eat Worms. It’s pushed me from “I don’t see myself here forever, guess I’ll see what the market looks like” to “actively job searching”.

    I’ve tried bringing it up to my supervisor and explaining how it’s impacted work. Multiple times. Obviously I wouldn’t know whatever actions are being taken behind the scenes, but this guy will subside for a month or two and then some random email I’ll send him will set him off again and I have to deal with a barrage of venom mixed with self-pity. I’ve tried not taking it personally. I’ve tried remaining detached. I can’t anymore.

    Do I sound about as histrionic right now? Maybe! But given how often I bite my tongue while carefully crafting my communication tactics to this person, only to get a snarky one-line email in response (we’re entirely remote), I’m taking this opportunity to vent all my pent-up frustration and snark.

    I’ve reached out to my network, I’m throwing my resume at anything I’m even vaguely qualified for…wish me luck, and thanks for listening.

    1. Sunshine*

      I have nothing to add except that Our Lady of Guess I’ll Go Eat Worms made me die laughing!! I hope things get better for you soon!

    2. ferrina*

      Good luck! You are absolutely doing the right thing. Sounds like your coworker is a horrible pain, and this would drive any semi-rational person bonkers. Hope your job search goes quickly!

    3. Temperance*

      Have you talked to his boss or HR?

      I’m a big fan of “do not speak to me like that / in that tone”.

      1. Jezebella*

        Dudes like this will ALWAYS be like “what tone? it’s email, how could you possible think my TONE is RUDE?”

        1. ferrina*

          Or “But that wasn’t my INTENTION. Now you are hurting my feelings by questioning my intentions. Are you saying you think I’m a bad person? You monster, how could you?”

      2. The Wizard Rincewind*

        Yes, multiple times to both (we’re on the same team, his boss is my boss). And, as people commented below, he does DARVO the situation to “well /I/ don’t like the way YOU talk to ME” when I tell him not to talk to me that way.

        1. Temperance*

          I hate him. I don’t know him, and I hate him.

          I’m petty AF, and I would ask for specific examples of what he dislikes and what offends him.

    4. LuckySophia*

      Best wishes for a swift, successful job search! I perfectly understand your “I’m done!” reaction to your co-worker. I have a sis-in-law who will — at random intervals — respond to a perfectly innocuous comment with “a barrage of venom mixed with self-pity” as you so beautifully described it.

      Example: She emails to say they’ve bought a vacation home in the Arizona high desert. I congratulate her and express joy that she will have a place to escape her terrible pollen allergies. She sends a scorched-earth reply berating herself for “cruelly” speaking of something I cannot possibly afford, and decides I am a hypocrite for pretending to be happy for her, when I was clearly “in agony” over my own lack of resources. WHAT???

      It’s completely exhausting to deal with someone who goes over the edge of the emotional cliff about stuff that only exists in her own fraught imagination.

      Now, sis-in-law’s bipolar diagnosis definitely plays into this, but beyond that — she also seems to fundamentally assume that nobody is ever sincere, and nobody ever says anything that doesn’t have a hidden agenda behind it. Like you, I’ve tried not taking it personally, but I also have reached the point where I just can’t absorb yet another lash from the emotional whip they wield. May you find a speedy exit from your situation!

      1. Wordybird*

        I have a sister like that, LuckySophia. She is determined to be miserable, no matter how great her life may seem, and even more determined to make everyone around her even more miserable so she can somehow judge herself against them and “win” the misery contest?! It’s mindboggling. I’ve found it especially vexes her when I just… live my life and am clearly incredibly happy and don’t seek out her advice or company.

      2. Former_Employee*

        I’m sorry you have to deal with this situation. While Wizard can escape a co-worker by getting another job, you can’t exactly escape a relative.

        I probably would send this relative an email assuring her that you are genuinely happy for her and have no lack of resources as respects anything you need or truly want for yourself.

        Include any legitimately positive thing you feel about her, such as “I’ve always admired how you,,.” to solidify why you are happy for her.

        This may not work, or it may give her at least some insight into how you see the world think and how it is different from her worldview.

        I am an older person and have some unusual relatives. I try to meet them where they are, but still express my own thinking or beliefs.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      You’re very funny! Something I’ve found that helps with this kind of person is to try to address the emails to others as well, as much as logistically possible. Like, try to send emails to Cool Cathy at the same time you send emails to Toxic Tom. So you ask if Tom can do X and y and “Cathy I’m looping you in so you know the background for when you do z”. Or you could tell your boss you’re baffled as to how to keep the peace and you’re going to start bccing them in. Off course, this kind of thing is just a sticking plaster as you know. The Toxic Toms of the world are determined to throw themselves at your butter knife so they can say you stabbed them in the back.

    6. The Shenanigans*

      Good luck. You don’t sound histrionic, just fed up with bad management. That’s a completely legit reason to job search.

      May the power of Sir Terry be with you!

    7. FedupinAZ*

      I dealt with the same exact kind of person and I was his manager. We finally fired him but it took a dang long time to get to that point since my boss & HR had me trying everything we could to coach him & try to fix the issue. I had no choice.
      Obviously it didn’t work and his coworkers wondered why the heck we waited so long. Everyone was tired of walking on eggshells with this guy.
      I wanted to fire him a year before we did.

      Grey rock him. just ignore him if you can. Keep looking for a new job & until then hope your bosses are working on an exit plan.

  20. Hi!*

    I’m looking for a new job. I was fortunate to interview for my dream position early in the search. To be honest it’s a bit of a long shot but I’m thrilled to have gotten the interview. Now that I’m further anlong in the interview process for other positions… is it I unprofessional for me to ask for an update from the dream job?

    1. ferrina*

      Depends. When did they say that they’d get back to you? Take that day and add a week- then you can send one email to check in (no more than that).
      If they didn’t say when they’d get back to you, I’d wait at least 3 weeks before following up.

      I don’t think it’s unprofessional to follow up, but you just want to make sure that the wording is professional (not presumptuous, etc.) If you’re not sure how to word it, feel free to post proposed wording on open thread if you want feedback on it.

      1. Yes And*

        This is all good advice, but I’d add that if you actually get an offer from one of your other positions, it’s acceptable to short-circuit that waiting period. A note to the effect of, I’ve received an offer for another position but this job would be my first choice, is it possible to get an update on your expected timing.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Seconding both pieces of advice. I follow the rule of thumb ferrina mentioned (company timeline + 1 week) and I agree that if you have an offer from another place, contact Dream Company right away.

  21. Newbie manager*

    Hi everyone!

    I found out on Monday that I got the role I was interviewing for, and I’m going to be managing a team for the first time. (Internal move, the team I’ll be managing is in a different-but-related department to the one I currently work in).

    Obviously I’m reading everything that comes up when I google “tips for new managers” and I’m halfway through a university diploma in management, but I thought I’d throw this out there.

    If you have been managed by a first-time manager who didn’t know your job inside-out (which is fine, that’s not my job), and it went well, what are some things they did that you really appreciated that might not come up in aforementioned google?

    1. Newbie manager*

      (Some more information — we’re all working remotely and the team is in two countries and four timezones. There are about a dozen people on it.)

      1. pally*

        Please don’t shoot the messenger when a report has to deliver bad news. Make sure nothing inhibits the lines of communication (both ways).

        You are trusting that folks will carry out your instruction. So if they have questions or bad things happen, no one tries to lie their way out of it. Or fail to inform you of the situation.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      As someone who was in your shoes — be transparent. Two years ago this summer, I moved from a team lead role on the saucer painting team to manager of the teapot painting team. To an extent painting is painting, but I’m shaky on lids and spouts, right, because saucers are much more basic? Heh. So I owned it.

      “I can paint big open surfaces til the cows come home, but I am not an expert on the minutiae of painting around lids or spouts or handles. You guys are the experts there. So I will not step on your toes by trying to teach you how to paint handles when you’ve been doing that for ten years and I haven’t, but I will also need you to be sure to let me know if lid-painting issues come up that I need to address or look into. My role on this team isn’t to paint teapots, it’s to make sure YOU have all the resources YOU need to be able to paint teapots without roadblocks.”

      1. GreenShoes*

        This is a great approach and one I’ve used many times.

        To Newbie Manager:

        I think one of the biggest missteps of new managers is to think they have to have all of the answers and hang out in the weeds with their team. That isn’t the role. In a perfect world managers could be interchangeable in different teams because their role is to support the ones doing the actual work, remove roadblocks, advocate for their team, and guide the team in process improvements.

        None of the above is do my team’s job. Clearly managers need to have a working knowledge of what their team is doing in order to do the all of the things that a good manager does, so there is some expectation to know about the job. But the biggest thing you do as a manager is go to the source if you need information.

        “Hey I was in a meeting today and the dept is talking about changing our glaze supplier, what do you know about this new one, have you used this glaze before, anything I should know? I’ve asked for samples for you guys to evaluate and we can talk after you’ve tried it. In the meantime give it a little thought in case there’s something everyone should know”

        The more conversations you have like this, the more you will learn. You will also be empowering your team to ‘be the experts’ as I’m sure they are.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Empowering, yes! Especially if you have leads or seniors — make sure you’re not stepping on their toes either. Crockery examples aside, we’re actually medical coders – my old team coded one set of codes that I’m very proficient with, my current team codes that set of codes and also a second set as well that I’m decent with, but not as proficient as they are.

          I don’t answer coding questions. I direct coding questions to my team lead, because they’re my SME for coding. Meantime, if someone asks them about PTO or benefits or scheduling or whatnot, they will redirect the administrivia questions to me, because that’s my bucket of responsibility. But they know that on the coding questions, I will consider them the final authority within our team and 99.99% of the time I will back their judgement calls. (There are other resources for escalation when appropriate, like our quality auditors and compliance team.) As a result, they’re comfortable owning those decisions, and if they’re not sure what the answer is, they’ll reach out to those other resources for second opinions on their own without needing me to walk them through it, because they know that I trust them to make reasonable decisions. (They are sometimes incorrect, because we all are – but they are always able to explain WHY they made the decision they did and it always makes sense, which is key.)

    3. eisa*

      Some years ago, the team I’m on was assigned a new manager.
      The very first thing he did was to have quite lengthy one-on-ones with everyone, to learn about what people are doing, how they are doing, etc.
      I really appreciated that.
      (NB: he and the company parted ways really soon after that, though)

      Other things that will be appreciated :
      Have your people’s back; in gaming language, be their tank even. (drawing aggro and shielding them)
      Give your people the feeling that they can always come to you when they have an issue, or just want to run something by you.
      Give your people the feeling that you value their work and their knowledge.

      That’s it already :-)

    4. Artemesia*

      I think one of the most important things a new manager can do is sit down individually with each person on their team and ask them what things are going well and what things they would like to see change. Obviously you make clear you are learning about the team and can’t guarantee any particular changes, but want to know what the people now doing the work think to inform your own future plans. Then when you meet with the group to lay out plans, reference that this or that idea emerged from them. When I have done that usually all the things I planned in advance to implement came up in our conversations so I could give them ownership. Change is hard. New boss is hard. Building confidence that you are listening to them helps that process.

      It is also important to be firm and that works better when you have listened and adapted to their concerns first.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      If you haven’t already, have a good look at the “being the boss” category on this site. Seriously. The more you channel you inner Alison the better manager you’ll be.

    6. Sloanicota*

      One thing my new to managing boss made sure to do was thank me a lot. His appreciation was really valuable to me (and free!)

    7. Hedwig*

      Tell your team how you like to work and ask them how they like to work. Eg if you like particular email headings to help you manage your inbox or if meetings should be set to a max or minimum time. It might not be possible to accommodate all preferences but understanding communication styles now, in particular, can be helpful in the future

    8. spcepickle*

      This was me! I move from being a designer to managing the people who built the stuff. I had no idea how the actual building happened or their side of the paperwork.

      I actually think this was a great advantage, because I have to trust my people, I can’t micromanage I have no idea how to do their job. I have been doing it for two years and I think it is going very well (I keep have people try to jump from parallel teams to mine).

      My advice:
      1) Listen to your team, ask them what they think needs to be done and how they would do it. Unless there is a reason not to do it that way – Make it happen. A management training I was in said – I delegate to develop – dorky but real. I want people to have the power and I want them to be able to replace me.
      2) Read the book – The Coaching Habit. Every time I go to the library I got a management book – I quickly skim most of them. This one I bought.
      3) Be as relaxed and adaptable as possible. It is so easy as a new manager to want to control every little thing. This will lead to burn out and you will lose all your top talent. Give people as much freedom and autonomy as possible. They will want to work with you and you will get better results.
      4) Be as free with money as possible. I work for state government, saving pennies at the expense of dollars is our motto. But I work really hard to fight that idea. If people need better desk chairs, a monitor to take home, a different kind of pen, whatever it is I try to get it. It buys me good will, productivity, and general better working attitude. Almost always worth it.
      5) Don’t be afraid to fire people. I had to fire someone like 2 months into being in charge. While it was awkward – It showed that I listened to team when they came to me with concerns (the guy was a safety risk). It also showed that I was serious when I said thing and that I really did have high expectations. One bad apple will rot your team and you have to get rid of problem people. Even if they cry like the guy I fire this week.

      Lastly I see myself as having two rolls – 1) I am a shit umbrella – I protect my people from the shit that rains down from above so they can do their job. I tell them that if they need a scapegoat they can always use me, just people give me a heads up. 2) I am finding the right person for the right job in the right moment. This comes up often when interviewing or when I have to fire someone – just because this is the not the right place for you right now doesn’t mean I can’t use my network to help you find somewhere you will be great.
      Use your power to empower others!

    9. The Prettiest Curse*

      My current manager had never managed before she was promoted to manage me and one other team member, and she is amazing. I think one of the most important things she does is run interference for us with other teams who want to pull us into stuff (and sometimes have us do everything for them.) She is very clear on what we will and won’t do for other people’s projects and sticks to that.

      Also, she is great at seeing potential issues and heading them off before they become major problems. She is always willing to make time for us to talk through things and bounce ideas off each other. Finally, she makes it clear that she really respects my work and she always has my back if we get weird, random complaints about stuff – which can sometimes be a problem with the type of work (events) that we do.

  22. Ray Gillette*

    My boyfriend has just started applying for jobs! He was laid off after being at the same company for 14 years, so he was feeling a little adrift and anxious about where to start. I sent him Alison’s article about how to write a resume and he was able to pull together a decent one. He was still anxious about cover letters, so I wrote him a Mad Libs-style template where he fills in the blanks with details that are relevant to his work experience and the job he’s applying to. He’s trying to pivot into DEI from a different line of work, but it’s something he’s really passionate about, so here’s hoping a good cover letter helps him stand out!

  23. Susan Calvin*

    Any tips on tact and etiquette around staying in touch with former coworkers who are notably worse off than yourself, career-wise?

    We weren’t really close or anything but really hit it off in a “could become out-of-work friends” way – shortly before we were both laid off with little warning, several months ago. I hit the ground running, while she is still searching as far as I know. We’ve been texting on and off, additionally bonding over the crappy situation, but I’m struggling with some awkwardness; is it too braggy to send tropical vacation selfies, or to talk about the solar panels we just invested in? How much help with job hunting can you offer without coming across as patronizing (especially since we’re in very different roles)? Am I overthinking this?

    1. Temperance*

      Don’t send tropical vacation selfies or talk about solar panels. Pics of your dog/cat, check-ins, etc., all fine.

      1. red yellow*

        I was just laid off too, and I agree with the above advice. They don’t need your vacation pics.

    2. Called Birdy*

      No, it doesn’t sound like you’re overthinking it, it sounds thoughtful and conscientious! No vacay pics. Offer to take her out for coffee. Ask if she wants job leads. Maybe she’s burnt and taking a break. Maybe she’d appreciate it. But ask!

    3. Magpie*

      Honestly, don’t send tropical vacation selfies or updates about home improvement projects to anyone unless it’s someone who’s previously expressed interest in those things. Those topics are fine in your social media feed if you want to put them there, but they do often come off as braggy even on social media. Texting those things to individual people requires them to engage with and respond to something whereas if it’s on social media they can just keep scrolling and pretend they never saw it if they’re not interested or it makes them uncomfortable.

    4. ferrina*

      Ask her for coffee (your treat!). Follow her lead on the conversation- she may not want to talk about the job search at all, or that may be her main focus. If you’re worried about being patronizing, think about the ways in which she is an expert- just because you found a role faster doesn’t mean she isn’t brilliant and talented (remember all the ways that the job search can go haywire; she can’t control most of that). If you want to help, tell her you want to help and ask how you can be useful. She’s the owner of her job search.
      Don’t send tropical vacation selfies or talk about investments- talk about other aspects of your life that don’t require big financial investments.

    5. Siege*

      Based on the times I’ve been laid off, being laid off was very lonely for me. Being a normal person is the key here. I wouldn’t send vacation pics, and I wouldn’t offer to help job search unless you can do it in some way that’s REALLY natural, like “oh, I just heard that my cousin’s brother in law is looking for someone with X skills, would you like me to connect you?” But keep it really limited and to things you can speak to with some usefulness, not just “I saw this posting on a messageboard and thought of you,” because that comes off (to me) as “because you need help finding jobs to apply for.”

      But being normal and keeping the connection going and doing the kinds of things you might do to deepen a friendship (coffee, where you ask how her search is going but keep your work talk overall limited) is helpful. I’m probably making this sound like I think your friend is too fragile to be around you because you are EMPLOYED, but when I was laid off I lost half my social connections immediately, and my job search became all that most people wanted to talk about, which was really frustrating since I’m not a person who has an easy time getting hired so it’s always a slow process. So what are the things you would talk about if you were both employed that aren’t work?

      And I think that’s just a good idea anyway because whenever I’ve tried to make friends with people outside of work from work, we just talk about work and then there’s no way to sustain the relationship because there’s nothing other than work, work, work.

  24. Rayray*

    Best negotiating tips?

    I am aware this site has plenty of advice on negotiating it I’d like to hear from anyone what they have done successfully.

    I am interviewing next week for a job at a company that I am very interested in. The talent acquisition person I spoke to have me a number that is a little less than what I am looking for, I guess all positions like this get the same pay. It seems rather low but I’d be fine with it since I’d have better benefits and less commute (or WFH/hybrid) among many other things. I don’t know how firm the number is but I’d like to try to get it up at least a little bit. I just don’t want to lose out on an offer if I do negotiate.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I just don’t want to lose out on an offer if I do negotiate.

      Unless you’re asking for the moon, they shouldn’t renege. And if you ask for something reasonable, and they do renege, you don’t want to work for a place like that anyway (it’s indicative of other ways they’ll be exploitative in the future).

      1. ferrina*

        Truth. If you ask for something reasonable, a reasonable company won’t reneg. They will just say “we can’t do that.”
        Just be careful of your wording- if you try to make an emotional plea for why X doesn’t work, that could backfire (no “I can’t afford that salary”). Just say “I was actually thinking of $X.” and stop talking.

      2. ecnaseener*

        Or unless you phrase your negotiation as a hard line — ie if you say “$X would not work for me” they might take you at your word. (I remember a letter on this site about someone saying the offer “won’t meet my needs” and was shocked when the company said “ok sorry to hear it won’t work out”)

        1. rayray*

          yeah, this is my fear. It’s actually a very sought after company and is always topping lists of best places to work in my state. The position could be easily filled so I want to play my cards right.

          1. ecnaseener*

            I wouldn’t worry, just don’t phrase it that way and you’ll be fine! Instead of “$X won’t work, can you do $Y” it’s just “Can you do $Y?”

    2. Wordybird*

      In my previous role, I had asked if a certain range was acceptable to which they agreed. The offer letter listed the very bottom of that range as my starting salary so I emailed back asking for that salary + $5K. They said no, and that their offer was their standard for my position. I accepted, anyways. (When I left, they advertised the position with the starting salary that I had originally asked for so that’s fun.)

      In my current role, I told HR that I would not accept below X which was $10K above the salary that I was then making. When the CEO threw that number back out to me, I again emphasized that I would not accept LESS than that — not that it was the salary I was expecting. My offer letter included a salary that was my minimum number + $5K.

  25. Amber Rose*

    What did I do in a past life to deserve planning a company party by committee? ;_;

    Low stakes question this week: given that holiday parties are in the winter, and I live in a place that regularly experiences December Snowmageddon (but not always), is it worth it to pay to put everyone up in a fancy hotel in the mountains for the event since driving up into said mountains might be terrifying, dangerous or worst case scenario, impossible?

    I think it’d be fun to go all out, but I also hate driving on snowy highways and I can’t tell if I’m letting that bias me too much.

    1. beans*

      Yes, a hotel is a good call here, especially in a situation where there is drinking and people might go “all out”.

    2. Frickityfrack*

      I think that really depends on how you think attendees would feel – at a previous job, I planned the holiday party for my work group (about 50 of us) and I know most of them wouldn’t have wanted an overnight event. I miiiight attend something like that, but it would be very dependent on who I worked with. My current office? Yeah, absolutely. Most of my previous jobs? Nooope.

      Does the party have to be in the mountains? Or can it be held somewhere that snow wouldn’t be as much of an impediment?

      1. Amber Rose*

        Oh man, I worded my post really badly. The mountains thing is an exception due to our abnormally large budget. We work in city on the prairie.

        The idea is that being up in the mountains for a night could be a perk, since normally we just pick a swanky place downtown and then pay cab fare to get people home. So it doesn’t have to be in the mountains, but it could be fun.

    3. AllTheBirds*

      I would decline that party in a heartbeat if I wasn’t housed overnight and had to drive through snowy mountains in December, presumably after everyone around me enjoyed alcohol.

    4. Yes And*

      I think the hotel is a lovely gesture towards safety and comfort if it’s optional.

      Another commenter observed that not everybody would want an overnight, but it can also be a major imposition on people with dependents or other home obligations. Make the hotel available for those who want it by all means, but don’t make it an official overnight event.

      1. Artemesia*

        People with families are going to see that as a pain rather than a perk. If spouses are included there is then overnight babysitting to arrange. If they aren’t there are spouses not clear about why the organization is funding an alcohol fueled slumber party. Have it at the swanky hotel downtown; give nice door prizes.

    5. DisneyChannelThis*

      Things to consider – How many of your coworkers can use the hotel option vs who needs to get home (pets to feed, children to take charge back from the babysitter, elderly relatives to care for, people who don’t like hotels). Hotels will cost a good chunk of the budget, if not everyone is going to use it, might be more fair to spend that budget more on things they can enjoy at the party.

      Have you thought about offering a shuttle bus from work location to party location? That might let you avoid the mountain top driving without needing overnights. That does open up a lot of what ifs to handle tho (what if Joey is late to catch shuttle etc)

  26. anon101*

    Has anyone ever had a manager completely wreck their career just because they don’t like them? I got laid off, my position eliminated and now 3 weeks later my job is open (different job name & location though same duties). I am not taking it well.

    I don’t want to get into the details here but if you have any questions please ask.

    1. ferrina*

      Yep! I’ve had 2 managers at different points that didn’t like me and destroyed my job. One fired me out of the blue (which was extra awful because I had been the one that had pushed for her to get the management job; I was really looking forward to having her as a manager, and she refused to give me any kind of feedback). The other manager (years later) put me on an unofficial PIP which was designed to list all things I had done wrong (including things like “poor communication” when the manager refused to check her email). That manager was angling to torpedo a promotion opportunity that was coming- the manager was leaving and wanted her Golden Child to have the manager role, even though I was far more experienced, had a better track record, and better leadership qualities. Her tactic worked- I was denied the promotion that I deserved and Golden Child got it despite having only half of the requisite experience.

      Good news- getting fired/mistreated out of the blue won’t always “wreck your career”. It will temporarily be absolutely terrible. I was pregnant when I was fired out of the blue- that was all kinds of anxiety. It took months, but I found a better job that allowed me to work from home (pre-pandemic) which was great for having a new baby. And after Golden Child got the promotion I had earned? I spent a year in hell essentially doing Golden Child’s job (she was wildly unqualified- that was why Bad Manager had torpedoed me in the first place, she knew that in a fair setting I would have easily gotten the job). But then I took those accomplishments and used them on my job applications. When I left, I found a job doing the same work as Golden Child that paid 15% more than what she was making (oh, and since I had been doing Golden’s work the whole time, she was left out in the rain suddenly unable to do her own job. Most of the department left within a year of me).

      This isn’t the end. It sucks right now (and that pain is so, so real). But you will find your feet again, and you will be better than they dreamed. It will take time, but you will succeed.
      I hope you’re doing something nice for yourself this weekend and taking care of yourself!

    2. Anon for this one*

      No – I’ve been laid off under similar circumstances (new boss was in the other office and decided he didn’t like managing someone in a different location) but it didn’t wreck my career. If this was just three weeks ago, I know it’s raw and scary but it probably didn’t wreck yours either – you’ll find a new job, with a better manager!

    3. New Mom*

      When I was in college I was in the running for a really sought after student position at my college. I was studying and working to become an orientation leader with the same department (it was really intense at my college and orientation staff had to take a 3-4 unit semester long course about the university to be able to work the summer). The staff were really impressed with me and heavily encouraged me to apply for the sought after role which would start in the Fall after the orientation was over.

      As the job application process continued I was getting twice-weekly updates from the staff, and they were all talking to me as if I already had the job but I still needed to meet the director who was on maternity leave. She actually came in on her leave for my final interview because she wanted to make the final decision. I thought the interview went well but she was markedly more cold than any of the other staff I had gotten to know well over the semester.

      The next time I saw the Assistant Director after my final interview with the Director he wouldn’t look me in the eye and I knew. The Director, even with all the references I had from her own staff, met me once and said no. I was so, so upset and very confused. I replayed the interview over and over in my head but couldn’t think of anything I did that made her not want me even with so many good referrals. I also had to report to her the rest of the summer at orientation and she never warmed to me, and was borderline rude to me. It just seemed like she didn’t like me.

      One weird example was once a week we had to dress up for the parents tour, and I was assigned with two other orientation staff and we were all dressed up and she came over and complimented the other two on how good they looked and said nothing to me, but we were all standing together. Just small, not very nice things.

      Later on I realized it was actually a blessing that I wasn’t hired because working for someone for an entire year who did not like me, and who was pretty intimidating would have destroyed my self-esteem at the time.

    4. Mimmy*

      That happened to me years ago, and they didn’t even try to hide it. They said my position was being eliminated and that I was being laid off. Yet, they still hired someone to take my place. My position was part-time; the new person was hired full time with additional duties. I was invited to apply, but I think they knew I wasn’t going to be able to do it because it required driving and transporting materials for exhibits.

    5. red yellow*

      me! me! Same thing has happened to me. Also add in given a projrct doomed to failure due to constantly shifting goalposts.

      1. red yellow*

        I’d guess my career is wrecked because as a 60-yr-old woman in tech, it’s *hard* to get a job.

    6. The New Wanderer*

      Kind of – I’ve posted multiple times about a certain senior manager who had my direct manager suddenly tank my annual review for unspecified reasons (most likely having to do with gender and intelligence), which put me on that year’s lay-off list. I eventually went back to that company, same role but different division, and was much happier. Until I found out that the same senior manager was making sure I would not be considered for promotion or any other kind of career progression. Even though I outlasted him, the direct manager took over that role and made it clear to me that I had gone as far as I would as long as he was in charge.

      Anyway, I got a new job and am back to getting stellar reviews. My previous company is limping along with the talent they deserve doing the job I used to do. While it was horrible to experience at the time, ultimately it had zero effect on my career.

    7. Zephy*

      Maybe you have context that you aren’t sharing (and you don’t need to, if so), which makes it clear that the posted job really is yours and this company actually does hate your entire guts, personally. But that seems unlikely to me. It’s a different title, at a different location, and you said your termination was a layoff, not a firing – those are different. A layoff happens for internal, usually financial reasons, not anything the specific employee did wrong. In contrast, if you’re fired, that does mean that you, specifically, screwed up in some way, and the company no longer wants you, specifically in that role for whatever reason, but usually they still need someone to do that job if not you. If your position was eliminated after you were laid off, that points even more strongly to something going on internally that had nothing to do with you, specifically. It’s not an extra-special, super-duper F*** You, like “you sucked so bad at this job that we don’t want anyone to do it anymore” – that’s not how it works.

      Unless your job duties were super duper specialized, how sure are you that this posted job has anything at all to do with your former role? How sure are you that the llama team hiring for an ungulate beautician even knows that you used to be on the alpaca yassification taskforce? If you want the role back, there’s no rule says you can’t apply – you already know you’re qualified.

      Losing a job sucks, but consider that you might be reading more into it than there really is and taking something personally that isn’t.

    8. Industry Scientist*

      I’ve seen it happen, several times. I’ve been on the receiving end, though that one was technically for cause (pro tip: if you are a PhD student, it’s best to avoid disproving your advisor’s PhD thesis). Yes, it sucks. Yes, the people I’m thinking of ended up switching subfields at the very least, and some changed their career paths entirely. But they landed on their feet, eventually.

      There’s more than one path. Long term, it might even be better to get out of a bad situation early, rather than stay and let yourself be ground to dust by someone who hates everything about you just because.

    9. Very anon*


      I have had two managers get very threatened by my past experience. I was more qualified for their positions than they were. One got rid of me as a last ditch effort to save himself when the higher ups started to figure out how useless he was. Wrote a scathing character assassination that attacked every aspect of me and presented all of my good qualities as bad ones. Basically a long letter that I was universally disliked. I know it was garbage and have had a ton of coworkers from that job validate me. But it is still in my head. I constantly doubt myself and my intentions now. I should probably get therapy.

    10. Ann*

      My husband did. It wasn’t just him. A bunch of people at his company got that treatment when top management changed. It was seriously toxic, to the point that three middle managers died that year of sudden heart attacks. Thankfully he got out. When things get like that, getting out or even getting fired is much better than trying to cope with the toxic boss (or bosses).

    11. NDA*

      I had a new manager that came in, and he hated me because he had all these big ideas about how he was going to change our software, and I told him that IT. compliance would not allow it. he said he would talk to IT and convince them to grow his way. they did not, and he somehow seemed to blame that on me.

      I eventually got fired after I took FMLA leave, sued them and won.

      He wrecked that job for me, but it did not ruin my career. I think you’ll find the same to be true.

    12. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

      Yes! Just went through this actually.
      Six years of good work, a great team and a successful product that doubled sales each year.

      I (just me) got stuck reporting to a newly brought in manager and from day one she was adversarial, and prevented me from working for that team. Well, somehow she got my position eliminated, even over the objections of the team leader who is a VP,

  27. Considering a change*

    Anyone have experience moving from Corporate Finance/FP&A to another field? I’m mid-career, have worked in several companies, and am thinking about a pivot. What I like: reporting, working in Excel, problem solving. What I don’t like: being trapped in the month end close cycles and ongoing forecasting/budgeting processes (my current role involves constant forecasting, and the close cycle is long, leaving no time to easily take time off). I have a bachelor’s, not an MBA, and wouldn’t mind some additional schooling, like a certification, but am not looking for anything that would require multiple years or going to school full time.

    1. NumbersLady*

      Hi – I didn’t pivot to another field exactly, but I did go from years and years of GL accounting which is very close schedule oriented, to the financial reporting side in my last job change. I love it. I still do some GL entries and have to pay attention to close schedules, but it’s a lot less structured until it gets to the final days of the close. I’ve also had a chance to learn some new things over the last year which is definitely a bonus. Although I am older, I’m really more mid-career as I didn’t get my bachelor’s degree until my 40’s and I’m just finishing up an MBA now at 58 so extra schooling wasn’t necessarily needed for the position. Taking this position was technically a lateral move but with a decent raise in salary. I have also found that moving industries has made more of an impact on my satisfaction than the length of close schedules has. Not sure this is really useful, but there are lots of excel sheets involved!

    2. negligent apparitions*

      Grant administration, especially at a university. There is forecasting but it’s not the same intensity as finance, and there is time sensitive work, but with large gaps. You may even be able to find remote positions if that’s something you’re interested in.

      1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

        Yes! I think university finance more broadly can be a good fit (I say this because all of our finance folks are seem to come from fancy/stressful corporate jobs and love the 35-hour-weeks life). Our finance folks seem to do a bit of everything (grant admin is divvied up by area of my faculty), but I’m in a large faculty in a large research university, so maybe not the best example. Bonus is tuition credits, for us at least! (Not toward an MBA because..well…elitism, but lots of other useful things, maybe?)

  28. Lady_Lessa*

    Because llamas and llama grooming are often used as stand ins here, I have another suggestion that we can add to the collection. Llama jumping etc. (Yes, that is a real thing).

    I’ll try to remember to post a link to alpacas jumping over a puddle tomorrow.

      1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

        the best part is that ~90% of them still got at least one hoof in the mud! the last one jumped with such style!

  29. ADA Interactive Process*

    Questions about experiences with the ADA Interactive Process! My experience was the absolute worst. I’m hoping people have positive things to share.

    – Sector and length at company?
    – Is your condition visible to others?
    – Which reasonable accommodations did you request?
    – How long did the entire process take?
    – How many times did your employer request more information from your medical provider? How much documentation did you provide?
    – How did you manage working without the accommodations in place while waiting on the process?
    – What was the final outcome?
    – Were your boss and HR supportive, indifferent, hostile, something else?

    Advice appreciated too! Thanks

    1. WhaleToDo*

      I had been working at my company as a student for 9 months, full time for about a year. I transitioned to full time at the same time covid started and everyone was working from home, but that’s actually when my health started deteriorating. My condition is not visible. When they started asking people to come back more permanently, I broke down a little to my boss and told him that I didn’t know if I could manage working from the office full time because of health stuff. I hadn’t got a definitive diagnosis at that point, so we worked out an informal arrangement of me working from home in the afternoons while I continued to work with my doctor. A few months later, I had surgery that resulted in a diagnosis, and my doctor said he’d fill out whatever paperwork my employer wanted to let me work from home indefinitely. That’s when I looped in HR, they gave me paperwork to give to my doctor to then fax to them, and I just requested that I continue to wfh in the afternoons, full days as needed. I’ve actually never had to function at work without the requested accommodations.

      My boss, coworkers, and HR have always been supportive to neutral – never had anyone say anything negative, even when I’ve gotten behind on work.

  30. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

    Anyone have any experience with a company that did “stack ranking” or the like?

    My husband’s company did a push this year to have managers “use ALL of the ratings” on the scale instead of grouping everyone more towards the middle. He ended up on a PIP, and his manager was pretty upfront that while his performance had slid this year (bunch of interpersonal things), it would not have met criteria for PIP on a different year. He also disclosed that he has multiple direct reports on a PIP this year, which is a first for him as a manager. All of this suggests that the PIP isn’t actually as big a deal as a PIP normally is… but my husband has been having a really hard time with the idea. It took his manager nearly two months to give him the actual plan, and its pretty reasonable / is over an extended period.

    Has anyone here been on this kind of plan / seen it done at their workplace? I think it came up a little on the PIP post a little while ago that some companies do them much more regularly than others, but it shocked both of us.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I haven’t, but everything I’ve heard about stack ranking sounds horrible. I’m not seeing the upside. I’m sorry your husband has to deal with this.

    2. kiki*

      In my experience with stack ranking, it created a super intense and competitive environment that didn’t actually help company performance because folks were more concerned with outranking each other rather than working together to achieve common goals. In that case, the PIPs were pretty intense and most folks on them were really let go each year. The goals of the PIPs were *technically* achievable, but not really, especially if somebody had already been struggling.

      BUT it sounds like your husband’s company is a bit different and the PIP your husband is on is reasonable and extended. Your husband also has your manager’s support. I might start putting feelers out for other jobs just in case, but it sounds like someone in leadership read some advice from Jack Welch and didn’t follow up to find that everything he created eventually disintegrated.

    3. BellyButton*

      Stack ranking or forced distribution as it is sometimes called is BS and SO BAD. It is where employees are ranked on a bell curve as exemplary, meeting expectations, or in need of improvement. Typical distribution is 15/70/15% , give or take a bit on the percentages. Microsoft has attributed stack ranking to 10 yrs of stagnant growth. Microsoft, Amazon, Adobe and several other big companies have very publicly moved away from it. Study after study have shown that this sort of system leads to a lack of innovation- if you know no matter what only 15% of your team is going to be viewed as exceptional no matter what, then why bother? It also leads to higher turnover-employees landing in the bottom 10-15% of the workforce are placed on performance improvement plans, or terminated entirely. Replacing is costly!

      Ugh, there isn’t much a person can do to change their standing if they are insisting on this type of performance rankings.

      On a personal note, I worked one place that used this. My boss literally said “It is not your turn to be in the exceptional category- Otherlady is getting it this time.” WTF.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        Wow. “Well, it sounds like it’s not your turn to get exceptional work from me, Boss–talk to Otherlady.”

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        It makes no real sense to force such a bell curve. If you have employees all operating at about the same level with one or two standouts, why would you have to put 15% of them at the bottom?

        I’ve been a classroom teacher, and there were sometimes cases to be made for “grading on a curve” if an assessment was particularly tough and nobody got an A, but there was never any sense in saying “You all wrote great essays, but someone’s got to get an F. Sorry!”

        1. kiki*

          Yeah, this line of thinking never has made sense to me because what if your company actually just did a bang-up job hiring and everyone is really great? Like, what purpose is there to letting someone perfectly good go and taking the risk on a new person? Hiring is expensive and time consuming!

          Also, like Amazon found out, there are only so many qualified people– if you are always letting your bottom 10% go, even if they’re solid employees, at some point you will run out of new people to hire.

        2. Anon for this one*

          It also leads to backstabbing and anti-collaborative teams. It’s horrible.

    4. Dragon Hoard*

      Oh man, I learned about stack ranking like two weeks ago on an episode of Behind the Bastards about Jack Welch, the famous (infamous?) CEO of GE who invented it and who was also the inspiration for Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock. Jack Welch even had a cameo on the show as himself, you might remember. I knew about the guy but I had never heard about stack ranking before listening to BtB.

      In short: It’s bad! Implementing stack ranking has been pretty solidly demonstrated to lower staff performance and productivity across the board, not to mention destroying morale. Jack Welch’s whole MO was pioneering ways to absolutely obliterate his workforce and use constant acquisitions and sales of other businesses to keep the business looking profitable for shareholders. He basically wanted the barest skeleton workforce possible, even if it made the business crumble, to the extent that he had the nickname “Neutron Jack” because he got rid of all the people and left the buildings in tact.

      Stack ranking was one way he came up with to regularly get rid of a bunch of objectively good employees by suddenly making it a zero sum game where some percentage of them had to be evaluated poorly. Per his philosophy, everyone on the bottom is supposed to be fired. Welch’s idea was to regularly cut the bottom ranked 10%. A lot of companies picked this up in the 80’s and 90’s, though annually decimating their staff has definitely fallen out of favor more in recent years.

      1. Cheshire Cat*

        At HP in the late 90’s we called the bottom of the forced distribution “catching the grenade.”

        Nobody deserved it, but people got fired if they caught the grenade two 6-month reviews in a row.

    5. RateMe*

      I hate when management does this- why do people have to be bad? Seems like a way to avoid telling managers to manage (if they ignore bad behavior and rate people higher to avoid conflict) and then hurts people. At my job they don’t want too many people rated high (because our raises are only merit raises and we’re always broke so God forbid we get a real raise).

    6. Qwerty*

      I interned at a place that did this, but the managers were strongly pushing back and it eventually went away. The argument was what you are seeing – if everyone is good, then you are pushing out decent employees.

      They did say that they saw the advantage the first few years it was implemented, because the previous culture was very corporate slow moving where no one was really performance managed. I’m surprised anyone is still doing it since the solution is really to do better performance managing all year long.

  31. Curious*

    How do posted salary ranges for government jobs work?

    I applied to a clerical position for the local government, and the job posting says it has a salary range of $37k to $55k. It seems like a wide range just for a clerical job (and the high end seems high). Does the pay offered depend on the experience level of the individual, or do you start out at the lowest salary, and the high end is what you can make after working in the same job many years?

    1. kiki*

      In my experience, it’s an experience and education thing. For experience, they may be open to hiring someone at the entry level and training them up for $37k, but if they find someone with a lot of experience who would be able to jump right into the role, they’d be happy to pay $55k. With regards to education, it may be that they have bands for starting salary based on degrees or certifications the applicant may have.

      1. Epilogue*

        With my government employer the pay is dependent on education level and years of relevant experience and the salary is set based on that for the candidate. So the range posted is the general race but your individual range may be different. There is still usually some wiggle room with the first salary offer but I can’t for example hire someone and pay them more than someone else in my department who does the same job and has the same level of education and experience.

        1. Admin of Sys*

          Wiggle room is within the band though. The complication with most government jobs is that you can’t stay at the same job and get paid more than the top edge of the band. So if you’re coming in near the top, you need to watch out. In rare cases, jobs can get reclassified as a different band, but that often involves rehiring you.

    2. Spearmint*

      My experience (having previously worked in state government) is that you will always be offered the lowest number on the range with zero room to negotiate. The range is listing what you may eventually make after years of experience in the position.

      1. CheeryO*

        This is how it works at my state agency as well. Experience/education determines the title, and the salary for the title is non-negotiable. Automatic step increases get you to the top of the salary range over a certain number of years (7, in our case).

      2. spcepickle*

        I work for a state and I have been brining everyone in at the top 75% and negotiating to the top to get the best candidates.

    3. Watry*

      It’s going to vary. For the city I work for, some agencies do the first and some the second. Also, in Neighboring County they list the range for the pay band the job belongs to, not necessarily the actual job.

      It’s okay to contact HR as an applicant and ask the general question! It’s unlikely they’ll even think to ask who you are, and they probably get that sort of question all the time.

    4. Anonymous 75*

      in my experience working in local government the wide range is normally to accommodate those who stay in the same pay grade for a long time and the raises they get due to longevity and not “cap out”. no one came in at the top band. also where I worked everyone came in at bar of the party band unless they negotiated for a few percentages higher (needed to be a reason for it), I think the most was 5-6% and anything higher had to go for vote before the elected body.

    5. Policy Wonk*

      Local governments have their own systems, but in the Federal Government each job is assigned a grade on the General Schedule, and within that grade there are 10 steps. In theory a new hire starts at step one, but at hiring additional steps may be given to candidate with superior qualifications. There is a sample pay chart here:

    6. Random Academic Cog*

      I have a position in a certain (wide) pay band, but I also have a budget that generally maxes at the midpoint. Once I pick a candidate, HR determines the hiring offer based on education, years of work experience ENTERED IN THE APPLICATION SYSTEM (so always put in ALL of your work experience for government jobs despite the prevailing advice to curate), and evaluated against other people with the same title in related departments. Two job titles in the same pay band can have different average salaries, so pay band alone doesn’t tell you much. If HR comes back with a lowball offer I try to negotiate. If they come back with a high offer, I’m still limited by my budget.

      Last time we added the hiring range (min-midpoint) because I always get applications from people who would be making a lateral move and already get paid more than my max hiring range. Still got some of those because everyone believes there is room for negotiation, but it cut down on them.

  32. My Useless 2 Cents*

    I have my first interview in over 20 years this afternoon. There were a couple of things I wanted to ask but am struggling with wording.

    The questions are:

    1) How are employee evaluations/reviews/feedback handled? (Really struggling with the wording on this one. I have only had 5-6 performance reviews in the 20 years I’ve been at my current job and they’ve been little more than “you are doing fine”. I think I’d like a job with a little more feedback on how I’m doing, what I could do better, better direction on where to focus my efforts, etc.)

    2) In this position, what metrics will you be focusing on to determine if someone is doing a good job? (The position could lean technical or lean customer service. I don’t really want the job if it focuses more on the customer service vrs the technical and am struggling with a good way to ask that.)

    I would appreciate any help!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      For your first question, you can word it as “what is the employee [evaluation/review] process at Company X?” For context, I have worked at large employers where the companies have a set annual review process. If you’re interviewing with a smaller company, this may not be the best way to word the question. You can also ask “how do you give feedback to the people on your team?” to the hiring manager.

      For your second question, I think it’s good as written!

    2. BellyButton*

      For #1 I would only ask this if your interview is with the hiring manager and then I word it as “How do you provide feedback and development?” That is more important than the PM process. It is about how the manager offers you support.

    3. Zephy*

      For question two, you could use a variation of Alison’s Magic Question.

      “What does success look like in this role? What sets apart someone who is good at this job from someone who is really great?”

  33. kiki*

    I want to check if I’m off-base in being pretty upset about something. My company is unquestionably understaffed in just about all departments. There is a hiring freeze in place at least until the end of the quarter. I recently went to my boss and made a case why we need more staff (this was backed up with a lot of numbers and a demonstration that we were not meeting some bare minimum expectations of a company like ours (think a software company not working through its security concerns in a timely manner).

    My boss said that he agreed and that we should schedule a meeting with the higher ups. His one critique of my presentation, though, was that I shouldn’t ask directly for more staff. In his experience, higher ups respond better when they are presented the information and come to their own conclusions. Telling them directly that more staff is needed tends to lead them to “shut down because they get so many requests for more staff and it has annoyed them.” I asked my manager if there were any other feasible solutions besides more staff (or contractors) and he said no, but that leadership prefers to be able to come to that conclusion themselves

    I am really angry about this? I don’t think I should tip-toe around what is needed in this situation because executives are annoyed by all the requests. If anything, I’m even more upset that their reaction to hearing a bunch of valid requests for additional staff is to say they don’t want to hear it anymore. Am I off-base in this? Is it normal to not be able to directly ask for what is needed?

    1. Roscoe da Cat*

      I haven’t found this to be true, but your boss may be more familiar with your C-suite than you are. Maybe give them options? 1 – hire these positions; 2- hire contractors for these positions; 3 – adjust expectations

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think this is going to vary from company to company.

      Some bosses are very much “bring me solutions, not problems.”
      Others are “don’t tell me what I don’t want to hear.”

      Sounds like your direct boss is telling you that your employer is in the second category.

      Also, consider that they probably get a lot of requests for additional staff *without* all the backup data that you have, from the middle management types who think just throwing people at a problem will solve it. So their instincts are to push back reflexively. I know it’s irksome, but your direct boss may be right in this case.

      Even though your boss said there are no other solutions, it wouldn’t hurt you to think outside the box a little in case there are questions from upper management. Better QA and release practices, using automated tools to help you rank and prioritize security vulnerabilities, etc.

    3. Alex*

      I think that’s a pretty reasonable suggestion from your boss–when speaking to higher-ups who often have a lot more information than you do, it sometimes works better to lay the problems out neutrally without making it seem like you are telling them what to do. I think that this is the concept behind the “make it their idea” strategy of getting someone to do what you want.

      Also, there are always options–if you can’t complete the work with the current amount of staff, reprioritizing things and letting go of some things may be a valid choice of the C-suite rather than hiring more people (just as an example). And you don’t necessarily have all the information to decide that for them–after all, that is their job.

    4. eisa*

      Your boss probably knows the high-ups better than you, and has a feeling what is most likely to achieve the desired outcome.
      Also, his approach for “managing up” seems pretty sound, psychologically.

      Also also … there might be a different solution to the problem, like, “with our current level of staffing, we cannot keep up the necessary standards on our product range consisting of A, B, C, D … let’s shelve C and D for the time being and reassign the resources.”
      That’s the higher-up’s call to make.

      Not worth it to get angry, IMO

      1. kiki*

        I think part of the reason I’m mad is that historically we have gotten their agreement to take something off the docket because we don’t have the bandwidth, then it inevitably blows up later, they’re mad it wasn’t addressed, and tell us to reprioritize and just get it done (even though we still have the same skeleton crew as before).

        I think I’m mad because I’ve seen this play out too many times and my work life has been chaotic for a year due to these bandwidth issues. So my boss is definitely right that this is probably the best path to get what we need, but I think I’m just so done with the leadership team. And while I know there *could* potentially be other options I’m not aware of, I’ve seen try everything in the book to get around hiring more staff and it just doesn’t work. At a certain point, there’s a bare minimum amount of tasks that need to get done and a bare minimum number of people necessary to get through those tasks– we don’t have the bare minimum number of people.

    5. Qwerty*

      Are you angry with the feedback or with your company?

      The suggestion seems fine to me. If they are getting constantly asked for something, then it makes sense that “no” has become their reflex and you need to make sure they pay attention. Even acknowledging it might help? When you get to the solutions part, instead of saying “clearly we need to hire 4 more people”, something in the vein of “with hiring off the table, where can we pull 2-4 people from to prevent ?” That allows the higher ups to say that maybe hiring isn’t off the table and they’d be open to 1-2 new hires. You look like you are respecting the hiring freeze and the higher ups get to use their power to magically fix the parameters.

      Anger at the company sounds totally justified. It sounds like you feel trapped and are probably jaded, not to mention having to jump through all these hoops is annoying. I wouldn’t be surprised if this feeling is the culmination of other frustrations you’ve had with the higher ups.

      About the hiring freeze – there’s only a month left in the quarter, would you be able to start the search and just have July 1 as the start date or does it look like the hiring freeze will get renewed at the end of the quarter? Maybe include how long it usually takes to fill the role in the presentation?

  34. yala*

    We had our office-wide 1-on-1 Workplace Assessment meetings, and then last week while talking with someone, I remembered several more recent things that I hadn’t mentioned in the meeting (I panicked, and my brain went to older things). I emailed HR and asked if I could do a follow-up meeting, but they don’t have time, and suggested I email them. On one hand, I think they paint a picture of communication and personnel issues that could do with tweaking. But on the other hand, compiling them into an email seems…petty? Like, talking face to face with someone who’s asking, you feel okay saying, “Okay, so there was this thing, and maybe it’s no big deal but…”

    Because there aren’t a lot of HUGE things. Just a lot of little things that add up.

    Should I try to put it all in an email? I’m also not super keen in putting it in writing, but some of it feels like stuff they should know?

    1. Distractinator*

      It seems very situational – Is this you telling your management additional good things, or you forgot to mention a problem that you now want to follow up with them about, or is this you=manager following up with a report? and would make a difference if it’s additional examples of a behavior you already discussed vs a new behavior/observation. Different things are easier/harder to email and less/more important to get communicated.
      Also, what’s the goal – if you’re trying to change the scoring of your assessment, that ship has probably sailed. But if you’re trying to change the path forward on a problem solving thing (no really that thing I was complaining about, Fergus did it again just last week, this is a real problem and I really want you to talk to him about it) that’s the kind of thing that sounds worthwhile to bring up, especially if it would change the course of action.

  35. Bunny Girl*

    I have a question about reworking my resume. I have been getting some interviews, and even a couple offers in the field that I want but not in the roles that I want. I have an extensive background in administrative work, but completed school recently in the natural science field. I had an intense internship in this field, as well as a seasonal role and several years of volunteering. I make sure to highlight these in my current resume and push my admin/clerical roles to the bottom under “other experience.”

    But I try to highlight my accomplishments in these roles (to show some transferable skills) and I’m stuck. I really didn’t accomplish anything in these roles because they were all very entry level, short term, and I didn’t have much responsibility. My biggest accomplishment was not burning the office to the ground out of frustration. Any tips? I don’t want to remove them entirely because it will look like I’m 30 with very limited job experience.

    1. SansaStark*

      I also started out in mostly administrative types jobs without any real “accomplishments.” One thing that helped me was something Alison wrote in one of her many guides on resume writing – think about what if someone less good than you was doing those tasks. What are the differences in the outcome, quality, etc.? That’s a good place to start your thinking. It might also help to ask yourself “why was that important” on some of your responsibilities. In my experience hiring for an entry-level position twice, it’s really common to see mostly tasks/responsibilities than accomplishments on those resumes so focus on making those transferable skills shine.

  36. Summer Associates*

    Question for the BigLaw readers of AAM: today, our summer associates are being given an eight-hour assignment to write a brief that is “not a test,” but apparently they were told yesterday a lot about how it would be reviewed and the ways in which they can lose points. We’re a multi-office firm and literally the first anyone at my office (including the recruiting committee) heard about it was yesterday and we are all so baffled by it. The stated reason for this is that “the summers always request more feedback on their writing and this will be a good way to do that!” Except the summers are freaking out because they think that if they do poorly they’ll tank their chance at getting an offer! And it’s a closed universe/no templates provided assignment which is more like the bar and not actual legal work, so it won’t tell us anything about their actual abilities. It seems like a terrible solution to the feedback problem that also won’t teach them how to be lawyers.

    Is this common in other summer programs? I am planning on raising my concerns on this with our managing partner (namely, that they really need to work on tone because I don’t like having my mentee freaking out about things like this in her first week here!). I’d love to know if this is A Thing other BigLaw firms are doing – I worry that we’re risking becoming “that firm that makes their summers take a mini bar exam,” if it’s not a common practice, and would also like to raise that if so.

    1. Ama*

      I can’t answer if it is common in law, but as someone who runs a mentoring program for early career people in my field (which is medicine, so like law the early careers tend towards Type A super overachievers) we have definitely learned that any activity we put in the program that involves a presentation or even just a game that has a competitive aspect, no matter how hard we try to emphasize that it is just for fun or practice, the participants get super anxious about it. And we also constantly find ourselves trying to fend off senior people in the field who think we need to introduce *more* competitive or testing aspects rather than integrate early career people into a supportive and collaborative professional community, which is our primary goal. (Although in our case they aren’t direct employees — they are volunteer advisors so sometimes we can just thank them for their input and then ignore them. And sometimes we’re forced to test their plans one year and then report “yeah everyone said on the evaluation form that they hated that, we’re not doing it again.”)

      If you have a way to resist this year I would try to resist. If you have to do it this year, maybe propose some kind of end of summer survey where you ask the participants how they feel about having that activity (you can ask them about other things they did as well) and see if there’s enough negative feedback that you can at least keep future years from having to do it.

    2. BigLaw Counsel*

      Wow, I have definitely never heard of this and no our summer program has never done this. This sounds like a terrible idea for so many reasons. And my first thought is, an 8 hour time limit? Summer associates should not be doing the equivalent of 8 billable hours of work in a day. Summer associates are there to learn, not be subject to a pop quiz like a child in school. And it’s not even an accurate assessment of the work expected of a first year associate. We would never expect a first year associate to write an entire brief without a template. More likely a first year would be drafting a section of a brief, or even just the research that would go into the brief, and we would provide templates/examples. Also at a multi-office firm (both US and international).

    3. BigLaw Counsel*

      Also, you may want to ask this question in the comments on Corporette. There are quite a few BigLaw readers there.

    4. Jinni*

      I have no current knowledge, but this was a *thing* in the mid 1990s for the same reasons. More feedback. Often the few who didn’t get offers complained that they weren’t given feedback – especially those in M&A or corporate or another area where there were fewer writing opportunities. That said in these instances it was part of the ‘portfolio’ considered before offers were given.

  37. VerilyAndAnon*

    Some time ago I posted a comment on a submitted letter commiserating with the OP’s S.O. & their toxic boss/toxic work environment. Out of nowhere I was terminated w/o any reason or justification by my job/by my toxic boss particularly; to say that was a shock was a vast understatement and I was, of course, frustrated, upset, angry – all of it, and then some. They gave zero reason for this & only stated that they had ‘conversations’ with my toxic boss; of course I know full well that it is simply part of said toxic boss’s power grab/control issues/horrible micromanaging, etc, etc. (I did receive severance which is how I know they had no actual reason to let me go)

    The worst of it was that said boss’s bullying and abuse was subtle enough for them to get away with it; they were ageist and ableist to me in more than one conversation, which I did note down – but it would have been my word against theirs and I hold no illusions about how I would have fared had I brought that up.

    But I am still deeply angry and upset that it happened at all; that all it took (for me to go from loving my job and being content to spend the rest of my life there to hating it and having panic attacks nearly every day) was being saddled with the worst boss that I’ve probably ever had. (somehow ‘surpassing’ even a prior boss who literally said, *to my face*, that their office was a ‘clique’ and that I didn’t ‘fit in’)

    This is why I have extreme trust issues with supervisors and management. This is why I’m someone who has an anxiety attack every time someone like that says ‘do you have a minute for a quick chat?’ or ‘please come to my office’. It’s trauma, in my opinion, and no mistake.

    1. Mazey's Mom*

      I hear you! In my last job, I would tense up and feel my blood pressure rising whenever my boss walked by my office. Just hearing her high heels on the linoleum set me on edge. Clack, clack, clack. She was toxic with a capital T, didn’t know anything about my job, refused to learn, and since she couldn’t really provide feedback on the quality of my work, she said I looked at her funny and harped that I wasn’t sharing my calendar so she could see what I did all day and who I met with. What do you know – less than 6 months after 5 of us left (all supervised by her, and we all left within 4 months of each other, all because of her), she left too – because we were doing her job for her, and she couldn’t do it. Literally – couldn’t do it, because she didn’t know how. I can’t tell you how tickled I was to hear that.

      Better days are coming for you! I was pissed that this woman made me leave an otherwise good job…but I ended up with a better one, that’s now become even better (waaaaay more money, much better title!), and had I stayed, none of this would have happened. It took me and another co-worker about 2 years before we stopped freaking out over the sound of high heels on linoleum. Carpet helps. :)

    2. Anonymous Coffee*

      That last paragraph is me. It’s been over six months and if anyone said either of those lines to me at my current work I’d probably go screaming out the front door.

      My confidence is still gone as well.

  38. Mimmy*

    This is a bit of an offshoot from yesterday’s Ask the Readers thread about giving up on one’s dream job. I wouldn’t say I’m giving up, but I think I need to rethink my options and I could use some ideas.

    For the past year, I’ve been looking for a job in higher education with a focus on students with disabilities. This is a fairly niche field, so jobs are not as plentiful. My options are particularly limited for a few reasons. First, we are not in a position where we could just up and move to wherever I find a job. We do eventually want to relocate, but we have a specific state in mind and don’t have any concrete plans at the moment. Second, I can’t drive and transportation in my state is less than ideal (we do not live in a major city like NYC).

    While I have looked for jobs in my own state, I’ve also been looking for jobs that are remote. This would allow me to cast a wider net at schools elsewhere in the country. However, I am beginning to realize that this is going to be next to impossible to find a student-facing role that is mostly remote or even hybrid (most schools seem to prefer at least 3-4 days in the office per week). I got a Masters degree last year in preparation for entering this field and I really do not want it to go to waste. I could’ve entered the field with my other academic credentials, but this degree was specific to the field, and I thought it would help with filling knowledge gaps and networking.

    Sure, I could look for jobs in other areas of higher education that are student-facing, such as academic advising or student affairs, but my heart is in facilitating access for students with disabilities. I’ve thought of maybe pivoting to the technical side of accessibility, such as auditing online courses or remediating inaccessible course materials, but I’ve never been interested in the IT field, and I don’t know how much IT knowledge is required. Also, while I am familiar with common accessibility guidelines (as well as the ADA), I would need hands-on training.

    Any ideas??

    1. WestsideStory*

      Would you consider going into educational publishing? There is a big trend in reworking curricula to suit students with special needs, and to retrofit older textbooks to make them accessible. The work covers all grade levels, and some cool stuff like providing imbedded captions for photographs in online editions is becoming quite the cottage industry. Also much of educational publishing is entirely online these days, so there is a tech aspect to it that is not hard to learn. Many of the jobs are remote, so that might help you. For starters , I would poke around the websites for Daisy Consortium or Benetech, see what publishers or suppliers they mention and then check those websites.

      1. Mimmy*

        I have thought about educational publishing in the past, I think I’d enjoy it. Thanks for the suggestion!

    2. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      I work in higher ed – my recommendation is to try to find a more general student-facing job, and then use that experience to move into a more accessibility-related role when you do move. My uni is competitive to get a job in, so lots of people come in by taking roles that aren’t their long term plan, and then build their experience and knowledge up to move to their goal job. I think that experience doing student-facing jobs will be really helpful getting the jobs you want in the future (and who knows, maybe you can informally become the go-to for folks who need your knowledge of accessibility in the meantime!)

      I’m guessing that you might be early career, based on just finishing a Masters, and I think a trap a lot of people get stuck in at that stage is that it feels like you Have To Use Your Education Now Or It’s A Waste, which just isn’t true! Careers are long, and your education doesn’t expire after a year or two! If you can start thinking of it as a long game, you might see how to find the jobs that get you where you want to go.

      1. Mimmy*

        Actually, I’d say I’m more mid-career and, for a variety of reasons I’d rather not get into right now, I have been underemployed for most of that time. I have experience in healthcare, human services and vocational rehabilitation settings (mostly internship, volunteer, or part-time work); while I’ve had plenty of direct client contact, I’ve never been in a role that involves coordinating services.

        This is actually my second Masters. I probably could’ve gotten into higher ed with the first masters, but I felt that the second Masters would fill in some knowledge gaps and, since an internship was an option, provide experience in a disability services office. Believe me, I wish I were younger so that I could start over and make different decisions.

    3. Extra anony*

      I did a work study job at an Assistive Technology lab at a university, where we were mainly adapting course resources for students with disabilities, maybe that could work for you? Technically most work could have been done remotely, but we also had an office where students visited. I do think that finding remote work in higher ed, and particularly the specific area of supporting students with disabilities, will be challenging. It’s not a field that is friendly to remote work in general. So if you’re set on remote work, I’d explore other adjacent fields.

  39. Higher Ed Admin*

    I’m an admin in Higher Ed looking to make a career change. Can anyone give advice about how they moved out of Admin roles? I went back to school and got a degree in economics after working as a pastry chef for several years and ended up moving right after graduation. A couple months later I got this job in April 2020. I have great benefits and the job is basically a low key executive assistant, but I’m bored. I don’t want to just schedule other peoples activities and organize things but I’m not sure what else I can do. I have some experience in HR but at this point it was several years ago. Any advice?

    1. Sunshine*

      I went from admin to marketing if that’s interesting to you at all. I joined Upwork and did a few freelance content writing jobs for peanuts just to build a portfolio and to gain some experience. At the same time, I took on a few responsibilities at work that were connected to social media and website management. Those combined were enough to net me an entry-level content writer position at a small local marketing agency, and from there I found a much more lucrative position as an in-house copywriter for another company.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      I too am trying really hard to get out of admin roles. I just completed my degree in a natural science area. It’s really hard! I have found that by explaining the situation in my cover letter, I am getting some different interviews but not getting offers in them. I am just plugging along. I would look for internship roles. Some of them will take people who have graduated recently. And look through USA jobs. They have “recent graduate” pathway roles that might be right up your alley. Good luck!

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

      As an EA, you probably have some experience in event planning and might look into events fields — although you would still be scheduling and organizing because those skills overlap with a lot of fields. You could lean into your operations experience and look for Ops positions or project manager. But if you really want out of office jobs, which are largely going to be planning, scheduling and organizing no matter the job title, then with a degree in economics, would you be interested in finance/accounting? You’d probably need a masters degree at some point to advance.

    4. Carolyn*

      On my campus there are usually all kinds of academic staff jobs and folks get out of admin assistant roles by transferring/applying to these other kinds of internal positions. Some include data analysts (more budget, less scheduling) or into student facing positions in student services (stuff like helping with new student orientation, staffing a specialized center, etc.). That could be an option!

      1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

        Yup, my uni too – program coordinators, project coordinators, etc. I think ‘get out of admin’ makes sense as a goal, but OP will have more success deciding what they want to get into! And getting a designation can be super useful, or even saying you’re working towards one (PMP, for example).

    5. DoodleBug*

      Look at what roles are open in other Higher Ed institutions near you, across the spectrum of job types, and see if anything jumps out at you. I’m not sure what size school you’re at now, but I’ve spent my career in smaller colleges and just having experience in higher ed will get you in the door for a lot of positions because you already know a lot of the distinctiveness of higher ed vs. corporate.

  40. Drowning in streamers and balloons*

    Does anybody here lead teams and manage projects non-digitally?

    I am a high school teacher and I supervise the SGA, which does a lot of independent planning for stuff like dances and pep rallies. There are at least 25-30 students, and a bunch of tasks like “email _____ to confirm dance music” and “buy streamers”. It’s a huge task keeping track of who is doing what, and last year I ended up with some students doing way more than others (and myself picking up the slack).

    The students have school gmail accounts, but they are blocked from access to a wide variety of programs like Google Groups, Slack, or Teams. We have Canvas and Google Classroom but that is super teacher-led. I can make assignments but they can’t delegate and discuss among themselves the same way (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!). For example, the Decorations committee couldn’t split up tasks amongst themselves.

    I think I need to give up on a digital option and move to a paper or whiteboard option. I’m assuming there are managers here that use paper systems to track assignments… Any ideas? I’m thinking about maybe a group planner that they can all write in?

    1. RachelTW*

      Could you have a shared Google Sheet with columns for assignments, due dates, person assigned to the task, and any notes?

    2. avast!*

      how are they organizing work right now? any reason they can’t use either a google doc or google sheet as a planner? try searching “google sheet work plan template” for some ideas.

      a whiteboard or paper planner would just drive me crazy, what happens if you want to reference it without being physically on site? have you asked about their preferences and ideas?

    3. Dancing Otter*

      We (consulting team) used big flip pads more than a white board. No real space limitation, as we can always flip to the next page, and nobody comes along and erases everything by mistake.
      After the planning meeting, we tape the sheets on the wall. (It’s not a bad idea to take snapshots for an email-able reference.) As tasks get done, they get marked off. As things change, additional sheets can be added. We even ran string between related items on different pages.
      In a school setting, you have someplace you could post that, right? Or at least, keep the pad where everyone can flip through it to do the updates?
      As for resource leveling, maybe use a different colors to write names next to tasks for the students you worry will get stuck with more than their fair share. Then they can see, say, how much purple there is compared to everyone else.
      Hope something here is helpful for you.

      1. Drowning in streamers and balloons*

        Thanks! I will try to do something like this and what Qwerty mentioned below. I like the big paper idea, although those big post-its or flip pads are expensive!

    4. Qwerty*

      In the early days of Agile, we made a status board and used post it notes.

      I put painter’s tape on the white board to make columns for “To Do”, ” In Progress”, “Testing”, and “Done”. The rows could either be people’s names or categories (Decorations, Food, etc).

      Granted, we were moving the post its around regularly so they only had to stay up for a week or two. Not sure how long you are planning things for.

      Do the students have access to Google Sheets? If not, can you ask your IT team why? I feel like Google Sheets and Google Docs are commonly used for group projects in class, and would be a super easy option, so might be worth double checking if they are intentionally blocked (My high school accidentally blocked part of its own website…)

      1. Drowning in streamers and balloons*

        Thank you, I really like this idea! They do have access to Google Sheets but they aren’t great at actually checking it… so the sheet tends to get neglected. I was hoping for Google Groups because I could also send email reminders. I like the idea of moving sticky notes around! I actually have a pretty big white board that I don’t use as much now that we have smart boards.

    5. ?*

      Sorry to ignore your actual question about paper planners—but are they blocked from google Calendar too? It’s pretty easy to set up tasks and reminders there. Could you make a Google classroom for the group and make the kids admins?

  41. Meridian Rose*

    Work (gov’t) recently came out with a huge (~20k/yr) pay bump for anyone in our career field… as long as they have an S&T degree. I don’t have one (my degrees are in liberal arts), but I’ve picked the knowledge through OJT and do the same work as everyone else (and am one of the highest performers). Now I’m going to be earning less than the people I lead on my team.* This is super demoralizing.

    (*This isn’t just a me issue; a lot of others in the workforce are in the same boat.)

    If this were you, would you leave for another job (I could probably make much more in industry), or would you go back to school to get that degree (I could get work to let me do it during work time, but it would take a couple years)? Or are there other options I’m not thinking of? I do like my job most days, and we have an important mission, though there have been recent frustrations besides this, and I had been casually looking at job postings.

    And it’s normal that I’m upset by this, right?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I can’t speak to what the right path for you going forward is, but yes, it’s normal that you’re upset by this. Everyone in your office has the same skills and knowledge that they did yesterday, but today some people are getting a big pay bump because they have a degree and you are missing out on that because, despite having the skills/knowledge, you don’t have that same piece of paper.

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      You are right to be upset, and I hope that you brush off your resume, start job hunting and succeed beyond your highest hopes.

    3. PanTroglodytes*

      Woahhh… Yes I’d leave to industry!! It sounds like your government has decided to underfund liberal arts and encourage S&T degrees, and somehow decided a good way to incentivise S&T is to demoralise their workforce. Great move.
      It sounds like a really poorly thought through policy, and I’m not surprised you feel demoralised and unhappy about being paid less than your reports, and I guess by less well performing peers who studied the ‘right’ degree.
      Pay should be based on merit and performance, and as long as it’s not a regulated field, the type of degree should become less and less relevant as you go through your career.
      I’d ramp up the job search…

    4. Somehow_I_Manage*

      What a crummy situation. You’ve got to do what’s best for you. If I were you, I’d try to quantify the monetary value of government support to go back to school, and compare it to swapping jobs both short and long term.

      If they’re offering to pay your tuition and pay you a salary to do it- that’s potentially worth tens of thousands of dollars in total compensation beyond your base salary. Not only that, you’d be rewarded with a pay bump that will pay dividends every year after you finish the program. It also would probably increase your earnings potential on the industry side.

      Granted, there’s so much I don’t know about your situation, so apologies if I’m critically off base!

    5. CheeryO*

      As a fellow government worker, that’s wild. They should have rolled it out based on job title/role, not your degree(?!?!). It makes no sense for you to be paid less than people you’re managing. I’d absolutely be actively job searching unless I could get the degree on the agency’s time AND dime.

      Do you have a union? I’m kind of shocked that a government employer is getting away with a move like that. I would raise hell on your way out.

      1. Meridian Rose*

        The basic logic- which I don’t actually disagree with!- is that it’s hard to keep people with STEM degrees in govt bc they keep leaving for better pay in industry. Fair! But I also work in a tech field and could leave for industry, and so could nearly everyone else in our workplace. It’s pretty clear that this was not well thought through. (It is a little more complicated than just degree- it’s based on billet code, or whatever- but for me personally, it comes down to degree.)

        There’s a scholarship program… which pulls from the same budget that just got ruined by this. But I’m sure I could get them to agree to let me do it during work time, as they’re doing that for others and my boss is just as disgruntled by this as I am…)

        We do not have a union.

    6. Fun with Forms*

      You’ve probably already looked into this, but it might be worth checking in with whoever determines whether you qualify for the pay bump on whether there are any alternatives to the S&T degree. I know that when I encountered something similar in my government field, while they framed the requirement as “a degree in llama grooming,” they also accepted 20 credits in llama related coursework or passing the Alpaca Institutes’ level 2 certification test, both of which you might already have or might find easier to get than the requested degree.
      In any event, this stinks. I’d definitely be looking at alternatives.

      1. Meridian Rose*

        I can guarantee they haven’t thought it through that far yet- we’re all still waiting to even hear what degrees count as S&T!

    7. Been There*

      I did both. I started my degree to get the pay bump, then some other stuff happened and left for another job while still working on my degree. Switching jobs was the right move for me.

  42. FrustratedAnalysy*

    Any suggestions for how to productively handle frustration and not sound like you’re frustrated in text when asking coworkers to fix mistakes?

    I do analysis and I rely on others to name files in a consistent way. I talked with my team about this but I’m still getting inconsistent file names. I’ve just asked “hey I noticed x is named inconsistently. Can that be fixed to be more like y?” But idk how that comes off. I actually am really frustrated since I sent over specific guides and examples for file naming but they are being ignored and I also told the team in person how things needed to be named and why it’s a problem when they’re named inconsistently. It’s super frustrating because it delays me from starting and the team wants a timeline for analysis up front. But I can’t anticipate how long it will take them to sort out file naming so it always adds an unpredictable amount of time to analysis. But I think they’d balk if I said to expect it in 1 month if it *really* takes a week once stuff is named right. Any advice?

    1. Lily Rowan*

      It sounds like you can be a little firmer in your feedback — “I can’t start working on this until your file names match the guide I’ve shared (attached). Once I have the files in the proper format, the analysis will take a week.”

    2. Cat*

      I’m laughing in sympathy because getting people to name things in a consistent way is also the bane of my existence. Based on my experience I don’t think it’s actually possible to get people to always use a naming convention.

      If there is any way you could automate the data submission process to check the names for you and then reject the files if they weren’t named correctly, that can be helpful. I find that people generally respond ok to being told something along the lines of “sorry your files can’t be analyzed because the script needs a specific naming convention” or even just being unable to submit their data at all until they filled out all the required fields. If you can have a computer handle that part for you it can save you some time at least. It doesn’t completely eliminate the issue though.

      Good luck! If you figure out the magic words to say to people to make them not be like this, please report back.

    3. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      I’d go back to them for a discussion. “I’m sorry, I’m not sure I really made this clear before. It needs to be xyz or it causes a delay. Is there a particular reason why they come out another way at your end? What can we do to fix this?”

      Then you’ll find out more about why it’s happening, but also just the fact that you bothered to come and confer will signal to them that it matters. And that might help them to remember.

      If that doesn’t crack it, and reminders don’t crack it, then it might be worth escalating, so that their boss can endorse that it’s part of their job to do the correct file names. Some places that could work. But yeah, I would want to be sure first that I had the full story on why they’re not doing it already.

      1. Frustrated Analysy*

        Often I’m only like 70% sure of what a file should be since the issue is information that’s missing. I don’t want to assume and make a mistake. The easiest way is for the person making the data to name it clearly. Otherwise I’d have to ask a couple of questions and wait for responses every time new data is added. Also I’m pretty sure the way the file system works is that if I make a change I’m not sure it propagates back to their system so there would be a disconnect at some point in the record.

        For example. Say we have a file that says “big llamas” and one called “small llamas” and a new one called just “llamas.” Are those llamas big or small?

  43. Hello*

    Do you think as a manager, if your employees are impacted by a layoff, you should reach out to them personally afterwards? When I was laid off several years ago, my manager actually texted me, and the others on my team who were impacted saying something like, “I’m so sorry this happened, please let me know if you need anything”. I was laid off again about a month ago, and I’ve heard nothing from my manager. Honestly I’m not surprised, even after working with him the past year, he never tried to really form a human connection, and was kind of a jerk. Was wondering if this is common

    1. Slackattack*

      Personally, I absolutely would reach out, but I would probably email rather than text unless I was close with them and texting was something they’d opened the door to. Layoffs are awful all around but IMO managers should do a check-in like you mentioned as well as offer their networks/support with job-searching if that’s something they can help with.

    2. DataSci*

      I would definitely want my manager to reach out, and what I’d really like would be something like “I’ll make sure to let you know if I hear of any opportunities that would be a good fit”.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      When I was laid off earlier this year, my manager couldn’t even speak to me on the day because HE was too upset. He later told a colleague (who told me) that he “wanted to reach out” but it was “too hard” and he didn’t know what to say. He is not cut out to be a manager if he can’t even muster up the courage to email a former colleague and check in. I’ve heard from a bunch of colleagues including a previous manager at that company– the personal check-ins have meant a ton.

      Your manager is a jerk.

      1. Hello*

        Wow, your manager was a coward! What a dick! Ugh! I hope you’re in a better position now

  44. curious*

    I’m noticing that many mid- or higher-level operations jobs require a background in data analysis; these are job titles like “Operations Analyst” that involve evaluating and improving office procedures/processes. Does anyone know of any good classes to help learn that skill?

    1. Spearmint*

      I’ve been pivoting my career in an analytics direction so I have been looking it out this myself (I recently got a business analyst job).

      The main skills you want to learn are: basic statistics, data visualization, SQL, one business intelligence software (e.g. Tableau, PowerBI), intermediate Excel (e.g. pivot tables, VLOOKUP), and then maybe some Python or R.

      Good places to look for classes are Udemy, DataCamp, Courser, and EdX, though don’t underestimate the value of YouTube and books (O’Reilly published lots of good books on analytics and coding).

      1. curious*

        That’s super helpful, thanks! Do you know if there are ways to put those skills into practice in a smaller organization? It would be super cool to be able to implement what I learn, but my employer only has about 30 staff members, so I can’t imagine we’d be able to collect much useful data from that small a pool.

        1. Spearmint*

          I would think you’re organization would have some data. Is there any list of things your office stores in Excel sheets? It doesn’t have to be a lot of data, even something that is 50-100 rows. And even if you just create, say, a simple dashboard and identify patterns in the data (even if those patterns were obvious to anyone at your organization, you’re still confirming them), that’s something. It’s hard to say without knowing what kind of organization you work for.

          (Frankly, even if it’s not the most useful work for your office, you can still do it and put it on your resume. Yes, this isn’t ideal, but it still demonstrates to your next employer that you have the skills.)

  45. Bananapants!!!!*

    Has anyone else’s coworker serving out a notice period been absolute bananapants this week? I’d never interacted with her much until this week, so I always thought she was relatively normal.
    This week alone my coworker:
    – yelled at our boss multiple times
    -accused me of not ordering items that were backordered and then asked my boss for screenshots of the orders because she didn’t believe me
    -yelled at me for not ordering an item when I asked her items specs multiple times so that I could order it. (she never responded)
    -yelled at another person for using their space when they would be offsite
    -made me go get her supplies in multiple trips for a demonstration that she wasn’t prepared for
    -got mad when my boss said she had to go get her own supplies during her break for a different demo she wasn’t prepared for
    -called in sick to our coverage-based job with “food poisoning” for the 6th time in 4 months and didn’t leave any information on what needed to be done

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Thank goodness she will be gone from there soon (how long is the notice period?) In the meantime, time to frame it to yourself as interesting behaviour being observed scientifically by you as an anthropologist!

      1. Bananapants!!!!*

        Her contract goes through June 15- I’m not sure my boss will make her stay that long. For sure, she will be here through June 2.

    2. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      Wow! Sounds like full-on banana pants with a matching top. I believe someone may have coined the term “banana suit”, which also seems appropriate in this case.

  46. Dragon Hoard*

    Does anyone have any inside info about what’s it like to be a jeweler, or work for one doing goldsmithing or the like? What about lapidary or gemology?

    I’m feeling really stalled in my career and I’m considering a change. I used to go to gem and mineral expos and collect rocks because I’m a nerd. I’ve been considering joining a nearby-ish lapidary society to take classes in cabbing and faceting, and you can also use their equipment if you’re a member. I would also really like to learn metalworking but there’s nowhere around me where I could take a class in that. The holdup is that I have never had the cash or the time to pursue this as a hobby, honestly.

    I’d been musing about leaving my field to apprentice with a jeweler, and what do you know, today a respectable local jeweler started advertising that they need a new full-time staff member. My husband is pushing me to apply. But I am so nervous about the idea of bailing into something so extremely different that I haven’t ever tried doing before! I don’t know if I’ll actually like it! Maybe I’ll be BAD at it. I don’t know. So, does anyone have any experiences or advice? I’ve tried to research it for a while and I’ve heard a lot of general information but I really want to know what’s it like. What’s the day to day? Pros and cons? Attributes that make people more or less suited to it? What happens if your dexterity gets bad as you age, would your livelihood be in trouble? Tell me anything.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      A friends daughter did this – college stalled after a year, she took some time to do some sports coaching, then apprenticed to a jeweler. She’s apparently doing pretty well. She had always done a lot of sewing and clothes stuff as a hobby in high school, so she had creative and physical dexterity evidence she could point to.

      Sorry I don’t have anything else to tell you!

    2. Maggie*

      What role is the jeweler hiring for? Goldsmith? Or sales or what? Like what’s the job title. If you have no metalsmith experience at all, then you’re probably a little green to be a goldsmiths apprentice. Most of those people are coming out of jewelry schools or family businesses and have metalwork experience. Im a hobby metal smith and jewelry industry longtime worker not just a random haha. So I’ll try to guide you as best I can. Metalsmithing usually comes before goldsmith because gold is harder to work with and you can mess up a project really fast, I’ve never worked with gold before, only cheap metals like brass and then silver. So basically what I’m saying is it takes 2-5 years of full time dedication to metalworking to get to a place where you can work with gold (that’s a HUGE generalization btw) So I don’t think it’s realistic to expect to be hired as an apprentice with no experience because it would be years before you’re doing much actual work for their company. Alllll that being said, I work with jewelry store owners daily and goldsmiths are in extremely high demand as it’s a lost art that can be hard on the body and tons of them are retiring. So I think two big things: what is the exact role this jeweler listed? Is it gold smith or just full time employee?? Number two, I think it’s worth talking to the business. This goes against all conventional advice but the jewelry industry is weird and really archaic a lot of the time, so it’s probably fine to call about the job, or even walk in in person. Nope, I’m not kidding. I can answer more if you give more details of the job listing. Also if you’re serious about gold smithing you probably need to go to a jewelry school. I love working in jewelry!!

      1. Dragon Hoard*

        Thank you thank you for all this! It’s not an apprenticeship directly, it’s sort of a back office operations clerical thing that I am qualified for, with some sales/service and other stuff as needed. It’s a pretty small business so I imagine many hats, though they do have some dedicated sales staff. They offer paid training and some other things that could put me on the road to actually apprenticing. I had actually heavily researched this place recently by chance, and I had been considering walking in and just asking the owner if he is looking for interested trainees at all. They definitely seem to be a place that want to bring in enthusiastic staff and train them in the aspects of the business that they want to go in. The current owner started working there in high school and worked there his entire career, eventually taking over when the previous owner retired. And that’s also how the previous owner had gotten the business, too, and I think possibly even the guy before that. There’s a similar pattern with the current sales staff that I know about. So I’m not sure if they would have a limit to how much they would want someone in this job to branch out, but they do say they want to give their staff at least some training– and they have a track record of actually doing it.

        I have known people who did metalworking and seen stone engraving and faceting, so I’m kind of familiar but without having really dived into either I’m not sure if my end goal is goldsmithing or lapidary or what. I really need to try things out I think. I have always been really attracted to stones specifically but as you point out, goldsmithing is extremely important! I worked with a jeweler who had a dedicated gemologist to make my spouse and I’s wedding set, and her job seemed so incredibly cool to me. Getting to meet with her and discuss gems was so great bc I got to really talk about it with someone who also loves this stuff and knows all about it. But becoming the big fancy certified gemologist is a BIG effing long term undertaking and I’m not sure there’s nearly so much demand for them as there is for goldsmithing, which is at least a little in demand everywhere as far as I can tell.

        There is of course also the possibility that I will be really bad at this. Dunno how I’d handle THAT outcome.

        1. Maggie*

          Ok I love your energy for this!! So I would go bring your resume and talk to the guy in person. Seems like blasphemy to say that but I work with jewelers everyday and they’re the one group of people who would be receptive to that. And you’re right gold smithing is more in demand but gemologists are needed as well because they do appraisals which are an important facet of a lot of jewelers. Also you can start your GIA GG degree with their into $250 course AND they have scholarships even if you make good money. The people I’ve met working in jewelry have been amazing and I truly love it, my dream is to have my own concierge style jewelry business but I currently work for the supply side of the industry. It’s great and jewelers for the most part are awesome people although there are some old grumps sometimes that don’t like the changing industry. GO FOR IT!!!

    3. DisneyChannelThis*

      Things to consider – how common are job openings in current field? If you quit and do this jewelry stuff for a year and dislike it, do you have openings to go back into other field? It’s worth doing the interview and talking to them, I’d make sure to ask how much is sales vs creating, retail is rough. Also make sure they’re even willing to train up a newbie for this job opening and its not a need a skilled worker already trained role. Joining the society, taking classes and getting to try it out as a hobby seems like a safer first step to me. But do the application anyway, if you get an interview you can find out a lot more about what skills you need to fit those roles.

      1. Dragon Hoard*

        Yeeeeep, worry that I couldn’t easily come back to this field is a huge part of what’s holding me back. That said, the reason I feel stalled is that my industry is already gutting out departments and making me feel like I don’t have a lot of options or a great career trajectory. So I actually already have that fear about my current field. I’m not sure if that’s better or worse? On the one hand it makes it feel extra impossible to come back, and on the other I feel like I wouldn’t actually be introducing too much more uncertainty than I’m already dealing with,

        1. Quandong*

          From everything you’ve written, it sounds like there’s no downside to applying for this job! Go for it!

    4. Admin of Sys*

      I had a friend that was a jeweler, who iirc got into it by working at a shop and apprenticing to the jeweler there. iirc, her biggest complaint was similar to everyone in the arts industry, which is that the most demanding customers tended to have the worst taste.
      I would definitely join the craft group to test it out first! And a lapidary group would probably have at least a little bit of metal work for fittings and such, so you could likely gain some base soldering skills. Any practice at the shop at the beginning would probably involve buying your own gems so that if you mess them up, the shop doesn’t have to eat the purchase. That said, most of the cost of hand made jewelry is in the design, not the supplies, so the shop will likely let you use the whole sale purchase account.
      Full time staff at a jeweler is probably going to be a lot of sales and customer interaction, so decide if you’d want to do that while you’re learning. (and probably after – you don’t get to ditch that part of the job until you’re established enough to hire your own staff to do it) Also, some jewelers might get a little twitchy at the idea of the salesperson / staff person they hired wanting to be taught the trade? Some would be fine / thrilled, but I know folks in the industry who had drama with my friend because she was “trying to steal her employer’s customers away”

    5. Lady_Lessa*

      Another aspect of the job might be working with injecting wax into forms to make rings etc. The process is called “Lost wax Process” and there are places where you can learn more about the technique.

      1. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

        Bench jeweler and dental lab tech jobs have a lot in common! I spent a week full-time with a jeweler learning the basics when I was nineteen and trying to figure out what to do with my life. I really enjoyed it but decided not to pursue it due to concerns about job availability…so I became a dental lab technician instead. Everybody needs teeth, and just like with jewelry it’s both an art and a science. I still love jewelry and have made some of my own over the years, even thought about opening an Etsy shop but I just don’t have the time unfortunately.

  47. Tammy 2*

    I’m a finalist for a new job, and the interview process is different from the typical phone screen/panel I’ve become accustomed to. I have a couple of questions/general requests for tips!

    1. I had the screening call yesterday with the recruiter, who told me the next step would be a call with the hiring manager, followed by interviews with the team. Afterwards, they told me the hiring manager had decided to skip ahead to the finalist interviews with the team. Any reason to think that’s a red flag? I am assuming it means they are excited about my candidacy. I had some questions I wanted to ask the hiring manager to determine my level of interest before forward, but I can roll with this.

    2. The final round of interviews is individual calls with each member of the team–several separate video interviews totaling a few hours and spread out over several days. How standard is that? It’s a lot of time to set aside, and it also is difficult to ask questions since I will have to pick who I want to ask which of my questions. How careful do I need to be not to repeat examples, etc?

    3. If I am offered this position, I think my current employer might counter-offer, which is something I would strongly consider. Any tips for successfully negotiating that process?

    1. pally*

      How do you get current employer to keep their promise(s) regarding the counter-offer? And, will the counter-offer remedy the reason why you are leaving in the first place? Would getting it in writing mean they will keep their word?

      For #2- Don’t worry about repeating examples. They don’t compare notes that way. In fact, they probably won’t compare notes at all. Likely you’ll be asked the same questions by each. If you have a good response to a question, use it for the next person who asks the same question.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        The last time I met with a zillion people, luckily it was years ago so it was a half-day interview, but also they all asked different questions. However, there were themes, and I ended up using the same example for half of them, because once I started, it was on my mind! Anyway, it all worked out and I got the job.

        You can definitely ask different people the same questions, since they will all have a different perspective on the answer.

    2. Yes And*

      1. If this means you don’t get any 1-on-1 with the hiring manager, I’d consider that a red flag. If you take this job, you’ll presumably be working under this person, and it would be a bad idea to take a job under someone you’ve never met. But if it just means that they’re doing the hiring manager interview contemporaneously with the team interviews, I don’t see that as a problem at all. It may mean nothing whatsoever about your candidacy, positive or negative – it may be them revising their process to deal with scheduling issues (especially given the process you described in #2.)

      2. I gather from reading AAM that this is getting more common, and that Alison disapproves.

    3. DataSci*

      In technical fields multiple individual sessions totaling a few hours is very common – spreading them out (vs back to back) is a change my company made recently, and I don’t like it. If they’re doing it well – which is a big if – they’ll cover different areas, so the issue of repeating answers or examples won’t come up.

      As far as asking questions, I like to ask things where having multiple perspectives helps! Ask what they like best and least about the job. If everyone says the same thing for what they dislike, and it’s something that would really bother you too, that’s great information!

    4. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I wouldn’t see #1 as a red flag. It could mean something like the hiring manager or key team member(s) is/are about to go on vacation/be otherwise unavailable and they would rather alter their process than drag it out. It’s probably a good thing! You should definitely have a 1:1 conversation with the hiring manager, but if you don’t speak with them during the team interview portion and they offer you the job you can always ask to speak with them before making a decision. Good luck!

    5. The Shenanigans*

      More and more companies are being really inconsiderate with the time they ask from candidates. I’d ask some questions to suss out how they are about respecting your time as an employee, but it’s not a huge red flag or anything.

      Do not ever accept a counter-offer. It’s very, very, VERY rare that it works out well.

    6. Tio*

      So, you need to be careful about the counter offer. Specifically, why were you thinking about leaving? Is it really just money, or are there other factors? If you accept the counter offer, man companies consider it like you leap-frogging your salary, even though this is dumb. You may not get much in the way of raises at that company since you already “got” one. Your management may also consider you a flight risk, and not advance you because of it.

  48. jennaventures*

    Not at all work related. But my much beloved cat, my ride or die for the past 15 years is on a rapid decline. I am devastated. Any advice for pet parents who’ve gone through the same thing?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I’m sorry to hear this. Try posting this question in the weekend open thread tomorrow (it’s for all non-work-related questions).

    2. Tammy 2*

      I’m really sorry. I think the best thing is think that even after are beloved little friends are gone, we’ll always have the memories with them and know we gave them a great life. Animal companionship is so worth this pain, but it also just sucks when it’s time to say goodbye.

      On a practical note, if your buddy is nervous in/stressed out by the car and it’s financially feasible, you might see whether there are at-home veterinary hospice/end-of-life care services available in your area. This is the best thing I have ever done for a cat and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

    3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      My condolences. They’re the worst days as a pet parent.

      The only useful advice I have is to relieve yourself of any guilt or second guessing about prioritizing your pet in its final days. It’s not just pet-care; long-term, it’s also self-care.

    4. Another Cat Lover*

      I’m so sorry! This happened to our beloved kitty too – long-term diabetes, one weekend he just crashed (we think he developed leukemia based on preliminary tests). Best advice I have is that it’s harder for us than for them – they get to just drift off to sleep, we’re the ones who have to say goodbye. Lots of love to you and your feline companion.

    5. Generic Name*

      Aw, I’m so sorry. Take a sick day (don’t say it’s for pet issues) if you need to grieve.

    6. The Shenanigans*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. The most important thing for me was to give myself time to grieve. You are losing a friend. You get to cry and take time off and feel awful.

    7. statstatstat*

      You might find “The Pet Loss Companion” comforting. I did when both of my cats rapidly declined. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

  49. Llama Wrangler*

    Does anyone have experience with a company that uses their short term disability insurance provider to also handle requests for accommodation? My company apparently does (uses Guardian), and I know a coworker just had her request for WFH during her last two weeks of high-risk pregnancy denied without much explanation. It seems… not ideal? (There is no work reason it should be denied so my assumption was they made the decision that the requested accommodation was not medically necessary.)

    This came up for me because I am trying speak with my HR about a small adjustment to my equipment and they just referred me to the provider (Guardian) without any conversation.

    I may end up dropping my specific situation because it is time limited and there are some other extenuating circumstances, but my experience and hearing about my coworker’s denial left a bad taste in my mouth. Wondering if anyone else has had experience with this?

    1. The Shenanigans*

      I’d do some looking and see if that is legal. The law requires an interactive process with the employer. I don’t think a third party qualifies. And being denied without explanation doesn’t fit the law.

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        That’s what I wondered but since it didn’t happen to me (and my coworker told me 2 days before she went out in Mat leave), I didn’t want to push her for more details.
        But curious about whether anyone else has experienced this!

    2. Jm*

      My first thought is to raise some hell with the powers that be. Your accommodations maybe time limited but I’m seeing a trend here and the p t b need to know it’s unreasonable. Presumably you have some political capital

    3. Gyne*

      This doesn’t make sense enough to pass the sniff test – I don’t see how a third party insurer would know anything about your workplace enough to determine what a reasonable accommodation was or was not. Or how they could feasibly implement whatever accommodations were needed since they aren’t actually connected to your work. Are we sure your coworker was trying to work from home and not start using disability for maternity leave early?

    4. Hillary*

      It can be fine – my last employer used the same company for multiple services, but they were different teams at that company. They were completely firewalled and couldn’t see each others files. Which was kind of a pain, honestly, because it meant separate FMLA and disability applications on the employee’s side. Company HR couldn’t see any details, just approved with a return date. Any ask to HR was meet with the service provider’s info, although I think they would have provided hands on help if asked.

      It could have been denied by a mistake, or the doctor forgot to fax the paperwork, or a million other reasons. They had a very hard time receiving documentation from my provider because their system was really bad at email, I had to follow up and resend it multiple times. Simple incompetence (which of course a problem and hugely frustrating) could equally explain it.

  50. Peter Piper*

    I am sure this question gets asked a lot around these parts, but – how does one cope with the weight of a pair of very shiny golden handcuffs? I am a supervisor at a non-profit that offers education opportunities to community groups. I am paid extremely well; my colleagues are kind, reasonable, helpful people; I have a robust benefits package; and the organization is extremely accommodating of employees arranging their schedules around the pressures of family life (I am a parent). Huzzah!

    Here’s the thing, though – I exist in a near-constant, excruciating state of ennui-guilt. (I am sure the Germans have a very specific word to encompass that particular melange of emotions.) Though I am a very high performer and have received consistent glowing performance reviews and commesurate raises throughout my time with this organization, I just don’t care about the work I’m doing. I am also very underutilized due to capacity constraints of other staff, which means I frequently sit around twiddling my thumbs, trying not to feel wretched about engaging in near-grift, whereby I do almost nothing and collect a large paycheck.

    I have been with this org for several years now, and I just can’t seem to get to a place where I feel okay about the situation – but my family relies on the income I make and the flexibility that my job affords.

    Anyone else in a similar situation and managed to make peace with it?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Start a low-key job search. Peruse job ads at your leisure and apply for any that sound moderately interesting. Accept requests for phone screens and interviews. If you get offers, evaluate them seriously. How does the offer compare with current job: work, pay, benefits, the whole package?

      This will remind you that those golden handcuffs aren’t locked. You can walk away, but you’ll only walk away for something better. So start looking around and then you’ll be able to answer the question: is anything better? The answer may be no, but hopefully after a good search you’ll feel like staying at your current job is a choice and that may lessen the ennui-guilt. And if there is something better out there, accept that job offer!

      1. Peter Piper*

        Thanks for the encouragement to get out there and see what other opportunities might present themselves. At best, I could find a new role that is better than the one I currently have, and at worst, I have real data to help me feel better about settling for my present situation. Win/win.

      2. negligent apparitions*

        This advice worked for me when I was in the same situation. My job was like a shoe that was a half size too small. Could I make it work? Yes, but it was never quite comfortable enough, and I knew I couldn’t make it work forever. The act of preparing a cover letter, polishing my resume, and talking to my references was very energizing. I started using my time to think of a transition plan and get everything up to date, organized, etc. in the event of a transition. That took a significant amount of time and always looked and felt like “work.”

        1. negligent apparitions*

          And boy, was interviewing fun when I finally did! Worst case scenario was I kept making good money, so it allowed me to be totally relaxed in interviews and asks questions I really wanted to know the answers to.

    2. Elle*

      I’m in a similar place right now. I work for a great and flexible non profit in a state funded position. Due to turnover at the state the responsibilities in my position have been reduced. The folks at the state are interested in doing the bare minimum and it sucks. But as a parent the lack of stress, good benefits and flexibility are golden. I have no problem taking time off or leaving in the middle of the day for pick up. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

      1. Peter Piper*

        The schedule flexibility I currently enjoy is definitely the hardest thing to walk away from – because that level of true accommodation is so hard to discern from the outside of an organization. Many companies will pay lip service to supporting employees in managing personal obligations, but after you accept the position and are fully committed, all kinds of unspoken penalties emerge if you actually try to use the advertised ‘flexibility’.

        I’m basically in a position where I feel like I can’t trade ‘the devil I know’ for the good of my family. Sounds like you get it! I do comfort myself with the thought that in 10 years I can consider a change because my kiddo will be old enough to self-manage to a certain extent.

        1. Elle*

          It took me awhile to learn this. Ten years ago I worked in a very toxic org. The CFO got treated like garbage but worked there for many years. It was because she was a single parent with no dad in the picture. The job sucked but she could work from home whenever and take as much time off as she needed. She didn’t want to risk that flexibility even if her career suffered.

    3. AudraMorgana*

      I don’t have any advice, but I could have written this post. So, just know you are not alone. It is pretty demoralizing, and then, yes, you feel guilty about not having this great enthusiasm for being in such a good situation.

      1. Peter Piper*

        Thanks for the solidarity. I find working in a job like this really pits the part of myself that idealistically wishes for meaning and fulfillment against the part of me that is a raging pragmatist (the part of my brain screeching “HAVE YOU SEEN THE NEWS?! Sit down and be grateful you’re not starving or imprisoned.”)

    4. A Girl Named Fred*

      Can you reframe it in your head somewhat? If the organization knows about you having free time and they’re okay with that/otherwise happy with your work, then there’s absolutely no grift happening on your part. You’re fulfilling the job exactly the way you’ve been asked to! You’re doing what you’ve been asked, which means you’re earning the salary they’ve offered for the role you’re in. I know that mental switch won’t flip overnight, but it might help.

      If it helps, I’m in a semi-similar position – I don’t make a ton of money, but it’s a decent amount with great benefits, and things are frequently slow enough that my coworker and I can have multi-hour conversations with minimal interruption. But my director has explicitly said that’s fine as long as we’re getting things done and reacting quickly/efficiently when there IS stuff to do, so I don’t feel guilty at all resting when I have time.

    5. PanTroglodytes*

      The advice here is really great, so I’m not sure why I’m commenting… except to say that, most jobs are exhausting and burn you out. You might feel that you’re ‘earning your way’ in a higher paced environment, but it could take away from your wellbeing in other ways, and take you* away (physically, mentally, emotionally) from your loved ones. So yes, if you’re unhappy and unable to let go of the guilt, maybe a job search is good (even if it is to confirm that there’s nothing to beat this role), but really, it sounds more like a mentality thing… to try to get over the ‘I only matter if my work matters’ mindset.. hope I didn’t miss the mark

    6. Sloanicota*

      I have specific advice: 1) be charitable in your personal life. This is the traditional for well compensated individuals to assuage their guilt for a reason! If you are donating 10% of your salary to the cause you can release the guilt entirely. 2) Find passion projects within the role. Might be presenting at conferences, mentoring young people, facilitating networking happy hours – whatever.

    7. SofiaDeo*

      Are there any classes you can take, or other “organizational mission statement” learning activities for yourself? Something to fill your time that’s at least somewhat job or organization related? IMO high performers who are placed in a job where they no longer have to work frantically just to keep their head above water, may think like this initially. I went through something like this. It took quite a long time for me to be OK with working at less than 100% of my ability while getting praised for the 85% I actually felt like I was doing.

      You don’t have to “care about the mission” 100% of the time so much as, “care about how well you do your job.” Try to get satisfaction from doing what you are doing well. Instead of worrying about how emotionally invested you personally are in the organizations mission. For example, I have a number of family members who work in the auto industry, as design engineers. Some are passionate/excited about it, some are just doing a well paid job that doesn’t stress them out. All are happy. If you can get to “well paid job that doesn’t stress me out”, that’s quite a desirable place to be. Find ways to make it “less boring”. Stop with the guilt. Remember that *someone* has to be above average, and there’s no reason to feel guilty about it.

    8. CheeryO*

      I can relate. I’m in state government and am currently bored to tears after a management shakeup took away about 2/3 of my job… I really can’t give up the benefits and work/life balance even though I would definitely feel more invigorated by a private sector job.

      You’re clearly providing value, or you wouldn’t be getting glowing reviews. My bet is that you are undervaluing the work that you do because it comes easy to you. I’ve noticed that since I’ve had to quantify my work a bit more (for our internal telecommuting reports) I have felt better about my level of contribution. Maybe start a little work journal where you write down a few things that you accomplished at the end of each day? I bet you are doing more than you think.

      Aside from that, be happy that you can pour your energy into your family and hobbies, and keep doing what you’re doing at work. Don’t forget to look around for opportunities to grow or to do more to support your staff when you can.

    9. Eleanor*

      This is me, except that the amount of work is pretty much overwhelming, but other than that, yes, same. I am working on both loving the good things about this job and preparing for a time when I can leave it, from a good place. I also agree with the advice of others to think about how you can use the flexible, chill nature of your job support other ambitions you have in your personal life, volunteer roles, community work, etc. You can be challenged and ambitious and inspired elsewhere while choosing to retain a transactional relationship with your employer that serves you well.

    10. Ann*

      Yeah. I’m way, way past burned out at my job for many reasons, but it pays well and is flexible, so I don’t think anyone would understand if I quit. I would really be struggling but a lot of things changed for us in the last few years, and now the money I bring in really makes a difference for my kids. I guess that makes it worth it. I don’t think I’d be able to cope if it was “just” going into savings for maybe one day affording a bigger place (ha, as if we’ll ever get there) or retirement (double ha, I might not live to retirement with this stress). But putting it to good use now is very different.

    11. RagingADHD*

      Guilt implies that you believe you are doing something morally or ethically wrong.

      From here, it looks like you are providing well for your family in a pleasant, low-stress job that is beneficial to society and your community.

      Your employers are happy with your work and your productivity.

      Why do you think this is grift? What do you think you are doing that’s wrong?

      Is it that you hate being bored and feel like you “ought” to be more grateful? Or do you think it’s wrong to have it easy because you “ought” to suffer?

  51. Slackattack*

    One of my team members (senior individual contributor) is very active in our company’s Slack in ways that have attracted negative attention and questions from some of my peers in senior leadership. I’m wondering how to address this feedback with them.

    A few examples of what I’m seeing:
    1. They post very frequently, including on PTO, despite multiple conversations where I’ve asked them to take that time fully off. This is the one I feel most comfortable addressing but hasn’t “stuck” so another convo is needed.
    2. They chime in on projects they are not part of with information that is incomplete, unhelpful or doesn’t actually answer the question or relate directly to the discussion. Typically it is clear that the question was clearly intended for the project team or even someone with a specific role on the project who does have that info.
    3. They have a jovial, humorous personality but will divert serious/work-focused conversations (which are not related to their own work) with memes they’ve created, jokey comments, etc, that feel out-of-touch.

    I think this person’s intent is to be helpful, but the comments I’ve received are along the lines of, “what are they doing all day that they’re in Slack 24/7?” or why they’re commenting on a topic that has nothing to do with them with irrelevant information.

    My biggest concern is not “what are they doing all day” (because they’re getting their work done) but what other, influential leaders in the org are thinking about them and the impact that has on credibility and project partnership opportunities necessary to their role. I’m wondering how best to address this with them without shutting down their sense of engagement and curiosity about other parts of the org, which are great for their role, especially remotely. We are working on a development plan that includes both understanding our org’s strategy and their communication (including adding value with complete responses that take the purpose of a question/discussion into account), so that would be an entry point. Thanks for any advice you can share!

    1. Rick Tq*

      It sounds like you need to have a very direct conversation with Fergus on how his use of the team chat system is affecting his credibility. In direct, I mean “Fergus, if you are on PTO DO NOT post to Slack. The company does not allow you to work while you are on PTO.” No more suggestions or oblique references, but full on direction to Stop.

      I’d also be very frank that his reputation in the organization is being eroded by his constant posting and inappropriate comments on topics that aren’t his responsibility.

      1. Reba*

        Agree, be blunt. Not knowing what his role is, I’m kind of perplexed about why he is repeatedly busting into conversations like the Kool Aid man. Like, presumably there is a reason he has access to these chats that are not his direct work, but you can absolutely tell him to butt out and stop tangling up these queries with unnecessary and wrong replies.

        “Fergus, you need to exercise more judgment about when to weigh in, because often you are not the best person to respond to these issues and it creates more work for others when you insert yourself and provide wrong or incomplete answers — necessarily incomplete because these aren’t your projects and you don’t have all the context. From this point forward you should only participate in X Y and Z channels when you are invited to reply or @’d. The A and B channels are appropriate for general chatter.”

      2. Hillary*

        I agree completely on being very direct. I’d tell Fergus bluntly that he’s modeling behaviors that aren’t aligned with your org’s culture and he needs to back off. It can be really hard to pick up those nuances remotely. Are there peers whose examples you can highlight? For that matter, are there potential peer-mentors he could connect with?

        I’ve seen this handled with a lot of bluntness in engineering-oriented orgs, anything from not-so-gently redirecting someone to the right channel, a peer shutting them down, or someone in their leadership chain publicly shutting them down (usually after a private DM asking them to get involved). That wouldn’t fly most of the places I worked, but it can be right in some cultures.

    2. eisa*

      Type 1 – what’s the big deal about that though ?
      As a senior IC in a – I’ll assume – white collar job, the guy probably doesn’t have to punch in and out, but can distribute his work time more freely.
      If I can’t take an extended nap on Thursday noon, but then engage with work on Sunday evening because I feel like it … what’s even the benefit of remote work ?

      Type 3 – tell him – tactfully – to tone it down.
      Type 2 – that’s a bit tricky.
      You could ask him to follow the general rule – if it’s not his project, he shall not be the first person to respond.

      I’m guessing he derives a lot of his work satisfaction from these Slack interactions, so if you want to keep the guy (and keep him engaged), you should really try to present this to him in a nice way (and maybe waive Nr. 1 ?)

      1. Hillary*

        Type 1 – if someone’s on work slack they haven’t mentally disconnected. I’m starting a company right now and one of our rules is we are going to truly support work-life balance. That doesn’t mean never working off hours or on weekends (although we do have a rule that we must take at least one weekend day off). It does mean if someone says they’re unavailable that day they are unavailable.

        I’ve watched too many people (and been that person) get way too caught up in work. I don’t want employees thinking about their code during family time. Some companies turn off access during vacations for this reason.

    3. Rex Libris*

      This sounds like someone going overboard trying to impress everyone with how engaged and competent they are, and failing. I’d keep it as simple and direct as possible, with “Do this not that” conversations about all of it. 1) Do not post during PTO, it’s considered work, and that is not work time. 2) Do not offer input on projects you aren’t involved in unless asked directly. 3) While it’s good to be friendly with colleagues, do not derail work conversations with non-work related posts/discussion. Save it for social conversations.

      If you soften or complicate the language, you just leave room for more creative excuses about why behavior X was okay in whatever instance because of… etc.

  52. Glacier*

    I’m currently a full-time, salaried employee, but for a variety of reasons need to move to a consulting position with the same organization.

    If you have experience with this (either yourself or know someone who has made this change), can you share how you figured out how much to charge? Did you use a retainer (whether pay for work or pay for access)? How did the transition go? How did you account for line items outside of your salary (e.g., taxes, benefits, etc.)?


  53. No Longer Drowning?*

    I’m up for my first performance evaluation this summer, working in higher ed. I’m feeling extremely stressed about it, in part because I managed multiple workloads for almost a full year as my department was reduced, my predecessor quit with no notice, I was promoted into a different role in the same department, and then went through the hiring process to find my replacement. I’m not sure how to approach this other than to say to my supervisor, “I spent most of this academic year stressed out of my brains because I was doing 3 jobs and I was barely hanging on”. I love my job and don’t want to come off looking like I’m not fully investing in the work I’m doing. Any suggestions or tips for approaching review season?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Focus on outcomes not emotions. What have you achieved this year that can be measured?

      Hiring a faculty member and training them is one for sure to mention, even better if you have course reviews or something you can reference as to why your hiree is doing great in their role. Did you get any grants this year? Did you teach, do you have course review stats? Do you have grad students did any do anything noteworthy? Etc.

      I think the needing a reduced workload/re prioritization of tasks in those 3 roles is probably a separate conversation from your eval unless the manager brings it up.

      1. No Longer Drowning?*

        I should have been more specific – I’m staff, not faculty. But this is helpful, regardless. I do think my manager will probably bring up my workload and potential redistribution (even as the new employee onboarding lessened a lot of that stress).

  54. An office plant*

    So this is more of a hypothetical, but all the waving around of pronouns in email signatures and screen names like they’re Bibles did give me one concern that no one really addressed (which in itself was quite interesting in a sickening way).

    Let’s hypothetically say that my company would require pronouns in e-mail signatures or Slack screen names. Thing is, I would push back on this, mainly because I’m not sure about my pronouns. Apparently, pushing back on this makes me a bigot. So now my question is: what would I do? Either I have to ask people to misgender me and basically be shoved in the closet, out myself before I am ready and probably be subjected to a barrage of well-meaning “you’ve got this, I believe in you” which I already get more than enough of being a fat person who exercises, or be thought a bigot.

    I don’t particularly like any of these options. So what are your thoughts on this?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      The language you use to push back matters a good deal. I think you could reasonably say something along the lines of “I support CompanyName encouraging people to put their pronouns in [email signatures/slack screen names/etc.] but I want to push back on requiring it. You may not be aware, but requiring pronouns can be harmful for people who are questioning their gender or who aren’t ready to come out as trans yet.”

      That wording neither sounds like a bigot nor outs you as someone who is unsure of your own pronouns.

      1. Dragon Hoard*

        Yeah, this can potentially work. The one time I tried to do this gently with some well meaning cis person they just got really condescending to me about how no no, silly, you see, we have to do it so that we’re inclusive, ok dear? You don’t know how to be inclusive but I do, so I’m telling you. Then you’re stuck there in the moment with the exact same problem of having to either back out and potentially look like a bigot or out yourself to explain that you are actually in fact the kind of person they’re supposedly trying to help with this, and they do actually need to listen to you. Have a plan for handling that possibility before you start that conversation, I guess is my advice.

        1. Hlao-roo*

          This is a good point. It could help (in some cases) to have a few links ready, either to past letters here or to an LGBT+ website that discuss encouraging but not requiring pronouns. Some well-meaning cis people will accept the authority of a website over your word as a (in their assumption of you) cis person. Others will be unreasonable no matter what and that’s a terrible situation to be in but definitely no fault of your own :(

          1. Dragon Hoard*

            That’s a really good idea, because you’re totally right about whose authority they think is legit for stuff like this. They might not trust you if you say “a lot of people feel ___ way about this and here’s why” but they could be persuaded by you saying “look at what I read about this” and giving them relevant webpages giving inclusion advice for allies.

        2. An office plant*

          This exactly. I found it very interesting how the few people who brought this up yesterday were so consistently ignored, including by people who really should know better themselves. Interesting in a very depressing way.

          1. eisa*

            I know, right ?

            One could get the impression that virtue signalling is way more important than engaging with the actual needs and feelings of the people this is supposed to help.

            1. An office plant*

              I will say: I do genuinely believe people were trying to do good with those comments.

              But there’s a reasons I compared them to Bibles.

          2. Julianne*

            The letter writer yesterday did not have any problem stating their pronouns. They did so in their profile. They had the bizarre notion that putting said pronouns in their display name would somehow confuse people into thinking they were part of their actual name.

            This is a separate issue that was not relevant to yesterday’s letter, hence why it was not discussed by many. It was derailing and distracting from answering the actual question asked. Playing ‘but what if…?’ skirts rather close to the no fanfic rule imo.

            1. An office plant*

              True, but quite a few people immediately jumped to the letter writer being a bigot because of it – despite the fact that the pronouns were already stated somewhere. It kept being brought up again and again and no one was interacting with the genuine pushback against that assumption.

              The assumption about the LW being a bigot was just as close to the no fanfiction rule.

              1. An office plant*

                And even if we leave LW out of it, there were even implications that anyone pushing back on pronouns in screennames must have bigoted reasons for doing so. No one was commenting on pushback against that either.

        3. The Shenanigans*

          Yeah that’s when my tone changes a bit, and I ask very quietly, “Are you really telling a trans/nonbinary person that you, as a cis person, know more than they do about what they need? Because there are a lot of people who rightly see this as bigoted. It’s no different than a man telling a woman about periods or a white person telling a non-white person about racism.” If they push it, report it as harassment if possible. Or look for a new job if possible and be explicit that this is the reason you’re leaving.

      2. Higher Ed Cube Farmer*

        Yes, exactly as Hlao-roo said.

        This is literally exactly what I said when a senior person in my unit “encouraged” a little close to the line of “demanded” and they backed down.
        Had they not, I would have happily spent my capital defending that hill, even if I died on it.

        But TBH I am not actually worried about being mistaken for a bigot for refusing to specify my own pronouns and not giving a “good enough” reason. Anybody who jumps to conclusions like that is not someone whose opinion I value and there’s point in wasting my time trying to make them see another perspective if they don’t want to. I can let them be wrong.

    2. Dragon Hoard*

      I do not have an answer to this because I am in the same boat as you and also have been struggling with figuring out what to do that won’t make me look like a weird phobe. I was already nervous about it as having them in your email signature became more common where I work, but lately people have also taken to saying their pronouns when introducing themselves in meetings. Dealing with that feels pretty impossible! I don’t want to have a conversation that’s likely to lead me to having to out myself once, but I definitely can’t do it for every single person I meet at work.

      Wish I had better advice. I was uncharitably joking with my spouse the other day, “the straights are making a hostile* workplace to make sure I’m included.” It’s great when cis people do this sometimes so providing pronouns doesn’t instantly out you. But the key there is sometimes, if it’s all the time then you have the exact same problem in reverse with the added bonus of those trans/nonconforming/questioning people also having to worry about looking like a transphobe who’s being difficult on purpose.

      [*yes I know, not legally]

      1. Lily Rowan*

        I am cis, but still sometimes squirm when people are doing pronouns in out loud introductions, on a hypothetical person’s behalf! So I usually skip giving mine, just in case it would help someone else skip theirs.

        I actually think my workplace is getting this pretty right, where probably 75-90% of people have their pronouns in their signature, etc., but no one has ever made a big deal about doing it.

    3. Admin of Sys*

      Does your company have any sort of inclusivity training you could take? I know a friend who left their pronouns off but included the safe space icon instead, to indicate support. I also definitely support the idea of kicking back with the statement ‘Forcing pronoun choices can mean either misgendering or outing coworkers against their will.’ Suggest they make it optional, and insist they make it an open text field.

      1. Hazel*

        I love the use of the safe space icon! Thanks to all the commenters here for reassurance; I really thought it was just me who finds this kindly-meant trend a form of ‘outing’. Also, when most people in an organization state ‘she’ and have traditionally female names, it seems to reinforce traditional expectations and makes alternative pronoun choices even more challenging. If OP cannot successfully push back, would adding “he/she/they” kind of make the point that not everyone knows/cares/wants to disclose? I rarely refer to humans by third person pronouns in emails and if I know you in real life I will figure it out.

        1. Sloanicota*

          “When most people in an organization state ‘she’ and have traditionally female names, it seems to reinforce traditional expectations and makes alternative pronoun choices even more challenging” – this is something I have struggle with. Starting the meeting by sharing pronouns can seem like a feel-good opportunity for everyone to seem very liberal, but every person in our group “matches” and I wonder if we’d be having such a feel-good moment if anybody actually did not. I suspect strongly that we would not.

    4. Seahorse*

      My partner is in this situation – not out at work, doesn’t want to be out at work, and also doesn’t want to be seen as a bigot by leaving off the pronouns. In an event at my own job, the particular division running things got pretty forceful in demanding that everyone post their pronouns. They didn’t really have a mechanism to require it, but the judgement for skipping that step was quite clear. I wrote this in response and got a very nice reply. It seems to have made them back off for now.

      “Hi [division head],
      Thanks so much for putting on [event] last week. I found it useful, informative, and thought provoking. However, there is one suggestion I’d like to make before next time.
      Participants were directly told several times to add pronouns to [their names]. While I understand and applaud the desire to be inclusive, this can have unexpected negative repercussions. Not every trans or nonbinary person is out at work, and insisting that everyone list pronouns up front can pressure the very people you’re trying to support to either out themselves or choose to misgender themselves.
      Encouraging and modeling pronoun sharing rather than requiring it is a small nuance, but having a clearer option to participate or not makes a difference.
      Thank you for considering, and I really appreciate all the work you do!”

  55. gardengirl*

    I am looking to return to work after a long break for caregiving. I am wondering if anyone has any thoughts on the current remote job market and what types of positions are available right now. Is there any chance at all of finding a 100% remote position in administration (think individual contributor level, budget/vendor/contract management, compliance, business continuity, etc.)? Are there skills you would recommend learning/refreshing before launching a job search after a long break (i.e., learning things like Slack, etc.)? I am totally out of touch with the work world and my old network, and any advice on prepping to return is welcome and would be so appreciated. I have an MBA and a master’s degree in public administration, and I have been taking tons of classes online to refresh and upskill. Thank you so much!

    1. AllTheBirds*

      I can respond to “Is there any chance at all of finding a 100% remote position in administration?” by referring you to

      You can glimpse basic job listings w/o joining — or search for a coupon code and get a one-month membership for full access. I’d say it will open your eyes to what’s out there in remote work.

    2. DisneyChannelThis*

      If it has a free trial version you can play around with the software yourself. How many years have you been out of the workplace? 10 years 2013 to today not huge changes, 20 years 2000 to today does have huge changes in excel/online calendars/webcalls.

      1. gardengirl*

        Thanks for the free trial tip! I am so embarrassed to admit that it has been almost 18 years. I am an Excel enthusiast (Big Spreadsheet Nerd!), and I keep our home school records and do our reporting in Excel, Word, Google Sheets, and Google Docs. That work, along with classes I have taken on pivot tables, lookups, new excel features, etc. has me feeling pretty confident in that one area. (And thank you for bringing that up, because honestly I don’t feel confident about much of anything with such a long break, and typing that made me feel a bit better.) I do need to refresh on slide/presentation programs for sure. I have used Zoom and Facetime and taken some classes on video interviewing. I still have to practice looking into the camera and not at the screen. :)

        1. DisneyChannelThis*

          Zoom free version will let you do 30-40min free calls. You can setup a call with 2 devices both you or a friend. Skills that are useful, mute/unmute, video on/off, screen share (whole screen vs sharing a window), the various weird menus that hover and hide, how to use chat, how to go full screen and the various minimized functions (mini zoom window pops up in corner click it to get it back full window, how to get the zoom meeting room link while in the meeting. Outside an active zoom call, how to schedule a zoom, how to copy the invite link, how to handle password/no password. The amount of times in 2020 we had to deal with people not using zoom correctly…. Alternatives to zoom include Skype and Teams (which also doubles as a chat interface like Slack). Skype has a free version. Teams I’m not sure.

          Google calendar is worth learning. Skills in it will transfer somewhat over to other ones like outlook (which doesn’t have a free option as far as I know). Import/Export a calendar, sync it to your phone, multiple calendar views (ie family vs work toggle), viewing others shared calendars. Digital calendars are universal in workplaces, you will have some type of one needed to track meetings etc. Getting comfortable with creating meetings, adding a zoom link or other note to it, sharing the event, setting up reminders. It’s more a mindset that a challenging task.

          Slack does have a free version you can try. Discord is similar to slack but used for non work stuff mainly if you want to just practice chatting in real time.

          Filtering emails is another huge task in the last 20 years. Creating folders, creating automatic rules, setting up vacation auto-replies, setting a automatic signature, sending to a bcc list, handling multiple inboxes, handling email recipient lists (dont type 250 emails into bcc every time!). If you are in an admin role where you are handling a specific VIP that’s especially important.

          You mentioned slides, powerpoint if you’ve the license is solid but increasingly seeing a lot of google slide decks (less functionality than powerpoint but easier to comment and share).

          For admin specifically, there’s a dozen different budget software like Quickbook, it will depend on the company. If you can handle excel you can figure it out.

          In person admin stuff – mastering the copier/printer/scanner/fax machine. I swear to G-d half the people cant connect to a printer. I know some remote admins still receive and resend or scan and email physical mail, so worth mentioning. Booking conference rooms, catering, janitorial request forms, IT forms, etc another one you probably don’t have to handle.

          One final thought, another big change in the last 20 years is multitasking. Now if you don’t work on stuff while also on zoom calls it doesn’t get done. Time management is a lot less linear, constant available thru slack/chat means a lot more interruptions.

          Good luck!

          1. gardengirl*

            DisneyChannelThis, this is a DREAM REPLY! Thank you for the detailed, thoughtful response, the great perspective, and the valuable, actionable info!

    3. RagingADHD*

      From what I can see, fully remote positions are inundated almost immediately with applications, like 200-500 within a few hours.

      So it will behoove you to try to target companies and positions that you’re interested in, and do a deep dive on the skills and software they are looking for. Most major softwares have training through Linkedin Learning, Udemy, or their own site.

  56. Just a Teacher*

    I am considering taking a school principal job across the country that I am very excited about. There are pros and cons but my biggest concern is how long I would be there.

    Backstory, I was up for a clinical professorship job but the team told me that a tenure track position would be opening that I was a much better fit for in the fall. That job would start the 24-25 school year. They said that it was going to be exactly what I was looking for and that while they knew they had no claim to me, they hoped that I would consider staying at my current position and applying when it open in September.

    So, I applied for this new position and it seems like a great step forward for my career but I would still rather have the professor position. It is not a guarantee. Many things could happen between now and August 2024.

    Can I take this principal job know that I could leave in 12 months?

    1. Johnny Karate*

      I’d take it and see what happens. There are no guarantees and you have to make the best decisions for yourself. In my experience with working for many school districts, the loyalty and consideration we tend to give them is not reciprocated.

    2. Jezebella*

      Yes. Academic fuckery knows no bounds, so you cannot count on the other job. And you can certainly leave after a year if you want. Just don’t buy a house immediately. :)

    3. Irish Teacher*

      Our last principal left after a matter of months in the job as a principalship came up for a school he had previously taught in and loved. It was fair enough.

      The only thing I would say is don’t implement a load of changes if there is a chance you won’t be there to actually oversee them. Our principal joined the school in February 2022, he then came up with a whole string of new ideas for this school year, deciding in April/May that this year we would move from 40 minute to hour long classes, that in addition to have a year head for each year group, there would be a class tutor for each individual class, that we would expand team teaching and probably a few other things I’ve forgotten. The last two at least were pretty good ideas, but…he then left over the summer, having promised us training on the role of the class tutor and on how to implement team teaching in August/September. The changes went ahead but the training didn’t happen and as a result, a lot of the class tutors still aren’t sure what their role was even intended to be.

      To be honest, I think the list of changes he came up with would be a lot in one go even if he was staying.

  57. avast!*

    i started a new job and i don’t have a full plate. it’s a billable hours model and the onus is probably on me to ask for more work. but – it’s been a really, incredibly tough time personally and the reduced workload has been a godsend. i’m worried that i’m not making a good first impression but i just can’t handle thinking about asking for more projects right now.

    1. CheeryO*

      I’m sorry, billable hours are the worst. Hang in there and maybe check in with your supervisor before too long to make sure you’re meeting expectations. I know that most jobs based on this model do put the onus on the employee to fill their own time, but I’ve always felt that the supervisor needs to have a role too, especially in the early days. It sucks to just throw people in the deep end with no support.

      In the meantime, if you can slowly get to know people and put some feelers out, that couldn’t hurt.

      1. avast!*

        thank you! i’ve also already had to plan some incredibly desperately needed time off for the aforementioned personal reasons and i am feeling very bad about doing that before asking for more work. i came in with a great track record, i’m doing as much as i can right now while taking care of myself, but i can’t shake the fear that i’m totally tanking my reputation before really getting it up and running.

  58. NeonDreams*

    I left my previous company two months ago. The job I got hired for is a much better fit for me but the pay is much lower. Part of me feels like this is a step back but it isn’t because it’s the field I want to be in (media/communications). I also have a boatload of debt to pay off. I’m feeling overwhelmed about making ends meet plus making progress on this debt. Add on newly diagnosed ADHD and I feel like I can’t make headway.

    Part of me is mad that the job I hated paid better than the one I’m a better fit for. How do I balance those emotions? I have a therapy appointment but it’s not for another few weeks.

    1. ferrina*

      Congrats on your diagnosis, and on taking the steps for the therapy appointment!

      I would absolutely have mixed emotions in your shoes. Sometimes making progress means undoing progress in the wrong direction. If you were making a house and realized that you put a wall up in the middle of a hallway, wouldn’t you want to tear down the wall? (I’m not a builder, sorry if that analogy doesn’t work). It sounds like you’re doing that with your career- that’s awesome! It’s great that you were able to break into your target industry (that can be a really hard step!). But it sucks that you’ll have less money. And money is pretty darn useful.

      You were right to leave a job you hated. Leaving something you hate is almost always the right step.

      My advice? First, get your budget sorted out. You’re going to live on meager means for a couple of years until you get the experience for a higher paying job. So what does that look like? Where does your money need to go? Next, learn about your ADHD. There’s some great tools out there- my personal favorites are the book Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell and the YouTube channel How To ADHD. Third, grow in your job. Learn all the things. Grow in to bigger responsibilities. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it, and it will also put you in a place for higher paying roles.
      Good luck!

  59. MissGirl*

    I was offered a ticket to a professional conference in one month through my company. They’ll pay hotels and flights within a certain amount. I haven’t booked anything yet but need to soon However, I was invited to interview at a company. I have an internal connection so I hope this job will pan out into an offer. Should I give the ticket up? If so, what do I say? I lobbied to get this ticket.

    1. ferrina*

      No! Don’t give it up! Proceed at your current job as you would without the offer, because anything could happen. You could not get the job. They could offer a ridiculously low manager. You could realize that the hiring manager won’t remotely be good for your working style.

      This is a risk companies take with professional development. They understand it. Same way that every time you go the extra mile, you know it may not always pan out. That’s just business.

      Enjoy the conference!

    2. PanTroglodytes*

      Coincidentally I am in a very similar position, and have been asking myself ‘What would people on AAM say?’, and they’d say (I think) – you can’t predict if and when you get a new job, and have to continue on the basis that you won’t get a new job, until you have accepted a formal offer. So do book those flights! If you get the job hand in your notice just before/after a big thing the company has paid for, they *should* treat it as a normal cost of business. So when you hand in your notice, if they raise this, use a calm and matter of fact tone when you say ‘I didn’t know at the time that I would be leaving’. Don’t be too apologetic or defensive.

      Good luck! I recently got on my first ever formal training programme and have several expensive trips coming up (although they are all core business things and a normal part of my job, rather than something I pushed for), and am also anxious about this… mainly the training :/

      Looking forward to others’ thoughts on this!

      1. Hlao-roo*

        you can’t predict if and when you get a new job, and have to continue on the basis that you won’t get a new job, until you have accepted a formal offer. So do book those flights!

        Took the words right off my keyboard! If you (MissGirl and PanTroglodytes) do end up leaving before the conference/trips, your companies will either transfer the tickets/hotels over to another employee (if they can) or just eat the cost. It’s the cost of doing business, people leave for new jobs and can’t go to the conference/go on the trip/finish the project all the time.

    3. negligent apparitions*

      Agree with other comments about not knowing how things will work out – and also – a month is a short time in the hiring world! You could interview tomorrow and not give notice for a month, depending on how things go.

  60. Partially Gruntled Green Woman*

    I would in a very progressive workplace. I love it! We’re also unionized.

    Somehow though, my union has negotiated additional paid leave only for one minority group (two extra days per year). The whole point of a union is presenting a united front! It feels like blatant discrimination. Seems illegal. Should the workplace really be judging people by race and then giving more leave to some groups and less to others? Bad enough the employer would do it, but for the union to agree? What happened to solidarity forever?

    1. WhaleToDo*

      I think it depends on the rationale for the additional paid leave. I could see it for giving religious holidays off in a group that typically doesn’t get that. It reminds me of “menstrual leave” that has been instituted in a couple of countries. (As someone who has endometriosis, I could really use that but I also think better disability protections would serve more people and reduce the sexism, but I appreciate that they’re trying.)

      Unless there is some sort of clearly stated reason like that, I wouldn’t appreciate it, so you’re not completely out in left field.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Yeah, talk to your union, and/or do some research into the specific rationale for the leave. In my workplace Indigenous people can take cultural/ceremonial leave to fulfil cultural responsibilities that non-Indigenous people don’t have, and that makes sense to me for a whole bunch of reasons though it could seem unfair at first sight. (Similarly, parents can access certain kinds of leave that non-parents don’t get because we don’t have the same responsibilities.) So there might be some ways of framing/justifying this that aren’t just “you get different amounts of PTO because of your race.”

    2. Linda*

      Why not talk to your union steward about the reasoning behind the extra days off, or go to a membership meeting? Does your union encourage membership engagement, or is everything handled by staff?

    3. Alex*

      Are you in the US? Because this doesn’t sound legal. I don’t think you are allowed to treat different employees differently based on protected status, which includes race.

    4. It Actually Takes a Village*

      I would assume that the extra days are to are up for the fact that the majority of national holidays are actually Christian holidays. Which means Christians (or agnostics/atheists who participate in Christmas and Easter secularly) automatically get those holidays off. Whereas folks who practice other religions are forced to use PTO or unpaid time off to participate in their cultural and religious events.

      Your language here is suspect, by the way. As queer, disabled and neurodivergent Indigenous person, you don’t come across as actually loving “progress” or understanding that equity does not mean that everything is the same for everyone. People with different needs will have different requirements for fulfilling those needs. And especially in a world that’s been built by and for the benefit of straight, cis, White, abled, Christian men… that means the rest of us actually need *extras* to be made whole.

      Another “race” (?) getting two days paid off is not blatant discrimination.

      Also, solidarity does not exist. Which you’ve proven here.

  61. Hotdog not dog*

    I just got an out of office message from a colleague that says “I am out of the effective as of Thursday, returning on Tuesday.” It gave me a laugh, as I am also out of the effective (just not sure when the effective might be returning.) What are some funny or unusual OOOs you have seen? (and yes, I realize it’s just a typo, but I’ll take my chuckles wherever I can find them.) :)

    1. Admin of Sys*

      When I still went camping for vacation, I used to include ‘I will not have access to email during this time because I will be in a tent, and it has neither power nor internet.’

    2. eisa*

      HA ! As it happens, I collect the “special ones”. Here goes :

      I am out of the office and unable to respond to email. I may return in the afternoon.

      Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, I am currently on holiday.

      Thank you for your message. 26th of October is a feast day in Austria. I will be out of office up to and including Friday, 30th of October. Your e-mail has not been automatically forwarded and procressed. In urgent cases please refer to call me in time 8 PM till 4 AM .

      I will respond as soon as possible to you.

      I am this week not in the office.

      Until the 12th March 2018 I am not reachable.

      I am not in the office from 08.12.2021 – 13.12.2021 with limit access to my e-mails.

      I’m out of office until the 11th of Jannuary. During the holidays email will be treated only occassionally. Thanks for Your understanding.

      I am leave until the 10th of February 2020.

      Dear sirs, Thank you for your e-mail. [..] For urgent issues please refer to the provide escalation matrices.

      I currently on a buinsess trip with limited access to my emalis until the 6h of February 2018.
      In any urgent issues pls. contact me on my mobilephone [..]
      I will take care of your message latest upon my return.

      .. and finally, the best one …

      I am a business trip until end of this week.

      (that colleague had the nickname Mr. Business Trip forever after)

        1. Hotdog not dog*

          me too! I suppose Mr. Business Trip was also out of the effective when he wrote that!

      1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        Thank you for this! I also love “Unfortunately, I am currently on holiday.”

  62. Everyone Wants Time Off in June*

    Ethical dilemma (?) surrounding vacation time: What would you do in this situation?
    I originally was scheduled for vacation the last week in June. Because of a complication at my spouse’s job, I had to push my vacation up a week earlier to accommodate her schedule. I work as an assistant department head in a public-facing job that requires a minimum number of people present to have adequate coverage for a 12-hour day.

    When I asked to move my vacation, I saw there were three people scheduled off out of a staff of 7 the next-to-last week of June. Because that week was (and still is) the only option for my spouse, I asked my department head anyway if there’s some way I could be accommodated. His response was along the lines of: “It will be OK, because I have no doubt that one of the three people scheduled off will want to move their vacation time to next year” (June is the end of our fiscal year, and historically everyone in our department wants to carry over some vacation time as the rules allow.)

    So I moved my vacation time, and booked a trip that would be refundable so long as I canceled it by June 1.
    Unexpectedly even to me, it turned out that none of my three colleagues wanted to move their time off. One said they had a family obligation that couldn’t be broken. The second was offended I even asked, so that was a non-starter. The third strung me along for quite awhile, saying they’d think about switching to a different week in June, but after a few weeks of periodically following up, they finally said they wanted to keep their vacation where it was.

    I went back to my department head and reported this all to him. He said not to worry, that the department would find a way to manage, most likely by borrowing staff from other departments to staff ours.
    But by the next day, he’d forgotten the conversation and asked me to speak to Colleague #3 (the one who strung me along) AGAIN about moving their vacation. When I told him they weren’t willing to change, he said that things would still likely work out fine — even with four out of seven people out — if no one took a comp day off after working the Saturday before. However, it’s the rule at my job that you *have* to take a day off after working Saturday — no one can exceed a 35-hour work week — and one of my reports already asked for a particular day off that week.

    As the person who drafts my department’s schedules, I felt extremely uncomfortable with this. I felt I ran the risk that the director would eventually see the week’s schedule and veto everything at a point where it would be too late to get our money back for the trip we booked. I also didn’t want to overwork the three remaining people working, and deny them a day off! As a last resort, I spoke to the heads of the other departments myself, and while they expressed willingness to cover us, it did not seem 100% certain that they’d have enough personnel to cover *all* of our gaps.

    I ended up canceling my time off.
    My spouse is devastated, and I don’t blame her. She says that because through all my supervisor’s wishy-washiness, he never actually said or wrote the words, “Your vacation is denied,” and kept saying the department would manage, that I should have just taken the trip and let the short staffing and fallout be his problem.

    What would you have done if you were me? Keep the approved vacation time and let my department head (who is about to retire anyway) deal with the fallout? Or cancel the time off?

    1. WhaleToDo*

      I absolutely would feel bad about it, but I’m on team “a job is a job” and whenever possible I don’t let my work get in the way of things that are more important to me. That’s easier said than done in the sort of work culture we have in the US (you’re expected to schedule everything other that death or illness around work – and it’s not horribly uncommon for people to put work ahead of either of those anyhow).

    2. ferrina*

      Well….I wouldn’t have trusted the department head to go against stated policy. The policy is clearly there for a reason (coverage), you had no reason to think anyone would be willing to move their vacation, and you had only the reassurance of “I’m sure it will be fine!” That’s the reassurance of someone who is used to other people cleaning up their messes.

      I think you were right to cancel. Could you have pushed ahead? Sure, but you would have risked some big career fallouts (especially as the person that writes the schedules- you were the one who is tasked with finding these issues). I’m sorry for your spouse, but it sounds like both of your jobs made this impossible. Her job made the original week impossible, and your job made the back up week impossible. Sometimes life goes like that.

      1. Sunshine*

        Yeah, I agree. I would be upset too if my husband and I had to cancel a family vacation due to work, but both of you had conflicts – it’s not all on you! You tried to make the backup week work and you couldn’t. That sucks, but I do think you probably avoided some problems by canceling. If you knew the policy and were in charge of scheduling but went ahead with the trip, I think you would still be held accountable even if your manager technically knew about it. And your coworkers probably would have been pretty resentful that the policy didn’t seem to apply to you.

    3. Meep*

      I am in the camp of “I say when I am using my PTO. I do not ask to.” unless it is extenuating circumstances, as the office caught on fire last week. Not that we think the office is on fire. Then again, I am a planner and don’t procrastinate so my work gets done in advance.

      What you should’ve done is determine why these three employees needed time off BEFORE asking them to change. Otherwise, it comes off as your plans are more important than theirs and no one is going to agree to that. (Even if you think your plans are more important.) Colleague #2 had it right to not want to tell you, but in a lot of circumstances (like with Colleague #1), you cannot change plans because the plans are going to happen on that day, like a wedding.

      Once you establish it isn’t something that cannot be compromised, then you can ask. But always offer reciprocity in return. They are doing you a favor, after all. So tell them that you would be willing to cover them in a pinch or will help on a project they need extra help on. I don’t know your Colleague #3, but I have a feeling them dragging their feet has something to do with you offering nothing better for them if they skip that vacation.

      As for keeping the time or canceling, like I said, I would keep it. But I would also make dang sure I was ahead of my work.

    4. Sylvia*

      I would’ve kept the vacation time. Your manager said it’s fine, so it’s fine!

      Depending on how well I knew the three people who would be covering all week, I might explain it to them and bring them a nice treat when I got back (although if they’re grumpy, then I wouldn’t do this).

    5. This Old House*

      As long as you had it in writing that your vacation time was approved, I think I would have kept the time.

    6. Scarlet Ribbons in Her Hair*

      I would have gone on vacation and let the department head deal with the fallout.

      Even when companies say that there’s a need for coverage, somehow things work out. At one company, a co-worker was denied his vacation to Russia (which had been previously authorized and booked well ahead of time) because someone in his department died unexpectedly. So the co-worker threatened to quit, and all of a sudden, he was allowed to take his previously authorized vacation. And the company survived.

      At another company, the office manager made up a rule that said that either she or I had to be in the office at all times, because the company just couldn’t manage without one of us being there. There was a time that I wanted the day off, but she said no, because she was planning to take that day off. There was another time that I wanted to take Yom Kippur off (we had it in writing that Jewish employees were allowed to take Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur off), but she (who wasn’t Jewish) wanted to take that day off for some reason or other, and she wanted me to come in on Yom Kippur, telling me that I should take another day off. I refused, and she got very angry at me, because she felt forced to change her plans.

      Another time, she said to me, “I need to take next Monday off, and I see that you’re taking that day off. Oh well! The company will just have to get along without us!” And it did. And that’s when I found out that even though I couldn’t take a day off if she wanted to take that day off, she could take a day off even if I took that day off.

      At another company, I wanted to take a week off, and the owner said that she wanted to take the same week off, and the company couldn’t manage with both of us being off. I laughed and said, “Gee, I didn’t know that I was that important!” She immediately changed her vacation plans. I guess she was afraid that I would ask for more money (since I was so important).

      Companies always find a way to manage. At one company, I (an admin who was the relief receptionist) was out for Yom Kippur, the same day the brand new receptionist who was supposed to start that day did not show up and did not call, and the office manager did not show up (but she sent a fax saying that she was never coming back). The company survived.

    7. SoloKid*

      I probably would’ve cancelled the time off too. Even you said you felt there was a risk that “approved vacation time” wouldn’t be. And as someone that controls the schedule, you did risk a loss of morale over a scheduling snafu because you wanted something at the last minute (but now you know who to not owe a favor to in the future.)

      Sorry spouse, but sometimes last minute changes just don’t work for family vacations.

    8. JelloStapler*

      I would have taken his word (and asked or it in writing) that it was okay and taken the time off. Thats his job to figure it out, not yours to fall on the sword at the cost of your family not getting a vacation.

    9. Person from the Resume*

      As the assistant department head you’re in management (at least sort of). I think you were right to follow the stated rules. Your department head who may not care because he’s about to retire wasn’t doing his job, but you were right not to advantage of that. His “it’ll work out” attitude is not all convincing, and it sure looked like it wouldn’t work out when you did the legwork to see if there was coverage.

      And while I understand your spouse’s disappointment, you were approved for the original dates that her job didn’t allow. Both your jobs messed up your vacation.

      It does seem that it might have been better if you hadn’t asked the boss if you could accommodated because it plan was no plan. He told you yes without an accommodation and strung you along.

      I’m sorry.

    10. Everyone Wants Time Off in June*

      Thank you for the responses. Split right down the middle, which is about what I expected. I agree with pretty much all the points on both sides…

      To be fair to my department head, in past years this scenario has come up with other staff and it always *has* worked out. This year was fluky bad luck. (Or the fact that our jobs are becoming more and more stressful means that people finally want to use all the vacation they’re owed, which I’d argue is a good thing.) But it felt like a slow-moving game of chicken and, as my spouse herself pointed out, the stress of playing the game was starting to counteract any benefit I’d get from taking time off. We will still get our relaxing trip btw, but now it’ll happen in August…

  63. Standard Issue Cat*

    Recommendations for moving into IT auditing and/or data privacy

    I am interested in moving into the IT auditing field. I have 15+ years of experience in IT and IT-adjacent work (most in database mgmt/data integration), and 2 years of experience as an IT manager. Due to the nature of my work, I have a pretty good broad understanding of all areas of IT. Lately I’ve been really interested in data privacy and auditing. From what I have read and seen, those types of career seem like they would utilize my strengths and the things I like about my job (project mgmt, business process and architectural reviews, developing policy and procedures, etc) but don’t have the people management part, which is what I’m struggling with the most. I’m not sure I want to be in a management position anymore, or at least one with such a large team. However I do like working with all the various teams, mapping processes, figuring out how to improve things, etc. And I seem to be good at looking at the big picture stuff for our organization, as people (including my boss) have commended me on that.

    Any recommendations for certifications, training classes, or just figuring out a practical roadmap for myself are appreciated!

  64. PanTroglodytes*

    Woahhh… Yes I’d leave to industry!! It sounds like your government has decided to underfund liberal arts and encourage S&T degrees, and somehow decided a good way to incentivise S&T is to demoralise their workforce. Great move.
    It sounds like a really poorly thought through policy, and I’m not surprised you feel demoralised and unhappy about being paid less than your reports, and I guess by less well performing peers who studied the ‘right’ degree.
    Pay should be based on merit and performance, and as long as it’s not a regulated field, the type of degree should become less and less relevant as you go through your career.
    I’d ramp up the job search…

    1. PanTroglodytes*

      err this is meant to be a reply to a thread above! no idea how it ended up here! Help! (rare poster fwiw…)

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

    I haven’t quite formed a full question…sorry. This week, my coworker of 16 years…who I have always shared an office with…who became my supervisor after our boss suddenly retired during the pandemic while we were all remote…suddenly announced his retirement and revealed that he was put on a PIP and couldn’t/didn’t want to complete the requirements, which were largely (but not entirely) that he needed to bring his formal education level up…after he’s been doing this job for decades without any degree and was promoted despite not having a bachelors, and is in his early 60s. I’m crushed. His side of the office is empty for the first time in 16 years. I had to actually clear away (my own choice not made to) all of the office supplies/kleenex box/wall calendar/paper files that he left behind because it looked like he would be back any second and I just couldn’t keep seeing it. I’m not really mourning the loss of a friend, because our group of current and past work friends already has plans to meet for lunch in a month, and we all text/email each other dumb jokes and memes already. I don’t want to be the subject of a AAM article about running off any new person but I just can’t imagine a stranger eventually taking “his” spot. Advice or commiseration? I don’t want a new cell mate at this point. I’d trade my giant office with windows for a closet but that might be bad optics.

    1. the cat ears*

      It sounds like part of the issue is that you feel he was unfairly pushed out. Maybe after lunch with him you’ll have a better sense of how he’s doing post-retirement, and you will feel a little more peace about that.

    2. ferrina*

      I’m so sorry! It sounds like your work treated him absolutely terribly! (I’m also wondering if some age discrimination was at play).

      Give yourself time. You haven’t even had a weekend break from this. Let yourself grieve. Be mad at your company. But it sounds like you understand that a new officemate is separate from what happened to your former coworker. You sound very thoughtful and reflective; I think you’ll be able to hold two competing emotions of 1) grief, anger and/or loss for your former coworker and 2) weird, new person brings new patterns into my daily cycle and 3) whatever you feel about the new person. If the feeling are a lot, maybe talk to a therapist for a few months while you get through the transition (if therapy is an option for you). Any therapist would be delighted to have a client that proactively comes in and knows what their goals are (i.e., processing this transition).
      Big hugs to you!

    3. Meep*

      Since he is no longer using your side of the office, can you switch sides so it isn’t some stranger sitting in “his spot”? It will be weird, but it will less weird then looking over and expecting to see him there.

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

        A good suggestion except that he sat closest to the door and could be seen from down the hall, and I don’t want to :-)

        1. TakingNotes*

          This is such an interesting suggestion that I wonder if perhaps even a temporary physical relocation might enable a “reset”? Maybe sit in “his spot” for a few weeks (tolerating the undesirable hall visibility for a short time), then move back to “your spot” before his successor arrives? I’m sorry for this tough transition–a shift in a 16-year relationship is substantial!

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Change is often a bit weird at first. I wondered if he was put on a PIP with the intent of pushing him (or the role) out without having to pay severance. Do you think there is a need for his role or could the work be reallocated? I think you might find that they decide not to replace him immediately, and then that turns into long term.

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

        Him being pushed out is certainly an impression I have, but also, I acknowledge that despite him being promoted, he was the least educated/skilled in the department, and not keeping up with technology changes. There’s past drama on his promotion that I don’t attribute to him at all — he didn’t apply for or want the job — that was all a VP decision who is now gone. We absolutely NEED a third person and maybe one more in addition, but they might eliminate the “manager” part. I was angling for my own slight promotion to a “Senior” or “Lead” title…but not like this at all. Since I wasn’t considered for the position before, I’m not sure if I’d be considered now.

        1. allathian*

          No harm in throwing your hat in the ring, things may have changed since the last time.

  66. SereneScientist*

    This question feels like it has an obvious answer and yet I am not sure. When folks are networking with old coworkers after leaving an employer, do you use your work email to reach out to their work email? Or personal email first? Or some other channel entirely like LinkedIn?

    1. ferrina*

      If you have their personal email, reach out with your personal email. Technically your company can monitor anything on their work email, so it adds an extra layer of security to use your personal email.
      LinkedIn is just fine, especially if you don’t’ have their personal email.
      I’d avoid work email unless you have work business (for example, if your company is interested in the product their new company makes; this is very common in B2B industries where people switch between client-side and provider-side)

      1. SereneScientist*

        Your last point is an interesting one–technically speaking I went from one provider-side to another provider-side but with a huge difference in scale and scope. But I think your point about it being work business is important, thanks for your thoughts, ferrina!

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I’m actively seeking to get us onto personal channels so LinkedIn is where I start, or personal email if they don’t use LI. (Tho in my world, literally everyone uses LI.) I don’t use work email for anything remotely personal, it’s not a safe place to talk candidly. I want to move us to personal channels right away for better access long term.

      If they aren’t on LI and I don’t know them well or they may not recognize my personal email, I would use work email once so they know it’s me. Then ask to switch over when we’ve made contact.

  67. Shy Worker Bee*

    Anyone have experience with (successful) lateral transfers? A higher-up told me about an opening that would be a perfect fit, and the application process is ongoing. Now, the higher-up has told my supervisor (their colleague) that I (and others on supervisor’s team) have applied to those jobs. How worried should I be for my current position?

  68. a maker of webbed sites*

    I’m a programmer. I am paying someone to fix up my resume because it needs some work, and I’ll be applying to jobs next month. I also want to fix up my personal website and my github. I am fortunate that being mostly a frontend developer, it’s easy to make small projects that people can interact with, and I’ve already had some success with a little jokey website that generates recipe comments from people who were missing an ingredient. I am trying to make another small website that’ll copy some currently existing work I did at my current job into TypeScript and remove it from the context of the overall app, and I think it’ll be nice.

    Does anyone have advice on how to organize my personal site to showcase this? I have a Jekyll blog that is a couple years out of date and it’s probably hard to find the actual stuff that is most fun/interesting there. I could probably do a better job of starring things on my GitHub profile.

    My problem is all the examples I find online for personal sites tend to have examples that are at one of the two extremes of experience — “I worked at Google for 5 years and led the team that created Google Docs” vs. “I just graduated bootcamp, here is a tic-tac-toe game I made.” I have about 6 years of experience, a lot of the early jobs were short and I worry about that counting against me, which is why I’m putting more work into the personal projects than would be necessary for most people.

    How do I go about organizing my publicly available work so people will want to look at it and want to hire me?

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Github star your stuff, put your most popular 2-3 projects, and one of your most complex functional projects up top. Showcase skills, and usefulness. People using your github project also shows communication skills, that your code was easy to follow etc.

      Personal webpages are going away. I’d seriously consider if you need it in addition to the github. What information is there that you are wanting to highlight that isn’t in resume or the example projects in github? Do you have some code projects that aren’t suited to github?

      1. a maker of webbed sites*

        My experience is that it does help to have stuff people can look at and interact with, I’ve had recruiters and hiring managers compliment the recipe project. None of the work I’ve done for jobs is public facing and people always ask about that.

        I just have a page so it’s not like I’m paying extra for it. I think I’m worried because I have such a spotty job history – didn’t manage to hold down a job for a year for several years before I worked at TechCorp for 3 years, then went to a startup and was fired after 6 months. If I were trying to impress a recruiter or give someone a fuller picture I would of course put all this in more positive terms, but I worry that it’s what anyone reading my resume would see.

        Maybe I’m actually helping my chances, maybe I’m just assuaging my own insecurity, I don’t know. I’m coming up on a year at this current job that stresses me out a lot but conveniently it is a contract that will end and I can have a reason for leaving that reflects better on me. I guess I worry that if I don’t have something concrete to show off, nobody will want to hire me. I’m at that awkward “midlevel” point in my career where I’m too experienced for the most junior jobs but not impressive to people wanting to hire seniors.

        1. NamikiChinkinCrane*

          +1 on the great advice from DisneyChannelThis.

          I’ll also add my thoughts as someone who is not a programmer but frequently on the interview panel for them (am a tech program manager).

          I would understand your personal Github may be lean because work done for employers/clients are private. Therefore, I look for signal elsewhere (resume, interview, or both) because what I’m trying to determine is whether you’d be a good addition to the team. Such as:

          – What business value did you deliver?
          – What were your contributions on stuff you did (e.g., did you solo a complex project for X weeks? Did you led (or co-lead) a team of X eng?)
          – What id you bring to the project (e.g., Drive architecture decisions? Be proactive about spotting problems and heading them off?)
          – Did you actively make contributions to the team?
          – Did you demonstrate strong ownership? Did you show mechanical sympathy? Help more junior teammates develop?

    2. fhqwhgads*

      Github. You only need your own site if you’re planning to freelance and the personal site is basically the site for your consulting business.

  69. Nervous and anxious*

    I received a written offer this morning! The issue is that yesterday I negotiated my PTO from 15 to 20 days, which the recruiter confirmed was approved. But in my offer letter, it still said “15 days”.

    I just sent her an email, but how do I navigate this?

    1. Sunshine*

      I really don’t think this is anything to stress about! They probably just forgot to swap out that part of the template. I am almost positive that they’ll just update the letter and send it back to you with the correct number.

      1. Nervous and anxious*

        Should I call her if I don’t hear from her by this afternoon? I just emailed her.

    2. Somehow_I_Manage*

      Just like you did ;)

      Ask them to revise the offer citing your previous discussion. It’s almost definitely a mistake they’ll correct immediately.

      1. Nervous and anxious*

        Should I try to call her if I don’t hear back later today? They are off Monday, and I need to sign it by May 30 (Tuesday)

        1. ferrina*

          Why do you need to sign it by May 30?

          Normally I’d say to give it a day. It’s the Friday before the holiday weekend–lots of people are out/tuned out. But if that is a hard deadline, then yes, I’d call around 2:30.

        2. WellRed*

          You can try but if you’re in the US she might not be working this afternoon ahead of the holiday.

    3. Nervous and anxious*

      Update: it was an error and she sent a revision lol. And I signed it! It everything I asked for and all the terms looked great.

      Yes I’m very high-strung and anxious lol

  70. Snow*

    Anyone got advice on how to politely phrase “I don’t believe you any more because you’ve said things that did not turn out to be true so many times?”

    My boss has been trying to coordinate getting us trained on using a particular tool for… a while. I started working here two years ago and it was a work in progress then. There’s various behind-the-scenes issues. I don’t have the full details. Whenever someone brings up how much easier our job would be if we could use this tool, they insist that we’ll be able to use it soon. They have given us several dates for this, usually this month or the next. The most recent was this March. Obviously none of these have happened.

    Is there a polite way to say “I’m not going to believe it until the training slot is on my calendar”? I get that they’re trying their hardest and I don’t want to hurt their feelings! But “it’ll be ready in a month or two” is only convincing for about the first year, max.

    1. ferrina*


      A polite and skeptical smile is all you need. Anyone who is reasonable will understand; anyone who isn’t doesn’t have anything to quibble with. At this point just smile politely and go about with your day.

    2. Water Lily*

      Good advice from Snow.

      I also think you could say, “It’s been said for months now that we’re going to get this training. Is there anything in particular that’s holding it up?”

      I also don’t think it would be too impolite to say, “Most of us have come to believe that this training simply isn’t going to happen because we’ve been asking for it for two years. It feels like we’re just going to have to find ways to compensate and work around this rather than utilize a tool.”

  71. April*

    My job is remote and my team is spread over many time zones. We coordinate entirely over Slack channels and occasionally email. Mostly this works fine, but I’ve noticed that when I bring up an issue the other team members don’t want to deal with, it just gets ignored and vanishes into the depths of Slack. I’ve had stuff go for weeks or months before. I can’t force people to listen to what I’m saying over Slack in the same way I can in person, so how do I get a response?

    1. Rick Tq*

      I’d follow up with emails if an issue is ignored on Slack. You can’t force anyone to respond to emails either but things are a LOT easier to track there and eventually you can forward things to supervisors or higher to trigger action.

      1. eisa*

        re : emails, want to share this because it is super funny

        Commonly used email phrases (and what they really mean)

        thanks in advance: get this done by the time I press “send”
        thanks for your interest: why’d you have to bring this up
        would you be so kind: fucking do it
        best: I have never physically met you
        all best: this conversation is over
        all my best: I wish you would die
        happy to help: this is the easiest thing in my inbox
        I did a bit of research: I googled it because you’re too lazy to
        sorry to chase: answer my email
        so sorry to chase: answer my FUCKING email
        I am really sorry for being a pest but: I am LIVID that you are ignoring me
        please contact my colleague: this isn’t my problem
        I’m copying in my colleague: this isn’t my problem and I’m thrilled about it
        I’ll check and get back to you: I might forget to
        I’ll let you know when I hear anything: I will forget to
        can you check back with me in a week ?: I’m hoping you will forget to
        per our earlier conversation: I just yelled at you on the phone
        great to chat just now: you just yelled at me on the phone
        thanks!: I’m not mad at you
        thanks!!: please don’t be mad at me
        thanks!!!: I’m crying at my desk
        please advise: this might be your fault
        kindly advise: this is entirely your fault
        mind if I swing by ?: I’m already in the elevator
        can you confirm for me: you told me before and I deleted the email
        sorry if that was unclear: I think you’re an idiot
        let me know if you need anything else: please never contact me again

      2. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Big problems are emails or meetings. I hate these chat tools. Nothing like finally getting into the zone to solve something that’s been lingering for a week, have my sheets open and half the math done, then bing bing bing, a series of messages that basically say “here is a big mess, have a good day, can you fix it right now” from a person who has no idea what else I’m doing and what’s involved

    2. ferrina*

      “Hey all, I really need help dealing with this. I’ve composed a limerick if that helps:
      The widget is spewing green goo
      It overheats and ignites too
      We need to fix it
      This [bleepity] widget
      Even if it is a piece of poo”

      Just something to gently call out that you see it’s a problem that no one wants to deal with, but it needs to be dealt with. Adding some humor and sympathy can help break down barriers (where otherwise folks might get defensive).

      Other tactics- praise and gently tagging individuals (needs to be done carefully- if someone feels targeted, it could blow up). I like to tag someone as a consultant, almost as a starting place for the conversation. I ask a question they feel comfortable answering, even if I know the answer to it (but not in a patronizing way, just in a double checking way).
      “Tagging @April here; is this something that could be fixed in the same way you fixed the problem with the wossit? That worked so well!”

  72. Anon Today*

    I have two employees where there is already some… tension between them. My longer term employee has had to be reminded about some appropriate ways to express frustration while at work and particularly with the new employee Kate.

    But just recently, I’ve realized that Kate is still mispronouncing my other employee’s name. Say her name is Chara and it’s pronounced to rhyme with car. Kate keeps pronouncing it to rhyme with care. It’s different with a slightly different spelling, but it’s not a HARD name. Chara hasn’t said anything to me, but I can tell it bothers her.

    Kate has occasionally mispronounced it in front of just me and then said something about “Oh I’ve got to get her name right.” But she doesn’t. I need to have a conversation with Kate, but is there anything I should emphasis, other than you need to remember your co-worker’s correct name, because otherwise it’s disrespectful? This isn’t like you can’t remember if the person in accounting you see twice a year is Tad or Tod. It’s one of your direct team members who you interact with everyday you are in the office.

    I feel like this is one of those cases where I know this person’s behavior has to change, but I’m having a hard time verbalizing the why. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      Frequently mispronouncing names when someone is of a different ethnic background than you is a racist microaggression. Judging by your example names I’m guessing that’s what is happening here.

      As far as for your actions, speak to Kate: “I need you to learn to pronounce Chara’s name correctly. That’s non negotiable.” Offer to record yourself saying it correctly if she needs to be able to listen and practice at home. Mention that this is going to be a conversation with HR if it’s not fixed.

      They have really cool software these days that adds a little audio file to your email signature with your name being pronounced, if you’ve lots of languages happening that can be really useful to the company.

    2. ferrina*

      Have you told Kate it needs to change?
      When Kate mispronounced it in front of you, correct her and don’t soften it. She needs to get it right (if it helps, imagine what you would do if she did this with a client).
      In your next 1:1, tell her she needs to pronounce her coworker’s name correctly. This is a really, really basic thing. You shouldn’t have to explain why. Would you explain why she needs to get the name of your company correct? Why she shouldn’t lie? Why you don’t dump peanut butter on unsuspecting colleagues? No, these are basic expectations of being a decent human being. If someone is questioning these expectations, they are already on the wrong path. Feel free to give them a strange look and say “How about you tell me why.” in that tone that the most intimidating-yet-respected teacher used. Return awkward to sender.

    3. Scarlet Ribbons in Her Hair*

      IMHO Kate is doing it to be mean. I don’t see where OP said that Chara’s name is ethnic and difficult to pronounce. Mary, a former office manager, did the same thing to me. My name is a mainstream three-syllable name, such as Rebecca. When we were co-workers, Mary had no problem pronouncing my name. But when she became the office manager, she started acting mean to everyone, hoping to drive us out so that she could hire her friends to replace. She started pronouncing my name Re-be-KAAAAAAH. I never corrected her, because I knew that she was doing it on purpose.

      OP, watch Kate carefully to see if there are other ways in which she is being mean to Chara. And if Chara should leave the company, don’t be surprised. I got the impression that you have not corrected Kate in front of Chara, so for all Chara knows, you haven’t done anything about it.

    4. BellyButton*

      I wouldn’t assume there is any malicious intent behind it. I would address it matter of factually “I’ve noticed you have had a hard time remembering to pronounce Chara’s name correctly. That is often perceived as disrespectful, please make an effort to get her name right.”

      1. Random Academic Cog*

        It’s disrespectful. There’s no “please try” about it. Unless there’s a literal speech impediment, it’s not acceptable and softening the language keeps it on the “nice to have, but no big deal” list which is not accurate.

  73. Lyngend Canada*

    Opinion on how an inspirational tattoo on the forearm would be viewed. Something like “you are stronger than you know”
    I’m happy with my current company, and it doesn’t have a no visible tattoo rule. But when/if I move on, I’m worried about it impacting my chances of getting a new job. Also, I’m not the type of person who would /could spend the time or money for products to cover it up most days.

    1. DisneyChannelThis*

      How big is the tattoo? What Font Size?

      Long sleeves, bandaid, tattoo cover makeup, skin sleeve covers designed for tattoo covering, lots of options to temporarily hide it.

      1. Lyngend Canada*

        Covering most of my forearm, wrist to elbow. Not huge font, but most of the words are long. (right now I have a temp tattoo that’s 3×1 iirc, I’d like at least a 6×2 or different font then Ariel or what ever the temp tattoo is.

    2. ferrina*

      I’m really torn. On the one hand, I have an inspirational saying taped right above my computer in my home office. But no one can see it.
      Unfortunately, if I saw it, I think I’d wonder how confident this person really is if they need to be reminded of their capabilities. It would make me wonder if they would have issues with anxiety. I think it would change the way I think about them (though I’d try not to let it affect the way I treat them, and my assumptions would fade over time).

      What about a symbol? Something that will remind you of that sentiment without it being immediately interpreted by other people?

      1. Lyngend Canada*

        So honestly? It’s likely obvious with most people that I do indeed have issues with anxiety. (but I’m at the best point I’ve ever been).
        And one one hand, I don’t want to be judged negatively by people. But the abilism in thinking less of me because I have mental health issues? That’s a them/you problem not a me problem.
        having mental health issues doesn’t make me less capable of doing my job. It just means (for me) that I minimize my accomplishments and my self confidence not related to my job is low.

        I’d consideraa symbol. But haven’t decided what to actually get yet.

        1. Tuesday*

          I honestly wouldn’t think twice about an inspirational saying, tbh. I wouldn’t see it as “this person lacks confidence and needs a constant reminder of their worth,” just “oh, this is a saying that’s important to this person.” It’s very, very common for people to get song lyrics or quotes that inspire them as tattoos.

    3. Meep*

      Well considering it is a prominent testicles and balls, I think you might be safe anywhere you go unless you are in a very conservative industry. At worst, anyone who sees it will just think it is cheesy, but most industries have stopped bulking at tattoos.

    4. Sunshine*

      I think it really depends on your industry. I have very visible forearm tattoos as a content marketer and they haven’t impacted me in the slightest, but I could see a more conservative industry being weird about it. (That said, I doubt my coworkers even know I have tattoos because I wear long sleeves every day – it’s SO COLD in the office!)

      1. Laika*

        And even when it comes to conservative workplaces, it depends! I work in construction–office staff not field–and the vast majority of office regulars are openly conservative (…too openly imo). But tons of people have tattoos. Granted, the demographics skew mostly male, but I’m female-presenting and have a pretty big animal tattoo on my forearm and no one has batted an eye except maybe to compliment or ask about it.

        I also think most people wouldn’t actually register what the words say. Unless they’re staring at it or actively trying to read it, I bet 90% of people would just glance and think, “huh, words”.

        1. allathian*

          Not necessarily conservative in outlook, but conservative in business dress. Fields like finance and law come to mind.

    5. ineedasunbeam*

      my first thought was, honestly, that if i saw it i would love that there was obviously a journey behind it, which i think is beautiful. i love the idea. (and i am not someone with tattoos if that matters. i’ve often thought of getting a tiny forget-me-not on my wrist, my grandmother’s favorite flower.) also, without knowing much more detail, my second thought was well maybe you might not enjoy working somewhere where the culture wouldn’t be supportive of that type of expression? i also agree with your note below 100%. it’s a them problem. something more subtle like a symbol might serve the same purpose – unless you think you will look at that and feel that it’s a constant reminder that you compromised and didn’t pursue what you really wanted. i say live your truth and do what feels right to you. i am so sad that we live in a world where we feel we have to consider that we might be judged for something so personal and harmless to others.

  74. Standard Issue Cat*

    A different question now, about leaving a management role…

    I posted earlier about how I’m considering slight career change, which would include leaving my current management position. I’ve been working on this particular team for nearly 7 years, with the last 2 as the manager. Our team is tight-knit, and they have all said they like having me as their manager…when I was first promoted, everyone said they were really relieved as they were worried about someone external coming in and not understanding the work they do. They have given me a lot of praise, which I appreciate it, but at this point I feel burned out on management. It’s SO HARD. It takes so much of my emotional energy. I also feel like I got off on the wrong foot with my team and have been too permissive…I don’t want to be an authoritarian, but I think in the beginning I was just way too lax with them in an attempt to people-please (another reason why management is probably not the best fit for me!) because it was really awkward for me to suddenly be in charge of this group. And by suddenly, I do mean suddenly – when I first talked about moving into management with my boss, he was supportive, and said 2-3 years….then about 6 months later, he said he was retiring and GUESS WHAT I’m the boss now. So I really feel like I’ve been thrust into it without much initial training and support. I’m also younger than all of them, and I came into this role more from the business side of IT, whereas they are all much more technical than I am. It works for the most part, because I’m good at interfacing with customers and doing business analysis, but I still feel really intimidated by their technical knowledge and experience (I have 8 total employees).

    So here’s my question….my team has asked that I let them know if I ever decide to leave, so they can start looking for new jobs as well. But I feel super weird doing that. I am actively job searching now, but I haven’t told them. I’m worried that if I do tell them, they will all suddenly jump ship (they would be able to find jobs easily). But if I don’t, then it would feel like a betrayal. So I’m not sure what to do. Though my job searching is going pretty badly so it’s going to be a while before anything gets close to working out. What would you do in this situation?

    All thoughts/comments/suggestions appreciated!

    1. Sunshine*

      I don’t think that “tell us if you ever decide to leave” necessarily means “tell us the minute you start job searching.” If you find a new job and accept the offer, you will tell them that you’re planning to leave. Problem solved!

      I also think that their ask is a bit unreasonable, but I definitely feel the same way about my current manager so I understand. I would just never expect her to give me or anyone else here a heads up if she wanted to leave before she’s accepted a new position.

  75. Peter Piper*

    It is certainly true that I deliver everything I’m asked to do and that my work is always timely and high-quality. I have received lots of positive feedback about the value I bring to the organization. When I’m sitting around, it’s generally because other staff are not available to engage. I think I need to focus more on the fact that everybody seems happy with my performance? I mean, they’ve all known me for years – presumably, if there was an issue with my output, it would have been flagged and they would have stopped giving me regular promotions, hah.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment with your experience!

    1. Rick Tq*

      What about your current situation isn’t acceptable? It sounds like your vision of work assumes continuous effort but that isn’t how your job works.

      You have mastered your job, you have the respect of your peers, approval from management, and a workload that doesn’t have you buried 80 hours a week for months on end. If you aren’t constantly busy you are Engaged To Wait on work coming in, and your company is happy to pay you to do nothing if there is nothing to do. Be happy you have found a niche that fits you so well.

      Can you use your waiting time for training, either yourself or other people? What about asking about special projects from your boss or working on documenting your processes so the next person in your position has a base to work from?

  76. StellBelle*

    I have a missing stair colleague who is the boss’s favourite. Today in a team wide email reply to my request for input on a document he was harshly critical saying it was full of errors. It is not and was written using materials he and our team produced. When I pushed back he apologised sort of and said he would provide inputs end of day. As usual he says he will but never does. I will send an email tmrw on this doc but how can I phrase it to not point out the obvious wsp as the boss is on the email too? I am beyond frustrated and if I am critical I will get the boss upset too. How do I say professionally, “Look dude as usual you did not provide any input only criticisms and wtf also look at thatbother doc we need tonipdate from SIX weeks ago???”

    1. Temperance*

      I would reply-all and ask if he knows when he will have the specific feedback and input to you and the group. This is a neutral request and your boss sucks if that gets him upset, too.

    2. ferrina*

      Get back at him with unmerciful, undying cheerfulness.

      He knows he gets under your skin. He either doesn’t care or enjoys it. Being brutally, unwaveringly cheerful zaps all of his power. Plus there’s nothing more annoying than when you are trying to get a rise out of someone and they are happy and delightful (think petulant teenager vs peppy teacher who is genuinely Happy To Be Here). Be ready for an extinction burst where he tried extra hard to rile you up.
      I learned this trick from a friend- when she had a bad day, she got peppyer. Her extra peppyness would baffle and intimidate everyone around her, and they’d either run away quickly or do what she wanted to make it stop. Once I figured it out, it was hilarious. I’ve used this tactic a few times myself. Bonus is that it makes you look like the person who is an amazing teammate and able to get along with everyone (including the grump everyone hates).

      Oh, and start working on a exit plan. That Guy sounds awful, and your boss sucks for making That Guy his favorite. This won’t do good things for your career or mental health. Good luck!

      1. StellBelle*

        I can try this thanks ! Also the colleague to which missing stair owes the other doc noted this today and will politely bring it up on monday.

      2. KR*

        I love this strategy. I have a job where customers can be very rude to me over the phone or over email. The more rude and belligerent they get, the more ridiculously polite and unflappably cheerful I will get. Hang up on me? I’ll send a follow up email summarizing our conversation and note what a pleasure it was to speak with you and how thankful I am about the feedback you provided and how it really means a lot to me that you would take the time to provide feedback.

    3. Silence*

      I haven’t seen any updates /feedback does this mean the document has your approval and is ready to move on to next stage

  77. Janeric*

    My group is short-staffed because our former supervisor took another job about eight months ago, resulting in a team that consists of me and his other report. (The other report is more junior than I am and is having a rough year, so I’m doing all the coordination and a lot of the work.)

    I want to eventually get the position that my former supervisor had, (which also depends on how the government job stuff shakes out) — so I want to prove I can manage a reasonable workload. But I can’t yet operate at the level of efficiency that my former supervisor did after 5+ years in the position, and I, personally, definitely can’t operate at the level of efficiency my former supervisor had when he also had two staffers working full time. Also most of the people we work with are pretty siloed — they don’t know the workload we have from other groups.

    I’m frankly drowning a bit — a lot of stuff that requires long-term planning gets sidelined and handled badly at the last minute because we’re so reactive day to day. I’d like advice on setting bandwidth limits for workload without undermining myself — the people were understanding for the first couple of months, but now I’m getting a lot of “everyone is understaffed right now”. I would also like advice on how to say “yeah, that’s an issue because I’m not very good at this yet and I didn’t start setting this up with sufficient lead time”. (without undermining myself)

    1. ferrina*

      I’m so sorry! This is a tough situation (I’ve also been there. Several times.).

      First up- you need to get yourself mentally sorted. If you are exempt, it may help to take a few hours over the weekend (I’ve also done this early in the morning before anyone else is working and late at night). If you can build a few hours of work time, that’s better, but in these situations often not feasible
      During this time, write down everything that is going on. Literally everything, no matter how small. Next, prioritize. What can be delayed indefinitely? Delay it. What is immediate? What can be redelegated or made smaller? (maybe you can run the report but don’t have time to write the marketing blurb about it).
      With what you have left (which will be a lot), realistically figure out how many hours you will work per day to get it all done. Then figure out what you need to cut out to get down to 40 hours. Have several options- Maybe Project A gets dropped, or Project B & C, or half of Project B and all of Project J.

      Next- talk to your manager. Tell them that you simply can’t do everything. Don’t show them your hours form- usually this will lead to them arguing on your analysis and/or gaslighting you (intentionally or unintentionally). Hold firm. Make them set priorities for you.

      Finally- hold to those priorities. If something isn’t a priority, you can’t do it (more diplomatic language: “We’re already overloaded, so I really can’t commit to that.”) If they argue, send them to your manager so Manager can help figure out what needs to be taken off your plate so you can work on their project.

      8 months is a long time to be understaffed. Is your manager even looking for a replacement? If I were you, I’d start working on an exit plan. Maybe it’s just a few hours a week and you send out 2 applications- that’s how I got my current job. But get out. Any place I’ve been where there has been more than 5 months to hire for a non-executive position has had extreme dysfunction and didn’t care about work/life balance or professional/career development (my current company fills vacancies in less than 3 months). Good luck!

      1. Janeric*

        You know, this wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but it is what I NEEDED to hear — thank you!

  78. The Clash*

    I’m in a “should I stay or should I go” situation at my current job. I’ve been in my position for about a year, and it’s not a great fit in terms of culture, there’s not much (or any?) room for growth in my position, and I could definitely make more money elsewhere. There are a lot of other things I’m not thrilled about, but I don’t want to turn this into a novel.

    Normally this would be more than enough reason to be actively looking for a new position, but I had a particularly rough pandemic and was a part of not one, but two Covid-related layoffs in my two previous positions, one I was in for only six months and the other for about a year. My track-record of longevity looks very bad on paper.

    In the grand scheme of things, is it better to stick it out for another year or so at a job that is just ok with very little opportunity for professional development for the sake of building longevity or to move on now?

    1. pally*

      You’ll most likely regret staying that extra year in lieu of finding a position that has the things you want. Especially advancement opportunities.

      Thing is, it was not your idea to get laid off. So you had no control over that. These can be explained and should be acceptable to anyone reading your resume.

    2. BellyButton*

      Move on. If someone asks about the two shorter positions, tell the truth- they were pandemic related. Honestly, as a hiring manager- anything that looks “odd” or not the “norm” between 2020-Jan 2023 I assume it is pandemic related and do not hold it against the candidate.

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I’d say start looking, and be thoughtful about what you apply for and accept so you feel really good about the move. It could take awhile to find a new role — if it happens fast, you can make that decision then if it’s too soon or not. If it takes many months (or even the year you’re thinking of) then you’ll be glad you started.

    4. Unkempt Flatware*

      What a clever name/content tie in. I love it.

      I say focus on happiness. I’ve been pretty surprised by how many employers no longer blink an eye at short stints, especially during the pandemic.

  79. Starving Student*

    I just graduated with a Masters of Science in the US. Is it a thing to add MSc to the end of my name on my resume or LinkedIn? Or super Weird? I’m leaning towards Weird.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yeah, not typically a thing done in the US as part of your name. Leave it for the education section.

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

      If you are in or going to work in academia, it’s not weird and IS expected to put the whole alphabet soup of degrees and fellowships after your name if you can. But if you aren’t going into academia, it wouldn’t be the norm.

    3. Nesprin*

      For MSc, not usually a thing, especially since you have an education section there.

      (btw congrats!)

    4. Generic Name*

      I have a MS. I’ve never included it in any signature or anything. It’s listed under education on my resume and on linked in. It’s one of my most proud accomplishments, so I get the impulse, but it’s really not done to include on signatures.

    5. Hillary*

      Seconding not a thing except in academia. One of the super unkind patterns I’ve observed in my MBA world is that the folks who have MBA in their LinkedIn name or email signatures aren’t rockstars. They’re usually somewhere between mediocre and ok. The people who are really good don’t call attention to their credentials, they just demonstrate their awesomeness.

  80. Abogado Avocado*

    Oh, no, I hope none of your kitties are unwell, Alison! It’s always so great seeing your family felines that I miss seeing their photo when it’s not posted.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I don’t think the kitties are usually on the Friday open thread. They’re not work related, so they wait for the weekend open thread to make their appearance :)

  81. handfulofbees*

    back to full time work, mon-fri, and like the last time I was doing this, I’m struggling. I’m so exhausted after the week that I spend sat sleeping, Sunday running around trying to catch up on chores, then back to the week where more things pile up. I don’t have time to see my friends, and if I have some sort of weekend events, I’m all exhausted the week. how are people expected to manage this for long careers?

    1. Hlao-roo*

      How long have you been back to full time work? I know the times I switched from part-time work (or school) to full-time work, it took me a few weeks to adjust to the schedule. After a few weeks, I was able to do some of my chores after work on weekdays, the rest on the weekends, and had time/energy to also see my friends on weekends.

      If it’s been more than a few weeks, some things to consider are:

      – What hours are you working? (I have energy after work on 8 hr days and none after 10 hr days)
      – What is your commute like? (I have way more energy when my commute is 20 min than when it’s 90 min)

      If you’ve been at the new job for months, only working 8 hours a day, and have an easy commute, you might want to consider looking into any health conditions that could be contributing to your exhaustion.

    2. Tuesday*

      Some places allow flexible schedules, which makes it easier – I work 8-4 instead of 9-5 so I can still get appointments and such done before most places close on weekdays. I just try to make sure I have at least one weekend day with nothing planned so I can sleep in and get chores done, but there’s plenty of time to do chores in the evenings, too.

      I don’t think it’s normal to be that exhausted, though. Are you sleeping enough at night? If you’re so tired after work that you can’t get anything done on weekday evenings OR Saturdays, you might want to ask a doctor if something might be up.

    3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Some people have more spoons than others. Personally I have never in my 25+ years career been able to work full time hours and have a social life — I’m exhausted all the time, needing the weekends to cocoon and recover. (Probably due to neurodivergence.) Even chores/life tasks have to be the bare minimum. And yet lots of people do all the things and don’t struggle much! I am envious.

    4. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      It may be that you just need a few weeks to get used to suddenly adding several additional hours of work. Brainwork can be as tiring as manual labour.

      Or your new working hours don’t fit your Circadian rhythm. Can you move your hours forward/backward to suit?

      Are you doing regular volunteer work in addition? If so, drop all that to get the free hours back.
      Have any family responsibilities increased?
      Is your commute longer or more stressful?
      Do you have to get up earlier in the morning? If so, are you going to bed earlier and managing to sleep 8 hours? Has your sleep been disrupted?

      If you had a very active social life while pt, you probably need to reduce that now you are ft, merely as a consequence of having many fewer free hours. Reduce the social media time & netsurfing too.
      While ft I used to go to the gym most evenings but I found that to be much shorter and less demanding than a night out after work, when I had to be “on” with friends.
      Weekdays I went to bed after gym, supper & a book, prioritising my 8 hours sleep.
      I usually did only one weekly event for a few hours with friends, which was at the weekend. Holidays were when I really let my hair down and went out a lot.

      I had plenty of energy right until I retired at 63, but ft was 35 hours (Germany) – are you regularly working more than 40 hours? Overtime is very draining and maybe not sustainable past your 20s. I’d prioritise work-life balance over career / promotions, if it doesn’t endanger your job.

      Do you have enough paid sick time? – use it. Enough vacation to recharge your batteries? Don’t save up PTO just for a later payout. You need to use as much as you can.

      I have a weekly cleaning person, so – as a slovenly housekeeper with low standards – I only do laundry, dishes, loo and make the bed. A cleaner is a great time-saver & energy-saver (if you can afford one), because housework is boring & draining. In my early career, I cut out some other discretionary spending to have a cleaner.

    5. Qwerty*

      Have you talked to your doctor? It’s normal to be tired when first ramping back up, but you mention that this was happening previously. I bring this up because I have anemia and so many friends are getting diagnosed with sleep apnea. During migraine season I’m also chronically exhausted, which I did not put together for an embarassingly long time.

      How I do it is to spread the chores and socializing out. When I evaluate a job commute or an apartment, part of that includes the ease of getting to a grocery store. I find that if I come straight home from work, I’m tired and going to lay out the couch. But if I run an errand like grocery shopping on my way home from work, I’m at about the same level of tired when I get home. I keep two laundry baskets in my closet so my clothes are pre-sorted and its easy to throw on a small load after work one night. Stuff like that to break the life-stuff into small pieces so I can keep up during the week.

  82. Megan*

    I randomly appiled to a job I thought looked like a good fit for me, despite not really trying to leave my current job. I appiled Thursday afternoon, 15 minutes later they called (I was at work so missed it) and emailed me, letting me know the salary and a few other things, asking if that was okay and if I’d still like to interview. I emailed back right away, asked a few of my own questions, just to clairfy a few things.

    That next day, Friday, I was getting a out patient surgry (nothing serious!) so I really didn’t check/respond to email I got from them. Around noon, they called me while I was waiting to be taken back. I answered, appologized for not checking the email and asked if I could call them back, I even said I was at the doctors office. The woman was really nice, said sure of course, don’t worry, just call me back.. etc.

    I didn’t get home until after 5, so I figured she wouldn’t be around for a phone call so I emailed her back, appologzing again for the delay in response and told her I’d still be intrested in an interview.

    Didn’t hear back Monday… Tuesday… but on Wednesday I get a short email saying we are no longer sechulding interviews for the position aand thanking me! I repiled back thanking them (I felt weird about replying back but I wanted to show that I did acutally see the email) and that was it.

    I can’t help but to wonder if they thought I was unreliable by not responding back right away on Thursday night/Friday morning? She emailed me the answers around 9pm, I was already in bed. I know things can change last minute, but I hope they didn’t cancel because they thought poorly of me! I know I shouldn’t care but I always thought it was okay not to be immediatly responding to people and I did answer her call when I was legit in the hospital room, so I made an effort.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      The only thing I see here is that it seems like their preferred method of communication is a call. I know you emailed on Friday, but I think it might have been worth your while to call on Monday. Of course, I’m Monday morning quarterbacking here and it’s always easier to say what I would have done when I’m not in the situation.

      I don’t think they think poorly of you! It sounds to me like their hiring process moved very fast (from them calling you 15 min after you applied), so it’s not very surprising that by Wednesday they had filled all of their interview slots and cut the other candidates (including you) loose. Chalk it up to “wasn’t meant to be.”

      1. RVA Cat*

        This, plus it might not be a bullet dodged if they’re the “call you at all hours including weekends” type of workplace.

    2. Extra anony*

      Sometimes the stars don’t align, but you didn’t do anything wrong – maybe the company had a really urgent need to fill the position, you happened to have a medical procedure, and it just didn’t work out. I’d try not to dwell on it!

  83. Katherine*

    My grandboss (I’m a supervisor, my boss is a manager, and grandboss is a VP) has decided he wants to have one-on-one meetings with all of the supervisors who report to the managers who report to him, so I have to have a meeting with him within the next few weeks.

    He says he wants to get to know us better and understand what we’re doing. This is also supposed to be an opportunity for us to ask him any questions about other areas of our business.

    Has anyone had a one-on-one with a grandboss? Any suggestions for how to approach this meeting? Suggestions for questions to ask?

    1. BellyButton*

      Skip level meetings are pretty common. The intent is to foster engagement and transparent communication.
      Here are some questions to help you get started:
      What was your career path to getting to this point?
      How do you think the company is going to change in the next 5 years?
      What skills of your own do you value the most?
      What do you think are the most important skills that I can develop if I want to succeed

    2. DataSci*

      I’ve had those before – regularly (I think quarterly) and occasionally (maybe yearly) at my current job. Think about issues that are at their level to address – not your day-to-day workload or company-level strategy. If you’re having challenges with cross-team collaboration, getting the support you need from other teams (especially if they report up to grandboss), siloing, etc this is a great place to bring them up.

  84. Gray Jane*

    Has anyone ever worked somewhere that front-loads your vacation time the start of the year instead of having employees accrue it? My new job does this and I’m having a hard time getting used to it.

    On January 1, you get access to all your vacation time for the year. If y